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!

 

 

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Flash Fiction: On the pier

The_storyteller's_abode

The day had been dark and ominously stormy, clouds glowering over the deserted little west coast fishing village.

But late in the afternoon the clouds cleared slightly, and the sun shone weakly in the watery sky. Jeb and Luce sat with legs dangling over the side of the pier, and squinted into the setting sun.

The abandoned fishing boats rocked gently on the waves.

“Do you think we’ll survive it, Jeb?”

“Dunno, Luce. What does your dad say?”

“Oh, he says North Korea doesn’t have the capability. That we should really worry about Iran and Pakistan.”

“I’m scared.”

“Me too.”

They were silent then.

And as the sky suddenly lightened they held hands and watched the brilliant flash reaching out from across the sea, shining bright and beautiful and terrible as the sun.

 

(130 words)

The prompt photo for this week’s flash fiction challenge was provided by Louise from The Storyteller’s Abode.

Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting this writing challenge. Why not head to her website and add your own?

Flash Fiction

 

Another good day.

David Bowie’s demise aside, today is kinda good. The builder came by and will finish off the final bits this week; and I was shortlisted for that associate lecturer job today. The interview is in a couple of weeks. 

😆😆😆🤗🤗🤗

Today is a good day.

A new day, a new year, a new life, a new something else.

For those who are interested, I left the house. Yes, I have been a little bit agoraphobic. It basically comes down to this: if I leave the house I know I’m going to spend money, so best not.

I had breakfast with a girlfriend. It was good. A delicious Eggs Benny with bacon (that’s an Eggs Benedict for people not in Australia – we insist on shortening every proper noun). Then I went and deposited a cheque, and then I bought more groceries because that’s what I do when I’m about to be seriously broke.

And then I watched the last 5 episodes of the 7th and final season of the West Wing. Who do I love the most? CJ Cregg? Toby Ziegler? Josh Lyman? Donna Moss? Leo McGarry? Sam Seaborn? The completely hunky Matthew Santos? (I’m talking characters here, he’s the even more gorgeous Jimmy Smits in real life). I probably love CJ the most. She’s the woman every strong woman wants to be. Smart, funny, thin and fashionable, driven, in charge. But Josh Lyman. The thinking girl’s hunka hunka burning-up-because-he-never-sleeps love. And we all know he had a six pack under those white shirts (thank goodness they finally started wearing white shirts by the end – grey and green blech at the start). And then there’s Eeyore Toby Ziegler. Soulful, sad, smart, a little bit morally superior, with brown eyes to die for. And Donna Moss, the character who grew the most over 7 seasons and who steadfastly loved her man despite him being an idiot. I loved these characters and I loved the actors and I loved the show and I loved that after Aaron Sorkin left the 5th season the show got a bit meaner and sadder and more difficult. It needed it. Sorkin lives for the soapbox and his characters are well-meaning but a little morally elevated and a touch grandiose. The writers who took over insisted on making the characters more human. It had a remarkably consistent cast, all of whom came back for the final few episodes. It wasn’t perfect TV but it was close enough for me. I shall miss it. That’s no joke – it was 125 hours of TV, 156 episodes. I’m nearly ready to begin The Good Wife, but I’ll need a few weeks of mourning time for my favourite ever TV show.

westwing

Perhaps I should start to read The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro, now sitting on my bedside table, and begin my Goodreads pledge.

In other news I’ve been sniffing around for work and have been offered a bit of copy-editing to do. It’s boring work but I learn stuff every time I do it, and I don’t have to teach people, so yes, thanks! to that. And I’m about to start gunning for an ARC DECRA. I have interest from a local uni who have offered to sponsor me and give me support to apply. Wow.

Today is a GOOD day.

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee you’d notice I’ve got a little bit of a buzz going – two coffees down and I’m a bit wide-eyed and staring. There’s a reason. Have some coffee and I’ll tell you the story. It’s actually a story about coffee.

On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve our coffee machine finally died. It was a beautiful machine. For 18 months it purred along making beautiful espressi, flat whites, lattes, all manner of fabulous coffees. It was a Breville Barista Dual Boiler 900:

Breville coffee machine

It was large and glorious and cranberry red. I loved it. We are pretty serious coffee drinkers. I drink 4 cups a day of double espresso: 2 upon waking, 1 mid-morning, and one in the afternoon around 3pm. Hubby will have 2 flat white coffees a day and my daughter will drink 2 or 3 cups of something that may or may not be a kind of frappe. The machine is probably used more frequently than our toilet.

Anyway, about a year ago we had a huge power surge (not unusual during electrical storms) and our coffee machine was the unfortunate victim. It still worked but the temperature gauge and on-board computer were affected. It’s a double boiler and one of them continually boiled without stopping. It eventually steamed up the computer and then on New Year’s Eve the whole thing just gave up and decided to short out one of our electrical circuits instead.

The following day I used our plunger to make black coffee as we still have a working grinder and yes, we grind our own beans. Yes, we’re so middle-class and frighteningly hipster.

It was diabolical.

Yesterday DH bought us 2 takeaway coffees from down the road. They cost $8 and there was no Zymil (Lactose-free milk). He had to drink Soy. Yes, this is a seriously first world problem. Yes, it counts. By 12 pm we each had a coffee headache.

That was it.

We lasted 24 hours without our beloved coffee. At 2pm we headed to the local Breville/Kambrook Factory outlet to have a look for a cheap and cheerful coffee maker while we saved up for the really expensive one ($2100 minimum. Yes I know it’s more expensive than your first car. I’m old. I don’t care). With good beans and a great grind you can get a machine that’s quite cheap and the coffee will still taste good.

And that’s when we saw it. This:

Breville barista

A Breville Barista Espresso in Cranberry. No second or factory sample. It’s a brand new coffee machine that looks nearly exactly like our old one but was less than half the price. And it was nearly 50% off the new retail price. Why? Because they’re running out the Cranberry Red colour. Why do we keep buying Breville coffee machines when this is our third, you ask? Well, I like Breville products normally. We have lots of their products in our kitchen – our food processor is 27 years old, for goodness’ sake. The first coffee machine got plastic cancer (don’t know why), but it still worked ok. And then it disappeared. And the second was an act of divine retribution by an angry god because I’m an atheist or something. It was not actually the fault of the product.

Why do we buy things when I have no job? It’s something I do. It’s like nesting up before a storm. I stock up on food and something nice because I may not get the chance again for a long time. I’ve never had a problem finding work before so my current predicament is awful, but maybe if I just call up to the ether like I used to do when I was down to my last brass razoo something will come along. Today I feel remarkably sanguine about the whole thing because there’s nothing I can do and we also fixed up our pantry and I cleaned the kitchen. It’s amazing how good you can feel with a bit of a clean up.

The new machine sits exactly half-way between our two other machines in terms of usability and features. Which is fine by me. Anyway, we’ve got it working, and after a few missteps with the inbuilt grind size and amount, our coffee is now, once again, perfect.

Which is why, this morning after 2 coffees, I’m a bit buzzy and googly-eyed. What a way to start the year.

And now, time for another coffee. Ciao!

 

(Weekend Coffee Share from Part-time Monster)

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share

If we were having coffee, you’d notice we’re having it in the nice new child’s bedroom I’ve spent weeks painting, which is very nearly finished and only needs a teensy tiny little extra bit of oil paint on the windows to be complete. You’d ask me why I haven’t done the windows and I’d be telling you it’s because working in oil paint is a bitch. It goes on easily and covers beautifully but it’s hard to remove when you make a mistake and it makes your hands tacky and sticky. And then there’s the turps.

I’d also tell you I’ve still got to do some walls in the rest of the house – they need sanding and I’m kind of over sanding – it gets in everything and I just want an easy time in the next few weeks. You’d remind me that hey! You’ve only got to sand one section of the lounge room and then it needs painting with an undercoat and some gap filling and you’re so close and don’t give up now!

I’d be giving you that sneery look I’ve been telling you about:

sneering child

and remind you that I’m OVER PAINTING AND I JUST WANT IT FINISHED ALREADY. Plus, if I start the wall that has just been replaced then I have to paint the walls and ceiling in the lounge room too, because there’ll be a big patch where the old colour meets the new colour. And then there’s the gap filling.

If we were having coffee you’d notice it’s awfully close to Xmas and our tree isn’t up, nor the Xmas lights, or the tinsel or any of the stuff that gives Xmas its festive feel. See comment above. The lounge room isn’t done and there’s mess everywhere (the Oh Jesus rooms have been downsized to just 1 room now, so I’m not so panicky) and frankly I’m just not in a celebrating kind of mood. This year it’s the DH (darling husband’s) year – we’re staying put here in Brisbane, QLD. But there’s only 5 of us and we had the big family Xmas thing yesterday because some people in this family decided to become church ministers and are busy on Xmas Day. Yesterday was fun, but sad too. There was a death in the family (a sister-in-law’s elderly dad) just the day before, and my parents-in-law aren’t so healthy. But on the plus side another sister-in-law has been given a reprieve from a very worrying cancer scare – she has melanoma, and it was originally diagnosed as at stage 4 (terminal), but her prognosis has been downgraded to a treatable cancer with great outcomes. She should have a long and happy life after all.

The day was lovely, but at about 3pm the cooling breeze died off and it became unbearably hot and sticky, as is often the case in SE Qld. The in-laws aren’t great celebrators because of that ministerial thing – it tends to suck the life out of you with all the hatching, matching and despatching they attend to. So they don’t celebrate stuff very well. It’s all a little off-hand. But we all put on a good show, nevertheless.

I’m not much good at Xmas without the rest of my extended family present. It feels small and miserable with only 5 people for lunch. I’m used to 20+ people for Xmas lunch, drop ins and “yes, let’s just find and extra chair, we can squeeze one in”. If we’re doing Xmas it needs to be with lots of people: an angry uncle and the odd cousin or two rocking in the corner, little kidlets screaming down the corridors, squealing as they open their family gifts, my mother’s loud, merry voice the heart note of the day. Lots of kids, noise, tinsel, Xmas crackers, too much turkey, champagne and home made brandy sauce.

So I’m going to think about Star Wars instead and remind myself of its glorious, nostalgic, senseless, silly fun and give this to you as my holiday gift. You may have already seen it, but it’s worth seeing it again. Jimmy Fallon is like a big kid in a candy store with his show and his guests. He’s lovely to watch but sometimes just a tad enthusiastic and fanboi-ish. But here his enthusiasm totally rocks. The Roots are awesome, folks.

 

Happy Xmas and may you enjoy house painting more than me.

Weekend Coffee share

 

 

Being grateful 

A reminder to myself that there are some very good things in my life.

1: we have a brand new bathroom and ensuite. Well, ok, they’re not yet finished but oh boy they’re gorgeous already.

2: we now have a fully functioning kitchen. Did I mention we now have a working stove without a sloping cooktop?

3: Poppy my dog is ridiculously gorgeous and simple and loving and weird.

4: my daughter is alive and well, and managing her emotions better than ever. 

5: I have some lovely, caring friends. 

6: painting houses is boring but at least the result is immediate. 

7: I’m looking forward to decorating this room even better than this. 

  

Beaten up a bit.

I’m all right. Feeling like my year of rejection is coming true, but as I said to DH just now, I’m no longer depressed, I’m not taking any  medication and I feel ok. I’m not being paid to think so I’m not. That’s ok too, right now. Not sure where this leads me. Not very creative, nor wanting to be. I’m painting the interior of the house. It’s cathartic, and much like writing a thesis. There’s a truckload of hard yakka that goes into the built structure, then a coating of beautiful clean white paint to cover the missteps and workings. You can sometimes see the awkward bits and the paint drips but mainly it’s fine. White, neat, finished. 

Painting is a shit job, but I have the time and inclination to do it. Stops me feeling. 

A friend of mine, whom I’ve not known well nor very long, finally snapped on the weekend. Her journey mirrors mine, in that we each did something big and good and profound and inspirational and challenging and ambitious. But like me she has suffered a fall from the heights. But she has fallen a little further. And I worry about her constantly and hope she is safe and getting the help and care she needs. 

And I think, there but for my grit go I. And grit I do have. And bloody mindedness. And resilience. So I’m not being paid to think. The world’s loss, I reckon. I have a room of my own; I have an idea for a concert and an idea for a cabaret. But I am not going to do that right now. Now: I’m watching Netflix and preparing for Xmas. 

And also now, I paint.