When The Moon Howls

This week I’ve seen some fantastic early celebrations of Halloween, and many people preparing to mark the occasion on 31 October.

Anna’s GoGo Academy staged an amazing performance of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ at the Coburg Drive-In on Sunday, as part of Thrill the World – a worldwide simultaneous dance tribute to the late, great, King of Pop, staged in over 20 countries each year on Halloween.  

Image

Above: Anna GoGo (right) and Talei Wolfgramm get ‘zombified’ for Thrill the World!

Anna’s ‘Zombie Army’ of dancers went to impressive lengths with their costumes, many dressing in keeping with the drive-in setting. This event brings people together who love to dance, who admire Michael Jackson, and are keeping the wonderful city of Melbourne’s vibrant cultural landscape well and truly alive. Dancers and spectators have also raised a ton of money for Lifeline. I loved watching the performance, seeing how happy everyone was, especially with the ‘Thriller’ video playing on the big screen behind the dancers. 

Image

Above: Anna GoGo and her Zombie Army perform Thriller at Coburg Drive-In, with Michael Jackson looking down from the big screen (and from heaven, I’m sure!).

In contrast to this joyous expression of creativity and tribute to Michael Jackson, I have seen and heard quite a few people this week announce their distaste for Halloween, citing it as a ridiculous and unnecessary ‘American’ holiday, which we as Australians should swiftly and actively shun, lest our own culture be over-ridden with Yankee vulgarity.

This is not a new thing. For as many years as I can remember, people have (often loudly) observed that “This is not America” and that therefore, elebrations like Halloween (and Valentine’s Day; even Mothers Day and Fathers Day) should not have our precious time and money wasted on them. Yes, retail businesses profit from such celebrations – consumerism often over shadows the true meaning of sacred or significant days of observance. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, but what I do want to address here is people who “Yankee bash” – what I mean, is; those who think it is acceptable to label anything American as unnecessary, vulgar, sensational, over-the-top, insignificant, crude, tasteless, or just plain wrong.

Those words may describe many things which come from America or any other country for that matter – the thing that irritates me is the blasé nature in which people make racist and degrading comments about Americans, just because they are a majority. Yes, the USA is a political super-power and they have a population of over 300 million – but this does not make it ok.

Minorities often experience racism, but call someone out for being racist against an American and you’ll be quickly labelled ‘Un-Australian” (which has been my experience). Why, why, why, is it deemed acceptable to hate on Americans?! The assumption that Australians should not be offended by “Yankee-bashing” is also troubling. Regardless of anyone having friends who are American, and/or family connections/heritage, it’s simply bigoted behaviour.

In Australia we market ourselves as being an accepting, multicultural society. We claim we are not racist, we accept diversity within our communities, we opened our arms to post-war immigrants. We celebrate Chinese New Year, Oktoberfest and St. Patrick’s Day. I see and hear no objections (nor should there be) to celebrations of Hanukah, Bastille Day, Greek Easter, Tibetan New Year, Yom Kippur, and the like. So why do people object so loudly to this so-called American tradition of Halloween?

Halloween dates back thousands of years to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced ‘Sow-In’), which marked the end of the Summer harvest season and the beginning of the long, cold and dark Winter – a time of year also associated with human death. A time when the souls of the departed might appear through the crack between the seasons.  In the 19th century when Irish immigrants came to America, so too did this ancient Celtic tradition, which evolved from being called Samhain, to All Hallow’s Eve, to Halloween.

All cultures and cultural events evolve, as have the celebrations of Halloween. None of us truly live the same way our ancestors did. Rituals, celebrations, ceremonies – they all evolve to suit the needs of the people of the time. Bobbing for apples, trick-or-treating, and costume parties are all contemporary Halloween activities. They do no harm, and I believe people should be free to celebrate Halloween how they wish. I, for one, will be practicing my Thriller dance moves! Hoooo-hoo!

Read more on the origins of Halloween here. See more pictures from Thrill the World Melbourne here.

Today I’m wearing Jumping Jacks ‘Cheerleader’ saddle shoes. Très  Américaine, oui?

Image

Advertisements

Love Thy Neighbour

6am on a Monday and I am awakened by the sound of the garbage truck. Damn. I forgot to put the bin out! I breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s ok. I’ll put it out tonight…!” – On our street, one side has the rubbish collected on Sunday nights, and the other side is collected Monday nights. I’ve seen flustered neighbours rush their bins to the opposite side of the street plenty times before, only to return home relieved that they’ve solved their bulging wheelie bin problem for the week.

That night before bed, I wheeled our bin across the road on put it on our neighbour’s nature strip, right next to their bin. “Phew!” It was jam-packed so I was pleased that it would be collected the next morning and that we wouldn’t be stuck with nowhere to put the following week’s rubbish.

Monday morning, and before heading off to work I thought I’d better run across the road and bring the bin in. I got to the end of the driveway, looked across… the garbage truck hadn’t been yet – all the bins were still full. Wait a second… “Where’s our bin!?” It was mysteriously absent from the nature strip, our neighbour’s bin now standing there alone. Time was ticking on, so I jumped in the car and figured I’d work it out when I got home.

That night I slowed down to pull in to our driveway, and there was our bin – right on the corner next to the mailbox. I swerved it to pull the car in and wandered back down to get it, thinking how lovely our neighbours were to have brought it across the street for us.

I grab the handles to wheel it back… hang on – I open the lid. IT’S STILL FULL.

You’ve got to be joking me.

I can now only conclude that our neighbours have seen our bin on their nature strip and NOT LIKED IT ONE BIT, so they’ve set out to teach us some kind of lesson by hiding our bin from the garbage collectors, and returned it still full as a warning never to darken the turf of their nature strip with our domestic waste again. All that effort, though?!! They didn’t just move it off their nature strip and on to someone else’s, they’ve gone to the lengths of hiding it – presumably in their garage – and then slinging it all the way back across the road still full overlapping our driveway just enough for me to have to swerve to get in, to make their point.

Is it just me, or is that rather petty and unreasonable?

At Catholic school I was taught to love my neighbour, which means lots of different things to me – including ignoring people who are rude, being compassionate to those less fortunate, keeping my ‘enemies’ close, showing empathy to those who are suffering, and not to bear grudges or seek revenge. 

Back to the bins though – I do have a *little* grudge! They made me really mad! Rather than seek revenge and start a suburban war however, I’m channeling my energies into ignoring it (and sharing it on my blog!) – but should I? What would you do?!

I was wearing my black and pink Nike high-tops.

Image

Not happy!

My New Epoch of Women’s Periodicals

Waiting in line at the supermarket with the household essentials in my basket, my eyes were drawn to the magazine stand at the check-out. There was a photo of the very handsome and mischievously regal Prince Harry.

“Ooh, Prince Harry!”

There was also a picture of a succulent-looking roast dinner.

“Ooh, Winter meal ideas!”

A story on Jane Fonda, aged 75.

“Ooh, I love Jane Fonda!”

I picked the magazine up and started flicking through it. Julia Gillard knitting a kangaroo. Pictures of Princess Kate. A story about a man who used two surrogates at the same time and has become a single father to “twinblings’ (thats a mix of twins and siblings).

I was sold!

I sailed through the check-out and it really wasn’t until I got home that it occurred to me… I JUST BOUGHT THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN’S WEEKLY. A MAGAZINE FOR MUMS!  FOR NANNAS! What was happening to me?! Had I become my mother!? Did this mean I was now officially ‘old’?!

I didn’t dwell on it too long. I was too busy making myself a cuppa and getting settled on the couch with my new mag to let it bother me.

After poring over Princess Kate’s perfectly prim maternity outfits and holding back tears over a family who lost their baby girl to a deadly virus, I got to thinking how our reading interests – particularly magazines – change over the years.

In high school my best friend and I would religiously buy our copies of Dolly the day they came out, and sit on her bed flicking the same page at the same time, reading out each others horoscopes and drooling over the early 90’s fashions.

Trash mags full of celebrity gossip are a sure-fire way to kick the blues or help heal a flu on a sick day at home. I like Frankie magazine – it always offers some cute and obscure delights, be it jewellery, shoes or wallpaper. My subscription to Vogue is a highly anticipated delivery every month. I also enjoy Marie-Claire and Harper’s Bazaar.

They bring some kind of comfort, entertainment, or joy to our lives, these glossy documents. They’re simple and complex at the same time – full of information, fashion, food, advertising, helpful hints, do-nots and how-tos.

So now that I’ve graduated to buying the Women’s Weekly, I’m going to enjoy having my own copy, rather than the one I pinched from Mum. Surely it does not confirm my ‘old-ness’, just my maturing magazine discovery?!

Image

A cuppa and the Women’s Weekly!

Image

Loving me some royal baby news!

Image

Loving me some Winter warmers!

Image

I wore my blue and red fan-print skirt by Mikala Design.

 

Why Do You Ask?

It was like someone flicked a switch; how suddenly people in my life started demanding I procreate. I remember it so clearly. I was sitting next to my husband waiting for dinner to be served at our wedding reception. One of our guests asked – not my husband – me, when I (not we) was going to start having babies. Not ‘a baby’ – ‘babies’. Plural. They were lining up to ask me. It’s started, I thought. We hadn’t even had our first dance as husband and wife.
 
Mostly the questions come from close family and friends, with trusting smiles, love and affection. They ask because they love me and my husband and, I imagine, are looking forward to meeting a little person who is a bit of both of us. The first year of marriage, it seemed relentless. I would laugh it off, trying not to let it bother me. Then along came two weddings in the one year and the attention of the clucking women in the family turned to the new brides. “Thank God!”, I remember thinking; “Someone else can deal with it!”
 
There are quite a few babies and little kids in our family which, to the delight of everyone – me included – keep us occupied with laughter, games and fun. Many of my friends have children and I’m thrilled for them, but while some of them continue with the baby question, others have taken time out of certain friendships to deal with their own new families and circles of activity. 
 
My family have eased up on asking me when I’m going to start having babies and I suspect that it’s largely due to my Mum warning people to give it a rest. She and my Dad have rarely, if ever, asked me the baby question, which I’m very thankful for. It comes in waves from other family members and what annoys me about it the most is the aggression within the question – which leads me to the counter-question; “Why do you ask?” As much as I decide how much I allow the baby question to bother me, I think others need to stop and ask themselves exactly why they want to know and how their question might affect someone.
 
I have become very good at making people feel that their question is completely fine and the tone in which they ask it does not bother me at all. Over the last few years, acquaintances and complete strangers have started on me. As soon as they find out I’m married, they immediately ask if I have children; then they demand to know when I’ll start. Oftentimes, the attitude of the person asking the question is that it’s not normal to be married and childless. It’s the strangers who are the worst. I’ve seen the quizzical expressions, confusion, surprise, and disbelief. I’ve experienced pity, hostility and even anger. I’ve had women tell me I’m selfish. I’ve been physically poked in the arm, leg, and told “Come on!” I’ve had people ask me about my sex life and tell me I won’t know real love until I’ve become a mother.

I’ve been lectured on my age, the risks of Down Syndrome, fertility treatments, my folic acid intake, how to tell when I’m ovulating, and how many times I need to make sure we ‘do it’. Yes, apparently it’s all up to me. I’m an expert now in polite responses, but I’m getting tired of saying “One day!” “It will happen when it happens!” and “You’ll just have to wait and see!” Years of refining my politeness is rapidly wearing me out. I’m tired of convincing people I’m not pregnant if – heaven forbid – I decide not to have a drink. I am starting to fear I’ll snap one day, and one well-meaning person I’ve never met before will receive the full brunt of my frustration.

 
I think asking the baby question is dangerous and I stopped doing it once I got married and was experiencing the question for myself. I’m not saying I’m perfect – I’ve probably inadvertently made someone very uncomfortable asking if they’re going to have a baby. I think people want to be very careful asking women when they’re going to get pregnant. It’s no-one else’s business.

Within the baby question, are too many potentials for pain. Failed IVF treatments, miscarriages, stillbirths, weight, fertility problems, or other health issues are all extremely private and sensitive things. How is one to know what a woman or a couple might be going through? The assumption that any of us is able to get pregnant at any time we like and have as many babies as we want is foolish. When faced with the baby question from now on, I’ll be responding – Why do you ask?

This week I wore a vintage floral frock with stripy tights and boots.

 
Image

For Luxe Sake

Recently I saw Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’. I had made no effort to hide my excitement and anticipation. I just couldn’t wait to see Luhrmann’s signature over-the-top visuals; costumes, sets, hair, makeup – all ridiculously lavish and decadent.

Image

I had read the book in Year 12 so I was already familiar with the story and had seen the 1974 film with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford. I entered Gold Class with my equally excited movie pal JL, armed with our 3-D glasses, just bursting to see what Mr Luhrmann had waiting for us – glamour, and lots of it, we hoped!

Image

We loved it. We gushed at the dresses, oohed at the curled hair, aahed at the gent’s snazzy suits. The party scenes at Gatsby’s mansion had us reeling. So much fun, glitter, gaiety, champagne, dancing, fireworks, and razzle-dazzle. This movie is a visual spectacular and that’s all I was hoping for. 

Image

Since seeing the film, I have heard and read many bad reviews and critiques of it, citing shallow characters, poor music choices, bad acting and tackiness. It has been said that a movie adaptation is never as good as the book it is based on, and that may be true. Movies like Luhrmann’s The Great Gastby are made to be lavish and spectacular – that’s why many people go to his films, for the ‘Bazziness’. Similarly the Sex and the City movies – you don’t watch them for deep characterisation, intricate plot lines, or analysis of complex issues. The Sex and the City movies exist so we can gush over the amazing garb the NYC foursome get around in! My point is, I appreciate luxury and decadence, both on screen and off, for the sake of it. Magnificent gowns, millions of sequins, beading, lace, silk, diamonds – it’s nice to look at, it gives me inspiration and it lets me dream a little.

Image

I shan’t care what anyone says, nor listen to the critics; I already want to see this movie again! It’s entertaining and sometimes that’s all you need from a night out at the movies, Old Sport.

Image

I wore my Alannah Hill beaded cardi.

Image

 

Morbid Curiosity

Today I was in First Aid training and we were looking at pictures of wounds. Gashes. Lacerations. Punctures. A chef’s severed fingers and a crashed motorcyclist’s abrasions. The group, myself included, responded with the typical sickly groans and quick looks away as we were confronted with the horrible, blood spurting reality of everyday accidents.

While my first instinct was groaning and looking away from these images, I then found I could not stop looking at them. My fellow First Aiders started asking for them to be put away, and there I was, the proverbial bystander at a car crash, unable to move on. I pored over them for a good five minutes or so as the trainer continued the session, gawking at the open flesh wounds in awe.

As I was practicing tying a sling onto my partner’s arm, I thought – “That’s not normal, is it? Getting some sort of kick out of looking at pictures like that?!” What is it exactly that makes people repulsed yet fixated at the same time? Disturbed but excited. Shocked but wanting to know more, see more.

I thought about September 11. For days – weeks even – the images replayed on our television screens of the Twin Towers exploding and collapsing, the aftermath that of a horror movie. I remember not being able to look away. I was shocked and upset about the fate of the 3,000 New Yorkers killed that day, yet I wanted to see more pictures, hear more news reports, see more footage. Perhaps it was a way to understand and cope with what seemed like the start of World War III. Even now when I see images from the September 11 attacks, I am still captivated by them. Gazing upon the poor souls who perished, wondering who they were, who they left behind, what their final thoughts were.

We are surrounded by disturbing images every day. In many ways I think we have become immune to them. We are so accustomed to images of spectacularly violent acts that footage of September 11 is reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster.

The pictures of severed fingers and torn off skin in First Aid are not nearly as bad as the devastating end met by the thousands of New Yorkers that day. I think I’m incredibly lucky not to have been in a major accident or had a brush with death. I’m lucky to live in a country where we have not experienced the terror that the Big Apple endured. Lucky to be free to have access to the internet, the media, books, libraries and training sessions which enable me to assist people who need it.

I wonder what you think or how you react when you see disturbing images? Does your morbid curiosity ever emerge?

 

Harvard hoodie

Today I wore my Harvard Law School hoodie.

Taking Sides

Last night I saw the new movie by Mira Nair, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. To avoid spoiling it for those who have not seen it, I won’t give anything away, other than to say it is a story of a young Pakistani man who becomes conflicted with the ‘American Dream’.

Image

To me the movie shows a side of racism often not presented on your average night at the movies. The experiences of the main character had me thinking about how we (as society) generalise and categorise people based on where they come from or what they look like, and how frequently we get it wrong, often with little or not consequence. I reflected on the notion of ‘taking a side’ in an argument or conflict and where that often gets us. Sometimes it’s not where we originally thought.

I highly recommend this movie. It made me think about the unseverable connections we have to our cultures and ways of life, the affect of conflict on our every day lives, and the power that the majority really have over individuals.

I think taking sides is ok, as long as we are prepared to fully understand the other side.

What I wore: T.U.K. black and white polkadot pumps.

Image