Sunday, July 5, 2015

erratum

Six months since I wrote here.  But I have not been idle!

I passed the ICU fellowship exam.  It's funny how it completely preoccupied me for several months and now it's just gone.  Not that I expected to miss it. 

Jason and I went to Tasmania for a week.  We spent three days driving down from Devonport, staying at the Bay of Fires and then Freycinet.  We had the most glorious morning's walk along the Bay of Fires.  It was completely deserted but sunny enough to lie on the sand.  In Freycinet we walked to Wineglass bay and the Hazards.  The weather was spectacular- it rained but it wasn't cold.  We saw seven rainbows.  We huddled under a tree at wineglass bay eating our peanut butter and banana sandwiches, watching the rain and the birds and the rainbow over the bay.  The waves crashed in completely straight line. 

Then we went on to Hobart for Dark Mofo.  What a great festival.  I was obsessed with finding the perfect outfit to wear for the freezing winter festival, which is mostly at night. In the end I wore my puffer jacket underneath my ridiculous fashion jacket which i bought second hand in Helsinki.  My Russian leather hat.  Perfectly warm!

We made it to the Marina Abramovic exhibition on our last day.  I loved all the 'audience participation' pieces.  Sitting perfectly motionless wearing noise-cancelling head phones, standing with my head resting on a marble block, lying motionless.  I loved them all! I am good at being motionless!

The centrepiece of the audience participation works is the bean & rice counting exercise. You enter an official looking ante-room and don a lab coat and noise-cancelling head phones.  You go into larger room with a long, long table.  In the middle of the table, running its entire length, is a pile of rice and beans.   People in lab coats are already seated at benches on either side of the table.  They don't look at you as you walk in.   You are led to your place at the bench and given a small pile of rice and beans, taken from the large centre pile.  

Your task is to count the number of rice grains and beans. 

Initially the pile looks small but it seems to grow as you count. The task is clearly futile.  Occasionally someone stands up to leave and their pile is swept back into the middle.  This futility sits well with a meditative interpretation of the task.  Counting as meditation.  A long task as meditation.  But then a compulsion to finish creeps in.  The compulsion to keep counting, to complete the task.

I counted 881 beans.  I gave up on the rice. 


Friday, January 23, 2015

favourites

Last night I went out to dinner with our friends Arla and Jesse and Bonnie and George.  Arla and Jesse are just emerging from the baby-making madness, with a 3 1/2 year old and an 18 month old, and Bonnie and George are expecting their first in 8 weeks.

Arla was so full of beans.  She'd just finished reading 'What I loved', one of my favourite books.  I was so excited that she had the same reaction as me: reading it compulsively until late into the night, and then being so involved with the characters that she missed them when it was over.

It's also an Art book, and we talked happily about the bacchanalian art parties we would like to throw.  So I think the next obvious book for her to read is Emly Bitto's 'The Strays', about Sunday and John Reed.

Anyway, Arla asked for some recommendations.  Here they are, my favourite books from the last 3 years or so.

The Tin Drum- Gunter Grass
Bossypants- Tina Fey
May we be forgiven- AM Homes
Just Kids- Patti Smith
Slouching Towards Bethlehem- Joan Didion
My Misspent Youth- Megham Daum
My Brilliant Career- Miles Franklin
Crossing to Safety- Wallace Stegner
The Convalescent- Jessica Anthony
Let the Great World Spin- Colum McCann
Summertime- JM Coetzee

A rag-tag list, indeed.