Cultivating Your Peoplehood

We all have our people. You know, the friends and/or family members that just…get it. Those people who understand and accept you as exactly who you are. Those people who you can be totally open, and honest, and raw with. The people that will hear you without judgement, and allow you to be your most authentic self. My friend and I have a word for this group of folks that you surround yourself with. More than just “mates” or people that you just happen to know. Not necessarily family either, though not explicitly excluding those individuals. An all encompassing term we coined to describe your tribe/friends/soul mates all in one. We call them your peoplehood.

I’ve had many different groups of friends in my life. School friends, long distance friends, work friends. Some people I have associated with purely due to circumstance, and others that I have grown fond friendships with after meeting in completely unexpected ways. There has certainly been cases of friendships based solely on proximity, that end without animosity when the situation changes. Friends I had at one job, that I lost contact with when I changed jobs, for example. I’ve had friends that I thought I would have forever – like the group of girls I went to highschool with – that I have grown apart from. I suppose you could easily sum it up by saying that I have had different people along for the ride in different times in my life, and many were in my life for only as long as they needed to be. Hey, the Universe works in mysterious ways, what can I say.

Now, it’s no secret that I don’t particularly like people as a whole. I’m an introvert at heart, and largely impatient and easily frustrated by humanity. However in recent times, I have come to realise that I actually have a much wider group of friends than I had ever really considered. This realisation, and indeed, reality, is at odds with my overwhelming misanthropy. But, at almost 28 years old, I have long since learned that it is not about the amount of friends you have (be that a large or small number) but about the quality of those relationships. And reflecting upon my close group of friends – my peoplehood – and the wider circle of friends I associate with, I have to say that I have succeeded in surrounding myself with some truly stellar folks.

I think it is important – nay, essential – to make sure that the people around you are good people. And by that, I mean people with whom you are comfortable, and safe, and happy. People who support you and raise you up, instead of dragging you down. People who you can turn to, and who can be comfortable turning to you. A relationship in any measure is, after all, a joint effort. It is also important to recognise when a relationship is no longer a healthy one. Toxic, unhealthy relationships not only affect you on a base level, but on a spiritual level too. It can sometimes be hard to step away from something, and see it without rose coloured glasses, but being able to do so will benefit you in unimaginable ways.

The message here is essentially that you need to find your people. Spend time with folks who make you happy. But more than that, surround yourself with people who understand you, and who light your soul on fire. Your time and your energy are precious commodities, and wasting them on people who bring you down, or leave you feeling drained will only hurt you in the long run. I’ll say it again for the people in the back; cultivate, and nurture your peoplehood. You’ll thank yourself for it, and you will get back as much as you give, every time.

Creative Person Syndrome

As a sporadically, broadly creative person, I find it hard to do just one thing. I sew, I paint (badly), I try and play the violin (even more badly), I sing, I embroider…I love to learn new skills, and so I am constantly trying to fill my time with various creative outlets. My problem is that I forget about setting aside time to just do nothing. I have three days off, today being the last before going back to work, and I have spent every moment of that time doing things I had meticulously planned out. Now, with this afternoon left before going back to work tomorrow, I have decided that I will take a step back from all my creative pursuits, and give myself permission to do nothing at all.

I put on a load of washing this morning (essential) and had a shower (also essential) but I have forgone straightening my hair, and I plan to stay home all day and do very little else today. Which is easier said than done. Every fibre of my being wants to pick up my paint brushes and create a pretty picture. In fact, on my drive home earlier, I saw so many things that inspired me, and I desperately want to try and recreate them on paper. However, I tend to paint hunched over, curled up in a small, unintentionally tense little ball. And I am aching all over today, so I know that painting that way is not conducive to healing. So. I am practicing a different kind of self care today. Instead of creating something, which for me, is a kind of self care in and of itself, I am electing to just veg out and watch some Supernatural in bed, with a cup of tea.

I love making things. A dress. A terrible artwork. A batch of chocolate chip cookies. It doesn’t matter what I make, so long as I’m creating something, then I’m happy. The thing is, I need to move away from the notion that if I’m not filling every spare second with something creative, then I am wasting my time. I think a lot of creatively minded people have the same problem. Creative Person Syndrome! I don’t want my hobbies to become a chore, or feel like something that I need to force myself to do. It is ok to not do anything creative today. It’s ok to just watch tv for a few hours. And that it exactly what I plan to do. My paint brushes will still be there tomorrow.

High School Reunion? Not a Chance.

I’ve never understood the concept of high school reunions. And I can not think of a single thing that I’d want to do less, than attend a gathering of former classmates ten years after graduating. It seems such a pointless and mundane idea, not to mention entirely unappealing. I knew it was coming. It’s been ten years since I finished my last year of school, and I knew it was only a matter of time before someone decided to organise a get together.

I briefly logged into Facebook tonight, searching for a photo of the wedding dress I made a couple of years ago. I didn’t find it, but I did get a pop up notification for a ten year school reunion event/group, which is what inspired this post. Now, I wasn’t actually invited, which is down to a couple of things. First of all, the name on my Facebook page is not my real name, so I’m not the easiest to find. Second, I keep my account permanently deactivated, only logging in perhaps once every 12 months for no more than ten minutes. And third, I’m actually kind of an asshole, so I don’t imagine I’d be high on the list of invitees, which doesn’t upset me in the slightest. Really, what is it about the idea of a reunion that gets so many people all hyped up? I mean, high school wasn’t exactly a stellar time, and quite frankly I’m happy to leave it in the past.

I think about the people I went to high school with, and the few times I have seen them in the years since. I have occasionally run into old classmates either at work, or in random unexpected situations. There is always polite, somewhat forced conversation, wherein the other party seems far more interested in talking about themselves, with the obligatory “so what have you been up to?” tacked on the end. So a whole night filled with those same conversations isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. The thing is, I wasn’t particularly sociable in high school, and I’ve gotten even less so as I’ve gotten older, so I honestly don’t care what a bunch of strangers are up to now, nor do I want to spend an evening with them. And I can’t understand how any of that is even remotely appealing.

I think what it comes down to, is a pissing contest. People attend their high school reunions under the guise of friendly catch up, to see who is successful and happy, and who isn’t. It’s nothing more than an opportunity to try and outdo everyone else in the room. It’s a big competition to see who has the biggest rock in their wedding ring, who makes the most money, who has the most stereotypically boring suburban lifestyle that people in their late 20’s seem to froth over. Who has put on the most weight? Who is still single? Who is gay now? I can just picture a room full of people who are now married with children, chatting idly about their identically uninteresting lives, unsure of how to relate to former classmates outside of the designated cliques that seemed to dominate the high school years. Dull conversation, silent competition, and the inevitable drunken mess who can’t hold their liquor, and has to be led stumbling to a taxi in a fog of vomit scented embarrassment. Ugh. Thanks, but that’s one event I plan to avoid.

Still Here

30,000+ Free River & Landscape Images - Pixabay

Lately, being an adult has kind of sucked. In between having less money (thanks, COVID-19), not being able to leave my house for the solo adventures that keep me sane, or have a few drinks with my friends (thanks, COVID-19), struggling to find motivation to do even the things I love, and just generally dealing with a whirlwind of emotions that are frankly giving me whiplash, it has kind of made me wish I was a kid again. Y’know, when existential crisis wasn’t in the forefront of my mind, and my life was generally more stable.

The thing is, I feel like some time in the last few months, I lost myself, and I’m not sure how to find myself again. I’ve cried a lot lately, mostly at night, when I’m in bed and not sure if I want to live or die. It sounds dramatic, I know. But I feel hopeless, and lost and so very exhausted with the weight of being, and living. I feel like I am stuck in this same monotonous rut, walking blind, with no light at the end of the tunnel. I have reached this point where even the idea of taking another step makes me want to just stop altogether, and check out for good.

It is a peculiar thing, this apathy for life. How can I even begin to talk to the people I know about this? I’ll either be labelled a drama queen, or lay down a whole lot of worry on the people I love and then feel guilty about that too. I don’t want to feel this way, and I wish there was some cure all pill to make it all go away. I want to be ok, I want to feel normal again. And I feel guilty because I’m not.

I try to find joy in small things, and sometimes I do. But I feel like I’m forcing myself to feel happy, and it doesn’t really work all that well. I tell myself that if I had this, or did that, then everything would be better. But I know that’s not the case, and besides which, I am tired of running away. I seem to always be doing that; running away from the reality of everything. I pretend to be really tough and carefree, but the truth is that I’m just scared that I’ll never be really, truly happy.

I don’t want to do this anymore. But I will. Because if nothing else, I’m stubborn. And there’s so much yet to see and do, even if I don’t want to see or do it right now. I have to believe that something better is coming just around the bend. It’s the only thing I can cling on to, the notion that this part of the river might be rocky and bumpy, and I might be holding on for dear life right now. But sooner or later, the rage will slow, and I will once again find myself in calmer waters.

It’s Been a While…

I haven’t written much lately. The truth is, I haven’t felt up to it, and I haven’t had the words to explain how I’m feeling. In a way, my blog is like a diary; a way to vent out the things I wouldn’t dare say out loud to the people I know. You, my readers, you guys are different because for the most part, you don’t actually know me. I’m a stranger on the internet. Sometimes, it’s easier to talk to strangers. And besides, if you know all my secrets, then it doesn’t matter that no one else does, because I can then maintain this tough girl facade.

I can’t talk to the people I know about how lonely I am. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. How do you tell them that sometimes you literally cry yourself to sleep because there is a physical ache in your chest? I mean, crying is for weaklings, right? How do you explain that the sight of couples in the street, or on television, or in photos on the internet, makes you feel a little bit empty, because you’re always the odd one out? How do you tell your closest friends that sometimes, you just need someone to hug you, and kiss your forehead, and tell you that you are, in fact, enough?

It’s partly my fault, I guess. I’ve worked so hard to present myself as this tough, independent, solitary person, that maybe the people I know actually believe me. And maybe that’s why it’s so hard to talk to them about this stuff. Not that I’ve ever really been that good at talking about my feelings in person anyway, but it’s particularly difficult when the words I want to say sound weak and childish to my own ears. No, best to just keep up the facade I think.

The crux of it is, I think I am going to be on my own for a very long time. Maybe even my whole life. And I know that sounds melodramatic, and probably typical of a lot of single people. But I don’t mean it in an angsty, teenage, My Chemical Romance kind of way. I mean it in the heart achingly lonely way of someone who feels a whole lot of nothing a whole lot of the time.

I hope you don’t mind me spilling my secrets out to you like this. I just needed to get some things off my chest, and if you want to judge me, that’s actually ok, since I don’t know you. It’s easier than talking to the people that I actually do know, at any rate. So long as they’re in the dark, then I can go on pretending that I’m doing ok, without having to have the awkward conversation about my feelings or…y’know…whatever.

Precipice

My heart aches. I feel things coming to an end, that can never end without suffering. I am conflicted, and confused, and I want there to be an easy solution to this complicated problem.

I am struggling, and it is harder and harder to pretend that I am ok. My energy is draining, my soul has become a wilted, battered thing. I don’t even have it in me anymore to rage. It has all given way to sadness, and the unkind truth. I can’t pretend. I can no longer tell myself the same lies, and expect to believe them.

I have turned into someone I don’t like all that much. I hear the words leave my lips and they sound desperate, pleading, even to my own ears. I listen to the sounds of petulance and pain and I hate myself for it. Sometimes I think if I make myself loathesome enough…I guess after everything, I’m still a coward. I want a way out, so desperately, and yet at the same time all I want is to have it all. I don’t want to be stuck here anymore.

I need a cosmic hammer to shatter everything I am barely holding together. I crave a shift in circumstance and I am on the precipice, I am ready to throw myself off and see what comes next. I just have the urge to fling myself into the ocean and see where the tide takes me. But at the same time, I am terrified. Fuck it. I dare someone to push me.

Body Modifications vs So Called Professionalism

I had a job interview on Monday. I was dressed neatly, I had relevant experience, and I was informed I had been given “glowing references”. The interview went quite well, and the man who conducted the interview seemed satisfied, if not impressed with me as a potential candidate for employment. I have to admit, I was feeling quietly confident. There was just one thing that apparently was holding me back.

“That piercing, does it come out?”
“Well…it can…”
“Well obviously if you are successful, you will have to remove it. We have a girl here with a nose piercing, but a lip ring is just…not the way we do things here.”

There it was. The one tiny, insignificant detail about me that would be the difference between me potentially getting a job, and being rejected. The piercing in question is a vertical labret; a small, unobtrusive little metal bar that goes through the centre of my bottom lip (though I had a clear bar in at the time). I have had this piercing for seven years, and it has never once affected my ability to do any of the number of jobs I have held during that time. Now of course, I could understand if the job were at a law firm, or a doctor’s surgery, or some kind of factory where there was an inherent risk of injury resulting from jewellery/piercings. However, the job I applied for was a retail position.

The thing I found almost as silly as the notion of having to remove my piercing in the first place, was the apparent distinction between a nose piercing and a lip piercing. They are both on the face, after all. Why is one piercing more or less offensive than another? Why should I be expected to remove a lip ring, when someone else is permitted a similar kind of jewellery in their nose? Needless to say, after a lot of thought and reflection, I opted to withdraw my application for the job. In the end, I realised that it just wasn’t for me.

Here’s the thing; it’s 2020. We are living in a time where it’s probably more unusual to not have any kind of body modification. So I find it really difficult to understand why there are people and businesses out there who still subscribe to this outdated idea of professionalism. In all my years of working in customer facing jobs, I have only ever had the odd question about a piercing or tattoo. But I have never received a complaint, or been told that someone finds it offensive. I mean, it’s not as if I had some obscene phrase tattooed across my forehead.

At the end of the day, any job that requires me to remove a piercing or cover my tattoos, is not a job that I want. I am wholly, unabashedly myself, body modifications and all. And I have no intention of stamping my personality out just to fit into someone else’s idea of what a retail employee should look like.

Ex Etiquette

Exes are a weird thing. It’s funny to think that there are people with whom you were once so close, who can become as foreign to you as a passer by on the street. Like…I don’t know, strangers with history I guess. I’m not good at exes. Of the small number of people I have been romantically involved with, I am only still in contact with one of them. And whilst she and I are really good friends still, I can’t say the same for everyone I have been in a relationship with. The other couple have become, in the months or years since we were involved, effectively non existent to me. Which, I suppose, is often how these things go.

I’m very good at the avoidance game, but the problem with living in the same town for most of my life is that it is regrettably inevitable that I am going to run into my exes from time to time. And regardless of how good I am at pretending to be really intently focused on my phone when someone that I used to know walks by, it doesn’t help the feeling of awkwardness that often comes with it.

The thing about breaking up with someone, is that often there is collateral damage as well. You meet their friends, they meet your friends. In many cases, families get involved. What are you supposed to do about potential friendships that may evolve during the course of a relationship? Are you supposed to end your friendships with people when you end a relationship with the person who introduced you to them? Moreover, is it weird to befriend your friend’s ex after they have broken up? I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. I wouldn’t like to be told who I can and can not be friends with, but there would certainly be some awkwardness in remaining friends with the friend of someone you no longer have in common. Particularly if that once common thread is the only reason you knew each other anyway.

And in the cases of exes who remain friends, what is the right course of action when your ex partner’s new significant other doesn’t like you very much, on the very basis of you both having dated the same person? I think jealousy is an irrational emotion at the best of times, but when you throw romance into the mix…I’d rather just avoid the whole thing altogether. It can be a tricky situation to manoeuvre, because no one wants to be the cause of argument, or certainly end up arguing about someone else.

The thing is, I have never been broken up with. As a staunch hater of people, with an inability to commit to anything long term (I am afflicted with a restless spirit, what can I say?), I have always been the one to end a relationship. As such, the choice to no longer see someone – and by extension, their friends – lies with me. Often, I opt to cut them out entirely, for the above mentioned reasons. Look, maybe I’m just a bad person, but for me once something is done, it’s pretty much done, and I don’t see any reason to hold on. I have had moments where I have considered reconnecting with old flames, but my logical mind wins out every time, and reminds me that I broke things off with those people for a reason. Besides, what is there to be gained from reopening old wounds?

Like any situation in which people are involved, things have a way of becoming complicated. It’s all part of the human experience, I figure. If you can navigate your way around relationships – and their subsequent end – without being too significantly scarred, then you’re doing ok.

Jojo Rabbit (2019)

Taika Waititi, left, and Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit. Picture: Kimberley French/ 20th Century Fox

Look, I just want to put it out there; Taika Waititi is brilliant. Seriously. His recent film, Jojo Rabbit, is a heckin’ masterpiece of modern cinema, and I’m here to tell you why.

The New Zealand actor/director/comedian (the man wears many hats) may be familiar to you from 2014 film What We Do in the Shadows or, more recently as the character Korg in Thor: Ragnarok. His most recent film, which he also directed and produced, has him playing a fanciful – and entirely imaginary – version of Adolf Hitler, in the mind of ten year old Johannes “Jojo” Betzler, who is beautifully portrayed by newcomer Roman Griffin Davis. The film is based on Christine Leunens’ book, Caging Skies, but I confess I had neither heard of the book prior to watching this film, and nor have I read it.

The film is set in the later stages of WWII, in Nazi Germany. Living with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), Jojo is a member of Hitler Youth, and a firm believer that not only is Hitler a faultless hero, but that Germany is superior in every way to the rest of the world. At the tender age of ten, he is something of a fanatic; a trait made possible by Nazi propaganda and the overall fear that pervades every aspect of a war torn country. He is given the nickname Jojo Rabbit when, during his attendance at the Hitler Youth training camp, he fails to kill a rabbit. He is taunted by the other Hitler Young members afterwards, and cruelly given the nickname intended to mock him.

As the film progresses, Jojo discovers that his mother is hiding Elsa, a young Jewish girl, (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic; a revelation that both angers and intrigues him. It speaks to the widespread misinformation rampant during WWII that such a young boy would feel so passionately about such a subject, and that very fact is utilised to great effect in the film. It is easy to believe Jojo as the unwavering believer even at such a young age, because we know that Anti-semitism, like all forms of racism, is a learned behaviour. Yet unlike the older members of Hitler Youth who seem to delight in cruelty, Jojo is guilty only of having faith in the wrong person. Beneath his outward bravado and attempts to be tough, lies the heart of a sensitive and thoughtful ten year old.

I have to tip my hat to the supporting cast here too; Thomasin McKenzie was a delight, and her character was both well developed and well acted. The character’s bravado offset against her quiet fragility, and her relationship with Jojo was one of the best parts of the movie for me, not least because it formed a large part of the plot. But in terms of supporting characters, my uncontested favourite was one-eyed German soldier, Captain Klenzendorf, who was played by the fantastic (and in my opinion, highly underrated) Sam Rockwell. His character was a kind of mentor/leader for the youth army, and was of a seemingly more friendly disposition. In honesty, I probably could have done without Rebel Wilson’s minor contribution to the film, as I felt it added nothing, but aside from that, I can find no fault in the supporting cast.

Jojo Rabbit was an interesting take on some tough subject matter, and it is a rare person who can create a film about the war that elicits both laughter and tears from the audience, but therein lies the genius of Taika Waititi. His own portrayal of Adolf Hitler is unlike anything we would have seen on screen before, but the role he plays is a small (in terms of screen time), yet effective one. Supported by an excellent cast, he has made a film that has heart, and an underlying sweetness that takes the edge off the less shiny aspects of the plot. Whether that was his intention, I am unsure. All I can say is that I personally found that the movie managed a good balance between humour and poignancy, and I highly recommend it.

Making a Corset with Vanyanis

I am stubborn, and when I want to learn something, I generally teach myself. I taught myself how to sew, and have been making my own clothes for the last five or six years. I’m no expert seamstress, but I have a few tricky garments under my belt (I’m looking at you, wedding dress of ’17) and I’m a competent maker. However, there are some things I am not prepared to attempt to teach myself, and making a corset is right up there with garments that I do not have the patience to try alone. Enter Vanyanis; a studio in Healesville dedicated to corset making and couture.

After a few years of telling myself I would do it, I finally bit the bullet and just signed up for the beginner’s corsetry course, for the weekend just past. Under the careful and patient tutelage of Vanyanis founder, Lowana, I (and the two other women who attended the class) constructed a fully steel boned underbust corset entirely from scratch. Something that would have taken me literal years to attempt myself was managed in three days, and it was absolutely worth the price of admission.

The studio itself, tucked away in a quiet little street in Healesville, was beautifully and tastefully decorated, and had plenty of natural light. Lowana was not only a fabulous teacher, but a wonderful host, and I cannot stress enough how far that goes towards making a learning experience a positive one. The first day was spent learning how to make a toile (pronounced twahl), which is essentially a mock up of the final garment, designed to work out where adjustments need to be made to ensure a better fit. Amidst many cups of tea and chats, our toiles were made and adjusted as per the requirements of our very different bodies. Once all the necessary adjustments were made, the next two days were spent constructing the actual corset.

There is so much involved in making a corset, things that I would never have thought, and it is certainly a time consuming process. But, as someone who loves to learn new things, I was in heaven. Each step was explained and then put into practice, and the breaking down of the total construction into smaller steps made the process – which would otherwise have been a daunting task to tackle – smooth and relatively simple. Short of the final construction, making and piecing together the busk (the front closure of a corset) was one of the more rewarding aspects of the course for me, because it was such a lengthy process, and tricky in a lot of ways. Seeing the satisfactory completion of one of the more difficult aspects of making a corset was a quiet little thrill for my creative heart.

Completed and fully inserted busk

On the final day, we each tried on the corsets that we had painstakingly constructed (I learned how to lace myself into my own corset too, which was a skill I had previously assumed was a two person job), and the silhouette it created was astounding. I think there was a definitely a little bit of jaw dropping going on in that room on Monday evening. And one of the things that struck me most was how comfortable it was to be laced into a corset. Despite the misconceptions about corset wearing, it wasn’t in any way painful, or uncomfortable, or difficult to breathe. Much like any other garment I make to fit myself, it was comfortable and well fitting and, if I may say so myself, quite a lovely creation.

Over the three days I spent at the studio, I learned things that would not only allow me to now complete a corset on my own, but I also picked up a few tricks and tips that will aid me in my general sewing as well. It was honestly such a rewarding experience, and one that I am glad I finally decided to treat myself to. If you happen to be nearby, and want to check the course out for yourself, I have nothing but positive things to say about it, and for all my sewing friends out there, it’s a class I highly recommend.