Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Dead things are beautiful, too

One of my favourite things about Canada is the changing seasons. I'm from the middle of the Albertan prairies, where we drag our Ugg boots through the grimy slush, mutter about the state of the gas fields, and wait in the Tim Horton's drive-through for half an hour for a coffee. We have four seasons: Melting, Sneezing, Cooling, and Shivering. Sweatshirts, shorts, scarves, down coats. 

By the time we get to Shivering, a heavy layer of snow covers the aerated school yards. Mittens and toques, red noses. Everyone grumbles about the weather and kids these days and rushes to fit winter tires to their four-wheel drives, lest they be caught unprepared. 


I can't sleep. It's Shivering, and I'm too young to know the difference between failing and learning. I've spent the last two hours huddled underneath my two duvets, the radiator beside my bed cranked. Two hours is a long time for me. You can only imagine how long a school day is. I watch the clock on my dresser, the two dots between the hours and minutes blinking sixty times a minute. I know because I count them. 

I can't take it anymore, so I slip from between the covers and yank open my window. The ice that's collected on the edges of the window panes makes it difficult, but after some scraping and a bit of luck I manage to pry it open. Freezing air rushes into my room, fills my insomniac lungs. 

Outside is dead. The neighbours are all in bed, and our street has never been one for nightlife. A snowplow has come through recently, so although the streets are cleared of snow there's still a layer of ice covering the pavement. I'll probably slip on the way to school tomorrow morning. Above me, the sky is black and empty and the lights from the city drown out the choir of stars but it doesn't make it scary, only dark. The darkness isn't so scary if you spend enough time with it. 

The whole whole feels like it's holding its breath. There's an expectation, a waiting, a deep knowing in my soul that if I sit and wait for long enough the bubble we're stuck in will collapse. My world will be turned upside and inside out, like the stories in the books I devour. But no matter how long I wait, nothing happens. 

So I sing. I'm not a great singer by any stretch of the imagination, but I think love is a good enough reason to do something. It's one of the songs from the iPod my parents bought me, and I only half-know the lyrics to but I do my best. I sing softly at first, then pick up volume. I don't want to wake up my slumbering family. 

My unsteady voice vibrates the ice crystals hanging in the air and floats down to the street. The song and the deadness in the air permeates the sleeping plants buried deep underneath the snow, sinks into the foundations of the houses on the cul-de-sac, warms my toes. 

Not a soul stirs. The whole world is sleeping, barren, comatose. Yet somehow, with the dead air and the black sky and my quiet voice, it's beautiful. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Let's talk about Manic Pixie Dream Girls

Manic Pixie Dream Girls have fascinated me for nearly as long as I can remember. (A MPDG, for those of you who don't know, is a female character who's wacky, outgoing, beautiful and decently shallow. She exists to help the male character find life, adventure, and romance. She's "not like other girls" and usually has a crazy name or hair style (it's usually dyed? Not sure why) and listens to weird music. She's eccentric, quirky, gorgeous... and a cardboard cut-out. Think Zooey Deschanel in pretty much everything she does.)


I'm pretty sure I've used this picture before but I love it way too much to not use it again.

The first time I was introduced to a MPDG was in about third grade when I read "Stargirl" by Jerry Spinelli. Stargirl is new to Leo's school and turns heads everywhere she goes. She wears kimonos, 1920s flapper outfits, hippie clothes. She sings 'happy birthday' to each student on their special day with her ukulele and leaves coins on the sidewalk for people to find. When Stargirl and Leo begin dating each other, she changes the way he sees the world. Life is more beautiful and strange and wonderful with Stargirl, after all. 

When I learned about MPDG, I immediately thought of Stargirl. (I was really disappointed that one of my favourite books had this trope, but the second book turned it around by fleshing out her character.) I've run into a few MPDG in my time, between books, movies and TV shows. Before learning about the trope, I kinda secretly (definitely?) wanted to be like them. And why not? They're beautiful and smart and different, and who doesn't want to be different? She's not like the other girls, she makes her own way in life. Compared to the other female representation that's out there, being different isn't too bad. 

Of course, I wasn't aware of the MPDG trope yet. Being quirky isn't the problem, but existing to kick-start the male character's arc is a problem. Proud of not being like the other girls is a problem. We are women. We need to stand together and help each other, not tear each other down. Dying your hair pink doesn't make you any better than the girl who's kept her hair natural her entire life. Listening to The Beatles may make you a bit quirky but it doesn't mean you're any better than the girl who listens to One Direction. All women are valid, all women are humans and worthy of respect. 



It's generally accepted that MPDG are a trope to avoid. We are not plot devices for men to use, we will not tear each other down. In saying that, I still love the trope. I kinda hate myself for it, of course, but I relate to MPDG too much to roll my eyes every time one comes on my screen. (To be honest, I think it's because I'm almost a MPDG myself. Purple hair? Weird taste in music? Eccentric hobbies?) 

I hate the negative side of the trope, but I'm willing to make the argument that it's not necessarily a cliché that needs to disappear. (I KNOW. Hear me out.) Of course, the negative sides of the trope need to be wiped off the face of the earth (I AM NOT A PLOT DEVICE) but the more positive aspects of a MPDG character are amazing. A MPDG challenges social norms. She ignores what other people think of her and does what makes her happy, not what's expected of her. That's something to celebrate and encourage. You want to listen to weird music? Go for it. You want to dye your hair? Alrighty. In saying that, we need to consider the other side, where "basic white girl" music and plain hair is great too. 

I would love to see more MPDG who have their own lives, who flip the trope and stand with women instead of trampling them underfoot (unintentionally or otherwise). All women deserve to be represented and to have agency and a life outside the male main character. (Besides, coloured hair is really cool ;) ). 

What do you think of Manic Pixie Dream Girls? 

Friday, 17 November 2017

Citizens, finally

Well, we made it. My family and I are finally Australian citizens. 


Wednesday, November 15th, 2017. We showed up, hugged our guests, took the pledge and became Australian citizens. Just like that. Of course, it was easier for me. Mom (Mum?) and Dad did the hard work while I just showed up. 

It feels good. It feels like another piece of the Me Puzzle slotting into place. God knows I've spent enough time trying to figure out who I am and this is one thing that feels right, like I was meant to do this. I am so blessed and thankful for this opportunity. I'm now fully Australian and fully Canadian, right where I belong. (Plus when I get my Australian passport, I'll be the real-life spy of my dreams with a stash of passports. Watch out, world.)

I'm not the same person as I was six years ago. A girl with strawberry-blonde hair who couldn't talk to strangers turned into a sort-of woman with purple hair who still gets lost in her head but knows how to find her way out. I think thirteen-year-old me would have been proud of the eighteen-year-old me, and I pray eighteen-year-old me will be proud of the twenty-four-year-old me. I think I will be. God hasn't let me down in the past, and I don't think He will in the future. 

I want to say thank you. I could write a whole book trying to thank everyone, so I'll try to keep this short. Thank you to my readers, who took the time to read the ramblings of a shy girl from the Albertan prairies. Thank you to everyone who helped us through the good times and the bad, who made the transition bearable (and also really fun). I couldn't have gotten through without my friends (old and new), family (again, old and new) and everyone in between (teachers, coworkers, pastors and kind strangers). I have borrowed mattresses, winter coats, tea, cars, dogs (plural), shoulders to cry on, Netflix accounts and homework answers. The kindness of the people in my life - Canadian, Australian, and everyone in the middle - has never failed to astound me. 

Thank you. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

It's good to be creative again (and my brain is weird)

It feels really good to be creative again. 

Narnia

After a full year at university with little to no creativity going on, I'm surprised at how good it feels to sit down and write again, to get violet gel pen smudged across my fingers. Camera clicks and candles, late-night poetry, tending to my army of succulents lined up on my window sill. Mascara, musty pages of my favourite books and figuring out how to match my wardrobe to my new dip-dyed hair. 

I've always been a creative person, whether or not I've wanted to admit it. My creativity has taken many different forms over the years, the results both good and cringe-worthy. In either case, I've learned something about my art and myself. 

I won't pretend anything I've made is perfect. Good, even. But if I've enjoyed doing it, does it matter what the end result is? 

My brain is a bit weird. I'm both left-brained and right-brained, a mix of gears and cogs and pastels bleeding together like the sunrises across the horizon. Calculus is relaxing, getting lost in derivatives and integrals. Writing is beautiful, a whole world on its own for me to tumble into. 

I'm also a bit weird in that I want careers with both halves of my brain. I've always been a hard-worker and a dreamer, and for some reason it hasn't sunk into my heart that I've chosen to pursue two different careers, both difficult on their own to achieve. I guess when you have so many privileges you want the galaxy instead of just the world. 

And I think that's ok.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Life's Like That: Stupid things I've done during exams part 3 (in which I wreck a pillowcase (and still can't sew to save my life))

(You can find part 1 and part 2 here.)

If you'll remember from last week's post, I did something stupid which basically involved dropping my blanket in a candle then leaving it until the smell tipped me off that something had gone horribly wrong.



Well. That night I was studying some more on my bedroom floor (yes, I study on my bedroom floor) and I had my pillow propped against my bed frame (as you do (let's assume I'm a bit of a weird individual when it comes to exams ok?)). My pillow was scrunched up and stuffed underneath my bed, but hey, I had other things to worry about besides The Scrunching of my Pillow.

My butt had fallen asleep, so I yanked my pillow out from underneath my bed to rearrange myself (and maybe reassess my life choices). Unfortunately, due to the radioactive string cheese that was my brain I had forgotten the screw sticking out of my bed frame. This dastardly screw had been my downfall on more than one occasion. Out of pure spite it had ripped several holes in my Barbie suitcase filled with my American Girl paraphernalia and I always manage to hit it whenever I wriggle underneath the bed. (This has prompted many a conversation about how I rescued a small child from a crocodile and this scratch on my arm definitely wasn't because I was attacked by my bed.)

As a direct result of this neglected fact, the screw caught on my pillowcase and left a fantastic rip as a gift. Sadly, my mom was in the room and as you could imagine she was less than pleased at my one man army's attempt to destroy every piece of linen in her household. 

Of course, I had to stitch my pillowcase back up and as you might remember I'm not great with sewing. Thankfully, the chaos is mostly over. As long as my pillow is flipped the right way and my blanket is tucked in it's almost as if nothing happened.

Good old exams, right? 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Life's Like That: Stupid things I've done during exam time part 2 (in which I almost burn the house down)

Imagine this. Unwashed hair in a messy bun. (And not the one where you try to make it look messy and like you don't care, but a legitimately messy bun.) A pencil stuck in my hair, wearing pyjamas that probably needed a good wash. I'm sitting in a sweaty mess in the corner of the dining room on my beanbag, textbooks, pencils and workbooks splayed across the floor. I have a cup of tea to my right and a candle burning on the floor to my left, a blanket across my lap. 



My mind is frazzled. Formulas and random facts float through my brain, wrap themselves around my spine. Exams are just around the corner. I finish my tea in a frantic swig, then throw my blanket to the side and stumble to my feet. I need another cup of tea in order to think. 

The kettle boils, the dog barks, the TV in the next room crackles. I sniff. Something is burning. Then I remember. The candle. The blanket. 

Oh no. 

I race back to my beanbag to find my blanket carelessly strewn over the candle, charred synthetic fabric mixing with the tangerine scented wax. It's not on fire, but the once cornflower blanket is now ebony. 

I yank my blanket out of the candle to find a giant hole on the edge. I sigh. That's exam brain for you. That evening, I sew up the frayed edges with shaky stitches. It's a large enough blanket that you wouldn't see the hole unless it was completely spread out or if you were looking for it, but it's still a quiet reminder of how out of it I can be sometimes. 

(See part 1 and part 3.)

Have you ever done something exceedingly stupid like me?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Life's Like That: Stupid things I've done during exams part 1 (In which I insult veteran)

Heyo! So I'm back. Exams this term were extremely tough but I think I did alright, but unfortunately I had to drop most fun things in my life (including blogging and like, sleep). Which sucked. But I'm back now! 




During exam time, I was pretty stressed out. I was lacking on sleep, had more caffeine in my blood than usual and wasn't 100% with it. 

I was at work when I found myself serving an amputee. I work in a pharmacy, and we often get amputees and disabled customers so it wasn't unusual. So this guy was about middle-aged, a bit rough looking. According to his prescription, he was a veteran. It's possible he could have lost his leg from diabetes, but my money would be on that he lost it while serving. 

When he finished paying, I took a deep breath. I'd had a thought bouncing around the inside of my head, and like I said before I wasn't functioning at peak capacity. When he finished paying, I said, "So I'm sorry if this is super offensive but about your leg..."

He looked so scared and for a second I thought he was going to turn around and run away. I know I certainly would. Before he did, I said, "Have you ever dressed up like a pirate for Halloween? Because that would be awesome." 

He looked a bit stunned, but managed a smile. "No, I haven't." At about this time I kinda clued in that you probably shouldn't ask an amputee veteran if they've dressed up like a pirate for Halloween but it was kind of too late. 

We both kinda laughed nervously and he hurried away, probably rushing off to move to another country. 

(See part 2 and part 3.)

Have you ever made a social mistake? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Exam break


Hi everyone, as you may (or may not) have noticed, I haven't posted in the last couple of weeks and I won't be able to for another few weeks due to exams. Until I'm back, check out these other awesome blogs:

RM @ The Book Hound
Emily @ Ink, Inc.
Grace @ Somewhat Reserved

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

In which I watch too many vintage films

(So admittedly I haven't watched a vintage film in a while, but it was an obsession of mine during the uni holidays and I can't wait to get into them again.)




I find vintage films fascinating. They're a glimpse into the past that seem more... intimate? than books. (I'm definitely not bashing books, because I'm pretty sure if you cut me open crumpled pages and ink stains would fall out.) I don't know why, but when I watch a vintage film, especially the older ones, I feel like I fall into another world, another time. And, in a way, I guess I do.

Let's talk about The Astronomer's Dream (1898). It's a French, silent, black-and-white film that follows an astronomer's dream (plot twist, I know). The film is only three minutes long, but each time I watch it's like I've slipped from this world into another, where dreams and nightmares and the waking world are one in the same. The plot throws logic over the balcony and watches it shatter on the tiles far below, and I found myself jumping with it just to see what would happen. It's weird and wacky and wonderful.

Maybe I'm being dramatic. (I probably am, to be honest. (Maybe (definitely) I stayed up too late to write this and none of this makes any sense.)) But maybe by taking away the distractions of sound, CGI, colour, decent characters even, we can catch a glimpse into a time when humans longed to tell stories and scratchy frame-by-frame films were just another way to do it. These films remind us of our surreal, foggy daydreams and of the monsters in our heads, they point to a deeper, simpler version of the universe where logic doesn't exist in a way we can understand it. 

Or, maybe it's just a black-and-white film.

Some of my favourites:

The Astronomer's Dream (1898)  
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
Frankenstien (1901)  
Gojira (Godzilla) (1954)
The Haunted House (1908) 
Rebecca (1940)

What's your favourite black-and-white film? 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Australian university (I tried to think of something witty to put in brackets here (but (obviously) failed))

I've been neck-deep in uni stuff for the past few months (hence why I've been the absolute worst blogger ever, I swear I'm not ignoring you all but I just need another five hours in my day (said every uni student ever)) and thought it'd be interesting to see how Australian university compares to other universities. I've never been to a university in another country, so if you've been please let me know in the comments how it compares. (Also, obviously my university is just one uni out of many in the country and they're all going to be different.)

Many thanks to my sister, who (grudgingly) agreed to this photoshoot.

Allons-y! 

(And let's do a list, because I like lists.)

1. I have two semesters between March and October. 
This is different from mostly everyone else due to our seasons. You can imagine how confused I am with all the back-to-school stuff that's going on right now when I'm smack in the middle of my last semester. 

2. I typically take four subjects per semester. 
Last semester I took three, which was a bit unusual. The full workload is usually four. (This semester I'm taking Applied Calculus, Fundamentals of Energy and Electricity, Project Investigation and Materials for Engineers.) 

3. Mostly everything is online. 
I can access all my materials online, schedules, assessments, dates, homework, lecture slides, lectures, tutorials... the list goes on and on. Pretty much everything minus the textbooks and exams (and even then sometimes we have our textbooks online and the occasional online quiz) can be accessed via the Internet. That means if I miss a lecture, I can watch it at home once the lecturer has uploaded it. 

4. I only have one lecturer on-campus. 
We have a kinda of giant Skype thing going on, so I watch the lecturers from other campuses give the lecture through a TV in the lecture theatre. We have tutorials where tutors help us work through questions, but for the most part our lecturers aren't there. 

5. We call our lecturers by their first names. 
I think it's because the university wants us to feel on the same level as the lecturers and important - which we're not - so we don't call them 'professor' or anything. I was a tad bit disappointed about that, to be honest, because I wanted to be like Harry Potter and call everyone 'professor'. (But I'll survive.)

How is university run in your country? 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Hazy (a poem)

Today is hazy.



Bushfire clogged skies
Blood-red sun
Blackened dreams
Ocean and sky melt together
(the artist smudged the pastels too much)

The dome of sky encases me
Distances fade into smog
It's acidic and burnt and somehow beautiful
Just like growing up

I have chipped nail polish
And manage to get lipstick on my forehead
I make giant paper hats and wear my hair in pigtails 
Because I think I've forgotten how to be a kid 
Lost between tax returns and picking up sour milk 

They gave us an umbrella made of tar
And once we taught ourselves how to open it
We realized it wasn't much use against the smoke

No one told me being a grown-up 
Was hugs from the friends I call family
The men who stare at me 
(head down walk faster) 
Being afraid of chocolate
And wet dog noses at 6am 

We are hazy minds
Hazy people
Hazy lives
(or maybe that's just me)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Feminism, femininity, fighting stereotypes (and not caring what others think)

Alright, so I've been wanting to write this post up for a while, mostly because it's been weighing pretty heavily on my mind as I go through several different life transitions. (And I realise this is a tad bit political and my last few posts have been going that way as well, especially with the immigration series, but I promise this isn't the future of this blog.) Between  high school, university, part-time work and professional work, I've been wearing quite a few different hats lately. During this time, I've found it really difficult to balance my feminist views and femininity, while fighting the stereotypes that comes with spending the vast majority of my waking life in male-dominated activities. 




Before we get too far, let's define feminism. Feminism is just another word for equality. It isn't man-hating. It isn't bra-burning. It's the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, that girls should be able to go to school, men can be stay-at-home dads, that women can work or not work, that the phrases "man up" or "fight like a girl" shouldn't exist anymore. I spend quite a lot of time studying engineering and practicing jiu jitsu, both male-dominated activities. I often have to use my feminist ideals to get through the occasional class, like when I'm sitting in a lab at uni and 95% of the people there are men. (Needless to say, I felt a little out of place.) Maybe I'm one of the few women there, but that doesn't mean I deserve to be there any less, or that I'm any less competent than everyone else is. 

I've found that as I go through my day, people put me in a box and leave me there. You're a female studying engineering? Oh, you must be less competent than the males in your class. You do martial arts? Oh, you must be a tomboy. You work in a pharmacy? Oh, you must be a pharmacy student. (Or even worse, you're just a check-out chick.) I've found that I constantly surprise people when I tell them that no, those boxes, those stereotypes, are wrong. That's not me. (I've gotten so many shocked looks when I say I do martial arts, it's hilarious.)

I've had to fight to be respected at school, the gym, the pharmacy (by customers, not my coworkers). A lot of that drive has come from my feminist beliefs, that I deserve to be there just as much as anyone, that I don't do male-dominated activities to get a boyfriend but because I'm there because I love it. (Yes, I have gotten that one before.) 

I think this feminism, this fight, has really impacted my femininity. A lot of the time, people don't respect women who dress up because girly-girls can't do math and like to go shopping and marry rich. A woman who wears lipstick can't go to engineering school and be respected, right? For years now, I've been downplaying my femininity to try and be respected. I didn't wear makeup, didn't dress up, didn't watch romance movies. (I still don't watch romance movies, though, so that's just me.) I forced myself to be tough, to be one of the guys. (This was probably influenced by my high school as well, which tried really hard to make us young ladies. (Excuse me? Young ladies? I'll be as tomboy-y as I like, thank you very much.))

Then, I began going the opposite direction once I hit uni, started working "professionally", and spent more time doing martial arts. People expected me to be a tomboy because I was in male-dominated spaces, so I pushed back. Bright red lipstick? Check. Pink nails? Check. Nice clothes? Check. I dared anyone to comment that I didn't belong with each shade brighter of lipstick I wore to class and wore my femininity around my neck like armour.


To be honest, though, it was exhausting. How could anyone keep up with defying gender expectations imposed by society? Through this whole thing of fighting the boxes society keeps trapping me in, I've begun to realise that my femininity is nothing to be ashamed of. Traditional femininity isn't a weakness, it's a strength. I'm going to have to fight to be respected regardless of whether or not I wear bright pink lipstick or dye my hair purple, so if I enjoy it then why don't I just go ahead? People are going to judge me no matter what I do. Being kind, caring and empathetic are also traditionally feminine traits, and since when are those qualities something to hide away? 

I'm done with fighting gender roles for the sake of fighting gender roles. I'm done with caring about what other people think of me. I'm going to wear lipstick because I like wearing lipstick and because I love feeling pretty. I'm going to pull my gi on and have bruises and look disgusting because I love fighting. I'm going to walk out the house without a drop of makeup on because I wasn't put here on this earth to look pretty. I'm going to keep writing and solving math problems and writing science reports and taking pictures and helping people find the best medicine for them and watching educational YouTube videos and playing with little kids and watching action movies because I love it. 

People aren't "masculine" or "feminine", people are people and people are wonderful balls of beauty and kindness and science and poetry and evil and forgetfulness and love. I don't need to go out of my way to show I'm feminine or masculine just because of the activities I take part in and how other people see me. Screw that. From here on out, I'm just going to be little old me. 

Do you find yourself fighting societal stereotypes? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt out of place because of your gender? Has your feminist (or non-feminist) views ever impacted your femininity/masculinity? 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Why the Doctor is such a powerful character

Doctor Who is one of my favourite TV shows of all time. Yeah, the special effects are kinda lame most of the time and the quality of writing isn't always 100%, and maybe the physics aren't always entirely accurate and it's always a bit strange. After all, it's a British show about an alien called the Doctor, who takes human companions on adventure through space and time in a blue box, having adventures and solving mysteries. 

Where was I going with this again? 

Oh yeah. I remember now. Powerful character. 

Source

We live in a day and age where war is a constant. If there isn't a war looming on our borders, there's a war in a far-off land that we're sending troops to. War topples buildings, orphans children, destroys futures. This is the world we live in, and we are going to live in it, at least for the foreseeable future. 

This is why I love the Doctor. 

The Doctor has two main choices of weapons: his sonic screwdriver and his intelligence. He uses his sonic screwdriver to fix crazy sci-fi looking thingys, to hold open doors that are threatening to shut, to analyse, to stop submarines from exploding and all that cool stuff. I love that. Heroes in our stories have swords that glow when enemies are near, lightsabers, weapons of mass destruction, wands capable of inflicting torture and death with a single spell. And here we have a character who uses a sonic screwdriver to achieve his goals. It has no pointed ends like a regular screwdriver, so it cannot be used as a traditional weapon. 

He uses his intelligence (along with his sonic screwdriver) to get out of tricky situations. One of my favourite quotes is, "You want weapons? We're in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!" How awesome is that? He's using his education to fix problems, to protect the innocent and fix injustices. I love this because it's so close to Malala Yousafzai's philosophy of creating peace through educating children. 

Finally, the Doctor has incredible ideals. He pushes for creativity, wonder, adventure. He's the embodiment of lawful good, where he'll save your life and obey the law at the same time. The Doctor wants to save everyone, every time, and it breaks his heart when he can't. Because how can you save everyone and keep the laws of space and time, and not give up bits of yourself at the same time? He deeply believes that everyone has value, that everyone is important which is a value we don't always have in today's society when people are defined by their BMIs, GPAs, finances. You aren't defined by numbers. Human beings have so much value that can't be measured, which is something that the Doctor shows again and again. Sure, he fails sometimes to live up to his ideals. That's what makes him such a great character. That's what makes him human (despite him being an alien but whatever). 

When we look in a funhouse mirror, we see the Doctor's distorted face staring back at us. He's the best of humanity, fighting for injustice with education, creativity, tools and recognising the intrinsic value of every human being. This is what we should strive for as humanity, as individuals. The Doctor is a powerful character in a world crying for someone to look to, and that's a pretty beautiful thing.  

(Please note, I wrote this post before 13 was announced. (I am so totally on board with that.))

What do you think of the 13th Doctor? Are there any other characters who are powerful like the Doctor? 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Immigration (part 3): In becoming Australian residents

Check out parts one and two if you haven't already!

My family and I are extremely blessed to be Australian residents. In case you don't know, there are a few different "levels", if you will, of being a resident of Australia. A lot of people come to Australia on a working holiday visa, where you can stay for a certain amount of time and work and travel. You can't work for more than 6 months for a single employer. We came on a 457 visa, where we could stay and work for a much longer time, basically living here. (The Australian government isn't giving out any more 457 visas anymore to protect Australian jobs.) 


I suppose it was a little... iffy, being on a 457. Our staying in the country entirely depended on Dad keeping his job, because work was sponsoring us and if we didn't have a sponsor we couldn't stay. It's not like Dad was bad at his job, in fact he was great at it, but his work depended on the mining industry which has since declined in our area. A mine closing three hours from where he worked could have been the end of our Australian adventure, but thankfully God had other plans.

After being on a 457 visa for three years, we could apply for residency. Being an Australian resident is awesome. As I see it, it's way harder for the government to deport us if we're residents. Our 457 had an expiry date, residency doesn't. We also got access to stuff like Medicare and could move wherever we wanted (with our 457 we had to stay in rural Queensland). 

The process of becoming a resident was a bit tricky. I'm quite thankful my parents were willing to do the hard work of sifting through the paperwork and paying the seemingly never-ending bills. After the paperwork (which I'll admit to helping only about 2% with, it was awesome on my part) we had to have our medicals. 

I personally am not a huge fan of having medicals done. I know I'm healthy, surely that would mean everyone else knows I'm healthy? Right? Right?!? But whatever, I suppose. I was willing to do quite a bit to get residency. 

We had to take a weekend and drive to a bigger town because they don't do the tests in our little town. (I was rather annoyed because I had a math exam coming up, so I brought my textbook and studied before bed. (Neeeerd!)) 

We went to a medical centre and waited for ages before seeing the doctor. He was super nice, and I quite liked him. We had to do urine tests, then the doctor had us all stand in a circle in his office and do different exercises, like squatting or twisting our hips different ways. He checked our lungs, and Mom, Dad and I had to have blood tests to test for Hep B. I was not a fan of the blood test. I tend to be a fainter (that's a story for another time) but THAT TIME I DIDN'T FAINT I'M SO PROUD OF MYSELF. 

After that, it was a simple task of waiting for the medicals to be approved and for the paperwork to come through. It was such a relief to have residency and to not have to worry about being deported, because even though it wasn't likely it was always in the back of my mind. I suppose residency gave me the freedom to stop worrying about Dad losing his job one day and us packing up our lives and leaving the next. 

The next step is getting our citizenship. Mom, Dad and I have already taken the citizenship exam (they gave us 45 minutes to do 20 questions, and I finished it in 4. Probably not the hardest exam in the world) (my younger sister had to do an interview, and my brother was too young to do anything) and now we just have to wait for the paperwork to come through. When we get citizenship, I can get a loan from the government for university, and I'll also be able to vote and get an Australian passport. Dudes, I cannot wait to get a second passport. I'll get dual citizenship, so I'll finally get a spy and have more than one passport. 

Becoming residents, and eventually citizens, will be pretty epic. I am and always will be thankful for this opportunity that has been granted to me through so many different people, from my family and parents, to my friends who've supported us through this transition and to the Australian and Canadian governments who've allowed us to change countries and continue with our education and lives. Not everyone has been given this chance, and I'm so blessed to be one of the lucky few. 

Well, that wraps up the immigration series for now. Do you have any questions for me? Leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them in future posts. 

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

So I realize I just did a movie review not too long ago, but honestly I can't help myself. By now, you should know I'm a massive Spider-Man fan and I couldn't let the opportunity to post about the new movie pass by. 

My life has been infinitely better ever since Sony and Marvel made a deal to bring Spider-Man back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man is my favourite superhero, and to see him swing around with Iron Man and joke about Captain America while saving the world and being generally awesome has been a dream come true, hence why I couldn't wait to see the new movie. 

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Spider-Man Homecoming was amazing. It wasn't the deepest movie, in the sense of an emotional rollercoaster that some movies take me on, but that tends to be a trend with Marvel movies. Despite that, I adored it. (My sister was constantly shoving me to get me to stop laughing because apparently I was the loudest person in the cinema. (I have no regrets.)) 

Spider-Man himself was everything I've hoped for. He was funny and out of place and didn't fit in, he didn't know what he was doing, he was just figuring it out as he went along. He made mistakes and made quips while he fought, he was disappointed in himself and still tried to do the right thing at the end of the day. I also loved that keeping his secret identity wasn't a huge deal like it was in the other movies. Sure, it was an aspect but it wasn't a repetitive plot point. 

The villain was one of my favourites in the MCU. He was just a dude, doing the wrong things for the right reasons. He wasn't the scariest villain, but I still liked him which isn't something I can say for most Marvel villains. 

One thing that I was so, so, SO pleased about was that no one (*cough* love interest *cough*) got kidnapped. That seemed to be a recurring theme in the other Spider-Man movies, a recurring theme I didn't appreciate. Actually, this wasn't like the other Spider-Man movies. It was a different take on Peter Parker, one I really enjoyed. (I found Tobey Maguire to be whiny and self-absorbed while Andrew Garfield was snarky (I liked the snark as well tbh (I'm not a fan of Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man if you haven't picked up on that))). There were subtle references to other characters in the Spider-Man universe, amazing diversity and one really great scene involving The Blitzkrieg Bop and Spider-Man running to stuff constantly. 

I really, really loved this movie, and am thankful he's finally returned home to the MCU. 

Have you seen Spider-Man Homecoming? Are you sick of the superhero movies yet? 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Immigration (part 2): Biased opinion time

Ok, so last time I posted in this series I gave you guys the facts relating to refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Check out that post if you haven't already so you can understand the background here. 

In case you haven't already heard somehow, I'm a Canadian living in Australia. I'm an immigrant. So that makes me slightly biased, of course, and in case you haven't read the title for some reason this post is going to be pretty opinionated on a pretty sensitive and complicated subject. 


There are, for the most part, two main opinions surrounding asylum seekers. We should let them into Australia, and we shouldn't. The lines of reasoning behind those opinions vary, of course. From what I can gather, people don't want to grant asylum seekers asylum because it's believed that refugees can't integrate into society, are expensive to support, take Australian jobs, are terrorists and people don't want Australia to be overrun with immigrants. 

On the other hand, it's believed refugees should be allowed because they are people trying to escape from war and other disasters such as famines or persecution. It's the correct humanitarian thing to do, and refugees improve our society through multiculturalism. 

There is, of course, more to this argument on both sides and I've simplified it a lot, mostly because I don't want to spend ages researching this and because I can't write a thousand word essay on it. If I've missed anything important, please fill me in down in the comments! 

So here's my opinion. We as Australians should allow refugees, and more of them, into Australia. These people are escaping from war, poverty and unimaginable conditions that I can't even imagine, and go through an intense screening process in order to live in Australia. Obviously, there are always concerns about cost and terrorism. We've had about three main different terrorist attacks in Australia in the last few years, all done in the name of Islam. That is something that unfortunately cannot be ignored. However, white dudes do horrible things all the time and no one talks about exporting them. 

I believe we shouldn't judge an entire group of people on a few people's bad choices. Quite a few of the refugees are well-educated and once they get settled into their new country they can and do contribute to society. It will, of course, take time. Not everyone knows English and some people need to learn trades. Settling into a new country is hard, especially if you were forced to leave your old country and not everyone is terribly kind to you in your new one. 

Women and children make up the majority of refugees, and many refugees have achieved amazing things. Malala Yousafzai, Albert Einstein, Ahn Do. 18% of Syrians immigrants living the United States have advanced degrees while 11% of Americans have degrees. Immigrants are engineers, athletes, teachers, small business owners, business men and women. My mom works with a pharmacist from Iraq, and I work with another from South Africa. 

We as Australians need to be more welcoming and accepting. These people may not always look like us, talk like us, dress like us. But at the end of the day, what makes us Australian is our ideals and our willingness to make this country our home. How can Australians be worried about being overrun by immigrants when most of their ancestors were immigrants themselves? How can people be alright with me, a white Canadian, living in their country but not a teenage girl from Syria? What makes us different? Why should I get the opportunity to complete my education, gain employment, to have friends when that opportunity is denied to others based on their religion or where they came from? 

There are always issues of security and practical costs associated with immigrants. With anything this complicated, there will be issues associated with any solution. But can we stop innocent people from having a fulfilling, safe life? 

What's your view on the refugee crisis? 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Movie Review: Wonder Woman

I realize Wonder Woman has been in cinemas for a while now, and I watched a few weeks ago but I can't help but writing up this late review because I cannot stop talking about how good this movie was. 

Wonder Woman is the first female-led superhero movie we've had in a very, very long time, and had a female director none-the-less. It's such a huge step forwards in female representation in action films and I'M JUST SO HAPPY WITH THIS MOVIE OK IT'S BEAUTIFUL GO WATCH IT IMMEDIATELY!!! (So let's do a list review because lists are cool.)

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Reasons why I loved Wonder Woman

1) A Freaking. Female. Lead. 

This doesn't happen. I (usually) absolutely love any kind of decent female presence in an action movie, hence why I have such an obsession with Agent Carter and Black Widow. But a whole movie where the female has her name in the title? Where she gets a good 80% of the guts and glory? I love seeing these steps forward in feminism in our media. More please! 

2) Wonder Woman herself

Holy smokes dudes. Wonder Woman is %(@(^_)%@ fantastic. One of my main issues with DC is that their heroes are only heroes. They lack the humanity for me to identify with them, for me to stay in the theatre for a reason beyond my ticket price. They are too noble, unreachable, stoic. Wonder Woman is, despite being a god, human. She is fascinated with babies, doesn't understand 1900s women's dress code and feels so deeply for humanity that it hurts when people around her are injured or killed. Screw the patriarchy, she has a job to do and she's going to do it. 

3) Feminism

It would have been so easy for Wonder Woman to turn Diana into a male hero in a dress. I think so often we as a western culture associate character strength with 'masculine' traits, of ignoring the bottom line to complete the mission, of burying emotions so they don't interfere with saving the world. For years, superhero movies have praised these traditional masculine traits and left characters with feminine traits to the sidelines. Wonder Woman retained her 'feminine' traits and time and time again proved that there is strength compassion, empathy, selflessness and kindness. As her mother said, the world does not deserve you, Diana. Diana knows it, and she doesn't care. She's going to save the world anyways, because humanity may not deserve her but they sure need her. 

Besides that, we saw all kinds of women just doing stuff. Women with wrinkles and black skin and who were secretaries who don't usually get screen time but were awesome in this movie. I just loved the fact that older women were represented in this film, it was awesome. 

4) Everything else

The action sequences, the aesthetic, the plot, the character building, the setting, the secondary characters, the time period, the costumes, I could go on and on. It was an epic movie. Period. 

Reasons why I did not love Wonder Woman:

1) The climax. 

I didn't like the villain, and the climax felt too... otherworldly, for me. That may just be a personal preference though. Granted, I did fear the villain at one or two points, which is more than I can say for most Marvel movies, but overall I felt he wasn't great. 

2) Minor little cinematography

I thought there was one too many slow-motion sequences, but once again, that may have just been a personal preference. 

So honestly, this was a majestic movie. There were one or two minor things I thought could have been changed, but come on. This was the Wonder Woman movie the world was waiting. This is the Wonder Woman movie we deserve. 

Tell me your thoughts on the movie in the comments!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Immigration (part 1): Asylum seekers/refugees in Australia (the facts)

Well dudes, I'm back from exams and I thought it'd be fun to do a bit of a series on immigration and the process of becoming residents/citizens of Australia for the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions you'd like me to answer, leave them in the comments!

Disclaimer: If my information is inaccurate, let me know. I'll include all my sources at the end of the post. I'll try to remain as unbiased and factual as possible, but this is something I feel extremely strong about so little pieces of bias may slip in here and there. Finally, I'll be focussing mostly on asylum seekers and refugees relating to Australia. Obviously this topic can be applied to almost any country in the world but I'm not a professor and don't have all the time in the world to cover everything. Let me know in the comments how this works in your country. 


So kinda ever since I've moved to Australia I've been interested in the topic of asylum seekers and refugees, mostly because it's such a controversial topic, world-wide and especially in Australia. If you hang around the Aussies for long enough, you'll eventually hear of the "boat people" and get many, many (many) differing views on them. In tenth grade I even did an assignment on them for my religion class (and got a pretty decent mark for it as well, I might add). So here we go! Hopefully I'll cover anything you could have wanted to know about asylum seekers in Australia. 

Just so we're all clear, an asylum seeker is someone who is seeking to be recognised as a refugee, while a refugee has already been given the status of a refugee by the government. Asylum seekers and refugees can leave their country because of religious, racial or political persecution, as well as due to conflict or natural disaster (such as flood, famine, drought, etc). Asylum seekers and refugees are not the same thing, although they are both leaving their countries for similar reasons. 

Seeking asylum from persecution is a human right under the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (Article 14). You can be denied asylum if you've committed a war crime, a crime against humanity or other non-political crimes, and any refugee has the obligation to conform to the laws and regulations of the country that has granted them asylum.

*wipes forehead* Now that we've got the definitions out of the way, let's move on. Australia's history with asylum seekers and refugees has been a long and controversial one. We've had massive waves of immigrants, mostly from Europe, and if you know your history you'll know that most first white Australians (Aboriginals being the first Australians) were Irish convicts. Other immigrants came of their own free will for a better life. But these immigrants weren't refugees/asylum seekers

In 1954, Australia agreed to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which states that seeking asylum is a human right. From about the 1970s to mid-1980s, Australia actually had a pretty good policy regarding asylum seekers and refugees. English lessons became a right for refugees, there was an orientation process, translation and interpretation services as well as other programs and services. In 1986 we even celebrated our first Refugee Week. 

From there, policies became harsher. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Tiananmen Square massacre, there was a massive increase of refugees flooding into Australia. New policies allowed the deportation of "illegal entrants", as well as reserving the right to force the asylum seekers to pay for the cost of their detention, processing and/or deportation. In 1992, non-citizens who arrived to Australia without a visa could be legally detained for up to 273 days, a limit that was later removed. Five years later, the government handed management of detention centres to private companies. Programs were still being offered, such as English tuition, trauma and torture counselling and help with accommodation. 

But that's all ancient history. Most frequently, for about the last twenty years people have tried to enter Australia by setting out, often from Indonesia, in cramped, unseaworthy boats. The Australian government created a policy giving them the power to turn back any of these boats by "any reasonable force" and deny anyone on these boats the right to apply for asylum. Then we've got the Pacific Solution. The policy states that any asylum seekers arriving in Australia without a visa are to be sent to an off-shore detention centre in the Pacific Islands. 

Early October, 2001. Australian government officials claimed asylum seekers had thrown their children overboard in an attempt to gain access to Australia, and released several images "proving" this. It was later discovered these pictures had been taken while the asylum seekers were being rescued from their sinking boat. 


Mid-October, 2001. A boat sinks between Indonesia and Australia. 146 children, 142 women and 65 men drown. The 44 survivors were rescued and returned to Indonesia after about 24 hours in the ocean. Many of the dead women and children were attempting to be reunited with their husbands and fathers in Australia. 

2002. The United Nations releases a report condemning Australia's detention centres, and two years later another report was released, detailing the mental illness children were suffering due to long periods of detention. 

August, 2004. The Australian High Court decided asylum seekers could be held in detention indefinitely, and "that harsh detention conditions were not unlawful." 

February, 2008. The Pacific Solution ends and the detention centres on various Pacific Islands are closed. 

September, 2009. Asylum seekers are no longer required to pay for their time spent in detention (about $100 a day). Remember some asylum seekers could be held for anywhere between a week and five years. 

December, 2010. Roughly 50 asylum seekers drown in an attempt to reach Australia. 

August, 2012. Australia increases its refugee allowance to 20,000 places per year. 

July, 2013. Asylum seekers are processed off-shore and if found to be genuine refugees, they are resettled in Papua New Guinea. A peaceful protest in one of the detention centres collapsed into a riot. 

December, 2013. A new policy makes it almost impossible for asylum seekers arriving by boat to be recognised as refugees. 

September, 2015. Australia grants an additional 12,000 places for refugees due to the Syrian and Iraqi crisis. 

April, 2016. The last of the children leave detention centres. 

2016-2017. Australia has a minimum of 13,750 places for refugees. This number is only for people who arrive "lawfully" in Australia (not illegally by boat, airplane or people transferred to off-shore detention centres). 

Obviously that's a lot of information. Basically, Australia's policy is to detain asylum seekers off-shore and turn back any boats that are attempting to reach Australia. Australia is the only country in the world with mandatory detention and off-shore processing. 

That disgusts me, but that's another post for another day.

What's the asylum seeker policy like where you live? Do you have any questions you'd like to see covered in the next few weeks? Let me know in the comments!

Sources:

United Nations, 2015, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, viewed 16th of June 2017, http://www.un.org/en/udhrbook/pdf/udhr_booklet_en_web.pdf 

United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 1951, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, viewed 16th June 2017, http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/StatusOfRefugees.aspx 

Refugee Council of Australia, 2016, Timeline, viewed 16 June 2017, http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/timeline/

Australian Government, 2016, Australian's Humanitarian Programme 2016-2017, viewed 16 June 2017, https://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/discussion-papers/discussion-paper-humanitarian-programme_2016-17.pdf