Friday, 18 July 2014

Plans, Planes and Propaganda

A hearty good afternoon to you all.

I have several excuses for my leave of absence one of which I think is very valid. I have been time poor once again with the burden of earning money. If only we all could stroll through life devoid of commitments and this primal need to succeed. Ok, so it isn't a writing job but it is something. Admin girls get a lot of bad press and I would like to think I'm an exception to the rule. If you give me a job, no matter how tedious or boring I'll get it done, and I'll do it well. I pride myself on good work ethic and right now my bank account is relying on that ethic.

I'm getting back into the swing of full working days and I'm absolutely loving the comfort of my bed and hating waking up in the dark cold hours of the early morning. But through it all I get little sparkles of motivation, little pick me ups that make it worth while. I like to think I'm a pretty grounded person, I might talk fairy tales and poetic fantasies but I don't really believe in them. My head is in a good space right now - do your job, do it well and write on the side. I've decided that writing is my long term goal. It isn't going to happen over night and it is going to be a very long and slow journey, one that I am willing to see through.

I had the great opportunity of interviewing one of Australia's most renowned and successful fashion designers, Akira Isogawa. It was one of the scariest and stressful interviews I have ever conducted. It all was organised in a flurry, right down to the wire. Think The Newsroom kind of deadline, you have no preparation time and you've got one hour to get your act together. I've realised I quite like that pressure, it motivates me and there is no time for Ms procrastination to show her lazy self. Looking back at that sweaty palms and pulse racing day I think rather masochistically, I want to feel that again. Akira was a delight, an absolutely kind, gentle and ethereal soul to interview and I only wish I could have had more time to pick his brilliant brain.

You'll see the fruits of that labor as well as my other story with Chef Alejandro Cancino in the next issue of Sartre, coming to a street near you early August!

In other, even more exciting news I get to board a plane yet again! I am slave to wanderlust and privy to the travel bug, it's got me bad and I'm never going to be cured. Come October I shall be trekking up Machu Picchu. Yes, Alicia is attempting to prove she's not a couch potato. I've never done anything like this before. I've roughed it at school camp and I've stayed at some god awful hostels but this is pretty hardcore. I'm trekking up thousands upon thousands of stairs across four days to see this ancient beast. I'm hoping the guidebooks are right, that it will all be worth it. People have asked why I'm not catching the train and the answer seems a little fool hearty "Because I believe you have to earn Machu Picchu". I want to follow the path of the mighty Incas, I want to feel that adrenaline, that pain, that sense of true physical accomplishment. Plus I will be motivated to get through it because that's only the beginning of my trip. I'm then off to Iguassu Falls and Rio where I shall dance on copacabana beach, climb some more stairs to Christ the Redeemer, take mandatory selfies and eat, eat, eat!

What propaganda? That would be me selling me. With my rather rudimentary photoshop skills I am in the process of making new business cards. I feel rather unprofessional when I get to go to all these foodie and networking events and the business cards get exchanged... so that's happening ASAP.

So that's my big update sorry for the silence. I am trying to block off time just for my blog but I'm finding it difficult to keep up.

And bonus/irrelevant news: I have wasted four days to the wonderful world of Orange is the New Black. This show is like none other I have ever watched (and I've watched my fair share). It cast has eons of chemistry, the story lines thrilling, emotional and important and it is the perfect balance of comedy and drama. Jason Biggs plays are more adult role beyond the apple pie and a fairly unknown cast pop on screen and deliver award deserving performances. What I love about this show is it's message: it highlights everything wrong with the American criminal correction system and portrays this idea that criminals can be anyone, sometimes we are all just a step away from going too far. One mistake, can change a life.


xx

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Miracle of Life

Life works in strange and mysterious ways. The universe hands you moments you never asked for and gives you opportunities you never really knew existed, or at least not in your own life. At about this time last Tuesday the universe handed me a gift and I decided to take it with an unknown courage and open arms.

This is by far the hardest blog entry I have ever written and one that I hope will do the experience justice. It has taken me several drafts and self-debate but alas I have chosen to publish what I hope is an honest telling of what is without question one of the greatest and purest moments of my life so far…

I was at the birth of my sister-in-laws second child and they were the most emotional hours I have ever bared claim to. The only thing I ever knew about having a baby was how it got there in the first place and a traumatising video in high school biology class that involved a water birth and a lot of downstairs mess. I have filled in the gaps with my dear friends: television and movies. Pop culture has taught me giving birth to a life means hilarious doctors screaming for enemas instead of epidurals, women cursing their men constantly and babies coming out in a painful flash. Well my fellow uneducated friends, child birth is none of the above, except for super human, this-should-not-be-physically possible pain. I didn’t really want to write that last sentence because I cannot tell you the level to which that pain is but being right there beside her I can tell you know that it was so difficult to see her go through it all.

As my brother readied the car for the hospital I stood in as what I hope was the comic relief. I’m still not sure whether my quoting movies and being immature was helpful or just plain annoying, I really hope it was helpful though. As we waited in the hospital I was still in a world of movies and excitement, and in my head the midwives were dressed in 1950s English attire, alla Call the Midwife. But as the contractions reached pain levels beyond the normal strength of man there was no longer a place for jokes. We were taken down to a birthing suite and the midwife said she was 8 centimetres dilated. I looked at my brother “baby is ready to come out!” OH GOD! This was real! As I stood beside her as she squeezed my hands tighter than a bull, I asked again if she was certain she was comfortable with having me there. I asked myself the same question a few more times. Could I do this? Did I have the strength? Would I end up being a hindrance rather than a support? Still entirely unsure of my own future in those moments it was exactly where I needed to be.

There was a very small moment where through clenched teeth and dreary eyes she looked into mine and I had never seen her so vulnerable, so helpless and ready to give up the fight. “I can’t do it” are words this girl never utters and here she was searching for the strength we all knew she had but in that moment couldn’t find. I was overcome with emotion and that’s when it hit me – my brother was the tower of strength he needed to be, right there motivating her, never wavering and it was then that I saw how beautiful, important and overwhelming love can be. (Sorry I’ll go wash my mouth out that got waaaay too sappy).

For me my emotions peaked when in a split second this little bundle of joy came into the world and the midwife swooped her up in less than a heartbeat to rest in the arms of her very deserving mother. As this second old human used her second old lungs to cry her very first tears I couldn’t help but cry a few of my own. For those brief seconds I was looking at the youngest human on this planet.

It was the after birth that worried me the most. Baby is okay, but is mother okay? Still in indescribable pain she got through it like a boss and half an hour later we got the all clear mummy was all good for well needed rest and a little tea and toast.

As I sat nursing my tiny, perfect little niece, a mere 30 minutes old I contemplated a career change. Midwife? I thought. No, I said. I could only ever help bring lives into this world if I had one of my own. Call the Midwife makes me boil with untamed emotions, I literally sob every episode and seeing that first hand, it really is a bit of a life changer. What I learnt was that there is no need to worry about is it a girl, is it a boy, does he have hair, does she have eyelashes? There is only one thing anyone should ever ask for and that is the simplest: is my baby healthy? The Dalai Lama has said time and time again that it is a miracle to just be born. It has taken so many different chances and people meeting people for you to just be breathing, and seeing a birth gave that more weight and power than I thought possible.

At 2.44am my little niece came into this world and those long hours leading up to that one beautiful moment were all worth it. At 2.44am her aunty was running on adrenalin, fear, happiness and wonderment that she thought never truly existed.

As we were led to the hospital room, mother, daughter and father slept soundly while I was still awash with feelings seeking my contemplation over rest. I stared out onto the city as sunrise hit the buildings and I smiled, I turned to look at this girl all wrapped up ready to begin a life and I felt more than privileged to be there for those very first seconds. I found myself thinking about every mother in this world who has given birth and in that moment I understood the unconditional love they have for their children. I only say I can understand it, but I in no way know how great that feeling really is. The bravery, determination, courage and sheer super human strength to get through that ordeal gives you the greatest gift of all. My own mother did that three times, no wonder why she cares so much. I also found myself in ore of hospitals, modern medicine and medical staff. How did my grandmother and her mother survive all that. How do home births work? Some women have given birth all alone, I cannot begin to imagine the strength that possessed them.

Would I ever have that courage? Do I even yearn for that kind of pain for myself? I'm still searching for those answers but I now know for certain that every life is blessed and someone, somewhere loves us, because that moment you were born no matter if it was natural or not you are a beautiful gift so don't waste the time that you have.

For my first niece I wish her every possible happiness and I cannot wait to tell her the story of when her aunty was right there for her very first breathe.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Makeover

Remember back in the year that was 2013 I promised a change; well six months later I have delivered!

I hope you like the new banner and the updated photos of yours truly. I have spent most of today revamping this space so I won't be giving you much of a post tonight. So just a quick update:

Got a couple more sneaky days at work which is a god send considering my dwindling bank account

Said bank account is dwindling due to some exciting news that will have to wait till another day

Invites to menu launches and food events are coming in thick and fast so that aspect of life is receiving a healthy appetite

Currently getting fit with morning runs (close those jaws please, I can indeed exercise)

Recent obsessions involve: Breaking Bad, Sorted (YouTube channel involving cooking and 4 cute Brits), tote bags, avocado on toast and listening to Ed Sheeran's 'All the Stars'


I have a post in draft which will hopefully see the light of day next week. In the mean time smile each morning, give yourself some you time and eat well.

xx

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mad for Mad Men


So I realise this post will alienate many readers but when I have something to say I need to write about so if history and the best modern drama ever made doesn't tickle your fancy stop reading, or keep reading you might just like what I've got to rant about.

So this week's episode of Mad Men sent me into a flurry of emotions. The penultimate episode to the last ever half season finale of this perfect 50 minute drama reminded me why I love and worship this show more than any other drama to date (this statement is true for the present time, The West Wing would come a very very close second). The episode titled "The Strategy" executed historical accuracy to a fine art and cemented my absolute adoration of Peggy and Don's perfectly structured relationship. The most talked about scene this week was of course this; every Mad Men fan's eyes started to swell as Don and Peggy sat drinking in an office belonging to neither party, working together and sharing their deepest, darkest moments. It was a return to the genius days of "The Suitcase" an episode that resonates in each and every viewer. An episode almost entirely dedicated to fleshing out this beautiful relationship. Some devotees yearn for a romance between the two but I have never seen it that way. It was established way back in episode one with the little Brooklyn born innocent Peggy, a little uncertain on how to behave in an office, she wanted to please, so she heeded Joan's advice and tried some moves on her handsome boss, but right at that moment their relationship was cemented, Don always respected Peggy, she was the one secretary he never slept with, she was the secretary who would become his protege and possibly even outwit her master. Fast forward to today and Peggy and Don are the only people that truly know each other; Don is the only one that knows she bore Pete's child, Peggy learnt back in "The Suitcase" Don was living a lie. It's an almost father, daughter relationship they understand each other completely and they make each other better.

Not only did this intimate scene bring back the glory days of Peggy and Don but it resonated a truth for women of then and today. As Peggy tries to find the perfect ad pitch she's caught up in her own desires, regrets and fears. She is 30 and she is successful but she lacks a family of her own, she says she never wanted to be one of those women who lie about their age and yet here she is. As she looked across the country and starred into cars full of families she asked herself "What did I do wrong?" and that's when anyone watching with any uncertainty in their lives, any questioning of why not me? Or when is it my turn? Will it ever be? just wishes they could leap in and give Peggy a hug to tell her the sad truth that in 2014 things aren't much better. Yes, men like Pete Campbell can no longer say to a woman ”You know that she’s every bit as good as any woman in this business!” without getting fired and charged with sexual harassment but the societal expectation that women can and should have it all to be deemed successful is still at large. Don then comforts her with a truthful "you are doing great" and as Frank Sinatra's My Way starts playing Don invites Peggy for a dance. This is when I wanted to grovel at Matthew Weiner's feet and kiss the ground he walks on because these few minutes made me weep with elation. Peggy rests her head against Don's chest and with a natural glance he kisses her head, two people who need each other, two people whose lives aren't want they wanted and are more than broken are doing exactly as Sinatra preaches "regrets I've had a few, I did what I had to do ... I did it my way".

This episode relayed so many truths about history, how far we have come and how far we still have to go. A time where gay men were forced to make arrangements with their lady friends in order to play a part, to live happy lives and be great businessman. A time where it was shocking to see women at the top of their game and to still be undermined and relegated to being the mother figure. A time when chauvinism ruled the streets and perfect women "shop all day and screw all night". Gender roles are no longer confined to these outrageous barriers but this kind of inequality and lack of understanding and acceptance still roam this so called free world. This show is not only beautiful to watch with iconic shots imprinted in my mind some monumentous and powerful and others painfully sad or just plain outrageous (John Deere lawn mower is all I have to say)it brings light real life issues both of the world and of the personal. Whether you are struggling with identity, trying to build your career, a mother who struggles to be a good one, a businessman working too many hours or just have a perchance for advertising Mad Men will reward you with something. It might be comforting or it might hit too close to home but it tells the story of people, of relationships and of life and for that I thank it and all who are responsible for it.

I have complete faith that Mr Weiner will continue the outstanding quality of this show right down to the final ever credits. I can't begin to even speculate how this show will end, I'm scared for the fate of Don, I have feeling Peggy will always be "just" a career woman, Pete may end up drowning in his supressed depression, Joan may "die hoping to find love" and Roger Stirling, well LSD might just get the best of him. All I can say with complete confidence is that no matter how this show ends it has brought me hours of magic. It is the one show that effectively uses a not so distant past to reflect modern day issues and progress. Mad Men makes me want to walk into an ad agency and be Peggy Olsen, Mad Men makes me wish I knew a man like Don Draper - not for all the brokeness and womanising but for the mind, the writers who gave him a voice I tip my hat.

And as the curtains begin to close on seasons of unforgettable writing I throwback to the pilot episode where we meet this seemingly "got it all" New York ad man delivering lines such as this:

"What you call love was created by men like me to sell nylons"


I should be back soon with a more universally liked post. But for now happy 2014, if you've got a few hours in the night why not start Season 1, I promise you will be converted.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sartre Issue 2

My absence has been sorely missed I'm sure so let us recap what I've been up to.

Still technically unemployed I seem to be keeping busy. With 2 part time jobs and weekly posts for Creative Drinks, setting up interviews, doing PR calls and general social media advertising I'm finding the shoe is beginning to fit.

These past three weeks I have experienced first hand learning on the job is the most effective way to learn, uni taught me I can leave things till the last minute as long as those wee morning hours are productive and involve 100% concentration and dedication. I'm learning my future career will again involve all of this - paying attention, dedication and focus. Granted some people can't work under a deadline so don't listen to that advice as a rule. But learning on the job is a definitive truth and one that I'll keep on actively seeking. And considering I'm going to working till 70 (thank you Australian government) I better make it a good 50 years. What I want to say is fear is a good thing and diving into the deep end is an even better thing, so go on and do things you haven't been officially trained in, you will be surprised what you are capable of.

Creative Drinks is reaching an even wider audience and with the help of Sartre magazine things are looking bright. Last week I was invited to a private table for dessert tasting at Chester Street Bakery which was amazeballs - the cereal milk panna cotta was something else! Then the following school night I headed over to Rosalie to join an intimate group of media personalities to try out Moga's new a la carte lunch menu where we were spoiled with doting service, endless amounts of traditional Japanese cuisine, a word from the chef and a special dessert to end a wonderful night filled with great company and incredible food. Tonight I'm heading to Aqua Linea for the media launch of the Teneriffe festival and I'm betting my stomach will once again be satisfied.

And finally here it is: Issue 2 of the beautiful Sartre magazine. You will notice there's been a few design changes and our editorial team have spent many a late night making sure there are no mistakes this time around. It is seriously a unique and gorgeous free publication that I hope Brisbanites are currently enjoying with their coffees and friends. This issue I had the priviledge of sitting down with Katrina Ryan former head chef at Neil Perry's Rockpool Sydney who now resides in Brisbane with her family running The Golden Pig, a cafe and cooking school in Newstead - this place is perfectly designed and the people behind it are even more perfect. I was also given the duty to write the last page 'Sneak Peek' a small little plug for four great eats around Brisbane. So seriously, I'm asking you to pick one up - they are hanging all around the place, it's not like I'm asking you to travel far and wide for your copy. Make sure you tell your friend, grandma and dog and don't be shy, let us know your thoughts and shoot an email to letters@sartremagazine.com.au

I hope you are religiously heading over to www.creativedrinks.com.au because it's totes the best Brisbane website ever! But seriously, I write there every week so if you shed a tear for my inconsistent ways here know that I'm over there at all times.

So I hope you are all having equally productive lives, don't let the nightmare budget of 2014 get you down and always be who you want to be.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

When do I write best?

Scientist still can't solve the puzzle of the human mind and maybe it is simply because there is no need to solve it. Let it be mysterious, let it be difficult, let it be unique.

I know that my mind works in mysterious ways; it doesn't seem to have a direct path, she never wants to think the same at all times, she's wayward, whimsy and clumsy. After reading Mindy Kaling's (my current girl crush and idol) ridiculously cute, humorous and relate-able little autobiography I got thinking. Where is it that I write best? When is it? I realised like Mindy it isn't sitting at a beautiful mahogany desk in one of those architectural designed chairs but more likely under the bed sheets or lying on the floor at strange hours of the day with unkempt hair.

I have spent today in my hoodie tucked under my union jack throw trying out a new atmosphere. I was relieved to read that Mindy the brilliant comic writer that she is is also monstrously guilty of procrastination. She can't help but spend hours preparing to write, watching tv, fetching a snack, doing other chores and by the time that's all over she's only got an hour to write. A tutor once told me that we journalists as a breed thrive on pressure and that's why we are prone to procrastination; I'm really glad to know that this is a real thing, this prone to lazy personality is simply a trait of my profession.

In truth that is exactly what I have done today. I crept slowly off my bed, made some breakfast, did some house work, contemplated writing which in turn led to browsing pinterest for inspirational writing quotes which then led to my mind thinking it needed more inspiration and thus headed to YouTube and watched 2 hours of famous screenplay writers talking words of wisdom which then of course got me on an Aaron Sorkin fan girl rush and hence the need to watch an episode of The West Wing while eating lunch. And finally I am sitting outside under the comfort of my patio listening to the blissful sound of steady rainfall, drinking tea and writing this. When do I write best? God knows. Sometimes it's an early morning thing and other days it's 1am or nothing at all. I think I like this new found atmosphere, I think this shall be my writing spot for now. My indecisive mind may grow tired of the atmosphere in due course but for now she is content.

During my 2 hours of watching creative inspiration something stood out. Beau Willimon writer on the hit netflix drama House of Cards very accurately said "we are all professional thieves". Good writers steal from better writers and I will do just that because stealing from minds far greater than mine will enrich my work. It isn't plagiarism, it's creative thinking, it's collaboration. The creative world is all about inspiration, it's about pulling off branches from different trees to form the best kind of tree. One that blooms all year round and will never fall victim to the ravaging skies. My mind will only mature if I feed it well.

And on that thought I feed you with something far beyond well, I give you the words of Aaron Sorkin. Oh how I would love to steal a fraction of this man's mind.


This commencement speech inspires me each and every time I watch it. So I would like to share it with you because everyone should hear this wonderful mind at work.


In the words of Aaron Sorkin "Develop your own compass, and trust it. Take risks, dare to fail, remember the first person through the wall always gets hurt"




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwvilfPWHYI

xx

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The business of unpaid work


Internship is a synonym for slave. That’s what my parents and entire family think anyway. Unfortunately in my field of work unpaid labour is a necessary evil.

When you tell anyone outside of the creative world that you are not getting paid a cent for turning up to an office where you work the usual 8 hour day and sit in front of a computer doing actual important shit that needs to be done and requires your immediate attention they give you a look a child gives you when they cannot comprehend why they are not allowed to eat lollies for dinner. Or sometimes it’s that same look someone gives you when some heinous putrid, road kill type smell suddenly appears out of nowhere. These are smart people, these are all the people I know with respectable well paid jobs. I know they are just looking out for me, a writer cannot live on passion alone. Even when I try to explain unpaid work I swear their brains shut down and are left pondering in a dark corner why on earth anyone would ever do anything for free.

Unfortunately both employer and employee directly benefit. The employer obviously gets free labour and the employee thinks they are getting the ferociously important experience and professional exposure needed to crack into the industry.

I tell myself daily this most certainly is a throbbingly ruthless joke made by cheap-ass big wigs and yeah I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of truth to that but I don’t see this changing anytime soon.
You see I’m all for a little bit of unpaid work. I have been an unpaid writer for some time and it has taught me one crucially important truth; this is where I belong. I wouldn’t sit in a law library perusing case by case for free, I wouldn’t walk the grey sterile walls of a hospital shadowing a surgeon free and I would certainly not happily sit at a desk doing calculus all day for naught. But I’ll happily write words and string them together to make an entertaining read if all I get in return is the satisfaction of knowing people are reading something that I created and they are hopefully gaining something from it, a snigger of a smile is all I ask.

My very rough draft of a life is slowly and lovingly turning into a pile of almost readable pages and I will happily say unpaid work has contributed to this improved draft. I am making a promise right now that the day my first paid article is published I will not only shout my closest family and friends to the best celebratory meal there is – Maccas obviously (I’m a writer, my money can’t pay for the fancy), but I will also do something outrageous with my life – heck maybe even get a tattoo (I kid, let’s not make permanent changes that quickly, I’m not a bohemian free spirit just yet). Hmmm I thought I could give you a definitive answer on the precise details but suddenly I’ve fallen into one of those rooms with several unopened boxes and I’m not sure which one to open. So I’ll get back to you on that.

I know it is hard to comprehend why anyone would gladly complete work for free but I’m just here to tell you that sadly there is no alternative. You either be a modern day slave to professionals worth listening to or a slob who wears no pants all day, binging on the contents of your pantry re-watching The West Wing and occasionally prying open your laptop when an idea pops into your head and that idea never sees the light of day. Okay, guilty as charged I have lived both of these lives but the second will get me nowhere, unless it’s winning the Einstein Factor with a brain full of West Wing knowledge.

So that is my ramble for the day. Bless you all for taking the time to read my strung together words, it means more than you can imagine.