A fond temporary farewell

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kobi & I

I move to England next week, flying out on Thursday. To say I’m frantic, stressed, excited, terrified, sad, happy, emotional and tired right now is an understatement. The last few days and weeks have been a whirlwind of last minute work, packing, paperwork, angst, tears, more packing, more paperwork. I’m convinced this is the right move for me, and the best job I could hope for. But even when you get what you want, it’s still tinged with sadness, with a catch.

The catch here is moving so far away from friends and family, being separated from my best pal, Kobi, for a few months, worrying like crazy about his long flight over to the UK, generally worrying about making this huge move to the other side of the world on my own. But despite my pedantic and inclined-to-obsess-and-worry personality, despite my anxiety and stress, I know I’m strong. I’ve been through much harder stuff before.

I wonder what the next few years will be like, how I’ll settle into life in the UK, whether I’ll ever live in Australia again, or somewhere else, who I will meet, what my job will be like, what my new students will be like, how I’ll carve out my own little corner and nest in England. And whether Kobi will love or hate being a cold English cat. I wonder what I will miss, how different homesickness for Australia will feel from homesickness for Israel. I wonder how I will change, and how I will stay the same.

The next few weeks will be so busy, so this blog will be quiet. I’m not sure how quickly I will find a place to live or have regular internet once again. I’m pretty active on instagram if you’re inclined to follow, but blogging will have to wait till I’m more settled. So in the meantime, I say a fond temporary farewell, and I’ll see you on the other side of the world.

A request

Thursday, April 3, 2014

There has been much discussion in the Australian media about the government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) and their intention to repeal section 18C of the Act. I sat down to write a long email to the government expressing my strong opposition to these proposed changes on behalf of both myself, members of the Jewish community here in Perth who requested that I frame some of their concerns for them in words, and Holocaust survivors whom I personally know. Here is a small quote from the email, some of these words will be familiar to those who read my blog:

“We do not get to say racist, bigoted, or anti-Semitic words today as if we don’t have the burden of history behind us to show us what can happen when certain words are allowed to flourish without censure from the law. These words, they are a poison, they are an act of violence. It is incredibly naive and historically blind to suggest that people ‘have a right to be bigoted’ without consequences after all we have seen, and all we know today.”

This post is a friendly request to anyone who is likewise concerned about the proposed changes to send an email, or write a letter. The government has specifically instructed that if the wider community would like to voice their opinion about this, to send emails/letters to:

Email: s18consultation@ag.gov.au

Address: Human Rights Policy Branch, Attorney-General’s Department, 3-5 National Circuit, BARTON ACT 2600.

It takes two minutes to send an email, and it would be nice if everyone made the effort. Not everyone has to write long emails like I did, but if you’re in the mood, go for it! Even just two lines saying you strongly disagree would be enough. Unfortunately, the loudest and most dominant voices in these debates tend to be the most ignorant, and I fear the majority of decent voices tend not to be heard because we often don’t make the effort to publicly object when we see or encounter things that are morally wrong. Let’s make the effort now.

Living in a democracy is a privilege, and it is a privilege that requires vigilance. Living in a democracy is not a free-for-all “freedom of speech” bonanza that tramples on the rights of others, but a more complex and adult process of negotiating certain freedoms with certain protections under the law.

Speaking to Jeremy Jones, he told me that there are many groups opposing the proposed changes, and that the most effective thing we as individuals can do is to let coalition Senators and MPs know our concerns. The government needs to know what the wider community thinks rather than being directed in their policy decision-making by the loudest ignorant voices. So make your voice heard and send those emails and letters.

Some good articles discussing this include:

: : Changes to racial discrimination laws would ‘open door for Holocaust deniers’.

: : “George has really drunk the right-wing Kool-Aid”: Racism ‘always wrong’: Barry O’Farrell takes aim at George Brandis over ‘right to be bigoted’.

: : This is free speech on steroids.

: : Tony Abbott’s Bolt Obsession.

: : George Brandis’ Racial Discrimination Act changes create the whitest piece of proposed legislation I’ve encountered.

Happy birthday, Abba

Monday, March 31, 2014

my dad, in new zealand, 1970s

It’s my dad’s birthday tomorrow, and I’ll be spending the day with my parents in what may be our last birthday together for a while, as I move to the other side of the world. The world is a lot smaller than what it was in the days when they too hopped on a plane to the other side of the world. There’s skype, and emails, and easy phone calls, and messages, and facebook. And sometimes my fears feel self-indulgent. But mostly, I’m just grateful to have parents I will miss so much. I said to my friends yesterday that I lucked out with parents, and I really did.

Happy birthday, Abba. xxx

News from Nowhere 7

Monday, March 24, 2014

plath

Sometimes it only takes one line for a particular article or poem to stick in my memory. These are a few of them, and a few such lines, which I’ve read lately.

: : “The small birds converge, converge/With their gifts to a difficult borning”: The Manor Garden by Sylvia Plath.

: : “the present can be tyrannical unless our consciousness of it extends a long way into the past”: Why study humanities by Raimond Gaita.

: : “it’s obvious von Trier is shoving his own dated, reactionary views inside a modern female body and hoping we’ll find it subversive”: Of Human Bondage by Sarah Nicole Prickett.

: : “A theme of the report is that female gang members slip through the net because the police concentrate on males”: Exposed: the exploitation of girls in UK gangs by Toby Helm.

: : “When we assume that boys won’t read books with girls on the cover, and then institutionalize that assumption by leaving the ‘girlie’ books out of award nominations (as well as school wide reads, story times, etc.), we insult them”: Boys Will Be Boys, and Girls Will Be Accommodating by Laurel Snyder.

: : “We need to make sure we are surrounded by accurate case studies of the ordinary miseries of daily life”: The Philosophers’ Guide to Calm, Part 1. Via Jessica Stanley.

: : “My Kindle and my book piles are full of new women writers: I’m ready for their innovation, empathy, bravery and intensity”: What I’m Reading by Jessica Stanley.

: : “For all our need for intimacy, we ultimately face the world alone and cannot enter another person’s life or mind without effort and difficulty”: Shyness cannot be ‘cured’ by Joe Moran.

The eternal protestations

Thursday, March 20, 2014

There’s a part of me that hates myself for writing this post, because it feels like sweating the small stuff. But then I thought about how ‘small’ this issue really is, and it doesn’t seem quite that insignificant. What prompted this post is, on its own, insignificant: one of our morning show television presenters here in Australia wrote an article arguing there is a war on the menz, and blah, blah, blah, I can’t be bothered repeating the nonsense.

Look, there will be a huge number of blog posts and articles in response to her in which they will dissect her comments. As it should be. But I really don’t want to speak about her specifically. This is why I won’t name her, this is why I won’t link her article. In the grand scheme of things, her personal opinions are quite irrelevant. I don’t want to examine them in relation to her personally, but, in relation to a trend I’m watching before my eyes.

This is a trend a friend of mine and I have termed ‘the eternal protestations’. It’s our own quick way of referring to opinion articles written by privileged women telling the rest of us women to stop complaining. In these articles, some, or all of the following ‘arguments’ are made:

1. There is a war on the menz (Kill me now.)
2. Life is a meritocracy and so is the workplace, what are you complaining about? (I.e. I have no understanding of the concept of structural inequality and I can’t be bothered thinking beyond the most basic and simplistic of terms about life, therefore, neither should you.)
3. I did well in my career, so every other woman can! We’re all the same! (No, no, no.)
4. Feminists have won and they are going too far (Noooooooo.)
5. My personal life experience should be used to justify shutting down debate about wider political, economic, social and cultural inequalities (Back to the simplistic thinking.)
6. I love men, why don’t you!!! (Kill me again.)

Let me just get my frustration out and react to these ‘arguments’ with the following:

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Okay, that’s out of my system now.

My friend and I call these lines of argument ‘the eternal protestations’ because they are essentially made by women who go out of their way to show men how very much they love them by trampling on other women. They’re articles arguing the same point, repeatedly: ‘But I protest, I love men!’ It’s annoying when you read one of them, but you can usually let that one article slide. The thing is, it’s not just one article, it’s a constant cycle of the same article, over and over again, written and published by privileged women who have an enviable public persona and media platform.

The very things that were fought for by previous generations of women on their behalf are thrown back in the faces of other women today. This is harmful. When women go out of their way to protest that gender inequality doesn’t exist, either out of sheer cluelessness or out of some misguided attempt to join a patriarchal club, they are doing harm to women everywhere. Just think what media presenters could do if they used their public platform to champion the rights of women as often as they use it to protest, over and over again, that inequality doesn’t exist.

I’m pretty sure I love my father, and my brother, and my male friends, and any boyfriends I’ve had. I’m pretty sure they are all smart enough to realise that when I critique gender inequality it is not a personal attack against them as individual men, but against a wider patriarchal system. Please, give men more credit than this. If you really love them, stop with the eternal protestations.

A poem for Sunday

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Givat Olga

I apologise to actual poets reading this post, because I am not one. I’m in a silly mood today, and so I wrote this silly ‘poem’. (Is it a poem? Who knows.)

Luckily, this blog is my kingdom, so I can publish amateurish attempts with abandon. Enjoy, or don’t enjoy:

I am collecting seas,
we all collect them
we all stare at them with longing,
waiting for the profound.

We reach for them
like reaching for the rain.
Plath wrote, they said,
there are too many poems about rain.

There are too many poems about the sea.

I am collecting seas,
some of them are old water.

There are the waves that began with
“Seas are homesickness for homes we never had”
and then the piano agrees.

Childhood songs of the sea
written for lost adults
lamenting the shells
like us sad humans.
We cry. We luxuriate in this.

I am collecting seas,
there’s the silver baptismal water
of this bleached Australian book
winking at me in familiarity and unfamiliarity.
There’s the blue that is too blue
and so, unnameable.

We write ten thousand words
on how we cannot write about it,
and words are strange.

I am collecting seas,
the alien ones with the orange thighs
parted to the sand with colours
glistening like the backs of lizards to the sun.
Yellow upon yellow,
flesh not quite meeting the liquid.

I am collecting seas,
waiting for the profound, childish, too young.
I receive the absurd, the loveable,
the not quite poetic
the too poetic for my words.

I am collecting words,
there are too many words about the seas.

Nesting

Friday, March 14, 2014

nesting

nesting

nesting

nesting

nesting

nesting

nesting

nesting

nesting

I’m drawn to colour and organised clutter, which in my mind is different from disorganised mess – clutter is a wonderful array of stuff that you form around you like a nest. I am suspicious of minimalism. My taste runs as far as possible from pure white walls with only a single photo (or none) to decorate them, and pristine interiors that make me feel like a fraud. I like patterns upon patterns. I like cat fur on old carpets. I like packed walls and second-hand furniture that doesn’t match. I like old chairs sitting in the corner with frayed upholstery. I like books everywhere. That being said, each to their own, I get this is a matter of personal taste.

Lately, I’ve been collecting images of ‘nesting’; images that express what I like. I don’t aspire to re-create or emulate them, I simply enjoy the idea of them.

I haven’t really allowed myself to think about nesting for the past few years. I felt like I was stuck in limbo – when you don’t have a stable job but only temporary ones, you feel like you can’t make plans for the future. This includes making plans about your own nest. This doesn’t mean I haven’t bought stuff, and decorated my environment, and took pleasure in it. But bigger dreams weren’t allowed.

So here’s to nests. And here’s to beautiful presents from dear friends (thank you Elaine, Gracia and Louise, more on this portrait soon).

Happy weekend.

Image credits (from top to bottom): My Apartment in NYC by AndrĂ© Hererro; Rita Konig’s home on The Selby; Gray Foy and Joel Kaye’s home on The Selby (images 3-6); “In the early afternoon, we acquaint ourselves with tightly coiled chair springs and luxury” by Gracia & Louise; “Patrick Hamilton’s ‘Twopence Coloured’ (GH) vs. ‘Birds of a Lesser Paradise’ (LJ) in Battle for the Reading Chair” by Gracia & Louise; My own photo of my grandfather’s study.