"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

hype

Now Playing: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N by Noah & the Whale (she had deep brown eyes that have seen it all)

I've just downloaded The Hunger Games trilogy onto my iPad. I'm only a few pages in and I. Am. In. Love.

I'm very very fussy over my reading list - and I ordinarily just re-read old favourites over and over. I just found my copy of Caesar's Women (it was hiding in the gap between my bed and the wall) and I read it again in the bathtub. My copy of The Time Traveller's Wife is well-loved. Harry Potter is more than thoroughly bashed up.

But I don't buy into 'hype'. I very rarely get into 'popular' books - I haven't since my Twilight days. I just have a very low opinion of popular opinion at the moment - the by product of going to a very indie school with very indie people; so indie that even 'indie' is too mainstream. That being said, though, sometimes at Perth Mod mainstream became the new indie, in that it was looked down upon as cheap trash just like mainstream crowds look down on indie stuff for being artsy shit.

The reason why I can't really dig into popular literature is because, to be honest, my obsession with Twilight scared me. It still scares me. Sometimes I find myself in situations where I am in, or lust after, what could honestly be considered abusive relationships. Twilight glorifies abusive relationships and for a long time, as a naive impressionable little girl, that was what I thought I wanted and actively sought. In a way I'm glad that being unlucky in love has protected me from the consequences of the dangerous shit I relentlessly pursued.

As a novice writer my writing is probably too influenced by other literature than more established writers. I looked back at some of the stuff I wrote when I was a younger teen and I was horrified by how...similar it was to Twilight. The plaguerism didn't bother me per se - what else do you expect from a twelve year old wannabe writer? - but the fact that I had cut copy pasted the violence of Edward into my male characters, the weak damsel in distress, never stands up for herself female characters, the abusive arcs of the relationships. I deleted about 40,000+ words of hard work and I've been too scared since to really invest time into something like that.

So with all that said, when The Hunger Games became a thing, I immediately was a little wary. I don't like popular fiction per se - I'm quite discriminating in my books and aside from Harry Potter and a few classics I don't think my reading list is a very popular one. And the Stephenie Meyer testimony sprawled across the front really put me off, too. Not another Twilight. Puh-lease.

I really wanted to read a book where the emphasis on female characters was on 'characters', not 'female'. I wanted to read a book where women didn't become men to be characters of substance; I wanted characters that reinforced that femaleness is a source of strength just as much as maleness is. Off the top of my head I can't really think of really good female heroines that stand out aside from perhaps a few characters in Harry Potter. I really dislike how women are portrayed in popular culture and it is really impacting on my love of books and movies - as you can see from my dissection of American Beauty.

My friends have all seen/watched The Hunger Games. I like the look of it, and I know the storyline. I've got two songs off of the soundtrack - Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift ft. The Civil Wars and Abraham's Daughter by Arcade Fire. Further, The Hunger Games has the unusual distinction of being recommended by feminists! Laci Green, Feminist Frequency, Bitch Magazine all recommend it, and especially commend the depiction of Katniss.

And so I gave in.

I like books that some people consider 'easy'. To me, reading has never been a challenge, and shouldn't be. I read for pleasure. I associate reading with relaxation - I do most of my reading in the bathtub (my copy of Eclipse is very badly water damaged, but I can't really say that's a loss to anyone) or in bed, and so I don't like headache-inducing plotlines and pretentious prose.

I downloaded the kobo app onto my iPad (the best reader app in my opinion, although the books are somewhat limited) and bought the entire Hunger Games trilogy. I've only had time to read about ten pages or so but I am so in love. It's a real page turner. I've got the whole thing so I'm going to be well and truly occupied on my way to Korea.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

the best I can be

Now Playing: Sophia by Laura Marling (I'm wounded by dust)

I feel like, lately, I'm not being the best I can be. I am not the best version of myself.

Which is an odd thing to say when you're supposedly at the top of the world. I mean, seriously. WACE is over. I've graduated in the hottest, sweatiest, longest grad ceremony in the history of the world. I'm top in English in the state's top school.

But I still feel like something is missing. There is something about me - and it's not friends, it's not boys, it's not anything to do with people or me blaming my problems on the fickleness of teenage love - that is absent, a nonevent, something that should be but isn't. I feel as hollow and as shallow as the people I love to hate.

A few days ago I went to the beach with my friends and, admittedly, the beach doesn't particularly like me. I don't like sand. I don't like seaweed and any bugs or fish or...sharks...that might be part and parcel with the waves. I haven't got the most amazing bikini body (although losing 10kg this year did help) and although I can swim I'm not very strong and I'm more of a chlorinated pool sort of person rather than a lets-swim-into-this-big-ass-wave girl. I had to be taught how to jump over and dive into waves and I got dumped lots of times. The beach where we went to dips suddenly into rocky...dips...(epic English skills happening here) and I'm only 5'2" and I'm very uncomfortable when I can't touch the bottom. So in amongst all of that, I got into trouble a few times. But I was always with my friends, and there were always better people to wade out to get me, always better people to hold my hand, always better people to pull me back to safety.

I feel a bit like that now. Being kicked out of high school is like being tossed into the deep end. I can't touch the bottom and I keep going under and yes, I'm terrified. But it's also exciting, being one of the grown ups, I just don't know how to...comport, not just yet. I don't know how to carry myself. I went out and wore what felt like the first non school related clothes ever and I felt like someone else, as if it was someone else sipping iced coffee and chatting to my best friend. I didn't really feel like me.

I've spent my whole life in a tiny little world with what I now know to be problems that are all at once tiny and little but also big and huge and momentous. I don't know what it's like to wake up and not robotically put on uniform, slug my backpack on, throw a packed lunch together and run for the bus. One of these tiny little big huge momentous problems is that I was hurt this year, by people I thought were my friends, and as a consequence 2012 is one of the most lonely years that I can remember. Another one of those tiny little big huge momentous problems is that I was fucked over, quite literally, by someone I trusted, someone I thought of as my dearest friend but who I actually can't say anything to without blushing/sparking a big fight/all of the above, and now I don't know if our friendship will survive the week, much less the summer. These problems are tiny and little in the grand scheme of things, but people forget the big huge momentous emotions and repercussions of these tiny little problems, and how until I get out of this liminal space between baby high school and big kid uni these tiny little big huge momentous problems are stopping me from being the best I can be, from being the best version of myself. It's pretty claustrophobic in a cocoon but I want to come out of it a butterfly, not some half-mutated caterpillar.

I think this is compounded by the fact that high school literally means nothing, and for all the teen angst and hormone drama and touchy feely of it all high school will get you nowhere, given the academic inflation, and the adolescent years are the most ridiculed in literature and popular culture. It's humiliating that all these tiny little big huge momentous problems will be laughed off at some point in the future, but for now you just don't have the wisdom and the age and the mental capacity to detach yourself and to get over it.

I am my own harshest critic. Nobody is crueller to me than myself, and what I put myself through. But at the same time, through being fearless and trying to begin again, I am also learning to be forgiving - not of my faults, but of the things that make me human. I've taught myself that it's okay to cry, okay to be hurt, okay to be angry, okay to love, okay to hate. Everything I feel is not a mistake. And given this, when I start annoying myself with how I behave in the heat of the moment, I know I'm not being the best I can be. This is beyond my normal insecurity and self-esteem issues. I really, genuinely know that I am not the best version of myself just yet, and all I can ask of you is that you love me still, and be patient, because I'll always be there for you and I'll let you get away with murder. All I can ask is that you be the better person who wades out to get me and pull me to safety, in the assurance that I will always return the favour. All I can ask is for the kind of love that should endure in sickness and in health, through good and bad, till something tiny little big huge momentous do us part.

Or something like that.

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Twelve Year Old Me

Now Playing: Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift (don't lose the way you dance around in your pjs getting ready for school)

Wow, I have not written one of these in a long long long long time.

Dearest Twelve,

You're on the home stretch, dearest Twelve. Don't give up just yet. You're going to high school next year and you just can't wait.

You become as rebellious as you dare, what with being a conservative Asian and all. You wear makeup to school, but that's less of a rebellion and more an act of desperate insecurity - acne happens this year, dearest Twelve, and four years later I can't really say it's fucked off just yet. You wear your hear down - shock horror! - and roll your eyes whenever you get told off. You wear black knee high socks with purple hearts and skull motif loafers. You know you don't look particularly avant garde, dearest Twelve, but you're desperate for a little individuality.

You're a bit of a douche, to be honest, dearest Twelve. I know you're small and hurt and vulnerable inside, but the shell you create for yourself is a bit...bitchy. You become very proud and arrogant this year and I don't know if I've entirely shaken that off. It's a good mask to hide your tears, dearest Twelve, but it's not exactly endearing. I wish I could have told you not to, but to be perfectly honest, I don't really have a better solution. Being nice just doesn't work for the moment. So keep wearing your armour, dearest Twelve. Do whatever it takes to stay strong.

But it's not all gloom and doom, dearest Twelve. You've got the Gang of Four and they love you for who you are. The proof? You met up with one of them four years later in the pouring rain, and you ate chocolate and burgers and chattered the whole night long, and it was like I was twelve years old again. Well, it was, until we started talking about some distinctly sixteen year old stuff.

BSC happens this year, dearest Twelve. You've never been so in love, and a thousand different emotions flood through you every heartbeat - love, jealousy, all of it. You've never wanted something so badly, and for the first time you've got something to lose. But don't worry, dearest Twelve. I know you hate hearing this, but you're only twelve. I promise you, you'll get over it. And there are slightly better losers to waste your time with.

Dearest Twelve, it's the start of something new next year. Don't worry about primary school. Don't worry about all the little things that are big things when you're twelve. What I love most about you, dearest Twelve, is that you're more in touch with reality than people give you credit for. Primary school isn't real, dearest Twelve. And it's a waste of energy trying to kiss it goodbye.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen

infinity

Now Playing: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N by Noah & the Whale (but to a writer the truth is no big deal)

So as I was falling asleep last night I had so many ideas swirling around in my head about a blog post called 'infinity'.

And now I have no idea what I wanted to say.

I'm tired of being considered as a finite resource. It seems a bit sexist, a bit objectifying, a bit of an underestimation of what I am and what I can do. I'm not even treated as something finite, anyway - I am not precious or special in any way to anyone. So why do people insist on treating me like my love and my patience is endless, but tell me off when I am too free with it?

I'm not made of stone. People hurt me, all the time. I know I trust too much, but I don't think I ask too much in return. It's sad that we live in a world where we are wary of love, where someone who is selfless must always be suspected of ulterior motives.

What is with this thinking, anyway? If I love someone, I can always love someone else. I have more than enough love to go around. You hear so many stories of spouses being jealous of their partner's friends, even their parents and children - as if loving others stops someone from loving you. Exclusivity only leads to loneliness. People can't bear the idea of me being able to love another just as I love them, and that I can leave people who hurt me.

I guess it's because I'm from a very large extended Asian family - all the people I know love me dearly love many other people equally, and it is something I have had to accept. In a few days I'm going to live with my family in Korea for a little while, and I love them dearly - I love them because they have more love than I have ever seen, their love is endless and unconditional and beautiful. They love so many so deeply. I have never had one person all to myself, and I don't think it's right to wish for that. It seems, to me, selfish and greedy. Maybe that's where the stereotype that men don't like children come from - I know I have been known to just go a little bit batshit over pinching baby cheeks and making goo goo eyes at toddlers.

Sex is also given the same treatment. If it's the same deed done under the same circumstances it will always be the same. Women are not cars (value decreases with each use) or batteries (finite). Women are people.

A lot of people ask me why I still dive in head first even though I should probably be a little more careful. Mostly it's because I'm young and stupid and reckless and impatient and just a little too hormone driven. But it's also because I know I can bounce back from anything - it's kind of what being a girl and a feminist and a hospital baby and just a person has taught me over the past sixteen years. It's because I know that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and memories are memories - the good, the bad, the ugly, they all mean something. And I know that love can't be wasted, or used up, or evaporate of its own accord. I know that even though people break me like a promise and it feels like I'm tripping around from lover to lover, it'll all be worth it, and it's the journey that counts just as much as the destination. I know that my love is infinite, and if I never try I'll never know just what I'm worth.


Music Monday: Little Things

I'm not a Directioner per se, but I'm still a teenage girl...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

the best in people

Now Playing: All Too Well by Taylor Swift (so casually cruel in the name of being honest)

I always thought it was a good thing that I always try to see the best in people. 

I know it's totally incongruous with how bitter and cynical I have become, but I've never fully lost my ability to look at people with baby-eyed awe. 

It's not like I've never been hurt. I've been hurt before - by friends, by boys, by teachers, by random strangers on the street, by myself. But I've never lost the feeling that everyone deserves a chance, that you don't have the right to judge people you've never met, that you can't jump to conclusions about people you don't know, and that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. It's the kind of treatment I want and expect, but hardly ever get. I always try to think the best of people until it is really too impossible to ever think highly of them ever again.

I think it's part of the double-edged sword of being a feminist. I'm not a princess, and this ain't a fairytale, in the words of Taylor Swift. I don't like the idea of being locked up in a tower waiting for Prince Charming - I'm not that much of a dreamer. I don't believe in waiting for friends and for love to come to you - sometimes, when you want something, you have to get off your ass and go for it. Yes, you might get rejected, used, hurt, humiliated. But you can also fall in love, create the greatest of friendships, be the happiest you've ever been. I don't like waiting for people to give me things - sometimes I have to be brave and make the first move. Which means that yes, sometimes I give people too much trust and love and faith than they deserve, than they are worthy of. But my love is not a commodity, it's not a finite resource. I have more than enough love to go around. Accuse me of anything, but you can never say that I didn't love you enough.

I don't understand how to be reserved. I can't do it. I love people and I want to know everything about them and I want them to know everything about me. I hate misunderstandings - I hate misunderstanding people and I hate people misunderstanding me. And I don't think the journey is slowly discovering someone iota by iota - I think the journey should start together, as equals, as people who click. I can't wait for that. 

Next year I'll be meeting lots of people. And I'm sure I'll be too trusting and have faith in the wrong people and know the longing of loving all the wrong things. But I am the eternal optimist, and the self-confessed romantic - I believe that there is good in everybody. I'll probably end up hating a lot of people and making a lot of enemies, to be perfectly honest - because I know I'm not the most lovable person in the world and I rub plenty of people the wrong way. But I promise you, I don't judge. I give everyone a shot. If I get hurt in the process, then such is life. It's what I'll do for you, so that you all have a fair chance of stealing a little piece of my heart. If things don't work out between you and me, it won't be because I've pulled a Lizzy Bennett and judged you on first impressions. 

I'm stronger than I look, and I'm not naive as you think. I don't think the world of everyone because I think absolutely everyone is worthy of my high esteem - if I've learnt anything in sixteen years of being me, it's that people can be horrible, and people can hurt you. But I think we all deserve a chance. Don't you?




Sunday Wordle: Love


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Begin Again

Now Playing: Begin Again by Taylor Swift (you don't know how nice that is, but I do)

Begin Again has launched!

I'm back from high school graduation and I'm exhausted. I'm in my flannel sweatpants and my favourite pumpkin orange sweater. My graduation certificate and my Ella Mackay Award for English are next to me on my desk. And I'm deliriously exhausted and happy.

By the way, this is my first post published from my iPad :P. I'm practicing touch typing on my Logitech iPad keyboard so I can keep up with my lecturers next year. And it's also the first blog post I've written listening to music through my new Sound Magic headphones, which are wonderful.

High school. I've done it. It's been a psychotic rollercoaster. The most euphoric highs, the most devastating lows. It's been four years of every single thought and feeling and emotion all tumbled together. Year twelve, especially, was the year of firsts.

So I think it is fitting, at the conclusion of my secondary education, to begin again. It's been a year of hurts and I want to move on. I've always been a shy sort of person (believe it or not) and wary of strange company and so I've never had such a fierce desire to reconnect with myself, to do new things, to meet new people, to learn and grow. I want to reach new heights and...I want to fall in love again. I want to love new friends, I want to learn how to love myself again. And I want to fall in the kind of love that Taylor Swift talks about, love that shines golden like starlight, and doesn't fade or spontaneously combust. The relationships I've had, with loves, with friends, with myself, have been red. There has been nothing beige about my life, and for that I am glad. But the relationships that go from zero to a hundred miles an hour and then hit a wall and exploded were awful, ridiculous, desperate, thrilling. And as much as I regret nothing and would do it all again in a heartbeat, I have never lost hope on my ambition to find a state of grace.

This year I have tried to be fearless. I have tried to be brave and to speak my mind. And doing that gave me the guts to do what I never thought I could do before - I realized just how worthy I was, of this state of grace that I dream of, and that it will somehow be worth the wait. Being fearless wasn't not being afraid of anything - truth be told, everything brave and reckless I have done I have been so close to breaking down, terrified, but being fearless meant that I did it all anyway; I did whatever I thought to be right, no matter what. Being fearless was scary and often broke me, but it also helped me to heal. I owe everything to being fearless.

If you are a true friend, I love you dearly. I love you for being with me. I love you for picking me up every time I fell. I love you for helping me to be fearless. And I will always love you, even though I begin again. It's a new leaf and a fresh slate, but you are embedded in my heart.

Friday, November 23, 2012

begin again: explained

Now Playing: Begin Again by Taylor Swift (and you don't know why I'm coming off a little shy, but I do)

Begin Again launches in 24 hours!

Give or take a few. I don't know when graduation ends :P

Tomorrow is high school graduation and...it seems...pretty...huge.

Well, not as huge as I thought it would be seeing as we've been progressively graduating for  a few weeks now - we got kicked out of school weeks ago, had our last day with a big assembly and signing shirts and ringing bells and all of that but...this is it. The very. Last. High school. Thing.

What can I say? It's been completely crazy, these last four years. I've laughed and cried more than I've ever thought possible and I've learned....I've learned so much.

But I know that it is time to begin again. There is something to be said for being young and silly and making mistakes - and I've made my fair share, believe me. I've fallen for the wrong kinds of love, said and done a lot of wrong things at the wrong time, believed in the wrong people. And there is something to be learned from being wild and reckless, from not looking before you leap, from falling for the delicious thrill of something slightly twisted, from lusting after everything that is dangerous and treacherous. And there's nothing wrong with that, at all. If I had a second chance I wouldn't change a thing, I'd do it all again.  But at the same time I like to think that I've learned something from all the scrapes and misadventures and broken hearts. I'd like to think that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and if I really am a stronger person after all of that I have the strength to begin again.

Begin again, to me, doesn't mean a makeover. I'm still me. I'm still young and silly. I'll still make mistakes - trust me on this one. Life is one big happy heartbreaking mistake. But high school was getting a little...claustrophobic. I want to meet new people. I want to do new things, see new things. Everything next year will be shiny and new and I can't wait.

If there's anything I've learned this year, it's that everyone has a shot - a shot at life, a shot at happiness, a shot at love. This year I had to undo eleven years of bullying that had convinced me that I wasn't good enough, never good enough - a lot of breaks had to be rebroken. And now, it's time to heal again, and to heal properly this time.

This year I wanted to be fearless - I just wanted to be myself, come what may. And it was hard. It was really hard, and very scary. But it was worth it. Being fearless...it is indescribable, how free that makes you.

And now, I begin again.

Video Friday: Dan Savage vs. Brian Brown



BTW, Dan Savage is cute. I mean, seriously. So my type. If he wasn't gay. Nothing against gay people, I'm just not a man.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Look Closer

Now Playing: Treacherous (this love is treacherous, this daydream is dangerous, this love is treacherous and I, I, I...I like it)

So this is on the orders of my beloved English teacher.

This is the kind of thing that I like to write. I like being funny. I think I disappoint some hardcore lit snobs when I tell them that I read a lot of blogs, and I watch a lot of stand-up comedy. I adore Dan Savage. I can't wait to get my hands on Belle de Jour's books. I love Frankie Boyle, Adam Hills, Wil Anderson, Shappi Khorsandi, Hughesy, Chris Addison, Jack Whitehall, Jeff Green, Ed Byrne, Sarah Millican, Sarah Kendall.

I love love love vloggers. Laci Green is a big favourite of mine.

And so this is where I get my inspiration from - not only topic matters but also how to say what I want to say. My journalese is bitchy, catty, cynical and sarcastic - but nobody taught it to me, it's something I learned myself, by copying what I like to read. People have this idea in their head that 'good' writing is stiff and boring and dull, and that journalists and schoolkids speak different languages - but they don't, it really is the same. Writing must be engaging and enjoyable and entertaining or it doesn't matter what you say, nobody's going to listen. Writing must market itself.

So here is a very long winded brainstorm-cum-journalese-critique. Don't try and copy this for WACE, btw. Firstly, unless you are in the top 0.5% of the state this will scream 'copying somebody'. Secondly, I didn't write this to a specific question and I guarantee if you reel this off and then think about which question it best fits you will get a sucky mark. Thirdly, this is over 2,000 words long. I have edited it for my purposes but I'm not going to clue you in as to how. If you try and write this you won't have any time for anything else and will induce carpal tunnel. Fourthly...I've scheduled this after the 2012 WACE exams. Because I'm evil.

So here it is:

Look Closer
by G. K.

Oh, American Beauty. The film that everyone thinks is about a horse with a stupid name until they see it for what it is - a masterpiece of left-wing criticism of the American dream and a mockery of the futile attempts to find happiness and meaning in the doldrums of suburbia. American Beauty champions something that is more taboo than sex, drugs and homosexuality - it celebrates the beauty of being yourself.

That's the idea, anyway. The story of a man who's bored with his boring, unsexy life with his boring, unsexy job and his boring, unsexy marriage with his boring, unsexy wife is something we're all familiar with. We all know someone who tries to solve his male pattern baldness and mortgage with a tacky new sports car, regressing into the teenage 'nobody loves me, everybody hates me' attitude and Humbert Humbert fantasies. American Beauty glorifies the mid-life crisis by disguising regression into chauvinistic, misogynistic, hyper masculine behaviour as 'finding meaning in life' by reinforcing outdated gender roles and attitudes towards sexuality through the unsympathetic portrayal of modern women who fail to conform to hypocritical sexual standards.

Carolyn Burnham is painted as the antagonist of the whole parade - she's a hard working career woman in a male-dominated industry and a house-proud wife and mother. There's actually nothing wrong with the above, if you think about it - in this day and age, most women do have a career outside of changing nappies and scrubbing toilets, and even the most optimistic estimates suggest that men won't be pulling equal weight in domestic duties until 2050. But for all her efforts Carolyn is ridiculed by her husband when he warns his daughter that she's turning into 'a bitch, just like your mother', and 'what, so you're mother of the year now?'. Although it is made abundantly clear that Carolyn, like Lester, is lost in life, unable to find meaning, sexually frustrated and trapped in an unsuccessful career, her character is a one-dimensional stereotype of what happens when women don't become dutiful homemakers - a terrible mother and a domineering wife over her emasculated husband. Her practicality - such as not wanting to soil a $4000 sofa and wondering what the heck Lester did to the family car - is dressed up as 'materialism', as is her desire to stay in her job, as meaningless and frustrating as it is, to make ends meet. Lester is applauded for quitting his job and for errant spending, and the subsequent pressure placed on Carolyn only serves to exaggerate her characterisation as a heartless career woman who treats her daughter 'like an employee', although the film's idealistic narrative fails to point out that if Carolyn really did join her husband in his mid life crisis spiral they'd be swapping boring, comfortable suburbia with homelessness and poverty. It's a choice between bad or worse, and yet Carolyn is depicted as a frigid, characterless, money-driven shrew when she chooses the former. American Beauty is arguably a film about sex, and what happens when men don't get sex - but it also depicts a sinisterly misogynist sub-plot of what happens when women get sex; a whirlwind romance, a few moments of bliss in a shady motel followed by humiliation at a fast food joint, and an emotional break up as punishment for getting 'the royal treatment, so to speak'. The characterisation of Carolyn Burnham reinforces the myth that marriage to a career woman will result in emasculation, domestic disorder and sexual frustration, and attempts to juxtapose the frigid straw feminist archetype with the fallen women by 'punishing' Carolyn for attempting to explore her sexuality outside of the heterosexual monogamous suburban marriage, which remains the only acceptable time and place for expressions of female sexuality.

Enter Lester Burnham, the perfect candidate for a self-destructive journey of self-discovery. He's bored, but he's also rather boring - even though American Beauty attempts to paint him as the hero amongst his emasculating wife, sullen teenage daughter, promiscuous Angela Hayes and murderous neighbours with stalker sons, there's nothing inherently wrong with Lester Burnham or his life until he decides to take financial advice from a drug-dealing teenager and thinks he can turn off his responsibilities as a husband, father and breadwinner overnight. Without thinking of the emotional or financial impact of his actions on his family - but I guess that is the point of a mid life crisis, to simply not give a damn anymore - Lester says to a teenage drug dealer that he is 'his personal hero' and acts on his every desire - to buy that car he wanted, to smoke as much pot as he likes and to lust over a nubile young woman he regards as little more than a sex object. Whilst Carolyn is villainized for succumbing to the boring, adult, unsexy responsibilities of managing a home and putting food on the table - literally, you never ever see Lester cook anything - Lester is applauded for reckless spending, for calling his wife and daughter 'a bitch', and for preying on high school cheerleaders. This hedonism that has become a defining characteristic of masculinity - to the extent that it is somehow implied that the natural state of men is to rape unless women are dressed in burqas - that sees Lester swing from totally emasculated and downtrodden to violent and hyper masculine, as seen when he orders his family around, tells Carolyn on several occasions that she 'can't tell him what to do', verbally abuses his daughter and behaves increasingly violent and erratic. Whilst Carolyn is punished with an abrupt breakup and humiliation for her sexual indiscretions, Lester is almost allowed to follow through with his Lolita fantasies - until he chickens out and adheres to the glorification of female virginity, in which the purely arbitrary and largely irrelevant sexual history of the object of his affections becomes a new moral compass to curb Lester's hedonism before he gets shot in the head. Lester Burnham is presented in American Beauty as a man on a journey to find meaning in life and to embrace being individual, when in reality he is little more than a cliché, a stereotypical presentation of the destructive mid-life crises of the real world and a character who presents a dangerous message that to be yourself you have to be reckless, irresponsible, childlike and embrace hyper masculinity and violence.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks you'll see a lot of hype about how Bella and Edward's relationship in Twilight meets the fifteen criteria set out by the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the US for abusive relationships, and that poor writing and inexplicably sparkly vampires aside, Edward is a creepy, manipulative stalker. In the same vein of promoting reckless hedonistic hyper masculinity as 'being yourself', the character of Ricky promotes creepy stalking (there is no other way to rehash 'spending large quantities of time with a video camera aimed at your bedroom window') as an attribute of the 'strong, silent type' - or worse, as proof of 'true love'. The construction of Angela's insecurity is primarily constructed out of her fear that other people don't like her and that she's jealous of the attention that Ricky is giving Jane, but Angela's got it right - Ricky is creepy, he is stalking and there was a high chance that he did have 'a shrine with pictures of Jane surrounded by dead people's heads and stuff' - okay, maybe not, but he was certainly the type. Further, the kind of kid who casually walks out of part time jobs and deals dope on the side to make exorbitant amounts of fast cash is not exactly 'good boyfriend material', and yet part of the 'beauty of life' theme of American Beauty is that Jane has found her soul mate and is going to run away to a big city with a drug dealer. Angela's fears for Jane - which are reconstructed as 'insecurity' and 'selfishness' - are genuine, and reflect genuine fears for teenage girls who succumb to this Ricky/Edward Cullen charm and fall for the often dangerous trope that is recurring in pop culture that stalking = love, and that anyone can get away with anything as long as he isn't a) boring, like your dad and b) he loves you, unlike your dad. American Beauty attempts to challenge societal convention by saying that eccentricity is good for you - yes, but stalking, smoking illegal substances, dealing in an illegal trade and being underage and convincing your underage girlfriend to run away on an escapade funded by drug money is not good for you and is not an appropriate antithesis to the superficial American dream that is (rightly) critiqued by the film. American Beauty attacks the monotony of suburban life by replacing it with dangerous and reckless fantasies of underage runaways making it big on an illegal trade, and presents as an ideal partner in crime - literally - for finding the 'beauty' that Lester attempts to find through hedonism and hyper masculinity is a creepy, silent, sullen, stalker. Lovely.

And then, of course, there is Angela - the shameless, promiscuous teenager who spends most of her dialogue discussing genital size and is the object of affection, sorry, lust for Lester and his Humbert Humbert fantasies - this reading is encouraged subliminally, as Angela's surname 'Hayes' is a homophone for Lolita's surname, 'Haze', and Lester Burnham is an anagram of 'Humbert learns' - learns what? He certainly didn't learn that it isn't legal or socially acceptable to sexually prey on schoolgirls, because that's what Lester spends most of his screen time doing. He also didn't learn that women - especially girls who could be his daughter - are actual people, considering that Angela never actually talks to Lester in real time or in dream time, except to say things he wants to hear, like how good he looks after he's worked out or some other strange sexual innuendo. American Beauty is trying to be all left-wing and modern by saying that yes, teenagers are sexual beings - all three teenage characters take their clothes off at some point during the movie - but Angela is nothing more than a sex object, and her characterisation is purely based out of her sexual behaviour and how she is perceived as a sexual object. Angela's 'insecurity' is based out of nothing more than her untrue, crass bragging, she's cut down by Ricky for essentially being promiscuous - a normal teenage thing, believe it or not - and jealous - a normal human thing, believe it or not - and her role in Lester's life is not because of her dialogue or her personality or her actions, but by the consequences of Lester wondering what she looks like naked. Angela is characterised as shallow, dumb, insecure - but only because she is perceived to be promiscuous. But the biggest lesson that Humbert Lester didn't learn is that women can't be treated as sex objects with no feelings or intelligence or personality just because they're promiscuous, and they don't suddenly become human beings - or vulnerable, scared, underage girls - after the great revelation that they're virgins. Lester's sudden change in attitude, where he becomes a comforting, fatherly presence who perceives Angela as a daughter rather than a sex object is not due to any moral change in him, or a realization that paedophilia is neither legal nor socially acceptable - it's simply his response to the cultural attitudes and hype around virginity, and the idea that virginity or lack thereof is the sole factor in how women should be treated. American Beauty reinforces harmful stereotypes by emphasizing Angela's perceived promiscuity over any other trait she might have, and by adhering to the outdated and sexist concept of valuing a woman's virginity above and beyond recognising her as a human being.

American Beauty's tagline is to look closer - look closer at the rot at the root of perfection, look closer at the things that are supposed to make us happy and how they are totally incongruous with the things that actually make us happy. But do as it says - look closer - and you'll see that underneath the left-wing criticism of right-wing middle class ambition American Beauty reinforces many of the things it attempts to critique - that hyper masculinity is the only way for men to assert themselves, that career women are frigid, bitchy, calculative, materialistic and should be punished for proving the above wrong, that girls should be attracted to boys who are dangerous and scary because at least he's an alternative to your dad, or the kind of boys who will turn out to be like your dad, and that girls aren't worthy of being treated as human beings if they're promiscuous. Whilst American Beauty critiques suburbia, it also reinforces outdated, misogynistic and harmful gender stereotypes, reflecting that we as a society can challenge some things and champion others, but other ideas remain too deeply entrenched to even be considered for an update.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Commenting

Now Playing: Mean by Taylor Swift (someday I'll be living in a big old city, and all you're ever gonna be is mean)

Just a recap on my commenting policy:

I will not publish a comment that contains:
- my name or any of my personal information
- anyone else's full name or any information I consider to be private
- derogatory, offensive language
- trolling or bullying
- bad grammar. Because I'm a freak.

I will always publish a comment that is coherent and civil, even if it presents opinions that differ from my own.

Wordless Wednesday: BDSM Brain

I just thought it was funny because it looks like the heart has heart block...like me...

:P


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Racism in Australia

Now Playing: Rambling Man by Laura Marling (let it be known that I was who I am)

I've always found it fascinating that people are so offended when I say the truth. The truth that Australia is a deeply, deeply racist country.

Just the other day I was in the elevator at the State Library when this man, who I'd never seen in my life, suddenly barked at me

VIETNAM? ARE YOU FROM VIETNAM?

I told him I wasn't and wished the ancient elevator would hurry the fuck up.

WHERE YOU FROM THEN?

My ethnicity isn't generally something I like discussing in detail with strangers, so I just said the answer that infuriates these kind of people the most. 'Here. I'm from here. I'm Australian'.

He looked a bit taken aback by that, and then said, as if I was the slowest person on earth,

NO, BUT WHERE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY?

I'm sorry, but the ONLY people who have any grounds to say that are...Aboriginals. Seriously. Nobody ever stops a white person and asks them where they come from, and anyone who knows anything about Australian history knows that if you're white, you're just as foreign as I am. One of my best friends is white, but she also happens to be born in Italy. Nobody has ever interrogated her about the purely arbitrary geographical location of her birth.

I didn't answer, so he just started shooting countries at me. To be honest, I was kind of scared to say yes to any of them, not only because he was totally off (Do I look Cambodian? No.) but because he was pretty aggressive for what could have been a well intentioned if inadvertently racist query, so I thought he might have had a thing for one of those countries.

CAMBODIA?

PHILIPPINES?

JAPAN?

CHINA?

THAILAND?

MALAYSIA?

Mercifully, the lift finally shuddered to a halt and the doors opened, so I mumbled 'my dad's from Korea kcoolbye' and ran off.

The long story short of my ethnicity is that my dad is Korean and my mother is Singaporean, and ethnically Chinese. But why should I have to explain that to random strangers? Some of my friends can't even straighten that out - mostly because they don't care. I'm not a colour to them. I'm not 'the Asian friend', I'm just a friend.

I was born here, in the Perth Hills. I was raised right here, in the Perth suburbs. I go to an Australian school and I have an Australian passport and an Australian birth certificate and I have Australian citizenship and...fuck it, I can speak English better than most 'real Australians'. I've got the certificates to prove that.

Everyone wonders why I'm so cynical about Australia, why I don't really feel proud to be Australian, and why I don't feel very Australian. This is why. I'm as Australian as any one of you and I still get treated with disrespect. Asians have been in Australia since the goldrushes of the 1800s. Asian immigration has existed since the Indo-Chinese refugees of the Vietnam War and became especially great during the times of Hawke and Keating, which is when my parents migrated. Asian Australians are really nothing new, and we're just as Australian as white Australians.

What is with this fascination with 'where I come from'? Is it any of your business? Why do you need to know what ching chong country I come from? Are you that scared of  yellow peril? Are you afraid that I'm going to say 'Mars' instead of 'Korea'? Why does my colour give you the right to interrogate me about my personal information? I really don't get it. You can't make any judgements of me based on my colour, or my race, or my gender, or 'where I come from'.

I can't count the number of times I've been called an 'Asian cunt'. Most of the time it's unprovoked - other times it's been uttered if I trip over my own feet, or my bus card refuses to work, or if there's a spelling error or a typo in my work or whatever - anything that makes me less than perfect is immediately grounds to call me an Asian cunt. What the fuck?

'Go back to where you come from' is a common one, too - normally from tradies after I've rolled my eyes when they whistle at me from their cars - as if my presence as an Asian female is only worth it if I'm flattered by some disgusting obese redneck in wife beaters making obscene remarks at me. It's disgusting.

Don't tell me that I should be proud to be Australian, that I should feel Australian and all that shit. Because every time someone demands to know where I'm from, every time someone yells that I'm an Asian cunt and that I should go back to where I came from, I couldn't feel any less Australian, and I couldn't feel any less proud to be Australian. Australians and their racism disgust me.

I've joked before about having 'racist hormones' in that I generally tend to like white boys. I have friends of lots of races and religions and whatever, but I do know for a fact that Asian boys do not like me and so that feeling has become kind of mutual. When I was little and I first had a crush on a boy - white - one of the first things people said when they figured it out was that I was Asian, and so nothing would ever happen. Never mind that there were lots of mixed race kids with Asian mothers and white fathers - it's actually quite a common phenomenon in Australia. I was made to feel like I was unworthy of all these white boys purely because of my race, and that only because of my race these boys wouldn't look twice at me. This was the general consensus of eight year olds, for crying out loud. Our country is so fucked even the most innocent say the most screwed up things.

But do you know what the worst part is? The denial. The preface to most racist rants are 'I'm not a racist, BUT'. First of all, that's, um, bad grammar. It is 'I'm not racist, however', not 'I'm not a racist, but'. Australians refuse to admit how racist they are, and are offended whenever we point out evidence of racism. I'm not making this shit up - I wish I was. I wish I didn't get called an Asian cunt. I wish I don't get interrogated and receive dirty looks because I'm Asian. I wish Australia wasn't such a racist country.





nighttime nostalgia

Now Playing: 5 Years Time by Noah & The Whale (wherever you go there'll be love, love, love)

Do you ever get those odd flashbacks to those random moments in your childhood?

In the house that I grew up in, in the southern suburbs of Perth - it's now been pulled down - my sister and I shared an enormous bedroom - she moved out when she was about ten and  I got too annoying. The entire bedroom was filled up with two king single beds pushed together.

My sister had asthma so my mum bought a little peach-scented oil lamp which burned on a chair at the foot of our bed. I remember mum being very paranoid about the lamp and constantly coming to check that it hadn't spilled over and we weren't dying in an inferno.

I still remember the smell of that lamp. To this day I haven't seen anything quite as comforting as the warm glow of that lamp in the middle of the night. I used to flip over and put my head at the foot of my bed and just stare at it until the flickering light lulled me into sleep.

Later, when my sister moved into her own room and I had that huge room to myself, I used to stay up all night staring out the window, breathing in the night air and watching the cars speed past. I would sit up and wrap my quilt around me in a warm cuddly cocoon, just thinking, until I was so exhausted I keeled over sideways unconscious.

I was lying in bed last night with tears streaming down my cheeks - a normal thing when I'm overtired, as I explained on my poetry page. I thought back on all the things I used to do after lights out - reading with a torch, wandering around the house, getting up and lying on the floorboards...and I realized that I'd always rebelled against sleep. And sometimes, when I am too tired to sleep, I just have to think of the heady scent of that oil lamp of my childhood and it comforts me to sleep like a lullaby.

a world away

I dream of dreamless sleep
A world away from broken hearts

I dream of another place
A world away from endless days
Where winning feels like losing
And loving feels like hating

And holding tight
Feels like letting go.

I dream of fairytales
A world away from you
A white knight with a plastic heart
For a rhinestone love.

I dream of dreamless sleep
A world away from tearstained memories

In my dreams we're side by side
In a world of endless nights
In my dreams we begin again
In a world that does not know fear.

I dream of dreamless sleep
And a world for me and you.

Click here for a discussion of a world away

The Things High School Taught Me

Now Playing: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah & the Whale (you've got more than money and sense, my friend, you've got heart and you're going your own way) 

1. I am really, really hard on myself. 

I am pretty much the only person I know who cries when I don't get 90s in English. Growing up as a nerd I learnt very young to tie a lot of my self worth to the numbers I get on assignments which is...not healthy, I know. But I only realized how obsessive I was over that once I had gotten to high school, skipped a grade, and I wasn't the best and it wasn't easy to get the kind of marks that I wanted - year eight was a bit of an ego kick and I'd never worked so hard in my life. That being said, though, I also realized that I'm not happy coasting along and I'm not happy without a challenge - Year 10 English for me was a walk in the park, once I'd learned all the ropes in year nine, but I felt that same restlessness I felt in primary school. And then year eleven and definitely year twelve it became really hard again and I really struggled to have realistic expectations and not to get too hung up on numbers.

2. I read really, really deep. Too deep? I don't know.

I blame my amazing English and Lit teachers for this, but I read into everything very, very deep. I have a pretty good memory and I spend far too much time mulling over the most pedestrian conversations and fretting over the most trivial of things. As a consequence, I can often convince myself that someone hates me over something that they probably forgot six seconds after it happened. And I have a lot of secret hunches about a lot of people which I think are true because I do trust my intuition but I don't really want to voice them because there's a chance I might be wrong and people will think I'm crazy. Which in itself sounds slightly kooky, but every time I have ignored my gut feeling because I'm worried that I am reading too deep and I'm totally missing the point I've regretted it, because I was right all along and wrong not to follow my own advice. So maybe I don't read too deep. Maybe I see things, important things, that everyone else misses.

3. I'm very, very insecure.

I guess I always knew this, but I only understood the depth of my insecurities and the causes of them when I got to high school. Primary school was not a healthy place for me to grow up. I know many people perceived me to be, after eight years in that place, to be proud, haughty, bitterly hostile and very defensive, when the truth is that I was broken by years of being told that I wasn't good enough, never good enough - by my classmates, by boys, by teachers. To try and cover up my self-esteem issues and to not let them get to me I would often pretend to have more self-confidence than I ever had and then I would get knocked down for being 'too proud'. This vicious circle led to huge problems - to get people off my back I would buy into whatever they said and pretend to be a mincing, defeated, insecure little kid, and I couldn't shake off this feeling of total inadequacy that I believe led to my depression. And it wasn't just academia and socially, too - when one is eight and shy and timidly in love the best thing to happen is not to have every boy in the grade laugh in your face and tell you that you're not good enough, never good enough.

The consequence? Well, I do stupid things thinking that my efforts will result in nothing so I might as well have fun going through the motions. I don't believe that the big and crazy and only-happens-to-pretty-girls moments happened even after they've happened.

4. I like my own company, and I need my own space.

I know some people - including me, sometimes - get very confused that I get very, very lonely, but I'm constantly running away from people. Solitary people get lonely too, sometimes, that's what I've learned. Solitary people are really quite needy. I've learned that it's okay to want to have some alone time, and that real friends will give you the space that you need.

5. I am very, very impatient. And that's not entirely a bad thing.

One of the first things I did as a year eight was skip a grade in English. I've been desperate to get out of high school ever since it started - not because I hated it, not at the beginning, anyway, but because I couldn't wait to be in the real world. I am very impatient with people, something that has been somewhat exacerbated by four years at an academic elite school because the people I associate with are pretty sharp. But my impatience has been a very good motivator when times got tough. So I'm not saying it's an altogether bad thing.

6. Apparently I ask too much of men AND settle for too little. Simultaneously.

I'd never considered myself the kind of girl who bought into every chick-lit, rom-com cliche, but apparently I am much more naive than I thought. Apparently expecting decency, respect and intelligent, mature conversation is too much to ask from boys, and I'm an idiot for expecting these kind of things from the boys I hang out with. Also, apparently I am also an idiot for being forgiving and not minding what a lot of other girls seem to mind - mostly any evidence that the boys I hang out with have any hormones or nerve endings whatsoever. I don't know how you can ask too much and settle for too little at the same time ,but apparently you can.

7. What other people say really, really, really doesn't matter. 

Democracy sucks. Seriously. Because it runs on the premise that if everyone's doing it, or if everyone's thinking it, it must be right. It's just an institutionalized form of suppressing minorities and silencing independent thought, really. We're little democratic sheep and I've decided to become a llama. Shit happens, but being fearless...it's worth it.

8. Nothing's worth doing unless you're having fun.

'If you put as much effort into your politics assignment/science homework/running that huge-ass cross country track as you did in that English essay you'd be really good'. Yeah, maybe. But nothing's worth doing unless you're having fun. I learnt that in high school.

9. Shit happens when you least expect it.

If you told me about half of the things that have happened this year to a fifteen year old me I would have told you that you're high on something. This has been the craziest, most random year ever - nothing turned out how I planned and the weirdest, most wonderful things - and some downright shitty things - happened when I least expected it, things that had never occurred to me and I doubted even after they had happened. It's been a bit bizarre, very cool, insanely scary but fearless.

10. Whatever will be, will be.

If you lose a friend, a better one will come along. If someone dumps you, it means you deserve better. If you miss out on one opportunity a thousand more open up. You never ever fail, you only find many different ways to not succeed, and you never ever lose, you only end with varying levels of success. Give everything a shot, because you get brownie points for trying. You'll silently wish that the earth would swallow you up because half of the things that come out of your mouth are dead scary and embarrassingly stupid and mortifyingly humiliating, but the things you'll regret the most are the things you wish you could have said, but didn't. You're never too old to dye your hair bright red or dance around in your pjs getting ready for school. Never be afraid to speak your mind and to be yourself - a diamond in the rough is infinitely more precious than a shiny rhinestone.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Music Monday: Skyfall

Skyfall premieres in Australia on 22 November!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

quantum of solace

Now Playing: I Almost Do by Taylor Swift (I confess in my dreams you're touching my face and asking me if I want to try again with you, and I almost do)

Friendship is a funny thing.

When they start - and you never really know when they start, really - you think of all the things that could go wrong, all the things that could hurt you. They never come into being. But a million other problems you never conceived possible...pop out of nowhere, and catch you unawares. I've never been one for surprises but that's always particularly nasty.

I don't understand people. I don't understand what's going through their heads, what they mean when they talk to me, why they do things. I only understand how to manipulate people. I constantly feel like people are sending mixed signals when they're probably not, but I...I'm just a little out of my depth when people don't spell things out. I can be subtle, but I only understand my own brand of subtlety.

When people tell me that I'm selfish it's because the only thing I've ever done with any reasonable measure of success is doing anything to get what I want. It's human nature, isn't it? I see nothing wrong with being self serving. Being lonely warps your perception a bit. When you can't trust anyone but yourself, you look after yourself a lot more. My friends know that I would do anything for them. The difference is that they never let me. And if I do, that's the main reason why I get pushed away. So when people tell me that I'm only sixteen and there's plenty of time to find friends and boyfriends and a crowd I wish I could just tell them that the part that hurts the most isn't age, or impatience, or disappointment, or feeling like I'm wasting or losing time. It's knowing that I would do anything for people who would do nothing for me.

I'm so terrified that people will get angry at me, but I do know that most of the time I'm the one that gets angry. I get angry very easily and very often and it's an intense surge of heat and hate and passion. People don't often think of me as an angry sort of person, because I normally internalize it (hence the death glares) or, being weak and small, I wait for a totally random time to express myself - which is why people think of me as irrational, I suppose, but I never do anything without reason even if my timing is a bit extra chronological. I guess I'm also seen as irrational because it appears that I get angry for no apparent reason, but that's something of a misconception - very rarely has someone done something monumentally damaging and I have flared up appropriately in response. When I'm angry at someone it's normally because of an ongoing issue, of little things that add up, and my anger is a result of frustration at not being able to communicate or resolve these issues. I am actually the kind of person who breaks down sobbing, breaks things, screams, even though most people never see that - it's not particularly impressive in someone my size. Even when I'm almost blind with rage I still have enough sense to know that I'm more intimidating when I'm being moody and passive aggressive - but it's a charade. That's not how I want to be when I'm angry. But it's the only way to turn a destructive emotion into a constructive one.

If I could say anything about most of the relationships I'm in right now, all I could really say is that they are exhausting. I don't feel very secure with anyone. Every time I think I've got things spelled out everything gets distorted again. I feel like I'm playing a game, most of the time. It just doesn't feel very real. People think I'm very trusting but I'm not, I'm just quite open. The worst thing - especially when you're not talking to people face to face - is talking to someone you love dearly and not being able to say what you want to say. My whole life is in words and the worst thing in the world is when words fail me. But in a way, this makes it easier. Because even though I want so much out of people and I am endlessly hurt and frustrated when nothing ever works out, it is sometimes easier, strangely, knowing deep down that you don't understand these people, and they will never understand you.

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Eleven Year Old Me

Now Playing: The Best Day by Taylor Swift (I don't know who I'm gonna talk to now at school, but I know I'm laughing on the car ride home with you, don't know how long it's gonna take to feel okay but I know I had the best day with you today)

Dearest Eleven,

Dearest Eleven, this is your annus horribilis. Well, it was, until 2012. 2012 was no fun, either.

Dearest Eleven, school is beyond retarded. You've called in sick so many times because the idea of wasting time there, bored out of your mind, literally makes you sick. You just want to do anything, anything to run away. You beg Mum to homeschool you. You'll do anything to get out.

Chicken pox! At the ripe old age of eleven you get chicken pox, and I've still got the scars - lovely and purple all over my thighs. But you did have eleven years of immunity before you succumbed, dearest Eleven. You're stronger than you look.

Dearest Eleven, if there was any advice I could give you this year that you could have actually listened too before it was too late is never ever ever go out with someone you don't like. Thank goodness you made this mistake at eleven when nothing counts. Feelings and emotions and hormones and all that other good stuff just gets more and more complicated as time goes on, dearest Eleven, but for a smart kid you sure do make some stupid mistakes. You don't like the guy. But you were so insecure that you said yes. Why? Why oh why oh why? The most romantic thing he's ever done for you is hack your email account after you 'dumped' him a week later. I know it's hard pining for all those boys who don't look twice at you, but don't settle for anything in life, dearest Eleven. You learn that this year. Good is not good enough for you, baby. You deserve the best.

Dearest Eleven, the bullying is pretty intense this year. For some unknown reason everyone decides to tell everyone else that you lost your virginity to a tampon and you lock yourself in the bathroom and cry for hours. Despite all the insanely awkward sex ed classes everyone seems to think that only sluts get periods and once you get it you're fair game for the most merciless bullying. Everyone is so senselessly horrible. When you're in Singapore over the summer and you pull down your pants and you see that dreaded red stain you nearly cry, because you know you'll have to spend all of next year denying you have it and going to all lengths to make sure nobody finds out. Don't worry, dearest Eleven. High school makes primary school look like a claustrophobic nunnery.

Dearest Eleven, I don't really like thinking about 2007. It was a horrible, terrible, no good year. You're so angry and frustrated that you become bitterly hostile, and I still haven't quite shaken off that hostility. But you get through it, dearest Eleven, you always do. And I promise, things get so much better.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Savita Halappanavar

Now Playing: Sad Beautiful Tragic by Taylor Swift (you've got your demons and darling, they all look like me)

On October 21 Savita Halappanavar died of blood poisoning from miscarriage in Ireland after being refused a abortion. She was seventeen weeks pregnant, and her foetus was dying and unviable.

The reason? Religion. Quite literally. Ireland's draconian laws of contraception and abortion are based on conservative Catholic teachings on sexual morality, and so Savita Halappanavar, an Indian Hindu, was refused an abortion because 'Ireland is a Catholic country'. Where can I even begin? A violation of religious rights, of the right to make decisions for one's body, of the right to life.

Whatever your stance on abortion, valuing the life of a unviable, dying foetus over that of the mother is disgusting. This poor woman died after a week of agony from blood poisoning as a result of an infection caused by her miscarriage and her life could have been saved by an abortion. Savita Halappanavar died because some assholes calling themselves 'doctors' put their religious beliefs over the life of a mother.

You'd expect this kind of story to come from some underprivileged African society but no, this is from Ireland. The Western Hemisphere. On the doorstep of the UK.

I am personally pro-life. I would not personally consider an abortion unless it was rape, incest, or a risk to my own life. Setting aside that if Savita Halappanavar had been given an abortion it would definitely constitute 'saving her life' to any sane person, I know that my opinions are my opinions and I have no right to impose them on other people - which is why I am pro-choice. You can choose to have an abortion. You can choose not to. And either way doctors are obliged to respect your wishes and to save your life - which is, you know, the whole purpose of having doctors.

Rest in peace, Savita Halappanavar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Ten Year Old Me

Now Playing: The Best Day by Taylor Swift (God smiles on my little brother)

Dearest Ten,

Because you're so hellbent on growing up, I'm going to try and convince you otherwise.

Things that you didn't even imagine to be things become practically impossible, to quote Michael McIntyre. Running up the stairs without wearing a bra? I haven't done that for years! Well, I did just then, but sincerely regretted it - fucking OW. Walking through the streets without at least one seedy creep staring at your chest? Unheard of.

Ten is a weird age, dearest Ten. You want to grow up so fast, you get so bored and impatient and frustrated so easily. But you don't know what you're talking about, dearest Ten. I'm sixteen now and I spend every day wishing I was you again. This is the twilight of the golden age of princesses and pirate ships, dearest Ten. I'm sixteen and still a baby but everyone expects me to be something I'm not, and it's very disarming to be with people you thought you trusted and knew only to realize that you're definitely not a baby in their eyes and they have no intentions of treating you as one, no matter how you feel. This is the last year that people treat you like a baby, and even though you hate it, I wish you didn't take it for granted. Being a grown up is worse.

You've grown used to solitude. You lie on the cool grass and watch the clouds puff past and everyone thinks you're weird, but you're beyond caring. You've figured out by now that you only want people who will lie down next to you and watch the sunlight through the trees but nobody ever will, even if they want to. You say weird, abstract things, partly because that's really what's going through your head and partly for attention. You're miles behind on homework but you know that none of it matters. I think that was the part that killed you, dearest Ten, thinking that your life doesn't matter.

Dearest Ten, I know you just want people to know that you don't follow the flock because you just don't care, not because you're incompetent. I know you just want people to know you, what you think, what you have to say, but nobody ever listens, and nobody ever offers their own opinions on anything. You're starved, but don't worry, dearest Ten. There are a lot of people out there. Some of them understand you.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen.


The Papaver Cadaver

They say
When you die
Your life flashes before your eyes

And I will remember
Days of innocence
In a field of poppies.

In the catharsis
Of self induced amnesia
Sometimes I cannot remember you at all

Life and time
Has a way of erasing memories
And dulling agonies.

But when Hell beckons
And Death is at my door
The fires of eternal damnation will not hurt me

My days as your paramour
A first love of heartbeats and sweetmeats
Will be my syrup of poppies.

*     *     *

Will you lay a poppy by my grave?
For the blood I spilled
And the blood I shed

For the times I tried to dull my pain
And in remembrance
Of you and me?

Your love made me a wartime martyr
Blood spilled on flower petals
And virgin flesh

How strange it is
That my poppies were to forget you
And yours are to remember me.

When that day comes
Tomorrow, a lifetime away
I will remember you

I know you will be there with me at the end
Bury me as Ophelia
In a brook of flowers.

Click here for a discussion of The Papaver Cadaver 

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Nine Year Old Me

Now Playing: The Best Day by Taylor Swift (I grew up in a pretty house and I had space to run and I had the best days with you)

Dearest Nine,

To be honest, dearest Nine, I don't know whether it's better to have teachers that hate you or teachers that love you. At least when teachers are mean to you the other kids more or less leave you alone. When teachers put you up on a pedestal, you become an easy target.

It's been three years since you were discovered as 'the kid who can write', and now you're finally getting something for it. Your teacher buys you a pen and a leather-bound journal and all the other kids are crazy jealous of this two dollar store presents.

There's a new boy at school and you're crazy in love, but this is the year that you realize that boys have terrible, terrible, terrible taste in girls - all the girls are saying it, not just you. And then you realize, given the six-second lifespan of grade four relationships, that boys choose the girls they think they want, or the girls that their friends will approve of, and you are neither. You get very hung up about this, dearest Nine, but I wish I could have told you that you don't need boys who worry about that. Now I've met boys who genuinely don't give a fuck what other people think or say about them and I can't help but admire them. It's the one thing I love most about the boys I love now.

That's the thing, dearest Nine. Every time you fall in love you think that this is it, you couldn't possibly love anyone anymore. You love them even if they hurt you, humiliate you, choose others over you. And then eventually you get over that, because there's someone else. There's always someone else, dearest Nine, always someone better than the last. I'm trying to convince myself of that now, that there will be someone else, because there always is. So don't let yourself fall too deep or get too hurt, dearest Nine, because no matter how perfect you think this boy or that boy is, there's always someone better. You run into that new kid when you're fourteen, dearest Nine, and he looked you up and down and you see a tiny pang of regret in his eyes that he didn't get to know you better. The thing about being single is that you can always, always begin again and move on to someone better. You've got nothing to lose, dearest Nine, and they...they've got you to lose. I wish you could have known how precious you are and even though so few people bother to get to know you, once they do they never let you go.

Dearest Nine, I know you're bored. Primary school is a long, hard road, and you can't see the end of the tunnel anymore. The year sevens look impossibly big and grown up and you can't see a point where you'll be like them. Hang in there, dearest Nine. These are the longest eight years of your life, but they're definitely not the best and they'll be over soon, I promise.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen.


Wordless Wednesday: with extra minutes, worth extra love

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

feminists online

Now Playing: L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. by Noah and the Whales (on my last night on earth I pay a high price to have no regrets and be done with my life)

One of my all time favourite YouTube channels is Feminist Frequency, hosted by Anita Sarkeesian. Anita is a feminist media critic best known for her 'Tropes vs Women' series, which discusses various tropes used in different mediums of popular culture that perpetuate harmful gendered stereotypes. Her videos aren't the funniest or most entertaining in the world but are highly researched, methodically laid out and easy to understand.

This year Anita is embarking on a very ambitious project to analyse the treatment of women in video games, a very, very touchy topic...as I've found out. In a video to raise money for the project the backlash was instantaneous and extremely intense - death threats, rape threats, the whole deal. It was...beneath contempt.

The third wave feminist movement is a broad and diverse church, and it has an increasing presence on the internet. There are the obvious feminists - Feminist Frequency and The Feminist Breeder are well known - and then there are the less obvious feminists; the WAHMs and SAHMs who have established businesses online, especially businesses for female-oriented niche markets, women discussing taboo, traditionally 'male' topics like sex and sexuality like Laci Green; even men. Dan Savage is, arguably, a feminist. We're everywhere whether you like it or not.

Our society is obsessed with silencing women. We do this in a variety of ways - the obsession with slim, small women is, as Laci Green points out, a way of physically marginalizing women and forcing women to take up less space and be a less authoritative personal figure. We maim women with impractical and uncomfortable clothing - even at the school I go to, Perth Modern School, female teachers are not allowed to wear jeans and male teachers are. And then we silence them by using onslaughts of abuse and threats of criminal behaviour to intimidate women into shutting up and not voicing their opinions.

I am attacked for being a feminist more than anything else - which is saying something, considering I am at the receiving end of racial slurs pretty much daily. It's mostly by the boys at school - which is why many of my friends ask me why my best friend is a boy at school, but hey, not all of them are assholes. I haven't done anything wrong - these people are just so intimidated by me and defensive against what I stand for. They hate that I have an opinion. They hate that I have the largest internet presence of anyone in our school. They hate that I have male friends and men who stand up for me. They hate that I'm right and they're wrong. 

Because the truth is, Anita and I have got it right. I've been saying it forever - for the most part, the treatment of women in popular culture perpetuates harmful stereotypes, encourages sexist behaviour and idolizes unrealistic and unhealthy body images. All too often books, movies and TV series reduce female characters to one dimensional cliches. 92% of Australians say that axillary hair on a woman is 'offensive' - body hair is natural on both sexes but only acceptable on one. If Ken was a real person he'd have a 1 in 100 body and not have any severe health conditions, based on his appearance. If Barbie was a real person she'd have a 1 in 1,000,000 body, be infertile, not menstruate, bedridden and suffer from chronic diarrhoea.

There's a site called Fat, Ugly or Slutty which posts offensive comments by male video gamers to female video gamers purely because they are female, and therefore are either fat, ugly or slutty and deserve to be treated with total disrespect. The sad thing is, it's not much different to the abuse I get from school. I have been accused of being a lesbian (honestly not offended by that), a slut, a whore, a prude (how can you be all three?), a man-stealer, a Jew (an Asian Jew? Really?). I've been told to my face that because I'm a feminist I'm undateable/deserve to die alone/get raped/be bashed/etc. When I'm in class in an intellectual argument someone will randomly bring up my sex or my race. The boys at my school think it's funny to hurl abuse at me, tell me to go 'back to the kitchen' and 'make them a sandwich' anytime I say anything that might suggest I have half a brain. If I was really so wrong and stupid and deluded you would have thought of a more coherent argument than 'you're a fat dumb cunt'. I've been accosted on buses by boys trying to hit on me and then getting quite scary when I ignore them. It's get hit on or get hit, it seems.

Boys my age think that it's funny to be sexist, and that people look up to them if they dare to say something blatantly offensive and misogynistic. They know that I hold gender equality dear to me - as I should - and use that against me. They're constantly trying to pull me down and shut me up because they can't bear the thought of an egalitarian society where having a dick doesn't give you the right to suppress women. They can't bear the thought that someone like me thinks that I'm above them because they're immature and sexist when they want to think that, because I'm not blonde or beautiful, I'm not worthy of them instead of the other way around.

When you identify as a feminist any tiny minute human mistake - from a brain fart to a spelling error or whatever - is immediately taken, exaggerated, and then used against you. It's humiliating and defeating and intensely stressful. I've also seen this in the racism I've experienced - if I've ever slipped up or done something inadvertently stupid the first thing I hear is someone whisper 'Asian cunt' or 'typical Asians'. Why?

I am proud to be a feminist. I've changed many people's minds about attitudes towards sex, gender and sexuality. I am empowered by my work as a blogger, promoting compassion and open mindedness and tolerance, and respect for all people of all genders, sexes, sexualities, walks of life. But the abuse is, at times, horrific, and a disgrace. This isn't part and parcel with being a woman, a feminist, an Asian. This kind of behaviour is not acceptable and the solution isn't for me to grow a thick skin and ignore it. People don't take that kind of attitude towards cancer, and that's what this is - a growing, disturbing trend that sexism is cool and the rise of feminism is somehow providing men with an excuse to treat women like dirt. We can't tolerate this intolerance anymore. Equality and treating the sexes as equal isn't about expecting women to 'man up' and accept any abuse that men hurl at them - it's about actively promoting the kind of mutual respect for dignity that is ignored and tossed to one side by a deeply misogynistic, patriarchal society that is reflected in the pop culture I and Anita and so many other feminists attempt to critique, only to get continually shot down.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Music Monday: Florence + the Machine

The most played song on my iPod:















Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Eight Year Old Me

Now Playing: The Best Day by Taylor Swift (I don't know why all the trees change in the fall, I know you're not scared of anything at all, don't know if Snow White's house is near or far away but I know I had the best day with you today)

Dearest Eight,

Things are looking up. The bullying is always there, lurking in the background, but it's different pain now, okay pain. You're almost back to your normal bubbly self.

This is the year that you decide that you hate maths. Numbers don't mean anything to you and never will. You struggle through each piece of math homework feeling like a total idiot until eventually you give up and stop handing them in. It's better to be yelled at for being disorganized than for being dumb. Your teacher doesn't understand why someone as nerdy and bookish and bubbly and sweet as you has become one of 'those kids' who doesn't hand in homework but you've realized that primary school really doesn't matter as much as teachers want you to think, and they're all slightly irritated that you've come to this revelation.

Dearest Eight, this is the year of revelations. You find out what periods are from your cousin - well, actually you don't find out any more than 'blood on panties' and it confuses the heck out of you and you hope that you'll never ever get it. You do. It sucks. But it's okay. And then you find out what sex is and your mind is totally blown. Of all the questions you've asked it never occurred to you to ask about the birds and the bees. I miss the innocence before hormones cloud your mind. I miss boy germs.

But you only have about six months of boy germs, don't you, dearest Eight? Because one day you wake up and you realize you're head over heels with one boy or another. It's a dreadful affliction and I'm yet to find a cure. Loving people is the biggest ego bashing in the world, dearest Eight, and I know you're not ready for it. People aren't ready for you yet, and a lifetime later they still aren't really ready. But some things are worth the wait, dearest Eight, and even though I'm still waiting I never lost hope. I wish I could have found a way to keep you a little greener for a little longer. But no matter what, you're always up for more. I don't know whether you're brave or just stupid.

But you discover someone even cooler than snotty third grade boys, dearest Eight. Elizabeth I becomes your idol. You absolutely adore her. You're a feminist now, dearest Eight, even though you don't know what that means yet. Elizabeth I might have been dead for 500 years but she inspired a little eight year old girl to join the fight for women in a man's world. And I'm proud of you, dearest Eight. You're a wonderful nerd and I wouldn't want you to be any other way. Nobody else understands your fascination and your obsessions and your blind curiosity to learn everything about everything. But it will serve you well when everything and everyone else fails you.

Dearest Eight, today I sat on the bus with some trainwrecks who tried to hit on me and then got off before they could actually hit me. The things they talked about blew my mind away - I didn't know you could say 'cunt' so many times in a single sentence. I couldn't believe half of the narrow minded crap that they were spewing out. At eight years old you're a bona fide intellectual - not because you can write anything remotely coherent yet, but because you never lose your love of learning. You're better than they are, dearest Eight, I wish I could tell you that everything people say is wrong and weird about you, everything you have that they haven't is a gift, not a curse. Dearest Eight, never stop dreaming. Because when you're bullied and teased, when you're smaller and shorter and uglier than everyone else, your dreams are what makes you rise above them. Remember that, and you'll be just fine.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen.

Never Grow Up

Now Playing: Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift (take pictures in your mind of your childhood room, memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home, remember the footsteps, remember the words said and all your little brother's favourite songs...I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone...)

I write about myself a lot on this blog, I know. A lot about my past.

I was born a writer, and I've spent a lot of time having words but nowhere to put them and nobody to say them to. That's what it felt like, growing up. First I didn't have the words, and then once I did no voice to say them with. It was endlessly frustrating.

It's very cathartic for me, talking about my past. My childhood wasn't a walk in the park. I've tried to take my own life before. I've sunk into depression and suffered through a lot of bullying. But there were beautiful, magical, euphoric moments, too. I remember everything.

That's the thing, really - I want to remember everything. I like the idea of my blog being a time capsule. I can picture myself one day, in the future, staying up with a baby in my arms flipping through my old posts when I was sixteen and trying to get over my first love.

Growing up, I felt like nobody could understand me. I lived in my own world a lot, with my own rules and my own logic and I didn't understand my own fantasies half the time, much less explain the warped products of my imagination to others. I wanted so badly for someone to just get me, for someone to be unprejudiced enough for me to open up to. I never found that person.

I realized eventually that that person had to be me. They say that the only person who's with you from the moment you're born to the moment you take your last breath is you, and it's so true. There are some things, some knowledge, some advice that I can only give myself, years too late. In other words, there were just some things that I had to battle out alone, and make my own mistakes and learn my own lessons. As much as I wish that I received these letters, I'm a better person without them.

I'm always under so much pressure to change, to give in, to buckle to social norms. Not just from bullies - some of my friends think I'd be saving myself a lot of pain if I just went with the flow. I always tell people to never change; grow. I was an asshole a few years ago, and perhaps I will look back and realize I was an asshole at sixteen. But I've always been myself. There's nothing wrong with who I am - I'm a tiny shoot trying to become a tree, and I'm not going to waste time pretending I'm a stone. There's nothing wrong with who I am and what I want to be. I didn't always have the strength or the wisdom to believe that, but now I do and nothing's going to change my mind. I don't pretend to be the most popular person in the world, but I don't want to be. My true friends are the ones who look me in the eye and tell me that I'm beautiful the way I am. I shouldn't have to change to find love, to find friends, to find happiness. I'm convinced that's a one way ticket in the wrong direction. My so-called 'friends' who tell me that I'm asking for it, every time I stand up and speak now, they don't know what they're talking about. It's hard, being yourself, being fearless, and at times it gets very lonely and sad and painful. But pretending, lying...that's infinitely worse. I would know. Going along with the game would be admitting that I think there's something wrong with me, and I refuse to believe that. I've got lots of room to grow, but nobody has to change who they are.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Seven Year Old Me

Now Playing: Mary's Song by Taylor Swift (I was seven and you were nine, I looked at you like the stars that shined in the sky like pretty lights)

Dearest Seven,

Dearest Seven, this year was tough. You're in a split year two/year three class and your teacher is amazing and you absolutely adore her. You're the only year two who spends most of her time with the year threes and Mummy's so proud of you, but all the other kids think you're arrogant and pick on you and you're so confused, dearest Seven. You never accuse them of being arrogant when they get medals and ribbons for running fast in the races and you come last and get a tacky little sticker. Some of the other teachers tell you that the other kids feel bad when you do well but nobody listens when you explain how humiliating it is to be picked last for the t-ball teams with all the other kids who have it tough. You don't understand what's so wrong about being you.

Dearest Seven, I still remember how lonely you were. Nobody understood you at all, and you didn't understand anyone else. You lost yourself in a dream world where people are nice and the world is still beautiful, because school's fast becoming claustrophobic and hostile. You climb trees to get away from everyone but you get yelled at for that. Everyone laughs at how stupid your name is and you never wanted so much to just be normal, to look like everyone else, to have a name that people don't mess up, to be able to do everything anyone else can do, no more, no less. People figure out that you're different and throw basketballs at your pacemaker when the teachers aren't looking and you cry yourself to sleep almost every night. You have no one to sit with at lunch and nobody to talk to. You think that Mummy and Daddy don't understand you and you're always fighting, always crying. You don't have the words to express the millions of things that go through your mind and you stutter, but that only makes people tease you more.

And so you swear that you'll get through this alone. You realize that as much as people don't like you, you don't like them either, and you say that you don't want any friends ever again and when you grow up you never want to get married and you never want any children. People hurt you too much. You don't want anything to do with them. You've learned the hard way that the only person you can trust is yourself.

I wish I could have told you that you're not the problem. It was their problem, all along. There's nothing wrong with being different and smart and having dreams. You didn't have to feel so inadequate and hate your eccentricity. I wish I could have told you that strength isn't fitting in when you were born to stand out; strength is being yourself. But I know that's hard when you're seven and it feels like everyone's out to get you. When you don't help people you're accused of being aloof, and when you do you're accused of being arrogant. I wish I could have told you that no matter how hard it is to not fit in, there's nothing more important than being yourself.

Dearest Seven, hang in there. It gets harder, but it gets better, too. You become a little fighter this year, dearest Seven, and you need that strength. I wish you didn't. But you do.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen.

Video Friday: You Can't Be a Princess

Why do we force gender roles onto children? Why are we so horrified by boys in princess costumes and girls who want to be Spiderman?

When I was growing up my mother had almost no concept of gender roles and I am a better person for it. I had fluffy impractical faux-pearl dresses and blue/red/black tracksuits with Bananas in Pyjamas on them. I had dolls and I had action figures. My third birthday present was a big Buzz Lightyear. I don't know whether it was because I had a sister and no brothers but I was never taught by my parents that girls can/can't do certain things and boys can/can't do other things. I was taught that by society.

In the end, I am a very feminine person. I love dresses and makeup and sparkly things. But if I wasn't...so what?

Never Grow Up: A Letter to Six Year Old Me

Now Playing: Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift (to you everything's funny, you've got nothing to regret, I'd give all I have honey if you could just stay like that)

Dearest Six,

It's year one and you look adorable in your cheese yellow school uniform. Not really. Cheese yellow is not your colour.

Dearest Six, this is the year when the bullying starts for real. You were a baby socialite your whole life and you don't understand why, but suddenly Mrs Johnston is showing your parents your stories about Mummy and Daddy taking you to the Royal Show and then you're sitting at the back of the class doing different work from everyone else and everyone teases you for it. And then part and parcel with that you're dragged off to ESL classes because you're Asian and you don't understand why everyone's so condescending. It's called racism, dearest Six. It's a pain in the ass.

Dearest Six, you love music and you give everything a go. You can't write numbers yet and you can't colour in or cut out or glue together anything for shit but everything about you is bright and crazy. You get dragged off to the year sevens to show off that you can spell 'pharmacy' and they can't, and then you run away from all the teasing and sit on their laps and chatter away at them. You've suddenly stopped eating, which is scary and out of character, but food just doesn't interest anymore and it won't until you're about eleven years old.

Dearest Six, you've got another best friend. He's got diabetes and even though you hate needles you stay with him whenever he pricks his finger and sometimes he lets you have lollies or lemonade. You go to his house and he teaches you to play Crash Bandicoot, which is your first and last foray into the world of video games. You make weird potions in the backyard and he's the first and only kid truly as psycho as you are. You let him into your fantasy worlds of fairies and magic and you have the time of your life running wild. He moves away at the end of the year and you're desperately sad, but you've still got your three second rebound rate. You can get through anything.

But it's the first time in your life you stop believing Mummy when she tells you how beautiful you are. You don't know that she's talking about a beauty that comes from the inside, from the heart, and you wish more than anything that you were pale and tall with a foamy golden waterfall of hair and doll eyes. You wish you didn't have scars everywhere. You hate how you look and it breaks my heart that that poison got to you so young. But in a way it shows how perceptive you are, and that for all your daydreams and your wild imagination you don't always live in la la land, and you know that in the here and now it is the beautiful blonde girls who get the first pick of everything. That's still true, sadly, even now I have to step aside for the kind of girls you grow up with, the kind of girls who torment you every day. But you'll get your chance, dearest Six. And you're more beautiful then they could ever be, if only you and all the groupies could see it.

Dearest Six, this was ten years ago now but it all feels like yesterday. You loved everyone with your big broken heart and tried to see good in everything in the way only an innocent like you can. You're losing that slowly, as you become more and more disillusioned, and you're toughening up - but don't lose that completely, dearest Six. There's good in everybody and optimism in everything, but sometimes I forget that. You never do, and that's what I love most about you.

Love,
Nearly Seventeen.