A Smaller Life


Today’s Daily Prompt is “The Things We Leave Behind”.

Over the past four weeks I have left behind a grat deal.

I moved from a three bedroom house to a small bedsit and many years of accumulated “stuff” had to go.

Letting go of furniture was easier than I thought. I had several pieces from my parents that I thoughtI had an emotional attachment to but when the decision came it was easy to let them go. They are just objects, large ones at that, and memories persist without them.

A number of smaller objects stayed because they strongly invoked not just memories of people but memories of them at a particular point in time or space.

I also decided that a great number of my tech books could be left behind. They are indeed left behind. In this day of constant net access and sites like Stack Overflow the need for tech books as reference material disappears. I personally like books for learning but no longer as reference.

The other pile that was left behind in a similar way were almost all my DVDs. I kept a few and a fair collection of Blu-Ray discs but most of my media is now on the computer. Another technology left behind, anyone still playing VHS tapes?

I discarded a lot of toys. I don’t know what it is about us nerds but we do love our toys. I kept a few like both my Rubik’s cubes. One’s usually unsolved and the other is displaying some pattern or other (‘cube in a cube in a cube’ and the ‘T pattern’ are my favourites). Way back in my late teens I spent months looking at the theory of the cube (blame Douglas Hofstadter and his “Metamagical Themas” column in Scientific American for that) and developed my own solution. It wasn’t a good solution but is was mine. I have it documented somewhere and if I really try I can still use it to solve a cube but I have to be really careful getting the last, bottom slice of the cube done as the transforms get long and ugly. I instead use a much better solution when I’m solving a cube just for the fun of solving. If you’re looking for a decent method then the one at the official cube page is excellent.

T

T Pattern

cube3

Cube in a cube in a cube

I also kept about three “magic snake” puzzles. Marvellous way to keep my brain occupied while watching TV or a movie is to play with them. So far I’ve discovered five different ways of spiralling one.

magic snake

Magic Snake

Left behind was a need to be surrounded by stuff. I had a woman help me from a declutter service and I don’t know what it was but just her presence there made the decisions easy. At one stage she said to me “You’re doing extremely well. You’re being quite decisive” and I felt quite complimented. It was an unusual me in a lot ways.

I may have left behind a lot but I’m looking forward to a smaller life.

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Ten Minutes To Tell Of Love


My Filco keyboard

My Filco Keyboard

So today’s daily prompt is another exhortation to write whatever comes to mind for ten minutes.

Our weekly free-write is back: take ten minutes — no pauses! — to write about anything, unfiltered and unedited. You can then publish the post as-is, or edit a bit first — your call.

(I’m not going to do an edit. Just fix spelling and egregious grammatical errors.)
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Fiction For Me


Books, books, books

Books, books, books


Today’s Daily Prompt is:

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

I read both, I enjoy both. I write mainly non-fiction (for some reason I just can’t manage plot) but when it comes to fun I read fiction.

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Halloween Treats For Bloggers


Halloween

Halloween (Photo credit: Pedro J. Ferreira)

 

Today’s Daily Prompt: “If bloggers had their own Halloween and could go from blog to blog collecting “treats,” what would your blog hand out?”

Treats? My first thought was ‘hugs’. Of course I can’t hand out real hugs and virtual ones aren’t that useful.

How about uplifting aphorisms? That’s a nice idea. Sayings like “Everyone is a talented and valuable individual in their own way” or “You can do it, just try.”

A beautiful photo they can use. Here’s a search on Flickr for photos that are Creative Commons and tagged interesting. I could try and figure out how to give them a URL and copy to one of the first 50 at random.

How about handing out a little bit of what your blog focusses on? One of my topics is explaining how major depression really feels and how it differs from “sad”, “feeling down” or “feeling depressed”. I could take my posts and shorten them into one or two hundred word nuggets and give one to every trick or treater.

I know what I’d really like to do. I’d like to give each visitor a random post and ask them to rate it. I really want to know which of my posts people like the best and then offer them both the old good ones and more of the same when they first visit. But that’s more for me.

Creative and enabling thoughts. Brian Eno has a great collection of creativity triggers called “Oblique Strategies” so I could hand one of those out to every visitor. You can get one now by visiting this site. Mine was “Do the washing up”. I have the box set, the fifth edition is available at Eno’s shop for a reasonable 30 pounds.

Then I’m also a lover of good grammar and words. I could collect together a long list of hints and hand one out to each visitor. How to sort out “to” and “too” or “they’re” and “their” might be a start. Then hints from my old editors like “Replace ‘very’ – it adds nothing.”

I think either of those last two. Something small and useful.

Always First


English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

A cup of coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Tell us about your first day at something — your first day of school, first day of work, first day living on your own, first day blogging, first day as a parent, whatever.”

Life’s full of firsts. After all there is always the cliché “today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I’ve had a huge number of firsts that might qualify. I’ve just had a first day at a new job, I still have a number of memories of my first full day as a Dad.

However I’m going to choose another first. Tonight on the ABC the Agony Aunt program was about dating with some wonderful Australian women talking about first dates and first kisses so I’m going to talk about a few of those moments.

A first date. Two in particular stick in my mind strongly. One must have been a failure, though at the time it didn’t feel like it, and the second a success.

Firsts are always fraught with anxiety and I can’t think of any other first able to cause me more anxiety than a first date.

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Not A Chance


think stencil art & graffiti cat

(Photo credit: urbanartcore.eu)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “You receive some wonderful, improbable, hoped-for good news. How do you celebrate?”

How do I celebrate? Wonderful news comes along and what do I do to celebrate? Wonderful news?

I’m suffering from major depression. According to DSM IV “Depressed people may be preoccupied with, or ruminate over, thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness, and self-hatred.”

So the hard part of this question is not thinking about celebration. The hard part of this question is imagining a world in which I get good news. I just don’t believe it. It was only a few months ago I was telling my psychiatrist that I could find no evidence that I wasn’t in a universe that God had created for the sole purpose of torturing me and causing me pain to punish me for not believing in Him.

It starts with having no hope. I don’t even have any hope that I will get better. Nothing good can possibly happen to me because that’s not the way the world works, maybe it’s because I’m broken, maybe because I’ve had a life where at the moment all I can see when I look back is bad decisions.

Then there’s the constant feeling that nobody wants to help, nobody can help, nothing can help.

How can good news intrude into that? Where is the space for it to actually be good news? At the moment if I received news that you thought was good then I’d find a way of turning it into pain or anxiety. A million dollars? I’d find a way to lose it. A better job? Probably just more stress. A long lost relative? What do they want?

So, celebration. I don’t think so. I guess I’d tell Jessica my daughter and leave it at that. Oh, I know, blow a few dollars by going out somewhere nice for dinner with her.

In The Name Of Love


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Today’s Daily Prompt, “Tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are.”, comes for me at an opportune moment. In a little more than a month my daughter Jessica will be turning 21 and I will be giving a couple of speeches. These will, of course, be tales of love and pride.

I am immensely proud of Jessica and have been for many, many years. Read my post ‘Person of The Year’ for an example of my daughter’s capacity for love.

I look at Jessica now and see a strong, intelligent, capable young woman whom I love deeply.

It does seem a little strange to feel pride at her and her achievements. What did I do? Dictionary.com defines pride (in one instance) as “pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself” and I think it is the reflected credit we are talking about when we say we are “proud” of someone.

Is my pride a pride in achievements? Jessica has achieved many things in her 21 years, she has been a success in such things as debating and dance aerobics and I am happy and pleased at these but my pride lives at a deeper level than achievements.

Is my pride a pride in actions? Jessica acts as a good person, a good friend and a loving daughter and grand-daughter. I am happy that this is my daughter but my pride is more than this.

I see the whole person in front of me and it is this image that fills me with pride. Despite she has not lived with me since she was 3 I spent many years doing a lot of driving between Sydney and Newcastle so that we could spend time together and I would like to think that during those weekends and holidays I had a fair amount of influence on Jessi. I tried to show her a wide and varied world, I tried to show her an accepting, caring and loving person.

So when I look at Jessica and see a fine woman with a strong sense of self, a loving heart and a fine mind with much promise and the energy and skills to carry herself forward to anywhere she wants to take herself I feel a strong sense of pride. More than this I know that no matter what she chooses to do and where she goes in the years to come nothing will shake my love and pride.

The Arts, Always The Arts


The University of Sydney, established in 1850,...

The University of Sydney, established in 1850, is the oldest university in Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “If you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?”

Oh, what a joy. If I had the time and money to go back and restart my BA.

I’m sorely tempted at the moment to do just that. One problem I’d have is that there are too many subjects I’d like to study.

On my first run at Uni a dozen years back I started with English and Linguistics.

To go to University for a BA and not study English literature seems to me almost a crime. To be told I had to read all those great novels, plays and poems. To be told I had to listen to experts increase my understanding of them. To be forced to sit around an discuss them in tutorials. All I can say is ““Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

I loved English. I had such a good time.

Then there was linguistics. Apart from phonetics (aaaaaarrrgggggggg) I ate it up. There was the marvellous elements of systems in linguistics and an increasing understanding of how grammar worked that drew me in like a bee to pollen.

I also did a semester of mythology. I’d go back to that too. At the moment I have a couple of Joseph Campbell’s books sitting there waiting for me to read. I loved “The Power of Myth” and I’m looking forward to “The Hero With A Thousand Faces.

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Party Animal with Social Anxiety


Italo-disco party in The Hague!

Italo-disco party in The Hague! (Photo credit: David Domingo)

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “After spending time with a group of people, do you feel energized and ready for anything or do you want to hide in the corner with a good book?”

Can I answer “Both!” in a firm, clear voice.

You see I suffer from social anxiety. I used to be one the people hiding in the kitchen at parties. I had a huge problem talking to people I didn’t know well, it’s still hard for me.

At the same time I am such a real nerd that I’ve developed a system for doing it. I started on my own and then a few years ago I did a course in group leadership and psychodrama directing that taught me how to ask open questions and become an active listener. I also discovered how interesting people can be and how willing they are to spend quite a lot of time talking about themselves if you listen properly.

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Stranger In A Strange Land


Rays of light, symbolically represented as hor...

Rays of light, symbolically represented as horns on the head of Moses (Michelangelo), can be a graphic symbol of Wisdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?”

What is it like for me to be a stranger in a strange land?

The first thing I notice and enjoy in a new place, a totally new place, not just a new town, is the light. Australia has a particular light, bright and full or air. Europe is a softer light and South East Asia has a light filtered by the high humidity except for that glorious hour late in the afternoon after the rain.

Then I notice the different buildings. It’s not just the architecture but the street advertising and furniture. To my eye the buildings in Australia are fairly monotonous. They were built by a first world country in the last hundred years and we have very little that is noticeably Australian. It’s only when you start going north up the coast of Queensland and you run into the classic Queenslander lifted high off the ground, girdled by wide overhanging verandahs and shuttered windows and doors. These aren’t storm shutters, they are built to shut out the world while letting the cool night air into the house.

My first trip to Europe was such a shock. I’d come from Sydney via a day in Bangkok where of course the architecture is anything but Australian – even the shopping centre architecture is totally different in Bangkok let alone all the other buildings, though I have to say our inexpensive hotel close to the airport could have been almost anywhere in the world – standard multi-storey concrete construction.

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