2018, America, Gay, Gayblog, Life

Decision Making

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make? How did you make it? Was it the right choice?

 

The biggest decision I’ve ever had to make was to decide whether to go with my partner of 8 years to San Francisco, possibly for an indefinite time, or stay home in Sydney Australia. It’s really been the biggest, monumental and life-changing decision I have ever had to make. We’ve had to make. It was tough. It was draining.

 

It was also exciting and something to look forward.

 

It’s been just about six months since we moved. I still can’t believe that we’ve done this. I still can’t believe that I’m here. That we’ve made this seismic shift, this gigantic earth-shaking change that has indelibly transformed our lives. It’s not been easy. There have been second thoughts, concerns, arguments and fights.

Moving with a partner to another country is a very challenging thing, especially when you move so far from your home. Home for us isn’t a short plane trip away. So far from the familiar, from the known and from what is comfortable. You only have each other for support and guidance, and that can be quite a lot for just two people.

There are times when I miss my family, my home city and friends and logical family too. I’ll see a post on instagram and my heart breaks a little. Blue skies, beaches, Victorian terraces, pubs filled with people and queer parties where everyone looks so happy and bright.

We came to this decision after months and months of unending talks and discussions. Almost a year of back and forward in fact. We went over everything. Every possible outcome, scenario, issue and challenge. Pros and cons. At one point the entire thing was cancelled out as we thought it wasn’t going to happen.

We spoke and spoke and disassembled, had little tussles about it, and tried to be as honest to each other as we could. Even once it was all confirmed, we had months and months to go till we moved, as the move date kept getting pushed back. So yet more time to think and deliberate. Originally we were to move in April. Then May. Then September. And then finally November came around, and our ticket was bought. We had so much to do and take care of.

I remember the printed calendar I made and all the tasks we needed done for each day on little post-its.

No wonder we both felt so frayed and worn once we finally arrived here in SF. And in the middle of winter to add. We really don’t give ourselves enough credit.

 

Yes, at times, we have both questioned what we have done, and the choice we have made. The first few months here especially so. It felt as though we were thrown into a washing machine, spun around, rinsed repeat spun, then thrown out into this new and strange place.

We fought, we got on each others nerves, emotions became frayed as we tried our hardest, our best, to keep ourselves and our lives together. We tried hard to stay upbeat and positive, to get out more and meet people. It wasn’t easy at all. Again, really this move has been the hardest thing I personally have ever done, considerably so as I’m quite the reflective person. It is in my nature to think upon life, choices made and those encountered upon the way.

 

But, do I think this was the right choice we made, to come halfway across the world, and leave all those we love and all that we know?

 

Yes. In a heartbeat.

 

Sometimes I imagine what life would have been like if we stayed in Sydney, and the opportunity to move to America never came up. Life would be sublime. Comfortable. Bucolic. Fun. Always full of laughs and light and sun. That rhymed. I actually didn’t mean for it to.

 

But, nothing would have changed. I know this. I would have stayed in this comfort zone for such a long time. I feel as though my growth would have been stunted, and we would be in static. As much as I miss the place and the loved ones there [really I do], moving to another country and town has been the best thing for me. You need change in life in order to evolve and experience. Sometimes we need to be picked up and shook about.

 

My regret would be if we didn’t do this. The regret would be impossible for me to live with. I would hate myself for not giving it a go. I picture myself in this alternate world where we never moved, and I imagine myself living in San Francisco, and I can feel the envy.

I’m in the right place. I can feel this with every part of me, and I don’t regret our decision for a second.

 

What’s the biggest decision you’ve ever had to make?

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Ten years ago.

We often look ahead without taking the time to look at how far we’ve come.

Today I thought on what my life was like ten years ago.

 

Ten years ago, in 2008, my life would have looked like this:

 

I would have been about a year into my Photography degree back in Sydney, which I can say I remember fondly. I did have a lot of fun going to the art college I attended, and living the life of an art student.

Relatively carefree, at the peak of my creativity. Living life in a light and harmless manner.

Sometimes, I do miss that carefree aspect of life that many like myself were lucky enough to have had, even for a few short years. I really do wish I had made more out of it and experienced more of life back then, but I refuse to put myself down anymore, as life only gets better with each passing month and year.

I remember the flexibility, the freedom, the time spent working on tasks that felt so very important in my life. I remember the staff there, including the sweet and amiable head of photography, as well as the arrogant teacher whose ideas were terrible and lied about his past experiences [he once claimed to have taken photos of Twiggy and designed an Electric Light Orchestra cover], as well as his almost opposite in the form of the most capable, sweet and genius teacher whose skill in lighting was phenomenal.

How to light something correctly. How to edit something with finesse in photoshop.

The irony is, all of that is pretty much now done away with.

It’s a funny thing, realising you may have wasted years of your life on a discipline that was dying, and now a decade later, really kind of is in its death throes. Instagram really did a number on photography. At times, I do regret having not switched over to graphic design as I know it would have been far more applicable and adaptable for a career. Mistakes are made to be learnt from.

However, the truth is, I write this in another country and in a relationship with a guy who would change my life just a year later.

Had I not attended this art school or even did photography there, the chances are we would never have met, and I wouldn’t be writing this in San Francisco. Most likely I would not be writing this at all.

Ten years ago I would have been right in the midst of agonising depression. I spent years living with this without any help or assistance or outreach, and it would be a very long time indeed until I would work on this part of myself. My moods ran to darkness very easily; I found it difficult to enjoy life. I found it difficult to make lasting friends.

I felt so isolated and alone. This is the aspect of this time in my life I recall vividly. I craved any human contact with anybody, and by this point in life I was almost entirely celibate. I worked weekends at restaurants owned by relatives; a gruelling, thankless and difficult line of work I now refuse to go back to. I rarely had the opportunity to go out as after a shift on a Saturday night I tended to head home from exhaustion. Sometimes, we may have gone to a local pub for a drink perhaps. I think I may have been to a gay bar only a few times at this point.

Besides attending bars and clubs, back then there was really no way to meet people like today with apps and social media. All of that was still in its infancy and only just starting to gain traction. I still had a flip phone Motorola Razr which I absolutely adored and consider the best phone I ever had.

So, meeting people was tough.

I did have a friendship with someone in this year; which in hindsight meant something very different for the both of us. It was a very heightened, almost manic friendship. We hung out a lot and did a lot together. This time was replete with emotion, and confusion, and a lack of awareness and intention that I subsequently learned from. We had a lot of fun, yet this friendship ultimately ended for a number of reasons, and did not end in the most positive manner, which took quite the while for me to work through and process.

But, like everything, we all learn from our past transgressions.

Thinking back to this point in my life, it was rife with aimlessness, a sense of airiness, confusion, insecurities. And a lackadaisical attitude generally towards the future. It’s difficult for me to reflect too much on this time. Yet I can see just how far I have come.

Physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m a far more centred and relaxed person. I am far more confident in myself and my abilities. I am in a great relationship. I have lived and experienced life in as best a way I can and will continue to do so.

 

What were you doing 10 years ago?

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2018, America, Opinion, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Faith In The Future.

Do you ever get asked where you would see yourself in five years?

I’m not in a great place to think about my future at the moment. I also tend to dislike the ‘where would you be in 5 years from now’ question that seems to be a constant feature of job interviews. It’s so overly used that it has become such a cliched and cringeworthy dull question that is unimaginative and determines to leave nothing up to fate.

The truth is, sometimes I don’t know where I will be in 5 years. Sometimes I don’t think I want to even be anywhere or to exist at all. I fear that all I will amount to is what I am currently, and that all I can offer is what little I can today.

I’m afraid of being a static creature, incapable of growth and change, and most importantly, the ability to say ‘yes’ and experience every part of life possible. I wish I could succeed and accomplish. I wish I could break through this glass barrier above me and not have the constant thoughts of failure running in the back of my mind. Thoughts which unfortunately have chased me for years and are difficult of the highest degree to silence or even just mute, even for a short time.

I fear that my future will be banal and mundane, and more of the same, and that my life will amount to very little. I’m afraid that I will be forevermore an aimless creature. A Waste Man. Someone of little regard that simply lives day to day, week to week and is abjectly content with their lot in life and the universe. I am afraid of slowly turning into this hopeless creature of a plain and simple existence without fire and life and passion. I don’t want to be someone who simply exists and inhabits a space. I need more than what I currently have out of life. I want to live more, travel more and experience more.

I want my friends to always be there and to be the warm giving people I know. I know they will. I want for my husband to continue being the most supportive person I know. Sometimes I wonder what he sees in me. Sometimes I struggle to put myself in his shoes and imagine what I’m like to live with.

I know I can be a difficult person, and that many of my thoughts tend to run to the dark, and that it can be a task for me to see the light in most situation. I hope however, that I’m a good person and that I make him and my friends happy.

I want people to see me as a person of skill and talent, I want to be respected and recognised for something. What exactly, I really don’t know. I just want, from today to 5 years into the future, to not regret. To not regret anything at all. I don’t want to coast anymore. I don’t want to have blissful contentment with how things are for me at the moment. Comfortable and unchallenged. I sometimes feel pangs of regret. I hate that feeling. I hate feeling as though I have consistently taken the wrong turn, stepped through the wrong door, and not made the right choices.

I think sometimes that there’s an alternate universe out there, where I can smile with ease; I’m making a difference, and have a purpose to my life. I work hard, and am recognised for it. I rarely get down, and even if I do I bounce back and go back to my enthusiastic self. It feels counter productive, having this stream of thought. But I’ve always believed in the idea of alternate realities. It’s an alluring and deceptive concept, to think that out there are other worlds, where the figurative alchemical makeup is just a touch different.

What would make me happiest in life in the future would be to have an aim, a purpose and direction. I don’t know how or what, and these are the tough questions that I need to ask myself continually. I know that things will all work out fine for me in the end. I also know that it is intrinsic in my age to have these constant worries for the future. I couldn’t imagine being a woman and having the added stress of worrying about having a child and/or career. I know I should be grateful.

We’re always told to be grateful and to take stock in what we have. But what we have sometimes isn’t as fulfilling as it should be. Sometimes we hunger for what’s out there unseen with our physical eyes, and thirst to gain more. More knowledge, love, experience or whatever is desired. But we are creatures of flux and evolution, always moving, changing. Sometimes fickle and cantankerous, yet we [hopefully] always think ahead and ponder what could be. I hope my future, like my present, is filled with people who fill my life with positivity and fun, and that I continue to grow and learn, and most importantly, take chances.

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2018, America

Defining Success.

‘What is success?’

 

The daily writing page I’m signed up on which I try to write daily for, asked.

Plain and simple. No messing about here. Just what is success. This is something that I think constantly on.

 

Is success having a fantastic career that provides money, a home, a car, those things which we are all indoctrinated to believe we want?

Is it something more esoteric like validation and acclaim from your peers and contemporaries?

What is this thing that some of us have, yet others [including myself] never seem to manifest?

In my life, I feel as though the concept of ‘success’ is something that is forever slipping through my fingers, unobtainable and elusive. Something so close yet so difficult to grasp.

I have always viewed success as being something linked with prosperity. As though they naturally go hand in hand. A relationship that is symbiotic and dependent upon one another. Success begets prosperity, as well as the other way round. Or does it? Can one prosper without success? Without money?

These days, it’s difficult for me to feel that I have success in my life. To convince myself. Here I am, jobless and in a new country. Away from friends, family, all those whom I love and miss. Not to mention that everything is done differently. I have to adapt and relearn life as it were. Finding and making new friends and connections, which is usually a challenge in itself for me has become even more so the case. Readjusting and thriving has been my top priority. And its been a turbulent fucker, let me tell you.

I know that many others out there may classify the concept and terminology of ‘success’ in a different subset of ideals; swap out monetary gain and career advancement for headspace self-helpy concepts of wellness, mental health and relationships.

Is it healthy, to re-categorise the idea of success as being not necessarily prosperity and attainment of status and wealth, but to a place of your immediate and close life: how well you manage a relationship, how well your life is with your loved ones, friends, coworker etc?

A part of me feels that this is somewhat naive.

Perhaps I’ve become more jaded in life. Is it because I’ve never experienced what my ideal of success is, being money/career/prosperity?

The tenets of this rather new-agey paradigm of success to me right now unfortunately has the smack of anathema to me. As though this line of thought is simply a salve to sooth a troubled mind like mine who constantly thinks on this very subject. Is it a cop-out to think this, or is it somewhat constructive and good for the soul?

 

I’m of two minds about this.

 

One the one side, success shouldn’t be so simply aligned and synonymously linked with the idea of prosperity and monetary gain and status. It should feel more well-rounded. A mother or father who stays home raising a child who would grow to become a good, kind-hearted person should be regarded as a ‘success.’ Being a stay at home parent is not an easy task. I can only imagine the challenges and difficulty that lay with this work.

Working and improving your mental health is also something that I see as a measure of ‘success.’ This has become such an important part of many of our lives. My own included. With the onrush and rise of the whole idea of wellness culture especially so in the last few years.

At times when I think of this, I recall Kate Winslet’s character in Titanic [don’t hate on me for referencing Titanic please], after she survives the ship and moves on with her life. The camera pans across frames of her doing all sort of stuff. Why she thought to bring them on a research vessel not withstanding, it showed her getting up to all sorts of rad stuff: horseriding, posing with a cool plane, at a beach with friends and looking hot in an old timey Hollywood portrait.

Clearly it was all a device to display how full her life was, and how her not choosing to go with the rich arsehole, she built this life that was clearly fulfilling on her own.

What would those pictures have looked like had she choose to go with Mr Punchable Face’s character, who may have given her a life of luxury and ease, yet detested and belittled her?

 

I sometimes wonder how many people out there who have the money, the careers and status might look at someone like me who has none of this, yet wish for a relationship like mine, for instance.

On the other side, I feel that it can be naive to think on success in such a simplistic manner. I feel as though this thread above is what I’ve been told by others, that career and money is not the end point of what we traditionally regard as success.

The unfortunate thing is, alas, we don’t live in a society that seems to view ones’ life worth in terms of success as how well a relationship goes, how good a parent one is, or how well one is doing with their mental health.

Capitalism sure does have its fucked up features.

I could be the perennial Red leftie that I was and start a spiel on how an economic system ie Capitalism destroys people’s very lives and wellbeing, and places ones worth solely on their monetary intake, but I’m not going to do that today.

The days of my university demonstrations, ardent leftie essays espousing the virtues of Socialism in the modern world and the need for it, are long gone. Not to say I have given up. I still dearly believe in left-wing politics. More the acknowledgement that the system we live and work and breathe in is not going to go away, at least not for a very long time.

This side of me thinks that it is rather simplistic and unworldly to believe that success can be more than money and status. Unfortunately, it is something that those of us that do not have, tell ourselves in order to feel better about our lives.

I sincerely do want the career, the recognition, and yes, the money. Not as a means in itself but rather so I can have a great life with my husband and not worry.

And that’s my issue with success. The pain, the worrying, the pressure that maybe I put on myself far too much. The expectations of my parents as a kid and adolescent, and their subsequent disappointment in me not reaching my potential. Am I exerting this pressure on myself? Is this more in my head than out there in society?

We are truly a generation weaned on the belief that we could do anything we wanted. Yet the hard truth is, indelibly, we cannot. Success is something that yes is attainable, but not perhaps, for each and every one of us.

What then, is success for you?

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Books to read in 2018

It’s a new year which means a time of renewal, growth and determining things like goals and objectives and what you want to get out of life for the next year.

As part of this idea of growth, I wanted to share some books that I have read or re-read in the last year or so, and for whatever reason stood out for me as share-worthy. These are all books that for different reasons piqued my interest. Some are based firmly in the real world and speak on concepts, issues and themes that are quite serious yet still great reads. Others are less serious and far more whimsical, imaginative and fun to read, as well as works of sci-fi or fantasy, and even one special book I rediscovered that was once my favourite book to read when I was a child, which I recently re-read.

Note: click on the image on the books, which will take you to Goodreads for more reviews and info. 

 

My Life In France, Julia Child.

 

If you’re unaware of who Julia Child is, the book My Life In France is a great intro to someone whose passion, grit and determination was an inspiration not just for me, but for countless others. The first reference to Julia Childs for me was the film Julie and Julia, which I feel this book lies adjacent to.

An autobiographical account of Julia Child’s [well-known American chef who specialized in French cooking and was the first to create a cookbook intended for home cookery] years in France with her husband, this book was introduced and gifted to me by a friend and fellow avid reader who espoused how relatable, enthralling and simply fun this book was to read.

I felt as though I was sitting at a French restaurant in the 1950’s with the grande dame of the culinary world herself, as she meticulously and juicily describes every detail of so many meals eaten in fine restaurants, as well as adventures she partook; from the start of their move in Paris, to studying cookery at the world-famous Cordon Bleu school in Paris and her subsequent rise in fame and recognition.

This book proved to be such an inspiration for me. Reading this one woman’s recounts of her life in that beautiful country helped me in turn better accept and thrive on the fact that I too, like her, moved overseas with a husband for his career. It was just something nice to read, with her making friends with locals, divulging secrets and skills required for cooking, as well as her struggles with finding an identity and purpose for her life.

I really loved reading this book, and I can always tell when a book is not just good but great, when it feels as though you only just started when you reach the final page.

 

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

 

This soon to be released film adaptation captured my imagination immediately. I was again recommended to read this book by a friend who knew me well, and said to me this book has all the things you love in it: namely, 1980’s cultural references, and science fiction and fantasy elements.

I wanted to read Ready Player One for years, it was admittedly a case of judging a book by its cover; which I LOVED but had never gotten around to it as it were.

The book tells the story of Wade Watts, a denizen of the dystopic world of 2044 USA: standards of living are in sharp decline due to depletion of natural resources and the collapse of the ecology, the poor are generally uneducated and live in ‘stacks’, giant towers composed of trailers.

Most escape this grim reality via the pervasive virtual reality named OASIS, created by the recently deceased genius and 1980’s-obsessed James Halliday.

I won’t get too far into it, but it is chock full of 1980’s, fantasy and sci-fi references, action and drama as well as well-written likeable characters and villains whom you want to throw your Gameboy at.

 

Skygods, The Fall Of Pan Am, Robert Gandt

 

Being a bit of an aviation nerd, I’ve always had a strange fascination for the golden-era of aviation and airlines up to the late 1960’s; being that time before Jetstar, Ezyjet, cattle class, discount tickets etc.

The Queen of the airlines was undoubtedly Pan American, headed by the singular Juan Tripp who is the man who is honestly responsible for giving the world the Boeing 707, the worlds first truly successful airliner that changed travel indelibly, as well as the Boeing 747.

I’ve had a bit of a strange obsession for defunct airlines such as Pan Am and TWA and wish I was old enough to have flown on either; this is the next best thing as this book goes into great detail about the formation, golden era and demise of this at one time blue-ribbon pedigree of an airline.

It reads as one part drama, one part recount, yet to me managed to keep an air of entertainment as the characters whom were responsible for this great airline’s birth as well as those responsible for its decline, not to mention those who worked for this venerable airline, come to life.

 

Red Plenty, Francis Spufford

 

Red Plenty tells the story of the burgeoning USSR and its efforts at overtaking the United States in terms of economic, scientific, technological and social growth in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It speaks of a time when the Soviet Union was modernizing rapidly and keeping on pace with the US, and was even set to surpass the US in terms of economic growth.

It was an era of optimism and eager competition, as well as a heartfelt honest belief in the Communist system by those living in the USSR at the time. Red Plenty tracks the progress and ultimate demise in the Soviet Union’s determined quest to gain parity and subsequently overtake the USA by means of planned economy using mathematics and cybernetics, for the ultimate aim of giving one and all the best quality of life possible.

Clearly, things didn’t turn out quite the way that the economic planners in the USSR had planned, but I found this book completely engrossing and intriguing; not 100% non-fiction and some characters were clearly fictional, yet still a great read.

 

And The Band Played On, Randy Shilts

 

The best way I can describe this book is heart-wrenching, emotional and frustrating. Not the things you want to find in a book necessarily. And The Band Played On tracks the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s, and for me was a must read as a Gay man to educate myself about just what it would have been like to experience the terror and fear that I could only imagine in this time.

This book goes in to extensive depth and detail about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the inability of the US government to take charge, or even acknowledge what was occurring. Although some information since the time of this publication came out has been updated [ie the concept of a Patient Zero from which the virus was first attributed to], it for me is something that all LGBTIQA people should read if they want to know more about how HIV/AIDS affected just so many people.

Like others before me whom have read this book, this would have to be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding books that I have ever read. It is just so disappointing and sad to read about the lack of information, the inability of the myriad government institutes to coordinate to even simply identify this virus as people were dying, not to mention the initial intentional ignorance of the politico class about this issue, and following lack of action to put plans in motion.

This book will leave you with much respect and admiration for those whom lived through this era, as they really are survivors and heroes who deserve so much respect.

 

House Of Tribes, Garry Kilworth


I’ll never forget the first time I saw this book, in a little independent book shop on Norton St, Leichhardt, back in Sydney. I was with my mum. I must have been perhaps 9 or 10 or so. Something about this little innocent looking book with a mouse depicted on its cover drew me to it, and it took me in hindsight perhaps a week to finish up, as I fell straight into the world this author created.

This is one book which helped shape my reading habits and my interest in literature, reading, as well as the fantasy genre. The novel follows a young field mouse named Pedlar who leaves the relative safety and familiarity of his home in a hedge behind, to enter the great country known solely as ‘The House.’ The house is another world entirely, replete with gangs of mice and rats who live in different parts of the house and vie for control and authority.

It was such a fun book to read as a kid; I must have re-read it at least a half-dozen times, and it [magically in my mind] captured my imagination, and inexplicably followed me in my life and now sits proud on my bookshelf here in San Francisco. Some people cite the Harry Potter series as their mainstay books which harken back to their youth and that initial spark and love of reading, and this is my version of that.

Oh, and the other thing that made me fall completely in love with this book was that it had a map!

 

The Consolations Of Philosphy, Alain De Botton.

 

Love him or not, Alain De Botton for me is a great educationist and instructor of thought. I don’t know what it is about the guy, but ever since the first time watching his documentaries on life, thought, philosophy and culture and society, I’ve been a big fan.

Maybe it’s the way that he informs and teaches without pretension; without the need for needlessly complex jargon. He has a concise and minimal voice and tone which can make even the most difficult to understand concepts quite clear.

If Alan Attenborough’s domain was the natural world, I would then see Alain De Botton in a similar vein for the world of thought.

I received this book as a birthday present; I won’t lie, it sat on my shelf for months as I had a plethora of fantasy and sci-fi books I wanted to read.

I picked up this book to read as I have this idea of ‘cleansing the palate’ as it were, with regards to what I read. I love and adore science fiction and fantasy novels, yet I find after reading book after book after book I need something more thought-provoking in terms of life and thought and lived experience. To cleanse the palate as it were. Something which will exercise my mind. Usually I’ll hit up whatever self-help book I have about which will fill me in with some thought that is based at least partly on philosophy.

Consolations, then, proved to be a simple and introductory means of learning about philosophical thought, and how it translates to the everyday life. De Botton mixes in a dash of self-helpiness as I think of it with his dollops of philosophy, and the result at least to me was a thought-provoking read and a good refresher on philosophy, its origins and it’s repercussions.

 

Those are my books to read in 2018, let me know your thoughts, or if you have any standout books that you have read recently that you love. Cheers!

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2018, Australia, Opinion

What Do You Stand For

It’s that time of year again, when  Australia Day, our national celebration comes about.

More and more in recent years, controversy has arisen over this specific public holiday.

Increasingly, the day is becoming synonymous with racism, discrimination against our indigenous peoples and the worst our society can represent, as opposed to a day of civic and social unity.

Newspaper articles are published like clockwork every year on this subject, radio talk show hosts will begin to decry that this is even an issue and blame the ‘do-gooders’ in our society for wanting to change everything.

Many people have come to rename the day Invasion Day, and within certain circles if there is a gathering, it has become customary to at least take a moment of remembrance for what this day represents for an important part of our society, and maybe chip in a bit of cash for donations to an indigenous community initiative or two.

You see, for many of us, and myself included, it is increasingly representing something dark and unhappy. Uncomfortably so.  A day that has resulted in misery for generations for a people whose land was taken from them forcibly, simply as they had a society that was of an alternate make-up to what the original settlers had.

Imagine, if you are reading this in the US, if Columbus’ Day was the United States’ national day of celebration. That’s the crux of what the issue is.

 

Yes, feel free to call us all ‘woke hipster douchebags, but the fact is,

Because they didn’t build permanent structures on this land, they therefore had their lands removed from them.

Because they didn’t have a formal written language [instead a very rich oral and pictorial language spanning back aeons], they had their lands removed from them.

Because they didn’t farm this land in the traditional agricultural Western sense, their land was taken.

This issue has become one of contention and debate.

The one thing that makes me grateful is that we have this opportunity to have a national dialogue about this. Many of Australia’s indigenous peoples abhor this day, and see it as [justifiably] a day of sorrow and remembrance as the start of the destruction of their culture.

We all seem to forget collectively the atrocities that have taken place in this country in the name of civilization and advancement.

The genocide of the Tasmanian indigenous peoples. The waves of disease and sickness of the indigenous peoples due to foreign diseases introduced into this country by settlers. The Stolen Generation, where mere children were forcibly removed from their families in order to grow up ‘white’ and ‘civilized’. The intervention in the Northern Territory in 2007 by the arch-conservative Howard government. The numerous massacres that have occurred.

These are all things that have happened that I feel we have all collectively swept under the rug. Is this the kind of nation we want to be a part of? Is it really what we stand for? Where we ignore the plight of the very people who were here before anyone else?

The upsetting thing is, the defence used by the crowd who do not want to change the date or even have this discussion at any cost is tinged with racism, anger and belittlement.

I don’t think I have heard yet a decent argument to keep the date where it is. Every argument and point in discussion has turned to the following:

 

That the do-gooders want to destroy this nation. 

 

The trope of the ‘woke SJW’s [Social Justice Warriors] aka ‘Do-Gooders’, a term I recall even from when I was a kid and my parents listened to talk back radio, is a point in contention and is a tried and tested stand by. The fact that so many who speak out for moving the date to a less controversial time tend to be younger and urbane has become a bone to pick with the no-move crew.

It’s become popular to use the stereotypical SJW inner city Greens or Labour voter and slam them, as well as paint them as a scapegoat for the fact that many people feel that these types are indelibly changing their society, one which they see as falling apart and losing its way.

This makes no sense, as these people are the ones who espouse free speech, yet decry those who want to initiate this national conversation.

 

The fact is, nothing stays the same. Nothing stays static. For the good of the future and the wellbeing of all, things change. It’s unavoidable. It’s how society develops and evolves.

It’s not the heyday of the 1950’s. Women are not bound by men’s attitudes, and strive hard for the same rights [and pay, still to this day] as men. LGBTIQ people are visible and have the same rights as all others and are making a big impact on society.

It shows just how afraid some are in Australia. How increasingly worried and paranoid some are becoming. Fearful for becoming out of touch; becoming irrelevant, and being pushed slowly but inevitably aside from channels of power.

Some of the arguments made touch upon this as an issue, or use the hipster, coffee slurping inner city dweller wanting to change everything as a negative, when in fact it is something to behold as those under 40 are becoming more and more interested and invested in talking about our national identity, about what our society should be like and represent.

Not to mention the plight of our indigenous peoples whom have been entirely forgotten in this whole debate. Many of us are concerned, and want to change things for the betterment of all.

Did we all forget our protester past, including those heady times in the 1970’s when support for change in the form of the Whitlam Government reached fever pitch? Or the Moratorium against the Vietnam War? Where is that youthful exuberance that was apparent then, now?

What do they think? Why are they so incensed and upset by this?

 

The same people who would have us keep the date then remark on my next point, that:

 

Our society is becoming too precious and sensitive. 

This has been an argument which plays into the above. It is without fail utilised by shock-jocks and certain news outlets of increasingly questionable repute to play into the fear that the segments of society that want this date changed, led by the villainous figures that are the Greens party, are indicative of a society they see as being too ‘precious’ and overly sensitive.

But yet again, this is the very core of people who cry out for freedom of speech, tell us again and again that they have the right to stand up for what they believe in, yet have no recourse or rebuttal that is not tinged with anger, discriminatory or vaguely offensive remarks.

There is a really jingoistic parochial nature to this argument.

 

I have yet to hear of a single clear and concise argument for keeping the date where it is, using logic, rational and analytical thought. 

 

There really does not seem to be one. Browsing relevant posts on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, any rebuttal and reply I have come across has had no conscionable, reasonable and intelligent point.

Really, there hasn’t. Majority of the replies seem to centre on the notion of ‘don’t be so sensitive and harden the fuck up.’

Going up the heights of Australian politics, the assistant Immigration Minister, of all people who should look at this national conversation with some attempted objectivity, had this to say:

‘The assistant immigration minister, Alex Hawke, says he has not heard a “reasonable argument” to support changing the date of Australia Day, saying the national day should not be moved “just because we have some elements of our history that we’re not proud of”. -The Guardian, 16 January 2018

‘Some elements of our history that we are not proud of’, does not seem like a very strong or convincing argument in order to keep the day where it is. It’s a simple flat-out denial of this even being an issue. Despite this dark history that so many of us are not happy to sweep aside.

Again, we are in a free enough society where we can be honest about our politic. Yet, this statement discounts a very important aspect of our history, one of which many of us [myself included] had no real in-depth knowledge of, growing up.

It is a lazy and indolent argument and smacks of a dismissive arch-condescending tone.

But hey, that’s Australian politics for you.

Finally, the last point that is made at times by those whom want to keep the date where it is, is the following:

 

Australia Day has been a part of our national identity for a long time and should stay where it is because of this. 

…Despite the fact that it was only recognised as a national public holiday across the country from 1994 onwards, and has had a history of being a mainly New South Wales-related day of celebration for many years.

Despite the fact that it has jumped about for decades, and there was no official day of recognition for the formation of this country across the whole country until the 90’s. Some states took longer than others to take up this day as an official day of this nation.

 

Clearly my thoughts on this issue should be quite apparent now. To me, there is no great affront to changing this day to something more appropriate and less controversial. It might be a great change for us all.

And that is the thing I’m trying to get at. Sometimes change is an amazing thing.

 

Yes,

You’ll still have your day off and a chance to go to the beach or get pissed or have a BBQ.

You’ll still be able to celebrate a day that would more correctly be about national unity for all, not for most.

So, what do you stand for?

 

 

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2018, Life, Opinion, Thoughts

Money.

The one topic I wish I knew more about is something rather banal and dry, yet something I think would be incredibly useful for my husband and I with regards to our future.

The one topic I am talking about is finance and more specifically, investment and commerce and basically how money works.

I always thought looking back at my education as a kid and into adolescence, attending an all-boys Catholic school, that there were some major gaps in my education.

I attended a relatively privileged school back home in Sydney, Australia. It had large green lawns, well attended cricket grounds, rugby pitches, an Olympic swimming pool, indoor sports gym and buildings kept in perfect condition ranging from the 1920’s to modern expensive buildings.

It wasn’t a cheap school to attend, and this was reflected by its wide range of facilities and high degree of teaching, which resulted in majority of the school body going on to tertiary studies. Including me. Couple this with its ethos and focus on sport and you had what was essentially a hold-out and outpost of British post-colonialism.

This anachronistic feature of my school was even present up to when I graduated in 2001. Modernity was still something that was knowledgeably kept at bay by any means. Good old-fashioned English sports like Cricket and Rugby were praised; teachers were generally of the strict old men variety, mass was compulsory, and there was a school speedo swimmer uniform we had to wear. Which proved awkward when we all hit puberty.

My school was mired in old outmoded and anachronistic tradition that would really simply make me laugh today. Like calling every male teacher sir. Compulsory competition sports. Regular grooming inspections where Year Masters would inspect us all [arrayed in lines ie military parade] our haircuts and nails and shoes to ensure they were all up to scratch. Standing up whenever a teacher walks in the door. Obedience at any cost really was a key factor in our education, and punishment could be swift, harsh and severe.

All the more made obsolescent and yearning for an imperialist past by the apparatus of a School Captain, that upstanding individual who represented the best of the school, supported by all, including the school cadre of School Prefects, that vaunted group of senior students who demanded respect from all and sundry in the school, including nobody proles like yours truly.

Despite this environment and education, I still feel to this day that so much was missing. Namely, any practical education. So stuck in the past was this place that basically it was unspoken that men don’t pay the bills or cook for instance. OR do the housework. Only women and queers would.

Yet funnily enough here we all are fending for ourselves.

I really wish my school or schools in general had more foresight in teaching students things that will be valuable for them later on.

Specifically, from something simple like how to wash, iron and fold clothes. How to cook simple yet nutritious meals. And perhaps most importantly, how to start bank accounts, utilities, pay rent and bills.

In hindsight, it’s amazing that schools or at least schools where I’m from never taught this. For years afterwards in my case, the decade or so since graduation was an era of giving no fucks about the future, being a dirty little grub of a uni student and not to mention being very lax in my general hygiene and not looking after myself.

I wish I was taught how to pay those bills, how to manage and look after money and make it grow. It should be something that is compulsory and mandatory. In order to be an adult, you need to be able to be independent. Which means unfortunately, being able to budget and limit needless expenditures and not live in a state of abject poverty.

For a long time I didn’t know how to do any of this. It has taken me decades to learn how to be self-sufficient and how to budget. I really feel as though had I learnt this in my school days, no matter how boring it would be, it would serve me some use.

Joining and extending upon that is the topic of finance, and growing what you have. I really wish I knew more about this topic, and had someone knowledgeable in this topic instruct me on ways that I could grow my money; how to invest, how to contact a broker, what generally to invest in and what to do with said investments.

The only lessons I had on this topic was with an old friend of mine, who was a gay man in his 40’s whilst I was in my early 20’s who talked to me about this and gave me some advice. And that was it.

I’m at a point [34 in a month if you can believe it], where I am starting to think about this topic more and more. I want to ensure that I can be comfortable in the future and not worry overly about what my situation will be.

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