So. Two interviews then.

It never rains but it pours.

Two research job interviews within a week of each other. I know which one I’d take, but what if I were offered both?

Luckily, each position is part-time. It could work, totally. I could totally do them both. One finishes in December, while the other is a 2.5 year 3 and a half days per week gig. I could totally fit them both in.

Today is a good day.

happy dance

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The Waiting Game

There’s this job interview tomorrow… I’m in a nervous state. Sleeping poorly, waking in fright, minor panicking, that sort of thing.

Panic

The thing is, I want the job LOTS. I think I’d be great at the job, and it seems to suit my myriad skills. But the job is far, far away in a pretty Middle Earth* country, and I’m fearful of actually getting the job and having to move away from my husband and life in SE Qld.

I’m a little worried about self-sabotaging my job interview as a result. This would be the third job I’ve been interviewed for out of 5 proper jobs in the past year I’ve applied for. That’s a good result but kind of not. My first interview was diabolical. I was super well prepared for the presentation (which was awesome) but less prepared for the interview. And the interviewers were awful. I mean, not all of them: just the Chair. I couldn’t make head nor tail of the questions and the Chair clearly had not attended the presentation, so I was left thinking “hang on, I said all this already in the presentation” and rather inexpertly RE-explaining myself. Awful. Couldn’t give an elevator pitch – had never been taught how to, but also because I can’t reduce myself like that to a few dot points.

The second interview went really well but in the end I felt that they wanted someone who was a better fit for the job, someone with better electro-acoustic recording skills. I’m no good at that stuff. I had a look at their website today to see if there was a new member of faculty but I couldn’t see anyone. Maybe no-one fit the bill!

So this job. Fits my skill set. Hopefully they want me. A colleague said to me a few days ago: don’t try and anticipate what they want. You will sell yourself on your strengths and skills. And so it will be, I hope.

Third time lucky, eh?

don-t-panic-button

 

*C’mon. You know where that is, don’t you!

 

 

 

 

The critical gaze. Or: maybe I should practice more.

I’ve been fortunate enough to perform with a corporate events group this last year and recently a video was taken of our show. While there are plenty of things that are good about the show, there’s plenty there that needs work. I’m always thrilled by the performances of others and a little perturbed about my own and the video I watched was no different.

I’m used to hearing my voice but not at a live gig. One of the things I noticed was an ease on stage and a level of stage presence that I’m pretty happy with. I’m not a great mover but at least in this show I look comfortable.

But my voice. Oh dear. Oh shit. I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board. We sing a lot of pop based songs and I’m in no way a pop singer: I’m more of a jazz/country/musical theatre singer. I don’t hate my voice (much) but as usual it sounds very different to how I imagine I’m singing.

One of the main problems I have is that in pop music I’m a real alto. Not as low as my female counterpart in the show, but I thought I was keeping all my vowels bright, wide and forward. NOT THE FRIGGING CASE. My tone sounds like it’s sitting in my cheeks. Fine for classical singing when you’re trying to sound like Maria Callas, but not when you’re pretending to be a rocker from the 80s.

Also, where did all that vibrato come from? It’s not a lovely bright twangy vibrato: it’s a wishy washy OMG did I just lose my core vibrato and warble on the end of my phrases vibrato! Damn. And let’s not talk about frigging intonation. Now, I’m going to forgive myself in a live event where I can’t even hear myself, let alone pitch the notes correctly. But dayum, girl, get the first note right!

I admit, I’ve been coasting. Part of the problem seems to be the ageing voice. When you’re used to carrying a lot of vocal weight from classical singing, to go to a bright pop sound is actually quite difficult. In truth, we all sound like we could use a good clean up. Which is unfair when we’re listening to a live recording.

So I’ve just recorded myself doing a couple of my solos and feel better about them already. I’m a quick study and can work out pretty fast the issues with vocal reproduction, but I really need to practice consistently every day if I’m going to be an attractive soprano and not an elderly caterwauler.

 

So, I’ve finished that article…

I’ve actually finished the book chapter I was writing and I’ve finished editing the book. I’m lazing about on the couch now, wondering what to do next. Friend reminds me to keep job seeking (in freaking Barcelona? Hong Kong? Winchester? Singapore?), write my book proposal and then begin another article. Between you and me, I’d like to be paid for my work. 

Sigh. 

I made a ripper brunch today. Here’s a picture:

  
Yes, I poached the eggs. You’re welcome. 👍

That’s all I got today. I think I’ll take a nap. Maybe I’ll finally begin that Goodreads book thingy I promised to start all those months ago. I still haven’t yet read a book: does erotic fiction count?!

Anyhoo. Ciao for now. 

Getting Gritty with it: the real thing

So here’s a thing. I’ve begun some long overdue editing work. It’s kinda boring, because it’s editing, y’all, but I discovered something. In doing this, I want to start writing again. The editor of the book is a personal friend and writing colleague, and the book is about a particular form of qualitative research called Narrative Inquiry, which is my thing.

Narrative Inquiry methods “story” the data and findings. In lay terms, we make meaning of social science research by putting raw data into a readily readable narrative for humans to connect to. In true terms it’s of course a rather messy and frustrating approach to analyse data but in meaning-making it beats most quantitative studies in the social sciences, because in the end quantitative researchers, with all their numbers, still have to put their discussions of the findings in ways that make it meaningful to humans. In narrative form. Often in the form of storied case studies, that sort of thing. Which Narrative Inquiry does from the get-go. Does it make the research any less rigorous? No, however, there may be ways of interpreting the research that quantitative researchers find using other means. Now, remember folks, I said the SOCIAL SCIENCES. NOT medical or earth sciences, or biotech or any kind of tech, really. Medicine and biological sciences need quantitative data much more than, arguably, the social sciences do.

As I’m sitting here doing the editing (which has to be done in little increments because it’s impossible to focus for more than an hour at a time on the stuff without losing the will to live), I’m all fired up and excited about writing again. I’ve offered to write a chapter in the book – according to my friend the volume’s a little short, so I’ve taken the bait. I had originally offered to write something about 100 years ago but I wasn’t in a good emotional space to be doing that, so I never submitted an abstract. I’ve given myself a 2 week turnaround for a rough draft of 8000 words. This doesn’t seem overly onerous, but there’s a whole heap of extra research and reading to do.

For every article I reference, there’s about 5 I read and discard. So if I include 50 references then I’ll need to read up to 250 articles for this chapter. Luckily I already know the field so more than half of the references are stored away in my brain somewhere, to be dragged out as a hoarder drags out his favourite rusting, teensy doo-dad from under the piles of equally rusting detritus, which he kept just in case. I’m going to send my friend the rough draft in early March and she can make the decision as to whether it’s good enough for inclusion. It’s a tight turn-around but it’s doable. The review process might be problematic because it’s usually very slow but the editors will no doubt send it to someone in the field who is known to do things quickly.

Seriously. It’s not as if I have better things to do with my time.

On the the Live Below the Line thing. I’ve been having another think about my starchy foods, and I’ve taken a little inventory of the food I usually eat on a normal day. Toast, eggs, sandwiches, pasta. I’m thinking I could buy a loaf of day-old bread from the bakery (cheap as chips), and some ready-made pasta, and this will do me just fine for 5 days with the other things. I’ll need to get fighting fit for the challenge. Perhaps a 2-day challenge to see how I cope with no coffee and wine? Not that this will hurt me, as my girth is back to its old chubster state.

I’m thinking on it. As you may have noticed, I’m a problem solver and this problem is rather delicious to play with. Also worthy. And as a cis-heteronormative white woman living near the 1% dream, I have very few excuses to shirk my duty as concerned world citizen. 😉

Sayonara!

No job.

I STILL haven’t heard about the outcome. On Monday 5.15pm Queensland time (because QLDers don’t want daylight saving) I went for a walk with hubby and the dog, after deciding I hadn’t been offered the job because I hadn’t been called in the morning, as one might expect if one had been successful. This makes the time in Sydney 6.15pm, btw. So we get home at 6pm (7pm Sydney time) and there is a message on the phone at 5.45pm saying to ring back on Wednesday. Dang.

I ring back on Wednesday, three times. A staffer takes the call (not the person I’m supposed to hear from). I leave a message but the staffer informs me the person in question KNOWS I’ve called. Then nothing. I ring again this morning and leave a message. No response. I write an email asking for a response. Nothing so far.

I can only imagine I’ve not got the job because this is not the way you would treat a successful applicant, hey.

Devastated.devastated_roxy_by_roxy12333-d86sy23

(Image: Devastated. Roxy by Roxy)

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice it was actually Monday morning here in the Southern hemisphere. This is flying under the radar of east coast USA, which is a cool (possibly frigid and snow-bound) 16 hours behind us. Therefore it’s only Sunday night somewhere in the world. I’ve already had 2 coffees and am very very ready for my third.

I’m dying here a bit. I had my job interview last Friday. It went really really well. Even if I don’t get the job, I’m not sure what more I could have done. I was open, friendly, answered the questions (which were easy and simple) to the best of my ability. I felt comfortable, at ease, poised and prepared. As I may have mentioned last week, I had a coaching which enabled me to get the best out of my elevator pitch, and illuminated my skills and strengths. I now know what I do really well, and I know I’m passionate about research. It has taken me until the last few weeks to work that out.

They have promised to call me today so my sleep has been rather interrupted. I’ve taken off the phone’s mute button; the default position. I’m not altogether sure they’ll ring today as tomorrow is Australia Day and it’s a holiday – there may be a Wednesday phone call instead.

But of course it’s Monday now and do you think I’ve done any meaningful work since I awoke? No, nope, non, nada, nyet. I DID get up and shower but my day has been otherwise characterized by lack of movement. Yet, I have a list of Things To Do. I have a DECRA to complete. I have some private teaching to plan (if I don’t get the job). I have 20 hours of editing work to do. I have a book proposal to finish and a monograph to write.

There’s plenty I could be doing. Dammit.

If we were having coffee I’d be telling you about the great weekend my hubby and I had in Sydney, that shiny, fast paced city. That we saw friends and shows and that I felt quite at home in a town that’s neither like Melbourne nor Brisbane. I’d be telling you about the rain that was a constant of the weekend.

I’d be telling you about a show we saw, ostensibly for children, composed by the brilliant Kate Miller-Heidke, called The Rabbits. It’s an allegorical tale about the 1788 invasion of Australia by the British, and the rape, destruction and desecration of the First Peoples of Australia (and their land) in the name of that abominable Roman concept of Terra Nullius (nobody’s land). It’s done beautifully, simply, and breaks your heart. Because its story is truth.

I’m an inhabitant of this land and have been all my life. My Irish, Scottish and English ancestors came here in the 1850s and worked the land, bred, and experienced both prosperity and privation. Even though for many years I was a single parent, poor and marginalised, I cannot imagine my children being removed from me and my homeland violated. I cannot imagine being part of a race who were so oppressed that the scourge of this oppression continues to this day through poverty, violence, drug and alcohol addiction, serious health problems, unemployment, lack of access to good quality food and water, education, housing, healthcare and legal services. And yet The Rabbits (published in 2000, written by John Marsden and illustrated by Shaun Tan), this simple tale based on a picture book, let me imagine all of this and more.

rabbits2

(Copyright 1998 Shaun Tan. “They came by water”. Oil on canvas)

The book has won numerous awards and the opera (in all honesty it’s the most cross-genre work I’ve seen in forever because it includes operatic conventions, panto, pop, blues, and other elements I haven’t thought of yet, set on a stage) has been beautifully realised by Miller-Heidke. She is a composer of special quality. Trained as an opera singer, she has carved out a great career as a pop singer/song-writer. Her music becomes more sophisticated and beautiful the older she gets, yet it is mainly diatonic, tuneful and easy for the lay person to enjoy. The more educated ear also love her work because it sounds easy but just isn’t. She has that rare gift of eliciting emotion through key changes that a listener won’t understand unless you’ve been trained in it. And even then I cried. I just wanted to weep and weep and weep, but as I was not alone I felt hampered by social niceties, and therefore didn’t. Great art has the capacity to move you in all sorts of ways and this work moved me like few others. Take a look: The Rabbits

If we were having coffee I’d tell you about how good it was seeing an ex-student of mine act and sing beautifully in another show we saw called The Fantasticks. It’s a rather flimsy tale and with sinister undertones not fully realised in the rather meh production, but he was great. My lovely student. Very proud.

If we were having coffee you’d be one of several people I’ve managed to have coffee with over the last few days. The Sydney trip was not just for a job interview; it was an opportunity for rare catch-ups with friends and acquaintances. There was afternoon coffee with E who braved simply appalling traffic to get into the heart of town, a late supper with S who had just done a very awkward singing telegram, and brunch with one of my oldest friends C and his son, who is delightful, precocious and super bright. DH managed to be brave during it all – he’s not a friends-type of person, but he enjoyed the interactions nevertheless.

And if we were having coffee you’d notice I’m a little bit annoyed that the possums got to my herb garden on the back porch. It was only a matter of time, of course. Thus far they’re particularly fond of dill, parsley, and coriander. They’ve nibbled half-heartedly at the sage and won’t touch the rosemary, and aren’t interested in the basil, thyme or the oregano. The saddest bit is they’re not at all worried about the dog, who goes psycho when they arrive on the porch for their evening repast.

So now that we’ve had coffee and I’ve been procrastinating yet again, I’ll leave you with thanks and an invitation to join me again. Maybe not on a Monday morning, but on a lazy Sunday.

Au revoir!

(Weekend coffee share is hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. Why not join in the chat?)

weekendcoffeeshare

 

 

The wheels of change grind slowly…and then they don’t

Feeling slightly bloggy today. That is, I want to be saying something, yet I’ve nothing much to say.

This week is the week of waiting and editing. Waiting for the bathroom to be done (ONLY the electrician is left now); waiting for some editing jobs to come in; waiting for Friday.

Friday is job interview day. I’m asking myself why I’m not walking the dog or doing some shopping but hey, there’s not much to be doing here other than TV watching (now onto season 3 of The Good Wife – a step down from The West Wing because it’s not as complex and just a little bit more melodramatic, but otherwise excellent).

I’m waiting for something to start. And start it has. I’ve just had a phone call from a colleague who may have some project work for me. So for a few weeks at least, if I don’t get the Friday job I now have some editing work, a DECRA grant to prepare, teaching singing to organise (although not much because I’ve been winding it down slightly), a possible project, and 4 singing gigs.

The year is gearing up again. So I really should be planning my research work. For those who care, I have a PhD in music. I have a bunch of stuff to do with this research, even if I don’t have a paid job to go to. I could plan and write my monograph, I could write a couple of research articles. However, as everyone in research knows, writing research articles is like pulling teeth. I get engrossed in it but I hate starting it off. It’s like writing a term paper but much, much harder. Nearly everyone you know hated writing undergraduate term papers. It’s no different just because I’m a grown-up. Luckily everyone I know procrastinates on journal articles, too.

Stooges pulling teeth

Anyway, so. Editing. It’s a thing. Yesterday I wrote a Flash Fiction piece, 130 words long. Today I edited it. Let go, much? It’s better, but not much better. I read it aloud this time. It helps to read stuff out aloud. One gets a feel for scansion, flow, word placement, comma placement, narrative and dramatic tension. I’m no good with grammar rules or poetry / narrative / syntax / phrase rules – I wasn’t taught any memorable English language rules as a child, and as an adult I struggle to retain information like that. I might remember a Kardashian moment, but I won’t remember syllable emphasis. I have to go with intuitive rhythmic/ melodic placement of the spoken word.

editor_2

Fiction so short is like poetry. Smells, sights, sounds, interactions, and a narrative arc told in 100 words. Brevity is vital, quality is paramount. No passive voice. Very few adjectives. The right word for the right scene, no excess or repetition unless the repetition adds narrative value. Tricky but doable. I’m getting better at it, I think. At least, my eye is sharpening.

So, waiting and editing is my thing this week. And now: to walk the dog.

Adios!