The compelling case of #JillMeagher

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What is it that so compels us in the Jill Meagher case? People go missing all the time yet these particular set of circumstances have most of us enthralled and genuinely emotive. Why?

If you're truly unaware, Jill Meagher is a 29 year old woman from Ireland now living in Melbourne with her Irish husband. In the early hours of last Saturday morning she attempted to walk the short distance from a bar to her home but along the way she vanished. She's not been heard from since. Police released CCTV footage showing her in conversation with a man who looks alarmingly like a man other women reported harassment and abduction attempts by. Her handbag was found 2 days later in an obvious spot police had already scoured. Missed or planted?

It doesn't look like good news. It's terrifying. Makes my skin crawl. I'm not much older than her. I've gone out in that area and been drunk there. Is it the 'could easily have been me' element that grips us so? The mystery of it? The fear is genuine. I feel my stomach tense when I read about this. I feel true dread and worry for this woman I've never heard of before.

Something about it is gripping us psychologically. There is a lot if judgement at the fact she walked home alone but don't we all live by the default setting of 'it can't/won't happen to me'? I've walked streets alone at night. Intoxicated. Silently scolded myself for the risk in the light of sober day. It's just 5 minutes. I do it all the time. I'll be fine there's people around... Plenty of traffic... And yet.

Women get unwanted attention from men a lot. Being approached on the street at that hour by a man wouldn't be unusual. And Jill is a pretty woman. I don't want to speculate but chances are she was rolling her eyes and just hoping he would give it up and she could go on her way. Not initially suspecting real danger. Using her phone to prevent him further engaging her. Who knows though? Only Jill.

Perhaps that's what gets to us here. That many of us have had unwanted encounters that maybe leave us feeling a bit unsafe but we rack it up to part of life and go on with it. Except Jill can't. Where is she?

I don't want to allow something like this to change how I conduct a night out or how I feel about walking unaccompanied at night or anytime. But it does. I feel less safe. I feel far more cautious and fearful. It infuriates me that I've been made feel this way by some bastard who has done this. Remember those 'reclaim the night' women's marches? No way. Not reclaimed. Taken further away.

I hope the police get a breakthrough in this case soon. I hope Jill is found alive. I hope this increases our awareness of what's going on around us - to us or others in our vicinity. I hope this feeling of mass fear and intimidation doesn't last. I hope that we don't lose hope.

Crimestoppers 1800 333 000 

I am judging you. Probably.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I recently realised something about myself. I'm kind of judgemental sometimes. This is upsetting because I always thought that I wasn't. I'd see, for example, debates raging on parenting choices and I'd shrug and say "I don't know you and your child, only you know what works for you" and I'd feel almost smug about not judging people.

But recently two things have happened where I have found myself getting upset and judgey mcjudgepants at people. And I don't like it.

Firstly, I get annoyed when people don't display the same levels of friendship or loyalty that I do. Just because I would react in a fiercely loyal way, doesn't mean others have to. I get hurt when they don't, yet it's unreasonable of me to expect they do. It's kinda tough to be honest. I don't know how to handle that at all.

And secondly, if you eat meat, I am judging you for it. Big time. I am trying to accept that people have their reasons for consuming meat and that I can't and shouldn't think less of them for it, but you know what? I do. I can't see any reason that outweighs the suffering and murder of innocent animals. I just can't. There is no reason good enough for me.

I don't know what to make of this new side to me. I don't like it, it's not a pleasant way to be. But it's also difficult to stop myself doing. I guess being aware of it is a start, but from here out, I am not sure where to go with it. Maybe this is a stupid post to hit send on. Now you can all judge me for being judgey?!!

Book time - Don't Breathe A Word

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Am not very good at reviews but had to write about this book I just read. It's called Don't Breathe A Word and is by Jennifer McMahon. The first clue to how good it is, is that I read the entire thing in less than 24 hours, despite continuing my usual errands and whatnot. It was painful every time I had to put it down. It kept begging to be picked up again.

The book is creepy. Quite unsettling, yet fascinating and the mystery is really well written. Right to the very last word.

I won't include spoilers, but the blurb reads:

On a soft summer night in Vermont, twelve-year-old Lisa went into the woods behind her house and never came out again. Before she disappeared, she told her little brother, Sam, about a door that led to a magical place where she would meet the King of the Fairies and become his queen.

Fifteen years later, Phoebe is in love with Sam, a practical, sensible man who doesn't fear the dark and doesn't have bad dreams--who, in fact, helps Phoebe ignore her own. But suddenly the couple is faced with a series of eerie, unexplained occurrences that challenge Sam's hardheaded, realistic view of the world. As they question their reality, a terrible promise Sam made years ago is revealed--a promise that could destroy them all.

Really. I don't tend to read anything like this, fairies and whatnot are not really my thing. I don't know what compelled me to even read this, I think the crime element? Regardless, I will now be reading all of her other books stat. Loved it. Have a very definite book hangover now, and will struggle to pick up the next on my to-read list, without thinking about Sam, Lisa, Evie, Phoebe... And Teilo, The King of the Fairies.


Courage & Confidence

Sunday, September 16, 2012

So, how does one get them? I would really like to know, is there a formula I can follow? There must be. I need this stuff.

Do you know how many courses I have agreed to, often paid for, and then not gone because of shyness? A lot. Likewise parties and social engagements and things of that nature. Because I am so freaking shy that it is painful. People sometimes laugh when I tell them I am shy. They don't believe me. Thing is, if I know you, then I am not at all shy! I am comfortable and loud and secure. But getting there takes enormous courage and it often fails me.

I was just invited to a friends birthday party next month. It's at a funky bar in Melbourne, and it sounds like a lot of fun. I'd love to go, I really would. But already I feel nervous and scared of not knowing people aside from the birthday girl who will be busy, of not knowing the bar or where I am going, of what to wear, of how to act... Already I feel fear. I don't want to back out of these situations all the time. I need to challenge myself to step outside my comfort zone more often. What am I scared of?? :(

How on earth do I even begin to work on this? I want to be more social, I want to meet new people and have new experiences. I just don't know how. I don't know that I can. Help?


Monday, September 10, 2012

This seems to be becoming a food blog lately. Non foodies never fear, my relentless analysis of life in general will continue in time of this I am certain! This stuff is too good NOT to share, though.

So the next week of meals to disseminate. What did we have? I actually juggled a few things on the spur of the moment as I often do. I skipped the pasta, and instead had a salad sandwich for dinner one night when I was stuffed. I also skipped the marinated vegetable salad one night and instead made meatless burgers (for me, literally, just the salad part) because I wanted to try my new liquid smoke and I made a killer BBQ sauce with it. It was goooood on the salad and on fries. I'll be whipping that up again.

I did however, still make Gratin dauphinoise with wild mushrooms. This is basically a vegan potato bake that uses vegetable stock in place of cream and the like. It also puts some wild mushrooms through it, and it crisps up beautifully on top. Here I served it with a roasted pear, spinach and feta (optional) salad.

My favorite meal at the moment is Chilli sans Carne. It's so simple, and so tasty. I fry onion and freshly pressed garlic in some oil, add some chilli flakes and chilli powders, some chopped celery sticks, kidney beans and a tin of tomatoes and cook it down. Then a sprinkling of cheese and a dollop of sour cream and it's done. And my god it is GOOD.

I had a go at leek, potato and feta puff pastry pizzas, which surprised me. At first I thought they sounded average and uninspired in taste but I was happy to be proven wrong. These were tasty little things, would make a good lunch too in smaller quantity. Delish!

A fresh and packed vegetable and peanut salad (vegan). This was tasty and raw too, which gave it loads of crunch and vitamins and nutrients and all those other wonderful things. Plus, I got to use my mortar and pestle which is my favorite kitchen thingy. In there is garlic, ginger, chilli and freshly roasted peanuts. Added to this some tamarind paste and water and that was my salad dressing.

My salad consisted of cabbage, cucumber, bean sprouts, baby corn, beans, and basil. Crunch-o-rama!

Finally, spiced onion naan with lentil salad. I was supposed to use baby spinach for the salad, but my baby spinach had gone to god so I had to think on the fly and use good 'ol iceberg lettuce. I love iceberg so it worked for me. The salad element of this is vegan, and tasted so good I wanted to cry with my happy. For real! The naan had cheese on it, and I wasn't as taken with it. It was okay, but you know how some bread almost tastes sweet? I hate that, and this was like that. Like American bread - it freaked me out how sugary the bread I had over there was. I don't like that taste. On a pita or a naan without a sweet hint would be much nicer. The salad of weep inducing yumminess though, was amazing. Lentils, lettuce, onion that had been fried and softened in oil and mixed with curry powder, and a dressing of garlic, lemon juice, curry powder and olive oil. Taste sensation. Cheap, easy, it will be back in my mouth again.

Leaving out meals I have already posted about recently, next week the following are on the plan -

Asparagus, broccoli and cheese pasta
Italian Suppli
Mushroom and bean stroganoff
Parsley pesto pasta
Chickpea, feta and marinated vegetable salad
Smoky barbecue kebabs (vegan)
Wonton Soup (vegan)
Rogan josh (vegan)
Satay Curry (vegan)

And the last one which I am uber excited about, because to me it's like the vego version of steak and veg. It's a roasted mushroom with mustard cream sauce that I'll serve with mashed potato, and sauteed spinach, broccoli and garlic.

All of these are from Veggie Mama's blog, a new discovery that has me absolutely leaping with excitement. Given I took almost all of the above meals from her site, it's clear she's going to be my new BFF.

I am also going to try my hand at this vegan goats cheese. A bit afeared, but how good does it look! See more here too! Cheese is the most difficult thing for me about going vegan, so am so hoping it is a success!

Week 1 meals

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just thought I would talk about the meals I have made this week and how they're turning out.

First up, bean tacos. So easy, insanely so. Refried beans mixed with a bit of water and heated. Taco shells, and salad. I had some tortillas that I heated as well so we could have both hard and soft. As it turned out, the tacos were barely touched. Apparently we like the burrito style here. They were so good. I needed cheese on mine though, so not a vegan meal. Kid approved!

Cauliflower potato and chickpea curry. This one was just okay, nothing special, but very vegan. Just a simple curry that I served with rice. I wouldn't bother again, I've made other better vegan curries in the past.

Fattoush salad. This was ahhhmayyyzing. Vegan? Check! Easy? Check! Delicious? Check! Fattoush salad has such a zing to it because you sit it in a lemony sumac dressing for 30 minutes before serving which gives it a real zest. The crunchy toasted pita croutons add a nice contrast. I served this with more toasted pitas and homemade hommus on the side. The homemade hommus was just the best thing I have ever tasted. I'll never buy it again. So simple to whip up, too.

Thai green vegetable curry. Pre vegetarian days I had always loved a chicken thai green curry with capsicum and snow peas. I cheat with one of those supermarket packet sauces, so I did the same, just leaving out the meat and adding a few more green veggies. I also use coconut cream rather than coconut milk for extra creaminess. Sadly, this was average. Again served with rice and vegan, but it just lacked oomph. I think it had too much cream, not enough curry kick and was a little bland. It could easily be improved with some fiddling about though.

Vegie burgers. Oh man these were the best thing! I finally found a recipe that firstly held together well - so many other vego burger recipes crumble and fall apart before cooking. These held fast and strong. They'd stand up to the BBQ even. Secondly, they cooked up well. They crisped, they held color and they looked like real burgers. Impressive!!! And taste? oh man. These were sooo good. Not vegan, they had both cheddar and feta cheese through them, but that really made them. Divine. Will make again I'm sure. Kid semi-approved (not a feta fan)!

Vegetarian lasagna. I was so skeptical of this before making it. I thought firstly, no way is this amount of vegetables going to be enough to make a decent lasagna. Then i thought hmm, marscapone cheese, I dunno about that... But, once I assembled it, it looked pretty bloody good! And it tasted divine. Garlicky, cream cheesey, pasta and veg. It'd be good with any pasta, wouldn't have to be lasagne I reckon.

Green pea and chickpea salad. This one is a regular at our place. Vegan and tasty as hell it's very simple. Green beans cooked and blanched, mixed with chickpeas and a sesame/sake sauce. I use sherry in place of sake which works fine. I love the taste of sesame and the sauce is lick your plate good. For realz. Kid approved!

So a mixed week, but lots of new successes which is always a good thing. Next week stay tuned to hear about these babies -

Chickpea, marinated vegetable and feta salad
Leek, potato and feta puff pastry pizzas
Gratin dauphinoise w wild mushys and salad (vegan)
Chilli sans carne   (vegan)
Asparagus, broccoli and cheese pasta
Vegetable and peanut salad   (vegan)
Spiced onion naan with lentil salad   (vegan)


Being Me

Monday, September 3, 2012

For the first time in a long while, I am not actively seeing anyone. Soon after my marriage broke down, I had a strange sort of relationship with someone overseas. Emotionally I was very attached, but physically, only twice in 2 years did I even see him. So, it was a little strange, but it also suited to a degree to be low key. Sadly, that was never going to work out, and I was used quite badly in the end. I think that my vulnerabilities were taken advantage of in a pretty awful way. I learned from that. As that broke down I began dating someone closer to home. We dated for 7 months, saw one another every few weeks for a date or a weekend away. It was relaxed and easy and fun. I was jerked around in the end here too, by someone who really didn't know what he wanted, and I should have quit when I was ahead but, me being me, I didn't. I kept trying to do what was right and fair and kind. Largely I think because I was a bit scared to be alone. Because I never really have been. But now I am. I have crushes and interests, but I'm not seeing anyone, and I have no commitments. At first, it felt scary and alarming. But now, I like it - sometimes. I get lonely and that sucks, I get frustrated, and that sucks too. But it's nice just being me. Not worrying about being stuffed around, insecure, loved or not loved, hot or cold. Just being me and doing things I want to do - for me. I'm learning to run, building up my fitness and losing more weight. I'm cooking a lot, experimenting with vegan and vegetarian recipes to extend my tastes and contribute to a healthier me and a kinder world. I'm reading endlessly for my happy and I'm writing for my soul. I bought a ticket to a rock festival and I am so excited for it to come around - music is my muse.

I feel like I am learning more about myself and growing more stable and more independent. I like being me. I like living just for what I want and need (and the kids obviously). Living in the moment and indulging the things that make me me. Some day, I think the guy will come along, or show himself in a light that just works. Maybe it will be soon, maybe it won't. I've stopped feeling desperate to find him though. I'm no longer in a rush. I don't believe in book and movie love. I don't believe in grand romances, not any more. I believe in solidity, security, honesty and trust. I believe in respect and mutual admiration and easy fun. I believe in me.