tales from urban dilettantia


Random Jumble Post!

1. I’ve been taking quite a few photos recently, including more of the Perth Zoo:

2. I’ve also adopted a new rabbit in need of a home, largely because bunnies are social animals who generally do better in pairs. Her name is Bunny du Pompadour, aka Reinette, and I found her via the good people of S.A.F.E. Perth who were totally down with me organising bunny dates between Walter and prospective companions.  It was internet dating, for rabbits!

3. I’ve discovered a few nice new iPhone apps recently. ScannerPro is great for moving documents and scribbles in my sketchbook straight onto the internet:

4. And then there’s Simplenote…let us just say that I am as madly in love with Simplenote as a woman can be with a piece of text-document management software. It’s so…simple! And it speaks to everything else! I have the iPhone app for portable use, and access my notes via a PortableApps version of ResophNotes on my work machine (it copes just fine with the corporate firewall) and Notational Velocity on my Mac at home.

5. I’ve been reading Havi Brooks’ The Fluent Self blog quite a lot, largely because her internal dialogue sounds so very much like mine.

6. I gave away a large pile of clothes, stuffed toys, books and random items at the Really Really Free Market last weekend, which conveniently happens to be held in the park one block from my house. I strolled down with my granny shopping trolley full, and returned home with an empty granny shopping trolley and a small adopted tree. (I have named him Buswell, for media reasons.)

7. Last week, I took the alarming step of hiring a cleaner to visit my house once a fornight to clean the bathroom, do the floors and dust. I have conflicted feelings about being the sort of person who [needs to hire / hires] a cleaner, but my initial feelings about the shiny floors and lack of general filth are very positive indeed.

8. And finally, I’m in the middle of the messy transition that is getting off Venlafaxine, with all the mood swings, involuntary twitches, shaking and happycrazysadcrazyOMGPANICcrazy one might expect. In spite of this, I’m pretty relieved with how it’s going – it’s far from pleasant but it’s manageable. I’m taking it slow and am relatively stable at a low dose of 37.5mg a day at the moment, and should be completely clean in a couple of weeks.

Welcome To Leftovers-Night

This post is like a Leftovers-Night dinner.  You’ll see.

Right now I’m doing some work that involves re-running a model through twenty or so different scenarios, and each run takes around a minute, so I have Notepad up and am using the runtime to write. It feels like a luxury to have some time to start thinking about having a page to fill with words.

I’ve been trying to manage the number of hours I’ve been spending in the office, but even when I’ve been able do that, the intensity of the last month has been something to behold. There’s not much I’m able to say about it in a public forum, but it involves a lot more responsibility and a whole bunch of time-critical work. I’m hopeful October will see a promotion, as I feel there’s a significant mismatch between the level I’m on and the work I’m doing.

Over the past month, the last module of my professional qualification has started up, so I’m studying and involved in a bunch of other things too. I know it’s something I come back to time after time here, but the struggle to manage commitments seems to be something of an ongoing theme in my life. I made a mind-map while I was having lunch yesterday, and even though many things spawned sub-commitments and began to ooze from the edges of the A4 page, it feels better to have the majority of it laid out.

Out of everything I’m doing at the moment, passing the last module of my Grad Dip is far and away the most significant one when it comes to my long term well-being. In part, this is because repeating will be a very expensive exercise, but more because the timing of finishing the course directly relates to when I’ll be free to leave my current employer without having to repay my sizable study debt. ‘Freedom, horrible freedom!’ as they say. (‘I’m the Queen!’ ‘No you’re not!’)

What else? Oh yes, the week just gone has been a shocker when it’s come to mental health – by far the worst in recent times. While horrible, the upside of this has been that I’ve managed to get through it without messing up anything significant, which is quite exciting – my ability to manage depressive episodes has really lifted in the past couple of years, and this is a topic I’d like to write more on at a later date.

Other than that…well. I’ve seen The Mountain Goats, Jeff Martin and Henry Rollins recently. Rollins was doing his Frequent Flyer spoken word tour, and I don’t think I have anything near the articulacy to express how moving and inspiring I found it. The man is a spectacularly interesting human being, and I find much of his discussion around depression, adventure, happiness and human experience to be almost painfully resonant. (I’m selfishly frustrated that he’s famous, because if he weren’t it would be easier to say ‘hey mate, come have a drink with me and we’ll talk about life the universe and everthing’.)

Musicwise, I’ve been obsessing over a few things, mostly relating to recent gigs. Jeff Martin’s Live in Dublin album is excellent, and I would strongly suggest getting it from iTunes if you haven’t already. portabledave has also put me onto The Tallest Man On Earth aka Kristian Mattson, a profoundly Dylan-esque folk muso from Denmark whose new album, The Wild Hunt, I’ve had on repeat. And then there’s the latest Mountain Goats album, The Life of the World to Come, which has this song about the thylacine, the dodo and the golden toad which just about moves me to tears every time, because (like most Australians?) I’m well aware of the heartbreaking footage they’re referring to in the first verse:

The sun above me and a concrete floor below
Scratch at the chain links maybe bare my teeth for show
Fed twice a day I don’t go hungry anymore
Feel in my bones just what the future has in store
I pace in circles so the camera will see
Look hard at my stripes, there’ll be no more after me
Laze by the shoreline while the sailors disembark
Scratch out a place to sit and rest down in the dark
Smell something burning downwind just a little ways
They set up camp and sing and sweat and work for days
I have no fear of anyone I’m dumb and wild and free
I am a flightless bird and there’ll be no more after me

In Costa Rica in a burrow underground
Climb to the surface, blink my eyes and look around
I’m all alone here as I try my tiny song
Claim my place beneath the sky but i won’t be here for long
I sang all night the moon shone on me through the trees
No brothers left and there’ll be no more after me
(- Deuteronomy 2:10)


And finally, a few links that I’ve stumbled across and appreciated in recent weeks:

Swooping & Diving

Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow

Welcome Swallow

This year, none of my half-drafted text posts have yet come to anything, but I’ll have you know that they’re sitting there in the dusty attic of a hard drive, waiting to be unleashed.

In the meantime, I’ve posted some more birdwatching photos to Flickr, including the Welcome Swallows pictured above.  Wings are exciting; I’m having fun times (and sometimes frustrating times) learning to photograph wings.

My excuse for not having written anything of substance – one of my excuses, anyway – is that I’m buried not only under unpleasant work (Large Accounting Firm has jumped the shark, it really has) but under an avalanche of side projects.

Some of the side projects include doing a triathlon, getting my diving certification, building a barrel garden, harvesting the local laneway/vergeside fruit, looking for a new job, soaking up as much of the summer cricket as possible, and two secret things.  One secret thing is is about tentacles, the other is about maps.

Somehow I think spending time at the beach needs to be on the projects list, but isn’t. It strikes me that this is a terrible oversight.

Enter 2010

I’m feeling like writing again, for the first time in a year or so. I have some Happiness Project posts drafted on my netbook and will whip them into shape and start posting this week. (Did I even mention that I have acquired a tiny eeePC netbook? Joel found it for me in Hong Kong at half the Australian price. I’ve installed Crunchbang Linux on it and fallen in love.)

The wonders of gadgetry aside, I’m feeling optimistic about 2010. It’s an arbitrary flick of the page, certainly, but there was something auspicious about waking up on New Year’s Day with not a trace of my resident anxiety and depression, to spend the day feeling blissfully calm and loved.

Having decided that good years come to those who help themselves, I’ve got myself a referral to a good psychiatrist for a review of my diagnosis and medication. (It’s been over twelve years since I’ve had a psych, so I’m thinking it’s about time.) And I’ve spent my holiday leave doing quite a number of fulfilling things, including:

repeatedly going to the cricket, courtesy of alibaster

working in my garden (it grows!)

spending time socialising the bunny, who remains fabulous

working through my backlog of photos to sort and upload

taking a whole lot of new photos to sort and upload

turning my scary box room into a great study and art room

turning my Hackintosh + PS3 into a media centre that plays almost anything

birdwatching and biking on Rottnest Island with lisamax , boxer_the_horse and grahame.

getting plenty of exercise from running, biking, walking, geocaching, roller-skating and riding Perth’s most awesome vehicle (which belongs to carywin).

sorting out all the necessary paperwork and sending my application for citizenship to the British High Commission

Here endeth today’s random holiday round-up.


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@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.