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I forgot! There is so much! Also:
* TBD and I went to the ticket office and got train tickets, I'm going to take an overnight train with D to Hampi this weekend. I haven't got to do a long train journey before, or see Hampi, so: yay!
* D, who is a beautiful photographer, might be helping me to develop some of my research into a more accessible form. I'm really excited to be working with her, because she does some really awesome photojournalism, and has been totally lovely. If it works out, I'll blog about it on my grownup blog.
* I am going to do some work now, for real.
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You guys! I know that your friend feeds are pretty much entirely just me going: "ZOMG India is hard" "ZOMG India is great" every five minutes. Sorry! Given how things usually go, there's a reasonable chance that I will soon become too busy to deluge you with news.

But first!

I totally got some cash! All it took was about ten phonecalls, a heap of emails, three visits to a local bank, and quite a bit of being stern at people. I am never, ever, doing that again. If this wad of cash runs out, I'm going to sort out an alternative option. For now, though, I feel much more independent and less like I am needing my friends here to look after me with everything.

More importantly, though, on my final trip to the bank I went by bicycle. I didn't get lost, and I didn't get hit by traffic. And my bicycle is a "gentleman's" bicycle, so it is HUUUGE - I am as tall as standing on a chair! And I feel like I'm flying! I think I've worked out most of the Indian road rules, and I think I will mostly be okay riding around. (FAMILY! If you are reading this, don't worry! I will be careful and safe.) Plus also I have high visibility: everyone is too busy staring like crazy to accidentally crash into me. There are not a lot of women above school age cycling around, and there are especially not a lot of white women on Indian-style gentlemen's bikes cycling around grinning like lunatics. (A couple of guys shouted out at me, "Very nice! Very nice!", and I am choosing to interpret it as their whole-hearted approval of my enthusiasm for awesome Indian bicycles.)

Okay, now on with work. And eating delicious snacks. (I visited my friends' family last night, and they gave me a heap of delicious snacks to take home. Apparently, I am looking too thin. Also, they are lovely and always spoil me a heap.)
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This morning I went to yoga with my friend D, which was great - doable, but hard enough that it took all of my thinking, and left me nothing for Fretting. After breakfast (she made uppma for breakfast! I am so spoiled!) I cycled home on the awesome Indian bike D has acquired for his house/commune/office/activist centre. It is huge, and single-gear, and very solid. I am as high up as if I was standing on a chair!

Yoga + cycling + feeling a little better at Getting Around is helping me feel better about the world. And I know such lovely people here! Hangouts with D and TBD (usually when I have vowed to get an early night or spend the evening working) have been keeping me sane through my Frets, and tonight I'm going to go visit my friends R and J, who I haven't managed to see since I came here. And there are still two or three other friends (at least!) who I really want to catch up with...juggling full-time work in Australia and trying to find my feet with research here and also handling all the hassles of being in a new country* is proving challenging, but I think I'll manage it.

Plus also:
* Interesting talks (for different reasons) last night and today!
* I have so many people and organisations I want to talk to here! It is time to start organising interviews!
* I have so much stuff I want to write about!
* Bicyclesbicyclesbicyclesbicycles!

* By this, I mostly mean: "being in a new country where your stupid bank has stopped your card, failed to communicate with you effectively about it, and then sent the new card to Australia without asking or telling you". It is turning into a hobby, in the realm of inevitably-fruitless pursuits like fly-fishing or golf or writing letters to local newspapers. The latest development is: I call Mastercard helpline to get an international emergency cash withdrawal. They say: yes! Of course! Right away! No return call. I call them back. They say: yes! Of course! Right away! Eventually they call me back with the name and address of the bank I need to go to. I go to the bank. The bank insists that not only have they not received any fax about this, but giving cash withdrawals without a card is not something they do. I call Mastercard and explain the situation, they ask to speak to the bank manager and then the line cuts out. Mastercard call me, but I can't hear them. I go home. Two hours later, Mastercard call me and say they have the name and address of the bank I need to go to. It is the same as the bank I have just gone to. I explain the situation. They say: we'll call right back.             Don't worry, though! D has said he can lend me money, and I'll transfer it to him from my account once I sort out this ridiculousness.
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I was all sooky about work stuff yesterday! )

I wanted to go home after the workshop, but TBD. pointed out that there was a little artists' residence on the roof above the art gallery where the workshop was held. It was one of the most beautiful spaces I've ever been in - something about the way it all fit together tidily and the light and the way the rooms connected made me fall instantly in love with it. Then instantly asleep on my face.

And when I woke up TBD. gave me Delicious Milk Drink*, and I got a lovely long email from PinkHairClaire, and some guys turned up with drums, and A. (a Swedish lady staying here) pulled me up to dance for a bit, and then I played a bit of capoeira, and my new friend-who-is-a-lady, D., turned up and we all went and ate some delicious snacks, and then D. and I spent ages sitting up on the roof looking for songs that she knew how to sing and I knew how to play on my ukulele...

...and I felt much better about the world.

I am very lucky with the people that I meet.

* I am not being vegan here. I am avoiding eggs, but it feels silly to say no to milk that is delivered by a guy whose cow lives just across the road from us and eats our food scraps.
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* The strangenesses and the people: last night we went to a photography exhibit, by surprise - I was all set to spend the evening working on an article submission. The woman we went with was kind enough to let me crash the post-exhibit drinks while my friend D. went to a family thing. We went to a jazz-themed bar, and I got an incredible sense of culture shock when I realised that despite all of the "no smoking" signs, people were smoking! inside! in a covered area! with food present! I had some lovely offers of further hangouts, including an invitation to meet a collective involved in setting up community radio stations. I might hang out with the woman we went with and D. for holi, which will be nice. I am really looking forward to some more people-time next week, including catching up with old friends, once the workshop is over. I feel very lucky to know Good People here who are helping to look after me.

* Moments in which I feel competent: I spend a lot of time in India feeling kind of useless. Everything is difficult, including carrying out research. I have a few moments, now and then, when I see how it all fits together, and how I'm doing something useful, and I carry them around with me like a security blanket.

* OMG the snacks: you guys. I get to eat masala dosa for breakfast every morning. (I'm not, though. I'm mixing it up with idlis and rava dosas and maybe some other things?) Pretty much every single thing I eat here is the Most Delicious Ever.

* Squirrels! I had forgotten there were squirrels.
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Last night's arrival in Bangalore was hands-down the easiest arrival in a foreign country I've had, ever. I have this Thing...in almost all previous cases, when someone was meant to meet me at any airport other than Perth, something went wrong. I've spent quite some time waiting in airports in Sweden, various parts of South Africa, and Sydney, wondering what happened and what to do next.

Given the disasters of the last two weeks (of which there have been many), I expected something to go Horribly Wrong with my arrival in Bangalore. I had backup plans. I had backup backup plans. Unexpectedly, though, it was all very smooth. And now I'm staying at Janastu, which means I have a place I feel comfortable to work from and lovely people around me.

Since I've arrived, I've:
* had masala dosa for breakfast!
* watched some children perform super-awesome martial arts from kerala!
* drunk huge amounts of tea!
* made some vague plots for my time here, which hopefully will include learning some kannada and some programming, doing Helpful Things around Janastu, and doing some research.
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Lately, I have not been proud of myself. Not ashamed, either. Just doing my best to manage everything I've committed to in a functional way. Today hasn't felt much like a weekend day, but I've felt pretty good about it. Some days, I can be proud of big achievements. Today, I am proud of:
* Cooking a totally awesome House Breakfast: potatoes sliced and roasted in the oven with oil and spices; butter beans with tomato, onion, and lime juice; scrambled tofu (with nutritional yeast!); steamed spinach; shitake and swiss mushrooms in truffle oil.
* Doing my greek homework, whole days before it was due!
* Finishing a (rough, very awkward) draft of a short story.
* Practising some ukulele, including reading tabs and finger-picking,
* Doing the dishes for my poor hungover housemates.
* Finding some time to be social a little, and go for a couple of short walks in the sunshine.
* Tying up some loose ends for work.

There were other things I hoped I'd get time to do today, and I didn't. And that's okay. This is enough.
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My week has been full of minor inconveniences. First world problems, and not even particularly dramatic ones. My bike tyre was flat. I couldn't find my tyre levers. The glue in my puncture kit was hard. My shoe broke. The library I went to work in had no power points. Work has provided a thousand small barriers to an enjoyable week, including continued (and increasing) uncertainty about my job.

I've managed it all okay, I think. I've accepted that I'll get less done than I wanted to, that everything will take longer. That instead of doing ALL the marking, I will do most of the marking but also catch the bus to the bike store and get a new puncture kit and catch the bus back and repair my tyre, and glory in having a bike that goes again. And working on my journal article and my plans for India and my book proposal will wait for another time. And the emails that are piling up will get answered.

I have been feeling all fuzzy in my mind, and awkward in my body, and uncomfortable in odd and unplaceable ways.

I am grateful for:
* The lovely people in my life, friends and family and loved ones, and the patience they have with my inability to find the time I want to spend with everyone.
* That all the things I am overwhelmed by are things I want to be doing.
* Bicycles and ukuleles.
* A care package from my mother, which arrived in the mail today! (I will be good, and wait for next week to open it.)
* Our cat and kitten, who come and flop down in the room where I'm working and watch me as they fall asleep.

What I need

Feb. 6th, 2011 10:15 pm
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Many lovely things are happening in my life, as well as many that are challenging. Some of these have helped me to remember: I need to Make Things to be happy.

I've set up my (KindOf) Grown-Up Website! I wrote some stuff on it, as a way of trying to start organising my thoughts.

On Friday I had band practice*. We recorded some new versions of songs! Liz was very patient and taught me some Difficult Strumming Things, to add to the other Difficult Strumming Things I've been trying to learn from G and J and the Internet.

Last night I went to see Amanda Palmer play. I've been feeling dull lately, and rather awkward, physically. I wanted to play dressups! I took some lovely material that I bought in Pakistan far-too-long ago, and about a billion safety pins, and I made myself a ridiculous skirt with a bustle. (And the AFP ninja gig was ridiculously awesome, but maybe I'll write about that later.)

Tonight I had a skype writing date with one of my distant ladyfriends, and actually wrote a few paragraphs on a couple of stories. Not good paragraphs, but still! They exist, and before they didn't!

All of these things made me feel better. I need to make things. I need to research, I need to write fiction and nonfiction and letters and postcards and stickers to leave for strangers to read. I need to make things with my hands. I need to cook! I need to leave traces of myself in the world, tiny sparks of interest or surprise or colour, to be happy.

I must make time for this to be happy, and so I will.

* I still have to giggle a little about this.
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Today has been busier than I initially intended. We thought we might perhaps go to Seahorse World and Platypus House, just for the morning. Except that we accidentally stopped off at the Beaconsfield mining museum on the way, and it turned out to be awesome. The new mine has been built right next to the old one, so there are lots of odd juxtapositions of old crankshafts and waterwheels with the new shaft in the background.

This bit is mostly about the museum, and seahorses, and nature and stuff. )

This evening I have mostly been marking, but I took some ukulele breaks. And I played some ukulele-piano with my mother! We went through her songbooks, and played some songs she knew that had guitar chords written on them. And then we played some of the songs from my songbook. Her piano is much, much, better than my ukulele, but she's never just sat down and played from chords before, so I had to (very inexpertly) explain how it worked.

My little ukulele sounds so plinketyplinky next to the piano, but neither of us minded. It was so much fun playing around and working some songs out together! We totally jammed!
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I am in Tasmania!

The first thing I have learnt about Tasmania, in my careful observations, is that there seem to be more interesting beetles here than in WA.

The second thing that I have learnt is that almost every street we drive down seems to have at least three houses on it that I desperately want to live in. There are lots of old, rambling houses that come in an odd jumble of styles. They seem to be built larger than many houses in WA, but that might just be because I've mostly been in more rural areas.

Today we dropped my brother off at his friends' house. It was raining outside, and we went through the back garden, overgrown grass and sculptures and bathtubs full of herbs and bicycles leaning against walls. The rain dripping through the veranda, and then into the kitchen, and people start coming down the stairs and in from the rain. And the kitchen is so warm and cosy, wood everywhere and a low ceiling and old sofas and a long kitchen table, music playing and bustle.

I really like my brother's friends. One is his very-good-friend-who-he-hasn't-seen-for-months, and I love seeing how happy they are to meet again, all hugs and smiles. I am so proud of my brother for so many reasons, and one of them is that he's good at showing his affection for his man-friends.

Oh! I want to live in a lovely old house with a warm kitchen full of friends-who-live-there and friend-who-drop-in and a shambling garden and the smell of spices!

I love our current house, and our current household, and I am being a bit greedy in wishing for what we have only more so. But there are moments when I do: floating in the lovely space of a cosy kitchen, the rain outside cocooning us, colour and affection everywhere.


Jan. 1st, 2011 01:28 pm
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I feel a bit odd doing reviews of the year, because my memory is kind of all over the place, and I'm often not entirely sure what happened this year and what happened in an entirely different year.

But anyway.

This year has largely been about doing all kinds of things, all at once, enjoying the freedom of having finished my PhD:

* I've enjoyed teaching in the new department tremendously. I've felt supported and extended and valued, and I feel confident, most of the time, that I'm a pretty awesome teacher.
* I've really enjoyed learning the ukulele! I'm so delighted and surprised that we managed to make some songs that seem quite good, really, and that we have played for people and they seemed to enjoy it. I have so many thankyous for Lizface for being patient teaching me, and helping to make me feel okay about playing just-as-well-as-I-can-manage in front of people.
* Bluestocking ran some workshops, gained some new members, and has (I think) reasonably sustainable and interesting plans for 2011 (yay!)
* I joined the board of Electronic Frontiers Australia.
* I taught a couple of greek classes, and it was more fun and less terrifying than I thought it would be. I did a good job, I think!

My biggest regret for the year is not getting myself together to send out more book proposals, but I'm not going to give myself a hard time about it.

I have so many things I want to do this year. I'm going to sit down sometime in the next few days and develop an outline. I enjoyed spending time exploring in 2010, but I think I want to be a bit more focused in 2011 and have more of an idea of what I want to achieve.
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My friend Dinesh is visiting from India this weekend. He gets in on Friday afternoon, and leaves early (9amish) on Monday morning. 1) Any chance anyone can help out with lifts to/from the airport? 2) Does anyone want to do Tourist Stuff around Perth over the weekend? Maybe dinner on Saturday night? That is all!


Nov. 2nd, 2010 05:25 pm
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My brother spilt tea on PinkHairClaire's laptop the other day. She was awfully nice about it, and has been trying to get by with her netbook, but it seems an inconvenient way to do things when you are studying. Do any of you guys have a laptop that you're no longer using that you wouldn't mind giving/selling to me? I am also willing to swap for Stuff, if there's Stuff I can help you with.


Oct. 25th, 2010 10:24 am
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I'm feeling mopey and unmotivated today. There are things that I want to make, and I have a stack of marking that I'm actually really looking forward to getting to, but I'm having trouble finding the energy. So here is another gratitude-ish post!

Things that I have enjoyed of late:
* Talking to my grandparents about Emma Goldman and radical politics and homophobia and apartheid and Greek politics and the Greek/Turkish Thing.
* Marking (yes! my new plan is working!)
* Making more time to read (Currently Emma Goldman's 'Living my life' and David Mitchell's 'Cloud atlas').
* Cooking for people (I still have a long list of people I would like to make dinner for!)

Things that I get an odd kind of pleasure from, even though maybe I shouldn't:
* Wearing pants and my merino shirt until they're grubby.
* Getting swooped by magpies (it makes my cycletrips feel like Adventures!)
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I just got an email from my head of department informing me that due to a new industrial award, I will now get paid additional money for marking above and beyond my tutorial hours.

This email stretched across several paragraphs and my ability to understand it was severely hampered by:
a) the fact that I've just eaten ridiculous amounts of avocado+chillichutney on toast, which has put me into a sleepy little food coma,
b) the fact that I do not understand my pay structure at all to begin with (seriously, I tried to look at my pay docket one time and it was so confusing that I decided to stop and never do it again), and
c) the fact that I am, at the best of times, apparently almost completely unable to process information that my brain decides is about 'grown up stuff' (including anything to do with money).

But! I think this means I get paid more now? And I think it is probably because of my union (the NTEU)? So: well done them, I guess! And you should join your union. They (often) do Good Stuff, and can help you out if you face a similar inability to deal with Grown Up Stuff (like negotiating pay conditions).
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I stayed up well past my bedtime last night to finish the last of my marking for this batch*. It made it difficult to wake up early, but it was entirely worth it. I find it much easier to Get Stuff Done late at night. I find the silence of late nights quite different from daytime silences. (Perhaps it's the absence of the hum of cars outside, or perhaps it's just the quality of night.)

I felt so light, and it felt so very wonderful to have time to work on projects that have no particular deadlines and no supervisors except me. I made some little presents for J's birthday, and worked a bit on my Smallest Art project. I talked to people about activism and how to fit into the world and projects and enthusiasm. I wrote some veryverysmall storypoems, and enjoyed it tremendously.

I want all of my life to be like this.

To achieve that, I have to stop thinking of marking as a painful and out-of-the-ordinary event. With the amount of teaching I'm doing at the moment, I will have at least some marking happening most of the time. And I don't want to feel weighed down and fretful most of the time.

So, I need to remember that:
* Marking is part of teaching. An important part, as things are structured now.
* It's nice to give students feedback, especially since there are always a few students who take the advice offered, and even appreciate it.
* Marking can happen in pleasant spaces. I can drink tea on my verandah and mark, or visit a friend, or find a cafe with wifi. Marking can be surrounded by explorations of new places.
* Marking will be much more enjoyable and efficient if I do it in focused batches, without too many distractions. I should remember that if I procrastinate by doing things that I don't love, it is taking away time from the projects that I do love.

* Well, okay. The last of my marking until more students emailed me late assignments today.
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Sometimes it seems like my LJ has become an almanac of excuse notes.

The next few weeks, at the very least, are going to be hard. For a variety of reasons. This means I will be maintaining what has become my usual level of being-terrible-at-catchups. As usual, I'm sorry. As usual, I still like you very much, and will be missing you.

I'm going to be trying to make more time to spend alone, because I'm sorely feeling the lack of it at the moment.

Catchups that revolve around doing work together will be much appreciated.

I will be trying to ask for help when I need it. This doesn't feel easy for me, although the size of my 'internets please help' tag tells me that I probably do it more often than I think I do.

I will be trying to be a good person in all the ways that I know how.


Sep. 26th, 2010 09:13 am
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Two batches of marking in at once, both for about four classes, one for a unit I haven't taught before.

And I have so many other projects I want to work on! Little writing things, and my much-overdue small art project, and book proposals, and some newskills learning projects, and ukulele practice.

I will have to be careful to use my time well.
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I finished marking the final late assignments for last semester yesterday. Today I've been making my way through the discussion boards for two units, and mapping out the work I need to do to familiarise myself with the new unit I'm teaching. I'm making lists of things to do (book proposal, next bluestocking event, update and maybe move my website, sort out my workspace, writing projects).

I have three engagements tomorrow morning, my graduation tomorrow night, so many people I want to see. My evenings are booked until Friday, and then I'm away for the weekend from Sunday 'til next friday.

It's good to be busy, to have things I want to learn and do and make. Also a bit overwhelming.

Part of what I'm trying to say is: I want to catch up with you all, really I do. But I may not be able to as soon as I'd like. I still like you very much, and want to be your friend!


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