Australia’s sporting shame. Or is it?

Australia’s sporting shame.
Let’s not confuse this with personal shame.

Media, by all means list the cheaters and the drug cheats, but let’s not confuse the players personal demons off the sporting field with being within the actual game of the sport.

Toxic masculinity starts when coaches and players accept that a particular particular aggressive and detrimental demeanor is acceptable on the field. If team mates turn a blind eye, then this is seen to the aggressor as acceptable.

The issue becomes more apparent when fellow team mates and coaching staff turn a blind eye to the behaviors of violence their players exhibit off the field. Men in particular don’t just become violent over night. It is the same in everyday society. Your boys are taught to “toughen up” or “crying is for sissy’s”. With this mentality they are unable to funnel their emotions effectively without harsh judgement and take out these emotions in physical form.

Is it the rigor and demand of being the fittest and the strongest on the field or lure of $$ which send the male psyche off the cliff when it comes to not being able to control physical and abusive tendencies off the field? Does the money flow too freely that players turn to vices such as roids, alcohol, drugs to get some kind of better high? With the recent allegations for a number of Australian Rugby players, it definitely seems there is a deep troubled acceptance of physical abuse which their players take part in. Smashing glass in women’s faces, terrorising families, going on drunken rampages. I can think of 4 players straight up who have all found themselves in deep water because of this. Long gone are the days of respectable players like Mal Meninga, Lazarus and Allen, would never allow the game to fall into disrepute.

I imagine some players have different kinds of relationships with their coaches. Coaches that cover up cheats: yes that’s sporting shame. Coaches that cover up a players obvious emotional unrest off the field, even worse. Some would argue that what happens off the playing field stays off the playing field.

If that’s the case though, then why would it be a countries sporting shame?
Wouldn’t it be the individuals shame?
If you disassociate the fact that the sportsman has a persona ON the field, or remove that altogether, all you have is a mentally troubled individual with power and ego issues who needs to seek help.

To the recent Aussie cricket team, yep, I’d call that “one” of sports darker moments. But there have been others, disqualifications, cheaters. The bigger thing here is that there are harshly enforced repercussions and that these players have apologized emotionally for the shame they’ve brought. Hopefully it will be a lesson to any future sports people that cheating is never the answer.

The final straw

It’s been a long time coming. The final few weeks of me and my daughters stint here in the US. What started out a journey filled with hope, has turned toxic poisonous and volatile. From previous posts, I’ve found it really difficult to get close to and trust new people here, thus the friend circle for myself now is quite small. Thats by choice. Because when you get to your late 30’s, time is precious and I don’t really waste it on those who can’t commit to a quality friendship, an outing, cancel plans or change things in the last minute to suit themselves.

I’ve given notice at my job, I’m winding down with work and making plans to ship a whole lot of stuff back home to ensure we can be tied over until my husband ships all of our furniture in February. My work has been absolutely amazing with being flexible and understanding to why I am going back home. I am so grateful for that. With the finish line in sight, I am considering just laying low with minimal human interaction until that day where we drive to SFO and fly the hell out of this place. From November 2016, the country has been in a slump. And it is a rolling slump of despair with the civil unrest plaguing society. Emotionally. You see it on the faces of the people you know, and complete strangers.

People here are RUDE…just a general observation! And I thought maybe I was being super sensitive to how people are in SF, but my manager also confirmed it for me one day when we were chatting about the state of the city and those who reside in it. The homeless on the street, the busy rushing rude people on the sidewalks. There is no order to the society which lives here. I got pushed out of the way today getting off my ferry because a woman thought whatever she was writing on her mobile phone was more important than looking up and paying attention to what was going on around her.

I am tired of it. I have turned into one of those sad faced humans that has RBF almost permanently. I can’t help lament for the life I would have had back home in Perth by now, for my daughter, for my health. America is not a happy place. Over the last week or so, California has suffered some of the worst wild fires and all of us down here in The Bay are stifled with air we can’ breath. Just when you think you have your health & your families health on track, then the very air you breath is compromised. You can’t leave your house in fear of breathing in the toxic smoke. Making your way to work each day is a large effort.

And finally, which was unexpected, the wrath I feel I have encountered from supposed “friends” here from us soon departing. Smart ass remarks about our departure are not welcomed. You may think America is this giant shiny diamond of which you never want to leave (half the population here don’t even have passports), but coming from somewhere which closely resembles a tropical oasis, America is a lump of stinking coal, which is yet to be purified. Making general plans is a massive effort. Coordinating a simple mid week outing is an overt exercise. It was never this complex back home with friends. Or maybe I have just given up. Thrown my hands in the air and said “fuck this”. With these feelings and thoughts, I’ve been this way for too many months now. It’s draining, its depressing. I can’t invest any more energy into this.

In this defiant tone, this is the final straw. It is the long awaited goodbye. One which I cannot wait to happen. Returning back to my homeland and regaining some kind of civil life with the friends and family I truly love has never looked so promising.

 

Expiry of the Expat

Assimilating to life in a foreign country is never an easy exercise. Lord knows for the last 3 years, I’ve tried to look at each experience and opportunity with as much positivity I can muster, but living here in the United States over the last 10 months has certainly taken its toll on my overall morale & happiness. And I am not talking about the happiness that a job or money can bring (which is basically what Silicon Valley/SF pretty much is all about). Bringing children into the equation when relocating to a foreign country makes life twice as hard. I’ve come to learn that fostering meaningful relationships for my child with her immediate family members and friends back home really needs to take priority.

Over the last 3 years, I’ve found it really difficult to connect with people, you know, find those meaningful connections where you can look back and say “Oh yeah, thats my tribe”, and when I say “tribe” I mean a group of people who you feel like your true self with. No reservations, no holding back or “better keep my ultimate lively personality under wraps incase I scare the Americans off” kind of self. I’ve been fortunate to find a small group of friends who don’t care about the above, but there are still those moments of “whoops – the Aussie larakin shouldn’t have said that” or ” I swear too much” or “oh…. they didn’t understand that weird Aussie slang I just auto-piloted out of my mouth”. I think I am guilty though, of comparing the friendships I have back home to the friendships I have here, but my Aussie friends have this warmth and welcoming openness which is rare to come across. Or it’s there in the beginning but then it fades…warm or cold. Mainly luke warm? Failure to commit to outings and such because distance gets in the way of a good gathering…my introvert self has a hard time coping with these thoughts.

There are many things I could warn the bright eye’d future expats moving here to the United States. I see comments on Facebook groups I’m in, with these excited Aussies asking about “where to live in SF” or asking for “warnings before they relocate”. No one seems to talk about the cultural differences between Aussies and Americans. Interestingly though, I had the opportunity to speak to a lovely Aussie couple who we know through friends and they struck up a conversation about the same very thing I was mentioning above. It was weirdly re-freshing to listen to those who understood how I was feeling.

And even with me finally falling on my feet and finding an amazing job which gives me flexibility, there still seems to be a gaping hole in my self worth as a whole. A hole which can’t fill the missing art, culture and liveliness which my home town Perth seems to ooze. Culturally as a city, Perth is fresh, it has an amazing original live music scene, excellent food, groovy bars, plenty to do every day of the week, beaches which are just as amazing as Hawaii or any tropical island. Perth is the TRUE paradise on earth. Sure, it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of a metropolis which San Francisco offers, but I think that is why I love and miss home. Its not a rat race. There aren’t thousands of people, looking all stressed, hurrying down the streets, homeless stench and bodies laying on the sidewalks. In Perth, you won’t get stuck in hours worth of traffic for 5 miles every day of the week (unless you choose to take major freeways during peak which is just silliness). There is a sense of calm and quality of life which can’t be beat.

I have appreciated living here in the Bay area in a lovely home, safe neighborhood. But the time here for me is drawing to a close. It’s made me realize how lucky and enriched out lives in Australia actually were. I’ve solidified my feelings and America I can no longer think of long term goals. I long for the warmth 8 months of the year brings. For safer, clean GUN FREE streets. For clean air and I miss our very own house, making it a home, being super close to my friends, not wanting to miss out on their babies growing. When we are back in Australia, our daughter absolutely loves it and doesn’t want to leave. I feel guilty that she’s spent more of her life living in America than in Australia! I don’t want her to forget her roots. Yes, the tech jobs and careers here are plentiful, but at the cost of what else? At the end of the day, we need to think about our families happiness, and if that means its the expiry of being an expat, then so be it.

The start of a new year.

On the first day of 2018, most people are openly planning or putting into effect their new years resolutions. For me, I have 3 simple resolutions which I hope I can really stick to this year.

Write more. Before I started working full time, I took to this, my personal blog and my vintage clothing blog to write, and it felt fulfilling to put out there some thoughts on life and my passion for vintage fashion (no rhyme intended!). Since work has took over 70% of my weekly time, in 2017 with managing a household and being mom to a very attentive 4 year old, my blog writing took the back burner. So did selling my vintage fashion. I felt like I didn’t have enough creativity to put words to paper (or computer) to be able to articulate both these efforts. So in 2018, I’m making the resolution to try and put thoughts down on here and to try and reorganize Ten/10 Vintage.

Open up to people more and foster existing friendships. This topic has been increasingly difficult for me over the past 2 years with moving here. I was very open to making new friends when we first moved to the US, but over time I’m unsure if it is American “society”, my anxiety, or just me shifting priorities which has made things a little more challenging to really put in that extra effort to fostering friendships.

I’ve learnt the following: adults are weird post 30’s, and it requires super effort to try to make new friends. People have their quirks, which seem really noticeable to someone more mature. I’m an empath so I really work off the current vibes of people (whether I know them or not) and this can come across really overwhelmingly for me, possibly triggering some of the anxiety I feel. I’ve had moments where the vibe has not been great. Instinctually, my “AVOID AVOID” alarms go off, and I back away. I’m not into small talk. I don’t do well in crowds of more than 6 people at a time. My attention gets muddled and I feel like I can’t truly “get to know” people if surrounded by too many new faces. I’ve noticed this a lot while being here. Sure, I also had these moments in Australia with… lets call them acquaintances. Part if this NY resolution is to try and not let the above affect me so much. I know it does and I know I dwell on it way after the event.

Where we live, people are spread out all over the Bay Area. Friends we made in San Jose are harder to visit / see because the 1 hour drive can be trying during the weekends and this is the only time we have off. Its true to say that apart from Facebook I’ve lost contact with some of those mom friends. Back in Australia, we used see our close friends every 2 weeks (at least!) even with having Stella with us. Mid week dinners were no fuss, and traveling on the weekend didn’t mean driving more than 30mins to get anywhere.

With my Aussie friends, it was so simple to tee up a casual brunch or simple outing / house visit. Here, it seems to be a bigger affair to try and arrange (mainly because if you try to go anywhere good to eat, there are always too many people, need to make reservations or wait/queue). Maybe it is just my anxiety which is telling me this or stopping me from planning, but for the last year, its certainly felt that way.

For all the things I love…. MUSIC, Arts, etc… I’ve found it really hard to pair these to the interests of friends. You look for these things when making new friends to give you something in common. We were SO social in Aus. I think because our group of friends were so into all the above. Attended music gigs, were into the original music scene (is there even a scene in the Bay area?) BUT… my new years resolution here is to try and make that little more effort with arranging outings and getting to know people a bit better, doing some research.

I’ve had a guard up in 2017.

I guess with not knowing whether we were going to stay or go back home to Australia, I distanced myself from wanting to get “close” to anyone in fear that leaving would then make me even more sadder. I also feel that the “real me” has been on hiatus. That is the lively sassy creative Ten that my Australian friends know. She sometimes makes an appearance after a few wines (lol) but for the most part, she’s turned into quite the introvert.

As in the Tennie my Australian friends know and love, is certainly not what my American friends are seeing. Or maybe the disapproving glances my husband throws my way when I do get a bit rowdy when out. Never know what is OK to talk about (or not talk about). I also don’t want to bore people with talking about my job (which is what the husbands seem to do A LOT). BORING. There is more to life than talking about that 9-5 thing you do to make $$ and live life. Possibly a tech industry thing. Yes, my job is interesting but for any friend outsider, I am sure they would rather talk about the latest films, our kids, vacations, travel or anything else.

Travel/Experience America. I can’t say we didn’t travel in 2017 because we hit up Hawaii (so magical) and we also managed a trip back home (there was no escaping that one with husband getting a new job). We also fit in Lake Tahoe post Christmas for some snow fun. But we’ve been here in America now for 2.5 years and 2018 seems like the year for us to really spread out wings and see some of the cities which husband and myself promised ourselves we would visit.

San Diego – our 4yr old is obsessed with animals. So we really want to hit up the SD zoo. Possibly also SD Comicon this year (if we can plan that well ahead of time!) as we are huge pop culture nerds and that would be the ultimate experience (even more so now our girl is getting really into Star Wars). I also just want the opportunity to say “Fuck you San Diego!” (Anchorman reference) but really I think I will love the place.

Chicago – Ever since watching Ferris Buellers Day Off as a kid, I’ve wanted to visit Chicago. Built over a city of lakes, the views which I’ve seen from friends social media posts and other sources make it looks amazing. We’d also love to go for some culinary delights and family friends have expressed interest in joining us so that seems like a rad idea!

Orlando – This is a trip most certainly going to happen at the end of February as we really miss our “spirit family”…. friends we made through my husbands first job who have remained our closest friends. They moved back to Florida to have their second child and we miss them terribly. I’m also excited to see Florida, the theme parks and get in some sunshine during these cold winter months.

As I sit here trying to recover from what seems to be the WORST head cold, the above 3 resolutions ring good and true.

What’s in store for your new year?

The internet is a sad place for parents.

When I became a parent, I thought the number of mummy articles on social media referring to baby sleep, breastfeeding and raising a child was overwhelming. There was and still is, a saturation of information, some which seems so contradictory to the “do’s and don’t” of parenting and nurturing a new born. When my daughter arrived, the first few months seemed endless, more so living the days through some intense sleep deprivation and the never ending worry on “why doesn’t my baby sleep longer than 3-4hr stretches” or “why can’t I pump more than 100ml of milk”. The internet and social media became a daily sounding board for me navigating the fog as a first time mum. The opinions of some were pretty out there, others more reasonable, which resonated with ideals  and morals on how I planned on raising our daughter. The amount of information available at ones fingertips became a daily addiction, sucking sleep deprived and frustrated parents in like a vortex.

Safe to say we made it out of the first 2 years with our sanity intact and our now 3.5yr old girl is funny, rambunctious and lively. She sleeps good 12 hr nights and is hitting all those little milestones you expect a 3yr old to hit. So just when you think things are going well, you take a quick look at your Twitter feed on Saturday morning to see what goes in the fast lane of news information, and you see a breaking story of KKK white supremacists holding a rally in southern America, holding Walmart tikki torches & spouting their hateful views on trying to keep white America in the spot light. It’s enough to ruin your breakfast appetite having to scroll and read through the articles themselves but also, those horrible humans who are using events like this to voice a dormant. Hasn’t the world learnt from the history of past events?

Following this breaking event, a protestor the next day is rammed by a car, then dies. What follows the social media outcry of many, comments of supporters of the horrible rally then those who opposed it. It’s 2017. Not 1950 anymore. African American oppression should not be a thing. Nazi sympathizers should not be a thing. I recently watched a video about a Holocaust survivor, an identical twin who was taken from her parents by the Nazis and used for horrific genetic experiments in Auschwitz. The story alone was so sad, that this survivor withstood so much abuse at the hands of Nazi doctors. But here we are, its 2017 America and somehow the horrors of the past have been forgotten by some and used to push  a “white lives matter” agenda. The Trump administration is bringing out the very worst in America. Every day, I wonder what many Americans that I see walk down the street, catch my ferry, shop at the grocery store….think of the state of their country.

I stare at my funny 3yr old dancing around the living room and wonder… what kind of a childhood or upbringing did these sad CIS white men with their Walmart bearing Tiki citronella sticks endure? Are the middle and Southern states so messed up still and so disconnected with the sane costal cities of America that they felt the need to hold a rally to declare “White lives matter”?

Having news and current global events at the touch of an app or fingertips, plays mind tricks on those eager to quench that desire to learn more, hear more opinions, and keep in touch with some of the injustices happening every day.

Earlier in the week, my heart skipped a beat back home to Australia where the government announced it would not grow balls and pass the law on Marriage equality. Instead, wasting 120 million dollars – taxpayers dollars to instill a plebiscite (which is basically a survey for all citizens) for Australians to vote on an issue majority of them would never face or have nothing to do with. Insulting to LGBTQI people that personal matters such as commitment to another person need to be put past every god damn Australian. Some of the comments of Australians seen on social media are SO out of touch, its rocked me to my very core. Us as the human race have so much further to go as a species if we base our existence on a false force disguised as faith, worshipping a god we’ll never see, shaping unions and other such “gospels” as the ultimate word. Then there are those religious nuts claiming that “marriage in the bible is between a man and a woman” when AD before the bible, marriage was in fact, just a ceremony, not linked to any Catholic book or religious preachings. Friends who are LGBTQI or who have loved ones in same sex relationships poured their hearts out on social media. I read some Aussie business supporting the SSM plebiscite and then so many homophobic comments on “keep politics out of your business pages”. These idiots don’t realize that equality and diversity makes up many businesses core values, which allows that business to mould and shape the product they are offering and the causes they support.

Social media is on the express to becoming a landscape of hate. What started as people celebrating those small life events, a birthday, a wedding, a gathering or “hey we bought a new house!” or “welcome my baby to the world!” has now turned into a battle of the wills and “my opinion is my opinion”. Its a scary place for many people, especially those who have no self control, hating, to hide behind their laptops or who like to troll others. The biggest threat to peoples psyche and mental stability these days IS social media. Its a new way for an overload of information (and not of the good variety) to cause anxiety, restlessness, depression. You could say its like a new drug for the mind, where the brain needs to quench an ongoing thirst of “stuff” in order to feel some meaning (whether it be good or bad).

What makes it a sad place for parents? As a parent I’ve come to the sad realization that the actions and unrest we see in the world at this very moment, is the world our children will grow up in, and what we will leave to them. Our children feed off our mood and our feelings. If you are glum and anxious because you saw an image of a refugee toddler who had drowned or an animal tied up with some limbs missing, most likely your child can sense these feelings & will feel the same way because mom or dad are sad (and they haven’t even looked through social media!) One day out children will grow into adults (hopefully if the threat of Nuclear warfare doesn’t wipe us all out first) and what take will they have on the horrible events of 2017? Or for the years to come?  I wish for them to be accepting loving adults who respect all kinds of humans. Not like the angry KKK mob marching to uphold a barbaric piece of history which many fought hard to destroy in the 1900’s. I am sad that my daughter will most likely experience online bullying via Social media (as an adult, I experienced this back in 2008, it was awful and to this day I still think about the nastiness I came across, its difficult to forgive). I’m sad that sexist and predatory behaviour is so prevalent and those guilty of it won’t be held accountable, that so many millennials already have had to endure the above.

When my daughter is old enough to understand the evils of the internet, I hope I can sit her down and explain all of the above. She may choose to not have any Social media accounts. I won’t be sad about it. I really want her to know that people in general are good hearted but until the internet can prove that, us modern day parents are going to have a hard time in keeping things positive.

 

Dropping bombs. And not the war variety.

I’ve been trying my best lately to avoid some channels of Social Media, because I don’t have the energy or mental capacity to react to some of the stupid things which make their way on to those forums. I was on Twitter yesterday, riding my Bay ferry to work, when I came across my Cillian Murphy Fan account and a re-tweet from well known womens publication “Marie Claire”.

For those who know me well, I am a feminist. Most likely not one of the more fiercer vocal ones out there, but I strongly believe in fair and equal opportunities for myself, my daughter and all women. As women we’ve come a long way, but after accidentally stumbling across a movie review article plugged by one of Marie Claires “senior journalists”, I feel that some die hard feminists out there are really giving the whole modern day movement a bad name.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.28.43 AM

See that screen shot? Yes, thats a very one sided and over the top movie review of the recent blockbuster film by Chris Nolan: ‘Dunkirk’. Lets pick apart the wording of such a title and tweet, to see whether we can factor in some common sense when it comes to understand what the hell this woman journo was on about. Maybe she missed her morning latte when she wrote this. Who knows.

Last night my husband and I went to watch Dunkirk. I’d been looking forward to this film for a while. I’d finished watching Band of Brothers a year or 2 before so was excited to see what Nolan had done to reenact this war effort. War movies are my thing. Not because I enjoy bombs being dropped or seeing people being blown up, but more to keep the meaning of life in perspective. The war time strategy of both sides is intriguing. I like to also feel a sense of appreciation for the many who fought to save our freedoms. I felt it necessary not to comment or write this until after I had seen the film.

“An excuse for men to celebrate maleness”. Let’s get some basic facts straight. WW1 and WW2 were at a period in time when females worked in the offices, as nurses, making uniforms, in the kitchens, in warehouses. They supported the effort and the cause back home, while maybe even looking after a family while their husbands, brothers, uncles and grandfathers were out on the front line. They celebrated maleness. You would have to be half blind or stupid to think that being in the front line trenches, while consumed with trench foot, lack of sleep, lack of food/water and thinking you were going to get your head shot off was anything BUT a celebration. Yes. the war scenes depicted in Dunkirk were predominantly ALL male. MEN were on the front lines. Women were not permitted to fight. And like I mentioned, many women (some even pictured IN the film as being on the medic boats and war ships serving food) were there to assist in some capacity.

“Don’t they (men) do that (celebrate) enough already”. It’s 2017. Not 1915 or 1944. I don’t see the making of one film in 2017 which was entirely based on real life true events to be elevating the MRA movement. The article in itself goes into more detail and reading it either made me feel more stupid or perplexed at what the true intention of this writer actually was. Burning all men at the stake? Are men all of a sudden not allowed to have any bonding moments, or film highlights?

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.52.32 AM

Above is an excerpt of the article. Is War something men “Man out over?” What are women expected to feel? Was this clickbait? (Most likely) But for someone who is the “senior film journalist” for a large publication, her article did not mention things like: screenplay, the movie score (which Chris Nolan is well known for adding the elevated sensory suspense through intense orchestral scores) the actors, the casting (oh sorry, she did mention that…then went on to berate Harry Styles saying he would bring the viewer back down to earth).

And look, this journalist didn’t have to like the movie. That’s fine. But she focussed her entire review on her feminist agenda and not for any qualities of the actual film itself: the screenplay, music, plot…nada. What did I take from the film as a feminist? That war is an ugly event which brings out the brave in all, in men, in women, in the young, that it was a large unnecessary loss of life. I’m thankful we have directors such as Nolan who can help visualise these historical events so that our children and their children can understand the struggles our ancestors faced at different times in history and how they over came them.

My parting note: don’t read Marie Claire. Go to Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Metacritic. Avoid shitty journalism. You’re sure to get a straight up front review without the unnecessary drama.

 

Time to write-off 2016

I’ve recently found myself being asked how I like living here in America. 18 months since we relocated, I can honestly say I have some pretty complex and mixed feelings, living in the “land of the free”. Post election hangover, it’s interesting to read back on blog notes I made back in June. Heres an excerpt:

“Winter brought about much needed rainfall and lots of greenery, but now as we head into the thick of my first full US summer, I realise how much the urban sprawl drains the life out of the grand sheer landscape of the hills that surround us in the valley. What once was green and lush is now brown and dead. Much like my enthusiasm for blending into this strange society which many are fooled into thinking is “superior” to anywhere else on earth.

While the people here in CA are lovely, it almost feels like I’m on a strange extended vacation and in some circumstances, treated like an outsider. Each and every week missing home more than I did the last but trying at the same time to convince myself this is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Lifestyle here in California is very laid back. Forget fast city life, or long moving queues, to me it looks as though many Californians are just plodding along with no urgency. 

We are driving on our way down to Monterey for a trip to the aquarium there, to enjoy a break from the hot sweatiness of the valley (and because my 2.5yr old toddler is obsessed with fish and sharks). 

The one positive about moving abroad is that I have been able to focus solely on my family. Husband and I have been able to 100% focus on Stella’s upbringing and she has adapted incredibly well to this huge move. For that I am ever so grateful.

I found myself a job after 8 months of applications (I counted 50+ at one stage), many phone calls and in person interviews. It didn’t last long (my next blog post will cover it in more detail).

Then came a blessing in disguise! Husband found a new job and we had to depart to renew our Visas back home in Australia. Scoring a nice 3 week holiday was lovely and even more so to surprise our families back home. I think those were the happiest 3 weeks I have had this year to be honest.”

Fast forward from then to now (November).

It’s a week post US election and the country seems to be in a haze. From the gatherings I’ve had with friends to visiting my hairdresser or buying groceries, everyone seems to have glum written all over their faces. I’m already sick of seeing racial slurs and unrest. I’m already sick of seeing some I know making excuses for America’s poor choice in leader. 

I’m thankful to live in a very “blue” democratic state but the result of this political farce has made me now question whether I want to actually work in an country where their new president refuses to declare his taxes, has numerous shonky investments and clearly has sights on strengthening the “alt-right” or in other words – White supremacists.

Why should I contribute or pay tax to a society which has put on a pedestal a racist misogynist narcissist who simply ran for presidency to prove to elitist farkwads that he could do it. One could say it was the ultimate win for ones ego. Especially his voters. They voted to be heard. I laughed when an Aussie friend commented saying “shit sandwiches for all!” And my, the stench of the hypocrisy will hopefully be enough to drown out those who thought they were right. I guess this is MY way of taking a stand. I can at least sit back relax, look after my family until we have the energy to relocate back to Australia, that is until a decent opportunity comes along. Doesn’t seem too many of those.

2017 I hope will be a better year. Until then, let’s ride out 2016 with little fucks to be given. I feel better already.

Destruction of the free world

It’s unlike me to take to writing posts days in a row. I am normally busy with other family activities but I felt inclined to write about my feelings after what has been the most ludicrous 24 hours. In my last post I mentioned that where it isn’t my right to actually vote, living here has opened my eyes in a sad way, thats given me time to think about the morals and values which I hold dear and cherish for my family.

Complacency. It’s a funny thing. A fancy word for “lazy”.

You sit there feeling safe in your thoughts for weeks or months, and like millions of other American’s, I can only blame this outcome on their complacency to not get out there and vote on that one day that mattered the most. I’ve had a few friends argue with me to why Hillary lost. They fail to understand the bigger picture. It was never about ‘letting’ her win…but more so, keeping a narcissistic arrogant maniac from having one of the most powerful roles in history. Keeping him OUT of the White House.

sad-and-afraid

This morning I cried in the shower. Unsure if that was my anxiety or just an overwhelming feeling of sadness for those who have struggled their entire lives to fight for equality and acceptance.

I cried knowing I have to raise and bring up my own child into this world of madness and then have to explain to her (when she’s old enough) why such a hateful man who refuses to accept humans based on race, religion or sexuality, was given this incredible amount of power.

I cried for my American friends who also share my same values and beliefs that as humans, we should be accepting of everyone, that being homosexual is not an abomination, or being a woman doesn’t make you weak or anything less than the other sex. For many of our friends they have already started exploring the possibility of leaving the “Great” America. Some disgusted by their own countries tom-foolery.

I cried thinking of all the wonderful humans who have fought for freedoms over the last 70 years who have passed on. What would they think of this world now if they saw what has happened? Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King…they would be shaking their heads from above.

I cried knowing that my own anxiety would trigger me look at every single American on the street, making me feel a sense disgust wondering if they were partly to contribute to this sad day in history. How the victims of sexual abuse or racism feel, I cannot comprehend. It would be like all the work they have done to get themselves back on track…thrown back in their face.

This is just the start of destruction of the free world. No one is safe anymore. From governments, from bullying, racism, misogyny, war, poverty, from each other.

 

Election window shopping.

cats-voting

Rather than plaster my thoughts all over my social media accounts or declare my opinions on threads and threads of voices, clambering on what they see as lies or truth, I thought it made more sense to write a blog post on what I’ve witnessed over the last year in the lead up to todays US election. You may find some of my analogies abrupt. I don’t care. I feel as an Aussie living here in California, with my husband working and paying a shit tonne of tax just to be here, we don’t have the right to vote, but we sure as hell get to have an opinion. Everyone has a right to have an opinion. I am a “leftist” through and through. That is: I support all races, religions and minority groups, I am pro-choice when it comes to reproductive rights, and I believe that anyone should have the right to marry regardless of their sexual orientation.

Some of my Australian friends have asked me what it’s like living here, surrounded and immersed in American life daily, especially with this huge historic day which has had the entire nation treading on broken glass for the last few months. Well, I can certainly see the social and racial divide, that for the most part of the last 8 years, America has done it’s goddamn best to claw it’s way back from the biggest recession the world has ever seen. It’s no secret that I am an avid Obama supporter. I felt sorry for the guy who was handed a steaming pile of…coal (the word shit came to mind), and asked to make it into the glowing diamond the world once knew and adored, because let’s face it, rolling coal in glitter will make it look pretty, but it’s kinda still rough on the outside with many more processes it needs to under go before it can shine and sparkle again.

So for a time, Obama did his best to bring this nation together. I’ve seen comments from those who say “He was the worst President in history”. They are clearly forgetting his predecessor Mr Bush. I mean, that guy couldn’t form coherent sentences and the rest of the world usually shook it’s head in utter disbelief every time he had to make a public statement. I see no difference now with Trump. The instigator of hate who has loudly been blaring his egotistical thoughts into the fearful that reside in this great land. I call it his “Trump cult”. I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry that they have been persuaded by a shonky businessman, who refuses to declare his taxes or earnings, that has no morals or values except to vet his own interests. He’s made it into a running joke that it’s ok to hate and put down women, races, religions, single out a race and call them “rapists and druggies” (by the way…anyone notice Trump sniffing a lot during the first debate? I mean, maybe he had a sinus infection? The ramblings certainly made me think of Ben Cousins crazy arm helicopter movements after the AFL grand final and we all know where he ended up). The guy who massacred his Hollywood star? I’m not surprised this happened. Was it right? No. But this is an example of America’s frustration with having to witness an egotistical narcissist in action.

Let’s rewind 3 years back to Australia. Tony Abbott is elected as Prime Minister. The right has won. Good for Australia? NO. Broken promises of jobs, and support for Australian major brands – gone. Thousands of jobs axed. Ford motor group: done. CSIRO jobs: slashed. Mining boom – GONE (because China says a big fat fuck you to Australia now and guess who was buying all our iron ore?) A man who doesn’t believe in climate change. A man who thinks coal is the best thing since sliced bread (he doesn’t trust wind or the sun) who made himself “Minister for women” (does he secretly have a vagina?!) and of course, minister for Indigenous rights. Disastrous. His party had to vote him out after a year. He’s been replaced by a better speaking version of himself with Turnbull. Australia still isn’t happy. The economy has bottomed out. This is what it’s like living in the “right”. Well not anymore, thats why we jumped ship.

I’ve see so many comments “Hillary is corrupt”. “Hillary lies”. Ok, so maybe she did get big business to fund her campaign. Great! Sometimes politicians need sponsors. Just like sporting teams. Thats why she went on and Bernie didn’t. The emails stuff. She’s a politician. They tend to write emails, most likely a lot of them. She most likely deleted a whole bunch. FBI have declared there was nothing suspicious. More lies made by the GOP?  She DID declare her taxes though. Still waiting for the other guy to do that. Her husband didn’t respect her when he was caught cheating. Bill paid the ultimate price. He was impeached. Anyone remember that? And look who STILL stuck by him. She’s a gutsy lady.

What I HOPE for America: decently priced childcare, longer parental leave, higher minimum wage, fairness to all regardless of race or religion, better police training, better mental health services and stricter gun reforms. I am sad that I don’t get to vote. But I am proud of my friends here that do. I am happy that majority of those we love and share the same values and ideals with support a free and happy America. One that shouldn’t live in fear, or hate. Who knows how long my family will remain here if the above doesn’t come to fruition.

So for now, it’s window shopping. I can glance on by through the window, admire the goods, just not have the goods. Whatever you shop for today, make sure it’s what you NEED. Make it count.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music for lyfe – part 1#

*Note: Some names in this post have been changed to protect the identity of those mentioned.

Those who know me well, know that music has been in my blood since the age of 6. I took up piano lessons at a music school close to me in Perth where I grew up and my parents and my teacher saw that I had a real knack for playing the piano and an excellent ear too. My family weren’t that well off so when a friend of my mum offered to give me some horrible split level 1970’s church organ (complete with those savvy samba and rhumba in-built beats that you hear at a baseball game). I was very excited to finally have a REAL musical instrument in the house. From age 7 to 9, I continued with my Yamaha class piano / keyboard lessons until the teacher Ms Baxter asked me whether I wanted to commence sitting my AMEB exams. My parents could see me taking to this music thing, playing at it for hours after school and just creating melodic songs and experimenting with sounds.

My folks decided to buy me a nicer keyboard, one which wasn’t some split level grandma organ and from what I can recall, it was a Roland. It was basic enough but actually sounded like a piano and had semi-weighted keys. It was nothing fancy and my parents promised that if I passed my second grade AMEB, then I would have a surprise waiting for me. Well, you just can’t imagine a kids face when you get home from your nerve wracking exam in the middle of Summer to find a beautiful Alex Steinbach upright mahogany piano, complete with matching stool and your next AMEB grade 3 music book on it. I was super stoked to say the least. I recall endless hours spent sitting at the piano, the neighbours used to love listening to me play and never complained. My siamese cat at the time, Claudius used to come up and sit next to me, watching me play the piano and sometimes even trying to play it himself (some nights he would attempt to run down the keys while we slept!). He was a gorgeous cat. We had a very calm special relationship (even though he was known to complete strangers to be vicious) until the day he passed.

The years went on, and I continued with Ms Baxter as my music teacher. I completed grades 3-6 on that piano. The grades did certainly get harder and more time was needed for the later exams to practice until I thought I was ready. When I reached grade 7, my teacher was close to retirement herself and just didn’t have the energy to continue teaching me so she referred me to another teacher in Mount Lawley. She was also pretty pissed that during some of my lessons, I got bored and picked at an apparent expensive ugly abstract painting that she had oddly placed on the floor next to her grand piano and thanks to my fidgeting, I picked at some of it until the oil paint fell off. I mean, thats what kids did right? Destroy stuff. Mrs Baxter never had any kids of her own so I was surprised her not paying any attention to me picking at this painting. She yelled and screamed at me threatening to make me pay thousands for it. Yikes.

By this stage, I was attending Churchlands high school on a coveted scholarship as 1st Oboe, I was in year 9 and because the music program at school was so intense with me playing Oboe, I was finding my interest in piano and this last exam dwiTen-piano-FINALndling because I just couldn’t a) find the time to practice along with all the music extra curricular activities going on with school and, b) with general school study. The”new” teacher I was taking lessons from, as good as she may have been, was trying to correct my playing style (my fingers are double jointed) and after 8 yrs of playing the piano, I found this new  technique training at such a later stage of my learning, highly frustrating.

Maybe she wanted me to strive for “concert pianist status” but I knew that was complatley not what I wanted as my end goal. I wasn’t some robotic kid who sat at the piano 8yrs a day to learn Chopin. I enjoyed playing with my own technique and until this point in time it had served me well. So half way into practicing for my 7th grade and 15yrs old, I decided to quit. There was simply no more enjoyment in playing such complex pieces of music. I enjoyed the simplicity of my earlier piano years. I wasn’t too sad about it, but the beautiful piano in our house then turned into more like a stagnant piece of furniture.

I continued with Oboe until I graduated high school. Our school arranged a tour of Singapore, Hong Kong and China and with my music school and friends, it was a highlight of my later school years. I got to play many famous orchestral and woodwind band arrangements, from Brahms to Ravel, Bach to Williams. I was also in senior choir as a soprano and my voice strengthened a lot paving the way for my future singing endeavors. Our senior choir conductor Mr Hue was lively, passionate and I watched him turn kids who didn’t know how to sing a note, into the most brilliant tenor’s and alto’s.

Colour-By-Numbers-FINALAt 16, besides school, I was keen to join a pop / rock band and maybe expand my musical playing in this avenue to make some cash on the side, so I teamed up with Andrew, a lively man who was (and still is) slightly obsessed with Boy George. He educated me with ALL the great 1980’s pop and rock songs and we had a number of gigs which I played with him every weekend for 2 yrs. We were called “Colour by Numbers. With our love for pop music and performing, a nice friendship developed, and we hung out weekly to rehearse and played at a few family and friend gatherings. We found ourselves an agent and started to pick up smaller pub gigs around Perth. We drove to Kalgoorlie on many occasions and stayed up there for a week, playing at one of the main pubs for 6 nights, which had an joining hotel. The money was decent at the time and a road trip at age 17 to me seemed adventurous and fun.

I continued with my Oboe until I graduated high school and completed my music scholarship in 1997. It was the year after that things kind of went down hill. I was in my 18th year. Mum left and my parents separated. It was tough but I knew she was unhappy and I was emotionally mature enough to understand her reasons, even though I was saddened by it all. My dad went ballistic. It was really hard to deal with seeing him hurt but also supporting my mum, because for the later part of those years, my dad just didn’t want to work things out with her and they both became like ships in the night, living in the house with the one common interest – us kids. So dad took to coming to all my gigs with me and Andrew, which was fair enough, I was 17 so needed an adult to be there. But even when I turned 18, he still insisted on accompanying me to gigs. I think it helped him a lot to get over what had happened and remain “busy”. A year or so went on and I decided to seek new musical opportunities.

I got a job in the city working for a fashion wholesaler and I wanted to move out from living in the family home to be with mum.  She was living in my aunts house (her twin sisters place). It was north of Perth and far from the city. I missed her and she missed me too. Dad didn’t take that too well but he was all but a ghost most days, drifting in and out of the house, didn’t care what my brother was up to. He took me moving as a pretty big insult, which I didn’t understand why. It’s not like I did it to get at him, I just wanted to be around a more positive environment. One day when I had gone back to the house to retrieve a few things, including our cat Cindy (she just hated being there with my dad and brother), I noticed the piano was missing. “Where is my piano?” I asked. He admitted to selling it to pay for legal bills. Say WHAT? I couldn’t believe it! In shock, I took what I had and the cat, and drove in tears back to where I was living with mum. I can still remember all those feels that day. It was like someone that you trusted and loved so dearly just picked up a knife and stabbed you right in the heart. I mean, what kind of parent does that? The piano was MORE than just a “thing”. It was a tool that had fostered my musical growth for many years. It was something that I wanted to hand down to my kids and then my grandkids hand down to their kids. After that incident, it was hard for me to repair that relationship with my dad. We tried for a number of years, but sadly, the effort was really one sided and the other side was just after monetary gratitude.

After leaving Colour By Numbers duo, I joined a trio with 2 guys….Mike and Roger. Platform Three. From the Swinging Pig down in Rockingham, to the Moon and Sixpence in the city. It was playing with them that I felt my voice really strengthened and developed From that light breathy choir falsetto to a real powerful rock/pop voice. I sang anything from Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Marvin and Aretha. This was also at a time before smoking was banned in all venues so my voice was really raspy (I guess inhaling 100 peoples cigarette smoke will do that to you.) The guys enjoyed my singing because I was awesome at harmonising. I played with them for around 2 yrs too, until Mike decided one day that apparently my “look” wasn’t raunchy enough and he decided to ‘hire’ behind my back 2 absolutely pathetic bimbo’s (who couldn’t sing mind you but looked like they were fresh out of some seedy strip bar). They arrived one night and stood to the side on stage attempting to sing but looking stupid. It was so laughable, that I practically just quit on the spot that night, because thats what you do when there is literally no space on the tiny pub stage. I’m a lover not a fighter, and if that was the direction he wanted his little ensemble to go in, well so be it.

So I’m going to wrap up this blog post here, but stay tuned for “music for lyfe – part 2#” where I continue my ramblings on my music career in my mid to late 20’s.