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.

Empty

I lost myself some time ago,
and could not get me back.
I mourn in silent agony,
for the things that I now lack.

The passion that once drove me,
has vanished into air.
And the things that I once loved to do,
it's like they were never there.

Monotony and endless days,
are bland and dull and dreary.
The life that I've now settled to,
drains, and leaves me weary.

I don't recognise my face these days,
the light has left my eyes.
And even though I say I'm fine,
I don't believe those lies.

I miss the me that I once was,
And long for her return.
To reignite the fire,
and watch this empty shell burn.

I Need a New Job

My life has turned into this endless search for alternative employment. I check the recruitment websites daily, I’ve applied for a number of jobs since the start of the year – and have subsequently received a number of rejections. I am desperately seeking a change, and at this point almost anything will do.

I’ve had a bad week. And it’s only Wednesday! My need for a new job is the most pressing issue in my life currently, and I’m hoping that something presents itself soon. I am trying to think positively about it, because I know that my time with my current employer is coming to an end. Recent events have made that even more clear, and so I know that the right job will come to me at the right time. Or at least, I have to believe that it will, because it’s the only thing I can focus on at the moment. And if things continue they way they are for much longer, I’m going to do something stupid and just quit on the spot. I’ve come extremely close to doing just that, particularly in the last couple of weeks.

At the crux of it, my problem is a lack of work/life balance. Six days of work and one day off is not enough, particularly if you’re like me, and cannot do nothing. I am endlessly filling every ounce of spare time I have with extraneous activities, and then I wonder why I am so exhausted all the time. It’s all a part of my restless nature, but I’m not helping my cause any. And the days I spend at work are dull, monotonous, and equally draining. I’m not expecting my dream job to just pop up out of nowhere, not least because I’m still not sure what my dream job would be. But if not that, I would at least settle for a job that doesn’t make me want to carve my eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.

So, because a little extra luck never hurt anyone, cross your fingers for me, friends. May a new job present itself soon, and may my life become something more than a long, endless grind.

Wherefore Art Thou, Creativity?

Outside of blogging, it’s been a long time since I’ve put pen to paper – or in the case of modern technology, fingers to keyboard – to write something creative. There was a time when every spare moment I had was used for writing creatively, even back into the days where I would buy blank notebooks and fill them with words. I used to love writing, in a way that I can’t seem to anymore. I don’t know if it is perhaps because my childish enthusiasm has waned as I have fallen into the mindless trap of adulthood, or if it simply that I can no longer do it. Regardless of the reason, I can’t help but feel like something is lacking, and it is something I intend to rectify.

Perhaps one of the reasons for this inability to create is my lack of time. Working six days a week leaves me very limited time to do anything fun, and often I end up doing things by halves, in an attempt to fit as much into my singular day off as possible. Writing has felt like a chore for a long time, if I am being honest, an my lack of spare time could be a contributing factor in all of that. But I’m not one for hiding behind excuses, and the other significant reason for my lack of writing, is because I haven’t been inspired. Lack of inspiration leaves me staring at an empty screen, and I end up giving up entirely, to the point where I don’t even try anymore. Where writing was once easy, these days its akin to pulling teeth out with a pair of chopsticks; ineffective, and frustrating.

I have this notion, that if I lived in my own house, and had a dedicated writing space, and all the time in the world, then I would write constantly. But despite the pretty fantasy, the truth is that I probably still wouldn’t write like I used to, I’d just perhaps be more content with my life. I feel like my creativity is being slowly, systematically stamped out of me by the daily grind, and monotony of adulthood. Can I still be called a creative person if I haven’t written anything creative in months? If I can’t recall the last time I sat at a sewing machine and made a garment? If my painting has fallen by the wayside, and I’ve not picked up a brush in six months? I feel like a part of me is missing, and I don’t know how to get it back.

I notice it even in my most recent blog posts, as I read back over them I notice a distinct lack of style. My writing has begun to sound lazy, childish. I need a reset, or…I don’t know, something. At this point I’d take a baseball bat to the head if it meant I would come out of it with my creative streak energised. Whatever the cause of this creative block, I need to find a solution, and fast. Because I’m lost, and my life is a whole lot more dull and colourless at the moment.

Little Women (2019)

Image result for little women

Published in 1868, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was one of my favourite books when I was a little girl. When I discovered it was being adapted to screen (again) – and starring a whole bunch of my favourite actors, no less – there was no way I was gonna miss seeing it on the big screen. Full disclosure; I never saw the 1994 version (or indeed, any of the many other on-screen adaptations that have been made since 1917), and after watching this new version, don’t think I need to, because the 2019 adaptation was so. Flipping. Good.

This most recent adaptation was directed by Greta Gerwig, and reunites her with Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, both of who starred in her 2017 film Lady Bird – and who incidentally will be on screen together again, in the upcoming film The French Dispatch. I really loved Lady Bird, and so I was eager to see Gerwig’s take on this classic story. I wasn’t disappointed, and her feminine voice and vision really brought these beloved characters to life.

Saoirse Ronan stars as Jo March, our feisty, independent protagonist (and one of my personal literary heroes). Jo was always my favourite character, and that is largely because she is so much like me. Hot tempered, wilful, stubborn and intelligent, she is a writer with no aspirations to marry, or fit in with elegant society. I loved her dearly as a child, and Ronan’s portrayal of her is everything I could have imagined. Timothée Chalamet plays the role of the charming next door neighbour, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, and even I fell in love with him a little. The on screen chemistry between these two young actors is always a treat, and probably has a lot to do with the fact that they are off screen friends as well. I love seeing them together, and the fast friendship of their characters is one of the things I enjoyed most about this film.

They are supported by an equally stellar cast, including Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen. One of the things I loved so much about this story, both in literature and on screen, is how multidimensional the central characters are. The plot concerns four sisters, each with their own individual interests and talents, and their unique voices. It was a true joy seeing those literary characters made flesh on screen. Emma Watson embodies Meg’s maternal instinct and quiet longing for elegance. Florence Pugh brings to life the Amy’s occasional petulance, but also her dedication to working towards her ultimate goals. Eliza Scanlen plays the gentle and shy Beth, and she was played so sweetly that I wanted to jump through the screen and embrace her. It was beautifully acted on all accounts, and I really felt that the casting choices could not have been better.

As fabulous as they were, it wasn’t simply just the actors that made this film to spectacular for me. Speaking from a dressmaker’s point of view, I have to say that the costume department needs to be commended. It was a great thrill for me, seeing so many gorgeously made costumes, each tailored (pun intended) for each character. The darker hues and more practical clothing for Jo’s tomboyish attitudes, contrasted against the lighter and more arguably feminine gowns Amy wears in Paris. I swoon.

I loved this film. Unabashedly. At it’s heart, Little Women is a story of sisterhood, of overcoming individual hardship, of carving out a place in a society determined to pigeonhole women. It is the kind of story that I think every woman can find something in; a character to relate to, or perhaps a situation to sympathise with. With all of this in mind, it is my personal feeling that Greta Gerwig’s take on this classic story is absolutely worth watching. It is heartfelt, honest, emotional, and beautifully directed. I truly felt invested in the story, and the characters. It is one of the rare films that I would return to the cinema to see again, and similarly, one of the few times where the film measures up to the book. Perhaps I feel so strongly about it, because I am familiar with the source material, but from a purely cinematic standpoint, it was just a really lovely film. Go and watch it.

My Sexual Preference is Not a Waste

Image result for eye roll gif

This one is for any same sex attracted person out there who has been on the receiving end of unwanted comments by strangers who think they have the right to cast judgement, and give opinions where they are not wanted.

The other day at work, I served an older male customer. I put a battery in his watch, the same way I do countless times in a day. Apparently he was impressed with how quickly I completed the task, and proceeded to tell me that I was a “good girl” and that “your husband is a lucky man.” Now, I should have just let it go, but, in typical Amy fashion, I bit back at the assumption, and stated that I wasn’t married. The old man laughed, as though this was the funniest thing he had ever heard and responded with “ah well, your boyfriend then.” Again, I should have just shut my mouth but again, my sass won out and I replied with “I don’t have one of those either.”

Now, in a way, the resulting conversation was of my own doing. Had I just shut up and let the man go on with his archaic assumptions, it would have been just another dull interaction with another ignorant customer. But alas, I am argumentative, to a fault. And I wasn’t in the mood for this guy, and his attempts to be funny. So, when he proceeded to go on about how a “pretty girl [like me] should be married”, and how “any man would be lucky to take you out” I snapped and said “Well, I don’t really like men, so it’s a moot point”. And then it really began. I was barraged with comments, questions, further insistence that I should be with a man. Then it got worse.

While all this unsolicited bombardment was going on, a younger man approached, who it turned out was the son of the ignorant twit I was dealing with. And said ignorant twit then turned around and tried to set me up with his son. Let me repeat that; the old man, who by this point was highly aware that I was in no way interested in men, tried to get me to go on a date with his very male son. The son looked a little bewildered as his father went on about how attractive he was, and how we would look nice together, and how “even though you say that’s not your thing, how could you say no?” And finally, he told me that my being attracted to women is a waste. At this, his son ushered him away with a mumbled apology to me and I was left to ponder what I had just experienced. I thought that was the end of it.

Today, that same old man walked past my shop. That same old man stopped me while I was working, and once again – as if he didn’t make it clear enough the first time – felt it necessary to reiterate his earlier contention. He said “I still think it’s a waste.” Now this time I just threw my hands up and walked away. Sir, I am sleep deprived and of a generally irritable disposition; I am not in the mood for your shit today. I mean, why is it such a supposed waste? It’s not like your crusty ass would be getting the benefit of it if I liked men anyway! I just grow increasingly tired of hearing the same old shit from jerks who think I care what they think.

So, to all the people who have told me it’s a waste. To all the people who have told me I just “need a good dicking”. To all the people who have asked “How do you know if you’ve never tried?” To all the people who have asked if they can watch me and another girl get it on. To all the people, past and future, who have ever or will ever give me an unsolicited opinion about who I am attracted to, the decisions I make regarding marriage, and the way I choose to live my life. Allow me to offer you an aggressive, and resounding FUCK YOU.