Friday, 29 January 2016

The Danish Girl


Yesterday I was watching this interview where Eddie Redmayne described gender as a spectrum.  According to this theory different people sit on various different spots on this spectrum, because what really makes a boy or a girl apart from their physical form?  Is it that boys like sport?  Or girls like drawing?  Because that's just so stereotypical.

Other than what our bodies show, how do we know what gender we are?  And how do some people feel so far on the spectrum from what their physical form is that they feel the need to change it?

A while ago I read this article on Rookie about a person who couldn't define their gender.  They didn't feel male or female, or even right in between.  They were kind of just somewhere on that spectrum and they were happy with this undefined gender.  This was identity enough for them.  I think that's really interesting.

Before watching The Danish Girl I never really acknowledged gender issues.  I'd heard of the idea of feeling different and wrong in one's body, but that was it.  I'd never heard of the fact that people may feel as if they have two identities rather than just one wrong one, or thought deep enough into how it might affect the people they love, or how this issue was dealt with about a century in the past.

What always gets me about movies is when they're true stories.  Knowing that these events happened make the circumstances mean so much more - also knowing they've had a major impact on life today, with Lili being the first ever person to undergo a gender-reassignment operation.  There's always that moment at the end where the screen is black and in simple typed letters they tell you what happened after the events of the movie, and the whole thing really just leaves you in shock before you return to your reality.

I don't mean to sound offensive or insensitive in any way, but to be honest, some of the events in the movie made me feel extremely uncomfortable to the point where I just couldn't watch.  I had to block my eyes.  The fact that this happened made me worry about myself, and wonder if I'm just not as accepting as I think I am.  I think it's the fact that I'd never encountered any events of the sort that were happening on the screen in front of me.

The actors were absolutely brilliant, and after watching the movie my mum said to me, "I wonder if Eddie Redmayne is now questioning his masculinity." and to be honest I wouldn't be surprised if he is a little bit after going through all these intense events, whether pretend or not.  There was this one incredibly powerful scene where Eddie has to stand in front of the mirror naked and I just can't imagine how it must feel to do something that would seem so private in front of a crew of cameras.

In the interview Eddie talks about Lili's smile throughout the movie.  I'd describe it as looking down somewhat shyly and giving an incredibly feminine smile, and apparently that mirror scene is where he tried to make her find it.

Sometimes I wonder what it's like for these actors to practically become the characters they're playing.  They're going through the dialogue and actions their characters would be going through, and obviously they have to feel some of it to make everything so believable.  It's not just what they do and how they feel though, but also their physical appearance.  Imagine how much weight Eddie Redmayne had to lose to look that slender.  That's dedication.

I also watched this interview with Alicia Vikander, who plays Einar's (later Lili) wife, where she talks about how she looks up to her character, Gerda, for how strong and accepting she is.  From the beginning Gerda was always strong, even when she was happily married.  She describes her first kiss with Einar like kissing herself, which made me begin to realise that maybe Lili is quite a lot like Gerda after all - both incredibly brave and stubborn when it comes to their ideas.  The scene that really surprised me was when Gerda didn't question Einar when he wore her nightgown, even though she may have viewed this dressing up as part of a game.  Einar and Lili are completely themselves around her throughout the entire movie, and I love that quote I remember from the trailer: "I love you because you made me possible."

Einar started dressing up as Lili when Gerda asked him to stand in for one of her models, and according to the text at the end of the movie she continued painting Lili for the rest of her life.  Gerda pushed the boundaries of gender in her art with a concept way ahead of her time, and I guess this is another way these events have contributed to our ideas of gender today.

Today people like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox are widely accepted icons, and movies like The Danish Girl are mainstream, inspiring and educational to so many people, so it's amazing how much progress has been made since Lili's time not too long ago.  Laverne Cox still speaks about how society focuses on the transition part of transgender people, which taints their ability to live with real experiences, and I wonder when the day will come that gender and changing genders really don't matter.

Love,
M

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Thoughts from Elsewhere


Okay, so I really wanted my first post back from Italy to be of my travel journal, but it turns out getting photos from my phone to my laptop to the computer to the printer to the page is actually really time consuming, and the printer has also decided to run out of ink, so I don't think that travel journal's going to be finished any time soon.

Instead I have a diary excerpt post for you, written from the moment I left home 5 weeks ago to now.  So basically I'm just lazy; as in I want to share my thoughts but at the same time I can't be bothered to write a well-thought-out post right now.


13.12.15

So I'm on a plane and seeing as I have 8 hours to kill sitting in this seat - and I've only endured 2 - I thought I may as well write a little.

It's sad that my biggest worry is the amount of food I'm about to eat and all the food I've already eaten.  Even the rice from the aeroplane's chicken rice is making me feel bloated.  The lead up to my birthday has involved multiple cakes and chocolates, and I'm afraid I feel big.  Not just big in Malaysia but big in Australia too.

Daddy keeps preaching his philosophies on the "I" and how everyone's "I", but apparently that excludes him.  I don't think he realises that it's in our human nature to be selfish because we're all trapped in our complicated whirlpool of brains and we'll never be able to jump into someone else's.  Mummy is the least "I" person I know, and Daddy is one of the most.

I reckon it's possible to genetically inherit characteristics or ways of thinking, because I'm so crazy similar to Daddy.  Sometimes I hate the person he is, but then I realise that I need to love it because that's the person I will inevitably grow to imitate.  He's brilliant and charismatic, albeit annoying.  There's some passion and self-righteous do-gooder in him, but he's also prone to depression, self-doubt while also having some unreasonable self-love and making a childish fool of himself.  Is becoming Daddy a life well-lived?  He's good at everything and majorly intelligent, so I guess so?


15.12.15

Just writing to inform you that Malaysia is hot and humid, filled with card games, Daddy thinking he knows everything, E being smart, S being on her phone while also being nice to talk to, awkward conversations with Koong Koong and SP, StarWars, good food and surprising work out sessions, and myself beginning to spend my days relaxing in a productive manner rather than playing continuous candy crush and trying to somewhat match S in the phone department.  Maybe I'll explain my real thoughts on everything later, but here's my little update for now.


19.12.15

On another note, June messaged me the other day and we're going to be meeting up.  It's been a long time and somewhat awkward, but I'm excited because I doubt we'll have nothing to talk about.


20.12.15

It is a universally accepted truth that High School sucks. - p5, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

This seemingly innocuous joke has caused Justin Howell to completely lose his shit.  Perhaps it is the mind-destroying anxiety of being back at school. - p13


21.12.15

But then, with the existence of cameras, is anyone really able to live in the moment?  We call for the camera every time we see something beautiful because we just can't appreciate it with our own eyes.  Why am I still considering the people back home?  My goal must be to forget them and remember the now.  In Rome I will have the time of my life exploring with TN, and when school starts I will be objective to the world around me and how I act.  I want to be authentic.  I need to remember that I am the centre.


24.12.15

A friend to all is a friend to none - Aristotle


29.12.15

We are leaving Malaysia in a week and it feels like way too soon, but if you think about it, we're only 2/3 of the way through this trip.  I just feel like we haven't accomplished much, and we're so separated from the family for the rest of the year and every time we come back they've changed a little.  I don't know what I'm excited for anymore though.  I'm excited for Year 11 and even more excited for Rome, but what more do we have to do in Malaysia?  I can't help but feel as if the trip is already over aside from a weekend with the other side.

I guess I just don't feel ready to leave, like Malaysia is my alternative universe where I live in a different home until I actually go home, but it's always been this way, hasn't it?  5 weeks last year and 3 weeks this year is a huge difference.  I don't know how to describe how I feel or describe how I don't really want to do anything about it.  In my English creative I described how I always eventually felt the need to go home, but right now it's the opposite.  I don't exactly fit in the way I should, and I need to before I leave.

I think it has something to do with how last year I felt changed after this retreat, but now I feel like exactly the same insecure show-offy person I was when I came, and I want to go back different.  I want my family to see me as different and I want to return uncaring and ready, but at this rate I'll need to put some effort in.  Maybe it'll be a New Year's thing.

Also, let's talk about S for a moment.  Presently she's playing League of Legends while skyping her gamer friends to sync teamwork and it's midnight and she still lets out the occasional yelps and it's been this way since we got here.  I can't help but feel a tingle of jealousy at her ease amongst these gamer guy friends and the way she genuinely has that whole gamer thing going on and she loves her mum openly and is super respectful and somewhat docile and matter-of-fact.  She has so much family around her that I don't have.  I could even call her untouchable because she doesn't care about friends and status and all that but that's not true - she's an obsessive social media freak and talks about meeting up with friends as if it's the only thing worth doing.  I don't know why I buy into it by showing off how much freedom I have in Australia.  Maybe it's that she thinks less.  Is it that people who think less seem more matter-of-fact while caring immensely about reputations like basic people while also not grasping that anxiety?  But that's just snobby me speaking, who knows she's in a better position in life and is holding onto that as if it's life's one true purpose - and not happiness.


2.1.16

I just don't feel powerful and I feel like trash.  Yesterday I felt attractive so why does my squishy tummy bother me now?  The pineapple tarts are right in front of me now.  I blame them.  I'm worried food will be the one bad side of Rome.  I'm scared food will ruin the entire trip.  I hate food.

Maybe I just need nutrition.  Maybe all the carbs are getting to me because it's the only food group I seem to be eating.  But yesterday I ate meat and fruit and veggies.  I don't understand this and I don't understand why food is such a huge problem for me.


4.1.16

Going to Rome couldn't come at a better time because I legitimately hate the disrespect and injustice that oozes from my family.  They change the story when it comes to me.  My mum says she never snaps, she never gets defensive - but she's also the one who always told me it takes two to argue.  For a 'discussion' to get this heated both participants must be contributing aggressive tones, because one-sided arguments don't happen.

I admit I crossed the line in front of our relatives because due to their Asian agism they've probably never seen this amount of parental disrespect in their lives.  The thing is, a discussion about body image can turn into a discussion about who's speaking louder in my family.  They were asking me to weigh myself in front of everybody, which if you've read my diary you'll know I'm self-conscious about, and I made a statement about how Asians and Australians and all cultures in general have a different image of the perfect body type.  My mum completely disagreed, and I was quite surprised because I guess this is the first time I've heard her opinion on the topic and I've never actually encountered someone who disagreed with what I thought was an obvious statement due to the differences between the way cultures think in every other aspect of life, and the videos we've all watched on how there is no one definition of beauty with each image focused on a different culture's ideal.

I said something about how Asians like skinny and don't work out as much, and how Australians seem to be obsessed with big butts and abs - and then she started getting all defensive about Asians and herself.  She began turning the conversation around to how fickle it is to even think of body image, and kept switching from "not having a body ideal" to picking out a role model.

I just reckon Malaysians aren't as obsessed with body shape, also understandably because they're a lot more modest than Western countries.

It's so hard to love my culture when the imbalance of power between generations is skewed too far towards them, and issues I have grown up thinking are important aren't acknowledged.  I just don't belong or agree with them and that makes me sad.

You know, I watched a Ted talk that basically told me that ranting about negative things like this and "letting it all out" isn't actually healthy.  Here I am crying while opening this can of worms when I could keep it locked inside and think of something happy, which would make me a lot happier without the memory of sitting here and doing this.


5.1.16

I know that last week I was thinking that I hadn't changed at all during the retreat to Malaysia, but I reckon this time round the change came in the form of pride in my cultural identity.  I'm now thinking of Asians in the media and how being Asian and different isn't actually that unique and not negative at all.  I need to stop thinking of my culture as inferior and stop trying to conform to the idea of being 100% Aussie.  I think I'm lucky to have the best of both worlds.

This somewhat rude family on the shuttle-bus got me thinking about whether being polite makes us pushovers, and whether being somewhat rude to the public is the only way to get your way and deal with unfair people.

Sometimes my family is the life of the party, but sometimes we're just the embarrassingly loud people who need to shut up.


8.1.16

Homesickness was my biggest concern last night on the plane from Sydney to Dubai.  After watching  Awkward for the night I couldn't get to sleep and was thinking about how I'd be spending the next 13 days with these same people.

There's no need to impress people not worth impressing, or anyone in general.

There's also no need to look at vanilla ice cream and feel guilt and dread but eat it anyway because it's what's expected.  I don't understand my sudden food hate but all I know is that vanilla ice cream has made me feel sick, whether it's mental or actually physical.

Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all. - p10, The Great Gatsby
- a pretty way of saying it's better to be amazing at one thing than to be an all-rounder.

Why am I still on social media in Rome?


9.1.16

I wonder whether she's saying these things to sound deep, whether people who seem educated really think more than everyone else.  Maybe it's just insecure people trying to make up for their insecurities.  I reckon she's one of those types who thinks they're so right with their philosophies.  I am too.


10.1.16

Everyone seems to need their self validation.  They all make up some kind of life philosophy to give themselves purpose and make them seem special in their own self-image.  Yesterday it was idealism, today it was "popularity" and reputations and connections.  They seem to love experience and drugs as if these things matter.  It's the media that's teaching you this and you need to snap out of it, as do I. But at least I'm not buying into it and being easily impressed.  I hate it when she puts me down rudely and the self-absorbed inner part of me just thinks she's jealous because why else would someone make comments like that and think I can take it.  Even bitching about these people later makes you feel somewhat superior, or having a friendship a gazillion times stronger and more honest in your eyes.  Sometimes I go into this train of thought where I think I'm so much smarter before realising how stupid that makes me.  Sometimes I think her insecurity and self-absorption must mean she leads a miserable life.  LIFE ISN'T A COMPETITION!

It's hard to shake it out when they pin you down.  I hate it when my past self (a different person) is mentioned by them and affects who I am now, or at least their opinion of me.  But do they matter?  It's the fact that they now automatically have to be insignificant simply because original opinions are hard to let go of.


12.1.16

And in the end it's all about impressing people, about how you can make them perceive you.  It's unhealthy.  Even the people you thought were different, seemed so selfless and genuine; they're pretentious.  In the middle of the night their true form shows as they go from overly polite to normal. You see them believe your little tricks as if these actions they witness, these snippets, make up who you are.  They somewhat do and you're somewhat proud but why does it matter?  You like your music because you like it, not because you like the idea of liking it.  You can be what you are without anyone else understanding because your pride shouldn't come from them.


13.1.16

I feel like a two-faced bitch in her little ball of negativity and bitterness, and for the first time I have nowhere to rant about it but here.

I hate to say it, but I'm looking forward to going home.


14.1.16

I've been treating it like an us and them this entire trip but I realise that we're friends for a reason and I don't know why I just forgot all the fun and history we've had together for all these years.  This trip may seem like all the time there is and has been but it's not.

I started considering what's going to be happening when this trip is over and although I'm somewhat excited to return to normal life and rest I'm also reminded of practicing musical instruments, work and eating normal food.

I'm reminded of the thoughts of more important ideas that I usually think of to make myself seem superior to myself - thoughts aspiring to be opinionated like Tavi - or being in my individual bubble and not caring or succumbing to influence.  And while I'm here I just mock vlog with TN and I've slipped into this routine of idiocy and it's all just so easy like we're in our own little world.  Let's not think about that now though.  I'm going to visit the other room...


18.1.16

Now that I'm on the plane and the trip is over the issue of my body has come back to worry me.  My tummy feels physically sick from all the sugar today and my waist is like 30% bigger.  And I know it's to be expected if I've been eating as much as I have, but I can't help but worry.  I just wish it would all go back to normal in a flash but now I'm going to have to work at being healthy and feeling good and I'm scared to think of what would happen if I gave in.

Travelling to another unprecedented place is all fun and explorer-vibey, but travelling back is a different story.  I don't feel like it's all part of the adventure.  I just feel frustrated that I have so many hours to go and my body is feeling like shit.  I'm really excited to touch down in Sydney and see Daddy and tell him about everything.

I'm looking forward to giving my family presents and just hibernating for a while.  I wonder how long that will last for.


21.1.16

GOOD MORNING WORLD!!!  I just wanted to let you know I am now home and extremely rested and as happy as can be!

Love,
M

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Malaysia 2015



I know... I hate finding blog posts that are just videos too, but give this one a go!  Normally my travel posts consist of a lot of photos and a couple of words here and there, so treat this like a long photo reel or something.  I promise it's not boring and it's not a vlog.

Every year we make that yearly trip to Malaysia to see the relatives, and the country is pretty much my second home.  This time round we only stayed for 3 weeks compared to our usual of about 4-5, so it felt quite short and I was worried I hadn't gone through the usual 'escape' process where I change for the better not being around the influence of people back home and all that.

I think that instead of changing due to a lack of influence though, I've changed due to the influence found in Malaysia.  I've always been someone who loves feeling superior being of the same culture as everyone around me in Malaysia, but feels inferior being of the minority when I return to Australia.  I guess I've now realised that the whole race difference isn't a sign of superiority or inferiority, but it rather makes me diverse in the sense that I have the best of both worlds.

I've never really been proud of my culture before.  In fact, I've probably been somewhat the opposite. I guess that now I've come to the realisation that I should love it because of the food and diversity and my family, and because it really makes up at least 50% of who I am.

Love,
M

Saturday, 2 January 2016

It's hard to dance with the devil on your back

January - that time we walked to Big Splash and it wasn't open

The problem with the whole ‘new year, new me’ idea is that no matter how much you want to change, in whatever way you’ve decided to improve yourself this time, everything that has happened has happened.  All those embarrassing moments and cringe worthy thoughts will always come back to haunt you.

And I think the hardest part of becoming a new person is trying to change how the people you already know view you.  Even if you shake the past away, they still remember it.  You can’t just wipe your world into a clean slate.

But then, maybe becoming a new person has more to do with the individual than every one else.  No matter how much you try to change yourself, you will ultimately still be the same person.  You’ll just be an improved version, and these improvements will slowly penetrate their opinion of you as a whole, not that it matters.

The first step to becoming a ‘new you’ is not shaking away your past, but rather shaking away the people to become separate from your own self-journey, because they’re the only ones holding the past in place. 

February - The first of 20 hours of community service

Anyway, onto the usual new years’ post – the one stereotypical bloggy thing I conform to and love – with all the reflecting on how great 2015 was and how I changed so much from all the new experiences (which is actually very true), and the list of resolutions which I hope won’t bore you to death.  To be honest, I feel obliged to write this post because in last years’ I wrote “Hopefully this will be the first of many New Years' posts.”

March - a school swimming carnival
So, last year on the threshold between 2014 and 2015 I was in Penang watching the fireworks, and this time round I was in Grandma’s house watching my cousin play League of Legends – so not all that different.  I feel like this year I was more open to trying new things and I found that there was nothing wrong with putting in effort and committing, and as a result I guess I learnt quite a bit.  For some reason, if you couldn’t tell by the title, this time round I’m not really interested in dwelling on the past, so let’s just skip to the resolutions:

April - at a birthday dinner

Wear glasses or contacts full-time

My blind days are over.  If people can be seen on the streets in glasses, so can I.  Life’s more about how you see the world than how people see you, and being able to actually see clearly is a start. 

I feel as if wearing glasses also makes you feel like a different person, and if I’m going for that ‘new year, new me’ regime, then this can only be a good thing.

May - the one and only snapchat Monday

Get more in touch with my Asian culture

Just because I live in a predominantly white country doesn’t mean I have to act white, and it’s taken me this long to come to that realization.  I don’t need to live by their common idea of what makes a good life, and I don’t need to feel racist against my own race.  I need to learn to be proud of it.

June - we found really soft sand in Dymocks (highlight of the month)

Learn to love my body

Either I learn to eat less or I learn to love my body, masses of food and all.  I’d prefer the former because that gives me less of a chance of getting heart disease or cancer or something, but even then my brain is going to need a lot of rehabilitation to get to the point of self-love.

July - because I'm vain and think my face looks nice in this photo

Be more authentic

I shouldn’t love something because I think it’s cool to love it.  I shouldn’t pretend I know someone super well when I don’t.  I need to say it like it is, no matter how it makes me seem.  I’m not some bimbo and I’m not pathetic.  Everything I say and do and like: it needs to be real.

August - formal was in this month but this day was more fun

Be less intimidated

People talk loud but they’re just speaking words.  Don’t buy into everything they say.  They’re no better than you.

September - I wore red lipstick and the same top as last month

Be a little kinder

The world isn’t all about me, no matter how much I seem to think so.  My friends deserve nice presents, everyone deserves a happy birthday message, and treating my parents nicer is going to be difficult and I doubt it’ll be happening until I move out.

I reckon I’m a little sour in the sense that if someone doesn’t do something for me, I will inwardly refuse to do it for them.  But people will be people and I can’t control them, but at least if I do something nice for them they’ll be a little happier.  I know the little things really impact me, so there’s no point holding back for them.

October - I went outdoors

GOOD GRADES

It’s in capital letters because it’s the most important. 

My mum is currently on the phone with my dad discussing how our super smart family friend only achieved third in the state, and they are now discussing the ATAR scores of 2015, and they have now moved on to discussing the scaling of subjects and how I need to ‘study hard’ and they are now discussing the ‘double degree’ I will be taking which I most definitely have not agreed to seeing as it has nothing to do with what I want to be.

I want a good ATAR though.

November - spent most of the month hating school and not having a thigh gap

You know what?  I reckon the purpose of new years’ resolutions isn’t necessarily to follow them, but instead to provide a window to your thoughts at the time, to the things you were once concerned about.  Our goals change over time, and by the end of the year some of these may not apply anymore.  I know half the things I said last year were pretty stupid.

December - my favourite month of the year

Love,

M