Posted in Life, Writing

2016 Writing challenge: Day #05

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Golly! Today’s challenge is a real challenge. Like a proper, full-on, challenge-y type challenge. It’s so challenging I’ve been putting off writing this post all day.

Today’s prompt is: Most of us are excellent at being self-deprecating, and are not so good at the opposite. Tell us your favourite thing about yourself.

So you can see why I’m having trouble. What’s your favourite thing about yourself? Does something immediately spring to mind? Does me not being able to choose from all the things I could choose merely speak to a lack of decisiveness? Or does me not being able to think of anything at all speak to a lack of imagination?

What’s my favourite thing about myself? Notice that. It’s not, what do you like about yourself?, or what are you good at? It’s what’s your favourite thing about yourself?

To answer that feels a bit unnatural. It’s not that I would rather share the things I don’t like about myself, but it doesn’t feel natural to even think that I would have favourite things about myself.

Aren’t we funny? When I really think about it I wonder what’s wrong with having a favourite thing about myself. Why does it feel unnatural? Where/when did I learn that?

We so easily say things like, I don’t like my ears/eyes/nose/lips/wrists/webbing between my toes, or I don’t like the size of my thighs/feet/hair/spinal cord/kidneys/left eye socket, or I’m no good at singing/drawing/calculus/pole-dancing/braking-as-I-reverse-around-corners-on-two-wheels.

We’re given opportunities – at least implicitly – to say those things, to verbalise those things we don’t like about ourselves, or aren’t good at. But where are we given opportunities to say what we are good at, or what we like about ourselves? Especially if we’re no longer in primary school?

Well, I’ve been given that opportunity now, so I’m going to grab it by the scruff of the neck and shake it till something comes loose. I’m hoping that what comes loose is an idea about my favourite thing.

So my thinking has led me to this point: my favourite thing about myself is my strength.

When I was young it was called stubbornness, plain and simple.

But I can see now that other words add nuance to the stubbornness: resilience, determination, sometimes even courage.

Strength. That’s my favourite thing about myself.

What’s yours?

Posted in Life, Writing

2016 Writing challenge: Day #4

A helping hand can feel like a bridge from one part of your life to another
A helping hand can feel like a bridge from one part of your life to another

Today’s challenge is to tell us about the most surprising helping hand you’ve ever received.

I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of helping hands over the years but the most surprising one came at a period in my life when I was very down on my luck. It was 1992, I’d been living in a Salvation Army hostel for women with my two-year-old daughter for a few months when I finally managed to get on my feet enough to find a place to rent.

We moved in with our very meagre possessions – a small suitcase full of clothes each. And a beanbag, which was our bed for the first few weeks.

I was working full-time (in a voluntary capacity) at the local community radio station at the time, and a lovely older lady, Nan Walsh, cared for Emma through the day. Nan Walsh lived in a big house opposite the mouth of the river, and looked after children in the downstairs part of the house and lived upstairs. There was plenty of company for Emma, masses of toys to play with, books to read, good food and loads of warmth from Nan Walsh and her old-lady friends.

I’d finish work, pick Emma up and trudge home to our little unit that had no furniture in it apart from a bean bag that was both a bed and a couch – and a play area, a launching pad, an elephant. We had a bowl, a plate, a knife and fork, and a spoon. I think we also had a cup. I’d cadged those from the radio station.

Things were pretty bleak … but not for too long.

Trixie, who worked at the Salvation Army hostel, gave me an old single bed and a mattress. Emma was excited to sleep in a proper bed again.

Neil, the breakfast presenter at the radio station, was getting his mother’s old lounge suite and so he needed to pass his on. Generously he passed it on to me.

Sheridan, the manager of the radio station, gifted me a cutlery set that she’d been given as a wedding present twenty years before. They’d been given two and she felt that she no longer needed the second one. It had never been used.

Nan Walsh dug through her cupboards and found some towels, tea towels and sheets she could live without.

These people were generous and good and have no idea of the impact they made on my life.

Then one afternoon the doorbell rang. On the doorstep was a boxed crockery set and two shopping bags full of food, including a still hot barbecue chicken, fruit and vegetables, and some new tea towels. I looked out to the street to see an old lady walking briskly to her car. I dumbly waved my thanks.

Aren’t people amazing?

Posted in Life, Writing

2016 Writing challenge: Day #3

A room for connections: My mother, my former mother-in-law and their great-grandson (my grandson) Toi
A room for connections: My mother, my former mother-in-law and their great-grandson (my grandson) Toi

Welcome to day 3 of my weekly writing challenge. The challenge today is to explore the room you’re in as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Pretend you know nothing. What do you see? Who is the person who lives there?

There are two couches in this room: one brown leather, the one I’m sitting on, and the other green and not leather couch. On the green, not leather couch are two camera bags, and an umbrella in its case. A tripod leans recklessly against the front of the couch, looking like it fell after a boozy night out and couldn’t be bothered shifting position. A beanie and a cap sit on the arm of the couch closest to the wall. Happily, the green couch folds out into a bed. It comes in handy when the children come to stay, particularly when those children bring their own children to visit.

Double doors open onto the room from the hallway. One door is propped open with an exclamation mark, a gift from Debbie. Behind the opened door is a small black desk with the sorts of things small black desks generally accumulate: a gas bill, a CD case, an empty envelope, some electronic gadgetry. In front of the small black desk is a big black swivel chair. A tall lamp stands guard in the corner. A black cupboard with a camera bag on it is squeezed into the space between the small black desk and the green, but not leather, couch.

A little bookshelf crammed with books, a torch, an empty water bottle and some bubble wrap is pushed against the wall between the couch and the TV. The TV was quite obviously bought with a different room in mind. To its left is a glass window and a door that leads into the back garden, the sun filtering through the leaves of liquid amber just outside the door. Today there is no warmth in the sun.

The gas heater, an obligatory adornment in Melbourne homes of a certain age, fits between the glass door with sunlight filtering through it, and the other glass door – the one on the other side that is behind the curtain because the curtain keeps some of the cold out. Or that’s the theory.

I sit on the brown leather couch and behind me is another, bigger bookshelf filled with books, the latest batch of school photos, a glass owl from English Cousin Tom, a glass ‘coaster’ from Venice I bought as a memento of my trip, the glass bird that Pervis gave me as a graduation present, and some Dr Seuss looking vases we bought in New Zealand. There’s also an old tablet we’ve turned into an electronic photo frame. I can spend hours watching the various images cycle through, wondering how Izzy will change between now and when I’ll see her again, marvelling at how much Lincoln has changed in just a few months, laughing at Ronan’s cheeky smile, remembering the way Jordy hugged me the last time he was here, shaking my head at Sakye reading her book to the puppies as they sit on the recliner watching her carefully, lingering over the photo of Dad, Ben and Toi – three generations eating ice-cream and strawberries together in quiet familiarity, laughing at Lily as she hangs upside down in Chase’s arms for a family portrait and laughing more at the look on Hunter’s face as he takes in the delight that is his little sister. I marvel at all these children and grandchildren and feel blessed that they’re in my life.

A small table, big enough for two to eat at, is pushed into a corner, placemats that Michelle and Al gave us littered across it, three or four battery chargers plugged in to a power board sending leads curling crazily across the table. A newly arrived book, The visual toolbox: 66 lessons for stronger photographs, lays in wait for Tim to dip into and then share what he’s learnt with me. The door to the kitchen is closed in an attempt to keep the warmth in this room, but it’s a vain attempt. It isn’t warm.

A big crocheted blanket Mum made for me lays across the back of the brown leather couch and as the sun gets lower and the cold deepens, I’ll spread it across my knees like grannies have done since crocheted blankets were invented. In front of the brown leather couch is a brown leather ottoman, with my feet resting comfortably on it. There is music playing from a number of speakers scattered around the room, a Spotify playlist for a chilled afternoon. It seemed fitting.

On the arm of the couch to my right is a Kindle in a red case, a list of rhyming words Sakye wrote out one morning two weeks ago when I shared her bedroom, and a book called Lost Melbourne that Tim bought home yesterday in celebration of the last even day of May. Resting on the book is a rapidly cooling cup of tea. The little wooden table on my right is piled with books with titles like Teacher identity discourses, New questions for contemporary teachers, Teaching selves, and The art of conversation. Oh, and there’s one novel at the bottom of the pile: Nell Zink’s The wallcreeper. I still don’t know if I liked it. I need to read it again, but I seriously think that I’m just too old for it. Not hip enough or something.

On the walls are photographs Tim and I have taken, some framed, some canvas prints; artworks by Lisa Roberts and Katy Woodroffe, and above the television is a reminder, a gift from Alison, to think outside the box.

Who lives here? People who read, take photos, learn, listen to music. Ordinary people with ordinary lives.

Scrolling through the photo frame and thinking about the number of items in this room that were gifts from others, you discover that these ordinary people are part of something bigger – connected to others in far-off places, people who smile and laugh and talk quietly with each other; people who are connected by long, loose lines; people who get together only intermittently but who feel a fizz of warm familiarity and connection when they do.

What do you see when you look around your room? Who lives there?

Posted in Learning, Life, Writing

2016 Writing Challenge: Day #2

Looking up

The topic for today is to dig through the couch cushions, your purse, or your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find, then share what you were doing that year.

The first coin I laid my hands on was from 1993. It makes me wonder how many pockets it’s been in in the intervening years, and what it’s been used to buy, but that’s getting off-track, and I need to focus on the task at hand.

In 1993, which was twenty-three years ago (in case you were trying to do the calculation) I was in my first year of university. It was an exhilarating time, scary to be sure, but exhilarating. I turned 31 that year, and had had many years of wanting to use my brain and here I was, finally doing it.

I’d been volunteering (full-time) at a community radio station the year before I started university, doing everything from gathering and reading the news (in the time before the internet), updating the music database, creating music playlists for 16 hours of programs (each day), recording and editing sponsorship announcements, interviewing ‘celebrities’ (some of them were even real celebrities: Jeanne Little springs to mind), producing and presenting a talk show in the after lunch timeslot, organising the Schools Out program, and a host of other duties. I loved every minute of it, except the part where the station manager told me that her prayer group were praying for me because I was living in a ‘sinful relationship’. But everything else was fabulous. It was real work, I was learning heaps, and surprisingly I was good at it all.

I was enjoying this work, even though it didn’t pay the bills, and not thinking of venturing into other things. But then an opportunity came knocking, and a deep-seated desire for learning reared its head, and you can’t ignore deep-seated desires now, can you?

The opportunity was in the form of a brochure which appeared on the front counter at the radio station. It was from the University of Tasmania and was promoting a teaching degree in English, Speech and Drama.

I had no ambition to be a teacher, but the English and Drama bits appealed to me (a lot).

I applied, went through the interview process, and was accepted. I can gloss over those moments now, but at the time each of those steps was fraught with self-doubt, what if …, how do you…, but …; agonising over whether I could/should, considering what the practicalities meant (one practicality was having to move to Launceston. I lived a two-hour drive away and it wasn’t possible to travel every day.) There were other, more important, considerations, but this isn’t the place to air them. Suffice to say that throughout the process I was feeling all sorts of trepidation but when the acceptance letter came through, excitement took over. For a time, and then, when the reality struck, trepidation made a return.

I enrolled, bought a house, moved to Launceston mid-February, found a wonderful woman to look after my three-year old daughter, Emma, and in the final week of February started university.

First day, Monday morning, 9am, Drama in the Auditorium. The class was relatively small, less than 20 students, many of whom knew each other, all of whom had studied Drama in college, all of whom were 17 or 18 years old. I sat on the edge of stage wondering what on earth I’d gotten myself into. I was struck by how much I was behind, before we’d even started. I had been in a theatre group in my teens, but that was around the time these young people were born. I’d completed senior secondary education, but that was 10 years before (we don’t have time for that story now) … I felt overwhelmed by my lack of experience, my lack of knowledge, my advanced age, my newness to Launceston, even by my lack of work experience. These young people had had more jobs in their 17 or 18 years than I’d had in my 31.

But they were generous and because we had all of our classes together, we got to know each other quickly. I don’t know if that was helped by having to get up close and personal in many of our classes. In Voice and Speech we spent time in the early weeks massaging each other, in Movement we had to choreograph, rehearse and present dance pieces together which sometimes meant rolling over each other on the floor (or eating cheezels off each other’s fingers), in Theatre we had to pair up to run seminars, which meant hours of working closely together, in Drama we had to devise performances and rehearse which again meant working closely with others. We were at uni a lot! We had 24 contact hours that first year and many (many) more spent in rehearsals of one sort or another.

The age difference wasn’t ever an issue; in fact it was an advantage. The others soon learnt that I knew when assignments were due, that I could bake biscuits, that I was reliable when it came time to rehearse, that I wasn’t scared of the lecturers, that I was prepared to negotiate on their behalf, that I would accompany them to meetings when they were worried about those meetings being at the lecturer’s house after dinner (that’s just creepy, Sharon/no it isn’t Ashley, he won’t hurt you), and that I had done the readings. I was worth getting to know!

That first year I studied Voice and Speech, Movement, Theatre, Drama, Tech Theatre, English Literature, and an Education subject. I spent my time outside of class in rehearsals, preparing for seminars and presentations, being an assistant stage manager for the third years, on a two-week placement learning what it was like to be a teacher, sourcing or making costumes and props, creating lighting plans, learning lines, learning how to use the library and how to write academically, reading, talking about plays and poetry and monologues, rolling my pelvis to release my breath, learning how to use my organs of articulation more effectively … learning, always learning.

It was the start of a learning journey that hasn’t stopped.

Do you have memories of 1993? Was it a big, risky, scary year for you too? Please feel free to share your memories in the comments section below.

Posted in Learning, Life, Writing

2016 Writing challenge: Day #1

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Hello.

Remember me? I used to write posts on this blog, something I haven’t done for a few months. I admit to missing it, so here I am.

I was re-working my blog last night – putting all my writing onto the one page so that if anyone wanted to find it and read it, they could. I had a reason for doing this, but this isn’t the time to go into that.

I have been thinking about writing something for some time now, as I’m aware that while I used to blog using words and ideas to express myself I now use images. That’s a big shift. A shift in perspective as well as a shift in the form I choose to communicate my world. It’s hardly surprising though, given that my world has changed quite significantly in the past two and a half years. The word and ideas part has diminished somewhat.

It’s almost exactly two years since I moved to Melbourne. Maybe just as significantly, it’s now six months since I left the job I walked into as soon as I got here. Oh, I’ve worked since then – in fits and starts admittedly – but I haven’t had to get up every morning and head to a workplace. I transcribe audio interviews from home; I develop content for the university course I’m teaching at home; I work on a teacher toolkit for a volunteer organisation at home; I record lectures and upload them to the university’s learning management system from home; I supervise research higher degree students from home; I meet with the publisher of my textbook to talk about the next edition from home; I mark university assignments at home. I do, however, go out to teach. Well, I did, but semester is now over and only the marking remains. To be done from home.

Of course, I also I think about applying for jobs and intermittently spend the day looking for something I want to, am qualified for, or not too old to do. I write applications, address selection criteria, and ensure my resume is fit for purpose. I have, on occasion, attended interviews, then waited (and waited) for the inevitable ‘no thanks’.

It’s fair to say that I’ve spent a lot of time at home. I bake much more now than I used to. I read a lot. I’m up to the second season of Seachange. (It holds up really well, in case you find yourself with some time on your hands.)

So, why this post? Well, in re-organising my blog I came across two writing challenges I had been set a number of years ago. One was from my husband Tim, who challenged me to write about writing every day for a week, and the other challenge was from Jill, a former student, who challenged me to write each day for a week about what I’d learnt outside of formal learning. I remembered that while they were challenging (I guess that’s part of the inherent nature of challenges) I enjoyed writing them, and I particularly enjoyed the interactions some of those posts sparked with those who read them.

So here I am: about to spend a week being disciplined, achieving a goal – one post per day, thinking. Those of you who know me well know that how I love to think. I will work to a particular topic each day, the first of which is: when you started your blog, did you set any goals? Have you achieved them? Have they changed at all?

Please realise that I find it extremely challenging to write to a topic, so there will be times when my writing only tangentially applies to it. A bit like a beginning university student writing an essay! Oh that’s cruel Sharon … perhaps, but if you’ve read as many first year university students’ essays as I have you’ll know there’s a lot of truth in it.

So, to the topic. Did I set any goals when I started my blog? [Three hours later] I’ve just trawled back through my blog to find my initial post to see if I had expressed a goal. And yes, I had. This blog is for me to determine whether I have anything to say. That’s a goal. Isn’t it? I also thought, back then, I might write on a weekly basis. I even joked about scheduling time to write. I never got as far as scheduling, but for a while I found things to write about. Now I’m not so sure, but I’m prepared to give it a go.

Are you willing to travel on this journey with me? It’s only for a week, and you never know what we’ll discover along the way. And I might just discover whether I do have something to say.

Posted in Learning, Life, Teaching, Writing

I got back on the horse …

Metaphorically speaking, that is; there was no harm to a literal horse in my ‘getting back on’.

Okay, I’ll be clear. I know some of you don’t work well with metaphors, so I’ll be like, ‘literally’ all over this blog.

I haven’t taught on-campus (as in students in the same room as me) since semester 1, 2014.

Yes, that was two years ago. And yesterday I did it again.

And you know what? It felt good.

I was prepared, planned, organised, ready … I had even practiced smiling (although when I practiced in front of the mirror I scared myself, so I determined to only smile when absolutely necessary).

The students were lovely; responsive and mature in their attitude, willing to share their ideas and discuss meaty concepts.

After 18 months in the professional wilderness, of trying to determine who I am professionally, it felt good to be able to think of myself as a teacher again. To act as a teacher again; to be a teacher.

And the best thing? I get to do it all again next week.

Oh, and one other thing … by the end of class my face hurt.

I think I overdid the smiling.

 

 

 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma.”

My sister, as part of her blogging, often responds to the Daily Post’s writing prompt. I read her most recent post this morning and am taken back to that time, although not to the same place Deb was, as I didn’t study French and so wasn’t on the trip. I do remember our own trip though – Dad driving like a maniac to Sydney to pick Deb up after it happened. I didn’t know that Deb bought her wedding dress that day though, so you really do learn things through reading others’ blogs.

I don’t have any bravery awards to write about, but I do do something that you possibly don’t know about.

I walk to work (and catch two trains in between the walking).

No, let me finish, that isn’t it.

I walk to work and I know it’s almost time for me to start blogging again when I start narrating my walk.

Not out loud you understand, but inside, in the private space of my mind.

It started again one day last week when I came across a tree full of buds … and one leaf that lingered on the branch. Clinging on for dear life, not wanting to give in the inevitability of winter.

It was at that point my narration started. I started composing (not a story – just a narration) of the leaf. I played alliteratively with language, and then my attention was caught by other things: two crows on the lid of a wheelie bin, their beaks tearing into the plastic bag poking out from the top, the old lady bent almost double struggling with her gate “here, let me get that for you”, the L-plater on his motorbike wobbling to a stop, the young bloke in the furniture van being told off for going into the wrong gate, the baby’s feet sticking out from under the blanket that’s covering the rest of her in the pram, the number of coffee drinkers waiting edgily outside Egyptian Al’s coffee place.

As my eyes take in the world around me, my mind narrates snatches of story, descriptions, dialogue, explanations, silences, musings …

I walk to work and narrate my world.

And then some days later I consider writing a blog post.

I most often don’t make it that far though.

 


This post is written in response to the Daily Prompt from May 28.

Daily prompt post: A mystery wrapped in an enigma

Posted in Life, Writing

Spreading the (belated) love

My sister is a blogger (amongst many other things) and she’s taken to blogging like the proverbial duck to water. Deb is a community minded person; she loves to be part of things, to join in, to interact.

What that means for her blogging is that she gets involved in events and challenges and she responds to people and they respond back.

What it also means is that Deb gets nominated for blogging awards and to join in blogging challenges. One of these was to ‘spread the love‘.

These challenges/events have ‘rules’ which in this case were:

RULES

  1. Write ten four word sentences about what love means to you.
  2. Share your favourite quote on love.
  3. Nominate ten other bloggers for the same.

I was reading Wide in Tights’ blog just now and saw that Jen responded to Deb’s challenge, and so I thought I’d give it a go too. Plus, Deb had nominated me to participate in the event.

It’s not something I often (ever) do because I have a really hard time thinking about what to write when I’m given a topic to write on. But I’m going to give this a go. Except, I don’t know 10 bloggers so I’ll conveniently forget about that particular ‘rule’.

So here are my ten four word sentences:

1. Knowing Tim’s always there.

2. His warm, warm hands.

3. All of my children.

4. All of my grandchildren.

5. Spending time with family.

6. Summer warmth after winter.

7. Christmas at the beach.

8. Road trip to anywhere.

9. Being connected to others.

10. Dancing on the inside.

The challenge also called for a favourite quote on love … to be quite honest, I don’t have one, but I do like that Oscar Wilde said: “Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary”.

It possibly doesn’t fit with the spirit of ‘spreading the love’ but it speaks to me and so I thought I’d share it.

****

There you go … my first blogging event/challenge.

Posted in Life, Writing

Trying for a thing of beauty

I string words together on the clothesline of this blog. Sometimes these strings of words mean something … other times, I’m not so sure. 

Number Six presented us with a tin of magnetic words as part of her Christmas present; magnetic words to make poems with.

I made some poems. Strings of words that don’t mean anything but that make interesting associations, or that I like the sound of when they’re together. I also like the freedom these magnetic words give me to play with language, to not have to make literal sense, or figurative sense either for that matter. I like the randomness of the words on the fridge door – the unexpected nature of what emerges from my imagination in response to the words at my disposal.

Let me back up just a moment though. When I say ‘I made some poems’ I don’t know that ‘poem’ is the right word. What is a poem? Well, people with more knowledge of the art-form of which poems are a part have argued over a definition for more years than I’ve been alive … so I’m not going to try to define it. But I do like this, written by Mark Yakich: When we come across a poem—any poem—our first assumption should not be to prejudice it as a thing of beauty, but simply as a thing. 

So, here is the first thing I made on my fridge with my new magnetic words:

Goddess chant,
Luscious whisper.
Languid through forest cool.
Achingly sweet crush,
Head over life.
We sing these dream music shadows.

The magnetic word feedback I received was:

Gorgeous language,
Enormous peach friend.

As you can see, the magnetic words on my fridge door allowed me to write a ‘thing’, but not necessarily a thing of beauty. 

Since then I’ve written more poems, some using the magnetic words on my fridge door, others using words from the fridge door of my imagination. 

I’m going to share one with you, but first, some context. 

As Tim and I emerged from the cinema last Saturday we noted, with some alarm, the blackness of the clouds speeding towards the city. Weatherzone was consulted and we discovered that a severe thunderstorm was heading our way. We decided not to dawdle. Number Six had asked about the film we’d been to see and I responded that we were rushing home before the storm hit. She texted back: Run Sharon.

Two words. Enough to make a poem with. Here it is. 

“Run Sharon!”
She shouts through her fingers.
The sky darkens, the air cools,
The clouds bunch up
In metaphoric glee.
We run, giggling like schoolgirls,
Rain nipping at our heels.
Light zigs up the sky,
Its roar stops our breath.
The air stills.
We wait.

Exhale. 

****

The one poem started a string of others. Here’s one more, titled ‘Domesticated’.

A dead saucepan litters the sink.
Mugs of mostly drunk tea,
Spoons from Tim’s coffee.
A glass, a plate, a knife
That earlier today
Spilled the blood of the rhubarb.

Rhubarb juice pools on the stove,
The smell of burning stronger here.
The purple pulpy mass glowers
From the bottom of the saucepan.
Sardonic. Resentful.
I was expecting remorseful,
Or perhaps even apologetic.
I’m not entirely sure why.

****

Words strung together on the clothesline of this blog. Some make more sense than others…

… the ending is open to allow for possibilities.

Posted in Learning, Life, Writing

Random observations and thoughts

A pirate sits in his car, texting with his eye patch up, while the news blares from his radio.

A silver and a pink balloon float above a fencepost at a house around the corner.

A car does a U-turn outside the house, crunches against the curb and comes to a complete stop. It seems perplexed.

***

My dress is ready. I’m on my way to the dressmaker now. I’d been walking past the Red Cross shop a few days ago and felt compelled to go in. There it was. A grey wool dress with a touch of black satin at the neckline and cuffs. Simple. Elegant. Beautiful.

Size small.

I tried it on anyway.

Max Mara, the girl with the German accent told me.

It needed a little re-stitching.

It’s ready now. I try it on.

It’s beautiful.

***

I sit in the downstairs section of the library. I’d ignored the signs saying staff and students only. I am neither a staff member nor a student of this particular institution but I figure that if I look confident no one will notice me.

I find a table in the group learning section. I don’t have a group. I sit at the table alone, surrounded by groups of students, with my laptop open, marking.

Conversations swirl around me. Ideas, concepts, understandings, clarifications, possibilities. Multiple languages. Multiple disciplines. Maths. Graphic design. Nutrition. Engineering. A glass wall covered in formula. Portfolios scattered across tables. Laughter. Swearing. Questions. Comprehension. Propositions.

Intellectual and social and professional engagement.

I wonder about the spaces we create for online students to engage in these rigorous conversations.

Tim says: I’m going to the city with my camera.

I let other thoughts go. They are puzzles for another time.

Now is the time for wandering.