Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Worries

Dear No One in Particular,

I'm returning to the blogosphere bearing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology. I'm a college graduate. You have no idea how wonderfully bizarre it feels to type those words. In fact, I don't think it's fully sunken in yet; I've been so preoccupied with my trans-Pacific move that I haven't had time to really absorb the fact that I no longer have to do homework! My nights are free! I can read for pleasure! ...at least until grad school, which is still a rather nebulous option.

I was going to write up my thoughts on the whole graduation process and what it feels like to be a new graduate, especially a new graduate in such a rough economy, but I've decided against it. The whole thing would be so mentally- and emotionally-masturbatory and consist me gazing at my navel, which is fun for no one. Instead, I'm making the conscious decision to change the course of my life. (This is not to say that the following post won't involve some navel-gazing. I'll try to keep it to a minimum.)

I live entirely in my head. I'm rather introverted and enjoy mostly solitary activities. I tend to space out a lot, daydreaming of alternative futures or working over past events. I live in a world of words and thoughts, rather than a world of action, and for the most part, I've been pretty happy with this. However, I've grown increasingly tired of working things out in my head. Every sentence, every decision is a complex puzzle to be solved -- which often leaves me in the dust of opportunities that have flown by while I pondered every possible outcome.
I've decided I'm going to follow my intuition more; I'm going to stop over-thinking every little thing and just start doing. I've been told time and again that my gut instinct is my best option, and it's high time I start utilizing it.

A couple of months ago, my wanderlust kicked into high gear. My parents are big on travelling, so I feel that the itch in my feet comes from them. My mother is especially bad when it comes to impromptu travels: she moved to America 30 years ago just because she wanted a change.
Anyway, I woke up one morning yearning for a change of pace, but without a particular goal in mind. I tumbled countries and cities around in my mind, but couldn't really commit to one place to visit. I'm not a huge fan of "hopping" when I travel; I like to stay in one place and really get into the feel and rhythm of the culture. After a few weeks of hemming and hawing (Peru? Puerto Rico? Prague? Turkey?), a word/a name/ a country flashed into my mind.


I'd never had any inclination to visit the country before. I mean, I wouldn't have turned down a vacation if it were offered, but there were so many other places I had on my top ten list ... so why Australia all of a sudden?
A couple of days later, I was reading a blog when Australia popped up. The original post had nothing to do with the country, but someone in the comments mentioned that their time in Australia was just incredible, and they longed to revisit. I thought nothing of it.
A couple of weeks after that, I purchased a magazine only to find an 8 page spread on the Australian outback.
A couple of days after that, a long-awaited book arrived. A chapter in, the author mentioned going to grad school in Australia, and how it was the best 2 years of her life.
A week later, a news program mentions Australia.

It seems the universe was trying to tell me something.

Going on a dream vacation after graduating is something of a tradition in my family, and I've been so lucky and so grateful that this has been possible. My mother and I talked briefly about what my grand graduation present would be this time around. She was planning on sending me to South America, but had forgotten all of her brochures and travel information. Sensing an in, I mentioned the country that had been appearing in my dreams. Apparently, a good chunk of my extended family has immigrated to Australia and have recently purchased homes in Melbourne. Here's where it gets freaky, folks: I really, really want to visit Melbourne -- not Sydney (though I'm sure it's lovely), but Melbourne.

I've spent too long thinking about what this could all mean, but I've decided to stop worrying over it like a string of prayer beads or a rabbit's foot. I'm grabbing my life by the reins and steering it toward Australia. The universe has put a hand at my back and is pushing me down under. I don't know why, but I do know that I need to go. Something is waiting for me there. I'm scared as all hell as to what it could be, but so excited to see what it is.

Ok, enough about me.
I've kept up with blogs as best as I can, but what's going on in your lives? Good news, bad news, weird news -- I'd love to hear it!

Also: I think I've finalized what's going to go into my care packages for my lovely readers. Things are finally starting to fall into place on my end, meaning that I suddenly have time for things like visiting the beach! And reading! And, of course, sending out little packages of my affection and aloha for the people who make me feel like I'm saying something worth listening to. Watch this space, dolls -- I'll be asking for your addresses soon.


[all photos: mine; Honolulu, HI, May 2009]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bad Blogger

Dear No One in Particular,

I know, I'm a bad blogger. I'm sorry for disappearing, but I'm dealing with a ton and a half of stressful mess right now and it doesn't look like it's going to let up soon.
I graduate on Saturday (!!!! Oh God, I need a paper bag to breathe into) but have two humongous finals to deal with before I get to don my green cap and gown* and parade about in front of a thousand of my classmates and all of their friends and families. On top of that, my parents (and the Boy's parents, natch) are coming over not only to watch the ceremony, but to "help" us pack up our apartment. We're tenatively slated to leave Hawaii (and ne'er to return ... maybe) by 6 June, which is right around the corner and creeping closer every time I look around our place and see piles of stuff to be sold off and walls to be painted and I can hear the arguments already Oh Christ's Holy Pita Pocket I'M DONE ALREADY.

So yeah, my personal life is a bit of stress-riddled mess right now, allowing for very little blogging time. I have posts all lined up, but no time to finish them. Hopefully I'll catch a break and find a quiet moment to slap something up here, but until then, who knows.

I do have some news that directly affects the wonderful people who read and comment on this drivel! I'm planning a giveaway -- a true giveaway in the sense that there's no contest, just me sending a care package. I'm working out some of the kinks, but it boils down to the fact that my readership is tiny, yet incredibly thoughtful. You have no idea how excited I get when I see someone out there feels so compelled to read and comment on what I've written. So, as a demonstration of my gratitude, I'll send you a little giftbox filled with some of my favourite things from Hawaii.
Details to come soon, I promise!


*Yes, we have to wear green graduation robes. Effing GREEN. What university requires coloured robes? I thought black was de rigueur? Oh, added bonus: throw my honour cords and stoles over the forest-coloured polyester and voila! Amanda-Christmas tree.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Suffer for Fashion, or Whatever

Dear No One in Particular,

I really wanted to write up a couple of happy and upbeat entries (especially given that I vanished for a week, leaving a screechy post raging at society to "leave Susan Boyle alone!") before I slipped into my ranting pants again, but alas, I can not hide my true, rage-filled colours.
Apparently, disposable clothing chain Forever 21 is launching their new "plus-size" line, Faith 21, tomorrow. Normally, I would be all over this like Whitney Houston on a crack pipe, but everything I've been reading about this launch is making my scalp crawl.

CNN recently published an article about Faith 21 and the fashion industry's "stretch" to produce plus-size clothing. First of all, I'm a little weirded out by the fact that CNN is reporting on the goings-on of Forever 21 -- was it an exceptionally slow news day? Totally off topic, but it's a little jarring. Second of all, can we address the fact that F21 felt the need to produce a sister line? What's wrong with simply adding larger sizes to the existing stock? Having a separate line featuring separate clothing that will no doubt be shoved into a corner of the store isn't empowering for bigger girls, it's shaming them. And we all know that what full-figured ladies need is to feel more shame about their size, especially when they're teenagers.

Which brings me to what I think may be the most hateful quote I've read in a while:
"However, when you look at the human cost, what we're doing is we're on the Titanic and rather than forcing our children into the lifeboat, we're telling them to join the band. Worrying about fashion rather than worrying about the food is a horrible message that we're sending these kids," -- MeMe Roth, president of the organization National Action Against Obesity.
First of all -- and I don't say this often, since it's wholly unhelpful and dismissive -- STFU, MeMe. You know not what you speak, although it is painfully obvious you speak out of your ass. Catering to women of a larger size is not "worrying about fashion" it is clothing the masses -- literally, given that the average woman is a "plus-size" 14.

Hatefilled, deeply disturbed people like MeMe* and willfully ignorant high-end designers like Miuccia Prada continue to ignore the fact that the average American woman is considered "plus-size" in hopes of shaming them into a more slender shape. Refusing to clothe them is not a solution, just as holding up a size 00 as the ideal will not inspire them to "put the food away" and hit the gym. It will, however, inspire more disordered eating -- both of the anorexic/bulimic variety and of the overeating+depression variety. Either way, people aren't going to be healthier, nor are they going to have anything to wear.

Plus, newsflash, people: if shame could actually make people thin, there would be no fat people to hate on. Get a fucking hobby that doesn't involve passing vitriolic judgment on others. I hear knitting is very "in".

Moreover, while actually catering to the majority of women is commendable, it does not make you a saint. It makes you a sensible business owner. I know I will catch a lot of flack for this, but just as I despise the pervasive fat hatred (for lack of a better term), I don't understand the suffering stance so many are taking when they actually provide clothing over a size L/size 10. Just as the Roths and Pradas and Lagerfelds of the world need to cry themselves a river, build a bridge and get the fuck over it already, I feel that those who deign to cut a larger swatch of fabric are just as obnoxious. Again, you're drumming up further business, not sacrificing yourself for the good of the fashion industry. Now stand up straight: that martyr pose only further reveals your judgement.

I guess this can be interpreted as though I am damning the fashion industry for both ignoring AND supplying, but I'm really not. There is a difference between saying "We recognise that women come in all shapes and sizes and we're going to do our best to provide them with fashionable clothing options" and "Aren't we sooooo brave and wonderful for daring to venture into the double digits?! PRAISE US." I just don't buy into this "A for Effort" nonsense that's being awarded to designers and companies that actually dress the average woman. Especially when, as in the case of Faith 21, the sizes really aren't that inclusive: Faith 21 carries XL and XXL. This, coupled with parent F21's tendency to size smaller makes the whole exercise feel, like, well, an exercise and not so much a valid foray into offering plus-sized options.

I think there can be a happy, healthy middle ground where women and fashion can meet and discuss the new trends for the summer season. However, that middle ground rests on society's ability to recognise that women run the sizing gamut -- from a slender size 00 to a voluptuous size 30 -- and all deserve to have options. Beautiful, fashionable, flattering options that cater to the beautiful, fashionable, incredible woman wearing the clothes. We're just not there yet.


*Based on this article -- which is HIGHLY inflammatory, and will cause you to headdesk repeatedly -- I think it's safe to say Roth has some serious psychological issues with regards to food. I genuinely hope she gets some help.