The Quirks of Squirrel Weeks

Squirrel 3

Whadya mean you never heard of a Squirrel Week?

I’m having a Squirrel Week.

I know, I know: only last week I was explaining that in my professional capacity I am like a chameleon, adapting my writing to suit my clients with all the clarity and precision I can muster, and now I’ve apparently switched my allegiance to an entirely different animal species. But if you read on, it will all make sense. Possibly.

For some obscure (and obviously unknown to me) reason, clarity and precision have gone completely out the window this week, and I am feeling so scattered that my decision making abilities resemble those of a squirrel attempting to cross the street.

I’m having a Squirrel Week.

Oh wait — I already said that. My apologies. That’s one of the quirks of having a Squirrel Week: externally, you keep repeating what you’ve already said, while internally, your head is reverberating with hundreds of random thoughts that are interfering with your ability to remember where you put your To Do List…or did you even make one today?

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This never happened…you never saw me…just gonna sneak on outta here…

Is it just me? Does anyone out there have Squirrel Weeks too? I know some of you, like me, have Gotham Days, but does anyone else have whole weeks when you stride purposefully into rooms and then have absolutely no recollection of the reason why you were going there, when you go to get your car keys out of your handbag and discover a paper bag containing a half-eaten sushi roll (ewwww…) that you firmly intended to put into the refrigerator after yoga yesterday, or when you finally get yourself to the supermarket and proceed to zigzag aimlessly through the aisles and subsequently wonder how your shopping trolley ended up filled with cheese, chocolate and bottles of red wine?

What makes Squirrel Weeks worse for me is that most of the time I pride myself (oh yes, that deadliest of sins) on being a focused and organised person. Most days I have — and complete — a To Do List. Most days I use my time super-effectively. Most days I stay on task and do it in style, like a prima ballerina en pointe, pirouetting effortlessly across the stage.

And then a Squirrel Week comes along.

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Because interpretive dance will ALWAYS seem like a good option during a Squirrel Week…

I’m no prima ballerina during a Squirrel Week — oh, no. During Squirrel Weeks, you’re better off imagining me as an off-my-head raver dancing spasmodically to The Prodigy (…breathe the pressure, come play my game, I’ll test ya — psycho-somatic addict-insane…) within the confines of a small windowless room. Or perhaps that’s a bit much. Maybe I just look a bit like…like a squirrel.

While writing this I’ve been trying to work out what the Australian equivalent of a squirrel is but, this being a Squirrel Week, I’ve got nothing. I’ve also been trying to find a way of describing the frenetic, slightly unhinged, sort of squirrelish behaviour I’m prone to at such times, but I’ve drawn a blank there too. I’ve considered consulting a professional, but were I to describe Squirrel Weeks to my doctor I suspect he would simply say that there is nothing about my condition that a prescription for Ritalin or a reduction in my caffeine intake wouldn’t fix.

Squirrel 4

Just gonna sit here looking like I know what I’m doing…

Coffee! A cup of coffee! That’s a great idea…it’s kinda cold today and it’s probably time for a snack anyway…

Wait, what?

Why did I come into the kitchen?

Ummm…

Oh! Look at this bright shiny catalogue — there’s a toy sale at Target. I must get a present for…for…ummm…where’s that birthday invitation again? Must be on the door of the fridge…

Hey — where did all this cheese come from?

 

Yep, I’m having a Squirrel Week.

 

 

 

Chameleon for Hire

 

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The Chameleon: the freelance writer’s spirit animal.

A large part of my work at Blue Jai Creative is freelance writing: I’m a wordsmith for hire, and in that guise my spirit animal is the chameleon.

Maybe it’s a mission statement you’re after, or you need assistance with standardising letter templates for your business, or for someone to revamp the copy on website because you’ve had that on your To Do List since 2014.

Perhaps you want to document your office procedures, or to inject some life into your corporate newsletter, or maybe you need a little help with tweaking a single, significant document for your most important client.

It doesn’t matter to me what it is that you need: if it involves words, I’m your…chameleon.

Let me show you what I mean.

The word chameleon derives from a compound of the Ancient Greek words khamaí and léōn. The Greek word is itself a calque taken from the Akkadian language, meaning the Greeks appropriated a phrase spoken in ancient Mesopotamia meaning “lion of the ground”, translated it word-for-word, and incorporated it into their own vocabulary. Later, the Romans borrowed the word from the Greeks, and modern English usage of the word has emerged from simplifying the spelling of the Latin word chamaeleōn.

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Adaptation at its most beautiful: when a chameleon (or wordsmith) can match what they have to offer with what you want to present.

See? There you go — you’ve just learned how the word chameleon came to be part of the English language. But you may also have just learned that a ‘calque’ is a word-for-word translation from one language to another, or that the Akkadians lived in ancient Mesopotamia. Because that’s what I do as a wordsmith: I take a whole pile of complicated information and put it together in such a way that it is easy to read and understand.

More significantly, however, I can adapt my writing style to suit whatever your needs are — just like a chameleon changes its colour. For example, I don’t mind if it’s technical or scientific writing: if you want me to explain the importance of chameleons evolving zygodactylous feet, extrudable tongues and prehensile tails, I’ll do it. (Don’t worry, I won’t do it here, even though I could make it sound far more interesting than you may think it is.)

Or if you’d prefer me to take on far more traditional business lexicon, I can do that too:

Chameleon Enterprises distributes more than 200 separate product lines throughout Africa, southern Europe and southern Asia, and has well-established regional offices in Madagascar and Sri Lanka. Our range has been successfully introduced to the United States, with significant uptake already occurring in the household pet sector in Hawaii, California and Florida. Given the suitability of our products for both wild and domestic use across a diverse range of habitats, future trends indicate that Chameleon Enterprises will be the global leader in small lizard goods and merchandise by 2020.

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At Blue Jai Creative, I make sure we’re singing the same song.

See what I mean? I know — in this instance I made it all up. I don’t really believe that there is an as yet untapped market for designer lizard wear for the discerning chameleon, but I can certainly make it sound like I do. And I can make your business sound even better — because your business is real.

Essentially — and yes, I used that particular word deliberately — my job is to make sure that what I write accurately reflects what you and your business are all about. My words need to capture the essence of what you want to say to the world, and to do so with clarity and precision.

So if you want a hand (or even a zygodactylous foot) with whatever writing projects you need to tackle, contact Blue Jai Creative. I believe that you will notice the difference when you do — and your clients will, too.

Go wild: hire a chameleon.

Blue Jai Creative – freelance writing and administration services for your home and business, servicing Sydney’s Northern Beaches and beyond.

© Blue Jai Creative 2016

 

 

Sunrise

As you may have heard, Sydney was lashed by storms over the weekend. An East Coast Low brought torrential rain and fierce winds to our part of the world, along with king tides the likes of which we haven’t seen for many long years. Our little house survived unscathed, but only a few minutes’ drive away other dwellings weren’t nearly so fortunate: many near the lakes and lagoons were flooded; others along the beachfront were partially destroyed.

Today, however, the blue sky is striving to make a comeback, the sun is struggling through, and I’ve got some jazz happening on the stereo to blast away the remnants of what has been a very wet weekend. More specifically, I’m listening to one of the greatest jazz vocalists alive today: Kurt Elling.

Last Friday night, just before the downpour began, The Bloke and I were lucky enough to catch Kurt Elling in concert at City Recital Hall in Angel Place. I’ll be honest — I’m an unabashed Elling fan, and it was a bit of a dream come true to see him sing live.

Kurt

Kurt Elling…letting it fly.

And man, can he sing.

I don’t think I wiped the grin off my face from the moment he appeared on stage, singing his take on Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out”, right through to his “Embraceable You” encore. And there were many moments along the way that made me nearly hold me breath, not wanting them to end — as a vocalist, the guy has some serious skills.

But one of the most interesting things about the night was the way Elling engages with his repertoire, reinventing pieces by imposing his own stamp on them — not only via the vocalese for which he is justly famous, but also by inserting his own lyrics into wellknown songs and turning them into something truly unique. Take Elling’s version of Duke Ellington’s “I Like the Sunrise”, for example, where he juxtaposes the original lyrics with ones of his own creation, inspired by the great Persian poet Jalal ad-Din Rumi. It’s creative. It’s clever. And it’s truly captivating.

And so, as storm-damaged Sydney cleans up after a wild weekend, here it is: sunrise, delivered by velvet-voiced virtuoso who really, really knows how to perform.