Loving FREEWRITE

 

20160907_105151

Freewrite – pride of place on my Writing Desk

Shall I write my first blog out of my Freewrite? Well, yes, I shall. smily-thumbs-up

It is SO exciting. Ordered back in May 2015, I missed out on the first round of orders and therefore it meant a wait of more than a year. And luckily I’m a patient girl (and trusting) because when you spend several hundred dollars on an item and you don’t get your hot little hands on it for many months, it does cross your mind “Hmm, is this is a scam?” It wasn’t!

The idea of the Freewrite is that you write – without social media-type distractions, write without editing (computers allow you to edit as you go and therefore can derail you from the ‘actual’ writing). This is a modern-day ‘word processing’ tool; solely for writing.

The keyboard; ah, delight! It has those large, deep keys of olden day electronic typewriters, that tangible sensation of keying in words and the ‘click-clack’ soundtrack. Heavenly!

It sounds romantic (and actually I feel it is romantic) to say that writing on a typewriter is so much better than on a modern keyboard, with a soulless screen in front of you. There’s a sensuousness; a connection that you don’t get in front of a computer.

The Freewrite is a weighty machine for its size, but that appears to be a positive as with a rugged aluminum body, it doesn’t feel fragile.

Oh and the Freewrite has an e-ink screen (like a Kindle) so you can use in bright light – sit outside under a tree or alfresco at your favourite cafe – and clearly see what you’re writing; oh, and it is portable. Doesn’t have a carry‑case, but has a handle and off you go!

The Freewrite saves as you go – first to its own memory storage and then when you switch on the Wi-Fi – to the cloud. Freewrite uses Postbox and you can then sync your writing to any other cloud service you may be using – such as Evernote, Dropbox or Google Drive. You can be offline to write and then switch back to online to upload your work.

As I mentioned previously, this ‘writing’ tool discourages you from wasting time editing an ongoing piece of work – because you can’t edit. You can back space – but there isn’t a delete key.  There are no cursor keys, so you can’t navigate back to a mistype, spelling mistake or a sentence or paragraph you’d like to retype! You can do that later – and so your synced writing can then be downloaded to a standard word processing program and prettied up – editing and adding photos, if required.

So when the finished version of this short article is uploaded to my WordPress blog – there will be a photo of my Freewrite sitting on my writer’s desk. Right now, of course, I can only contribute the words.

It is so exciting; I can’t believe how exciting it is. I have a deadline for the coursework I’m completing at the moment – and I need to be finished in time for National Novel Writing Month #nanowrimo in November – but NO! I want to play with my new toy; I mean write!

Out go my old IBM electronic typewriters – this compact unit replaces them. Not their romanticism, but their heft, reliance on accessories (ribbons, golf balls) electricity and space – and their lack of portability. You have been replaced, my dears! smily-pink

Come National Novel Writing Month this November – my next 80,000 words will be written on this gorgeous machine.

20160907_105214

I’ll let you know further down the track how I’m going with it – and if the love affair continues.

Hasta pronto! Trish

 

 

Save

Bendigo Writers Festival – Eurocrime

I have had the most fantastic weekend, visiting the Bendigo Writers Festival, which, according to WIN Bendigo, had approximately 15,000 attendees. 😀

When my husband and I moved to the eastern states in 2015, one of the main reasons was so that we could enjoy these type of events (not on offer in country WA) and sure, I had to travel approximately 300km to attend – but it was worth it.

Books are my passion and right behind that is my aspiration to be a writer myself. To spend a weekend with like-minded people, listening to authors – mostly successful already, but also some newbies – surrounded by excitement and bustle and books was inspirational. 😀

Opening night was supposed to feature Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild – but she had illness in her family and had to postpone. With a theme of Brave Enough, the session was to discuss:

There are physical limits, and there are mental limits, both of which can stand in the way of creativity and our capacity to make the most of life.

Do you need to take risks to unlock creativity? Climb a mountain? Trek a trail? Or just force yourself to sit and think and keep your nose to that grindstone until it happens.”

The panel comprised a lighthearted crew of Ita Buttrose, Benjamin Law, David Astle and Graeme Simsion – and they were great.

simsion-square-thumbnail

Graeme Simsion, author of the Rosie Project and Rosie Effect – and from an IT background – was funny, albeit sensible and practical.

BEN

Benjamin Law, Australian writer and broadcaster (author of Family Law) is hilarious, very articulate and relaxed.

ITA

David-Astle

Ita Buttross, Australian icon, came across as warm and generous; and then David Astle – the word nerd – was quite normal! 🙂

So, I couldn’t persuade any fellow (aspiring) writers to come to Bendigo with me – I did ask in a couple of my writer groups on Facebook. It would be interesting to know if any fellow ‘nano writers’ were among the enthusiasts at the Festival.

The very first session with Liam Pieper and Victor del Arbol entitled Eurocrime was interesting and coincidentally Victor is Spanish and needed an interpreter – I’d attended my first Spanish class the night before and it seemed serendipitous that one of the first author’s I listened to was Spanish. A charming, funny and handsome Spaniard too, I must say! Even though we didn’t understand what he was saying – we were spellbound!

The ToymakerThe Heart Tastes Bitter

I’ve purchased the two books they were touting – The Toymaker (Liam Pieper) and The Heart Tastes Bitter (Victor). [Update: In July 2020, I’ve recently read his latest book Sweetness & Light) which is worth a go.

Liam says his book is about ‘a Russian doctor, imprisoned by the Nazi and sent to Auschwitz and forced to work with Josef Mengele in order to survive; but how can he help perpetuate evil and continue life after war as a good man?

Victor’s three main characters face ‘the one thing that we as humans can’t experience – only face – death. They all lose someone and as a result do terrible things; can they find redemption? Victor believes that ‘self-redemption lies in not denying your own actions or mistakes. He also says that an American author would have (in this instance) all the characters forgiven by the end of the book, but he is Spanish; they have a more tragic sense of life.’

I read The Toymaker over the weekend – and it is a good read – it’s a ‘literary’ read; but I wouldn’t have called it a crime novel (at least in my interpretation of what I enjoy as a crime novel. War crimes are more political / historical concepts.

Over the next few days I’ll write up some of the other sessions – and I hope you’ll enjoy them. If you get the opportunity to visit Writers Festivals around you, go for it! There’s a lot to be learned and enjoyed; if you’re a booklover, simply being surrounded by fellow weirdos makes a nice change!

I’ve got Write about the Murray to look forward to here in Albury – coming soon! 😀Save

Australia has gun control? Tell me another one!

I began writing this post before I noticed that it was 20 years since the Port Arthur massacre and then we had a few weeks of follow-up stories and remembering that terrible day; so I held off finishing this gun control article.

The news about guns still remains scary, so I’ll continue where I left off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is often heard around the world – and President Obama has mentioned this several times – that Australia has achieved the impossible (as far as America is concerned). We have legally controlled use and ownership of guns.

And of course this means (ideally) that we have fewer random shootings, homicides and massacres. Yes, we don’t have mass gun deaths along the lines of those suffered by the USA and frustrating the hell out of Mr Obama.

Every day now though it is reported in the news, online or TV and in print media; another Australian gun death.

In this last week, a gunman shot and killed a ‘well known underworld figure’ and an innocent mother – drinking coffee nearby – was injured in a shopping centre in Bankstown, outside Sydney.

Remember the days, fellow Australians, when this was unheard of? I definitely remember one day suddenly (about the 80s) noticing that police were carrying guns and going “WOAH, when did that happen?”

And (after living in WA for the last 30 years) only noticing in the last five to 10 years that there was a more than occasional gun crime news report.

What I would like to know is – where are the guns coming from, if we have successful gun control laws in Australia?

After the Port Arthur massacre where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded – John Howard stood up and made it clear that this was intolerable and Australia backed him. National laws were created that banned certain automatic and semi-automatic weapons and required license applicants to have genuine reasons for owning guns. And he raised a tax to pay for a ‘buyback’ initiative to get as many guns off the streets and out of households as possible.

Gun crime and deaths did decrease after this initiative – and there is debate about whether this was going to happen anyway (as there was somewhat of a worldwide trend) or if it was a direct result of the new gun laws.

In any case, we don’t experience gun-related massacres on the scale that the US does, which is a blessing and kudos to John Howard and his government of the day.

Here is a demonstrative graph, borrowed from a Business Insider article online (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australia-gun-control-shootings-2015-10)

Gun deaths in Australia

In red, before 1996 gun law enacted – 20 years ago this month that Port Arthur massacre occurred – and in blue after gun law introduced. Can’t be all coincidence, surely?

You can clearly see that there are still gun deaths, but apparently ‘mass’ shootings or ‘massacres’ technically mean four or more deaths in one event.

How then do we explain the regular occurrences of gun crimes reported in Australia every day? It worries me.

My husband and I have spent all of our married life in country Western Australia. I could see from news stories that gun crime occurred and was saddened that this seemed more of a regular occurrence than I remember it had ever been.

I felt safe in country WA though – from being randomly killed!

Now we are living on the NSW/Victoria border and the number of gun crimes I hear reported every day is scary! It does feel that I’m in more danger of accidentally being killed because of where I live. Just by moving interstate, I’m living dangerously.

I have even found myself in a coffee shop and looking around for the exits and wondering where I could hide, if a gunman walked in and resigning myself to the fact that under the table doesn’t work!

Sound like a drama queen, hey? Feel like a drama queen 🙂 The reality is that there are gun-death stories every day – and I don’t believe that should be right.

The link below is to an online article written in March 2016. It discusses the apparent rising trend in Australian gun crime

http://www.news.com.au/national/crime/scary-trend-in-australian-gun-crime-with-more-than-200-shooting-deaths-a-year/news-story/374b4e55fdbb1718079c36979245d50c

Violent crime; yes. We are human and humans are violent and that is damning enough. Why do guns come into it? They should only come into the picture for the following citizens:

  • Defense forces and nowadays, the police force; to do their job.
  • Farmers, perhaps. They occasionally need to knock off wildlife – destroying crops, carrying away chickens and sheep, etc. Sometimes, they need to put down an animal. City folk take the creature to a vet.
  • Recreational shooters; because yes. It is actually a hobby/sport and in Australia these recreational shooters have to go through very vigorous legislated steps before being allowed to own and shoot a weapon.

Who else NEEDS a gun?

In Australia, it would be pretty useful to have a gun for self-defense or to keep marauders away, but only in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse.

However, in America everyone NEEDS a gun and more to the point have THE RIGHT to own a gun. Due to some wording in their REALLY OLD constitution, that talks about the ‘right to bear arms’, which was highly relevant in a time when there were no regulated protection forces and citizens were often expected to form militia units to protect themselves, or fight for their government.

If you own a gun there is a higher chance that you are going to be involved in a gun related incident.

If a police officer approaches a criminal and has his gun out, there is a greater opportunity for a) the criminal to be shot b) the criminal to pull out their gun and shoot the officer and c) for the gun to be taken from the officer, and either he is shot or the gun is used somewhere else.

And it does seem to be that more people are killed by police officers, because the gun is available. If in doubt, shoot the perp; would be a natural instinct (whatever their guidelines might advise) particularly in countries like America were gun ownership is high and therefore the chances of coming upon an armed criminal are higher.

Just having the gun is upping the odds of a gun related incident. In the day-to-day duties of a policeman and ‘walking the beat’ wearing a gun is asking for trouble.Sorry police-people. I have great respect for you and don’t have to do your job!

Special police squads that typically carry; yes, I agree with that. Called on in particular circumstances. Or every officer having gun availability at the station, under lock and key. Okay, yes. If a major event occurs – such as said Zombie Apocalypse – then easier access to weaponry can be justified. Especially in Australia, where there must be a much lower expectation that you are going to come upon a gun-wielding criminal.

In Australia, at the moment, most gun deaths are suicides (see article link above) but the occurrence of gun-related crime is definitely increasing; as I said, I see it in the news everyday.

WE ARE STILL NOT COMPARABLE to gun deaths in America yet. We don’t want to get there. It is not something to aspire to.

However, on a rather cynical note, our government has plenty enough to worry about. Like not changing over Prime Minister again, in a hurry! 😛

AND on a lighter note, Port Arthur Historical Siteis an amazing and spooky place to visit, if you’re in Tasmania.

Growlers – and a Modest Woman

Lucky Bay Brewery

Do you know what a Growler is? Well, I thought I did – and it was embarrassing for this ‘modest conservative lady’ to think about.

Growler

Growler 😀

In Australia, colloquially a ‘Growler’ is a very hairy bush. And if you still don’t know what I’m talking about – a very hairy bush on a lady! Got it now? No? Hmmm – lady parts, that are very hairy! I will go no further ….

A friend of ours has dreamed big and made his dream come true by opening his own Brewery in Esperance, Western Australia – Lucky Bay Brewery. You have to be impressed with this fellow – one day it was a dream and (seemingly) the next it was reality – simple beer from local barley. And it seems to be really ticking along – and is well supported by the locals.

Anyway, there are many types of beers (says I, ‘guru’ that I am not!) and different ways of drinking and Lucky Bay Brewery Growlerscarrying it – glass, bottle, keg and growlers.

I heard about these ‘beer’ growlers from my lovely husband who has taken to buying these 2L steel canisters to give as gifts – particularly to clients that he is saying goodbye to, as we have recently moved from Esperance, WA to NSW.

Anyway, one day he’s talking on the phone to me and suddenly he keeps saying ‘growlers’! I’m sure that I’m mishearing him. And I’m giggling … like a girl! Like, hee hee! What are you saying? 😀

Eventually, I get it, but I’m not comfortable. I’m home alone (as he’s in WA) but I’m blushing anyway. And in all future conversations, I can only refer to them as ’growlies’ 😛

As I said, modest! And clearly, adolescent. It’s okay; I can take it!

Where did the name ‘Growler’ come from?
Well, I’ve stolen the following words from the article The Growler: Beer-to-Go! on the website The Beer Advocate, for some background. (See: http://www.beeradvocate.com).

  • In the late 1800s and early 1900s, fresh beer was carried from the local pub to one’s home by means of a small-galvanized pail. Rumor has it that when the beer sloshed around the pail, it created a rumbling sound as the CO2 escaped through the lid, thus the term “growler” was coined.
  • OR
  • George Bulvas III, brewmaster at Water Street Lake County Brewery, WI, suggests that growlers are named for the buckets of beer once given to factory workers before their stomachs began to “growl” from hunger.

So, I guess my husband will continue to buy Lucky Bay Brewery growlers – and eventually one might find its way home. They do seem a great idea and look very spick. And how does the beer taste? Well, next time you’re Esperance way – go and try for yourself.

Lucky Bay Brewery at Esperance Stonehenge

Beware the Clowns – Donald Trump

I’ve just finished reading All the Stars in the Heavens, by Adriana Trigiani and while reading it there was a scene where the protagonist (Loretta) and her friend were visiting Italy. This was in the 30s and Mussolini was the leader. Loretta, an American, asked the family what they thought of Mussolini? The reply was that the mother thought him ‘a braggart and no one takes him too seriously.’

Loretta said she’d been at a dinner party and a famous author she met said “Beware the Clowns.” The leaders who start out as jokes – people make fun of them, they’re caricatures, cartoons in newspapers and people decide they are harmless. Those men are the most dangerous. The day comes when they use their power against their own people.

Well, that struck a chord. I’ve been wondering for weeks what America (the few who come out to vote anyway) see in Donald Trump as a potential POTUS. It is okay that he’s a successful businessman – if it works for him whatever he does – then okay. Do they seriously think he’s the man they want to represent them to the world?

I first began to worry when he came out with his infamous comments about proposing to ban Muslims from entering the USA.

Trump Time Cover

A couple of days ago I was getting groceries and saw Time’s cover page and they used TICK boxes (see above) – bully (tick) showman (tick) party crasher (tick) and demagogue (tick) with the box for 45th President of the United States (unticked). The man is a loose cannon and a hatemonger. The author/s of the article in Time (Australia) suggest that he is working on fear ‘… fear in the pit of millions that globalization is a rigged game … Americans are the mark’.

He comes across as a bombastic buffoon and and a horrible person. It is unbelievable to me that he could even be a possibility to lead America and the world (because seriously, the American President does (traditionally) have that standing). Compare him to President Obama and it’s not just chalk and cheese – but I can’t think of a clearer way to express the difference here.

Obama is humble, intelligent and compassionate. He is respectable and respectful. He has ideas and ideals and seems to be a genuinely good person. He has tried very hard over his terms as POTUS to the do all he can for his country – and the reality is that he couldn’t please everyone. Also, as politics goes, to achieve much in the way of progress you need the opposite political party to be willing to cross party lines and vote for sensible policies. That is not the way of modern politics. There are so many agendas that a political leader has to try and work around, that it is amazing anything is achieved.

President Obama is a leader and a steady hand; a family man and a patriot. Mr Donald Trump ‘leads’ with bluster, babbling, bluffing, bullying and stirring the cauldron. And the mixture consists of fear, hate and intolerance. Are the people coming out in support of Trump only those that believe they are hard done by, being taken over by other countries, losing work to ‘lesser’ people, paying for the rich. He is counting on fear holding the key to his political success.It is hard to imagine that sensible and ‘sentient’ Americans are going to vote for him.

And the Republican party – in the interest of having ‘somebody/anybody’ from their party in the race – are turning a blind eye, essentially. Their lily-livered lack of action, their ‘sit back and watch’ attitude is not a party with an eye to the good of their country. They are for the good of their party – and that means their own riches and success.

It is a pity that Obama can’t be re-elected – even though he could be tiring by now and ready for a change. He’s probably devastated at the possibility that a Donald Trump would be his legacy. He would surely want to leave the White House and the most powerful leadership role in the world in ‘capable and trustworthy’ hands.

Ha! Is the nightmare of Donald Trump as leader of the Western World a real possibility? Let’s really hope not! America could never be taken seriously again. It would be close to Armageddon. In my opinion. And all of this and all my posts are only opinion – I’m not an academic.

[Update July 2020] And now we have COVID-19 Trump and it just looks like such a mess in America. The man talks foolish every day. He does himself no favours in the wider world. And while I know that he will have his supporters in the US, because we are all different and entitled to our opinions, hopefully many are ready for change – and that change may be Joe Biden. In my opinion, that seems like a bloody good idea!

MICRO-AGGRESSION – Charade or Truth

Hello again! Well, I’ve been on an up and down emotional roller coaster since early August 2015, when my beloved youngest son and his girlfriend thought to take offense at a comment I made on my Facebook page.

I was in a new town, having relocated from country Western Australia to NSW and was looking for a beauty therapist. Now there seem to be a large number of salons offering beauty treatments and massages here run by ‘Asian’ ladies and this was new to me. They seem to be particularly Thai in cultural background and one day I walked into a salon looking for someone to do a manicure and pedicure.

I entered the premises, to find several women and some children seated on the floor and sharing a meal or snacks. There was no sign of the typical beauty salon paraphernalia – you know what I mean? Products, seating, basins, nail workstations, annoying bird song playing in the background, the smell of varnish remover – a reception desk! None of these were evident. I thought I’d walked into the wrong place; but then a lady came to me and asked did I want a massage! I explained what I was looking for and she said, yes that was available.I actually was unsure if I had made an appointment for an actual beauty treatment.

When I got home and was updating my Facebook status, I made a throwaway comment that was totally aimed at myself and my fears – and it was a joke, being shared with my friends and family, people who actually know me. I said something along the lines of ‘I thought I’d walked into a sex or drug den or something’ and I joked that maybe I was in danger – although I’m middle aged and overweight! Like who would want that?!

That was the joke – and it was thoughtless from the perspective that I didn’t THINK AT ALL that I was possibly offending anyone, because it wasn’t specifically directed at anyone, I guess. But there was absolutely no malice intended. And then my beloved son commented with a rant – effectively. It put me firmly in my place and told me what I was really doing – and it was all in an academic voice that was a pain in the behind to read and I was clearly being lectured to.

Hurt is the simplest way to describe how I was feeling. We aren’t a family that does confrontation. I’ve raised the kids in a calm and peaceful environment. Things are kept very light. And yes, that means we don’t have really deep and meaningful conversation about things. We all read and have always read. My husband and I have always worked. We are middle class. We are all kind and thoughtful to each other.

So my son publically (that is, in front of my friends) lectured me about my wrongdoing. My sister and daughter pulled him up about how he was treating his mum  (and this is regardless of whether they agreed or not, by the way) and suggesting that she was racist; and his further response (another academically worded lecture) included that as he knew that I could be racist (WHAT?) he thought I could learn something. Then my daughter got really angry at him, because previously he was suggesting I was racist and now he was saying that I was racist.

I’ve deleted the conversation from my Facebook page, so this is a rough recollection of the comments made. And for the record, the same sister who defended me later explained to me that her first impulse thought was ‘Racist, much?”, but then she went “No, this is Trish!”.

I responded privately to my son that the world had gone political correctness mad! That it was very Australian to poke fun ‘at ourselves’ in this sort of way and that there was no offense intended to anyone; that they were being too serious about it and that I didn’t appreciate being lectured to. Especially as the wording of the comments was clearly from an academic viewpoint, therefore essentially coming from his girlfriend who is currently being educated in something like ‘gender studies’ (I’m probably incorrect in exactly what she’s studying, but it’s along those lines) and although it was great and understandable that he was interested in what she was learning and able to take it on board in his own dealings with the world –  I still didn’t appreciate the way I was being told.

That was okay. I’d been told. I’d listened (although they don’t think I have) and it was past and done with.

Then some time later – weeks? – I got a text message from my son. Had I looked any further into the issue. My answer “No, I haven’t really.” Well, they’d appreciate it if I took the time to learn something about it. I basically said that I wasn’t that interested in ‘researching’. That I was well read; I followed the news and I wasn’t unaware and I was considerate of other cultures. I didn’t need educating. I quickly said that I was happy to have another look (in the spirit of not blindly saying “no”)  – and confirmed that it was ‘human trafficking’ that was the issue. No mum; it is micro-aggression. See you weren’t listening. They hadn’t actually mentioned that term before; and I thought they were upset that I was joking about human trafficking, because of the Asian sex and drug den comment.

So, I said Okay I’ll take a look and he said he could recommend some sites, or his girlfriend could get on Skype with him to talk to me about it, because she is academically qualified to do so. See how serious they are being about this? I’m struggling to get past that!

I said “no thanks, I’m capable of googling and I can read, so I’ll do my own informing!” And when he asked me again, in the middle of another text conversation, had I done any reading yet. I answered “Yes! Really only one site, but it gave me the gist of what they were saying, so that was enough!”

They disagreed that one site was enough (and that’s fair enough, if I was interested in doing some heavy research into the issue, which I wasn’t) and that if I was truly interested in understanding their position I’d do more about it. I again said to them that I loved them, but I didn’t need to be pushed. It is definitely acceptable for gentle nudges – “Oh mum, do you realise what you just said? You know, it might not be the best thing – people might think you’re racist!” Me, “oh, really? You know I didn’t mean anything by it!” Them, “Yes, but that’s what everyone thinks mum. They don’t mean anything about it, but it’s the way that racism and stereotypes continue to be perpetuated and that is how they become normalised and how they can become so harmful.” I might then have responded, “Shit, I didn’t really think of that. I’ll be more careful in future”. END OF STORY.

But no, that’s not what has been happening. And last night, while the world was hearing the first stories about the terrorist activities in Paris, my son was texting me again to ask if I’d done any more looking at micro-aggression. 😦

Son, I have taken a look. I’m a quick study. Thank you for pointing out my faults. I’m not interested in looking anymore. Your responsibility for educating me in this instance is over. Let it go.

And of course another long long text came saying that he’s sorry that he’s trying to help me understand, more than I want to. He’s sorry that I care so little about it. He’s sorry that I think they’re exaggerating issues that have ‘entire academic disciplines dedicated to them’. He doesn’t want to talk to me again until I’ve taken time to look into the issues more and am prepared to talk to him as adult to adult.

Okay, so yes I forget to mention that the old-aged issue of parents not talking to their adult children as adults has also come into play here.

I eventually said to him last night that what I was feeling was bullied. And judged. That they’re adopting a high handed ‘we’re right and we won’t talk to you until you admit it and accept what we’re saying’ position – and that they were effectively being radical and that kind of attitude leads to terror and hatred. I suggested they look around them and that there were a lot more important things to worry about than beating your mum into submission – and saying they didn’t want to talk to me until I was prepared to learn more, was emotional blackmail. Way to hit below the belt with your mother. I also said (tongue in cheek) that I’m worried they’ve joined a cult!

Yes, the above response was emotive; because I’m not a robot and I’m not a professor, or university educated. And yes, I’m the mother – the mother that has been loving and supportive his entire life. They don’t seem to be able to let it go, which is something I’ve trained myself to do in my lifetime. Deal with it now; whatever the outcome – whether satisfactory or not – you’ve tried and now ‘let it go’. They’ve tried – at least they know I’m more informed than I was – I now know there’s such a thing as micro-aggression and that they’re serious about it  – and I will think twice before sharing my witticisms again.

Even though I’m an Irish/Australian and both of these cultures are big on cheekiness and taking the mickey out of everyone and anyone – including ourselves. With no malice intended!

I’m well-travelled – and I’ve always been proud to say how multicultural Australia is; but recently I’ve been amazed at how much vitriol there is about how we treat our ethnic groups. And I’ve written before in this blog about how embarrassing it is to be an Australian, when our government treats ‘illegal’ refugees so badly.

Now about this ‘micro-aggression’ term they’re bandying about.

The first link I read was this one http://www.buzzfeed.com/hnigatu/racial-microagressions-you-hear-on-a-daily-basis#.oq7D49L92 – 21 Racial Micro-aggressions you might hear on a daily basis. And I have to say that I’d never say any of these to anybody. If I meet an ethnic person – such as in my current bookkeeping classes – I ask them what their cultural background is. And that seems to be an acceptable way to start the conversation. I’ve learned that the girls behind me are speaking Hindi and that most Indians know several languages; at the very least 2-3.

Then I found a definition of Micro-Aggression ‘Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or. unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalised group membership.

I read the following GREAT article – great because I agree with him? Probably!

http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/24/microaggressions-and-trigger-warnings-meet-real-trauma/

And this article, to which the author of the article above refers to:

http://www.city-journal.org/2015/25_3_snd-bias.html

So, Micro-aggression – a term first coined in the 70s has suddenly become a mainstream (academic) phrase and now the ‘word of the moment’  to explain the ‘logic’ behind what has become an ‘excuse/reason’ for forcible reactions by perceived ‘minorities’ to refuse to be educated in how to get on in life, because they perceive slights at every turn. I believe that what it is encouraging – more than understanding – is a generation of potential victims. Whingers, Australians would say!

We already live in a narcissistic society – it’s all about me and what I can get (for free) and what you can do for me – and look at me, look at me; poor me; look what’s happened to me. We are already like that – people want something for nothing. And now we’ve a new excuse for “sooky la la’s” to cry and moan and encourage tension – instead of seeing an obstacle and working out how to jump it, how to prove themselves – as individuals; not as an ethnic minority.

Casual remarks blown out of proportion, hypersensitivity and irrationality – do you know that minorities want to be recognised for their qualities, culture and value, but we aren’t allowed to refer to their qualities, culture and value as a way of quantifying their value or worth? Because if we refer to their ‘differences’ we are racist.

For example, we might assume that an ‘Asian’ applying for an IT job will be great at it. Or that ‘Asians’ work harder than Australians. Hello! If I make those assumptions – I’m being positive! White Australians can be (and I’m generalising here) lazier than many ‘Asian-Australians’, ‘African-Australians’, ‘Indian-Australians’. We know in Australia, whether we are prepared to acknowledge it or not, that migrant Asians – like previous generations of Italians or Greeks – come here starting with nothing, grateful for the chance at new beginnings and they work their butts off. They put us to shame! We know that historically; but if we acknowledge that history in our assumptions or comments, we are racist.

We aren’t allowed to comment on a cultural difference such as colour, ability or performance – because that’s racist; but then we are vilified because we don’t acknowledge that these people come from a different culture and should be acknowledged outside of white society’s norms.

I’m not educated. I read these papers and articles and I get the gist of their commentary – but I can’t articulate myself that way. I can attempt it more in writing; but I can’t articulate it verbally. Especially not when the son or girlfriend ARE trained academically and blah blah blah at me.

If humanity had not had all the difficulties we’ve had to overcome as we’ve evolved, we wouldn’t have come as far as we have. When things are too easy we stagnate. When we play the victim, we don’t grow. When we have challenges and we work at them, we evolve; we grow.

Build a bridge and get over it – is a great Australian saying. And that runs through my mind as I try to understand why my child can’t accept that he’s made his point and now it is up to me to do with that as I will. It is important to him and he’s tried to direct me – his job is done. He’s caused me emotional distress; think of that son, instead of how ‘racist’ I am.

Charade or Truth, is how I’ve headed this. Is the umbrella of ‘micro-aggression’ pretentious; deceptive; farcical or a disguise – a place to hide and not grow and put blame. Or, is it a truth – the honest reality.

My life credo is honesty. It is often painful to me to live honestly, realistically and in truth; but I aspire to this and at heart this story is about honesty. And owning your own life, reactions and determinations.

I’ve now spent time writing 2,487 words in reaction to my emotions! They could have been 2,500 words put towards my novel-writing activities! 😀

[Update}

A year later and this is still a burning issue with our son and his girlfriend (specifically that we have a history of racism and manipulation).
We want to welcome his girlfriend with open arms to our family – and we’ve been trying to do this. She is a beautiful and intelligent girl. When they’re ready to make babies – they will be so cute! 😛

However, today my husband and I are going to a counselling session. I’m not sure whether it is to work out strategies about how to deal with this situation – or teach us that we’re wrong. But it is at the request of this couple.

They haven’t yet answered my request for specific examples of what we’ve said or the way we’ve acted that has made them uncomfortable, to help us identify areas for discussion with the counsellor. Anyway! 😦

It means that in our discussion with the Counsellor, it will be all from our side and therefore unbalanced and if she only hears our side of things, she’s not going to fix us! 😀
Please don’t come back and rant at them – they’re young and trying to find their way (I guess). 😀 xx

NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH – NOVEMBER 2015

Typing Corner

Hello Everyone!!

Well, those friends connected with me on Facebook will know that I committed to writing 50,000 words (a small novel) over November, with NaNoWriMo.

This is an inspirational and goal orientated writing site developed to encourage ‘would be writers’ to let their creative juices flow – and write, write, write!!

I signed up in 2013 and 2014, but didn’t write a cracker!! This year though, it is on!

On, as in I thought about the story and who my main character is (protagonist?) outlined some chapters and did some teeny research – about some background. I read interesting items on the NaNoWriMo page, writer’s magazines and one of the books my daughter bought me a couple of Christmases ago – ‘No Plot? No Problem!’ by Chris Baty, the founder of National Novel Writing Month. And it has all helped.

Of course, readers make writers, is the saying – and I read A LOT!

So, of course, bursting with enthusiasm and excitement I bounced out of bed on Sunday morning 1st November, the first day of the event! (1st November to 30th November – 50,000 words in 30 days). Jumped out; leaped even; joyously and with energy to spare – really! Really, really!!

Actually, it was more like “What? What time is it? Oh, 45 more minutes!” 😀

Eventually, by the time I got up and had pancakes (regular Sunday morning treat thanks to my lovely husband) did some housework (I know) and some gardening, got the bins ready, had another coffee (I know, I know!) it was about 12.30 AEST. Now, I know that sounds very late in the day to enthusiastically and joyously get up on the day of beginning your first 50,000 words – BUT IN MY DEFENCE – I’ve been a WA person for over 30 years!!! My body clock believes – and there is no changing its mind – that it is actually 3 BLOODY hours earlier!!! So, really it was only 9.30am!! 😛

Anyway, I sat at my gloriously old “American” IBM Selectric typewriter – chosen because I sit in front of a computer most of the day every day (when I’m working) and I do not for one second (except when I’m blogging?) feel creative! And I’m an OLD typist from WAY back! It feels comfortable – and I like to see my hard work recreated on tangible pieces of paper.

And the old “American” typewriter is a little scary – because I couldn’t find a secondhand IBM Electric in Australia I resorted to getting one in from the USA and it has to be connected to a big old transformer thing – before it is connected to the power. I’m always just that little bit frightened to push the ON switch! You never know ….. 😦

So, amazingly my first 30 minute stint finished with 1276 words! I know! Bloody miracle! Then I got distracted in the office helping Eric with things and getting him ready to go to the Google masterclass he’s headed off to in Sydney. Eventually, at about 4.30pm I had another go – by the end of the day 2776 words. I need approximately 1700 a day to ensure I hit 50,000. BONUS!!

And crazy, random Irish weirdo that I am – I also decided that I would blog through the month – perhaps not every day – but share the adventure; which realistically will be more of the above. Probably with more expletives, less hair (or at least more grays), but hopefully with JOY because I’m doing what I’ve been promising myself I’ll do for MY WHOLE LIFE!

Yes daughter, I’m writing! Yes, okay mother, I’m writing! YES, TRISH, I’m bloody writing! OKAY? Get over it! Grrr 😀

So, lucky peeps! Bear with me on this journey, if you’d care to. And we’ll see if I can hit that magical 50,000 word goal by 30th November, when I can claim the title WINNER and Writer!

Love you all! Bye xxx

Update: 2nd day I wrote 2100 words! YIPPEE!

REFUGEES … and how we handle this tragedy

Australia has developed a bad reputation when it comes to being a ‘refuge’ for displaced, endangered, scared, hunted and genuinely unhappy human beings. This is very sad – since our entire history is built on ‘immigrants’ and ‘refugees’ – and I would argue that a number (probably a large number) of ‘immigrants’ were seeking ‘refuge’ here also.

Seeking refuge doesn’t have to only be about extreme circumstances! Why do you choose to leave a ‘home’ country to build a new life somewhere else? The glowing message is usually along the lines of ‘make a better life’ and I guess, ‘the adventure of it’! Sounds positive – both of these declarations. If we go with ‘make a better life’ and think about it, then we can ask ‘what was so bad about your former life that you needed to come to Australia (or elsewhere) to make a better life?’ The reasons can be as mundane as the weather or the economy or as extreme as the regime, intolerance, persecution (religious, gender or disability). Some of the extremes are unbearable to live with – but don’t qualify these people to enter another country as a refugee. It could be that they can choose to live with their situation – because it’s them that is outside of their ‘cultural norm’ (or at least what everyone else is prepared or resigned to putting up with) – or they can choose to go somewhere else to enjoy more freedom.

Now clearly anybody who risks their life and their families (in particular their children) to get on a rickety boat – usually not seaworthy or in fact not seagoing vessels to get away from ‘whatever’ it is; gun-wielding terror, rape of women and children, economic rape (dictators or tyranny) discrimination that affects your entire life (females not able to be educated, being married off young and unwilling, not safe in their own families OR homosexuals living in fear of death OR not believing in or belonging to the dominant religious ideology) IEDs, warfare (some of which is due to ‘do-gooder’ western countries ‘helping’) – ARE DESPERATE! One of the arguments proposed in Australia about whether ‘they are true refugees’ seems to come down to the fact that they’ve paid large sums of money to come here. Therefore, if they have thousands of dollars to pay a boat smuggler, then they must be okay. They must be false refugees. Because clearly the assumption is that having money equals safety, or lack of need! AND clearly this assumption isn’t correct.

If we go outside of Australia and look at the flood of refugees leaving Libya (and Africa) trying to make it to mainland Europe – the numbers are amazing. They are being sent by people smugglers and they have paid to be sent to Europe – but they are often forced on to the boats at gunpoint (I assume because people see the boats and go “no way!”). A CNN article written in April reports that since the beginning of 2015 more than 35,000 have crossed the Mediterranean with 23,500 landing in Italy and 12,000 in Greece. In 2014, approximately 219,000 refugees AND migrants sailed across the Mediterranean and most of these were rescued by the Italian navy and coast guard. It is estimated that 3,500 people died at sea.

Now there is clearly a humanitarian crisis happening. People want to do the right thing, including the governments of the countries being overwhelmed by this ‘sea’ of refugees. But the government also needs to look after its resident countrymen, their culture, resources, wants and needs and we all know and usually understand the pressures that government feel just to meet our own needs. Therefore many of us feel protective of what we have and how it will be affected. The Federal Budget has just come out – and many are worrying about how that affects them. Pensions and welfare, education, health, policing and defence. Shouldn’t our government care about us first!? Only?

Government (and it seems especially so of Australian government leaders) encourage us to fear refugees. They encourage us to fear certain religious or ethnic groups – and I say that yes they do surreptitiously encourage fear of Muslims / Islam. Mainstream media certainly encourage fear (generally). Survival of the fittest is a human’s default mode. That’s how we have arrived where we are – the dominant creature of the earth. And our very first priority is to ensure our families and neighbours are well and safe. But at what point do we accept that we can reach out to others in need? And how do we agree which people are genuinely in need – especially when welcoming and accepting them will make an impact on us? Personally, I feel that apart from how welcoming refugees affects us financially (welfare and when they ‘take our jobs’) and culturally (the good and the bad) how our Australian identity is affected bothers me. We have only been enriched by the multi-cultural country we live in – food being a big one. Vietnamese refugees brought into the country in the 70s have become a well loved part of the Australian community. And generally there is a perception that ‘Asian’ immigrants work very hard to achieve success. Mostly they put the rest of us to shame! If you are accepted and welcomed into a country how much should you be expected to ‘blend/assimilate’?

Cultural differences should be treasured. If I visit Morocco for instance – however uncomfortable I may feel or derisive I am of their ‘cultural norms’ – I have a responsibility to respect their culture. I will cover up and when visiting their mosques or sacred places will show respect. I’m an Irish Australian! We enjoy freedoms unheard of in many countries. We speak our minds, do what we want (within sensible laws) are reasonably carefree, enjoy access to education and home ownership, employment and entertainment; beaches, nature, music, art and freedom of religion! A country ‘has the right’ to decide who enters their country – and I believe that. It’s about getting the right balance and blend. If you are welcomed as either an immigrant who entered through the correct avenues or a refugee you need to respect that our country works for us because of the freedoms we enjoy and the carefree nature of our beings. It doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to embrace your own cultural norms – particularly relevant as many new arrivals will group in communities with their ‘own’ people. But in the wider world, it isn’t right to try to impose your norms on Australians. More and more we adopt changes that allow other ethnicities to feel more comfortable. For example, not celebrating Christmas in schools or Cadbury making their chocolate Halal. In other words, changing our own cultural norms – what makes us Australians predominantly from Anglo, European and Christian heritage – to suit everyone else. Political correctness going mad!

I have a friend who is an immigrant from an African country. When on Facebook a couple of years ago I made positive noises about finding a way to support refugees and she went off her face! After her and her family had lived in Australia for a while, they tried to get her mother over. But they had a real battle on their hands – because of restrictions in our immigration rules. She was so emotional and devastated about how hard they had to work to get her mother into the country that there was NO WAY that she could accept refugee ‘boat people’ making their way here, without going through proper channels! She was livid! Blinkered and immovable!

I was stunned. This family had been ‘allowed’ and ‘welcomed’ into Australia. On the surface they are good people; but really what kind of people are we allowing into the country. They’ve ticked all the boxes – but are there boxes for compassion, morality, heart!? Hey, you LUCKY PEOPLE! Have a heart! Now that you are ‘safe’, look outside yourself for a minute.

I fear – like everybody else! I don’t want things to change. I like what being an Australian means. We were welcomed to the country as Irish immigrants – although maybe Mum and Dad would have stories about how really welcoming people were in the first instance! I like the relaxed pace we live at – whether to follow a religion or not and acceptance that there are a multitude of religious faiths being practised. Welfare available for those that need it, even though that can be abused it is better that we can help those in need, than not.

The EU at the moment is trying to ‘force’ agreement by EU countries to accept more of the African refugees – to spread out the burden. Nobody wants to be ‘forced’ to do anything. People are overwhelmed already – EU countries already have influxes of straightforward ‘migrants’ due to the disappearance of borders. Paris/France being a great example of angry masses of ‘unwanted’ – they have a glorious history and culture to preserve. The Netherlands and Denmark are vocal about their aversion to continued acceptance of refugees and the impact it makes on their culture.

Banning the boats – sending them off to Manus or wherever – might be an ‘expensive’ solution for Australia, because we have to financially support that – but the idea here is to give a strong message that they won’t be accepted without going through proper processes – stop the boats and they won’t continue to arrive. But that makes it someone else’s problem. And it doesn’t help these people. They live in limbo, in terrible conditions, children in detention – no hope for the future. Not only are these people miserable but it makes for new enemies for Australia.

We should ‘accept’ all refugees – process them quickly (supersonic speed) – and if there is no obvious threat bring them into the community, with rules. In particular, they cannot commit a crime (Australian law) within so many years – say 5 – or they are immediately deported! Welcome and support – until proven they aren’t worthy!

Anyway, I’m not any kind of authority on these issues. I’m just a run of the mill Australian middle-aged woman. These are my thoughts and meanderings and I haven’t come up with any solutions. How do we help these people in dire need while keeping our own freedom, culture and security intact? I don’t know – but we should try.

WOMEN OF A ‘CERTAIN AGE’ – TODAY!

I had an afternoon this last week (in the city) where I had a few hours to kill, while Eric was at a meeting. It was an afternoon of people watching, really – wandering around a large shopping mall, sitting in a street cafe and then reading in the local library.

I began to notice all the ‘middle aged’ ladies. In inverted commas, because I was guessing that they’re middle aged – I WAS actively seeking out ladies that were probably about my age! I observed and then wondered how I appeared to other women. There were so many BIG ladies and it occurred to me that if these are my peers, where did we go wrong?

Lower socio-economic (and therefore reduced) circumstances leading to bad quality/poor food choices (no money and little education) and combined with the ready availability of cheap and fast food!? Or comfortably well off and therefore self-indulgent, able to afford to eat when and what we want. And/or in comfortable relationships and no longer needing to try hard? Perhaps, unluckily trapped in a ‘sugar world’ before we realised what sugar does to us!

Of course, there are plenty of middle aged and older ladies (50, 60, 70 …) who haven’t gained weight. And they’ve got it all ticking along nicely – weight, clothes, hair, skin – they could be 70 or 50. And of course, there are large ladies who got that way due to health reasons or genetics – but they won’t be the majority. So we aren’t talking about them!

There ARE MANY unsatisfied people in our Western society. Too many choices and options lead to a lot of decision-making, which causes anxiety and stress and uncertainty. Also there’s a lot of fear (of what, you might say, here in Australia) but I say fear of failure, of what people think, what they might say – what they see when they look at us! Dismay at what we see in the mirror, disappointment at not reaching imagined heights, or failure to be what we might have been and sadness at facing up to a lack of life-time in which to make that mark! Time has been wasted, roads not taken, decisions incorrectly made. In hindsight, is there much you would have done differently?

Children, job choices, love, education, travel – extremes or boundaries – and at the root of all, your personality type and your childhood experiences! How did they mould you and your reactions to the world and the events you’ve experienced and decisions you’ve made – that lead to the hole that you need to fill – with sugar, alcohol, drugs, recklessness or excess just to cope with what you feel is a savage world?!You know you’re doing something wrong; you’re trying to own your own behaviours; you realise that these are ‘coping’ behaviours, that are not REALLY HELPING YOU!! But it is so hard to change!!

What if you let go and nothing changes? If you bring attention to yourself people may notice the change and have opinions about that. You’re now under pressure with the weight of (perceived) expectations. You’ve struggled to make changes, but are you really now you?! For so long you’ve had high expectations of yourself, but low outcomes. Through effort and strength of mind and soul you’ve begun to live … to overcome the self-imposed hurdles … to let yourself be proud of you!! Can I do it? Can I be free and happy? Am I as good as everyone else?

Walking around this shopping area were A LOT of overweight and unhappy looking women, of approximately my age. How many of them are caught in this struggle? Do they put on a brave face before family and friends? Is their ‘true’ self scared, disappointed and unhappy? I’m sure some of them are oblivious; aren’t they? How many are self-aware enough to think about how they got to where they are and how and whether they could change things?!

If you have the urge to beat yourself into submission – remember that change is difficult BUT not impossible! ‘Mentally healthy’ people can find it difficult to understand what these women are going through or how they got there. It was interesting to imagine putting these women into a line and seeing how they fit into the box I’d put them. The more we think we are individuals – and we all strongly hold on to that right – the more we learn how similar we are. Running the same race to death, fearing being forgotten and waiting for someone to fix it for us!

Reach out now. Forgive yourself! 🙂

Forgive others. Let yourself love and be loved. Be kind and charitable – and start at home! Start with yourself! 😀

We don’t have to be perfect; or the same as someone else; or the best. Try and be true to who you think you are IN YOUR SOUL – and the VERY BEST YOU will find the way!

WE BLOODY WELL MADE IT – IT’S ALL OKAY!!!!

We walked into Alora up the hill, turned the wrong way and proceeded to walk up many more hills – didn’t actually find what we were looking for, but managed to walk pretty much all around the town.

Found the Chinese restaurant – got takeaway (he didn’t have English)! Went back to the ‘deli’ style shop to get supplies (because we couldn’t find the larger supermarket) but they’d closed – because we’d taken so bloody long to get around the town.

Luckily, found a smaller deli-style shop that was closing, but kindly let us in and we pretty much got everything we were looking for!!

So, good news – we have Chinese for dinner and lots of chocolate!!! PLUS food for dinner for the next couple of days.

YAY!

Also, when we got home Mark (our host) had found us a local to give us some survivor Spanish – by way of taking us on a tour of Alora and giving us a history lesson and getting us to practise our Spanish on the locals AND later on a tour of Malaga doing the same.  Pretty cool!

xx