mordwen: (academic)
I was a precocious brat. I'm sure that doesn't need stating for most of you, but just in case some of you haven't met me in person and therefore couldn't deduce it, I thought I'd make it clear.

Today Mum told me that, aged four, Jehovah's witnesses came to the door and my father answered it. I apparently tagged along. I then apparently solemnly informed the Jehovah's witnesses that God was dead. My father was thrilled. My mother was mortified. And there began a long career of tormenting God-botherers...

Passover

Apr. 10th, 2009 08:53 pm
mordwen: (Default)
It's Pesach -- Passover -- the one Jewish festival I've been pretty good about observing ever since I had a revelation playing a roleplaying game by Craig Walker ([livejournal.com profile] ozgenre), ironically called Revelations 68:11 (or something, I may have the chapter and verse wrong) at a convention. My revelation concerned the way Jews tell the stories of Pesach as events that happened to us -- to us and not our ancestors. The stories are of slaves being set free from their shackles and of finding refuge in new lands, of wandering in the desert for 40 years and seeking a new home. We tell these stories as if they happened to us because it is essential that someone remembers, and it is too easy for some tale from 4000 years ago to be dismissed as irrelevant by children. But if it happened to me, to your mother, then it is absolutely relevant. It could happen to you.

Passover to me is about refugees now, about abolishing slavery, about human trafficking. This time last year I was at an anarchist (vegan, cross-dressing) Seder (the Passover meal) and this year we were invited to stay in Sydney longer to go to Seder at my aunt's. We said no -- too late notice, have to change plane tickets -- but I'm almost wishing we could have gone, since we didn't have a Seder of our own planned this year.

I don't know what it would have been like. The family is very different now. I've become all nostalgic for the Seders of my childhood all of a sudden: my mother and her sister, my sisters, my cousins -- both now in New York, my grandma and grandpa -- both now dead. My childhood wasn't exactly happy and Seders were hardly without stress: the boredom of hours of service before you can eat, my grandfather's strict adherence to an old Haggadah, my sisters and cousin Vanessa and I all muttering "or her" everytime the old, old book used "him" as a generic and driving my grandfather crazy. The irony of the event at all, given that, as far as I know, not one single person at that table believed in God, yet we all said "If God had freed us from Egypt but not given us the ten commandments, it would have been sufficient, dayenu".

I miss my mother's charoset, the apple, wine and walnut dish that represents the mortar for the walls the Jews built for Pharoah.

Right now, Harper is the youngest child. By tradition, she would ask the four questions. (Well, no, by tradition, the youngest *boy* would ask the four questions, but I don't follow that in my Seders anyway). I was talking with Doug a few weeks ago about the irony of this formulaic questioning now, memorised and sung in a foreign language, and then the rote responses and discussions of what the wise Talmudic scholars recommend you should say to the wise child and the slow child. This has all lost its meaning -- the children aren't listening at this point at all, although I was, as a teenager, finally.

One day, I do want Harper to ask these questions, but in her own language and her own words. Perhaps, "why do we only eat this charoset stuff once a year? It's yummy!" or "why do I have to dip my egg in salt water? It's weird." And I'll tell her, "When I was a slave in Egypt..."

May all people who live in servitude anywhere in the world be free this time next year. May all refugees find welcome in a stranger's land.

EDIT: Telling the Passover story as if it happened to us? This year, the Facebook version.
mordwen: (Default)
My Dad used to have a book with this title... I have no idea what the content was, as I never read it, but while 'fat' is obviously something that occurs in both the male and female population, I have to agree with the sentiment that fat is an issue that feminists need to address. These days, we'd call it body image. Unless you're writing a blog for The Age, in which case you clearly call it fat. I'm not actually going to go into the backward-mindedness of this woman who thinks a size 14 is fat, but I do want to examine something [livejournal.com profile] nihilla  said to me the other day, which is "do you really mean it when you say you think you're too thin?" (I'd just asked her to take the seven bags of spearmint Suga lollies left over from [livejournal.com profile] raven_'s bonbonnieres away from me as I'd just eaten a whole bag).

Cut for far too much detail )

When I say I'm too thin, I mean, "I'm 67kg, and that's a kilo under my regular weight but I'm carrying all this extra saggy belly fat right now, which I assume is about 2kg worth. I want to lose that which I'll do slowly through exercise, but that means I'm 'really' around 65kg right now. My arms look very thin right now. My face is a little more angular than usual. I definitely need to eat healthily and heartily to make sure I keep my weight up, especially as I'm breastfeeding." I don't mean, "Oh wow, I'm so skinny I can eat whatever I want!" and I don't think there should be a wildly swinging relationship with fats and sugars anyway (that is, I think "I'm skinny! I can eat chocolate and sugar and cake!" and "I'm fat! I have to diet and avoid chocolate and sugar and cake!" are pretty unhelpful thought patterns). I also don't mean, "I think my shape is perfect and I don't need to do any exercise".

Now, back to the feminist aspect of all this. First is the question of whether my weight and my attitude to it would be so carefully scrutinised if I were male. The answer depends on the culture: these days, rather than succeeding in removing body shape/weight from the public agenda, gender equality has simply transferred body image concerns onto some men as well. The multinational companies that depend on lack of self-esteem had to engineer that transition or they would have gone out of business. I don't think people tell men they "look good" depending on their weight so much though. People constantly said to me, shortly after Harper's birth, that I "looked amazing". I think this partly related to how "skinny" I looked given that many new mothers still have a lot of pregnancy weight on. I also think it related a little to the fact that I sleep very well so I didn't look as haggard as I might otherwise. I'm often told I look good when I've lost weight and I don't get those comments when I put on a little. The comments mostly come from other women. I think that's a problematic thing, not only the reinforcement of thin=beautiful, but also the fact that it's women, the policing of each other's bodies that we're encouraged to do.

Saying out loud that I think I'm too thin when I am is partly about giving Harper a good sense of body image. It's a delicate line to walk, between anorexia/bulimia on one side and obesity on the other. Both affect women more than men, I believe. And there are all the stories of nine year olds on diets and the rising issues of diabetes and obesity in our children. I fight self-image all the time, because I was brought up in this consumer magazine culture reading Dolly as a teenager just like anyone else, even though by Uni I was a honking feminist and have never read adult women's magazines in anything other than a critical context. I'd love it if she doesn't have to.

mordwen: (Default)
I've said many times before that I don't really believe in financial inheritance systems. I think they entrench wealth in unfair ways... but personal inheritance of sentimental items is another thing altogether.

I'm cataloguing my books (slowly) with LibraryThing and I've just discovered that the copy of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book that I inherited from my grandfather is a first edition, printed by the foreign press in Peking in 1966.

Neat!
mordwen: (Default)
From the most awesome [personal profile] tyggerjai:

"We all take speed and we're all going to die, but we have a few more years and we will be happy. We don't want to live more than a few more years, and while we live it will live it as we are: stupid, blind, loving, talking, being together, kidding, propping one another up and ratifying the good things in one another. No group of people can be this happy. We knew we were ignoring some fundamental aspect of reality, such as for example money, or in my case sleep. Soon it will catch up with us. That's all one can really hope for, I think, to be happy awhile and remember it."
-Philip K Dick.


So now that those years are over, and we're inexplicably still alive, whatever we may or may not still consume ... well?

Was it worth it? Do you miss it? Would you do it again? Are you still doing it? Tell me about that.

Reminiscing

Mar. 5th, 2008 07:18 pm
mordwen: (Default)
It's a sad thing in some ways when the first thing I post in a while is about Gary Gygax's death. Gygax, for those of you who don't know, was one of the co-creators of Dungeons & Dragons.

But if it weren't for Gary Gygax, I'd be a very different person, I think. Almost all of my friends for a long time there were roleplayers. Many still are. If I hadn't sat around in the North Sydney Girls' High School library aged 12 with Naomi Adam and rolled up Quillian, my first half-elf magic user, who knows where I would be?

I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed those long, fabulous weekends with Justine, Jamie, Phil and Glen in the house in Dulwich Hill, and I wouldn't have met a bunch of my good friends now who I grew to know at roleplaying conventions when David, Phil, Justine and I played in Sydney. It's through those conventions that I know [profile] azahru, whose wedding I went to over a year ago, and [profile] demiurgically_m, throughout whose pregnancy we trained at the Newtown gym, and now a bunch of Melbourne people, including [profile] crystal_storm, and [profile] drzero, because I went straight to a convention when I hit Melbourne as a sure-fire way to meet like-minded folks.

Last but not least, it's how I met my best friend, [profile] daisynerd, even though she's not a roleplayer, because she knew [personal profile] lokicarbis, who is.

Through D&D, I discovered Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and SLA Industries and Cyberpunk. My favourite computer game of all time, Zork, wouldn't have existed if it weren't for D&D.

I don't roleplay any more and many of my friends are from different backgrounds now, or I met them through other means. Some of my nearest and dearest -- Doug, Matt, [personal profile] e_dan -- I met through friends or randomly in deserts protesting inhumane conditions for refugees, but, as "my type of people" often turn out to, they have all got roleplaying skeletons in their past.

So, vale, Gary Gygax. Know that without you, Internet daemons probably wouldn't be called that and BBSs would never have had wizards. Know that you gave a lot of nerds and geeks a social life and a feeling we belonged for the very first time.

Also, go read the Salon.com obituary and watch the extremely bizarre video at the end. Yes, Gary. We blame you for WoW too.
mordwen: (Default)
I've been teaching Doug 500, which according to the site I was just reading, is Australia's national card game. I was checking the site to see which cards were excluded from the deck, because I can never remember if it's red 4s or black 4s. Apparently, Americans do play it, but it's not common, and they have very different rules. Only one round of bidding and they call the kitty a widow! Poor kitty. Worse still, they apparently call a misère bid "Nullo" (the latter actually sounds more Australian, unfortunately).

Needless to say, I'm teaching him the Aussie rules.

And it's been a trip down memory lane for me, back to a time when my great friend Justine, who's hopefully still reading this from her new digs in Deutschland, lived down the laneway and she, [profile] pluces and [personal profile] hawk_eye and I used to play it all the time; back further still to when we played it so much at Manning Bar with [profile] coopstock and others and in nightclubs that we developed hand signals for bidding and our own code for "My hand is pure shit and I can't do anything with it" (see the subject line).

I miss those more simple days when all we had to worry about was making the rent and getting the next paper in on time. Of course, that's looking back with rose-colored glasses: there were jealousies and misunderstandings and drama and all that. But those nights were pure fun, drinking and smoking and talking and just enjoying the company of friends. Thank you for being a part of my life, guys.

PS: Talking about uni, what a coincidence. The music I'm listening to is Kim Cunio, who studied Communications with me at UTS before he went on to become a genius ABC Classics-recorded baritone specializing in sacred medieval music.
mordwen: (Default)
My mother sent me a box of mementoes from under her house (and yes, those of you who know my cupboards well enough are going to say, "what!? *more* rubbish?").

In it was a folded piece of A4 paper, made into a card, written on in pencil. "Dear Rosanne, my love" it says, in tiny handwriting on the outside with bad drawings of lips. And on the inside,
"Dear Rosanne,
I love you. If you find out who gave this to you dont tell anyone for they will tease you.
The boy who would love to marry you X

xxxxx ooooo"
I don't think I ever did find out who gave it to me. It's such a sweet thing now, though. I wish I could remember anything about how this boy gave me this letter or what I felt when I got it -- and I wish I had the faintest idea who they were. How sad for him that he thought people would tease me if they found out -- only because of love at that age or because of who he was? Was he even less popular than me? I have no idea whether I would have been pleased to find out or not.

I'm leaving this public in case anyone remembers anything. Or maybe it was you?
mordwen: (Default)
I now have confirmation that I am eminently forgettable. *grin*

Walked past Dorothy Porter in the street today, smiled and stopped her. She taught me poetry for two semesters at UTS (admittedly in 1991 or something, but still) and I've seen her multiple times since at Melbourne poetry events where I have spoken to her and she has seen me read in the open section.

She had no idea who I was, just that I looked familiar. Re-introduced myself, chatted. She lives around the corner from my new place, apparently.

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