Blog Posts

Unemployed Woes

Being unemployed is so fun, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. There’s no job demanding my time. I’m able to just sit back and have fun on tax payers’ money. Said virtually no one ever, let me assure you.

Certainly, there are those out there who do work the system. They exploit what they can, so they don’t have to work. They almost make an art form of it, with Centrelink believing they live somewhere they don’t, they pay X amount of rent when they actually pay Z, they aren’t in a relationship when they are. They spend their money on drugs, and alcohol, and plead to their family for bread to feed their children.

Most people aren’t like that. Most people living off of Centrelink are out there, applying to every job they can. They’re forcing themselves to go to interviews to jobs that they don’t want, because it will be better than nothing. It would certainly be better than relying on a system that doesn’t care about you.

I’ve recently finished my study. This means that I have to make a transition from one Centrelink payment to another. I’m going from Austudy to Newstart. Just as I went from studying full time, to realising that I’m unemployed and virtually unemployable, I’m now having fun dealing with the monetary side of things that will allow me to keep myself under a roof, with enough food to live.

Barely anyone on Centrelink wishes to stay on it. I have many friends who have no choice, who are unable to work more than they do due to chronic illnesses. Most of those would much rather be able to exist on their own and cut out Centrelink entirely. If only it were an achievable option.

Going to work everyday can be easy compared to meeting the expectations of Centrelink. At least then your free time is actually free, and you don’t feel any guilt for spending your money on something fun, something truly for you. I know that right now I would certainly much rather have a job, or at least one waiting for me, than deal with Centrelink. At least if I had a job on the line, I’d know that I’m going to be paid sometime soon. Whereas I am currently sitting in a well of anxiousness with no idea if I’m even going to be able to pay my rent next time it’s due.

Centrelink is supposed to be a system that’s there to support those who are down on their luck. It should be there to lend strength to the weakest members of our society. As such, you’d expect that it would be easy enough for people to reach out and get help from them. If only.

My own tale is just one example of how hard it can be to deal with this system that doesn’t care about people. The fact that I have spent the past two weeks on edge and close to tears more often than not because of it. That I have another two weeks likely to be spent the same way.

Going from one payment to another should be simple. I already exist on their system. I’ve been on Newstart in the past. The only thing that has changed is that I am no longer studying, and instead looking for work.

Towards the end of my time studying, I had a “to do” task on Centrelink’s website. It wanted me to arrange a phone meeting, regarding my switch from Austudy to Newstart. Except, I wasn’t able to arrange the meeting. I tried, multiple times on multiple days, but it was only offering me two days for the phone meeting, and telling me that both those days were unavailable to have a meeting on.

I called up at 8am, to speak to someone. I have had issues in the past where if I try to call even a few minutes later, I will simply hear a busy signal, and not be able to get through at all. It has been a while since I have needed to call at all, perhaps they have fixed whatever issue was causing that. However, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Over the phone, I managed to schedule an appointment for the next day, between 1 and 2. I spent most of that hour with my phone in hand, only leaving for a few minutes to hang my washing out, at 10 to 2. Naturally, that’s when they rang.

So, I rang Centrelink to try to make another appointment. I was told that the “to do” task I’d had wasn’t meant for me, that it was instead for people under the age of 22. The lady I spoke to this time told me that the phone call I’d missed would have informed me of that, and that instead of having a phone appointment, I merely needed to wait until my study finish date, then make a new claim for Newstart.

I did as much. This time, I had another phone appointment, which I made certain my phone never left my hand for the entire hour I waited for their call. It was short, simply making an in person appointment for me at my nearest office (after being convinced that an office nowhere near me was my nearest). The appointment wouldn’t be for another couple of weeks, and in that time I’d need to get a medical certificate (to prove my anxiety and depression to them) and a form because I’m now a sole trader trying to sell myself as a writer and editor (which is working so well that I’ve had one job in the past few months since I got my ABN).

I showed up to my appointment on time, with my forms in hand. I waited in a rather long line to see the person who was organising where everyone should go to wait for their appointments, or to help themselves at the self service stations.

When I finally got to see her, I was told that I didn’t have an appointment. She double checked with her team leader, who agreed that I didn’t have an appointment. They told me to go home and just upload the forms I had to hand in. I did so, though I was worried about not showing up for the appointment that I knew I’d had.

I missed a call from a private number while I was walking out of the Centrelink office. When I got another call from a private number yesterday, however, I barely gave it the chance to ring.

Hello, I’m ringing in regards to the appointment you had on Friday which you didn’t show up for.”

Can I see the future, to know that I was going to get such a call?

I was so miserable on Friday that I wasn’t able to write a review. The weekend didn’t help me feel much better. Even today, I’m feeling utterly miserable. I have another two weeks before my next appointment. My anxiety is convinced that something will go wrong. That I’ll be denied Centrelink. I have no money to my name until I get paid by them again. Any savings I had was spent on rent for the fortnight. On bills. I’m currently looking at two weeks of barely doing anything. Of existing on two minute noodles. I’m glad my cat has enough food to last the two weeks, or I don’t know what I would do with myself.

Anxiety is a horrible companion, and it only weighs heavier on me at the moment. I don’t know that I’ll be writing my Friday reviews for the forseeable future. Indeed right now it’s hard enough for me to get this written down, to explain why I can barely breathe, let alone write.

There are those who might exploit the system, and use Centrelink with no intention of ever getting a job. Those few are the reason the rest of us struggle to afford rent. To buy food.

The system is broken, and it’s not the only one. It’s a broken system that doesn’t care about those under its care, reliant on it in their moments of weakness. As a broken system it does its best to break those honest few who are reliant on it. It can be hard to realise the truth, to know that you are trying your hardest to look for a job, when people look down your noses at you, and the very system in place to help make this time easier for you is insistent on putting you down, on making you feel a drain on society.

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Blog Posts

Blue Screening Mind

Without a routine, days can so easily bleed into one another. Outside of any university or work which can remind me what day is what, I completely forget what day it is. I can tell you the date, since it’s sitting there on the lower right hand side of my computer screen, but the day itself is a mystery to me. Which is how it wasn’t until I was lying in bed last night that I realised I’d missed my self appointed day to post a blog.

Unstructured days can be the enemy when you have a mental illness. I usually try to do things when I’m on holidays, so I have certain days to do certain things on. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to do those things when they require at least some level of money and you have none. As such, most of my days at the moment tend to be structured by incidental things. Whether one of the webcomics I read has updated. Whether the friends I talk to online are working. Whether or not my Grandad goes out for dinner.

Another problem I face with getting my Tuesday blogs out at the moment is that I’m finding it difficult to come up with topics when I’m not going outside and doing anything. Perhaps one week I might inform you of the struggles I face with playing competitive Overwatch in a low tier. Or I could discuss how easy it can be to open up a beautiful game, and realise hours later that you haven’t had a break.

I could talk about how hard it is for me to read these days, when that means pulling myself away from the only human contact I really have access to, which is playing games with friends. I have resigned myself to knowing that I won’t reach my reading goals for the year. There are so many unread books currently sitting in my room, calling out for me to read them, yet how can I do so?

My mental health is currently hanging by a very thin string. A single wrong word or loss in a game can send me into tears. I hate it. I feel so miserably weak. I’m working on it, I am, but it’s so hard to do so when the thing you’re trying to fix is the very thing that’s stopping you from fixing it.

A brain is very much like a computer. Except, it’s the only one you have. When you are unable to connect to the internet, there is no way for you to search for a way to fix the problem. When you face your fourth blue screen of death in a day without any improvement or way to get help, giving up can seem like your only option. For me, it’s not an option. Because when it works, there are other computers on the network that rely on mine to be functional. They can work in the meantime, but I don’t want to leave them without my computer in the long run. My computer has suffered sudden losses of others on its network, and I know how hard it is for people to deal with that. I can’t do it to other people.

I especially can’t do it to the people that I care about, who are of course the ones who would be most affected.

So this week’s update is that I’m working on my mental health, and struggling quite severely at the moment. Hopefully next week’s update will at least be on time. I’ll try to talk of happier things as well.

In the meantime, if you’re facing blue screens of death yourself, don’t forget you can always reach out to people. It can be hard sometimes, when your only means of contact keeps blue screening. You simply have to take those functional moments. Hell, sometimes you need to remember that before the internet there were other ways we talked to people. Try to reach out to those close to you when you’re stuck staring at that dreaded blue screen. Even if they’re not experts, they can often provide some sort of solace or distraction, which can help you get up the courage to restart, and try again.

Blog Posts

Stress and NaNo

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for short, is an absolutely wonderful experience. I can hardly recommend it enough. When I first heard about it, I was quite sceptical how can something that someone writes in a month be any good? But that’s not the point the point is encouraging people to write every day, and to get into that habit.
It’s a great habit to be in as a writer. Sadly it’s not one I’m in at the moment. I’ve mentioned previously how I’m currently feeling quite overwhelmed with stress. I had initially been looking forward to NaNo, as I have for the past few years. The NaNo community in Brisbane, which I am lucky enough to be a part of, is truly wonderful. We have some fantastic Municipal Liaisons (MLs) who provide us with sugar, and cheap coffee, as well as organise memorable events. From the Kick Off party, to the Thank God It’s Over party, November is usually a fun month where I churn out the words. For the past few years I’ve managed to go above and beyond the 50,000 that designates “winning” NaNo. Last year I even managed to double that word count.
This year, however, I have been struggling hard. I usually enjoy writing, though now it’s a struggle to come up with words and ideas. I have a story in mind, with an idea of where it’s going to go. This has never failed me before. However I feel so overcome with stress at the thought of writing, that I can barely bring myself to do it.
I’m not going to win NaNo this year. Which is fine. I have accepted this, and in doing so felt at least one cause of stress leave me. It’s sad that something I truly do enjoy can be a cause of such stress, but that’s sadly something I have to live with.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 18. Of course, being more aware now, I know that I was suffering for a few years before that. The anxiety diagnosis came later, and was more or less lumped into my depression. Again, it’s something I was struggling with long before the diagnosis. Knowing can make a huge difference though.
Of course, knowing why I am struggling to put words together doesn’t help me put them together. Even though I have given up trying to “win” NaNo this year, writing is still coming hard for me. I want to write. I have a novel I’m working on which I’m actually excited about. I have an idea for a visual novel, which I’ve started working on, and again am extremely excited about. However I look at tge words I’ve written, and I simply cannot find a way to continue.
Thankfully, the Brisbane NaNo community is truly wonderful. Even though I doubt that I will be able to write anything, I know that I will still feel so welcomed and supported at write ins. Sadly I haven’t been able to make the last few, though there’s one tomorrow I intend to go to.
I’d like to spend a quick moment now expressing my adoration for any of you with similar issues. It might not be writing. It might be spending time with your friends. It might be playing a game you like, or going to work. Often times we experience those moments we want to give up, or points we just can’t pass. Today, I managed to write this blog, despite how hard words have been to put together for me lately. Tomorrow, while I doubt it, I may just end up writing something at the write in.
Never be afraid to admit when you’re overwhelmed. Sometimes we all need to take a step back. We need to breathe, and take things one step at a time. I know I won’t win NaNo, and even writing this blog feels like a big step for me write now. That being said, here it is in black and white.
Just breathe and relax. Sometimes, a smaller goal might be necessary. Even when you’ve managed tougher ones before.

Blog Posts

Farewell Stan Lee

Today the world mourns.

It is not the first day that we have done so, nor will it be the last. Sadly the time is coming where mourning will be quite frequent. It is the sad truth of the world as it spins and moves through space that we humans must grow older. Eventually, we all must die, and return to the Earth. Today, the Earth has welcomed back much-beloved Stan Lee.

I have never read a comic book in my life. I appreciate the art. I admire the story-telling. I love the characters. I just have a thing where I always feel the need to start at the beginning. A horrible thing to think about when it comes to comic books, but it’s something in my head nonetheless, which I can’t seem to get past. While I may never have read his works, I’ve fallen in love with the man’s creativity all the same.

I’ve preferred Marvel to DC for longer than I even knew the two were different. Watching superhero movies as a kid, I may have enjoyed Batman more than Superman, but it was Spiderman which really made me enjoy the genre. Then, of course, came the X-Men. Then Iron Man, and the current Marvel Cinematic Universe which we all know and love.

Since before I even knew who he really was, I enjoyed Stan Lee’s work. When I was younger, I was unaware of all the cameos he made. Now, every time I go to see a Marvel movie, I keep my eyes open, eager to spot him. I think the next few Marvel movies to come out will be the hardest to watch. Stan hasn’t been a spring chicken for a few years now, and has outlived many other much-loved celebrities. There have been rumours for quite a while now that even after his death, his cameos in Marvel films will be continued. That they have enough recorded footage of him to be able to keep him in his creations with the help of technology. I don’t know if this will happen, but I do know that it will be hard to watch regardless. Whether it’s a movie he’d finished filming his cameo for before passing away, or a technologically implanted Stan Lee cameo, or no Stan Lee cameo at all, the first movie will be the hardest.

Stan Lee isn’t the only notable name we have lost in recent years. We have lost many big names in the creative circles. From Robin Williams, to David Bowie. Alan Rickman, to Prince. These are people I grew up with. Watching. Listening to. I knew their work before I knew who they work. I was singing “Magic Dance” before I knew it was David Bowie who sang it. I was quoting Professor Snape before I knew Alan Rickman’s name. Hook, and Aladdin are both among some of my most beloved movies, before I ever understood who was playing my favourite characters.

It’s truly tragic, when we lose someone who has influenced the world so much in such a way as this. We have proved, however, time and again, that we can move on. They may not ever be replaced, not truly, but their work will live on forever. Much like Shakespeare’s works are still around today, and Beethoven’s music still celebrated.

I’d like to take the rest of this blog to have a moment of respect for the wonderful creatives we have lost. And to appreciate the ones we still have. Deaths can be unexpected, like Robin Williams’, or Kurt Cobain’s. Sometimes, you know it’s coming for a while. It’s still a shock, regardless. We need to love and appreciate the creative artists that we still have.

For today, farewell, Stan Lee, and thank you so much for everything you have given to the world. You have been so lucky to share your stories with the world as you have, and to have felt the love and appreciation that the world has for you.

Blog Posts

Happy Halloween

There’s a cauldron with a cat’s face near my feet which is filled with many delicious sugary treats, and while I am happy to give it away to trick-or-treaters, I imagine that come tomorrow the only subtractions made from its insides will be when I crave something sweet.

I talked about Halloween in my first blog post on this site, and now it’s time to revisit the subject. Today I plan to talk about how things compare now to then, as well as give a brief overview of my October.

Unsurprisingly, given I only just started this whole thing up, I haven’t exactly had an influx of people demanding my editing services. Although even one little email might have been encouraging. I’ll get there one day, I’m sure. At least I have had the chance to further practise my editing skill with one of my assignments at uni. So far I’ve edited eight short manuscripts, with two left to do by Friday. Definitely getting there. Similarly, I have only a few edits left of my manuscript, and once that and my peer reviews have been handed in, I am officially done for the year.

I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely terrified to be leaving university. Of course, there’s still a part of me that’s worried that I might fail or otherwise not do as good as I might want to. Overall, however, I’m far more scared of what’s to come. I’m sure I mentioned before that I plan to move down to Melbourne eventually, where the publishing houses are… well, more. It’s not going to be an easy thing though. Which definitely sucks, because I’m actually really looking forward to being down there.

Moving is going to be hard. My whole life is up here, for starters. Not to mention, due to a certain four legged being covered in fur, and a bit of a hoarding mindset, I’m going to have to drive down. (The license is something I’m in the middle of working on. It will get there.) The move itself is going to be hard, but before that I’m going to need a job.

It is so hard to get a job today. It’s ridiculous. And getting a job that you can hold down? Don’t get me started. Recently, a friend of mine moved up from Sydney. Her area of work was in hospitals, but she didn’t really have an “in” up in Brisbane. Thankfully, I had that in for her. All I could really do was send through expressions of interest, passed on from someone who works in a hospital. But it was enough. She got an interview, and she got the job. That’s not exactly the end of her worries, however. She, and the vast majority of people she works with, are on 3 month contracts. Sooner or later, there’s a chance that her job might not be her job anymore, if she doesn’t get a permanent contract. Those aren’t exactly easy to get.

My friend was lucky that she had me. Sure, I have some friends down in Melbourne, but none of them are exactly in the position where they could help by sending me expressions of interest for jobs in my field. Or even any job, really. Which means that I’m going to be relying on Seek. Which is fine, I’m sure many people manage to get jobs through job sites. Or else the sites would no longer be active. Right? My biggest problem is that I might not get many places willing to do Skype interviews.

I’ve also recently had some fun determining how I’m going to continue getting Centrelink payments after uni is finished. To cut a long story short (perhaps I’ll get into the longer story one day) the Centrelink app was telling me to do something which it wouldn’t let me do, which apparently I didn’t need to do. Instead of sorting out to switch my payment over from Austudy to Newstart now, I simply have to wait until my Austudy expires, then make a claim for Newstart. At least hopefully that person was right, and I’m not going to have several weeks or months waiting for Centrelink to give me a payment.

So yeah, I’m not particularly confident about my future right now. But, for now, enough about me, and the void of uncertainty that I’m currently looking at. It’s my favourite holiday!

Not that I’m doing much for it. I have the aforementioned cauldron of sweets, should anyone appear at my door and utter the correct password. Otherwise, it has been and will continue to be, a relatively chill day for me. I have, however, seen some wonderful costumes today. There was an absolutely stunning Emily from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride when I went to buy my sugary treats earlier. Worm coming out of her eye and everything. There was also a lovely zombie there. I even saw a witch at the News Agent when I topped up on sugary liquid (vanilla coke) to get me through the day. Okay, so not that many, but all the ones I’ve seen were absolutely wonderful. Not to mention, I saw a Ravenclaw, and any Harry Potter costume will always manage to bring a smile to my face.

Now, costumes and trick or treating aren’t the only things that I have been excited for this spooky season, as those of you who read my first blog will no doubt know. Halloween events have abounded. I definitely enjoyed the Overwatch event while it was up. (Okay, so it’s still up for now. Technically. It will be down sometime tonight though, I believe).

The Mystery at Hogwarts app event, however, hasn’t really been inspiring me. I was right when I thought there would be one. Of course there would be one. The problem, in my mind, however, is that there were so many of them. I feel as though I can barely continue with the story line itself, lately, due to how many events they have had. Instead, I spend all of my time on the game just in lessons, earning whatever I need to at the time in a desperate attempt to obtain all of the limited edition pets and skins that they have on offer.

This isn’t necessarily possible for someone who sleeps, goes to university, (I can only imagine how a job would intervene) and isn’t willing to shell out money for the in-game premium currency which refills energy. At the moment, I am also particularly annoyed at the app developers who put a bunch of people against a bunch of other people for a single limited edition item. I can certainly understand the idea behind it, don’t get me wrong. However, the annoying thing is that some people who particularly care are bound to be grouped up with people who don’t, or even people who are no longer playing the game.

Okay, so maybe I’m just salty that I’ve been screwed over twice. I even did end up using gems to refill my energy a couple of times to try to get the exclusive spider pet. I didn’t bother with the cool goth skin, however, not when there was one person in my group of Slytherins who hadn’t earned a single house pride point. I’m rather disappointed in some of my fellow Slytherins right now, not going to lie. Most of my disappointment, however, is reserved for the developers who seem to just be happy with the money they’re getting from people desperate to get all of the exclusive items.

There have been some other games I play which have had Halloween events. Sadly, however, I haven’t been playing many of those games. Mostly due to a combination of university assignments, and my determination to collect all of the event exclusives in Overwatch. (Achievement successfully unlocked, by the way.)

So, this has been an update on October from your friendly neighbourhood book addict. Coming up next is November. The lovely month of NaNo. I would imagine anyone who is likely to read my blogs in this coming month should expect a lot of exhausted posts about writing. Or perhaps a continuation of the random blogs of whatever passes my mind at the time. Hope everyone who reads this (and, well, everyone who doesn’t as well, I’m not going to discriminate) has a happy Halloween. A truly wonderful Samhain for those of you who celebrate it in the Northern Hemisphere. And for those who celebrate such things in the Southern Hemisphere, happy Beltane.

Books Books

Kingmaker Chronicles

I mentioned in my latest blog/Books Books how I recently read the first book in The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet, and had to go out and buy the next two in the series. I don’t know if I can do this series justice in my review, but I can try.

I couldn’t tell yo how long I had A Promise of Fire before I started reading it. I may not have mentioned in the blog that accompanied the last Books Books that I have a bit of a problem when it comes to buying books. I’m certain I mentioned that I tend to buy books a lot, but that’s only part of the problem.

The other part is that while I do read a lot, I don’t always read every book I buy. At least, not right away. I fully intend to read all of the books I’ve bought. Eventually. When I was still buying four Discworld books a month, I would wander through the bookstore, and buy a book that caught my fancy, while placing the next four books on order. Then when they were in, I’d buy them, along with another book that caught my fancy. Sometimes, I would read the book that caught my fancy right away, other times they went to… the shelf.

The shelf doesn’t exist because I don’t want to read the books. Instead, it’s where books that I’m interested in reading will sit until I’ve read the books that caught my attention more recently. The books on the shelf are never bad, I’m simply more taken by something else at the time. Often, as is the case here, when a book finally makes it off the shelf and into my hands, I find myself so enamoured that I simply must consume it as quickly as I can, and continue on to consume anything else that there is to do with it.

When I went down to Melbourne recently, I brought four books with me. There was the one I had just started reading (The Witch’s Blood, by Katharine and Elizabeth Corr), Mirage, by Somaiya Daud, which I discussed last week, Bitten, by Kelley Armstrong (which I still haven’t gotten around to reading. I have much of the series, and will eventually get there) and finally, A Promise of Fire.

I finished the first book shortly into my stay, and began Mirage. I didn’t end up starting A Promise of Fire until just before my flight back home. I was happily surprised that I spent more time being social down in Melbourne than reading books. At least that means I didn’t end up finishing all of my books and not having anything to read for my flight home.

I was enamoured very quickly. Catalia was simply a wonderful character and Bouchet a brilliant story teller. I was soon drawn into Thalyria, alongside Cat as she was kidnapped by Beta Sinta, and his team.

Sometimes when a book introduced a number of characters who are often seen together, I find it can be difficult to distinguish between them. As great as the book might otherwise be, it can be disappointing to find two characters who could easily merge into one and not be missed. I initially found myself worrying, when Flynn, Carver, and Kato were all introduced along with Griffin. Griffin clearly stood out as the love interest, so I worried that the other three might blend together.
This was definitely not the case though, which I was very pleased to discover. Each member of Beta team was incredibly distinct, all the way throughout the series. (SPOILER ALERT: Oh Gods, I’m crying at the loss of Kato. Such a pure soul.)

Amanda Bouchet promised fire with the first novel, and Gods did she deliver! Clearly she must be a Magoi herself, for when she used that name, she must surely have been compelled by magic to deliver.

The story was engaging, with wonderfully unique characters. Thalyria was a fantastically built world with a recognisable pantheon of Gods (who may just happen to be my favourite pantheon already). All public domain characters were written brilliantly, without betraying their true characteristics, which is always good to see.

The love story was beautiful, and didn’t make me roll my eyes, which is always a plus. I often find myself bored with love stories, because often fantasy books feel that they need one when it’s not absolutely necessary for the story to make sense. In this case, the love story was integral to the story, but it also wasn’t the only thing that the story rested upon, making it that much better in my mind.

Another thing I love about a good book is that it leaves you with a strong message. There are quite a few strong messages from this series which I took away, and would like to share with you reading this now.

One that is strong in a lot of fantasy media is the concept that family doesn’t end in blood. This concept is in Harry Potter, with Harry and Hermione being all bar adopted into the Weasley family even before they became official members. It’s also particularly strong in Supernatural, with Bobby at one point saying “Family don’t end in blood, but it doesn’t start there either.” Family isn’t what you are born into. Harry’s blood family may be the Dursleys, but the family of his heart is the Weasleys. Sam and Dean may be blood brothers, but their father wasn’t the best, and the rest of their family is those who they gather around them. It’s Bobby. Jo and Ellen. It’s Charlie, Claire, Jody and Alex.

It’s prominent in another fantasy series that I’m in love with at the moment lately, The Medoran Chronicles by Lynette Noni. It’s there in Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, Succubus Blues, and The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead. I’m finding it in the Vimes or other Watch books by Terry Pratchett. This is a message which I love and find incredibly true.

I have a good family, but my friends are also my family. I care about them and love them, and will always be there for them. Family doesn’t end with blood, and it’s always nice to see a book pull this message off well and without trying to sound preachy about it.

Similarly, and another message that’s prominent in a lot of fantasy novels, including the ones that I’ve mentioned, is that caring for people, and having people care about you, makes you stronger, not weaker. Again, Bouchet manages to get this message across without sounding preachy about it, which is always amazing.

Another message that is important that I took away from this series was that people can be contradictions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Cat is a wonderful contradiction. She doesn’t want to care for anyone, but when she does she cares hard. She doesn’t want to have responsibility, but when she does she carries it on her shoulders with pride.

I know that I feel like a contradiction myself so often, and it’s just lovely to see that being reaffirmed in a novel, particularly one that I found as lovely and beautiful as this series. Amanda Bouchet is an absolute master craftswoman, and I look forward to reading more from her.

As I mentioned in my previous review, I will rate books more by whether or not I would read them again. I would, and one day I certainly will, absolutely read this series again.

Blog Posts

Hair and Lack Thereof

What is it that is so terrifying about the idea of body hair on women? The majority of advertisements for hair removal products, such as razors, show already hairless legs or armpits. Is it that what they’re trying to sell us is just that bad that they can’t risk shaving actual hair in the commercial for fear of no one buying their rubbish products?

For that matter, why are women’s razors marketed so differently to men? They’re usually so much more expensive, as well. Certainly, some have moisturisers and what have you, and certainly all those accoutrements would add to the cost. Although I know many women who would gladly buy men’s razor’s. Not only is it less expensive, but they’re usually more durable, and offer a closer shave.

Truly though, what is it that terrifies people about body hair? Why is it that we can only have hair on our head, and when we let hair grow anywhere else we get looked down upon because of it?

Speaking of hair on a woman’s head, I recently rewatched Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman. Now, I love this movie. It’s lovely, a wonderful story, with such beautiful songs. The biggest thing that gets me every time, however, is Lettie Lutz. Keala Settle is absolutely stunning, and she plays the bearded lady well, but when she raises her arms, it’s clear to see that her armpits are shaved. So it’s fine for her to have a beard, but not armpit hair?

Wouldn’t it make far more sense for Lettie to shave her beard, to have stubble upon her face while she tries to fit in, and that is how she is first discovered by P.T. Barnum? All of that’s just ignoring one simple fact. Razors weren’t initially marketed towards and sold to women, until 1915, a good fifty-sixty movies after the movie is set, during the first World War. Which also makes me raise an eye at Anne Wheeler, played by Zendaya, with her obviously smooth body, clearly seen in the majority of her costuming.

It’s a problem that exists in so many movies. Heaven forbid that a movie show a woman in the middle ages with hairy legs or armpits. How on Earth did men manage to survive in those times, before women felt compelled by society to part with their body hair?

I was staying with a friend recently, and she told me that she shaves her armpits, because she’s not a feminist. Now, I am a feminist. Which I mean in the true sense of the world. I am not behind a lot of the people who call themselves feminists these days. My friend claimed she was an egalitarian, and I agree with that. Which is why I do still call myself a feminist as well as an egalitarian, because feminism, true feminism, in the first and second waves when it was most crucial, wasn’t about women being better than men, but simply about women getting the same chances as men.

As I mentioned, I call myself a feminist. I don’t believe that women should feel compelled to shave their armpits because society is terrified of women with hair on their bodies. Though that’s not to say that I don’t think every woman should burn their bras and throw away their razors. In my mind, everyone should choose what they want to do for themselves. I choose not to shave my legs or armpits, because I simply don’t see the point, and it takes too much time and effort. There is no way, however, that I will ever condemn someone because they choose to shave theirs.

The same goes in my mind for men. I will never look down at a man because he chooses to shave his arms, legs, chest or back. So why is it that so many people feel the need to criticise others based on their choice of whether or not to keep their body hair.

I could go on and share my opinions on other such choices which people make in regards to their bodies, which might cause others to look down upon them. I think, however, that I shall leave such a discussion for another day, another blog post.