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Heightened – by Tabitha

22 Feb

On the weekend, a friend lent me a book called “How To Be An Explorer Of The World“. It’s a series of small daily projects to help you heighten your senses and be more engaged in the world around you. Some of the principles to being an “explorer” include: “alter your course often”, “consider everything alive and animate”, and “trace things back to their origins”. I like this kind of stuff.

Some of the tasks are hilariously incompatible with living in Hanoi – no, I will not be making a sculpture from rubbish, and no, I will not be collecting water samples from various bodies of water – but most are your standard kind of “creative exercise” to make you get more shit done.

Today’s task is “Write ten things about where you are sitting right now that you hadn’t noticed when you sat down. Do it quickly. Do not censor.”

So I will.

1. A new post-it has appeared in Nathan’s ever-growing “pile of things from my pockets”. It’s fabric measurements from the tailor, written in the Vietnamese way, with commas for decimal points and European-style 1s, 7s and 9s.

2. That gecko poo is still on the desk. I thought I had gotten rid of it.

3. I can hear what sounds like someone unloading large plastic drums from a truck or a motorbike. Maybe it’s those drums they collect the pig slop in. Or actually, maybe it’s empty gas canisters.

4. Cars are making the sound of driving through puddles.

5. The pens and pencils in our pens and pencils bowl are all dusty.

6. The bottle of Scotch, a present for a friend, which is sat behind my laptop has a blurb on it which begins “Caol Ila’s name (say “Cull Eela”) comes from the Gaelic for “Sound of Islay”. It continues, with various words italicised throughout, including the words “hidden cove“.

7. It’s definitely gas canisters.

8. There are many more things on the desk  that don’t belong here than I realised. There is a tie, Nathan’s bear hat, a necklace, a dirty bowl from my lunch, my keys, bobby pins, the Scotch, and my sunglasses.

9. No-one is working in the government building over the road, and actually, I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone there.

10. Our landlord’s car has a bumper sticker written in Arabic. Weird.

This task has taught me that my desk is actually really dirty, and that if you quickly write something without self-censoring, it’s really boring to read.


Heightened by Beth

21 Feb

Are we get more, or less, able to deal with heightened emotions as we get older?

I got worry stomach aches (I called them tummy bubbles) a fair bit as a kid. I was an intense teen. In my adulthood I have had an episode of pretty extreme anxiety and depression, and some pretty up and down times aside from that.

I think for the most part I’m better at dealing with ups and downs as I age. I’ve gotten better at processing those heightened times, making sense out of them, and understanding THIS TOO SHALL PASS – both the ‘my cheeks are sore’ good and the painfully bad. I’ve found having a kid is a really good way of drumming that lesson into you hard. What gets more difficult is that we have responsibilities now that we didn’t as teens. I can’t just take the day off. Several nights of poor sleep + PMT + a grumpy toddler, and I surprise myself how quickly I feel burnt-out. Luckily, I’ve become an expert in finding a gap long enough for a bath or a walk and making that time count as processing time, and then surprise myself at how quickly I can feel functional again. But the last two and a bit years (especially the first year) have felt like that roller coaster metaphor from Parenthood.

This feels like a good time to tell you about my podcast project. I’m interviewing parents about what they’ve learnt from their parenting experiences. The good, the bad and the ugly. But with a real skew towards the bad and the ugly because they’re way more interesting and people talk about them less. I have always wanted to do a radio doco, so this gives me an excuse to talk about stuff I like to talk about anyway and get to ask more probing questions than usual. I have my second interview tonight.