Ragtag & Sundry

A periodic news and reading roundup

(or: the most interesting, weird and worthwhile ways I procrastinated on the www of late).

This Conversation between Dan Gunn and Lydia Davis at the wonderful Music & Literature.

This 1929 Soviet-era silent movie by Dziga Vertov, who once said: “I am eye. I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, am showing you a world, the likes of which only I can see.”


Published a couple of years ago, but still – and maybe more so – relevant, Rebecca Solnit’s Diary in the London Review of Books meditates on the influence of technology and the quality of the time we spend in today’s day and age.

“A restlessness has seized hold of many of us, a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing….  It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone.”

Solnit’s sentiments echo my own of late (though more beautifully and with considerably more clarity and conviction – I tend to vacillate between her perspective and one of the commenters who persuasively argues that Solnit is not the first in history to romanticize and misremember the reality of the past). Still, food for thought, and it nudged me into action concerning the way I do, and want to, spend my time. Day 2 of being Facebook-free and it feels okay!

Based on a couple of short stories I’ve read, I’m very excited about Irish writer Sara Baume’s forthcoming debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, from Tramp Press. Will certainly gush more about her another time. For now, though, I lately loved her little blog post documenting some artwork she made, and an installation of post-its titled All The Days I Did and Didn’t, while writing the novel.

I’ve also been seriously dreamy over the work of Mister Finch, a self-taught artist who sews delightful flora and fauna from vintage textiles. I want to fall down this lacy, threadbare rabbit hole and live in a world that looks like this:



There were other things, too, but these are the things I thought to share with you, whatever share means, whoever you are.



What’s A Weekend?

It’s Friday!

Not that Friday signifies what it used to.

In an episode of Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess (played to haughty, privileged perfection by Maggie Smith) asks “What’s a weekend?” For a lady of leisure, every day’s the same.

When we were walking in India, the days melded and Mondays and Sundays lost all meaning: Hindu worshippers are not dogmatic with their days; we knew it was Friday if we happened to walk through a predominantly Muslim village and the mosque keened out the call to kneel and pray.

Since coming home, every day and evening has been weekend-like, with dinners and drinks and hikes and bikes. Slowly, though, we are returning to a rhythm and I am desperate for a day and week with structure and a predictable – but flexible! – pattern.

I think I work best, and more, with a routine.

In my old job in Ireland, I had a strange set-up where I worked sleepover shifts, one week on and one week off, in a house with adults with intellectual disabilities. In my ‘week on’ I worked a lot of hours, including a weekend where I started work at 5pm on a Friday and finished at 9am the next Monday.

I was also doing my Masters part-time during the day.

The crazy thing was, I achieved so much more in the weeks where I had college classes and working at night. I had to go to the library during my lunch-break because I had to catch the bus by 4pm to get to work by five. And I had to read those books and articles on the bus and any spare moment because I had to not sound like an idiot in class the next day or get into shit with my teachers.

On my week off – or should I say, my off week – I had so much time to read and study, to get on top of things or do extra. But, my name is Deborah Rose and I am a procrastinator. It has been four minutes since I last procrastinated.

This is me:

The thing is, life looks quite different now from Ireland two years ago. Transitioning to a life where I supposedly work for myself comes with many challenges, not least of which is how I manage my time. I don’t have an external motivator – like a boss who might sack me or a teacher who might fail me if I don’t show up or don’t get the work done. It’s all on me and I am my biggest obstacle!

And it’s not like I’m watching videos of baby hedgehogs* or something.

There’s this great piece in The New Yorker on What Was Revealed When the Lights Went Out in India. That’s important.

And this one that asks: What’s a Metaphor For? Which is something I need to know if I were ever to write one.

Or these words of wisdom and affirmation about How To Find Your Purpose And Do What You Love. How about that?!

Except I already have a hunch what my purpose is and I know what I love. It’s a case of getting the cuss on with it.

But not before I read Dani Shapiro’s much better piece on the subject: #amwriting. I should really download that Freedom software. Oh wait! I did! I should really use that Freedom software…

This blogpost is an example of procrastination I suppose… But it’s also placing words upon words in a way that I like, so I count it.

I know it’s cheating, really. (And I lied, I do watch baby hedgehog videos, and baby sloth bears too!) But it’s Friday and the sun is shining. I’m bunking off. I’m playing hooky.

See you bright and early on Monday! I’ll be good next week, I promise.