It’s That Time Of Year Again

Birthdays suck when you are alone. That is the conclusion that I have come to today. (Facebook messages really don’t make much of an impression, especially when they’re as insubstantial as a Happy B Day. Although they’re better than nothing, I guess, and one friends did have a chat with me on skype which was lovely).

So I tried something new. I went out and bought some cough drops for myself, and, ignoring the mounting headache, walked around for a bit handing out cupcakes. I met a busker who would have loved a red velvet cupcake but couldn’t because he needed a high-protein diet, and he’d already eaten three ice-creams today (I was very impressed). I gave a cupcake to a dude spraypainting planets on tshirts and doing spray-painting canvsases of the universe. His fingers were so rough and stained at their tips that I almost thought the paint was permanent, but it probably washes off after he scrubs real hard. I met two travelers, going round New Zealand separately but busking together for the meantime – the younger one, the American one, told me it was his birthday today as well, which was an amazing bit of happenstance! I gave a cupcake to one of the ‘save the children’ people on the street trying to promote involvement in whatever humanitarian action it was, and to a man playing the most beautiful music on a sort of big metal upside-down bowl-looking thing.

I also bought some sandwhiches, a muffin and a coffee for a homeless man I happened to pass by – which was kind of really awkward, because while I was in the shop buying the stuff for him (I asked him for preferences, but he just said a sandwich, so I was having a bit of trouble choosing), I heard him start yelling profanities at passersby. Which isn’t a such a considerate thing to do, no matter if you’re homeless or not. And then I walked out of the shop and gave him what I’d bought, and he said “God bless you”, which I’m sure he meant as a good thing, but really, I don’t want God to bless me, I’m not doing it for God; I don’t even know what God he was referring to. And I just said thanks and walked away.

I hope y’all had a great start to April, and that the month brings you happy tidings and even happier moments of laughter.

-Let’s call me Lily

Still Life

Directed and written by Uberto Pasolini, Still Life was originally released in Italy in the Venice Film Festival in 2013, and went on to win the award for Best Director in the category ‘Orizzonti’. It also received the Black Pearl award at the 2013 Abu Dhabi Film Festival for “its humanity, empathy, and grace in treating grief, solitude, and death”[1]; and for his performance, lead actor Eddie Marsan won the Best British Actor award at the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival. One might, therefore, expect quite a stunning film, and this is backed by the 81% positive audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What one might not expect is to be holding back yawns for the majority of the film.

This 92 minute drama commences with a series of funerals, varying in religion and venue, but not in attendance. The sole mourner, John May (played by Eddie Marson), is a London council worker who is charged with finding the next of kin of those who have died alone. Not only does he attend the funerals of the deceased, he also arranges them himself (using council money which, as his boss pointedly remarks, could be better spent elsewhere) and even writes their eulogies. This painstaking nature is carefully maintained by Marson, who depicts Mr. May as systematic in every aspect of his life, including his austere tuna-and-toast dinner (applying the ‘bachelors cannot cook’ cliche) and the meticulous ritual of pasting photographs from his casefiles into a personal album. The audience quickly realises that Mr May is without relatives and friends, and his muted, solitary life is observed with as much quiet sympathy as he accords to his cases.

The melancholic leitmotif, a sombre plucking of strings which follows Mr May throughout the film, lends it a subtle atmosphere of sadness, although the majority of Still Life is drably ordinary and not conducive to alertness, especially on a comfortable cinema seat. (The woman behind me was sleeping for a lot of it. I kinda almost nodded off a little too). Perhaps too light on backstory, the film only offers small glimpses into the life of Mr Billy Stoke; the last case Mr May is responsible for, and none on Mr May himself. When Joanne Froggart is introduced as Kelly Stroke, the late Billy’s daughter, a breeze of conversation and change floats across the screen. Then, with only 15 minutes left, the inevitable conclusion is turned on its head and Pasolini pulls a bus out of the hat! With a lugubrious, unexpected ending, Still Life is transformed into a profound bit of dramatic irony that is almost worth the very lengthy wait.

-Let’s call me Lily

[1] http://www.abudhabifilmfestival.ae/en/archive/2013/2013-10-31-Feature-Film-Awards

Running AMOK (okay, stumbling)

So… as part of AMOK, I thought that in the evening, I’d go out and buy some dinner for the homeless people around my area (ie very close to me, because I’d also be trying to break in my new shoes, which I got blisters from, ouch). I even had a plan!! I wandered around and counted how many were around, then thought for a bit and decided that if I were homeless I’d rather have something savoury, not a muffin, and considering my options, I’d get them some subways. Because I wasn’t buying McDonald or BK. So then I waited while they were being made, got some change to give to the Chinese busker – not racist! He said thank you to me in Chinese, that’s how I know – and went off to find them again.
I thought I was going crazy. They weren’t there!!! Instead, it was suddenly mostly empty, and there were only a couple left. This weirded me out for a bit, I kind of went back and forth trying to figure out if I was in the right place. Then I realised that it had probably been a shift change, because I’m pretty sure that people can only hang around busking or begging or sleeping etc, for an hour in a public place with no license? Correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, I approached a man, and this is the part I was really dreading.
Because how do you just go up to someone and ask them if they’d fancy a sandwich, when you don’t know if you got the right fillings, and you don’t want to make it seem like pity? Anyway, I did it, and he thanked me, and I thanked him, and then I kept going.
Then there was a weird thing – there was a dude loitering around a Westpac cashout machine. And he wasn’t doing anything, but he also wasn’t sitting with a cap or anything, so I thought I’d go check it out, see if he was lost or whatever. And I smile, and say hi, and I’m about to go into my line of questioning, when he asks me if I speak Spanish (in Spanish). So I say, no, sorry, because I don’t, and then he asks if I come from Europe. To which I replied no and said have a good evening and goodbye, and walked off, all the while thinking that I never should have watched that movie, Taken, with the kidnapping in Paris because I was probably being overly suspicious. I then came across a backpacking busker with a travel guitar and a big backpack, who hadn’t eaten because nobody had given him anything, though he’d been playing all day, so I gave him the other subway and some coins that I’d meant to save for washing day, since the machine only accepts $2 coins.
I’m thinking of maybe making it a more organised weekly thing, and maybe finding somewhere nice and healthy and cheap and just doing a round once a week to a couple of people. Since I know that all the students in my hall are spending at least $50 a week on food , not to mention the alcohol. (I personally don’t see why they keep ordering pizza and sushi and coffees etc, when there is an unlimited coffee machine [which does hot chocolate, too!] in the dining room, and we’re allowed as many seconds as we like in the last half hour of the meal period. ) I’ve spent $3.00 so far, and that was on some fruit because I was tired of apples, so I technically have a lot more money to spend on other things, and it’s all currently sitting in my bank account. Hence the deliberation of whether to make it a weekly thing.
And that is the story of my final AMOK task, as designated by me when planning this thing out :)
I’d love to hear your experiences of AMOK, either on the receiving or the giving end!! Or, in general, and acts of kindness that you’ve seen, done, or received :)
-Let’s call me Lily

Now with Photos!

I have found a way! Rather convoluted, but here we go! Some of my AMOK stuff (not very big, I’m afraid, but something is better than nothing)

You are amazing

That’s the view from the walkway of my window. Nicely visible, and hopefully some people look over!

The paper cranes I folded and have put into the letterboxes.

The paper cranes I folded and have put into the letterboxes.

A selection of some of the emails I sent - telling people how much I appreciate them and that they are treasured :) I think it's important to be kind to those around you all the time as well as those you find by happenstance.

A selection of some of the emails I sent – telling people how much I appreciate them and that they are treasured :) I think it’s important to be kind to those around you all the time as well as those you find by happenstance.

 

Again, have an amazing weekend, and do something nice!!! I’m off to buy some cupcakes to hand around :)

-Let’s call me Lily

AMOK 2015

A Melee Of Kindness – an event organised by Random Acts Charity, this is all about thinking about other people. We’re encouraged to make th 21st March a day of random acts of kindness, whether it is handing out chocolates on the street, volunteering in a soup kitchen or visiting and cheering up some elderly folks. Or baking your friends a cake.

That’s why I’m up at half past two in the morning, trying to think of how to articulate my gratitude towards my parents (because it’s really time I told them properly. With words.) As a student living in a hall, I don’t have very many resources at my disposal – not even paper, as I discovered! (I went and got some) it was a bit hard to think of what I could and wanted to do – baking was, unfortunately, out of the question, and the soup kitchen doesn’t need volunteers. So, my plan is 4-fold.

  1. Fold paper cranes. Write cheery colourful messages on paper cranes. Put them in the cubby holes for people’s letters in the morning, so whoever goes to check the mail will not be disappointed, because they will find a paper crane with a colourful message on it (or so I hope).
  2. Make a sign. My window points directly towards a main road, and the walkway/footpath is level to my floor (I have to be careful when taking my clothes off, let me tell you! The blinds are very important.) I painted colourful letters (an A4 each) and have stuck them to my window, so that tomorrow, when people walk past and stare, as they inevitably do, or when cars are waiting at the traffic lights and their drivers glance over, they will see my sign and, hopefully, take something from it. (I have no camera to take a photo of this to show you, but it says Smile. You are amazing. Colourfully :) )
  3. Write emails to my friends and family, letting them know what I admire and appreciate about them. Because I don’t normally express these things in words, and I should.
  4. Go for a walk in the cbd and see of anything pops up – buy a meal for someone, or help carry something. Who knows?

 

This is another reason why my studying is being neglected. It’s a good way of procrastinating, don’t you think?

 

I hope your weekends are full of unexpected acts of kindness, and that you take a moment to think about what you could do to make someone’s life that little bit brighter or easier.

-Let’s call me Lily