Asian-Australian Self Care

It’s been a hard little while, right? We’ve had to deal with Pauline Hanson, and a whole lot of ugliness, and some gross Islamaphobia right here, normalised in our media, and it’s been hard. It’s still hard.

Sometimes activism gets tiring, and you feel pathetic and useless when you need to take a break. But it’s important. (I had to go on holidays, for a number of reasons; not least because my counselor thought I was burnt out from 24/7 activism)

Sometimes you can’t go on holidays, but you still need to look after yourself.
Continue reading “Asian-Australian Self Care”

Things I have learned since breaking my foot

Six weeks ago yesterday, I broke my foot. Suffice to say, it was a learning experience, and the main lesson was, breaking your foot is terrible, don’t do it.

Here are some other things I’ve learned.

(Note: post contains X-rays of feet — I don’t know if anyone else out there has lifelong Issues with foot bones, but we thought we should give a heads-up just in case.)

Continue reading “Things I have learned since breaking my foot”

should have known better

Sometimes it is super fucked dealing with ableism in the world. This is specifically a post with links about ableism, inspiration porn, appropriation, and maybe not being an ableist poop. It is mostly links to the voices of disabled peeps with the occasional detour into news articles. Okay that sounds wanky. THIS IS AN INTRODUCTION I AM AT WORK OKAY.

Continue reading “should have known better”

are you from linkspam or Mars?

We’ve been sitting on this post for a few weeks, so some of these links are, uhhh, vintage!

Liz is a candidate for the 2016 NAFF race, which sends the successful candidate to Contact 2016, the one-off Brisbane con running over Easter.

I’ll talk about this in more detail in the near future, but if you’re already convinced, voting costs $5 and you can do so at this link.

Stephanie adores Clueless, and just watched it last weekend, and loved this: ‘Clueless’ style: a fashion analysis of the best teen movie of all time

Steph cried with laughter at this: 46 Things That Would Be Different If “Love Actually” Were Set In Australia

Uncovering Australia’s Indigenous past: Forgotten 1920s photos reveal insight into coastal Aboriginal people

When there’s no room at the inn for victims of domestic violence (Don’t read the comments – sadly the ‘most liked’ comments are on the right-hand sidebar, putting them directly in view.)

Does YA fiction need to check its privilege?  On class, and the lack of working class YA protagonists who aren’t leading a revolution.  (Liz agrees strongly with this article, and sadly notes that some of the worst depictions of class are from OzYA.)

An Open Letter to JJ Abrams  – Did you know that girls can be Star Wars fans? Apparently JJ didn’t.  But what made this blog post particularly enjoyable was the author’s account of becoming a science fiction fan in Hong Kong.

Stephen Nothling, vision-impaired artist, brings unique perspective to Brisbane suburban streetscapes

Great piece at Overland on the shit going on against the CFMEU and Australia’s Unions: Black bans and blackmail, and why it’s important.

That’s why having workers’ representatives monitoring safety matters. Last month, when a concrete slab crushed two men to death on an East Perth worksite, it transpired that the CFMEU had been refused entry to the site sixteen times.

No Award reminds everyone that the voices of women (and genderqueer people) are frequently silenced by the medical fraternity and endometriosis is a real thing suffered by Friends of No Award: My Doctors Said My Crippling Menstrual Pain Was “Fine”.

Melbourne history business: The little blue building

Here’s What It’s Like To Go Through Gay Conversion Therapy In Australia

Peter S Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, screenwriter for the TNG episode “Sarek”, is suing his business partner.  Jim C Hines breaks down the issues as we know them. 

Writing Business

Great point at The Wheeler Centre’s notes: It’s Not Easy Being Green: when young writers meet opportunistic editors.

As Parkhill noted in a response to Kilbride’s piece on Facebook, the core issue was not simply that the piece was ‘garbage’, but that it passed the editorial process at all. ‘Perhaps worse than the article’s content is the fact that [New Matilda] have exposed a very young and inexperienced writer’s ill-formed thoughts to a large audience,’ Parkhill said. ‘This article was by no means ready to go live, and I’m sure in the fullness of time its author won’t thank [New Matilda] for the opportunity or “exposure” but will regret the fact that [they] were willing to publish such asinine crap to which his name will be forever attached.’

Right Place, Right Time: How the Melbourne Voice shuts writers out (as in being in Melbourne, not some publication called Melbourne Voice, as Steph first was confused by)

Steph nearly called this section Gross White People Business

NOPE: No criminal charges over pig head dumping at University of WA Muslim prayer room. GET IN THE BIN.

Seven News reported on Wednesday that police know the man, believed to be a former university student, responsible and found a second pig’s head in his home.

But he reportedly won’t be charged because technically no laws had been broken.


Inadequate white man gets appointed to important political role; admits he loves revenge: Joe Hockey gets job as ambassador to US, admits staying in parliament would have been about payback. Fucking get it together, come on.

Australians head to Colombian village for cocaine ‘special tour’. ARE YOU MESSING WITH ME RIGHT NOW.

“When I came on this trip, there were a lot of things I hadn’t done at home,” said Rose, 32, from Western Australia.

“There was a bucket list and I always said that if I came to Colombia I would try cocaine.

“In Australia, it is a rich man’s drug and sells for about $300 a gram. Here we have had it for as cheap as $US5. People give it away because it is so accessible.”




R U OK? No, because turning mental health into a brand triggers my anxiety issues!


So here’s how it works. No Award has mental health issues. We admit that. There have been doctors involved, medication, all sorts of stuff.

An older person in Steph’s life was recently told by their GP they should consider seeing a psychiatrist. They went so ashen, so still. “Will I still be able to work?” They asked. We had to have a whole conversation about how a) there’s nothing wrong with seeing a psychiatrist, and b) their work doesn’t have to know, also.

There’s still a stigma around having a mental illness. And there’s a real danger in assuming that someone who looks sad or who is quiet might be the one who needs to be asked how they’re doing. The insidious thing about depression and suicide is that often the people you don’t suspect are the ones suffering; because depression helps you get very good at putting up a front.

Nevertheless, this is exactly what happens to Liz when she doesn’t take her Lexapro. I have sulked in MANY corners of MANY coffee shops while my brain chemistry does something unpleasant. (Art by Allie Brosh.)

There’s a feeling you get in your gut when someone who doesn’t care about your mental health enough to ask any other day of the year asks, because a campaign told them to, RUOK?

Mate, if I wanted you to know, I wouldn’t want you to ask me today.

Steph is going to quote from an Anonymous Friend of No Award here:

A lot of the people who get behind the day are the exact kind of people who would have ignored me at my worst.

Steph continues, this day is perfect for people who want to ignore the sorts of attention, friendship and actions that would actually help a person who isn’t okay.

It totally supports the Western idea that if you do one good public thing as an individual you’ve discharged your duty.

The branding and corporatisation of diseases is complicated: it’s one thing for there to be Parkinson’s Australia and the Walk in the Park (GET IT); it’s another for Steph’s workplace to have had a casual dress and barbecue day for RUOK Day.

RUOK Day doesn’t promote long term support after today, it doesn’t address societal and cultural causes of depression, and it encourages people with no experience with depression to meddle with sufferers in a way that could actually worsen their lives in all kinds of ways.

This is not to say that no good can come out of it, but, judging by the results of Liz’s informal Twitter poll, positive outcomes from RUOK day come from engagement with wider issues, rather than reducing it to one single question on one single day of the year.

For example, Another Anonymous Friend of No Award said:

At my old work, we had a nice morning tea, and the boss talked generally about mental health issues and contacting Beyond Blue etc.

It was pretty chill, and as far as I can remember, no one actually asked anyone if they were OK. 

Another Anonymous Friend talked about people making her aware for the first time that there is (limited) Medicare coverage for therapy, and that made her feel more supported.

What these experiences have in common is that (a) they involved people going to the trouble of finding better resources than a random acquaintance with a four-letter question, and (b) they didn’t put the onus on people with mental illness to answer a four-letter question.

Because that’s the part that sets Liz’s anxiety off, and judging by the Twitter results, a lot of people feel the same way: living with a mental illness — even a minor anxiety disorder — there is a lot of pressure to be normal.  Whatever normal is, and it’s a concept that can change with the setting.

If I’m having an anxious day, I don’t want to dump all my feelings in a colleague’s lap — and it’s not fair to them to make them deal with that either.  I don’t know what their other problems are!  It’s none of my business!

But I also don’t want to feel the pressure to say, “Yes!  I am okay!  100% okay!  Please hold while I grin nervously and sidle away!”

I don’t want to dump an entire Hyperbole and a Half post in here, but Allie Brosh writes and draws about depression with extraordinary insight, and here she talks about the pressure she felt to comfort people after she had been honest with them about their feelings.  RUOK Day has bunting and cookie cutters.  It doesn’t have strategies for what to do when someone says, “Actually, no, I am not okay.”

It’s all very well meaning but No Award does not endorse this day.

We also do not endorse advertisements … shaming you for exacerbating someone’s mental illness by not calling them? Is that what it’s doing? Come on, Virgin.

When helping isn’t helpful

Unwanted help has been on my mind the last couple of years.  It started with The Day of the Doctor, which introduced the marvelous Osgood, a young UNIT science officer with a wardrobe full of Doctor-inspired outfits and chronic asthma.  I love Osgood.  She delights my heart.

Osgood is also a gift to cosplayers.

I did not love the recurring thing where Kate Stewart, Osgood’s boss, has to continually remind her to take her Ventolin.  Osgood is a grown woman, who has presumably been living with asthma her entire life.  No matter how many absent-minded scientist tropes she fills, she doesn’t need her boss to remind her to take her medication.

The idea that a person with a chronic illness or disability needs looking after — needs protecting, even from themselves — is pervasive.  It’s big in Marvel Movieverse fandom, where it’s hard to escape the Tumblr posts about Big Brave Masculine Bucky protecting Tiny Weak Delicate Pre-Serum Steve from bullies and diseases alike.  Or the posts about wrapping Tiny Weak Delicate Pre-Serum Steve in a blanket and never letting him leave for his own good.

(For some reason, no one ever frets over Nick Fury’s lack of depth perception, or headcanons Bucky and Steve helping Sam through his PTSD.  So strange.  I can’t imagine a single reason why that would be…)

Continue reading “When helping isn’t helpful”

Reasons why No Award has dietary requirements

We hate freedom

We hate you

We really want to upset youstolen from

When Stephanie consumes something on the forbidden list, she turns purple, blows up to the size of a blimp, and then explodes
Hunger really is better than airport food

There are a lot of problems with the meat industry and associated animal products, and Australia’s industrial agricultural complex

Well, it saves us from mindless snacking…

Lactose intolerance is no small matter

We’re boycotting Catholic-approved foods

Sharks have a list of forbidden foods

Penguins have a list of forbidden foodstotally stolen from

Cephalopods have a list of forbidden foods

Because yer mum

To make life more complicated

We just really enjoy having long conversations with waitstaff

Buddhism says one must consider every creature but also it’s their own fault for doing something to come back as a cow

Explosive diarrhoea

Therapy for Asian Australians: A guide

This was meant to be a joke but somehow it became genuine. An actual guide! Go forth and find therapists, Azns of Australia. Medicare will pay for it, so at least your parents won’t worry about the expense.

  1. Your therapist will be white. This is okay. They can still be of use to you.
  2. When they say ‘magical thinking’, what they mean is, that thing where your mum tells you not to say a thing out loud, because the spirit of that thing will come for you. Do not believe the therapist when they say you have to stop not saying it (but you can say it in your head. That’s okay. Name that thing) (But don’t say it out loud, come on, you don’t want the spirit of that thing to find you).
  3. Therapists almost always practice in old houses. They are probably haunted, but white ghosts can’t hurt you. Do not be afraid. The ghost will take the therapist and any other clients well before they get to you.
  4. They won’t force you to make eye contact. That’s totally a myth. If they do, find a new therapist.from angry little girls (an excellent comic)
  5. You are not the only Asian Australian with a therapist. I promise. There’s me, at least.
  6. The things that make you specifically your ethnicity are not the problem. You don’t have to become more Australian (“Australian”) to deal with your very real problems.
  7. Your parents will say: are you telling this person our private family issues? (Yes) But they’re private family issues. (Yes) Are you sick? (Your answer may vary) Does anyone you know see you? (Doesn’t matter) What do you mean, your friends know you go to therapy? (My friends know I go to therapy) Do they know there’s something wrong? (They’re my friends, Ma, Ba!)
  8. You may be struck with how some treatments seem like cultural appropriation, particularly around mindfulness and meditation. Yep.
  9. Your therapist might suggest more independence from your family. Feel free to think about the concepts suggested, but remember that you’re Azn and your therapist is not necessarily culturally appropriate.
  10. You will have to explain the following things: family context; family structure; extended family structure; your interdependence on your family; what being Asian means.

    what happens when we fail to function (thanks, haw par villa, for a lifetime of fear)
    what happens when we fail to function (thanks, haw par villa, for a lifetime of fear)
  11. Specifically on mindfulness: you will probably learn how to do this. I find mindfulness helpful. But I sit less with my emotions, because identifying individual emotions is hard, and more with paying attention to my surroundings.
  12. On emotions: I have been known to literally start conversations with ‘I need to tell you a thing and I need you not to react.’ This is probably more Chinese hyphen specific, but that’s because emotions are hard and I’ve definitely grown up not expected to share them. My therapist thinks this is because I’m hiding from my emotions, but in my context you can receive comfort without sharing specifics. Other East Asians may find a familiarity in this.
  14. You might need meds. You might not. Either is fine.
  15. Your parents will come around. No, seriously.
  16. Your ancestors, too.
  17. I have found the following articles helpful at various points of time in therapy: Culturally competent treatments for Asian Americans: The relevance of mindfulness and acceptance-based therapies, Hall et al, American Psychological Association, 2011; Challenging Stereotypes: culture psychology and the Asian self, Radio National, 2010.

things people thought it was appropriate to say about the tattoos of No Award

girls with tattoos are so trashy

especially on their lower backs

not a tattoo of no award

oh YOU have a tramp stamp?

you seem so nice

what will your boss say

you’ll never get a proper job again (liz’s boss at the time had two tattoos and a nose ring btw)

why’d you get a dead Roman lady on your back?

what do you mean it’s a feminist tattoo?

what will your children say?

what will your future husband say?

because you want to be more of a bogan?

but why brand it on your body? why not put it on a t-shirt so you can see the message but take it off and it’s not permanent?

oh wow, do you read chinese?

did you join a gang?