Month: August 2013

eye-popping.

In which I take my first steps into a tattoo parlour, armed with some blue eyeliner.

I have a confession to make: … I am not very badass. In fact, not even vaguely.

This was most recently evidenced the other week when I ended up stepping running into a tattoo parlour for the first time.

It’s not that I have anything against tattoos. On the contrary, I think they can be very beautiful and I always enjoy hearing the stories behind them, whether that be as to their significance or how they were (unintentionally) acquired.

Believe it or not, there was a time (c. 2010) when I seriously contemplated getting one myself, but, as you can deduce, it never eventuated.. which I take to mean that I didn’t love my design idea enough to live with it permanently upon my skin.

My exceedingly creative idea was to get a phrase about The Meaning Of Life en français on my arm. Oui, je parle le français and yes, I’m pretttty deep. As it turns out, it was a good thing I didn’t get it done as a friend has since pointed out that my intended placement (the tricep) will inevitably succumb to age and gravity and become bingo wings. That’ll definitely make for a great accessory in my 70s.

73474408e920bb14c52e95b84cdd21d9Yes, my tattoo idea was about as deep as “Fashion is not a religion”. If only the triceps didn’t morph into bingo wings. Sigh.

So, why on earth did I end up running into a tattoo parlour the other week? Good question.

Well, I was running late.. and I had been late for this amigo the last time we saw each other so I had promised myself to NOT BE LATE this time round. Unfortunately, I left the house later than planned and then ended up on a bus that was conservatively averaging 25 km/hr, so I jumped into a taxi for the last leg of the journey during which I devised a cunning plan: I would arrive at the bar before my amigo, finish off my makeup in the bathrooms and then pop out and meet the general public. Absolutely foolproof! What on earth could go wrong?!

Except then I got a text from my amigo saying that he was already at the bar. i.e. plan foiled. Expletive! So, I got out of the taxi and quickly embarked on a quest: to find the best place to finish off my makeup within five metres of where I was standing at that present moment.

I weighed up my two well-illuminated options: Dominos or a tattoo parlour. I decided that eau de meatlovers had the potential to be memorable for the wrong reasons, so I dashed into the brightly-lit sanctuary which was My First Tattoo Parlour. Like, Ever.

I rushed in with my regular amount of melodrama, landing on a couch and whipping out my makeup bag in one swift manoeuvre. The couple on the adjacent couch who were discussing their tattoo designs looked up at the bizarre creature who had crashed into their midst.

I was pleasantly surprised by how sanitised and orderly everything was inside the parlour: clean floors, black couches and an array of tattoo designs and inspiration which adorned the walls illuminated by some pretty decent lighting.. which was quite well-suited for doing one’s makeup with. Handy.

The Illustrated Man
Inside The Illustrated Man aka My First Tattoo Parlour Ever.

Thankfully, the tattoo artists were busy tattooing people, so I was able to attend to my eyelids uninterrupted. The contents of my makeup bag included: mascara, eye-shadow, concealer, an eyebrow brush and (wait for it)… blue eyelinerSay what?! 

I should probably clarify: my default daily makeup is pretty natural and my evening or Special Occasion makeup nearly always involves a statement lip, namely a bright red one, rather than a statement eye.  However, I was rummaging around in my makeup drawer the other week and found an eyeliner that I had purchased on a whim last year (on sale in Priceline for $3). My Beauty Gurus (such as fruitybeauty aka Zoe Foster Blake) have always said that eye makeup in the opposite colour to your iris makes your eyes POP! Not literally, thankfully. This makes perfect sense, thinking back to the colour wheel lessons of Year 7 art. However, being the brown-eyed girl that I am I didn’t really feel that blue eye-shadow was going to make for a subtle everyday look.

Blue Eyeliner 12My previous rationale: if Candice can’t pull this off, neither can I. Logical.

Anyway. I had tried it for the first time the previous weekend and.. low and behold, it worked! My not overly makeup-observant friend complimented me on how good my eyes looked. For my little experiment I coupled the blue eyeliner with some brown eye-shadow and lashings of black mascara, which helped to tone the blue down a bit, whilst still allowing its difference to be felt. And just quietly between you and I, the best bit was that I didn’t resemble Smurfette. Not even slightly.

And now some selfies of my eyes for your viewing pleasure:

Blue Eyeliner Trio

Top: No eye makeup. Middle: My everyday eye makeup.
Bottom:  POP! The blue looks pretty subtle here – it’s more noticeable in real life.
PS: The eyeliner in question is Australis in ‘Hello Sailor’.

So, anyway. Where did we get up to? Oh, yes. So after a few frantic minutes of attempting to make myself look presentable with the help of my blue eyeliner make-those-eyes-pop trick I hurriedly shoved my makeup bag into my handbag, said a mental ‘thank you for having me’ to The Illustrated Man and sprinted out and up the street to Tio’s where my amigo, a surplus of wine and a great evening awaited me.

Blue Eyeliner 13 My aim was to even vaguely resemble megababe Shanina Shaik.. which was perhaps a tad ambitious.

(And, guess what? According to my watch, I arrived on time).

Alex x

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hungry heart.

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it”
– W. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

“You can’t start a fire/ You can’t start a fire without a spark.”
– B. Springsteen, Dancing in the Dark

Despite being behind in my readings (but, of course!), one of my highlights so far this uni semester has been that I’m doing some ridiculously interesting subjects. I’m so enthusiastic about them that I’ve morphed into a mature-aged student of sorts, incessantly adding comments to the class discussion. Needless to say that all of my tutors knew my name from Week 1. Perhaps I’ve been at uni for a tad too long.. 

I digress.

One of these particularly awesome subjects goes by the zany title of “Sex, Race and Rock in the USA” where we’re, in short, studying American music from the past 100 years, with a particular focus on the 1950s til today. And good lord am I loving it. Restraining myself from breaking out into song or dance in the lecture theatre has become my weekly struggle due to the surplus of incredible music that we’re listening to. Yes, I’m getting my nerd on. Someone, please help me.

We have to hand in our essay proposals for this subject pretty soon.. which is only slightly problematic as I’m yet to start my research.. which we have to evidence as part of the assessment (academic staff can be so sneaky!) I have deliberated and decided that I am going to stick with my art history approach to essay topics: choose works that I love and go from there. Thus, when I saw an essay question dedicated to Bruce Springsteen I just couldn’t resist.

See, I was a child who was raised on a solid dose of 70s and 80s classics as well as yum cha. Indeed, my chopstick skills and my enduring love for Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, U2 and Bruce Springsteen can all be attributed to those formative junior years.

Although my music taste is varied and eclectic (just like everyone else’s, it seems) I have always been drawn to rich, charged, passionate, energetic music. Perhaps that’s why Mr Springsteen has always had such a soft spot in my heart. Or perhaps it’s because his music reminds me of my childhood and my parents who happen to have “Dancing In the Dark” as ‘their’ song (the lucky buggers). Funnily enough, my love for The Boss has nothing to do with his mad biceps during the 70s and 80s in particular (which I have discovered in recent times courtesy of YouTube), although I am absolutely in awe that he is still touring and performing today – I hope to be that kick arse when I’m in my 60s, too.

ImageMr Springsteen back in the day.

The highlight of my essay ‘research’ thus far has been the ‘immersion’ stage whereby I have listened to my favourite Bruce Springsteen tracks on repeat. Like a mild addict. Cos that’s just how I roll. Thus, “Dancing in the Dark” has featured on high rotation whilst “Born To Run” has leapt from Spotify into my fingers and onto the piano keys. I’m still working on the arrangement at present, but I think it has good potential.

One of the amazing things about Bruce Springsteen (& The E Street Band) still performing in 2013, apart from the fact that they have more stamina than this 22-year-old, is how much their music is still loved today. I think part of this can be attributed to a nostalgia of sorts, but I think that it also demonstrates the music’s timelessness. 

ImageBruce. Doing all of the normal things that 63-year-olds do.

This continual relevance was highlighted to me only last weekend when my close friend and I watched Warm Bodies together. How we didn’t see it any earlier absolutely baffles me considering she loves sci-fi and I am a sucker for romances (NB: I make no apologies for being a stereotypical chick). Thus, finding a movie which we both like is always hard work and thus, this is probably THE best movie for us that has ever been created. All needs met. Everyone very happy.

Image
What do we have here? A brain-eating zombie! How adorable.

For me, the highlight of Warm Bodies was R’s (Nicholas Hoult’s) narration which was brimming with self-reflexive irony and a dead-pan tone that only a zombie can pull off with aplomb. Oh, that was punny.

See, R is no ordinary zombie. Namely, he still has the capacity and desire to feel and to love (which is kind of the premise of the movie), but more importantly he has excellent taste in music. After all, finding a zombie who appreciates vinyl classics these days is indeed a rarity. 

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And the gent has good taste. What a catch.

The screenwriters, most ironically, included Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” in the film as diegetic sound played to us via R’s record player. I laughed and I have been loving this old song with renewed fervour this week, because The Boss’ words still have the power to connect, create meaning and make you (read: me) want to sing along. Loudly. And dance. Don’t forget about the dancing.

And now back to that ‘research’..

 

Alex x

a little more conversation.

“A little less conversation/ a little more action, please.”
– E. Presley.

Yesterday, whilst lunching with a close friend, it became apparent to me that I have been kidding myself for some time now.

See, I thought that I had the art of conversation down pat. Until yesterday, that is, when this darling friend, very gently and tactfully, showed me that my conversation skills aren’t all that crash hot when I’m getting to know someone new..

For some context: we were discussing a date I recently went on. I commented that I had observed that I kept firing questions at the lovely gent sitting opposite me, to the extent that he said “I’m talking too much about me” and, on reflection, he learnt comparatively little about me over the course of the evening than I did about him. I also remembered that I was doing what I accidentally did in my last job interview:  i.e. making and holding intense eye contact. My friend smiled and said that she remembered that I had absolutely bombarded her with questions when we first met three and a half years ago.. and her tone clearly implied that I had overwhelmed her just a tad.

So, why on earth do I do this?

Well, my friend was kind enough to add that she thinks that this comes from a genuine interest in the other person, but I’m not so convinced. Ok, so I definitely am very interested in finding out about and getting to know the other person. However, I think this habit is also derived from a concerted effort to not talk about myself as I don’t want to come across as self-centred. I’m sure you’ll agree that this blog is sufficiently Alex-centred as it is.

First Date Twilight
Yep. I channel Bella: let the gent talk whilst staring at him like a maniac. Got that down to an art.

I guess the truth is that, strangely enough, I don’t want to talk about myself. That feels very surprising and bizarre to have typed as, up until typing it, I was oblivious to feeling that way. In the context of last week’s date I think I was pretty happy to talk about myself but that this was overridden by my inevitable nervous energy. On the other hand, if I’m getting to know someone purely as a friend I think I worry that they won’t think that I’m very interesting, rather than being nervous. In both types of situations I just prefer to express my interest in the other person by asking them about themselves and avoiding talking about me.

But! As my sibling coincidentally pointed out to me yesterday afternoon, conversation is about balance between the participating parties- something which I feel comes naturally within the context of my established relationships, but which I really neglect when I’m in the process of creating brand new ones. Although my intentions aren’t bad (right??), doing so means that I put up barriers which prevent the other person from getting to know me and, thereby, making it harder for new friendships and relationships to prosper in the first place. Oops.

First Date 02
And this is what I feel like on the inside on a first date. God-willing, my crazy-woman stare doesn’t scare the gent away too much. 

So, am I inadvertently shooting myself in the foot a bit? Or am I kidding myself once again by thinking that I am the only one who does this? (I’m unsure. Your opinions are so very welcome and would, no doubt, be appreciated.)

In the meantime, how on earth should I approach the next conversation of this type? Is it as simple as inverting Elvis’ advice?

Perhaps.

All I can promise you, dear Blogosphere, is that the next time I’m getting to know someone new I will give the other person opportunities to ask me about myself and I will force myself to actually talk a bit about myself if they ask, rather than actively deflect their questions. For the record: I did just twist my mouth into a grimace of sorts whilst typing that.

In light of my aforementioned conversational skills, I don’t think I can really count on seeing that gent again, but hopefully I’ll be a bit better at conversing the next time around..

First Date 03..and then perhaps one day in the distant future I shall actually come across as vaguely normal.. which shall be verified by my consumption of a bright green cocktail.

Alex x

paring it back & everyday delights.

In which I remember that the simple things are rather kick-arse.

Hello, Sunday, you lovely scallywag.

Apologies for the silence. It feels like it’s been a while. I’ve been wanting to write, but I didn’t (and don’t) want to type just for the sake of letting my fingers dance across the keyboard. So here we finally are.

The past few weeks have been a bit of a mixed bag. For the first time in quite a while I had a week completely off.. from everything. No uni, no work, no interning, no requirements, no obligations.  What a delicious week it was.

It was a week of contrasts in itself, with a big dose of relaxation punctuated by some hilarious, wild nights.. The kind where “a quiet drink” at a new bar (The Lobo Plantation, for the Sydneysiders) turned into a bottle of Patrón, some new Irish friends and crashing at my friend’s at 5.30am.. Quiet, indeed.

After soothing our headaches with omelettes the following morning I had a few hours to kill until I had an appointment with my Brow Maestro, Lien, in the same neck of the woods. She really is a whiz. My brows were gleefully happy afterwards. I didn’t even know that was possible, but there you go.

In the meantime, though I had the delight of strolling through some of the interesting inner-city neighbourhoods beneath Sydney’s gorgeous winter sun. Initially I was unaware, but I was walking around with what was possibly the goofiest, most blissed-out grin on my face.

For me, one of my favourite things to do when travelling by myself is to go off exploring and discovering a city by walking around and finding little local treasures that aren’t on the Top 10 Attractions lists. Wandering and following one’s nose as methods of soaking up a city don’t get the recognition they deserve, I reckon. And that’s what I inadvertently ended up doing in my own city, only a 20 minute drive from home.

So I meandered through bookshops, found a fantastic kimono-style jacket at a recycled fashion store (U-Turn in Surry Hills), people-watched over a latte and walked along unfamiliar streets.

As you can probably tell from my hyperactive overuse of adjectives I was just a wee bit high on life. That’s what the potent combination of sunshine and discovery does to me.

Image

My drug of preference: a Yves Klein-blue sky and the sunshine counterbalancing the crispness of a Sydney winter as I explore.

Then after that glorious, crazy weekend I drove down south to stay with my uncle, aunt and 2-year-old baby cousin for a bit. They’ve recently done a mini-sea change, moving from the centre of the city to a tiny coastal suburb an hour or so south of Sydney, nestled just below the National Park and bordering the shoreline.

Normally, when I see them at intermittent family gatherings our catch ups are very brief so it was great to be able to actually spend some time with them all and get past rattling off what we’ve been up to recently. I also want to be a part of my little cousin’s life as she grows up. Being 20 years older than her, I like to think of her as being like my first niece.. and a sweet, talkative, pink-jeans-obsessed one at that!

I lazed about, played with my cousin, got to know my aunty much better, sat by the fire in the evening watching the full moon’s light ripple across the ocean and walked along the beach in the late afternoon..

As an added bonus, my aunt and uncle are very health-conscious, preferring to eat organically and use environment-friendly, naturally-derived products wherever possible. So, I ended up having a mini-detox on the side!

Since then I’ve been back to uni and back to work (I nanny a gorgeous 6-year-old girl). Uni’s been fairly average thus far due to a series of uninspiring introductory lectures and uni admin and timetabling complicated enough to give me mild brain damage. Hopefully things will perk up soon, but in the meantime I want to continue to tap into all of those little everyday delights as the semester unfurls itself..

See, when I was initially planning my week of holidays I was hoping to get away with my girlfriends, but unfortunately the particular week that I chose didn’t end up working for any of them for reasons various. Although they were perfectly legitimate reasons (eg starting a new job) I was left feeling mildly disappointed. However, if I hadn’t been for that I wouldn’t have experienced the beauty of a stay-cation or realised that it is everyday discovery with a side of natural beauty that truly make me feel rejuvenated..

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Alex x