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Residency, The Last Day

I left the KSP on Dec 3, or three days after I'd originally intended to leave. I'd been invited to stay until the 21st Anniversay celebrations, and appreciated the invite since Prof. Brian Dibble (whom many of you would know as Santa from my previous posts) was doing the special speech. I saw a lot of people I'd met in my two weeks there come in for the preparations -- Salamah, Chris the Treasurer, Ramona, Lynn, Collin, Eris, Elona, Flora, Jill and countless people I simply wished I had a better memory with names for. But it was nice to see them, nice to at least try to be of some help to them instead of trying to pack up my things. Just nice to talk to them.

I went around the grounds for the last time the evening before. I knew I wouldn't have time the day I left. People pretty much swarmed into the Centre from 8AM. I missed most of the morning tea, after helping prepare for it. Scones with jam and cream aren't nice things to miss, but it was warm out, and I needed to pack. I didn't miss John Beaton's unveiling of the honour boards. John taught me scriptwriting for two semesters at Curtin, and he taught me a hell of a lot, so I managed to peer out from the kitchen as he pulled back the imaginary curtains. What I hadn't realized was that John actually knew I was at the Centre, and knew I was standing in the kitchen, not until he came over to congratulate me. Which was really sweet. I found out he's leaving Curtin this semester, quite a surprise. Quite a surprise.

The house was muggy from all the heat out. The cakes, the fruit salads Ramona spent three hours chopping and the sandwiches melted by mid-noon, when the readings for the Short Fiction Award winners began. As many people as could be squeezed in crowded the airconditioned conference room, a bit like battery chickens. Have you ever noticed how folding metal chairs can be tiny islands and tiny pens all at once? I thought the quality of stories presented alright, passable, the heat was getting to my head. Santa's speech was ad hoc, like his classes, but less fun, more serious and I might've been the only person laughing when he brought up the subject of where exactly Jim Throssell might've committed suicide in the house (because I'm morbid and an awful person?). And the rodeo Jim Throssell had out in the back yard with 3,000 people back when the lands around the KSP belonged to him, and people falling down stairways. I'm starting to see why Santa is my favourite lecturer in the known universe out here, and the universe is a bad, bad place.

I think everyone was relieved after the readings. I couldn't possibly imagine the readings going on for longer than the hour or so it did. The heat was that horrible, and the story choices weren't much help. Talked to Collin and Salamah. Wanted to talk to Santa, because I wanted to see him before he left the Uni this semester too. Managed to book a meeting with Santa for the following Tuesday. Managed to talk to more people at random, including Stephen Dedman, whom scanner_darkly mentioned I should look up way back when I first got to Perth. Spoke to Glen Phillips about Asian subjects in fiction, and as it turned out, Glen specializes in writing about Asia, which was neat. Helped clean up after the party. Ended up with Salamah wiping cups to store away.

Mom came to pick me after we'd finished the chores. Salamah offered my mother some tea, so we ended up sitting on the front patio for a bit while Chris and Lynn locked the place down. It was a peaceful few minutes watching the gum trees facing the road do their customary whispering, and watch their shadows pattern the rose garden. I got a bag of cornflake crispies from Lynn before I left, which was really sweet of her. These were nice cornflake crispies, on a chocolate base, with raisins, peanuts and chopped maraschinos. They were like the old-fashioned Picnic bars you can't get anymore, filled with textures and raisiny goodness. I admit I didn't meet my writing quota at the Centre, but I came home with more than enough ideas to work with, which I'm still working on as we speak. Perhaps the largest of these is the one about compiling Finches as part of a collection of longer short stories. The other is the realization that I could make these writing grants work -- that if I were a bit braver, I could do something with myself that way, and have done things for, since I left. And I guess that was the nicest thing about being at the KSP, just having the chance to realize, well, I can make writing work. I learnt a lot.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
throughsoftair
Dec. 15th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
I wish we'd been able to come down and meet you again, but Katharine Prichard shares her birthday with our daughter, which means the open day invariably falls upon Erin's birthday-thing day.

This year it was her 5th birthday, so we were knee deep in ice-cream cake and bubble-blowers. And not in a fun, sexy way either!
vampyrichamster
Dec. 16th, 2006 11:02 am (UTC)
Completely understood. :)
It was good of you to come over for my dinner, and I did enjoy meeting you and Lynn. I really did appreciate your presence!
throughsoftair
Dec. 15th, 2006 01:23 am (UTC)
Incidentally, did you get my email regards the writing retreat?
vampyrichamster
Dec. 16th, 2006 11:02 am (UTC)
I did! Sorry for the late reply.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )