Lazy Luddite Log

28.11.11

The Deep Calm

This is a short story I wrote last Summer for a specific purpose and a select audience. Now however I am putting it here for a wider circulation. It is nominally set in my Lands fantasy setting. The 'curds and whey' notion was devised for the story but now may as well form part the texture of my setting too.

Capella woke feeling utterly waterlogged. She wondered why, but then all her senses went hazy and dim, and she sank into memory.

* * * * *

Matriarch Alessandra had instructed Sister Capella in meditating on the deep calm that hid below every raging tempest. Kandoth the Master of Storms was but the child of Marumi the Lady of the Sea. While the younger god rampaged there was always the overwhelming stillness and closeness of the goddess Marumi. Focusing on that deep calm was a boon to everyone who venerated the Sea. Capella was one of the best novices Alessandra had met – she seemed to sink entirely into herself and return with a calm that filled the entire shrine.

* * * * *

Capella woke once more and this time tasted saltiness and smelt brine. She felt cold water pummelling her and rolling her body over a fine gritty surface. Just as she formed the image of a beach in her mind, she faded from consciousness once more.

* * * * *

Commander Marco looked critically at the new whey-druid assigned to his ship, The Viola, and wondered if she was right for the job. It was customary to take on such a crew member to make the crew feel safe during long voyages, as they would then have clergy to intercede for them if nature got too cantankerous. Marco, however, was also keen for anyone on board to contribute to the daily work of a cargo-vessel, and was concerned that Sister Capella was a bit too delicate for the job. She seemed willing to do whatever was necessary, however, so he would make the best use of her, and gave her over to Lieutenant Nadia to be guided round the Viola.

* * * * *

Capella woke a third time, and this time seemed to stay awake. She started to flex her aching muscles from toe to neck to see if everything still worked. Her whole body hurt. She knew now she had washed ashore and wondered why. Had the ship sunk? Or had she simply been swept overboard? Her mind was a mess of wind and waves and from it came the memory of a most trivial conversation with Nadia.

“Why do they call me a whey-druid Lieutenant?”

“Oh child, it is but an old joke, a way of separating those of your ilk who follow the sea goddess and those who follow the earth god. They are curds while you are whey. Get it?”

“But we are one and the same – one family just as Nature is one.”

“That may be, Sister, but you do each prefer one over the other I’ll wager.”

Capella had to admit to herself that Marumi had always mattered to her more than Garlomen, the Lord of the Land, and suppressed a pang of guilt at this realization.

Personal examinations aside, Capella had been washed ashore, so perhaps Marumi had passed her into the care of her spouse, Garlomen. But what had happened to the ship? She attempted to sit, looked around her, squinted in the sunshine and then, once more, lost consciousness.

* * * * *

Nadia cursed audibly as she held onto the wheel of The Viola. They were half-way from Port Grazia to their destination, Nartellfar, when a huge storm had arisen over night. Sails were rent, rigging snapped, sailors rushed hither and thither. The panic among the crew was as palpable as the salty spray that seemed to fill every pore.

The Lieutenant looked over to Capella, who was standing at the bow, summoning what she called “the deep calm” and hoping to save them all from drowning. Nadia added her own silent prayer to that of the whey-druid, even if she, like Commander Marco, wondered if gods and goddesses were simply a tale told to scare children. She put more trust in Marco, who right now was below deck directing the horrendous task of removing water from the ship, bucket by swollen bucket. Then she heard the most hideous cracking and looked round just in time to see the central mast falling.

* * * * *

Capella woke and wondered if she would stay awake for long. Possibly it was best just to lie here forever and fade away. But then she remembered Marco, Nadia and the crew, all working tirelessly to preserve life and limb, all sharing the same small world of timber and rope with her, all of whom mattered incredibly to her at this moment. Were they here with her? Capella started crawling, then walking slowly, then wandering around. Sand. Surf. Rolling hills. And all about her she saw boxes and barrels and loose bit of timber. And people. Some were lying on the sand. Some, like her, were moving. One was walking towards her – Nadia. As they got closer, Capella sank to her knees.

“Forgive me, Lieutenant, for I failed to save the ship.”

“Nonsense, child, some of us are alive, and that is never something the sea promises.”

Capella stared at the dishevelled yet hale Nadia, and wondered at her resilience in the face of this disaster. Tears began to well in her eyes, as salty as the ocean. Nadia continued in her strident tones.

“We have lost the Commander, but many yet live, and we have work to do, in caring for the injured and salvaging our cargo. Come!”

Capella nodded dumbly and started to follow Nadia, who called back as they walked.

“I know this crew, Sister, and I can tell you that having you there mattered, having you work with us every day, and having you call on your powers, however great or small they be, mattered. Hope makes a sailor fight all the more to stay alive. Now, I know you can tend to the sick and injured, so come along and let this day begin”.

Nadia felt the deep calm once more, far beyond her person yet with her at this moment. She put it to the back of her mind and set to work helping the crew to which she now belonged.

At the time of writing this water was ravaging parts of Australia and so it was depicted in a destructive way. However as I edit this for blogging it is a warm evening and I wish to be enveloped by water. I look forward to drawing on some of that calmness as we once more experience the Summer months.

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13.11.11

Reunification

I keep forgetting to blog about my class reunion from this time last year. At the time it inspired me to do my autoblography but I never reported on my 'Class Of 90' reunion itself. What has reminded me to do so is that Noble Park Secondary College recently held its whole school Fiftieth Anniversary which I attended. So here I will relate both experiences while I can still remember them!

Class Reunion 2010

My school has never been the kind to facilitate reunions for its students. It may have never happened except for the existence of Facebook to allow assorted classmates to find one another. As soon as I received the invite I also received a flurry of 'friend' requests and then started seeing lots of profile pics. Stuff I had forgotten (or just neglected to remember) came back to me and I will admit I was somewhat scared of the prospect of attending.

Both my experiences of nerd status as an adolescent and the consumption of too many American teen movies in my life filled me with trepidation. Would I be judged by the standards of my society given how much I have diverged from white picket fence expectations? One friend told me to go because it may be better than I expected and that it was just a few hours of my life. So I did.

And it was much better than I expected. One thing I forgot was that by VCE we all got along pretty well and that last part of our lives together was the most relevant. Another was that two decades had passed and we had all had lives that (I am sure) were different from what we had imagined (if we had imagined anything at all). The night was tiring but that was because it was a whole lot of small talk. With a few exceptions most of us were now strangers. Still it was good to chat and consume finger foods and dance to 80s music.

A young friend of mine makes fun of my daggy dancing. What I discovered that night however was that I dance my age rather than daggy as such. For a moment on that dance floor I felt as if maybe I belonged among my old peers rather than among those I have chosen to fill my life with from uni and since. But this was a passing delusion - I do belong in my present life and feel more me than I ever have.

However it was worth attending the reunion and to be reminded that we all have diverse and challenging and inspiring human lives. It was a good night to party with the old gang at the Sandown Park Hotel. But now onto a much more recent event...

Fiftieth Anniversary 2011

In many ways I am more interested in history than genealogy. And so likewise at the fiftieth anniversary of Noble Park Secondary College (originally Noble Park High School) I was most fascinated by the tales of past students I had never met. We gathered in the school hall for speeches by one student from each decade.

The school started things in a very improvised way - classes were run from a handful of existing public venues in Noble Park while the school itself was constructed back in 1961. By the 70s it was thriving and schools seemed to be a much more integral part of culture back then. Major popular acts like Stevie Wright were booked to perform at school concerts for the restless teens of those days. Then we got into my era and it seemed to be characterized by pop star inspired clothes and television. Since my day the big things seem to have been coming to terms with the Internet and mobile phones. There is so much in every passing decade that nobody can ever do them justice. Still it was interesting.

And I loved the candour of some speeches. The 60s representative commented in her wry way that in her late teens she "left the school under a cloud" and as we sat there wondering what was coming she added that "I have a daughter who is almost as old as me". How we laughed. Current students (volunteers) were there to help run the event and I wonder what impression they formed of the whole event with mature adults making humorous references to teenaged sex and sole parenthood.

I sat with a few classmates and we chatted over the passage of our lives. My contribution to conversation was to ask "how have your 30s compared with your 20s?" One remarked that the 30s have been more fulfilling because of her forming a family. Another related how her 20s were a fantastic time that has seen been dampened by family commitments. It was a contrast and shows how we are all so very different and need to remember that as we make decisions and accept the consequences of them.

Following speeches and the playing of music by old school bands, we were guided round the grounds by current students, divided into our year levels, except I wandered off with some from a year younger than me due to some friendships I had made via things like Student Representative Council. We noticed both the overall sameness of the school but also key differences. Many many more computer rooms was the biggest change. And a shock came in the library in which we exclaimed "what have they done with all the books?"

There were books - a few shelves of them discreetly arrayed round the back of the library. Most space was taken with attractively arranged banks of computers and some comfy lounging areas. A time-capsule was opened and we saw our boring old uniform and a few school magazines I remember contributing to.

As all these strangers from five decades of successive adolescence milled round I got a sense of how very important our public schools are and how proper funding for quality teaching and resources helps to ensure a integrated and mature society. Schools get blamed for so many problems in society but I think that responsibility must be transferred back to the governments that neglect schools and the constituents who allow those governments to do so.

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