That’s What Makes You Beautiful – The Playlist

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Writing, researching, compiling, and sharing memories with my contributors for my boy band zine has been the most fun I’ve had as a writer to date. I was transported back to my child and teen self, and I discovered a new love and appreciation for boy bands like One Direction and New Edition.

I’m incredibly excited to release my new zine, That’s what makes you beautiful (Girl II Woman: my dedication to boy bands)

To complete my zine, I’ve compiled a playlist of the best known songs I listed next to each of the featured 29 boy bands. One version comes via Spotify (embedded below).

I spent hours researching each group; I watched endless video clips, many of which feature classic music and pop culture moments. So, it would be remiss of me not to include the YouTube links to the video clips (or TV/concert footage in some cases) to each of the tracks as a second version, on this, my interpretation of a boy band best of compilation.

Without encouragement, I could have created a 1000-page zine dedicated to boy bands, and by extension a 1000-hour long playlist. In lieu of that, I invite you to share a link, video, memory or article about your favourite boy band in the comments below.

To purchase a copy of my zine (AUD5) you can do so by:

  1. Emailing me on my contact form to request a copy be posted to you (AUD6 including postage)
  2. Picking one up at Sticky Institute, located in Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station subway.
  3. Visiting me at my table at the Melbourne Art Book Fair on Saturday 18 March, 10.30am-2.30pm at the NGV. I’ll also be selling my two previous zines:
    • New York, I Love You (an ode to the city of my dreams)
    • rare and magical (because redheads are the unicorns of the human species)

But first…

The Spotify collection:

 

The YouTube collection:

  1. I Swear, All-4-One (1994)
  2. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back), Backstreet Boys (1997)
  3. Bye Bye Baby, Bay City Rollers (1975)
  4. Surfin’ USA, The Beach Boys (1964)
  5. Love Me Do, The Beatles (1962)
  6. All Rise, Blue (2001)
  7. I’ll Make Love To You, Boyz II Men (1994)
  8. No Matter What, Boyzone (1998)
  9. House of Love, East 17 (1994)
  10. When the Lights Go Out, 5ive (1998)
  11. I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch), The Four Tops (1965) [performance from 1967]
  12. Sherry, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1962) [medley performance from the mid- 60s]
  13. MMMBop, Hanson (1997)
  14. Every Time You Cry, Human Nature with John Farnham (1997)
  15. ABC, The Jackson 5 (1970)
  16. Burnin’ Up, Jonas Brothers (2008)
  17. Hey Hey We’re the Monkees, The Monkees (1966)
  18. Candy Girl, New Edition (1983)
  19. Step by Step, New Kids on the Block (1990)
  20. I Do (Cherish You), 98 Degrees (1998)
  21. Bye Bye Bye, *NSYNC (2002)
  22. All or Nothing, O-Town (2001)
  23. What Makes You Beautiful, One Direction (2011)
  24. Dance With Me, 112 (2001)
  25. One Bad Apple, The Osmonds/The Osmond Brothers (1970)
  26. Back for Good, Take That (1995)
  27. My Girl, The Temptations (1964)
  28. Anything, 3T (1995)
  29. When You’re Looking Like That, Westlife (2000)

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2016.

To wrap up the oyster blogger for 2015, I wrote about my inspirations as well as my highlights and lowlights of the year. For my first post, on the third day of a new year, I have thought about what 2016 has in store for me:

  • Next month, I turn 29 years old – the last year of my 20s. SHIT. Am I where I imagined I would be at this age? Probably not, but my pretty excellent Melbourne life is just a stepping stone to what I hope will be a pretty excellent New York life from 2017.
  • My friend Jacque and I have our long-awaited trip to Croatia and Turkey in March and April. We’re about to secure our Turkish tour and Cappadocia hot air ballooning tickets. (I’m told it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience). Jacque is turning 30 years old while we’re there, so I can’t wait to share this trip and milestone with her.
  • Whether I remain at my current workplace for the next month or rest of the year, I hope to work more with my Communications colleagues Erin and Tim – both of whom are intimidatingly excellent writers. I’ve already learnt so much from them, and I’m keen to keep doing so. With this in mind, I hope to write on a more regular basis, attend more in-conversations and workshops, learn more from other writer-friends and explore new writing ideas.
  • I’ll for sure chuck another tantrum and deactivate my dating app for the 3,745th time. Men continue to be gross. I expect nothing to change here, which suits me perfectly, as I’ll be too busy being ***Flawless (grossness and flawlessness don’t mix).
  • I haven’t been to Sydney in a few years, so I’m excited to have a weekend there mid-year. I’ll attend a Dragons game, see my Nanna and Pa, and hang out with my cousins Simon and Emily. I can’t wait to fly somewhere (domestically) for a weekend for a reason that’s mine, and on frequent flyer points.
  • I’ll witness two sets of friends get married: Umesha and Militha in January, and Julia and Tom in September, the latter of which I have the privilege of co-MCing.
  • I’d like to get another tattoo. Maybe. It took me 20 years to get the first one, so it’ll probably take me another 20 to get the second – but that doesn’t mean I can’t think about the design now!
  • I have a big year of saving and researching. I’ve spoken and written about my NYC plan to death – 2016 is a year of action! BRING. IT. ON.
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My happy place.

I’ve written this post from my bedroom (I usually can’t fully concentrate elsewhere). I like to set the creative mood – with the lighting of a lamp and candle, and the sounds of my inspiration music. This year, I’ve begun with a new version: my cheap IKEA lamp has been replaced with a priceless antique lamp (the shade belonged to my Old Nanna), a Glasshouse Manhattan candle – a Christmas present from Mum and Dad and, recently purchased old-school Kanye tunes (how did I not have Stronger?!).

I hope my new-and-improved creative mood is indicative of my 2016: filled with strength and light.

I wish everyone a bright 2016, and to hold onto your strength and light whenever some of your days and experiences aren’t shining as brightly as you hoped.

I leave you with my 2016 ANTHEM PLAYLIST. You’re welcome to borrow it:

  1. She Works Hard for the Money – Donna Summer
  2. Drag Me Down – One Direction (yes, I’m totes a Directioner! Niall is my fave. Discuss.)
  3. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
  4. Power – Kanye West
  5. Wannabe – Spice Girls
  6. Empire State of Mind – Jay Z and Alicia Keys
  7. Just a Girl – No Doubt
  8. Believe it or Not ­– Greatest American Hero theme song, Joey Scarbury
  9. 28,000 Days – Alicia Keys
  10. Maneater – Hall and Oates (added for laughs for my sister – who says she originally selected this tune as my intro song for my speech at her wedding! She ended up going with with track 6.)
  11. Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
  12. ***Flawless – Beyoncé

 

What’s in store for your 2016?

2015: A Year in Review

At this time every year there is always is a chorus of “I can’t believe its December next week!” or “I swear this year has gone quicker than last year!” I agree with both sentiments. So, with a new year almost upon us, and my 29th birthday less than three months away, I’ve begun reflecting on my 2015. As always, it’s been a mixed bag but a big year of accomplishments.

Work:

I pulled off two huge projects – a gala ball (I’ve coordinated hundreds of events but never a gala ball) and a video production that seemed to take 120 years to complete, but it got there in the end. Both projects received a lot of push back from certain areas of management, but one of my favourite things in life is proving people wrong. I got to do that for both of these projects! My work year hasn’t been without stress though. My boss thought it was a good idea to – twice – suggest that I’m “offensive”, “threatening” and “negative” and those characteristics were affecting the team (not actually true, my colleagues laughed when I asked them). She’s also showered me with compliments in between. Whatever. I’m lucky that I get to work in a team with the most incredible people who I can truly call friends. It makes the shitty days feel so much better.

I also reached my two year anniversary on 23 November. This milestone has prompted me to think about moving on, particularly onto a role that would pay me what I believe I’m worth. This time of year is typically slow on the job ad front, but I’m keeping an eye out for anything that comes up.

Writing:

I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve accomplished with my writing this year. I’ve written 24 blog posts (this is my 24th!) While consistency with timing isn’t there, I’m thrilled with the content I’ve produced. Earlier this year, I considered curating my blog to a certain theme or topic but in the end decided against it. I’m still green in the writing world, so I didn’t want to restrict my creative outlet in any way – it explains how my posts fit into wide-ranging topics including dating, football, favourite things, and travel!

I also completed my Graduate Diploma in Journalism.  Reflecting back on my accomplishments over the years, I’ve never been prouder than I have of this one. I received four high distinctions, two distinctions and two credits – which resulted in a distinction GPA. In fact, I missed a high distinction GPA by 1%. I worked incredibly hard during this course, so I definitely deserved the grade. The reason why I did this course was to study something I enjoyed as a hobby and to prove to myself that I’m a good writer. I achieved what I set out to do. I still have so much more to learn, but I couldn’t be happier with where I am now on my writing journey.

I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “what are you going to do now that you’ve graduated?” and my answer every time is that I have no idea. I didn’t do this course so I could automatically change everything I was doing the minute I graduated. I’m still figuring it out, but I’ll let everyone know when I do.

Travel:

I’ve travelled overseas every year since I was 21 – 2015 was the first year I didn’t. Unfortunately I didn’t get my annual leave approved. However, in March and April of next year one of my best friends and I will be travelling to Croatia and Turkey. We’ve been talking about this trip for years, so it’s a dream come true to be finally making it happen.

I had the opportunity to apply for a support role on a 2016 New York work trip. I never thought I’d say no to an opportunity to go to New York, but after careful consideration I decided against applying: I wasn’t sure that I would still be working there by the time the trip departed, so I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time; I’ve been to NYC several times and I thought I’d give others more of a chance to apply; and I plan on moving there in early 2017 anyway. As it turns out, one of my fabulous work friends got the spot, and I’m beyond excited for her!

By the time the year is out I would have travelled to Brisbane five times and Adelaide once, even though I don’t consider it real travel. It’s meant that this year has been a financial disaster – but that’s, literally, the price I’ve paid for moving away from Brisbane the minute all my friends and family decided to get married! A few months ago I boldly and naively declared that I wasn’t going back up to Brisbane in 2016 other than for Christmas and a friend’s wedding in January which I had committed to attending more than a year ago. I’ve since been told to expect invites for two more weddings (I’m sure there are more coming that I don’t know about yet). I would love nothing more than to be at both of them, but next year I need to be selfish and focus on my savings and working toward my own goals (and not feel guilty about it).

Dating:

A disaster as always. My dating life this year has featured: getting dumped by someone I quite liked, going on dates with two guys – one of which was with the most boring person on the planet and the other had such tiny man hands his name should be T-Rex. Plus, there was the train guy who appeared perfectly normal and then disappeared without a word. I also got asked by a friend if we could be friends with benefits (it sounds dodgy, but it wasn’t) – even though it caught me completely by surprise, I was extremely flattered but I declined in the interests of “preserving our friendship”.

A few months ago I deleted my dating apps. I was prompted to act after a constant stream of dick pics, explicit introductory messages, and absolute morons. It’s soul destroying stuff. But, after encouragement from friends I’ve decided to jump back on (just one) to see what happens. Now that I’ve finished studying, I have more time to explore Melbourne and go out more. I’m trying to be positive, but I’m not holding my breath either.

Friendships:

I miss my Brisbane friends more and more each day (although a few of them are here with me in Melbourne!), but my obsession with my Melbourne friends has taken on a new level this year. I continue to learn so much from them and their selflessness is with compassion and without agenda. Love to you all.

What’s next in 2016? More savings, writing opportunities, love, and travel!

As we all crawl toward Christmas and New Year for a much needed break, I wish everyone the most amazing festive season! I also hope that 2015 has been good to you, and if it hasn’t that there have been sparks along the way that encourage you toward better things in 2016.

What if . . .

A friend of mine is encouraging me to join him in the online writing quest, National Novel Writing Month. Otherwise known as NaNoWriMo, it’s a worldwide community of writers who support one another to each write a 50,000 word novel in one month. The idea is that participants get, at least, a skeleton plot and character plan together ready for the first writing day of the month.

It’s a feat that seems unachievable to me – but I’m assured it’s possible, and fun!

My friend is already well ahead with his planning. While there is a huge amount of creative freedom in terms of topic and genre, I’m in panic mode trying to think of an idea. One of my challenges with writing is coming up with the original idea. I’m not one to go looking for inspiration, I kind of hope it just happens by chance – which is probably not the most effective option, but I’m still learning my craft.

During our conversation about inspiration sources, my friend ended up suggesting ‘what if’ as a starting point. “If you consider a possibility that doesn’t already exist”, he said, “it can become anything.” I usually enjoy writing based on truth or realism rather than impossibilities and fantasies. However, in the interests of creative exploration, I pose the following ‘what ifs’ based on my truth.

#selfie
#selfie

What if . . . Paris was my dream and not New York City?

What if . . . I didn’t have red hair?

What if . . . we stayed in Wollongong?

What if . . . I finished school at 18 years old and not 16?

What if . . . I never worked at Pizza Hut?

What if . . . I did journalism and not events management as my undergrad?

What if . . . I didn’t move to Melbourne two and half years ago?

What if . . . I didn’t accept my current job after months of being unemployed?

What if . . . he didn’t lie and he was what I wanted him to be?

What if . . . I was more extroverted than introverted?

What if . . . I said no?

What if . . . I said yes?

My ‘what ifs’ listed here make up a small sample. There might even be a story idea in there. They aren’t meant to be negative or deeply self-analytical or regretful in any way, nor disrespectful to anyone else’s ‘what ifs’. But they’re mine. I do wonder. But I look forward to the future – and coming up with an idea for NaNoWriMo!

Guilty Pleasure

Greenwich Village, NYC. One of my favourite writing spots.
Greenwich Village, NYC. One of my favourite writing spots.
After a three month blog-break to focus on my final semester of uni – I’m now back! But I spent the entire past weekend feeling guilty. Guilty about the fact that I felt like I should have been writing an assignment, or editing one, or doing a unit module, or a reading. It was a wasted feeling, because on Friday 9 October I submitted my final assignments for my Graduate Diploma in Journalism. My official results are released in three weeks, and I’m on track for a distinction GPA.

Before I started in July 2013, I’d been talking about studying journalism for years. In the end it took one final prompt from my sister, “I’m sick of you talking about it, just enrol already”, so I did. I loved almost every second of the course. I enrolled with the intention of embarking on a passion for writing for personal benefit, rather than any professional benefit. I am, however, considering looking at new job options early next year. I still have a way to go, but I know that my writing has improved out of sight in the last two years and half years – and that’s all I wanted from the course.

In the last few weeks, I’ve been peppered with questions about what I’m going to do after I finished, as I approached graduation. I thought when I enrolled, that I’d have it figured out by now. I still don’t know for sure. I’ve chosen to study for the majority of my 20s so far. So I do know that it’s definitely time for a break. For real this time! I’m ready to try new things and projects. Everything from finally catching up on Mad Men (I’m a few episodes in and I’m obsessed already), to having time to explore Melbourne properly, writing more – on my blog, Weekend Notes, maybe a zine or some other form of self-publishing, and spending more time with my friends.

I’m a little nervous, but excited to see what the next few years hold. But for the short-term I have a few things to tick off. For years now one of my best friends and I have been talking about visiting Turkey. Next March, we will finally do it, with a visit to Croatia thrown in as well. Next year, I’m taking a break from Brisbane. Since moving to Melbourne in April 2013, I’ve returned (and will be returning) 12 times, plus a few flights to Adelaide and Sydney. These trips have mostly revolved around Christmas and weddings. I’ve started putting the hard word on family and friends to visit me in Melbourne next year! This means, what I’m not spending on domestic flights I can properly focus on putting money toward my ultimate life dream of living in New York. I hope to make this happen in the first half of 2017.

I will certainly keep you all updated with my results, and what I’ll get up to in the coming months and during 2016, but in the meantime I’d like to thank the following people: Ashley, Erin, Tim, James, Lesley, Lauren, Meg, Giselle, Tenneil, Mum and Dad. I never would have made it to the end of my course without these people helping me and guiding me through a few assignments and personal writings along the way. Thank you!

Unlocking My Protagonist and My Princess

Creative freedom...inspired by Boston
Creative freedom…inspired by Boston

I’m currently reading The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant. It’s the tale of a young woman who asks her grandmother about how she became the woman she is today. I’m not sure that I like the writing style, but I’m enjoying the narrative, so I’ll persist. The idea of writing style failing to complement the narrative, got me thinking of the first and only tale I’ve written. With exception to a primary school creative writing competition, I’ve written just one written creative story when I was 11 years old. I visualise creativity or a creative person to be colourful, bubbly and energetic – the “jazz hands” of personal expression. Needless to say, I don’t believe creativity is a personal strength which is why I haven’t explored creative writing since.

My one creative story is called The Silver Key. It’s a tale set in 1930s Egypt of two 13-year-old girls forged in friendship, a love of poetry and romantic novels, aristocratic upbringings, exotic adventure and ancient legends. Despite its shortcomings, I love it. It was pragmatically written, but historical inaccuracies weave through the sometimes outlandishly out-of-context prose. I still have the original transcript, which was hand written on yellow lined paper. It’s one of my most treasured possessions.

I wrote my tale in the first person of my protagonist named Sarah. She is friends with Dianna, both of whom are from England. As an 11-year-old during the 1998 Christmas holidays, I can only imagine the name was inspired by the then recently late Princess Diana. Of course, I had to be different so my Dianna got two n’s. Sarah had long red hair (of course!), she was introverted and wise; Dianna had dark ringlets, she was brazen and foolish. Dianna moved to Egypt to be with her aunt following the death of her parents, so they maintained their friendship through a series of letters. Soon after her arrival, Dianna wrote to Sarah about what she learned of the legend of the silver key. The missing artifact opens the tomb of the most powerful and cursed pharaoh that ever lived.

Sarah travels to Egypt in the hopes of solving the mystery of the silver key with her best friend. Life in the 1930s meant that Sarah traveled by ship (with her mother of course), or at least that’s what I thought people did in the 1930s. But I probably just watched 1997’s Titanic, which would also explain the scrumptiously velvet (but 20 years too soon) clothing I envisioned my characters in. At the time I also had an obsession with ancient Egypt, which sadly didn’t continue as my passion shifted to modern history as I progressed through school. I remember sitting on the floor of my Uncle Joe and Aunty Kim’s library, cutting out pictures from travel magazines of the Great Pyramids and the Sahara. I imagined the girls running through spice bazaars and glittering sand dunes in their adventure to find the silver key. It’s an adventure which led to Dianna’s untimely demise. The tale concludes with the elderly Sarah living in Melbourne, reflecting on the loss of her girlhood friend.

The Silver Key is unashamedly young adult fiction (YA) – a literary genre that is not critically favoured, and it’s typically written by women for young girls. Ironically, of the six subjects I’ve completed so far in my journalism course, YA was the subject I struggled with most – in my defence the course focused on literary theories which were new concepts to me. The rules of YA suggest that the protagonist should be written in the first person – think the series of Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, Divergent, and The Hunger Games, and the stand alone The Book Thief. Rules are made for a reason, but they are also made to be broken.

In 2011, I tried in vain to re-imagine the story as a either a novella or a novel, by researching the historical references, and considering a swap to a third person narrative. I wasn’t ready to revisit it then, and it showed because I didn’t progress far. I tried too hard to honour the original narrative which restricted me from taking it where it needed to go.

I graduate from my journalism course in October this year. I feel like this is the perfect time to take on this project again. Despite knowing what I know about YA fiction, I still want to explore the option of shifting the narrative to the third person, therefore shifting my writing style. I like the idea of breaking the rules, but I like the idea of being Sarah’s guardian, advocate and challenger even more. I think I’ll be able to add more depth to her in the third, as opposed to trapping her into my projection and perception of myself in the first. Despite having big, creative decisions to make, I’m excited to think of the possibilities of her back story and character development. I’m especially curious to learn how she will project herself in her friendship with Dianna as well as how she will perceive herself in the friendship. I’m yet to consider whether the story will still conclude with Sarah as an elderly Melburnian. But regardless of her age and locale, I can’t wait to find out who she becomes.

17 Tonnes of Sunshine

“What am I going to do with my 17 tonnes of sunshine?” Apparently I said this in my sleep the last night, or something like it.

I naturally concluded that I had no idea what this dream reference could mean. It’s ridiculous, amusing and makes no sense! But, I wondered today, if this out of context statement has a real meaning.

I just turned 28, so that’s two years before I turn the big 3-0 and one year before my scheduled midlife crisis at 29. (I say scheduled, as I feel like 30 would be The Best, but I have to have a midlife sometime right?) Speaking with so many of my friends across the New Year period, the general consensus was that 2015 seems to be the year to “get your ducks in a row”. In other words, “get your shit in order, you’re no longer in your mid-20s”.

I’m acutely aware I’m in the enviable position of having so much choice and potential paths to take. Yet this can sometimes feel overwhelming. Even though these choices and paths are filled with hope and “sunshine”, 17 tonnes is a heavy load to carry.

I don’t believe in luck, I believe you make the most of the opportunities presented to you through hard work and preparation. Though I do feel grateful for my current circumstance. I’m currently living in one of the best cities in the world (approaching my two year anniversary in less than two months) with eclectic and gorgeous friends, enjoying a stable job (but frankly I’m struggling for motivation this year), keeping the New York City dream alive, embarking in my final year of the most rewarding education endeavour I’ve ever done, feeling as confident as ever to write more and more, and dating a lovely new guy (which is a refreshing alternative to dealing with the cesspool that is online dating).

What I lack in “grown up” material possessions (i.e. car, house, investment property) I make up for in a divine Kate Spade hand bag, and a few irreplaceable antique furniture pieces. I’ve had the incredible freedom to near continually educate myself since graduating high school in 2003 (with only a two and half year break) and travel to some of the most breathtaking places in the world.

But I have a lot on my mind at the moment. I’m saving like mad for regular domestic flights for weddings and various related activities, for my New York City dream….of which, to my sudden realisation, my ideal timeframe of achievement is approaching with pace, and for a long overdue trip to Turkey with one of my best friends. My rent is also stretching my limits, and I’m weighing up my career options post-graduation. Am I making the right choices for me personally?

I’m not complaining, and I certainly have no reason to. Understandably this could be coming across as self-indulgent and lacking perspective, but maybe this is my 17 Tonnes of Sunshine? I have so many wonderful things going on. But what do I do with it all and what are my next steps as I approach 30?

The only other thing I can think of as to the meaning of this midnight awakening, is that it was unbearably hot yesterday and I was simply lamenting that fact in an odd numbered, imperial system measurement!