Crunch time

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Hola mi blogosphere amigos!

This is a post to say that I won’t be writing a post this week. (I know that sounds counter-intuitive, like taking a guy out for dinner to tell him you don’t want to go out with him.) My head is all over the place this week, as evidenced by the fact that I’ve started watching The Voice. You know you’re in deep procrastination when you’re hanging on Joel Madden’s every word.  

So, I’m going to put my head down and try to meet all these deadlines. I hope to be back next weekend, human again, and with a spankin’ new blog post.

In the meantime, here is a guinea lion.

Guinea Lion

Best Australian Blogs 2013

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Before I get to my news, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who follows my blog, and an especially hearty welcome to my new followers. Welcome! Please take your shoes off, get comfortable. Cup of tea? But really, thank you to everyone who has been following this blog over the last two years, or even the last two minutes. And I really appreciate all the like-love, and the shares on Facebook, and the comments on posts. It’s nice to know I’m not just shouting into a void. Big love to you all!

Now, news!

I’ve entered this ol’ blog in the Best Australian Blogs 2013 competition, just for kicks. The comp is being put on by the Australian Writers Centre, which is kind of cool. They’re recognising that blogging is writing! Well, we’ve known that for ages. But still, it’s nice.

If you have liked reading my poetry and ramblings and stories about crazy stuff that happens to me on public transport, you can vote for me in the People’s Choice category! It’s easy, just click on the link below and tick the box next to “Kaitlyn Plyley”. (I’m near the bottom of the second page.)

www.surveymonkey.com/s/BAB2013

You can vote for as many blogs as you like, so if there are a few other Australian blogs you think are pretty awesome, you can tick them as well. (I’ve already voted for a couple of my faves.)

The prize for the People’s Choice category winner is a bunch of writing courses, so if you’ve just come across my blog and think my writing needs some work, vote for me anyway! Help me improve! Just vote!

Cheers, guys. See you around the blogosphere (somewhere, my housemate is snickering).

(c) Jonathon Hancock, 2013

All of the internet relationships I follow are breaking up

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So, I love the internet. I cannot lie. The internet brings me much of the joys. It helps me feel more connected to the people I love; helps me find new friends and interest groups; makes me a better informed and more thoughtful citizen; and empowers me to express my creative voice. Yeah, I think it’s pretty great.

However, my housemates (Luddites) snicker derisively every time I use the word “blogosphere” in conversation. I protest, “It’s a real thing!” And they say, “Yeah, as real as the internet, HA HA!” The more I splutter, the more they snicker. Huh, plebs. What are we, in 1992? I thought the internet was mainstream now. Geek chic, et cetera?! Someone please tell my housemates!

The thing that surprised me was their assertion that the blogosphere isn’t real. I could try to unpack what it means to be “real” and go read up on Baudrillard and simulacra and theories on mimesis, but it’s a Saturday afternoon and frankly I have other things to do. My main protest was that blogs are created by real people, sitting at their real computers. So there’s realness! Sure, they are presenting a particular image of themselves to the world, an image carefully controlled by themselves. But who isn’t? I don’t think there is much difference in authenticity between the way someone presents their self to me when I first meet them, and the way someone presents their self to me on the internet. We’re all pretending to some degree.

But anyway, I get a lot of joy from reading other people’s blogs. I love feeling a connection to other lives – in my community, and around the world – every day, wherever I am.

Lately, though, the internet has been a little bit heartbreaking.

Two of my favourite bloggers, people whose lives I have been following for months, have recently broken up with their long-term boyfriends. One of them, who vlogs weekly on YouTube, has openly said that she and her boyf split up. She even made a sad video about it that made me tear up a little, because I want to give her a big best-friend hug but I can’t because she lives in Los Angeles and also she does not know who I am. The other blogger has not said anything explicit about a break-up. But you know. You just know. When they go from blogging once or twice a week, from writing joyful expositions about their “meet-cute story” and the boyfriend’s adorable obsession with rugby – when they go from that to not posting for months, and then return with abstract, grand treatises about finding yourself and the importance of inner strength … You know what’s gone down.

And I kind of resent that I immediately knew it was a break-up. I kept telling myself that there are manifold reasons why a person might step away from their prolific blogging and go quiet for a few weeks. We’re complex creatures, right? Maybe they had family stuff going on. Maybe they got a new job. Maybe they just discovered Battlestar Galactica and needed to watch ALL of it in one sitting but couldn’t because their housemate also discovered it at the same time and works full-time so they had to wait to watch it with her because they’re terrible at keeping secrets and would definitely have committed plot spoilers if they’d watched ahead.

But, no. Nothing stops the heart quite like a break-up. At least, not for affluent, upwardly-mobile twenty-somethings. I have a friend who recently found out that her cervical cancer had advanced another stage, but does that bother her as much as her boyfriend staying out an hour later than he said he would? Nope. I think perhaps it is because she knows exactly how much control she doesn’t have over her medical condition. The doctor says “Here are the decisions you need to make”, and she makes them, and she deals with the rest.

I bet cylons don't have to deal with this shit.

I bet cylons don’t have to deal with this shit.

We invest so much in relationships, but we know so little about them. I mean, really, as a species, we barely understand relationships. Why else do we spend so much time talking about them? We don’t devote this much time and energy to the law of gravity, or why grass is green. Those conversations go mostly like this: “What happens if I let go of something? It falls. Ah. And why are all these things green? Chlorophyll. Okay, understood. Now I shall think of other things.” But conversations about interpersonal relationships go like this: “But WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY”. Repeated over and over, ad infinitum.

It makes me sad that these seemingly adorable relationships I’ve been reading about on the internet are breaking up. You want to hope that maybe somewhere, somebody is not breaking up. Maybe somebody is staying together. But I am grateful to these bloggers for sharing their stories and letting me peek into their lives a little. They are making themselves vulnerable to a faceless mass of viewers, and that is incredible. It helps to remind me that we’re all kind of muddling through, even the ones who present a highly edited, storied version of themselves to the public. They’re real, too.

A good friend of mine recently said, “I just pretend to be a person.” She thinks she lacks some essential life-skill that other people innately have. I said, “Have you ever people-watched in the city at rush hour? Everyone is pretending to be a person. If you watch long enough, you’ll see that everyone is doing that thing where you watch everyone else to see if they’ve noticed that you’re a total freak.” We’re all real and confused and a bit messed-up, all of us, everyone.

We’re all just pretending we’re not.

Photo credit: Battlestar Galactica image from Flickr.

Women. Am I right?

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“This is a real phenomenon: When women feel like outsiders, they lose interest.”

I read the above quote in an article today, and it struck me dead. In the article, a science student writes about gender bias in the scientific professions, and even though I don’t know my boron from my bunsen burner, I found myself strongly relating to it.

See, the thing is, on Wednesday night I had my first go at stand-up comedy. I entered myself in RAW Comedy, where beginner comedians can compete for a spot in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I had never set foot onstage at a stand-up gig before, and I don’t mind telling you I was petrified. I had a lively group of friends around me, chattering and laughing and telling me I was going to be fabulous, but every now and then I would just go blank with hot white terror.

Part of my terror came, I think, from the fact that I was one of only four women competing on the night. The other 11 were, as you might imagine, men. That in itself wouldn’t have been that intimidating. After all, I’ve been performing at poetry slams and readings for years now, which are still heavily male-dominated. That wasn’t the issue. It was what the men were saying. Joke after joke about violence against women. Seriously. One guy’s punch line was actually – and I quote – “Wouldn’t it be great to know you fucked a woman to death?” Then he talked about going to her funeral and gloating, saying, “Let that be a lesson to all you other ladies”.

Yes. Let that be a lesson to us. In case we ever forget, we aren’t safe here. Comedy is not a safe space – for anyone, I suppose, but especially for women. One male comedian spent his five minutes extolling his disgust at Julia Gillard, saying she had a penis and she couldn’t arouse the most desperate of men and so on and so on. Textbook misogyny: “a-woman-can’t-be-in-power-without-losing-her-femaleness” with a dash of “if-she-can’t-get-me-off-what’s-the-point-of-her”. Not a word, of course, about her actions as Prime Minister. Another man raged against his ex-wife, calling her a “crazy bitch” at least six times before I tuned out. One young, harmless looking guy, who looked like someone your brother might play Call of Duty with, thanked all the women in the audience for setting their Facebook profiles to ‘public’ so that he could masturbate to them.

I am truly baffled when I see male comedians make demeaning jokes about women, and then chuckle: “Ha ha, all the women in the room hate me right now”. All the women in the room – that’s fifty per cent of your audience, buddy! Too many amateur comedians seem to forget that alienating women means alienating half your potential ticket-paying customers. That comedy isn’t just for the benefit of other men.

By the time it was my turn to perform next, I was feeling sick to the stomach. I waited by the sinks in the ladies’ room, staring up at the posters of upcoming comedy tours. Rows and rows of male faces grinned down at me. I smoothed down my hair, eyeing my outfit. Before I left the house that night, I had pulled a ribbon out of my hair, not wanting the audience to be distracted by my gender. Already, I was “gender priming”, having been told for years that female comedians “just aren’t as funny”.

“Even in areas where actual performance is equal, when a certain group is reminded that they are supposed to be bad at something, their performance weakens.” (S. Wofford, Feminspire)

But I did it. I told some jokes. At the end of my set, I sat down with my friends, shaking like a flippin’ leaf. I had survived. I had even gotten some laughs. I put my head down on the sticky table and tried not to gasp for air. I know public speaking is meant to be scary, but it had never really scared me up until this point. Comedy is such a different beast. You can lose the crowd so quickly. And then you’re dead.

Later that night, after seeing off my friends and dragging myself home, I felt empty. Like all the humour had been sucked out of me. My five minutes up there hadn’t been too bad, I thought, but the other comedians’ various attacks on women had shaken me. I comforted myself that the crowd had liked those jokes as little as I did, with most people shifting uncomfortably in their seats or sitting in stony silence. At least the misogyny wasn’t being openly encouraged. But I wondered. After years of going to comedy nights, I can say that jokes at the expense of women are incredibly common. They’re often aggressive and sometimes violent. Why do these comedians still think these jokes would be an awesome idea?

I found myself thinking, are these the people I want to work alongside? Is this an industry I want to join? If I’m going to have to spend years feeling like a second-class citizen, why would I bother? And then today, I found clarity, staring at me out of that science student’s article. I felt like an outsider, therefore I was losing interest. I was already thinking of opting out of my lifelong dream (my mother says that as an eight-year-old I solemnly informed her, “I want to be a stand-up comedian”) because of some dickheads with microphones. Seems to me that comedy is so male-dominated not because women aren’t as interested in comedy. Rather, I think a lot of women listen to the sexist jokes and see the other female comedians putting themselves down to get laughs, and think, “Fuck this noise”.

Well, I won’t be so easily discouraged. If I cancelled my dreams every time some idiot made me feel inferior for being a girl, I’d never have gone anywhere or done anything. I’m gonna have crack at this comedy thing. And whether I keep working at it or decide it’s not for me, I hope my decision will be based on factors other than my gender.

A crazy couple of weeks

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There was no blog post last Sunday, and I’m very sorry about that. Between study, travel, and illness, I haven’t had any space in my head for this ol’ bloggy blog.

Blog posts are probably going to be a little sporadic for a while – I’ve just started a very intense Graduate course, and it’s kicking my arse. It’s made me its punching bag and is throwing right hooks like it’s mad at me. So, it’s a shame but, when everything gets mental, the blog is the first to suffer. (Actually, that’s a lie – the hygiene of my flat is the first to suffer. The blog comes a close second.)

However, I WILL be posting a new story here this Sunday, I promise! Photo courtesy of Yarn

And, if you’re in the Brisbane area, you can come and see me perform a story, live! I’ll be one of the storytellers at Yarn: stories spun in Brisbane on Thursday 16th August. 6:30pm @ Dowse Bar, Paddington. The theme of the night is ‘In Transit: Stories of Going Nowhere’. Gee, I think I can relate!

Right. Back to study …

One Lovely Blog Award

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The lovely Jamie at Grandmother Musings has kindly nominated my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. What a welcome surprise – I am very grateful to Jamie, who is a prolific and thoughtful blogger. Grandmother Musings is a beautiful blog and it means a lot to get an award from such a great blogger. Check it out, she has everything from sangria recipes to life advice! Love it. 🙂

The rules for this award are as follows:

1.     Give credit to the awesome person who nominated you.

2.    Describe 7 things about yourself.

3.    Nominate 15 other bloggers.

7 things about me …

  1. My first-ever blog was on LiveJournal, back in the day … and I think I named it after a John Mayer lyric. *Ugh*
  2. I just finished a book called Darkfall by Isobelle Carmody.
  3. I’m from Perth, but I now live in Brisbane.
  4. The No. 1 thing people say when they meet me is “You’re really tall!” And always in that tone of “Surprise Announcement!!”
  5. The first month I had my iPhone, I slept with it on the pillow next to me. Seriously.
  6. I can rap Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Holiday’.
  7. I’ve never been told that I look like a llama.

I am nominating the following extraordinary bloggers for the One Lovely Blog Award.  The nominees can decide whether they wish to accept or not … no strings attached.

  1. NMNPHX
  2. findingravity
  3. Katie is a Teacher
  4. Scott Sandwich
  5. Re:Vision Architecture Blog
  6. A Word In Your Ear
  7. Bucket List Publications
  8. Christophe Gowans
  9. onehappybird
  10. Where’smyT-backandotherstories
  11. Joyroots
  12. Daily Returns
  13. Creative Musings of Ledia Runnels
  14. Storytelling Nomad
  15. Live. Explore. Learn. Remember.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading and following! And also big thanks to everyone who’s been following my story blog Transports of Delight. It’s great to know you’re all out there!

VBA Part II

Transports of Delight

Nice shout-out from Nicole at NMNPHX, along with some good blog suggestions. Thanks Nicole!

NMNPHX

About a month ago,  Drew Kailnominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award (VBA). If you want to know more about the award, check out my previous post. Earlier this week, another blogger, Ranting on the Lolohas passed the honor unto this blog.  So I though this would be a good time to highlight some of the blogs on my blogroll and nominate a few more bloggers that I didn’t know about the first time a VBA came my way.

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