Very serendipitously I read this post from The Belle Jar blog after posting my previous piece.

These tips function as a great counter-piece – I think I’m going to print them out and put them somewhere above my desk.

Tips For Writers.

via The Belle Jar

Enjoy x

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Shakey’s

“I thought you’d be a writer by now!”

Ever get the feeling you’ve been handed the title of your memoirs on a platter?  I groaned internally. Story of my life.  
 
I hadn’t seen Bunny in roughly eight years. We were sitting upstairs at Shakey’s, waiting for the pub grub buzzer to herald the arrival of our chicken schnitzel, swimming in sauce. Shakey’s has to be one of the only pubs in Sydney where you can buy dinner and still get change back from a a $20 note.

Everything about the situation was familiar.  The kitschy pastoral paintings and ruby red velveteen couches were reminiscent of our suburban upbringing. The drama room we shared in high school had been decked out in a similar fashion as well as the incense-imbued drapery of her living room in Valley Heights.  It was there we had bonded over angst dancing to the Cure/the Smiths and there where at 15 she turned my head upside down in the bathroom and chopped all my gold locks off with the sewing scissors and dyed the pixie cut darker.

I remember emerging light headed from the shower after rinsing away the dark dye to face the change I felt I was standing at the brink of.  I had felt like the anti-sampson, all the stronger for my lost locks.

“What does that even mean?” I cocked my head at her incredulously.  I contemplated the possibility that I had yet to live up to the expectations of my old friend.    
 
I know of only one or two people who identify solidly with the title ‘writer’, and like ‘poet’ I feel like it belongs more to a bygone era.  It certainly sounded awkward (and awkwardly idealistic) at Shakey’s, in the midst of the 6 o’clock post work swill, on an idle wednesday night in the city.
 
I had toyed semi-seriously with the idea of pursuing professional writing as a career. I had certainly written prolifically in my adolescence, and not too badly either- according to teachers and others whose opinions matter to teenage flightiness not one whit.  I had thought ‘I can always come back to it.’   

I was pleased, secretly.  Her statement was a vote of confidence of sorts, and a much needed wake up shake up call.

Eight years is a long time, particularly in best friend time.  But as it does it had gone by in a flash.  We were 25 now and had found our separate ways to the city. Old enough to have old friends and to be old friends.  

In the aftermath of trials and the lead up to the HSC she had disappeared.  Something about doing Year 12 part time at TAFE up the mountains.  Trouble on the home front.  I’d disappeared down and into myself, my relationship and a multitude of other preoccupations.  God knows I can’t remember any of them now.

I haven’t stopped writing. But I haven’t been a writer.  I certainly haven’t done enough to earn that title.  I’ve been a lot of things and I’ve stopped being a lot of things.  I’m still figuring it all out and still becoming okay with that.
 
Kahlil Gibran said we choose all our joys and sorrows before we experience them.  I wonder if he would also say we choose the characters and identities we play in our own life before we become them?    
 
I haven’t played the writer because she is the one who eludes me.

How can you reconcile creating something and being it at the same time?  It is difficult and lonely.  Rilke says you have to go inside yourself and be prepared to not meet anyone for days.  

Yet in a way, here was a character straight out of a potential collegiate novel of rebellion and coming of age sitting right before me, asking me why she wasn’t written yet.  Brideshead Revisited stuff.  Capital, capital.  My response?

“I’m still writing.”
 

 

*Shakey’s is a Surry Hills pub and a Sydney institution.  It nourishes everyone from hipster to hobo to old, old friends with it’s $10 menu 
 

Modern Day Review Blues

Wisdom of the ages

Wisdom of the ages

To review or not to review?  That is the question.  I’m not going to answer definitively just yet.  But I would like to relate a short anecdote about a recent experience I had concerning that very question.

I worked in hospitality on and off for many years and I know full well what it takes to keep the whole moveable feast afloat.  I also know that no matter how good you are as a staff member or how good your food/wine/coffee/lemon infused sparkling water is- it is impossible to keep everyone happy.  These days everyone in Australia is apparently a foodie and with websites like Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor and a gazillion food blogs reviewing cafes and restaurants by the dozen it is all to easy for an eatery to get torched by some hard to please Matt Moran wannabe who believes that raising the cuisine bar infinitely legitimises their own status as a ‘foodie’.  Little thought is given to the real repercussions of that a cutting review published on Urbanspoon or the like may have for the business in question, its owners and the many staff and produce suppliers that it employs.  Added to this is the question of authenticity.  For a while I worked in a well known cafe precinct in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs and it was a well known fact that rival eateries would post scathing reviews on each others sites, whilst getting friends and family to publish good ones!

I’m not saying poor quality food and bad service shouldn’t be taken to task by a participatory public, just that the opinions posted to these forums should be taken with a grain of (french organic) salt.

My partner and I had a spectacular experience at a regional restaurant in Armidale earlier this year and afterwards out of curiosity I had a peek at restaurant’s reviews on Tripadvisor.  Although the reviews were for the most part very positive, there were a few that had quite negative things to say.  To me it just didn’t add up.

I was motivated to write about our experience there and was pleasantly surprised a few days later when the owner posted the review to the Facebook page:

My Review

My Review

Needless to say I was so glad I ended up putting my two cents in and sending some positivity out into the universe, particularly directed towards a hard working regional restaurant supporting fresh, local ingredients and NSW producers.

The pictures in this post are from our night at Neram Harvest plus some of the prettiness of Armidale.  Do check out Neram Harvest’s website for details of the delicious delicious things they are doing in New England including their innovative ‘feed me’ menu where the staff decide what you eat and when you eat it.  It is the foodie version of ‘letting go’- an experience that some of the more uptight Sydney connoisseurs could probably benefit from!  So… remember that grain of salt when reading online reviews and do put your own one in if you’ve had a great experience.

Til next time,

Emma x

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Breads and dip

dds

Pumpkin Crème brûlée

ass

Textures inside the gallery

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The entrance looking in

*not* a foodie

dsad

The community garden

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The old Teacher’s College

The ‘I’ Factor

http://scarlettbleu.blogspot.com.au/

Thanks to Nat Miller for the use of her images in this post. Find her at : http://scarlettbleu.blogspot.com.au/

I know this is a blog about cities- but I want to diverge briefly and write about a whole country.  I did say that this was going to be an overly ambitious urbanism blog from the get go didn’t I?

What is the Italian equivalent of a Francophile? An Italian-ophile?  Is there any such term? I’m not sure.  For now let me tell you a story about how much I love Italy.  First of all I loved Italy long before I had ever even been there.

I loved it through the dusty blue and white picture of Venice that hung in our living room in the 50’s fibro house where I grew up.  I wondered how a city could meld with the water so convincingly- so differently from the harbour city I knew dotted with its coves and impenetrable cliffs.  I loved it through the stories of my Mother and Father, who eloped and were married in St Peter’s Basilica in 1986, the year the Challenger went down, the year the UN designated as the International Year of Peace.

Italy became a country that was embedded in our family mythology- not just the birthplace of the Catholic Church but of our own little gene pool.  I loved Italy through the mini Pieta that sat on my father’s bookshelf, through the Virgin’s face, through the hand that said ‘look, here is my son’ to the entire world.  Later I learnt that Michelangelo had smoothed the wrinkles from her face and sculpted her young, against contemporary convention and biblical logic. I loved Italy even more when I started to love cooking, when I came to understand flavour and simplicity and ‘temple food’- and the moments of quiet standing at the stove simmering.

I loved Italy when I came to study Art History at University, some 500 odd years of Western tradition dominated by the workshops of Florence, Venice, Rome, Sienna and Bologna.  Our class sat on the cusp of the transition from slide to digital but even well into the 21st Century the institution I attended clung to such traditions. Only in first year were we treated to a lecture using slides.  In the dark,  the mechanical rolling of the changing images was mesmerising.  Granted, I wasn’t always listening intently to the professor, and my mind wandered just as I’m sure trecento pilgram’s minds would have wandered standing under a Giotto ceiling- across the angular faces and elongated hands to my own hands and the lines and marks I might make myself- on my page, on my life, on the people around me….

And then almost two years ago I went to Italy with my parter.  It was the last country of a long journey together. We flew into Rome, jumped into a taxi complete with a handsome young Italian driver, arrived at our accommodation in the dead of night, exchanged whispered “Bongiorno”, glimpsed red bedspreads, stone walls.  Again, the quiet.  When morning came we entered the breakfast room to the sound of a young Australian chef and a 60 year old Napoli woman bantering about bread. Light streaming into windows that looked out on a large interior courtyard.  Crooning pigeons.

Sienna

Sienna

What happened over the next few weeks was fairly incredible.  Italy exceeded all my expectations, and that is surprising in itself because my expectations were very high.  But it also opened some floodgates in me.  I drew and wrote more in my short time in Italy then I ever have in my life- bar only the last minute scrape to the finish line trying to complete my HSC Visual Arts Body of Work.

vatican

queuing leads to thinking

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Como

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Side effects of the ‘I’ factor

Since coming home life picked up around me and swept on, leaving little to no time for such pursuits.  I’d dearly like that to change and I’ll write a bit about what I am trying to do to make those changes over the coming weeks.

I have often looked back and wondered what it was about the country, the people, the built and natural environment that so emphatically dissolved my artistic inhibitions as well as all the unwritten boundaries I had invented for myself around drawing and writing.  Like when you can do it/what it should look like/what materials you should use/what music you should listen to and most importantly: What will everyone think of it! I just let go of all that.  A big part of it was not having the luxury of picking and choosing where you could something and when.  I drew in cafes, in courtyards, on trains, in bed, on the floor, on church steps.  I drew from life, from memory and from the back of the camera looking back over the shots of the day.  And let me say this: If you think a photograph is a great way to remember a place in all it’s rich layered detail…definitely try drawing it.    

So reading over what I have just written perhaps I have answered my own questions about the ‘I’ factor (‘I’ could stand for Italy, Inspiration or just be a new way to look at the first person pronoun).  Visiting or revisiting any place that plays an important part in your own mythology becomes a pilgrimage of sorts- one that is bound to inspire you to the core of your being.  Where do you get your ‘I’ factor?

A/N Two things in particular inspired this post.

  1. Looking at my friend Natalie’s pictures of her recent trip to Italy.  Pangs of jealousy coupled by our inability to produce photos like this on our crappy 2mpxl point and shoot have prompted me to include them here.
  2. Re-reading Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet which I discovered online here just the other day, many of which are penned from Italy where Rilke sought solitude and respite in order to write.  And definitely a bit of the ‘I’ factor.

Til next time,

Emma x

Welcome to the New

Hello and welcome to The All and the Every, an overly ambitious urbanism blog with (as the name suggests) a bit of everything.  I previously blogged over at tumblr but have decided to give WordPress a whirl and will move some of my content over.  I’ve also started co-writing a blog project with my girlfriend Grace, who is another story altogether.  More on that as well once we are up and running!

As for me I am a 25 year old Urban Planning student from Sydney graduating at the end of 2013.  I’ve learnt so much since I began a degree in the built environment and I am still learning and absorbing every day.  See, I’m one of those sponge-like people that seems to absorb large quantities of ideas and information, to the point where sometimes I can barely hear myself think I’ve got that many theories, projects, thoughts and quotes buzzing around in my brain.  Trust me, it is a blessing and a curse (much more of a curse actually!).

For the most part my thoughts centre on being excited and positive about the challenges that contemporary urban living presents to us.  For me, it is about finding a balance and living sustainably, creatively and happily in the city, with all the obstacles and challenges it throws us!  And I do think these challenges require us to live, think and consume differently.  I would like to encourage more open and honest brainstorming both in my local community and in the wider blog-o-sphere about what we can do to start making some changes.

My aim for this blog is to document my thoughts on considered urban living and to delve into the myriad of events, activities and ideas that this way of life presents for us city lovers.  Simple living and green living isn’t just for country dwellers, ‘tree-changers’ and River Cottage style mega-sustainability-initiatives.  In fact for most of us that way of life is a far off ideal, and personally I’m far too besotted with the hustle, bustle and gorgeous urban complexity of the city to give up the ghost and don my CWA apron.  I think it is becoming really important to refocus the ‘back to earth’ dialogue on urban communities, especially considering the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with these numbers set to skyrocket.

Besides all this- as a home, a community, a spectacle-  the city deserves plenty of love letters.  These are just mine.  As the Lloyd Rees Quote outside Sydney Town Hall says-

“The City is the greatest work of Art”.

Emma

View of Sydney skyline from Queens Park at Dusk

View from Queens Park at Dusk