All posts by Wendy

Unicorn dream

It’s been a movie kind of fortnight culminating in seeing Bladerunner (original not 2049) at the Moncrieff with Thought Terrain partner in crime (AW).

We’d both seen in previously. One of us on its release in 1982 or so (that wasn’t me) and one of us at various points during our academic career (and I use the word “career” with some hesitation but whatever).

So of course I thought I remembered it and I had. And then I hadn’t. So for a film that is partly about memories this was ironic in a sort of Alanis Morrisette kind of way. Or maybe it was actually ironic. Who really understands irony? A topic for another blog post.

To poorly reference another scifi film from the same era “This was not the Bladerunner I had seen before”. Never mind though because it was superb! (And I use the word “superb” with no hesitation whatsoever).

Why superb I hear you wonder as you shake your head in confusion, perhaps remembering Bladerunner as a dark film with lots of rain and not much dialogue?

Well let me tell ya.

The vast world of Los Angeles in 2019 needs to be seen on the big screen. Don’t watch it on your telly or another smaller device. You need to see the monstrous ziggurat of the Tyrell corporation in all its glory. You need to see the giant coke advertisements and the Japanese woman hovering over the city. You need to see the noir-ish interiors of Tyrell’s open plan, Egyptian-decor office with his replicant owl and replicant Rachael. You need to feel claustrophobic in Deckard’s apartment as leans mournfully on the piano and looks at printed photographs wondering about the past, while tracking down the four escaped replicants. You need to see the Rutger Hauer’s penetrating eyes and blonde hair on a huge scale as he reaches out to save Deckard from tumbling from the top of the building and then says his heart-breaking final words about his all too short life while the rain drizzles down.

The expansiveness of Vangelis’ soundtrack would also seem stupidly constrained on a smaller scale. But here, on the film screen it was a thing of beauty (if we choose to ignore the slight misstep of the obligatory 80s saxophone denoting romance). I know. It’s synthesisers but it was perfect. It soared through the city-scape, whether it was adding to the tension and bustle of the street scenes, the violence of the replicant retirements executed by Deckard and Rachael, or the flying cars seeking the orangey light that peeped from behind the brooding signs of capitalism (afore-mentioned Tyrell corporation, high-rises, advertising, gigantic neon signage for our favourite 80s brands – Atari, TDK etc).

There is plenty more to enjoy about Bladerunner as we revisit it in 2017. It’s vision of the future is believable even though we sat in the movie theatre with our iPhones in our bags. The printed photographs, the antique video telephone call, the dystopian vision of Asian capitalism, the bio-engineering, the off-world colonies and of course the FLYING CARS. Where is my flying car? Perhaps we are getting our own version soon with self-driving cars. The rain. It rains all the time.

Here’s what else I enjoyed about the film.

I didn’t look at my phone once to check the time.

This is the ultimate test of a film for me. Last week when I watched four films as part of the Travelling Film Festival I was totally bored in 1 to the point of considering leaving (Czech dark comedy – don’t go there), mildly entertained in one (checked phone twice – “groundbreaking Muslim Australian romantic comedy – not that funny, not that romantic, “gently paced”), engaged mostly in one (checked phone maybe once – biopic of Maude Lewis) and enjoyed one (the documentary on US writer James Baldwin – telling much?). Watching Bladerunner, which alternated between glacial narrative pacing interspersed with moments of action and violence, I was glued to the screen. I didn’t care about the time. I wasn’t restless. It wasn’t a test of endurance. Because it was beautiful to look at as well as fascinating to think about. Humanity anyone? What other theme is there really? Once we start thinking about what it is to be human we’re into the big issues.

Of course there was that moment that I didn’t remember when Deckard dreamed about a unicorn gallivanting through a forest. What the heck? But in the end it didn’t matter. It was part of the world of the film. I had to take it with the rest of it or reject the whole thing. And I’m sure others do that. Hate it. Think it’s pretentious or boring. There was also the moment that I remembered where Deckard and Rachael escape into the countryside. This was not in the version that was shown last night but perhaps in the original cinematic release. Interesting fact: Wikipedia told me that some of that scenery was filmed by Stanley Kubrick for The Shining and not used. What? Save that up for a trivia night. You’re welcome. Thankfully, this was the version without the awkward voiceovers, which I also forgot and then remembered halfway through. I was glad they weren’t there.

Thank you Ridley Scott.

 

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Stars, madeleines and movies

It all started with the carpet. But we know when we write something where we start is rarely where we also finish. I really really wanted to write about that kitschy, RSL-pokies room, starry carpet that covers the floor at the Moncrieff. And the dangly, glittering lights that gradually dim as the movies start. Although they’ve been renewed, this carpet and these lights are a powerful reminder childhood film-going experience.

I thought about the carpet for a while.

Stars. Lights. Dimming. Celebrities.

And the carpet faded. And the lights went out. Not literally obviously. In my writing mind.

Hey! Remember when we lined up past the bakery next to the theatre to see Robin Williams in Popeye? What about Herbie Goes Bananas in the Christmas holidays? We drove in especially from Mon Repos where we camping in our tents.

We all flocked to see Sigrid Thornton in The Man From Snowy River. The thundering hooves. You could have just remade that Baz Luhrmann. I’m pretty sure I was wearing an amazing pale pink tracksuit with thin stripes on the top in gold thread. Oh yeah. I knew fashion in primary school.

Remember the school excursion to see We of the Never Never? Actually I remember very little about this except walking from West State School. Or did we catch the bus? There were dusty hordes of cattle I think. Remember, going to see The Secret of My Success because we loved Michael J. Fox. The double feature that was the astonishing combination of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with Cocktail? Way down in Kokomo.

So there I was a long way from starry carpet. Thinking about movies. Thinking about my movie-watching history. Thinking about the movie history that had passed on the screen at the Moncrieff. Thinking about how it used to be roofless. That’s right people used to go to the movies underneath the stars. Watching stars. Star Wars. Luke I am your Father. Thinking about the first experimental magic films. When George Melies took a fantastical journey to the moon while the Lumiere’s startled everyone with the train arriving at the station. Fantasy and reality.

Fantasy continued when the roof closed in. Apparently there was a working fountain at the front of the stage that would bubble away before the film started. Imagine that! Bring it back. Epic sagas. Westerns. Newsreels. Romances. Comedies. Dramas. Melodramas. Musicals. They all had their place. They were all full of stars. They stay with us. In our shared memory. In our imagination. They can draw us together with a single line. A word. The humming of a theme. Proustian madeleines.  They bring the past immediately into the present and we remember. Where we were. Who we were with. What we were wearing (see above re pink tracksuit).

So the stars got a teensy look in after all in my text for the CRUSH festival Text as Art project but not after a lot of thinking, deleting, rewriting and remembering. Celebrate the shared experience that is going to the movies. Remember the past. Look forward to the future. Be in the present.

Text as Art 

Shadowy…black and white.. and silent… for a time.

 Unreal. Moving pictures. A fad surely.

 It won’t last.

 The lion roars. In Technicolour.

 Jaffas. Hurtling.

 News of wars fought far away in the age of Empire.

 Cowboys smoking in Monument Valley.

 The Red Sea parts. Eyes widen.

 A chariot races. On the edge of our seats.

 Quite frankly…..

 The hills. Covered in edelweiss. Alive.

 Help her Obi Wan Kenobi. You are her only hope.

 A boy and his alien cycle high into the night sky. Our hearts leap. Glowing.

 That’s not a knife. THIS is a knife.

 A bus….silver, shimmering, shimmying…singing…..

 Stars on screen….as real as CGI makes them.

 My preciousssssss…. and a thundering army of Orcs.

 Men of iron.

 The age of marvel.

 Such spectacle harks back to when Melies journeyed to the moon…

 It was magical then….

 and now….

 Darkness descends. Listen. A murmur of anticipation.

 Still.

 Always.

(The artist will be Michelle Pacey. Can’t wait to see what she does at the Moncrieff. Read more about Text as Art here. )

Take breaths

It’s time to take stock.

Making : a mess in the house by discarding the day’s jewellery and shoes wherever I happen to stop first when I walk in the door. Picture kitchen counter tops strewn with earrings and shoes piling up at the foot of lounge chairs.
Cooking : so much evening chai. SO MUCH. It’s flavoured with honey and decaffeinated and delicious.
Drinking : see above re Cooking. Also tea. Mostly black tea. Sometimes with a splash of milk. Yorkshire tea at work. Twinning tea at home. And the most delicious tea on Friday morning at Water St Kitchen.
Reading: my phone. This has become a problem. Again. I haven’t read a book before going to sleep for at least 6 weeks. I just read articles on my phone. Yes I know about the dreadful light, sleep pattern disruption etc. I’m also taking great joy in reading the Aldi catalogue. For the weird bargains.
Trawling: ebay for bargain label clothes. Maiochhi, boom shankar, akira, etc. Yet to find anything too awesome for summer.
Wanting: the sun to start rising just a little bit earlier in the mornings. Just a little bit. So I actually feel the need to get out of bed.
Looking: at the sunburn on my left leg. I have not been sunburned for years. I think it takes a certain amount of real stupidity to manage to get burned on just one leg.
Deciding: Whether I should seriously start practising for my Violin LMus exam or whether this is unrealistic. Really weighing this up. Thoughts very welcome on this one.
Wishing: I’d taken more breaths in the last month. Chilled more. Worried less. Stopped. Reflected. Enjoyed more moments.
Enjoying: hearing the birds outside in the later afternoon.
Waiting: for my Baccurelli Princess Leia brooch to arrive. It’s only been for-flipping ever.
Liking: Silence.
Wondering: Why I am so untidy.
Loving: My new hair. I spent two years growing out the layers only to get it layered almost immediately. Haha. Good on me.
Pondering: How to be braver. How to take more risks.
Listening: to podcasts podcasts always podcasts. And a little bit of ABC Classic FM lately.
Considering: Whether I should get into gardening again in my front yard. Or is the rental property aesthetic working for me?
Buying: A new linen shift dress to replace the one I have worn to actual pieces over the last 6 months. Brooches. Always #broochesforlyfe
Watching: Ken Burns’ The Civil War documentary on Netflix. Perhaps the best TV doco I have seen. I cannot hear The Ashokan Farewell too many times. Here it is for you. 
Hoping: One day I can play the Barber violin concerto. Just for myself because beautiful. Just the first movement. Here it is for you. Close your eyes and let the sound wash into your earholes. I’ve loved this piece for over 20 years. And with that sentence I feel very old.
Marvelling: Nope. I did not Marvel. In two trips to Brisbane the queues at GOMA were too long for the window of time I had. Much Disappoint.
Cringing: at the USA. At Trump. At Australian politics.
Needing: to keep my exercise mojo going.
Questioning: how people can deny climate change science.
Smelling: the roses every morning at school. Literal roses.
Wearing: My Each to Own rabbit brooch. The first one I ever bought. It has flowers on it.
Noticing: How much more I’m needing to switch to reading glasses lately.
Knowing: I’ll never watch Game of Thrones.
Trouble-shooting: my iron levels. Note to self: remember to take tablet every day.
Thinking: about how much I loved the music in the 1990s.
Admiring: My amazing friends.
Getting: a little bit hungry.
Bookmarking: endless articles about teacher librarianship.
Opening: books to read- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Teenage Brain, The Underground Railroad
Closing: books unread – The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Teenage Brain, The Underground Railroad.
Feeling: a little bit blergh about myself to be quite honest with youse. Sometimes sad.
Dreaming: of travelling
Hearing: my friend Kate talk to me on the phone as I type this.
Celebrating: the end of winter. My students’ piano exam results.
Pretending: to be impressed with Ed Sheeran.
Embracing: new challenges. Seeking them out if I can.

Good enough is not good enough

 

Let me share with you the 24 hours that were the Queensland Symphony Orchestra’s A Day with the Orchestra. I went with Kate (of Kate and Wendy fame) to Brisbane on Friday. We left early. Much earlier than I like to get out of bed anyway which if you know me probably is a normal time for you.

We went to Villanova where Kate became Miss Kate and conducted St Patrick’s Senior Strings to a Gold. I helped tune a lot of small violins that have a tendency to go outrageously out of tune really quickly after being tuned within an inch of their lives. Miss Kate was very patient. I played the piano accompaniments for the group while they performed.

Then we skedaddled out of there. It was after 3 and we had to make a flying, unplanned visit to the string shop (new set of strings for me and a beautiful new lightweight case for Miss Kate who now turned back into Kate). And then it was off to South Brisbane to book into our motel with my Mum.

We had to be at the ABC Studio at Southbank by 6 for a 6:30 rehearsal start. Were we excited? Yes we were. Were we a little bit nervous? I think we both were. Well I was. Had we practised our parts enough. We blinking hoped so. As Kate so articulately put it as we walked through the bougainvillea arbour with our instruments “Shit’s about to get real”.

What is A Day in the Orchestra? It’s one of QSO’s community programs. Normal peeps like us (that is non-professional players) apply to take part in rehearsals and a public performance alongside QSO musicians. We’d spent a month learning a program of music and there was 24 hours to get it all together.

First rehearsal Friday night was everyone together. Read through. With Richard Davis stepping into the breach as conductor as Alondra de la Parra was unable to be there at the last minute. We met our desk partners from QSO. Good. Nice. Helpful. Hopefully understanding of the fact that it had been years since I’d had the opportunity to play in a group of this size. Time flew! We’d survived and we’d survived intact.

Weary though, we stopped off for chai and churros before heading upstairs to bed. Where both of us proceeded to toss and turn all night as fragments of the scores danced relentlessly through our heads.

No time for naps though. Saturday morning we headed in to the Studio for 9:30 sectional rehearsals. This was great. Details. Articulation. Accents. Geography of the bow. Fingering options. All discussed. I liked our discussion of the various “gathering points” for my section. That is, if all else fails, get to THIS BAR and get back together. The difference between orchestral and solo/small group playing was discussed. Survival is key. Do everything (and anything) you can to survive. This is a philosophy of playing I can get on board with 🙂

Then a break and back together from 2pm on Saturday for another full orchestra rehearsal. This time we went for details. And key sections. And details. What’s more, it was fun! Really playing. Feeling confident.

And then a quick dinner of rice paper rolls before a final rehearsal at 6 and then a concert in the Studio at 7.

Well that’s all very interesting Wendy but what did you learn? What were you reminded of?

Here’s a list in no particular order:

  1. Keep your expectations high. Of others. Of myself.

2.  Always always try harder than you think you can. You will surprise yourself.

3. Never get complacent. That way leads to boredom and frustration.

4. Enjoy the process as well as the performance.

5. There are many ways to solve a musical problem. Find the one that’s right for you. It might not be the same as the person next to you.

6. Turn up to every rehearsal prepared. Practise at home. There is no time for note learning in a rehearsal. In fact that is not a rehearsal.

7. Love the music. It’s all about the music.

8. Remember a pencil. You will always need it.

9.  Good enough is not good enough. Strive each time.

10. Help whoever you can. Smile. Be encouraged and be encouraging.

11. Be grateful for the family and friends who support you. They are indeed rare gems of people.

Here is one of the great pieces that we played…..from the Youtubes. It’s a new favourite.

Augusts with Wendy

A few years ago, Tuesdays became my least favourite day of the week. It was all accidental obviously, but there was a year when Tuesdays always seemed to go pear-shaped. Bad news would arrive. I’d have a headache. Little irritations that just took the glow off Tuesday. I became a little obsessed with the stupidness of Tuesday. And then it went away.

These days it’s a month. August. Over the last few years August has not covered itself in glory. In fact, it’s been a bore, a pain in the rear, a month of boring Sundays that never seem to end while we wait for the first sniff of Spring. It’s been like that again this year, except, this year, 2017, I’m fighting back.

On the weekend I did a violin exam. This was a self-imposed challenge I set myself about 7 weeks ago, which isn’t actually very long to get organised for a music exam. But I was becoming unhappy with my violin-ing. (That’s not a technical term for playing the violin but it is my term). I’d put in lots of hours in 2014 and 2015 relearning and learning technical skills, bringing my playing to a standard where I was able to pass my Associate diploma exam. That was also a self-imposed challenge. It was a now or never, early mid-life crisis kind of moment. Either pick the violin back up again – fix myself up – and do it properly – or resign myself to never ever playing something like “well”. It was immensely rewarding. Then I preceded to get myself a lovely new instrument and faffle around without much consistent practice at all, thereby losing some of the work I’d done in the previous two years. Silly billy much?

So it was time. Stretch myself again. Set myself a goal. Am I goal oriented? Indeedy I am. Without something to work towards nothing happens. As soon as I put the entry in June, things started happening. In my impulsiveness to do something for myself I forgot it would be happening in August. The horrible month. The month I just try to survive. I struggled with a lack of motivation, but the deadline sitting out there on 12 August eventually got me moving. And then I managed to get myself involved in the CRUSH Festival’s Text as Art exhibition. As a writer. I applied for this. October is when it happens so I hadn’t considered the fact that I would need to write something in August. That’s now. Another deadline is looming. Damn you August, making me think about stuff. And then, I managed to successfully apply for QSO’s A Day in the Orchestra which is coming up this weekend. That’s right. A weekend in August. Suddenly I had HEAPS of music to practice and not much time to do it in. And I had something to write too.

These things are all challenges I zeroed in on and set for myself. I’m thinking now that these things – the exam, the QSO, the Text as Art – might all have been ways that I am making myself cope with August. Yeah that’s right. The old subconscious has been at work. August might be my least favourite month in the year after February. August can still be cool. The sun isn’t up early and I have trouble motivating myself in the morning to GET OUT OF BED. However, I am forcing my self to do stuff. To not give in to August’s Augustiness. Its lethargy. I will beat you August. You will not get me down. Yes I might be lying in bed until the last possible moment every morning, necessitating that I eat breakfast at work, but I will be busy, active and doing new things whether I like it or not.

Without realising it I had filled August to the brim with experiences that are asking me to move out of my comfort zone. What does my comfort zone look like? Basically it’s a brown sofa with lots of throw pillows and an Apple TV remote close at hand. Just right for the usual, dull August. I’ve spent a lot of the last few months sitting there watching reruns of Will and Grace. Clearly, I’m telling myself this needs to stop. September is just around the corner and I need to be prepared. So this year I’m thankful for August. Perhaps I’ve broken its nasty spell at last…….

a timeless, shining song became home

Reading this post earlier in the week* transported me back to the time when I returned home after a term at university. Long ago. Before the time of constant contact enabled by technology like the my smartphone, which is never more than a few feet away from me, and social media which is my continual companion.

Then, leaving home meant lining up at the pay phone with spare change to call home once or twice a week. Outside in the cold of Toowoomba, standing in a queue with the other first years, wondering what the heck we had got ourselves into. Thinking on it now, it’s a miracle I survived. I was neither particularly independent, intrepid or ready for the world.

Naive would be perhaps be a kind description. Homesick could have been another.

But adjust I did and quickly. That first year away, studying music was one of discovery – of Brahms’ symphonies, new violin concertos, piano repertoire, REM, Nirvana, Triple J with Helen and Mikey (when it was good), hyper colour t-shirts (never owned one), Levis, making new friends and starting on the journey to being an adult.

It was a puzzling jolt to come home and catch up with school friends who I used to spend every day with and realise that we no longer had anything in common.

Scene: the Bundaberg Pizza Hut Restaurant in 1991, with my peers. (Yes it existed and yes it did have the “salad bar” with the bacon bits).

“What was the best thing about uni and living on campus?”

“It’s great how I don’t have to eat pumpkin if I don’t want to”.

I’ll just clarify this was not my answer but it was significant.

Our paths had diverged.

Pumpkin Schumpkin. I could care less. I wanted to know about other stuff.

What about the learning? What do you think about the world? What makes you laugh, cry,  get angry or have some other kind of emotional response to the universe now? What films have you seen, books read, new music found and heard, TV discovered? These were the conversations I’d been having at uni. My school friends were also at uni. Why were we talking about pumpkin?

I remember nothing else about the great 1991 Pizza Hut get together. Not even the pizza. It didn’t happen again. Perhaps she eats pumpkin now, perhaps she doesn’t. And the Pizza Hut Restaurant is now Officeworks.

At the end of 1991 I was home for the holidays. I was uptown Christmas shopping and for the first time ever I heard Here Comes the Sun playing over the muzak. It shimmered.

So we continue to return home. We’re not who we were. Home still welcomes us. And points of resonance emerge in unlikely places.

That Christmas in 1991 I received the Abbey Road CD.

I hadn’t asked for it.

The timeless, shining song became home.

 

 

*thanks Theo.

 

Milk and mandarins

It’s that time of the year, or the month, or just the morning when I’ve suddenly been taken over by the need to take stock……Is it the winterish blues I wonder?

Making : this crochet rug in a bid to use up all the leftover yarn from last year’s crafty efforts. It’s called the oblong story blanket. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll bother with the pom poms.

Cooking : Not much at all but I am planning to make soup FROM SCRATCH on Friday.

Drinking : Tea, chai, water. That’s it really. My go to beverages.

Reading: Lots of articles on the interwebs about USA politics and then despairing.

Trawling: through articles about makerspaces and redesigned school libraries.

Wanting: a new Radley handbag but being financially responsible and holding out.

Looking: forward to spending some days in Brisbane early next week.

Deciding: what to wear every day in what passes for winter here in the subtropics. I’ll give you a hint. No cardigan required.

Wishing: I could get used to my new glasses without feeling queasy.

Enjoying: the luxury of time.

Waiting: for my Princess Leia Baccurelli brooch to arrive in the post. It’s been AGES. #firstworldproblemobviously

Liking: my new Everest violin shoulder rest. So comfy.

Considering: starting a podcast with a friend.

Wondering: if there are already too many podcasts in the world

Loving: the sunny days

Pondering: whether and when to get a new cat……

Listening: to the birds chattering away outside this morning

Buying: Milk and mandarins yesterday at Aldi.

Watching: let’s see….Glow on Netflix, Will and Grace on Stan, the Office (US) from ITunes, Doctor Who on ABCTV, Ronny Chieng International Student on ABCTV…..other things…..

Hoping: the last remnants of this cold finally disappear in the next few days. It’s been a month.

Marvelling: at the cuteness of my baby nephew!

Cringing: at Trump, Trump always Trump.

Needing: to change my violin strings

Questioning: just why I thought it was a good idea to enter the footy tipping at work. Such a pain every week. Perhaps it would be better if I actually followed the football? Who can say?

Smelling: my lemon and sage shampoo

Wearing: a grey linen and rose top, 7/8 jeans bought in New Zealand. I’m quite the fashion plate.

Noticing: the ache in my hip….from too much sitting

Knowing: I need to up the exercise.

Thinking: I need to do some violin practice

Admiring: People who are intrepid, brave and not scaredy cats.

Getting: thirsty for a cuppa.

Bookmarking: see Trawling (above)

Disliking: my endless FB checking on my phone. Solution: FB app deleted for a bit.

Opening: bills, bills, bills. They never stop.

Closing: my old income protection insurance policy despite that relentless efforts of the guy on the phone to convince me to keep it yesterday afternoon. I was kind but very firm.

Feeling: mostly content. Can we ask for much more than that?

Hearing: the traffic humming out on the main road

Celebrating: being on holidays for a week or two.

Pretending: I’m about to do the washing up when really I’m going to leave it until later.

Embracing: my addiction to new shoes.

It was in my pocket the whole time: Discovering Orla Kiely

There’s a new Coles in town. Because what this city needs is ANOTHER supermarket. I hadn’t bothered with it at all, even though it’s in my part of the ‘hood, mainly because I’m a Woolies girl with the very occasional trip to Aldi when no-one is looking for the fresh, refrigerated pasta.

This morning, however, Easter Saturday, I had to buy one thing – an easter chocolate for my sister. I had seen the crazy amount of cars at Sugarland (ahem, Stockland) on Thursday so I suggested to my shopping partner (me Mum) that perhaps we should duck into the new Coles.

It was very shiny and new with lots of cheeses and a deli where you can pick your own olives (although I did wonder why there wasn’t a proper sneeze cover thing over them). And then I saw it. The muesli of my dreams. Not in taste terms you understand because I haven’t tasted it. But in beautiful packaging terms. Dorset Muesli in a beautiful blue cardboard box with a pretty leaf design. And it was on special. Always on the hunt for a new and exciting breakfast cereal I picked it up. Me Mum informed me that she had tasted it on holidays in Grafton last year and it was good stuff. That sealed the deal. I found my Lindt chocolate (on special) and a new 3 dollar notebook, whipped through the self-serve and that was the end of that.

Later that day, in a fascinating Dorothy Parker-esque exchange of texts with my friend the artist who writes beautiful blog posts right here, I mentioned the thrilling excursion to Coles and my discovery of a new muesli. I even (and you may want to sit down for this because it’s pretty heady stuff) took a photo of the packet and sent it to her.

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And after finally reading the fine print I made a hilarious joke.

Perhaps it should say “honest, tasty and royal” I texted in a humorous reference to Prince Charles. Ha ha ha. Indeed.

Smart, well informed artist friend noted kindly that that was mildly amusing. She also noted (and here we start to get to the point) that the packaging was “Orla Kiely homage in design”.

hmmm. I thunk for a moment, having no point of reference for this so called “Orla Kiely”. I texted back. *googles Orla Kiely*. See how I used the little asterisks like cool people do when they want to show that they are taking an action.

What the heckfire? My browser went bonkers showing me beautiful designs from Orla Kiely. Where I have been? Under a rock. Perhaps. I found homewares, bags, clothes, watches and more. Within a few minutes I was rocketing around eBay looking for bargains like there was no tomorrow. I fell in love with teapots, cushions and dresses.

I also researched Dorset Cereals.  Had Orla Kiely in fact designed their beauteous packaging which had captured my muesli-loving heart? Nope. But their 2006 rebrand “acknowledged the influence of Orla Kiely”. Nice work Dorset Cereals. I’m guessing that was a cheaper design option.

I know what you’re thinking. Interesting story Wendy but not really fascinating enough for a blog post.

Wait. It gets better. Or longer. One or the other.

Later today it was walking time so I grabbed my phone and made to leave the house. Now I’ll just point out that this is the same phone that I have been carrying around in a phone case that I got for Xmas (4 months ago) and chose myself from one of those el cheapo places in the middle of the shopping centre.

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Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. Orla Kiely. (Although I’m imagining it is a knock off as it was only about 20 bucks). Nevertheless…….

So what does this tale of new grocery adventures, muesli from Dorset, discovering new designers whose aesthetic you immediately fall in love with and being such a numbskull you don’t even realise you’ve already discovered it and have been carrying it around on your phone for months all mean?

I don’t know but if you’ve got any clues please let me know.

Belated reflection on writing

I spent the weekend doing the thing that all educators should do on a regular basis.

I became a student.

I don’t do it often enough. I don’t think teachers do it often enough. There’s a difference between sitting through some professional development session with a group of colleagues to actually putting yourself out on a limb and participating in a workshop as a student with other people (who may or may not be teachers).

What’s the difference? I’ll give you a hint. One scenario often involves a degree of cynicism and frustration at being “made” to participate in some kind of training that someone else has decided is essential for you. The other scenario means you have chosen to learn something new for your own enlightenment. So you have to leave your  ego at the door and give yourself over to the learning experience.

That means answering questions when you’re not sure if you’re right or wrong. It means trying when you think you are wrong or hopeless. It means sharing your work with the class and teachers even if you don’t want to, and your heart is pounding in your chest, your mouth is dry and you just want to hide under a conveniently located table.

I wrote more about it here:

 

All the books I have not read

I seem to have lost the ability to read.

Don’t freak out. I mean I can read words just like normal.

The problem arises when they are placed sequentially in a fancy, literary-type book.

I’ve noticed this little issue for a while and it’s been growing and growing. I can’t be bothered reading award winning literary fiction any more. It does my head in. I have no patience for it. It’s slow. It ponderous. It makes me fall asleep. Is the problem with me or the books?

Most recently I’ve failed to get past the opening pages of The Poisonwood Bible even though I’ve had it on loan from a patient friend for over a year. Meanwhile I’ve re-read all of LM Montgomery (Anne, Emily and the like), every autobiography or memoir of a writer, comedian or actor that’s been release in the last couple of years (Tina Fey, Rob Lowe (x2), Amy Poehler, all of Caitlin Moran’s books, Graham Norton, basically any British comedy with a half-arsed idea for a book – Rob Brydon, David Mitchell, Russell Brand and the like). In the past year or so, I’ve also read all of Freya North’s chick-lit, and everything by Alexander McCall Smith set in Edinburgh. I’ve managed the latest Ian Rankin’s bar two.

So I guess it’s not that I can’t read. I just can’t get my brain to focus on certain kinds of reading. Why?

Well I’ve done a lot of staring into space over the last few days and I’ve come up with the following reasons.

My attention span is short. I do blame social media even though I like it and think it serves a useful purpose most of the time. (a topic for another post)
My attention span for anything more complicated than Frankie magazine or the latest Buzzfeed listicle is also kaput. I blame completing a PhD. My brain had to work very hard for a long time. It got tired.
Some books are really thick and big and look boring. I would rather watch the film/TV series/read the Wikipedia summary. It’s quicker.
Books that win prizes (Booker, Pulitzer, Miles Franklin etc etc) are often more about writing than reading. Just a rash, unsupported statement there. Do with it what you will. See points 1 and 2 for why I’m not expanding on it here.
So this non-reading thing has been coming on for a while. And it’s concerning me because now that I’m bona-fide librarian surely I should be reading “worthy, proper books”. Well we all realise that is a snobby sentence of the highest order and that the high-low culture dichotomy collapsed some decades ago (see cultural studies 101 for further details). But still, surely some of these books I don’t seem to be able to read are lovely?

So with that in mind I’ve set myself a reading challenge. It’s called All the Light We Cannot See. I’ve got the rest of the holidays to read it. I’ve deleted FB from my phone to avoid the endless, mindless scrolling and liking. Twitter will be next. At the moment I’m allowed to keep Instagram.

I’ve read the first few pages. I’d tell you what they were about but I can’t remember so I’m going to have to read them over. To succeed I am going to have to read in the morning, sitting up in a chair with a cup of tea. I may have to take notes.

Wish me luck.

14.04.17 Update

I did it. I finished the book. I read the whole thing. It was great. Sometimes I fell asleep, but not immediately. I read it in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. I even got to the point where I couldn’t wait to get home so I could keep reading! Success. Achievement unlocked. Hurrah for me. etc.

FB is still absent from my phone. Not that I haven’t replaced that mindless scrolling with mindless scrolling through twitter and instagram but I guess it’s one less app to mindlessly scroll through which has to be something right? My current rule is that I can use FB when I am sitting at my computer which is less than 6000 times a day so I think I’m cracking the FB habit.

I”m also on the lookout for my next book that isn’t on my Kindle.

Reading.