Grounded Theory

I was talking about someones PhD confirmation seminar the other day. Truth is that mine is coming up very soon. I am walking around in total dread, block of ice in my stomach, trying to manage my anxiety. I wake up covered in sweat, having gone through an imaginary examination where everything failed.

In short, in my thesis I’m talking to people from the Torres Strait Islands and people from Greenland, working within the criminal justice system, about their perceptions of justice. Then I will compare the countries. My theory is, that if we look at the law on paper and how it is practised, it will be very different to how people perceive it. So far so good.

Obviously I’m doing fieldwork. I’m going to travel in the Torres Strait (have done one field trip already) and Greenland. Obviously I also have a theory that the locals are not so happy with the white justice system that has been forced upon them. But what they REALLY think, I have little clue. This has been the fuel for most of my nightmares in the past two months, the dreaded question being: “what do you expect to find?”

This morning I received an email that answered the question for me. It comes in the form of grounded theory. I won’t bore you with the details, just say that I have moved from an answer somewhere along the lines of “ahdonno” to “I have based myself in grounded theory as it is congruent with a decolonizing methodology. It allows simultaneous inductive-deductive thinking, gives voice to the subject and allows them to identify the problems”. The two answers are exactly the same. Some days you just gotta love academia.

 

Come here kitty-kitty

After not eating my chickpeas for dinner, I decided to stay in an age-appropriate mood and suggested we watch “Puss in Boots”. Mr Husband is now praising the sun, moon and stars that our rental agreement says ‘no pets’. I literally curled up in pet-withdrawal during the movie, worst when Puss cuddled with his mama at the end, purring.

Since I did see it, I may as well review it; it wont take long. The first half was fun and original. After that it was booooring (apart from the mama cuddle). If you like cats it is worth watching for the animation and funny quirky cats. If you love cats someone needs to be ready at the end to cuff and sedate you because, like me,  you will see nothing wrong with this picture:

I don’t like chickpeas

We just had dinner and for the first time EVER, Mr husband cooked something I didn’t like. It sounded good: chicken, rosemary and chickpea salad with garlic and olive oil. I had a vision of something greenish, light and nice. It wasn’t. In reality I think it is because I don’t like chickpeas – I just didn’t know that. I like them when they have been turned into hummus or camouflaged in a soup or something.

So there I was, 5 years old, with a really irritating facial expression, eating one chickpea at a time untill Mr husband finally asks in a fatherly voice: “do you like the food?” What-to-say-what-to-say-I’m-an-adult-I’m-supposed-to-like-chickpeas: “no”

Mr husband looks at me with a very serious expression and says in a stern voice (while I hang my head): “well if you don’t like the food, you can have crackers with smoked salmon and avocado” HANG ON! Salmon and avocado? Hey hey, look what I found in the fridge: Philadelphia cheese, gorgonzola AND smoked salmon and avocado! Hep hep, I don’t like chick peas!

 

My neighbours are forced to move

I’m a little emotional this morning – you know that feeling where you know a good cry would just do the trick. I choose to write about it because this, if anything, will give you an insight into what drives me and why I choose to work with the things I do.

This morning my colleague and friend presented her confirmation seminar for her PhD. For those outside of university world, it is a seminar we have to present in the first year of our PhD, demonstrating to the academic community that we have a decent plan for our research. And boy did she have a plan! she was awesome! Inspiring, wonderful and just plain fantastic. She is a Torres Strait Islander woman and her research investigates the experience of Torres Strait Islanders who are forced to migrate to mainland Australia, because their islands are disappearing into the ocean – because of climate change. These are people who are already struggling, living in remote communities, with poor access to healthcare, education and justice facilities. People who are not allowed to own their own land, but are forced to rent from a government who does not provide them with basic facilities such as clean water and sewage, a government who has rejected giving them funding to build adequate walls to protect them from king tides (did you know that by the way? That most TSI and Aboriginal people cannot become homeowners because the land is owned by government?).

It was powerful. I am so moved to have witnessed this strong islander woman talk about her home, the situation of her people and how her research will investigate the options of assisting her people – easing their integration into a society they are forced to become a part of. The strength of her, the strength of her people and her culture.

I become so emotional, I get so angry and I feel such a horrible sorrow for what we are doing to each other in this world. How we kick the people who are already on the floor and offer little assistance when they try to get up. This is what drives my research. This is what makes it worthwhile for me to sit in my little office, writing about (the lack of) justice for Aboriginal people across the world. I know I have a small voice in a large sea of indifference, but this is all I can do. Because I cannot not do it. And now I will take a box of tissues to the toilet and get it over with. Thank you for listening.

 

If you want to read more about the effects of climate change and the TSI, here are some articles for you:

http://www.rgc.org.au/project-showcase/climate-change-today-torres-strait

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-12/torres-strait-pleads-for-climate-change-action/2791376

http://www.unny.mission.gov.au/unny/110517_PFII.html

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/monster-tides-smother-torres-strait-islands/story-e6freoof-1225825028712

Pancakes (you’ll love ’em)

After spilling my guts on the bowel issue (my last post), I felt so good that I decided to embark on an all time Sunday morning special: pancakes

I make pancakes on a regular basis and cannot be bothered having a recipe. It is a feel thing. If you are not comfortable with cooking with gefülhe this is not for you. But if you are: easy-peasy amazing pancakes.

You need:eggs, flour, salt, baking powder, milk, butter, sugar. I use brown sugar as I like the taste better and I also add vanilla sugar and cardamom.

You knock the eggs (I used 4 this time around) into a bowl, add some flour – just sprinkle approximately half a cupful over the eggs. Then add all the dry ingredients you need/want. I used: 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, 2 teaspoons of vanilla sugar, 3 teaspoons of baking powder and 2 handfuls of brown sugar, looking like this:

I use a whisk and start mixing it real good. Then I start to add more flour – and this is the gefülh thing. You add flour until the dough is real tight, until you think “If I add anymore I cannot move it around and my arm will fall off trying.” In my case it looks like this:

Then you add milk a little at a time until the dough becomes the right consistency to make pancakes of. That is a sirupy consistency which I cannot describe, so I made this little movie (and don’t mind the funny lumps – I used a bit of wholemeal this time just to try; wouldn’t recommend it).

I then forgot to take a picture of an essential step. You heat up your pan and put a good lump of butter in it while it is heating. When the butter has melted (not brown) you pour it into the dough and mix it in.

You are ready to start baking. Pour in the dough and leave it till there are bubbles coming through the cake looking like this:

That is what secures the fluffy cakes. Do I need to tell you to flip it over and cook the other side too? Off you go! Bon appetite!

I have been making pancakes for a long, long time. When I met Egi Master San I courted him with pancakes (among other things) and because we were revoltingly in love, I always made him a heart-shaped pancake (aaarrrwwwww). Then one day, after 4 years together, I didn’t, because I thought maybe he thought it was a bit corny and it really was over-the-top-teenage-crap etc etc I had no idea how upset he would become, real sad, and so here I am, almost 12 years later, still making heart-shaped pancakes for my sweetheart. And I still getting a kiss when it is delivered.

This is what our breakfast table looked like this morning before I sat down (heart-shaped cake on top of stack):

Serious Shit

I have an undivided talent for talking. In addition I have a master instinct for saying something totally … wrong – a magic talent for saying that one sentence that stops everyone else. Combine that with being a foreigner in a (trust me on this) completely different culture to my own and we are quickly climbing into the darkness of a basement where I wish to hide and die forever.

I wasn’t going to tell you what happened yesterday, but then I read Sleepless Nights post this morning. Scroll down to the part where she talks about not being able to talk about her child’s bowel problems. I almost feel as if I found a friend.

Yesterday we went to the Chinese BBQ. It was lovely and we took with us the carrot salad I gave you the recipe for. There were some really nice people there, interesting, smart, good conversation. I happened to sit next to a woman who knew amazing things about nutrition, how changing your diet can help improve all sorts of things: ADHD, arthritis, cancer, MS, allergies, asthma etc. We talked about all sorts of disgusting things such as the use of nitrates in Australian food, the E-numbers, sugars, fat and bullshit in precooked dinners, the way meat is produced, etc.

Then it happened! I said the sentence that silenced the room: “I changed my diet and was amazed at the impact on my bowels”. I didn’t say shit, I didn’t even say poo, but there was no doubt I said something wrong. THEN I said (God help me) “how your bowels are working IS really relevant to nutrition” (start climbing Signe, you can see the darkness of the basement already) and then “more people die of bowel cancer than any other cancer” (close the door behind you).

The only thing left to do was to pull the “I’m a foreigner” – card: ‘Oh, I guess you don’t talk about bowls in Australia, sorry about that, it was reaaaally interesting what you said about raw food versus cooked food.’ There was a relaxed sigh and a couple of smiley nods ‘ah, that’s right, she’s a foreigner’ – I hung my head in shame…

But people! We need to desensitize here. We are experts in talking about what goes into our mouthes and what happens to it everywhere in our bodies APART from in our bowels. We can’t even let a frustrated mother talk about her child’s, very serious, health issues (in her own private space I might add – you are not forced to go there) because it has to do with poo. Come on! We have to do better than that: if we don’t learn to talk about our shit, we are going to keep dying.

Now please invite me to your next dinner party.

Parcel Revolution

I just sent this email:

Hi Rahul,
Something earth-shattering and life-changing happened today. I actually made it to the postoffice. If I can do this, there is still hope for the revolution!
Hope you are well,
Much love
Signe

For ONE YEAR I have had, in the possession of my little greasy hands, one of the best presents I am ever going to give to anyone (at least I think so). It is so right for that one special person, so well thought through, he would not know what to choose if he could have this or a car, so yeah: ONE YEAR (I should consider consulting in a Department of Torture somewhere). It is so ridiculous that it is not even worth talking about. At least I have been able to look at it for one year and go: “Oh yeah, Rahul is so going to love this and so going to be my best friend forever once he gets it”. I aint telling you what it is, because who knows what they spend time on at the Times of India – they could be reading blogs all day. But you can have a sneak peak at the size:

6 months ago I bought a T-shirt for my friend’s daughter. She is 6. I bought it for children age 8. My friend calls it ‘insight to self’ – I call it practical (I still have the T-shirt; there is still time).

Since I was at the postoffice I managed to get a second parcel out of the way. I hope Pip likes the pom poms and use them at the wedding (check out meetmeatmikes on 16 January and me on 17 January). I really do. Because I have this plan: my office is right next to the Asian students who are doing the ‘learn English’ course. They are nice and we chit chat. I look forward to saying. ‘I’m good thanks for asking, I just sent pom poms to a wedding in Melbourne. I think they really enjoyed it’ (the Asian students say they think I’m funny, who knows?)