Rising from the ashes…errr… dust

All is well in the household once more.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

It’s been a very hectic few days. With the wrap-up of TAFE, I needed to complete the final four assignments by yesterday. After a few determined days, I satisfactorily completed a 16-page magazine assignment, de-bugged my interactive learning tutorial (and finally understood why my links made their noises but didn’t go anywhere), and polished off two 5-page reports – which ended up being 10-page reports.

So there you have it, I have now completed the course and in due time will be awarded a Certificate IV in Information Technology (Website Design).

I also came away from it with a potential one-off website job (more on that in coming weeks) and a possible gig as a contributor to a forthcoming Perth metro online newspaper. My first article will be an entertainment piece/editorial on horror movies and pop culture. I don’t know whether this will become a regular payoing fixture, but it’s one more opportunity at least.

On Friday afternoon, I returned home fresh from finishing TAFE and plunged into module sixteen for my Advanced Diploma. The module concerns poetry and has been holding me up for many weeks – I’ve simply not wanted to do it. To digress, my first true written works (aside from an encyclopaedic volume of role-playing world building in my adolescence) were poems. I wrote a stack of them, in and around the time I was an IRC regular and first met Ange. While several people thought them to be good, I have since realised (despite liking several of these poems) that I had no idea what I was doing. It was really a case of pouring out creative juices in a vague poetic form.

I now have the confidence to say that I have a better idea of what I’m doing with poetry, and I am in the midst of wrapping up this latest assignment, leaving only 2 more to do before I finish the course and attain the Advanced Diploma of Arts. I expect to have it completed by next week now many of my distractions have concluded.

TREAT TIME

As a special treat, I’ll post some of the poems I created last night (yay! or *groan*, take your pick). I wrote six haiku – a great feat since I’ve never touched them before (for the uninitiated, a haiku is a Japanese poem that equates to 3 lines of 5, 7 & 5 syllables respectively – usually with a reference word to the season in which it is set and a ‘cut’ to introduce two related concepts). These six form an interconnected series I’ve named The Cycle. Having now researched haiku, I find myself intrigued by the concept. I like the zen aspects and the nature of the ‘cutting’ of the poem. The other poem was a loose 3 iambic beat free verse (very tricky!) entitled Everyday Elegance.

Here’s a slice of Everyday Elegance:

Despite the drudgeries of daily toil,

Life’s rigours lay outside her door,

Replaced instead by the finer things:

The gentle sighs of wielded broom

And steady hum of vacuum’s verse,

accorded the scent of dust and herbs.

Dancing to her undeniable touch,

In a display of everyday elegance.

and a haiku from The Cycle:

Fallen shards of ice

Snap beneath her weary feet:

Sound of broken hearts

I think I may dabble with haiku in the future and try out the zine Scifaikuest. Could be fun.

GRADUATION

We attended Hayley’s high school graduation last night. Mind you, this is on top of a ball, a school assembly and a valedictorian dinner. I warn you now, what follows may contain a rant or two. She went to a private Christian school (don’t worry, the values didn’t rub off).

First of all, the service ending up lasting three hours – replete with some boring speeches, some not so boring speeches and completely unnecessary musical interludes which stretched out the thing tremendously. They heaped praise on some hard working students (even the obnoxious, clearly self-absorbed ones whose only friends were the teachers but they still managed to become a school captain), and gave out a string of awards – some good, some obscure.

The thing that bugged me the most was the music. Let me illustrate – for me there are three bands known in the entire universe – Evanescence, Filter and VAST. Not many people have heard of the latter two, but that cool. However, too many people have heard Evanescence’s album fallen – in particular the song ‘My Immortal’. I personally love that song for it’s melancholy, it’s hint of madness realised.

So, to hear it sung from the mouths of 13 and 14 year old girls in a choir was, well, blasphemy! Bear in mind the Evanescence singer, Amy Lee, has unrivalled vocal talent (even some of the Australian Idols majorly stuffed up Evanescence songs). Also bear in mind we were at a conservative Christian school. So lyrics like:

“i’m so tired of being here

suppressed by all of my childish fears

and if you have to leave

i wish that you would just leave

because your presence still lingers here

and it won’t leave me alone

these wounds won’t seem to heal

this pain is just too real

there’s just too much that time cannot erase”

– just seemed awful coming from these kids. They tried, but they had no hope. Not of understanding the song; not of singing it. It was painful to listen to, I squirmed in my seat throughout. However, they did a medley of Christian songs immediately after (including Ode to Joy, and other happy sounding songs) and they did an admirable job. What was the teacher thinking?

Then the head music teacher took the bands through their paces. I say bands because we endured the big band, the swing band, and some other band. This music teacher saw a captive (at this point the thing was dragging on for two hours) and played it for all he was worth – pumping his fist in the air and all. Ignorant sod. Give us a taste, don’t ram it down our throats.

But there was some good to come out of the evening. Despite the pomposity of the head girl, the head boy gave a thoughtful and engaging speech. And finally, at the very end, candles were lit and carried by the school and house captains, and the robed student body departed the auditorium to a prolonged ovation. I thought they did that ritual very well. Ange and I stayed behind as the audience started departing. We waited as they were cycling through enlarged school photos, one at a time, from the projector. I’ll admit to a minor case of misty eyes when I saw Hayley’s too-happy face beam onscreen. Just a minor case, mind you. Geez though, there are some gormy teenage boys. Poor buggers, grow up soon fellas!

All in all, it was sad to see the end of an era. No more kiddies at school. The girls are now grown, and while I didn’t share their early childhood, it’s been an honour to be a part of their lives throughout their adolescence. Sure, they can be pains in the bum, but who can’t? This stage in their lives (and ours) is a time for plans and dreams. It’s an exciting one. A promising one.

CLARION SOUTH UPDATE

All is well in the leadup to Clarion. I need to grab some extra pairs of shorts, just to show off the wooly mammoths. I’m really not sure what to take but being a guy, I’ll ad lib it and everything will turn out alright.

The other day I sent off Singing in Prague as my first story for critique. I’m happy with the choice – it’s a good story, a cool concept, and fairly indicative of where my writing is headed. Sean Willians will be the week one tutor, which is cool. I also sent off my submission stories – Hear No Evil, Firewall v1.1 and Practical Joke. While only one of these has been published, I think they’re a good cross section of my earlier work. Which is good, as the tutors will read them to get a better idea of me – and presumably look for areas of improvement in my writing. With my greater sense of ‘sophistication’ in telling a tale, I hope they see just that.

DIET – TO THE EXTREME!

Okay, I have to admit, the extreme diet was morally debilitating. But then again, so is having an inflamed liver and a greater than average risk of heart attack. So with the aid of these magic pills, a radical diet and a touch of fortitude, I managed to shed three kilos in a matter of nine days. Crikey! That’s a lot, you say? Yes, it is for such a short space of time, but rest assured it’s all a result of overtly healthy living and a total eradication of fat and junky stuff from the fridge. Everything is going to plan. Even the withdrawal has been blunted by the magic pills. It sounds like I have layer upon layer upon layer of fat to remove, but no, I’m not a beach ball. Just a guy with a sedentery lifesyle and a thick middle (and sometimes, head) I’m aiming to lose about 15 kilos over the next three months. The weight loss should slow down a bit in the upcoming weeks. Even so, it’s a very encouraging start.

I’m soon off to do some weeding – I need to get the house in order before I leave the family to fend for themselves for two months.

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