Lazy Luddite Log

26.2.11

O-Five Years

It occurs to me that it is five years since I posted this. That was a fateful O-Week for me as I became a member of the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS) and have stuck with it since. This post is a tribute to both that body and to the friends I have made as a result of getting involved in it.

As I sit here writing I find it difficult to find the right words to say just how significant that act was. But rather than a loss for words I am experiencing a flood of them. Try this – it has changed my life profoundly. They have changed my life for the better.

Normally I try and curb such gushing as I am wary of glorifying groups. Ultimately what matters is each person you make a connection with rather than the whole group with all its generalizations and assumptions and peer pressure (yes even we have it at times). But I can make cautionary statements of the limitations of groups another time. For now I will allow a bit of gushing.

I will also quickly note that I love my non-choral friends too! But back now to this perfume-scented missive dedicated to my choral peeps.

I had tentatively been involved in MonUCS in the past but they seemed more preppy then if I may borrow an American term. And that made sense to me at the time – a choral society tends to attract those with musical ability, which is in turn cultivated by particular kinds of parents who send children to particular schools. At any rate, those who ran the show back in the 90s seemed a tad too cool for me. But something changed and I still wonder why. Now they are far more nerdy. Yes, that nerdiness is more of the creative than technical bent but – still – that is just fine with me. Is it that Gen-Y are more accepting of things like fantasy and science fiction than were Gen-X? I cannot say but it works well for me.

There are other characteristics of those I have met that help me feel I belong. There is a tendency towards progressive politics but also an understanding of the need for political diversity. There is the willingness to be silly and child-like which to my mind shows a level of maturity some never achieve. Finally – and most importantly – there is compassion and a desire to help one another.

So far my writing gives the impression I integrated quickly. Far from it! There is a timid person in me and – lo-and-behold – many of my fellow choristers are similar. So we all tend to hang back and wonder what the others will do. Luckily there are always a few bolder figures who can offer a firm and smiling welcome.

One of my newest choral friends is also impressed by how MonUCS has changed her life and she refers to us as ‘Wonderland’. Apparently I am the Caterpillar. Another friend is the White Rabbit because of her role in leading this intrepid 'Alice' to us. I chose to come to MonUCS on my own but that same White Rabbit made me feel included and valued at junctures in which I may have decided that so many new faces were all too much for me.

And there are so many faces that are still fresh to me. My understanding of these friends slowly grows in richness and complexity and the process continues. I was considering embarrassing particular friends by name with expressions of my esteem for them but I will resist the temptation. I will however say this:

In you I have witnessed resilience, patience, bravery, integrity, imagination, kindness, generosity, perceptiveness, brilliance and humour, and I hope you can see these things in yourself.

There are so many anecdotes from my choral life that look to me like scenes from some movie or novel. I can never share them all and some are just too personal to put in writing – you just had to be there! But life is like a story and my latest chapter is full of music and singing fit to bursting.

Cross-posted here.

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10.2.11

Add A Digit

I was looking at some Twentieth Century detritus recently with a friend and we noticed an old sign with a seven-digit Melbourne landline number on it. I commented that I "vaguely" remembered that addition of an extra digit and she - rightly - expressed surprise at my vague memory because she is younger than I and distinctly remembers the change. An admission - In that moment I was impulsively sensitive to my age. That it mattered to me at all and that I played with the truth concerns me. I am happy that I was prevented from getting away from it. But the intent of this post is to be interesting rather than introspective - so - onwards!

Phone Numbers

The changing over to eight-digit phone numbers is one of those many changes that I remember that are small and mundane and yet are also markers of the passage of time and the inevitability of change. I prefer it - I quickly adapted to the symmetry of having an even-numbered set of numbers to dial (or rather to "punch in"). Two other things I remember that seem trivial and yet have had a big impact on every day life are...

Barcodes

I can remember the introduction of these peculiar patterns onto packaged products. How could a machine "read" this sequence of lines and numbers? Could I read them too just by looking? Nope - it was gibberish to me. But suddenly they were ubiquitous. And they changed our lives. I cannot say for sure but I can only assume that they made the work of a check-out operator quicker and therefore the time we customers spend in queues shorter. Now most recently barcodes have been combined with other technology to allow check-out self-service - something I am still in two minds over.

Blu-Tack

This and other putty-like pressure sensitive adhesives have changed our lives. I recall the absence of Blu-Tac in my life - we actually stuck posters on walls in my family home with - gasp - sticky tape. To this day I can tell the age of a rental property by the nasty faded-yellow residue left behind by sticky tape on plaster walls. Then along came Blu-Tack and life changed forever! Posters on bedroom walls could be located and relocated and swapped from wall-to-wall. Yes there is that issue of removing paint from surfaces but only if you are sloppy. Otherwise it is amazing stuff. And fun too! I made a dinosaur recently with some Plasticine from the game Cranium and friends seemed to approve. Well I have Blue-Tack to thank for that skill as I spent hours in childhood just making things with Blu-Tack (which was always more abundant than Plasticine itself).

* * * * *

I am sure that everyone has personal recollections of changes like this - things that came into your life that it may be difficult to imagine lacking now. Anybody want to suggest some more to add to the list?

Cross-posted here.

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