Archive for November, 2009

A Day with the Coppers

November 17, 2009

I spent today in the local Police Station.

One of my clients rang me this morning. He either had to hand himself in or wait until somebody came to arrest him. He decided to hand himself in. So I picked him up and took him to the station. We spent the rest of the day in the charge room. And in the afternoon as I went to my next client, he went to the court cells to wait for his bail hearing tomorrow.

It’s not everybody’s idea of a day well spent. But being a prison chaplain means I spend my days differently from most. This client has paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and personality disorder. He’s a difficult person to deal with sometimes, such as when he is not taking his meds, which is most of the time.

His life is like a centre of gravity that draws everything towards it. It draws the heavy things faster, and they do greater damage. This means that while most people live lives that are somehow “normal”, this man lives his life with heavy things coming at him pretty often. Tomorrow he will probably get another lagging. That’s a heavy thing.

My presence in the place made a difference for him and for the officers. I was able to keep him calm, and the officers were able to get their work done calmly. It was not like that the last time. He spent the time shouting at the officers and punching the perspex cell door and raging around the tiny cell in the charge room. Today they didn’t have to lock the cell door, it stayed wide open and we both sat there talking. As long as there is somebody to listen to him he can manage the turbo-charged thoughts in his mind. It’s not a task that I would be able to take on for more than a few hours at a time.

I worked with him through a crisis some months ago. Back then I managed to get him back on his medication and his life started to settle down after a few days. He didn’t end up in the police station that time. This time he hadn’t paid the gravity bill and everything came rushing at him faster than he could manage. I spoke with my assistant about him this afternoon. We recognised that perhaps being in custody is the only way that he will get medication at the moment. That’s a heavy trip in my opinion.

We sometimes like being the centre of attention. But it is a very different story being the centre of gravity.

Samantha Hughes Does Shoes

November 15, 2009

First up I want to know why ‘does’ does not sound like ‘shoes’.

I don’t, really. But there’s this Australian artist named Samantha Hughes who does shoes. And if those two words up there did rhyme it would make the title of this blog a bit special.

OK, that’s the word thing. Now for the art thing.

Go over here. It’s Samantha’s blog, but you can see that already.

Scroll down until you come to her painted shoes. They are worth finding your way to Western Australia for I reckon.

NaNoWriMo – Half way point

November 15, 2009

It’s Nov 15th, half way through the month, and last night I got to the half way point of my novel writing.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get 50,000 words up in thirty days. I’m up to 25,105.

Check me out.

Trouble is, I keep thinking I’ve now got all the easy stuff done and the hard stuff that I have not thought through yet is going to take me longer than the time I have left. I then tell myself that this is about as valid as “The dog ate my homework”.

The Berlin Wall, My Part of it’s Downfall

November 12, 2009

I have a piece of the Berlin Wall, a piece that is now twenty years old.

Want to see it?

My piece of the Berlin Wall

It’s not a big piece, about the same size you see here, a few inches across. It is painted in grey, several layers of varying shades.

It is made from cheap concrete with no aggregate, just sand, cement, and a few tiny stones. Such concrete has no strength of its own. And that was the wall. The only strength it had was in the oppression of the people who lived behind it.

It is quite a strong symbol for me. It says something of the way we lock parts of ourselves away somewhere. And many years later those parts cry so loud to be free that there is no choice but for some weak pretence of protection to crumble within us.

People sometimes ask where I got the piece. Simple answer. My Uncle Barry got it when the wall went down twenty years ago. Uncle Barry was a diplomat and back then he was Australian Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Romania. When the wall came down, my uncle was there.

People have taken pieces of that wall to the ends of the earth. One of them ended up with me.

On Being Mindless

November 8, 2009

Not me, somebody else.

Every now and then we come across something completely stupid and without thought. It’s my turn.

I have just spent the weekend with my son. It was his birthday and so my wife and I headed west to his place for some catchup time. We took the kids to a playground to mess around a bit late on Saturday afternoon. It was a pleasant family thing. Four adults, four kids, nobody misses out.

Sunday afternoon and our son suggested that we drive back to the playground as one of the boys had lost his jacket and thinks he took it off there. We got to the playground and got out, one on each side of the car. So far, pretty normal. I scanned around from my side and saw what looked like it might be the jacket. My son scanned his side and saw what looked like the jacket. We each set off in different directions, and we each arrived about the same time at our target. We were both right.

Each of us had found one half of the boy’s jacket. It had been ripped in half down the back from the neck to the waist. The two pieces were lying about fifty metres apart.

Small boys forget things. That is normal. But this was a big boy bit of petty vandalism. So a small boy has lost his pride and joy leather-look jacket, and a big boy with a small mind has lost something else. I haven’t figured out exactly what he’s lost. Perhaps one day I will.

Oh yeah, NaNoWriMo. It was a slow weekend for writing, considering the birthday and all. But there’s a modest increase and a few ideas got written down in my notebook in some waking moments through the night. So far, so good.


Day Five

November 5, 2009

Time for a NaNoWriMo check-in. It’s day five and I have 12,651 words so far. That’s 25% of the goal.

The story is going well. I’ve got a one page timeline sitting above my desk. And I have found using Simon Haynes’ yWriter to be perfect for this project. I’ve got all sorts of story parts floating in my mind and with yWriter I can write any bit I like and just plug it in where it fits the timeline.

You can keep track of my progress here

End of Day One

November 1, 2009

Word count is now 3566 for day one.

I can tell you right off, I’m not going to post the tally on here every day.

Or maybe I will.

Depends on if I fade out or if I keep up the pace. So far, so good.

Off And Racing

November 1, 2009

That NaNoWriMo thing is off and racing. Or is it up and running? Whatever it is, here in Australia we get November 1st a few hours earlier than most of the world’s population. I guess that means we start writing earlier.

It’s about 5pm and I’ve been writing for part of the afternoon. yWriter tells me I’ve got 1482 words down.

yWriter is author software by Simon Haynes. Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock books. I blogged about him a day or two ago. The good thing about yWriter is that it keeps track of chapters and scenes, so I can write any section as it comes into my head, then just chuck it into the appropriate place in yWriter. If I want to move a scene I just pick it up and move it, no cut and paste for me.

It also keeps tally of each scene or chapter word count so I can see how busy I’ve been any time I need to. And that 1482?  It’s less than the minimum of 1,666 I have to keep up every day for November if I’m to reach the 50,000 words.

Better get back to it.