Monday, 31 March 2014

Top Of the Town Organics

Okey dokes. Guess what everyone? I had my very first  Legal Studies SAC this week! A SAC, for those of you who do not know, is like a unit test for the subjects that you take for your CE.  I am still trying to understand the nature of Legal Studies and it's exams and assessments. I feel like I've boarded a massive learning curve to try and figure out the whole system and how best to prepare for it, especially being  a year 10 taking on a year 11 subject. I was being such a stress and I guess it's in my nature, but I'm going to have to change that if I am to survive years 11 and 12.  I guess it's all about preparation. But how best to prepare is my biggest question. I really hope I didn't completely flop the test though...

After a whole week of hard work, staying up late, marathon writing sessions and all, I decided not to do anything at all school related for the whole weekend. That didn't end up working because I realised I was behind on my maths homework, and I hadn't touched my French book in a week. Oh wells. But, what I did end up doing was catching up on all the things I wanted to do, including heading down to an organic food shop that I had always wanted to check out.

Organic food stores are popping up all over the place here in Melbourne. I think it's great that there is such a large network of people who are so interested in providing real, wholesome, local and organic produce here in order to  spread the "real food" revolution. Let me tell you, it's spreading like wildfire and people are catching on fast!

I've never been to an organic food shop only markets and such so I made appa take me to the closest to us, Top Of The Town Organics. The store wasn't very well organised but I think that added to the excitement of this new experience. I find a sort of satisfaction from rummaging around and digging up all sorts of brilliant things. Hemp cream, activated nuts, boxes and boxes of organic tea, coconut butter, frozen cashew ice cream hmmmm..., not to mention the veggies. They were so beautiful and shiny and massive! I don't think I've ever seen garlic with such purple skin before! (Yes, ladies and gentlemen, garlic is supposed to have a sort of purple/white skin, not completely white because that means it's gone through a bleaching process). Going with appa was a bit of a mistake. He's really sceptical about organics and kept questioning the poor lady about whether her shop was "certified" or not. I just felt like hitting him across the head with the nearest zucchini. I refrained, don't worry, but only because I didn't think that such  large, green, shiny zucchini deserve to be used as a weapon.

I bought a small packet of Himalayan salt, raw almonds, a large box of blueberries, kale, spring onion and exactly five large medjool dates. On the spur of the moment, after hearing the price, I only decided to buy five dates but it was only when I arrived home and ate one did I realise that I was an idiot for not buying the whole box! They were so juicy and absolutely succulent. I have a MASSIVE soft spot for dates, to the point where I don't even think it's normal. Same goes for the blueberries. Appa and I ate half the box in the car, and it was such a large box too! They blueberries looks so cute and pretty, all covered in tiny flakes of ice, cosied up next to each other, I just wanted to eat them all up!

I really want to go back there again, (and buy the whole box of dates) and try some of the other cool things I saw, like that cashew ice cream, and the huge zucchini that I saw, and perhaps I will go around during the holidays and visit some of the other food stores near my place. 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

The Opressed Majority

I recently came across a very interesting French short film, The Oppressed Majority created by director Elenore Pourriat. The film features a middle aged man Pierre, father to a young child and husband, and his struggles as a male in a world where females are the ones who hold the dominant power. Pierre lives in a world of jogging, bare chested women, highly ranked female police officers, Muslim men who must shave and wear head scarves, male child care workers, a world where masculism is now an actual thing! In Pierre's world, the roles in society are reversed where it is now the average male experiencing the things that we, as women have experienced ever since the very beginning of well - "mankind".

We see Pierre taking his child off to a child minder, a task usually performed by a female in our society. As Pierre approaches the door of the nursery, he is greeted by a Muslim man wearing a head scarf. Pierre comments on the man's new head gear and the way that he has been made to shave his facial hair. "Be a man!" Pierre exclaims. It was quiet fascinating, hearing the thought of a man needing to take charge of his manhood, in the way that we as women tell each other to make use of our own Independence, in such seriousness.  A man is hardly ever encouraged to take charge of his manhood. Male dominance in today's society is generally asserted. 

However, the next bit was quite interesting, and if you do not look for it, it's quite easy to miss.  As Pierre rides back home, the camera pans in such a way that it accentuates his figure. It pans down his legs as he pedals, and the whole scene is in slow motion, expressing his sexuality. Now, if Pierre was a woman, this whole scene would have felt normal. In fact, I hardly think I would have noticed what the director did. But as Pierre was a male, something about the scene seemed odd and quite offensive.

I think, taking the issue of sexism, and using a film camera to capture the irony is a genius idea, as it expressed the theme of voyeurism quite well. 

For those of you who do not know, voyeurism comes from the French word "voyeur" which means "one who looks". Voyeurism is when someone gains sexual pleasure from watching intimate sexual behaviour. In my English Lit class, we recently learnt about this theory in relation to feminism. In general society, a man is the active subject, or the one doing an action, such as looking, and a female almost always plays a passive role. She is to be looked at. A man does the looking, whereas the women does the "being". The camera lens can be seen as the male eye. When we watch a movie, the filmography is almost always going to view things from the male perspective. The next time you watch a film, try to notice the way that a woman's face is usually framed with her bust, and a males face, quite plainly shoved into our faces, without the romantics that the woman's face has. 

Elenore Pouriat played with this concept by reversing the role of a camera lens. Accentuating Pierre's neck, his legs as he rides, and the little bit of bare chest that can be seen as he takes of the top button of his shirt, in the way that a woman may pull down her shirt, or hike up her skirt. 

So in the film, Pierre is sexually assaulted by a group of vulgar, violent women. He is then taken to a police station where he is questioned by a female officer, and taken to hospital where he meets his wife, who simply just "couldn't make out if work". Now where have we heard that before?

The film ends with he wife callously stating that it was all his fault. What with those corduroy pants!? wonder you got raped bro. Undone top shirt button! Ergh! You were just asking for it weren't you? We then see her  walking into the dark empty street by herself without a care in the world, with poor Pierre left on his own. A male seen in a state of vulnerability, and women seen with self assured confidence and asserted power. The subtle things that we, only as women notice in our daily life stand out so much more in this film. As the roles are reversed, our brain is made to shift from its automatic state of "oh I'm so used to this that I'm just going to ignore it" to - "hang on, something is not right".

Elenore Pouriat is a genius. A true genius. At times I found myself smirking at the irony, the wife's callous disregard for Pierre's well being, the ignorance, the sexual abuse. The film really makes us think, it really makes us realise that this society in in a dire need for change. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Music of People

A person's taste in music is quite a fascinating thing. A person's playlist is a small little link as to what goes on inside them. But another fascinating thing is the fact that I don't like showing just anyone my music.  I hate, detest, despise, showing people my playlists. I think it stems from the fact that I get very emotional about my songs and why I like them or why I don't like specific other songs. I have my own sort of utopian world stored up in gigs on my phone and on my computer. At times, it's difficult for me to come to terms with somebody entering it, seeing it, judging it and commenting on something that is very well my own. Well, I'm sure Alice didn't  want anyone discovering her own little Wonderland! Mary hardly wanted anyone to find her Secret Garden. I know its a bit petty of me but I just can't help it.

I know that we all have our own tastes in virtually everything. Pie, scarves, shoes, painting, photography, music. They are all things that can be categorised by taste into tiny subsets of a whole.  There are several reasons why we listen to a particular piece of music, why raspberry pie tastes better the blueberry pie, why Plimsolls are more comfortable than Doc Martens. Why we listen to a particular song is something that depends on a type of person. A whole variety of factors play into why a particular song stands out to me. I know of others who listen to the song because of the drums, or the guitars, or the synths or the particular producer of a song. Our taste in music is like the wide array of colours on an artist's pallet. And just the same, perhaps it's only a tiny difference in pigmentation that makes the colour stand out from the rest.

But because we listen to music for our emotional wellbeing, it's easy to see why we are all so emotional and so defensive about the songs we listen to. Well, actually maybe it's just me.  When someone asks me "what type of music do you listen to?" I have never, ever, at any stage of being asked that question, told them what specific genre I listen to. I merely say "Pffft, good songs!"  I also have a habit of never ever playing my music at parties, or showing them to anybody else unless they have shown me theirs first. I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Music is a beautiful thing. A song is an artwork. We often overlook the "art" in it by calling it an "arrangement" or a piece of "work". Music of today is rarely expressed as an artwork. But it is. And I should be celebrating the artwork shouldn't I? I should be sharing my music, letting other people know that that the sounds that I listen to exist! I guess, instead of looking at it as ones own secret, I should look at it like an attribute to myself. From now on, I'm going to try and wear it like a badge, a proud identity.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Children and the Oh-so-powerful force of Nature

A fresh drop of cold water lands on the soft, supple, unmarked palms of her hands, and trickles down, tracing a fresh wet path down and around her wrists.
She giggles.

She then wraps her cold, plump fingers around mine and guides the edges of my chipped, dirty nails along the window pane. I smile at her childish wonder. The furrowing of her dark, softly shaped eyebrows as she experiences this wholly new wonder, gives a slight lift to my own grin. How can we, as grown children, grow bored of something that this child finds so mesmerising? She is lost within this world of discovery, feeling the gentle tickle of a raindrop as it falls through her fingers, smelling the sickly sweet air as it rains.

She pauses for a few minutes, simply observing the light drizzle and the way it blurs the surroundings. I think to myself, "ahh, she is finally bored". But no.  Unlike us, she does not wait for something to happen. She makes it happen.

She jumps. She jumps from the top step of our porch into the puddle below, squealing with extraordinary delight as the water sprays in every direction. Startled, I catch myself trying to run after my sister so that I could bring her back under the shelter of our porch roof. But I don't. And I'm glad I didn't. Instead I watch her from a distance. Though I am shivering in my pj's, feeling tired and muggy, dying to get back to my homework, I am still mesmerised by the childish joy that was taking place before  me.

Now why didn't I go out into the rain and bring my sister back? Why didn't I take her in and dry her off so that she wouldn't get sick? Why did resist the primal urge to bring her back?

Because the play, the exploration, the joy,  are all part of a child's curious nature. Young children are at the very early stages of their life and there is just so much for them to learn. They feel things so they can lean. They smell things so that they can learn. They see colours and taste flavours that will in turn, allow them to gain more of an understand about the world around us. To learn. And where best to lean? Nature. 

In such a technologically advanced society, we often forget the benefits that a connection with nature has with children. While many children are plomped in front of a television, or made to play on the Ipad, or with store bought toys, there are other children who are placed in a far more stimulating environment. The natural environment increases physical activity, cognition, engagement and creative play. Experiences such as these; the rain, the soil, the snow, the sun, the exploration of the world around us, moulds a child's brain. It creates links and bridges, and patterns within their minds and in turn, motor skills, social skills, emotional awareness and so many other skills that are vital to a child's development. 

So there. My sister was wearing a raincoat and warm clothes. She was safe within the walls of our fence and so I had no worry. Her childish enjoyment was so amusing, I just couldn't stop her.  My mum, as a social worker, had always enforced these concepts to me. Even now, it stills pains me to see a kid being yelled at for rolling in the dirt, or for having messy hair, or for staying out in the rain. It's all part of their daily experiences that help them learn more and more about the world around them. And most importantly, they are learning for themselves rather than having information shoved down their tiny throats. So please, next time your kid, your sister your brother, ends up coming back into the house with dirt on their shirts and hands covered in grass stains, just say "Well done! That's the muddiest I've ever seen you!" before you tell them not to get the tiles dirty.  

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Self efficacy

I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I'm so a million times sorry!!!! Ergh I know, there are absolutely no excuses when it comes to keeping up with your blog. That's why I'm not even going to try to tell you the billion excuses that are popping up in my head. I have failed my goals, and let myself down, and as a result I've let my readers down.

So these are the situations that you are faced with in life. There are going to be moments where you may feel like you have not followed through or succeeded in any way. I feel that way. And this feeling is often a billion times worse because you often feel as if you could have done something about it. There were actions that you could have taken in order to succeed. Maybe you could've gotten up off your backside and actually started revising for that test. Maybe you could have just slipped on your running shoes and gone for that jog anyway, even if it was 40 degrees outside. Maybe I could have just opened up a new tab and started writing a new post.

But really, there is no point in dwindling on the failures of the past, or what you think are failures, because those negative thoughts are going to get you nowhere my friends. Instead, dwindle on the success of the past. Look back at the times when you were at your peak. What were you doing then? What can you do to get back into form?There is no one better than yourself when it comes to  setting a positive example for your future success.

Self efficacy. In fact it's a word that I learnt just this week. It is one's believe in one's own ability to succeed. People who find other options to exercise when it's too rainy for a jog have high self efficacy. People who don't eat ice cream at parties and stick to their health and have a high self efficacy.

But what do you do when you feel like your self efficacy at rock bottom? Well you think back to the moments when you did succeed and when you did do well or when you felt the most accomplished and say to yourself  "we'll I did it then, so I can do it now". And you need to feel proud of yourself for at least achieving that much.

So there. I know I haven't posted in a week. But I also know that there was a time where I was posting 2 times a week even through school, exams, netball, swimming, piano, and singing. And I'm proud of myself. And I know that I will be able to do that again.