A Return to Random

Sometimes the closest I get to being arty is applying eyeshadow in the morning. Yeah, colouring in my eyelids; the creative highlight of my day. (Boom! A pun already. Didn’t see that one coming!)
I’ve just had a week of that – minimal artistry. In artsy Melbourne, of all places. I was on a training course where long days with a bunch of mates meant I couldn’t really take time to scamper off and check out the funky shops & markets & alleyways that were all within easy walking distance and brimming with goodies. The best I could do was press my nose up to the window of each little shop and sigh. Next time… next time…
(Incidentally, I told myself the same thing last time I was there.)

Well, at least I did manage a handful of snaps during the rare moments off. One night we found this place in the city whilst searching for a supermarket. I forget what it’s called (any Melbourne readers who can fill me in?) but it had a cool light show going on that changed colour and side every 5-10 seconds.


Yeah, bit of a touristy moment for us, but what the hey 🙂

The other thing I missed last week was my current fantasy-brick pal, ‘Magician’ (R E Feist), which I’m 1/3 of the way through and very much enjoying. In fact, I missed the rest of the library-cave that is my home too. My world just doesn’t feel quite right without books sitting, lurking, resting and peeking from all available spaces.
So just to taunt me, this was the view out of our apartment window.


I mean, seriously?!

And unfortunately, long training days + non-bookworm friends = no chance to visit. Cue bottom lip quiver and shiny eyes for Kel.
But it was probably a good thing after all. I wasn’t keen to test my baggage limit at the airport. Nor did I want to piss off all the other books at home with freshly-bought newcomers jumping the reading queue. (That happens enough already.)

So anyway, back home in Sydney now, I’m switching my mindset onto creativity again. That’s the thing with being eclectic (or strey, as I like to call it), it’s like having multiple personalities. The mindset for one ‘life’ often clashes with the other, resulting in a kind of void that needs to be leapt across if I’m to function well in one or the other. Therefore I’ve been flipping through magazines looking to spark ideas, buying art supplies because there was a sale (not because I need the stuff – heavens! that would be logical…), and listening to a countdown of the best music of 2013 as voted by listeners of Triple J (Australian alternative indie-rock-dance-hip hop radio station – pretty much as random as me!).
This is the first year I’ve voted in the JJJ Hottest 100 (as it’s called), since there were a bunch of songs that really captured me last year (I get lost in this wonderful musical swoon when I hear them), and I thought it would be good to join in.

And in the spirit of sharing things I enjoy, I thought I’d post my personal Top 3 because I haven’t tried linking songs before (gotta challenge oneself). As well as that, if anything can highlight (and celebrate!) my eclectic nature apart from my bookshelf, it’s my musical tastes.
So here they are, the Strey Creative Top 3 Songs of 2013:

1. The Kite String Tangle ‘Given the Chance’

2. The Amity Affliction ‘Born to Die’ (Lana Del Rey cover)
(That link might be temperamental – it doesn’t like phones or tablets. But other links to it are hard to come by!)

3. Dustin Tebbutt ‘The Breach’

All awesome songs, and all Australian, as it happens. Now if this musical swoon could just morph into a creative swoon…

What were your top 3 songs of last year?
How do they inspire you?
Do they say anything interesting about you?

There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Books

Don’t do it. Don’t even look. Yes they’re nice and tidy, and I can see they’re tempting you with their possibilities, but you need clothes, dammit, not more books!

That’s the rational part of my brain whenever I walk into an op shop and head for the book section. Happens every time. I could need a million other things but somehow priority falls to wandering the rows of random. And random they are, because every store is different, and depending on the vintage of the volunteer who stacked them, you can be in for quite the browsing adventure.

Sometimes these pre-loved pals huddle together in genres: thrillers, fantasy, YA, general fiction. Oh, and the romance books reclining over there on their own shelf.

Sometimes they sit amongst fellows of a similar size; history, art, animals and other reference-type volumes. The kids’ books tend to play stacks on closer to the bottom row, but you do see the odd one sneak up to sit with the big boys. Sometimes there’s no sense of order at all. Occasionally it’s chaos. A bit like how my room looks now I’ve adopted so many.

Once upon a time mine were close to organised. Believe me they were. Really. I know current evidence suggests otherwise, but I did have separate shelves for separate topics. It was like a real library, only without the barcodes and strangers and hushed voices.

Exhibit A

See? Exhibit A: Organised.

But then I got more books.

And more books.

And yet more.

Until it all went to shit as far as order and tidiness go. The library grew but the allocated space didn’t. This led to some creative arranging, and the realisation that… order schmorder!

I mean there’s no rule that says YA fiction and military memoir can’t sit together, swinging their literary legs off the edge of the shelf as they survey the recent arrivals getting comfy on the floor. New age and illustration seem pretty happy together. As do fitness and medieval history. Only Tolkien and Hobb have their own shelves, testament to how much they mean to me. Or perhaps because they settled in first and no one else has challenged them (who would dare!?!)

Exhibit A

Uhh… Exhibit B. Yep, two-deep.

So there are no rules now as far as I’m concerned, and it seems to be working. There has been the odd incident of doubled up books (how did I end up with two of that one?), but that surely couldn’t be down to the lack of order (look, see, they have different covers…). At any rate I kind of like the adventure of looking at a shelf and not knowing what I might find. It leads to those happy accidents of intending to find out one thing and then learning another ten through distraction. It’s great for creativity. And procrastination.

More than that, it’s like I’ve brought one of my favourite places home with me; recreated the jumbled op shop charm of both new and pre-loved books gathered within easy reach. At any time I can sit and admire them all, just as they are. I can touch, feel, see, flip through, smell, taste (ok maybe not taste; that’d be weird) the rows upon rows of titles. I can be transported by the words, meanings, ideas…

As a side note, you might’ve guessed I haven’t jumped on the electronic bandwagon. If you’re on it, good for you! It seems like a bit of a 2D experience, but at least you’re reading. For me though, nothing beats a book pile, book shelf or book cave for seeking out reading material. It’s visual, it’s tactile, it engages all the senses (again probably not taste – unless you’re an infant with one of those plastic books that’s built for chewing on). All up, it just feels more real.   

And I don’t think I’m about to change any time soon because, for me, as long as I’m surrounded by books, life is good.


Now I’m off to grab some food before I starv- oh look, is that a book sale?