A year in review

January 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

photo(4)Along with the traditional ‘Changing of the Calendar’ ceremony comes the annual reflection. I set a lot of goals for myself this year and fell short on more than one occasion, but that’s okay. I think part of growing up is being able to forgive yourself. After all, no one wants to be coupled for eternity with a taskmaster.

I was one month into job hunting by the time January 2013 rolled around and despite a couple of interviews in late January, was still sending off applications well into March. Then, in a bizarre turn of events, I was offered two positions: one full-time in advertising and the other, an internship with a youth arts organisation, on the same day.

When it rains, it pours…

Around about the same time, I stopped volunteering regularly at 3RRR as one of their social media assistants and my involvement with We Matter Media went on hiatus. It took a long time for me to find any kind of work/life balance, which meant that a lot of projects went on the back burner. It’s only been in the last few months that I’ve made a real effort to get back into the swing of community media, but things are looking up for 2014. I’ll be Reviews Coordinator for SYN this year and I’m still hoping to get back on air at some stage. I’m losing the ability to speak coherent sentences so broadcasting may be just what I need.

In July, I met a hero of mine, Cary Elwes. In truth, I completely forgot he was coming to Melbourne for Comic-Con until I saw a couple of tweets in my feed that morning. Unable to find anyone to go with me on such short notice, I went alone. It was probably for the best that there were no witnesses to my fangirl-ing.

Also this year, I gained and lost a pen pal, became obsessed with Game of Thrones, bought way too many geeky t-shirts from Teefury, and stopped the house from burning down and the cat from dying for three weeks in June while my family gallivanted around Paris and London. My love affair with tea continued in 2013, an old nickname of mine was revived, I continued writing for artsHub, though assignments were few and far between (I really must look into that in the next week or two). I found a new weekly workout in No Lights No Lycra, the first of my high-school friends got engaged and I saw my OTP (sort of) reunited in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode.

I did, what felt at the time, like the bare minimum, to keep my mind from turning to mush, by attending a couple of arts criticism-focused seminars, which made me realise how much I love hearing intelligent people argue and also how much more I wanted to be doing in terms of arts criticism and wasn’t.

A uni friend and I took our relationship to the next level with a Hobart mini-break in early September. I had been working non-stop since April so getting away from the office for a couple of days was a god-send. Hobart did not disappoint either – it was absolutely beautiful!

Back home, I made it to the theatre several times, the symphony (!), the gallery, a film festival, the circus and an exhibition. Stuff happened this year, though it wasn’t all day trips, friends and flowers.

I learnt new things about myself this year, not all of them good. Again, I was hit by the winter blues, though not hard enough to flee the hemisphere like I did in 2012. I was drifting and then I wasn’t, I got bored and I got frustrated with myself for how I was spending my time. Yet, I feel like I’m steadily making headway, consistently striking things off the ‘things I don’t want to do’ list, and taking small steps towards making aspirations that sit better with me. It’s positive, in a slightly warped way and I think that’s where I am right now, pottering along in a more deliberate meander. Tangents welcome.

 

I wish you could swim

July 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

They say you should never meet your heroes.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I can’t help but feel a little flat after meeting the beautiful Cary Elwes at Comic Con last weekend. Don’t get me wrong, he was very lovely, but in retrospect, I’m a little frustrated with myself. I’m frustrated that I couldn’t articulate what I wanted to tell him, that for reasons  I don’t fully understand, I am completely and utterly devoted to a movie he played a part in more than 25 years ago, and a huge reason for that is his performance. Now that I’ve written that down, it’s probably for the best that I couldn’t get the words out.

‘Nice to meet you’ did the job just fine.

And then he called me ‘very sweet’, which completely threw me (it must have been the dress) and left me giddy for the next half hour.

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It’s weird that I feel this affinity with Cary Elwes and his work and he doesn’t know me from a bar of soap, but I guess storytelling works that way. Once a story’s out there, it will come to mean a multitude of different things to a multitude of different people. Obviously, this means that sometimes the people you most expect to get it, just don’t, and that can feel a little lonely.

Poor Cary Elwes isn’t to know how damn much I adore his Westley, though he probably had an inkling when I picked the photo I did for him to sign. And though I like to think I have a pretty firm grip on reality, it upset me a little that he doesn’t know how much he and that movie mean to me and no matter what, even if I sit him down and explain it the best way I can, he’ll never quite care as much as I want him to.

But then I suppose it’s the same in reverse.

I’ll never value Cary for the very real person he is, and I wonder, as more and more people line up to have their picture taken with him, hand over memorabilia for him to sign, and ask him to say that line, whether he feels lonely too. How does he reconcile the person he is with the fantasy that thousands of people want him to be?

How do any of us?

Self Image: one’s conception of oneself

January 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

There’s a video that’s making the rounds of YouTube at the moment. It’s the same video made by hundreds of different people all essentially saying the same thing – I don’t yet know who I am, I don’t know what this year will bring, but I hope it all works out. EricsNewDay’s Self Image 2013 video has inspired a heap of people (including a couple of my favourite YouTubers, missxrojas and EmelieofNewGloom) to reflect on who they think they are at the beginning of a new year. The result is a choir of unsure twenty-somethings all singing the same song. I don’t know why, but each video response seems drenched in self-doubt and fear. Maybe that’s a reflection of the age of the videomakers or the general tendency at this time of year to look forward, but in each video there seems a lack of general pleasure in being the person one is right now.

As a twenty-something suffering my own quarter-life crisis, I can identify with a lot of the fears these people are expressing. Currently jobless, I feel that I’m at a messy in-between stage of my life that’s impossibly important. The decisions I make now will play a pivotal part in the course of my life or (more likely) they could just shape the next few months. This is a chance for me to sit down and think about what I want to do career-wise and suddenly having all this time to do just that is daunting. I don’t think I’ve done enough of anything yet to know what I want to do. I don’t have all the facts, I haven’t done the research, I haven’t asked the questions. I don’t even have a gut feeling to fall back on. But I feel like that’s ok. Even though I keep making a thing of being unemployed (which isn’t technically true, I do have a casual job), I’m kind of grateful for the time. I just need to work out how best to use it.

Recently, I read an article by David Wong titled 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person. The first truth is ‘The World Only Cares About What It Can Get From You’.

One of the toughest things about losing one’s job is having to find another one. The searching isn’t a problem; browsing job sites has now become a procrastination exercise. The hard part is writing the applications. Over and over, rephrasing the same old drivel in an attempt to prove that you are a superb communicator with well-developed writing skills and experience in llama farming who has a good grasp of foreign policy and countless sandwich-making accomplishments. Not really, but you know what I’m getting at. It’s that each job application has key selection criteria slightly different from those that have come before, which means having to start afresh. But I have a theory that the difficulty I have with selling myself to prospective employers comes down to the fact that I haven’t really, truly considered what it is I have to offer. What can the world get from me? What can I offer beyond enthusiasm and hard work? Surely I didn’t work my butt off at uni for four years so I could claim enthusiasm and a strong work ethic as my most impressive characteristics. I know enthusiastic, hard-working kindergarteners. We can do better than that.

I’m asking what do you offer? Are you smart? Funny? Interesting? Talented? Ambitious? Creative? OK, now what do you do to demonstrate those attributes to the world?

“You” are nothing but the fruit.

Nobody cares about your dirt. “Who you are inside” is meaningless aside from what it produces for other people.

I kind of believe it too. Manifestation is the whole point. How is what I am manifesting itself? Or does what I’m doing match up with the kind of person I think I am? If I see myself as creative, am I making stuff? Am I creating?

This year is all about matching up. I want what people see to be a true reflection of what’s going on in my head. I want others to see me as I see me. On my good days, of course. But I also want the reverse to be true.

canada

Last year, near the end of a Canadian summer, looking out across the lake, I played a parlour game. We had to pick one quality of each person sitting at the table that we’d like for ourselves. One of my best friends in the whole world picked my determination. I didn’t know I came across as an especially determined individual. Half the time I don’t feel it, but when she said that, I really wanted to. I wanted how she saw me to match up with what I thought of myself. I want to be consistent; an open book.

Someone once admitted to me amidst the throes of the high school jungle that they never let anybody know what they were truly capable of. They played themselves down. They played down their intelligence and uniqueness, hiding these qualities tight against their chest, like cards in a poker game. The winning hand.

I remember thinking that that was the most stupid thing I’d ever heard. Why would you want people to think you’re anything less than what you are? Having to go about life in a censored state seems wrong (not to mention exhausting), especially when what you’re censoring may be one of the most interesting things about you. You can’t exercise a quality if you’re spending most of the time denying its existence.

So, how do I see myself in January 2013?

Evolving.

You?

 

 

 

All that came before and all that’s yet to come

December 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

The end of another year, and based on how I’m feeling this December 31st, it was apparently little different from the ones that went before it. Except that it was.

This was my first year outside the safety net of formal education; I entered the real world (well, as much as one can without leaving the comfort of home). I got my first degree-relevant paid job. I lost my first degree-relevant paid job. I began writing book reviews for ArtsHub. I volunteered as a Buzzcuts Reviewer.  I went to Canada for two weeks. I went to the beach. I solidified some great friendships that I initially doubted would last. I made new friends. I became Features Editor at We Matter Media. I volunteered with a local festival. I made an effort to go to events I wanted to, even if it meant going alone. I became more comfortable with my own company. I read 35 books (hopefully, to be 36 if I can get a move on today). Stuff happened this year.

But I have much bigger plans for next year. The Prattler is getting a makeover. I’m going to return to the airwaves. I’m going to travel to Europe and find a job there. I am going to live in the UK. I am going to read more and write more reviews here.

I am. I will. I shall.

I’m considering picking up Mandarin again and I still have an electric guitar I was given as a gift a few years ago that I’ve barely touched. I want to start podcasting. I want to find a job in line with my skills that grants me the freedom to move out, but also challenges me. I want to finally be done with the casual job I’ve had since I was 14-years-old. I want to meet new people, have new experiences and focus on making original content instead of just passively watching/reading/sharing content made by others.

I want to use my mind. I want to have discussions with people about real things. I want to make a mark. I want to be able to identify what I can bring to the table. I want to be one step closer to knowing myself well.

And I will be.

Reviewing the Sabotage

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

I had a terrible time of it last night. I sat down to finish my review of Don Rearden’s debut novel, The Raven’s Gift only to have an attack of the writer’s equivelant of stage fright.

It wasn’t writer’s block per se. The well hadn’t run dry. I just couldn’t find the words to say what I wanted to say, which led to me going back and attacking the little I had written. Essentially, what I was doing was editing before I’d done any writing. I was sabotaging myself.

Many published writers say it; you will write a lot of crap before producing something worthwhile. Years of crap. Not every piece can be a work of art. I know this and yet I still put crippling pressure on myself to write well. Of course, there are added pressures when it comes to reviewing because that is about so much more than the self, it is about doing a service. A service to the work being reviewed, its creator, its prospective audience and then to yourself as the reviewer and staying true to your opinion.

When I experience lulls in my book review writing flow, I’ll often hop online and check out what other people have written. Bad idea. You know where this comes from, right? My compulsion to see what others are saying? I’m not confident enough in my own assertions. The fact that I’ve been reading novels non-stop since I learnt how isn’t a good enough justification for my response to a work; I need other people to back me up. I need to know that other people reacted the way I did. Other people who? Those who leave paragraph-long reviews on Amazon, which are mostly synopsis? If my own review reflects the general consensus then I’m appealing to the book’s readers or something. But what if I’ve completely missed the point of the book? Overlooked a central theme? These other reviews can help me fill the spaces in my own. Wait, what? This sounds crazy to you too, right?

I think as a reviewer it becomes easy to exaggerate your own importance. If someone doesn’t like my review or doesn’t agree with it, they’ll just go and read another until they come across one that aligns with their own views or tells them what they want to hear. Want to read Fifty Shades of Grey? There’s a review out there that will justify you doing that.

Into the narrative, the author successfully weaves Ana’s voice of reason (her subconscious) and her voice of desire (her “inner goddess”), which accurately reflect the seesaw of emotions that a woman might actually experience in her situation.
(Review from The Unexpected Twists and Turns)*

See? The characters are realistic. Although why anyone would read a book that describes a woman’s voice of desire as her “inner goddess” other than for a laugh I will never understand. I don’t think I even understand what a voice of desire might be referring to. Lust? Are they talking about lust? It all sounds very trashy and wishy-washy to me. Of course, there is an appeal in that, but this post isn’t about Fifty Shades.

My point still stands, reviews don’t make all the difference. People are still going to do what they want to do. Thus, it doesn’t matter if I don’t agree with the majority of people out there as long as I have an argument that is backed up by the text. Now, just to implement that next time.

* Please note: I, in no way deny the validity of the quoted excerpt pertaining toFifty Shades of Grey. I have not read the novel by E L James so cannot make my own assessment.The quote merely functions as an illustration of my point that reviews are varied and one can be found to justify any view.

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