What I’ve Been Reading Saturday 9th May 2015

I’ve had a busy and stressful few weeks so I have been pretty slack at keeping up the blog, but I have been doing lots of reading. Here is the best of what I have been reading this week.

Brain Pickings looks at how microbes and bacteria change what it means to be me in Our Microbes, Ourselves: How trillions of Tiny Organisms Living Inside Us are Redefining What It Means To Be Human
Sometimes eating is not about actually eating, but how we feel. 5 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Chuck Palahniuk and “Thought” Verbs. This would make such an exciting, yet difficult, experiment. May try this during semester break.
More Chuck Palahniuk. These tips are a few years old, but still relevant and useful today. 13 Writing Tips from Chuck Palahniuk.
Sometimes I let stress get the better of me. This list is a great reminder that stress can be controlled and doesn’t have to overwhelme. 13 Stress-Inducing Habits and How to Avoid Them
As somebody who enjoys old films both at home and at the cinema, I also do wonder if modern films have ‘conquered our imagination.’ Stop Laughing at Old Movies, You $@%&ing Hipsters
Have you read anything interesting this week?

I like stationery


I have a pile of unused notebooks in my cupboard and another under my bed. I have a canvas bag full of markers, biros and highlighters. I have sticky notes mixed in with my socks, and my desk drawer is overflowing. I suspect that I have enough pens and paper to get me through the next few years and still have some left over. Writing is not just about the words that go onto the page, but what the words and scribbles are made with.
As much of my life becomes more and more digital I am putting a physical pen to a physical piece of paper less and less. Yet they are still a huge part of my everyday life and how I work, learn and organise.
Today I wanted to share with you two of my favourite pens, what I look for in a pen and just the awesomeness of these tools of writing.

When I look for my ideal pen there are a few things that are a must for me:
1. I’m not a huge fan of ballpoint pens. Sure they go smoothly enough over the surface of a page, but there isn’t anything graceful about them or the way they make my writing look pretty average. I much prefer rollerball, or gel ink pens. May
2. The tip can’t be too big. My writing is big enough without it taking up even more space on a page than it actually needs. My writing also looks worse and is harder to read when writing with a thicker pen. I really quite like long, thin tips.
3. The ink must flow smoothly and cleanly and not come out of the pen in random blobs that get smudged easily and makes my page messy and get over my hands and are impossible to scrub off.
4. The ink shouldn’t be seeping through the page. I don’t think I need to explain this one. Ink bleeding through the page is annoying.

The first pen is the Kikki K Rainbow Gel Pen Essential – $1.95 AUD

This pen is a pleasure to work with. It’s a thin pen, which is a nice change from the rest of the Kikki K pen range, which I find to be a little too bulky. It’s thin and light enough to throw into my handbag and not have it get lost in the bottom somewhere. It has also so far survived the handbag test – the lid stays on nice and tight and so far has not leaked all over the place despite all the moving around and getting knocked about in my handbag. The colour range is simply delightful. It is a simple pen that earns it’s name – it is a becoming a true essential pen for me.

The second is the Easy Writer from Typo – $2.99 AUD

This is the pen that inspired this post. It meets all the above criteria and more. I was in love with this pen from the first uncapping. To start with this pen fits perfectly in my hand, I love the way it grips, it has a nice non-slip plasticity-rubbery casing and the tapering out towards the bottom of the pen is a nice touch. The plastic diamond tip is an unexpected feature that makes the pen’s pointed tip pretty to also look at. I’ve picked up a handful of these already and I can’t wait to continue writing with it.

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What I’ve learned from quitting Facebook after the first week

DeathtoStock_Desk1For sometime now I’ve felt that Facebook has been a huge time sucking black hole for me. I’d check it first thing in the morning, spending 30 minutes before I got up scrolling through posts and links and stupid you-tube videos. I’d end the day also checking Facebook, after checking it numerous times during the day. More often than not I’d get sucked into clicking into things I couldn’t care less about, posts that just linked into viral webpages that were designed to get you clicking on more links. The last straw for me was when I found myself scrolling through photos of “horrible wedding dresses.” Reading the negative commentary of people who looked happy and celebrating wanting to share their lives with somebody that was special to them, I felt dirty.

Giving up Facebook has not been easy. It’s actually been much harder than I expected. And this is what I’ve learnt.

1. I’m not missing out on anything important. Other people’s lives goes on, and so does mine regardless of it being shared online or not.

2. ‘Liking’ something isn’t the same thing as actually engaging with somebody. For me it’s the equivalent of small talk via text messages. It’s an empty substitute for real conversation and interactions.

3. If somebody wants to contact you they will. It’s still possible to make plans for drinks or coffee with somebody without the help of Facebook.

4. Facebook is an addiction and going cold turkey has been really hard. Facebook had clearly become a habit for me. It has amazed me how often I have reached for my phone to check Facebook without even thinking what I was doing. The only way I could stop checking Facebook was to delete the app from my iPhone and delete the link from my browser forcing my to actively think about logging onto the website.

5. I have time. By not constantly checking what I am missing I have time to do things I have been meaning to do for some time. While most of the things I have been doing have been study related, I’ve somehow managed to be able to get more done. I’ve also found more time to write too.

It may have only been a week, but I think I’ll continue my self exile from Facebook. In the interest of keeping myself accountable and also in the interest of honesty – I have logged into Facebook three times since taking a break. The first was to see if anybody actually missed me (no, they hadn’t) and the second was to link this blog to my Facebook account and the third was one night at 2am when I couldn’t sleep.

We Are What We Pretend To Be

I play games of pretend with a few friends every once in a while, and it is never planned. A statement or question will come up organically in a conversation and we roll with it. Most often our games of pretend revolve around getting on a plane this afternoon and where we will go. On bad days we end up in a resort somewhere with an unlimited amount of cocktails and a suitcase of books. On really good days we end up in a faraway city having adventures and seeing things that we have only dreamed about.

My games of pretend of aren’t always about travel sometimes they are about aliens, pirates, time travellers, private investigators and a myriad of other things. I like to think that I still play ‘pretend’ as an adult because I have an active imagination. I see this as something that as required by anybody who wants to write and by somebody who is an active and vivacious reader.

I’ve had a few discussions recently with friends about reading and writing creative fiction and how it is really just an act of living vicariously through others. When I ‘play pretend’ I am not really being me I am being somebody else. Just like when I am reading a piece of fiction, for a few moments I am in the mind of somebody else therefore I am them.

At the end of these conversations I am left wondering if my enjoyment of ‘playing pretend’ is healthy? By pretending that I am heading off to an island in the South Pacific am I forgetting to pretend to be myself?

‘Strayan, Mate!

Last night I was on Skype with two friends in London, they were both asking me when I plan on returning to the UK (no idea). One of them asked me if I considered myself to be English. My answer, of course was, “No. I’m a F**king Aussie, Mate” He was asking if Australians consider themselves to be English because we are still a constitutional monarchy with the Queen still on our coins and our head of state*. I found his question to be a little insulting, sure my language preferences on computer devices is usually set to English (UK) rather than English (US), and the Union Jack can be clearly found on the Australian flag but what goes on in England and with the Queen and her parliament has really little to do with what actually goes on down here. With the exception being during ashes season.

This post was originally going to be part rant part reflection on what it means to be Australian in the year 2014. It turns out that being Australian is actually a very complex thing. Our media is saturated with American and English TV programs, movies and music. Even our reality TV programs are all extensions of shows from overseas. I’m of the opinion that it is hard to hang on to a traditional sense of what being Australian means when we are influenced quite heavily by the going ons in other countries.

I was also going to talk about how I speak  ‘Strayan. Which ultimately means that I wear thongs on my feet, footy could refer to almost any sport than involves a ball and the possibility of that ball being kicked at some stage, and words like sook, vegemite, bottlo and tradie are used regularly and often. I know that I don’t always enunciate very well and that I tend to ask for a glass of ‘wata’ instead of a glass of water, but I know for a fact that I can speak better english then some English people I know. And how I don’t think my accent and choice of words is enough to build a national identity around.

I was then doing a little internet browsing and found Star Wars Downunder. It is a fan made star wars film set on a fictional Australia like planet, and follows Merv the Jedi on his quest to have a quiet one. Its part star wars parody part beer commercial. The production is pretty impressive for a fan made film and is worth watching just for hearing all the australianis and their interpretation in the subtitles.



*I should point out that his question was more about when a person might develop a different national identity after immigrating to a different country. His point was more specifically about when did the Australian identity emerge. That is a question I can’t really answer, it would be such an individual experience that would be hard to try and generalise.   

I Finally Get Around To Posting Something or How To Have An Interesting Blog.

I’ve been wanting to start this blog for some time and I have kept putting it off for many, many reasons: I don’t know what to write about; who will want to read what I write about; my writing skills aren’t that great; I’m not that interesting.

The other day William Zinsser’sOn Writing Well” had  been recommended to me. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but I did become curious as to who Zinsser was. I’d never heard of him before, who was he to write a book on writing? After a brief google search I came across a speech he gave at Deerfield Academy in 2010 titled “How to have an interesting life.

I am always eager to hear what older generations have to say about living an interesting life. It seems that in today’s social media world an interesting life seems to be about how many likes a post can get on Facebook or how many twitter followers a person has.  These older generations had interesting lives that they didn’t feel the need to share with strangers on a daily basis. It seems that it was enough to be just living that interesting life.  Zinsser described both the process of being interesting in his life and writing is seeing his “life as a product, It’s a continuing process.”

And that is how I want to see and approach this blog, and to be honest my own life. This shall be an evolving process. I’m unable to say what will come next or write I will write about. This is a process and it is nowhere near a finished product. I look forward to discovering how and what this little adventure evolves into.