19 April 2012

A Proper Meme

For once, a meme that actually has the potential to be insightful:

"Comment to this post and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself."

I got my list of seven things from Ada Hoffman, critique partner and TOC buddy from Ride the Moon :o) Here goes...


I am a HUGE animal person; always have been. Growing up, stuffed animals were my favourite toys. I hated dolls, and had so many stuffed animals on my bed at one point that I actually twisted my neck while sleeping, and was banned from keeping more than one toy on my bed at a time after that O:) The animals had to parade across the dinner table to taste my soup in order to induce me to eat it, and my favourite toy, a grey elephant named Heidi, had a trunk that was exactly right for wiping away tears.

In fiction, I love stories where the MC has some sort of connection to animals - telepathy, shape-shifting, that sort of thing. And yet, bizarrely, I have a super strong avoidance reaction to animal films (the real life kind, not animated or talking animals). I don't like drama as a film genre anyway (too emotional, I find it hard to disengage and if the film ends sadly I will often quite literally cry for more than fifteen minutes afterwards, or at the very least be in a flat, depressive mood for a while) and a lot of animal films trend towards drama.

As for real life animals, it's probably pretty telling that the only three items on my bucket list are to do with animals: swim with dolphins, and see tigers and wolves in the wild (obviously not together :P). We've had pets as long as I can remember; mostly dogs, but a few birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and fish thrown in there. I guess for me animals are somehow tied to respect for nature and empathy. I love the idea of connecting with animals, of being a team with them (horse riding is extremely attractive for this reason) - and in part I think this is my mum's fault, particularly that time when I was in year two (or thereabouts) and was stomping on the ants, and she stomped (gently) on my toes and asked how I liked it... :D


Well, this is where I live, obviously. And I like living here, though being the kind of person I am, I would probably prefer to live wherever it was that I had grown up. That said, I think Australia is awesome in that it has a lot of the advantages of first world living without some of the drawbacks. We certainly experience societal problems, but on the whole they seem to be more moderated than other first world nations.

Australians have a pretty laidback approach to life - which is not to say that we don't get stressed or have ambitions, but rather that there is an underlying sense of humour and self-depreciation to everything. Like, even in formal situations we're not as prescriptively formal as, say, the UK, and we laugh at ourselves (genuinely, without malice) a lot more than the USA (both as individuals and as a country). And although we are FIERCELY proud to be Australian, having an Aussie flag up in your yard or house is slightly suspect, a little too fanatical for absolute comfort.

Seriously. Like it or not, our history is the convicts, and that has shaped our ethos to quite a large degree. You don't rat on people, you watch each other's backs, you laugh and poke fun at each other and never take yourself seriously, and there's a certain sense of solidarity nicely evidenced, I think, in our high schools which are NO WHERE NEAR the shark pit that US high schools are made out to be. (Well, I'm sure we have some like that, but on the whole they're pretty good).

And in addition to all of that, we have sunshine that will fry even the most determined olive complexion, more spiders and snakes that will kill you than that won't, marsupials that look cute and cuddly but can attack without provocation and poison you in 80 different ways, octopuses that can kill you, sharks that will eat you... And we are, for some reason, proud of all of this.


Well, this one seems rather random and I'm not sure I have much to say. And of course, having said that, a huge rant has come to mind, relating to exploitation and costs and the like. See, the thing is, people go oh, to make the world a better place, we should stop spending money on frivolous things, ergo I will buy cheap clothing and not spend so much money on it. The problem is, it costs the same amount to make a cheap shirt as it does an expensive shirt, and that cost is more than the $5 Ms Hypothetical just shelled out for it. Yes, some expensive shirts are expensive because the company marks them WAY up (think big brand names); but cheap shirts are cheap because the people making them aren't being paid more than a couple of crumbs that will, in no way, be sufficient to either look after their family or allow them to get out of the poverty cycle.

If we're really global-community-conscious, we should be looking for nationally-made clothes that, while they cost more than the cheap shirts, also cost less than the big brand names, and ensure that the people making them were paid fairly for their time (or find a company that makes clothes overseas but pays their workers fairly). Of course, the argument against this is that all those overseas workers have to be paid somehow, and if we stop buying the product they're making, we're depriving them of the chance to earn any wages. True, but things have to become worse before than can get better, I believe. I'm not a fan of putting thousands of people already below the poverty line out of work, but I do believe that we HAVE to send a message to big companies that we won't tolerate them treating their workers like this. And if you're that concerned about making sure the overseas workers still have a job, go pay them direct. They'll still make the shirt for you, and they'll get a hell of a lot more money direct from you than from their employer :P

This is SUCH a complex issue with no easy answers. But other things that I think it pays to be aware of that can really help - hanging onto your clothes to get the most wear out of them, shopping at outlets for nationally made products (Rivers here in Aus has fantastic sales with $5 shirts every now and then, plus they make really comfy shoes!), and shopping at secondhand stores.

Personally, the overwhelming majority of my clothes fall into one of three categories: 1) Old. I've owned a lot of my clothes since high school (10 years plus now), and most for at least 5+ years (excluding work wear I went out and bought when I started work 2 years ago).

2) Free. These are both new and secondhand items that family have given me, lots of as-new secondhand mostly from my step-mum and step-mum-in-law, and new from Boyo's father, who owns a small clothing store. (Aside: had the opportunity to shop with him a couple of times at the wholesale outlets, and nearly died at how much retailers mark things up - 3 times, on average: once to cover the cost, once to cover additional costs like wages and shop electricity and rent, and once for profit)

3) Bought from outlets. Mostly at places like DFO, so yes, I'm paying for cheap labour here as much as the next person. But also from the aforementioned Rivers store.

Maybe I'll make it a new goal to try the secondhand stores first... :)

Mental health

Wow, this is a relevant one. I haven't really mentioned it anywhere in public, not because I'm ashamed or whatevs, but just because I don't tend to go into really personal stuff on Teh Netz, but I was diagnosed with postnatal depression when Minion was 3.5 weeks old. I've subsequently been seeing a psych, and as I suspected, she confirmed that it's not postnatal so much as a consequent of the really crappy health issues I've been dealing with for the last three years.

My body way overreacts to yeast (or yeast thinks I'm the perfect host, or whatever), to the point where I can't eat it or I get yeast overgrowth infections - and one of the side effects of a serious yeast overgrowth is depression. In 2010, before we figured out that I was sensitive to yeast, I crashed big time. When people told me that having a baby would make me tired, I pretty much laughed - because tired as I knew I'd be, I knew that back in '10 I'd gotten to the point where I was literally incapable of becoming any tireder. I was right, though of course that didn't help prevent a little sleep-deprivation-induced depression this time o.O :)

That period of my life was scary and reassuring all at once, actually. It really knocked me around in the sense that it almost destroyed my self confidence; I used to think I was a pretty strong person, but even now, two years on from the worst of it, I still feel washed out and weak. I hate that. But I'm also beginning to get enough distance from it to realise that it can be reassuring, too: despite the depression and the feeling sometimes that it would just be easier to end it all and then it would just go away, I didn't, and I knew even at the time that those ideas weren't me, they were the depression, and that I would never actually do that. It showed that I'm strong enough to pull myself through something like that almost alone, because pretty much no one except my husband realised how bad it was.

And the diet I had to be on to get rid of the yeast was killer - a maximum of 1 serving of grains a day, no more than 1/2 cup of fruit, absolutely zero yeast or sugar in any form (except the 1/2 cup fruit), no condiments or additives, and only pure dairy products (i.e. pure sour cream, unsweetened yogurt, 100% butter, and regular milk). vegetables, nuts and eggs were pretty much the only thing I was allowed without restraint, and it is HARD to stay full on that kind of diet, especially when you're getting stomach cramps, nausea and other fun stuff from yeast die-off, and your blood sugar crashes in such a way that takes you from not-hungry to cannot-move in less than 5 minutes. And I stuck to the diet, and I beat the yeast. I did it. Dude, that took willpower.

So excuse me if I sound a little like maybe I'm bragging here, but this is honestly the first time I've sat down and shown myself just exactly how strong this little episode proves I am. So, thank you to Ada for adding in this topic and allowing me a little catharsis O:) :D

(Also, why is 'mental health' such a scary term? Why is there still such a stigma against diseases and illnesses of the mind? Why does getting depression make you 'weak', whereas getting the flu just means you were 'unlucky' or whatever? #societyfail, IMO.)


Holy crap, is parenthood simultaneously the most terrifying and the most normal thing to ever happen to someone or what? I never realised until I had Minion myself that all those jokes that go "Who are these kids and why are they calling me Mum?" are ACTUALLY SERIOUS. I am exactly the same person I was a few months ago - and yet now I have this new 'Mum' label to wear with my collection. Having a kid completely changes everything, and changes not a thing, all at the same time. In fact, if I had to sum up motherhood in a single word, it would be 'paradoxes'. You suddenly become a living, walking, breathing paradox - you love the Minion and never want to leave him, but you can't stand having it in your arms for one. more. second. coz he's been on your lap all day; you're so amazingly happy, and so sad; you can't wait to go back to work, and you don't ever want to stop being a SAHM; you want him to wake up so you can play, but you want him to sleep so you can have an hour to yourself; you have company all day and you still feel lonely; you want to be productive but you just want to sit and do nothing.

Honestly, there haven't really been any surprises; my baby sister is 11 years younger than me and our parents separated when she was 3, so small people, can do. The most helpful thing in the whole experience, though, was a book my dad bought me: French Children Don't Throw Food. In the Anglo world, we tend to freak out about EVERYTHING - Am I doing this right? Will this hurt their development? How can I help them advance quickly? French parenting seems to be a lot more laidback, which is how I am usually when the anxiety doesn't take control, so it was really helpful to be reminded to basically just chill B-)

And yes, we are both (hub & I) enjoying the parenting thing, and planning how far apart we want Minion and his next sibling to be O:)


Ha, I have NO IDEA how Ada came up with this as a topic, because I'm pretty sure I've never discussed quilting in public before, but AWESOME. My mum started quilting around the time baby sister was born. She made a quilt for myself and my middle sister, and the one for baby sister is still in pieces. I was 11, and decided I'd make a mini-quilt for baby sister's basinette, which I did, hurrahz. A few years later when I graduated from high school (year 10), I got everyone in the year to sign calico hearts for me, which I was going to put onto a quilt. Ten years later, after collecting fabric off and on, I pulled them out to start working on it - and because I can't do anything by halves, started two other quilts at the same time. Only, I took some of the stuff away for Christmas and managed to lose all the hearts :( I am, if you'll pardon the pun, heartbroken, but neither of the houses I stayed out ever found the hearts, and while I cherish the hope that they are tucked away somewhere in a random pile of fabric, I'm yet to find them. Thus the (hopefully temporary) end of quilting.

More recently, handbags have become my thing. The house is full of unfinished projects that my attention span is too short for, but handbags seem pretty perfect because they are small and relatively quick to make - plus I can do my own designs and play with pretty fabric. I have WAY too much fabric collected in the back room right now o.O :D

I still have my quilt that Mum made me; I use it on awkward nights when it's too hot for a doona but too cold for just a sheet, and I love it. One of the three quilts that are in pieces in my wardrobe is going to be specifically a snuggle quilt, one that I can drag around the house and snuggle in to without worrying about ruining it. Quilts. #win. :o)


Ah ha ha. I suspect this one is on the list because Ada knows a little about my Speshul Sekrit Project that will be revealed shortly to all of you (and which, if you are savvy and read the blog and actually care enough to think about it, is pretty easily figured out :P). But yes, superheroes. It has occured to me recently that I really love superhero fiction - which makes the fact that I've never read any of the traditional superhero comics like Batman or Superman or Spiderman or or or a little ironic.

I don't know what it is, exactly - I like secret identities, I like the social justice aspect that's usually a part of it, I like that the good guys win, I like that they have superpowers because frankly, that's just cool. I like superhero teams, especially, because I like teams of any kind, both in fiction and real life. I like that it's fun, and safe (because good always wins), but that it deals with serious stuff in life as well - even if you have superpowers, you can't save everyone, and you're still human. I like that despite their superpowers, superheroes are still just human, just people trying to change the world for the better - which is what I'd like to do. Maybe I like superheroes so much because in secret, I wish I was one. Never really thought about it much before. (Must now ponder what my superpower would be...)

So, thus concludeth my seven topics meme response. I hope it was vaguely interesting :o) And remember, if you want to join in, let me know in the comments and I'll give you your own list of seven things! :D


Liana Brooks said...

Motherhood is insane! Good answers.

Merc said...

I love superhero fiction. B-)

(And now you may give me half a list!)

Clare Barnes said...

Great post Inky One! :) I always appreciate your thoughtfulness and honesty :)

ada-hoffmann said...

Inky, these are amazing answers - thank you!

You're absolutely right about #societyfail and it takes courage to talk about mental health issues so honestly the way you have. I absolutely approve.

(As for quilting - I cheated and looked at your LJ interests list to see if there was anything surprising/intriguing. "Quilting" is on there somewhere, and I was like, "Huh, I wonder what the story is there." Now I know!)


Amy said...

Liana - thanks. Here's your list of seven:
The Ocean
Self Confidence

Bwa ha ha.

Merky, here's your half-list (I double checked Ada's blog to make sure I didn't double up on anything ;)):
The Afterlife

Can't wait to see what you both make of your lists! :D

Amy said...

Clare - thank you :o) So, if I leave you a list, where will you post the answers? >:) I'm going to leave you a list anyway, just in case :D

Living outside the city


Amy said...

Ada - *metaphorical huggles* Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed and weren't like - Inky! You, and the getting-carried-away-ness! O:) :D #rambler

Re quilting, I totally do not even remember having that there. Huh. #random.

And yes, totally #bestmemeever. Tempting to make this a yearly event or something, just coz it's awesome >:)

Mirja said...

That was fantastic and what a great idea!

Have you ever tried going to a clothes swap? I'm going to one tomorrow (apparently...someone came to the dog park and was all 'come to my clothes swap peeps, I'll text you the details! The rest of us were in more of a 'umm, who are you?' sort of frame of mind, but we're going anyway though with each other to keep ourselves company). The name of the thing is pretty self-explanatory. You take clothes, and swap them. All the left overs go to the Salvos or Vinnies.

Mental health, gosh that's a big topic. Thank you for that. So much. So so much. I'm just coming out of one of my darkest periods (which saw the failing of friendships and exams at the same time, as well as...other stuff). I'm trying to rediscover who I was before all this crap happened, it's really hard.

Amy said...

Mirja! Thanks for your response :) We did clothes swaps a couple of times during high school/uni. They were fun, but we were mostly too disparate in size & taste! Plus most of the stuff ended up being rather decidedly warn o.0

So, list for you!

Mental health (you knew that one was coming ;))
International relations

O:) Have fun! And let me know when/where you post your answers :)

Mirja said...

Because of a lack of blog or such like, I've posted on Facebook and tagged you :)

Amy said...

Found it! Thanks, Mirja :D

Others - pokepoke - posts sometime soon? O:)

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