ups and downs

December 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm (brain, crafty, musings, out and about, simple pleasures)

today, i feel strong.

i left the house for the first time in a few days, because it’s that time of year. i only went running errands and dropped by a market, but while i was doing it, despite the debilitating heat, i managed to make a few decisions; ones that sometimes i can’t make.

i’ve actually enjoyed this ‘season’. i had a few quiet days thanks to losing my voice and having my father not ring, then a successful bah humbug dinner, then my housemate went away and i didn’t miss people at all: i’ve had the place to myself, it’s been clean enough to cook and i’ve done it once, it’s been clean enough to draft patterns on the loungeroom floor, and i’ve done that too. i’ve done a bit of work soldering and chasing up articles, listened to lectures, tried two ways to draft a pattern to reproduce my hat, labeled them well and made two toiles. i’ve fixed my saws, done some cleaning up in my garage, done washing, gardened.

my to do list for tomorrow involves lots of practical things, including some i’ve been putting off. also a few things with words – hopefully i can start making headway on them too. it’s telling that i feel good when i’m in the middle of lots of practical things, but i don’t know how i can make the most of this considering my life generally demands lots of reading, writing and contacting people – all the hard stuff – and for good reason: my life goals are about changing the world, and that doesn’t happen by fixing overlockers.

be that as it may, what have i learnt, or reminded myself of? having the house functionally tidy is important to me. being able to engage in practical stuff is good for me. having my father ring me daily is disturbing in this mood, though i know it’s a lifeline when things are really bad. i could probably live alone except that i can’t afford it, and i know i’d probably get rather more insular which isn’t great. i need an income so that i can do things like buy garage shelving when i feel like it, and pay my bills without juggling, thus worry less. i can indeed keep my mind engaged without uni, and we’re working on the world-saving and good social interaction problems, though there’s a huge way to go.

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and they’re gone

June 10, 2012 at 7:21 pm (community, out and about, queer)

about four years after i left newtown, i happened to be around late on a wednesday night. i wandered up the road to see if i could catch any of those people who i used to be happy to know, but rarely saw anywhere but the sly fox.

i knew not a single person, the shows were all fairly awful drag queens singing about men. i know it hasn’t officially been girls’ night for a long time, but really. i don’t expect i’ll ever set foot in there again.

so where has the queer women’s community gone? for all its rather serious problems, which i worked so hard to overcome, it sparkled like nothing else. i know plenty of people have moved away. some have settled down, those who’ve done so with boys even more invisibly. some have gotten actual jobs, and hopefully lots have become more responsible and more sober. but can we really have nothing but our previously established friend networks without the alcohol? i waited so long for the day that people grew up, and now they’re not here for me to enjoy it. the scene has been left for the young, but surely queerness doesn’t expire.

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fear and safety

April 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm (gender, out and about, travel)

today i had another conversation about fear and safety. there have been quite a few recently, though mostly me just explaining my ideas without getting too much back in return. i began thinking about it when i started attending the usyd feminist discussion group, but it hasn’t come up as a topic yet. hopefully one day it will and i can hear others’ considered thoughts on the matter, too.

usually i only engage with feminism as an intersectionality. women and gender in queer. women and queer in atheism. but gendered narratives of fear and safety is a topic that is troubling me for myself. i started noticing it whenever i went hitchhiking. hitching is not a common practice these days and the default reply from anyone i tell is ‘oh you’re brave, i could never do that’. it comes from almost everyone, but especially women.

that’s case one: people accepting that there are limits to what they can do, and that these are forever fixed. more important, however, is case two: very few women ever stopped to pick me up. several have, but over the twenty thousand kms i’ve hitched, it’s a shockingly small number. of those who did, several expressed uncertainty over the decision, and some mentioned that they only stopped because i looked harmless and female – and even then they were conflicted and didn’t stop immediately, but stopped half way up the road or doubled back. rides with families were even rarer.

in the hitchhiking community itself, a gender divide is not so noticeable. i met more male than female hitchhikers, but not by much. only male hitchhikers have traveled a leg with me and only male travellers have agreed to try hitching with me, despite how interested everyone in a youth hostel tends to be. however hitchhikers are few and far between on the road and i can’t say i’ve met enough to be able to make judgements. maybe i’ll start talking to the people on hitching websites one day to get some answers. yet it stands to reason that the pattern would differ from the mainstream: hitchhikers are seen by many as extraordinary and outside the norm, and in some ways they are. surely a hitchhiker can’t possibly subscribe to the same normative concept as someone who feels the need of the trappings of modern security culture – walls and locks and laws.

when i was an undergraduate at my suburban university, living on campus was wonderful. i lived with five others in a little terrace, and while we locked our bedroom doors when we went out, we tended to leave the outside doors wide open. i could wander in and out, my friends could wander in and out, my housemate’s friends could wander in and out. it was idyllic.

however once we got intruders – two young guys with a big carving knife that may or may not have come from our own drying rack. 12.30am on a hot summer night, they broke into my room and demanded money.

we had been trying to build the place into independent cooperative student housing, since the uni wanted to be rid of its obligations, and i still believe that the outcome would’ve been better if we had.

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vegetarian acting

January 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm (out and about, words)

despite my appreciation for vegetarian food and my support for vegetarianism, veganism and most other thoughtful, humane approaches to consumption, i am not, nor have i ever been, vegetarian.

so why do people keep apologising for eating meat in front of me?

this generally happens while i’m wearing my full length leather coat, not that i’m seen without it all that much. this marker of my less-than-rigorous-vegan status might be a bit subtle for some, but it does suggest to me that people are pretty certain of where i stand if they don’t even look for clues before they speak.

but that’s not all. at a friend’s party, standing around the barbecue, the all-meat barbecue. talking to the cook who is supervising said barbecue and surely knows he’s cooking no vegie patties. sausage on fork, twixt plate and mouth. surely that’s a bit more than a subtle sign that i eat meat. why does the cook ask me how long i’ve been vegetarian?

i don’t really mind, i guess they’re displaying some consciousness of what they’re eating and that it’s not entirely value-free. besides, of all the assumptions people make about me, this one is hardly unflattering. i’m just confused.

do i look like a vegetarian? what does a vegetarian look like?

have they seen me eating fruit or vegetables? haven’t they gotten past hating spinach yet?

is it that i know vegetarian people? is vegetarianism catching?

is it because i’m political and try to live by my principles? what, vegetarianism is a principle they’ve heard of so it must be one of mine?

is it because they saw me refuse leftovers because i couldn’t store them in the vegetarian house i once lived in? did they forget both that i was offered that dish because i’d been eating it, and also that they had been so fascinated by the situation that they got me to explain it in detail?

is it because i’ve mentioned that i like vegetarian food, or that it tends to be a safe option? have they never had a good meal without meat in it?

can anyone shed some light on this for me? i suspect there may be further consequences of this phenomenon, and i just don’t understand.

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as if we were free

August 23, 2009 at 9:46 pm (community, complex pleasures, mechanical engineering, out and about, queer, travel)

one of the things i got to do overseas that i haven’t for ages, was performance. in berlin i joined in a drag king performance at the very last minute, apparently there was footage filmed but i haven’t seen it. i also read out a poem. it was translated from slovenian and it took a lot of editing before it was readable, i only got the printout a day before, and i spent all that time walking around berlin, overshooting my destinations as i read bits out loud, gesturing the emphases with a red pen in hand. noone thought to mention that i’d be juggling a microphone too. five minutes before the show i find out that the translation was done by one of my new friends, and she didn’t like my editing, but she ended up agreeing that i had as much right as her to interpret a translation. and besides, it was about to start. here is the version i read, more or less.

As if we were free
Urška Strle

Somewhere in the centre of the small neglected town, which is, at the same time the capital of some small but relaxed East European state, in a newly cobble embellished street in the inner city centre where they just closed two pubs and a bookstore, I have met a man who ordered himself Culture as if he were ordering coffee with milk.

I have to confess, the cobbles are perfectly laid down, all the gaps are carefully clogged with quartz sand, and at the edge it is possible to recognise a slightly rounded pattern. In short, the street of some small neglected town, which is at the same time the capital of some small, cramped, and relaxed South European state, looks like the idyllic image on an old postcard.

Old bakeries arise in all parts of the town like mushrooms after the rain, as if they had decided one day and achingly wrested themselves out from old corner houses where they had modestly waited for decades unnoticed for their grand arrival, and which, on their frontage proudly show the inscription “Old Bakery”, which even more contributes to this idyllic look. I guess I’ve hurried past them for years and years without even noticing. I’ve walked past exactly this old bakery on the corner of this small idyllic street with carefully laid cobbles in the centre of some small neglected town and so on and so forth.

Suddenly an unbearable paranoia came over me, I got the feeling that somewhere out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of crinoline, and suspiciously I glanced towards the boys in white shirts with black bowties who were picking up the garbage. It appeared to me that time is curving itself as to the pattern of the new cobbles and that we will all find ourselves on that everlasting postcard from the end of the 19th century. Hastily I dashed towards the closest boy, that is, to the left edge, I ripped myself through the yellowish cardboard, and with a crash I landed in front of the doors to the pub which had, in the meantime, already disappeared in another reality.

To eat in this slovenly pub, which displayed insignia as a rallying point for all the enthusiasts of the sautéed potato, was akin to some special kind of masochism. Gnocchi Bolognese turned into spaghetti with tomato sauce, omelette with ham and cheese always remained without the latter two. The bills would be circulating around, they would be counted and discounted and finally there would come the conclusion that there are either too many or too few bills, the cash register is too far away and the next group of naïve tourists are just enough confused, hungry and tired and above all helpless in front of the board, on which specials of the day were written in complicated script.

But the slovenly pub that served for some special kind of masochism disappeared in that other reality, which was, to top it all off, mine. And there is no worse misery than when a person loses her own reality and therefore clings desperately to the handhold of some slovenly pub which went bankrupt, together with her lifestyle.

In the reflection of the filthy abandoned windows of my ailing lifestyle, I saw a mayor. All round and contented he was wiping sweat from his working face on the golden chain on which the city keys were jingling. He was shepherding a small squad of captured guest artists, some stoic, homeless ‘erased ones’, and from his pockets electric cables were forcing their way out, cables which NGO workers for the purpose of some obscure literary event negligently left in the middle of the street in the inner centre of the small neglected town, which is at the same time the capital of some small but relaxed Central European state. He ordered Culture as coffee with milk, and then stirred with a teaspoon an empty cup and grumbled about the bad taste.

I might be extremely happy about the new cobbles if I had to cross them in high heels, but, I think, the magic of the moment was ruined in the second when, under the sole of my beaten up sneakers, quartz sand creaked. Maybe my face would have lightened up if I had been on these new even cobbles with nicely clogged gaps and a slightly rounded pattern pushing a pram that would be running smoothly. But I just stood there at the beginning of that small street in the centre of the town in those damn beaten up sneakers, I was pacing around nervously, under my feet, quartz sand was nastily squeaking and I stared at the abandoned windows of the pub. All this with a newly cobble-embellished street of the inner centre of the small neglected town, which is at the same time a capital of some cramped but relaxed newly joined European state, and there was not a single space left for me to go.

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back to school…

May 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm (community, complex pleasures, crafty, dance, education, essays, out and about, queer)

i can’t help myself. i’m studying again. i have studied constantly since i was four years old, except for the time between february 2006 and february 2007… and half a semester at the end of the welding course last year while i was finishing off the mechanical engineering. come to think of it, in 2006 i still did the screen printing course. and the upholstery course. hmmm.

anyway, i’m now half way through my first subject in a masters of adult education; understanding adult education and training. it’s been interesting, and though i died over my first essay, i must’ve done a reasonable job, as i got a distinction for it! here it is.

Identifying Your Philosophical Orientation

This commentary is a personal response to taking an inventory on my philosophical orientation regarding adult education. Despite limitations in the instrument, I found the process and my results offered insights into both my philosophy and my practice in adult education. I found the framework to be useful, especially in conjunction with another on a separate axis, but could not locate myself firmly within any particular tradition, whichever way I tried. I was drawn to consider the breadth of purposes inherent in any instance of education, which, I believe, substantiates the broad range of theories and practices in which I find value. Ultimately, the frameworks are only guides to navigate the field in search of all the various theories which one can adapt, use, integrate and enjoy.

Zinn’s (1990) Philosophy of Adult Education Inventory (PAEI) is an interesting instrument. Consisting of a mere fifteen questions, it gives a quick analysis of a person’s philosophy of adult education, according to a framework by Elias and Merriam (Zinn 1990).

In taking the test according to its guidelines, I came out as 97% Humanist, 90% Radical, 88% Progressive, 70% Liberal and 66% Behaviourist. These results are notable for all being quite high and relatively close together as I had difficulty grading the answers. I found merit in almost all of them, and scored everything in the top half of the scale, between ‘neutral’ and ‘strongly agree’. Zinn suggests that this may indicate contradictory philosophies, however I saw answers as appropriate to different situations, rather than challenging each other’s validity.

I had difficulty filling out the inventory with regard to my general philosophy, as without differentiation, half the questions refer to specific practice, such as planning activities, while the rest demand a static philosophy. While both theory and practice are vital and I agree with Grace (2006) one cannot have one without the other, they do not necessarily stay still for examination. My practice varies widely depending on subject and context. Redoing the inventory for five different fields in which I have taught, the variety was more marked that I expected. In fact each one came out with a different primary philosophy, though the range within each was no less bunched than the original.

Burnout Workshops
The radical perspective came up second in general, and top for my Burnout workshops (All scores are tabulated in the appendix below). These workshops, dealing with prevention and management of stress and burnout, are conducted within community groups where the issue is acknowledged as important and very real, both to the individuals and to the group. They are used both to equip individuals for life and participation in the world, and to strengthen community. This is one of the few opportunities I get to confront social action directly, so I’m not surprised it came up the most radical. The humanist element is also strong with facilitation and focus on expanding potential, and working with emotions. Exercises such as role playing ‘saying no’ are effective uses of experiential learning, another focus of Humanism.

Mathematics tutoring
When I teach numeracy and mathematics, it is generally because my students perceive a general need or inadequacy. In trying to overcome their fears of the topic, I use plenty of problem solving and discovery methods to show them what they can do. Needs assessment is also very important, as I cannot rely on these students to be self-directed. These all draw on the progressive category, which scored highest on this take. I have the students’ immediate needs in mind, but I also choose my materials to connect to something wider, real issues in the students’ lives, for better learning by connecting to what students find important, for building confidence in the subject and in life, for community and world involvement and for making the world a little less scared of the subject.

Rubber workshops
Fun with Rubber and Latex scored closest to my overall outcome, in that the highest score for both was humanism. These workshops are run within the queer women’s communities of Newtown and are a forum to get a specific subculture interacting in an alcohol-free environment, to normalise open dialogue about sex of the varieties relevant to that community and to give people experience in the practical aspect of do-it-yourself philosophy. These are all dire needs in the community at the moment and I would have expected a high score in the radical column, but when I thought about it, I don’t use many radical techniques in planning or teaching, likely because there are relatively few to be found (Newman 1999). The workshops are advertised much more individualistically as an opportunity to have fun, learn skills and take home new toys that one cannot afford to buy commercially. Planning is restricted to materials and sequences of skills and learning is experiential after a short presentation, which may explain the high score for humanism.

Tatting classes
Tatting is a form of lace making that is associated with people’s grandmothers. I often run tatting classes in women’s spaces and, as with most of my teaching, they are a chance for people to connect to a community without putting themselves on display, as there is an ostensible purpose, and something to do with their hands. Tatting is a skill that people learn for learning’s sake, or to connect to women’s history, both which have a place in the liberal tradition (Zinn 1990), which came up as the primary perspective here. Mastering the skill is very important as it looks so simple that anyone who gives up goes away feeling defeated, so I put effort into finding different ways of teaching and promoting learning of the basic concepts, which come naturally to very few. I guess this is where the behaviourism comes in.

Tap dancing classes
Tap dancing came up as behaviourist, the very lowest score on my overall results. One reason I can see is that, where I generally don’t believe in practice and repetition as an important part of learning, that is what dancing is all about. There can be no rhythm in one isolated step. This class, like any of mine, has other objectives such as promoting body confidence, but the teaching is heavily systematic, building from simple step to complex sequence, with constant feedback.

These five case studies shed some light on my original score, which was supposed to position my overall philosophy and deep beliefs about adult education. They suggest to me that Zinn’s idea of purpose is simplistic as she seems to assume that there is one or two purposes behind an educational interaction, where as I can list a dozen at a time, primary and secondary, overt and incidental, cognitive or affective, individual or community, all in play at once.

Yet wherever they are placed, with recurrent themes of facilitation, interactive and experiential learning, personal growth and emphasis on affective content, it is no longer surprising that I came out as 97% humanist. I don’t always practice heavy consultation as I tend to have skills to transmit and the student has already chosen with their feet, but when I am in a classroom I do concentrate on empowering each individual student to be able to learn and connect the information, skills and attitudes to the rest of life. Theory-wise, the only aspect of humanism that came up in the PAEI as problematic is the idea that students are always capable of self direction.

My next score was radical, and I am certainly not surprised I scored high there as many theories which excite me fit into that category. I read plenty of libertarian education, critical pedagogy, postmodernist, feminist, indigenous and queer pedagogy. Yet as much of this field focuses on the organisation of education, over which I have less control than I do over my teaching, these theories have not translated as well as I would like to my practice. I have, however, opened a community space which provides resources, support and a location to all sorts of experimental educational projects. This has directly drawn on Illich’s (1971) Learning Webs.

Progressive theory has also had a significant impact on my thought. I have moved from pedagogy to adult education through the thought of such educators as A S Neill (1926), and pin hopes for schools on reducing the pressure they are under, by expanding, improving and respecting adult education. I work with students’ interests and needs and try to link content to their lives and real world problems, and make use of democracy rather than hierarchy, to model social change further than any content can go.

The liberal tradition is no longer the cutting edge of education, but I cannot ignore its achievements. I do not like to lecture and the list of topics a renaissance mind should know is centuries outdated, but I stand by the concept of a broad base of knowledge and understanding being important for interacting with the world.

Behaviourism, too, makes points one cannot afford to ignore, as it addresses a wealth of issues of how the mind works. At the very base, all the theories in the world won’t help if the student is in no position to learn, either from being subjected to a style of input that their brain cannot process, or merely not having had breakfast.

So, Zinn’s inventory has been useful in clarifying differences in my practice. However, her framework is not the only one by far. The number of similar frameworks with slightly revised categories, differences and overlaps, suggest to me that none of them are quite as comprehensive as they’d like to be, and remind me that they are all merely approximate divisions according to one set of criteria, which would easily be shifted according to another. For example, though the topics are surely related, Zinn’s philosophies of adult education and Merriam’s (Merriam, Caffarella & Baumgartner 2007) Five Orientations to Learning each have five categories, some of which overlap while the others don’t. Though each has some interesting questions on the other axis, I find nothing to recommend one over another, apart from attachment to an inventory.

However there are other ways of navigating theory, some of which can even coordinate with one of the first kind. Apps’ breakup (Zinn 1990), I believe, can enhance Zinn’s or any similar framework and make it more meaningful and flexible by providing sensible places to change category. The categories of Teacher, Learner, Content, Learning and Purpose are very real and distinct, and feel closer to being finite, while being overtly an example of aspects to be covered, rather than attributes on which to choose a category.

For example, as a teacher I tend to be a facilitator, as in the humanist tradition. I tend to treat learners in a progressive manner, working towards fulfilling their interests and discovering their experience. The widest purpose, in the back of my mind, is to bring about social change through community cohesion. I believe this is radical though the change I seek is not specifically revolutionary as some theorists require. I believe learning is incredibly broad, and find it appropriate to be very flexible in my methods. Each tradition focuses on different aspects; maybe behaviourism wins this because they focus on it so much more. And for content, I largely teach what I know, and I do aspire to being a renaissance person, as I see all sorts of weird and wonderful titbits of knowledge and understanding, especially learning from the past, can work together into something richer and more complex, that would be lost if we all stuck to the same popular fields.

To examine the original categories as capable of being broken down on these lines is a step towards seeing them as all aspects of a whole, and also to being able to appreciate theories which do not pretend to be a theory of everything. Indeed, I share many sentiments with the postmodernists, though they have severe limitations, especially in practice (Newman 1999). With a healthy disrespect for categories, they seem to support my inclination to not label myself, but to rather put together an eclectic collection of ideas, past and present, leaving room for the future as well.

Frameworks can help navigate the aisles, but what I put into my basket of theories will depend on what I come to need, what I think I can use, and ultimately, what makes me happy. So much of adult education theory takes itself very seriously, which is a pity as it is stuff on which to dream. Many theorists, and especially policy makers in this country, would do well to read bel hooks and consider how “to be changed by ideas [is] pure pleasure” (hooks 1994).

Despite limitations in the instrument, the PAEI has described my diverse views and given me food for thought on what I find useful, and what I find exciting. From here, I hope to fill some holes such as translating some of my radical theories to practice, and continue add to my – now better organised – basket of theories and practices, ideas, techniques and inspirations, all while cheerfully eluding categorisation.

Appendix: PAEI scores

_                   Liberal   Behaviourist   Progressive    Humanist   Radical
Overall        70           66                    88                    97                 90
Tatting         89          86                     84                    85                 76
Burnout      73          71                     89                    94                 95
Rubber        73          70                     85                    97                 76
Maths          84          80                     97                    90                 81
Tap              79           86                     72                    83                 65

Reference List

Grace, A. 2006, ‘Critical Adult Education: Engaging the Social in Theory and Practice’, in T. Fenwick, T. Nesbit & B. Spencer (eds), Contexts of Adult Education: Canadian Perspectives, Thompson Educational Publishing, Toronto.
hooks, b. 1994, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, Routledge, New York.
Illich, I. 1971, Deschooling Society, Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England.
Merriam, S., Caffarella, R. & Baumgartner, L. 2007, ‘Critical Theory, Postmodern and Feminist Perspectives’, in S. Merriam, R. Caffarella & L. Baumgartner (eds), Learning in Adulthood: A Comprehensive Guide, 3rd edn, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp. 241-270.
Neill, A.S. 1926, Summerhill, Penguin Books Australia, Ringwood, Victoria.
Newman, M. 1999, ‘Looking for Postmodern Adult Educators’, in, Maeler’s Regard, Steward Victor Publishing, Sydney, pp. 194-202.
Zinn, L. 1990, ‘Identifying Your Philosophical Orientation’, in Golbraith (ed.), Adult Learning Methods, Kreiger, Florida, pp. 39-77.

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incorporated lesbians

November 21, 2008 at 7:59 pm (out and about)

last sunday i pulled out my failing sense of duty and spent my afternoon at the women’s library. this in itself is no chore, though libraries are no longer the refuges they used to be.

i was there for an agm.

linc, lesbians incorporated, is what grew out of the lesbian space project. these days, it deals exclusively in grants. and grants are something my projects lack.

it was an interesting afternoon, though i was in a strange position. i was being welcomed as a member with a shared sense of history and linguistics, whereas i am actually based somewhere quite different, as much as i feel affection for their point of view. more than anything, i was simply suprised, unprepared for walking into what felt like a little time warp, back to collectives that i have archives for, but am just too young to have participated in.

apparently usage the word ‘lesbian’ had been debated previously and noone wanted to revisit it. ‘herstory’ was taken as almost entirely uncontroversial, and ‘femtors’, instead of ‘mentors’, gently amused some but was slid into conversation quite seriously.

i’m kinda glad this stuff is still alive, somewhere.

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December 9, 2007 at 2:08 am (out and about)

i spent tonight in wollstonecraft, at an old school friend’s housewarming. sally and her boy have bought a stunning unit –walking distance from our old school. it was a pleasant evening, and good to see sally again, but i have caught up with her recently; what was really interesting was seeing ngaire and alex again.

ngaire was always quiet, a bit nervous and uncomfortable, unassuming, trying not to take up space. these days she’s spending her time excavating cambodia, egypt and jordan. she just discovered temples in cambodia as part of her honours thesis. discovered! but her demeanour hasn’t changed much.

when alex walked in I didn’t recognise her. i didn’t expect her, as i’d heard she’s usually in america, and she’s filled out and has long straight hair, both of which are striking changes visually. she didn’t greet me, and when sally asked if she remembered ngaire and me she said of course, and kept right on talking. just like high school.

she did interact with me a little, like a complete stranger. it’s not so far from the truth – i don’t think I’ve seen her once since 1996, and while i knew her fairly well back then, she probably didn’t know me at all.

alex was always compelling. charismatic, the centre of attention. desperate to be so at all times. it seems that hasn’t changed all that much, i couldn’t stop watching her. her conversations were interesting though there was nothing in them.

she reminded me of someone. inflections, gestures, words, posture, at first i thought she must remind me of the old her, but no, there was only a little bit of that in there. then i realised she reminds me of many different people. kat, dez, hexy, kat, tim’s girlfriend… she seems to share mannerisms with most of the larger than life personalities i know. She won’t know these women, but my guess is that they all share cultural heritage, especially from tv, and bits that I thought of as characteristic of one person are actually just attractive snippets that they’ve picked up from a public source.

What i’m not so sure about is why these people are all the larger women i know. i suspect it isn’t just my eyes that make this grouping. i think their expression of confidence is different from that of my confident, charismatic but short statured friends. maybe it’s something about how they interact with me, i have known for a long time that i’m universally ignored when i am the odd one out in a sea of people who don’t come far past my shoulders. this happens more often than i’d like. it’s an interesting question, and a thorny one. it interacts with questions of perception and body image, stereotype and generalisation, and doesn’t fit at all with the simplistic but fundamental concept that people are equal and that appearance does not, should not, matter. this discordance needs to be rectified. an interesting question indeed.

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eventful

October 3, 2007 at 12:01 pm (complex pleasures, out and about, poly)

it’s been an eventful few days. friday was the first day of my two weeks of holidays. meela was around all day. in the evening we went for gelato and had, finally, a fairly traumatic talk about where we were really up to, since we’ve been living a fiction and it’s not going to hold up to the fact that she’s moving in with daniel. indefinitely.

i wanted to do something exciting, but the best we could manage was to walk to her house. she cleaned a little, we sat and watched the cat and i cut her hair, which fairly uncomplicated and pleasant, as we got her tasks done and she was happy.

i got an sms from sally, a competition for the wittiest response to win a ticket to sleaze ball.

we got back to my place and sat in front of the tv with mim and nat – the first episode of six feet under and a whole miniseries, the fingersmith. we were just heading to bed when i got a call from heather, which i stayed up for. she was not joining the army, but she was going to new zealand, and wanted me to come to a concert with her first. we talked, subdued, deep and beautiful as i walked round and round and round the kitchen table. in the end she told me to go upstairs and make love to my girlfriend. when we finally managed to hang up, i went upstairs and cried in her arms instead.

in the morning i got a call back from katharine and arranged to have dinner that night, so meela said she’d make other arrangements for the evening. she had to be at her house so off she went. heather messaged asking if i wanted to have lunch, so in the next half an hour i discovered that sleaze was that night, wrote the response to sally and dashed up the street. had a lovely lunch and a nice wander and chat with heather, we sat around newq for a while and i took her to her train to work. wandering back to the newtown markets, i got the sms saying i’m going to the ball, just as i pass a corsetry stall. i now own a lovely black with blue pinstripe underbust corset, laced front and back.

i spent far too long at the markets, chatting to everyone. i giggled my way home, but my feet were so sore. i wanted to hang around and watch the film being made in the lounge room, but i had to have a rest

i told katharine i was going to the ball and she said we should do dinner the next week instead. so i stayed in bed till an hour before i had to be at sally’s, and consequently got there nearly an hour late.

we got dressed, i ended up in my corset and a blue bra, undies, stockings, suspenders and heels, top hat, tails, long gloves and a very thin scarf.

sleaze ball was interesting, i wandered about a bit and watched the spectacle, which was unfortunately ninety percent boys in jeans. the rest were spectacular though, heavily weighted with tutu-corset-fishnets outfits, and a sprinkling of spectacular ponies. i found some friends and got very cold sitting outside and chatting with them at the back of the ladies’ section. then i played balloon soccer and got too warm for my clothes, stripping down to bra and undies which made it much easier to kick above my head. not that i didn’t manage it in full heels and corset anyway!

i never found sally again after the first half hour, but i ran into cotton right at the end, and nat, hexy and i limped her to her car and she drove us to mine. it was dawn. nat and i took hexy home and we got home ourselves at about 5.30 or 6.

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broadway tormenting centre

September 18, 2007 at 4:16 pm (out and about)

the shopping centre has been tormenting me.

i seem to have enough money to breathe at the moment, and i need stuff. i’m not always sure what stuff i need, but there’s never anything in the house to pick up and eat, my clothes are all inappropriate for certain occasions, my boots are falling apart severely and everything on my walls feels crumpled and tired.

the shopping centre is supposed to be the easy way to fix all this. get new things to replace the old; shiny, ready made, in a choice of colours and sizes. with that many clothes shops, shoe shops, food shops and everything shops, surely you can find what you’re looking for. and on sale. the price tags proclaim how cheap everything is, but the things that really are cheap really aren’t exciting, furthermore they’re definitely not what i need. things that i may need, or even want in any serious way, aren’t actually cheap.

this year, bright colours and wild patterns on all the women’s wear are luring me in. long elegant dresses – at least they look good on the models. what a shock, they’re making things i’d wear. if i found one of those dresses for $5 in an op shop i’d cheer. but there are hundreds and hundreds of them, and they’re not $5. it’s probably good they’re well out of my pricerange, for if i contemplated buying one i’d suffer immediate choice paralysis.

retro feel is an illusion as they’re brand new but i’m still being drawn into fashion. it’s happened once or twice before in my life. people start reacting differently to what i wear. i’m happy being right out of fashion, that distance says a little about who i am, identifies interesting people and makes people smile on the street. it’s disconcerting to be accepted, unnoticed.

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