Asking a creatively-repressed wannabe artist/writer to compose an “About” page is always going to be problematic, isn’t it, now? I’ve been blogging for over a year (with varying degrees of success and consistency) and have avoided the “About” pages on both my blogs with all the enthusiasm of a cat avoiding the car trip to the vet.
Finally, I sat down and started typing…and in my effort to circumvent the tendency to begin every paragraph with “I”, the result became an abridged version of my life story. Thus, it wasn’t so much “about” “me”, as “about” my “history”. I considered it an acceptable piece of writing, and since my story is inextricably linked to all the other “abouts” I have, I posted it. But there are other abouts, and this is the next one. First, you got The Chronology (and if you haven’t read that, it might help if you toddle off, make your hot beverage of choice, and then come back and read it. It won’t take long, and really, it’s assumed knowledge so otherwise what follows here won’t make much sense. Assuming you care, that is,).
Now you get The Position, wherein I plan to tell expound a little on things about which I feel. Mostly strongly. Headings will help, I think… (Next to come is The Manifesto, which will get to the pointy end – what am I doing here, on this blog? What, to be as precise as I can, is the point? Stay tuned.)
My first blog, The Pratchett Project, lurched awkwardly into existence on the 15th of April, 2011. It followed a burgeoning in my life of twinned enthusiasm for the Discworld books by the great Sir Terry Pratchett and also for my latest obsession – spinning yarn. The project described therein is great, it’s ongoing (if slow) and I’m devoted to it, but I found that I enjoyed this blogging gag a whole lot more than I anticipated…and I had a lot more to say, and write about, and share, than could be contained in that relatively small window. I love writing. I love to string words together like pretty necklaces; symmetrical or not, weighted, lilting, flirtatiously leading the reader a merry dance down the garden path (see? look around you? where did you think you were going, huh?) and blogging really fed into that. So I thought to start this other space where I could be more free to share all the other bits of myself. My other “abouts” and their circumstances and consequences.
For a long time, I didn’t engage in creative behaviour. I yearned, at the ripe age of 13, to take drama and art at school, but the parentals vetoed that out of hand. Instead, I was to take Business Principles and Japanese. Well, BP threw me so far down the ladder of self-confidence that I still break out in hives at the mere thought of doing my tax return, and Japanese was, from my school’s point of view, a grand exercise in futility. I’m not saying that I’d have been good at art or drama, but I do wistfully wonder what might have happened. I mightn’t have been so shy, for a start.
Only since about 2007 have I stepped out of what I now see was ignorance, and allowed myself to make the mistakes necessary in order to CREATE. Art, the interpretation thereof, the opening of the self to messages that aren’t straightforward or in some “endorsed” format…these things began to take their place in my life as I gave myself permission to not be good at things.
First it was Tarot; herein lies the interpretation, the opening. I played with other forms of divination as well, but the beauty of the cards inspired me and gave me so much richness in my life, and the more they gave me the more I had to give to other people. It made me a calmer, more generous, more understanding and forgiving person. It gave me a much longer view.
Then I stumbled on painting. I wasn’t very good, but I enjoyed it – and slowly I began to understand that that was just as important. Slowly, the feeling of empowerment grew, and with it, my confidence to take on new media. I sewed a little, playing with colours and textures; I even sold a few small things.
But the real kicker was knitting. Because it was through knitting that I found a whole suite of new friends and new skills – in particular, spinning. I took to spinning as the proverbial duck does to its aquatic destiny, and found that fibre did as I told it the way paint never had. Suddenly, I found that there were lots of different fibres to spin – not just merino! Colours, textures, shine, curl, length, bounce, squish, elasticity…the beauty of fibre as an art medium cannot be overstated.
My family is, by and large, pretty conservative. I don’t know how they vote; but it’s not really their politics that I’m talking about. It’s just that early on, I started exploring the left leaning side of society and found that it fit…and that made me stand out from my family.
Additionally, I’m “green” in my lifestyle (at least, I try to be) and usually in my politics. I wish Australia could come to a more humane and dignified position on asylum-seekers; I wish for marriage equality for same-sex couples and polyamorous people. I am glad for the carbon tax and for the mining superprofits tax; though both are, tragically, watered-down and woefully compromised due to the travesty that is the Australian political situation at present.
I’m largely vegetarian – for reasons, mainly, of sustainability. People don’t need to eat meat at all, although I suspect that avoidance of all animal products pushes one away from sustainability in the opposite direction, through overprocessing and big food miles. So I eat a little meat, try to support local and organic producers, try to eat in season to reduce food miles, and aspire to growing my own.
Gender and Sexuality
I’ve been fairly open about my bisexuality since I was fifteen, but never “came out” to my parents until just last summer, when I was due to visit with them for two weeks. I’d just started going out with my dream girl, and I hated the thought of having to keep my happiness under wraps. My parents were…unenthusiastic, but generous, in their response. They haven’t disowned me, but neither has this revelation done anything to bring us closer.
The last 18 months to two years have been a rocket-ride into understanding of alternative sexualities and gender identity and presentation. My whole life, I’ve been a “strong” personality – by which I mean, I’m assertive, disconnected, disinclined to share my feelings. You could say I exhibit tendencies often associated with males. This, combined with my attraction to women and my seeming inability to function as the feminine party in a het relationship, forced me to really start examining my own gender and what that meant for me. I haven’t come to any conclusions about myself (other than the fact that I’m indescribably lucky to have found my girlfriend, because of whom none of this causes difficulty now), but I have learnt a lot about the yawning, penumbral, grey chasm that lies between “black” and “white”, “male” and “female”, “gay” and “straight”. The level of compassion and empathy I’ve had forced upon me through the course of this research is gut-wrenching and mind-bending. To those who scoff at this paragraph – revel in your ignorance, but don’t inflict it on others. The suffering your insensitivity causes is monumental.
Money, The Future, and the Apocalypse
Ah, the grand dream of the leftie – to switch off, drop out, disappear and live self-sufficiently off the grid. Tiny things in my life keep being subjected to scrutiny through the lens of this grand dream, but the changes are regrettably incremental. I long for a dusk-to-dawn existence where I’m invested deeply and viscerally in all the things that sustain me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever achieve it, but isn’t it fun to dream? Isn’t it inspiring (and just a little daunting)?
My favourite movie genre is post-apocalyptic. I’m not sure why; perhaps it’s just that it makes me think the most, or motivates me the most. I seriously don’t think any of them have got it right, but that the future lies somewhere in the middle of a few of them. Children of Men, V for Vendetta, and Dark City, I think, are the three that chill me most, because I feel that the wholesale axing of technology and killing off of most of the people that most movies show is a cop-out. No, our existence will be more and more restricted, slowly and stiflingly.
Water will be the commodity most sought-after before long. If we don’t see water theft legislation passed in the next decade, I’ll be surprised. Food security, too – the common wisdom is that there’s enough on the supermarket shelves to feed the cities for three days, if supply chains are cut off. Think about that.
And so, I joke about the Zombie Apocalypse, but really I am slowly preparing for it. Not fast enough. We’ve got to unplug, people; we’ve got to get a little of our independence back. In the immortal words of Maynard James Keenan – “What are you going to do when the lights go out?” The thought stalks me in my dreams. Where does your food come from? What about your water?