Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not drowning... waving!

If you're bored and need someone to laugh at/obsessively watch, then this is the web-cam for you!

It's set up in front of the Duke Kahanamoku statue at Waikiki Beach and allows people to stand in front of it and organise for their loved ones to watch them do so. Intriguing to say the very least. When I was there, folk would stand in front of the camera while talking to their girlfriends on their mobile phones;

"Can you see me? I'm waving! No, no, I'm in a blue T-shirt..."

And if you get bored of this one, then go to the link that takes you to other Honolulu web-cams including the ever interesting 'Live City Council Meetings' camera and 'Traffic Hot Spots'.

Hours of fun for everyone!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Write on sister, write on.

A few weeks ago, I was in a busy (and expensive!) cafĂ© in Byron, waiting to meet friends for lunch. I was on my own, but I’d purposely arrived early to have a coffee and write down a couple of things I’d been thinking about. So I pulled out my slightly dog-eared notebook and, pen in hand, scrawled across the pages.

The waitress eventually came along with my coffee and, as she put it down on the table, had the unfortunate urge to speak…

“Is that ‘Dear Diary’ or are you doing work?”

I took a breath and slowly raised my eyes to give her a deeply patronising look over the rim of my glasses. I also raised one eyebrow and pursed my lips. She retreated.

The inference that dripped off her tongue (along with the sarcasm) was that one reason for my writing would have been acceptable and the other one, lame. Why exactly? Why would one be better than the other? Why is it ok to work in public but not to write for pleasure?

Work, I suppose (and this, I admit, is conjecture) has currency in its contribution back to the economic world. Even though I was sitting in one of the symbols of middle-class luxury and relaxation, as long as it is ‘work’ then it’s ok with her.

The other option, journal writing, is clearly lame in this context. It’s time-wasting, has no final goal and is the practice of travellers and romantics: silly, time-wasting and slightly pathetic, it should be hidden from view, carried out instead in the privacy of one’s dorm-bed or home. Why is this so? Writing isn’t a particularly noisy process. It doesn’t disturb those around you and it isn’t hazardous to anyone’s health (unless you are Perez Hilton).

Yes, yes I understand that I may just be taking this all a little seriously, but it’s not the first time that this scenario has arisen. I have always been a writer, whether it be stories, journals, letters or something with more substance, and often I write at restaurants, galleries, on buses and trains and ferries, and very often, I write while I sit on my own and drink a coffee. There is, funnily enough, little to distract me and I am left alone with my head, and these end up being the places where I find I am inspired. Is that so lame? I always carry at least one notebook in my bag and must admit I carry a variety of pens. I love it. And then sometimes I’m a full-blown nerd on my computer too. For years I didn’t have an internet connection at my house, so I became a familiar sight at the local restaurants that counted wireless connections amongst their assets. I would sit on my laptop and surf the net and spend happy hours writing and hanging out. Good times I tell you.

Writing, for me, isn’t necessarily such a privately conducted thing. Indeed, it depends on what I’m writing and where I’m writing from, but I find that being in a more public space frees me up somewhat. When I write around people, I don’t feel like there is so much importance on what I put down. The noise, chatter and movement around me becomes a part of the rhythm of the whole moment for me and often I find there is more music and life in my words that if they have been composed in the silent confines of a walled and solo space. When I sit in public places and write, it feels more like a conversation and less like a soliloquy, more engaged and less like a self-indulgent rumination. There is inspiration and colour and music and laughter and these are the things that move me. When I am in the world, I remember the bigger picture and that I am simply a small piece of this – don’t get too caught up in yourself Rebecca because you’re simply a girl in the world.

Because, I don’t know about you, but inspiration rarely floods me as I stare at a wall, or as I sit in an office chair for hours on end. Most usually, I feel most joyfully inspired as I walk around the city, or on the beach, look at art, listen to music, watch people go about their day or sit with my mind at ease and slowed down. When I can write in my very particular flowing (some would say, illegible) hand in passages that are meant only for me, or a loved one. Or I can scratch down an idea that I can build on later. The first words of this were drawn with pencil on scrap paper as the waitress in question turned and left me in peace (with the descriptive word, ‘bi-atch’, grandly filling in the bottom of the page).

So, if that silly, small-minded and rather rude waitress doesn’t approve of me scrawling out a half page of notes to myself, then what a dolt! She is missing out on something that is such a simple pleasure and which really is something that isn’t all that unusual.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A whale of a time...

Gracious me, I love books! And call me romantic, but I love them even more when they're old and scabby and need to be read again so that their purpose can once more be fulfilled and they can be brought back to life and you can remember why they spoke to you the first time around.

"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos gets such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it is high time to get to the sea as soon as I can."

Yo dat, Herman Melville. Yo dat.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

One for the nay-sayers

I left my place early on Saturday morning, tied my board to the roof and headed towards the ocean. I was feeling shitty and tired and cranky and wanted, nay, needed to find a wave. Any wave.

I checked a couple of places on the way down and bumped into a friend who confirmed the tiny swell-status of the day and sent me off to the last bastion - into town...

I pulled up at Wategos and silently screamed - my last stop was small, lumpy and on-shore. I sat and stared and stared and decided to go out anyway because there wasn't a single person out there. That's right, empty Wategos, not a soul to be seen. It was crap, but at least I wouldn't be competing for crap.

I paddled out and (surprise, surprise) started to feel better. The water was clear and warm-ish, the sun was beating down and the wind wasn't too bad actually. There was a big pod of dolphins feeding and leaping about and a huge turtle was lurking about underneath me. And, as it happened, I got wave, after wave, after, wave. Indeed, they were small and messy, but they were fun and they were all mine.


After about half an hour, a couple of other people came out to partake in the mess-fest, so the moment passed. But the moment ruled while it lasted.

The best bit though was when I spoke to this chick who was catching the white-wash in by the shore and who I'd never met before. She called out to me and told me that she'd been watching me from the beach earlier on. She'd decided not to come out because she thought I looked like I was having so much fun and she wanted to leave it all to me! So she sat on the beach and waited until some other people joined me in the water before she did too. Generous much? She wasn't anywhere near where I was surfing, but she still left me to it. I can't say I would have done the same.

Magic happens? Practice random acts of kindness? The kindness of strangers? Witches do it in a cirlce? Whatever. That cat has been reading her Byron bumper-stickers.

And what a lady!