a little east of reality

Friday, January 30, 2009

decisions, decisions...

(apologies to Shakespeare)

Poetry or screenwriting? That is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind
to embrace an art I love
but that bittersweet delves
and draws from the human heart
its most pruned and precious blossoms
tiny cut by tiny cut

or to take arms against
the poignant turn of phrase
walled gardens of
clean, concise words
and end the need to contain
in fourteen rows
the immensity of the soul

no more, the pressing desire to train the perfect slam piece
that weaves its tendrils around the listeners' ears and throat
only to slap them witty on the cheek
their sudden laughter the proof
of wisely tended wordlings grown strong

to rest from tending
to sleep, perchance to dream
aye, there's the rub
what does a poet's heart become;
to what end its 3am wakefulness
when the poet sleeps on?

for in the strokes of urgent, unfettered pen
what wide, unmapped country lies ahead
of hilly dialogue and marshy directions

the traveller pauses, wondering

perhaps that five hours spent
grafting, lovingly watching
that one leaf unfurl perfectly

the counting of ways
the buds of May
the road not taken
the carrying of hearts
a dream within a dream within a dream

perhaps preferable, that searching
for restraint and rhyme
than to ride into new and unknown lands
that puzzle the will
and make us rather bear those tasks we have
than fly to screenwriting assignments that we know not of?
thus two thousand words of uncertainty
make a coward of me
and turn my mind instead to
sixty lines of familiar torture

though there may be an enterprise
of great pith and moment
in me
still I may lose the name of action
to tap the undiscovered Jim Uhls in me
until 2010


Yes I do take poetry too seriously.And no, I'm sure screenwriting isn't actually like the unknown of death. :) And yes, I'll eventually decide which subject to enrol in this semester.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

stronger than you think

I love these two print ads that the Kids Helpline has been running for a while. I've been meaning to post a photo of them for ages, but I had to find my card reader. Well here they are:

Click to see the poster larger. The slogan in the yellow box reads "You're stronger than you think." What a brilliant way (visually) to immediately deliver that message.

I'm posting them now for another reason. Neil Gaiman has won himself a Newbery for The Graveyard Book. I love this book (and I highly recommend listening to Neil read it on the audiobook) but the book being entertaining isn't the reason I'm glad it won this particular award.

I think the world is often a harsh place, especially for children. I sometimes feel like my life has been hard (woe is me), but the truth is that I never had to deal with even a small part of the truly terrible challenges that some children face growing up. I think those Helpline ads are amazing, because they're not just about helping kids understand that they are strong, but also that they are strong enough to ask for help when they need it and to deal with the fallout of doing so.

I respect the fact that Neil's children's books are centred around strong, curious, resourceful children who fear things that are worth fearing but are not defeated by those fears. Sometimes they rely on the strength of trustworthy adults. Sometimes that option is not open to them and they have to find the strength within themselves to move forward without that safety net. And Bod (The Graveyard Book), Coraline (Coraline), and Lucy (Wolves in the Walls (a picture book)) all face formidable foes ~ three dimensional villians with real power, acting out of genuine malice and/or evil design (okay the wolves are just wolves).

The 'Other Mother' in Coraline is so creepy (you'll never look at black buttons the same way again) and Bod's family have just been murdered when The Graveyard Book opens. I found it interesting when Neil commented that adults see Coraline as a horror story, whereas children tend to see it as an adventure. I'm sure the same is true of the Newbery winner. Just as well, or these would be the best children's books that children would never get to read, because they'd be too scary!

I think his books empower children and I like that Neil doesn't presume to talk down to his audience just because they are children. And yes, I know he isn't the first author to write stories about brave children or scary villians, but the deceptive simplicity of the language (remember the way it felt the first time you read The Alchemist?) ~ the way the words lend themselves to being read out loud ~ the balance between humour and intrigue and drama ~ as well as the strong storylines, all come together to create delightful reading. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

living space

Yet again chosha is on the decluttering path. The nature of clearing stuff out is that it gets worse before it gets better, so at the moment I feel completely surrounded by boxes and bags of stuff. I've only lived here for five years and I'm not really that much into shopping, so I find myself confused as where the heck all this stuff came from.

At least my procrastination in getting to this tedious task has some benefits. For one thing it makes the decluttering process less painful. There are several boxes I sent to myself when I left Japan. The first time I tried to cull these I could hardly bear to throw anything away. I was missing Japan and everything seemed too precious. Now that a few years have passed it's amazing what I'm willing to ditch.

I'm really looking forward to finishing. My mind is definitely more organised when my work or living environment is the same. More than that, I want to do more with my space at home. The first few years I was in Canberra I was constantly trying to decide whether to move interstate to some livelier city. It never seemed worth settling in properly and making the place my own. As a result I have artwork not yet up on the walls, shelves and the like unassembled and a 'whatever' decorating theme throughout. I was pretty happy with my apartment in Osaka. It had a relaxing vibe. I'd like to have a go at making my current space as liveable. Decluttering's a good start. So I guess I'm back to sorting. It's going to be one hell of a garage sale!

Do you like your living space?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

a poem for you (i took the photo, too!)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

this tricky business of marriage

It was Saudi's birthday today (as far as he could work out swapping between calendars). He invited two friends over, both also Muslims from his country. We had a most interesting conversation about arranged marriage. None of this difficult dating lark, oh no! When Long Black decided he wanted a wife, he sent his sisters out looking for him and they found him a very nice lass. :)

After his and her parents had a chat, he was allowed to meet her. She was pretty shy, but luckily he isn't and he was able to talk with her enough to realise that they both felt a connection, so he gave her a present he'd brought ~ a bracelet ~ to indicate his interest. They were both pretty fortunate to have very open-minded parents who agreed that it would be okay for the two of them to talk on the phone (not all families allow this) so they exchanged numbers and while he was away in another city for six months, they got to know each other better. Now they've been married three years and have a young son.

It's so strange that while I can't imagine ever letting someone else choose a husband for me, I still found this story completely sweet. Everyone was charmed by the way he spoke about his wife and how much love and respect he has for her. It's interesting, too, to talk to young men in their 20s who have no shyness at all at the fact that they have never dated any girl, and won't ever do so before they marry (Saudi and his other friend are still single). These things are simply experiences for another time in their life that's still to come.

It's such a diverse world, and people take very different paths, but we all want to be happy. I feel like they are missing something in the loss of those first weeks and months when you know you like someone, but have no agenda except to enjoy finding out more about them and discover if they feel the same connection. And yet, there was such a purity to the way he described this arranged match. It had its own beauty.

Interesting night.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

dweezil zappa

Just reading a little fluff piece on unusual celebrity children's names and came across this picture of Frank Zappa's kids. And I quote:
Diva, Ahmet, Moon Unit and Dweezil. Frank Zappa's kids all got weird names, but we reckon Dweezil copped it the worst.
That may be so, but apparently he also scored a goodly portion of the hotness in the family to compensate. Beautiful face. Actually he reminds of Adam Ant in his early days. Just needs some war paint and feathers.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

2 things challenge: partial/whole

This is my first entry for the 2 Things Challenge. Each week there's a different theme and you can represent the words artistically as you choose.

This week the theme is partial/whole. These two photos were taken in the Melbourne Airport. I had some time to kill before my flight, so I wandered a while with my camera. I think this floor mosaic captured the theme (the tiny irregular tiles each a part of the whole) and I love the colours, too.

This last one isn't a great photo, but I thought people might like to get a sense of what the whole mosaic looks like.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

slipping out from under the radar

So the new year is here and I'm no longer attending church. For those who didn't see that coming (and who care about such things) don't sweat it: it's something I've only blogged around the edges of over the last year, mainly because I sometimes have trouble remembering who reads the blog. Incidentally, if you're (you know who you are) reading this and we have mutual real life (as opposed to web-based) friends, try to resist the urge to gossip. It would be kind of good to tell people myself when I visit home in a couple of months.

So why am I mentioning it now? Well, I just had an interesting experience. A few days ago the ward Relief Society president sent an email because she hadn't heard back from me on whether or not I wanted to be a visiting teacher this year. I explained that 'for various reasons' I wouldn't be able to accept that role. She then (in a kindly-intentioned fashion) sent me some alternative options that would allow me to still be involved (eg would I be willing to write a letter to two sisters each month?) So finally I just explained that I didn't think it would appropriate for me to take on any VT role, because I wasn't planning to attend church anymore.

I've already told some people about this and their reactions have been interesting to say the least. My mother told me that she would support whatever decision I made. Some weeks later she asked me if I was still planning to leave, in a rather timid voice. I asked her if this upset her and she said no, but that it made her feel lonely (she's now the only active member in our immediate family and we have no members in our extended family). I explained to her that I would always support her decision to attend, that she was welcome to discuss church and/or church doctrine with me anytime, and that I would never think she was silly for being a member of the church. And I won't. If I thought it was silly, I could never have been a member so long. There are a lot of basic values I learned at church that I will always respect and try to live.

Two friends were a little sad about it, but calm and accepting. Three other friends (to my great surprise) informed me that they either hadn't been active for some time, or were attending but also experiencing serious doubts/issues that had them questioning their membership.

This week was the first time I had explained my absence to someone I knew for sure was fully active and 100% believing. I've heard about some people having bad experiences with former friends when they left the church and so when she immediately asked if she could visit me I wasn't sure how that would go. I said yes because I consider her a friend and because I was happy to give her an opportunity to ask questions if she wanted to.

In the end it was a strange conversation - although she didn't question my decision, and was very tactful in asking about my reasons for leaving, there was a quiet tension in the air. Her opinions on the range of topics we discussed came from such a place of absolute faith that there was really no place for us to meet in the middle. Though I had just explained that I no longer believed the church to be true or have any authority to act for God, she still used quotes from latter-day prophets or recent leaders of the church to make her points and asked me questions I found odd, like whether or not I was still reading the Book of Mormon.

None of it was bad, none of it was accusatory or judgmental. She was actually really nice. It still felt odd and made me realise just how far past the point of no return I am. I no longer wish I could just reverse it all and go back to the Matrix. Well, actually I never wished that (I'm very much a red pill kind of girl), but there was a time when I first realised I no longer believed Joseph Smith and that was painful to me, because I knew in my heart that it was the beginning of the end. Now, an introspective and confusing year or so later, it's just a reality to deal with. Ironically it's the church that taught me to be so uncompromising about truth. I can't pretend I believe and I've realised that being open about it (while still attending) is just a recipe for a sucky church life (no calling, no temple recommend, no realistic chance of a successful romantic relationship with a member, etc). I'm glad I have friends who've been accepting rather than not. I know some people aren't that lucky. I guess we'll see what happens from here on out as more people find out.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

roadtrip by numbers

5: people actually travelling to Sydney and ready to leave on time

2: people NOT travelling to Sydney yet creatively managing to delay departure by two hours

288: km from Canberra to Sydney

0: good CDs in the car

1: really fun game/conversation/debate about who we would turn gay for (J, Drummer Boy, the feline, amai and me (though reflecting on it now I should have said))

1: collective sigh that ran through the car when Jake Gyllenhaal's name was mentioned in the above.

[1: cool Daniel Craig interview I found while Googling all those links. Also this is funny.]

20: minutes we spent going the wrong way down Princes Highway. :)

35: metres of sidewalk packed with people who got there and lined up before us.

3: bands playing.

2: bands that rocked.

21: songs on the set list (Dark Come Soon, You Wouldn't Like Me, I Bet It Stung, Walking With A Ghost, Hop A Plane, Living Room, So Jealous, Like O Like H, Give Chase, One Second, I Know I Know I Know, Burn Your Life Down, Knife Going In, Nineteen, Where Does The Good Go, Speak Slow, Call It Off, The Con, Relief, Dancing In The Dark (Springsteen cover), Back In Your Head

22: photos I took during the show

2: songs we were hoping to hear, but didn't.

8: (I think) scary, paranormal stories told on the way home.

20: minutes of the homeward journey I spent trying to figure out what I would do if a ghost appeared on the road while I was driving and deciding we would all probably just die.

3:30am - time we arrived back in Canberra

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

tegan and sara

I'm going to see Tegan & Sara in Sydney on Thursday night. I liked their music before (I have friends who've liked them for ages), but in the last month I've been looking a bit more carefully at their lyrics. I'm quite intrigued by their songwriting. This song, 'I Was Married' is from their 2007 album The Con. The lyrics are included over a slideshow of concert stills. There are so many live videos on Youtube, I'm starting to wonder if cameras will be allowed. Not that I plan to take bootleg video ~ the sound quality is always total crap ~ but it would be a cool to get a couple of photos.

I also really like the lyrics (added below the video) in this song, 'Relief Next to Me', from the same album. I think this will sound good live.

Relief Next to Me

I miss you now
I guess like I should have missed you then
My body moves
Like curtains waving in and out of wind,
In and out of windows
I can't untangle, I can't untangle
What I feel and what would matter most
I can't get close and I,
I can't get close
And now there's just no point,
In reaching out for me
In the dark,
I'm just no good at giving relief
In the dark,
It won't be easy to find relief
And I'm not proud
That nothing will seem easy about me
But I promise this
I won't go my whole life
Telling you I don't need
But I promise this
I won't go my whole life
Telling you I don't need

I'll tell you now
I guess like I should have told you then
The thunder moves
Like damn drawers slamming in my frame
Slamming in my framework
I can't untangle, I can't untangle
What I know and what should matter most
I can't get close and I,
I can't get close
And now there's just no point,
In reaching out for you
In the dark,
I'm just no good at giving relief
In the dark,
It won't be easy to find relief
And I'm not proud
That nothing will seem easy about me
But I promise this
I won't go my whole life
Telling you I don't need

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

today i wrote a character reference

A few months back I mentioned that a friend had moved overseas. Now she finds herself, away from her friends and extended family, facing a divorce and a custody battle. My impression from her emails is that she really did not see this coming. The move was supposed to be a good one - a chance for her husband to return to his birthplace and spend more time with his older children now that he's retired. She was so supportive of this wish of his, and now it's all gone to hell in a handbasket.

So today I found myself trying to capture in a page or so just how wonderful I think this woman is: to write something that will give her support and truthfully tell how loving and capable a parent I believe her to be. It's easy to write in some ways - her kids are lovely and her good parenting is written all over them. But it's also sad that the need to write it exists at all. Anyway, it's done and now I just need to mail it. It's hard to say if it will help, because things like this carry more weight if you can comment on the most recent six months and of course she's been overseas during that time. But the opportunity was given to write it, and it can't hurt to add another character reference to the pile. If nothing else I hope it will give her the support I wish I was there in person to give.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

why bella irks me


I'm always saying that Bella (Twilight series) annoys me. Here's a couple of specific examples of why. (The punctuation isn't right, I'm transcribing from the audio.)

1. If Bella had a theme song, it would be called, 'How can he love such a worthless girl?'
Edward: You weren't going to let go. I could see that. I didn't want to do it. It felt like it would kill me to do it. But I knew that if I couldn't convince that I didn't love you any more, it would just take you that much longer to get on with your life...

But I never imagined that it would be so easy to do. I thought it would be next to impossible; that you would be so sure of the truth that I would have to lie through my teeth for hours to even plant the seed of doubt in your head. I lied and I'm so sorry...

But how could you believe me?! After all the thousand times I've told you I love you, how could you let one word break your faith in me?...I could see it in your eyes, that you honestly believed that I didn't want you any more. The most absurd, ridiculous concept - as if there were any way that I could exist without needing you.
She then starts crying, because his declaration makes her assume that she is, as she thought earlier, just dreaming. He then spouts even more sappy stuff about how he loves her, will always love her, thought about her every second he was away from her, etc. This makes her believe him less, not more.
Edward: You don't believe me, do you? Why can you believe the lie, but not the truth?
Hmmm. Why indeed, Edward? Good question.
Bella: It never made sense for you to love me. I always knew that.
I have real issues with the heroine of this story - a girl who is written up as the epitome of sacrifice for the sake of love - having NO DISCERNABLE SELF ESTEEM. Is that WHY she sacrifices everything for him...because HE deserves everything and SHE deserves nothing?

2. The pot calling the kettle a martyr.

Bella is talking to Edward about him running off to get killed because he thought she was dead.
Bella: This has to stop now. You can't think about things that way. You can't let this...this guilt rule your life. You can't take responsibility for the things that happened to me here. None of it is your fault. It's just part of how life is for me. So if I trip in front of a bus, or whatever it is next time, you have to realise that it's not your job to take the blame. Even if I had jumped off that cliff to die that would have been my choice...

I know it's your nature to shoulder the blame for everything. But you can't let that make you go to such extremes. It's very irresponsible.
W...T...F...??? Bella does this throughout ALL FOUR BOOKS. She takes the blame for everything. Things other people think and feel, things over which she could not possibly have any control, things that happen accidentally, deliberate pre-meditated decisions made by other people. EVERYTHING. I'm surprised she doesn't blame herself for bad weather. Or good weather. Or when the weather doesn't match the forecast.

I cannot count the number of times I have wished she was in front of me while I'm listening, so I could slap her every time she says something stupid or pathetic. (This book is not helping my goal to be more patient.) Of course if she was, she'd be dead by now and Edward would have to kill me. And that would be bad.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

end-of-year meme: cross-section of my blog in 2008

A meme from Sean. If you like the idea, consider yourself tagged and let me know in the comments so I can check it out.

The rules for the meme: Take the first line from the first post of every month for the last year, and post them together as a kind of cross-section of what you were blogging about during the year. Remember to link to all the posts you are excerpting.

January: ~~~happy new year~~~
New Year's is my favourite holiday.
February: q4: study the following photographs carefully. compare and contrast.
I was planning to post a series of pictures about food consumption across the globe that I received by email this morning.
March: wil anderson
More and more I find myself loving stand up comedy.
April: intended for the day, not the fool...initially
But then I read this post and now he's welcome to take the compliment for any bits he likes.
May: heart grown fonder yet?
I've certainly been absent long enough.
June: pen to paper
The first semester of my Grad Diploma in Professional Writing is drawing to a close (big test this Wednesday for Intro to Editing will be the last of my assessment tasks).
July: tag i'm it. 20+ years of chosha
I secretly love getting tagged, perhaps because it hardly ever happens.
August: feeling rattled ~ the windows et moi The carport at our place is open at the sides. September: the hobbit
From a current Empire magazine interview with Guillermo del Toro:
October: editing project crunch time
This semester my major editing project is (we choose/create our own) to create small training manual specifically targeted at coaches teaching wheelchair table tennis players.
November: I thought today's post would be about obama
I wanted to celebrate his election to President of the US.
December: big day out 2009
I decided to give Big Day Out a miss this summer - lots of other uses for my money right now.
Somehow I managed to miss any posts on Neil Gaiman or So You Think You Can Dance? How I do not know. :)

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the inevitable resolutions

My New Year's resolutions can be summed up thus:

- be more punctual
- be more patient
- write (even) more
- be open to new possibilities

Happy New Year Everyone. I hope 2009 brings us all not just good things, but the things we most need, whatever they are.

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