The problem with American

Last week, on my flight from New York back to Sydney, I binge watched Season 1 of The Newsroom. It’s a series created by Aaron Sorkin, the guy behind The West Wing, with Jeff Daniels playing Will McAvoy, an anchorman on cable news.

In the opening scene of the series pilot, Will is on a panel with a Democrat and a Republican at a university, when a student asks the panel: “What makes America the greatest country in the world?”

The question triggers an epic and rousing outburst from Will, who dresses down both major political parties and rails about why America is no longer the greatest country on earth.

“But it could be”, he then says in softer tones.

That first season of The Newsroom aired in 2012, before Donald Trump ever campaigned for president, promising to “make America great again”.

Coincidence? I doubt it. Continue reading The problem with American

Election reflections: Ecuador and Bolivia

A politician who keeps his word? Who would’ve thought! But after a whole decade as Ecuador’s head of state, Rafael Correa is stepping down. Like, actually. Unlike his buddy Evo Morales, who felt a fourth term to be far too tempting to give up that he tried to change the constitution to make it legal for him to continue as president. Correa’s chosen heir, Lenin* … Continue reading Election reflections: Ecuador and Bolivia

My love-hate relationship with reality TV and the concept of marriage

Commercial TV is an evil genius. I don’t watch much of it these days, but somehow I got suckered into Married At First Sight. It’s just, y’know, I’m making dinner and my housemate likes to unwind in front of the box. So there I am, innocently frying my fish when she begins hooting with laughter. So I get drawn away from the stove (I am a walking fire hazard) and find it’s that show the boys were talking about the other day. The one I made fun of them about.

When they refer to the battle for the watercooler, this is exactly what they’re on about. Commercial TV has perfected the art of balancing the ridiculous and the relatable, the beautiful and the ugly, attraction and revulsion, to create programs like this. Shows you love to hate on and hate yourself for loving. Shows you can’t help but talk about.

Like I’m doing right now, on the night of Valentine’s Day, incidentally. Continue reading My love-hate relationship with reality TV and the concept of marriage

From travelling light to living light

Packing light Coming back from 12 days away over the Christmas-New Year break, I realised that I only used half of what I’d brought along with me – the rest could have stayed at home. I really thought I’d gotten good at packing light. When I travel with others I often get comments about how little luggage I get by on. I’m a bit chuffed … Continue reading From travelling light to living light

Re-entering the darkness

I wasn’t procrastinating – I actually wasn’t planning on ever reading the book. It was going to be one for the mantelpiece, to adorn the bookshelf. After all, I spent a year working for the organisation founded by the author, so I didn’t just know the content – I was living right amongst it.

It was a surprise, then, how much the opening chapters of The Locust Effect moved me. Two months back on board with International Justice Mission (IJM), now in Australia, and we’ve talked on a number of occasions about vicarious trauma. I’ve shared with my colleagues some of what I went through that year in Bolivia. They’ve shared about how advocating against cybersex trafficking has had a toxic personal effect on them. Continue reading Re-entering the darkness

Making those booze bucks count

Pre(r)amble Yeah, yeah, I know you were after something profound, poignant perhaps. Something about resolutions. Something fitting for the opening post of 2017. However the first thing that comes to mind for me to share with you relates to alcohol. I seem to have developed something of a reputation as an alcoholic; it began with my family but has spilled over into my friendship circles. … Continue reading Making those booze bucks count

2016: A return to reading

This year, I made a few resolutions, a couple of which revolved around writing. I committed to writing weekly for the novel I’ve wanted to write since I was 13, and for this blog.

I also realised that it had been years since I’d been much of a reader – how I used to love it! – and that my writing was struggling to flow as a result. So I committed to reading a book a month in 2016. I’ve read 30 and will probably get a couple more in before the year is out.

Setting this reading goal has helped me enjoy reading again, as well as pushing me to reflect on the kind of writer I would like to be.

So for you readers out there, here are the books that impacted me this year: Continue reading 2016: A return to reading