Month: July 2013

fearing/feeling.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ll be honest with you: the past week or so has been..unique.

I guess it all began with Sheryl Sandberg. In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, she poses the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. Her words really resonated with me… and they got me thinking. What would I do? What am I afraid of?

I’m someone who likes to think of myself as being confident and assertive, whereas “afraid” is not an adjective I’d usually use to describe myself. That’s not to say that I don’t have fears; I’m just not regularly burdened by them (which is great). When I do face a situation which gets my heart racing with anticipation, nervousness or fear my go-to tactic is to inhale deeply and then plunge right into it. Then I pop out on the other side and I’m nearly always fine.

Except.. Sheryl’s question made me realise that there were and are certain situations which I have been avoiding, subconsciously or otherwise because I was afraid. See, I reasoned that there wasn’t much of a need to scare myself on a frequent basis. It simply didn’t occur to me that I would be able to gain so much from embracing fear, no matter how small or trivial it seemed.

ImageThe book in question. Thanks, Sheryl.

Two things came to mind straight away when I read Sheryl’s question: firstly, I needed to have an above-the-line conversation in order to move forwards with or onwards from a particular relationship and secondly, I really needed to bite the bullet and donate blood.

The past week has been punctuated with quite a few above-the-line conversations. I’m unsure whether that’s a term that other people use (??) so if not, by “above-the-line” I mean an open, honest conversation which is necessary in order for both parties to understand each other and, ultimately, to be able to move in a positive direction. Generally, they’re the kind of conversations which I wouldn’t mind avoiding because they are not always particularly pleasant or fun to deliver or digest. However, I nearly always feel better after them..

My recent above-the-line conversations pertained to a wide-range of areas in my life and one of them in particular was about as enjoyable as slamming my hand in a car door. I guess I was afraid of how the people I was talking to would respond and subsequently, the future. However, I got through them all alive and unscathed. Hooray!

Interestingly, I came away from these conversations with different outcomes to what I had hoped for, but now that I’ve had a few days to sit with it all I’m really happy with what has come from them. I have closure (which I’ve realised is really important to me) and I’m able to move forwards, which has seen my mind get giddy with dreams and plans. I also feel excited to go and find more little fears to conquer as I’ve realised that pushing through my fears, regardless of their size, is essential to my growth as a person and ultimately, achieving my goals and fulfilling my dreams. Could I have crammed more clichés into that last phrase? Hmm. Unsure.

However, before I go onto to tackle my next fear I need to man up and give blood. I can handle needles for a short period of time, but the prospect of ten minutes in my arm has never really appealed to me and I have thus, avoided it like the plague for multiple years. But I’m going to organise that tomorrow. I will. I’ve got blood which is fine to give and there are lots of people who need it, so I really have no excuse. Anyway, it can’t be more excruciating than telling someone how you feel about them under the cold, harsh light of a 7-Eleven. Right? Right??

So, how about you? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

Alex x

ImageThe exterior of a 7-Eleven. i.e. probably the best location to have an above-the-line conversation. Ever.

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Gatsby.

Gatsby?’ demanded Daisy. ‘What Gatsby?’”
– The Great Gatsby, F. Scott. Fitzgerald

Sometimes I take a step back and realise that I can be a bit of a dichotomy at times. Take films, for example: I barely watch them. I went to the cinema a sum total of THREE times last year… and two of those times were after Boxing Day…and the other was on a date where the lovely gent had organised all of the elements of the evening, including seeing The Artist together. However, I actually really enjoy watching movies – something I happen to remember every time I watch something good. Good work, Inspector Clouseau.

I was given Gold Class tickets for my birthday and I decided to save them for a movie that I really wanted to see. Enter: The Great Gatsby. Despite it receiving mixed reviews (critics: critical, friends and family: surprisingly positive) I actively wanted to see it, partly because of the hype, but particularly because The Great Gatsby has always flummoxed me.

I first encountered Gatsby many moons ago when I was in Year 11 in 2007(!) and it has remained unique from all of the other books I have ever read because, like its namesake, it remained an enigma to me. I’m a very visual person and when I read a book I can always see everything happening in my imagination and what’s more, I need to in order to understand what I’m reading. However, with Gatsby I just couldn’t for the life of me visualise the distant world of 1920s New York and by consequence, I really struggled to get my head around the book. It felt like I was reading JavaScript. Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea.

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Oh, how things have changed. Now, thanks to Baz (thanks, Baz!), it suddenly all makes sense in my mind – what was so intangible and inaccessible to my little brain is now so vivid and real.  So now, of course, I’m making up for lost time by voraciously re-reading the novel.

Not only did I finally get Gatsby, but I also really, thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess this can be partly attributed to my low expectations and to the very civilised Gold Class experience (champagne delivered to your seat? Don’t mind if I do!), but mainly I just thought it was great. Maybe I lack sophisticated taste, but I don’t really care.

I have to begin with the costumes because they were inescapably divine! Catherine Martin is inspired. I loved their detail, intricacy and how varied and diverse they were – rather than just sticking to stereotypes of the era. My personal highlights were Daisy in her cream chiffon and tulle dress – so light and airy yet simultaneously seductive (below). I also loved Jordan at Gatsby’s party in the embellished black halter dress (above). Gorgeous. Not forgetting the man himself: Gatsby’s shirts, tuxedo and particularly, his pale pink suit were exquisite (further below). Swoon.

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Another element that I loved was the soundtrack produced by Jay-Z. I know that it has been quite divisive, but I thought it was a fantastic choice by Mr Luhrmann and Mr Carter as the melange of 1920s styles with 21st century songs and production created something which is uniquely accessible and relatable to today’s contemporary audience. I think that the music served as a bridge which connected the audience with the film, enabling them to understand it more deeply. Take Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” for example, where we are able to transport the electric, energetic, promiscuous energy which we (or at least, I) associate with the original to Emile Sande’s cover, which in turn demonstrated how these same emotions were evoked in the characters and people of the time. Rather than feeling distanced, I felt drawn closer and closer to the world of Gatsby through the music.

Not only that, the tracks themselves are amazing in their own right, in my humble opinion. I have been regularly addicted to Lana Del Ray’s “Young and Beautiful” and SIA’s “Kill and Run” and I loved the integration of Gotye’s “Heart’s A Mess” into the film – all so very apt.

Which briefly leads me onto how enjoyable it was to see Aussies playing a significant role in such a large-scale production. Not only was Gatsby filmed in Sydney, but there are two Australian leads (Edgerton and Debicki) and then Australian artists such as SIA and Gotye on the soundtrack. Nice one, Baz. Ok, patriotic moment over.

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On top of this, I thought there was a lot of great acting in the film. And Leo’s face appearing at regular intervals didn’t hurt, either.. However, my only real criticism of the film was that I felt that Nick’s narration was, at times, a bit over-worked – spelling out every single little symbol and metaphor. I understand that they were probably catering for the lowest common denominator, but T J Eckleburg as “The eyes of God” must have been highlighted about four or five times. They may as well have just written it in neon on the screen. It was just a bit unnecessary. Once would’ve been enough, methinks.

So, what have I taken away overall from Gatsby? At this stage, since seeing the film and whilst currently re-reading the novel, I’ve been made acutely aware of Nick’s devotion to Gatsby. In fact, a friend shared with me a widely-held theory amongst academics that Nick is gay. Which, if so, makes a whole lot of sense..

I’ve also been really struck by how flawed each of the characters are. Daisy, for example, in the end values her reputation, status, societal acceptance and the ‘devil she knows’ over her heart. Gatsby is fairly delusional and Tom personifies douchery (yep, made up the word just for him). Interestingly, I remember hearing a critic (I can’t remember which) say that an issue which all productions of Gatsby shall face is that the novel lacks a character to whom the audience really wants to develop a rapport with due to their various flaws which become apparent during the course of the story.

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In the meantime, I am still discovering more and more as I submerge myself in F. Scott Fitgerald’s exquisite arrangement of words.

What Gatsby, indeed, Mrs Buchanan.

Alex x

life is too short for ugly shoes & lite milk.

“Life is short, buy the shoes!”
– my uni notebook.

Buy the shoes


Hi! Hello. Apologies
 for the silence. The weeks of The-Never-Ending-Cold, gargantuan essays and torrential winter rain are finally behind me. And since then life has been pretty damn blissful. Sleep. Red wine (frequency: high). Amigos.  My long-lost friend, exercise. Winter sunshine. No essays, etc.
Needless to say that I think that holidays really suit my complexion.

The past month afforded plenty of time for procrastination and it thus saw many silver-grey parcels arrive upon my doorstep. ASOS, you beautiful scallywag, you.

Despite June being as much fun as stubbing my toe repeatedly, it also happened to see the long-awaited return of my Dreams And Ambitions. You see, for a while they took on a full-time role in my life. So much so that they got chronic fatigue and have been MIA for the past five years. Now, out of the blue, they’ve sent me a postcard from their exotic locale saying that they expect they’ll be home pretty soon. With my favourite perfume picked up on the way through from duty free.

Their little “hi!” has reminded me that, frankly, I’ve only got one shot at this life thing. Yes, I am basically Einstein. Which, on the one hand, scares the sh!t out of me yet, on the other, fills me with unquenchable hope. It’s embarrassing to articulate it above a whisper, but I want a full, rich and meaningful life in whatever form that takes. So, seeing as life is as short as it is, then why deny ourselves the pleasure of enjoying it, even if only in small ways, whilst we’re able to?

Now couple this thought with the procrastination techniques I’ve been perfecting and I have ended up thinking that shoes and dairy products are fairly profound. I obviously needed more sleep, but please indulge me. 

Life is too short for ugly shoes.. and for uncomfortable ones, too, for that matter.

Life is also too short for saving my “good” moisturisers for “special occasions”.

And life is too short for lite milk.

See, I don’t want to waste any steps that I take in shoes that I don’t love.

As for all of the lovely moisturisers I’ve been gifted over the years? I never actually remember to use them for special occasions and it’s highly likely that I’ll have received more by the time I get through them all, so why not just use them now?

Have you tasted the old school, full-fat, regular milk recently? I hadn’t and then I did. And gosh-damn it’s amazing. So creamy! I don’t know why I bothered to spare myself 3% fat for so many years. And anyway, they can’t even spell “light” correctly, which is just plain embarrassing.

So, what have I done since having this microscopic brainwave? Well, I bought a pair of shoes, obviously. They’re simple and classic, but that’s what I love.

Shoes 03

Basically, it would appear that I’m finally, truly getting my head around the eponymous hashtag of 2012: #yolo.

Yay for delayed responses!

Oh, dear, Alex..

x