Astro Boy

There’s this episode of Astro Boy that I always remember. There’s an older boy, Matthew Tennyson, who Astro admires because he’s training to become a space pilot and will be made a captain when he turns 18 in a few days. However, on his birthday, it turns out that Matthew is actually also a robot. Unlike Astro Boy’s parents, the boy’s father had just ‘upgraded’ his body once a month so it looked like he was growing. The boy – now Captain Tennyson – is devastated to find he’s not a real human.

“I’m just a mechanical doll!”

Captain Matthew Tennyson

He’s also worried that his Captainship will now be in question, since his crew are all humans. It was, naturally, up to Astro to show him that being a robot was actually pretty cool.

For some reason, that horrible moment of disconnect: realising you are not, in fact, what or who you always believed, really resonated with me. I remember it very clearly. The tall, dark and handsome Cap’n Tennyson looking beseechingly into the huge Japaname child-eyes of Astro for help, guidance and the reassurance that he, too could be loved, even if he was not the person he always thought himself to be.

I guess it’s a good analogy for growing up. Or any sort of major change.

I also remember the scene showing the discarded, last-month’s robot body of the ‘growing boy’ being dispatched into space, spinning off, lifeless, into infinity. Quite a visceral image of how we must, perhaps, literally shuck off our former selves in order to grow and change. But then we often get stung by imposter syndrome!

I just re-watched the episode and it was mostly as I remember. The ‘older boy’ was actually 20 was already a captain. He discovered his robot nature when he spied his beloved father sneaking the ‘corpse’ of his former self into the space-waste chute. Once everything had been worked out, there was also a touching moment when the father (wonderfully named Eldritch Tennyson) explained he only did it because he so wanted a child but couldn’t have one any other way, and how much he loved his son no matter whether he was human or not (understandably this resonated more with me now as a parent, than it probably did when I first saw the episode aged 8!)

“Keeping a secret like this is too hard on an old man like me.” –Eldritch Tennyson.

What’s the take home? I guess it pays to remember that, as we move, change, grow, and maybe look back at the corpses of our former selves floating, discarded through space, we nonetheless retain in our core the bits that are worthy of love and deserving of respect. And, hopefully, we will also make friends with pointy-haired robot superheroes along the way!
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Pics: http://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/tv-shows/Astro-Boy-1986/

Watch the episode “Outer Spaceport” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5eQ-TuVFFQ

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Crevasse

The way the clouds hang

light in a heavy sky

ragged fragments of white

at midday, bluegrey thunderhead

harsh mountains behind

stippled in snow and ice, 

unwelcoming

chimney smoke that will never be mine

I fit myself into a crevasse

thinking I’d weather a few more years

unexpected avalanche

tore at the façade

shattered fragments in mud, 

sharp so you cut yourself, 

cold

and I

will never forget the trails I ran alone

although fearful

it’s already a dream

of something left behind

Writing goals 2018 and a question, dear readers…

 

Welcome to 2018! I’ve found it was useful to talk about writing goals at various points in the past so this is my housekeeping/ looking forward/ looking back blog for the year. Partly for my own reference but I’ve also got a question for you guys!

Housekeeping: I was really pleased to finish #26Cantons52weeks in the allotted time. I made a snazzy (sort of) homepage for it here: https://clairevetica.wordpress.com/26cantons52weeks/

I’ve also updated my About me page and added a new pic.

Taking stock: according to my submissions document, in 2017 I had 32 rejections and 4 acceptances. They say you should aim for 100 rejections per year so I only got a third of the way there. Partly this is because I only have about 6 hours ‘writing time’ per week but mostly because I really slowed down on sending submissions for various reasons, including making a decision not to pay for any submissions/reading fees/competition entries. Three acceptances were short stories, one is a poem that’s still in the pipeline. I love my poems but I guess in general the lit journals don’t? Or maybe I’m too impatient and I just publish all the best ones here 😉

My writing plans for 2017 were as follows

  • have a reasonable first draft of the novel by mid-year to give to early readers to feed back on – Not even close, I’ve barely touched my novel, although I did have a brainwave for a new start the other day, watch this space
  • (self-?) publish a chapbook of poetry and/or publish or contribute to a book of short stories –  The more I think about this, I don’t think I’m ready yet. I need to keep writing poems and consider themes etc.  before I go there.
  • record more poems – let’s say 6. At least one every two months – I achieved this and more, yay! Check out my soundcloud
  • perform some poetry live to an audience at least once (eek!) – haven’t made much headway here 
  • make a bit of money off my creative writing (ie: non-journalism) – not so far, still hopeful! 
  • get at least five pieces published in places that are not Claire-controlled: journals etc. – I made this target, if I include my upcoming poem and this writeCon writeup I had in The Woolf 
  • And I finished the #26Cantons25Weeks project. Woo hoo! As I say in the Woolf story, it was a valuable lesson to learn from Diccon Bewes about the amount of work it would take to potentially spin a project such as this into a book. Food for thought…

Writing goals 2018

I’m at a point where I really need a paid job. Both for myself and due to family circumstances. So I’ll be focusing on that for the next couple of months, which will mean less blogging. At this stage, I’ve had to be a bit tough with myself and decide I won’t even think about novel writing, short stories or poems too much while I focus on the job-hunt. It’s make or break time.

I’m sure a few poems will pop out, and maybe some travel stuff, but I need to give myself permission not to feel bad about putting my creativity on hold (sob!) to focus on finding work. And unfortunately, due to some travel in April, I won’t be able to participate in GloPoWriMo global poetry month this year either. 😦

Otherwise from that, I guess my goals remain much as above… I will revisit it all in May.

 

A few other bits and pieces:

  • I have created a Facebook author page if you want to ‘like’ me on there. It is mostly just publicising my blog posts at this stage but hoping to share a few articles and maybe have more writer-type discussions there. https://www.facebook.com/clairedoblewriter/
  • I’ve started using Twitter a bit more and I’m @Carabosse there

 

 

AND FINALLY…

I made this poll a while back and never published it. I was going to ask you, my readers, what you would you like to see in the next, say, six to twelve months, from Clairevetica?

Since this is mostly a place for me to write whatever, I don’t promise I’ll actually follow your advice. But it would be nice to know what some of you think!

Please feel free to pm/ speak / email me with your thoughts as well

 

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Cheers, Claire

Sale!

I clip the coupons

shop the bargains

steel myself

for the feel

of cheap shoes

that sweat up my feet

cheat and lie

that it’s working

I’m saving

the planet?

ha ha

steal some time

from myself

spend some time

on myself

me-time

me-spend

me-save

me-fake

new year, new you?

what about

me, me me!

never keep

the receipts

 

Soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/user-808707280/sale

26Cantons52Weeks: Zürich

Beautiful Zurich

Canton: Zürich

Destination: Zurich (and beyond!)

Interesting thing: You’ll see it spelled Zürich, Zurich and Zuerich, all are correct. Zurich (without the umlaut) is the English/international spelling – easier for the internet and is commonly adopted since it’s a multicultural city with multinational companies as well as institutions such as ETH University that mostly deal in English. Zuerich is the German-non-umlaut way to write it and is often used in web addresses (ü is pronounced ‘ue’). Although a local friend recently mentioned on hearing Nick Cave’s “Hello Zurich” at a concert that I’ve been pronouncing my adopted city name wrong all this time… I guess you can take the girl out of Australia…

Special guests: practically everyone I know here?

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I’ve saved the best til last: it’s Zurich!*

What do I say about the canton and city I’ve called my home for nearly four years now? Four years is a long time. Thinking back, while I lived in the cities of Sydney and London for longer, our flat in Zurich is probably the longest house I’ve lived in continuously since becoming an adult. I feel pretty at home here, although various circumstances mean it’s still sometimes hard to feel settled.

Despite hitting an average of one Swiss canton every fortnight throughout the year for #26Cantons52Weeks, the bulk of my time has been spent in good old Zuri. We had a great summer with lovely weather, lots of swimming and what now feels like a regular influx of visitors from abroad – always a pleasure and a great excuse to explore further afield.

I have travelled a fair bit in the canton of Zurich too – discovering new things, visiting friends who live either side of the Zurisee (Lake Zurich) and in the hinterland of Winterthur, Dietlikon etc. But I guess my main focus has been on the canton’s capital city and my small corner of it.

I went in the Limmatschwimmen for the second year in a row. I wrote a Love letter to Zurich in a local publication. And, aside from #26Cantons52Weeks and other writing successes, perhaps my biggest, unexpected personal achievement this year has been that I started running in summer, which has been kind of a revelation and saver-of-my-sanity. For me, this culminated in participating in the annual Zurich Silvesterlauf winter 10km run. From the name, the Silvesterlauf should be today (New Year’s Eve is called ‘Silvester’ in German, lauf = run) but it was actually a few weeks ago, for reasons you can read about on their site.

It was my first-ever official run. The weather was utterly appalling – snow, sleet, rain and -5 through the day. I didn’t have a companion runner and by my start time of 17.30 it was already dark so I told my husband and kids to skip it and stay warm and dry at home. And, I guess maybe that’s what I’ve come to love about Zurich. I know it well enough that I can head into town after dark on a shitty day and run 10km by myself and feel like I’m ‘part’ of something.

Another lone-runner asked me to snap a finishing pic of her so I got her to return the favour. I wished I’d given her a hug, or at least a high-five. But that’s quite Zurich too – people aren’t all up in your shit. There was no participator medal given at the end, just the standard bottle of Swiss fizzy drink Rivella. I slushed home through the city, soaked to the skin and on a huge high.

So here’s to another big year of my life in Switzerland doing and seeing things that surprise and impress me all the time. Love Switzerland. Love Zurich. Roll on 2018!

Silvesterlauf – success!

*best-known anyway!

AND THAT’S A WRAP PEOPLE: I have achieved my self-imposed project of visiting every canton in Switzerland in 2017!! I must be insane. But I feel a huge sense of achievement.

Thanks again to all my Clairevetica readers, whether you came for the poetry or the travelogues (or whatever else) and especially those who commented, encouraged and made suggestions both on and off the blog.

I’m going to take a bit of time in January to take stock of where it all goes next so you’ll be hearing from me again very soon.

Happy new year! 🙂 🙂 🙂  Love, Claire x

 

Cantons visited in  2017’s #26Cantons52weeks

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

26Cantons52Weeks: Neuchâtel

Canton: Neuchâtel

Destination: Môtiers in the Val-de-Travers (birthplace of absinthe)

Interesting thing: Although the spirit was banned in Europe for most of the 20th century, according to Wikipedia, absinthe was never banned in Australia, which possibly explains why I’ve had a fair bit of it in my time. Loved the look, style and ritual, never enjoyed the taste… until now.

Special guests: A mate who was willing to do this last-minute trip with me!

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Oh Neuchâtel, I’m sorry. I should have visited you in summer, when the absinthe trails were green as the green fairy of legend. I could have wandered through the undergrowth, stopping to sip pure-spring-water-infused spirits as we soaked up the atmosphere. Perhaps we would have swum in lake Neuchatel,  the largest that’s entirely within Switzerland. Or done a tour of the prehistoric pile dwellings led by state-of-the-art app.

Or I could have visited “the Siberia of Switzerland” back in February – and attended the Fête du Froid (festival of cold). I’ve been to the real Siberia, you know, so it would have made an excellent comparison piece. Is Môtiers the Irkutsk of Switzerland? No ormul to be eaten but still. Even the famous landmark, Neuchâtel’s Tour des Prisons, is currently closed due to fire damage…

Instead, I visited between Xmas and New Years. Most things were closed: it was quiet, it was cold. Very pretty. Rather wet. I visited the tiny town of Môtiers where my friend and I were, I think, today’s sole visitors to the absinthe museum, Maison de L’Absinthe.

On a positive note, the train trip was lovely and I learnt a lot about the spirit of Neuchatel (geddit!) in no small thanks to the high-quality film about the history of absinthe the museum was showing. And, in the end, I also had to revise my opinion of La Fée Verte – it was not as disgusting as I remembered. In fact, not disgusting at all – although I do believe the clear absinthe, which we sampled, is a rather different, less-bitter mistress than her green cousin. Or maybe it’s my age, the moment, legality, who knows.

Back to the original theme: the local absinthe distilleries were also closed. As was the sparkling winery (until 3pm) And at 14.02pm, we missed a bang-up lunch at The Six Communes by 2 minutes and had to make do with a plate of Neuchâtelese saucissons (very tasty) before jumping on the 14.49 train to rescue one locked-out husband who miraculously found his keys 10 minutes later. Ahh! That fairy playing ticks on us again. Oh well, it meant we had a good excuse for a glass of Neuchâtel white wine overlooking the lake before heading back to Zurich.

DONE AND DONE! (Of course, stand by for my Zurich post!)

Additional photos: Shauna Japp

#26Cantons52Weeks: Vaud

Canton:  Vaud

Destination: Lausanne

Interesting thing: Lausanne is the capital of Vaud and also HQ of the International Olympic Committee. As someone who’s lived in two Olympic cities while Games are hosted (London 2012 and Sydney 2000) this still doesn’t impress me greatly!

Special guests: friends who live there

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Have you tried Lausanne’s famous Seagull icecream? Coasted down the hill in Switzerland’s skateboard capital? Heard the thunder cracking across Lac Léman?

Two of the above are real things about Lausanne*. However, according to my friends and Lausanne-residents, for a city with a reasonably high profile — it’s the fourth-largest in Switzerland, capital of Vaud and the Olympic HQ — Lausanne lacks a USP. It’s pretty, it’s pleasant, it’s of a size. But there’s nothing wildly exciting going on, they say.

Flon is spoken of as a funky shopping district but it’s kind of just a few interesting shops in old warehouses alongside some somewhat average chain stores and restaurants. The nightlife might be amazing but shh! we’re probably a bit too old to appreciate it anymore.

I’ve been to Vaud before. One of our first in-Switzerland trips a few years back was to Montreux, home of the eponymous Jazz Fest (which I’ve yet to attend!). We also checked out Chateau Chillon – Switzerland’s best-known medieval castle. I’ve enjoyed a fabulous summer holiday on the French side of the lake too, opposite Lausanne  at Evian, of bottled-water fame.

Anyway, I was overnighting en route to Geneva and hyped to be nearing the end of my #26Cantons52Weeks project. We enjoyed a bang-up breakkie at Blackbird Café , I bought myself a pink hat at a street market and enjoyed catching up with my Lausanne mate.

She did also mention the Caves Ouvertes event in summer where you get to wander through the countryside visiting wineries and sampling the wares, which sounds well worth doing. Maybe next year!

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud

Zug

Zürich

 

*Sadly, there is no Seagull icecream.

The Caged Lake

trapped behind bars

and rooms with candelabras

watched over by stone lions

hemmed by iron pylons

you laugh a liquid chuckle

claim your sovereignty

in droplets

human greed encroaches

puts you in a bottle

still you slide away

you are me, you say

I’ll destroy your structures

by the molecule

as you build them

I erode

froth, ozone, fog and puddle

cage me if you wish

I’m the undertow

the overthrow

and more

in every pore

you know

the score

 

I wanted to use this line ‘the undertow and the overthrow’ since reading it in a poem by Aurora Phoenix, it seemed to fit here on a poem musing about Lake Geneva, how it’s so big and yet people seek to own it and/or make private property of it. How can we own nature? Water is part of us. And yet clean water is a privilege and a commodity. Not sure I entirely captured it (!) but need a few poems to break up the ‘cantons’ … 

 Photo: the fence of a chateau on Lake Geneva (snapped by me!)

#26Cantons52Weeks: Geneva

Geneva’s Jet d’Eau

Canton: Geneva / Genève / Genf

Destination: Geneva

Interesting thing: the Jet d’Eau (above) is not just a cool, 140-metre water ejaculation, but actually served a purpose: to release pressure from the city’s hydraulic power network when it was first switched on in 1886. Nowadays, OK, it’s just a tourist attraction.

Special guests: all by myself!

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It took me three attempts to see the Jet d’Eau in Geneva, probably the city’s most recognisable landmark and, arguably, one of Switzerland’s most well-known person-made structures. (Some Swiss-based friends and I were trying to think of others since the country lacks an Eiffel Tower / Tower Bridge / Statue of Liberty / Sydney Opera House / Prado Museum…).

Anyway, I arrived in Geneva early afternoon Friday but had an appointment with the Aussie consulate that kept me busy until nearly sunset, after which time I wandered down to the lakefront to find the jet already off. Next morning, I got up before sunrise and went for a 12km run on the lakeshore. I was hoping I might see the ‘switch-on’ but discovered that wasn’t until 10am. So I hoofed back down to see it after breakfast and almost missed my train. It was worth it though. Très impressive.

Geneva is interesting because the city seems to garner the most varied reaction from other Swiss-dwelling people I spoke to. There’s those who find it lovely: the most cosmopolitan city in Switzerland, prettily situated and with a great atmosphere. Others say it’s dull and claustrophobic (there’s less open space than Zurich and the public lakefront areas give way to private property after only a few kilometres). Some don’t like the vibe of a city full of people dining out on ‘company money’, diplomat-rich-types who aren’t the sort you’d choose to hobknob with. I’ve also heard crime rates for bag snatching and break-ins are quite high, for Switzerland. Others think the home of the UN, League of Nations and CERN is the most ‘international’ city Switzerland has to offer and a global seat of peacekeeping and academia.

I didn’t experience any crime, thank goodness. I felt safe there on my own, even during my early-morning jog, when it was pretty deserted. I couldn’t help but notice the conspicuous displays of wealth though, from the gated Chateaux along the lakefront to all the luxury brands displayed in neon around the lakefront, and the fancy five-star hotels. The city actually reminded me a bit of Luzern, which I’ve visited more often – both are situated at the top of a stunning lake with the mountains just across the water. But the feeling in Geneva is much more money, money, money.

It’s hard to judge atmosphere when you’re on your own. It was Friday night and I wasn’t out late. There was a bit of a buzz but where I was near the lakefront and main station was fairly subdued. If there’s sides to be chosen in a Geneva-Zurich rivalry thing, I guess I prefer Zurich but that might just be because I know it better. Plus my bad German is less-bad than my year 7 French!

 

Cantons visited / to go so far. 

Aargau

Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden

Basel-Landschaft

Basel-Stadt

Bern

Fribourg

Geneva

Glarus

Graubünden

Jura

Luzern

Neuchâtel

Nidwalden

Obwalden

Schaffhausen

Schwyz

Solothurn

St. Gallen

Thurgau

Ticino

Uri

Valais

Vaud*

Zug

Zürich

 

*I spent a night in Vaud en route to Geneva. Will write that up next!

Eyeball

 

my eyeball is scratched or

there’s a filament of lint on it

and I lie here and wonder if

I’ll go blind

a bit melodramatic

more like think if

I’ll still feel it in the morning, if not

will I remember

the ghost of lint past?

contact lenses

I look better but I don’t see better

And my big toe hurts

at the side where

the nail’s cut too short

maybe it’s infected

or my sheet is tucked too tight

maybe it’s cancer

we don’t talk anymore

in bed because

you’re not here

and

there’s a sort of pride in holding all one’s own problems

inside one’s own head but

oh well

good night.

 

Photo: https://unsplash.com/@alia_wilhelm