Tag Archives: messy desk

Clean Desk, Clear Mind…

The day isn’t over yet, and it is entirely possible that I could have a clean desk, and a clear mind before the moon sets. I’m just not so sure about the kitchen table. At this point, it’s been buried and more like a case of RIP. Then again, there might just be enough air pockets to sustain life. Indeed, I can just detect a feeble heartbeat.

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This is where I could have been today.

Just to clarify things a little. It’s Monday afternoon here and it’s a public holiday to celebrate what has become the mythical eight hour day. Being Spring with a bright blue sky and lashings of sunshine, we could be down the road at the beach right now. However, Geoff had the audacity to remind me that I still haven’t cleared my desk to set up the stereo we bought last December. It’s only October. A full year hasn’t expired yet. In terms of procrastination, this job is only half baked.

So, instead of going to the beach and carpe diem seizing the day for pleasure and relaxation, the day has grabbed me by the short and curlies and taken everything off my desk and dumped it onto the kitchen table for sorting. The desk is looking fantastic and leaping for joy in shocked amazement. I can now see a gloriously clean wood grain finish and I’m listening to Icehouse. The stereo is all systems go and my in-tray is an empty as a dry creek bed in a drought.

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Shame about the kitchen table. Moreover, it just struck me that I have somehow been diverted into writing about this earth-shattering cleanup exercise and photographing the evidence while the kitchen table is beyond gasping on life support. However, don’t worry. This is just a perfectly natural phase of procrastinating. Nothing has collapsed…yet!

There are certain truths they leave out of declutter manuals. Of course, we’ve all heard about their do-gooder deeds: “Something in, something out”, “If you haven’t used it in six months, toss it”. Indeed, the zealots have turned decluttering into a religion, don’t you think? They even have confession.

However, all of this just leaves me a sinner. If our stuff actually manages to get off the ground at all, it’s more likely to be a case of only moving from A to B. Indeed, we’ve perfected the “Great Declutter Shuffle”. Yes, much of my stuff is very well travelled moving from one part of the house to another. Goodness knows how far some of the stuff I’ve picked up at the op shop travelled before it actually reached me? Much of it could well have a full passport and a truckload of postcards from a lifetime of travel.

I shouldn’t jest.

This is a serious business. I need to clean up my act. Having clear real estate on my desk feels so much better. I feel cleansed. All sorted. Ready to tackle all those outstanding writing projects. Indeed, this could well be the jolt I need to finally get some runs on the board and venture further afield with my writing than my blog. There are so many opportunities out there. As many possibilities as stars in the sky and yet I’m hiding behind my pile of books…all written by someone else.

Well, I guess that’s my cue to exit stage left and work out where the hell all that crap’s going to go and how and what we’re going to have for dinner. As much as I’m tempted to  throw the lot out, I’ve stumbled across some great memories and I really can’t understand these people who keep nothing? Do they even exist?

Are you a clean desk or messy desk person? Does it make a difference to your capacity to think and write? Get things done? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS The sun has just set and the pile on the kitchen table is steadily shrinking. Hey, the table cloth is even starting to peer through without compromising the wood grain on the desk. The in-tray isn’t empty anymore. I’ve set up two folders. One with letters and bits and pieces and the other has short stories I’m working on. There’s also a stack of notebooks. Consolidation required. It does feel good!

 

Weekend Coffee Share – October 1st, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Pinch and a punch for the first day of the month. No returns.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, could I offer you a stick? Well, I’m not exactly the one offering you the stick. That’d be Rosie whose dropped the stick right on my keyboard for you. Zac’s parked himself a bit further back but though he’s hiding in the boon docks, he’s just as keen. Lady, our 6 year old Border Collie x Cavalier couldn’t care less about chasing sticks or tennis balls. She parked herself next to a bag of dog food for the afternoon desperately willing it to levitate and magically fill up her bowl.

It’s now Monday night here and today was the Labor Day Long Weekend here in NSW and Geoff had the day off. The kids are on their first week of school holidays. We couldn’t quite get ourselves organized to go away. Amelia will be in a dance production next week and the kids are taking turns staying with my parents in Sydney. Term 4 gets incredibly busy for us what with dance concert, sailing and Christmas. So, I just feel like l needed to get things sorted out at home and start the term ahead, not from behind. I remember getting back from holidays the night before school went back when the kids were younger and she could sort of get away with it. Now, there’s so much to grapple with and get under our belts and I just want us all to pass muster.

On Saturday, Geoff and I drove over to Pearl Beach about 15 minutes drive away. We’d planned to go to the Pearl Beach Food & Wine Festival but got the date wrong and went to an art exhibition instead and then went for a walk along the beach and onto the rock platform, camera poised. I picked up on the limpets which seemed to be sitting on the edge of a pool sunning themselves. Their miniature underwater wonderland was quite mesmerizing.

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The  Pearl Beach Garage Sale.

Driving back from Pearl Beach, we stopped in at an art and garage sale. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven, although for some of you, you’d probably think it was a funny kind of heaven. Three artists lived in the house. The garage sale was on one side, which looked like something out of my grandparents’ place and I could’ve bought the place out if I had the money and the space. One of the artists took dressmaking mannequins, laquered them and turned them into lamps. They were stunning and so unique. My grandmother had one of those things and used to make me dresses. Indeed, her mother was an accomplished dressmaker and used to make my grandmother’s gowns for her piano recitals. I have a thing for antique and vintage sheet music and they had a pack of 60’s Beatles sheet music with Can’t Buy Love on the top. I really wanted it but came across an antique photo frame with waratahs carved into the wood. This is the only one of these antique carved frames I’ve ever seen which has depicted Australian fauna. I’ve studied Australian cultural history at uni and ever since and really believe Australians need to know their own culture. I put that under a very broad heading because we’re a very diverse people but when I’ve travelled overseas, I’ve known that there’s something, that mysterious X-factor which runs through us. Hold us together.

Oops. I was supposed to be giving you a bird’s eye view of this garage sale, not beating you over the head with a sermon about what it means to be Australian. As we pulled up out the front, we couldn’t miss the laminex table with orange vinyl chairs. I remember having something very similar as a kid and being overjoyed when it found its way to the tip. Yet, I was so excited to see it again and if we didn’t already have about three tables surplus to requirements, I would’ve brought it home. I quite literally felt my heart jump out of my chest when I saw it. I must be a fairly simple soul, because it wasn’t anything flash, designer or unique. It was just a memory. A kitchen table. Our kitchen table.The heart of the home. Geez, I’m a sentimental sod and it’s no wonder the place is packed to the rafters.

I was pouring over all the stuff and came across a violin. As you might be aware, I’ve been learning the violin for about five years but lately my confidence has taken a nose dive and I’ve been feeling self-conscious. I think I’ve outgrown beginner’s pluck and am much more conscious of my mistakes rather than being thrilled to play anything at all. However, a moment of madness, or to be honest it was the real me breaking out because I’m a performer at heart. An extrovert. Someone was interested in buying it and taking up the violin at 51 and I did my very best to convert her to what must surely be one of the most difficult, cantankerous and beautiful instruments in the world. I tried to play a few bars of Danny Boy, which I’m preparing for the end of year concert but without the music I was flying blind. It was fun though and more like a stand-up performance.

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The kitchen table mid clean-up.

Today, was D- Day. That is D for Desk and this was operation clean-up my desk to set up the stereo Geoff bought me last Christmas. It’s been sitting in its box all that time, which I know was an incredible waste but in addition to finding room for it, I also had to set it up and that was a huge unknown. I hate anything technical and Geoff’s been so busy plus he always seems to want me to do these things for myself when all I want, is for him to take care of it. I’ve never felt the need to learn how to change a tyre either. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in feminism or equality. I’m sure there are a lot of men who can’t change a tyre either. No one has to do it all. Fit all of humanity in their own two shoes. Indeed, we can’t. That’s why we have community.

Anyway, I’ve managed to set up the stereo and spent the afternoon listening to Icehouse: Man of Colours while carting stuff in between my desk, the kitchen table and the bin.

These cleanups are all great at the beginning when you’re making great progress. However, as the hours go by and you’re down to the nitty-gritty sorting and there’s no end in sight, it all seems like a very bad idea. Yet, this blitzkreig or clear-felling approach to sorting out my desk has been tried and tested. It works, but the mess gets so bad that you really wonder if you’ll ever find the surface of the kitchen table again.

Creative Genius at Work

For some strange reason, this desk is looking more than a trifle staged. BTW do you like my creative genius?

Well, the kitchen table wasn’t even clear beforehand. I’ve started packing up our lounge room so we can replace the flooring and I had half a dozen items on there which still needed to be packed up. They’re now gone back where they came from for the time being. Rome wasn’t deconstructed and rebuilt in a day.

Well, the table passed muster and we had supermarket lasagna for dinner to keep things simple.

In terms of this week’s posts, I shared about a new stick swing Geoff built for the pups in Exhausting A Working Dog. For Thursday Doors, we went back to Penguin in Tasmania for Penguin Doors. Then, for Friday Fictioneers, I wanted to incorporate Macbeth into my plot this week, after re-reading it during the week to encourage my son who has had to study Shakespeare for the first time at school in The Wake. Finally, I wrote about our trip to Pearl Beach

How was your week? I look forward to catching up with you and thanks for popping round to join me.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Creative Inspiration…Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies

As I mentioned in my last post, I am currently reading Tim Harford’s: Messy: How to be Creative & Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World.

In Chapter 1 on Creativity, Harford introduced me to “Oblique Strategies”. They are intended as a creative tool for musicians and were developed by legendary producer Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt – the pair originally both came up with the same idea independently in 1975, and joined forces to make it a reality.

Oblique Strategies is a deck of cards, about 7×9 cm in size, supplied in a small black box labelled “OBLIQUE STRATEGIES”. The cards themselves are black on one side, white on the other, and have obscure, cryptic aphorisms printed on the front in small letters.

Eno’s own description explains the idea very well:

“The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, “Don’t forget that you could adopt *this* attitude,” or “Don’t forget you could adopt *that* attitude.”

Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies – the Ultimate Music Production Tool

By the way, Brian Eno had found fame as Roxy Music’s crazy Keyboard player and had also created a new sonic aesthetic called ambient music.bowie-heroesEno used the cards in song writing sessions in Berlin with David Bowie and Tony Visconti and Messy tells how “the strange chaotic working process produced two of the decades most critically acclaimed albums, Low and Heroes, along with Iggy Pop’s most respected work, The Idiot and Lust for Life, which Bowie co-wrote and benefited from the same messy approach.”

Here’s a few examples of what’s written on the cards:

  • Use an old idea.
  • State the problem in words as clearly as possible.
  • Only one element of each kind.
  • What would your closest friend do?
  • What to increase? What to reduce?
  • Are there sections? Consider transitions.
  • Try faking it!
  • Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
  • Ask your body.
  • Work at a different speed.

Have you ever tried using the Oblique Strategy cards?

I am thinking about buying a pack but will make a few of my own cards first and see how it goes.

I’d be interested in your feedback.

xx Rowena