reading

Since taking a break from uni – I’ve taken it upon myself to try new and old hobbies (i.e. art, photography, guitar etc.). Something that I haven’t spoken much about is my newfound pleasure in reading. I thought I’d chat about some of the books I’ve read and the one I’m reading at the moment.

I don’t think at any point in my life I would have called myself a ‘bookworm’ or anyone who was super into reading. I think I did read a fair bit when I was younger up but not enough to crown myself as a ‘bookworm’. Growing up, there has always been plenty of books around the house. My parents have always been really keen on me and my siblings to read a book as a child. Once I got to high school I stopped reading so much – partly because I didn’t think it was cool and also because high school is mega stressful. I didn’t read much else apart from the dreaded required reading (no offence to Shakespeare and Kurt Vonnegut). Then uni comes around and its pretty much the same story minus the cool part. Uni is stressful and throw in my poor time management skills – makes it hard to sit down and read a book. Even though I always had a book that I was reading – it took me ages to finish it.

So even though I’ve never been obsessed with reading – I decided to give it a try. Turns out I quite like it. Over the past couple of months I have read five or six books (I promise that I’m not trying to brag). One of the many ways I have been spending up during iso has been ordering some books online (getting a parcel is up there with the best things in life).

Back, After the Break – Osher Günsberg (I learned that it’s pronounced ginzberg)

I cannot say enough good things about Osher and his books. Anyone close to me knows that I love Osher. This book was one the first books that I read over these tumultuous few months. I could go on for a long time about why I liked this book so much. I started becoming interested in Osher’s story when I stumbled upon his podcast (you should definitely check it out). I felt connected listening to his mental health journey – parts not entirely different from mine. It was a totally surreal experience. Straight after I listened to that episode I did two things: I wrote him an email and I bought his book.

The book is basically about his life and living with mental illness. It’s an honest, engaging read and writing style made it an easy read. He recounts the struggles and challenges that came with his mental illness, encouraging conversation on topics that aren’t easy to have.

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

I’ll be honest with you and say that I chose this book because it was one of the top fiction books on Angus & Robertson and I liked the look of the front cover. The story is basically about a girl who was abandoned by her parents and siblings and her survival in the Marsh in North Carolina. Somewhere along the way two young men enter her life. Years later one of the locals – the football buff Chase Andrews is found dead and everyone in the town thinks it was her. It was a really nice read – there was a bit of poetry which is cute but at the same time there was the whole mystery element to it.

Goldfinch – Donna Tartt

This book is definitely on the chunkier side (864 juicy pages) and I don’t think I have read a book that big since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I loved this book. Basically it’s about a 13 year old boy, Theo Decker who survives a bombing in a museum that kills his mother – he escapes with a famous painting (the Goldfinch). The story follows Theo into adulthood and how he is led into the ‘criminal underworld’. It is beautifully written and engaging. There is so much to unpack in this book. There’s stuff about grief, loss, addiction, love and lots more. Obviously it’s a bit long and there were at times, a part of me that just wanted it to wrap up – but still totally worth the read.

Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

The book that I’m reading at the moment is Little Women. I’m trying to get into the classics to make me seem smarter. It’s actually not that bad – I only have to look up a few words on each page.

I’m really enjoying reading – it’s a peaceful hobby. I could spend hours reading and not even realise it. The satisfaction of finishing a book that you really enjoy is the best. Hopefully I can keep it up.

clara x 2020

p.s. here are some books I wanna read:

how to be an antiracist by ibram x. kendi

my Tidda, my Sister: stories of strength and resilience from australia’s first women by marlee silva

growing up aboriginal in australia by anita heiss

white fragility: why its so hard for white people to talk about race. by robin diangelo

humankind by rutger bregman

jasper jones by craig silvey

lolita by vladimir nabokov

boy swallows universe by trent dalton

such a fun age by kiley reid

update on film photography

If you read my earlier blog post on “a new hobby” then you’ll know what this one is going to be about. If you haven’t read it – you’re welcome to look at it. Otherwise – basically I found an old film camera and I have been playing around with it over the last week or so. I didn’t know what I was doing (and still don’t) and so I had pretty low expectations on how they would turn out. I’ll be honest: I was a bit disappointed at first with the results. I know I said my expectations were low but I had hopes that I would turn out to be an amazing photographer.

I thought I’d share with you the bad ones and then the not so bad ones.

Some of them were blurry:

this is me and my sister

Something that I probably should be mindful adjusting the focus (there are a few basic distances to set it to around the ring of the lens) depending on how far away the camera is from what I’m shooting.

Some of them were underexposed:


Some were overexposed:

at the BLM protest (06.06.2020)
i actually still really like this photo

Even though I do kind of like the look of overexposed pictures; I wouldn’t mind seeing if I can get them to have truer colouring. I might need to play around with the aperture (the aperture is the hole in the lens that opens and closes to let more light into the camera to expose the film (thanks google)) settings. I did learn that you can set the aperture depending on the weather – e.g. if its super sunny and there aren’t any clouds, you would set the aperture to f/16. F-stops are the aperture measurement – the bigger the number, the narrower the hole which means less light is exposed in the film. The smaller the number, the bigger the hole which means more light is exposed. My camera has f-stops ranging from 2.8 to 22.

After a bit of googling I have discovered that the overexposure can happen when the selenium light meter (the thing that decides the exposure settings) starts to go bad (uhoh). Let’s hope that it’s not that.

Here are some ones that I don’t mind:

this one is from a church around the corner from my house
even though this has a weird effect – i still like it
this was at the BLM protest in Brisbane (06.06.2020)
i might not like how i look in this photo but i like the quality of the photo
some notes i’ve been making

Okay so the photos aren’t perfect and there are things I want to play around with more. I might not be some amazing photographer but I’m still learning. I’m having fun so I’m going to keep learning and shooting.

clara x 2020

guitar

I picked up my guitar again. I haven’t touched it in months and months and to tell you the truth I wouldn’t be able to pin point a single reason why.

I started playing guitar at the ripe age of ten after realising my potential for being famous because who was I kidding, clearly I wasn’t going to get famous solely on my looks. Anyway, as usual my dad was supportive and helped me pick out my first little beauty. It was a small classical guitar with flowers around the sound hole. I thought it would give me the playing abilities of Rodrigo y Gabriela (seriously, you should check them out & fun fact: I took my dad to see them live a couple of years ago and yes, they were fucking amazing) but I was brutally disappointed when my guitar teacher was assigning me “G cord” scales and the “Smoke on the Water” chorus for practice, not seeing my true potential.

rodrigo y gabriela when I saw them at the tivoli 2018

I definitely had some interesting guitar teachers over the years – but in all honesty, my first guitar teacher was my favourite. His name was Michael Luke. He left a lasting impression on me and made me wonder about the world. He told me stories of him playing guitar with Busby Marou (you should also check them out) and stories of his travels around various parts of the world.

He was almost always late to every single lesson I had which, I think is sort of charming in a way. My dad always called him a dreamer; he had big ideas and they often didn’t fall through. One time he wanted to put on a huge concert for all the kids he taught. We talked about it for months but it never happened. We chatted a lot. But he somehow always managed to teach me something which, is quite a difficult task for anyone (I can only imagine how hard it might be to get a kid with undiagnosed ADHD to focus for long enough to actually learn something). He taught me so much about guitar and especially about the importance of theory before learning the cooler songs. Which, is an important life lesson. 

I had lessons on and off for about five or six years (it’s important to note that my experience isn’t a reflection what so ever on my current talent – which is lacking). When I first started learning I was young and keen to learn – I knew how to read sheet music and I was taught how to read tabs. I picked it up quickly. In high school I studied music and music theory for a couple of years (I quit when I realised that performing in front of others was not my cup of tea). Now I’m a lot slower and seem to have forgotten most of what I was taught. It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that I used to be really good at something and I’ve sort of lost that.

I go through phases of playing guitar and not playing it. It usually depends on my mental state. When I get really depressed, I lose interest in it. But I wouldn’t say that stopping playing guitar has always been because of that. I find that when I have been doing something for so long it, I question why I enjoyed it in the first place.

It’s hard not to get bogged down when you can’t find a song that you like or the song that you actually like and want to learn is too hard – did I ever mention that I have no patience (woohoo ADHD)? I’m doing a lot of complaining here – sorry about that.

The thing that re-sparked my interest in playing guitar was a tutorial uploaded by Spacey Jane on their song good grief (thanks Caleb). I’m a bit of a fan and the song is such a banger. After watching the video I wiped off the dust that was on my guitar and started playing. When I start to play again I’m reminded of how much I enjoy it. I’m still learning and relearning. It’s not easy but it’s exciting picking up the guitar again – the fresh calluses and the feeling of nailing a hard riff after a lot of practice.

I don’t know how long this will last – the excitement – but I hope it sticks around long enough for me to feel a bit happier than I did yesterday. I think I’m going to ride the wave for as long as I can. 

clara x 2020

a new hobby

With all this extra time I have accumulated since taking a break from uni, I have decided trying both old and new hobbies is a good way to keep busy. You probably already know that I am trying out the art thing. I’m also relearning guitar (look out for that blog post) and starting to read more books. I should also add that I watch an embarrassing amount of episodes of Friends daily – seriously, it’s an addiction.

I have found that keeping myself busy with anything has helped prevent low periods – a way to distract my mind. Something else that I have wanted to try for a little while is film photography. It’s definitely not a unique hobby seeing how there is such a cult following already amongst the hipster community. I’m okay with that though. I’m not trying it out because I think it will make me seem cool or different (okay so maybe the cool thing might be part of the reason but like can you blame me?) – I want to give it a go because it has sparked my interest. It’s another hobby to keep me busy.

Yesterday I came back from work to find an old film camera left on my desk. My dad had gone to Sydney but when he was packing he found it. I was so excited. If anyone is interested – it is the Olympus Trip 35. My parents bought it at a garage sale a while back. I have started researching and learning how to use it, its features and general tips around film photography (thank you YouTube).

I think part of the reason why film photography is so cool is not knowing what you took and waiting to see how they turned out. Sure half of them might have turned out shit but the other half might turn out not that bad.

Some things that I learned was that this particular camera was that they were very common in the 60s and 70s – there were around 10 million produced. So you can find a lot around – on eBay or from your uncle who probably has one stashed in the back of his wardrobe. Apparently, the reason the camera is called “Trip” 35 is that its intended use was for holidays and “trips” because it’s compact and easy to use on the go.

The film arrived this morning! Now, I don’t really know how well the camera works or its condition or quality. The only way to test it is to take some photos and play around with the settings – and get them developed.

Who knows if this will work out – I don’t really mind if it doesn’t. It’s pretty fun regardless. I’m still learning how to be around myself all day every day – finding and learning new hobbies is a good way of doing this.

a sunday arvo walk

This afternoon I went on a walk up Mt. Cootha with two of my lovely friends (meet Kelly and T). It was a relatively cool afternoon – cool enough that I got to wear my hoodie. I had been really looking forward to spending time with my friends – it had been something like two months since I last saw them. Being in isolation is hard. Especially when face-to-face social interaction, for me anyway is such an important part of my life.

We talked almost constantly for hours – finding it hard to stop, talking about things both difficult and mundane. I was hesitant at first – I’m not at uni at the moment and I thought that that would mean we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. That was so far from the truth that I’m embarrassed that I even thought that. Uni isn’t the reason we are friends. Sure, it brought us together and all but we’re friends because we formed a connection (as lame as that may sound). It’s that kind of connection that sometimes you might take for granted and it takes things like literal social isolation for you to realise it. I hate to sound cheesy but it’s the kind of friendship that you know is going to last until you’re all old and wrinkly.

The walk up from J.C. Slaughter Falls to the Mt. Cootha was pleasant and didn’t seem to take long at all (probably because of how much talking we were doing). The summit was packed (a bit unnerving in the current climate). We didn’t really stay up there for very long – long enough to appreciate the view and how pretty Brisbane looks from a distance.

It was one of the nicest walks I have been on. Catching up with friends while exercising is relaxing and therapeutic. It didn’t really feel like we had been apart for so long once we were all together. I’m pretty lucky to have such lovely friends.

clara x 2020

Sorry that this is all a bit soppy. I can’t help myself.

records

At some point in high school, I decided I wanted a record player. I probably thought it was cool – well I still think its cool. I got a record player for Christmas when I was 15. My dad is pretty clever and he found the record player on the side of the road and fixed it up for me. He told me that it was quite the project. Five years later and it still works a treat.

I love vinyl and I hate to be the person who says ‘it sounds better on vinyl’ but I think I am that person (sorry to disappoint). I just love how records sound – there’s just something about it. I did read somewhere that vinyl sounds better because unlike MP3, it isn’t compressed down so much to fit into a file. I don’t know how accurate that is but hey I’ll roll with it. Point is – I like records.

Over the past years, I have started a small record collection. I thought I would talk about a few of my records – I can’t really pick a favourite – it’s like asking who your favourite child is. Instead of talking about them all in one post, I thought I might break it up a bit – maybe I’ll write another post talking more about the individual records – I won’t overwhelm you. Each of my records is special. That’s the thing about buying records – you are choosing ones that are special because it’s a hell of a lot of money to spend on just a record that is okay. It’s a whole ~experience~.

The World of Johnny Cash

Okay, so I thought I would talk about this one because it was the first record I bought. Technically, I got this record for my dad because I knew he liked Johnny Cash but it still counts. I actually bought this before I even had a record player. I got it when a high school friend and I went to a record fair in West End – I remember nervously looking through thousands of records that I had never heard of. Occasionally me or my friend would exclaim when we saw one we knew or she’d show me one that she knew and I’d pretend that I knew. I remember asking one of the less intimidating stall holders if they had Johnny Cash – sure enough, he did – I bought it, hoping that I seemed way cooler than I actually was. 

Adrian Eagle – MAMA

My ex-boyfriend actually got this record for me not too long ago. Such a cool looking record too. This record is particularly meaningful for me throughout my recovery – it was one of the only albums I would listen to. I couldn’t really talk that much or use much energy but I remember my dad driving me to one of the many doctor visits – I was really weak back then -, I managed to plug my phone in and play one of his songs. I hadn’t smiled for a while but I was grinning ear to ear, tapping my feet to the sweet sweet tunes. His music remained one of the few constants during a really hard time in my life.

I dragged a couple of my friends out to see him at Falls (it was at like midday in Australian summer). He radiated positivity that was contagious. During that set – I remember thinking: this has got to be one of the happiest I have felt in a while. There I was listening to some sweet tunes and having a boogie with my two closest friends – it couldn’t really get any better than that. I could keep talking about Adrian Eagle but I’ll stop – by now I could probably be President of the Adrian Eagle Fan Club. Is there one? Should I know about it?

p.s. i wrote him a message saying how cool he is and he replied

The xx – I see you 

don’t mind the finger prints lol

I got this record when I was at Splendour in the Grass 2017. I think it was the first time I went to a festival- it’s where I got my first taste of going to festivals. I got to spend two days with two of the best people you’ll meet. The record is special because it reminds me of a good time with good people. One of the headliners was The xx and I remember seeing them perform and it was magical. This record has some beautiful sounding and written songs. It’s also a sick record (it’s clear) and the packaging is equally as cool.

Splendour 2017

 The Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me

This is a super special record because I actually got it signed by the lovely lead singer, Wil. I remember going to the signing by myself and feeling super nervous. I was going through a really hard time in high school and this album helped me get through it – reminding me that yeah sometimes life is pretty shitty – but it’s gonna be okay. This is such a great record – the first music that I started listening to of theirs and I love the raw honesty in the lyrics and the catchy choruses. There is a mix of energetic and softer tunes. I love every song on this album but my favourite has got to be ‘Shine’. I remember my dad and I playing this song a lot, especially when I was pretty down to cheer me up.

Records for me, are so much more than a way of listening to music. They each hold significant meaning and memory of a time in my life.

clara x 2020 

personality quizzes

Recently, on my quest to fill time, I took a few personality quizzes to see what I thought of them. I was curious to see how others might see me or how accurate they were. Do they truly reflect who I am as a person?

If I’m being honest doing a Buzzfeed quiz was the closest I had gotten to doing a personality quiz. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a quiz on what type of bread you are is a completely inaccurate reflection of self… Okay maybe I am. That’s why I thought I would delve into the more ‘serious’ quizzes.

If you didn’t know already, a personality quiz/test usually involves “a standardised series of questions or tasks, used to describe or evaluate a subject’s personality characteristics” (thanks yourdictionary.com).

When I first started writing this post I was really keen to see if taking these personality quizzes would reveal something about myself that I didn’t know. To tell you the truth – after a bit of looking around, I stopped caring. I stopped caring about whether I was more extroverted than introverted and what that meant for me. I stopped caring about what percentage I had an “openness to experience”. Besides from not caring about them, I also don’t think personality quizzes are particularly accurate. Every quiz I took portrayed me in a different way and I can’t see how a few questions can ever really give you an accurate representation of who you are.

In the end, it didn’t really matter what any of the quizzes said because I have decided that I am content with who I am as a person. Sure, I’m not exactly perfect and there are things that I would like to improve about myself; but I don’t need to overwhelm myself with them. Personality quizzes were fun and interesting to do in my spare time, but I didn’t really take much from them. I kind of like not knowing everything there is to know about myself because it’s nice to find out things on your own.

So, the conclusions that I drew from all of this is that, for me, personality quizzes are really just something fun to do when you have too much time on your hands. Sure, they might give you a little insight into your personality and maybe they reinstate things that you already knew. But I think that’s about it.

clara x 2020

missing live music

The other day I was hit with the an overwhelming amount of grief and sadness when my dad raised doubts about going to gigs and festivals, saying that it won’t be the same for years to come because of COVID-19. As someone who lives for gigs, it is genuinely heartbreaking to hear that you won’t be able to go to concerts and festivals for a while. I know there are a lot of unknowns around the live music scene and nothing is for certain. Keeping an optimistic mindset for when I’ll get to return to seeing live music has been about the only thing I’ve been optimistic about.

I can often find myself feeling an overwhelming amount of dread and doubt for my future but things like going to Splendour in the Grass later on in the year have keep me going. That might come across a bit selfish and if so I don’t really mind. Going to gigs has been a passion of mine ever since I was able to go. The thrill of seeing and hearing a band in real life after listening to countless hours of their music through your earphones is simply the best. In saying that, I don’t even mind if I haven’t listened to all their albums back to back on repeat – seeing live music in itself is phenomenal.

Going to gigs and festivals isn’t just about the music – they are a way to hang out with friends, create new memories and just enjoy life. That’s something that I truly treasure and it takes a bloody pandemic to realise it. I guess that goes without saying for a lot of things. I’m coming to realise that so many things can be taken for granted: daily rituals, spontaneous trips, forming connections… Missing out on going to gigs means missing out spending time with friends – the people I love and treasure. 

The last festival I went to was Falls festival and I had the best time. The music was great and I got to hang out with some of my favourite people. I was blissfully happy even with the long lines, dirty docs and excessive sweating. In amongst thousands of people you get this uniting feeling (as lame as that sounds).

a quick video of some bits and pieces from falls

I hope to continue to support artists by listening to their music, buying their merch and vinyl and looking forward to future gigs. For now I get to reminisce on all the good memories I have of festivals and gigs – hopefully they’ll be back real soon.

clara x 2020

new kind of art

Recently I have been trying a new kind of art in the form of portraits. I’m not sure what kind of portraits they would be classified as – much more abstract than anything that’s for sure. I love the idea of drawing life like portraits but never thought I quite had the skills. Then I decided to just give it a go, using a more abstract route. They turned out okay so I thought I’d share. I don’t really have much art background so they aren’t especially proportionate or perfect in any way but I don’t mind. There aren’t any rules when it comes to art (as lame as it sounds) – which is something that I need to continue to tell myself.

It’s easy to get caught up into what you think your art should look, well it is for me anyway. My problem is that I compare my work to others. I care way too much about what others think. I don’t think I’m the only one who has a habit of comparing themselves to others in life. Sure, it’s not always a bad thing but knowing when to stop is something that I want to get better at.

Famous artists like Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse are some of the artists that I think influenced the kind of art that I would like to make. I have a board on Pinterest where I pin lots of inspiration – there are so many amazing artists and pieces of art out there that I have discovered.

I also remember in art classes in high school having to do an exercise where we would have to draw an object without lifting the pencil off of the paper. I remember always cheating when it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to or how I thought it was supposed to look like. It wasn’t until recently that I adopted a new I-don’t-really-care attitude which has allowed me to actually pick up a pen or paintbrush without fearing so much judgement. 

The steps it takes me to draw one of my portraits aren’t very fancy and I get the feeling that everyone could do it. I try not to copy a face from an image and instead just draw a face from the top of my head. In saying that, I do get lots of ideas and inspiration in my mind from pictures I have seen or people that I know (see my Pinterest board). 

I first use pencil to outline a basic shape of the face and around where I want the features to be. Then I go over with a marker and sketch out the face without lifting my pen.

My drawings are far from perfect and I’m still learning. There are still lots of things I want to do with them and skills I would love to learn and refine. I like that I can draw and paint without many expectations. Picking up a pen and just drawing, not really caring what the outcome will be, is something that I love.

clara x 2020

walks with freddy

Every afternoon for the past month or so I have been walking my dog, Freddy. It’s a habit that I can be proud of because I know how hard it can be to create and form new habits. I’ve also been sick so getting out hasn’t always been easy. We almost always walk the same route, never walking too far because I get tired too quickly these days.

Although I’m usually someone who gets bored easily of things, I can walk the same route for months and not get bored. walking. I think it’s because I might be walking the same route, it’s never the same because each day is different. The sky is different; it might be full of clouds or there might not be any clouds at all. The sky might be bright blue or maybe orange when the sun is setting. As someone who has always had such infatuation with clouds and the sky, walking around is the best way to appreciate them.

Getting out and walking around has become so much more enjoyable since isolation. Having a dog to walk has become such a privilege, an excuse for me to go out and stretch my legs. I’ve definitely been seeing things a little differently since iso’ that’s for sure.

Walking Freddy is one of my favourite things to do. (I should write a disclaimer saying that our family dog Paddy grandad so he can’t get out as much as he would like. But when he does I love walking with him equally.) I could so easily write whole blog posts on Freddy because he’s one of the brightest light of my life. I know that sounds awfully cheesy but he has gotten me through rough times and been there for me in my happiest days.

Freddy is a happy-go-lucky kinda dog. I’ve never met a dog so incredibly smart and yet so dumb at the same time. Like me, he isn’t particularly street smart. He’s the type of dog that will chase his tail and catch it, then not know what to do. He’s the type of dog that bounce around in the backyard, chasing shadows of birds and butterflies for hours. He is also the type of dog that sits and watches the tv when there is any kind of animal with such interest and patience. He learns quickly – my sister taught him how to shake before he was even eating solid foods. He is great to walk with, always smiling always there.

meet freddy, my bff

Recently I started listening to podcasts while I walk, specifically Better Than Yesterday by Osher Günsberg. It’s gotta be the best podcast out – check it out if you wanna interesting, inspiring conversations about life.

I think I love walking Freddy because it makes me feel calm and centred in a world that can be scary and confusing. It’s one of those constants in my life that I only really appreciate when I sit down and think about it. I should probably do that more often.

clara x 2020