Year: 2017

This Casual Cruelty*

M** pointed out an article to me today, called, “I am allowed to oppose same sex marriage.” I’m not going to link to it. But, funnily enough, it’s about someone opposing same sex marriage.

I felt the same way when I saw that article (written by “the executive director of a Christian think tank”) as I did when my high school religion teacher demanded that I read a propaganda brochure denigrating non-Christian religions.

Mad. Really mad.***

And you know the first part of my rage? The first, most immediate part of my rage is not about the discrimination – which I’m also, of course, mad about.

The first part of my rage is about this:

(I saw this in a great blog post yesterday, called Intolerable, by Jeremy Keith / @adactio.)

 

Brandolini’s Law:

 

Yes. And the first part of my rage manifests as EXHAUSTION.

FATIGUE.

POOPEDNESS.

Because oh, my dog, these people who have had the power and the privilege and the floor for so long are finally being questioned/ignored, and in their death throes, they cry, “But explain to me why I can’t have freedom of speech,” and “Explain to me why I’m wrong,” as if we have nothing better to do than enter a pointless argument; as if the onus is on us to persuade them on the issue.

(It reminds me of the line by Ricky Gervais, “You say there’s a God. I say, can you prove that? You say no. I say I don’t believe you, then.” – I remember thinking, “Oh my goodness, yes! The ridiculousness of people asking me to prove to them that something that doesn’t exist doesn’t exist!”)

//

I said to M, like I said to my old religion teacher, all those years ago, “I don’t want to read that.”

Fortunately, M didn’t shout at me and seethe with anger, like my religion teacher did.

But she did ask me again to read it.

And here, I’d like to quote some of Keith’s blog post, Intolerable:

 

The author cleverly wraps a disgusting viewpoint in layers of reasonable-sounding arguments. “Can’t we have a reasonable discussion about this? Like reasonable people? Shouldn’t we tolerate other points of view?” Those are perfectly sensible questions to ask if the discussion is about tabs vs. spaces or Star Wars vs. Star Trek. But those questions cease to be neutral if the topic under discussion is whether some human beings are genetically unsuited to coding.

This is how we get to a situation where men who don’t consider themselves to be sexist in any way—who consider themselves to be good people—end up posting about the Google memo in their workplace Slack channels as though it were a topic worthy of debate. It. Is. Not.

“A-ha!” cry the oh-so-logical and thoroughly impartial men, “If a topic cannot even be debated, you must be threatened by the truth!”

That is one possible conclusion, yes. Or—and this is what Occam’s razor would suggest—it might just be that I’m fucking sick of this. Sick to my stomach. I am done. I am done with even trying to reason with people who think that they’re the victimised guardians of truth and reason when they’re actually just threatened by the thought of a world that doesn’t give them special treatment.

 

I really appreciate this. Previously, my first part of rage felt, I guess, slightly unjustified, slightly inappropriate, like, “Why are you feeling exhausted about this? Argue with them!” – But reading about someone else feeling the same thing – I feel justified.

//

My second part of being mad is about the discrimination itself.

I said to M, “He’s writing this like it’s something we should reasonably consider. But it’s not something we should reasonably consider. It’s horrible. It’s discrimination. It’s hurting people. It’s like someone saying, ‘We should respect the history of slave ownership. Why won’t you respect our culture, and our tradition, of slave ownership?'”

//

(And while we’re on analogies about discrimination, here’s another one: Imagine the outrage if all men were only paid until 3:43PM each day? Hahah hahaha hah, no, thatwouldneverhappen.)

//

Oomph.

* Blog post heading is taken from one of the last lines in Keith’s blog post.

** No comment.

*** I was mad for like a second. I wasn’t mad at all the rest of today, except for the times that my kids threw their food on the floor, or set each other on fire. The rest of the day I was perfectly zen.

Holiday. Holiday. Holiday. Holiday.

I was thinking about how the 2-week holiday let me break the momentum/spell of my daily life.

Like the person who’s in a toxic relationship, but it’s been happening for so long and so gradually, that it’s become their new normal. Severing the momentum ad living somewhere else for 2 weeks lets me reset and have a meta-view of what I want to be My Normal.

That was an exaggeration, though – I’m not in a toxic relationship. And my life/mind/body quality is so much higher than a few years ago, when I was working in a job that made me unhappy. But on this most recent holiday – I did reset and have a meta-view. And I thought: I need the chance to do this more often.

You know the thing about working-to-live VS living-to-work? And the thing about waiting until retirement to do everything you really want to do (travel, indulge, relax, explore, paint, follow your curiosity)? I talked to James about those things. We all loved being on holiday, and we got so much out of it. I don’t want us to slave away at work, to be more financially secure, but then we wait until retirement to travel and indulge. Can we do with a little less income, but have another holiday each year? At the moment, we have 1 week at Christmas time, and 2 weeks in winter. Can we do 1 more week of holiday, somewhere, somehow? 

James has a bit of a strange job, and it’s not as simple as deciding to take an extra week of unpaid leave. But we’re going to try and work it out. One more holiday each year! Yes.

//

I’m trying a new yoga school, and they have movement-yoga and meditation-yoga! I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that, but I bought a trial pass, which allows me to go to as many classes as I’d like to in 4 weeks, so I’m trying everything. Last night I did a meditation-yoga class and it was seriously good. I came home feeling like I’d had a teeny weeny miniature holiday.

It’s funny how you can go from feeling like “I can’t possibly get to several yoga classes, who will look after the kids and I don’t have the energy anyway,” to “ALL THE CLASSES!”

//

Did you know Jim Carrey is an artist?

 

 

Books & TV & Money

BOOKS

I’ve kept well to my reading challenge this year. All on the Kindle app, sometimes reading on tablet, sometimes iPhone, sometimes laptop. A couple of great books:

 

Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

This book’s a bit of a challenge, but not like Infinite Jest. I knew nothing about it going in, and a few pages in, perplexed, I quickly read an intro to the book – OK, it’s about ghosts, OK, it’s about Abraham Lincoln, OK, sure! – then I sat back for the ride. I found it very beautiful, sad, and stunningly written/put-together.

 

★★★★★

 

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson

This one is an easy read, and very light-hearted, but I really enjoyed it. I didn’t read anything about it beforehand, which added to the fun of finding out what the heck was going on! I don’t want to give anything away… give it a whirl. I didn’t know where it was going, right up to the very end.

 

★★★★★

 

TV

I’m so bad at watching TV shows. It’s like I just don’t care enough. I can browse Netflix and watch 10 minutes of this or that, then go off and do something else (like watch random YouTube videos, or read blogs). But! A few people had recommended Abstract, and after a few weeks of putting it off, I finally watched the first episode and it was a JOY. (It’s a documentary series on designers.) I usually find documentaries a bit boring, but in this one, it’s like they’ve collaborated with every designer in every episode and got their input on how to tell the stories!

Here’s the trailer for it:

 

MONEY

My brother’s gonna face-palm if he reads this, but: I’ve been reading a book about money called The Barefoot Investor. My brother gave me this book about 100 years ago. No kidding. I’m sorry, TJ! The last thing I wanted to think about all-those-years-ago was being sensible with money and buying property and stuff. And my dad was telling me to knuckle down and save up a property deposit too, while meanwhile I just wanted to have fun (and I was terrified of being locked into a job that I hated –> just to get a high wage –> to pay a mortgage that I was stuck with!).

Anyway, 101 years later: I’m reading the book. Turns out, my sister (coincidence!) is reading it too.

The book Is super easy to read – just like the author’s sitting next to you, talking to you.

I’m partway into the book, and so far:

  1. Bank recommendation – I was already banking with the recommended bank (ING), and already had the multiple bank account setup that’s recommended. Done!
  2. Superannuation recommendation – I checked my provider (Virgin Super) against the recommendation and my provider seems to be fine. (Although I have realised that my provider offers a lower admin charge for maternity leave, so I’m wondering if I can belatedly apply for that?! Will have to call them.) But my partner’s super, yikes! Even though he’s with an industry super fund (which are supposed to have lower fees and do better investments), the fees are awfully high. So we’re looking into changing that.
  3. Health insurance recommendation – Oh dear. I checked what we’re paying against the recommendation and we’re paying too much. I did a quick Google, found this article, Australian Medical Association reveal the best and worst of health funds, got a couple of quotes, and I’m changing to a different provider (from Medibank Private to Frank).

We’ll save about $1400/year on the health insurance switch, but we need to ask for income protection insurance on the superannuation, so our newfound savings might be going towards that. Or to fine wining and dining and island holidays and massages? Depends how much the income protection is!

So that’s only 32% into the book. I’ll keep you posted.

 

August – Slow Down

This might sound silly, but after some time away from normal everyday life & routine – time to think and breathe and just be, I thought: I’ve been pressuring myself to work on my future career, and it’s become unenjoyable. I’ve been binge-doing because I wanted to ship something, but I stopped enjoying the process along the way. Shipping is important, but so is enjoying life. I need more balance.

I thought about how to get better balance (as in: variety in life! Not just working on a future career – I need some living-in-the-moment, some fun with friends, some new clothes, some physical activity – and so on!), and went shopping for a few things (I am an under-buyer, so I have to really push myself to spend money) – things I’ve been thinking about buying for months and months. I’ve signed up for a new yoga school that is hopefully super nice. (I haven’t been to yoga for 1½ years because 1) my left wrist hurt and I couldn’t put weight on it – my GP basically said it was an RSI-type thing due to carrying children, and 2) the yoga school that I was going to was dowdy and a bit depressing.)

In other news, I currently have 42 habits that I’m trying to cultivate! No wuzzas.

Some of the easiest:

  • Book every day
  • Doodle every day

Some of the hardest (for me):

  • Show ❤️ with your actions
  • Find my people
  • Leave your comfort zone
  • Curb your ego

 

Peter Singer Ethics Talk

Oh, you again!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway —

Last night, I went to Peter Singer On What Really Matters, presented by The School of Life. I’ve always been interested in ethics but I’ve been kinda overwhelmed/unexcited about the prospect of seriously learning more about ethics and philosophies, ethicists and philosophers. But the time has come, the walrus said, to go to an ethics event. (Come on, dude. Just go. It’s only 2 hours. How boring could it be!)

And —

It was such a good night. It wasn’t boring at all. That probably sounds incredibly naive and ill-informed to some people who know the basics (or more!) about ethics/philosophies/Peter Singer, but I just didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t seen his TED talk, etc.

The host introduced Peter Singer and the event format: 7 topics, 10 minutes each, with a countdown clock on the stage. Singer, in turn, introduced each of the topics by asking a question – an ethical conundrum – to get the audience thinking. Then for the remainder of the 10 minutes, audience members could ask further questions, or share comments and opinions, by nabbing one of the roving microphones. Singer then responded to the audience’s thoughts.

Topics included Justice, Rights, Freedom, and The Survival of Intelligent Life on Earth.

I was concerned that my personal philosophies/ethics would clash with Singer’s and I’d find the event somewhat difficult to experience, because I’d read he was a utilitarian philosopher and I’d had to Google what that meant, and from Wikipedia, I had the wrong idea about it. Fortunately, in his opening statements, Singer addressed this common misunderstanding! – and I saw we were more on the same page than I’d originally thought.

He talked about/promoted opinions and calls-to-action that I feel strongly about – like Effective Altruism; and how it’s reprehensible for us to stand by and do nothing while people are living in (and dying from) extreme poverty; and how it’s incredibly important to do something (donate) about extreme poverty, even though:
a) climate change could soon mess up the world, and
b) if you save the lives of those (mostly children) who would have died from extreme poverty, then you are also likely sentencing them to a life of great poverty and hardship.

He also talked about The Life You Can Save (his website that helps you choose how to effectively donate), and 80,000 Hours (encouraging/helping people to choose better careers), which I hadn’t heard of.

I really appreciated the event, the audience, and The School of Life for putting it on (and for existing – I’ve enjoyed several TSOL events now). I’m adding Peter Singer’s books to my Kindle. Maybe I’ll get.a little better informed after all this time.

 

Holiday!

Before I began two weeks of holidays, I thought: At least, for the first week, I won’t think about making anything. I can start thinking about making again in the second week if I want to, but I really need to give myself one whole week without any self-pressure, without any “work.”

Then we entered the first week of holidaying and – do you get this? – I felt completely exhausted. Pooped. Going to bed early. Taking day naps. It was like I’d been running on (not adrenaline – routine? robotic routine?) empty and finally let myself crash, restore, reset.

I think that happens every single year when I have a holiday! And every time I remember: Oh yeah, in the first week I’m so tired, I just crash. And I’m still living with my everyday low-level of constant worry. And it’s not until one week has passed that I become fully aware of that low-level of constant worry, and then I can work on letting it go. And I can truly relax in that second week. Oh yeah. Duh.

I have zero need to worry. ZERO. There is nothing that I might desire for happiness that I can’t afford to buy. Like, if I would only be totes happy if I had a different haircut. Or a personal trainer. Or daily home-delivered meals. Or classes in something. Or gold jewellery. Or the ability to self-publish a book. Or a 10-day getaway/retreat just for myself. Whatever it might be. My family is in (relatively) good health and spirits. I should be totes happy and carefree.

But my low-level constant worry is about my future. About what my work will be, one day. When the kids are in school. I want my work to be more meaningful (to me) than it was. If I’m going to do something for 40 hours a week…! Of course, I could do a Cheryl Strayed and do menial jobs just to pay the bills, then my Real Work is doing something else, something creative. I think I’m being daft worrying about the future in this particular scenario. Anything could happen in the next few years – bam, we might get a UBI. I might develop a deep appreciation for capitalism and consumerism. The world might go up in flames. No, but really. I think sometimes it’s good to be a bit worried about something in one’s future, to get your butt into gear and make sure the future’s good, but I think I’m being a bit daft with this one.

I need to let go of this worry, somehow.

//

Speaking of worry – over the years, I keep coming back to the idea of tithing. The world is insanely unfair and my donations are paltry compared to what I live on.

Some people leave their loved ones, seek out a better wage, and then send some of that wage back home, to help their families.

One of these days we’ll all realise we don’t want anyone to suffer (instead of other people’s suffering being a little problem that is swept under the rug again and again and again and again and again and forever) and we will all send money back home. One of these days.