August 26, 2013 at 10:48 pm (community, complex pleasures, musings)

apparently the dalai lama was in sydney recently, and he talked about anger. he says that in modern life we get very angry very quickly, citing things like road rage. probably true, though i don’t know how i’d evaluate whether it’s a new thing.

he also said that holding your anger for too long does two things: makes you sick, and makes others not trust you.

i’m not a huge fan of the dalai lama, and this is one of the things that makes me uncomfortable about him (though i also can’t confirm what i picked up third hand was an accurate assessment of his point). as an activist, i use anger. it is very important to me as a valid response to many things, a rallying point, a motivation. its expression is a tool, a demonstration of the severity of my point and catharsis.

anger is better than despair, and sometimes you get to choose between the two.

that’s not to say he’s never worth listening to. that anger makes us sick is something we’ve been struggling with forever, that we still need to figure out more about. that anger alienates others is an interesting thought – i know it pulls some of us together, but maybe its capacity to put people off is one factor in why it’s hard to get our message out to others. what to do about it? have multiple faces of an issue, i guess. allow our anger while being careful to manage its effects on ourselves and on others. make sure we’re using the anger and not letting it use us. understand more about what it is, what it does to us and how it is seen by others. know when to hold it and when to let it go.



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old girlfriends

August 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm (brain, community, musings, queer, travel)

so my first girlfriend’s little green dot popped up on google chat.

i haven’t thought about her for quite a while. she said some pretty nasty stuff about me online, and never made an effort to be friends. the few times we interacted over the last seven years, i’ve been surprised she’s been civil.

my first thought was to say hi; i guess it would be up to me. but i’d have to be prepared to maybe not be answered, and to find something worth saying.

i think over my life; how i would present myself if asked what i’m up to. always an interesting exercise, a good motivator to make my life something i can own with pride. my current situation would probably not look wildly exciting to her, but that’s just fine. i realise i don’t need her approval, i just need to be able to hold my head up. i can.

then i thought that i really don’t know who she is anymore. i’d rather see if she’s still posting her travel blog, than interact personally with her. but i couldn’t remember the address, and i’m sure it was never bookmarked in this computer, which is only a few years old.

i got as far as typing her name into google; guess what, an interview comes up, which reveals that as of last year, she had been living in one place for a few years. that’s new, and good. an interesting place, too, with a radical queer women’s choir.

that all sounds good, perfect for her, in fact. i’m glad to think she’s found somewhere she can call home, i was always a little concerned about the need to up and move to the other side of the world every six months. she obviously has some kind of community, with queer and musical life, and she can probably speak croatian fluently by now. i’m glad for her.

i may look her up if i’m passing nearby zagreb one day, but until then, i don’t think talking to her will improve my life, and i doubt it would improve hers. my five minutes of nostalgia is over and i’m back to my life, happy in the knowledge that someone i used to know seems to be doing well.

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the wedding goes on without me

August 12, 2013 at 2:09 am (bug, poly, queer)

i was going to be married, 36 hours from now. my love affair with my car has been going strong for over 14 years, and i was going to acknowledge it in public, while making a statement about marriage, at the mass wedding at uts’ pride week. however we’ve just been mucked around. and the ceremony has been moved to a lawn, which is inaccessible for cars. sorry, they say.

11am on a tuesday was not an ideal time for people; my parents can’t make it. tim, my bridesmaid can’t make it. my photographer can’t make it. changing the time will be excellent, but will i have the guts to make a stand alone event of it?

it was suggested that i could show up with a photo of my car. that shows how much they think of the love of my life. it also reminds me of the humiliation of showing up to a birthday party at the bike track, with a bicycle photo frame in lieu of a real bike. i’d tried, i’d come to the party, literally and figuratively. but i still couldn’t ride the track.

it was supposed to be a stunt, but as i notify everyone that my wedding is postponed, i just feel hurt.

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stitch and bitch

July 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm (community, crafty, gender, words)

stitch and bitch. sewing group. knitting circle. i’ve run them on and off for years. at first i was wary of the most popular name for such things, but over the years i was won over by its recognisability and openness – i don’t care if you knit or sew or crochet or tat or do something obscure like making friendship bracelets.

at QC 2012, i scheduled a stitch and bitch, and it was so popular that we ended up having three of them, and our crafting spilled joyously onto conference floor. however the women’s caucus took issue with the name and reprimanded me, with no right of reply.

this year we scheduled four sessions straight up. it wasn’t as novel as the year before, but there was still an impressive number of knitters on conference floor. i didn’t change the name, and there were no complaints. i thought about addressing the issue with the new caucus, but refrained.

over the year i’ve thought about the term, and i can’t find any reason i can credit, to not use it. surely ‘bitch’ is a sterling example of a word ready for reclamation. we can’t just get rid of it because it actually is a legitimate word in the english language, and even though it refers to dogs, it is very specifically gendered. the concrete implications of its initial meaning will not fade away, even if we try to exile it. all that does is make yet another feminine word bad and taboo.

if we embrace it, however, by accepting this positive usage that has evolved organically, we are associating a feminine word with something good, changing it from a word which attaches an unequivocably negative connotation to femaleness, to a word with mixed usage. after all, what could be more positive than the informal political learning and exchange of ideas encouraged when we come together as a group to share our communal love of fibre arts?

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non-cis males

July 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm (gender, queer, words)

i know why we use this term, i understand it’s important to support groups of people who are discriminated against and put at a disadvantage. i understand that it’s just as important to catch all the various people who have experienced these things, and not just aim our support at the people who fit into groups big and obvious enough that we can name them. i understand that trying to list them all doesn’t work, even if we keep going, from women to trans women and trans men to genderqueer people and intersex people and sex and gender diverse people (let’s not get started on what it would mean for an individual to be diverse).

still, i’m anxious for the next change in terminology. a non-cis male is, gramatically, a male person who is not cisgendered. that’s about as good as arguing that the term ‘men’ includes everyone. you can insist… or you can look for something better.

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fear of matching

June 14, 2013 at 2:33 am (crafty, simple pleasures, travel)

“…manages to be cohesive yet not excessively matched.”
why is the west afraid of matching, coherence and pattern?
all through africa and the middle east, amazing dresses and outfits happen with matching headscarves. colours and patterns are bold, and decoration follows through from neck to sleeve to hem to scarf edge, if not more.
in russia, turkey and throughout eastern europe layering of patterns is acceptable and dressing from head to toe in one colour is just fine.
while there’s plenty i appreciate about sydney, i’m always disappointed to come back to the land of jeans and tshirts, where the only colour we can repeat is black, and even that’s a bit much if it matches properly, in a suit. everyone’s so busy fitting in that creative dressing is an anomaly.

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Greetings from Oman!!!

March 16, 2013 at 11:47 pm (travel)

A beach in Khasab, on the  Musandan Peninsula, a small section of Oman, separated from the rest bythe UAE. A large flat area of rocks and shells and rubbish – the remains of seafood and bonfires, lots of sunflower sees, ring pulls and plastic bottle  tops, minimal glass and cigarette butts, no condoms or needlse but one suspicious batch of shining brass bullet shells. It’s bounded by the beach on one side and mountains on the other. The mountains are amazing, rocky and bare, dynamic in their stillness as you can feel the movement over eons, the formation of the earth present in the different slopes and changes of the sedimetary layers, lurchingfrom angle to angle and overlaid with evience of rockslides, a few tenacious little trees and a hint of huan involvement. A mother and baby goat bleat in conversation as they find eachother, wandering up and down the almost vertical slopes with  ease.On the flat, there is  road with barriers so you can ony see the tops of the decorated trucks. Cars drive in, though, and slowly make their way to one or another of the palm-rooved pagodas set up along the edge, just before the sharp drop as it is eroded into a pleasant sand beach which is completely submersed at high tide. The water is green near the edge, with the occasional jumping fish; blue further out with dhows – elegant local fishing boats – all lined up on the hazy, close horizon which offers not a hint of Iran across the Gulf. Even the mountains that frame this small inlet fade out to nothing in the middle of the sixth rise.Cars roll by and stare at us through heavily tinted windows before rolling right back the other way. A small bus appears, and another, and suddenly there is a legion of schoolgirls on the shore. Black pinafores, some as high as the knees but mostly to the ground, with white headscarves, sleeves, leggings and stockings, perfume wafting in their wake. Hopscotch on the sloping beach, running around and swarming the play equipment at the back near the road barrier, especially the many swings. Those with shorter skirts are generally most active, they may also be the youngest but it’s hard to tell. Shreiks of laughter ring out. Headscarves gradually slip off heads but shoes aren’t removed, overseen by two figures in full black, only eyes and hands uncovered, not venturing from the shade of the pagoda.Goats wander, cars roll through, measured waves crash neatly on the beach, mountains stand. We sit on the edge, on our packs. one girl approaches fro the beach a metre below us. She greets me ‘how are you?’ and I reciprocate, then we exchange names- hers is Mira  – before she grins and runs back to her friends, ignoring Michael just as many men we’ve met have ignored me. Only a few girls have braved a jaunt to our section of the  beach, two pagodas from theirs, before one of the buses comes back and they file on, scarves adjusted. A man comes in a red and white turban, white shirt and saffron pants to pick up their rubbish as the rest of the group huddle with their teacher under a pagoda. The second bus arrives, most cars leave too and the beach is left empty but for us, some goats and the garbage picker wandering into the distance. It’s 10am and the day will soon be heating up.

Hi everyone, I arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, after fourteen long hours in the air. I met up with Michael and we went straight back to Dubai where we could afford to sleep – Abu Dhabi having no youth hostels. After a day seeing Big things in Dubai, including the Palm Jumeira, a dancing fountain and many incredible buildings and giant malls, we moved on to Sharjah. Sharjah is much more approachable than Dubai, with a beautiful town centre and lots of dusty space. From there we got a bus to Ras Al Khaima then started to hitch, across the Omani border and up to Khasab. The town isn’t much, but we spent a whole day on the beach  and took a dhou ride up the fjord to Telegraph Island. Some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in my life and worth all the travel! After two nights in a tent then a day on the water, we were eager for a shower and electricity so we headed back down to the UAE, since there is no way for a visitor to cross from the peninsula to the rest of Oman without doing so. We managed to get a ride all the way down to Muscat, which was supposed to take five hours but was much longer. Now we’re ahead of schedule and can relax a while! Hope all is well at home,
In Muscat,

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February 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm (musings, words)

another word to use instead of crazy or mad or insane is wacky. but it’s replacing the positive uses of those terms, so maybe i really should still call a fabric insane when it’s over the top and bright and i love it. i don’t know.

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no poo

January 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm (simple pleasures, words)

for the life of me, i can’t remember what prompted me to google ‘no poo’ half an hour ago. turns out, it describes me! it means no shampoo, usually using bicarb and apple cider vinegar, egg yolks, conditioner only or mint tea on your hair, and sometimes, as i have done for nearly fourteen years, water only. amusingly, it seems that water only is the ideal to aspire to!

you can find reams and reams of writing on different people’s assessments of their hair, with blow by blow accounts of what they’ve put into it, how much and how often, how they combine it with massaging or brushing or combing or cutting. what it felt like when it was wet and dry, whether there was this or that effect, whether they’ve been ‘brave’ enough to try successively minimalist versions. i wouldn’t be surprised to find people charting their experiences in haircare!

yet i haven’t found a scrap of information about why you’d put vinegar in your hair.

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October 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm (community, words)

how’s this for a word?

i think i’m pretty good on not using words associated with physical disabilities as pejoratives, but i have trouble not using mad, crazy and insane. this is hardly unusual, according to the comments in . it’s something we need to work on, and part of it is more than language; while most of us do understand that someone in a wheelchair isn’t less human than those of us who walk unaided, we don’t necessarily actually believe that about someone who is displaying erratic behaviour, going somewhere completely unexpected in conversation or even using unusual speech patterns, any of which may be attributable to a ‘mental illness’ or other non-neurotypicality. thorny, thorny issues.

please correct me if i’m wrong, but i don’t think dozy is a word that anyone will be upset about beyond what i’m actually meaning. in the last couple of days i’ve been noticing plenty of dangerous behaviour on the roads, and just now at macquarie centre, dozens of people just walked uncaringly in front of both my father with his walking stick, and me with a very full trolley. neither of us are able to stop as easily as they seem to assume. dozy. so dozy. i feel a little strange at feeling so accomplished by virtue of having found a word to be negative but not too negative with, but it really is necessary. any others?



numpty – a good word i hear, mostly for people who believe in woo.

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