Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sydney Writer's Festival Volunteering. Part Two.

The next day Friday came very quickly as I had to get up at about 6:30am alongside my partner. I thought seeing that I got up that early I could go early to check out the writer's festival. So I looked at the interesting things in that day which was on the website. I saw that Magda Szubanski was talking that night after my shift and I wanted to see her. So I booked my ticket online as a treat to myself. Yet I also had to do a few things around the house and also just to prepare for my next shift. Sometime mid morning I got a call from my love saying that a woman got killed in downtown Brookvale where the traffic was held up for about two hours or so. My honey wanted to make sure that I was safe and that it wasn't me.  As soon as I heard that news I said a few prayers for everyone involved and also the people who saw it. After hearing that it scared me a bit and I thought I would leave later just to also try to miss the traffic.

I got ready to go earlier to visit the festival before my shift. When it was time to go as I was driving down to Manly I was really surprised to see the traffic wasn't held up on my side I the road. Yet I did see a whole bunch of television cameras on the side of the road looking at the truck, which had hit the lady and killed her. Again I said my prayers as I drove past them all. I also had a really strange feeling about driving close by to where a woman got killed earlier during the day. Yet there was nothing I could do about it, which I had to accept.

Now getting to Walsh Bay was one thing yet dealing all the crowds of people was another thing. Yet I was on a mission to find Magda's book so I could hopefully get it signed for her at the end of her talk. So I walked up the end of one pier to the Gleebook store there to find that there were no copies there. Having to backtrack I somehow had to find where the main bookshop was which was interesting. After managing to find it I walked into a living throng of business, people and life everywhere. As well as more books then I could hope to deal with because my shift was going to start shortly. Walking to the left I found this great big long table of about eight or nine authors in a row, which I couldn't believe. Finding the book I went to the line, which was quite long, then I bought it. Walking out I saw the signed book table where I saw a signed book that I wanted and couldn't resist. Time was so close yet it was the only book left. So I repeated the before actions, got to the volunteers room which was luckily just around the corner.

Walking into the volunteer’s room was a hive of activity with people each doing their own things as the little bees supporting the hub of the Festival itself. Great I was exactly on time... Yay....!!! Quickly I got ready and sat down to wait for my team leader who was going to come for us. I could see the main supervisor walking in and out doing things with her work. About five minutes went by and I thought really nothing of it. As time wore on to ten, then about fifteen, leading onto twenty minutes of sitting there wondering what was going on. The main supervisor informed me that my team leader came and got everyone about five minutes earlier which I wasn't expecting. My heart sank at the news because I was trying my best yet this was a hiccup, which couldn't be helped. I unfortunately missed out on the briefing that they gave us also. Yet the show must go on so I walked as quickly as I could to get over there.
I found The Curiosity Stage with very big line up outside where I was posted for the next four hours. Having no idea who my leader was or what they looked like I asked another volunteer who showed me. Upon reporting to duty the leader gave me a quick briefing as to what was happening for that session. The person who was talking was Indira Naidoo and the host was Sunil Badami.  http://www.swf.org.au/program/swf2016/indira-naidoo-on-being-brown-CUR132

 It was so popular that there were a lot of people queuing to get in hopefully. Because it was a free event seemed like nearly everyone wanted to see it. Yet they had tall speakers so that people could hear outside, also there were letting occasional people in after a few came out. During this entire happening I was asked to be one of the people to take microphones to the crowd who wanted to ask questions after the talk. I felt honoured to do that, to help like that. At the end of the talk I found myself at the side of a stage with a microphone in my hand. A few questions got asked yet was nearly running a bit overtime. When one question was waiting to be asked I was actually kneeling on the hard wooden floor. As it tuned out time ran out. During the break between talks I had a quick talk to Indira about her talk and how relevant it was. I also told her that I liked her talk as well.

As we were preparing for the next talk Sunil Badam the host came up and asked me to get him a coffee. I felt bad for him because he had a very long day being on stage interviewing all these people. It must be so tiring in more ways then one. I went to grab him a coffee from the in house cafe, which he needed. I ended up giving it to my team leader to give to him when he came back from his break. The next talk looked interesting, as it was Philip Dwyer. http://www.swf.org.au/program/swf2016/philip-dwyer-a-history-of-violence-CUR134

During that talk we were busy doing different things and making sure that the running of that event was going smoothly. I remember at one point hearing part of the talk about Aztec's or Mayan's with their ritual sacrifices. Also another part I think with limbs being chopped off. As well another part about terrorism and seeing a picture on the screen of this military fighter or helicopter with all it's weapons that it carried all laid out in front of it. I was thirsty so I grabbed a coffee for myself to get ore energy. Next thing we knew was the talk was finishing so I rushed up to the stage grabbing the microphone for question time. Yes there was questions were being asked which was great yet it was running overtime which was not to good. Someone was signalling outside to wrap it up quickly so I somehow signalled to poor Sunil about what was going on. He understood and nodded acknowledgement to me, which was good. The questions were finishing up slowly yet it was good that people felt involved and engaged with the authors and speakers. After all the festival is all about promoting the art of the written word and how fantastic it is. Eventually that was segment was wrapped up everyone was pleased.

Now onto setting up for the next talk in less then half an hour was going to be interesting in more ways then one. We had to transform the casual relaxed atmosphere of the daytime Curiosity Stage to the trendy type cool feeling of the Hemingway Bar for the night sessions. As far as I knew was that it was ticketed and it was all hands on deck to quickly organize everything. I found a beret hat on the floor behind this lady and asked if it was hers. She was miffed and said that it was a man's hat, which she doesn't wear. 

So I did the right process and took it back to where I reported missing, etc... Went back to where the atmosphere was getting to near fever pitch with excitement. Walking up the wharf these three or four ladies in 50's retro dresses asked where the Hemingway Bar was so I decided to escort them up personally. Getting back the set up for the next talk was happening so quickly and that it was nearly ready. I had no real idea who the next speaker was because I hadn't really had the time to look at my sheet. I also didn't realize that The Curiosity Stage and the Hemingway Bar was exactly the same venue. With all the business I made a couple of stupid mistakes because of my newness to what was happening. Yet I said "sorry" and it got sorted out.  I think someone did say that Tara Moss was the next author to talk and there was a band or music before she spoke. Something else interesting was that this was a book launch for her new book as well. http://www.swf.org.au/program/swf2016/book-launch-speaking-out-by-tara-moss-145

The time of the launch was soon approaching with all the final touches happening. People were coming in and the place was near full capacity. The music was playing away behind the noise of people speaking, with the tinkling of bottles and glasses. Mood lighting was making the more feel almost like a swanky type of nightclub atmosphere. Walking past I saw Tara Moss nearby and asked the leader where it was okay to take a picture. To which she just said to ask Tara herself. As I was waiting to get a picture with her she was talking away to a small lady intently. Someone in front of me had a picture then I asked the girl standing near me as well to take a picture of Tara and I. The girl said "Do you want Rosie Batty in the picture as well?"

I may have looked a bit dumbfounded which is me sometimes. Before I could say anything the small lady who had her back towards me turned around with a big warm friendly smile on her face. At this point you could have tipped me over with a feather as I realized that it was really Rosie Batty who I admire standing right in front of me. I was not expecting to see her there at all on that day, or that night, or at that very festival.... So that's how I got a couple of pictures with Tara Moss and Rosie Batty.

A bit after the allotted time for the start of the launch it was underway in a fashionably late tone. The talks of the guest speakers started along with Rosie as well. Then Tara came on starting off her talk as well. Next thing I knew I heard her say a very old name that I had heard in a very, very long time indeed. It was Selwa Anthony's name, which my Mum knows through the industry. My ears pricked up like a fox and my eyes adjusted as a hawk to finding where she was. Selwa acknowledged Tara's appreciation and I remembered her... Even though her hairstyle was different from when I saw her last. As soon as I could I gave my parents a quick call and asked Mum if it was okay to give Selwa her details. Mum agreed to do so which was good. My shift was finishing at  7pm and I was seeing the Magda and George talk at the Rosyln Packer theatre up the road at 7:30pm. So time was of the essence where I had to try to neatly write my Mums’ details on a piece of paper and somehow give the paper to Selwa subtly who was standing near the middle of the room who was near one of another of the off duty volunteers. So the challenge was on for me having Asperger's sometimes it's hard to be subtle with things. Yet I was doing it for my dear Mum. So with the different jobs I was doing here and there I managed to slip the paper to a surprised Selwa during Tara's talk. Walking back to another part of the theatre I felt a sense of achievement yet also mortal embarrassment at the same time.

During this talk as well we were doing different things, which had to be done so I heard little snippets of the talk. There was one main part of the talk, which stuck out to me about taking care of yourself first. She gave an example of the mother and infant on the aeroplane during the emergency. Where the Mum has to put on her mask first to be able to take care of herself. That is before putting the mask on her kid. I remember the other thing s she said were really sensible and straight down the line. I was both really impressed and moved by her talking. It also gave me a chance to look at Tara's other books at the back of the room as to where I recognized the lady who had served me earlier during the day. So I had a bit of a chat to her about books and started to look at Tara's books. I only just got paid the day before and was hesitant about spending money, as I had already bought two books that day and a ticket for a talk. As it turned out I saw the price on the books were quite affordable so I couldn't resist buying two of Tara's books.  Also 7pm had come and my shift had just finished for the day. So as I was winding up the finishing bits of buying the books... Then Tara's talk finished at the same time to my surprise. It was then it dawned on me that I had a chance to get my books signed hopefully if things happened really quickly. Now I was on a deadline to get to Magda's talk in time...
I don't know quite what happened because it happened so quickly and in such a rush that I did get my book signed. Had a quick talk to Tara over her signing the books and gave her a hug as well. On the way out I found Rosie Batty and told her I admired her with what she was doing. It was a short yet interesting and meaningful conversation. We also had a hug and I encouraged her to keep doing what she was doing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosie_Batty

After such a flurry and such a fuss doing my best at a whirling dervish impression I managed nearly to float on an air cloud with excitement to The Roslyn Packer Theatre. My body was at the theatre yet my mind was still at the wharf and me signing off at the volunteer’s room. Without even having time for even a sip of water from the bottle I just got was annoying. Because I got to the venue, picked up my ticket just as it was time for everyone to start going in. The usher at the door notice I had a very worried look and asked if I was okay. I asked about my water to which she said that it is quite okay to have. I found my seat all right yet it felt strange in a good way to be seeing this treat without my honey.  Before I knew it the talk was starting. http://www.swf.org.au/program/swf2016/magda-szubanski-and-george-megalogenis-rated-pg-%28polish-and-greek%29-149

As the talk was underway the whole audience was transported along this casual conversation talk with these two fascinating people and their families. Not only us who there were listening yet it was being broadcast "Live" as well to different parts of the country. It added another dimension to what was happening there where I felt privileged to actually be there to listen to this talk. My body was tingling with excitement and my nerves overloaded with electricity. Yet I still found my mind was wandering with so much excitement, which I was finding it hard to contain. I found myself focusing or at least trying to focus on the moment as much as possible. Before we all knew it the talk was winding up and they were about to ask for questions. I thought of a question that I was so bursting and determined to ask as someone who'd written a book myself. Question time came and George asked if there were any questions from the audience. I quickly put up my hand and said something like "Yes me please? I'd like to ask a question..."
They were still peering around talking amongst themselves when next thing I knew I was standing up with my hand in the air like a school kid in the middle of the whole auditorium. I wanted to know where to go to ask my question when I realised that the other nice people in the crowd were telling me and directing me to the microphones on the side of the stage. By this time my total shyness and quietness left me completely. I was a determined woman on a mission where nothing else seemed to matter but that microphone and getting to it on time to ask my question. I had no fear only courage because I felt so moved by what I had just heard. Looking back on it now I wonder what I looked like to all the other people around me getting up like that so quickly... When I got to the side of the stage I noticed that I was bathed in bright white spotlight where people could see you ask the question. Over the other side of the stage I noticed a very familiar face from Aspect and the Asperger's social group. It was a very huge surprise to see Thomas there standing across from me... We waved and acknowledged one another across the crowded theatre. It was such a strange and amazing coincidence, which was more than likely surprising for him as well.  Anyway he asked his question first then they gave him his answer. After that they realised they were running overtime and were unsure to let me ask my question. Luckily that let me ask my question and introduction... My question was "What was the hardest part about writing the book for you? And also what was the most healing part of writing it for you?"

At this point I heard a few hmms and people agreeing with my question. Magda answered very eloquently where I had stood there trying to comprehend what I had just done to find myself standing there before all these people. When I said something else into the microphone in agreeance with them I found that I wasn't being heard properly. So I had to say it again quickly. It was funny because I forgot my own advice about actually speaking into the microphone to be heard. As I was walking back to my chair I was almost floating it felt like.  Also what I forgot was that I was almost literally sticking out like a very red sore thumb with what I was wearing to everyone. The shirt I had on was one of my favourite bright red shirts saying "KEEP CALM & CARRY ON." with the logo that goes with it.  A few people complimented me on my question and told me it was a very well thought out question. I felt very self conscious as I was leaving the auditorium with everyone else yet that was okay by me.

Before I knew it I was downstairs about to walk out of the theatre when I remembered I wanted to get my book signed. So I asked someone nearby who redirected me upstairs to the Ruth Cracknell room where the signings were happening. Once again I had another challenge ahead of me when I felt like a fish out of water almost literally going up against the human flow of people back to where the room was for the signings. At this point I was feeling like I was nearly "Peopled Out" yet I climbed up the stairs slowly getting to the room expecting to see a huge line up of people waiting. To my surprise again there weren't really that many which I was quite grateful for. Now the next task to do was to find Magda's book somewhere in my heavy jam-packed heavy bag filled with everything I needed including the four books that I bought that day. I soon found the book, stood in line and very quickly I found myself in front of Magda in person no less. This was the lady who I've seen on TV shows and seen pictures off over the many, many years since I heard about her. We had a bit of a talk about things and I must admit that I was star struck. I wasn't expecting to be yet I was and I felt like a teenager. I also asked if it was okay if I gave her a hug to which she said, "Yes".

I saw George talking to someone else and thought I would say "Hello"' to him as well. The other person left and as I started to him he had a big smile on his face giving me a bit of a point saying something like "Your the question girl! Your the question girl."
I looked behind me seeing no one then it clicked he was talking to me where as I smiled and spoke to him for a little bit as well. It was strange yet funny how he remembered me.

Walking down the stairs to the toilet I felt like really floaty then in more ways then one. I was also feeling faint because I hadn't eaten for a long time. While I was in the toilets I was pulling myself together when someone who knew Magda walked in to use them. We had a small chat then I left to go back home finally after such a big day. It wasn't until I walked out of the theatre and started to walk down the road that I was literally shaking with so much emotion in me. Seeing a taxi I flagged it down and caught it to Circular Quay. I saw the ferry was in the terminal, didn't want to miss it so I ran as fast as I could to get there. As I walked down tho the waiting area I wasn't running late... yet about twenty minutes early. I walked back confirmed with the guard and it was again I felt mortal embarrassment again come over me. My mind and body was so overwhelmed as well as overloaded that if you nudged me then I would have flown up to space. I gave my sweetie a call and left a message on the phone. When I was on the ferry I got a return call and just to hear my darling's voice was so comforting. It was what I really did need on such a long ferry ride. Getting to the other side of the harbour was a relief because it meant that I wasn't far from home. I flew off the ferry like a little free bird to my car then drove home to the arms of my amazing sweetheart. Coming through the door we were reunited with a hug where I recounted the amazing and blessed day that I had experienced. I felt like that I had my voice back and was truly inspired to start writing on a more regular basis....
Sleep eventually came after quite a while of trying to find the Zzzz's. 

 Yet the next days adventure awaited me after the much-needed rest.... To be continued....

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