Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Talk about your first world problems

Today for the purpose of research (and perhaps a little for the benefit of my own vanity) I visited a solarium. I was charged $12 for ten minutes standing sweaty and uncomfortably in a noisy, vibrating melanoma-making machine. I also got a little bit of colour - so yay. I was happy to tag along with my roommate as I hadn't tried it before - and I'm a sucker for a new experience - apparently even when I'm fully aware it's extremely detrimental to my health. We also had less sun than we'd hoped for, and I'm supposed to keep it on the down low - but this is our Bali tan, okay? Don't tell anyone. 

It was probably one of the most uncomfortable ten minutes of my life. After applying my $5 accelerator cream to my less than toned post-holiday physique I stood with a feeling of unease in the death trap trying to keep the towel on my face while the broken built-in fan blew out of control. When I finished my solarium I realised the switches on the fan were reversed after noticing the ineffectively placed sign posted outside the machine.

I don't really have much more to say about the solarium in particular. Except that I now have a white patch over the mole on my chest that I'd dabbed with sunscreen - you can't be too careful, you know. But after intentionally burning my skin to a colour of suitable bronze I joined my roommate and a few other patrons in reception to find the lovely little solarium attendant being abused by a leather-skinned  succubus. 

Some trouble with her loyalty-card had prohibited the woman from getting her tan on as soon as she'd liked, and she was obviously upset by the horrid ordeal. She continued to harass the receptionist who was attempting to work the matter out with her superior via phone, but the harpy went on to make her feel worthless, shaking her head and loudly stating what would be happening - whether or not it was okay with the attendant's boss' policies. I stood there for a moment, observing the situation. The attendant was becoming more and more flustered, the people behind in queue were standing docile and watching the scene, while this awful woman laid into her over a solarium. A goddamn solarium. At this point the attendant started to cry. And I couldn't stand by and watch any longer. 

Okay, so admittedly in a fairly dramatic fashion, I stood next to the attendant so I was facing the woman and interrupted the whole confrontation. I told her in some words or other she was being ridiculous, that she had unnecessarily made the girl cry over a solarium, that there were starving children in the world while she's carrying on about getting tanned, and that she should be embarrassed. The woman piped up in rebuttal a few times but in the end she wouldn't look at me and you could see the embarrassment on her face, and I felt proud that I'd won a moral battle.

It shows how good we must have it if the battles we fight are for a receptionist being abused by a solarium-obsessed patron whose details were missing from the system. Having just come home from third-world Bali, where Indonesians who earn $40 a month get paid a pittance to serve greedy,  rude materialist slobs - it really defines the popular new phrase 'first-world problem'. I met a lovely Indonesian woman named Marcini at the spa I visited in Kuta for a $4.50 hour massage. On our one-week Indonesian getaway my roommate and I had visited this same spa a few times - it was a couple of dollars cheaper than the other spas and the ladies were kind and obliging. Ok, so they were extremely obliging everywhere but the couple of dollars savings was apparently enough of a sale-point.

I learned that Marcini worked away from her two children and husband, who lived away in Java, a four hour bus-trip from Bali. Marcini worked seven days a week, for 14 hours a day. She was able to visit her family maybe twice a year, when she could afford to take the bus trip and some time off. I listened to her story as I waited for my nails to dry and was disgusted...in myself, and in every other tourist throwing money at things they don't need. Food we're not really hungry for; clothes we buy to make us look good (there's a small percentage of people that actually look good in their clothes), and services that a poor man would never imagine spending his valued earnings on. And yet here we are, too stingy to part with our coins for a donation, and living in rooms full of dust-covered momentos whose price could have bought a family food for a week. Materialism is what's wrong with this world. The woman in the solarium was just one of it's victims. 

I gave Marcini my own donation that day. I said to her I wanted her to have a day off with that money, and I was heart-broken by her story for the rest of the evening. But what made me even sadder was how hard it was to part with that money. I like to tell myself it's because I need to choose carefully where I donate my money, there are so many worthy causes and if I were to donate to all of them I'd become one of them. But I think the sad truth of the matter, and what I realised that night is that I am just as bad as that woman in the solarium...I too, am a victim of materialism, and escape is near impossible.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Dating on the Gold Coast in the 21st century

There is much to be enjoyed in the relaxed, surf-surrounded, hipster-inhabited Gold Coast. There's a handful of good cafes and restaurants that enjoy a blissful and momentary hum, until word gets out and the next weekend the place is swamped with Doc Marten-footed, floral print shirted 'nonconformists'.
There are bus-loads of asian tourists snapping hi-tech cameras at blonde children in mini-vans, with the numerous opportunities offered by Gold Coast traffic lights. Skater boys quietly duel Surfer boys with their eyes as they pass on the footpath, both barefooted and chested as each other, both more alike then they realise yet equally hating each other for no particular reason. Girls clad in crochet tops and denim underwear passing girls in crochet underwear and denim tops, making eyes and secretly admiring each other for their good-looks, but simultaneously hating each other for the inexplicable competition.

And worse still by the night, where girls have more extensions stuck on their bodies then they do clothes. Where dudes in v-necks with arms full of ink inflate their chests like pigeons as they walk past such 'girls' - their attempt to 'woo' their potential mate going sadly unnoticed after one too many Smirnoff Blacks, and the concentrated attempt to not fall face first in their six inch heels.

And people ask me why I don't have a boyfriend. I must admit I go weak at the knees when a man strides up next to me wearing a shirt cut lower than mine and asks in his most liquor-breathy voice if he can buy me a drink. Heck if it'll make you any less repulsive than please do. Who am I kidding, it doesn't often go that way, they're not so quick to part with their hard-earned tradie dollars. Sometimes they'll be cutting in the queue and when you pipe up to say something they'll make some remark like: "Feisty aren't we?" or "calm down" or some other stupid comment to make it seem like you're in the wrong, and then somehow they end up trying to get in your pants. Yeah...how romantic. Other times you'll be on the dance floor with a group of friends and you'll notice that one guy giving you direct eye contact as he dances badly to a tune that surely can't be the same one you're listening to. And here there needs to be some differentiation between making flirtatious eye contact and holding a downright creepy stare. He had the latter down pat, I'll give him that.

Sadly the likelihood of meeting someone in the laundromat, the park, the side of the road - whichever wacky location rom-coms seem to impart likely to find everlasting love - are slim to none. I was however looked up and down by a creepy fellow patron in the video store the other day...perhaps i missed my chance for love...

The whole ordeal becomes exhausting.  To the point where one finds themselves submitting to the unavoidable grasps of singledom, investing all their affection in their cat or their dog, or their herb garden...and yielding to the notion that they are destined to be alone...with their cat, or their dog...or their plants (which may or may not be on the verge of death).

But alas, hope exists in the form of various dating websites becoming less of a stigma and more of an accepted form of meeting place for the online-society we now live in. Every other aspect of life is becoming an acceptable practice to conduct on the internet: grocery shopping, studying, socialising - and dating is becoming more accepted as an appropriate portal to meet your one and only. 

Out of the more popular ones: some offer to match you with your soulmate (eharmony.com); some are known more for their meet-and-greet-for-convenience sort of situation (blender.com); some suggest first appearances should be enough to make up ones mind (tinder.com); and then there's your more modest sites: (pof.com, oasis.com, rsvp.com) offering users the choice to display what they're looking for - and a catalogue of potentials to peruse. 

Admittedly I've been on one of the more modest sites for an unfruitful six months. However I've had three more dates than would have been probable otherwise, and a number of online contacts that either I lost interest, they lost interest, or we just didn't quite make it to the meet-up stage. But perhaps the most advantageous aspect of online dating is the opening to talk to someone you may be interested in. In person, certain factors may hold us back from interacting with a potential - whether it be confidence, friends or the decibels of the music booming in the background. Online meeting presents users with the ease of contacting someone you may find attractive or interesting - or, if you're lucky, both - with no expectations (but perhaps a little hope). Online dating offers a shield against that painful rejection, where punters can take a shot in the dark, perhaps bat above their league - and face only a non-response if their interest isn't mutual. 

It's harmless really. The option exists to block a member if the conversation gets unfavourable, and it's completely up to you how much you reveal, or don't reveal on your profile. Gone are the days of the online-dating stereotype: big fat guy, oily ponytail, shady glasses, crack hanging out of his tracksuit pants, greasy-chicken fingers mashing the keyboard as he searches for his soulmate....okay sure, these ones still exist - but there's a lot of normal guys on there too (apologies if said-description sounded like you...no really, I'm so sorry). Hey, if you have enough time to go out and meet friends through friends or at laundromats or at singles balls or whatever, then go do it and make your cute little how-they-met stories. The lesser of us (and probably the majority) are going to scan our online mate-catalogues and make-up a story for our wedding night. Who's the real winner, eh?

Monday, 14 October 2013

Going organic

Greetings blog browsers and accidental URL-enterers,

Several months ago I came across a book by James Duigan: 'Clean & Lean Warrior'. Aside from the fact it's author is health-advisor to undoubtedly the most attractive woman of her age-range, Elle Macpherson, it probably doesn't differ greatly from every other healthy-living/starvation-guide/parade-raining book flooding the shelves of retailers. For one reason or another this particular one caught my attention, and the advice within resonated strongly enough that four months later I'm still sticking to one of it's most pivotal points of advice - that organic is better.

Duigan outlines that the pesticides, preservatives and various other synthetic toxins that are pumped into our food to keep them looking unnaturally-fresh for months are what keep our bodies from looking quite as fresh.  Along with stress and over-exercising (hallelujah), toxicity inhibits us from reaching our best "clean and lean" bodies. Duigan goes on to explain that much of the potential nutrient-value in food is lost when coupled with everyday toxins the food industries use to keep food visually appealing.

Mind you, the book hasn't had me reaching 'my best body' quite yet...that's a work in progress. It did however leave a lingering impression about the toxicity of the foods that are most accessible and affordable. No longer do I think of the fruit and vegetables at my local supermarket as fresh and healthy - despite the shiny, spot-free, and most notably - pest-free stock tiering the shelves at your local supermarket. Now, when I am obliged to buy non-organic produce it's as if these foods are poisoned. I can't help but feel like a sheen of invisible poison is laced on our 'fresh food'. And whilst the idea is horrifying, it's not too far from the truth. According to Food Standards the amount is below 'international standards', but it makes one wonder what affect even these small amounts of pesticides are having on the body in the long-term. 

As there are many different opinions on this topic I prefer to go au-naturale. The closer to the foods original form, the better. Whether or not the amount of chemical residue left on the fruit is safe for consumption under international standards, for peace of mind I'd rather not risk whatever that small amount is capable of doing. And who indeed is brave enough to rule out all the risks. 

Mind you, my bank account is feeling the sting of this conversion to chemical-free produce; and it's sad to think that in order to buy without the added health-cost of pesticides, one must dig deep into their shallow average wage. Mind you - it's a cost that is undoubtedly balanced in peace of mind, the investment of health and what one can only hope will amount to a few less medical bills.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Things Margaux says...

And so it begins - my newest attempt at some sort of literary discipline - that is, to maintain a blog.

This new attempt comes as a result of a conversation with my minute, beautiful and mentally powerful roommate, Margaux. One of many late-evening conversations, this one was fuelled with chamomile tea and our own cliche indecision as graduates.

What Margaux pointed out, and what came as somewhat a revelation to me, is that I'd approached the Journalism job-search from the wrong angle. I'd been wondering which medium of journalism I wanted to follow, when in fact, I should have been wondering what I wanted to journal about. I'm not entirely to blame. See, people - whether tutors, parents or friends - always ask the same question: "Do you want to be in print, television or radio?" In the past I'd have come up with some repetitive answer, like: "Well I'm good at broadcast, but I wouldn't mind trying print eventually." In other words, I had no idea. Just like I have no definitive answer for many of the important decisions in my life - like what I'll have for lunch.

Needless to say, I'm probably the most indecisive person I know. Ask me what I'm doing for the next twenty years of my life, or what I want on my toast and I'll probably give you the same answer: "I don't know". What I do know, is what I enjoy, and whatever the area of Journalism I am in - I want to be writing, broadcasting or presenting the things that I, indeed, enjoy.

This would be all so easy if there was something in particular I was passionate about. Some people have their movies, some people have their music, heck - some people have their freaking toe-socks. There are a lot of things I enjoy - wine, food, cooking, books, music, theatre, photography - but nothing I would say I'm passionate about, when it comes to it. Unfortunately with no passion, comes no expertise...so I can only claim to be a typical journalist - a 'jack of all trades, and a master of nothing'. I know a little about everything and a lot about nothing. Nevertheless, I'm quite sure I have fairly good taste, and I enjoy the good things in life. So, this is what you're going to be reading about if you continue to follow this blog: modest culture.