Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hard to be a girl, so nice to be a boy

I was never a girly-girl. On the flipside, I was never the stereotypical scrappy 'tomboy' either - I think I just grew up in less gender-defined times, when boys and girls were kind of lumped together in a big amorphous mass, all sunburnt limbs and interchangable t-shirts. I didn't wear a skirt until my grade 6 graduation. I never wore make-up, even in high school (assuming you don't count Body Shop lip gloss) - social suicide nowadays, judging by the prozzy-painted faces of school girls at the bus stop. Coinciding happily with the end of my schooldays and the beginning of my painfully self-conscious adolescence was the Grunge movement. Grunge tied in nicely with a) my burgeoning feminist principles; b) my fingers-down-the-throat reaction to anything pink, sparkly or adorned with heart motifs; and c) my inherent laziness.

However, since I've been living in the UK, I think it's fair to say that I have been slowly but inexorably sucked over to the feminine side of the gender divide. It started with a boyfriend who encouraged me to wear dresses, then developed via working with a bunch of girls who knit and make jewellery and cut their own hair (my measly contribution to this girl-fest is baking).

Further proof of my girlification: just recently I've bought five new necklaces (because I couldn't decide between them - I love them all!); gotten my first ever bikini wax (Not Worth It); and even applied a little bit of Holiday Skin to my legs (a purely humanitarian act - so that I don't blind pedestrians with the sight of my brilliant white legs scissoring past them in the morning sunshine).

Like 99% of my gender, however, I represent a startling mass of contradictions. Champagne and heels one day, cutting my knees open roller-blading the next. I like to think I nurture both sides; the girl who loves bright colours and new clothes, and the tomboy riding the mountain bike to work with plasters on her knees.

I was reminded of this contradiction when I watched the final series of Sex and the City for the first time recently, and (god forbid) enjoyed it, albeit guiltily. Scarier still, I identified with it. Crikey O'Blimey. I openly sneered at this show when I was in my twenties; now - single in my thirties, having lived in New York, asking myself a lot of the questions that Carrie poses, living away from my parents and family (and thus, my grown up responsibilities) - this show resonates in a way that it never used to. However, I do not condone the reckless consumerism it promotes, and I think anyone watching it should be aware that they are participating in fantasy-level escapism (girl-porn, basically).

However, just so I don't tip too far over, I have also been devouring Series 4 of The Wire. For those who have not yet been harangued to watch this show by their geekier friends, The Wire is probably the most beautifully understated, brilliant, real Police drama ever aired. This is a show that celebrates old-school manliness of the hard-drinking, straight-talking, solitary-living, authority-shunning kind. It is absolutely absorbing to watch; not least because it feels so unnervingly real that you can't help but be drawn into the worlds of the many characters, despite the often obscure jargon bristling from the dialogue. I've learned to go with it even if I don't always understand it - David Simon, the show's creator, maintains that "The first season of The Wire was a training exercise. We were training you to watch television differently." It's not supposed to be an easy watch. I have to watch it alone, because the distraction of someone sitting next to me is too much - it requires 100% attention. But damn, it's worth it.

God, someone should do a mash-up of these two shows. That would blow my mind.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Panic on the streets of London

Ups and downs this week, roller-coaster like.


Ending up at indie disco Saturday night. Dancing my cons off to all the best stuff from my heyday (the Smiths, the Cure, the Breeders, Pulp, Blur, etc), lots of cool newer stuff (Vampire Weekend, Hot Chip, the Killers and...ermmm a bunch of others I'm not cool enough to know the names of), as well as the odd 80's power ballad to get all melodramatic to. Much fun 'til the early hours of Sunday morning.

Also: laughing at the utterly incongruous sight of a bunch of kids born in the late eighties/early nineties, dressed in full 80's outfits - blazers with huge square shoulder pads, lace leggings, t-shirt dresses, acid wash demin jackets etc. If I was in denial about the 80's revival before, I ain't no more.

The wonderful Australian-barista-ed coffee at my new local funkyplace. Yay!

Getting a bonus set of holiday prints from Jessops 'cos they got my order wrong the first go around and printed them all on gloss paper. I'm a designer people, I will only tolerate matte stock with white borders (I'm snobby like that).

My wonderful flatmate of the last 1.5 years moving on. I guess it would be selfish of me to keep her captive (so she can provide me with timely relationship advice, play me her new songs and make me endless cups of Lady Grey) when she could be honing her song-writing skills in Barcelona alongside her lovely Catalan boyfriend. Goddamn him and his Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-like good looks. (No te creas, Dani!)

Confronting a dude who tried to steal my bike lights (he apologised and gave them back, which was seriously weird/upsetting), only to have them stolen a few days later while I was blissing out at yoga. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

My mum accidentally deleting 6 months worth of emails from my Yahoo account. Arrghh!

Being single again. I have been running slow-jogging just to get my mind off it. Soundtrack kindly provided by Vampire Weekend (perky; may cause involuntary dancing).

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Chocolate beetroot goddess cake*

This cake is absolutely gorgeous - the beetroot gives it the most beautiful soft texture, and it is rich without being sickly. Partially nicked from "Cook Yourself Thin" (no, I'm not on the first diet of my life, this book just happens to have lots of great, everyday recipes in it).

250gm dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
3 medium eggs
250gm unrefined caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs maple syrup (not critical)
2 tbs honey
40gm self-raising flour
40gm plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb soda
pinch salt
50gm ground almonds
250gm raw beetroot, finely grated
100ml strong black coffee
30ml sunflower oil

Set the oven to 160 degrees celcius.

Melt the chocolate gently in a bowl over a pan of simmering water and set aside to cool. Beat the eggs with the sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and honey for 3 minutes with an electric hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the flours, bicarb, salt and ground almonds until fully incorporated.

Dab the finely grated beetroot with an old tea-towel to remove excess moisture (prepare yourself to have pink stained hands for the rest of the day), then fold into the mixture along with the melted chocolate, coffee and oil.

Pour into a greased cake tin and cook in the middle of the oven for 1 and a half hours. Cover the cake with foil and cook for another 1/2 hour. I misread this so I'm not sure how long I actually cooked it for, so use your judgement and check it with a skewer (it won't come out completely clean as it's a fudgey cake, but it shouldn't drag lots of mixture out with it!).

You could ice this with coffee flavoured icing, as I did, or just more melted chocolate, but personally I think it doesn't need any embellishing. A winner.

*Warning: this cake inspires adoration

Friday, May 08, 2009

London dreaming

I'm back from a 3 week trip to Melbourne and Sydney, and after a whirlwind of catching up with people, several light bulb moments and a ridiculously long and drawn out trip back (including, but not limited to, an unscheduled 8-hour stopover in Dubai), London is doing it's darnedest to change my mind on at least one front. While I was away, the city has burst into full-blown Spring gorgeousness; the streets are strewn with white blossoms and the trees have exploded into stunning fresh greenness.

In no particular order, here are the highly personal lightning bolts delivered to my brain from the heavens while I was away:

1. I want to feel more emotionally settled in my life
...and that's not going to happen while I'm living away from home and family. Foolishly, I have been waiting for a man to provide me with this feeling of being emotionally "settled", and I now realise I have to be brave (hard for a scaredy-kitten like me) and create my own sense of stability. Now all I need to decide is, is it worth sacrificing another 12 months or so and qualifying for UK residency? Right now I feel like I could move home tomorrow without a backwards glance, but I am well aware that is not how I might feel in a year or two.

Answers on the back of a postcard, please.

2. I want a place I can call my own
Not exactly a revelation, but I am excited about the idea of buying my own place in Melbourne - probably a pitifully small one-bedder in a drug-infested neighbourhood what with house prices being as loopy as they are, but hey ho! It will be my pitifully small one-bedder in a drug-infested neighbourhood.

3. Moving back home does not have to spell the end of my adventures
I could always relocate to Sydney if I get bored of Melbourne (having outgrown my disdain for the unofficial capital of Australia). Or New Zealand, which I hear is gorgeous - and they have some seriously cute ambassadors. Or Japan. Or Beijing! They are crying out for Western designers over there. Now that would be an adventure, not to mention a proper culture shock compared to sedate old London. The point is, moving back is not the end of my life as I know it. It's just the beginning of a new chapter. And I can always come back to London to visit, on a tourist visa. Shudder.

4. I don't want to be a teacher
For a while I was thinking about a major career change. But it hit me with some force while I was away that - although I love spending one morning a week working with kids in the classroom - I am just not teacher material. Seriously, you need metric tons of energy to be a teacher, and you spend more time preparing lessons and trying to get the kids to sit down, shut up and listen than you spend actually teaching. It's an incredible job, but I'm just not up to it.

Hopefully my friend's gorgeous kids (and any future nieces and nephews) will provide all the kid-liness I am currently missing in my life.

Kids are just so much fun to be around, aren't they? And they are so easily impressed - I stunned a pair of hyperactive 3 year old twins into cross-legged silence simply by performing a forward flip on their trampoline. The power really is intoxicating. I guess that's why nature invented sleep deprivation - so that parents don't get too drunk on their own power and turn into complete ego-maniacs.

5. There's no point throwing my love into a void
'nuff said, really. Randomly, I was reading this article about watching a tigress on the hunt, who is foiled at the last minute by a busload of noisy tourists, and this observation struck a chord:

"The deer sprang away in alarm. The tigress relaxed, stood up and sauntered off. Success rates in hunts are never very high for tigers and they don't appear to waste energy on frustration. Unlike us."

After reading the tense build up to this moment, I felt a pang of frustration on the tigress' behalf, at not getting what you want. I admired her ability to move on immediately, without a moment wasted on frustration or regret - even though she was, according to the writer, very lean and obviously in dire need of a meal.

*sigh* I guess that's what you get for being human (especially of the female variety) and prone to stupid one-way love affairs.

* * *

So the overall lesson here: this kitten needs to stop being distracted by balls of string and find her inner tigress.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...