Sunday, December 30, 2012

Almost, but not quite

This is my 24th post for 2012. 

That's a bit rubbish.

2007 was my worst year for blogging... 20 posts in total.  In my defense... no.  Wait.  I went overseas and moved house a few times in 2008 - I can't use that as an excuse.

Fact is, there is no excuse.  I've been very good at maintaining my other blogs, but that's just a line or two about my day and the occasional rant about the downside of working in a box office.  I'm also apparently very good at writing lengthy, yet humourously entertaining status updates on Facebook.

I've been working almost every day for the last week - I only had Christmas & Boxing Days off.  The downside of working in the arts.  It's not often I miss working in the world of investment banking, but this time of year I do.  Decent salaries, plus big, fat bonuses (with at least three or more zeros on the end), a huge Christmas party and no work between Dec 24 and Jan 2.  Those were the days.  Oh, how they've changed.

This year, our CEO decided that no one would get anything.  Nothing to say thank you to his hard-working staff, many of whom have had their workload tripled since he decided to make some redundancies to save costs.  I'm sure that several of the staff are headed for nervous breakdowns with the amount of extra work they've been lumbered with. Admittedly, Sydney got a Christmas party (bowling and a couple of drink vouchers each... hey big spender), but Melbourne?  No. The CEO wasn't going to give us diddly squat.  I managed to blag us (all six of us!) a free lunch at one of our hotel partners and my manager, bless her, bought us gift cards (out of her own pocket, I suspect), but from the CEO?  Not even an email to say "thanks for working so hard this year".  Disgust doesn't even begin to describe my thoughts about our CEO's behaviour towards us all. It's definitely spurred me on to actively seek alternative employment in 2013.  

Anyway.

I worked today, I'm working tomorrow (day and night - oh yes, New Years Eve!) and on New Years Day.  Joy of joys.  Oh well.  At least I get double time on New Year's Day.

Today I looked through my list of what I wanted to achieve this year, which I wrote in the back of my diary.  Of the ten things, I achieved one and a half (finding something to laugh about every day and going to the gym three times a week... I only managed that one half the time).  

Must try harder in 2013.

Will also set a goal for 52 blog posts in 2013.  That's one a week.  Surely that's manageable. 

We'll see, shall we?

Happy 2013 to all of you who still stop in here every now and again.  Hope it's a cracker.

xo






Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ten Things About Les Mis...


Today the GBF and I took ourselves off to the cinema to see Les Mis.  We're both big fans of the stage version (I was a HUGE fan back in the day... I even have the Swedish cast recording, thanks to the lovely Lotta who was just as big a fan).

But the movie?  Well I had reservations.  But I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  These are my thoughts:

Ten Things I Love About... Les Mis:

1. Aaron Tveit. I knew he'd be an amazing Enjolras after seeing him in Catch Me If You Can last year, but he surpassed my expectations. Fabulous. Why wasn't he Marius?

2. Anne Hathaway. Gorgeous, fragile, perfect. Loved her.

3. Samantha Barks. Beautiful voice and did a great job of convincing me she was in love with Eddie Redmayne, even though any smart woman would be pushing him aside for Aaron Tveit. 

4. Gavroche. Cracking little kid. Gutted they didn't let him have a full version of Little People. And his death scene was brilliant.

5. Both the Cosettes. Amanda Seyfried did a pretty decent job with a sappy role and the little one's version of Castle on a Cloud (although cut down) was enchanting.

6. Helena Bonham Carter. Stayed fairly true to the score, but still managed to add in a hint of her own take on the character. Enjoyed her immensely.

7. Colm Wilkinson's cameo as the bishop. 

8. The epic-ness of Do You Hear the People Sing and One Day More - the final shot was spectacular.

9. The attention to detail with makeup. There were rotting flesh wounds and grotty teeth. Given one of my biggest gripes with period pieces is actors with straight, shiny, white teeth, they've done well.

10. The resounding "crack" as Javert hit the concrete before being sucked into the water. I damn nearly cheered, I was so relieved that he was finally off the screen and I wouldn't have to listen to him attempt to sing anymore.



Ten Things I Hate About... Les Mis:

1. Russell Crowe. 

2. Russell Crowe's strained, nasal delivery of Stars and Javert's Suicide (two of my favourite numbers from the show). I've had to listen to Philip Quast's versions about ten times since getting home, to try and block out Russell's butchering of it.

3. Russell Crowe turning into a wooden statue whenever he had to sing... I'm not saying he need to tap dance, but fella, there's a body attached to your head - use it.

4. Eddie Redmayne. I bet Michael Ball wishes he was about 30 years younger... I know I do. I've had to listen to his version of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables about ten times to try and block out Eddie's whiny version.

5. I'm sorry, I know everyone thinks he's amazing, and his overall portrayal is great; BUT I'm just going to say it... Hugh's version of Bring Him Home? Appalling. 

6. Hugh's nasal delivery of a huge number of his songs. Mate, you're better than that. Use some chest voice once in a while.

7. Hugh's bizarre Irish-sounding accent in the early part of the film. Jean Valjean is French, you git. At least Sasha B-C was attempting to put a touch of a French accent in there, even if he did sound a bit Borat-ish.

8a. Note to Hugh and Eddie (and a few others): a little diction wouldn't go astray. Opening your mouth to sing also helps.

8b. The cutting of verses from so many of the songs. The young Cosette was adorable - cut Russell's songs, not Castle on A Cloud if you're short on time. Same for Little People. Gavroche was fantastic - let him have his full number. 

9. The addition of the new song. Musically, it just didn't fit.

10. Russell Crowe. Seriously. How did he even get cast?


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tagged, I'm It!

So, the awesome Pandora has tagged me in the (joyful - because I love doing these things!) task of answering the following questions:

Ready?  OK.

[I'm resisting the urge to break out into a Bring It On routine when I say that]


1. What is your favorite Christmas/Holiday movie? 

I can't answer this with just ONE... I love Christmas movies!  Die Hard totally tops the list (like Pandora, Alan Rickman is the key here), but Love Actually (again with the Rickman) and The Family Stone come a close second and third.  Oh and Scrooged.  Bill Murray is awesome.  And I always watch Meet Me In St Louis around Christmas time.  And Bridget Jones's Diary. Oh and Better Off Dead counts as a Christmas-y movie, right?


2. What is your favorite flower?

Hmmmm... I would have to say hydrangeas. Blue ones and pink ones.  But I love ALL flowers really (potential suitors, take note).  Gardenias are another fave.


3. What is your favorite (non-alcoholic) beverage?

Well, coffee of course. Can't live without coffee.  But I'm also a sucker for a bit of ginger beer.  Or sparkling pink grapefruit juice.


4. What is your passion? 

Just one? Come on... I have many!  Travelling and writing would have to top the list.  Movies and theatre would follow closely behind.


5. What is your favorite time of year? 

Early spring when all the jasmine on my balcony is blooming.


6. What is your favorite time of the day? 

Sunrise.  Not that I see it that often... probably why I love it on the rare occasions that I do.

7. What is your favorite physical activity?  

Dancing.  I love to dance.  And yes, I am channelling SJP in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun when I say that.


8. What is your favorite vacation? 

That I've taken or that I want to take? Because there are so many places in the world I've still to visit that I'm worried I may not fit them all in...  top of that list is walking El Camino de Santiago.  THAT I must do in the next few years.  In terms of my favourite vacation so far, that would be my trip to NYC last year for my 40th birthday. The combination of being in one of my favourite cities in the world and being with five of my best friends, made that vacation one of the best I've ever had.



OK.  Do I need to tag?  I probably should.  Hmmm, let's see...

Charlotte - http://minplatsisolen.blogspot.com.au/
Caroline (in case she wants a little break from her usual blogging topics) - http://oystersandoxtail.wordpress.com/
Melba - http://melbgirltakeonthings.blogspot.com.au/
Erin - http://www.healingscribe.com/
Sarah - http://pigletinapoke.com/



Your choice, lovely ladies - if you so wish.

x


Thursday, November 08, 2012

*waves*

Hi.  Sorry. Been a bit frantic. Took on some extra work which I thought would be a doddle and it's turned out to be a time-sucking leech. My house is a tip, I have to fly to NZ on Saturday morning (for a day of work - ugh) and the following weekend I have to spend the whole of it at some horse show. Where I'm going to find the time to do the little things (like dishes, reading my books which are due back at the library, wax my legs and so on) is beyond me.

I know.  Whinge, whinge, whinge. Suck it up sister, you're earning extra money.  This is a good thing.

One thing I'm NOT going to whinge about (in fact it's what's kept me going the last 24 hours) is this:





So. Bloody. Happy.  

I am a close follower of the US Elections - have been for years. Those of you who are my facebook friends will know this from bitter experience... and I do apologise for clogging your newsfeed with my running commentary over the last few days/weeks.

I'm just a little bit pleased that Obamarama and my man Joe get to spend another four years in DC.  

I'm also just a little bit pleased* that my favourite VP will be making a guest appearance on one of my favourite shows next week.

In the meantime, I'm off to bed.  More than four hours sleep would be nice, but I'll take whatever I can get at present.

Did I mention 28 Black is my new drink of choice?  I couldn't have survived the last two weeks without it.

As you were.

x




* When I say "little bit pleased", I mean I actually squealed in excitement when I saw the article. Yes, SQUEALED. Like a kid at Christmas when they get a bike, a puppy AND a drum kit.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Micro Memoir

As part of a writing festival at my local library in November, they're running a short story and poetry competition.  You don't have to be a resident to enter, just an Australian citizen, but they are offering extra prizes for local residents.

I stumbled across the information for the competition quite by chance as I was renewing my library books and thought it might be a good opportunity to see if I could actually finish a piece of writing for something that's not this blog.  

So for the last week I've been working on a little story inspired by the tales of my childhood and after having a lovely (and trusted) friend give me feedback, this afternoon I've finished it and entered it into the competition.  As an added bonus, the story forms a completed chapter for the book I've been toying with for the last two years.  Hopefully this will be inspiration to keep plugging away at that.

In any case, it's a good feeling to have finished a piece.

Let's see what happens.

x

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sobering Up


That title makes it sound like I have a drinking problem.  I don't.  But I quite easily could, so I've decided to give up drinking for a while.  I've done it before - in 2008 I stopped drinking for nearly four months.  This time around I have a different motivation.  My dermatologist has put me on a four month course of antibiotics to try and get a handle on my rosacea, which has been getting worse over the last year.  Technically, I don't have to stop drinking alcohol, but she said it was advisable, so I've decided to.  I'm also trying to save money and pay off my credit card, so not forking out all that money for booze each week is an extra motivator.

Of course, I have had a few trip ups so far, but I'm not beating myself up over it.  The way I see it, if I can manage not to crack open any of the multiple bottles of wine that have been sitting in my fridge for almost a month now, I'm not doing too badly.  Now I just need to work on my sugar habit... another recommendation from the dermatologist.

I've been doing a quite a lot of reading lately - I think this is a direct result of becoming somewhat of a hermit (note to self: learn to socialise in non-drinking forms).  One of the books I've had on my shelf for a while but never got around to reading until recently was Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.  I stumbled across it on my last day in NYC last year and since then I've been following her blog and subscribing to her daily email alerts.   Each week she features different people, asking them about their "happiness".  Last week she featured a writer named Caren Osten Gerszberg.  Caren's answer to one of the questions resonated with me... I could've written her answer almost word for word:



Is there anything you find yourself doing repeatedly that gets in the way of your happiness?
Yes. I grew up surrounded by anger and stress, which took up a life of their own in my life, and thus in my head. As cliché as it sounds, sweating the small stuff used to interfere with my path to happiness on a frequent basis. In recent years, I’ve learned how to meditate, breathe deeply, and be more accepting of myself and others, which has afforded me greater access to happiness. I’m no expert, but feeling the positive impact inspires me to continue the journey.




There was a link in the article to Caren's website, so naturally I clicked across only to discover that, among her many projects, she is a co-founder of the blog Drinking Diaries. It's been a particularly fascinating read given my current circumstances and I think will be quite useful in keeping me on track for my goal.

Now, does anyone have any good suggestions for tasty non-alcoholic drinks which don't involve high-fructose fruit juices or soft drinks?  Soda water with a squeeze of lime juice is quite possibly the most boring drink ever invented.

x


Thursday, September 06, 2012

My Life (summed up in a single image)

I feel the need to write something, if only to move that slightly depressing piece I wrote last week further down the page.  Trouble is, I have no idea what to write.  Very little inspiration.

I had planned to "do stuff" today. "Stuff" along the lines of going to the gym and go to the movies. But I woke up this morning feeling a bit meh, and scrapped those plans in favour of a day of doing some laundry and reading.  High stakes excitement right there people.  Don't you wish your life was like mine?

I did do a bit of university research though.  The deadline for applications is 28 September, so the clock is beginning to tick.  The course I'd really like to do (at RMIT) is only offered on a full-time basis, which has thrown a spanner in the works somewhat.  It would be almost impossible to keep my current 3-day-a-week job and do the course, so I've had to expand my search and am now contemplating a part-time BA at Melbourne Uni.  Six years of part-time study is better than the next six years of no study... I think I'll just jump in.

Having said that, it does make me wonder just how appropriately this picture (which a friend had on his facebook page this morning), sums up my life...





Sure, a lot of things in my life which began with this philosophy turned out well, and I'm sure returning to study will be one of them.  However a large number haven't worked out quite as well... hence the hesitancy.  But hey, life is short.  Why not live by this principle?  The good in my life has far outweighed the bad.

Right. Back to the research.

Speaking of studying, have you seen this?  The delightful Melba alerted my attention to it in a post the other day. Yale courses, available online. FOR FREE. So good I decided to link it twice. Awesome. Thank you Yale.  And thank you Melba!



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tooth and Nail

Life is a funny old thing, isn't it?  By funny, I don't necessarily mean humorous, although it is that a lot of the time.  In this instance, I mean peculiar.  Strange.  Strange things are happening all around me at the moment, a lot of them bad.  Very bad.  As bad as they can possibly get.  However, none of the bad things are happening TO me, just AROUND me.  Am I impervious?  Immune?  Does my (generally) sunny disposition somehow protect me?  Or am I just being lulled into a false sense of security?  

Let me offer some examples.

A few weeks ago, I received a message from a very good friend of mine who lives in Sydney.  Incidentally, I used to live with her sister, another very good friend.  The message was that they were on their way home (overseas), as their younger sister (who I knew, but not terribly well and who was the same age as me) had died quite suddenly.  Tonight I finally got to speak to my friend... it turns out that her sister had had an operation (elective) a few months ago, the recovery from which had exacerbated an old injury.  The pain incurred wore her down to the point where she was so severely depressed that she took her own life, despite having fallen deeply in love with a wonderful man. The effect on her family, obviously, is one of total confusion and devastation.

On Saturday night I had a phone call from one of my closest friends in Melbourne to say his mother (aged only 58) had died in her sleep that morning.  She'd only been for a check up at the doctor's a few weeks earlier and been given a clean bill of health, but suffered a massive hemorrhage in her sleep.  I'd never met her, but I'm sure she was amazing woman if her son was anything to go by.  Needless to say, he's in bits - there were no warning signs whatsoever.

I left a message for a mutual friend of ours to let him know what had happened and received a text message from him to say he was in a psychiatric ward, being treated for severe depression and anxiety and would be there for a while longer.  Yet another shock.  He appeared to me to have his life "together" - good job, nice house, lovely wife, new baby... all those boxes were ticked and yet it overwhelms him.

This morning I had a Skype date with one of my friends who has just moved halfway around the world... something she and her partner had been planning and working towards for a couple of years.  She's waiting to hear on two amazing job offers, either of which would be fantastic for her CV and in the meantime is busy with lots of freelance work.  However just two months into her life-changing move and her mother back here in Australia has just been diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  The cancer is incurable, but they hope the combination of chemo and radio will "buy her time".

Another very close friend of mine has recently been diagnosed as manic depressive.  For several years now she has incredible highs where she's on fire and unstoppable, but is also, more increasingly, experiencing massive lows, which render her incapable of anything but staying in bed, hiding from the world and trying to sleep her thoughts away.  I worry for her, I worry for her husband and I worry for her child.  She's having treatment and I hope she will learn to manage it, but I still worry.

This year, in particular, I have been exposed to more illness and death amongst my friends than I can ever remember.  It seems to hover around me like a cloud... most of the time it's ignorable, but every now and again it crosses over the sun and creates a dark shadow.  I guess the upside for me is that none of these occurrences are happening directly to me, so I feel bad, but it always moves on reasonably swiftly.  For some of my friends, though, it's just hanging there, black and ferocious and it's making me question just what it is about me that's different?  Is it something in my genetic makeup?  Is there some unseen force protecting me?  Or are these just warning signs that life is about to throw a huge curve ball my way?  

Whatever it is, it's making me uneasy and forcing me to look at my life. How I live it and how I want to live it. What I want my legacy to be.  And that can only be a good thing.  I know they're cliches, but they are true.  Life IS short.  Live it.

There's an old Don Henley song which has been popping up on shuffle on my iPod these last couple of weeks which I've found quite appropriate to recent events... there's no official video for it on You Tube and the one I've found is pretty literal and bordering on cheesy, but I'm going to share it with you anyway.  In case you're wondering, it's where today's title comes from.

Anyway.  Wow. I just read this post back and realised it's pretty full-on.  Apologies if I made you sad, but I've found it quite cathartic.  Do me a favour if you are reading this and made it to the end... pick up that phone, send that text message, type that email.  Tell people you love them and that they're important.  It'll only take a minute.  And for pity's sake, smile.  For no reason other than that there's so much sadness in the world -  and everybody feels better when they see someone smiling.

x









Harry got up
Dressed all in black
Went down to the station
And he never came back
They found his clothing
Scattered somewhere down the track
And he won't be down on Wall Street
in the morning

He had a home
The love of a girl
But men get lost sometimes
As years unfurl
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get pretty strange
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

Lying here in the darkness
I hear the sirens wail
Somebody going to emergency
Somebody's going to jail
If you find somebody to love in this world
You better hang on tooth and nail
The wolf is always at the door

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
Things can get a little strange
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

And in these days
When darkness falls early
And people rush home
To the ones they love
You better take a fool's advice
And take care of your own
One day they're here;
Next day they're gone

I pulled my coat around my shoulders
And took a walk down through the park
The leaves were falling around me
The groaning city in the gathering dark
On some solitary rock
A desperate lover left his mark,
"Baby, I've changed. Please come back."

What the head makes cloudy
The heart makes very clear
The days were so much brighter
In the time when she was here
But I know there's somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe
I believe, I believe

In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute
You can get out of the rain
In a New York Minute
Everything can change
In a New York Minute

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pros and Cons

I'm thinking about going back to uni.  Probably part time, but depending on what defines a "full time" course load these days, I could conceivably do full time.  This will no doubt cause my mother to recoil in horror (as she did last time I told her I was going back to full time study), but I'm becoming increasingly aware that unless I get that magic piece of paper containing a few little letters that I can stick after my name, I am unlikely to progress any further up the earning scale.

Who am I kidding... I'm really not bothered about climbing any corporate ladder.  I just like to learn new things and at the moment I feel my brain is turning to mush.  I work three days a week doing a job that is not in the least bit challenging and I'm so unmotivated that the two days I do have free (to do my own writing), I manage to fill with pointless stuff like rearranging my study and making cushion covers.  I'm definitely one of those people who can achieve so more when they're busy, therefore studying and working at the same time won't be too much of an issue.  I'm also a deadline addict - give me a deadline and I will churn it out.  Some of my highest grades were achieved by all-night writing sessions.  Plus, if my job continues to be as boring as it has been, then I'll have plenty of time there to do assignments!

My first degree was a Bachelor of Business majoring in Human Resource Development.  Quite a mouthful.  At the time I was working in the HR department of a university and getting a degree was not only encouraged for career development purposes, but also partially funded as a staff development exercise. Business was also one of the only 'acceptable' degrees in my father's eyes.  He was an HR manager his entire working life and very critical of Arts degrees, saying they were "pointless" and didn't give you "any tangible skills" (he called a BA a "Bullshit Artist" degree).  He never knew it, but secretly I longed to do a degree in English Literature, Art History and Classics.  The fact I enrolled in a Business degree had very little to do with my desire or aptitude, and more to do with pleasing my father.  

Needless to say, I lasted about two years (one part-time and one full-time) before a series of incidents (my father's sudden death and the infidelity of my boyfriend of four years being the main ones) led me to defer and head overseas to 'escape'.  Of course, as happens with a lot of people who suddenly discover the big wide world after a life in a small town, I couldn't ever picture myself going back and after three years of deferrals, eventually withdrew from the course.  By that time, I had a pretty good job and six solid years of work experience, so it wasn't that much of a problem.

My second degree was not so much a degree, but rather an Advanced Diploma of Performance (Acting).  About as far away from a Business degree as you could get.  I had aspirations of being a brilliant actress and was firmly convinced (as most drama school students are) that I would go straight from the dusty halls where we toiled over vocal warm ups, stage combat sword fights and 'trust' exercises, to the main stage at STC.  Never happened.  Sure, I've had some decent jobs, but constantly being told by casting directors that your 'look' doesn't really suit the Australian film and television landscape eventually wears you down.  Plus, I'm no good at being a jobbing actor in the independent theatre scene.  I like to eat.  I like to not live in a squalid share house with nine other people.  I like to go on overseas holidays.  Shallow?  Possibly.  But I'm on the wrong side of forty now.  I like my comforts.

This time around, I really want to go back (somewhat) to my original choice of degree. A BA majoring in Creative Writing or English Literature, with a minor in Art History.  What could I "do" with this degree?  How "practical" is it?  Who cares?  I want to study for study's sake.  I want to expand my mind.  Learn new things.  And finally, after more than 20 years, do the degree I wanted to do in the first place.  After all (and to quote Our Kylie), it's never too late, right?

It may not happen.  But it may.  In any case, I'm putting it out into the universe and seeing what happens.

I'll keep you posted.

x






Thursday, July 26, 2012

No, they're not. Get over it.

*Warning.  This post could be accused of being shallow.  It is.*


It is a truth universally acknowledged that not all men and women are attractive.  There are varying degrees of attractive, but in all honesty, there are some people on this planet who are downright ugly.  That's cool - usually they've got some redeeming quality like brains, or kindness, or imagination to compensate.  And it works both ways.  There are some stunningly attractive people in the world who are (pardon my bluntness), dumb as shit.  That's cool too.  When you're hot, you can generally survive on the fact that other people (blinded by your beauty) will help you out with tasks that might be beyond you - like changing a tyre on your car, identifying a type of vegetable, or filling out your tax return.

So, if the world is full of attractive adults and ugly adults and everything in between, then it stands to reason that babies (ie what these attractive and ugly adults all were before they grew up) fall into those categories too.

Right?

RIGHT?

It would appear not.

Am I the only person who's honest enough to say that not all babies are cute?  There are some seriously unattractive babies out there. Many of them pop up on the newsfeed of my facebook page, as they belong to people I'm friends with, usually with the caption "my beautiful child".  Many's the time I'm tempted to comment "woah - your kid looks like an alien!".  But I can't write that.  I can't write "holy crap, that kid is minging".  No. The only acceptable comment I'm allowed to make would be along the lines of "oh, isn't he/she adorable. What a beautiful child".  

But I can't bring myself to do it, so I just don't comment and usually have to force my fingers away from the keyboard, lest they type something I'll later regret. (I do however, comment quite enthusiastically on the attractive ones)

Now before you start on that I must hate kids, stop right there. I love kids. My nieces and god-children are loved beyond measure by their Aunty M.  I would walk through fire for each and every one of them.  Some of my friends' kids are adorable as well.  In fact, some of them have produced the most stunning babies the world has ever seen (Stevo, Sal, Emsie B, I'm looking at you).  But some of my friends (and relatives - my gene pool's not immune) have given birth to some really, really, ugly babies.  Hopefully, they'll be blessed with brains, charm and a quick wit. They'll need it.  They may even grow up to be beautiful. Some ugly babies do, you know. Just as some beautiful babies suddenly turn unattractive when they reach adulthood.  Nature's quirky like that.

All I'm saying is that not all babies are beautiful.  End of.

(Also, I need to learn to keep my mouth shut and my fingers away from the keyboard when ugly baby photos pop up in my newsfeed.)


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vale, Sally

When I was a kid, my heroes included (in no particular order):


•  Enid Blyton;
•  Audrey Hepburn;
•  Jean Louise (Scout) Finch; and
•  Sally Ride.


Enid Blyton wrote the awesome books of my childhood and fostered the imagination of a shy, suburban girl from a small city at the bottom of the globe.  From all accounts, she wasn't the most pleasant of people, but my god, did she write some great stories.  I still wish I'd been able to go to school at Malory Towers and spend summers having adventures with the Famous Five.  My love of all things British is, in no small part, due to her stories.


The talents of Audrey Hepburn were introduced to me by my father, when he took me (aged five) to a screening of "My Fair Lady".  I was enthralled.  I thought she was gracious and elegant and beautiful and I wanted to BE her.  I think I managed to talk Dad into taking me to see all of her films by the time I was about ten.  She wasn't the greatest actress of her generation, but she was a convincing storyteller and her humanitarian work later in life, was wonderful.


Scout Finch, albeit being a fictional character, was introduced to me (again, by my father - awesome man that he was) when I was seven and started complaining during the summer holidays about being bored.  (In reality, it was probably along the lines of: "I'm boooooorred Daaaaaaad.  There's nothing to doooooooo.  Brutha won't plaaaaaaay with me").  Telling my father you were bored was never a good idea, because he'd always find a 'holiday task' for you to complete; often these tasks involved menial labour, like cleaning walls in preparation for painting, polishing silver, or digging up weeds.  On this occasion, however, he marched me to the bookcase, pulled out "To Kill A Mockingbird" and said: "Read this.  Properly.  Make notes, because in two weeks, we will be discussing it and I expect you to have opinions on plot and characters".  Really.  At seven, that's how he spoke to me.  Like I was an adult.  Anyway, I read it.  In about ten days.  Then we discussed it at length.  Later that summer, he discovered that a cinema on the other side of the city was showing the movie, so he took me to see it.  That was it.  Scout was firmly entrenched as one of my heroes.  Smart, curious, tomboy-ish, just and honest.  Qualities I'm sure my father was happy for me to adopt.  Incidentally, she also had a pain-in-the-ass older brother.


In 1983, two days before my twelfth birthday, Sally Ride became the first American woman to enter space.  In the male-dominated field of space exploration, she blazed a trail and made it cool for girls to study physics and aspire to orbit the globe.  Sadly, my grasp of even the most basic of scientific fields was not what you'd call strong (language, literature, art and music figured highly in my electives during high school), so I was unlikely to ever become a scientist, let alone an astronaut. But the fact that it was actually an option (if I was so inclined), was definitely due, in part, to seeing women like Sally Ride forging a successful career in a field long-dominated by men.  She made news headlines for being a leader in her field.  She didn't have her own perfume line, she didn't date celebrities, she didn't have her own reality TV show.  Nobody wrote about her love life, her weight or whether she was wearing make up or not.  She was a scientist.  An astronaut.  She explored the universe and showed girls that with hard work, a good education and a keen mind, you could do something amazing and worthwhile.  


The news of Sally Ride's death today saddens me.  The fact that young girls of today look more to the likes of the Kardashians as their role models, also saddens me.  I would like the world to be a place where brains matter more than looks. 


Vale, Sally Ride.  The world needs more of you.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Astounding

Today I received my tax refund.  This is exciting for a number of reasons:

  • I was dangerously close to being totally broke... credit cards and all. Whilst not a massive refund, this is enough to keep me out of trouble for a while.

  • I can be efficient!  I can be efficient!  Never, in the entire of my working life, have I ever been organised enough to submit my tax return in July.  Or August, or September for that matter.  Usually, I'm just scraping it in by the October deadline.

  • I can now file away the mountain of receipts and paperwork that have been cluttering my study for the last month and concentrate on using my study for more important things. Like writing.

  • I can finally go to Ikea, buy another bookcase and unpack the two boxes of antique books (some dating back to the mid-1800s) originally belonging to my Great-Aunt which were rescued from a thrift shop by my Claytons aunt and uncle, after my real aunt had decided they weren't worth keeping.  She's an idiot.  

Huzzah.

Right.  Back to it.  

As you were.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

All's quiet...

It's seriously quiet at my workplace today.  When there's loads of customers, I'm happy.  I can chat to people.  When it's quiet (like today), I get so lonely.  Which can be bad for the rare customer that does come in, because I tend to chew their ear off.


Oh. My. God.  I'm turning into my mother.


I have the next 5 days off.  Not intentionally - just due to shift swaps, etc, I happen to have five whole days in a row off.


Ordinarily, this would be cause for a holiday.  But I'm a bit strapped for cash, so my "holiday" will have to be from home.  I need to work out some (free/low-cost) activities to do, otherwise I'll spend the whole 5 days sitting on the sofa in my pyjamas watching bad daytime TV.


Suggestions on a postcard please!


In the meantime, I'm going to go and write a shopping list. I have hardly any food in the house.  Domestic fail.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

If It Wasn't For Nora...

The world loses many souls, every minute of every day, every one of them special to someone.  But yesterday, we lost one who was special to so many, some without them even realising it.


Unless you've been under a rock for the last 48 hours, you'll know that yesterday, the hugely talented Nora Ephron died. (Incidentally, I really shouldn't have to link that name.  Everyone should know who she is.  But just in case you need a reminder... there it is.)


The internet has been full of tributes for this amazing woman - everyone from Meryl Streep to Meg Ryan to Mindy Kaling has praised not only her talent, but also the fact that she was a wonderful person and friend to many.  Many people I know have, via Facebook, twitter, their own blogs paid tribute to a woman they have never met, but who somehow touched their lives.  It speaks volumes that so many people feel the need to do this.


Personally, my admiration for her Nora Ephron's talents began as an eighteen year old, when I first saw "When Harry Met Sally".  It is a movie that I can watch over, and over, and over... and every time I learn something new.  I was (and still am) a hopeless romantic, but also an independent, curious, funny, quirky, intelligent young woman, who always had the feeling of being out-of-place with my peers.  Somehow Nora made me feel ok with that, even when those around me belittled me for my unwillingness to conform to their notions of how I "should" be.  My love affair with her portrayal of interesting women I could relate to continued with "Sleepless in Seattle", her many essays and contributions to The New Yorker and of course, the now quite dated, but still brilliant "You've Got Mail".  


I openly credit Nora Ephron with being a major factor in my on-going love affair with New York City.  It is a central character in three of her films and boy, did she know how to show it off at it's best.  


From one of the earliest scenes in "When Harry Met Sally", when Sally drops Harry off at the Washington Square Arch, to the final scene in "You've Got Mail", when Joe meets Kathleen at the 91st St Garden in Riverside Park; Nora showed her New York City - a place of hopes, dreams, creativity and love - and one with which I fell headlong into love.


My first trip to New York City, in 1995, was a pilgrimage to all the places Nora had introduced me to on the big screen.  Washington Square Park, The Empire State Building, Katz's Deli... all were visited and various pieces of movie dialogue were repeated over in my head as I did a little inner jig of joy that I was in such a city.  It was a long way from the boring suburbia of sleepy little Adelaide, I can tell you.


Probably my most vivid memory was of my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Nowadays I can spend hours scouring every last inch of the place, but back then, in all honesty, I had one sole purpose for going there.  I wanted to go to the Sackler Wing, walk alongside the Temple of Dendur and re-enact the scene from WHMS where Harry informs Sally that "for the rest of the day, we are going to talk like this... waiter there is too much pepper on my paprikash, but I would be proud to partake of your pecan piiiieeee".  Since I was travelling solo, this scene was re-enacted solely in my head, but I'm sure the facial expressions I was pulling and the fact I was shifting positions to play both the Harry AND Sally roles, was a dead giveaway to my fellow museum-goers.


I was still a little green in those days, so wasn't game enough to go to Katz's Deli and re-enact the fake orgasm scene.  I did however, spend a joyful few hours at the Shakespeare & Co bookstore on 79th and Broadway, where I kept looking to see if any cute men were "staring at me in Personal Growth".  (Sadly, that didn't happen)


One of the many people to pay tribute to Nora Ephron in the last couple of days was her friend, Ariel Levy.  She wrote:


"One of the reasons you can watch "Sleepless in Seattle" or "When Harry Met Sally" over and over again is because not only are they funny, they are profoundly reassuring.  Ephron's voice was funny, frank, self-effacing but never self-pitying, and utterly intimate."


I find it endlessly reassuring to sit down for a couple of hours and watch either of those films (or "You've Got Mail").  I know exactly what's going to be said, but each time I hear the words, or see a familiar location pop up on the screen, I am at once calmed, reassured, energised and filled with joy that I have gone through situations similar to these characters and moreover, been to the places they're at.  As Meg Ryan, the heroine of all three of those films wrote:


"We pictured ourselves inside her dreams and they became ours.  All wisdom, wit and sparkle lights, what a treat she was, what a bless. I marvel again and again, what a life... to have created a simple happiness in people, to have added to the sum of delight in the world."


Last year, when I celebrated my fortieth birthday in NYC, we had lunch at the Loeb Boathouse.  My birthday companions mostly remembered it from an episode of Sex & The City, but I remember it from that hilarious scene in WHMS where, upon hearing of Sally's breakup with Joe, Marie pulls out a card index box and starts leafing through to find a suitable replacement boyfriend for her.  "He's married? [folds corner of the card and puts it back] Hmmmm..."


That day, I pictured myself in that scene.  My friends who would rack their brains and contact lists to attempt to find me a man.  How it would play out, as we sat at our table overlooking the lake.  And it filled me with delight.


As I've moved more and more towards writing the last few years, I've looked to Nora Ephron's work as a standard to which I aspire.  Her writing was natural, intelligent, funny and observant and her characters were interesting, well rounded and just quirky enough to identify with.  They also (primarily) had one over-riding quality which I think the world sorely needs right now... they were hopeful.  Hopeful that the world could be made better.  Hopeful that love was out there.  Hopeful that the good guy (or girl) would win out in the end.  Some people might think this is a terribly naive way of viewing the world, but I think this is the way the world needs to become.  We all need to be more curious, more compassionate and more open to love.


I've always thought that I'd like my life to mirror that of a Nora Ephron character.  Or a combination of characters.  But in some ways I think I already do, and that's not so much because I try to be like a particular character, but because Nora wrote them as real people.  People like us.  We all know a Sally, or a Marie or a Harry or a Joe (F-O-X).  We all are one of them.  


That was her gift, and what an amazing one it was.


So thank you, Nora Ephron.  Thank you for gifting the world with your work.  This small-town girl, for one, is truly grateful.  If it wasn't for you, I might still be there. 




x


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Birthday P.S.

Had an email from one of my friends on Friday with the subject line: "Am Terrible Friend".


The message read:  "Happy Birthday for Wednesday!  You can call me P... oops not sure that was funny."




LMAO.




Bless.  

The Joys of Rejection

Well, I had my first audition in, ummm, years (!) yesterday.  I was really nervous.  REALLY nervous.  Like shaking nervous.  Haven't felt that nervous in years.  But I used those nerves to help my character and ended up doing a kick-ass monologue. Felt good.  


I made it to the callbacks (they took about 8 of the 20 auditioned), but then that's where it fell apart a little... we were put into groups of 4 or 5 and given the first scene of the play to present - with about 30 mins to do so. The producer and the two pre-cast actors wandered around giving advice and observing how we worked.  The group I had was nice and had some good ideas, but I don't think we were the most imaginative bunch... but we did ok.  I always find those type of callbacks difficult - I know it's more a chance for the director to see how you work with others, but when you have an actor who blocks you completely for part of the scene, it's not ideal!  I should've just moved my chair, but that would've distracted from the fact he was speaking at the time.


Needless to say, I got a text message from the director this morning (he's also a friend, so has my number), to say I didn't get the role.  I was expecting not to get it.  In fact, when I was out with friends last night and we were playing our version of the Clinker game (where you ask a question as you're choosing a Clinker from the packet - if it's red the answer is no; yellow is maybe; and green is yes) and I asked if I would be successful in the audition.  I bit into the Clinker and it was red - no!!  I know it's ridiculous to base things on a game played with sweets, but my intuition was correct!


Looking back, the other thing I think worked against me (besides that blocking gaffe), was that I didn't gel with the producer - in fact I found her quite prickly... and I got the impression she didn't think much of me either!  So maybe that's an upside to not getting the role.


I guess that's just the nature of this business.  There's a lot of rejection.  The director did say he thought that my monologue was one of the best of the day and that his not casting me had nothing to do with my ability, but to do with the balance and fit of the overall cast.  Which could be true, but could be just him blowing smoke... unfortunately my nature is to believe the latter and that my work in the callback was just crap.  


But I know I did a kick ass monologue and I'm happy with that.


x



Thursday, June 21, 2012

The day after...

Yesterday, I turned 41.  Yoiks.  40 I could cope with.  41 is a whole other age to cope with.  It's a march towards 50 - not an age I want to contemplate heading towards.


I took myself off to the movies in the morning - to see Emilio Estevez's film 'The Way'. Martin Sheen, James Nesbitt, Deborah Kara Unger and a brilliant Dutch actor I'd never seen before, with the delightful name of Yorik van Wangeningen.  It was a really beautiful film.  I like the way Emilio Estevez's movies concentrate more on the characters themselves rather than using them to drive the plot.  It was quite a spiritual film - perfect for my mood yesterday, which was quite introspective.


After an afternoon spent re-reddening my locks, I met up with a few friends for some gingerbread martinis at my favourite city bar.  A few too many were consumed, so much so that I had to get off the tram home because I was feeling a little woozy!  I ended up walking the rest of the way home (about a 45 minute walk), which helped, but I'm glad I had the day off today to recover!  


Thanks to the powers of facebook, I had some 90-odd messages of birthday wishes from various friends.  I also had a bunch of voicemails, emails and text messages too, which was lovely. Even my brother remembered to call me and he's hopeless at remembering my birthday!


However, in typical 'me' fashion, I'm finding it difficult to focus on the fact that almost 100 people thought of me and took time to message me yesterday and instead I'm being eaten up by negative thoughts about the friends who didn't.  A few really good, close friends whose birthdays I always remember and who I expected to at least send me a text message or email, haven't done so and it hurts.  Does this make them any less a friend?  No, I guess not.  It's just a birthday after all.  I'll get over it eventually.  But it still hurts.


In the meantime, this quote just popped up in my inbox. 


Apt.












Yesterday I took the time to do one of the things I like best to do, which is go to the movies.  I saw a movie which inspired me and that will help me to focus away from the disagreeable surprises of friends not remembering my birthday.  


Onwards and upwards.


I have an audition monologue to work on... best I get back to it.


x