Travel Update: an ode to Italy

If you’ve been keeping up with my travels (laurentheberger with the hash tag #lozgeuro on Twitter and Insta//our new joint account: lozashtravels) and I’ve been posting updates on here too (#1#2 and #3), you may’ve noticed that most of the South Loop (the loop we’re doing), is in Italy. 

Cities so far (Italy in bold): Munich, Venice, Rome, Siena, Florence, Cinque Terre, Nice, Lake Como (Milan).

Now that we’ve left Italy (not forever but for this trip at least), I wrote a silly little poem reminding me of the things I did in Italy. 

So many duomos, so much pasta,
So many people – a lot of cluster. 
Italy, my dear, you’ve been a hoot,
I’ve made some memories in your boot.

Venice was first, my, what a sight – 
Of bridges, canals and dreams come true;
Of glass and lace and incredible views. 

Rome, then Siena, next on our trip;
The Pantheon and Trevi (and spa for a dip).
Last Sunday of the month was free,
Time was spent, no fee.
Peter’s Basilica was a beautiful scene,
Taspestries and statues and the Sistene. 
The Colosseum was insane – oh how we posed, 
We explored Spagna as the steps were closed.

We finally arrived at our hostel two hours (and no WiFi) later;
Next, we walked to the town for one of our best meals to date:
Bruschetta, fresh veggies, quail eggs, cheese and wine – 
The real country Italian way to dine. 

We did David (after a three hour queue),
Very incredible, well worth the view.
Saw Pisa for our last Florence hours,
So many photos of us ‘holding’ the tower.

Dropped at La Spezia for our ‘five town’ stop:
Cinque Terre of stunning views, ‘beaches’ and touristy shops. 
Walked from Monterosso to Vernazza – town number four,
And went via number three, Corniglia, to explore. 

For our last stop in Italy, we missed the bus and went by train – 
Meeting an American woman who was a bit insane. 
To Milan (where I stayed) was another Duomo,
But I also visited (and ate in) the pretty Lake Como.
There were mishaps and tears due to train mistakes,
But I eventually made it to see the lake. 

Italy, it’s been a ride,
I’ve been happy, excited, joyous and I’ve cried. 
Thank you for your abundant carb-filled food,
May I be back soon, very ready for round two!

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Travel Update #3

Last post: Travel Update #2

Since last post: (rest of) Siena, Florence and Cinque Terre.

SIENA

Siena day #2 was our main day, and we spent the bulk of it walking around the ‘city’ (it’s very small), and we were lucky enough to score free Duomo tickets from a lovely man who just gave them to us. I loved the detail on the outside – because working with clay or paper is hard enough, but imagine something as unforgiving as marble!! The inside artworks and designs were quite spectacular as well.

Siena Duomo

Because Siena is so small, there’s a place you can go (and of course we did), where you can basically see the whole city!

Alllll of Siena

Other Siena highlights include: seeing the world’s oldest bank (which I can never remember the name of), eating pizza farcita (stuffed pizza), and having zucchini flowers for the first time! (They don’t actually taste like much).

Next stop: FLORENCE which I was bloody excited for!!

On the way, we went via Michaelangeo’s Square (I think it may be called something else, but I’m not sure), and saw fake David and a very nice view of Florence.

View from Michaelangleo Palazzo

Fake David

We’d booked a hostel quite far from a) the drop off point, and b) the city of Florence, so by the time we found out where we had to go (no thanks to Macca’s not free WiFi), we had to wait 2.5 hours for the next bus! We mostly just sat in the train station and I went to a supermarket and bought baby tomatoes and rolls. Our hostel (when we finally got there), was pretty good!!

Florence #1 (which was a Sunday I think), we walked to the medieval town (Barberini), and had the most incredible food there! It was mostly vegetables (frshsly grown), bruschetta (bread) and goats’s cheese with spices. (Plus rosé, which cemented my feelings on all wine). Plus quail eggs, which taste just like normal eggs!!

Incredible food/gross wine

That night I had a (gross) roll for dinner (in an effort to save money), but also had a very great/rich dark chocolate soufflé for dessert.

Rad dark choocolate souffle

The next day, we went into Florence (city) and were vaguely going to see the Duomo and the tower. But the line was nopeville #2 (and could’ve even been longer than the Sistene Chapel free day line), so we took many photos of the incredible outside and moved right along.

Florence Duomo

Walked around Florence; saw the Golden Turtle, Ponte Vecchio Bridge and ate a really good kiwi icy pole. We also went to a costume exhibition (wasn’t that impressed), a ceramics exhibition and the Biboli Gardens (which was quite cool and contained a fake Fountain of Neptune which I drew). We also went to a fruit orchard where we took some apples and a fruit which turned out to be a plum.

Golden Turtle

Kiwi icy pole and me!

Day #3 involved being real tourists and waiting in a (very) deceptively short line FOR THREE HOURS for Michaelangelo’s David, which was quite incredible and definitely worth the wait!!

Gotcha head David!!

The gallery around him wasn’t all that exciting for me – lots of baby Jesus’ and guild and gold and religious iconography.

We also made more Magnums because we’re a lil obsessed and also they’re really good!!!

Toppings – popcorn, popping candy and biscuits

We had previously booked a tour/dinner/karaoke, but the lady booking it got the dates mixed up, so we didn’t end up going, which was annoying and a bit sad, but we went out for ramen instead (which was quite good).

We trained to Pisa, where we had obligatory week #5/homesick-for-western-food burger and chips (and I also had a really good chocolate croissant pastry thing).

But the Leaning Tower of Pisa was awesome!! Took many obligatory tourist shots (did you even go if you don’t have a photo with you holding the tower??), and we even managed to get a photo of A doing a handstand and ‘holding it up’ with his feet (after many attempts).

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So strong!!!

CINQUE TERRE was quite beautiful and a nice break from the busy busy tourist lifestyle we’ve been running (although there were many tourists there!)

On the first night, (after finally figuring out how to get to my hostel, which was 20 minutes up from the first town), I came back down to Riomaggiore where I swam and had calamari for the first time!! The water was so nice (and also the calamari).

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A and I got a crepe with nutella, smarties and sprinkles (yes we’re 12), to share (which was really good, but had a thicker consistency to what I’d expect from a crepe).

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Great crepe

Day #2, I joined up with a Brit, and American and a Spaniard/Frenchman to do the walk from Monterosso to Vernazza. It was pretty hard, especially the billion and one stairs, but otherwise quite nice.

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View at top of walk

We swam at the ‘beach’ (more like rock city) in Vernazza (and I had a really good pizza slice with pesto and tomatoes and cheese for lunch) and then trained to Corniglia, where we climbed 376 stairs to go up and 376 stairs to come down.

Trained back to Riomaggiore, had a drink and then met A for dinner. Had 5€ tagletelle with Mediterranean sauce and then split another 5€ pasta (we chose gnocchi) with pesto.

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Riomaggiore

Had rad hostel breakfast the next morning, and then bussed down to La Spezia to await the Busabout bus. Took about 6 hours to NICE (FRANCE!!!), where we went via Fragonourd, a perfumiere (where we had a 25 minute tour and learnt that it takes 10 years to study to be a nose!!! 3 years study, 7 practice and you’re not allowed to drink, smoke or eat spicy food and they only work 3 days a week).

Found some girls where were staying at the same hostel as me, so we walked together and I hung out with them. Walked around, went to Fenocchio (which we thought was called Pinocchio, whoops) where I had very very GOOD ice cream (and they definitely have the best range of flavours I’ve seen).

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Flavours: mnm, salted caramel and pecan

We walked around the night markets and saw Suicide Squad (English with French subtitles), which I quite enjoyed!!

Saw a pretty church

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Church in the city of Nice

Until Switzerland or maybe even the end of the loop (back to Munich!)

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Travel Update #2

The last time I posted, I was partaway through my Venice leg. Since then, we have left Venice, done Rome and are now in Siena. 

Post Travel Update #1, my friend and I went to Murano and Burano, two islands close to the mainland of Venice. Murano is known for their glass and Burano is known for the colourful houses and Burano lace. 

(I have two pictures of the glass because you’re not actually allows to take any, and they both don’t seem to want to upload.)

Burano

We also went for breakfast at Patisserie Tonolo (on recommendation from my aunt and cousin), which has the best pastries in Venice! Also on their (great) rec, we went to Bigoi, which is this tiny place that sells €5 homemade takeaway pasta. So SO good (the duck is better than the pesto imo).

Some of the pastries we had for breakfast

More pastries at Patisserie Tonolo

I also went to St. Mark’s Basillica while I was there and this incredible/old/musty/the best kind of bookshop (also a rec) – Aqus Alta (which took us forever to find!)

Me at bookshop (all good pics of the bookshop are on my camera)

St Mark’s

We also made our own Magnums which were v v good!!

DIY (sorta) Magnum

Even did some drawing in Venice!!

Next stop: ROME aka the extremely long bus ride. 

Outside of Basillica

The day after we arrived was a Sunday – the last of the month – so the Vatican museum is free. Like gr8 and enthusiastic tourists, we rocked up early (about 9am), and the line was insane!!! At least 1km and nopeville for us. Instead we queued in another line (unsure of destination) and went into a beautiful Basillica (later found out it was Saint Peter’s). Post Basillica, we walked around the Vatican City and then decided to line up again. Only waited for half an hour and got into see the Sistene Chapel, some incredible tapestries and intricately detailed ceiling paintings.

Beautiful ceiling on the way to the chapel

Sneaky Sistene pic

Next day, we went to the Trevi Fountain which was way better than I thought it was gonna be; and the Pantheon which was not as good as I thought it was gonna be. 

Trevi!!!

Inside the Pantheon

Also had the best gelato to date at a place called Venchi. 

The v good gelato

Day 3, we did as all tourists do and visited the Colosseum and the Roman Forum (and Palatine Hill). These were incredible and so overwhelmingly massive (even in their destroyed state) and very magnificent. 

Inside of the Colosseum (and me!)

Almost looks Photoshopped (promise it’s not!!)

Roman Forum/ruins from Palatine Hill

Painting on the wall of Santa Maria Antiqua

Last day, we went out for breakfast for pastries (when in Rome right), and visited Circo Massimo (which was either the large patch of grass or closed for visiting, we couldn’t tell); and the Spanish Steps were being renovated. Instead we walked around Spagna and I had a granita (lemon and watermelon). 

Part of breakfast (I even had coffee – which I don’t drink) (but when in Rome amiright)

Grass/Circo Massimo

Granita and I

“Draw me like one of your French (Roman) girls”

Today, we missed the Busabout Bus (peak hour train we couldn’t fit on, and then we missed the public bus and then we were 20 minutes late and they’d left), so we made our way to Siena via public transport (bit stressful, highly annoying, easy enough and quite inconvenient).but we made it. 

Cute hostel (included breakfast, which is always rad); and Siena itself (or what we’ve seen of it), looks very lovely and quiet in the way we need after Rome.

Until Florence! (Or Cinque Terra!)

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TRAVEL UPDATE #1

At the point, I have been travelling for 20 days (3 weeks tomorrow!) It definitely feels much longer than that, especially as I am unused to being away from home for so long.

The rundown: 

I am travelling for 4 months with my friend, A. We had 2 weeks in Israel, and have just started our 3 month Europe leg. After Europe is the UK and then Abu Dhabi (and then home!!!)

So far: 

Israel was amazing and my first look into countries this side of the world. Granted, it’s not apart of Europe, so not a true representation of the bulk of my trip but a new experience all the same. 

I was on a program for most of my Israel trip which I think was the best way to do it. I saw almost everything – from the Dead Sea, to sunrise on Masada to Cesarea and staying in a Bedouin Tent and riding camels and staying in a kibbutz. Post program, I also stayed on a kibbutz – this one a dairy one, and I got to see baby cows (and be slobbered on by them!) 

Our group in front of the Western Wall

Camel riding at the Bedouin Tents (with a soldier)

When my friend and I went to the wrong station post tour on the way to the dairy kibbutz

BABY COW at kibbutz

I am currently in Venice and before this, I was in Munich (unfortunately during the shooting). 

Munich was  much greener than I thought it would be – and also very different from the very varied landscapes in Israel. We went to Neuschwanstein Castle which was quite stunning (on the way back, we were on the train when we heard about the shooting, and after about an hour and a half we were dropped off at another station and we waited for just over two hours – in the dark and rain – to find a taxi. Was very happy to be back at the hostel!!). 

Rolling hills around the castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Venice is beautiful! I have been onto the main island twice – and I also went to the beach. It’s hot here, but not too hot (like in Israel, I think it went above 40c at some stages. Sweatville 101). 

I have been wanting to go to Venice since I was very young so it was a very exciting moment for me. It’s just like the films and the books (although I got so damn lost). 

REPRESENT!

On my way to the beach via vaporetto

Lido Beach

If anyone would like to live vicariously through me (and get away from uni/work/life for a lil), whilst I navigate my first time overseas without parents, then on all social medias, ie instagram and twitter, I am using the hashtag #lozgeuro (edit: on both of these social medias, I am laurentheberger)

In theory, I will post more posts here, but it all depends on time, WiFi and my drive.

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Summer Skin – Kirsty Eagar

**THERE ARE SPOILERS BECAUSE I WAS TOO EXCITED TO NOT HAVE THEM**

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I have had a long time obsession with I’ll Give You The Sun as my favourite book and now I’ve read Summer Skin (and I was worried because of all the hype), but bUT it is now also my favourite book and I really have to get myself a copy to own and love.

Jess rocks!!! She is one of the best protagonists I’ve read because she is honest but also daring and not afraid to say and do what she thinks. She’s a feminist and proud, but isn’t perfect. She drinks and smokes and swears and is one of the most realistic and relatable characters I’ve read. She’s doing eco and knows about the stock market and keeps her bras in the fridge (which is actually clever??) and isn’t always the best friend.

Her friends and well-rounded and have their own personalities and quirks and I love Blondie/Mitch and his character development is RAD and by the end he’s a better person, but not perfect as well which is awesome because who is perfect anyway?? His family is included and I like that Aidan changes as well from the first and next time that Jess meets him.

Allie and her Instagram addiction are so real and Leanne could be someone I know and Farren – she is bloody awesome and she’s outspoken and proud and stubborn and on the edge of adulthood.

*

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I wanted to ‘post’ the picture on Instagram as a tribute to Allie/social media

I thought 3rd person would distance me and shut me out as the reader but I didn’t even notice it wasn’t 1st – which is what I associate with close author/character relate-ability.

The sex scenes were real and detailed (but not too detailed), and weren’t glossed over because they were a big part of Jess and Mitch’s relationship and Jess’ stage in her life and part of her character development. It’s apart of the uni world they’re in now so I am glad glad it was included. The romance and language used was appropriate for the context and beautifully fitted in and just bloody well done.

The gender square off was done in the best way possible. It was real and unflinchingly honest and almost uncomfortable but it had to be if it was going to show the real thing. It wasn’t (stereotypical) sneaky gestures by the girls – it was huge look at me and what I’m doing gestures because girls are powerful and it was shown like that.

Mitch’s guilt was confronting and made him vulnerable and Jess comforted but couldn’t fix him because that’s just not how it works. Their relationship wasn’t insta – there were fights and hair dye and no touching and unfair comments and regrettable actions, but they worked and worked and apologised and made more mistakes to get it comfortable again.

Summer Skin is raw and edgy and exciting and emotional and relatable and feminist and loud and brilliant and fast and zingy.

*My phone has very little pixels and I didn’t feel patient enough to find and artistically place things around the book for my #bookstagram photo so I just made it on Photoshop

 

 

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Kickass Queens

*There are spoilers in here for: CastleGrey’s Anatomy, Juno*

Kickass Queens: rad ladies (fictional or non-fictional) from literature, movies, tv shows, politics, media, education, sports or elsewhere that slay at their jobs and lives and basically inspire me. 

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(In no particular order) presenting my Kickass Queens of 2016:

1. Kate Beckett: friends and family, Katherine Beckett, (eventual) captain of the 12th precinct, is a very strong (physical and mental) lady. She worked through her mother’s death, loved Castle, shot at people, survived being shot at and runs in heels (no mean feat).

2. Liv Benson deals with rapists, murderers and pedophiles all day erry day and she manages to get through it all. She’s no afraid to express her opinions and strive for what she wants. #Ladiesinpower

3. Amelia Sheppard is my current grey’s love. She has dealt with drugs, addiction, death, her (shitty) brother, bad friends, her own self and has shown me that it’s okay to not to be okay all the time and that you will have terrible days but then there’s days with Owen and the puppies.

4. Bones is a hilarious, brilliant and whip-cracking lady. She knows all there is to know about forensic anthropology (she is the best on her field after all), and doesn’t let the small stuff let her down. She loves fiercely and is very certain of herself.

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5. Cristina Yang you hilarious, sarcastic, very good friend to Mer, you are missed.

6. Earlier season Meredith and Callie. You two were strong, strong ladies that could go through 27 emotions in one day and knew that life could be brutal. You were persistent in your lives (love and otherwise), and you jobs. #Bringthemback

7. Lexie Grey you queen. You were brilliant and kind and Slexie was 12/10. You were forgiving and clever and a bright light.

8. Rae Earl is the ultimate survivor – from herself, her family, her friends. She worked through her mental illness messily, but (eventually) allowed support and love into her life.

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9. Angela Montenegro is a rad person. She arts AND sciences and is Bones’ best friend. She is patient, but also knows when to stand up for herself. She always looks beautiful and kicks ass at her job.

10. Addison Montgomery has her flaws, but she is the very best experiencer of human emotion. She laughs and cries and dances in every episode and tries her very best in everything she does: friendships, relationships and her job.

10. Tavi Gevinson created Rookiemag.com, a versatile and resourceful website for teenagers. She is young, successful, (did a TED talk), journals extensively, has met Taylor Swift and is keen on working out who she is. P.s. she also spoke at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival in 2013 (which I missed and was sad about).

11. Ellen Page. Her coming out speech was beautiful, and srsly, have you seen Juno?? That movie is film gold and it will basically never get old that she phoned her friend ON A BURGER PHONE to tell her that she was up the duff.

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12. Emma Watson portrayed HERMIONE so she is automatically in this list because Hermione is ace BUT her post hp work has been equally impressive. Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign speech when she was the  UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014 was both incredibly well-written and a very persuasive call to action.

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Read//Watch//Listen (6)

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READ

I am currently reading Holier Than Thou (Laura Buzo). I think I’m enjoying it, but so far, there’s nothing that’s especially grabbed me or made me want to race to the end. I very rarely DNF books, so I will finish it, but s l o w l y. The other day I made a detour to the library (where I was gonna borrow 1 book), but came back with 8 and there’s some I’m very excited about, i.e. Summer Skin (Kristy Eager) and Clancy of the Undertow (Christopher Currie) because #Inkys2016 and also On the Jellicoe Road (Melina Marchetta) because I don’t think I’ve read a MM book before??

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Super appropriate because I watched Beauty and the Beast for the first time yesterday!!! (I had only read the book previously)

WATCH

I am very invested in Private Practice at the moment. I thought there were only 3 seasons BUT THERE ARE 6, which is very exciting because it means more Addison and Pete and Cooper and Charlotte and Oceanside Wellness. I just finished s3 (and THAT ending with THAT death was pure Shonda and I was not happy jan). All my US shows are finished – of course with the classic in between season cliffhanger – which will (or not) be resolved next season. I’m going away in July for a few months, so it means I miss everything when it comes back which is sad but overseas > tv shows (but I am determined not to see any spoilers). I still haven’t watched the end of House which is sad and I do want to, but I cannot motivate myself to do it.

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Addison is basically the best person

LISTEN

I am midly majorly obsessed with the song Wild Things (Alessia Cara), which I discovered on my iPod 2 days ago and it’s all I’ve been listening to. Favourite lines include: “rebel rousers” and “they’re pious here, but you and I we’re pioneers“. It’s got a rad beat and all I wanna do is dance when I hear it.

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Castle (2009)||Goodbye

*THERE ARE SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK*

I started Castle (2009) in November 2014. As of Tuesday 17th May (Australian time), the last ever original Castle episode was aired (and live-tweeted by me).

It’s been a rollercoaster of ups, downs, deaths, shootings, hilarity, great relationships, not-so-good relationships, a stellar cast, and not much writing done as you’d think since Castle is supposedly a prolific and very skilled writer.

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But here’s to the main characters – those who have been there from the very start: Castle, Beckett, Ryan and Espo.

To Castle‘s crazy – but usually correct(ish) – conspiracy theories and his love for Kate Beckett. To his curiosity and his ability to think way outside the square; to his protectiveness over Martha and Alexis and Hailey. To Castle’s persistence re: Kate and his ‘Writer’ ballistic vest*

To Ryan and Espo‘s loyalty and dedication to their jobs. For their jokes and their interrogation skills and none of them ever did get sergeant. For that, I am glad because they didn’t get separated.

To Beckett‘s skill and intelligence and persistence and strength to continue through her mother’s murder – and after it; and when Castle disappeared. To Kate for surviving the shooting and for going to Castle, for trusting in him; and for her love for others.

Thank you to Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas for becoming their characters.

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To the rest of the main cast – the show wouldn’t have been the same without you: Alexis and Martha (and your protectiveness over Richard), Roy Montgomery (even though you ultimately screwed up, you saved Kate Beckett so thank you for that), Captain Gates (you were one scary lady, but you did well and didn’t deserve what came to you), Hailey (for looking after Alexis and Martha and being her rad, kickass self), Perlmutter (your hatred for Castle was always amusing), Lanie (thank you for being Beckett’s friend and I always did like you and Espo together), and Vikrum.

To the (main) villains of the series: The 3XK (Triple Killer), Senator William Bracken and LokSat (Mason you asshole). To the rest of the villains and the actors that portrayed them: you did an excellent excellent job.

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Thank you to Andrew W. Marlowe for creating a brilliant TV show with 3D characters and original concepts. To ABC Studios and Beacon Pictures for jointly producing Castle.

Although it ended abruptly, I think it was the right move. There is no Castle without Stana Katic (and to a lesser degree,Tamala Jones (Lanie), because what about Lanie and Javi??), and thank you THANK YOU for not killing Beckett, and killing Castle (or KILLING THEM BOTH like I thought was the case), but for letting them survive and live the happy life (with 3 children!!!), like they always deserved, free from murder and serial killers and kidnappers.

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Read//Watch//Listen (5)

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READ

I’m actually overseas at the moment, so, although I thought I would have heaps of time for reading, my mom and I are being real tourist-y and trying to squeeze in a lot of things before we leave. I brought 10 books with (and also purchased one with a book voucher from my granny <3), and my great plan was to read them all – because they’re (mostly) my own books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time but never got around to because of library book due dates (but I don’t think my plan in going to eventuate).

Since I’ve been here, I’ve read:
1. Paperweight (Mag Haston). I’d been looking forward to this for ages, and had bought it with my own book voucher and it was pretty incredible.
2. The Sky is Everywhere (Jandy Nelson)I’ll Give You The Sun is my favourite book, BUT this was quite good and I enjoyed the illustrations (and could even seen the burgeoning growths of IGYTS.
3. The Sidekicks 
(Will Kostakis). I had high expectations for this, and it’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but for me it didn’t live up to the hype. I only enjoyed reading from Ryan’s POV (and the end of Miles’), but mainly the other characters (especially Harley), kinda annoyed me. I understand that everyone deals with grief different ways, and I appreciate how that was shown, but I didn’t connect with Harley and Miles very much.
4. Pieces of Sky (Trinity Doyle). I’ve had this book for ages and I’m SO GLAD I finally read it. It was bloody great and I didn’t want it to end!!!

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I am currently reading Notes From the The Teenage Underground (Simmone Howell), which I’m not very far into, but sorta struggling because it’s a lil different to what I usually read in terms of time period my usual OzYA is set; i.e. I think it’s set in the 90s?? But it’s just taking some getting used to – I think I’ll end up liking it!

WATCH

I am unfortunately not up to date on my TV shows because of lack of internet. It’s kinda nice to have a break (and I miss all the spoilers because of the time difference), but I also definitely miss them. Not watching things has also meant bedtime is earlier because often at home I watch something to keep myself up until it’s an acceptable time for bed. I’m basically 100 years old.

LISTEN

I’m too lazy to figure out how to tune the radio in our car to good radio stations here -there’s an Afrikaans one, but who knows what they’re saying??

The car used to belong to my grandpa who loved classical music, so I think I’ve listened to more classical music this last week and a half (and will be for the next week) than I have in my whole life (my favourite is the Tchaikovsky CD, which includes the only songs I know in his entire collection: Swan Lake and Fur Elise). (Romantic Piano Favourites is a close second).

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D I V E R S I T Y||Mostly in writing

general

 

Disclaminer: I am a privileged white female living in Australia

Diversity is super important. Our world sort of rotates around that fact that there are people who are/have different religions, races, ethnicities, religions, heights, weights, skin colours, sexual orientations, genders.

Australia is (mostly) great on that front: we have many many different people from many many different places in the world, who look/sound/think/believe in different things. But then, what about our literature?

Australian YA is pretty awesome: we have rad authors and people who support it. But we’re missing diversity on the whole. We need more LGBTQI+ books; more f/f and m/m romances; more characters with disabilities, and who are of a different background – religion, country of birth (or country of growing-up). WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS. We need more books from people with mental health issues; more books from the point of view of Aboriginal men and women; we need more books on the topic of Black Lives Matter; more books from POC.

And as the old saying goes, write what you want to read. In my current WIP, one of my characters has moved from the Guizhou province China (with her parents) to Australia. Her parents are at different stages at assimilating, i.e. her dad does, and her mother does not. But I’m terrified of writing them because despite me wanting DIVERSE YA, I am a white female living in Australia (i.e. privileged), and I don’t write to write diverse YA at the expense of offending someone, or an entire religion/race/country (not that my novel will even be that big – or is written past the 5th page).

But, as my friends discussed in their podcast two weeks ago – on the topic of Fiona Wood’s Cloudwish, it all comes down to research (and she did it damn well). Basically: I need to research the shit out of my character and her background, and her parents and how their childhood was growing up. The Internet is so good for all this stuff – but then again, I’m a lil terrified of stereotyping (and also tokenism).

At the moment, diversity in books is A THING. Whenever books with characters with different/a religions/sexual orientations/mental health issue/a physical or mental disability/background/ethnicity etc., we hear about it. At the moment, this is what we need because it’s still growing.

But I think the #Weneeddiversebooks movement needs to get to a place where it seamlessly fits into the movement of other YA books. Like Diem and I were discussing, it needs to model Shonda Rhimes’ shows: Cristina (Yang) just happened to be Asian – no-one mentioned it because IT WAS NORMAL. Same as Bailey/Webber/Jackson/Callie; and in HTGAWM – Wes/Annalise/Laurel. We need to get to a point in YA literature where diversity isn’t A THING, it’s NORMAL, and the only way to do this is to write about it so it becomes as apart of YA as, say, m/f romances.

But, as Diem says, diversity is not a trend. It’s not something that is just there for a hashtag, or as something, like when people buy puppies for Christmas and then decide they don’t want them – that is there for a little bit of time. Diversity is here to stay as apart of our lives as people living in this world.

What do you guys think about the diversity in YA books? Aussie YA? If you’re a writer, and are/want to write diverse characters, how did/are you/going to go about it?

 

 

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