September 21st, 2008

Willow

Coffee Question

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make good coffee en masse that's not coffee machine (ala cafe) style? I kinda want to do a coffee and baked goods event at Wastelands II and am thinking through the catering. I'm going to start baking for it next weekend but am trying to get my head around how to serve really nice coffee to lots of people in a short period of time. I have one of those coffee urn things for the hot water.

Any suggestions?
Willow

Print on Demand ATM for books

From SMH, via my Mum:

Imagine walking into a book store and knowing that even the most obscure or out of print books will always be in stock.

Angus & Robertson today became the first Australian book chain to install the Espresso Book Machine (EBM), capable of printing, trimming and binding a paperback book on demand within minutes.

It was dubbed an "ATM for books" by Time magazine, which last year named it one of the best inventions of the year.


Willow

How many coffees till my headache goes away?

editormumwill be here to pick me up in an hour and I'm still sitting here blogging in the nude. You know, you'll miss me when I'm gone for the next 4 days.

I'm in awe of the amazing feats that the people around me pull off every day. I've been trying to think of the skills that I want to put forward and say I am good at or find easy to do that others may not. But I also want to think really broadly and outside the tradional skill type thing.

Like, on Friday I showed up to femmeconne exhausted and frazzled and totally incoherent with my knickers in a knot about things. mynxi found me and gave me a hug and made me a cup of tea. That in itself was awesome and made me feel loved and comforted instantly. I always think a cup of tea made by someone else tastes just that much better. And then she sat and talked me through my problem. And has been reminding me all weekend that it is fine and that I am fine. She is the awesome.

She is also the awesome for pulling together the programme at late notice, of moderating it and helping it be as fluid as it needed to be and delineating it where that needed to happen. If you want a programmer with grace and elegance ... well mynxi is the one you would go to for help and it would all be pulled off with fanfare and ease.

I was constantly impressed and blown away by callistra's organisation and catering skills. She had a fridge with every possible milk preference in it for goodness sake! I spent the whole weekend drinking lactose free milk. I personally am not going to die if I consume lactose or gluten and am a bit lax on the whole thing unless I have pushed myself over the balance (and I can usually tell you where I am on the tolerance level at any given moment of the day). But if I consume a lot of lactose or gluten, I will be in discomfort - my choice and I own that. But to not even have to think or make the choice because someone else has just catered for you and it's just *there* when you go to get milk ... well, I was constantly blown away by that. It made me feel included and thought of every single time. And I didn't even notice that I wasn't in any discomfort the whole weekend.

Not only that but she had taken in her stride catering for everyone's dietary preferences/requirements. I only had dinner on the Friday night but it was curry night and there were two veg options, one canned food-free, two meat options and a bunch of other things and everything had a label so you didn't have to ask or guess AND then she had posted the recipes on the door so you could check exactly what had gone into everything. I don't think you can feel much more loved and cared for and considered. I have spent my life having to quiz people about what goes into what and this was just so awesome. And the whole weekend was nut free to boot. And then she smiled and joked and looked relaxed the whole time. callistra I bow down to you! Thanks so much for a stress free weekend!

Gonna stop squeeing now and go get dressed and think about "What's hot and what's not".

Willow

Back!

Just back in from the KSP Minicon which was lots of fun. Still have my raging headache from yesterday which meant I couldn't stop in on cricketk on the way home and I want to apologise for being vague and unfocussed all day (to thise that had to deal with that). But! I still very clearly remember the bit where a bunch of my "friends" stood round and agreed I couldn't have a puppy. I so *would* remember to feed it! *pouts* And I won the prize raffle - books!! And as I went in to collect them I heard a bunch of people say "as if I need more books" Heh (plug and pun in there in one!)

Met a bunch of new people. Bought some stories (apparently). Talked some other people into sending me stuff. Got some names of people to hassle for stories. And maybe bought and sold a few projects. Just my average Sunday!

Heading for a bath now. Then maybe I can face dinner and packing. And editing. And then bed.
Willow

On Beauty

It's going to take a few posts to get this all out in a logical way that I can explain to anyone outside my head. I started talking about it in counselling last week and I ended up going round in a circle by the end of the hour. But here is the first instalment I guess.

About two weeks ago, it must be by now, I bailed on punkrocker1991 when we were supposed to meet for dinner because I was running a bit ragged with life. Russ knows what that's like and he knows what I'm like so he just threw out there at me that I should take care of myself and checked everything was okay with me. And I was like, yeah, fine what do you mean?! And he said to me, "I don't know. How many self harm behaviours are you currently displaying?" And I felt quite indignant at that and virtually put hands on hips and said, "I have no idea what you mean! I don't do that anymore!"

And then I thought about it for a little while. And then I thought about that a bit harder and I thought ... you know ... there are a few things I still do to self sabotage and maybe now is the time to look a bit deeper.

And here is the beginning of this, I spose.

Because if I were really and truly honest, I do not strive to be the best I can be. In any and all areas of my life. And further than that, I actually sabotage myself in the pursuit. And in looking at why I do that, I guess I also have to deconstruct myself into parts and look at each and how and why I do that.

I don't know why I selfsabotage. I'm still searching for that answer. I've mentioned in previous posts how I'm trying to feel the fear and do it anyway. So the bit that I haven't talked about is how this al applies to my self image and appearance. Talking about yourself and how you view yourself is such a difficult thing to do. You see yourself from a different angle and perspective to others and I know I hold myself to different standards compared to those I hold others to. And me saying things about myself is different to you saying the same thing to me - whether it's true or otherwise. And blogging these things here is a bit scary because it opens all of this up to be scrutinised in a public forum and in front of people. Kinda like me showing you all the flaws in my patchwork quilt top. You might not have seen then but now that I've pointed them out it'll be the only thing you focus on.

Still ... feeling the fear and doing it anyway ... here goes ...

The question that I've boiled this all down to for me is this one: Why am I afraid to be beautiful?

First I have to define the word "beautiful".

I actually don't use this word very often and then mostly when describing an amazing sunset or a pristine vista. But it's the word I would use to describe the boy all the time and because I hardly use that word, and because it's not really a word you tend to use to describe boys, I noticed it. (And yes the boy still reads this blog but yes too, we have remained friends and he knows what and how I think of him.) And sure yes, I mean it in a physically attractive way, of course. But what I really meant was his soul and the character of his person which shines out and radiates around him in what he says, how he expresses what he thinks and believes in and in his actions towards people and how he is in the world. I found it dazzling in the purity of its light.

So to me, I guess, the word "beautiful" when I use it in that question above, in application to me, is really why am I afraid to reach my own potential and be the very best I can be? Why do I deliberately make sure I am less, or look less, than I can be? What do I think will happen if I present as my best?

But, whilst I work on that answer, I'm feeling the fear and doing it anyway ... and in so doing, I have to tackle all aspects. And that includes my appearance. Because ... I sabotage that, a lot. Every day. The why I do that is the bit that's wrapped up in my ideas on feminism, the fashion industry, beauty and the way we value women. I kinda want that in a separate post. So I'll park that and come back to it.

But the what and the how are things I need to address in the meantime. So I've sort of made a list of the things I do or do not do and started working through them. I've started dying my hair a darker and richer colour and I'm growing it a bit longer. I'm dabbling in all kinda of personal grooming type things. One at a time. I've started clearing out my wardrobe to ditch all the old and grotty type items. Replacing things bit by bit - starting with shoes and handbags and sunglasses (haven't had a pair in years). I've started wearing my contact lenses most of the time. I've begun a proper facial routine and I wear lip balm!

And the big one - I've started changing my diet. And am working on losing 20kgs in the next little while - aiming to have lost 5kgs by Conflux and am about halfway there last time I checked. I don't really like talking about it but the truth is that this is the biggest way I self sabotage on a daily basis and it's the thing I notice that makes me unhappy when I wake up in the morning and when I go to bed at night. I know that I look the best I can *considering*. And I think that I am sexy and attractive. But I also know that I limit my potential, and I do that on a daily basis. And the fact that I can't wear the kind of clothes I want to, bothers me. All the time.

So I've been working on this with my trainer who has been so totally cool with helping me with this. I've been writing a daily food diary and discovered some really interesting things. I have some really bad, and not so obvious, habits that I'm working on breaking. And I've been doing not too badly with that. It's a work in progress. It's tied up with other things. But I think I am going to get there this time.
Willow

On beauty Part 2

So this is the bit where it gets shady. The bit where my self image is wrapped up in feminism and in how we value women.

So ... first the contradiction. Where exactly did my lj name come from? I was nicknamed "girlie" way back in my early postgrad days by a couple of my peeps who still lurk around these parts. And they named me that because I was just that - very girly in a sea of less girly females and lots of guys floating about the engineering and maths buildings. I've been wearing my long skirts for a very long time now and I can often be seen in pink and purple. I like getting my hair done. And back then, I liked to wear makeup and nailpolish. I've always been boy crazy and I liked to get up and dance on the stages and whatnot about the nightclubs we used to frequent. I'm a cadbury kid drunk and an awful flirt. I like to go to day spas and I love lotions and potions. What else? I'm sure there were a bunch of others. And when I signed up for my hotmail account, I think it was back then, you had to put a surname in as well as a first and I thought, "will I be smith or jones?" And the rest, as they say, is an online handle.

So how then, is it that I got to be *here*? And where exactly am I?

Let's see. Somewhere in that horrible last relationship, I stopped caring about myself and caring for myself. The ex didn't care about how I looked and then eventually he *really* didn't care about how I looked. And so it stopped mattering either way. And I fell into the hole of depression and ... well y'all mostly were there. And first I lost *a lot* of weight and then I put on a lot of weight. But also, I stopped brushing my hair (for a while, then I had to cut it short and get serious when I got an actual job). I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped a whole heap of personal grooming. And in part it was because it didn't matter. And I was tired all the time. And depressed.

But also. I think the more I was judged for who and what I was not and the more I succeeded in academic and work related things and noone around me really valued these, the less I wanted to be valued for how "pretty" I looked. I think I rebelled against being valued for looking nice and being quiet, maybe? I'm not sure. But I think the less people saw me for who I was, the less I wanted them to score me highly for looking good? I dunno. That's still not it but the best I can do for now. I was living in a very superficial world - I'd go to dinner parties and people would never even ask me what I did for a job. I'd have to sit and be quiet for hours on end or would be spoken over when I'd try to join conversations. I think a lot of people (out, over *there*) don't know how to cope with intelligent women who don't want to talk about the latest Avon catalogue or whatever and have opinions about politics and banking or whatever. And the less I was allowed to play with the big boys at the table and the more I was expected to know only about domestic-women things, the more I would work at not being able to comply.

Cept I still, deep down, felt bad because in the last minute, I would not be able to present myself the way I really wanted to (hair looking ratty or having put on weight and not being able to find something to wear etc).

For years now, my sister or the ex's sister have scowled at me for not having my eyebrows looking neat and tidy and for not always wearing the right bra under the right top etc. And the more it pissed them off, to some extent the more I was vindicated because being clueless meant that appearance was less important to me than other things and thus ... I dunno, I got ... some kinda points on some bizarre pointscoring system.

So in the last little while I've been working on revamping my image (see previous post). And the hardest thing to write here is how much better about myself and how much sexier and happier I have been feeling with every change I make in my appearance. And how exciting it is to construct this new image in a sort of rebirthing of self. And I don't know why precisely but in part I think it's because it might make me look (or feel) shallow or like I am less of a feminist - I've waxed my underarms and eyebrows and last week I had my very first bikini wax. And the thing that makes me feel like a sellout is that I enjoy the way I am now more than the way I was a month ago. And I'm worried that as I continue to work on this, I might become more and more of a sellout - the next big thing is I'm going to wax my legs. And that feels like the biggest symbol of *something* - that I can't quite put my finger on. Like, will you still love me if I openly admit how much I love shoes? Or painting my nails?

So that's kinda all of it. Incoherent but now finally here, on this blog, where it belongs.
Willow

Prepay for your copy of Angel Rising

Thanks for the requests, here is the button to prepay for your copy of Dirk Flinthart's Angel Rising and pick it up in person at Conflux or Wastelands II or off me in either Canberra or Perth.

If you want to prepay and have it posted to you, please see this post.

Many thanks!