On the final day of #trypod month I sing the praises of the gloriously soporific podcast “Sleep with me”

podcasts

Yes, I listen to many a podcast. Do you? If not, you’re in for a treat. This month the faithful are invited to share their favourites with the uninitiated.

I listen in bed on my podcast phone app, which will stop automatically at the end of the podcast, if you click the right dot. This is essential if the content is sleepifying, like the confused, meandering, and absolutely bonkers all-time favourite, “Sleep With Me.”

Dozens have have written in admiration and bemusement about Drew Ackerman and his eccentric podcast. His stories are deadly dull and yet seriously weird. He cannot disguise the fact that he is brilliant and literate and cunning and pathologically benign.

Strongly recommended regardless of whether you need help getting to sleep.

For more terrific podcasts, search #trypod and find something that suits. We are spoiled for choice nowadays.

Norah Caplan-Bricker in the New Yorker about Sleep With Me

 

 

 

A dirty old day in terrorized New Zealand

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Now let us do our duty: a swift scan
of the headlines for one shameful day
in a land of slime
and terror.

Minister not keen on drive
Freedom campers use beach as toilet
New Zealand, man up like Dan Carter
Melania wants to start clean

Police honesty box charge
A dance with The Boss
Closure for cat lover
Dog saved from kayak

Easter Sunday trading is here
Pineapple on pizza—for or against?
People safe after fire
When your succulent won’t stop growing

Stop there! It’s all too much.
Why fixate on the false and the filthy?
Take it away.
Let’s all emigrate to the USA.


poem & screenshot by rachel mcalpine CC BY 2.0

 

Joy of writing #1: aerogrammes from Daddy

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Most nostalgic and illuminating Christmas gift of 2016: copies of our Dad’s letters in 1954 when he was in the USA as NZ’s first (?) Fulbright Scholar. He went to study the training of theological students (that being his own role in New Zealand) and had his mind blown, I think. His aerogrammes to the entire family were scanned and collated by my wise sister Lesley.

  • Look at the handwriting — so individual, a bit wonky but fully legible except for a few with faded ink.
  • Think of the quantity — 9 letters to me in 6 months, and about that many to each of my 5 sisters. To Celia (our mother): 52, that’s two per week.
  • Such joy imparted—in both directions. DMT would sometimes quote from our letters to young Americans, with obvious glee.
  • Such mind-widening information from abroad! None of us had travelled outside of New Zealand, not even Celia. All sorts of details were remarkable to DMT and to us:

For lunch we had: a glass of water, a glass of milk, a plate of salad (on left) — (at same time) a plate of donuts, golden syrup and stewed apple! Followed by chocolate ice-cream & the usual horrible weak tea.

Form dictated function and style

The letters served multiple functions. Dad was too busy to keep a diary. As artefacts of the pre-digital world, the physical items were saved as a precious record of DMT’s time away:

I would be glad if someone would kindly assure me that my letters are being kept. […] I have things that I want to write down so that I don’t forget them, but instead of keeping a diary I’m relying on these letters as a record.

The form influenced style. Aerogrammes — two sides of a flimsy sheet of paper —invited writers to be concise, so we could say a lot in limited space, and perhaps entertaining. DMT included various small cute illustrations too.

Every letter was a love letter

The love in these letters is obvious in so many ways. I haven’t yet read his letters to Celia, because of a slight technical obstacle, but they’ll tell a whole different side of the story. All I know so far is that he had a substantial repertoire of endearments. These are just his salutations!

Dearest darling, Dear One, My dear one, My darling Celia, My darling Ce, Celia darling dear, My beloved, My dear mate, My sweetest, Celia my dear one, My sweetest dear, My dearest one, My dear beloved one, My dearest beloved, My dear sweetheart, My dear darling sweetheart, My dear birthday girl, My dear wifey, My darling wife

What treasures

Writing is not just a bite-sized digital communication or a business tool or a source of income. Writing can also promote healing, happiness and hope. Good to remember that…

Writing heals: the story of Mrs D

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Mrs D is Going Without. Lotta Dann. A memoir

Writing can heal. Some people discover this through therapy (or perhaps an online writing course like Write Over Divorce), and some people make it happen all by themselves.

Lotta Dann was a wife-and-mother with a perfect life and a drinking problem. One day she decided privately, suddenly, independently, urgently, to stop drinking alcohol. She didn’t seek help or join AA or go to rehab or tell a friend or consult a doctor. This enormous decision was her little secret.

Lotta did just one thing besides decide: she started a daily blog to document her first year of not-drinking, and called it Mrs D is going without. And that one spontaneous act became an extraordinary source of strength.

How blogging about sobriety helped Mrs D

Right from the start:

  • by recording her decision, she made it visible and impossible to deny
  • writing helped her to confront one day at a time without getting overwhelmed
  • she could encourage herself and remind herself of why she had stopped
  • blogging daily imposed a daily discipline
  • writing enabled her to explore and express a torrent of ideas and feelings.

Then something happened that surprised Mrs D: other people found her blog. An online community sprang up around her. Other people seemed to be experiencing her struggle vicariously, began to support her — and in a way, to depend on her. She had started alone, but now she was far from alone in her battle for sobriety.

How Mrs D now helps other recovering alcoholics

I’ve read the book of the blog and it’s a brave, vulnerable and honest story.

I salute Lotta Dann for her courage. I am amazed at the way she has used writing as therapy, meditation, cognitive training and human support.

She now uses her wisdom to help others online and elsewhere.

Poems hiding in the woods and under the bed

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Hey, I write poems, you know. (Maybe you write poems too.)

Somewhere a poet
is cleaning a bathroom.
Somewhere a cleaner
is writing a poem.

If you like this blog for any reason at all, you may well enjoy the poems on my other blog, Poems in the wild

I adore having this outlet for poems old and new. I adore taking or selecting a photo that ridiculously contradicts or sweetly complements the poem. I kind of like it being almost a secret, but as it’s the gifting season, I offer you the URL. Take a peek. You might enjoy this other side of Rachel.

Poems in the wild: https://aybrow.wordpress.com/

Day 2 of the new earthquake era

Wet roof over a wet city and one bare foot raised in a tai chi kick.
Doing tai chi as rain sets in. Good morning world!

Well, it’s about 60 hours since the big earthquake and my short exercise in expressive writing has already done its magic. In my last blog post I vented my secret thoughts and feelings, no matter how embarrassing.

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3 meditation apps

Last night I slept brilliantly for nearly six hours and dozed nicely for two more, aided by a passive meditation with the little blue man (Andrew Johnson’s meditation phone app).

Then the morning routine begins. Meditate, ah, breathe slowly—nice. Then tai chi on the deck as rain set in—nice. I finish like this, hoping the neighbours don’t hear me:

“Good morning, world! What can I do for you today?”

Quick as a flash, the world replies: “Stop whinging.”

“OK. Got it!”

Yet again,  writing has done one of its magic tricks. Ruled a line under self pity—because I did my whinging well and truly, out loud, on this blog. And because the world (meaning you, dear readers) heard me with compassion, and validated me in my weakness.

So now I can stop whinging. I like to think I have turned my angst into energy.

Right. Time to get back to work. I love that…

Fixing Mrs Philpott: but how?

My new novel is ready for printing, after many a drama and deadline. Yippee!

The launch is on 29 September and if you are in Christchurch, New Zealand, you are warmly invited to attend! Rachel Eadie at Scorpio Books is the person to contact with questions.

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Meantime here is the first of, well, an indeterminate number of tasters. I’m hoping that you will give some unsolicited advice to my character Mrs Zoe Philpott. After all, you have much collective wisdom (and humour) and could surely help her. She has multiple problems … if you like to see it that way.

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It’s just a game but—Zoe needs your help!


Accessibility note

WordPress lets us add captions to images, but that’s always not the greatest solution for people who use a text-to-voice aid. So here’s a transcript of the text in the images.

  1. A new novel from Rachel McAlpine, celebrating the resilience of Canterbury women—especially the eccentric Zoe Philpott and her friends. Come and launch Mrs Philpott! In the earthquake era, she needs all the help she can get. Scorpio Books, 120 Hereford St, Christchurch. All welcome. RSVP rachel [at] scorpiobooks.co.nz.
  2. Zoe rolled off the bed into a mess of muesli and milk, clamping a pillow over her head. There she lay for 15 everlasting seconds. When the aftershock stopped, she pulled her nightie down over her panties and heaved herself back on to her feet. From “Fixing Mrs Philpott” by Rachel McAlpine. (So what advice would you give her?) Photo: Sharon Davis