Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Just a quickie to say I hope everyone has a good one, and a safe, happy, healthy new year and 2016.
Things have been so busy, and I am neglecting this blog. I suppose it's because I've got other outlets.
But I still love this space, and love knowing it's here.
So, here's to you, and to blogs. Long may they reign.

PS What are you doing for Christmas, New Year? I will report back shortly.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Well, hello my pretties

I went fishing but couldn't blog about it cause I was signed out of this account, and was away with only my phone and my phone is terrible for trying to access my internetty things. But so much happened. I got stuck in Bali because of the volcanic ash. I fell in the pool and it is now the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me and that's saying something. I bought some art. One painting for $45 and another for $25 so not so risky. My rescheduled Garuda flight was one of the first out after the airport closed but I didn't go because I was nervous and because Virgin and Jetstar weren't flying. It would have been fine. The plane left and flew and landed on time in Melbourne, but I didn't know that at the time of course.

I had a lot of massages, frozen margaritas and made some new friends, one who is a radio person with RN and won an award for a documentary while she was still stuck (Tues night; I flew home Monday night got back Tues morning.) I taught yesterday and that was hard cause it was an 8.45am start and I was still on Bali time, three hours behind. But it was ok, got it done without too much drama.

Also while away we had to submit a proposal for a whole-school sex ed program, running from Prep to Year 6, for a primary school that we taught at four years ago but who didn't book us afterwards. We (my partner and I) noticed the kids were especially uptight, and didn't relax much at all. This is unusual, even when the kids are uncomfortable or nervous, it only takes half an hour for them to relax. But this didn't happen and it was unique as the only school we've experienced that with. There is one other school that we go to where each year, at the beginning of the program, the kids are really skittish. I found out that a few years ago, maybe 8, maybe 10, two kids were sexually assaulted by a man who'd come into the school and waited in the toilets. So maybe this has become part of the school-yard mythology (but it's real) and makes the kids really weird about sex ed, I don't know.

Anyway, back to the proposal. I think it came up while I was away, so I was trying to read and edit documents, and send back to my partner, who was essentially writing new curriculum for Prep and Year 1/2 program. We got it submitted and the school is REALLY happy. It's great because they specifically want us to go beyond the usual, and talk to the kids in more detail than we usually do about diversity of sexuality and gender issues, also we can introduce a protective behaviours stream which will be really really good. And once one school does it, maybe we can use this experience to get other schools on-board.

The painting I have above, the big one is a girl playing a flute, and she has her eyes shut. To me she looks like she belongs on the east coast of Australia.

I did a workshop with Chigozie Obioma, Nigerian writer whose book The Fishermen was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I had to leave during the break because my own book launch was happening. When I explained that, he was interested, and asked about the book. He said he'd get it at the festival bookshop and read it and I think I may have curtseyed with pleasure and gratitude, but if I didn't really it happened on the inside. And when he signed my copy of The Fishermen, that I'd taken across, he said 'good luck for TSS' and it was really great.

A poodle came to my launch, in the company of Steve, an expat living in Ubud. A woman from Albury, who runs the Dymocks there, came up to me and said she'd been reading my book on the plane on the way over, and was loving it, and could she get in touch to organise an 'author event' up at a winery sometime and I said OH MY GOD I WOULD LOVE TO, HERE'S MY EMAIL ADDRESS AND MY PHONE NUMBER AND YES YES and when I told my publicist she said 'you can just direct those queries to me, you know.' So, still learning.

The book has been getting good reviews, but a couple of shit ones, can't remember if I put that here. But more good than bad, and some of the good ones are really good, so I'm happy. It's had three mentions/reviews in NZ papers.  Three in Aus papers including a really long really positive review in The Australian. It was mentioned by a Melbourne academic in his radio interview on Radio National, in the same breath as Peter Carey's book about Ned Kelly. Mentioned twice in fact, including my name, and it all is making me giddy. I've been asked to do author q&a on one website, who'd given it a great review, and also just recently I submitted a piece for '5 influential books including one from childhood' to go up on another booky website. The book was seen by people at the Bali Airport and one person tweeted me that it was there, in a small selection of Aus Lit (not including, I suspect, her own novel) and another sent me a pic. of it at the airport so really, I couldn't be happier.

Tonight I go for drinks with my publisher who is down from Sydney, and has organised a catch up with all her Melbourne authors. This group includes a big name author, so I'm hoping I get to meet him, and I'm hoping I won't be a suck and go on about how much I loved one of his booksI will report back. He might not even be there.

Have to go now for a big walk. Hope you are all well. Let me know. Sorry I've been neglecting this blog. Sorry I haven't been commenting on yours Alex. Life is busy, and I'm intending to go into lockdown from 1 December, for writing over the summer. But I will be doing limited ablutions. Staying off facebook and twitter, and putting more work into my blog here (more regular updates) and my author website, regular posts there as well.

Happy days all.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Deleted post

Hey guys, deleted previous post. But I read all your comments, thanks.

All good, just didn't want stuff up about my complaining. Thanks squib that you said you want to buy my book, you don't have to. Melbourne's weather is so beautiful today - we just came back from a REALLY long and lovely walk. Also my lavender out the back, in a pot, is flowering and it's divine. First time lavender (or any plant, really) has worked for me. Am happy. Tonight we eat spaghetti marinara, yum, and probably watch Parks & Rec. Has anybody else seen it? FUNNY. And funny is what I want at the moment. Another week of holidays which is good and then back to work, which is ok. But we took on a new person and their first invoice, they have done all sorts of stuff that is inexplicable and outside what we agreed on. So I emailed her expressing my confusion, and... nothing back. I can't stand passive-aggressive shit (if that's what it is) makes me rage. But I'm keeping calm as possible, maybe she's away on school holidays. Maybe she'll just be embarrassed that she mucked up. I can't bear conflict and it'd be me having to deal with it, not my partner cause she can't really do confrontation.

Anyway, just wanted to check in. Hope you all well and fine wherever you are in the country/world.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Long time no post

Fuck it's cold. I have been really busy with writing stuff and teaching stuff and life stuff. Haven't been able to keep up with blogging here or on my other one really. Things are MUCH better healthwise, I can't remember how much detail I went in to, but I think I mentioned 'toilet issues'? Of the constipation variety? Anyway it got worse worse worse, and I was in a lot of discomfort for like weeks, and then I caught myself thinking 'Stop the cycle' it would seem to improve then I'd slide back. Not good. Anyway I decided I was going to let my body heal, do what I could to help it. Also stopped stressing about making a decision about whether to persist with creams or to have a procedure. No hurry to decide. As it turned out, healing is happening/has happened, and I think I can avoid surgery. So that's good.

Everything else is cruising. We watched Game of Thrones. Bit disappointed with the season. Now we are watching Community and recapping old OITNB before watching the new ones. I have one more day of teaching - tomorrow - then am off for two weeks. Have lunch with my publisher on Wednesday - yay - and am deep back into my first manuscript, working on it, revising, and making it better.

So, what's your news?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Prague 2

Top to bottom

1. view from our apartment in Prague
2. view from the castle hill
3. statue near castle, behind the walls where there were all sorts of interesting 'like Sovereign Hill but not' original houses, and a prison, and this statue. With obviously fondled penis.
4. St Vitus Cathedral (near Prague Castle complex.) SO BEAUTIFUL from the outside. Inside was ok.
5. View over Prague from castle.
6. Old Jewish Cemetery behind Pinkas Synagogue. Amazing experience. Being inside the synagogue, it's a very modest building, and you see there is all this writing on the walls, in gold paint. You look closer and they are names, and dates, of people who died. You go upstairs and there are displays that once I realised what they were, I couldn't stay there. Not grotesque, not explicit, but so so sad I couldn't take it. Don't want to explain, explaining diminishes it.
7. Kafka statue
8. best ice cream sundaes ever
9. Communist Museum.
10. ditto

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Prague 1

We caught the train Vienna to Prague, and saw snow on the way. I have a friend who lives in Prague. She's Slovakian, and married to a Turk. We met in the early-mid nineties at a Turkish-language school in Istanbul. She and I and another woman, all married to Turkish men, met and bonded big time. J had never met Princess, and M (the other woman) hadn't seen P since she (P) was 3, and we were in Montreal, visiting them.

Some photos:

Top to bottom

1. View from our window, Prague. You can see Prague Castle up the top in the distance.
2. On the train from Vienna. Snow.
3. First dinner, Prague. This was lard spread on bread, topped with chopped crackling. Rich.
4. View of Prague proper from the castle complex.
5. The church in the castle complex. Cannot remember its name. It was beautiful. 
6. The metronome clock. Every hour it does a show. Reminded me of the scene in Shrek 2 I think it was.
7. We went to a medieval-themed dinner with my friend and her son. This was the belly dancing with snake act. There were pirate fights, Hodor-like waiters (clothes-wise, not speech-wise), a band, ale and platters of meat. Also these belly dancers who worked with veils, swords and snakes. Top night. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Ultravox land

OK I couldn't find the original Ultravox Vienna film clip, that wasn't extended, remixed, a series of still cover shots and other pics, or with Spanish text scrolling over the whole fucking thing.

Anyway, here are some more Vienna pics. Vienna was cold, also, but cold in an unwelcoming way. The people were ok, civil, but somehow the streets and buildings were just on such a massive scale that cosiness was nowhere to be found. In restaurants, people smoked, and in one there was a dog that got installed under a table, brought a bowl of water. All well and good until a man walked in about 10 minutes later and the dog barked at him, territorial and fierce.

The art was good, the treasuries good. The food was ok but this was the beginning, when all things schnitzel und potato were deemed fine. I had a really good soup here, and also bought some fantastic boots. We stayed in a funny little place that I found after reading a John Irving fan page that mentioned the existence of a real hotel, one that provided him with inspiration for the Viennese hotel the family stays in and helps to run in his book Hotel New Hampshire. As a massive John Irving fan (his older stuff is better than his newer stuff, of course) I had to stay there. So we found ourselves installed in a room with the smallest bathroom ever*, and me on the bed reading out the bits from the book that talked about the street outside, the delivery trucks mentioned in the early '60s (also happening right then outside out hotel in 2015); pointing out to P the winding staircase, also mentioned in the book. How close we were to the Staatsoper, which was the bombing target of the anarchists in the hotel, and which was no target of ours on this trip. Opera would have to wait until Prague. It was just fantastic. We had breakfast in a little dining room that was overwhelmingly pastel pink, with plastic flowers on the tables and a mini buffet with cold meats, cheeses and bread, pastries as well as cereals. Yoghurt. Tired fruit in a fruit bowl. No toast. I'm a real toast person.

We saw some Schiele (quite a lot, loved it) and a little bit of Klimt (bit disappointed. Most must have been elsewhere. Stolen during the war? I dunno.) The palace above is Schonbrunn, the cakes are from all over. We needed the cakes to keep going, kind of like a reward for cramming as much as possible into our days. One thing from Irving's HNH was that they'd order coffee or chocolate mit Schlagobers, which was whipped cream, but when I tried it on, the wait-staff looked at me a bit weird. Maybe Irving had made a word play and it meant with semen or something. Fuck. Just thought of that.

The hat and coat hanger are Freud's, we went to his office/apartment. Freud also appears in HNH, but not 'that Freud' another one, goes the joke. He is a funny little Viennese with uncertain history, who has a bear in Maine, which he bequeaths to the parents of the family. Later, when they get to Vienna, Freud is ineffectively running The Gasthaus Freud (our hotel!) with the help of Susie, a psychologically-damaged human who always wears a bear suit. One the third floor are the prostitutes, and on the fourth are the revolutionaries. The family takes up residence on the second floor, or something like that. It's a wonderful book.

* First award of the trip: SBE

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Going fishing.

This time it's a family wedding, up your way Alex, or where I think your way is. Who the fuck has a wedding on Easter weekend? And the weather looks to be shit, so no lounging at the pool drinking and reading to be had, I don't think. Back Sunday. Happy Easter all.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Budpapest and Vienna

So the above photos. Number 1 is one of the outdoor thermal spas in Budapest. We went out there in our bathers, it was snowing, it was amazing. 2. Is the lift in the building we were staying in. We had an apartment that was so cheap. It was like 29 euros a night, for the two of us. Kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Great location, so cheap. 3. Vienna, the Hofburg complex (I'm going on memory). There were lots of museums here, all in an old palace. 4. I'm saying it's King Neptune, but who knows. Vienna also. 5. This was the parliament building I think. Vienna. 6. Some little treasures somewhere in Vienna. We went to a tonne of museums and galleries. Vienna kind of broke us, so much walking, so much cold (though not as bad as Berlin a bit later). Our second night there saw us both in tears at dinner, vowing we would set ourselves a kinder pace. No more tears.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

London 1.0

Diana - always in our hearts

A painting I liked at The Tate

A Turner, at the Tate. I think.

For sale at the Globe Theatre.

Dickens's healthy ego, at his house.

London was cold but mostly sunny. I walked and I walked. I livedthere for a few months back in 1990 but never really explored. While it's not a place I love, city-wise, it is a place that feels familiar. I wasn'tthat impressed with the Tates, the old or new. Actually I walked into the modern and then walked out again after looking at the program. Nothing there for me. Everything was really expensive too, which makes it a tough place to enjoy in a way. But it was good to walk and learn the city a little.

Fuck this formatting. I just can't drive this fucking blog any more.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

the Cotswolds and surrounds

From top to bottom:

1. Gloucester Cathedral

2. The cathedral's vaulted interior of the cloisters, where Harry Potter scenes were shot

3. Flour mills on Avon River in Tewkesbury (I think)

4. Norman church with stocks in the garden, outside Tewkesbury

5. Milly Molly Mandy-style house in Prestbury, the village of Cheltenham where I was staying with my friend and her parents. Long story. I only found out on almost the last day about it being the most haunted village in England. I insisted we take the dogs for a ghost walk, hoping they would pick up on the weird feelings. Nothing happened.