Thursday, 31 July 2014

Reading meltdown mode - the good, the bad and the wish you'd never purchased in the first place.

Only two books this week. That's poor form for me, but then again, I read Gone Girl in 36 hours.

The compare and contrast bit
Gone Girl and You Had Me at Hello both run with interchanging timelines and you need to keep your head on straight for the majority of this, especially because the latter doesn't actually give you dates, suddenly you go from now back two ten years ago.Other than both novels being penned by females, that's where the similarities end.

I loved Gone Girl. Well, loved it enough to stay up reading in into the wee small hours of the night. It may have also involved traipsing all over West Lakes just to find a copy. ...Hello was more a convenience read.

Gone Girl

This novel is set in the present day and tells the story of love going fatally wrong. Both protagonists, Nick and Amy have their secrets, and their share the narration one chapter at a time throughout the book. I was confused by this book, not so much because of the subject matter, but because I really liked the characterisation but by the start of the second third (yes, this book is split into thirds), I felt a bit misled and manipulated. Then again, this book is a thriller and I don't do them often enough to be appreciative of such mind bending.

The characters - Amy, a bored and overachieving/over educated housewife who is married to Nick, a former writer. Amy's claim to fame is that her parents wrote a children's fictional book series about her and ever since Amy has been in the spotlight. Nick loses his job around the same time that his mom and dad are getting sick, so he and Amy pack up their apartment in NYC and move to Missouri, where Amy lends Nick and and his twin sister money to open a bar, which they name The Bar. It's meant to be ironic and hipster or something.

Flynn gives Margo the nickname 'Go'. Can you PLEASE just give someone a name without then deciding they can also have a nickname which is a verb. I feel sorry for those listening on audiobook. There is also some weird innuendo between Nick and Go, despite Nick's assurances. But, just, well, ew.

There are plenty of red herrings and enough true to life parts of the novel that you get pretty sucked in. It's a 4 our of 5 stars from me.

You had me at hello

So. This book is supposed to be about Ben and Rachel, two best friends who were in love (maybe) and never got together. After leaving university ten years ago, Rachel and Ben suddenly run into each other all the time. Why? Because. Fiction.

Now, forget about that. What is book really is seems to be a rewrite of Bridget Jones's Diary. Rachel has three best friends (check), an annoying mum (check), is a writer (check) with a deranged boss (check) and seems to spend at lot of time being indecisive, spending time at Smug Married parties saying what Bridget would say but actually wouldn't because she's all polite and shit (CHEEEEEEECK).

This is pretty much one of the worst books I've ever read. Here's why:

1. Ze plot!
Rachel has flashbacks to her uni days and seems to have overthought her vast array of memories about Ben, who she apparently never had the littlest crush on the whole time they were there. These flashbacks make up a quarter of the book. Another quarter is Rach putting moves on Ben (who weirdly calls her Ronnie/Ron - the hell?!), another some boring thing about a girl named Zoe being a bitch at work and the last quarter is her rough and tumble mates being all adorable and too cutesy for words. All her friends, colleagues and acquaintances  also have nicknames, and trust me, this is confusing when there are about twenty characters to keep track of and you don't like any of them. The conversation is way too tarty, nasty and witty, especially when things get nasty. Which they tend to do. A lot.

2. Ze sub plot!
Don't care about Zoe or about a job that Rachel (Rach/Ronnie/Ron) decides she can leave at any given moment. I also don't buy into the fact that a seasoned court reporter would be so trusting of a brand new colleague. None of this made any sense and in the end I skipped these chapters.

3. The ending! 
I won't spoil it, but this is what I think happened: the author finished the book at Chapter 66, but editors decided that the ending wasn't happy enough, so she added a few more on with a different ending where everyone is a winner. WHY?!  Not every book has to end on a reasonably happy note.

4. The lack of romance-pants!
 I can't buy the fact that the love of Rachel/Rach/Ronnie/Ron's life is based all on a series of events a decade ago. Why? Three reasons.
- If Rachel never liked Ben, why would she remember the really insignificant detail?
- If this is set in the present day, it's unlikely that both parties would go completely off the grid and be unreachable. Also, Facebook.
- Rachel has been with her loser boyfriend Rhys for thirteen years. There is no motivation, Rhys is set up to be a total wanker and no one actually likes him. Give me more Jake and Bella angst here. The guy must have something redeemable after all that time.

5. This book makes me want to pack my friends into a Mini and take them to Paris for the weekend to get over a broken heart, but no, they already did that in Bridget Jones.

This book gets 2 stars, mostly because of point 5. Also, I paid for the damn thing and I need to justify the cost of it sitting on my bookshelf for a few years. This book is a Rhys, I'll just pretend to be into it.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

GOLD 2014: Cook Islands baby!

Today I got some really exciting news - I'm part of the GOLD Team for Cook Islands this year!

GOLD is Guiding Overseas Linked with Development. It's made up of teams of six young women from 18-30. This GOLD project I've accepted a position in is the final year that Guides from Australia and New Zealand will be helping to revitalise Guiding in the Cook Islands. In exciting news for the island nation,  WAGGGS recentally made them full members at this year's World Conference.

I cannot believe how excited and crazily proud I am to be given this opportunity. As a young girl I never even thought about travelling with Guides or doing things outside my little old Warrnambool. Give a girl a Law and a Promise and she can do just about anything.

My Promise Ceremony in 1993. A cameo appearance from Matt on the RHS. He's pretty cute too.
That's it from me blowing my own trumpet. Though, sometimes someone's got to do it.

Things I'm excited about: meeting new Guides, international friendship (this is a Guiding tradition), seeing another country, my training weekend, training other Guides.

Things I'm nervous about: fundraising! training other Guides, cultural differences, doing things outside, anything to do with tying knots.

The one thing I'm stressed about: finding a woggle in Australian colours. Last time I borrowed Annie's - she has a vast collection - but I tend to get attached to things really quickly and need my own anyway.

Now I'm just waiting to hear more about the other girls on my team and whether I'll be going to Launceston or Melbourne for a training weekend in late August. I so want to go to Tassie, and yes, I'll even forsake the mother land (mother state?? not really sure) for that. Either way, wherever I end up, there will be rain.

I post a lot about Guides on my blog for a new reasons. Other than my loved ones, Guiding is one of the most important things in my life. I get back so much more than what I give, and that is a rare thing. It's steeped in tradition and yet it is pretty modern in the way it does things. I love being a Guide. But I also know that Guiding does need as much publicity as possible and that anything I can do to help archive experiences in an accessible way is really important. Okay, so I use this blog for more mundane things like book reviews and general life rants, but I'm happy sharing all of it all in the same place.

Getting MDGs/Advocay learning done at Sangam. Sure you can't see my face, but a bandana is kind of the same thing.
I am yet to find out if there is anything I can or should bring. Last time I left it a bit late to do a roundup of goodies to take to Sangam, but hopefully I can call on my extensive networks (aka the craft cupboard) to see if there are resources I can share.

Thank you, dear blog reader, for unwittingly entering into this next adventure with me. I promise it will be just as turbulent as last time, though this time I won't be flying with MAS. No offense guys, I just don't think you fly there.

If you want to read more about GOLD adventures, here's a traveller's tale for you.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Jilted brides and broken engagements.

This is the blog post I never thought I'd write.
Why say it now though?
Because I feel nothing about it, and it really is a tale of woe, bad decisions and delightful chain reactions.

One of my friends once commented that being married is like having a sleepover every night. We've compared notes since she was married and we both feel the same. Since I like to rant about things late at night, having an every day sleepover really appeals to me.

The other night I told the story of a rather unfortunate engagement. Why didn't it work? Plenty of reasons. I changed, he changed. I was in love with the idea of being in love. He was pushed into proposing. I was swept away by everyone's thoughtful presents and kind words. We had the Sugar and Spice cakes I'd only been eyeing off for two years.

It just wasn't meant to be, if there is such a thing as 'meant to be', but whatever, it wasn't what it should have been. I'd like to say we tried, but we didn't, and that's a sure sure of meant to wasn't.

The only real regret I have about the whole situation is that I left my little flat in Lockleys because he didn't like it and wouldn't live there after we were married. Okay, in fairness, my flat was incredibly small, even if I did once host a party with 40 people sprawled over my driveway and into the house. But still, we had nowhere to live, and what I had wasn't good enough. I wasn't good enough. The life I had longed for and finally started living wasn't good enough.

Mark looking down my top at my 21st. Keepin' in classy as usual.
There's a big different in good enough and second best. I have ranted and raved about being second best a lot, and in this relationship it wasn't that I was second best to someone (in my opinion, the worst feeling ever), but second best to his lifestyle and his job and his friends.

What I had, in my opinion, was good enough. I'm not an extraordinary person, I don't have amazing talents or incredible gifts. I'm not someone people envy. That's okay, I can live with not being those things. But to be told things about yourself that simply aren't true, well, that's not okay.

How did it all go so horribly wrong, and then so wonderfully right?
So many reasons, and not all because of me.

And then it went horribly wrong. Selfies before they were selfies on NYE 2007.
Firstly, I moved out of my flat and in with my brother for what was supposed to be three or four months, tops. Moving always puts a huge strain on most relationships, even with people you actually like. Even though I was technically closer to where he lived, my identity was wrapped up in my community and I felt like I was leaving almost all of me behind. Just before we closed our moving van for the last time Mum said "Lis, this is your last chance. Do you really want to leave?" And even now, how I wish I had said no and unpacked everything.

Then there was was his work. He did shifts, he did overtime, he worked as much as he possibly could. He changed so much when he started his new job, he had way too much time to think and analyse  every conversation we had ever had. Of course, I headed home for part of summer and to be with my Pa who was in and out of hospital.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we talked to everyone but each other about our problems. And when we did talk to one another, the insinuations were based on what other people had said about us, not on actual fact. I did things I thought a sane person would never do. I begged him not to leave me. I agreed with crap he made up to make me feel bad. I spent an entire (and completely lovely) weekend with him, only to have him pull out as list of all the things I said I would do and didn't. (I am really good at not following things through, but no one needs to be that jerky about it.) I gave him a silly present of kissing pigs for Valentine's day and he gave me a fake rose. The hell?!

Then of course, was the break up and the awkwardness of telling people, and lots more tears (actually, less than usual, even for me) and awesome haircuts and outstanding best friends. And that's where the chain reaction starts. I was suddenly myself again, not some weird 'bride to be' version of myself, but Lisa who was just Lisa, and not Lis or darling or sweetheart. I started being harassed in the best way possible, to do things with my friends. 2008 was what 2007 wasn't - actual fun.

Christmas Eve 2008 changed my life in a way I didn't expect. I'd applied to work in a boarding house and thought I had the job. It was this day that I discovered I didn't have it. We frantically called the real estate agent and it turned out that I could rent the flat above the one Matt and I lived for a cheaper price - it had no air conditioning. So Matt and Lucy moved in together and I moved out and applied for a job as a youth worker at Port Adelaide. I needed money and I wanted to work in something I cared about. Then, on the 15th of February 2009 I met my favourite person in the world, Stephen. (Not Steve. Not because I'm pretentious, that's just what everyone calls him.) 

"Working" at PAUC with Narelle involves breaking in, stealing magnetic letters and changing the sign out the front.
Sometimes I think I should feel things about this broken engagement. I mean, I was almost married. And it wasn't that everything was all bad. We did a two week road trip across the country, I ate out more than I ever had in my whole life, we laughed and did general life stuff together. But I feel nothing.

I know why it happened. I love love. I love being engaged and romance and travel and a whole heap of things that are related to the idea of relationship. I really wanted a boyfriend and to be wined and dined and someone to text me 'good morning' messages and compare notes with. But, I was 21. I didn't want a partner or a husband, especially one I barely knew, I just wanted the idea of those things. Before I knew it, everything was out of control. I can tell you all the mistakes we made, but they are not lessons I have learnt from, after all, if I had, I might feel something about it.

What I left behind was not a mess. It was the recapturing of freedom. The chain reaction all these poor decisions triggered was worth it. Really.

It's one thing to feel numb or to choose not to think about someone or a bad situation. It's another to tell the whole story, and this is the very condensed version of it, and not even feel the littlest bit sad. I said the other night that maybe it is because I wasn't really in love. (I have a lot of love theories.)  It could be because time has passed and even though we tried being friends it was just way too awkward for it to ever work. I'd like to say it's because I bounced back incredibly well. I don't really know, because a few years later I started having massive regrets, possibly triggered by watching The Notebook. But I dealt with them too and now feel nothing.

I'm not sure why I'm sharing this. Maybe because I'm trying to say sorry to myself for being some kind of alternate universe Lisa, but it's also because everything in my life now seems to have stemmed from a dodgy gold ring and a moving van.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Things I have done to annoy the locals.

Hello. My name is Lisa and I live in Kadina.

I'm not a local. When my family moved to Mount Gambier, they were told that it takes 20 years to become a local. In November this year they will make their 20th local celebration. Go Mum and Dad! All the same, I'm quite happy to actually be from my beautiful little Warrnambool, and consider Radelaide my hometown.

I apologise in advance to my friends who live locally and will read this and will think I'm being bitchy. Here goes some ways I have annoyed the locals.

1. Upholding basic traffic rules.
Kadina has several one way streets, lots of give way signs, lots of stop signs, roundabouts with five exits, no traffic lights and narrow lanes. Usually I try to turn right and someone who is going straight ahead at the cross road decided to wait for me. It's not my turn. You go first. That's how it works.

2. Not understanding 'where to'.
The first time this happened I was at work and was telling someone I was married over summer. "Oh, where to?" I thought she meant who to, and when I told the story of Stephen working at Bute, etc etc I got another "where to?"

Where to = whereabouts and it is not just about places, a girl was bitten by an insect on her face and her mum was fussing and asking where to this bite was.

I never know what to do when someone else is where to-ed and usually let them work out what it means.

3. Asking where 'up the river' is.
For the last few years I have heard of lots of people here going up the river. For a long time I thought I'd messed up my geography and their was a river close by. No, they actually mean the River Murray. Which is fine, except it is nowhere near here. It doesn't matter, there's a river to go up, and gosh darn it, they will.

4. Telling people I don't go to West Beach.
West Beach is the new Gold Coast, except it isn't.

5. Not playing netball.
No, I don't play netball.
Because I'm not good at it.
Hahahaha I'm not good either, we just have fun.
Oh, I'm sorry, what I meant was I haven't played since I was ten, can't estimate distance, can't catch and also hate short skirts without leggings.
Uhhhh... Well, do you play anything else?
Roller derby.
They do that here?
Is that like what they used to have on the television in the seventies.
No, it's more like the Whip It movie.
What Whip It movie?

In reality I would love nothing more than to play netball. But I can't and I won't.

6. Mystery shopping.
I mystery shop the same three places. I thought they were catching on until the one I completed yesterday saw the retail assistant fail epically. I'm sorry.

7. Refusing to call this place the Copper Coast.
Kadina, Wallaroo and Moonta are part of the Copper Coast. They are also on the Yorke Peninsula. Copper Coast sounds pompous to me and I never use it. I'd never heard of it before Stephen moved here and have never heard it referred to by anyone who is not local.

But, having said all these nasty things, Kadina isn't a bad place. It just feels very far away from home sometimes, and also very different to what I'm used to. I'm just a girl from Warrnambool, how did I get here?

Don't answer that, I already know the answer.

Every small talk question I have been asked about teaching EVER.

Almost four years out, I've realised how many times people have asked me the same questions. Over and over again. I created this FAQ to avoid it where possible. But, well, I have to be honest and give more than the stock answer... sometimes.

Teaching is one of the few professions a large majority of people have had the opportunity to witness in action for literally years. Many people also have preconceived notions of what our role looks like. Lots of the time they are wrong.

Which year levels do you teach?
I'm Primary/Middle trained with some post graduate study. That means I can teach from Years 3-9, and teach English all the way to Year 12.

And which ones do you like the best?
In uni it was always 'which grade level do you want to teach?' and we would all earnestly say things like 'ooooh, I would never teach Receptions or Year 7...' Now days, I take what I can get and everyone else is in the same boat.

Just for the record I love teaching Year 4. They have some great texts, they have moved beyond the junior years and they are ready to learn more advanced concepts. They appreciate nonsense without getting too silly.

So... you must really like kids.
Yes and no.
I'm not at all, nor have I ever been, clucky. I have never volunteer for Sunday School, I don't pull faces at babies on public transport, I don't think I have any online photos with children in them.
But, yes, I do like working with kids and that is a huge difference. I like people in general and to be a teacher you must like all ages.

Why don't you teach in Kadina?
Simple answer: Because there are no jobs I want to apply for, or am qualified to teach.
Much more truthful answer: I don't want to. I live in an area where we have plenty of transient families, which is not a bad thing, just that they are always starting over and there is not enough continuity for me. Also, I leave Kadina at the end of the year. I was doing TRT here last year but with huge schools, large classes and a timetable that meant I'd be visiting seven classes in six hours, I just couldn't do it without staying sane.

So you drive to Pirie just for ONE DAY of work?
Yes. It's only an hour, sheesh. Largs to the CBD takes the same amount of time. With more traffic.

Wow, relief teaching is good money!
Yes, I can walk out the door at 3.30pm and not worry about the crazy day I've had. But I don't do that. I go home and stress. Also, do you remember relief teachers at school? Even the good kids played up for them. So I do earn my money.

How many days a week do you work?
I find this question both rude and insulting. Essentially it asks two things: how much do you earn a week (lots or none or some, it varies) and are you worth much as a teacher (yes, because I come in and work when others can't, and no because no one truly sees TRT work as 'real teaching'). Some weeks I don't work at all, other weeks I will work four days.

Oh, teachers get so many holidays.
Yes, they do.
I'm not one of those people who think teachers "deserve" holidays, and I also don't believe in working too much during time off. Holidays are for holidays. Coming back to school after holidays is tough and it only gets better after Week 2 concludes.

NAPLAN is terrible for students and here's why...
I don't love standardised testing, but is there a better way? Probably not. NAPLAN allows schools to gain extra funding to support students. It helps give a 'snapshot' into the day in the life of a student. It helps you know where your child is sitting in terms of their own year level and students across the nation. Should teachers be teaching to a test? No. Is it unfair for them to send students into a test such as NAPLAN completely unprepared? Yes.

I had this teacher once....
We all had that teacher once. Part of my inspiration to become a teacher was because I had a really bad one who broke me, but was also incredibly good at the curriculum side of things. We all have these stories, and frankly I work in an sector where my colleagues are verbally bashed by parents and stakeholders, used as scapegoats in the media and told by the world around them they take too many holidays. I don't care about your story.

You must really love kids. When will you have some of your own?
I tell people that I work with children and that has made me think it's okay to wait to have them, I have enough to look after at work anyway. It's kind of a lie though, something nice you say when someone is being incredibly rude and is really just asking too many nosy questions.

They say those who can't teach.
They say a lot of things, don't be an ass.

Do you have to live in the country?
Yes and no.

Yes because many teachers do earn their stripes and permanent positions in the country, at least in the government sector.

No because plenty of new graduates work in town, can live at home with their parents and save up plenty of money to buy their house before their 30th birthday.

We don't have to. But this is where Stephen works, and here I am.

Public or private?
This is really tricky for me to answer without upsetting anyone. Three big factors:
1. Where you live
Assuming you don't apply for your child to attend a school outside of your zoning area, where you live should really dictate this. My advice is to visit your local public and private schools and decide what you think is best.

2. Religion/faith based
Nothing upsets me more as a Christian educator than the old 'well, I don't HAVE do do chapel/Christian Studies/prayer/grace/sing a song because I'm not Christian'. Or worse, notes excluding students from this because their family isn't. Here's the problem (that's you parents, not your impressionable child): you decided to send your child to a school which is openly Christian, who have devotions every day, who have Christian Studies as part of the core curriculum.If you don't want this for your child, don't send them.

3. Education
Just because a school is privately run, doesn't mean that the education standards are going to be of a high level. Many private schools recruit only those with an 'active' Christian lifestyle, which is good in some ways, but can eliminate wonderful educators who can't prove they attend church regularly. I'm not just making this up, please check out the 'employment' link on a few school sites to see if you can access such forms. Private schools may also have limited funding, and often their caring nature will attract families who don't like their local public school, so they uproot their child mid-year and plonk them in your class. Or, and most importantly, the funding and/or skill level of SSOs for special needs students isn't great enough to attract the support they really need to be successful. It is becoming more equitable but this is a gradual process.

And where would I send my own future children?

This is awkward because it is up for discussion, but having worked in both sectors, I hope that one day I'll send my own child to a denominational school who have their heads on straight about theology. Probably a Lutheran school.

What about writing reports?
I'm a teacher. Writing and reports doesn't phase me, just the 99% of my colleagues.

Do you know _____ who taught there in the nineties?
I was 13 in 1999.

Young people these days are out of control/have no respect/don't listen/stuck on iPads...
I wonder if whole generations of people have been saying these things? Probably. There is always going to be some new spin the media will put on how to manage the behaviour of children, but really, there is only so much teachers can do. Everyone else needs to accept that.

And, the one question that I'm rarely asked, but should be. Would I still be a teacher, if I had my time again?
Honestly... I don't know.
I've wanted to be a teacher since I was thirteen, and then flirted with the idea of working with young people in recreational settings. But I've done both of these things now, and I'm not convinced either were really the best choice for me.
What would I do instead though? I often say how much I loved working at Bi-Lo and could have quite happily worked there forever, but that's not entirely true. I was always destined for uni, but learning about reading strategies and how the mind works never enthused me the same way it did my peers. I've thought about a career change, but I keep being talked out of it. The only thing I really love to do is write and I'm not even great at that. Good, but not great. Not to mention the current employment opportunities - nil to none.
If I did it again, here's what I would do. I would go to UniSA (a real uni) and study a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English and Marketing and then undertake post graduate study in teaching. In the end it did take me five years to complete my course anyway so I really wouldn't have lost too much. But then again, hindsight.

I do like teaching. I'm not too grumpy. I like mornings. I don't drink coffee to stay sane. I can write reports quickly. I can use a Mac and Windows. I am theatrical. I like decorating. I am a teacher.

No, I haven't been called in to work today. Obviously.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Girl Guide Promise and Law: Thinking about courage, and strength for Guides Own.

I've made my Girl Guide Promise twice, once as a Brownie and once as an adult.

The Promise is:
I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve my community and Australia
And live by the Guide Law

The Law is:
As a Guide I will strive to:
  • Respect myself and others
  • Be considerate, honest and trustworthy
  • Be friendly to others
  • Make choices for a better world
  • Use my time and abilities wisely
  • Be thoughtful and optimistic
  • Live with courage and strength
This last year or so, two things have really stood out for me: being true to myself and to live with courage and strength.

To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
Often we tell the girls that this is thinking about things using your own mind and not someone else's, as in, if Jenny told you to jump off a bridge, would you?

As an adult though, I have thought about this quite a bit. We live in a world where social networking plays a huge role in how we interact with one another. How easy it is to censor things - not just things that don't need to be shared, but things that should, and we can't. In 2010 I wrote a statement about faith. It stated a whole bunch of things I did and didn't believe in, many of them to do with expectations and behaviour rather than my own beliefs about the man and mission of Christ. Since then though, I have really battled with stating how I believe. Do I support gay marriage? Yes. Do I declare such things during debates - not usually. Do I believe in tithing? Not really, it is OT, but then again, someone has to pay the salaries of ministers across the denomination. Then again, they are not really things that touch my world enough to make them too relevant. Interpretation of scripture and applying it to a modern context is hard, and too many people fool themselves in thinking it is easy.

Where am I going with this?
Oh yeah.

I'm preparing for the eisteddfods again, for the first time since I was 15. I lost the aggregate to Leah Kelly by a second placing during the final recital section. I still remember that entire evening, and the days after it far too well. It was the last time I could compete and I didn't win by two measly points. Gran still thinks the adjudicator was bent because Leah wore a swimsuit for her Character Recital, and let's face it, I would never do that in my life, and anyway we all know who should have won.

Why did I give it up though? I went on to finish my CSCA, Certificate in Speech and Communication, which is a now defunct qualification from AMEB. I did SACE Drama and I really hated it. I really wanted to quit but my parents reminded me that I had never quit anything in my life, and anyway it wasn't an option.

Regrets everyone has about that miserable time of my life: countless. So many times Mum has said that she wishes they had let me pull out of the whole thing. It was really sad though. I have a lot of first loves, and for me Drama was really the first thing I loved and had some kind of talent in. I just had to learn the hard way that ensemble work was not for me. For the last few years I have toyed with the idea of Speech and Drama again, and finally bit the bullet in May when I enrolled in my two exams and entered the eisteddfod. And now the big day is five sleeps away and I'm incredibly cool, calm and completely nervous. I wonder sometimes whether I was being true to myself by stopping all the S&D stuff when I was younger. I think I was. Going through the motions, especially in an artistic form such as Drama, is never a good thing.

To live with courage and strength
Often we talk about taking on challenges and being brave when we discuss this part of the Law. To me, living with courage and strength is not a new concept, but it is also not one I am always good at.
 Sometimes I do take the easy road, avoid conflict, avoid people in general, whatever.

I asked Steve on Friday about 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' and what it really means. In my life, it had always meant that the "tough" ones cleared out and let everyone else get on with the job. I have almost always been the last one to bail from bad situations. Bad relationships, bad jobs, bad volunteer opportunities, toxic friends, awkward social situations. Sometimes that seems like I am not strong and certainly not courageous. After all, someone who was tough would have jumped ship a long time ago. But, and this is a huge but, I am always optimistic. I always hope, and occasionally, advocate for change. Sometimes I expect things to get better and sometimes I do nothing and, for some reason, think someone else will fix the problem. Part of this is to do with the 'but you never quit anything' mentality I talked about before. In this context, the tough ones clear out first. as they should. I have countless stories of this, and I can tell you plenty of reasons why things didn't work out - unrealistic goals, expectations not being met, inexperience, being just being moody (nah, that's actually just related to camps).

Steve said that the saying can mean both; that the tough clear out, or the tough get into action. And I guess, as I have developed my own understanding of the world around me, I've started being the action tough. I have stood my ground on a whole range of things which were seriously concerning me about an organization I was part of, and that was really the beginning. I have started saying no a lot more, and giving my reasons. Being the last one to jump ship is sometimes okay. Being the first one to make that call is sometimes okay. It's the reasons behind it that define who is going because they're scared and who is going because they are courageous.

Of course I have done a lot of things in the past few years that have been tough for me, and Guides has been a huge part of that. I have done everything from capsizing my canoe into the Port River on purpose to travelling alone to India to spending entire weekends with people I don't know. The best part is that I have seen change, and that I have helped make change happen. And for that reason, I am both strong and full of courage. The old Guide Law says that 'A Guide smiles and sings under all difficulties'. This much is true.

How are these two statements connected?
Being true to yourself if about making the hard choices, not just acknowledging that life can be tough sometimes and doing nothing about it. To make those choices, you need to have strength and courage. Some days I really lack those things, but the more opportunities you have to make the tough decisions, the more the tough get going. This year my motto has been 'don't overthink it'. I'm sick of having to talk through every little issue all the time. I want to act, not on a blind faith or whim, but under the knowledge that things can happen, dreams can come true and one day a challenge won't be challenging. It will be a mastered skill.

Lions and camps and sleepovers, oh my!

I've been composing this slight confession and somewhat mad statement for awhile now.

To be completely honest, I like living in my own house. I've been out of home for almost ten years now. That's a pretty long time, and long enough to have a deep appreciation of one's own space. From when I was 19 until I turned 27, I lived mostly by myself, apart from living with my brother for a year and housemates for about eight months. Then I was married and now I live in our little house in the country, surrounded by pine 'plantations' (pretty poor effort considering I'm sort of a Gambier girl), streets that are far too wide and no street lighting. Despite that, I like our house. It is little. It has carpet you can sometimes spill Milo onto without being overly concerned. It has a big kitchen.

The real troubles started, for me anyway, when I started teaching. I've been in the country for close to four years now. That would be fine, except that I'm not from here. I'm not from Balaklava or Pirie or Kadina, or even Mount Gambier really. Although I have kind of liked country life, I keep having to head back to Adelaide for a whole range of reasons. Appointments. Doctors. Being with my family. Birthdays. Celebrations. Weddings. Doing actual fun things I enjoy. Buying character shoes. (Yes, I did once travel to Adelaide just for shoes. Twice.

This brings me to a really hard thing to write about. It is almost an apology of sorts.

I hate sleepovers.

No, really, I do.

I've spent a long time trying to make myself love camps and sleepovers and staying at other people's houses, and I just can't unless I have to.

I love having people stay at my house though. I love having a guest bed (I don't have a guest bedroom, and quite frankly, no one should except grandparents), I love making and baking, I like watching Bargain Hunt and drinking wine, or pretending to drink wine.

But I don't love other people's houses. And here is a list of why.

1. I have my own house to stay in.
I don't think I've actually said "but why would I stay here when I have my own house?", but I could have if I was overtired and cranky.  I'm someone who once covered their roof with glow in the dark stars at 17. I have linen I like. I have soft toys who like me. Completely honestly, I really love routine. I guess when you live with someone else, even your family, breaking up routine with a sleepover is not always a bad thing, but for me, I'd much rather be in my own bed, in my own house, with or without stars on the roof.

2. I hate not knowing rules. And also, mouldy towels.
I love my family and I love the little oddities we have, but nothing upsets me more than when someone decides that the tea towel drawer is in the third drawer down in the kitchen cupboard and not the dresser anymore. And, worst of all, I still know where to find things in my parent's house in Warrnambool, circa 1993. I don't like change and I have a pretty good memory for useless towel trivia.

What are the rules though? Shoes or no shoes? Where do I put my handbag? Is this someone's seat? All of that seriously freaks me out. We are all on the spectrum somewhere, and here is mine spot. I've spent most of last year trying to work out the rules of this house, including how to correctly put in a bin liner. My brain doesn't cope with more rules than necessary.

3. Sleep.
It wasn't until I moved out of home that I actually started sleeping like a sane person. I run on eight hours sleep most nights, more if I am at someone else's, but also less at someone else's too. I will stay up late at the drop of a hat and not sleep in much past nine o'clock regardless. I have a cat who wakes me up. I am also known as a 'bedbug' at Guides because I love love love laying in bed telling the girls to go back to sleep or do something quietly while trying to get an extra few minutes shut eye. I am a mess of contradictions, and I don't fit in well with other people's schedules.

4. My stuff.
I'm a happy little magpie and I can be a pain in the arse when I don't have my stuff with me. I get stressed when I don't know where something is, I hate losing things (and when I do, it's done rarely and spectacularly). I like my WiFi and my old books and the cat. I like stuff. Other people don't have my stuff, and if they do, why do they have it in the first place?

5. The 'me-time' factor.
I find 'me-time' a revolting concept, but it's a phrase used often enough that people will nod and say 'ahh, yes, you are a Gen Y after all'. (True story, this happened the other day.) This is why I don't usually enjoy camps, though the last few times I've been away I have managed to have enough Lisa-space that I can cope without going bananas.

Seeing as I lived my myself for so long and spent incredible amounts of time by myself my entire life (yes, I'm a happy library nerd), I really love my own company, and have no worries whatsoever doing most things by myself. There are lots of things in my life which contradict this - I'm a part-time extrovert, I love friends, I hate going to parties by myself, I would never venture into the movies alone, nor would I have a table for one at dinner time.

I have said often enough that living by yourself can make you selfish. You only need one wine glass, you mostly buy food for one person, you can just have a mobile phone, when you're sick you can look after yourself without emptying the cat litter but also enjoying all the OJ you can drink. This, of course, makes me very happy, but life is not really supposed to be spent by yourself, at least not forever.

The problem with sleepovers really started when I moved from Adelaide to Balaklava. Suddenly I needed places to stay every weekend, and happily did cycles through the friends and family. But then a year turned to two, then three, and now, well into four. Most of the time I don't need to be fed, I just need somewhere to sleep, a bathroom to at least splash water onto my face before leaving for work, and occasionally, having a place to crash after midnight. I have really, well and truly, recovered any outstanding debts from anyone I have stayed with. But, also, I feel bad. I'm a grown woman, I shouldn't be waking up in spare rooms, or on couches and trying to be quiet until it's a socially acceptable time to leave. And yes, sometimes it feels like the Walk of Shame.


Why say this now, when I still have about four months to go? Four months of more phone calls the day before, or worse, a text the day of, asking if I can stay?
Because, I had to say two things, sorry and thanks.

I'm sorry I am not always a gracious guest. I like things done my way, I sometimes have plans that don't include my hosts, not that they ever truly mind. I am sorry to always be putting people out, even just in the slightest. I can be prickly, bad tempered and self-centred. I know this, that's why I'm an at-least-part-time introvert.

But, also, thank you, for everyone who keeps having me come and stay with them, at the drop of a hat, or three months in advance, I don't know what I would do without my little (okay, huge) support network. I know I am blessed every day to have the opportunities others don't, and to have a life that is one filled with pretty content days.

Lions are strong and courageous. Sometimes I'm those things, but most of the time, I just have a thorn in my paw, and I'm grateful each time someone makes it that little bit better.

Monday, 21 July 2014

lesdfhviuearsvd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, intentional.)

I just want to go home. It's stopped being fun.
I think I'm going nuts again.

Actually, I know that I'm not because I think I'm keeping on top of my emotions, for now anyway.

But really, at the end of the day, or whatever, this is the life I chose. There's only five more months to go. Anyone can do that. Even Scarlett.

I pretty much killed myself laughing when Scarlett said that because she's right. Then I felt bad. I keep being told that I'm unrealistic, that it's immature to think that I should be allowed to do whatever I like when I please (well, within reason of course), that things 'won't be the same' when we come home. I never thought it would be. But it wouldn't be here, and that's all I really care about.

In the meantime, this is also what I'm thinking of:

Yes, that is a prohibition badge, circa 1920s.

I hope no one ever reads this blog.

Who am I kidding, you've only ready it because I shared it, right?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Let's talk about 'whilst'. Because. Conjunctions.

There are few words I really hate in the English language, and I don't even mind swear words. The words I typically hate are pompous and make people look like wankers - well, most of the time. And one of these words happens to be:


First of all - what the actual hell? Why are we using whilst?!

The trouble is with the w-word is that people live in two schools of thought, and from my opinion both hold a little merit.

1) 'Whilst' and 'while' mean the same thing. To Brits anyway.
Most of the research I have done on the w-word hangs on Americans telling the world about British English. The belief comes from 'whilst' being derived of 'whiles'.

'While' and 'whilst' are only interchangeable when they are conjunctions, that is, connecting two ideas together say the way we use words such as 'and' or 'but'. In this sense, 'whilst' should rarely be used at the beginning of a sentence, the same way that 'and' or 'but' is frowned upon. I'll make it known here that the whole reason I wrote this blog was due to this post on a group I belong to on Facebook:

While use 'whilst'? You didn't even need to! She actually meant 'while'.

It's okay lady, the best of us get it wrong sometimes. That's why there are Style Guides. Most modern Style Guides denounce the use of 'whilst', and although Internet-folklore and badly edited infotainment would tell you otherwise, 'whilst' is not a term which is widely used.

It kind of reminds me of the time my English teacher kept insisting of the phrase 'make for', as in 'the film makes for a beautiful analogy of Hamlet'. What the hell is 'make for'? It sounds clumsy and pretentious. And it also makes me think of this quote:

Hoad's etymology gives 'whilst' as a derivation of 'whiles', an adverbial form of 'while'. The 't' on the end is parasitic (cf. among~amongst, amid~amidst, etc.). 'Whilst' started to be used as a conjunction, equivalent to 'while', in the 13th century.
In modern British English, 'whilst' is supposedly a more formal variant of 'while'. It is also, in my experience, particularly beloved of students who write bad essays.

2) 'Whilst means 'although', 'at the same time' or 'during the time'.
In terms of using 'whilst' as a conjunction, most of the time you would be better off skipping it all together. Rethinking the lady with the problem CDs, the lady who started this whole thing, there are several avenues she could have taken:

a) 'While I was waiting for the bin to be emptied...'
Okay, so she could have just used 'while'. But she actually meant 'at the same time'.

b) Today I was waiting for the bins to be emptied. In the meantime I sorted CDs.
What she is trying to say is that two things were connected together. The phrase 'in the meantime' or 'meanwhile' always remind me a little of fairy tale language, but in a good way. These two phrases are often used to describe two things happening simultaneously, and may or may not be necessarily connected. Sure, she could have used 'whilst'. Actually, she did. But did it look nice? No. Why?

Because. Conjunctions.

A basic rule of English we break a lot is the use of conjunctions at the beginning of a sentence. The reason we break this rule is simply to make things sound better. We often break this rule in spoken English. In regards to a formal setting conjunctions are rarely used to begin a sentence.

c) Instead of waiting around for the bins to be emptied, I tidied my CD collection.
This is what she actually meant.
So, back to my initial question, why are we using whilst?

Misunderstanding of word usage
Some people use the w-word in spoken conversation on a regular basis and I think this suggests that they know why, when, how and where they should use it. If it is part of your current vocabulary, why change it now?

Expanding your vocabulary
If you haven't used the w-word until now, skip it and find a new term that is used more frequently in everyday conversation. Whilst is old fashioned, quaint sounding and trending slightly at the moment. The problem is that you already have a great knowledge of words you can use in replacement of 'whilst', and half the time you're not overly sure why you're even using it. To expand your vocabulary, find a different group of words. Say, for example, adjectives for the word 'beautiful'. There are plenty of them. Or, better yet, read some books and do some dictionary checking of words you are unfamiliar with. If you're not addicted yet, don't take it up now.

Access to printed media
Let's be a bit frank here.
I admit I'm a bit snobby when it comes to people not reading books because "they don't have time" and "nothing interests me" and "print format is so yesterday". That's where you problem lies, that is, if you are using 'whilst'. How often is it seen in fiction, and indeed, non-fiction and journalism? Rarely. How often is the word actually spoken? Even less rarely. Why? Because anyone who is editing a piece that contains the phrase 'whilst' is going to raise eyebrows and change the word to a more appropriate word choice. (Thank you Style Guides.)

For some crazy reason, and I blame mummy-bloggers and half-arsed editing jobs at websites catering for infotainment, 'whilst' and over hyphenating words and a whole heap of fads are coming and going. There is nothing wrong with these sites, apart from the fact that they could be edited - by someone qualified to do so - and such editing would benefit those who only access reading material online.

Someone else said it first
This is not a reason to start using a word.
 Have you ever found yourself in a situation where the person you're with has a whole substitute vocabulary for 'cuss words'? The time of people who don't say 'crap' and 'shut up', as well as some of my personal choice words? These people see such word usage as vulgar or sinful or distasteful. And suddenly 'fuck' became 'fruit', 'shit' became 'shoot' and the adorably cute 'OMG' became 'golly gosh'. (True story. Also, I know people who actually say OMG aloud. Explain. Please.) Just because someone has decided that 'whilst' is a cool and rather hip word to misuse in social media, does not mean that we should start indulging them. Or, worse, begin using the term ourselves.

I wrote this blog simply as a response to too many people using whilst. And, frankly, it was driving me cuckoo-bananas.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Rob Fleming, mix tapes and Ghost World

I've only tried to reread an old favourite about 10 times, and only just finished it today. Why though? Being that High Fidelity is much closer to to life now, than, say Ghost World was a few years ago? Because my eyes and brain went a little silly skimming over all the artsits and their songs I didn't recoginse? That Rob points out that Simply Red is simply terrible one too many times? That Rob and Laura are the world's most boringest boring couple ever and really I don't want them to get back together?

No. Simply, Rob hasn't got his life together. Okay, so he owns a shop but he isn't happy, his girlfriend leaves him for someone else and he doesn't have much of a life because Laura took it all with her, including his friends. And about halfway through the book I stop and think - is it possible that I am Rob? Okay, so I'm married, and I don't have a shop, but I overthink everything and believe in pop music lyrics and don't have my life together. Or do I?

When I finished the book today, I suddenly thought of Ghost World, which I can't sit through anymore. So Enid is 18 and she has just failed school but has awesome friends and has a really bizarre relationship with Seymour. But, like High Fidelity, there the ending is far too open. Does she end up with Josh? Where does the bus take her? What is she going to do?

All this book reading and reflecting on fiction makes me grumpy, and suddenly I want to be moody and sit in a lifeguard tower like Marissa, a-la The OC. Seeing as Wallaroo has a pretty miserable beach with no tower to climb, or otherwise, there isn't much chance of that. And so, I have my abundance of lists and actual things I need to achieve. The other thing is, why be moody when you understand exactly what is happening to you? I'm biding my time. Not only has this been pointed out to me, and compared to other times in my life, namely my gap year, I know that there is little I can do to change my situation for now. Why care so much? I have a house, a husband, a cat, a finger in a few pies and a group of giggling Girl Guides I would do anything for (and actually sometimes do anything for). These are not things to be taken lightly or for granted. But, somehow I have managed to turn into Rob Fleming and sit at home making my own version of mix tapes.

And that's why I didn't want to read the book.

Advice, opinions and saying what you actually believe.

Yesterday I came up with a list of people I could ask for advice. Or, at least, an opinion. Okay, so the topic, as it often is, was 'who was right?' and, quite frankly, I knew that although it would be nice to have someone take my side, I also wanted some unbiased views. My list was pretty long. In fact, 10 people made the cut, but in the end I decided to talk to my dear old Dad. After all, Dad is pretty good at telling me when I'm being unreasonable, and this time he came through as predicted. Dad did point out that even though he tries to see everyone's side of the argument, which was a non-event really, he is always going to be a little biased.

And then I thought about the other people who didn't make the cut. And the reasons why.

In my world, their are two types of advice - solicited and, well, not. A lot of non-solicited advice came about before Stephen and I were married. And a lot of this advice was based around " I'm married and stuff. So I know everything." But, also, and forgive for saying this, but being married does not prepare you for everything, or at least understanding other people's problems. In fact, kind of like theology, I get relationships even less now than what I did before. And that's probably not a bad thing.

The problem with seeking advice, is that it often comes packaged in the following forms:

For me, I see advice this way. Either I like someone or I don't. If two people are in conflict, I will usually like one person less than the other. Most of the time it's because I like Person A better than Person B, usually because I've known them for longer or find them more of a kindred spirit. I don't know. I play favourites a lot.

The problem with seeking advice from us biased ones is that we want Person A to be right, or Person B to be known as 'the problem'. On occasions, my bias has failed miserably, but usually because I have given Person A too much credit, or been lied to. In short, these people are really good if you know that you are doing the right thing and you need someone to back you up. Now, seeing as my advice query from yesterday, I could already foresee the answers. Hence, well, no biased people made the edited list.

1# fan club 
Unquenchable belief can be dangerous. I am happily a 1# fan club of a few people in my life, but this means that I am not always the most sensible person to talk to. I don't think things through properly and I'm probably too easy going to form moral opinions about most things.

The best time for this kind of advice is really for positive situations. When I went to India people worried about me but there were a few in my corner cheering me on all the same.

Let's be passive aggressive
Or not.
When a girl says 'whatever' or ''I'm fine', that's a lie. Basically that means 'It's not actually fine, but I'll leave it to you to work out why I'm annoyed/disappointed/well, whatever'. And sometimes this advice is good, well, that is if you can work out why the person has suddenly decided that you are making a good/bad decision. But you can't really use this for anything, except gaining some momentum in your quest for knowledge.

The worst worst WORST one I ever got was actually so nasty that I haven't seen that person since.
Lis: (some long text message about being engaged)
Friend: Oh, so when is your next engagement party? HAHAHA xoxo

Yes, really.
Okay, so there was a lot of issues arising from that... from her side of the story. And that's not for me to work out. Having said that, passive aggressive friends aren't all bad, they just don't cope with having compassion, or they get sick of your general complaining.

Vested interest
Here is my favourite - you, you're moving back to Adelaide? Great I can actually see you more than twice a year. I think I've done my fair share of putting up with vested interest conversations for the last ten years. This happens at the best and worst of times. The 'oh, my friend is getting married and I'll never see her again' (true, in some cases at least) or 'mmm, if they don't have a house, they can come and live with me!' (this was really a sweet deal and one I'm glad I took up). Vested interest is not always bad, but it is very dependent on circumstance.

If I had my time again
And here is my least favourite.

I have sat through years of uni lecturers advising us what to do and not do, based around the ideas of what they would do again, if they had the chance. What I would do is not listen to any of you. Now, how did that work out? Okay, not so great, but the idea of mistakes is that YOU learn from them and let others make their own.

I don't really love hearing about the so-called glory days. There are just far too many happy tales, and a few too many sad ones, which always end with bad advice about what they would have done, if they had their time again.

But, really, the most important... differing world views.

Herein lies the true issue with issues: truths and absolutes.

I have a few absolutes myself. And sometimes I inflict (yes, I did mean to use that word) on people, mostly because they are what is true to me. So, for example, after copping a major fine for using my phone while driving, that was absolutely it. No exceptions. Sometimes I am the same with speeding, and I have racked up my share of speeding fines too. Mallala, you made me cry and bleed me dry.

The problem with world views is that people know they have them, they are studied at university and while you think you see how they're applied, the context is so out of place it is almost impossible to view it in the real world. It's only been in the last six months or so that I've seen world views come into play and why they important when seeking support and advice. I could talk about the pro-life versus pro-choice debate, but I really can't handle too much of that. Okay, so take gay marriage for example.

I have probably a 50/50 share of friends with views on either side. Really though, it's only been debated by some Christian groups and promoted by others as an act of love and equality. I know where my support lies, but it has taken me a long time to get there. Here's why: world view. My world view was centred around the belief that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. That's there in the text, Google it, I'm not here for that debate. Meanwhile, relational, loving me wants to see Christianity in a much more fluid way, a life full of grace and acceptance. And I found that my worldview was not shaped around relationships with anyone from the LGBT tribe because I didn't really know anyone who had came out, let alone anyone in my own circles who believed in such a thing. It was black and white, that was it. And sometime in 2009 I was like 'You know what, it is not my decision'. How could I inflict a worldview I wasn't even too sure of myself on someone else?

(Do know how hard it was to find a pic of Richard Gere and Jules in their differing world view outfits?)

Sometimes I can't agree with decisions other people make. But I've decided that isn't really my call to make anymore. It just isn't fair to call someone out on something just because my world views conflicts with their own.

This is why finding like-minded people is so important. I have learned this the hard way - sometimes I am far too open about myself and that allows people with conflicting worldviews to be judge me, sometimes severely and often unfairly. The main problem is that once you see or hear of something doing something that is white when you believe in black, regardless of their deliberations or excuses or explanations, you shut down. Instantly. It is ingrained so easily and so hard to step away from. In fact, I lost a job because of it. That's why I hate world views, because a) they exist and b) people use it to make calls that are often unfair and unjust because they cannot see beyond their own view.


Last year I spent a lot of time gleaning gems and pearls of wisdom from a lot of people who are in my life. This didn't end well for me. I took everything they said to heart and saw it as my own failure to be a good person... according to them.

And now, well, I've chucked it all. Okay, so I kept parts of it, words of encouraging and memories of cake and sunshine. But mostly, my days of seeking advice from too many people are over. That's it.

No one is ever going to be 100% unbiased and opinionated. But the best people come pretty close.

What I really do. Country living.

So I'm trying to be just a little sneaky with this post.

Let's put it this way, I'm kind of over romantic notions of country living. So I made this meme.

Yes, really.
Okay, so there is just a little bit of truth to each image, I mean, being propositioned to play netball in everyway possible is kind of like playing, right?
(even I know that's a lie.)

But, mostly, I'm actually what I actually do.

So, admittedly, I haven't been very good-natured about country life. I act like I never had a choice, but of course I did. But I keep being told Mount Gambier 'isn't really' country so I haven't tried country life before. So, after Balaklava, Pirie and Kadina, I have just about had my fill of country living for the rest of my life.

There are a lot of things I like about living in the country. Hardly ever any traffic. The romantic notions everyone gets swept away by. Community spirit. But, well, mostly the romantic notions. Yes, I love rolling hills, and greenery, and roosters crowing. None of this is new to me. There is no novelty left.

Why be so glum? I have about five more months here, anyone can get through that reasonably unscathed. Please, wish me luck.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Philosophy, love and the art of being Scarlett OR The Gone with the Wind Blog.

Gone with the Wind is one of my top 5 favourite movies.

Okay, so if you haven't seen it, here is the story in a nutshell: Scarlett O'Hara is a beautiful Southern belle who is madly in love with Ashley Wilkes, her neighbour at Twelve Oaks. She lives with her sisters and doting parents at Tara, a cotton plantation which is really run by slaves who do the majority of the work. Tara is pretty much self sufficient and the O'Haras are quite well off.

Ashley is engaged to be married to his cousin Melanie, and although Scarlett tries to persuade him to do otherwise, he declares that he cares for Scarlett, but he must marry Melanie. The rather scandalous Rhett Butler overhears this conversation and becomes enamoured with Scarlett himself. Within a few hours, war is declared and Scarlett hastily marries a young man who she doesn't care for. He is killed in action and Scarlett asks to be sent to Atlanta to spend more time with Melanie, just so she can be closer to Ashley.

Scarlett and Melanie flee a rioting Atlanta with some help from Rhett and return to Tara which is sadly a dark shadow of what it used to be. Scarlett basically runs the plantation herself and then marries her sister's beau to secure a financial future for Tara and her family. He is also killed, and Scarlett and Rhett agree to get married, basically because Rhett is loaded. I don't want to ruin the ending, but let's just say that you have heard some of the below quotes from the movie, and if you haven't, where have you been your entire life?

Why love Gone with the Wind? It's an amazing awesome cinematography feat. And although I haven't read the novel - probably because I'll get it on an e-reader at some stage, I relate to Scarlett. She's not a bad person, just incredibly flawed, despite her best intentions. Plus, she does a good bitchface. Here's some of my thoughts about Gone with the Wind, with a little help from some quotey quotes.

Well fiddle-dee-dee. This is the reason why I am like Scarlett (at least according to Mum): being a big princess. or wearing my heart on my sleeve. And sulking a lot. Of course this means that Melanie is a much better person than Scarlett, but then again, she choose not to see that her BFF keeps making plays for her husband, and that makes her somewhat disappointing.

I'll be honest. I actually kind of hate Ashley. I mean, look at him:

Okay, so maybe that is an attractive photo of him. Apologies. Why doesn't Ashley just be honest with Scarlett? Oh, that's right because he's nice. It's often said that nice guys finish last. But really, oh Ashley has two ladies pining after him, making him sashes (or something) to wear with his Civil War uniform and promising to do things for him. He's got it pretty good. But I still don't like him.

The annoying thing about the movie is that there is no back story to Scarlett and Ashley's story. Was it an actual thing or was it just a crush? It probably doesn't matter, she loves him the entire movie, even if he doesn't do anything worth loving him for, except maybe kissing Melanie while sitting on a horse. That's pretty cool. Okay, not for Scarlett. See, I've got nothing.

I laughed when I heard this one, as so often in these past few years I've been told that we can't always have what we want. Growing up isn't about everything being fun. Or full of colour, or food (or something.) Scarlett is right though, she was so used to the good life and when it was taken away, of course she pined for it. Don't worry Scarlett, I feel ya.

This is the best quote from the film. Why? Not just because Rhett is completely attractive, even if he is a cad, he gets Scarlett better than her husbands and even her 'stupid Ashley' (Rhett's words, not mine). Scarlett's romances have never been romantic and she hasn't been loved - no, Ashley doesn't count.

But, true.

This is what happened at the end of the movie.

Why does it matter? because every day is a new one. Tomorrow Scarlett will sort out her crazy stupid mess - though hitting on your BFF's grieving husband is probably not the way to do it, especially with Rhett in the room. Still though, I like to think she worked it out. Because, if she didn't, there goes all my belief in other days, new opportunities and the actual existence of the reset button.

Lisa's Winter YA Book Reviews!

The majority of the books I've read lately are young adult fiction. Seeing as I hate growing up and my favourite authors tend to be YA writers, here goes nothing.

Girls in Love series: Jacqueline Wilson

I have to say that I really love these girls. The narrator is the cute, chubby, awkward and arty Ellie, who lives with her dad, step-mum and annoying little brother Eggs. Ellie has two best friends, Nadine and Madga who have nothing in common with one another, other than equal admiration for each other's skills.

What I love about the Girls series is that everything seems entirely plausible. The uneasiness of Ellie's family life, the boyfriend she's unsure of, trying to lose weight in stupid ways and nasty boyfriends. This is why Wilson is an incredible YA author. She gets it. 5/5

Clean Break: Jacqueline Wilson

I hadn't read this one before, but basically I read the majority of it until 1am last Thursday. This book is about a family who everything seems to go terrible wrong for. The bipolar dad (at least I think he is, and Jacqui does not shy away from mental illness in her books) leaves his family for another girl. Deciding that it just wasn't working, he makes a 'clean break' and randomly sends cheques to his wife. Em and her family do really well despite, or perhaps, because of their father's absence. It's awesome. And makes you think. This one gets a 4.5 out of 5.

The Fault in Our Stars: John Green

I didn't know if I wanted to read this.

I happen to hate cancer fiction stories (My Sister's Keeper and a range of YA books from the 80s has put me off for life). But seeing as I'd only heard good things, other than the shopkeeper warning me it was a heavy read, I tried this book.

You know what, I like Hazel. It's good. Well thought out. What made the biggest difference for me was not reading the blurb, so I had no idea what Hazel and Augustus would do in this book. And that's really good. So no spoilers or plot info for me. 4/5 from me for this one.

Art Geeks and Prom Queens: Alyson Noel

This was written in 2005, so it's a little dated, but not by much.
Other reviewers have suggested it is just Mean Girls rewritten. But I have never watched much of that movie and don't want to. Anyway. Basic outline: Rio likes an art geek, and she is one too. But she's developed into a major hottie since sophomore year and doesn't even realise. To get the guy of her dreams she decides to join the cool clique. The cool clique, or their creepy leader, introduce Rio to cool clothes, parties, dating randoms, alcohol, sex, drugs and hiding the evidence from every adult in authority. Rio, the 'hero' of this story shows no remorse for her stupid and thoughtless actions.

Should you read this book? Well, if you're like me and you're drinking so gross concoction from a CT scan and have no other choice, then... yes. I rate this a 2/5.

Nancy and Nick: Caroline B Cooney

I have loved this book since I was about 14. Nancy and Nick meet on an antique hunting trip and having an incredibly awkward relationship most of the way through the book. What I love about Nancy and Nick is that it is so close to home (no pun intended, as Nick and Nancy are possibly related... or so they are led to think) and pretty really. The empty apartment, the sheer embarrassment of doing the wrong thing around your future SO's friends... whatever. I like this one. 5/5.

Claudia Kishi, Middle School Drop Out: Ann M Martin

Not sure if this really belongs in this book review blog, but I'll talk about it anyway.
Claudia is epically failing in eighth grade (what's new?) and is sent back to the seventh to repeat the coursework.
This book is lame. Here's some reasons:
1) The BSC kindly lighten Claud's sitting load for the next few weeks because they don't want to lose her as a club member. Seriously Kristy? You are a bad friend.
2) Claudia whinges and whines the whole way through this book.
3) This book made me realise that the ghostwriters (bless their hearts) take away all the voice of the narrators and make them sound the same. Ellen Miles, read more BSC. Please.
4) Claudia things a guy with a goatee and a beret must be a real artist. Of course.
5) Stupid Kristy sets up 'hospital buddies', in which is a bunch of Stoneybrook BSC kids writing to kids in hospital with minor ailments such as broken bones and tonsillitis. It is never mentioned again. And poor Jackie has nothing fun about his character now that the ghost writer is on it. *le sigh

This terrible excuse for a book gets a 1.5/5. Probably only because Claud is my favourite character and I feel bad for her.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Regrets and things I'll never say.

It's often been said that people regret the things they didn't do when they no longer have the opportunity to do them. I have very much taken this to heart, and after spending 24 hours in Radelaide, and doing my fair share of reflecftion of what my life used to be, I've decided that I don't really have any big regrets.

Okay, so I sometimes have what if moments. Thinking about the possibility of staying in Adelaide as opposed to teaching in the country is a huge what if, and one I consider often. And despite missing my adopted hometown and everything that goes with that (friends, family, favourite stores, my gym, late night bakery runs... you know what I mean), I wouldn't change the path I have taken. I had the opportunity to start my career straight after I was qualified to do so. I married Stephen. I've met lots of great people. I've seen more of our glorious state than what I had thought I would.

In terms of small regrets. I have a few. They're almost a bit raw, but I'll share them anyway.
I regret several missed opportunities to spend time with my friends. Namely a birthday party, a trip home and a night out at a pub.

I regret nasty things I have said. Especially as a teenager. But... teenager mentality. And I think I've made up with everyone I hurt. And also, I think they hurt me as much as I did them. Just as well really.

I regret losing things. The main thing I've lost is a favourite pair of earrings.

See, those aren't huge regrets.
My biggest mistakes have always led to much greater things. So I really can't hate on anything that has brought me joy, happiness, health or wealth. And a mistake is not a regret, not always.

Why write something like this though?
Because whenever I have a what if moment I need to remember these things. And seeing as this is a blog and it is my blog, well, I can kind of write whatever I want. I'm not perfect and I'm not trying to suggest that I'm awesome. Just that sometimes I am awesome and I need to remind myself of that.