1. Be less of a miser with money
For the past two years, since I got a job, I've been constantly counting my money online. Writing and re-writing budgets, chasing my partner for the $20 they owe me for this or that (even though I earn more!). Getting angry with myself when I splurged on some books I'd been wanting to read, or spent lots of money on some zines. I'd finally gotten out of poverty and instead of enjoying the fact that I could finally do things that cost money, I was constantly worrying about money.
Enough is enough. It's been getting in the way of me having any fun with my life. I recently did some calculations and realised that in order to save enough for the bare minimum 20% deposit on a (comparatively cheap) house, it will take me about 7 years (age: 33) - if I don't get sick, my cats don't get sick, I don't get a car, I don't buy anything fun, I don't save for retirement, etc.
So instead of budgeting, I'm going to try and just enjoy myself. I'll buy music, go to gigs and other events, spend lots of money on that indoor composting system I've had bookmarked for two years and stop being miserable about money. I'll still save but I'm not going to be as obsessive about it.
Photo by Kurtis Garbutt. Shared under the Creative Commons licence.
2. Read less books, but more intently
Last year, according to Goodreads, I read 92 books and comics. It amounted to 52 comics, 24 non-fiction books and 16 fiction books. I worry that I didn't give the books the attention they deserve because I was too set on reaching the big numbers goal so I could gloat about it to myself. Part of it was because I hardly read while I was at uni, and now it felt like I was playing catch up.
This year my goal is just 30. I'll be attempting to read at least one book every two weeks, while writing notes, so that I can then write about them in detail. I feel like this will cause me to have a better relationship with book reading. It also means I won't be buying any (or many) books this year as I already have over 60 on my shelves that I haven't read yet (maybe I won't buy books for two years!). It was becoming a problem; I kept hearing about awesome books about feminism or racism or other important issues and having to buy them all!
3. Reconnect with my ethics
Back when I was living off Centrelink (~$11,000p.a.) while studying full time, I seemed to have a more stringent code of ethics. I would spend more on a book from Better World Books rather than buy it new. I would not buy any toys or junk or things I did not have a distinct need for. I would buy secondhand clothes where I could. I went to every rally I could. I talked a lot about things that were important to me. I donated to more charities. I gave out more money to people who asked (online and in the 'real' world). I did more Kiva loans.
Having a bigger income now means that I can do things like buy Who Gives A Crap toilet paper, or a Fairphone when mine dies, or Lush vegan hard shampoos (no packaging!), all of which would have seemed like luxuries to me when I was on Centrelink. I can also finally compost all my food waste and grow flowers on the balcony for native butterflies. I can afford to support local artists. So I intend to do more of these things and be less wasteful at the same time.
Image from Environmental Illness Network Minnesota and shared under the Creative Commons Licence.
4. Enjoy music again
For the last long while (probably since I was around 17) I've just been playing music in the background, constantly. Not paying any attention to it except when it annoyed me. So of course I've just ended up playing anything tagged 'ambient' on 8tracks. Not a bad thing in itself, I really enjoy it and it gives me something nice to listen to when I'm blogging or cleaning the house. But I remember when I used to be able to list off all my favourite artists, the song names and album names. I used to know the lyrics off by heart and I'd play an album 10 times in a row just because I enjoyed it so much.
I used to have headphones on wherever I went, so that I could constantly listen to all these great songs. I think part of that was due to how much music people shared with me, as well as walking around a lot more (not riding buses and reading books). A few computers and house moves later and I've been left with the CDs I bought when I was 17 (and my taste in music has changed a little in the last 9 years). I really miss listening to music.
I don't know how it happened, but I chanced upon Melanie Martinez (that's her album cover for Cry Baby up there) a few days ago. Her songs are very poppy, until you listen to the lyrics (content warnings for nearly everything in the book: r*pe, alcoholism, drug use, abuse, murder, dieting). I was hooked. It was great. I listened on youtube. And then I did something I hadn't done in a long time. I bought a CD. I ripped it and I played it over a few times. I had really missed that. Then I went and downloaded Blue King Brown's latest album. Then I remembered how much I had liked Jack Off Jill, and downloaded one of their albums.
So this year, I will be seeking out music. Through my revived last.fm account, 8tracks, spotify and by going to gigs that come up in suggested events on facebook. I'll also be buying myself some snazzy M50x headphones from Audio-Technica.
5. Don't beat myself up
Probably the biggest thing that I need to do is not beat myself up if I don't achieve the above. I'm never going to be perfect, and I'm never going to do what's in my best interest 100% of the time. That's okay. I expect to slip back into being a miser, and also to splurge money. I expect to slip up and buy things I don't need. But I'm going to keep working on being better, on accepting myself the way that I am and trying to make the world a slightly better place to be in.
Image by Donna Cleveland and shared under the Creative Commons Licence.
1. Bitch Planet
1. Cat fur is like glitter - you're never going to get rid of it all
2. Cats can understand you - they just don't care
3. Cats want to be with you, but pretend like they don't
Now this might just be my cats, but they will often follow me from room to room. It's pretty subtle. If I go to the kitchen to wash up, after a little while there will be a cat laying on the kitchen floor, steadfastly looking elsewhere. If I acknowledge their presence, Teddy will pretend like he's surprised I'm there. Willow will just stare at me and think about food.
They do this in nearly every room in the house. Even in the tiny toilet they will follow you in then pretend like you're not even there.
4. Make space for cats or space will be taken
5. Your collection of cat things will grow exponentially
I hope you enjoyed a blog post that was essentially an excuse to show you my babies.
EDIT 24/01/16 - It's now $3 inc. postage!
Tonight I've finally finished and printed my first ever zine! I've already had four friends order copies, which is really making my day. If you'd like me to post you one, it's just $5 inc. postage, and any profits will be donated to the Queensland AIDS Council - you can contact me here. On Monday I'll be taking 5 copies to Junky Comics in Brisbane's West End, so you can grab yourself one from there if you want.
In the zine, I talk about some of the biphobia I've faced since I came out as bi, some of the statistics available about bi people, as well as some fun jokes and recommended reading.
I finally made it to Junky Comics on Sunday last weekend! I'd been planning on going for months, since before it even opened. Things, life, etc, managed to get in the way, as they always do. First, of course, my partner and I went to Blackstar Coffee to grab a cold pressed coffee (yum!), then I went and entered the store.
It's filled with a huge variety of comics - sure there's not the sheer volume of comics as at Comics Etc, but there are a lot more quirky, hard to find, political, LGBTIQAP+, feminist, etc ones. They also have a section for zines! Local (and not so local) artists and writers are able to bring in some zines/comics that they have made and sell them in the store (the owner takes a commission of course).
Last week I went to Sydney for a four day long conference for work. We learned a lot, shared a lot and connected with each other. It was great. The first day though, was my birthday, so I decided to go out after the conference was over and head to the Catmosphere Cafe to celebrate my 26th by sitting in a room surrounded by cats. Seriously, is there any other way to celebrate?
I love plants, they make me feel happy and peaceful. It's actually been shown that plants can increase happiness and productivity. Unfortunately, my cats also love plants - well, chewing on them anyway. A lost of plants are toxic to cats especially, it seems, to the low light indoor ones (ASPCA's guide to plant toxicity link: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants). I've pretty much just had spider plants and palms indoors but now, I can have any plant! By putting them in a closed terrarium, they're pretty much self contained little ecosystems and the cats cannot get to them.
I recently received an email in which I was asked why I use content warnings, and why I think they're important. This is not the first time that this question has been asked and it certainly won't be the last. Often people think that including content warnings is pandering to people who get offended about anything. Where will it end is basically the gist of that statement. They think that content warnings are for 'overly sensitive' people; they think that if they don't need content warnings, no one should need them. This is probably an oversimplification of the anti-content warnings argument but I don't have the time/energy to go into them in depth.
Around Australia, demonstrations such as this have been taking place for the last week. Thousands have rallied together in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Canberra and Hobart and now Brisbane. Why are we coming together like this? The reasons are varied; to welcome refugees, to take a stand against detention centres, to take a stand against wars that cause people to flee their countries, and to remember Aylan Kurdi.
In case you missed it, Aylan Kurdi was a 3 year old boy who was recently found dead, washed up on a beach in Turkey, after his family was forced to flee from Syria and was making their third attempt at a new life. His brother and mother also died. You can read more about it here (content warning: contains an image of Aylan, dead).
Aylan and his family are not the only people dying to get somewhere safe; 800 African refugees died in a week in April, hundreds have died coming to Australia and some have died in Australian detention centres, "More than 1,750 migrants perished in the Mediterranean since the start of the year". People don't risk their lives for no reason. They are running away from terrible situations and deserve to be treated well and with welcoming arms.
In Australia, however, our Government (ALP and LNP) have supported the off-shore "processing" of asylum seekers, in places that have been revealed to be filled with child sexual assault, suicide, self harm, abuse and more terrible things. LNP leader and Prime Minister Tony Abbott originally refused to take in any refugees from Syria, but has recently changed his position to a measly 12,000 - with there rumoured to be a focus on Christians (note: originally this was just as part of the existing quota for refugee intake, not on top of it, but due to pressure he has changed his position again). Tony Abbott will, at the same time, be sending troops to bomb Syria.
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This blog contains posts about my personal life, as well as feminism, gender, comics, eco-friendly products and other things I find interesting. My fiction/poetry works can be found here. All posts are written by Keira Edwards-Huolohan and belong to me. Please credit me if you share them. My pronouns are they/them.
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