Tuesday, 31 March 2015

soundtrack to my life - Breathe (2am) - Anna Nalick

from the 25th season of Helen's Life:

a new friend reminded me of a song by anna nalick that recently popped back up on my radar via that crack-like medical drama, Grey's Anatomy. there's a story that goes with this song, and I'm going to mine the experiences of my somewhat blessed existence to share with you a short story about some feelings I had once.

I'll change the names and not tell the whole story for artistic reasons (mostly to make myself look good), and that's the best I can do by way of the anonymity disclaimer. hopefully this is sufficient. the people of whom I speak will instantly recognise themselves. other people who were there at the time will also know exactly who I'm talking about. It's ok with me.

I had a stalker crush on a handsome French Canadian once. I referred to him as 'supermarket guy' as it was both his place of work and a vague indicator of his gender. I crushed on this lovely person in a way that eventually drove me to recklessly dive into the asking out of the stranger. if we'd been at our current stage of linguistic evolution, I may have said YOLO first. we'll never know.

at that point in time, my crush was based in the substance filled concept that he had a nice face set off with something of a black eye (which only served to intruige, and would go on to be a reoccuring factor in the chapter of the description of me titled 'things she likes to see on faces'). he also smiled at me when i saw him in the supermarket.

naturally, crush.

I asked him to have a drink with me and it never quite happened and then I moved to another place and started using another supermarket and assumed we were done there. I did run into him from time to time and managed once to even give him shit about the fact I gave him my number and nothing came of it. I went to his birthday party. then I got so incredibly wasted on halloween that I believe I bought him a drink (I was a zombie clown, he was a suicide bomber). I did not remember doing any of this, but was pleased with drunk Helen's generosity. as luck would have it, I moved back into the old neighbourhood and again purchased groceries at his supermarket. 

the best winter season of my life started with a long and cold and dark lift line with coffee from supermarket guy and so much boring tired/wired shit talk, none of which I remember. then we rode. then he had to work, and I went and laughed at him in the supermarket.

in between christmas and new year I managed to trick him into kissing me at a nightclub. it's a heady thing, when you stalker crush on someone with such persistence that you eventually make them kiss you. I don't remember much about this either (in case you're unclear, i was mainly drunk for three years in Canada. not even sorry), but I do remember being categorically un-disappointed with said kiss.

I left him a mixtape on my way back to australia for a three week family fiasco and hoped for the best.

I got back to canada and happened upon an awkward thing that had happened while I was gone: he had a crush on my housemate.

I never said this wasn't a bullshit romantic comedy style story. I never promised anything.

the song 'breathe' by anna nalick was a favourite of this housemate. and she had a lovely singing voice. and we used to sing together, until she ruined some other things and then ruined this one. I wish for both of their sakes they'd gone for it, their love story - if only my housemate knew herself a bit better and wasn't so naturally disposed to stringing men along. I spent time with this supermarket person, being his friend. the things I wanted, the extra things, ebbed into the background and the ambient noise with the realisation that we weren't ever destined for great romantic love.

but a thing happened somewhere along the line. we got to be real, true friends. before he moved back east to the motherland we got to spend a wild night in vancouver with the dropkick murphys and people disappearing and turning up agan wearing vomit pants, and there was real laughter, and real tears the day we dragged his hungover ass to southside diner for a farewell egg on toast. Heart of Gold played and I cried a real tear with the saying goodbye of my good friend. his heart is gold.

we've been better friends since then. I haven't seen the bastard since. we've written so many postcards it's silly; I take mine out and read them when I need to just have a friend's words nearby. I might even have a selection of them stuck on the wall; they make me feel real.

but as always happens with me and my half-assed committment situation, there's been a communication gap for a while. I've been sad about that gap, especially since I am still waiting for him to turn up on my doorstep with a backpack one day, like he's promised me he will. I love him, but the actual real love that happens now I know who he is and like him for it. maybe how our friendship started isn't traditional, but I love the story.

I love him in a way much better than the silly crush of almost 6 years ago, but when I hear this song by anna nalick, I remember the time of wanting something else altogether and the ridiculously childish jealousy I held tight in my heart for months for my silly housemate. that poor girl. I'm better at this now. I learned that from her.

and from you, supermarket guy, I learned that someone can be one of the loves of your life without you ever getting to kiss them again. and I thank you for this knowledge. Come visit me soon.

Monday, 30 March 2015

project: soundtrack to my life - another ambitious plan

I just made a reference to the soundtrack of my life in the previous post about the show I'm starring in. This has lead to an idea about building upon songs I've loved and played on repeat to the increasing boredom of all and sundry who I'll pretend are watching and entertained by the show I'm starring in.

I've shared some bits of music I love, and I thought I'd share a few more and call this a mini project.

Stay tuned... geddit?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

secret: putting on a show

It's tough to put on a show when you're not sure anyone is watching. I could wax lyrical about performativity and Foucault and just so much of everything; all the things I should probably not be thinking about in that 20 minutes before I finally fall asleep... but because I am meant to be studying this evening I've instead gone with this glorious tangent. Humour me.

I've been putting on this fantastic performance for years now, the performance that is Helen's Life. It's interesting to watch myself as the star of my show: there are times when the ratings have dropped, or the scriptwriters have lost the plot (literally, figuratively, metaphorically). the level of self-observation wavers between clueless and committable at different points in my life, and I'm working towards arriving at the happy medium of 'alert but not alarmed' - I'll tell you how I get there, if I actually ever do. 

The highlights reel features all the usual suspects: "Lose a tooth", "Santa isn't real", "Hand-me-down overalls", quickly followed by: "You can't just shave the front of your legs", "Underwire", "There goes my virginity", "How do I use eyeliner?". Once we get to the 20s there's a whole season on dating someone with a mental illness, followed by key plot device "The time I moved to Canada and learned to snowboard", that favourite episode "So this is why people enjoy party drugs", and emotional season finale "Maybe it's time to go home before someone gets hurt".

The last few years of the show have been rich in friendships and character development, and I'm pleased about how they've come together. It's a lot to do with the lighting - soft afternoon sun in a beer garden here, dawn on the way to the gym for a spin class there. 

My supporting cast are all beautiful - I've noted elsewhere that I prefer to hang out with people who are intelligent and attractive (while putting up with the stupid ugly ones in a compassionate manner). It's a fairly white cast, but choices have been reasonably limited by the on-location casting options. There's a reasonably regular support cast who seem to be happy to pick up extra scenes here and there without much warning script-wise. The dialogue is mostly improvised with overarching themes to work with - the cast will often do their own makeup and wardrobe, with varying degrees of success. Mostly they are very beautiful (I compliment them because there have been literally no pay-rises in years).

casting includes a shit-tonne of intelligent and attractive couples (see above) who are all actively progressing their own shows, pursuing further education and academic and business-based careers; these cast members aren't just eye candy for the viewers! Strong parental figures make a regular appearance but you will notice are no longer featured in the opening credits, and other family members guest star, sometimes during filming at beach and holiday locations. There are also occasional spots by old cast members, oftentimes with dismissive things to say about the location. We move them along after a cameo.

Romantic interests have served to be a complete bust so far; it's often helpfully suggested to the production team that this might be an area where the show needs development. To these folk with the helpful suggestions, the response has been that while the casting pool is local to the country town, we really don't have much to work with. The other response has been to bitch about these folk and their dumb suggestions at writer's staff parties after a few whiskys. At this stage, there's far too much potentially awkward cross over with other regular characters or in regular locations for any pursuable or credible romantic storylines. With the show's feminist undertones, this perceived 'lack' admittedly isn't viewed by production to be much of an issue: depth is added through the fleshing out of character, career, friendships and other interests. Although a little extra sex never goes astray, ratings-wise.

Most used sets include Home; Work and the Bar. filming also occurs on a semi-regular basis at The Armidale Tourist Park, Mum's House and the Cafe. Happily, the show has regular extras at these locations: in particular, the Work cast has been consistent, even when it's only consistent that the show's direction is not always in keeping with expectations of these minor characters.

The current season of the show has very little conflict and there has been some feedback that some work needs to be done in envisioning the show's future. A location change is often suggested, but at this stage there haven't been compelling reasons for or against, noting that "it might just be nice to have a change of scenery" is not seen by the production team to warrant the additional costs involved in the relocation of the set, marketing in a new location and recruiting new cast members. 

Other suggestions have been to introduce a reality element where cast members are 'voted off' by the audience; to alter the current drama/comedy format to a situational comedy format with a live audience; for the main character to persue a musical career and have some cross-over where merchandising options are readily available. 

The past few seasons of the show have had a varied soundtrack - common artists featured in the current season are such names as The National, First Aid Kit, Courtney Barnett, Bob Dylan, Hozier, Taylor Swift, Hilltop Hoods, Chet Faker and many more. The soundtrack for Season 29 will soon be available on iTunes.

I do my best for you people. I wear a revolving wardrobe of vintage pieces, I often perform acoustic sets on my bed for your listening pleasure. I talk to myself enough that you're given insight into my state of mind, but not so often that you want me to go see somebody about that. what more do you want from me?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

secret: I deserve things

I'm going to step off the train for a second and put it out there: I deserve things.

I deserve to be seen when I work hard.
I deserve to be wanted, even just for a second.
I deserve carbs and cute waiters.
I deserve all of it.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

treasure: being the feminist kid at the party

I'm not sure exactly how I've managed it, but I've realised in the past few months that I'm the feminist at the party. Oftentimes I'm very close to being the token feminist, but thankfully there are the wonderful times when other feminists come along and we get to sit in the corner, cooking up spells and plotting the deaths of all the mans.

I've realised I'm the feminist at the party for a few reasons:

1. People seek me out because they've come across some piece of information which indicates that maybe things aren't always so great for women and they want to share it with me. Such things include the standard fare of feminists, feminist bread and butter if you will: gaps in pay, legislating governing women's rights to make decisions about their own bodies, rape trials where we're more concerned about the poor young men rapists having their futures ruined, constant murder of women all over the world, unending popular cultural attack on representations of women. In each case I am generally not surprised. These facts of the world sit constantly in my line of sight because I've put them there, through my conscious Facebook interaction (to make that damned algorithim work for me) and the reading I can't help but do on a daily basis.

2. People want my feminist opinion on something to do with one of the instances listed above. As I've conceded, I am cynical enough to be unsurprised and to offer some slightly bitter comment to that effect. I consider this to be my off-the-cuff feminist skillz section, and I am improving my critical witticisms on the daily. Bitch-in-training.

3. People have a "but what about ..." instance they want to run by me. Subcategory a) they genuinely can't figure out how the thing they've heard, thought or read fits in with feminism, and they want to know, or b) they want to somehow prove me wrong, which is virtually impossible for the simple reason that I'm quite comfortable in the knowledge that most of the feminist things I think are based on opinions and my interpretations of things. Right or wrong becomes less relevant. Plus I'm very rarely wrong about anything.

4. People don't like feminists and are bored at the party and want to watch the world burn. These ones fall into the 'this is why we can't have nice things' section.

5. People want me to teach them things because identifying as a feminist apparently signs me up for a lifetime of educating people who, despite all my patience and good intentions, probably won't listen to me anyway. This is why the patience and the good intentions are wearing thin.

6. People are geniunely interested in feminism and like talking to someone who manages occasionally articulate conversation and actually isn't that bad as a human being (that's me, in case you're wondering. We're still talking about me).

7. People want a gold star for having thought a feminist thing. And if I'm at an actual party, chances are I'm drinking, so if you're nice about wanting your gold star I will probably bestow it upon you in a great show of warmth and genuine pleasure. In this instance the gold star is not an actual gold star, it's me smiling and being enthusiastic in your general direction.  Better than all the gold in the land.

It could also be that I'm the feminist at the party because I keep calling myself a feminist over and over and over and over til I'm blue in the face. Any of the above approaches to me as a feminist at a hypothetical or actual party is ok with me, except probably option 4. I like that people save up their feminist tidbits for me. It gives me hope, and it gives me a little piece of their souls without them even knowing - we feminists feed on these, you see.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

secret: a few more gems of wisdom

some further quotations from my actual Life that I've managed to capture on the iPhone:

1. MacGuyv-Her: the feminist MacGuyver - Rob being brilliant, because Feminism.

2. Songs to cover with Hanna: 
Honey to the Bee - Billy Piper
Say My Name - Destiny's Child
Shelter from the Storm - Bob Dylan

3. Note to self: Nope. Don't. - very strict and now senseless instructions

4. Mujicians - are they a magician? are they a musician? Now they don't have to choose.

5. Bang tables, not undergrads - a treasured Jordan-ism. I'm not often quick enough to write these treasures down, but I caught this beauty.

Friday, 20 March 2015

secret: dylan-fuelled impatience

For some reason the last few times I've been driving myself somewhere it's felt like I'm getting a lot of thinking done in between when I leave and when I arrive.

This has been the few-kms trip from work to downtown Armidale all of these times. So now I'm working on a theory that music and my brain are conspiring against me. Paranoid? Perhaps. 

All I know is, Dylan gives me depth and imagination and desire (no pun intended), Fractures widens the world for me so I can fit my angst into it, Hilltop Hoods makes me the hottest baddass in town, and Taylor Swift gets me pumped for activities.

There's got to be some science to be squeezed out of that somewhere, somehow.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

treasure: my tiny achievements of this week

1. I made a perfect cup of tea and drank the whole thing before it was ruined by a slight change in temperature.

2. I wrote a whole essay in a day.

3. I grew an amazing blister on my finger and didn't succumb to the desire to pop it.

4. I ate heaps of vegetables.

5. I did two awkward things that I'd put off for a day in the space of an hour.

secret: can't even

i was going to write every day for a year. 

it was going to make me a better writer, with all the credibility and discipline and whatnot.

i failed at this goal and i am ok with it.

so now i'm just going to write things when i feel like it, instead of seeing this as some insurmountable goal i can't deal with.

i can't even write 365 days running, and that is ok. i embrace my failure.