Sunday, May 24, 2009

Moving, Movies and Managing a Website

Wow, it does not seem like it has been 2 weeks since I've written... not exactly sure what I've done... I finished my culture class paper... hopefully it turned out okay because I only have grades for 2 classes this semester... haven't found out either one yet... I finished my senior honors proposal (I'm going to make a travel guide for the Hudson River Valley geared toward college students there)... and I finished my application to Doctors Without Borders for the fall... I really hope I get it! I moved to Glebe and finished the Twilight series (hate to admit it, but I loved it).

I also walked to Bondi Beach from work to see it at sunset --

much farther than I had anticipated! I watched Slumdog Millionaire, which I loved and The Jane Austin Book Club, which I also loved, both of those just for fun. I watched Prey (terrible Aussie horror film, my review here), Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (better than I expected), Shall We Kiss? and Land of the Lost all for the internship... now that I think about it, other than the month I was couch-ridden from my jaw surgery, I have probably watched more movies this month than ever before.
I've written countless reviews and articles for
FILMINK (Offing David, Surrealism Soars) and ran the website last week when Rhiannon left. It was a pretty good week at work because I was so busy all the time. All week I've been trying to go swing dancing, but every night when I get home from work I am just too tired, and I'm starting to get sick, so I figured it wasn't the best idea... maybe next week, or when Alex is here!
The highlight of the last two weeks was yesterday's Sydney Writer's Festival. I picked out a few free sessions I wanted to see and one paid event - "Spoken 4" - a slam poetry performance. I was a little bit late, so I missed the first session, but it actually worked out perfectly, because then I got to go to "Will The Real Writers Please Stand Up?" which was spoken word performers
Sarah Blasko (singer/songwriter), Miles Merrill (a slammer from Chicago and founder of The Australian Poetry Slam), Chris Bray (adventure writer who crossed an island in the Arctic Circle) and Emmanuel Jal (Sudanese "Lost Boy" hop hop artist/writer) talking about who gets to call themselves a writer and why. Sarah Blasko sang and had a beautiful voice, Miles Merrill doubled as moderator and preformed a poem about racism in Australia (which made me realize that Aboriginal jokes do NOT go over well here), Chris Bray read excerpts from his adventures and Emmanuel Jal stole the show with his performance.
From the Writer's Festival Website: "He was seven years old when he was taken from his family home to become a child soldier with the rebel army in Sudan. Put into battle in Ethiopia, Emmanuel was beaten, starved and brutalized. He tried to escape but was hunted down and imprisoned. He was rescued by a British aid worker
who smuggled him into Nairobi. Now a hip hop artist, Emmanuel has won worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation. His music can be heard alongside Coldplay, Gorillaz and Radiohead on the fundraising album Warchild: Help a Day in the Life. He also featured on John Lennon’s Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur with the likes of U2, REM and Lenny Kravitz. His first book is War Child: A Boy Soldier's Story." He had the entire audience standing up and dancing - even a little toddler who was loving his music. His message was so touching and it will stay with me forever.
I also went to a session with three authors who write historical fiction, the most interesting one being Nava Semel, award-winning Israeli author who has written a book through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor's grandchild. The festival was surprisingly well-attended, and I ended up having to change my schedule while I was there because you had to wait in line for a half an hour usually in order to get a seat at each session.
My last free session was "The Power of Performing Your Words" which was "five writers who perform their work in myriad ways perform live, dissect how and why they do it, and discuss performance as an alternative to publishing." It featured Sonya Renee (US National Individual Poetry Slam Champ -- awesome),

Tom Gleeson (stand-up comedian and writer -- hysterical), Edwina Blush (poet/singer/writer -- kinda strange) and Tug Dumbly (who I am equivilating with Troy of the Galway Players -- the founder of slam poetry in Sydney, essentially -- a bitter jerk who can write well), with participating chair Miles Merrill (that same guy from before -- kinda dorky, but a good writer). They all preformed awesomely and had a good conversation about spoken word.
I had some time to kill in between that session and the night-time slam performance, so I grabbed some wedges (with sweet chili sauce (which is starting to grow on me) and sour cream, of course) and sat in the lobby, writing in my notebook, people watching, and listening to the pianist.
After that, I headed over to the next pier (the whole festival took place in Walsh Bay on the finger wharves, which was really neat) for "Spoken 4," which featured Sonya Renee, Tug Dumbly, Edwina Blush and Omar Musa (2008 Australian National Poetry Slam champion whose poems reminded me of LAS's own Richard Frias (2-time Poetry Slam champ). I loved all of their performances, especially Sonya and Omar's.

All in all, it was a really awesome day and confirmed that I am capable of doing things on my own. Now it's time to bed before a long week at the internship before Alex comes on Friday!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ahh... a moment of relief

Well, 3,930 words later, I am DONE with my paper for my online class -- finished a whole HOUR before the deadline... pretty impressive... unfortunately I spent most of the last week and a half working on it and wishing I was outside, as it has been beautiful in Sydney. But now that I'm done with that essay I get to... start the next one... this one is due tomorrow though, so I just have to work fast and it'll be over with. It is a comparison of the way Americans and Australians treat immigrants, so hopefully it will be pretty interesting to write, and I'm pretty much guaranteed an A in the class, so there's not too much pressure...
The internship this week was mostly boring, but on Wednesday, things picked up. I got to go to a breakfast launch for Playstation with Rhiannon and we had free yummy food, got free 4 gb jump drives, and enjoyed a morning out of the office. When I got back, I finished up an article, learned how to update part of the website (because when Rhiannon leaves in a week, I'll essentially be taking over her job), and then at about 3:00, she asked if I'd be willing to do an interview that afternoon with Michael Lawrence, producer of the most popular Australian doco (film lingo for documentary) - Bra Boys about the surfer gangs of Marourba Beach. He and his team recently partnered with VAS entertainment, the biggest action-sport film producers, based in L.A. I didn't feel that great, but it didn't seem like it was going to be that big of a deal, so I said sure, and started whipping up some questions. Dov (our publisher) kept forwarding me emails from his agent with updates about when we could do the interview and how, and then all of a sudden, around 4:30, she said, actually let's switch it to 5:15 so that the entire team can be in on it on conference call. Eek! All of a sudden I was going to be managing an interview with 3 people on speaker phone, with not that great of questions and a head cold. After I calmed down, I did a bit more research, added some questions, and made the call. It went really well (despite me dropping the iPod recording device about 5 minutes in and having it disconnect... minor glitch) and I think I'll be able to write a pretty good article about it. I have to pitch the idea to the publisher on Monday so they can decide whether it should just be for the website or whether it will go in the mag (publishing lingo for magazine ;-)). I can't believe I only have 12 days left at the internship (9 of those without Rhiannon :-().
On Friday, I took a break from working on my essay to head into the city to meet my friend Maxine who was visiting from Melbourne. I met she and two of her friends in Darling Harbour, grabbed some Thai take-away and grabbed a seat at the Darling Harbour's 21st Anniversary spectacular... I made up that name, but it was something like that. We weren't sure what to expect, but we weren't disappointed. When the show started at 7:15 (keep in mind it's pitch-black by then now that it's getting to be winter), four jet skis zoomed out from under the bridge and started shooting out fire and then fireworks, all weaving around each other.
(These are the four jet skis, shooting out fireworks.)

There was quite a long fireworks show, some launched from the jetskis, some from the land, all of it fantastic.

After the show, we sat on the steps for a while and chatted, and then I had to head back home to finish up my essay.
Tomorrow is Mother's Day and our host mom gets back from Kansas, so that will be fun. We are going to get her flowers and a card. Also, a Brazilian girl is moving into the homestay tomorrow, so Isabel and I have to move out of our room tonight. But for Isabel, it will just be two nights, because she is leaving to go back to Spain on Monday, and then I move to Glebe on Saturday! Busy week ahead!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Post-Vacation Slump

This week has consisted of dragging myself out of the post-vacation slump, as I like to call it. I am so spoiled, that returning to Sydney, Australia can put me into a grumpy mood, but it has. All of the excitement of seeing new places, eating at new restaurants, seeing beautiful views, is gone. Also, I have quite a lot of work to do (nothing compared to if I was at Marist right now, but compared to the rest of the semester, a lot) that I just can't seem to start. The earliest deadline is Friday, May 8 (which is really May 9 for me because it's on Eastern time), but it is a 10-12 page paper that I could potentially do a really thorough job on, if I leave enough time, so I really need to get started on that one. Following that, I have a 4 page paper due for my culture class due on May 10, a proposal for my honors project due on May 20, and my 8-10 page internship paper (pass/fail -- how am I going to find motivation for that one?!) that I want to finish before Alex gets here. I also need to be working on my cover letter for the internship I am applying for for the fall semester. Slightly overwhelmed. More frustrating is that I have had all week to start all of these, and I have found thousands of ways to procrastinate instead... some of these ended up being great though. On Thursday night, I dragged myself out of bed, into the shower, and into the city to meet up with Isabel and all of her friends from her English-language school. I talked with people from Brazil, Germany, France, Korea, Japan, Spain... I think that's it. It was such an eye-opening night, and I got to learn about so many different cultures. Then, Friday, for some reason I was motivated to exercise when I woke up and decided to go on a run. I mapped out where I would go, my destination: the Sugarloaf Bay. The map was somewhat unclear on how close I would actually be able to get to the bay, but I decided to try. I ran/power walked to the head of the trail and then ventured in. On the trail, I saw beautiful wildflowers (some that I have not encountered before -- and I didn't bring my camera :-(), huge spiders and big rock outcroppings. I almost gave up before I made it to the bay, but I decided to power on to the place that was marked by a lookout icon on the map. It was a beautiful spot and I decided to stop to take a rest. On my way back, I happened to look into one of the trees, and saw a bird that I thought looked like an owl. I was pretty sure it couldn't be, because it was daytime, but I asked my hostdad when I got back, and he named the owl he thought it was (which of course, I can't remember now...). I just stopped and watched it for about 3 minutes, and it didn't fly away. So cool. I made my way back to the house, ate, showered, and then went into the city to meet Isabel and Hiroko - the Japanese girl who is living in the homestay too. We walked to Circular Quay and the Opera House, trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to get some pictures of the bridge, opera house and city at night.

Then, we walked across the bridge and took in the brightly-lit skyline.
Petra had made us dinner that we had when we finally got home (we HATE the 208 bus which takes us far out of the way, making it take forever to get home) - pasta with mushrooms and ham - very yummy!