The End of the Dirty Thirty

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April is National Poetry Writing Month, or NaPoWriMo. I decided to do it this year, sort of on a whim, and then I forgot till 5 April, so I was four behind! I’ve caught up and now have only today’s and two more to finish the ‘dirty thirty’, as my friend calls it. I’ve decided that since I forgot, I’m allowed to go a couple of days over and finish on Monday.

I’ve had some fun writing every day, but some days it was a struggle. I think there are a few poems that are just terrible, and will probably never see the light of day, but there are others which work quite well.

I took day 11, which was to order the titles of books in your shelf into a found object poem, and day 12, which was about tea and being a grown up, to my writing group today. A lot of people liked the book titles one, and there was a bit of a mixed reaction to the other.

I found it interesting that one member of the group, a woman who is in her eighties if she’s a day, commented that one never really feels like a grown up. This idea that you’re bluffing your way through life apparently persists. I keep thinking it will go away, but I don’t think it does.

I’ll have to think of something for May, perhaps a music challenge. Anyway, to wrap up NaPoWriMo for the year, in a way, I present day 11 and day 12.

 

Book Spines

Pretty things
In My Skin
Lost Souls
Mutants
Oblivion

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Books from my shelf

The Broken Shore
The Big Sleep
The Dark Half
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Oblivion

Perfect Phrases
Leaves of Grass
Crack Down
Junky
Bleak House
Oblivion

 

Tea and Anxiety

Warm and liquid and brown.
Well sort of tan I guess.
Swish you around my mouth
Feel you sliding down my throat
To warm my belly.

Ah, you’ve been such a friend.
Not as much caffeine as your cousin
Coffee, who makes me jitter and shake.
There’s no anxiety with you.

There is a bit of an aftertaste
Sometimes, when I’ve finished my sip
There’s something that lingers
Like something you’ve forgotten to do

So often I feel like I’m failing
At being an adult
At fulfilling societal expectations
Which is hard because I don’t want to
Fulfil expectations.
But you can’t help feeling that pressure can you?
Ah well, at least there’s always tea.

NaPoWriMo + MICF

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In my last post, I mentioned that I was thinking of doing NaPoWriMo, that is, National Poetry Writing Month. The idea is that you do one poem every day in April, and then you have thirty poems, and some good habits. I did it in 2014 and enjoyed the experience, even though the poems were of very mixed quality.

Only I forgot that I was going to do NaPoWriMo until Tuesday (5th). So I was like ‘Ah, crap!’. I’ve caught up a little bit but still three behind.

I forgot because I was all distracted by the Melbourne International Comedy festival. I’ve seen a lot of shows. I like seeing lots of shows. I like seeing the different stuff people do. I like having an excuse to go up to performers after they get off stage and gush at them in the hope of getting a nice hug. Sometimes it even works! WOO! Bart and Nicole, I’m looking at you!

Here’s a brief list of shows I have seen and can recommend:

Mel Buttle’s Up to Pussy’s Bow: Mel’s from Brisbane and she’s obsessed with Gumtree. Stand-up. Very good.

Luisa Omielan’s Am I Right Ladies?: Luisa is from the UK, she does stand-up with dancing and a killer soundtrack. Excellent.

Velvet: Not sure if it technically counts as comedy, it’s a cabaret/circus/variety show. It’s expensive but boy is it worth the entry price! Sexy glittery good times!

Hannah Gadsby’s Dogmatic: It’s a journey through Taylor Swift lyrics and Hannah’s no woe life. Stand-up with intellectual weight. Many lols. Loved it.

Wil Anderson Fire At Wil: The title doesn’t work in America, so get into it here. For reasons why Malcolm Turnbull is a comedians nightmare and other political stand-up hilarity.

Michelle Brasier’s Space Tortoise: What could be better than a singing, dancing tortoise who wants to be a cosmonaut? Not much. Amazing.

Bart Freebairn’s Unlimited Comedy Battle Spirit: Making the everyday absurdity funny, and making absurd hilarity everyday. Weird stand-up also featuring very tight pants. Gold.

Ali McGregor’s Late-Nite Variety-Nite Night: For those late nights when you just want a bit of a flavour of some other shows. Also featuring Ali’s glorious vocal stylings and the Omnichord.

Peter and Bambi Heaven’s The Magic Inside: It’s a magical cabaret show with so many costume changes the mind boggles. You’ll never look at fruit and veg the same way again. Brilliant.

Juan Vesuvius’s Calypso Nights: Juan, Two?: This one requires a bit more work from the audience, but if you’re concentrating you are rewarded with some high-level lols. There are also some excellent physical slapstick gags. Defies classification. Get it in ya!

Becky Lucas’s Baby: Lazy-Feminist-Lady-Stand-up extraordinaire. May or may not feature actual baby. Bloody good shit here.

Andy Matthew’s Plenty: A curling, twisting, beautifully curated narrative journey through existential dread, death, and quantum physics. Makes you think hard. Makes you laugh. Good stuff.

Nicole Henriksen is Makin’ it Rain: Ever wanted to know what it’s actually like to be a stripper? This show is Nicole getting real vulnerable with bonus nudity. Epic.

So um, yeah. I’ve been busy eating up all the art! If I come up with a poem that’s any good I’ll put it up here. Otherwise I’ll try to pack in a few more laughs before the MICF closes on 17 April. Big love!

Comedy Festival – GO!

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Last night was the first night of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF). I went out to see two shows; Mel Buttle’s Up to Pussy’s Bow and Luisa Omielan’s Am I Right Ladies?

Two beautiful, strong, funny women. I bought this awesome Bumper Book for Boys, published in 1938, from Mel for 35cents. I’m looking forward to seeing more MICF shows over the next few weeks, it’s such a fun time to be out in Melbourne!

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Bumper Book for Boys, it’s going to look great in my flat above a shop in Fitzroy North. I’m not a hipster, I swear.

I’m also giving consideration to doing NaPoWriMo again. That’s National Poetry Writing Month, the idea being that you challenge yourself to write a poem a day for the month of April. I did it two years ago and I quite enjoyed it, although the standard of the poems that came out varied wildly. I don’t know whether I’ll have the time to do it properly, with the comedy festival and the band and the new job and the life modelling and the trying to organise and write our Fringe show, but I might as well give it a try.

If you’re out at the MICF and you see me, say hello! If you have recommendations for shows, tell me! If you want to do the poem a day challenge I’d love to hear from you, it’s always nice to know that there are others out there who are attempting the same stuff I am!

Modern Life

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So much in life needs our constant attention
Be a grown up. Upkeep and vigilance
Nothing is said without equivocation
Waiting to be put back in your place

Be a grown up. Upkeep and vigilance
Anxiety weighs on us, the millstone of a Saint
Waiting to be put back in your place
The struggle with darkness leaves its taint

Anxiety weighs on us, the millstone of a Saint
Back and forth, the voices in authority
The struggle with darkness leaves its taint
Try to be good. Try to create security.

Back and forth, the voices in authority
Nothing is said without equivocation
Try to be good. Try to create security.
So much in life needs our constant attention.

Sometimes it just doesn’t work

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Last month I wrote a super angry poem for my poetry group. It was confused and ranty and not very good. I can look at it now and see that. I had massaged it so that I could keep a couple of lines I was really enamoured of, at the expense of content. The group was very supportive, they gave constructive feedback and were very kind in their framing, even though the poem was really bad.

Intellectually I know that there will be versions of things, or whole pieces that simply aren’t suitable for public consumption. Whether they’re built on flawed premises, or they don’t really make sense, or they’re just a bit crappy. I have to be better at letting them go.

Emotionally I get attached to things. I want things to be good. I want all my darlings to take glorious flight into the world and resonate with other people. But that’s not how life works. Some stuff is great, other stuff is okay, some stuff is terrible. That’s how things are. With practice, the proportions are more skewed to great, but nothing is guaranteed.

I think this is what killing your darlings is about. It’s about learning to see which work needs to be persevered with, and which should just serve as an exercise and be put away in a drawer. With a lock on it. Like all of my angsty teen poetry, which still exists on the internet unfortunately, but I’m certainly not giving any of you the link! 

In other news I’m gearing up for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. I hope to post a few little reviews here for the shows I get along to – I have four booked in so far!

Oh god, I can’t act!

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I realise that my last post was about the fallacy of idleness, and how I was pretty sure I was doing a whole bunch of stuff and wasn’t being idle at all. And then a friend of mine asked if I wanted to do a fringe show and I was like ‘sure! why not?’

On the one hand, some reasons why not are: I can’t really act, I don’t know when I’ll fit it in, I’ve never performed in a show, I may have to give up sleeping.

But on the other hand, I’ve never written and performed a show, and it’s been on my list of things to do for a while, so I said yes!

Melbourne Fringe season is in September, so we’ve got some time to get our shit together. We’ve already met up a few times got a bit of a story/structure happening, so that’s a great first step.

If it’s terrible then that’s okay, I did it and I had fun, and that’s the main thing. Hopefully it isn’t terrible, and we make back the money we put into it. And maybe we’ll even be inspired to go to Perth Fringe World and Adelaide Fringe next year. I’ve been looking at stuff on my Facebook feed from both of these festivals and even if we don’t take our show, maybe I’ll go anyway!

The friend who asked me has done shows for Fringe before, so she knows about things like performing in front of people, booking venues, registering and other important stuff. Which is nice! Hooray for people who have done things before.

I’ll be spruiking the show here closer to September. See you all there!

The Fallacy of Idleness

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I’m starting to think that I have a skewed idea of what ‘not doing much’ means. Since the start of the year I’ve been feeling the frustrating and conflicted combination of being both bored and overly busy. It’s a very strange feeling and it also means I’ve felt like I’m not really doing much, or progressing with projects.

This feeling has not been helped at all by the fact that I have recently subscribed to Netflix, so I feel like I’ve been watching a lot more tv than in the past. To be honest it’s probably just replaced stupid YouTube rabbit holes.

Anyway, as a colleague at work commented to me earlier today, I do actually have my fingers in a lot of pies. I’ve got practicing and rehearsing with my band, writing (and re-writing) various projects, Dances with Cucumbers, life modelling, exercise, socialising, and working in recruitment. I manage to fill up my time pretty effectively. So maybe what I’m actually feeling is some sort of misplaced guilt. As though every moment of the day should be utilised for some sort of productive end. There’s no rule that says you must book yourself back to back with stuff or you fail at being an adult. In fact I’m pretty sure there are arguments against it.

I’ve been looking into opportunities to submit to online magazines, either as once off submissions or as a staff writer. One which seems interesting requires one blog post per week, and one long article per month, which seems totally doable on the surface. But I worry that some weeks I’d struggle to have the time, and other weeks I’d have plenty of time. I guess everything in life is like that; a balancing act of compromise and negotiation. I’m going to go for it, and try to make it work. It’s not a paid gig, but it would definitely look good on my writing resume.

I wonder how other people manage to get the right balance between being productive and having enough rest that you don’t burn out. I need to tell my brain to settle down and just accept there will be weeks when not much happens, and other weeks when you’re jam packed. That’s life. I’m pretty sure it won’t change.

Well, I just wanted to write that all out and tell myself aloud that I am not being a slacker. It’s also a bit of an update. I haven’t started editing the Choose Your Own Adventure novel from NaNoWriMo 2015, but I have started some major rewrites for the novel from NaNoWriMo 2014, which are coming along nicely. This weekend is hideously flat out for me, so hopefully I get through it without exploding/imploding. I’ll catch you all on the flip side!

Welcome 2016!

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So, I went out last night with some beautiful people and had a bloody fabulous time, but now I’m feeling a little bit delicate around the eyeballs*.

You might know that I don’t drink alcohol, but it turns out staying up late, jumping up and down, and then sleeping fitfully coz it’s really hot feel quite similar to a hangover (I assume, I haven’t really ever had one).

Anyway, welcome to 2016. It feels weird to be writing that as the date. It feels a bit like we’re in the future already and that feels pretty strange.

As I promised yesterday I’m doing my goals for the new year. I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I believe we should all be striving to live our best lives all the time. Also because most people don’t keep them.

In 2016, I’ve grouped my goals into three categories: Writing Projects, Concrete Goals, Vaguely Defined Aspirations.

Writing Projects include:

  • Winning NaNoWriMo in 2016
  • Edit the Choose Your Own Adventure book from 2015
  • Redraft You Brought this on Yourself (2014 manuscript)
  • Finalise and pitch Adventures in Mediocrity script

I’m going to keep going to my two writing groups, I’m going to try to get into a routine of setting time aside to work on my longer stuff during the week. Of course I’ll probably still be frantically coming up with something for the writing groups about three hours before I have to be there! Maybe this year I’ll even be a bit more organised about that, but I do seem to thrive with a looming deadline, so I probably won’t.

My concrete goals are:

  • Plan or take a new trip
  • Perform with the band

The band seems to be coming on steadily, so I’m confident that this one will happen. I’ve been writing a bunch of lyrics, along with Charlie, the singer, and we’re finding our creative grooves both individually and collectively.

I want to go on another trip. I think travel is important for both sanity and growth. I haven’t been to South America, or Africa, or Asia, so one of those places might be the go this time, although having people to visit in Europe makes it very tempting to go back. I haven’t put ‘go on a trip’ on the list because I might not have the money to do it in 2016, but I will definitely be going sometime soon.

Finally my vaguely defined aspirations are:

  • Get a job
  • Learn new stuff/expand
  • Talk to strangers/meet new people
  • Exercise
  • Read
  • Explore
  • Eat well

Taking care of my body and my mind are top priorities for this year, so these items are designed to help me do that. I give myself permission to do nice things for myself, like going for walks, doing short courses, spending money on nice food, and meeting people.

I think it’s a pretty good looking list. I’ve covered all the bases of stuff I want to work on and continue to improve in the new year. If I think of any more concrete goals I’ll just add them onto the master list that I have on a Sticky Note on my computer desktop (so high-tech).

Thank-you to everyone who made 2015 amazing! I’ve learned so many things, like how to Blasphememe, and met new amazing people like Tay, Joe, and Charlie (my band,❤ you guys). I’ve been pushing the boundaries of my mind, I’ve joined a new writing group, I’ve had a bunch of jobs, I nearly melted my brain with art, and I hope this year will be just as full of fabulousness (or possibly even more full)! I love you all. xo

 

*this has been greatly improved by consumption of coffee, I’m feeling pretty human now.

Wrapping up 2015

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For the last couple of years, I’ve written a little review of my year in reference to the goals I set at the start of the year. I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions, because they have such a bad reputation for not sticking. Instead I like to set a bunch of goals. Some are stretch goals, which means I’ll have to work pretty darn hard to achieve them, some are hangover goals, which didn’t get done but which are still on the to-do list, and some are more like lifestyle aims.

Here is my list of goals for 2015, taken from my post last year:

  1. Win NaNoWriMo
  2. Finish and submit We Can’t Have Nice Things (the novel I started for 2014’s NaNoWriMo)
  3. Redraft the Adventures in Mediocrity script
  4. Visit the Netherlands
  5. Finish my Bachelor of Letters
  6. Perform with the band I’m in
  7. Find/perform at new spoken word events
  8. Find a ‘good’/’real’ job
  9. Talk to strangers
  10. Exercise
  11. Read
  12. Explore
  13. Expand
  14. Eat well

Let’s go through them!

1. Win NaNoWriMo

Yep. Totally did it. Wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure novel with 50k or so words. Editing this will be on the list for 2016.

2. Finish and submit We Can’t Have Nice Things (2014’s NaNoWriMo manuscript)

Well, I finished the initial draft. It took me longer than I’d hoped to get done. I slogged away through January forcing myself to write it, and then ignored it totally until about June when I’d finished studying. The manuscript ended up being about 65k words.

I sent it to a couple of people for an initial read, and I had some really interesting structural feedback. I haven’t yet been able to redraft the manuscript, fill out some parts, and shuffle the focus a  bit. It seems super daunting but it’s on my list of things to get started on in January 2016.

So I guess this one was half done.

3. Redraft Adventures in Mediocrity script.

This one’s a bit tricky to say yes or no to. I’ve redrafted it a couple of times, I’ve broken it up into six half-hour long episodes, sit-com style, and then I’ve redrafted those. But it’s not really finished. It’s been through a few iterations, and I think it has a bit more work still to be done to it.

4. Visit the Netherlands

Totally did this one! I visited my dear, beautiful friends Simon and Katharine who have moved to the Netherlands. It’s gorgeous there and I had an amazing time hanging out with them and eating good food and playing board games and riding bicycles around canals.

I also spent two weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival filling my brain with arty goodness, see also this post and this post. Now I have to think about where I’m going to next! Possibly Asia somewhere.

5. Finish my Bachelor of Letters

Yes. Completely finished it, and I even graduated like a mother-flipping grown up! Go me! It feels a bit weird not to be learning in a structured environment. I might look into online courses/communities and other ways of keeping the flow of good stuff coming into my brain for 2016.

6. Perform with the band I’m in.

This one is a big old no. But there’s a reason: the band broke up. I am, however, in a new band, which is looking really good for performing early this year, end of January or early February we hope. We have a set of about half an hour, which is a bit rough around the edges but what better way to polish it up than performing for people, right? So I’m actually counting this one as partially completed.

7. Find/perform at new spoken word events

This one is also a no, but I feel like it’s a purposeful one. I was invited to perform some of my work at an event in mid-September. It was listed as being an edgy event where boundaries would be pushed. I was a little wary of what that meant, I mean, there’s edgy and there’s edgy right? So I sent off some suggested pieces to the organiser and she came back and said they weren’t really in the tone of the night. I was going for dark/gritty, almost horror type edgy, she apparently wanted titillating with a hint of 50 Shades of Grey type edgy, so I actually declined to perform. I’m not really sure spoken word is my jam. I think I’ll take it off the list for 2016.

8. Find a ‘good’/’real’ job

This one is a bit more vague, but I think this is still a bit of a work in progress. I’ve got a reasonably steady income doing temp work and life modelling, and I’m pretty happy doing that for the moment.

I’m still looking for what I really want to be doing. I know HR is not a sustainable long-term career choice for me, but it’s what I’m qualified in, what I’m good at, and what I keep getting offered. So I’ll stick at it until something more suitable for the long-term shows up.

Now we get into the more esoteric, even less-well-defined goals.

9. Talk to strangers
10. Exercise
11. Read
12. Explore
13. Expand
14. Eat well

For these goals, overall, I feel like I’ve done pretty well. I’ve met new people, I’ve kept up a reasonably regular exercise regime, I’ve read a bunch of books, I’ve also discovered the freedom to not finish ones I don’t like. I’ve explored two new European cities as well as discovering more about Melbourne’s live music and theatre/performance scene.

I’ve expanded my mind, I’ve had singing lessons and have a piano keyboard now. I’ve made changes to the composition of my social world, I’ve brought in some new people, let go of some old people, and strengthened connections with some people on the peripheries.

The last one, however, Eat Well, I still have room to improve on. I’m not in the habit of cooking properly for myself, partly I blame the lack of solid routine, and partly I blame not feeling like I’m worth it. I am totally worth the effort required to make up a batch of food and keep it for left overs. I am totally worth going to the markets to buy good quality meat and veg. I am totally worth spending that extra $20 to buy good food. I’m learning all the time and I know I’ll be better over the next year.

In summary, I’ve done some of the things I wanted to do, and I haven’t done some of the things I wanted to do. I’ve done things that weren’t on the list. It’s been a year of ups and downs, and hopefully I’m working towards something that’s a bit more stable, without being less exciting. Tomorrow I’m going to be doing a New Year’s goals post for 2016, so keep an eye out for that!

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