dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
This time two weeks ago I was drinking champagne with my mother, sister, [ profile] thelxiepia, and two family friends, worrying about the torrential rain that had suddenly tumbled out of the sky, and getting ready to head off to get married. In the end, my fears about the rain were unfounded: the storm stopped about half an hour before the wedding ceremony, and the skies cleared, meaning sunshine and warmth for photographs, and for our guests to enjoy sparkling wine in the gardens of our reception venue.

The wedding ceremony itself was wonderful. Many of my married friends told me they barely remembered anything from the day itself, and that everything passed by in a sort of blissed out blur. For my part, I can remember everything. We got married in Shire Hall (the registry office in Cambridge), in a room that unfortunately only seated fifty people (included me, Matthias, our photographer, and the celebrant), so many of our guests were only able to be invited to the reception. However, I was happy with the mix of people who were able to attend the ceremony: a nice mix of bridal party, family, and close friends from Cambridge.

Matthias and I entered the ceremony to the beautiful sounds of 'Black Water Lilies' by Aurora. We didn't write our own vows, and the celebrant mangled Matthias' middle name (pronouncing it in the English, rather than German way), but none of that mattered. We had two readings. The first, by Matthias' sister, was in German:

Da ist jemand,
der mich nimmt,
wie ich genommen
werden will;
der mich aufbaut
wenn mich etwas
der mich zu Herzen nimmt,
wenn mir etwas
über die Leber gelaufen ist;
der mir Gehör schenkt,
wenn mir das Leben
Rätsel aufgibt;
der für mich ist,
wenn sich alles gegen mich
verschworen hat.

Da ist jemand,
mit dem ich zusammen wachsen,
vielleicht sogar
zusammenwachsen darf.


There is somebody
Who accepts me as I want to be accepted
Who lifts me up when something weighs me down
Who embraces me when something is bugging me
Who listens to me when life is posing me riddles
Who supports me when everything is conspiring against me

There is somebody with whom I may grow together
Maybe even grow entwined

(The play on words in the last stanza doesn't translate well, but basically involves two very similar sounding verbs, zusammen wachsen and zusammenwachsen, which I guess in English would translate as the two different meanings of 'grow together'.)

[ profile] thelxiepia read the second reading, an excerpt from one of my favourite poems, 'Homing Pigeons' by Mahmoud Darwish:

Where do you take me, my love, away from my parents
from my trees, from my little bed, and from my boredom,
from my mirrors, from my moon, from the closet of my life, from
where I stop for the night ... from my shyness?

Our friend Levi (for whom Matthias was best man four years ago) and my sister Miriam were our witnesses. While the marriage certificates were being signed, we played two pieces of music: 'All is Full of Love' by Björk, and 'Tonight We Burn Like Stars That Never Die' by Hammock. Here is a photo of us signing the certificates -- I think that gives a fairly accurate impression of our facial expressions for most of the day! After the ceremony, people left the room to the sounds of 'We Own the Sky' by M83. We then went off with our parents, my stepmother, our sisters, Matthias' brother-in-law and nephew, and Levi and [ profile] thelxiepia for photos in the gardens of our reception venue. Following this, the reception began, with drinks in the gardens, and then a four-course meal.

Everyone was really impressed by the food, which made me really happy, since we had put a lot of thought into the menu and food is generally the thing I most remember about events such as weddings. I was particularly glad that the vegans and vegetarians attending had made a point of thanking us for their meals, and that it hadn't simply been a meal with the meat removed but no substitutes provided. The cake was a three-tiered citrus cake: the bottom cake was orange, the middle lemon, and the top lime.

After speeches by Levi, my family friend and former editor Gia, and Matthias and me, we inflicted our absolutely glorious eurodance/'90s music playlist on everyone. It wasn't the danciest of weddings I've ever been to, but I had fun dancing, and so did those who joined in. I think there's some video footage of me, [ profile] thelxiepia and the other sraffies dancing to 'Saturday Night' by Whigfield floating around, but I'm not going to try to track it down! I'll leave that glory to your imaginations.

The entire wedding and reception were wonderful, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I was worried about so many things, and not one of them happened. I feared I wouldn't remember the day, or that I would spend the entire time fretting about other people, or that I wouldn't get a chance to eat, to dance, to talk to the people I wanted to talk to, and none of that eventuated. Instead, the whole thing was just a lovely party, with the person I've chosen to spend the rest of my life, and all the people we love around us. There were people there I've known since birth, since preschool, one secondary school friend (*waves at [ profile] catpuccino*), friends from my postgrad years at Cambridge, sraffies (Philip Pullman fandom friends), and people I had just met that day. It really meant a lot to have my sister there (and indeed to have three 'sisters' as bridesmaids: my sister by blood, my sister by marriage, and my sister by choice), as well as those relatives who made the trek from Australia, although I was sad that not many of them were able to do so.

About marriage itself I feel complicated feelings. I'm an atheist, so I was always going to have a secular wedding, and don't view the ceremony itself as being sacramental. My own parents never married (nor is my father married to my stepmother), and I don't believe that marriage is necessary to be a good partner or a good parent. But I have always had a deep love of rituals and ceremonies marking important moments in peole's lives, and unlike my own parents, I always knew I wanted to get married if circumstances allowed, and that I wanted to have some kind of party to celebrate my wedding. Being married didn't make me feel differently about Matthias, or that our relationship had changed in any perceptible way (although, being a migrant, I am painfully aware of all the ways being married privileges a person in terms of immigration, visas, and passing on citizenship to one's children). Rather, I felt in the ceremony that we were publicly declaring something we have long felt. It feels odd to talk about 'my husband', or describe myself as someone's wife, but I imagine this will change over time.

The world is dark and frightening, and Matthias and I have gone through a lot to be able to live together as migrants in a country that is becoming increasingly xenophobic, but our life together is a light that gives me courage to keep working and trying and learning and growing. I wish that same light -- wherever you find it -- for all of you.
dolorosa_12: by ginnystar on lj (robin marian)
If there is anything considered a comfort food in my family, this Marcella Hazan pasta dish is it. It is the first meal I remember eating, and there are numerous photos of me as a baby with it all over my face, hair, and high chair tray table. I have eaten it in every house I have ever lived, and it was the first main meal I learnt how to cook. Every time I've moved house, city, country, the first thing I've done is located the few ingredients (garlic, flat leaf parsley, tinned tomatoes, olive oil, tinned tuna and pasta) and cooked it, as a sort of way of making each new house -- and its kitchen -- my own. I feel if I couldn't find those ingredients and couldn't cook this meal, I would never truly feel at home.

Because most of the most significant events in my life have revolved around moving -- leaving homes behind, crossing an ocean, living away from my family -- I've also come to associate this dish with moments of significance in my own life.

Of course, therefore, on the night before my wedding, I would cook and eat nothing else. It's calming to follow the same familiar motions, chopping garlic and parsley, heating olive oil, scooping tuna into the fried tomato sauce. This city, this house, and this relationship have been my home for a long time now, and in some ways getting married is simply a public confirmation of something I've felt for much longer. But still I felt the need to mark this turning point in a quieter, more personal way that would matter to me and be invisible to others. Tomorrow I will go out to the registry office and say the words, and celebrate with Matthias and our friends and families, and we will still be the same people, but something will change in a way that I find impossible to articulate. And I will carry on cooking pasta with tuna sauce, and it will continue to mean change, and comfort, and continuation, and home.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
I am about to write up my annual 'year in review' post, but because this year has been A Lot, I had some things to say that weren't going to be covered by a Q-and-A-style meme about favourite songs and best new TV shows of 2016. I'm always very contemplative at this time of year, and over the past few days I've been thinking a lot about stories.

I haven't really felt genuinely happy since June 24th this year. However, I managed to struggle on for a few months after the EU referendum result by telling myself, pretty much every day, 'I can live with the Leave vote, as long as Hillary Clinton wins the US election in November.' Well, we all know how that went. I didn't sleep much for the whole month of November, and the activities of daily life, of planning for the future, seemed utterly futile. What was the point of the next cohort of NHS doctors knowing how to search databases, or of healthcare researchers managing their data or conducting a systematic review properly? What was the point of planning a wedding, or growing a garden, or meeting up with friends, or cleaning the house? I remember very little of November, just this kind of dampening fog of despair, interspersed with flashes of fear and worry about how to help distant friends.

And then I went to the cinema, and watched Rogue One. It's not a perfect movie — it's not even a perfect Star Wars movie — but it is the story of a ragtag found family of misfits, finding courage in each other, choosing to fight against incredible odds and an overwhelmingly technologically and numerically superior enemy. More importantly to me, it's about people making a choice in the face of utter hopelessness and despair, and the knowledge that they are unlikely to live to see the results of their actions, to save the world for others, when they know they will not be able to save it for themselves.

This brought me back to myself, not because I believe I would be one to emulate those characters' actions — I've never been tested in this way, but I am pretty certain I do not have that kind of moral courage — but because it reminded me of the comfort and consolation and power of stories, and of the stories that I carry around with me like a kind of personal canon.

And then I remembered the five wives of Fury Road, a quintet of traumatised and violated women, making common cause, fighting back against oppression and exploitation and a misogynistic death cult, asserting 'We are not things' as they build a better world.

I remembered the clones of Orphan Black, women supporting other women as they reclaimed control over their own lives and choices and bodies. I remembered Jessica Jones, another abused, exploited woman, bringing herself out of the pit of despair by protecting and saving other people.

I remembered the characters of Station Eleven choosing, in a blighted, postapocalyptic world, to create libraries, make music, and become a band of travelling players performing Shakespeare, because 'survival is insufficient.' I remembered the children of Space Demons giving up the gun and dreaming of a world of peace and plenty.

I remembered Pagan Kidrouk, Isidore Orbus, and Babylonne Kidrouk learning, loving, and living fiercely, carving out spaces of tolerance, pluralism and integrity in a world slowing crushing such spaces in favour of extremism and ideological uniformity. I remembered the characters of The Lions of Al-Rassan doing the same.

I remembered Noviana Una, organising a rebellion against an oppressive empire from within a twenty-first-century Library of Alexandria, and leading a mob of the dispossessed, abused women and traumatised military conscripts, to confront a violent, misogynistic, abusive, all powerful ruler. And above all, I remembered the story that started everything, that has taught and given me so much, and was the first one that ever told me, 'Tell them stories. They need the truth you must tell them true stories, and everything will be well, just tell them stories.'

Your stories will be different to mine. They may not be in books and films and TV shows. They may not be fictional. They may not be stories at all. Whatever they are, I hope you find them, and find strength and comfort and courage in them. We are going to need all those things in the coming year, and we must draw on what we can to get them. Happy 2017, everyone. Love, hope, and stories to you all.
dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Endure a PhD viva. Pass a PhD viva. Get a library assistant job. Get my dream library assistant job. Graduate with a PhD. Use the 'Dr' honorific. When you put it like that, 2014 was an amazing year.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I made a general resolution to participate more, to talk and listen online. I went online to talk to people, but I felt I'd got to a very unsatisfying place of just passively reblogging stuff, with very little engagement or conversation. So my resolution was to seek out people who wanted to actually talk and engage, and to leap into conversations whenever I felt I had something to say. I basically wanted to shut down that cruel little voice that would say, 'but why would anyone want to talk to you?' and just see what happened once I was in the conversation.

Best. Decision. Ever. I have made so many new friends, engaged with so many interesting ideas, and just generally had a fabulous year online.

In other areas of my life, I had made a resolution to finish my PhD by July, and I did so.

Next year, I am going to make a few more coherent resolutions relating to online interactions, but for now they can be boiled down to 'Stop, Collaborate and Listen!'. I believe we as fannish communities are stronger the more we communicate, the more we engage with others with vastly different life experience and perspectives, and the more we work collaboratively and communally.

My other resolution is to get healthier.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My stepmother had another daughter, which makes me the oldest of five sisters. My cousin's wife is also pregnant and will have her baby early next year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My grandmother. I really loved and admired her, and there is a giant gaping hole at the heart of our family now that she's gone.

5. What countries did you visit?
This wasn't a big year for travelling. I mostly stayed in England, with a trip to Wales for a wedding, and two trips to Germany.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A longer-term work visa.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
19th July. The day I walked from my college to the Senate House, knelt in front of the Chancellor as Ms Dolorosa while he said Latin over me, and rose as Dr Dolorosa. It was a long, bitter road, but I got there in the end.

19th July was also the day my newest sister was born, surely making my father the only person alive to simultaneously have one daughter with a PhD, one daughter with an MA, one in secondary school, one in primary school and one still not walking.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Receiving my PhD, and getting my dream job.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I had really low energy levels this year, and I need to work on that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Lots of migraines, probably due to intense editing of my thesis I had to do.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Train tickets to visit friends elsewhere in the UK and to make day trips to London.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
On a personal level, my wonderful mother, my sister Mim, my partner Matthias, my lovely friends [ profile] shinyshoeshaveyouseenmymoves, [ profile] gwehydd and [ profile] thelxiepia, my former PhD supervisor, and the librarians who have guided me through the early stages of my career.

In a broader context, I would like to mention in particular the bravery and compassion of Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Athena Andreadis, Rachel Manija-Brown, Kari Sperring and the other targets of Winterfox/Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew, for standing up and speaking their truth in the face of vitriol, disbelief and victim-blaming. Also deserving celebration are Laura Mixon and the rest of her team for finally listening to the targets and gathering information about Winterfox's abusive behaviour in a way that couldn't be ignored.

Finally, I would like to draw attention to the #illridewithyou movement on Twitter on the day of the Sydney siege. Cruelty should always be met with a response of kindness, not fear.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Unsurprisingly, considering how much of my attention was consumed by the Winterfox situation, I was outraged at how many people chose to respond to revelations of her bullying and abuse with denial, victim blaming and bullying of their own. I lost a huge amount of respect for so many people in the SFF community over that.

I also continue to be outraged and appalled by the behaviour of the Australian government, which has sunk to new lows in cruelty and petty vindictiveness.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and living costs.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Graduating with my PhD. My new job. Travelling to North Wales for the wedding of my friends B and M, and to stay with [ profile] gwehydd, her husband and their adorable baby son. Seeing my mum and sister during the northern summer.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
The whole 'Hurry Up, We're Dreaming' album by M83, which was a belated discovery. Same goes for 'Drowned in a Sea of Sound' by The Daysleepers. '(Tonight) We Burn Like Stars That Never Die' by Hammock was definitely the song of December.

But as for the song of the year, that can only be one thing: 'Worlds Apart', by Seven Lions, featuring Kerli.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier, but feeling quite melancholy at the prospect of Christmas without my grandmother.
ii. thinner or fatter? About the same.
iii. richer or poorer? On the verge of becoming richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Feeling angry.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I was with Matthias' family in Germany this year. On Christmas Eve we had the usual family celebration with his parents. On Christmas Day we went visited his sister and her fiance and had raclette.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
I fell more in love with Matthias, and with our life together.

23. Did your heart break in 2014?
My grandmother's death was devastating.

On a smaller scale, I interviewed for, and failed to get what I thought was my dream job. I had no idea that I was going to get my real dream job just several months later.

24. What was your favourite TV program?
My old favourites Orphan Black and Pretty Little Liars retained their treasured place in my heart. I also thoroughly enjoyed Peaky Blinders, In the Flesh and Happy Valley. The Musketeers was joyful, unapologetic fun. I've also recently begun watching Orange Is The New Black and that is fabulous.

25. Where were you when 2014 began?
At a house party in Cambridge.

26. Who were you with?
Matthias and bunch of our ASNC friends.

27. Where will you be when 2014 ends?
At a party at Matthias' sister's house in Germany.

28. Who will you be with when 2014 ends?
Matthias, his sister, her (by then) husband, and the younger guests from their wedding.

29. What was the best book you read?
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

30. What was your greatest musical discovery?
While they weren't exactly new to me, I got much more into The Daysleepers, Hammock and God Is An Astronaut (apparently 2014 was my year of ambient/post-rock/space rock music). I also really enjoyed The Glitch Mob.

31. What did you want and get?
To graduate with my PhD. A full-time library job.

32. What did you want and not get?
My grandmother to be alive.

33. What was your favourite film of this year?
If it weren't for the presence of one irritating trope, Guardians of the Galaxy would romp home in this category. No other film really stood out, although I enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and Only Lovers Left Alive a lot.

34. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
This year the celebrations stretched for almost a week. Two days before my birthday, Matthias and I went ice-skating at the temporary rink in Cambridge. The day before, he took me out to lunch and then we saw The Hobbit. On the day itself we mostly stayed at home and did last-minute preparations for our trip to Germany. Two days later his parents took us on a day-trip to Berlin. I was thirty.

35. How many different states/cities did you travel to in 2014?
I was mostly in Cambridge, although I made a couple of day-trips to London. I went to Anglesey, York and Exeter in the UK, and Berlin, Warburg, Bielefeld and Vlotho in Germany. It wasn't a big year for travel for me.

36. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

37. What kept you sane?
The kindness, empathy, and love of Matthias, friends and family.

38. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Shay Mitchell and Idris Elba.

39. What political issue stirred you the most?
I am very concerned about the rise of far-right nationalism in Europe, and of anti-immigrant feeling more generally. I continue to focus most of my political energies on feminist issues.

40. How many concerts did you see in 2014?
CHVRCHES and St Vincent, both in Cambridge.

41. Did you have a favourite concert in 2014?
I really can't decide between the two.

42. Who was the best new person you met?
It was really great to get to know Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Likhain, Aliette de Bodard, Tade Thompson, EP Beaumont, hesychasm, Natalie Luhrs and others, even though the circumstances that brought us together were appalling. I admire them all so much, and really feel like important work is being done to make progressive SFF safer, kinder and more inclusive.

43. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?

44. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2014?
I'm not easily embarrassed.

45. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Kindness, not fear. I know I sound like a broken record by this point, but it really was the theme of the year.

46. What are your plans for 2015?
Start my new job. Help Matthias get on with his new MA. Sort out visa stuff. Start living.

47. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Guess I'm trying to say
It hurts to feel this far
Million miles away
Next to me, next to me you are
And if you're sitting right here,
Then why are we worlds apart?
Why are we worlds apart?
If you're so near,
Why do you feel this far?
Why are we worlds apart?

—Seven Lions ft. Kerli, 'Worlds Apart'

Don't you know, love? My heart is a monster
—The Daysleepers, 'Release the Kraken'

Don't cry
The sky is in our eyes
Tonight we burn like stars that never die
Let's go drive
And live like we're alive
Tonight we are the stars that never die
One day our song will end
So now let's just pretend
Tonight we burn like stars that never die
So don't cry
Heaven is in our eyes
Tonight we are the stars that never die
Tonight we burn like stars that never die

—Hammock, '(Tonight) We Burn Like Stars That Never Die'
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Brace yourselves! I've just done yet another music meme.

Questions and answers behind the cut )

*You haven't lived until you've driven between Canberra and Sydney listening to my mother, sister and me belting out the lyrics to every song on one of our many 'driving CDs'.
dolorosa_12: (teen wolf)
Melissa and Haley of Permission To Live were raised in the fundamentalist Quiverfull movement. This movement teaches strict adherence to 'traditional' gender roles - women are not allowed to work outside the home, children are to be homeschooled in order to avoid 'secular' influence, marriages are arranged by parents, and contraception is to be avoided. Melissa and Haley bought into all this - Haley had a job as a pastor, their marriage had been arranged, they had four children in quick succession, and Melissa was poorly educated and ill prepared for any work outside the home. Four years ago, Haley came out publicly as a trans woman, and the two began a new life. These days, Haley is working as a hair stylist, Melissa works as a kitchen manager, their older children are being educated in public school, and the two women have a new and supportive social circle, having left fundamentalism behind them.

Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of 669 children during the Holocaust, celebrated his 105th birthday with family and friends, including some of those 669 children and their descendants. There are around 6000 people in the world who owe their lives to his actions.

The Everyday Sexism project is now a book. Sometimes there's a power simply in speaking, listening, and realising that you, as a woman or girl, are not alone. That your experiences are real.

One of my friends from Cambridge started a blog on Tumblr about the experiences of women in sport, either as participants or fans. She even got retweeted by Mary Beard. If you are a female sports player or fan, you might want to consider submitting to my friend's Tumblr. She would also really appreciate word about it being spread.

The 'biggest dinosaur ever' has been discovered in Argentina.

A street vendor in China caught a baby who fell from an upper-storey window. The whole thing was captured on camera.

All over the world, people have taken the time to do this to public spaces.

Your weapons are already in hand
Reach within you and find the means by which to gain your freedom.
Fight with tools.


Oct. 6th, 2011 10:53 pm
dolorosa_12: (Default)
(Please note, 'Marnie' is what all the grandchildren call my grandmother. We call our grandfather 'Tony'.)

Oh God, the angst. Skip if you can't handle it. Copied from my paper diary. )


dolorosa_12: (Default)
rushes into my heart and my skull

September 2017



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