these four weeks

My department manager has been away “on holidays” for the last four weeks, but, although there are obvious benefits of her absence (which I won’t elaborate on here), it has not so much been her absence but the presence of certain others that has given me the conviction that these four weeks are among the best weeks I’ve ever had, and will have, in my pharmacy career. (This is a big call, but I wouldn’t be writing it down if I didn’t truly believe it. And, you know, even if this doesn’t always hold true, it is enough, for me, that it was true at this point in time.)   Continue reading

shared spaces

Ok, I’m going to write about this because I said I would, and it’s been over a week, and by the time this is scheduled to be published, it will have been two weeks, so I’m just gonna do it now.

At some time around the middle of March, I went to a panel discussion about women in architecture. I actually do remember seeing an ad for the talk somewhere, sometime ago, but I don’t know much about architecture, and I don’t have any specific interest in architecture, so, although I thought it might be interesting, I didn’t think about going. As it so happened, an architect friend of mine, who was going to go to the talk, and had tickets for it, sent out a group message the morning of the event, advising that she could no longer attend, and offering her tickets to whoever wished to take them.

This also happened to be the opening week-end of Brewsvegas as well as the final day of the World Science Festival, and I’d be out and about anyway, so, without really thinking about it, I accepted her offer, and she emailed the tickets over to me. After the eye-opening experience of attending one of the World Science Festival talks, I was pretty keen to see what insight this talk could give me. The event was also loosely tied in with International Women’s Day, which, if I remember correctly, had been the week before (?), and I thought that, if nothing else, my attendance would sort of be like a show of support for female architects.  Continue reading

an open door

Back in September last year, I wrote that, hypothetically, given a year left to live, I would like to share my blog more. I must admit that, since then, I haven’t shared it to any great extent, but at least I’ve shared it more than I used to (which was practically not at all).

It’s kind of hard, though, going from pretending like my blog doesn’t exist, and not really having a solid answer for those times when people ask me what on earth I do with my spare time, to actually telling people I have a blog. I find that, of the few times I have shared this part of me with friends, that I tend to try to slip it casually into the conversation. It’s almost as if I’m hoping people won’t give it a second thought, but secretly I’m relishing the fact that people I know in real life have any sort of interest in the random things that I’m writing here.  Continue reading

porcupines & donkeys

I feel like a lot of my recent posts have been rather “thought-heavy” – by which I mean that they seem to be heavy with thoughts. (That makes sense, right?) With this in mind, I’ve been meaning to post something a bit more light-hearted and whimsical to kind of balance it out.

Something else that seems a bit unusual about my blog lately, is the absence of book-related posts. The last post to be filed under the “books” category was written at the start of January! That’s two and a half months since I wrote anything significant about books! The main reason for this is, of course, that I’m still making my way through David Copperfield, which is an incredibly long novel. (I generally prefer to wait until I’ve finished an entire novel before posting anything about it.)

Having made these observations about the state of my blog, I’ve finally decided that, tonight, I’d do something to remedy it.

Charles Dickens has held the post of my most favourite author for many years. I believe the first Dickens novel I read was Oliver Twist, which my class studied in grade 10 English. Afterwards, having thoroughly enjoyed everything about his writing – the style, construction, character development, etc, etc – I proceeded to read A Tale of Two Cities, and then Great Expectations. I’ve also read The Old Curiosity Shop (although I’ll admit that this one did not have quite as great an impact, or leave quite as strong an impression upon me, as the other two).

I will acknowledge, of course, that 19th Century literature isn’t for everyone, but so many “classics” were written around this era, and the wit and profundity contained in these works is incredible (in my opinion, anyway).

But let’s not get too far into that. I want to keep this post relatively “light”, and wanted to mention the above simply as a preface to the short excerpts that I wanted to share. But, first, in my typical way, there’s still a bit of preamble to get through:

I do a lot of my reading in public places, around other people: on the bus, at train stations, at cafes/restaurants, in waiting rooms, and, very occasionally, at the cafeteria at work during my lunch breaks. Consequently, I am often in these public places when I come across particularly amusing moments contained within whatever novel I happen to be reading, and often cannot help grinning as I read through these. Far from being embarrassing, however, I find that I tend to be further amused by the very situation, and am compelled to grin all the more. Not surprisingly, this has happened many times while reading David Copperfield.

To appreciate the amusement I derived from the below quote, you don’t really need to know anything about the story, but I would like it to be known that it is spoken by Thomas Traddles, a friend of the novel’s eponymous protagonist. The two of them are on their way to meet important people (it does not matter who, but, if you must know, they are Dora’s aunts), and David kindly implores Thomas to smooth down his hair. Thomas’s response is thus:

“Nothing will induce it… You have no idea what obstinate hair mine is, Copperfield. I am quite a fretful porcupine.”

(I just think it’s funny that he called himself a porcupine.)

Another amusing character is David’s aunt, Betsey Trotwood, who displays innumerable eccentricities. One of the first of these that we are introduced to is her ongoing war against donkeys trespassing on her front lawn:

The one great outrage of her life, demanding to be constantly avenged, was the passage of a donkey over that immaculate spot.

And I could go on, but it’s getting late, and it’s just started raining, and those two things combined are clearly a sign that I should go lie in bed and listen to the rain (and, I dunno, maybe sleep as well).

a summary of findings

I get quite a buzz whenever I encounter anything very thought-provoking – whether it be another blog, a novel, a quote, or, as was the case on the week-end, a talk. More specifically, it was a panel discussion that was part of the World Science Festival. (I also randomly attended one that was kind of linked to International Women’s Day, but it might be a while before I get around to posting about it.)

I went to this talk/discussion/whatever-you-want-to-call-it on Saturday, and I’ve been thinking about what they discussed, and I’ve realised that there is so much that I want to write about. And what a wonderful feeling that is!

Continue reading

redefined

I am a bit of a nerd. Now, I know that’s not really much of a revelation, but what is, is that I sometimes go through days, and even weeks, when I don’t feel like learning about things, or doing anything for the betterment of my education. When I was finishing up at uni, in my final year of Pharmacy, I thought that I could easily return to student life, and that I would be able to do so with the same enthusiasm I somehow maintained for four years through a degree that everyone else seemed to complain incessantly about. (I’m just kidding – it wasn’t that bad. The complaining, that is.)

But after finishing my internship, and working full-time for a while, and discovering all these wonderful things I could do outside of work now that I had a full-time job – after all that I just couldn’t picture myself going back to uni again. Certainly not as a full-time student, anyway. And somewhere along the line, my lust for learning seems to have tarnished somewhat.

However, when, earlier in the year, I heard that the World Science Festival was coming to Brisbane, I got pretty excited. And then I wondered what on earth the World Science Festival actually was…

Well, as it turns out, it’s a bunch of talks and exhibits and things, involving renowned science people from around the world, converging in one place to disseminate knowledge to the masses. (Sorry, I’m not sure why I’m being so wordy tonight. Perhaps attending the WSF has inflated my sense of my own intelligence.)

Scrolling through the events list, one that immediately caught my eye was the so-called “signature event” titled “Madness redefined: Creativity, intelligence and the dark side of the mind”. As one speaker on the day pointed out, it’s not the most politically correct title, but it certainly is intriguing.

I’ve never been diagnosed with a mental illness (self-diagnoses and jocular ones from friends don’t count), but I do have a fascination with all things related to the inner workings of the mind. I would also like to think, if I am permitted to do so without seeming immodest, that I am, in some way, creative and also intelligent; so I thought for sure this would be the one event I had to go to. And it did not disappoint.

And to think that I almost didn’t go because I had to pay $30 to attend! Perhaps I’m too used to feeling like education should be free (what with HECS or HELP or whatever they’re calling it now – that government loan thing that means we don’t have to pay for uni until after we’ve graduated and have secured a job that pays enough to pay the government).

So today, on a whim (but also quite determinedly), I went to the Convention Centre where the talk was to be held, and I bought myself a ticket, and I sat down in this auditorium full of, presumably, other nerds, and maybe people with various mental illnesses, and people who would wish to be considered creative.

Buying my ticket (I’m surprised it wasn’t sold out), I was feeling good that I was doing something for myself – something to improve that aspect of my life that has been a bit neglected lately. Despite being worried that my attention and concentration wouldn’t hold out for the 90 minutes that the talk was scheduled for (not to say anything of my stomach, as the talk was 12pm, and I hadn’t had a chance to acquire any food beforehand), sitting in the auditorium, waiting for the talk to start, I felt some of that enthusiasm and eagerness for learning that I’d had back in my uni days.

To be fair, the Pharmaceutical Society have held some very interesting lectures and workshops, in the years that I’ve been a member, that have evoked this same sort of feeling; so it wasn’t special in this sense. As good as it was, it probably still wasn’t enough to make me want to go back to uni and complete a second degree, so it wasn’t revelatory in this way either.

What struck me the most was actually a feeling very similar to one that I got from attending The Script’s concert last year: it was this wonder and awe that there were so many other people (complete strangers!) that had come together in this one space because of a shared interest. That is an incredible feeling. I suppose it’s almost like belonging and anonymity mixed together.

And as for the actual content of the talk, I’m still ruminating on that, so it’ll have to be a separate post.