I've moved temporarily to a four day week - basically for as long as my workload and budget can sustain it. I've been wanting to do this for some time - I'm so tired all the time, and with wanting to visit my little niece on weekends when we can, there just isn't enough downtime at the end of the week for me to catch up. This weekend was the first proper long weekend of its kind, and while it wasn't exactly restful, it was what I wanted it to be.
On Saturday, we had been planning to visit my niece, but the whole family is sick and I'm singing in a concert next weekend, so it did not seem like a good time to get a throat infection, so we wound up going to see Wonder Woman instead, which was fun. I actually don't have very many thoughts about the film at all, I'm afraid. Most of my reading and media is pretty woman-centred, and I don't see a lot of films or read comics or follow superhero stuff, so I didn't have the whole feeling of it being groundbreaking that other people have talked about. But I did enjoy it, especially the whole training montage and that first fight sequence on the island. The bit where Diana walks across No Man's Land was also rather special. So yes, a fun movie, and I liked it, and I'm glad it makes people happy, but that's about it.
We got home from seeing the film, and I basically sat down and started to write my next Paris story, which had been haunting my brain all week, but which I hadn't actually had any time to work on. It's called Still Waking
, and is for Ternes station, and it's a Sleeping Beauty story. Since 'terne' means dull in French, and is also a word for an alloy coating of lead and tin that was historically used to cover steel and keep it from tarnishing, I gave Sleeping Beauty a sister who was her opposite - plain to the point that people would forget her features even when she was standing in front of them, strong and stubborn where Sleeping Beauty is charming and yielding, and of course awake while Sleeping Beauty is sleeping. Which is a good thing, because someone has to keep an eye on all of those princes. Some of them are not pleasant people at all.
I'm quite pleased with this one, and I think it's rather sweet, despite some dark moments. I was not expecting it to have the ending it did, so that was fun. It does have a lot of adult themes, but then, so does the original story.
(And it's kind of amusing to me, because I can see where the story was influenced by my visit to Darwin and by watching Wonder Woman, and by reading and disliking a bunch of Hugo nominated stories, but I don't think anyone else can...)
The other writing project this weekend was a lot less fun. A friend of mine is about to go through a very difficult court case, and asked me to write a character reference. I'm not going to go into any details here, except to say that it is deeply uncomfortable to write such a reference, even when you are saying positive things, particularly when it is for someone who has quite a different value system from your own. In many ways, you passing judgment on someone's character in a way that you would never do normally in the context of the friendship, and you have to step back from the friendship a bit to do so, which is disconcerting. I think she's OK with what I wrote. The one thing I do know for sure – since I was largely bearing witness to my friend's integrity and respect for the truth – is that she would never want me to compromise my own honesty in writing about her! And she does know that I am on her side, which is important.
Still weird, though.
On Sunday I had choir practice in the afternoon for the concert that we are doing next Saturday, and then went from there to an Iftar dinner organised by the Australian Greens and hosted by the local Muslim community. The goal of the event was to make an opportunity for non-Muslims to talk to Muslims, and generally to promote a sense of community, and I think it was definitely a good starting point. Though I did feel a bit weird at all the people who came and thanked us for being there – because really, all we did was show up, eat lots of lovely food and try to make conversation. As shows of solidarity go, this was a pretty easy one, really. And it worries me a little that this is considered a significant enough effort to be worth thanking people for.
But anyway, it was really lovely, and there was a good turnout, and of course the food was amazing (and ridiculously plentiful)! They asked us to get there a bit before sunset, and we sat at our long tables with our bottles of water and jugs of lemon drink and plates of dates in front of us, and they brought a split pea soup around, and then we sat there and waited for sunset, feeling thirsty but of course not drinking yet. A local imam did the call to prayer, and we ate, and then there were evening prayers, and then we ate even more, and then there were speeches by several local politicians and several leaders of the local Muslim community. I noticed that we had some excellent diversity - half the speakers were women, and most of the women were women of colour. And there was an opportunity to ask questions, and also just to talk to the people around us.
So that was a very pleasant way to spend an evening, and I'm very glad I got to do so (especially as I then woke up the next day to the news about the attack on worshippers near the mosque in Finley Park in London). My Muslim friend at work who let me know about this event has promised to let me know about any similar events that are on, and I think that's something I want to really work at being involved in.
And yesterday was my first, lovely, day at home! I had very grandiose plans, which were not achieved, largely because Mayhem decided at around 7am that she really wanted to sleep on my face, which was not restful. But I got a couple of loads of washing done, and went for a long walk, and had a massage, and did two hours of singing practice and spent two hours starting to clean out my pantry and reorganising my spice rack, and planned the weeks menus, and made dinner, and started planning my Europe trip... and actually when I list it all like that, I did get a fair bit done yesterday, didn't I? Just not any of the writing/research that I had hoped to start on, so apparently, the rest doesn't count. Hmm...
Also a random recommendation. We've recently discovered Sammy J's Playground Politics
, which is a cross between Play School (an Australian children's TV classic) and political satire, and it is hilarious and horrifying and brilliant. We've basically watched all the episodes (most of which go for five minutes) over the last few days. I think my favourite is Musical Pollies
, which serves as an excellent introduction to Australian politics, if you recognise any of the names...
He has a new show now, called Sammy J's Democratic Party, which is a full-length show, but which always includes some of the Playground Politics stuff. Which in my view is the best bit by far...
I'll get back to the Hugo reading soon, I promise. I took a break from it last week, because I had cramps and felt terrible, and because I kept on running into short stories which had really horrible things happening in them and I just didn't want any more of that in my head. But one must be brave in the service of democracy, so hopefully I'll finish the Campbells sometime this week...