Friday, 30 December 2016

Why Hulktasha needs to die (and a brief feminist rant)

(Mild spoilers warning.)

In case you are living under a rock and haven't seen Avengers 2: Age of Ultron yet, allow me to give you a quick update. Beyond a baddie trying to destroy the world yet again, the Hulk and Black Widow (AKA Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (hence Hulktasha)) end up falling in love or whatever. This makes me mildly angry as it ruined a perfectly good movie. This ship needs to sink. (It goes to show how angry I am over this that I'm writing a post about it like two years after the movie came out.)


It came out of nowhere. Yes, Black Widow was sent to recruit the Hulk in The Avengers (it was one of my favourite scenes in the movie, actually), but just because two characters share a scene together doesn't mean they must be romantically involved. In Age of Ultron Black Widow seemed to start flirting for no apparent reason (yes, she can calm the Hulk but that mostly happens off-screen), and for a woman who's worked as a professional assassin that seemed a little too out of character for me. 

She was afraid he wouldn't love her because she couldn't have children. Let's ignore the killing and lying and torture and stuff for a moment, because not being able having children is the real deal-broker here. Why is her worth stuck on her fertility? It makes for a cool backstory, of course, but come on. 

This was the only movie she got kidnapped in. And had to have someone come rescue her. And by "someone" I mean her love interest. Excuse me? Since when does Black Widow, the Black Widow, need someone to come help her out? If she's going to get kidnapped, she's going to bust herself out. She's going to take down the bad guy from the inside and walk away from the burning building in slo-mo while epic music plays in the background. She is not going to stay in a cage and wait for her Prince Charming to rescue her.


I'm not saying that female characters should never fall in love. That would be epically anti-feminist of me. I am saying that when characters are shoved into romantic relationships just because, well, she's a female and she should probably fall in love at some point, then we have a problem. Female characters are allowed to fall in love. Female characters are also allowed to not fall in love. I felt the love story was confusing and didn't add anything to the plot (and oh, in The Winter Soldier and Civil War Black Widow didn't have a love interest... and didn't need rescuing). 

Do you like Hulktasha? Where do you want to see this relationship go?  

Friday, 23 December 2016

Movie review: Rogue One

After Disney bought Star Wars, nerds everywhere have been blessed with a rapid influx of movies that seem to almost come out faster than we can refill our wallets. (Almost.) This year, it's Rogue One hitting theatres. Shortly before A New Hope, a young Jyn is living with her mother and her scientist father on a farm, but the empire shows up and forces her father to work on the Death Star. Jyn barely manages to escape. Eventually, she's roped into finding her father to help save life, the universe and everything. 


I wasn't terribly impressed at first. I felt the plot was a little slow, and there was a lot of back story and explaining to be done before we really got anywhere. (And unlike every other Star Wars movie ever, the main theme didn't blast out right after the title sequence. I felt a little betrayed.) Like yeah, we can all see where this is going. Rebel girl doesn't want to help rebels, gets captured and forced to help, falls in love with the captain, sees the error of her ways and takes down the empire. Been there, done that. 

But then the second half of the movie hit. For the most part, my prediction was accurate but it was the execution that nailed it. I warmed up to Jyn about a third of the way through the movie, and though she was rough around the edges I loved her for it anyways. The secondary characters were beautiful little cinnamon rolls and they were often at odds with each other, which was great for conflict. 

I can't pinpoint the exact moment when the plot sped up, but I found myself on the edge of my seat at some point and I couldn't sit back down. There were rebellions within the rebellion, there were executions in the rain, there were massive fights on the beach and explosions and people sneaking into bases and it was all so glorious and beautiful. (And there wasn't a love story. I almost cried golden unicorn tears of happiness.) 


Other notes: Like The Force Awakens, the whole movie felt so real and gritty, unlike many movies dripping in CGI. And the ending. It completely took me by surprise, but it was perfect. (However, spoilers. But it was awesome.) And I was also very pleased with the fact that Jyn (and Rey in The Force Awakens) weren't noticeably wearing makeup (because let's be honest it's Hollywood of course they're wearing makeup). It's a big improvement from Return of the Jedi where Leia was rescuing Han from Jabba and she had her makeup perfectly done. I don't have time to do my makeup on a day-to-day basis, let alone when I'm fighting a crime lord. I like the women in Star Wars are becoming more real, more human. Overall, Rogue One is another win for Disney and for the fans (but not for our wallets), and just by writing this review I've become desperate to rewatch the latest saga in the Star Wars universe. 

Have you seen Rogue One yet? What did you think? Do you think Disney is overdoing it with the Star Wars movies? 

A Christmas message (you're welcome)

I'm not usually one for a long analysis of Bible passages because goodness, I did enough of that at school. So this Christmas message will be fairly short and will not contain much in-text referencing. 

Let's start with the passage I'll be analyzing today, shall we? 

Luke 1 (NIV)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God."
I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with the story, even if you're not a Christian. An angel shows up, goes yo dude, you're going to have a child and Mary goes okay sounds good. I didn't paste the entire story in, but that's the general idea. 
The thing that stands out to me in this passage is that the angel says "do not be afraid." I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty terrified. From what we know about angels, they probably don't have the harps and halos and stuff, and people often don't know that angels are angels until later. If you think about it, Mary has probably seen a random guy show up to her house and announce that she's going to have a child. We don't know if she knows he's an angel yet. Maybe she does. Either way, she's scared. 
Let's look at another passage.
Luke 2 (NIV)
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Are you seeing the resemblance? These shepherds are scared out of their minds. These dudes know this is God and they're shaking in their boots. Once again, and angel has to say woah man, don't freak out. 
So we have these stories (and I'm positive you can find other examples, especially in the Old Testament) of people meeting God or one of God's angels and having a little bit of a panic attack. I love that. I love how when faced with someone as powerful and amazing and intensely awesome as God, or even God's angels who are nothing compared to Him, people start to freak out. 
That's the type of God I want to serve. I want to serve the most powerful, the most incredible being that ever has or ever will exist. He created the earth and the universe in six days, He set humanity in motion, He makes the earth spin round and He keeps the oceans in check. That kind of power is unimaginable, and in the Bible people have (rightly so) been terrified when they meet Him. And that's the God who loves me enough to die for me, and that's pretty cool. 
Merry Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Redefining friendship

On Saturday, my martial arts club had a Christmas party of sorts on a nearby island. Seven of us went, and we all hopped on a boat/jet ski and drove (rode? Not sure of the proper verb here) to the island.

I had the greatest time. The weather was beautiful, I got to drive the jet ski and we all got a few fights in (although you had to wonder what everyone else on the beach was thinking when we all started attacking each other.) (The resulting sunburn, on the other hand, was less than fabulous.)

Apologies for the less than stellar quality, I didn't have my normal camera with me.  

Five years ago, I would have never imagined doing something like this. Never in my wildest dreams could I have pictured myself spending the day on a nearby island with a bunch of friends who I had gotten to know by them choking me out. According to my twelve-year-old self, friends were people you went to school with. People you met up with once or twice a month to have a sleepover with, who shared similar interests as you, who you've been friends with forever and so you continued to be.

Ever since we'd moved, I've had to continually redefine friendship. Friends aren't just workplace proximity associates. They're people you binge watch Doctor Who with. They're people who lend you their shoulder to cry on at a funeral. They're people who send you memes when they should be studying. They're people who get up early to go for a run with you, who continue to email and text despite the distance, who gloat over a game of UNO, who sell you their old textbooks, who go on shopping trips with you, who tackle you when you're not looking, who swap book recommendations, who fall off jet skis with you, who write long, heart-felt emails even though they've never met you. They're people who trust you with their dog, their kids, their house. They're people who make sure you've eaten enough that day, who ask you if everything is alright even though they know it's not, who remind you that you're not the only one dealing with stuff.

The more I thought about this during the boat road over, the more I realised this day trip didn't fit my old definition of friendship at all. The more I thought about it, the more I realised most of my friends now don't fit my old definition of friendship. I don't want to go back go my old definition. I want to keep pushing the boundaries, pushing what my internal dictionary says because so far some of my best memories have been made outside of those narrow requirements.

Over the past five years I've had my fair share of challenges, and while I'm excited I'm also terrified for my next five years in life. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's where there's fear there's God's love and the chance to continually redefine friendship, and I am so thankful for both.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Write what you know, and if you don't know it then don't write it

I've been having issues lately. (Obviously, we all know this. I literally do nothing but scream about Spider-Man and post random pictures. (On the topic of Spider-Man, the new trailer came out AND MY LIFE HAS CHANGED FOREVER.)) 

You may remember way back in April when I did Camp NaNoWriMo. It was a super great experience and a big part of the reason why I did NaNo this November, and I don't regret it for a second. My book was about this girl who gets trapped in another dimension and falls in love with someone there. In later books, they break up.

Does this weird you out?
Because it weirds me out. 

I've been having issues with going on to write the next two books in the trilogy and properly editing the first one because I don't have the right life experience to write it. Obviously, I've never been trapped in another dimension before (although that would probably explain my issues, to be honest). On the other hand, I've never been in a romantic relationship. I'm totally fine with that, too, because a boyfriend would probably just slow me down (I've got Mordor to invade here, why are you holding my hand?!?!) and I'm not in a place right now where I want that. (Guys in books are way more low-maintence anyways, unless they're killed in some horrible way and make me cry every time someone mentions their name. (I'm looking at you, Maze Runner.)) Never having been in a romantic relationship, though, means I've never had a break-up. 

This makes my books mildly difficult to write. 

I love the characters. I love the world. I love the plot. I love all the lovely science bits and machinery and inter-dimensional travel. I just can't do the emotions justice. 

When you first get into writing, one of the pieces of advice that's thrown around quite frequently is to write what you know. Write a book set in your hometown, you know it best. Write a book set in high school, you've been there. Write about a trip to Thailand, you've travelled there. I think it's a really good piece of advice and I've used it quite often, but there are limits because obviously writers can't know everything. We can't know what the next dimension to the left is like. We can't know what it's like to die. We can't know what it's like to swing through Manhattan in a onesie, webbing up bad guys (unfortunately).  

I, in all my infinite wisdom, have placed the boundaries of write what you know on emotions. I can do the research and use my imagination to write the story of someone who lives on a spaceship, in a fictional city, on a deserted island. I can research and make up what it's like to live during the Middle Ages, ancient China or Australia fifty years from now. (Obviously there are limits and it's always best to do your research and talk to people who have actually had those experiences, especially regarding race, gender, disabilities or illnesses.)

But I can't pretend to know what it's like to be in love with someone, then to have my heart broken afterwards. I feel like I'll be doing people who have had those experiences an injustice because the emotions won't be quite right. On the other hand, I really love my idea for my trilogy and want it to work. I'm just not sure if now is the right time to force it. 

Have you ever had to write something you weren't familiar with? Any advice for me? How closely do you follow write what you know

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Airport goodbyes

Last week we had to say goodbye to some good friends of ours. They had moved here from Texas about two years ago, and by way of 'welcome to Australia' my mom had my sister stalk them until they handed over an address and phone number. The rest, as they say, is history. 

My sister and their oldest daughter got along really well, especially considering they were both immigrants and both spoke the same language of Goldfish, pumpkin pie, the distaste of uniforms and white Christmases. It was great to sit back and watch them chat and to see all their other friends be really confused. We often got together for family dinners at the beach, and during Thanksgiving they'd always stop by and drop off a pumpkin pie for us. 

Last Sunday, we drove to the airport to say goodbye. Their visa had run out, and it was time for them to leave despite the fact that no one but the government wanted them to. Tears were shed. Pictures were taken. Presents were given. And flights were caught. 

Unlike many others, I didn't cry and I haven't cried since. I wasn't even that sad. It wasn't because I didn't love the family; I did. It wasn't because I'm a heartless monster; I'm not. (Well, depending on who you talk to.)

I think it's because I've almost become immune to airport goodbyes, having been through so many myself on both the leaving and the staying end. Maybe at a certain point the calls of last flights and the gentle hum of the security conveyor belt wash over you but don't sink into your skin. Maybe I'm at that point. Or, maybe it's because gone, gone is such a terrible concept and I can't allow myself the luxury of attempting to understand it right now. 

In either case, I didn't cry and I haven't since, and I can't lie and say I'm sad. Gone hasn't sunk in quite yet. 

(After saying goodbye, we were walking out of the airport when one of our friends said, "Well, 2016 has sucked." I almost replied, "Actually, we've had the lowest level of maternal deaths overall this year, so that's pretty awesome," except I then realised he was not talking about maternal deaths but his personal life.  Needless to say, I'm very glad my mom jumped in and said something around the lines of, "I'm sure some nice things have happened as well.")

My family and a bunch of our friends went out for Mexican and gelato. Despite the fact that one of our group was gone, it was good to be with friends again, despite gone. 

Have you ever experienced an airport goodbye? What was the worst goodbye you've ever had to do? Talk to me in the comments!

Friday, 9 December 2016

NaNoWriMo snippets (sort of)

Just so we're clear, NaNoWriMo took my brain, diced it with a lightsaber, dunked it in the lava of Mustafa and gave it to Kylo Ren to throw against the wall when he gets angry. (Obviously, I'm in the mood for the next Star Wars to just come out already.) 

My NaNo manuscript is in no way ready for show and tell, so instead of snippets from my actual manuscript I thought I'd share some writing I did while I was supposed to be slam-dunking my word count for the day. (This is probably the reason why my brain is nothing but scattered pieces of the Death Star. (Episode VIII where are you?!?!)) 

"How cool is it that the same God who created mountains
and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the
world needed one of you, too?" Just in case you
couldn't read my writing.
* * *

It is 10:25pm, which isn't really late for me but I have siblings to drive to school and work in the morning and I've never really been a morning person anyways. I'm up late writing my WIP for NaNoWriMo because I haven't hit my word count yet because I had to work unexpectedly today, but I don't really mind. I love these quiet nights. It's just the glow of my screen, the dull clicks of my keyboard, the blue flashing light from my headphones, the soft, swaying chords of the indie music falling down my ear canals. It's just the words and I, and no one else. No expectations. No demons from the back of my mind. No one looking over my shoulder to read and judge and stare and critique. No worries, no stress of everything I have to do yet haven't done yet. 

It's just the clicks
the blue flashing light
the chords
the glowing screen
the quiet
and the words.

* * *

How's everyone doing? I feel like I've been out of the loop for too long. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

In which I am not, in fact, dead

So spoiler alert, I have not died. I have, in fact, been a little busy hence why I have sadly had to neglect all my lovely friends over yonder Internet. (I have no idea if that sentence made any sense but we're just going to run with it.) 

I've been busy, though! November has not gone to waste for me.

I have...
-kicked NaNoWriMo's butt (finished a day early with 50,225 words)
-read tons of books
-been busy with my younger sister's graduation
-worn through the knees of my beloved gi 
-gotten a temporary tattoo, which was supposed to last a month but only lasted a week (thanks, Internet) 
-had my mental health decide to just quit
-worked waaay more than normal
-moved into the living room because that's where the air con is and summer sucks
-mourned the death of winter
-bought my school textbooks for next year (*sobs*)
-spent a good five hours at church trying to get ready for Christmas (and almost threw the computer at the wall in the process)
-drove all around town trying to find houseplants for my sister
-got a pretty good sunburn while attempting to find said houseplants for my sister
-watched my awesome brother get his school awards
-had a going away party for a friend (more on that next week)
-relentlessly teased my sister about her wicked sunburn
-headed to the big library in the next town for an amazing book haul

All in all, I don't really have much of an excuse for being away for so long except NaNo, which I should have seen coming and, you know, prepared blog-wise for it. Apparently I'm not Wonder Woman who can do all the things. (Besides, Wonder Woman is waaaay cooler than I am.) 

I am thankful for the break, I think I needed to take a step back from blogging for a month and focus on other things. In saying that, I'm glad to be back online and once again back in the thick of things. Thanks for being patient with me during my unexpected hiatus!

Have I missed much while I was away? How did everyone do with NaNoWriMo? 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Another (short) update

You've probably (or probably not, in all reality) noticed that I didn't end up posting on Monday. It looks like my hiatus is going to continue for an indefinite amount of time, due to continuing unforeseen circumstances and Nanowrimo. I'll see you all again some time in the near future!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A short holiday

Due to the kick-off of Nanowrimo today (YAY!!!) and some unforeseen circumstances, I will not be posting this week but shall see you all next Tuesday. 

Until then, here's a picture of the Gold Coast, because why not.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Movie review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Now because I tried writing a blurb and utterly failed, I just mangled the iBooks oneWhen Jacob's grandfather, Abe, a WWII veteran, is savagely murdered, Jacob has a nervous breakdown, in part because he believes that his grandfather was killed by a monster that only they could see. On his psychiatrist's advice, Jacob and his father travel from their home in Florida to Cairnholm Island off the coast of Wales, which, during the war, housed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Abe, a Jewish refugee from the Nazis, lived there before enlisting, and the mysteries of his life and death lead Jacob back to that institution. 

It's basically like X-Men with teenagers in Wales. (In other words, the book was utterly amazing.)


So I've been a fan of the books for a couple of years now, and I was beyond excited for the movie to come out. The book has a very particular, uh, peculiar, tone, and the thought of seeing that on the big screen had me jumping up and down (quite literally, to my family's confusion and annoyance). 

The first three quarters stayed mostly true to the book, which I was thrilled about. (It always seems to me that the moment they stray is the moment they lose the plot (more on that later)). Jacob's character was done quite well and I had no problem merging my Book Jacob into the Movie Jacob (you know what I'm talking about if you've ever read a book then watched the movie), and I absolutely loved every scene in Wales because the atmosphere was just perfect. 

That being said, I had a lot of problems with this movie. Like, a lot a lot, Miss Peregrine being one of them. There were moments when she was absolutely perfect, then there would be another moment when she completely threw me. (Kinda like the tone. Sometimes the tone was perfect, then sometimes something felt just... off.) The romance (which was great in the book, by the way) fell flat on its face and the only emotion I felt during the entire movie was a slight twinge of apprehension. There were moments when I felt like turning to my sister and going "oh, so this was definitely directed by Tim Burton," then rolling my eyes. I suppose that's always been one of my problems with Tim Burton movies; there are moments when I feel completely alienated from his films. Perhaps that's just me, though. 

The climax was completely different from the book, where they [spoiler] because [spoiler] so they could [spoiler]. That in itself I didn't mind, because they ended up wrapping up the trilogy in the one movie (a good move, in my opinion). The transition from the source material to the added climax was done smoothly and if you hadn't have read the book you would have never known that there was a whole new part to the movie. However, once again there was a scene that was just too weird, even for a movie with the word "peculiar" in the title and my suspension of disbelief went through a rough patch. 

I'm still indecisive about how I feel about the movie. On one hand, they did a great job of keeping to the book and I appreciate that. Jacob's character was translated very well, and the atmosphere of Wales and the home for the peculiar children was spot on. It was just the lack of emotion and those moments that made me step back and ask what was going on that made me walk away without a smile on my face. 

P.S. I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year, so I'll probably be behind on everything blog related. I'm not ignoring you, I'm just... well... ignoring you to finish my book. Thanks for understanding!

Have you seen the movie or read the book (or both)? What did you think? 

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A severe case of wanderlust

I have self-diagnosed myself with a severe case of wanderlust. 

I want to travel the world. Whenever I get thinking about how big the world is, how enormous, with all its hidden wonders I just want to get on a plane and go. There are so many back alleys covered with the graffiti of a teenager who doesn't know how to deal with the words and images drowning his soul, so many monuments built to honour gods who are no longer worshiped, so many forests covered in a dusting of snow where bobcats tread on velvet paws. 

There is so much food I have never tried, oceans I haven't drank, skies I've never touched, so many languages that I've never heard spoken aloud. There are so many customs I've never heard of, so many paths to take in life that I haven't even considered and that's such a beautiful thing. 

What's the point of staying in one place for the rest of your life? Of course, there will always be security in a job, a house, a car, a routine, and to be human is to need security. It's a human need to have a roof to hide under when the winds come. You can be safe, but you'll look up at your ceiling every night and know that it's as far as you're getting. 

I don't have to sell everything and travel from place to place, never settling. I've had plenty of feeling unsettled in my lifetime. I'm fine with living in one place, but I hope I never stop looking up at the sky and wondering what else is out there. I hope I never decide to spend my vacation savings on a new toy instead, I hope I never forget what it's like to step off a plane and think, what now? I hope I never overestimate my importance in this world enough to think that I don't need further education in culture, music, language, geography, people. I hope I never lose my unsatisfiable craving for the next horizon. 

Have you caught this new strain of wanderlust yet? 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Victoria's Guide to Journalling (part 3)

During the last two weeks, I've been talking about why you should journal and I've also given some (not so) helpful hints on how to actually do it. This week, I thought I'd talk about what tips I've learned over the years to get more out of it and have some fun along the way. 

1. Throw format out the window. There was once a point where I tried to get my entries to fit on the same page so I could start each new entry at the top of a new page. Um, excuse me? Who has energy for that? And if you don't like the typical entry format, then do a calendar thing. If you don't like the calendar thing, then write lists. You're a creative person, figure out what works best for you and go do it! 

2. Writing lists is boring. Write emotions instead. I woke up. I went to school. I did work. I came home. I did homework. I watched TV. I went to bed. Excuse me while I fall asleep here. How about you write about how at school your best friend accidentally dropped her lunch on your teacher's head right before going into an exam? What about how thrilled you were when you got your marks back? The direction you want to take in your novel? Not only is writing about how you feel about certain things more interesting (for both the reader and the writer) but it helps you get your thoughts out, too. 

3. Make it yours. So I used to write the standard entries. Very plain. Very boring. I still enjoyed it, of course (I'm still journalling, after all) but a few months ago I started writing in French to get some more practice in. Then, I discovered bullet journals and was like hey! I can doodle! Let's go doodle! Now I use my doodling to calm down if I'm upset about something. (By the way, I'm not really an artistic person so I just started searching things on Pinterest and low and behold, more creative people than me have put tons of stuff on there for me to copy.) I also like to keep ticket stubs and brochures stuffed between the pages. 

What are your favourite journalling tips? 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Music Tag

A thanks to the lovely Jessica @ Apples of Gold for the tag! (Now you all have to read about my weird music choices. *laughs evilly while lightning flashes in the background*)

Let's get started, shall we? 

1) Do you play any instruments? 

No, and everyone around me thanks me for that. I have about negative zero skill with the playing of anything musical. That includes singing, keeping a beat, and pretty much anything besides plugging headphones in. 

2) What your favourite music genre? 

I'd probably have to say Christian rock (I've just started getting into Skillet), but I like just plain old rock, too. I also like some really excellent classical music (Tchaikovsky's been a big one lately) and some pop is pretty good as well. I also have a soft spot for good indie, as well. I JUST LIKE ALL THE MUSIC, OK? 

3) Is there a music genre you absolutely cannot stand? 

TOUGH GUY GYM MUSIC. IT MUST DIE. (I have no idea if that's a legit genre or not, but it seems to be.) It's all they play at jiu jitsu and sometimes I just want to throw the speakers across the room, but lately it hasn't been bothering me so much. Maybe it's because I've hated it for so long, unable to escape it, that the boiling water is so hot it feels cold? I also have a thing against rap (there's like three songs ever that I've enjoyed that have rap in them (actually, tough guy gym music has a lot of rap in it...)). 

4) What is your favourite way to listen to music? (CD, vinyl, MP3, radio, etc.)

I love listening to music live, but with a lack of wandering musicians around the town (pff, this town is crazy) I usually just turn my headphones on and crank it. (Yes, I will be deaf by the time I hit thirty. Yes, I'm concerned.)

5) Who/what are your favourite bands/singer? 

This question is SO hard. If I absolutely had to chose three, I'd probably say Owl City, Relient K and Of Monsters and Men and Imagine Dragons would probably tie for third. 

6) What are your three favourite chords? 

Excellent question, I'll tell you when I figure out what a chord is. 

If I may brag for a minute here, I'm so proud of this shot because it was taken from a moving ferry without a tripod in the dark. That's hard, guys.

7) If you had to pick a song to sum up your entire life, your very essence, the core of your being, which song would you pick? 

(That's right, we get deep on this blog.) After much deliberation, I'd say Do Life Big by Jamie Grace because obviously I want to do life big. We've only been given one life, and I'd rather do it right and throw glitter everywhere while I'm at it. 

8) What do you think is the purpose of music? 

I actually have no idea. Different music has different purposes, but for me it's an escape (tip: the best therapy is cranking your favourite song as high as it'll go then screaming along to it), worship, entertainment, to express different emotions and to fill the gap in my mind where unwanted thoughts sometimes gather like dusty spiderwebs. 

And because I'm doing this late the night before this post is due, I tag everyone! (Shh, I'm not being lazy, I promise.)

Answer your favourite question in the comments!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Victoria's Guide to Journalling (part 2)

Journalling is great. (I covered that in part 1.) It's an awesome way to remember what you did last week (especially when you're someone like me who only remembers what I had for breakfast because I have the same thing every morning (two minute oats, if you must know)) and to get the frustration out of the day out of your system.

Today, I thought I'd go over how exactly you're supposed to journal. Mostly, you just sit down and write about your day, but that's a bit boring and doesn't properly fill a blog post so I've come up with a fool-proof guide for you.

Victoria's Guide to Journalling

1) Buy yourself a beautiful journal from your local bookstore.
2) Let your family know that you are journaling and write in it in front of them so they know how dedicated you are.
3) Be dedicated and write in it daily for up to three weeks.
4) Miss a day and apologize in your journal, even though you know that probably no one will read it. 
5) Realize that you are writing the same thing every day. (I woke up, went to school, did homework, watched TV, went to bed.) 
6) Re-think your life. 
7) Realize all life is meaningless and that we are all going to die. 
8) Voice these thoughts in your journal, because your journal is where all your important thoughts belong. 
9) Discover that being deep and meaningful is fun and fill up several pages of deep and meaningful thoughts. 
10) Re-discover how fun journaling is, re-discover the meaning of life and re-discover pizza (because why not?). 
11) Impulsively buy every beautiful journal you come across, drain your bank account and stack the new and oh-so-beautiful journals underneath your bed for the day you'll need them. 
12) Journal like mad for the next several weeks/months.
13) Finish your journal and feel very proud of yourself. 
14) Repeat steps 1-14 as many times as necessary. 

Do you journal? Do you ever find yourself following any of these steps? 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Australia's weird history

Australia has a little bit of a weird history, especially if you start looking into it. A while back, I started researching all this stuff and thought it'd be fun to share my findings with you all. So without further ado, here are three really weird stories from Australia's history. 

A maliciously damaged ribbon

Francis Edward de Groot (1888-1969) fought in the First World War and was rewarded a ceremonial sword for his service. He moved to Sydney and settled into his new career as an antique dealer and furniture manufacturer, and he also became a member of the New Guard (a right-wing paramilitary organization). 

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened on March 19th, 1932, he was part of the honour guard. However, right before the ribbon was cut, de Groot rode his horse forwards, sliced the ribbon with his ceremonial sword and proclaimed, "In the name of the loyal and decent citizens of New South Wales, I declare this bridge open." Despite the interruption, the ribbon was simply tied back together and the ceremony was continued. (Gotta admire their dedication there.)

De Groot was arrested and his ceremonial sword confiscated. He was sent to the Lunatic Reception House, where he was declared insane (but two different doctors later examined him and both found him to be sane). In the end, de Groot was fined five pounds in total, with four pounds for "maliciously damaging a ribbon." (Seriously though, just imagine trying to read that last bit in court with a straight face.) (Sources, sources, and more sources.)

Convict cops

In 1789, crime was on the rise in the new Australian colony. In response, Governor Arthur Phillip created the Night Watch. However, with Australia being Australia at the time and thus filled with convicts, he had very little manpower and thus chose the twelve best-behaved convicts for his new guard. 

It wasn't his first choice, of course. As Phillip said, "A watch established for the preservation of public and private property should have been formed of free people," but he did what he had to do. Thirty years after the Night Watch had been formed, Sydney had about 60 constables, and most of them had been convicts. (Sources, sources, and even more sources.)

The Somerton Man

December 1st, 1945. Two men found a body leaning against a wall on Somerton Beach, Adelaide. He had an expensive suit and tie on, but all the labels had been removed from his clothes and he had no ID on him. There was no sign of violence or of a struggle, and no trace of poison in his system. 

The police found a piece of paper in his pocket, with the printed words "Tam├ím Shud" (Persian for "it is finished"). The paper had been torn from a book that had been placed in a stranger's car a few streets away. (It gets weirder, though.) Inside the book, there was some text that looked like a coded message but to this day remains uncracked. As this was the beginning of the Cold War, theories have been thrown around, such as that the man was a Soviet spy. Was there an undetectable poison involved? Suicide? Or just an ordinary, accidental death? (Sources, sources, and yet more sources.)

What's a weird story you've come across in your travels through history books? Which Australian story was your favourite? 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Victoria's Guide to Journalling (part 1)

I'll be the first to admit (and by "admit" I mean jump up and down and scream and generally be annoying about it) that I'm an avid journaler. I write almost every night (I miss nights, yeah, but I sound better if I don't admit that), and whenever I need to just unload my thoughts I can often be found in my bed, gel pens and journal in hand. 

We're going a bit abstract with the pictures-that-don't-ever-match-what-the-post-is-talking-about today, if you don't mind. 

Because I enjoy journalling so much, I figured I'd share my many tips and tricks with you. (I mostly just like trying to get people to do the same things I like doing. I'm weird that way.) Today, we're going to focus on why exactly you should be journaling in the first place (hint: because it's awesome). 

Like Spider-Man, we all have crazy things going on in our lives. (You knew I had to bring Spider-Man into this at some point.) We've got villains and explosions and that new girl at school with the crazy haircut and science experiments gone wrong and that last devastating math exam, and I know I personally get to the point where I need to talk about it all or I'll explode. Unfortunately, I don't always have access to people who don't mind me talking their faces off. Before I go to bed, I like to sit down, take out my pen and just write whatever's on my mind. By the time I'm done, I feel so much lighter and calmer because the stuff that was cluttering my head was swept out when I wrote about it. 

It's also a pretty good way of keeping track of who did what when. When we were applying for permanent residency for Australia, we had to declare which countries we went to on what days, which was a bit difficult because we've done a lot of traveling since we've moved. It was the easiest thing in the world for me to pull out my travel journals and read out the dates for Mom. I can tell you when we went to see different movies, what we did on every day of each of our vacations (and what I thought about it), any childhood adventures I've had and when I've started or finished different writing projects. I don't have enough room in my head for all that, but I don't need to bother because I can just look it up. 

Keeping a journal makes your goals pretty clear. As I've mentioned before, I'm not good with talking and my thoughts often get tangled in my head, but as soon as I pick up a pen everything makes so much more sense. Journalling is my favourite way of figuring out what exactly it is that I want, and how I'm going to get it. (I can also look back on previous goals and learn lessons from those, too.)

Journalling, in short, is awesome. I've been writing for years, and I don't think I'll be stopping in the near future. 

Do you keep a journal? Have you ever tried? What are your best tips? 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Quading for the first time in forever

Can we all just appreciate the Frozen reference, there? (Sorry, I'm still not over Frozen.)

Anywho, when I was in Canada, we decided to go for a quading trip with our old neighbours and some friends of Dad's. We used to be pretty big quaders in our day, but after we sold them to move we obviously haven't been doing a lot lately. 

Also, just to point out to the entire world, Dad finally got his act together. Going to these falls was an almost-annual thing we used to do, and when I was little and went he didn't allow me to climb down to see the falls up close because it was too dangerous. The next year, I was sick so I stayed home but my brother (who is younger than me, by the way) went and Dad allowed him to go down to the falls. Favouritism, sexism, weak-willism, whatever you want to call it, it's not cool. So I finally, finally got to actually see the falls this time. 

I'm super thankful to our neighbours and friends who let us borrow their quads, because I had a really great time. Dad and I shared a quad (it actually used to be our old quad, and we just borrowed it back from the friend we sold it to) and we each drove halfway. 

We drove through puddles, streams and rivers, through mud and over hastily-made bridges, up and down hills and over rocks so huge I struggled to hang on. By the time we got to the waterfall, I was so hungry that I scarfed down a peanut butter and jam sandwich and wished for more. 

The falls were absolutely stunning, and we had the privilege of climbing down the (very steep) hill and going behind the waterfall. The mist soaked my hair and clothes, and was difficult to hear each other speak with the roar of the water crashing down all around us. It was a very humbling experience, to be so close to something so magnificent and completely unaware of our existence. 

When was the last time you were humbled by nature? 

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Canadian book haul

Full disclosure: This post is 100% me talking about the books I bought while on vacation, because I like talking about my books. Fair warning. 

I don't usually buy many books (gasp) because books are really expensive and I don't have money that I'm willing to spend. (Who has $25 to buy that new hardcover that you're not sure you'll love? No one, that's who. NO ONE.) (Although I did go to the second-hand store and buy a bunch of books for a dollar or two each because I "needed" new books. Sue me.)

Anywho, when I was in Canada we went shopping with some friends in Vancouver and the mall had a Chapters. (In case you weren't aware, Chapters is basically the best store in the entire universe and I love it so much because it's a whole store just for books. And it smells amazing in there! All paper and glue and ink and unread adventures.) 

The books were so cheap! I got a ton of brand-new books for under $20 each (The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo was $9 and I almost cried because it was so beautiful (both the price and the book)), totally blew my budget and came home happy. 

I also got this copy of Alice in Wonderland, which was super exciting because a) it's a hardcover, b) it's enormous, c) it's illustrated, d) it's in full colour and e) the paper is beautiful and feels expensive and awesome. The illustrations are beautiful and I like to pull it out and just look at it's beautifulness (and use the word "beautiful" too many times in one sentence). 

We also stopped at a Christian bookstore, and they had a second-hand section which was amazing. I got these beautiful old hardcover books (the oldest was from 1941) and a couple from this century. (I only had $25 in my wallet, and had to restrain myself so I could purchase a meal.) 

Have you ever had to chose between a book or a meal? How often do you buy books? Do you have any old books? What's your favourite book store?