Every morning—I assumed it was morning, but couldn’t be sure as the only light came from stark fluorescent tubes that were always lit—my horns were clasped and measured with calipers cinched by gloved hands.
‘Growing too slowly…’
The man in the white coat would mutter to himself each time before shuffling away, almost tripping over his too-long trousers, to top up my trough with a bland oily porridge that was served cold and congealed. It was unappetising but I’d eat it all, nothing escaping, not even the irony of all the meals I once snapped and shared with friends as though they’d mattered (the meals that is); the freedoms I’d taken for granted had never been photo worthy. Continue reading →
Today was a public holiday here in Australia. 26th January is known to some as Australia Day, to others as Invasion Day. A day of celebration for some, for others, a day of mourning and/or activism- acknowledging the past and present injustices to the indigenous peoples of this country- for others still, simply a welcome time off from work.
Today, I didn’t celebrate, but thoughts of injustices were on my mind. There are gaps in health, mortality, education, social inclusion, services- you name it, there is a gaping hole that divides the original custodians of this land from its other inhabitants. I was not going to write about it, until an email from a friend inspired me to share some words, a quote attributed to Lilla Watson, although she prefers to see it attributed to ‘Aboriginal activist’s group, Queensland, 1970s’.
If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
I love the quote, as ‘help’ is too often about making the ‘helper’ feel good without an understanding of what is really needed- be it a government initiative, or the voluntary act of an individual. The alternative is acknowledging the other person’s humanity and seeing that we need one another- a good place to start- with a paradigm shift still needed, some 40 odd years after those words were spoken, and 228 years since the arrival of the First Fleet.
26/01/2017: This was first published on 26th January 2016. It is still relevant a year on. Prison populations, education, employment and morbidity and mortality rates have not made any forward leaps for positive change. This time around though, I am not merely a saddened spectator but playing a small part in change by participating in a Reconciliation Action Plan working group at my place of work.
26/01/2018: A year on and the sentiments and their cause remain. I am still part of the Reconciliation Action Plan group at work, but now with a more formalised role, representing my business group. I haven’t personally made any tangible steps toward the RAP but I have clarity now in what I can contribute, following a seminar I attended on Aboriginal Water Values in late 2017. It is sometimes overwhelming to see injustice and not know where or how to make a difference- but what better way than in one’s area of expertise and circle of influence? I will focus on ways to ensure that cultural values of water are a factor in water management decisions. Without elaborating on the seminar that I found inspiring and how water is intrinsic to indigenous culture, I will leave you with a trailer for the documentary ‘Ringbalin’ which I saw for the first time at the seminar.
Grab your celebratory beverage of choice and join me as I reminisce on most viewed posts; a hilarious search term that landed a confused internet user on my blog; my wild card entry of a post that had a great impact on my creative output for the year; and finally, resolutions for 2018! Continue reading →
In case you were wondering what happened to my promise of monthly updates with a post covering each session of my writing course, here is quick summary of events that will make it clear why this post is called Debrief: Session One (again). I experienced issues with my tutor and a little *drama with the course admin that I won’t go into here, although details have been filed away in my story ingredient pantry, on a shelf marked ‘stranger than fiction’. I continued to write in the midst of it all, editing my session one submission as best I could in lieu of a conversation with my initial tutor. The writing school responded to my complaints, assigning me a new tutor and the opportunity to start fresh from the beginning of session one. I resubmitted my revised work which included 600+ words of the opening chapter.
Although in this post I am capturing what happened with a revisit of session one, in real time I am at the start of session three. Continue reading →
I was surprised to read a story in The Guardian this morning about legislation that has been passed in France, making it illegal for supermarkets to dispose of, or purposely spoil, surplus or out of date food. The forced act of goodwill will see supermarkets signing contracts with charities to distribute the otherwise wasted food. I think this is a great idea but a sad indictment of human nature and corporations that it has to be passed as law. The story reminded me of a poem I wrote inspired by Jean-François Millet’s The Gleaners, as well as my experiences while working at a Franprix (supermarket chain) in Paris some years ago (maybe another blog post with that story). Finishing my night shift at the supermarket, it wasn’t unusual to see people who didn’t fit the stereotype of needy or homeless rummaging through bins which overflowed with dairy produce that had passed a day or two over their best before warning, bread that had gone crusty, tomatoes that were ripe to the point of almost bursting and bananas that save for the dark brown patches, would have otherwise been edible. Well, I guess even the dark brown patches are edible when you are hungry. Anyway, I was glad to see the story and thought I’d also mention a great documentary I watched some years back on the very topic – The Gleaners and I by Agnes Varda (first four minutes below). I loved the interesting characters Varda revealed and the de-stigmatisation of surviving on what most of society deems as trash, while also highlighting the glut of food produced and wasted while so many people go hungry.
In this season of mass consumption and mass waste that leaves our planet hungover and bleary-eyed long after the party’s over, I thought it timely to share a post I wrote early last year on the impact of food choices on our planet. Further to food choices are how we source and package our foods – I have recently taken an interest in zero waste and would love to hear from people who are living a zero waste lifestyle.
We’re part way into 2016, and being February, you probably already know it’s the lunar Year of the Monkey, but did you know that 2016 is also International Year of Pulses (IYP2016)? To raise awareness of the initiative and celebrate those goodies that pack a punch in soups, dahls, curries, salads and all manner of meals, bloggers What the Ducks! and Palm Rae Urban Potager organised a blogger action day for today, and I’ve joined the bean wagon! I learnt of it via Janice at Ontheland.
I’ve lost count of the number of times ‘the only thing private are his thoughts’ has been muttered by passers-by believing their words to be original and witty; while I retain the dignity of private thoughts in my nakedness, the pleasure is dimmed somewhat by the many distractions that rarely allow for a single coherent train of thought: visitors taking photographs; amateurs and professionals alike making sketches I’ve learnt to not take personally when certain proportions are downgraded to fun size; pretentious conversations about art; scrunched up pages of a sketch book hurled at me; crude paper planes projected with whimsy in my direction, their sharp points denting on impact, gravity ensuring I never receive the message; heads bowed in studious attention toward a Lonely Planet within my line of sight, page open to an image of me as the reader verifies the importance of their visit; and of course, that originality and wit rearing its head again with poses mimicking mine, taunting me as the comedian’s jaunty limbs move in and out of freeze frame with fluidity that escapes me.
As the sun sets on the grounds and the last of the visitors makes a beeline to the gift shop, the first muted signal of evening’s silence cloaks me like a lovers embrace, something akin to a tempered version of that kissing pair who don’t get a moment away from one another.
With the quiet of closing, when left alone with my thoughts for a spell, I’m grateful for being on the right side of the real gates of hell; knowing the screams from that garden shed will take their queue when the bells toll at midnight, telling a tale of a more brutal inferno than our maker envisioned, the fury and despair of forced retirement where the wounded, the shattered, and those with chips on their shoulders too large to repair are banished for eternity.