Staying (dis)connected with Telstra

A man and power lines are reflected in a Telstra poster adorning a public telephone in Sydney, AustraliaScene – at my local Telstra shop.

Me: “I’m not sure what to do, I’ve smashed the screen of my iPhone, but I believe I have insurance…”

Them: “The best thing to do is to call Telstra, find out if you have Stay Connected and take it from there – if you have Stay Connected, you get two gigabytes of free data, and they will replace the phone.”

Me: “Really? That sounds simple…I was thinking of just getting the screen replaced in the shopping centre…”

Them: (Sternly.) “If you do that Madam, you will null and void your warranty and any problem you have with your phone will not be covered. Would you like to wait in the queue? Our waiting time is only four hours at the moment.”

Me: “Oh. No, I’ll go home and call Telstra.”

* * * * *

Them: “I already have your year of birth so please tell me the day and month or enter it on your telephone keypad…”

Me: “May 15.”

Them: “Is that…the 25th of October?”

Me: “No.”

Them: “Please tell me the day and month of your birth or enter it on your telephone keypad…”

Sometime later:

Them: “How may I direct your enquiry? Blah, blah, blah or blah, or other?”

Me: “Other…”

Them: “Sorry I didn’t quite catch that…”

Me: “Other!”

Them: “So that would be telephone sales?”

Me: (Sighs.) “Yes.”

Person answers.

Them: “So you’re interested in purchasing a new phone.”

Me: (Patiently.) “No. I dropped my iPhone and smashed the screen, and I believe I have insurance.   I was told at the Telstra shop that you provide a replacement phone, and that with Stay Connected I can back-up two gigabytes of data.”

Them: “I’m sorry, that’s not my department. But I’ll put you through immediately to Stay Connected. Is there anything further I can help you with?”

Me: (Politely.) “Thank you, but no thank you.”

Dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum…

Me: ”Oh hello! Yes, I’m ringing about my iPhone, I dropped it and smashed the screen and I was told…”

Them: “Yes, that’s right. All you have to do is download the Stay Connected app, then you follow the instructions and you can back-up all your data. When you get your new phone simply follow the prompts and ALL your data will be restored…”

Me: “Really? That’s fantastic! Thank you.”

Them: “Perhaps you would like to stay on the line and complete a short survey?”

Me: “Sure.” (Thinks – In your dreams.)

itunes-error-1669

A few days later, new phone arrives. Download Stay Connected App onto old phone (which is still working held together by sticky tape and Gladwrap). Instruction tells me I can’t download data, because I have too much on the phone. Start to delete. Keeps telling me I have too much. I get below ONE gigabyte, still tells me too much.

Them: “…I already have your year of birth so please tell me the day and month…”

_________________Readers fill in the blanks.

Them: “Hi there, I’m Cherie from Stay Connected. How can I be of service?”

Me: “Well, the thing is I smashed my iPhone….I’m trying to use the Stay Connected App. I was told it took two gigabytes of data and I’m way below now.”

Them: “Oh, well, I’m sorry but the App is down at the moment. It’s being redesigned, and in fact you have FIVE gigabytes of FREE data on it.” (Said in tones of great excitement.)

Me: (With just a touch of sarcasm.) “So I’ve just deleted most of the photos and videos on my phone to get it below the two gigabytes I thought I had, and in fact your App is not working, but if it was I would have five gigabytes, which means I’ve completely unnecessarily cleared my phone out?”

Them: “That is unfortunately the case. However, have you ever backed up your phone through iTunes?”

Me. “Yes, I have.”

Them: “Well, due to our App currently being redesigned, perhaps the best idea would be to back up your old phone to iTunes and then insert your new phone, and instead of clicking up setting up new phone, click restore phone…”

Me: “Good idea. I’ll do it that way. Thanks for your help.”

Them: “Thank you and perhaps you would like to stay on the line to complete a short survey?”

Me: “Fine.” Thinks – in your dreams.

Back up old phone to iTunes. All G, as they say. Insert new phone. Message. Your phone cannot be connected to iTunes because your iTunes needs updating. Hmmm. Update iTunes. Your update cannot be installed because your operating system needs updating. Hmmmm. Update operating system. Your operating system cannot be updated because you don’t have enough free space. (Also although they don’t say this, someone out there is going, PLUS your stupid MacBook is way too old, Loser, and you ain’t never going to have El Capitaine on that thing…and if you can’t afford a new laptop you don’t deserve to back up your phone anyway…)

Reparación-de-celulares-mas-allá-del-simple-cambio-de-pantalla-en-Iphone-Ipad-y-Samsung

Them: “So I can direct your enquiry to the right place….”

Me: (Screaming) STAY CONNECTED STAY CONNECTED STAY CONNECTED.

Them: That would be, moving house?

Me: NO. You idiot. I am not effing moving house.

Them: “I’ll put you through now.”

(I’m pretty sure she said it in huffy tones – they probably have a huffy robot tone…)

One hour later.

Them: “What seems to be the problem?”

Me: (Sobbing quietly.) “I smashed my iPhone…”

Them: “I can hear you’re having some problems. Have you tried

downloading your data to the cloud – have you done that yet?”

Me: (Deep sigh.) “I tried once but it seemed to take a long time.”

Them: “The first time does take a while but I’m sure that will solve your problem, and it’s very easy, you just……………”

SIX hours later – you know the drill. “Welcome to Telstra. I already have…”

Me: (Finally talking to a person.) “Look, I’m having some troubles downloading my data to the cloud – it’s been six hours so far and it doesn’t seem to have finished yet…”

Them: “Let’s see if there’s a problem.” Goes away. Dum-de-dum-dum-de-dum.

Them: (In an accusatory voice.) “Your internet is working very slowly…”

Me: “Yes, that’s something I’ve been meaning to mention…the Telstra shop told me that I could get NBN where I live, I’m thinking it would be a good idea.”

Them: “Let me see.” (Pause.) “Unfortunately you can’t get NBN where you live. Have you tried backing your phone up to iTunes?”

Me: (Frothing at the mouth.) “Sorry, I have to go, I have an emergency…”

Them: “Perhaps you’d have time to complete a short survey?”

Me: “Sure.” Thinks – In. Your. Dreams.

THE NEXT MORNING – phone STILL downloading to the cloud. But at 4.00 am I had a bright idea. I have a Mac Book Air belonging to the company for which I do some social media work, and I have my own user profile on it.

I download iTunes, log in, and back up my old phone to it. I plug in the new phone – and Yippee!!!! It works. Data restored.

It’s only taken 36 hours, and I’m – oh yes – SO connected.

Perhaps I’ll wait until tomorrow to talk to Telstra about the NBN.

Candida Baker’s latest book is Belinda the Ninja Ballerina published by Ford Street.  You can purchase the book here: fordstreetpublishing

 

 

 

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It’s Belinda’s way or the Highway…

Belinda the Ninja FRONTlowresSo there we are, my partner and I, and we’re slogging up Whitsunday Peak on Whitsunday Island, and it’s hot and humid. My sandfly bites are driving me crazy, and mozzies the size of elephants are trying to carry me away. I’m wondering if my desire not to be the first one to say ‘let’s stop’, will beat my desire to get back to Dugong Beach as quickly as possible and plunge myself into the beautiful, clear, turquoise water.

I give in. “Greg,” I whinge. “Let’s go back.”

He stops almost mid-step. “Phew,” he says. “I thought you’d never say it.”

So we turn around and pick our way back down through the rainforest, and into the scrub, and back along the path to the beach, and as we do, I’m thinking about my (then) 13-year-old daughter Anna, and how much she loves to do dance. I’m swatting away the mozzies, and wiping the sweat from my brow, and I suddenly get this little dancing image in my mind. At least, it’s a little girl, but she’s not exactly dancing, she’s doing Ninja moves.

“Yee-hah!” she’s shouting, as she puts up a hand to stop an imaginary opponent, and I’m surprised though, that she’s dressed in a little pink tutu and ballet slippers – because even though I’ve only just made her acquaintance I’m absolutely sure she doesn’t want to be a ballerina, she wants to be a Ninja.

The Ninja Ballerina I think to myself, and suddenly a name pops into my head.   Belinda.

Belinda the Ninja Ballerina.

I’m almost jumping up and down on the spot – I’d be doing Ninja moves at the brush turkeys if I was supple enough.

“I’ve got an idea for a children’s book,” I say. “I think I’ve got to write it now.

There’s a wonderful moment as a writer, when an idea comes to you – and just for a moment you see it there, already written, already published even, and it’s perfect, it’s just as you imagined it, it’s a success, everybody loves it…and then, reality hits.

To begin with, you actually have to get the words out of your head on to paper, or computer, and then you have to begin the arduous process of working on the words, and even worse, fight off the internal nay-sayers who are only too happy to tell you that your idea is no good, and why on earth do you think you can write a book. Those voices don’t even listen when you tell them you’ve written books before – “yeah, well,” they’ll say in derision, “just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean you can do it again.” When I teach creative writing I always tell people – when you write something, at some point or other you’re going to have to cross Mordor.

But as I sat on a wooden bench, under a palm tree, trying to get this cheeky curly-headed girl out of my head and into a story, the words flowed as swiftly as a river, and within an hour, she was written. There was only one problem – I wished desperately that I could draw – I so wanted Belinda to look as I imagined her, and not how someone else might imagine her. But I needn’t have worried, because for whatever magical reason it might be, Belinda’s birth into the world of books, has been as easy and blessed as the moment of creation.

Mitch Vane's first rough drawings for Belinda the Ninja Ballerina.

Mitch Vane’s first rough drawings for Belinda the Ninja Ballerina.

Some people have already asked me the obvious question of whether I did ballet as a child, and I did – but let’s just say that I was not the most graceful child on the block. In fact I was pretty much permanently traumatized from the age of four when my father came to see me dance at my end of year kindergarten concert. We were doing a Little Miss Muffet sequence, and I was very proud of my pink tutu, tights and ballet shoes. I ran up to my parents after it was over, and my father looked at me solemnly.

“Well,” he said, “Stay as clumsy as that and you’ll never make a dancer.”   I sat down on my little pink bottom and burst into tears while my mother hugged me and not for the first or last time looked at my father reproachfully.

And there I was sitting under a palm tree on the other side of the world over 50 years later, and the idea of the Little Miss Muffet sequence came flooding back in – but this time, Belinda took control. No cute little costumes for her – no way, she wanted to be the Ninja spider. Graceful be damned – she was going to dance her way, or no way.

When Paul Collins, the publisher of Ford Street books in Melbourne, accepted Belinda I was delighted. I love what he does with children’s books – the care he takes, the fact that he’s stuck to his guns and still prints picture books in hardback, and when he mentioned to me that perhaps we should approach Mitch Vane to do the illustrations, I was over the moon. I know Mitch’s work well, although I’ve never met her, and sitting far away in Byron Bay, waiting for the first drawings to come in, I felt a combination of excitement and trepidation. How would Mitch see Belinda? After all, they’re not called ‘picture’ books for nothing – the words may have come first, but the pictures were essential. Would Mitch’s vision match mine, or would she see Belinda completely differently?

When the email arrived with the first roughs, I almost broke the keyboard in my excitement to open them – and WOW – there was Belinda. My Belinda. A cheeky curly-haired red-head, with a grin, and a Ninja costume, cart-wheeling her way through the pages of the book.

It’s interesting when you write a book, or a story, or essay, how other people see it – sometimes as a writer you may question their interpretation, sometimes they see something you didn’t even see when you were writing. Mitch spotted an element to the book that was entirely unconscious in the writing, and that was Belinda’s constant movement.

“Belinda’s character is never what you would call ‘quiet’ or ‘still’,” Mitch said to me when we were talking about the teacher’s notes for the book. “Throughout the story she never stops practicing her Ninja moves, and that’s why I felt the energetic squiggly pen and ink line and splashes of colour wash best reflected her personality – but I think what was most important for me was to portray Belinda’s determination and passion.”

It seemed that Mitch and Paul both connected with Belinda’s determined personality, and then throughout the publishing process there was also Dmetri Kakmi – Belinda’s editor – the contact point between us all – publisher, author and illustrator. He too loved Belinda, and carefully negotiated the minefield of dealing with ‘creatives’ to gather the various strands into the whole that has become the book that at this moment – after 14 books – has most perfectly realized that moment of creation.

I know how lucky I am as a writer to have had this experience, and as Belinda the Ninja Ballerina is launched into the world next week, I hope many young readers enjoy her message on the importance of standing up for yourself.


You can find out more about candida baker on candidabaker.com

Candida Baker also runs an online arts, culture and lifestyle magazine based in the Byron Bay region – www.verandahmagazine.com.au

For more information on Belinda the Ninja Ballerina go to: www.fordstreetpublishing.com

Creative Tension

Creativity arises out of the state of thoughtless presence in which you are much more awake than when you are engrossed in thinking. Eckhart Tolle

 

 Right and left brains. An ad designed for Mercedes Benz. Image via Creative Jaunt.

What exactly is creativity? As a writer it’s something I often think about, particularly when the creative muse has gone missing, and I’m in urgent need of her – which is usually whenever a deadline is looming.

I think that most of us would describe creativity as a process whereby new ideas or concepts are generated. The professions that would most likely spring to mind would be the arts, and perhaps most specifically that of an artist.

Curiously, art was not actually considered creative until the Renaissance. The ancient Greek word for art – ‘techne’ is actually the root word for technique and technology, and art – with the exception of poetry – for the Greeks meant following rules.

Mind you, discipline, although less attractive than the idea that a single moment of creative genius can bring success, is as essential as the idea itself.

In other words – as simple as it seems – you can’t be something, unless you do it.

The concept of creativity is complex, partly because unlike results-based maths and sciences, there’s no absolute yardstick to measure anything by. Not that mathematics and sciences are not creative – take Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci as two examples of highly creative logical thinkers.

One thing researchers do agree on is that creativity involves more activity from the right-side of the brain, which is responsible for emotion, ideas and conceptual thought, so that any activity we can do that is conducive to producing that deep profound state of relaxation where creativity can make its presence felt is helpful.

Walking, meditation, time alone in nature, swimming – even the quiet insomniac hours of the night when you are awake and the world sleeps, are all ways to contact the muse.

Carl Jung, definitely a right and left-brainer, who understood the need to balance both, once said: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

I remember once interviewing playwright Michael Gow, after the success of his play Away, and he told me that everyday he swam laps to create the next bit of the script. He would swim up and down the pool, plotting and planning, until he was ready to go home and write down the day’s work.

For me creativity is in equal parts inspiration, perspiration, frustration – and reward.

When I imagine a book, fictional or otherwise – I can see it in its entirety, completely finished and on the bookshelves. That brief illumination is followed by the disheartening reality that it’s going to take some time, years even, before the idea becomes manifest.

But if I manage it, then there’s the reward of a project well done, of the sense of connecting out into a wider universe – and the constant quest for the next creative idea. It’s a strange and not entirely peaceful way to live, when you think about it!

Although a recent British Management Institute research paper discovered recently that if stressed out executives were given art classes, they were as relaxed afterwards as if they had gone on holiday. I wonder though, if ‘being creative’ still has that effect if it’s what you do for a living?

Love what you do.  Do what you love.  Photograph:  Candida Baker
 Maya Angelou described the importance of discipline to the muse when she wrote:  “What  I try to do is write.  I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’  And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff.  But I try.  When I’m writing, I write.  And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay.   Okay.  I’ll come.'”

Children, mind you, seem to understand the creative state intuitively. They don’t have to fight to be in it or search for it, it just happens – perhaps because it’s not results-based so there is no anxiety about the final product, whether it’s drawing patterns in the sand, or pictures on paper, or words in a story – it takes a while before the unpleasant realisation dawns that other people can judge you or comment on what you do, or mark you, or misunderstand you.

When I’ve taught writing or creativity workshops one of the most frequent blockages people have expressed is exactly that reluctance to be judged. They may have only written a few pages, but they’ll say: “What if people don’t like it? What if I can’t find a publisher?”

They might want to write, paint, play music, dance, sing or do craft, but even before they try they are sabotaging themselves with the idea that ‘people’ will review, criticize, analyse and judge them.

But if there’s anything certain about creativity it is that it is an uniquely individual experience, it belongs to you, and you alone, and it has no need to be shared with the world before it’s ready.

So it’s a question of nurturing creativity in order to become more creative, of being disciplined and relaxed, having the courage to come forward, and knowing when to stay quiet and removed from life, of not inviting criticism but knowing when to withstand it when your creative baby goes out into the world, and most importantly continuing to nurture it once it is out in the world.

Nothing to it really… Now where’s that novel?

‘Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air – explode softly – and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth – boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either – not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination. ‘

Robert Fulghum

 

 

 

All that glitters is not gold…

Colin Firth and Judi Dench. Shakespeare in Love. 1998. Homepage photograph, Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth 1 in Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

I’ve been thinking about gold, and the meaning of it quite a bit over the past week or so since the Olympics took over our lives.

For me, whenever I think of gold, I think of being 18 and scoring a job with the Oxford Playhouse Company in a season that included Edward Woodward, Leo McKern, and the wonderful Judi Dench.

During The Merchant of Venice I was elevated from floor sweeper and dogsbody to be the gold casket bearer while Bassanio gave his casket speech.

I was dressed in a fetching golden Elizabethan costume.

Every night, I would listen to Bassanio while every night he dismissed me:  Therefore, thou gaudy gold, hard food for Midas, I will none of thee…

Read my article at The Hoopla.