I’ve never thought of myself as a person who could create worthwhile visual art. Sure, I would have admitted that, given some training, I could probably produce something that wasn’t disastrous. But I didn’t really believe it and it’s not like it bothered me so I never took any steps to become a better artist, or become a visual artist at all (beyond photography).
But I think we all know that I’m a fan of Neil Gaiman and this week he inspired me to create art. He’s doing a thing with Blackberry, a calender thing, and here is how it’s working.
A few weeks ago he took to twitter to get inspiration by asking questions. He then chose an answer for each month and used that as a basis/starting point/inspiration for a short story. Now, the world at large is being asked to participate again, this time in the form of contributing an art piece inspired by one of his short stories.
For example, the question for October was: “What mythical creature would you most want to meet in October? (& why?)” and the answer he chose to inspire his story was: “A djinn. Not to make a wish. But for the very best advice on how to be happy w/ what you already have.” (@elainelowe). You can read all the stories here.
And I made this,
Her face is based loosely on Rihanna and I sketched from a bunch of different pictures (thank you google images). The lamp was basically out of my head and, if I’m honest, I don’t like it as much as the woman’s face.
But I made it, it’s mine. And it turns out that art is fun, totally unlike the stressful panic I remember from art classes at school. Then I thought, people are always colouring pencil sketches in using their computers, maybe I could do that. So I did. This was a little more stressful (mostly just the step of transferring the sketch to a black-transparent layer) and I think I still like the pencil sketch better but it was also SO MUCH FUN. Who knew?
Art submissions for the calender are open til March 4th and, even if you’re not interested in that, I highly recommend checking out the stories.
A few weeks ago Peter and I went out for breakfast to the crochet-covered, delicious-food-serving Wild Poppy in Fremantle. We were a little disappointed when our iced tea came in glass bottles – rather than being homemade – but that only lasted until we tasted it.
I ordered a Peppermint, Lemon, Lime iced tea and it was the most refreshing drink I’d ever had. I can’t remember the brand name and it’s driving me nuts but when I got home I decided to make something similar.
Several hours of trawling the internet later (okay, maybe it was more like 15 minutes) I mashed together a whole load of recipes to get this:
1 litre boiling water
1/3 cup of caster sugar
3 black teabags
1/2 a lemon
1/2 a lime
a sprig of mint (from my very own garden!)
Just add all the ingredients and stir until the caster sugar is dissolved. Take out the teabags after 3 minutes and the mint after about 15. Chuck it in the fridge til it’s cold and HOORAY ICED TEA.
It’s not quite as good as the mysterious iced tea from the Wild Poppy but it’s better than most shop iced teas and it’s a lot cheaper.
So it’s been 10 days since I last posted. Life was relaxing and then busy and then blah. You know how it goes. I’m doing really well on some of my goals (ukulele, reading) but not so well on others (running, being less stressed).
I’ve decided to add another goal to that list, that will possibly replace the cooking goal (who knows!), and it is to have a little garden on my balcony. Are you excited? I’m excited. First up: basil!
But definitely the most exciting thing of the last week or so was going on a mini camping trip last weekend! It’s the first time we’ve used the tent my mum gave us for our wedding. Hmm, what? We’re a bit slack, yes. We drove down to Busselton on Saturday morning, spent a few hours there and then headed just a little further south to stay overnight near Cowaramup. Next morning we checked out some caves then toured some of the wineries/breweries/chocolate factories. I tried some amazing olive tapenade but when I attempted to buy it I was informed that the only jar they had was the one for tasting (which was promptly packed up so as not to disappoint anyone else).
I hope all your goals are coming along swimmingly and the start of your year has been fun!
It has been a tough year for me but here are some things that have been pretty great.
1. I found two sort of new hobbies: writing and photography, and they have given me things to think about and care about outside of work that distract me from missing my family and stop me from watching tv all evening.
2. Europe. Guys, I got to go to Italy and Austria and Germany because of my maths. I made new friends, ate delicious food, saw beautiful things and generally enjoyed the good things in life.
3. Public speaking. It might seem like a strange thing to be grateful for but I enjoy the challenge/adrenalin of performance and I guess presenting maths is the direction that’s going to take in me for a while.
4. My husband. I find it hard to write about him, and our relationship, on here because it feels awfully personal and he’s more private about the internet than I am. Suffice to say he has made me laugh and comforted me when I was miserable and we have grown closer together in our separation from everyone else.
5. Living near the beach. There’s not a lot to be said about this. It’s just pretty great.
6. Friends and family. I’ve really appreciated all the visits we’ve had from outernet friends and family this year. But also, internet friends, you’ve been exactly who I needed and I’m so happy that we met.
And nope, the pictures from Europe are not even near running out so expect posts with unrelated pictures tacked onto the end all through next year too.
Happy New Year, guys 🙂
If you read this post you might have thought, along with myself, that a good goal for the new year would be to get fit again. I wrote a whole blog post about it. And it’s definitely a good goal. But the more I thought about it the more I realised the reason I wanted to get fit was not that I wanted to be fit in and of itself – it was that I wanted to not be stressed anymore. I would love to be fit but I care more about not being stressed and I was choosing fitness because I knew it would help in that department.
So my goal is: become less stressed.
I’m aware of the fact that getting rid of stress is a difficult goal and I also know that this is a tough one to judge. Will I know, at the end of the year, whether I’ve succeeded in being less stressed? I think so, although it won’t quite as easy to determine as last year’s goal of “Write A Book”.
But even if it’s difficult, and even if it’s open ended, it’s really important for me. Every time I’ve seen a doctor in the last 3 years (or so) they’ve sent me home with the message: “It’s probably just stress.” As if that’s meant to be some sort of consolation. I tick nearly all the boxes on the “Symptoms of Stress” lists and, trust me, it’s no fun.
I’ll be posting throughout the year about the ways I’m going about this and whether I think I’m succeeding or not.
Do you have any NY resolutions?
(The aim is to get from the first picture to the second picture. Also, I just like posting pictures of Adelaide.)
I went to Sydney for a maths conference.
And then to Brisbane for a wedding.
I returned to Perth and then headed off to Adelaide for Christmas almost immediately.
It’s been pretty crazy in my head lately. There’s been so much going on, so many things to do, places to be and people to see. All of it was great but also tiring and today we returned home to 40C, a car with a coolant leak and an air conditioner that is out of action. The photos make the present a little easier and I’m hoping for some relaxation on the horizon.
I’ll be back in a few days with NY resolutions, something I am newly keen on.
Today I went for a run for the first time in a long time. I’m terribly unfit. People I went to school with wouldn’t even believe me because when I used to say I was unfit back then what I really meant was that I hadn’t been running for two weeks. Now I’m the least fit that I’ve been in my entire life except for the period after they cut my knee open to stick it back together. But today I went for a run.
And there’s something in those first few strides, wearing comfortable shoes and with my hair tied back, that feels like coming home. I know this is just because I used to go jogging a lot, and it wouldn’t feel that way for everyone, but I find it comforting. It’s comforting that even though running is hard, and by the end of the run my body hurt, I’ve trained myself to do it with some amount of joy.
It makes me wonder what else in the future, regardless of how hard it seems now, will feel like coming home when I return to it. It gives me hope and a renewed sense of determination.
If you listen closely you can hear the almost relief that is actually still stress. I have 5,000 words left to write by the end of tomorrow. I’m feeling confident though I’m sure it will take a late night. Mostly it feels good but also I’m sick to death of my story. So let’s talk about something else.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If you haven’t been watching these then you should have been. (Go! Go now!) In short: a webseries telling the story of Pride and Prejudice, modernised and in vlog format. It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s clever. It has Hank Green’s name on it so I’m not at all surprised. But really, what it has done for me is given me a whole new list of Internet People to care about and trust to make me delightful things. Rachel Kiley, Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles in particular. I now want to follow the three of them around and watch/read everything they ever do from this point on. Is that creepy? I already feel the same way about Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer (that link is never safe for work) and the Green brothers.
I find it weird that there are other artists I admire to the same degree yet I don’t have that same devotedness to and it took me a little while to work out why. The artists I’ve mentioned are all accessible online. I’ve been retweeted by both Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. I’ve had tumblr interactions with Rachel Kiley, Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles. And I’ve seen evidence that the Green brothers talk regularly with fans online too. It’s easy to admire someone from afar but when they’re right there, tangible, when they’re living in your world, it’s as if they’re just a little bit more real.
Eventually I’m going to run out of entirely unrelated pictures from my trip to Europe. But that time is not now.
This week was infinitely better in terms of getting writing done. I caught up heaps on the weekend and have written the amount that I need to every day since. I’m also enjoying the story more and having a little more faith that it might turn into something good. The only problem now is that I still have another 17,000 words left to go and no more plot to speak of. Admittedly that’s been the case since I started. I didn’t really start with a plot, just some characters, and I’ve been building a plot in bits and pieces the whole time.
I plan to spend this weekend trying to rearrange the novel. For one thing I’ve got a Christmas scene that I think I want to move to Thanksgiving. Also, my brain really prefers to deal with things that are laid out neatly and I’ve written the scenes all out of order. So I’m going to write little summaries of my chapters and do all those organisation things that I actually really enjoy even though I never thought I would. It’s like a puzzle. I like puzzles.
Obviously I’ll keep writing too. I might even go outside. (At the moment I’m writing on my balcony so being outside and getting writing done are not mutually exclusive.)
I took this picture in Germany, right next to the section of the Berlin Wall that was turned into an outdoor art gallery. These guys weren’t trying to hide and I got the impression that it was okay to graffiti this wall as long as you didn’t deface the gallery next to it. Who knows, maybe this wall was even set aside for people to make their own art.
Okay so I will confess that this week has been harder. I didn’t write on Friday or Saturday or Monday and yesterday I didn’t manage the 1,667 words needed to stop falling further behind. But do not lose hope! We had a friend visiting on the weekend and I plan to fully make up for all the non-weekend writing of last weekend, this weekend. (Also, I discovered the Supernatural transcripts online and accidentally read three seasons in three days but I’m sure that’s irrelevant…)
So on this magical non writing weekend, what did we do? Mostly we spent our time hiding in bookshops in Fremantle (where it unexpectedly rained!) and in Kings Park which was delightfully sunny. It was also Remembrance Day and the War Memorial is in Kings Park so we got to hear The Last Post played by someone from army.