A charming read for a cynical individual

I was sitting at home one quiet Sunday, twiddling my thumbs and minding my own business when my boyfriend asked me to write him a story. Being the person I am, I could not think of my own topic to write about when under that kind of immense pressure so of course, he gave me a word of inspiration.

This is what happened the day I wrote a story about waffles. If this sounds boring to you, don’t you worry. It is always a personal challenge of mine to make every story I write endearing, charming and just a little bit cynical. Enjoy! If it’s too long for you, just read paragraph three and walk away. That’s okay too.

Julio: The Experimenter

Julio was a vain, self-righteous and very hypocritical man who liked to think he was an experimenter of all things. Like the honest and non-hypocritical man he knew he was, Julio did not like to limit himself to one particular area of experimentation. Julio had a theory that those who dabbled in only one area of experimentation had the right to be named curious indeed, but experimental? Perhaps not; for one can only be deemed truly experimental if they are willing to open their minds to any and every possibility; not just a select few. It was far below Julio to lie to anyone about his occupation and therefore he worked very hard to be endlessly experimental in all areas of his life. Except for one, of course.

As a true experimenter, Julio had dabbled in a great many things over the years but there was one thing that always remained untouched. Every morning Julio would enjoy a plain waffle, sprinkled with exactly one teaspoon of icing sugar, washed down with a ristretto. Every day since he had moved out of his parents’ home, 23 years ago, Julio had treated himself to this same breakfast ritual to prepare him for the busy day of a true experimenter. Julio did not see the hypocrisy in this. How could he? His vanity would not allow it.

There are a great many ways that the world can mock the habitual. One of them is through the art of distraction. If you have a lot on your mind, how are you ever expected to notice those small happenings which could potentially put an end to your beautifully crafted morning ritual of 23 years? This was the very game that life decided to play on Julio, on a particularly windy Autumn morning. As Julio prepared his usual morning waffle, the scoop of icing sugar he applied was ever so slightly smaller than his usual scoop. Julio had just used the last of his stash but unlike he usually did, Julio did not notice. One could blame tiredness, or the mere oversight that comes with being human. But I would blame the humour of life. I would say that this oversight was caused by the fact that at the very moment Julio scooped that final scoop, just nearby a man happened to be chasing after his top hat as it danced about in the wild Autumnal winds. The unfortunate soul did not see the shop sign which had been placed out earlier that morning by an inspired shop keeper who had felt a strange urge to put her sign on the other side of her store. Had life not inspired her with this urge, the following events would not have occurred in such a violent manner. But as it were, the sorry soul who was chasing his top hat was on the wrong side of the shop front that morning, tripped over the sign and landed on the road, right beneath the wheels of a very full and very heavy cabbage van. It was a dramatic end, witnessed by a truly habitual experimenter who happened to be looking out the window as he finished preparing his breakfast.

Julio was entirely unfazed by what he witnessed through the window. It came to little effect to him until the very next morning, when he went to dig out his usual spoonful of icing sugar from a very empty bag. Julio was horrified. The ritual he had maintained for over 23 years was no more and there was nothing at all that he could do. Of course he could not simply buy more icing sugar for he had already made his waffle and the consumption of a cold waffle was less than ideal, even if doused in sugar. It was all Julio could do to sit down with his plain, naked waffle and embrace a new side of life, a side of life where he could never again be a true experimenter because his morning routine was crushed. But as he went to spoon the first spoonful of waffle into his mouth, Julio realised something. You may think that he was inspired by the unfortunate man from the day before, to embrace life and make the most of new things all the time because you never know when your opportunity could be at an end. But you must remember that Julio was a hypocrite and therefore had all characteristics that went along with hypocrisy, including a selfishness and a stubbornness that prevented him from learning those life lessons in a straightforward and unselfish manner.  Rather, in the moment that waffle touched Julio’s lips, he felt an overwhelming horror at the thought of having to consume his breakfast in such a bleak way. As a valuable, giving and important member of society, the experimenter deserved so much more than the nakedness of this breakfast waffle. As the fork fell with a clatter and waffle crumbs spread across his polished wood floors, Julio felt the familiar tickle of inspiration and he knew it was finally time to experiment in yet another area of life. What an experimenter he was.

That morning was a very messy one. With the contents of his pantry spread across the kitchen bench, Julio began his hunt for the truly luxurious breakfast which he had deprived himself of for 23 years. Waffles doused in maple syrup? Too standard. Waffles with spinach? Too vegan. Waffles with curry? A mistake. He had been at it for hours and Julio’s food supply had been run almost dry, the tickle of inspiration no longer inspiring but irritating. But as the harsh afternoon sun moved in line with the window, something beautifully spiritual happened; the light of the sun shone upon the last remaining opportunity before him. An ingredient overlooked by a man who thought the idea beneath him was now reconsidered by a man driven mad with desperation. Another game life has mastered; to strip you of everything so that you are forced into something new. Life has a heartless sense of humour. But Julio, of course, had his pride to maintain and therefore was not a quitter. It had to be done.

Julio sat at the table once more, with his thirty-second waffle and ristretto for that day and tried, one last time, to find the true breakfast of kings. As the spoon entered into his mouth, Julio felt a buzz. This buzz was most likely caused by the sheer volume of ristretto coursing through his veins but Julio interpreted it as a rebirth of his breakfast routine and a discovery of something wonderful. How did he not see it before? Two ingredients, both entirely bland, one adding absolutely no flavour or value to the other and therefore superfluous to the entire breakfast experience. Isn’t it obvious? The daily consumption of a breakfast such as this would highlight the ability of one to afford the luxury of such superfluousness. In its simplicity, it was the breakfast of kings and therefore the only breakfast deserving of consumption by our great Julio.

It is at this point where I now chuckle as I reveal to you that this breakfast of kings was merely waffles with a topping of freshly cooked, plain noodles. But I suppose in all of our amusement we may as well acknowledge Julio’s achievement of finally becoming a true experimenter. An experimenter who explored and toyed with every area of life. That was, of course, not including his morning ristretto. I suppose we all need some consistency in life; does he still deserve to be called a hypocrite?

board game

The humble board game

I was having a good little ponder this morning about my blog and how it has become far too serious for my liking. Naturally I’m not a particularly serious person; I have my moments, of course, but in essence I live my life in search for a good chuckle. So why, then, does my blog not reflect this? To give credit where it is due, my blog is charming in its own little way, I won’t deny it this compliment. It’s an eclectic mix of musings, reflections and appreciations that I have grown rather fond of. But humour is missing and now that I have noticed this, its absence is getting to me. So if you will allow (and even if you will not, for by the time you are given the chance to form an opinion, the deed will already be done), I am now going to rectify this situation.

I was talking to my boyfriend about what I should write in my next blog and (bless him for the crazy mind he has) he suggested “a blog about the culture of games and how it has evolved over time”. It is an intriguing and original idea, however I must admit that on the regular this would be one of the last topics I would choose to write about… which is exactly why I am going to write about it. Allow me to take you on an adventure through my ponderings on a topic I know nothing about.

With my absence of knowledge or opinion on this topic, as any perfectionist and/or curator of useless information would do, I googled it. Due to the wonders of the internet and people with opinions on topics that are wildly under-acknowledged, your girl now has a basis for reflection.

From what we know, the first board game was invented in Predynastic Egypt, around 3000BC.  It was the early form of Backgammon, called Senet. However, this is also something we don’t know for sure because some people argue that the first board game was in fact a form of dice, originating in Turkey around 5000BC. Whether or not we know the exact date is beside the point. What I am here to point out is that no matter how much our lifestyle has transformed over the last few millennia, we still share with our ancestors an appreciation for the ever-humble board game. What is interesting, however, is that in these ancient times, board games were tied into politics and religion because even then the human race had a tendency to spoil even the most simple of things with these very topics.

Senet was used by Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs who believed strongly in the concept of fate. The people related a win in a game of Senet back to the strength of the Pharaoh’s protection under the great Egyptian gods. If you lost… well they probably didn’t make that publicly known; preventing widespread fears of godly smitings is always a good idea. In 3000BC, when the working class began to join the board game bandwagon, they started being tied into religion with a key example being Mehen. This game represented the deity Mehen who was known to the Sun Cult as a huge serpent who liked to wrap himself around the sun god (Ra) to protect him. But then somewhere in there, the god and the game became so tied up with one another, no one really quite knew which one came about first. Was the game inspired by the god or was the god inspired by the game? If the latter, I hope one day that there will be a seat for me in the great church of Catan.

In modern times, although some of us may find an interest in playing a round of Monopoly with Trump (or dabbling in the online game brought to you by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), essentially we have simplified the board game (and for modern time’s sake, the online/video game) back down to its true essence: away from politics and religion and back to a mode of socialising. Even video games, which were once known as the tool of the antisocial to avoid society, have now become more open to interaction with an increase in multiplayer and interactive gaming (my heartfelt condolences to the antisocial).

It’s funny how simpler times brought about a complication of the simple things and in more complicated times, the simple things are appreciated for their simplicity. I am personally very grateful to the humble board game. Thank you for taking away the awkward silence in a dull party. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to appreciate the wit and brilliance of the people we surround ourselves with. And thank you for flipping tables since 1902 (the invention of Monopoly). I am glad that there has been a resurgence in board games and social video gaming. It brings about a moment of happiness for everyone and draws out the side of a person’s personality that is so often crushed or hidden under the weight of every day. So thank you, games, for making humanity great again.

So there you go, friends. That has been my pondering on a topic I now know a little too much about.

Stay fun,
Stay brilliant,
Play a board game.

-Alice

She Returns

Friends, it has been too long!

After my last post things were busy at uni, I started writing a blog for my internship and everything I was doing seemed to be based around writing. As sad as it was, the last thing I wanted to do was give myself more writing and thus came a stop to this little blog. Not only this, but I was suffering from a terrible little suffering called ‘writer’s block’. Nothing I wrote sounded good, so it would be deleted and I would bury my head in a pillow for a while, hoping that my brain fuzz would clear away. Well, good news! The fuzz has cleared and she is back.

You see, for the last little while I have been writing posts and recommendations on things to do in Brisbane – cafes, markets etc. but when I tried to write one of these, it just didn’t work. Over last week I came to the conclusion that I had to change my angle. This blog was originally designed to point out all the little things in the world that make life brilliant, and that is not limited to the events and places around Brisbane. So today I’m going back to where it all started. As always, here is a story:

Last week I was away on a camp with a bunch of friends from across Queensland. My friends and I are fun people and naturally, we want to make life fun for the younger campers. There were multiple occasions where I would be talking to younger campers and they would say something like “Alice, you are always on point. How do you do it?” or even “Alice, sometimes I wish I could just be you. I bet you don’t even know my name” (At this point I will clarify that I knew her name and how to spell her name but I pronounced it incorrectly and I felt so bad afterwards) but anyway…

These comments made me just a little bit sad. Compliments are always nice and I will always be grateful when I receive one but these particular compliments came from a place of insecurity and I can’t have that. So today I would like to remind you all that you are just a touch of brilliance. Now I can’t claim the privilege of knowing each and every one of you but I know you should all have a reminder that you are fabulous.

Maybe you aren’t ridiculously happy all the time. Maybe you don’t have a million friends and twice as many on Facebook. Maybe you don’t have that perfect hair that just knows how to do its job. Maybe you don’t get good grades in school. But who even decided those were the traits that define the worth of a person? I would like to argue that these were only made the most ‘attractive traits’ because these are the things that can be manipulated on purpose. Want people to think you’re happy? Take a good selfie. Perfect hair? Straighteners, products and way too much time in the morning. Good grades? Work ridiculously hard. The one thing to remember is: their ‘perfection’ may look effortless, but it’s not. It’s really, really not.

I would like to say that the most brilliant things about you are the things that you can’t alter and manipulate. Things that you might not even know you possess. Things like that glint in your eye that appears when you smile at something no one else noticed. Things like the way you always skip over the second last step because of some reason unknown to everyone else. Things like how you’re the one who listens to someone’s story when everyone else is talking over them. I could be here for hours listing off all of the things that make you fabulous but I think you get the idea. You may not notice these things, but others do. If you can’t read this and appreciate that you are brilliant, think of it this way: if you weren’t around and doing these invisible little things, someone in the world would have one less reason to smile everyday.

Never say that you wish you were someone else, because then there would be no you. Why would the world only want one brilliant person when it could have two?

I hope this makes up for my long absence!
Be happy and know you are brilliant.
– Alice

Consumerism: Therapy for the Soul

Today we shall have a look at the age old argument… consumerism: is it good or bad?

Consumerism is something that the western world has struggled with for generations. It is the internal struggle of ‘do I really need it? I already have so many things and look at this person over here who has nothing! How can I justify more things?’ But the honest fact is, we all buy things that we don’t necessarily need and as much as we might feel guilty later, consumerism is inevitable. So why waste time feeling guilty over something you can’t really prevent? The way I look at it, consumerism originates from an inner desire to have something different in our lives and is actually a form of therapy in the modern world.

Recently I came to the realisation that I haven’t really bought anything all year apart from food and coffee. Upon realising this, I suddenly felt this urge to go buy something. Anything. Just something that isn’t food or coffee. This happened.

IMG_0957_2 IMG_0958_2 IMG_0959_2

The above items are as listed below:
Felt hat from Sussan – Soy wax candle; ‘Perfect Pear’ scent, from Mott & Mulberry – Gigantic yellow mug from Typo.

Just a quick plug for that candle: oh my gosh this is actually the greatest thing that has ever existed. It’s a woodwick candle, which means it crackles while it burns, and it smells amazing. The crackling from the candle is actually quite helpful when studying or working because ambient noise has been proven to help with creativity and concentration. So for all my studying friends out there, go invest in one of these little guys, for the benefit of your education.

So anyway, I bought these things and I felt happier. I know that sounds ridiculously shallow and like I’m some form of shopaholic who is trying to justify her buying habits to the rest of the world but just stick with me here.

Now my life is pretty hectic and it is far from boring. I love uni, I love wandering through the city and hanging out at cafes and doing all sorts of fun little things that a lot of other people don’t get the time to do. But even for me, life feels a bit average sometimes. We all get caught up in this continuous cycle of day-to-day existence, during which nothing really ever changes. This is something that we as a society struggle with. We grow up with all of these expectations to live an exciting life, full of travel and adventure. As kids, we dream about being astronauts and living in Antarctica amongst the penguins… but then we get slapped in the face with life and all of these hopes fade in the vortex of time.

I find that my consumerist ways most frequently kick into gear when life is feeling particularly dull and I think a lot of you would probably agree. We get sick of our houses looking the same day in and day out, so we suddenly decide to redecorate everything and afterwards we feel happier. We get bored with wearing those same clothes that we’ve had for years so purge our wardrobes and start again, afterwards feeling more confident. We get sick of our boring desk at work, with those same boring pens, so spend too much money on colourful highlighters and markers that we will most likely never use but that brighten up our desk just a little bit.

Although some people see consumerism as a bad thing, I think it is actually necessary. With a busy life, it’s hard to find the time to sit down and do the recommended yoga exercises, thinking deep and spiritual thoughts whilst breathing the fresh air of the local rainforest in which we have strategically placed ourselves for the most calming yoga experience possible. But we do have time to go out and buy something just a little bit fun, that will make us smile, that brings some colour into our day and gives something fresh in our life, even if it is just for a little while.

Colour and variety is good for us, and if consumerism helps us get that, then maybe consumerism isn’t all that bad. Maybe it is actually something that is necessary in the modern world, as a form of therapy and a channel for inspiration. I’m not suggesting we all go out and stock up on ridiculous numbers of unnecessary items, but there is no use in making your life even more dull than it has to be just because of the negative connotations of consumerism. Embrace the colour variety of new things. The effect will be just a little bit brilliant, trust me.

Stay happy and surround yourself in colour
– Alice