What you just do.

Being an expat in a country very different to your homeland creates a battle between the heart and mind so equal in artillery and strategy you think you’re going crazy at the indecisiveness of it all.

The opportunities while abroad argue ‘for’ being in a foreign land. Then, the unprovoked memories of the familiar and comfortable act as cues connected to an identity that makes you you. Logic says stay, you’re lucky. The heart says go home, you’re lucky there too.

Who am I without driving my children to swimming lessons, play dates, the shops, the Dentist, the Doctor or anything at all? Who am I without kissing my children at the school gate and waving them off as they make their way across the quadrangle then returning 6 hours later to take them home? Who am I when I don’t see the dirt marks on their laundry, fold their clothes or curse over missing socks? Hear their praises or see their scrunched up faces over a meal I prepared in the hopes it both nourished their bodies and pleased their little taste buds. Who am I when I can’t shop online, visit a fully stocked art supply store, find an art teacher, buy clothes that are my style, order a soy decaf cappuccino or even read a magazine? Relying on others to do the things I would ‘just do’ at home is an adjustment I seem to be resisting to say the least.

The things I used to do at home are either done by somebody else or just not easy to do here. Since a large part of what we do accumulates into the whole of who we are, it seems an obvious thing to say that I don’t just miss being home, I miss being me.

On the flip side, the opportunities to do things I would never do at home either due to lack of time or availability are endless here. I already find myself in situations I never thought I would ever see myself, doing things I never thought I would do. I have private tennis lessons, I’m learning a new language, experiencing a different culture and forming friendships unlike any before.

Although still unfamiliar here and despite feeling a little (or a lot) lost at times, I’ve found the answer. It is a simple matter of mediating between the heart and the mind and letting each have their turn to rule.  This creates a medium between the old you that has always been and the new you that will meet you in the future.

And how does one manage that?

You ‘just do’.

One more thing I am doing is taking advantage of the wonderful local craftsmanship at a much more affordable price to frame drawings I would normally store in a draw somewhere. Here is my first of many yet to come.

Mum, you will recognise this drawing from my first 8 minute life drawing exercise that you liked the most.

Framed nude drawing in charcoal

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Pronunciation day

I have found a new appreciation for tourists, complete with their blank looks suggesting a few quid short, not to mention their broken English and difficult pronunciations. It’s understandable now that I am sporting the same simple blank look, especially at the most important part of the day …. while ordering coffee.

The line is getting longer as more people join the queue but I don’t let pressure quench my determination. I continue to practice my pronunciation under my breath while keeping two boys from either punching or squeezing each other and picking up the youngest boys shoes and socks off the floor all because we came to a halt. Yep, the line just keeps getting longer and it is almost my turn. Ah, there is the other sock, boys are punching again, Beau’s flinging his arms around, now Austin is tickling Loxley which is why Loxley is now screaming …. loudly. Beau stop swinging before you … oh too late. So sorry, perdon, perdon, ooh you are lucky you didn’t knock her coffee right out of her hands. Austin I said no tickling and definitely no peek-a-boo, I can’t concentrate with Loxleys half scream/laugh. Beau – seriously?? Those arms need to be strapped to your side – I wonder if I could legally do that?

Okay, here it is, ‘Buenos dias, puedo tener cappuccino soja descafeinado’. It’s not perfect I know but I am concentrating on pronouncing the main words and letting them fill in the bits and pieces and rearranging the grammar. You see, the other day I ordered six bottles of water. He asked me how many and I said ‘seis’. He looked confused so I said it again, and again and again. Then a kind gentleman stepped in on my behalf and said ‘seis’. Apparently all I had to say was ‘seis’. So my pronunciation obviously needed work.

Anyway, back to ordering my coffee. She repeats back to me everything but the descafeinado so I say it again to which she replies with a puzzled look, something I was becoming quite akin to. I attempted it two more times and then just gave up for the sake of the people waiting behind me but also for my own faith that I will one day speak this language.

I had resigned myself to drinking the real stuff, which I really wanted to anyway. Ever since my arrival, almost two weeks ago, I had been too scared to pronounce this word, so it was always ‘cappuccino’, but the problem was, I was becoming dependent on the caffeine and turning into a grouch until I had my coffee and I am already a grouch because the kids woke me at 5.30am so I really didn’t need to add to the mix, hence why today became the ‘pronounce descafeinado’ day.

Just when I thought I was going to enjoy one more day of the real stuff, it suddenly clicks and she asks ‘decaf?’

Our attempt at taking family photos in the park…

A post shared by hb (@harperbeddow) on

A post shared by hb (@harperbeddow) on

A post shared by hb (@harperbeddow) on

A post shared by hb (@harperbeddow) on

Getting a grip

Balancing on the only safe surface for hundreds of metres I try to retell the story of how I snapped two ligaments in my left knee. As I tell this 18 year old tale, the magic carpet, as it is called, slowly but surely edges me closer to the top of the slope where I will need to act my age and be .. well … brave; a hard task when you are a chicken poop like me. Although currently in my mid 30’s, I can easily regress into the 14 year old girl that I never was … scared.

Snowy Mountains Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

While ignoring the task ahead of me I continue to tell the tale and feel relieved to hear how brave I am, that I should return after the experience of my last visit. Such positivity from a young man balancing on the magic carpet behind me as my instructor, is a reminder that I am stuck in the middle between what are his expectations and what will eventuate when I slide off the carpet onto the snow. Would now be a good time to mention I have had issues with my inner ear?

So easy to talk to, he is obviously very good at his job, I am already starting to feel at ease, so much so, that if I should fall and hold up the line of fellow snowboarders or skiers edging to the top of this carved section of snow, that it won’t be the end of mankind. Actually, shouldn’t this school area be larger? We are beginners after all. As I ponder this possible miscalucation I soak in the comforting sight of beginners creeping their way down the slope at a similar speed to our travelling up and begin to understand the unnecessary waste of mountain space if the square were  any larger.

Back to hearing how brave I am to even be here, oh that’s right, the conversation has moved on to something else…. Oh dear, the top is getting closer … what else can I talk about, my knees are shaking and it’s not because I am cold. “Oh, I have a 6 year old over there in the snowboarding class and a 4 year old over there learning how to ski” I blurt out suddenly …. What? I have children? That’s right, I have 3 young boys which means I am a mother and most likely an adult… oh my goodness, get a grip, I am travelling at 2 metres per hour and if I fall, then I have the inner ear problem to redeem myself. Snow trip3

Snow trip2

The Talented Texter

Rowena's father

Rowena’s father

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, just sometimes, technology does not make us look so good. I’m not talking about the camera phones but rather the ability to communicate in a clear and concise manner. Already I have to decode the abbreviations used rampantly on email, texting and twitter (not that I use twitter) and I still haven’t figured out how to insert a smiley face or sad face or anything of the like so you can only imagine my confused state of mind upon receiving a text message from my sister (some of you know her from Row’s Pottery Shed) that was in theory trying to tell me something but in reality, appeared to be either a cryptic puzzle or her phone happened to fall into the hands of a 6 month old baby. See for yourself …..

Hey. Your home link is missingbob yoyr blog.

Not so bad, there is enough to decipher the content and perhaps her intent. This was followed with Rowena’s attempt to correct herself as she so rightly and admirably discovered her own communication errors … so here goes …

Sorry. When you seleft a post on yoyr blig the home link does nit display.

Even so, still not too bad … until she tries to explain herself – like this is going to help …

My fingers ibvio u sky to bug to text.

Thanks Row, this helps immensely. Lets keep going shall we ….

Remind me to s high iw yoy rext I accudebtly sent my mabaget.

Well by this stage I think I had fallen of my couch trying to catch a breath from laughing so hard. What on earth???? I was completely lost. Was she saying “Remind me to high 5 you next, I accidently sent my magnet” or “Remind me to say hi to you next, I accrue debt, sent my agent”.

Don’t ask me, I still don’t know. Anyway, when I asked her if she were familiar with the delete button on her keypad she replies with ….

Too tired. Couldn’t be biyhered.

That sounds like beheaded which is rather close to bothered don’t you think? No, I didn’t think so.

So Rowena figures out that I am making fun of her and being such a good sport that she is, continues not being ‘biyhered’ …

Gobon make fun if your sister going blibd with fingerrs that are too fat.

Thanks Row, I will ….

Considering she doesn’t have fat fingers at all, I thought there must have been another reason for these absurd words popping up on my screen. Obviously she wasn’t using any form of spelling correction tool, that much was clear and no-one can spell that badly. Then I remembered Rowena’s way of using her phone is to hold it as far away as possible, in fact, the longer her arms can stretch the better.  Lucky she wears glasses right? So I asked her if this were the case …. and she responds quite honestly …. in a Russian accent …

No. Fingers to big fir letters and cant see orperly.
H a ve to voncenteate
Go fig u re

As if on purpose, just to show off her versatile communicative talents, Row switches from her Russian spy accent to what sounds vaguely yet still definably like a primary school teacher.

Thanks for the top
Tip not top

Who knew you could be funny, absurd, sensible and nonsensical, all at once Row?

Now that’s talent, if ever I saw one.

Memories that won’t become

We are moving to Peru in a couple of weeks so the packing has begun. In this lovely process I am finding forgotten memories and preparing to pack away the possibility of some future memories.

You see, I can’t take my screens with me to Peru so no more screen-printing. I have really enjoyed the whole process of screen printing as it involves numerous steps and challenges as well as unlimited creative options such as printing on timber, tiles and who knows what else in addition to the traditional paper and fabric. I had only just begun my journey and now it is time to say goodbye… but not farewell.

 

So that is the memory that won’t become and now onto a 10 year old memory that I had forgotten – my thoughts on my INTPness (more likely to be an INFP at the time).

I am at the point where I feel like I almost need to start an INTP’s anonymous meeting … “Hello, my name is Simone and I am an INTP. Today was really hard for me. I went to a shopping centre where there were lots of people. Yes I know but that wasn’t all. The temptation was too strong for me to resist experimenting with my … well indecisiveness of course. I walked into a bookstore with no agenda except to see where I ended up, hoping this would reveal my truthful inner career aspirations. I read a little in almost every category bar carpentry and folk art and despite finding political science more intriguing than I once thought, I still walked out of the store more confused than ever.”

I feel compelled to make career decisions based on the practicalities of it all. I dream of the day when my in-laws, after graduating from law or something equally obvious, embrace me and insist on hosting a dinner in my honour. I visualize my children sensing the important contribution I make in my work and get all excited at the thought of sharing knowledge and wisdom through clever metaphors in their teenage years. I see my husband continually in awe of my intelligence, creative brilliance, timely insightfulness and firm butt.

And in an instant I am suddenly a photographer in trendy jeans with messy sun bleached hair, bright white teeth and a pass dangling around my neck – to what I don’t know, it doesn’t matter because I’m with the National Geographic. 

Onto new memories … in Peru.

A First

I am about to enter a battle. Tonight, it is on. 7-9pm to be exact. I have my arsenal in order, pencils – check, charcoal – check, paper – check, confidence – still searching.

Tonight, I go to my first life drawing class. I have only drawn people from books so I am nervous but excited, der. What do I do? I’m so scared. It is a class and I have this horrible vision of me regressing into a 13-year-old giggly girl. No, I don’t giggle (usually). How about a pouting snob as a defence mechanism to hide my flipping fear waiting to ravage me to the point of absolute paralysis so I end up drawing a nude the size of an ant? Hmm, that sounds quite likely.

Do I promise to show my work upon my return? No can do. I do promise however, to self medicate, before and after.

Well now it is the after and although I knew mankind wasn’t depending on my efforts last night to live another day in the atmosphere, the pressure was still ever present in my ‘can I take criticism without turning violet’ head.

To avoid the possibility of feeling and looking elementary I averted my eyes from the drawings by fellow students. As such, I have walked out feeling quite pleased with my efforts for a first timer (what I don’t know won’t hurt me right?).

We started with 30 second poses. WHAT? I haven’t even finished pondering the starting point in 30 seconds. Nevertheless, I managed to get something on the page …

nude charcoal 30 second drawing

30 second

Nude 30 second charcoal drawing

30 second

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we graciously increased to 1 minute … it is double the time previously but 1 Minute? Come’on….

1 minute charcoal nude drawing

1 minute

3 minute nude drawing

3 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally we progressed to 8 minutes … but somehow I wanted to go back to 30 seconds again so I had the excuse of ‘not enough time’.

8 minute charcoal nude drawing

8 minutes

8 minute nude charcoal drawing

8 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far the most enjoyable exercise we did for me was the blind drawing. We could only look at the model which means no peeping on the page. I loved this exercise and the results were … lets say ‘interesting’.

blind graphite drawing nude

blind drawing

I’ll be going back next week ‘for sure’. I may even peek at fellow students drawing … I think I might be strong enough to take that step.

Funny or am I just warped?

I find this funny but it could be because my humour is warped. You decide.

For those who aren’t a Degas fan, a bit of background: Degas drew a lot of women bathing, getting in and out of the bath, drying their hair, drying their arms and you get the idea. I am not sure exactly how many drawings he did but there are books containing just his nudes.

Anyway, this pastel I copied from one of his many bathing pastel drawings except I obviously left out the nude bather, hence the title “She’s gone to lunch”. Please someone tell me that you also find that funny.

Degas copy without nude bather

She’s gone to lunch

What about a series? “Still at tea” and “She got bored” and “She’s visiting mother”????