Tag Archives: iphone

Library shenanigans and a scholarship

English: iPhone

Sparrow will be one on Thursday. One like I’m happy to play by myself until I see you Mama and then you have no idea how terrible it’s been and you need to pick me up, you know, now. One like too busy to sleep in the day. One like climbing up and falling down, and climbing up and falling down, and climbing up and falling down. One like pointing and making pretend phone calls and shaking head no and saying bubbles and signing fish, dog, Mama, finish, food, shoe, again. One like whole body cuddles and a smile that gets in somewhere and warms me from the inside out. And Monkey is now well and truly three. Three like seventy percent of all communication is a boss or a whinge. Three like spiralling whys that, if they go for long enough (and they do), become kind of existential and self referential but simultaneously deeply exhausting (and deeply boring). Three like I-just-found-my-mama’s-buttons-and-I’m-gonna-press-em-all. Three like hippo kisses (a kiss without the smoochy sound at the end), pig kisses (lots of kisses planted in the same place very quickly), and “thanks for cooking babe” and waking up singing. Three like noticing everything, like showing me the world every day, brand new.

When I started my PhD six months ago, I ransacked the library and borrowed around twenty books. The idea was I’d read one every week or so, pull out relevant quotes, write responsively, and return them before they were due. So, so, wrong. They have remained unread. They’ve had three renewals. A couple of recalls forced me to get through some of them. Last week I had to beg a fourth renewal. Literally, beg. I used the small children card shamelessly and the librarian finally gave in. The thought of getting those books off the shelves again at the library was making my toes curl. Last night I finally pulled them all out with this plan: mark up what I need to read, then get in to uni to photocopy many, many pages, and finally return them. Problem is I can’t get to uni without Sparrow and Monkey before we go away. My solution today was to start scanning them using Scanner Pro on my iPhone and uploading them directly to Dropbox. I feel glad at the prospect of using less paper, and already fatigued at the thought of creating that many pdfs, a photo at a time. Lesson learnt? Please, Karina, don’t borrow more than five books at a time.

Last update is this: I got a full time scholarship. I was so excited when I found out that I shook for the next hour. Next year will look nothing like this one. I can’t wait.

MWF here I come

Federation Square Theatre (BMW Edge)

Image via Wikipedia

The Melbourne Writer’s Festival has selected me as one of their five ‘UNbloggers’. I’m a bit in awe I have to say, being such a brand new blogger and all. My first response was excitement, and my next was more along the lines of what-was-I-thinking-I-can’t-take-an-8-month-old-baby-to-a-writer’s-festival. But I’ve just decided that I can, and that it’ll be ok. There’s plenty of couches scattered in that big undercover bit at Fed Square (perfect for breastfeeding), there’ll be a change table somewhere, and Sparrow will magically sleep through each of the minimum ten sessions I attend. Ah. Sleep.

I’m guessing that writers and audience alike may not feel particularly warm to either a crying, squirming, squealing, or singing baby. I wouldn’t have been, pre-baby. Note to self: paranoia and doing other people’s thinking for them whilst attending the festival will not be conducive to the kind of relaxed and inquiring state of mind I’d like to cultivate. More notes to self: everyone there was a baby who interrupted a grownup at some point. Sometimes childcare is a hard thing to get and babies need to travel with their Mamas. Sparrow might magically sleep through the sessions (yeah right). Even if every post ends up saying something like “the first five minutes of this session was amazing, and then I had to leave because…” that’s ok.

I’ve downloaded the app and made a must see list. It’s twenty-one sessions long, and that’s only because I couldn’t include anything after dark (Sparrow’s not so crash hot at going to sleep for the night without me).

Essential items (please feel free to add to this list in the comments): pram, ergo, cruskits, pear slices, blanket, quiet toys, food and water for me, all the other stuff that goes in a nappy bag, laptop, iPhone so I can dictate my posts as I think of them in case I can’t type, pen and paper for old school moments, a brave face, and the serenity prayer. No I’m not religious, but the serenity prayer is gold.

Fighting to write

Robert Smith playing live with The Cure at The...

Image via Wikipedia

I suspect some people may be questioning my sanity at signing up for a PhD with a baby and a small child (I certainly do in my darker moments). With enrolment day rapidly approaching, I’ve been thinking about why it seems to make sense. It makes sense because I have to fight to write.

I started writing poetry when I was in my teens. Dark stuff it was, mostly inspired by Sylvia Plath and written listening to The Cure and The Smiths. By the time I was twenty one or so I had gotten some work published and won a couple of things. I come from a family of (mad) writers and was headed that way myself. I thought that it had to be hard, this business of writing. Melancholic. Filled with pain. I also thought that I needed the perfect environment to write in, and the perfect writing practice. I wrote The Artist Way’s morning pages for a number of years in my early twenties. I would set myself up at my desk with my view and my music (more melancholic mix tapes), with my favourite pen and notebook, with Champion Ruby, a zippo and an ashtray. I would smoke and ponder and write. But I never really wrote. I wrote about wanting to write, I dreamt about being a writer, I sometimes talked about wanting to be a writer, but what was I writing? Beyond morning pages, not very much.

I’m writing more with a baby and a small child than I’ve written in a very long time. Sparrow still has bronchialitis and has been dripping snot and tears all day. He usually settles in about two minutes and sleeps pretty well. Tonight we put him into his cot at 6.30. It’s 8.10 and we’re still settling. In twenty minute shifts. So in the twenty minutes that my partner’s in with a very sad Sparrow patting and shushing and picking up and putting down, I’m writing this post. When lines of poetry enter my head (and I’m blessed that they often do) at the park, on a pram walk, in the supermarket, pushing a swing, I grab my iPhone and speak them into the voice recorder, then transcribe those lines at night. If Sparrow falls asleep in the car, I write in the driveway. It is never the perfect time, I will never have the perfect practice, but I’m actually writing. And for the first time in my life, I’m happy to call myself a writer. When people ask me what I do, it’s one of the things I say (without a smirk crossing  my lips or a twitch of embarrassment running through my torso).

My children have not driven me away from writing, they have turned me towards it. Every day I fight to write. I can’t afford to sit and ponder, to scribble and fiddle. I am forced to write in snatches and snippets, to be efficient, to value every spare minute, and that’s why I think a PhD and kids go together. Ok, so I’ll probably read this in a year and cringe at my naivety and optimism, but I’m willing to give this academia thing a bloody good try.

A walking poem

I’ve recently discovered that I can use the voice recorder on my iphone to catch lines of poetry that would otherwise float out and away. I’ve used the voice recorder before, but only to capture snippets of Monkey’s singing. I do lots of pram walks with Sparrow along the creek near my house, and this poem arrived, fully formed, last week. My partner has gone to pick up Monkey with a sleeping Sparrow in the car, so I’ve had 45 minutes alone in the house (I can’t remember the last time this happened). I could have done a load of washing, but I’ve chosen to transcribe this poem and post it instead.


Creek Walk

At dusk the men gather near the toilet

in the park that is a beat. I am

wearing my jeans and my boots and I wonder

am I safe? I am pushing my baby,

my dog is next to me and I wonder

am I safe? And I wonder how much can happen

to me between here, and there?

It is a dark part of the path. The wall

on one side, the creek on the other. The ducks landing,

sliding, sound sinister, suddenly. And I wonder

how much can happen, between here, and there?

Would I be pulled down from behind with a hand

around my neck? Because if you’d have asked

me, twenty years ago, I would have said

please. I was a thick girl in black tights,

in boots, waiting, to be taken.


But now I am thirty six. Now I have a child and a

baby and two dogs. Now I only hope

it will not rain so that we can all get to the park

in the day, in the sun, to fly your octopus kite.

Now I do not dare dream of disaster, but it

comes upon me, unbidden, anyway.