Writing

Oh, I have a blog?

I do tend to forget about this old thing I set up years ago called a blog (short for weblog, did you know? I still remember the first time I heard about this new form of journaling). Sure, blogging is mostly just glamorised navel-gazing, but I do enjoy it and I like to think that someone else, somewhere in the world occasionally enjoys reading the words I’ve pieced together.

September, apparently, is #nanoprep month. I feel it has to be written with a hashtag because the only place I ever see this term used is on twitter. NaNoWriMo 2013 is fast approaching and I have a vague chance of winning this year. More of a chance than any other year I’ve attempted it, at least.

And now for a quick round of ‘guess what it is’ – where I post a tiny portion of a photo that was too small to begin with and you try and guess what it is.

What is it?

What is it?

xEmma

 

Categories: Guess what it is!, Writing | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Poems from Transit

Rough ideas, not fully formed poems.

Transitioning

Yesterday, London was cool
with sharp sunlight slanting through bare branches
 
Misty mornings
Air chilled to a crisp
Greyness filled with grey days
 
Here the air is warm and close
It smells like a greenhouse
Emerald leaves curtsey in the rain
Vertical tracks bend the light at the window pane
Miniature waterfalls
 
Outside an aeroplane reverses and
Lightning splashes across the scene
What’s above the clouds? I wonder
Thunder grows from somewhere
Deep inside the low, thick sky
 
To my right is a large circle of friends
Solemn
One of them sobs. No-one meets his eye
 
Tomorrow it will be summer
Tomorrow I will still be fighting
And chips will fall away
Landing like rubble
And on the beach the waves will beat
Washing up surprises from afar
 
Tomorrow it will be summer.
 

Changi, Singapore

Change

Like
A flash of lightning
 
Out
The porthole window
 
Land
flowing between rivers
 
Dozing
Among films
     and songs sung to myself
 
Like
When you blink and the light shifts
 
Calm
Foreshadowing the clash
 
Feel
The changes coming
 
Like
A breath before diving
 
Breathe
New air. Washed in rain.
 
Land
With a splash, and let the wake of it rise around you, like a parade heralding the return of a hero. Or a plane touching down in a puddle
 
After flying so high for so long
 
Like
The delicious tummy roll  you feel when thunder tumbles around you
 
Like
A flash of lightning
 
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Movement and mistakes

I’ve made some mistakes at work lately, which I’m not sure whether to feel bad about or not. The main thing is telling the volunteers things that are wrong, like who’s in charge of what and which uniform to wear and stuff. I make judgment calls based on what I think makes sense, only to find out later that there’s some other factor I never considered that means what I’ve said doesn’t make sense. Continue reading

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Montserrat rocks!

Another week down, I’m now more than half way through my course, which seems ridiculous, because I only just started! We’re having a change of class this coming week, so for the rest of our time we’ll be teaching upper-intermediate students instead of lower intermediates. Will be fun to get to know a new group of learners and try out some new stuff with them.

I recently realised a grave error made by Kate, Simon and myself. Having neglected to get our drink on together early on in the course, we have doomed ourselves to eternal polite-classmate-ship. I understand Simon’s hesitancy to spend time with Kate and I outside of class time – after all, he’s more than twice our age, and he’s a reserved and very Britishly polite guy, so he’d probably think it was inappropriate, but let’s be honest, there are three of us on the course, we’re all going through the same thing, it makes sense for us to be friends, right? I’ve been known to voice my opinions on old people in the past, and I’m clearly not a fan, but ‘old’ in my book doesn’t include people who travel the world and learn new things and are generally self-sufficient. It’s the feeble old snails-pacers who do nothing but complain all day and judge young people and create a burden on society who I don’t like. There’s a difference.

Of course, it didn’t have to be alcohol that theoretically could have brought the three of us together, either, although that is the best icebreaker I know of. There just seemed to be a reluctance right from the start to bond on a personal level, spend any time together outside of class, or even share jokes. The three of us seem to be quiet keep-to-ourselvesers. I’ve made efforts, but to little effect.

Yesterday, however, Kate and I spent 13 hours together, and it was a good day. We’re still not close friends or anything (there’s a reserved politeness between us – she keeps apologising for wanting to do things. Um… you’re out of your home country for the first time in your life: you can do anything you want!) Maybe it’s me, I’m beginning to wonder – do I keep people away? I like to think I’m approachable and non judgmental (okay, except when it comes to annoying old people). Maybe not. Oh well.

We arranged to meet at 8.45 at Granollers Centre train station. I didn’t leave the house until 8.11, so had to half run to get there in time (oops), but we left for Barcelona on schedule. Now, anyone who has travelled with me before will know I’m the type of person who likes to know where I am on the map, and what direction I should go in next at all times. I’m the organised one, the one who shows others where to go and how to do things. Not yesterday. Kate had done all the online research and I followed like a lost puppy as she led me off the train at the right time and onto the correct platform to wait for the next one. It was quite relaxing, although she does tend to worry too much. I guess that’s why I usually like to do that stuff, then I know I’m the only one who’s worrying (if I am, which, to be honest, isn’t actually all that often, and probably should be more often, considering the amount of times I travel alone). I don’t like other people being stressed when I’m trying to enjoy myself. If I’ve organized everything, then I can reassure people there’s nothing to worry about. Of course, I constantly try to reassure Kate that there’s nothing to worry about – for example when she’s apologising for the train being late, or going crazy thinking about a class she thinks she messed up when clearly it was a very good class and she has nothing to be concerned about – but it never seems to do any good. Some people like to worry, I guess.

So it was without any unexpected even that we arrived at Montserrat, a monastery in the hills about an hour and half from Barcelona. The rock formations in the hills are strangely fascinating, and I kept expecting to see faces looking down at me from them. For some reason, the first thing I thought of when we got off the train was Mount Rushmore. Having never been in the U.S.A, I’ve never actually seen Mt Rushmore, so I only have vague memories from pictures and films to go by.

Montser-rushmore

The train ride to Monistrol was long and uneventful. Kate and I kept setting each other off with yawns – a contagious cycle. The last ten minutes or so was nice, though, as we got well out of the city and into the green country, where grey rocks jut into the sky. At Monistrol, we changed to the cremallera (track train – although I’m not sure why it needs to be specified as a track train, as I’m pretty sure other trains use tracks, too) to get up the hill. With the scenery, this was a far more interesting ride, and we arrived at the top full of expectations for a day of exploring.

The basilica at Montserrat

We first headed to the Basilica and wondered at the long line that extended out the door to the right hand side. Inside, we realised the queue was for a close encounter with the virgin statue, famous for some reason or other, that was high above the altar at the front of the room. The stained glass windows were pretty and it was pleasant inside, which is basically my impression of every church or basilica or similar building I’ve ever been in as a tourist. I just can’t bring myself to get more interested than that. Although I did notice the pipe organ looked cool, and there were stands in the alcoves of the upper floor that looked like they were sniper rifles pointed at various places throughout the place. If they’d been manned I would have been a bit freaked out. I people watched for a short time – the most fascinating thing to do nearly anywhere, but particularly in a church – then left. Wandering through a side door, we discovered rows of prayer candles and a cute statue of I-don’t-quite-know-what, but that reminded me of the Peter Pan statue in the Dunedin Botanical Gardens.

Prayer Candles

I suspect it may be a flowerfairy

But that feather-covered spinal fin confuses me

Kate wanted to see the virgin statue out of artistic curiosity (one of the things she kept apologising for, and I kept assuring her was quite alright), but we decided the line was too long and headed off to explore the area. We deftly avoided the audio visual complex, although we’d paid for it in our combination ticket, and found somewhere to buy sunscreen and refill our water bottles. It was a beautiful day and if I hadn’t bought that sunscreen I would now be in a considerable amount of pain. We took a path that said “Via Crusis” and was supposed to be a 20 minute walk. I got distracted and took us up a steep, rubbly forest path past rock climbers that eventually ended in a dead-end, at which point I cheerily turned around and walked back. I don’t think Kate was quite as chuffed with me as I was with myself. It’s nice to be the fit one for once. The track was shaded and birds sang, but I suspect Kate missed some of its beauty for all the worrying she was doing.

Trick of light

We stopped for lunch in the dappled half-shade of a tree, where I took photos of a monument through the tree, which puzzled me when I looked at them today: it looks like part of a branch is invisible and you can see the monument behind it.

Or maybe it’s just my overactive imagination.

After lunch we took the funicular up above the main monastery and from there took another enjoyable jaunt around the hills, for magnificent views good exercise and just generally exploring. We accidentally interrupted a couple of guys getting stoned on the very edge of a terrifyingly steep drop-off, sat in the sun, and found some goat droppings. Again, I don’t think Kate garnered quite as much amusement from the detour as I did.

views

happy trail

When we got back to the bottom of the funicular, it was ice-block time (although Americans get strange mental images of people carrying massive blocks of ice on their backs when you call them that instead of popsicles). I sat in the sun and read Bill Bryson’s entertaining Notes from a Small Island while Kate got in line to see the virgin. By the time she came out, clouds had covered the sun and we took another short walk for more views before heading back down the mountain. It got quite blustery, although not quite chilly just before we caught the cremallera.

The train back to Barcelona was again uneventful; we had dinner (Paella, chicken and chips and custard and strawberries for dessert!) near Espanya metro station, and got on the unusually crowded train back to Granollers. We arrived at 9.45 and both felt good after a nice day out sightseeing. Kate lives in Granollers, so probably got home around 10. It took me 45 minutes to walk back to the empty house (Raquel and Guillem are away for the weekend), and when I got there I was exhausted. The dogs greeted me happily and I gave them some food before intentionally hitting my pillows with my face.

Writing? I’ve been doing a lot of character development lately, building up more solid ideas of characters I want to work with in the future, but don’t have stories for just yet. Also finished my second assignment for CELTA and have been kept busy with lesson planning.

Am enjoying the twice weekly markets and the sunshine and the teaching and the learning. Miss the friends and whanau at home. Generally enjoying myself.

xoEmma

Categories: Animals, Books, Introversion, Learning, Teaching, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I found the house of books

I have to say, Spain has really put on the weather today! Sadly, I’ve had to stay inside all day doing my assignment.

We had a long weekend. A local* holiday meant I didn’t have to go to school on Friday. Despite this, I’ve still had a very unproductive weekend. I did, however, go to Barcelona for the day yesterday. I sat on the tourist hop-on-hop-off bus and listened to the seemingly random commentary. I wandered around the streets, enjoyed the architecture (okay, mainly just the Gaudi stuff. Architecture in generally doesn’t interest me, but it’s hard not to be taken in by the whimsical world of Gaudi), ate a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (Ben, Jerry, you need to make your move on New Zealand. If you don’t, I may never go home), and found a bookshop. Wallet lighter, bag heavier, I returned to Canovelles in the rain. It’s only a half hour walk to the train station and half an hour in the train to Barcelona, so I really should do it more often. Because it was raining when I got back, I waited for a bus instead of walking, and successfully caught it, and even got off at the right stop! In addition, I made old people smile by standing up so they could take my seat when the bus got full. Okay, so old people are my least favourite people in general, but they’re still people (well, I have no proof otherwise, so I’m running with this assumption), and making people smile makes me happy.

You know what else makes me happy? Not writing assignments. Pity it’s not something that I have experienced this weekend.

I’ve also not written anything else, except for a few HNZ things (if you don’t know what that is, you probably don’t need to know, unless you like geeky text-based roleplaying things, and then you should email me for more info). To be honest, I haven’t even written any lesson plans, which I really should have done.

In terms of things I have done: I watched the first five Harry Potter movies in a row. I read Yes Man. I spoke fragmented Spanish to the girl in the chocolate shop. (A whole chocolate shop!) I did some stretches on the terrace in the sun. I began The Seven Pillars of Wisdom but felt guilty about it because I haven’t done enough work on my assignment yet. That’s about all. Oh, I played with the dogs and chatted with Raquel and considered going for a run, but decided against it, simply because I don’t actually like running, no matter how good I feel afterwards.

Meh, another crap post. Feel like I should get back to my assignment instead of trying to make it better.

*Local meaning only Granollers. Five minutes down the street, you move into what is technically another town, and everything is open.

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Muddled

Look! I survived my first week of structure since November!

It was more difficult than I’d hoped, but I stayed awake through all of my classes and even managed to go out for a few drinks with some other teachers and some students last night.

I’m officially over my jetlag but that doesn’t mean I’m thinking straight.

The sun has been out today and I’m in a good mood, although I’ve made very little progress on the assignment that’s due in 4 days.

Finished watching the movie I started the other night while trying to stay awake, and I fully recommend it: The Fall is sweet and beautiful and made me laugh and cry and laugh again.

My thoughts are very disorganised today, so not much I can really write about. Need to focus. I wonder if I can get hold of any bergamot essence here? I used to put it in my oil burner it when I studied in high school and it helped me concentrate.

Haven’t written anything new this week – too many forms to fill out for my classes – usually about three pages of lesson plan, three of aims and analysis, two of notes, one of evaluation, one of observation. The thing I always hated about being a Brownie leader was the paperwork, and I can tell it’s going to be the same with teaching.

Bleh, too lazy to find photos to put with this post. Hopefully I’ll finish my assignment tomorrow and be able to write more after that. Ooh, and I may be going walking in the hills tomorrow! Yuss.

Again with the disorganised, just remembered to mention that we have dates for a mini-Oulu reunion in Barcelona on the weekend of the 19th and 20th of June. Soraya and Alfred live in Barcelona, so they’ll be there; Maite and Maria are flying in, and hopefully some others, too! Yay.

Ok, gonna go do some more work and get my head together.

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A Greek lesson and the river’s revenge.

Γειά σαϛ!

The Greek Alphabet

So, anyone who’s spoken to me in the past couple of months would have heard me brag about how I’m escaping the nasty New Zealand winter for the Spanish sun. To those people, I now apologise. I could see my breath when I was walking home from course today.

I think the river Congost read my blog and was offended at being called ‘piddly,’ because it rained all night and all day, and now the Congost looks slightly more impressive. I got drenched going to school and now it’s only 10º. But it’s okay (I keep reminding myself), the rain is only supposed to last a week, and next week, it’ll be sun sun sun for me! Just in time for when my course-load goes berserk.

I made myself stay awake last night by watching a movie. My body resisted, but I forced my eyes to stay open until it ended. I actually quite enjoyed the movie (The Kite Runner), but I was so happy when it was over because it meant I could go to sleep. That was 11pm. I woke this morning at 6.30am. It’s an improvement on the night before, but I’m still shattered. I wish I was one of those people who could function on just a few hours of sleep a night, but I’m not. Usually I need around 9. Seven and a half doesn’t cut it. Now it’s 7pm and I want nothing more than to crawl into bed. The cold isn’t helping.

Today was the first day of my CELTA course (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). There are only two others in my class: Kate, a girl my age from New York, and Simon, an older Brit who likes to spend as little time in the UK as possible. No cute boys. Sadface.

Most of the day was taken up with administrative and introductory stuff: explaining the course, the assignments, a tour of the building, doing paperwork and so on, but we also did some learning. “Γειά σαϛ,” said Penny, and motioned for us to repeat. “Yasas?” we replied, uncertain. Penny smiled approval at us, “Γειά σαϛ,” she said again, and waved ‘hello.’ The whole lesson was carried out in Greek and it was really interesting to experience that: being taught in an entirely foreign language. It was amazing how well Penny was able to explain what she wanted of us just with intonation and body language. She was speaking as well, of course, but we had no idea what the words meant. We introduced ourselves, learned the numbers 1 to 6 and five different types of drink, and practiced ordering a drink at a cafe. Not bad for beginners. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to truly experience the fear and embarrassment many students apparently feel when they enter a class room where they don’t understand a word, because I associate learning – and language learning in particular – with fun. I can totally understand being anxious when you’re in a foreign country and you don’t know where you are and you don’t understand anything, but in a class room, I can’t relate. I can imagine how scared some people might be, though, which I guess is the point.

We meet our first class tomorrow – we’ll be working with two different classes throughout the course – and we’ll be left to our own devices with them. Well, with a ‘getting to know you’ lesson plan designed by our instructors, but the instructors won’t be there overseeing us. There’s no homework tonight, so I’m left with nothing to do but think about how good bed would be right now. I could get a head start on the first assignment, but all I can do at this point is read about the grammatical structures we have to analyse, we haven’t learned the rest yet.

I’d love to be able to use this time to write more stories, but I’m literally falling asleep on the keyboard, so it might be movie time again. I dislike you, jetlag.

xoxo Emma

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I am Izzy. I can fly.

So yesterday I went for my walk around Canovelles, the village I live in. It’s separated from the small city of Granollers only by a piddly little river. Granollers, in turn, is practically a suburb of Barcelona. It takes about half an hour to go from one to the other by train.

I planned to be gone about an hour, but ended up getting lost and taking two hours to get back. Never mind. I know where the police station is now!

Meow

Raquel’s house is pretty much on the edge of where the village changes from urban to semi-rural. Down the hill is the centre, filled with apartments, playgrounds, bars and people people people. Up the hill are fields of poppies and thistles, and large houses with gardens – real gardens with vegetables growing and chicken coops and wheelbarrows, and I even saw an old wooden cart wheel and a swimming pool on one property! The two areas melt into one another, with semi-detached houses in between. There, fathers throw, kick and catch balls with their sons on the street. They were very polite when I passed. I also saw a beautiful cat with blue eyes. I took photos, just for Ngaio.

After all those hours (25+) on aeroplanes (and that’s not counting transit time), it was good to get out and go for a walk. I felt like I was getting a sense of the place, too.

I went out again for a couple of hours today – only this time less lost, and with a purpose. Every Sunday the road along the river turns into a big market, with fresh fruit and veges, clothing, flowers, and a hundred other things. It was so different to yesterday!  The bank holiday (ooh, how British I sound) yesterday meant that hardly anyone was out and about, and all the shops were closed. Today there were people EVERYWHERE. It was quite wonderful to start with, seeing everyone so relaxed, outside enjoying the shopping, hearing vendors yell (“Un euro! Un euro!”), watching all the different coloured people examining all the different coloured clothes and foods. I wasn’t even the only blue-eyed blonde! (After Korea, it’s quite nice not to be stared at all the time.)  However, it soon became overwhelming and I walked and walked and walked in search of the fruit, often ducking out of the crowded street to walk behind the tents and stalls for a bit of space. By the time I found the fruit and veges, I was too exhausted to buy much. My mouth watered at the sight of the rich red strawberries, but there was no price on them and my brain was too overstimulated to remember any Spanish, so I stuck with just mandarins and bananas, then walked back to the supermarket, bought a bunch of things in a daze, and carried it all home again.

Tomorrow school starts. I’m quite excited about it. I haven’t studied since 2007 (apart from Saturday morning Korean classes). I’ll have far less time to write (which I’ve been doing a bit of today) and research my writing (which I’ve been doing a lot of lately), but hopefully it will get me back into a normal sleeping pattern. Conking out at 9pm and springing awake at 3am is not very Spanish. Plus, I don’t know how long I can survive on six hours sleep a night. In any case, I’m really looking forward to meeting my instructors and class mates,  and taking notes and planning assignments. Yes, I’m a nerd. And proud of it.

Anyway, the whole point of this blog: Writing. What have I been writing? Well, in a fit of procrastination, I discovered two online writing events that started yesterday. Story A Day runs for the whole month of May and requires that you write a story – as long or short as you like, as long as it has a beginning, a middle and an end – every day. The website offers an optional starting point each day to help you if you’re stuck for ideas. I’m combining it with NaPiBoWriWee ([Inter]National Picture Book Writing Week). Based on NaNoWriMo, which I participated in last November (but didn’t win), it was set up to encourage people to get writing every day. The focus is on picture books for children, which I would really love to write, but don’t know enough about to be serious at it, with the requirement that you write a complete picture book (sans pictures) each day from the 1st to the 7th of May. For the first week of this month I’ll be writing picture books, but after that I’ll branch out. I’ve heard the course I’m starting tomorrow is intense, so I don’t expect to get a story every single day, but at least I’m inspired to try!

I’m really glad I found the NaPiBoWriWee website. Run by Paula Yoo, a published author of picture books and a YA novel, it has a host of information and tips on writing for kids. When I have a spare moment, I plan to browse through it, but for now, I’m inspired to write rather than read.

I wrote my first story when I woke up at 3am this morning. It’s called I am Izzy and is about a girl who flies at night time. It took me ages because I made a bunch of silly pictures with Microsoft Paint to illustrate it. I was gonna use ArtWeaver, which would have given better results, but sometimes I just find Paint easier to use. Especially at 3 in the morning. Well, it was 6 by the time I finished. It’s all of 21 sentences, but I’m proud of it. Here are three pages of my book, con crappy drawings:

I can fly.

I like flying.

I have my own aeroplane.

Today’s prompt on Story A Day May is to use a detail from an obituary as a starting point from which to craft a story.

So, day two, almost 6pm, and I’m still feeling chuffed about finishing my first story. Starting to feel weary, but will go and cook some dinner; hopefully that will give me the power to write another story today. Yay!

xoxo Emma

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New surroundings

Granollers, Spain

I arrived safely in Singapore, then Barcelona. I caught a train to Granollers and called my host, Raquel, who came to pick me up and showed me her house – my new home for the next five weeks.

We were greeted noisily by her two gorgeous German Shepherds, Vincy and Nit (that means ‘night’ in Catalan). Vincy is nine, a sweet old dog who likes lying in the shade. Nit is just one and loves to play and bounce. The house is an old one, Raquel’s grandparents’ house. When she told me it was an old house, I pictured an old wooden villa, with rattly windows and peeling paint. So English, I guess.

Vincy (9, background) and Nit (1)

Vincy

Nit and one of her many soccer balls.

We pulled up to a square white concrete house with brown edgings and wrought iron gates. The grass and garden are slightly overgrown and there’s an empty pool, bright blue with orange brick surrounds, in the middle of the path to the door. There’s an antechamber with a flat screen tv and a small couch, and through that, the cosy living room. There’s a fire place, two large armchairs, a big bay window with cushions and pillows, a book cabinet filled with Spanish and Catalan books and a larger flat screen tv on top. The walls are clean and white with the odd framed painting hanging, and a stone staircase with a beautiful dark wooden railing dominates one side of the room. The ceiling is high – two stories, and upstairs are four doors: two leading to bricked terraces that catch the warm Spanish sun, and the other two go into my room.

My home for the next five weeks

My favourite place to sit

Looking up from the bay window seat

One is unused and blocked by the double bed. I have two windows, a lamp, three chairs, a small table for working at and a bedside table with two potplants on it. I’ve unpacked my things into the large cupboards and already feel at home.

Off the living room, a wooden and glass door lead to a small hallway, off which are the garage and laundry, dining room, bathroom and Raquel’s bedroom and study. The kitchen is through the dining room and has a strange large but very shallow ceramic sink.

Raquel had to go back to work yesterday, and I showered and set up my room. In one of the cupboards I found a row of English books. I spent most of the day reading Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment and fell asleep about 8pm. I didn’t hear Raquel and her boyfriend come home, and slept a full 11 hours.

Today is Saturday, but Labour Day, so nothing is open. Raquel was nice enough to buy me some basic food to eat today. The sun is not shining. In fact the weather was nicer in Wellington. It is spring, though, which I am far happier with than autumn, mainly because of what I know is coming.

I haven’t written anything so far, but I’m keen to get onto my stories. I’ve just realised this blog entry is really boring.

Raquel seems really nice and her English is excellent. I can’t say the same about the dogs (well, they’re also wonderful and I already love them, but they don’t understand English so well). I keep hearing what I think is an owl, but it’s day time. Also, this morning from my room, I heard the rooster next door and what sounded like a small elephant trumpeting. I don’t want to be disappointed, so I won’t go searching for the source of the latter sound. I’d much rather believe there’s a baby elephant in the neighbour’s garden.

I’m going to grab my camera and go for a walk.

xoxo Emma

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Lookout world, here I come a-blogging!

29 April 2010. 10,973m above Western Australia. Limbo.

I’ve decided to start a blog. Partly because I’ve been thinking about it for a long time and people keep encouraging me to, and partly because a lot of people don’t believe me when I tell them I write.

That’s right: I write. Affirmation time.

So what’s my spin? What makes my blog different from the bazillions of others on the web? Obviously I’m a different person from everyone else, and I bring my own experience, opinions and style to my blog. But I need a ‘thing,’ as my oldest friend, Ngaio Simpson puts it (you can view her website here).

I don’t know what my ‘thing’ is. Maybe that can be what the blog is about. In the mean time, I’ll get the introductions out of the way.

WHO AM I?

I’m Emma, a 25 year old Kiwi (that’s a New Zealander, not a fruit). I write and teach and travel. Those are my things. I have others, too, like Guiding and giggling and theatre and saving the world. I’m currently flying over Australia. I left my home town, Dunedin, two weeks ago. I left New Zealand seven hours ago. I will arrive in Singapore in three and a half hours, where I will wait for my next plane, because 10 hours of flying is not enough for one day. I will fly to Barcelona, in Spain. Don’t look at me strangely when I pronounce it Barthelona. I’m trying to do this right. It’s new start, in a way. In the same way that every day is a new start, only today I’m leaving the country, so it seems as good a time as any to start something new.

I have a window seat. I like to watch the world go by. Australia is immense. I’ve never flown over it in the day time before. It’s a red land, streaked with yellow-white, black-green and brown. Ribboned in dry rivers, dusted in rust. The sunburned cliche isn’t enough. One day I will touch down here, visit my cousins and explore New Zealand’s big brother, but not today.

10 km above Australia

I would like to be witty and articulate, but I fear I am not. I’m really rather average in many ways. The twenty-something with a Bachelor of Arts who travels because she’s searching for something, though she can’t tell you what. She dreams of being a writer and making a positive difference in the world. She can’t settle on one thing. She doesn’t really know what she wants.

In this blog I intend to include details of my life that I think others might find interesting, for example what, how and when I write; where I travel and what I think of the places I go; what I read and watch; how much I disapprove of the misuse of apostrophes.

Today I have watched Robert B. Weide’s How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and Clint Eastwood’s Invictus. Considering its promising title, How to Lose Friends was disappointing, although not altogether terrible. I expected something far more satirical and far less Hollywood. That’s what I get for judging a film by it’s title. Predictability is the standard fare for romantic comedies, so I should have known, but never mind. Invictus was, of course, moving. I used to like Morgan Freeman, before he was in everything. Wait, no, I actually don’t remember before he was in everything. I loved him in Shawshank Redemption but now I’m just sick of hearing his voice-overs. I understand he’s good at what he does, but too much of a good thing… blah blah, it’s been said a kajillion times before. I think the film would have been better with a cast of unknowns. I do like, though, that South Africa has been getting a lot of exposure in film lately. It’s totally the new black. In the fashion sense. That was not meant to have any political or racial meaning.

Another film I’ve seen recently is Taika Waititi’s Boy. I loved it, and I love that Erica Newland’s (how embarrassing! Newlands’ is correct) cast (for the play Joint Ventures, an Honours project in Theatre Studies at the University of Otago) use the Crazy Horses ‘sign’ in their rehearsal warm-ups.

From New Zealand film to New Zealand literature, I’ve begun to binge on home-grown arts. Noel Hilliard’s Maori Girl (1960s) is surprisingly refreshing, given its age and datedness. I began Maurice Gee’s Plumb trilogy, but didn’t get far before I had to return my library books and leave the country. It’s a Kiwi classic and I definitely want to read it. I read a short young adults novel, Out Walked Mel by Paula Boock, one afternoon in February, that I really enjoyed as a light read. The main character takes a trip to Cape Reinga, the (almost) northern-most point of New Zealand and the jumping-off point for spirits on their way back to their ancestral homeland, Hawaiki. I visited Cape Reinga three days ago for the first time in my life, and remembered that book, and Barry Mitcalfe’s poem Lamentation on Ninety-Mile Beach. Literature gives meaning to travel.

Last night I met with an old Outward Bound watchmate and went to see the musical Rent at Auckland’s Civic Centre. It was a really enjoyable evening, though I don’t think it would be wise for me to develop a habit of such nights. It was expensive. On the other hand, I’m über-excited about going to see Avenue Q in London when I get there.

That’s my first blog entry, to be posted when I get somewhere where connecting to the internet isn’t illegal (one of the downfalls of being 36,000 feet above sea level). The clouds have opened below us and I see the sea. It seems limitless.

I appreciate comments, suggestions and corrections to my grammar. I’m an English teacher, but I don’t know all the rules.

x0x0 Emma

Special mention to Ngaio, for convincing me to start this blog and for being an artist, a friend and better than she gives herself credit for.
Categories: Books, Films, Introversion, New Zealand, Theatre, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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