Monday, 28 March 2011

An excuse to drink wine

A friend recently sent me an invitation to her 'four-oh god' celebration and I was impressed by her wit, because 'oh god' is exactly what it feels like. I was not at all fazed by turning 30, but facing 40 last week required a hefty deep breath. My fragile grandmother always used to say she felt no different inside to when she was 21, but that her body was wearing out. While I am not quite falling apart yet, I now understand her sentiment about the mind . . . and the soul. The ticking years make one wiser (hopefully) and less naive, but they do not alter the fundamental essence of who one is.

Despite this, I have observed a pattern developing across the four decades of my life so far: the tendency to throw myself intensively into endeavours for ~10 years and then stop, reassess and redefine myself. There were the 10 years of school at St Michael's, followed by 11 years of university, and then 10 years as a technology communications consultant. I emerged from each of these experiences like a creature from a chrysalis -- transformed (& mildly bruised), desperate to shed the old life and embrace the new.

Since my early twenties a significant constant, however, has been writing. In fact, the desire to write with greater yield/commitment/skill/reward underpinned the great shakeup of my 30s, and is also at the heart of my current career realignment. I think the difference now is that I am prepared to make more sacrifices and have a better understanding of the tough work and dogged perseverance that is required. My 30s were probably my journeyman years, during which I learnt about the industry, embraced the community and honed my skills. Now I'm determined to graduate.

So I threw a party on the weekend to celebrate many things: the significant oh-god birthday, the new era of my life, the fact that I will soon have a finished novel . . . and because I wanted to consume some of the accumulating wine stores in my closet!

I don't know whether the 10-year cycle will continue -- I rather hope not, because facing 'the great unknown' can be exhausting and not a little scary. But it's also exhilarating to break out of the mould and feel the fear. Everything becomes new again and the possibilities are endless. And besides, when one isn't working, one can participate in regular mid-week pub writing gatherings. Any excuse to drink wine!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Journey through Middle Earth

I'm a bit of a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies. Sometimes I put one or other of them on as background to my cooking or cleaning or whatever. I've seen them so many times that I don't actually need to watch them anymore; it's enough just to listen and all the scenes unfold in my head.

Or so I thought. For the third evening in a row I'm ensconced in front of a LOTR movie -- Return of the King, as you might expect. I did manage to do a few things while watching the first two over the past two nights, but somehow it hasn't been as easy to tear myself away from the visual as I'd anticipated. (I didn't even try tonight. It's Friday.)

OK, so to say I'm a fan is a slight understatement. I love these movies. I love their majesty, I love the underlying theme that even the smallest person can make a difference, I love the visual realisation of Middle Earth and all its cultures. (Oh, it's Eowyn's big moment . . . I am no man!) I love Orlando Bloom as Legolas and Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. I love it all. In my view the scriptwriters did a fabulous job, for the most part. Sure, there are some things I would have rather not be added, omitted or changed, and sometimes the timing seems a bit off, but they captured the essence of the story so amazingly well. All right, I'll stop there . . .

My point is . . . actually, I don't think I have a point. I'm just sitting here enjoying myself and I had to share. (Sam: "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!" What a hero.)

Friday, 4 March 2011

Loving life

I just want to say that I am loving life right now. I've spent the past four weeks focusing on things I actually want to do: writing, walking, meeting friends for lunch, family for coffee breaks, playing Wii Fit Plus. It's terribly indulgent, I know, but I do wish these days could last forever.


Robyn Nevin in Apologia (Photo: Jeff Busby)
This year I have joined a group of friends in attending plays performed by the Melbourne Theatre Company (MTC). Our first play, seen on Wednesday night, was Apologia by Alexi Kaye Campbell, starring Robyn Nevin and directed by Jennifer Flowers.

Centred around a weekend family gathering, Apologia has a nice blend of comedy and drama so that I felt both entertained and intellectually stimulated. Kristin Miller is a renowned art historian and critic, whose two adult sons (Peter, a merchant banker, and Simon, a depressed writer) are upset that their mother has not even mentioned them in her latest book, a 'memoir' entitled Apologia. This opens up wounds stemming back to childhood, and leads to some bitter (and also tender) scenes of accusation and recrimination surrounding Kristin's decision to put career before family.

The relationships between the various characters are complex, with Robyn Nevin's fiercely intelligent and left-wing Kristin at the heart. The play explores themes of social responsibility, feminism, the role of art in society, idealism and loneliness. Robin Nevin is particularly fabulous in the lead role, playing a character that is unapologetic yet perhaps a tad regretful, incurably judgmental, committed to fighting for social justice, and yet ultimately lonely as she cannot heal the rift between her and her sons.

The other characters are Trudi (Peter's American fiancee), Claire (Simon's soap star girlfriend) and Kristin's long-time friend Hugh -- these all contribute to the nuanced undertones and sub-texts of the various conversations, plus in the case of Hugh provide some comic relief.

Definitely an enjoyable night. For far more detailed and insightful reviews than mine, see here and here.