Casey and the Introverts.

Sounds like a cool band name, when in fact it describes my experience working an IT firm.

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I had the great opportunity to temp at a world leading IT firm, a friendly and nurturing environment, social, and possessing an environmental consciousness and brilliant resources. Another first for me, and I dove in head first ready for the challenge. The job role itself was easy, but it was the ‘nerd culture’ that caught me unexpectedly… and I count myself as a big nerd!

In the first month, barely anyone looked up from their computer screens to make eye contact on an open-plan floor of around 200 workstations. If I approached, it was the soft tones that had me leaning in to ask ‘Sorry, can you repeat that?’ Most everyone was timid and focused on their monitor display. My personality is very social, all smiles and laughs, I like to wear bold colours and big earrings, and you will always find me in high heels. With bright red hair and a height of 5’8” I was designed to stick out – so I embrace it. Trying to hide or blend in only results in standing out even more: I end up looking awkward and uncomfortable.

In these beginning weeks the chief method of contact was IM, even though they were sitting two desks away. My co-workers, fiercely shy, and not something I am used to dealing with en masse. Was this towering ginger really that imposing?  I was perplexed at their refusal to approach my desk and ask me face to face. I’d occasionally do a mirror check to ensure there wasn’t anything stuck in my teeth that was scaring everyone away.

Like High School everyone was dressed in the same uniform – trousers, business shirts and v-neck sweaters with nary a hair product in sight. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not passing judgment on their appearance, but from working in creative fields for so long, this it was quite a juxtaposition. My co-workers were astoundingly intelligent and once I had broken the ice and gotten to know them all – also hilarious…I just needed time to get to know them, and for them to acclimate to my loud personality.

ImageA running joke on our floor was that my presence was like that of the character Lucy Liu portrayed in Charlies Angels infiltrating a computer company: a mash up of dominatrix and efficiency expert. Its funny how other people see you; I was worried I kept interrupting important work with my menial administration requests.

I love temping, meeting new people, and experiencing different industries. The social dynamics in each workplace always surprises me: there is always something new, something exciting. But I have discovered that since the days wandering the halls of my Secondary College, the fully-fledged nerd status has waned. I’m going to have to turn in my membership card and be content to use a guest pass every now and then.

By the end of my stay at this workplace I’d celebrated Star Wars day; and learnt to yowl like Chewbacca; partook in cosplay; and discussed the pros and cons of integrating your home network to make your abode a sort of smart house. I miss working there; it had me hinkering for the days teaching Year 11 and 12’s.

It is great to see that nerd power is still alive and kicking… and slowly leading the world into a new era of technology.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Down the rabbit hole.

Falling into Wonderland, abducted by aliens, entering a wormhole… so many fantastic explanations for losing time which are far more interesting than getting lost in your writing.

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(Artwork by Su Blackwell, image from 123inspiration.com)

This past month has been consumed by writing. I fell down the rabbit hole and spent days on end in front of the computer screen tapping out chapter after chapter. It might sound great: a spurt of productivity and pages and pages of prose appearing out of nothing. But it does not come without a cost. You lose time.

I lost weeks somewhere amongst the compulsive typing. I forgot to eat: I’ll make some toast after this chapter… let me just finish this dialogue… and on it went. I lost touch with reality: forgetting to pay bills, or have a conversation with my housemates, go grocery shopping, house cleaning. Luckily I have great friends and family who understand that I occasionally drop off the radar and are content to wait, or pop over to pitch in to ensure I take a break.

I’m not sure if I intentionally created my busy streak – it has been six months of difficult firsts since Mum passed away. Recently I’ve had my birthday, her birthday and Mother’s Day alone. I pictured myself as a bag of nerves and sorrow, dramatically pouring out emotion on to the page to help me work through it all; sounds like such a romantic notion. In reality I simply went numb. Life was still for a while. I’m not saying this to illicit pity or comfort from anyone, but merely illustrating how at times as writers we put on blinkers so that all exists is the page in front of us.

Even at work, I would frequently pop in my ear buds (either with or without music) and block out any distractions to complete the task at hand. It’s that same single-mindedness that helps me push through pain, elevate my concentration and completely immerse myself in a book or movie.

It’s in this state I get out the bulk of my quality writing. Being in the moment. How many of us enter this fugue-like state when we are creating prose?

I’m usually such a control freak, planning and organising my day to complete a checklist – but I’ve learnt that there are times when you have to let go and just let things happen. Let the emotion flow, let inspiration strike. It has definitely made life more interesting and helped me accomplish things I never thought possible at first.

Nonetheless, I’m exiting the tunnel. Climbing back to the day to day, now left with plenty of editing and re-writing… and maybe a little outing or two to enjoy some sunshine!

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘The Beginning of Everything’ by Robyn Schneider … written by Casey Carlisle.

ImageFrom Goodreads:

“Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.”

 

ImageThe Beginning of Everything was a very easy read – the fastest out of all the YA I’ve read so far. I loved the book, but fell short of falling in love with it.

Robyn Schneider’s style is somewhat understated (matching the masculine point of view), dealing with massive real world problems without the fanfare; which summed up my feeling towards the whole experience really – it lacked something to turn it from poignant to fantastic. The best way to describe the story would be to say the whole novel is a turning point.

Ezra Faulkenr and Cassidy Thorpe are some of the strongest, most compelling characters I’ve read. Both were realistic, following their own paths (which just happened to intersect for the entirety of this book. I was impressed at how, through Ezra’s point of view, we discover that everyone has their own personal tragedy and whether we get to share in their story or not relates to how close we are in orbit around each others lives. At a glance the two main characters are somewhat typical of this genre: your jock-become-outcast and the nerd-alternative girl falling in love… but the way the story is told is completely unique.

ImageEven though I found the plot predictable, it was a welcome change to the bulk of recent YA reads: no fantasy or high stakes drama – this is about life! I felt is also shines a light on the misconceptions of adolescence, and how the things they value mean very little in the grand scheme of things. I know many who either loved or hated the book blamed the ending, and I have to admit, it was one of the highlights for me (and that’s all I’m going to say – no spoilers here).

I’d recommend to add this to your collection, it is well written and a welcome break from vampires, or post apocalyptic worlds. And unlike many other ‘real-world’ novels it’s storyline is simplistic and fresh, not dwelling in a tragic event, but rather, in its aftermath.

 

 

Charming and bittersweet and gets 3 out of 5 kisses from me.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

She ain’t as flexible as she used to be… by Casey Carlisle

 With some family visiting for a couple of weeks recently, they were doing the usual peek through the photo albums and frames on the bookshelf. It’s funny how as your interests change, file away past obsessions into that cobweb infested part of the mind. Every now and then you pull out pleasant memories and wipe off the dust, smiling at all the fun you used to have. I wish it was that easy with dancing – just a quick buff and you’re fit and limber once more.

A combination of Auntie marveling at the number of trophies adorning the shelves from my youth (as Aunties always do, doting and squishing your cheeks in familial admiration) and some holiday weight gain, resulting in fitness as something I’ve been trying to get back into form recently. So, up before the crack of dawn, decked out in my sweats and sporting a positive attitude I began to stretch. Well, a more accurate description would be bend; and more often than not, accompanied with a grunt, wheeze or groan (not to mention an unsavory clicking or grinding in my joints). When did I get so old?

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But I’m determined to get back some of that vitality! It is working, I’ve been eating clean,* working out, and “bending” a little further daily. I’m not aiming to get back to the days where I would be flying across the floorboards in a skimpy latin outfit with precision footwork blurring underneath an unwavering smile. Or even effortlessly gracing along in a massive ballgown, the long extended lines of my arms and legs defying gravity and exuding elegance and romance. I’d actually just like to be able to last a couple of song-lengths in my workout without feeling like I’m going to pass out, or puke, or pass out while puking.

ImageBack in my hey-day I’d competed in the Australasian Dancesport Championships, I was training most nights of the week and had a job hairdressing, so I was always active. Now I’m a slave to my laptop, always in a seated position (or lying down – okay, don’t judge). It’s not essential that every day I am coiffed to perfection and boasting impeccable make up. Maybe if I’d been wearing my pencil skirts more often I’d have felt the waist band constricting more and more before so many kilograms had snuck on my tummy and thighs. Curse being a writer! Maybe I should buy one of those treadmill workstations?

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Pfft! Who am I kidding. I’m happy with my body shape and as long as I’m strong enough to carry an armful of books and my laptop.

*eating clean refers to a diet of unprocessed (natural) ingredients. So fruits and vegetables, meat, chicken, fish, (no mince meat, sausages, etc) nuts, eggs, etc. Basically anything that comes pre-packaged is a big no-no. Don’t add any dressings or sauces to your food. Bread is not really included, but you can get away with an occasional whole grain brand. Substitute sugar with honey where you can. There are various descriptions and for this diet, but I’ve found these general rules work for me.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Fallen’ by Lauren Kate … written by Casey Carlisle.

Where some angels fear to read.

ImageThe first book in a YA supernatural series promising something “dangerously exciting and darkly romantic, ‘Fallen’ is a thrilling story about forbidden love.”

                My overall impression of this book was mixed with unrealised potential. I did enjoy to story, but it failed to reach my expectations.

Having been recommended by a number of friends, I finally succumbed and bought the book. The cover and blurb hinted at an angsty romance with plenty of action and drama… well it did play out between the pages, but with a rather lukewarm execution.

The story itself is interesting, although nothing new or surprising, and if it hadn’t been such a lumbering read I would have rated it higher. You could predict the plot easily and I was a little disappointed how the climax (battle) of the book took place off screen. There were some unique and devices within the novel, like the use of shadows to glimpse a window into the past, I really liked how this was done. But amnesia and flashbacks are two of my pet hates in a novel – because they are cliché and overused.

With so many books being turned into movies these days (as this one will be), I’m interested to see what will come of ‘Fallen,’ because it may quite possibly turn out much more entertaining than the book.

Luce, the main character, was too insipid for me. She reacted to the circumstances around her, and lacked strength. I can understand what Lauren Kate was trying to convey with this story, but neglected to give her main cast any sort of edge. Similarly Daniel and Cam, fighting for Luce’s affection, were equally two-dimensional. Both had strong chauvinistic attributes and I failed to connect with any of the characters or their love story. I don’t mind reading this type of genre from time to time; the all or nothing stakes for an indescribable passion between two people. But ‘Fallen’ fell down on this aspect.

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Lauren’s writing is easy to read, and I enjoyed her style – she just kept losing me. I feel if you cut the book down to half its size to ensure the pace pulled you through the story, Luce would have been seen as a survivor rather than someone who simply endures. But the end of the novel I was more interested in the periphery characters: they had powers and attitude that stirred my curiosity.

Another aspect of ‘Fallen’ which didn’t play well with me, only from personal taste, is that I’m not too fond of stories involving angels. It humanises the divine and mixed drama into religious beliefs. Sometimes it can be done really well (as was with Cassandra Clare’s series The Mortal Instruments because the angels were a story telling devise, not a character trait) and sometimes not.

But if you love epic love stories, and angels, and don’t mind a passive protagonist then you will love this book.

 Excited over the premise, disappointed by the execution and it gets 2 out of 5 kisses from me.

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© Casey Carlisle 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.