Winter, I’m over it

Yes I live in a warm part of Australia which has a very short ‘winter’ with lots of sun and no snow.

But that doesn’t stop me hating the cold.

Just to get it off my chest – here are all the reasons winter is terrible and summer kicks its arse.

– If I never hear ‘You look rugged up’ again, it will be too soon. It’s 10 degrees, am I supposed to wear a tshirt? (Bonus punch in the arm for ‘You look cold’)

– Jacket on, jacket off. Jacket on, jacket off. Constantly too hot inside and too cold outside.

– Related: Winter requires way too many clothes in general. People just love to say ‘But when you’re cold in winter, you can just add another layer!’ Incorrect, I can be wearing five layers and still be cold.

– Yet, stupidly, while winter requires many clothes, I always end up wearing the same outer layers, every single day, because they are the warm ones. The same boots, the same coat, over and over. For months.

– If one part of me is cold, all of me is cold.

– Only ever truly warm in the shower or in bed.

– Long nights means less time for getting outside.

– If I do get outside and exercise – I warm up a bit – and then, I’m cold and sweaty.

– Socialising requires not only physical preparation of extra layers but mental preparation of steeling oneself against cold, wind and rain. When I lived in Canberra, I had to make a rule for myself that ‘it’s cold’ was not an excuse to miss a social event.

– Living in a place that’s warm 9 months of the year, houses and buildings generally aren’t built with cold weather in mind. When I lived in Canberra, in super-insulated flats, it had to get to 8 degrees outside before I needed to put a heater on. In Lismore, the temperature drops to 13 degrees outside and I’m shivering inside the house.

I truly can’t understand the concept that cold is a pleasant environment to exist in unless we are talking air conditioning on a summer’s day. I am only able to assume it must be a reality through imagining that it’s the opposite of how I feel about summer.

Congratulations, Bristol Palin 

Bristol Palin is pregnant again. 

She doesn’t want sympathy and she doesn’t want lectures. Presumably because she was engaged until last month and isn’t now. But possibly also because she’s somewhat of a public figure and she doesn’t want attention. 

I do want to say something though. 

I want to say congratulations. 

Because at age 24 and after having had one child already I’m sure Ms Palin is old enough and wise enough to have this baby because she wants to. 

There is nothing wrong with having babies young and there is nothing wrong with having a baby as a single mother. 

When I first thought about women having their children young, as a teenager I took in that message we’re all fed: It’s terrible to fall pregnant young. The worst. Your life is over. 

I held this view through my twenties until two things changed my thinking.

The first: I made friends with some amazing women who happened to be my age and who happened to be young single mums. They’d had their kid, or kids, and they were charging ahead with life – working, traveling, studying. They’d got their pregnancies and their baby years out of the way. Made me think. There’s no right time or good time to have a baby – and there are advantages to having your children at any age too. 

The second: In meeting with an amazing group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women for a work consultation group, the point was made to me that since Aboriginal women (and men) have drastically shorter average lifespans, for some people having their children young feels right. I’d never had the point made so clearly before. I’d always felt that young parents, especially young mothers, should and could be supported better to continue their education. 

No one had ever pointed out that there might be an upside, though. 

The only sad thing I see in Ms Palin’s situation is I do wonder if she intended to fall pregnant, or it was a case of religion-induced shaming around contraception that meant she still preferred to take the risk. That’s her business, but it is of course a sad problem that shouldn’t be perpetuated. And it’s a shame given she felt so strongly about it all she continued to advocate for abstinence for young people when it clearly doesn’t work. 

No one should feel so ashamed of having sex that they risk an unwanted pregnancy or STI. 

Or that they announce a pregnancy and feel they have to fend off sympathy and lectures. 

Show don’t tell: what congratulating Caitlin and Bruce Jenner says about how we see women and men 

Isn’t it interesting that for Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn, the moment when we all truly accept her as a woman is highly performative? 

That we’re congratulating her on the moment she appeared in a highly photoshopped photograph managing to squeeze into a corset? 

We’re essentially congratulating her not for making a tough decision and public announcement – she’s already done that – we’re congratulating her for making a very difficult transition. It’s hard to pass. 

That photo looks highly retouched – I’d love to see a more casual photo. 

I’m not against clothing marked as female, makeup or dressing up. But my most transformative moments as female, when I feel most strongly that I’m a person and I’m a woman, are connection to other women, or feeling something deeply. When I’m squeezed into a tight outfit I’m annoyed and I can’t wait to get home and rip my bra off. 

We are all congratulating ourselves on being so welcoming of Caitlyn, but what it shows is that it DOES matter. Your name matters. Your clothes matter. Your posture, your hair, your self definition matters. And notice how she was Bruce Jenner and is now just Caitlin in this article? 

This is the problem of our obsession with binary gender.

Otherwise, Bruce Jenner would have said years ago ‘Hey, think I’m a woman’ and continued to call herself Bruce and dressed however the fuck she liked and lived happily ever after instead of holding onto her secret likely fearing public opinion and violence like happens to your average non famous transwoman. 

This is the performative nature of femininity. It’s fun, it’s visual and easily photographed. (well, dressing up is fun – corsets less so, but that’s me.) It’s whether you feel like a woman that matters. Caitlyn already has that. 

I’m a connector 

I don’t drink coffee and I’m not religious. But I can tell you where the best coffee in town is, and where some of the nicest services are. 

I’m a connector. 

If you need a service I can find it. If you need a contact, I may not have it, but I probably have a friend who does. 

If all else fails, you ring up and you ask nicely and you cross your fingers. 

And if that doesn’t work, you try again. 

Should we consume negative media? Do we even have a choice?

I have been a fairly angry person in the past; rage consumption of media played a big part of this. It seems to me to be a trend that if you are a feminist, publicly, these days, a lot of it involves denouncing things.

So much productivity literature, another of my favourite things to read (while I’m procrastinating wildly, obviously), says to cut out negativity.

It seems to pop up in advice from male writers. Funnily enough,  men are also the ones who get mad when women (feminist or not) like Clementine Ford do call shit out we don’t agree with, like violence. And Zanni Louise, whose gentle blog I love, makes an excellent point when she asks… what do we do that for anyway?

I look for balance and please no one but myself in this. If I say something, I want it to mean something. If I’m angry, I want to express that thought, and then let it go, because I’ve moved on to doing something else, hopefully something to address it. I volunteer and my day job involves helping people all the time.

But then there are those things that make you feel angry because it’s something you can’t escape, it’s part of your reality. Do you ignore it? You can’t. Directly, as a result of the tracking of now-41 Australian women’s deaths through violence this year by Destroy the Joint, I feel less safe, I worry about my friends more, I wonder about domestic violence more. I thank my partner for being gentle, for God’s sake. Why are we trained to be this way?

I want to be productive through ignoring negativity in life. I want to focus on the good. But you can’t use positive thinking to bring back 41 women dead.

Three popular words: housing affordability crisis

Will prices keep on going such that it is only people who can afford 2 million for a flat buy, and everyone else rents? No one else will be able to afford the rent though…

This topic is becoming more popular. (That, or Facebook’s algorithm has picked up on my interest.) I’ve been tracking this as an interested observer since about 2007. I’ve never bought because I couldn’t feel I could afford it; plus my life has been so nomadic it wasn’t practical (it feels hilarious to say that, but it has).

This Lateline story raises some valid points but it’s almost comical in the points it misses.

The Treasurer’s so concerned, he set up a taskforce with the states to deal with the issue.

Reads dangerously close to a line out of Yes Minister or The Hollowmen. Sometimes when a minister does this they are indeed very concerned. Other times they are rather anxious to have everyone know they are Doing Something. Housing affordability (and its less attractive friend, homelessness) – we already know things we can do to ease this. Joe Hockey could have a brainstorm on the back of a Ministerial envelope and get something going in 24 hours if he felt motivated. We could stop treating housing as an investment class. We could tighten up on lending. We could invest in regional areas to encourage people out of 100 km long cities and revitalize our small towns. (Oh wait.) We could give homeless people houses and we could let artists and craftspeople use empty shops to host their wares. It’s all been done.

CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER (Last night): Our principle would be that people who’ve invested in good faith with existing rules shouldn’t be disadvantaged

The big problem is in Bowen’s words: we don’t want to disadvantage those already in there. And I don’t want to either. Already well off investors are in there, plenty of whom could take a hit, but first time home owners and way overstretched small time investors are too. But none of the current policies are going to help with that long term. Also, I am a lefty pinko commie bleeding heart small-l liberal, you don’t want someone with a soft heart in charge of this. You want someone who can make tough decisions that will benefit the maximum number of people.

We can start taking measures now to make it uncomfortable or we can wait for the extremely terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, reverse Big Bang when the bubble bursts.

TONY JONES: But the biggest factor driving demand is a growing population.

It’s not our growing population, we’re not even at replacement.

SASHKA KOLOFF: With Sydney’s median house price expected to reach $1 million this year, the price tag of around $600,000 for a house here is well affordable.

$600,000 is not affordable for the average couple let alone the average person if they are trying to buy a house on their own!

SAUL ESLAKE, ECONOMIST: While that’s been much to the benefit of those who already own at least one property, it’s been much to the detriment of those who’ve increasingly been locked out of Australia’s housing markets. I’m often surprised that there isn’t more anger among young people at the way in which the housing system has been in effect rigged against them by their parents’ generation. But it would seem that instead of marching on the streets demanding that something be done about reducing the price of housing or improving housing affordability, increasingly young people take out their revenge on their parents’ generation by refusing to move out of their parents’ homes.

I don’t want to rag on Eslake too much because he’s not wrong about investors, although the banks and lenders who have aided and abetted investors deserve more scrutiny. I’d like to clear up his confusion though. Young people are very angry about it. Those who still want to buy feel bad because we’ve been told it’s our fault. Those who have given up, we often console ourselves that it would be hard to buy anyway, because with the casualisation of the workforce and the disappearance of permanent jobs, who can pick a suburb or town or state, even, to settle in? And it’s not revenge on the parents – it’s necessity.

Anzac Day 2015

It’s unsurprising that there was a very large crowd at the Lismore dawn service this morning, but it was still moving. The best part of the service was right at the end, when the chaplain who had been leading the service said a few unscripted words about how touched he was, after 25 years of conducting Anzac Day services, to see so many people.

I always go to the dawn service. I’ve only missed one in the last ten years, and probably none in the ten before that. I’ve been to services in Broadwater, Armidale (town and university), Canberra (at the Australian War Memorial, my favourite place in Canberra), Dili (East Timor) and Lismore.

Over time, matching the increased attention on Anzac Day leading up to the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, there has been increased criticism of the apparent glorification of war that solemn services and marches provide. I didn’t think it touched me, until I had people question why a lefty type like me would be interested in Anzac Day.

I say this every year but I don’t go and have never gone because of someone else’s decision that this is a myth which builds Australia. I don’t have to buy into that. It’s sometimes expressed as a criticism of conservative minds and excessive traditionalism. I’m not sure what those who disapprove would suggest is an appropriate way to solemnly mark the contributions of our armed forces once a year. Hope they aren’t the people who turn up and apparently spit on my friend when he participates in marches.

Personally,  I would like to see more acknowledgement of Indigenous nations in services I’ve attended. (And no spitting on anyone, ever.) This morning’s included a New Zealand element with Maori language. I don’t know if there are any sensitivities about it – I’m just saying it should be considered.

I think now that I have enough friends who participate in Anzac Day events who fall on the progressive side of politics to argue that a mindless promotion of war and one view of Australian history are not the reason many of us care about Anzac Day.

I go to the Anzac Day dawn service for many reasons. I go because many people in my family, too many to list, have served in various conflicts (spanning the Great War to the present day) and in peacetime. I go because I think it’s astonishing and wonderful that in such a ‘lazy’ nation we have managed to mark an event 100 years in a row and the meaning has shifted and survived and yet retained so much for so many. I go because I appreciate history and no matter how bungled or misguided specific military movements were, all are not. I wish the world did not want to keep having wars, but the reality is that we have.

I listen to the names of conflicts at Anzac Day services and wonder when will we learn.

I think about all of the people affected – not just those who are in active service – not just the ones who get the glory. I think about the signallers, the mechanics, the intelligence services, the nurses and medicos. The grunt workers. The charitable institutions. The families, the friends. The women. The countries who share one world.

I go to Anzac Day services because it is my own personal peace protest.