Friday, 26 November 2010



LOOK AT HER. She's sexy and vivacious and fun and FABULOUS and is gonna ROCK MY SOCKS OFF. So unprepared for such awesomeness that is going to BLOW MY MIND. ZZZZZZZZOMG!!!!!!!

Teenage Dream

Quite possibly my favourite video (except for You Belong With Me, obviously):


And maybe this one:

California Gays

(For more Ryan James Yezak brilliance, see here)


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Murder, He Wrote

My response (word for word, from my journal) to the closing arguments of a murder trial we saw in Boston.

WOW! Was today ever an EYE OPENER! The murder trial this morning was absolutely mind blowing. We were very lucky to be able to sit in on such a case – and to hear the closing arguments, a re-cap of the case! – but at the same time, I felt a bit guilty, like a third, unwanted party, spectator to their grief [the family.] The case was that of a young black 20 year old man who killed another 20 y. o. (black man) after a fight between them, allegedly over money. The question was, is it manslaughter (heath of the passion; provoked) or murder 1 (calculated, malice.) I noticed the jury was mostly white, with only 2 black members (a man and a woman) which seemed unfair, and this was something Denise brought up, that minorities should be entitled to minority juries.

The defence began by saying we humans are frail, emotion beings, and that the defendant completely lost his cool after being confronted and assaulted by the (now deceased) victim. What if came down to, between the prosecution and defence, was his (the defendant’s) state of mind. Can a reasonable person lose such restraint, blinded by anger and humiliation? The prosecution placed a lot of emphasis on a person’s ability to reflect, which I think may be somewhat overestimated in this case. I mean, if we’re all fired up, do we ever reflect, or simply find the quickest release for our fury, which in this case was revenge. On the other hand, I think the defence may have overplayed the ‘ego/manhood’ card – how much can you really argue that someone is more humiliated because they’re beaten up in front of their girlfriend, which drives them into a blind rage and killing frenzy?

But what it all comes down to is speculation, really – I mean how can we ever KNOW – especially in a case like this one – what was going through his head? The evidence can only ‘tell’ (or rather, suggest) so much. The rest is up to your lawyers to persuade the jury. Another curiosity was the clause of ‘cruel and atrocious crimes,’ and as one of the closing arguments noted, aren’t all crimes [i.e. murder] cruel and atrocious? [though I suppose some more so than others...everything’s relative.] What makes one any more so than another? The number of lives taken, and the way in which they were taken, I suppose, but all life is sacred.



Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The tassle worth the hassle*

I'm about to graduate!!!! December 13 is the big day. I finished all my classes and final assessment a couple of weeks ago, and made the Big Move out of college into my parents' apartment in the city (it's fabulous. I love having privacy. I'm even learning to cook for myself! Sara came over for steak on Tuesday, which was an adventure, but I'm pleased to say a successful and delicious and fire-free one) :)

Of course, I've got no prospects, with a Bachelor of Arts:


Although it's true, I've learned the invaluable art of essay writing:


Furthermore, I've been taught how to think, not what to think, which is obviously infinitely more worthwhile.

Kidding, of course! To be honest, I HATE all the jokes about how I won't get a real/paying job because I've got an Arts degree, how I'll end up working at McDonald's (serving all the Commerce kids, of course) or how I'll end up living in a cardboard box. For God's sake, get over your superiority complex, all of you! Your degree is no better than mine, does not qualify you for more than mine. The beautiful, amazing, talented, incredible Gem just finished a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Cultural Studies) this year and already has a fantastic job lined up at an up and coming PR firm. She's going to go sensational places. The joke about arts is you do what you love, but you'll never make any money from it, and you've made the decision to prioritise the former over the latter. I don't think there's anything wrong with this choice, but I also don't think it has to be a dichotomy. Arts gives me so many options, and none of them include fast food, so screw you, I'm going to have a career I love and be successful at it, dammit. You can take your piece of paper and shove it, because mine's not going to define me.

After taking the next glorious year off, I'll come back to uni - hopefully MU - and do post-grad studies. I'm currently tossing up between a Master of Teaching (Secondary), Master of Publishing and Editing, and a Master of Development. I'm also considering Teach for Australia and maybe, just maybe, the Peace Core (probably a pipe dream.)

Sadly, though, we don't get hats to through, which is I'm going to do a Masters, so I can do this:


*Yeah. We'll see.


So guess where I'm going to be living for 3 months next year, volunteering as an English teacher in a primary school?





COSTA RRRRRRRRRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm going to be living with a family near La Fortuna, helping teach english at the local primary school, from August to October next year. I'm doing this through i-to-i, who organise the whole trip (more or less), and with whom I am going to do the TEFL course. Which means I need to brush up on mi espanol pronto!!!!


Y'all may have got the impression that I spend most of my waking hours (and, let's be honest, sleeping) in a constant state of excitement. This is true, because basically, I'm a happy, upbeat kind a gal, and I always have something to look forward to :) however, with this on the horizon, I can barely contain myself. My life is perpetual caps lock, or as Sheldon puts it, "in the world of emoticons, I['m] colon capital D." :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Surprise! I’m alive :)

Hello, dear blog. It's a jolly good thing you're not something that requires constant watering, otherwise you'd have withered up long ago.

Would you look at that – several months have bitten the dust since I last blogged. Oops. This last semester has been crazy – I didn’t think it was possible for me to be busier than I was last semester, when I was organising the college ball, adjudicating, starting a roving reporter gig and doing a full load of uni subjects. Apparently I enjoy proving myself wrong, not just in theory, but in practice: with only taking three subjects this semester (my final 3!!!!!!!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Graduation, here I come! ...provided my crap grades this semester don’t make me fail...) and a sweet two-day-a-week timetable (but shhh – don’t tell my dad, he’ll be all “you’re wasting your time at university, you’re so slack, why aren’t you taking more classes, rah rah rah” – he knows I’m only taking 3 but doesn’t realise my timetable is so AWESOME – I mean “lazy”) I felt I could take on a few more extracurriculars. Cue my getting a casual job, getting involved with the Student Appeal on campus, starting to volunteer with the Oaktree Foundation one day a week, a hectic college calendar, a billion and one twenty firsts, and you get one ridiculously busy JAG.

But back to the exciting news that I have a job – I WORK AT BORDERS, BITCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How FANTASTIC IS THAT?!?!?!?!?

Not meaning to gloat or anything, but honestly, I love my job. Everyone who works there is so lovely, they’ve been super helpful in showing me the ropes, my managers are really nice, and getting paid to sell, talk about, shelve and be around books is just a dream. Plus the pay is pretty great (let’s be honest, almost anything – including working at McDonald’s – pays better than Boost, so I’m stoked) – I’m saving up for next year (GAP YEAR!!!!!) if only I can resist my glorious staff discount. It’s also a lot of fun, because it’s the one place where you’re allowed to be unashamedly fangirly about anything and everything. So you can see that I fit right in ;)

So peeps, I’m trying/starting/hoping to make plans for next year. The plan I’ll be working for 6 months (hopefully still at Borders – they’ve been pretty great so far about the fact that I can’t work over the Christmas for two weeks because – that’s right – my uncle’s getting married in Hawaii) making – I mean saving – some serious dough so that I can commence some serious travelling in the next six! I want to volunteer teaching English or working in an orphanage for a couple of months – and before you say “but JAG, you KNOW there are only 12 months in the year, right?” – that’s half of the six months travelling. I’d love to go to Argentina, because it’s Argentina, I’ve never been to South America, and I’d like to try to resurrect my very shonky Spanish. Or maybe Peru. Possible Costa Rica. Any of which would be AMAZING. But as we all know, I’m DYING – like, literally a little bit every day (“wait, WHAT?!”*) – to go to India (and not just to visit a dear friend of mine – ok well mostly) SO I haven’t yet decided whether I’ll volunteer there and travel, then go on to Europe (because I want to see more of Europe – especially Spain – and who knows, hopefully meet some of you!). Decisions, decisions.

Can anyone recommend an organisation/agency I should volunteer with – or advise against, that’s equally helpful. At the moment I’m thinking of getting TEFL qualified with i-to-i or possibly going with Projects Abroad. I’d love to get an AYAD position, but that seems extremely unlikely.
Oh, I’ve missed this – all of this, and you. I’ve missed the ability to endlessly rant with pointless asides and references only you, my dear friends, will put up with, mainly because I choose not to edit, and therefore you can do nothing about it but tolerate me. I’ve missed your advice and your jokes and your comments and your LIVES: like, what have you been up to? UPDATE ME. I’ve been shamelessly out of the loop – not reading your blogs, not commenting, not even skimming them in passing on the way to Go Fug Yourself or Post Secret (both sadly neglected in recent weeks) or, more accurately, Facebook.

Does anyone here watch Charlie the Unicorn? I’ll admit I’m fairly late in the game – my college is obsessed with it, and keeps quoting it (“Charlie! We’re on a bridge Charlie!”) – but that is some funny shit. Get on it.

So in the time between now and when I last blogged, it took Australia approx 1.5 years to decide on a Prime Minister (did anyone think it was going to be that close an election? Apparently we want to be just like the Mother Country – I mean England – and have a hung parliament too) and honestly, it’s hard to tell if the Liberal (remember: Australians are backwards, so the Liberal party Down Under is actually the conservative party – yeah, no kidding) or Labour candidate is in, considering we’re getting so little progressive action on refugees, climate change, foreign aid or gay rights. The Greens and Labour marriage of convenience should be interesting – I’m hoping it’ll make Labour’s policies slightly more distinguishable from the Liberals, ie give us some actually liberal action. What a change that would be!

(On the other hand, some electoral seat in QLD now has a 20 year old MP. "*splutter* - WTF AUSTRALIA?!" It's OK - we feel the same.

Also, I went to the UN DPI/NGO Conference on Advancing Global Health (quite exciting – only the 3rd time in 63 years it’s been held out of NYC – last two were Mexico City and Paris), which was pretty amazing. I got in as a volunteer usher, which was a pretty sweet gig, because all I had to do was stand around, direct people/tell them where to go (pretty funny on the first day, we couldn’t answer basic queries like “where are the bathrooms?” “where does the elevator go?” and “is there wireless in here?” because we hadn’t been briefed) then we could sit in on whichever sessions we wanted to see! Every morning (it went for 3 days) there was a roundtable/panel of speakers on a certain issue relating to health and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Tim Costello moderated one session, and Chris Varney (2009 Australian UN Youth Rep) spoke a couple of times too, both of whom are FANTASTIC speakers. Big wigs from the UN were there, as well as prominent leaders in development and NGOs from around the world. The conference was a change for NGOs to come together and discuss strategies for achieving the MDGs, as well as affirming their commitment to them and issuing recommendations to the UN on how to move forward between now and 2015. It was fascinating being exposed to such a range of thinkers and activists, all passionate about one thing: advancing global health. It was quite a sentiment to be caught up in.

And finally, it was Gemini's 21st a couple of weekends ago, for which I flew to the national's capital. It was themed "12 years old (being young again)," complete with fairy bread, jelly beans and karaoke. I had a fantastic time, and would definitely count it as my favourite/most fun 21st so far (I have something like 8 coming up in the next 6 weeks.)

Anyhow dear friends and lovers, it is much past my (desired) bed time. It is lovely to be back, and I'll see you again soon :)




*remember my propensity towards exaggeration to express my desire and/or excitement :)

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended

This year, Sara FINALLY came to visit me over Easter! Which was mega-exciting, and also meant I got to try out her super-fancy-look-at-me-I'm-a-professional-photographer SLR. See if you can pick which were taken on my humble point and shoot (a beautiful, bright pink, Canon IXUS) and Sara's Nikon D90(?).

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just 'on spec', addressed as follows, 'Clancy, of The Overflow'.

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
'Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are.'

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving 'down the Cooper' where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their voices kindly greet him,
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the 'buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of 'The Overflow'.

-Clancy of the Overflow, by A.B 'Banjo' Patterson -- one of my very favourite poems about the bush, not least because I love the country-envy - "For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know." That fourth stanza is just so beautiful, and captures so many of the things I love about where I live.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

More Than a Feeling

This time last year I was in the US, searching for the American Dream. Sigh. Was it ever AMAZING. Pretty sure there aren't enough adjectives to accurately describe how much fun it was.

Our first stop was Boston, which I adored, and it remains one of my favourite American cities, a must-return-to destination. Here are extracts from the journal I kept along the way (as part of my assessment.)

It rained THE WHOLE TIME we were in Boston. Well, not entirely. But it did rain for about 5/6 days, cats and dogs. It was still lovely though, and still warm enough (a nice change from the miserable Melbourne we’d come from!) Thankfully it cleared up to beautiful sunshine on the last day, our free day.

DAY 1 – Arrive, Swan boats, JFK Museum

My first glimpse of Boston – literally seconds before we landed, descending through cloud that promised to lift around midday but instead stuck around – was of these lovely little formal looking houses right on the ocean (quite like Sydney) and they encapsulate the little of Boston I have discovered thus far; quaint, historic, contained, polite, beautiful. Professor H put it best when he said history is embedded in Boston – there’s a story – not to mention a monument! – around every corner. And the Common! It is symbolic of Boston’s community spirit, and that in and of itself is impressive. It’s hard to imagine – nay, comprehend – that some 400 years ago it was shared grazing ground, and that they had the incredible foresight to protect it for future generations to enjoy (as we did, and did! Rather puts South Lawn to shame...) Bostonians can and should be proud of their history and heritage, and it is clear that they are by the glorious upkeep of this almost vintage – but never outdated – city.

[...] Boston is more of an urban city that a bustling metropolis – much more neighbourly and freidnly (or so I’ve found so far!). The Common itself might as well be Eden in the summertime =)

At the JFK Museum:

There was a brilliant JFK quote: “A man may die, many nations rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” And it occurred to me that in this way JFK somewhat represents what the American Dream is all about; achieving your potential; his being never fully realised makes him almost a hero in America’s eyes, though his politics – and his personal life (eg his womanising ways) – may have left much to be desired...He further demonstrated that great American HOPE AND OPTIMISM that Obama is reigniting (JFK and Johnson reminded me of Obama and Biden), that inspired man to land on the moon, that makes Americans believe they can rise above their class and status.

DAY 2 – Harvard and meeting with Alice Peisch, House of Reps

Walked past a homeless shelter yesterday and several figures camped in doorways or huddled on park benches today, a stark and discomforting reminder of the flipside of the Dream – failure, hopelessness, incapacitated. What does this suggestion about the nature of the dream? It is, without a doubt, confronting. When walking along the Charles River, I saw what appeared to be blankets and a mattress over some steam (?) vents, and I realised they were drying from the rain, and probably belong to the man lying on the bench by the river. We are, perhaps, none of us immune from losing it all, for whatever reason.

Mass. State House

DAY 3 – Salem

This town (what could almost be called a village!) capitalises on their witching history (however horrible), far more than I had expected (or thought possible!) It is, with little doubt, the main source of income for the town, not to mention (only?) attraction, and they definitely make the most of it! The re-enactment of the [witch] trial was hugely amusing – really enjoyed it – but also made you think about the nature of superstition and how it begins.

From the actors’ portrayals of 1600s perspectives, it becomes apparent that they should not be stereotyped or dismissed as simple-minded. Superstition is rooted in pre-existing prejudices and fear and, ultimately, what seems to be a desire innate within humans to explain that which they do not understand. As Professor H pointed out, they had much to be suspicious of and there were large gaps in their knowledge. Especially when you consider how, lacking electricity, the night would seem particularly daunting, being so dark. Once you understand this mindset, coupled with their deep-seated revere of God and fear of the Devil, neighbourly disputes/grudges plus a desire to explain the incomprehensible, it is not altogether difficult to see why they ‘believed’ in witchcraft – it was simply a scapegoat (Like Communism and terrorism). And as with these, if you aren’t a vocal accuser, you appear suspicious, and so mass hysteria develops.

DAY 4 – Transit Police and Christian Science Monitor

(Details on our discussion with the Monitor to come.)

Met my great Aunt (who is actually my grandmother’s cousin – details, details) for dinner tonight for the first time. Had an absolutely terrific time!! Was worried I wouldn’t recognise her when I walked into the Four Seasons, but spotted her straight away, a diminutive little figure. Gosh, she is so, so lovely. And she sounds just like my grandmother sometimes when she speaks. We chatted for 2.5 hours without noticing, on everything from publishing (my future aspiration), family, traveling, the Great Depression, to Australian Aborigines and climate change! It was a lot of fun, and I hope she realises I really did enjoy it. She did flatter me so =) I hope we’ll be able to meet again (I would so love to come back to Boston), but if not, I think we’ll keep in touch.

DAY 5 – Trial, Dudley St Neighbourhood Initiative, Food Project

(Thoughts about the trial to be posted separately.)


Boston as a city is like that – ornate but polite. Historical, impressive, but not showy or overwhelming. As the one city on this trip I hadn’t visited before, I expected it to be somewhat more humble than NY and D.C. and quite a historical little town, but I don’t think I expected it to be quite so grand, stately, and above all, lovely. Boston is cultured and refined, but not snobby about it in the least. On the contrary, Bostonians are friendly people who take immense pride in their city without being vain or proud (I should point out they are not, though I may make them sound, perfect =)) I have had an absolutely marvellous time in Boston, I have loved every minute, rain or shine. =) =)

The absolute HIGHLIGHT of the day (and the trip so far?) was FENWAY PARK!! We’d travelled out there a few days ago to do a tour but missed them and so intended to do one before the game. Alas, they were SOLD OUT when we got there! After much angst, and meeting up with [4 other friends on the trip], the 5 of us decided to wait in line for tickets, and soon ran into [3 other friends] who joined us. We waited for an hour and a bit, but it was SO WORTH IT!!! We got some great tickets for $50 each up in the grandstand [between home base and first]. Excellent view. And WHAT a game! The atmosphere itself was incredible. The crowd was in tremendous spirits, and seemed to act as one, roaring their approval or otherwise (there may have been only 2 Mariners fans in the whole house.) The mood was almost delirious. Music was pumping between almost every play, and at one stage began to bare Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” with the chorus being softened so the crowd could sing instead. As the song died so play could resume, the crowd kept singing, loud and in unison. =) At ½ way through the 7th inning, we “stretched” and sang “Take Me Down to the Ball Game.” When the game went into overtime (tied 5 all!) we stood and clapped and cheered, exhilarated, to an Irish dance jig. It all felt a bi surreal. But perhaps most powerful was when the National Anthem was played (and half sung by the crowd) and as all stood, hats off, hands on our hearts, cheering the little brass band at the end. Americans are very patriotic; this much is clear in their pride in their baseball teams, their states, their flags hanging everywhere. Australia doesn’t have this so much, perhaps because we are a younger country, because we’ve never united to defend ourselves...Is this what makes the American Dream just that – American? Is it so different to the Australian Dream? What is the Australian Dream? More of a lifestyle, I suppose; one of success tempered by leisure, comfort/security, family. Contentedness plays a large part too, I think. The America Dream, though, is more about getting ahead – in times past (Ford, Carnegie, Rockefeller) this was in terms of the individual, but these days as community groups. It’s about (self) improvement, and in that sense perhaps more aggressive (slightly).

It struck me while at the game that the Red Sox embody the American Dream to an e in their recent winning of the World Series (04 and 07) after some 80 years. Their determination and underdog position are what Americans love and admire. And central to the American Dream is the hope – nay, conviction – that one day, we will overcome class, family, race, etc and we will succeed.

In any case, the Red Sox lost – it was so close, one run, came down to 11 innings – but a tremendous experience nonetheless. =)



PS: the college we stayed at - Emerson - was really nice, right opposite the Common and super close to the city.