Recently, I started taking long walks again. Coming out of the slough of despond can have that effect, and vice versa. And as I walked, I began to think. As as I thought, it seemed like a good idea to share some of my thoughts.
So last week, setting off from Crewe Toll towards Princes Street, in Edinburgh, I thought I would share what was on my mind as I was walking.. Siri obligingly opened my voice memo app, and the result is here for you to listen to. There is traffic, and breathlessness involved, so it’s all very ‘in the moment’ as we say in the biz.
There’s talk about theatre, and the weather, and I do apologise for the poor quality of the recording. Clearly this is going to be a steep learning curve.
As I mention in the recording, at the top of Dean’s Bridge, a rather interesting building can be seen. I still haven’t been able to ascertain if it’s a private house or not. Here it is.
Hello, and welcome to my personal website. This is where I give myself permission to ramble on about life, the universe and everything. There are blog posts, and podcasts, depending on whether I feel like writing or talking. Topics mostly revolve and devolve around theatre, voice training, and family matters, but I also occasionally rant about world affairs and life, the universe and anything at all. Right now I’m between jobs/semi-retired/freelance, so more time on my hands to rattle my head and share my thoughts.
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I know you shouldn’t laugh at your own jokes, but this – my first ever Philosophy Essay, submitted on 27th April, 1999 – still cracks me up. The assignment was to respond to The Lier’s Paradox by arguing for one of four possibilities (it’s true, it’s false, it’s neither true nor false, it’s both true and false)
To The Editor
With regard to the headline of your recent article (The Problem of the Lying Cretan) I wish to make it clear to your readers that I take great exception to the assertion that the esteemed actor Epimenides (of Crete) is a liar.
When he made the statement “I am (now) lying” Epimenides was not lying. He was expressing himself with poetic licence. This rhetorical device has been used since the days of Aeschylus to great effect in poetry and drama. Epimenides, comsummate artist as he is, instinctively incorporates it into his improvisation.
According to your literal interpretation, when Epimenides said “I am (now) lying” he was stating a fact, and a fact is by definition true, in which case he was lying. By this reasoning it is also possible to say that if he was telling the truth, then the statement was false, that is, it could not have been a fact.
If Epimenides spoke the truth, and was lying as you say, then his statement must be both true AND false. However, it is impossible to speak truthfully and tell a lie at the same time (a lie being an intentionally false statement and the opposite to telling the truth). Therefore, his statement could not be both true and false.
This being the case, the statement must be neither true nor false. But this is equally impossible for the same reason, that one cannot lie and speak truthfully at the same time. So if Epimenides was stating a fact, we are left with the ridiculous paradox that his statement was both true and false, or neither true nor false.
When Shakespeare’s Hamlet utters the words “I am dead, Horatio” (Hamlet, Act V sc ii), he is not actually dead. If he were he would be unable to speak at all. Yet he is speaking sincerely, without intent to deceive. It would appear that the statement: “I am dead, Horatio” is not literally true, it is not a ‘fact’, but when spoken truthfully in the circumstances of his status and condition, states a higher Truth – the Truth, in fact, that his aspirations, intentions, and princely potential are finished, along with his life. The words epitomise the desolation of the moment at the climax of the play. As the distinguished Scots theatre director Tom Fleming stated with reference to a similar line in Macbeth (Boy: “He has killed me, Mother”, Act IV Sc ii), it is not a lie. It is poetic licence.
Of course, Hamlet is a fictitious character, played by an actor who has not be poisoned and stabbed. A fictitious character cannot be really dead, since he was never really alive. The actor who portrays him is pretending, creating an illusion of a character who never existed anyway. Therefore when he makes the statement, “I am dead, Horatio” it is not, in truth, a matter of fact.
Yet if Hamlet’s words could not, given the same or similar circumstances, be spoken by any one of us, then Shakespeare has failed as a dramatist. Had he failed we would not still be watching productionas of his plays, especially Hamlet. He succeeds because his characters do speak for us, expressing our deepest desires and sorrows, only with greater effect. Shakeaspeare’s skill lies in the way he uses langfuage, and one of the devices he uses is poetic licence – the freedom allowed to writers in regard to grammatical construction, and to the use of facts, “especially for effect” (Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, 3rd ed.  p. 1035).
When Epimenides said “I am (now) lying”, like Hamlet he was referring to a greater truth than the literal meaning of the words. He was engaged in the telling of a tall tale which grew taller by the minute, until he reached the point where his remark “I am (now) lying” was the epitome of exaggeration. Just as Hamlet’s use of the present tense (I am) heightens our awareness of the wasteful tragedy of his death, so Epimenides’s “I am” heightens our awareness of the gargantuan nature of his fabrications, and of our complicity in them. Hamlet’s “dead” overwhelms us with the inevitability of loss. Epimenides’ “lying” generates universes of make-believe. “I am dead” in Hamlet’s mouth makes us aware of our own mortality in a moment of catharsis. “I am lying” slipping from Epimenides’ tongue awakens us to the vitality of our own imagination and playfulness.
Thus Epimenides was not lying. He was speaking truthfully, through the device of poetic licence, expressing in the fewest possible words not so much a simple daxt as the great truth of humanity’s endless capacity for invention.
Apallina of Athens
This was the tutor’s response:
“Excellent work, Flloyd. An immensely entertaining (and highly original) essay, that incorporates argument alive precision and clarity within its imaginative format. Well done!”
“Time is of the essence” What on earth does that mean? I know we usually use the phrase to get someone else to hurry up. “Time is in short supply”? Crikey! That is for sure. [I feel the need for an emoticon. Facebook, what have you done to me?]
So I just felt inspired to write a new blog post, one that was personal rather than business related, and of course, this is my personal blog. This one. So I open it up, and discover that I haven’t posted here for THREE YEARS!!! Sorry for shouting, but what the heck, this is ridiculous. Where have I been? What happened to me? Who even am I?
I’m not going to attempt to fill in the past 3 years, because most of you already know what I’ve been doing. You probably have a clearer idea than I do, because I forget things.
That’s not strictly accurate. I don’t actually forget, I misplace things in my head, and sometimes it takes longer than usual – whole seconds – to find them. Alright sometimes whole days. And sometimes I don’t bother.
[In brief, I’m now based in Edinburgh, after a stint in the south of England, teaching voice to acting students and touring my solo show.]
Because I can.
What brought that on? Comments from a friends, mostly Facebook friends who don’t actually know me all that well (so who does?) “Aren’t you brave!” “Good on you, Flloyd!” Or this one, received today: “how fun that you keep traveling the world, playing, and acting/playing, and putting yourself out there. it’s great great great.”
Yes, it is fun. It’s great. I love it. I love being in new places, working in new ways, learning as I go, doing the things I love doing, which are performing and teaching. And I hate that I have to travel to the other side of the world in order to be able to do it. It’s exhausting. I’m tired. I’m sad to leave good friends behind. It’s hard for me to make friends. I know lots of people, that doesn’t mean I have lots of friends. So I value my friends.
When I was young, I assumed that I wasn’t anyone that people particularly wanted to be friends with, so whenever I moved away I said goodbye and never made any effort to stay in touch. Fortunately, I eventually learned that friendship is something that has to be worked at (like families). So now I make an effort to stay in touch with friends, to let them know I care about them. As a result, I have a couple of good friends everywhere I go (that I’ve been to before!)
Here in Edinburgh, I’m now beginning to reach out to them, and I’m so lucky that two friends from Glasgow are now living and working in Edinburgh, so I don’t have to reach out too far. Family members are still on the other side of the country, but as I discovered last weekend, Oban is just two train rides away.
So I was able to connect up with my sister-in-law, Mabel MacArthur, and my younger son Roderick at the Wedding of the Year, and much fun was had by all. I couldn’t dance, because I had a dodgy and very painful wrist, so Mabel performed The Dashing White Sergeant just for me.
But I digress. And I find myself doing that more and more often these days. It’s a form of procrastination. Like writing this blog post instead of rehearsing and re-working my solo show, due to be performed in New York next month. How good does that sound! [Rhetorical question, hence no question mark]
Yes, it sounds good. It will be good. A great experience. Unless my US work visa doesn’t come through in time, in which case I will still be performing in New York, just not in an actual theatre on 42nd Street (book your tickets here), and not for the potential of taking away a portion of the Box Office, but for free in my friends’ and family’s front rooms. Incidentally, if you’ve booked and paid for your ticket already, THANK YOU SO MUCH I LOVE YOU. If not, but you intend to come, please do, because there is a web page on United Solo’s website that lets us know when we have sold 15 tickets or more, and if we sell out they allocate another performance slot. And IF the visa doesn’t come through, you will be refunded, so no risk involved.
Oh dear, what was I saying? See what I mean? Oh yes, Time. Apparently it doesn’t exist without Space. Also, it always exists – past, present and future, they are always in existence. So wherever I have been, and wherever I am now, whatever I get up to in the future – no. I’m exhausted just thinking about that.
I think I need to focus upon the NOW. I am in Edinburgh – oh, and I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes me to be able to see Roddy more than once in 4 years, to be able to call Iain in the US more than once in 6 months, with the time zone difference much more sympathetic to my sleeping patterns.
I’ve been house-sitting for about 6 years, and for most of that time those belongings that don’t fit in my car as I move between houses have been stored in a unit in Aspley. Whenever I need something I go rummaging in the bags and boxes, and when I decide there are books, or clothes or whatever that I won’t be needing for a while, I stuff them back into the storage unit.
As a result, it has become pretty messy, and while I wait for my thesis to come back from my son the proof reader I have nothing better to do (apart from developing a new clown act) than clear out a few bags and boxes, sort through them and generally tidy up. So far I’ve managed to reduce the number of bags from around 20 to 6, and the filing boxes from 5 to 3. And I still haven’t thrown out all my thesis research files…
So! It’s been quite fun, if hot and sweaty work. I’ve rediscovered old friends, like all the universal adaptors that I had to buy every time I travelled abroad because I couldn’t find the ones from the last trip. I found the loan documents for the car, and discovered I’ve still 3 years to go… Sad face. 🙁
But I also found my Valedictorian Speech from when I graduated from UQ back in 2005. I quite enjoyed reading it again, so I thought I’d share.
“Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, members of Senate and academic staff, distinguished guests, fellow graduates, ladies and gentlemen. Good afternoon and thank you for this opportunity to address you.
“How to begin? A moment of uncertainty. Where do we go from here? More uncertainty. Did we do as well as we could have? Did we do the right degree? Should we come back for more? Should I stop asking questions now?
“There is no straight answer to any of these questions, any more than there is to the question we have all been asked during the past years of study: “What are you going to do with your degree?” Did you ever hear such a daft question?
“Let’s cut to the chase here, and agree for the moment that by ‘degree’, we’re not referring to the piece of paper or the letters after the name. We’re really referring to the process of learning, arguing, realising, procrastinating, sleeping through and breaking through which we have all shared in some measure over the past few years.
“When I left school, well before most of my fellow students were a glint in their grand-parents’ eyes, it was one of my ambitions to become a university student, largely because I was enraptured with the Doctor in the House movies, and the thought of encountering students like the hesitant but heroic Simon Sparrow, aka Dirk Bogarde (and if you never saw him in his young days, just think Johnny Depp times 10).
“I had no thought of actually graduating; I just thought it would be grand to be a student. That it took me 40 years to take the plunge is merely an indication that I am, in many ways, a slow learner. Not that the time was wasted – I firmly believe that there are times in our lives when it is right and appropriate for certain actions, when we are ready to make the most of the experience we are being offered. And my time to gain an arts degree happens to coincide with yours.
“What does it mean to hold the piece of paper, to have the right to put the letters after our names? It does not guarantee us jobs. Whereas years ago employers reserved the right to induct new employees into their work systems, nowadays they generally expect to engage people who already know how their filing system works, how to manipulate the software package they just had personalised to their own requirements, or how to create proposals or designs which resonate with their own corporate style.
“Even the most practical double degree doesn’t guarantee that you can walk into a school, an office or an orchestra and competently ‘fly solo’ without having to learn skills you did not acquire as part of your degree.
“So, what do we say when our friends and relatives ask us what we intend to do with an arts degree? For the past five years, I have been answering that question by saying “well I don’t expect it to get me a job at my age. But I do expect to use it in everything I do.” At first it was a bit of a cliché. I didn’t really know how I was going to use it. But within six months it was so true I could hardly contain my excitement.
“I found myself putting into practice immediately whatever I was learning about. Every philosophy lecture revealed some new aspect of the human condition which I would eagerly pass on to the (albeit stunned) acting students, every history lecture took me to places which connected in both tangible and intangible ways with my work, my understanding of myself, the societies I grew up in, travelled, lived and worked in. I was able to consciously, if uncertainly, integrate my studies into my personal process of development.
“Whether conscious or not, that is exactly what we have all been doing for the past three, four or however long it took years: integrating new found understandings into ourselves, developing our sense of ourselves as articulate human beings with ideas and opinions of our own, and with respect for the opinion of others – well, most others: because to quote Salman Rushdie, arts degrees “are all about Preparation. They prepare us for a lifetime of preparation”*.
“What they are not about is certainty. Certainty is the end of preparation. Certainty stands still, does not move or grow, it is satisfying only until challenged by someone else’s certainty. Certainty is the end of adventure, the end of discovery, the end of life as we know it, Jim. Because the only certainty in life is death.
“Our hard won arts degrees have prepared us for a life of uncertainty: and hopefully these sometimes painful, sometimes joyful years have prepared us to be comfortable with uncertainty, which is what David Mamet proposes good acting involves. Of course, the only difference between acting which embraces uncertainty, and life is – well, there’s a doctorate in that…
“Uncertainty has been the one constant ever since we walked into our first tutorial, and asked the first question – which was usually “will I get a good mark if I say that?” only to be greeted by either a blank stare, or “how should I know?” from the tutor.
“Questions, leading to answers which are more questions. An abundance of uncertainty. We may have hated it, tolerated it, accepted it temporarily or embraced it wholeheartedly. I do so hope you have embraced it, that you recognise what a gift it is, to be able to deal with uncertainty, to accept it and to seek it out.
“This degree represents all the hard work we did in order to be granted it. Even the brightest student knows that consistently good results don’t happen without hard work. Michaelangelo once said – apparently – that “if you knew how much hard work went into it, you wouldn’t call it ‘genius'”.
“However, no amount of hard work guarantees success. There are no guarantees. If there were, life would be very tedious. Instead, we’ve been given, at this institutions and at universities all over the world which still teach the humanities, under conditions of diminishing funding and rising costs, we’ve been given the opportunity to learn about life, about each other, about the ways in which human beings express their humanity, the wonderful and terrible things we are capable of doing to each other; we’ve learnt to challenge our own, and other people’s assumptions, and we’ve learnt to ask questions.
“This enables us to go out into the world with some sense of what is possible. Not what is certain, not what should be, not what is safe and comfortable. With the support of our community, our families, our lecturers and tutors, and each other, we have earned the right to be creatively uncertain. We can enjoy full, satisfying and productive lives in whatever profession or occupation we choose to undertake, as long as we continue to challenge certainty wherever we find it.
“Congratulations, fellow students. It’s been a bumpy ride, and worth every bruise. Have a fantastic, peaceful, healthy and uncertain life.
* Salman Rushdie, graduation address to Bard College, May 25th, 1996.
“Before expression, there is nothing but a vague fever, and only the work itself, completed and understood, will prove that there was something rather than nothing to be found there” (69). Thus Merleau-Ponly describes the current state of my thesis, “nothing but a vague fever”, a fever which burns intensely somewhere behind my frontal lobes, its very vagueness adding fuel to the flames
That was how I felt about my thesis, roughly 4 years ago. Fortunately, the fever burnt out round about the time I presented my practice-as-research project as a fully realised production, towards the end of 2010, and by the middle of 2011 I found I was able to sit still for hours, days, weeks at a time and write, edit, re-write, cut, write and read and write again until I had completed a full draft for submission.
Did I mention I was doing this part-time? Just in case you think I’m either slow or lazy (which is not to say I’m not), since
officially a University of Queensland PhD Thesis is supposed to be completed within 3 years. I started mine in 2006. Why? Good question. Next question please…
This is what I looked like back in those days. By 2010, when The Fall of June Bloom (or What You Will) finally made it to full Equity Showcase production, at the Geoffrey Rush Drama Studio, UQ St Lucia Campus, I had gone completely grey, and had acquired two grandchildren.
Writing the actual thesis had been a stop/start affair over the years while I attended to my teaching practice, presented my ideas at various conferences in the UK and the USA, spent time with the kids (who now live in Seattle) and getting June Bloom up and running. I saved money on rent by house-sitting, and stopped going to the hairdresser to help with production costs. I am happy to say enough money was raised to ensure that everybody received a decent payout at the end of the day. I really don’t believe in doing profit share unless there is a profit to share. But I digress.
The thesis was approved by my advisers (who used to be known as supervisors) and submitted for examination at the end of May, 2012. In keeping with the rest of my experience of the whole PhD Candidature thing, it was supposed to be back within 3 months, but it took 9. I finally received 3 reports in March 2013. One examiner said pass it with minor revisions, one said pass it with major revisions, and the adjudicator said pass it with major revisions that are really not all that major. Are you still following?
My initial reaction was – no big deal. Make it better. Good idea. Then I thought about it. Then I stopped thinking about it. Then I got busy with some rather exciting teaching and acting work. Then I thought about it some more. I went through it like a dose of salts, handed it back to my chief adviser, who said “WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING???”
By the time I recovered from the realisation that I had completely misinterpreted the problem, something had happened. I had aged.
Ageing is not something anyone actually expects, or believes will ever happen to them. We all know we will get older, but up to a certain point we don’t actually believe that it will affect us particularly. As long as we’ve got reasonable health, what is the problem with getting older?
I remember being 45, working with a wonderful mime artist named Pat Keysell, who was then 52. “Flloyd”, she said to me one day, as we walked from my flat in Govanhill in Glasgow to the rehearsal venue at the Tramway, “don’t you find you slow down as you get older?” I was shocked to realise I was constantly charging ahead of her down the road, and having to wait for her to catch up. She was so agile in performance, a beautiful physical artist who transformed into a deer, or an owl so completely with a simple flick of her ankle, or toss of her head, I simply couldn’t understand why she walked so (relatively) slowly.
Ten years later, I still didn’t get it. But twenty years on, boy do I know what she meant. And not only do the joints object to movement if I allow them to stay still for any length of time, the brain cells also take ages to fire up after a rest, and frequently misfire with awkward, frustrating results. So editing and revising the thesis is a slow, painfully tedious process with only occasional hints of the fever that burned with such delicious intensity not so many years ago.
It will be done, eventually. Actually, sooner than that. It has to be finished by March next year. Thank goodness. Right now, I’m back in Seattle with my son and his family, enjoying the late summer/early Fall, catching up with friends and learning lines for a beautiful play to be presented as a workshop production in Brisbane next month. I will get this tiger off my back, but in the meantime I shall let William Blake have the last word:
How very strange, sitting on the back deck with 3 layers of warm tops, good socks and loose comfy trousers, with nothing better to do but drink coffee and talk to you.
Yes, it is winter in Brisbane, which anyone living in Scotland would find a very acceptable format for summer. It’s cloudy today, and quite breezy, which is probably why the birds are later than usual. In summer, the maggies sing around 8 am, followed by the crows, but here they are in full voice at 10 am. I’m certainly not complaining.
Of course, I have other things to do. I don’t think, though, that they are more urgent than sitting here with the birds and Perch the cat, enjoying the cool air round my fingers and an excellent coffee.
I will start learning my script for Nanaimo later on today, pay for my upcoming week of training with Ira, and post a blog on Being in Voice about the workshop I’m proposing next month. Nothing too demanding – my to do list. Hopefully, the workshop will be Extremely Demanding. I’m pretty excited about the possibility of working with people who crave Extremely Demanding.
You may have guessed – if you don’t know already – that I have now formally handed down (submitted) my thesis. Done. Like a dinner. I have informal acknowledgement that the submissions office has received it, but I’m still awaiting formal acknowledgement that everything is in order. The actual submission process turned out to be incredibly complicated, fraught with error potential, and took about 10 days to get everything sorted. hmmmm.
So anyway, here I am, virtually post thesis, at least for a few months till the examiners send it back with whatever objections, revisions, suggestions they may have. So I am enjoying the remarkable sensation of hiatus, and allowing lots and lots of ideas to potter around in my head for what mischief I can get up to next. My supervisor likes some of my ideas for writing projects, so that’s encouraging.
I’ve listed my itinerary below, so you can skip it if you’ve already heard it. In brief, as I’ve said before, I’ll be away from 26 July to 8 September. If there’s any chance we could meet up someone along the route, please let me know! Maybe by the time I get back, I’ll have figured out what I’m going to be when I grow up. I’ve applied for a couple of jobs. One thing is sure, it includes a trip to UK and France in 2013. And to anywhere else that gets me outta Brisbane. Out of Brisbane. Hmmm. Maybe that’s the title of a film.
OK my friends, tha-tha-that’s all folks – for now.
Here’s the plan to date:
I’m house-sitting in Red Hill with Perch the Cat till 13 July.
Next week, more clown training with Ira, who has just returned from Europe and 3 months touring (performing) with Slava’s Snow Show. I’m very exciting about working with him again.
2-6 July – ADSA conference, here in Brisbane. I’m leading a voice workshop
14 – 26 July – house-sitting in Toowoomba for Willie and Elvira. I shared a dungeon basement flat in Sauchiehall St, Glasgow with Willie 17 years ago!
14 and 15 July – workshop “Shakespeare’s Archetypes” IF I get 6 participants. I still need to find a venue, has to be special because I want to work from 9.30 am to 9 pm, total immersion, food included. Details HERE.
26 July – fly off to Seattle to see my beautiful Iain, Jessie, Owen, Natalie and Annie the Dog.
2 August – to Washington DC to take part in panel presentation on Presence at ATHE conference.
5-9 August, VASTA conference, also Washington DC. I’m presenting a short paper on training teachers to care for young children’s voices – i.e. encourage them to play with sound for longer, and safely.
10 August, get together with Adele and Lauren in Moorestown, then back to Seattle.
Less than three months to go, and the excitement is building. Yes, I’m off to Seattle on 26th July, thence to Washington (DC), New York and then back to Seattle, arriving back in Brisbane on 8th September.
Oh, did I mention the Nanaimo Fringetastic Theatre Festival? Because I’m joining up with the Seattle-based but internationally oriented troupe Across the Pond to perform the new work Man Catches Fish in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
There will be a couple of conferences to attend in Washington, DC. I’m co-presenting on a panel on Presence at ATHE, and who knows what I will get up to at the VASTA conference…
But before any of that can happen, there is still the dreaded thesis to hand down. Any day now, folks!
I saw two shows this week. Wild Honey, Michael Frayn’s adaptation of Chekhov’s Platinov, was performed by the second year acting students at QUT. This was the first English language performance of Chekhov I have ever seen that actually had people behaving like Russians. I loved it. Then last night I saw An End to Dreaming, with Emma Dean and Jake Diefenbach. It’s a kind of song cycle, two fabulously talented singer/musicians, billed as “dark” “mysterious” cabaret, but I found it dirge-like. Ah well, you cannot win them all, as they say in the classics.
I see it’s nearly a year since my last post. Maybe I should make a habit of this, annual postings!
SO, where am I? In Brisbane. Still house-sitting, thanks to some lovely house-owners who are kind enough to let their animals keep me company while they travel. What am I? Still a student, part time PhD candidate, and still a freelance voice and acting coach. A little bit less of the former, a little bit more of the latter.
I’ll explain. I have now completed a full draft of my thesis. It is sitting with my two very busy supervisors, waiting for them to read it and return it to me with their comments, and suggestions for refinements. Hopefully refinements. Hopefully they won’t want major rewrites. I’m now pulling together all of the ancillary material I can muster to put into the appendices, such as feedback from colleagues and audiences who attended the various work-in-progress presentations of the performance project, The Fall of June Bloom (or What You Will). Then there are all the diary type notes I made along the way, since the project became officially part of my PhD. I’ve been pretty slack in that area, but as I’ve been trawling through every external hard drive I’ve saved files onto over the past 4 years I’ve managed to find 23 pages worth of ramblings, some of it quite revealing.
So if any of you have any final thoughts in response to your encounter with June Bloom, and would like them included in the final document, now is the time to send them in to me. Final submission – when I have to hand it down – no later than the end of June.
My teaching practice is bubbling along quite nicely. I must be doing something right with the website, because I am now getting one or two calls a week from potential students who find me just by searching on the net. I’m working more with non-actors at the moment, people from different walks of life who want to develop their voices and presentation skills. What fun!
When I arrived back in Oz last year, after a fabulous trip to Phoenix, Haworth NJ, New York and Seattle, I vowed not to leave the country until the thesis was completed. Well, one way or another, it will be completed by the end of June, so I’m setting off again late July, back to Seattle to see Iain, Jessie, Owen, Natalie and Annie. There will be a dash across country to the east coast for a conference or two and hopefully catch up with the NJ mob, then back again for more Seattle family fun.
Back in Brisbane in early September, I guess I’ll have to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I seem to have discovered yet another string to my bow – composer! having tinkered, on and off, as long as I can remember, with song writing. There have been occasional forays into arranging, and then of course there was the Music Major as part of my BA. I keep forgetting about that. Anyway…
To explain the photo up at the top. I’m wearing one of the costumes for the Performers For Peace group, for which I have been commissioned to compose original music for their latest street theatre performance. It’s been an absolute blast, tagging along as the group (from the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom, Brisbane chapter) debated and discussed, improvised and devised – under the most excellent facilitation of Anna Yen – the words that they wanted to sing. I then went into seclusion to set it all to music. It’s just 5 minutes long, but we’ve managed to turn out a miniature agit-prop epic. Opening night is at the end of April, at the WILPF Annual Awards cocktail party.
Of course, I am not without ideas for stuff to get stuck into when September arrives. I’m pretty excited about a range of possibilities for getting more and more people of all ages, from very small children to senior, involved in voice work and play. Shakespeare will also feature in future plans, be prepared to be surprised on a street corner or in a car park near you.
Oh, and there’s a trip to Paris to run a voice workshop, that’s in early planning stages. It would be awfully nice to get a whole tour happening around that, early in 2013. Think about it! It could happen in your part of the world too. I’ve been riding high for some time now, and I’m heading down into the valleys to continue the journey.
The pedometer is such a boon – when it works. There were a couple of days last week when I couldn’t understand how I could have walked so little, when I’d been quite active. Then I realised the pedometer doesn’t tick over if it’s wrapped tightly in my waistband. So, now that’s been sorted, I am happy to report that my first two days of the Walk In Her Shoes Challenge – to walk 10,000 steps a day for a week – have resulted in 11,430 (yesterday) and 10,320 (today – so far). Yesterday I walked through the housing estates behind us, some newly built, more in the process of being built. Most of them are little boxes with high windows and a view of nothing, backing onto glorious bushland.
Today I walked down Beams Road to check out how far it is to the nearest shops. Twenty minutes, or 3,200 steps!
Five days to go.
Here we have two grandmas, enjoying a trip to Central Park Zoo in April this year with our grand-daughter, Natalie. Adele, my co-grandma and dear friend insisted on buying this pic for me, and I just love it to bits.
I’m now staying in a nice little bungalow in Carseldine – Fitzgibbon really – with Wokkie the Chihuahua, and Mao-Mao the cat. We rock along together quite happily.
I’ve also acquired a desk of my own at Long Pocket, where the School of English, Media Studies and Art History has been relocated while renovations are under way in St Lucia. It’s so exciting to have somewhere to go to, just to work on my thesis. I have bookshelves, so I’ve managed to get some books out of storage. I also have a view of trees, and it’s so lovely to walk out into the peace and quiet.
So, there will be more walking, and there will also be movement on the thesis writing project, I promise you. And I promise me.