Lazy Luddite Log



I celebrated my fortieth birthday on the weekend with a big party in a local hall. This is something I want to blog about but I'm wondering how best to address the topic. I could do a technical discussion of how to do a biggish event like that. I could do a journal entry descriptive of the occasion. Or I could do something more personal on my experience and perception of ageing (except to some extent I have done that anyway). I will try to cover all these things...

A big event of a hundred guests (fewer if counting only adults but more if including children) takes a lot of preparation and work. I decided to make it a big event and so chose to have a hall and I quickly discovered that booking a venue must be done well in advance - six months in my case. That is the biggest task however. Once that was secured I rested on my laurels a bit. However I also knew that a big event was beyond just me so I sent a handful of close and useful friends letters asking them to take on particular tasks. They all agreed and I think I cast them each well in terms of talents and temperament (I have appended acknowledgements in the comments to this post).

One thing I wanted to do was make my event a bit distinctive. Other past events have had an impact on my opinions on what works and what is cool. I will always remember a particular friend hosting a New Year's Eve (turn of the last century) in a hall which included what for many of us was the first time we made use of an 'electronic jukebox' (using a computer from which to play the music). So one thing I decided to do was have guests attend via webcam if they lived far away. We had two such chats - one from interstate and one from overseas. That was fantastic even if the conversations were like any rowdy party talk - yelled and vague.

It was fantastic how friends rose to the occasion and did more than I had expected of them. Photography turned into a 'Photo Booth'. Cake turned into primary and auxiliary cake. My comfort drink of an iced coffee turned into an iced coffee infused creme liqueur. I was stressing over the whole event till I was told to just enjoy. So I took off my jacket and went to the loo and came back and then pretty much did that. I had a better time once I let go and recognized that there would only be as much dancing as dancers wanted there to be and there would be chatting to overpower even the best stereo. And it was all good anyway.

In the end I felt loved and celebrated and, while I cannot say I feel young exactly, I do feel full of life, and I think that feeling comes from sharing life with others. We all have distinct lives and are exploring different life paths, but in coming together at events like my birthday celebration I think we affirm and bolster all those many lives. Okay, now I risk getting a bit philosophical, I will end by saying I had a blast because it was a fantastic night.

* * * * *

On the night of my party I posted the following notice content on the venue walls:

A number of friends have taken on specific roles to help with the smooth running of my birthday celebration so we can all have more fun. Do provide them with your cooperation and courtesy.

Sean will be your compere for the evening – making announcements and generally contributing (in his own words) to 'bonhomie'. There may also be embarrassing anecdotes along the way.

Avril will be occasionally filling and re-filling bowls of chip-and-dip and if you are lucky she may surprise you with other random offerings.

Rohan has provided his awesome stereo. He is very protective of it while I am very particular about my playlists. We request that you only operate the controls if we have asked you to. Thanks!

Evil Sarah will be managing a ‘tavern’ for the night. Drinks are on the house but stocks are limited so do consider your fellow patrons in how much you consume. There will be both hard and soft drinks and hot beverages for this cold winter night. Also you can BYO if you wish.

Damien will be wandering around taking photos of the evening. Some will be action shots. Others will be posed with your assent. I may well try to get into shots with you.

Polly will be on hand to help make my webcam link to the world operate so that interstate and international guests can ‘attend’ our celebration. The laptop will be solely for this use.

M-ra will be baking cake for us and will cleverly be incorporating some theme close to my heart into this sweet project. I’m looking forward to seeing and tasting her handiwork.

However many more contributed. Belinda was very useful in helping me shop and keep me company during preparations. And others also contributed. I posted this thanks message on the Facebook event page for my birthday:

Now I am somewhat recovered from last night I want to put an expanded thank you list here (the printed one in evidence last night only covered those who I knew were helping in advance). Hopefully this is more coherent than my speech was.

Thanks to those who hoped to come but were prevented by sickness or clashes or distance – your well-wishes were most welcome. Thanks to Ayla and Lisa (Sydney) and Steve & Nieves (London) for visiting via webcam – chatting with you was a blast even if we had to yell a bit. 

Next thanks to everyone who attended and mingled and contributed to the fun. I barely interacted with any one of you but do suggest some smaller group things for us to do in coming weeks and months. To those with kids – they helped make dinner festive and showed us how much fun balloons can be!

Now onto some more specific thanks. I hope friends who took on specific roles were fully recognized on the night. I am definitely thankful for all they did. However there were so many impromptu helpers and helpers-of-helpers and just an overall vibe of helpfulness that compiling a comprehensive list of names is tricky. 

Nonetheless I shall try:

Avril, Belinda, Ben, Damien, Daniel, David, Dave, Woody, Kat, Katrina, Laura, Lucas, Olav, Olivia, Polly, Rohan, Sarah, Evil, M-ra, Sean, Thorne, Varia, Vivienne

It was definitely a night to remember. I am happy you all gave me a chance to celebrate with you.



Home Front

I have now participated to varying degrees (sometimes in a very indolent way) in a number of Choral Intervarsity Festivals and am currently involved in what could be my favourite because Melbourne IV has hit my hometown! This national event of seventeen days duration is two thirds done and yet I feel inclined to enthuse now while I have a free night at home online.

So far this has been one of my favourite and they have all been rewarding experiences. Some of those experiences from MIV 2012 are as follows...

* Travel - Yes Melbourne is my home but there has still been travel because in the first week of two we had a rehearsal camp in the Gippsland township of Rawson. It was cold and wet but that was okay as we had warmed common areas and a lot of human warmth to share. Also since we have returned to Melbourne there have been venues for music and partying that have also been new to me.

* Musical Competence - I am far from the best chorister but I attended all rehearsals for our first of two concerts. This was in part because most of them were at camp and - well - I was a bit of a captive to the purpose of our residence there. However I was also more attentive than I have been in the past and got on top of the Requiem by Berlioz. I also enjoyed performing at the Melbourne Town Hall as part of the knee-melting contingent of first basses (which in turn was part of a marvellous contingent of choristers and instrumentalists that produced as much volume as I think I have experienced sans amplification).

* Recognition - It is odd to be part of a crowded gathering and be noticed by those new to you. This seemed to happen a bit for me and it is always a tad disconcerting. It was partly facilitated by some of the traditions of the Choral Intervarsity Movement. One of those practices is getting "banged for a joke" (a formalized way of invoking a joke-telling from someone during a shared mealtime). I have never done too well with jokes - I think of them as oddly formalized "units of humour" and I frankly prefer the ebb-and-flow of humour that comes with everyday human interactions. However I had an old joke prepared for just such a banging and a week later at our academic dinner it was voted the most popular. Astounding!

* Sociability - Many seem to think I am an extrovert who finds ways of getting on with everyone just like that. The truth is more complex. I am middling on the scale between extrovert and introvert. I need alone time (part of why I love walking and public transport). I am selective in how much contact I invest in others. The thing that may distort all this however is that I put a lot of effort into thinking on how best to interact with others. I call it diplomacy. I think I have done well so far in giving attention to those that matter to me in a way that fits our respective commitments and timeframes. I hope so anyway.

* Awesome Humans - There are many among us who are talented and inspiring and brilliant and generous and warm and caring. Whether they do something hilarious in a revue act or make an event happen behind-the-scenes or fix problems as they happen everyone makes a contribution to the success of the whole human venture.

And with all of this I think part of why I have enjoyed things so far is that I have paced myself. I have had sleep all nights - usually more than five hours (my latest night at camp was over the rather sedate and civilized activity of sitting in armchairs philosophising). Hopefully I will continue to balance my rest and recreation in the coming days. The fact that I am a non-singer for our last concert will make that much simpler. We have been having an exhausting rehearsal regime and I am impressed with the dedication and good spirits of my fellow choristers from across Australia.

Update: I have indexed my seven IVs as of 2013 in this post.

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