The Dumb

I used to be intelligent. When I was in primary school, I was praised for advancing quicker than everyone else in the reading levels. Into high school, I got consistently good grades in all classes but maths…words I could handle, numbers confuse me. As I got older, I was often considered the nerdy one, and words like smart and intelligent were often used to describe me. These days, I feel like I mostly just come across as angry and spacey. It’s like somewhere along the line, my brain contracted a serious case of The Dumb, and now I often feel like I’m the most stupid person in the room.

I was thinking today, about the books I’ve read this year. I track my reading habits through Goodreads, so I know what I’ve read, and can set a reading goal each year. I checked today, since it’s been a while since I last picked up a book, and something struck me. I’m a sucker for a good fiction novel, and everything I’ve read this year has been in that category. But then, scrolling through, I saw all these really intellectual sounding titles read by a woman I went to school with, and suddenly the books I have read this year sounded juvenile by comparison. If anyone were to guess who I was based on this year’s books, I imagine they would picture a 17 year old girl. Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, a handful of YA fiction, and a couple of Michael Connolly books. Not a single book amongst them about real life people, or current issues, or essays on women and motherhood, or…anything to spark thought or conversation.

It sounds silly, perhaps. After all, you like what you like and I don’t think anyone should ever judge another person’s taste in literature. But this comes off the back of a conversation I had with my brother’s fiance a couple of weeks ago. Apparently she had a conversation with a mutual acquaintance, where the other girl said “Amy is so intellectual. I feel like I could learn a lot from her” and I had a moment of feeling chuffed, before my future sister-in-law said “yeah, she could almost give me a run for my money!” Cue a heart sinking feeling of inadequacy, a flush of embarrassment in my cheeks, and the nasty voice inside my head hissing that once again, I wasn’t good enough. I know she didn’t mean anything by it, and she certainly didn’t mean it unkindly. I think it was a compliment, actually. But she’s a nurse, and was studying to be a lawyer, and knows a lot about a lot. And here’s me; working in a shitty retail job, living at home, and struggling to convince people that I’m not a complete idiot because I don’t go to university, or because I don’t read thought provoking non fiction.

Part of my problem, is that I have an inability to clearly and eloquently put thoughts into spoken words. I can write pages and pages on a subject without a problem, but when it comes to explaining things in a face to face setting, I get tongue tied and end up sounding stupid. The other part comes from having a terrible memory, and getting overwhelmed when presented with a big block of information. I don’t know much about political issues, I can’t tell you dates of the wars, and I wouldn’t know how to have a conversation about intersectional feminism without probably offending people with my lack of understanding. Most of the time, I just kind of stumble through talking to people and hope that they don’t focus on me too much.

As a former smart person, feeling stupid is an in unpleasant thing. Maybe one day I’ll be cured of The Dumb, but until then, if I sound like an idiot, just remember to be kind in your judgement.

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Lonely and Alone

When you’re single, you do a lot of things by yourself. For example, I go to see movies alone, I take road trips by myself, I go to bed at night without someone else. You get so used to doing things by yourself, that you sometimes forget that not everyone else does. I’m a perpetual third wheel whenever I hang out with friends, and I’m forever getting the “when are you going to get out there and meet someone” questions. I’ve learned to deflect and ignore those questions when they come up, but last week was a bad time. On top of being a hormonal mess (thanks, period), by brain decided to send my emotions into hyper drive. I spent a lot of last week crying, and suddenly my being alone felt like a really horrible thing.

When I picture my future, I see it alone. I have a four year plan (because it’s going to take me that long to save any significant amount of money), and when I see myself buying a house, I’ve never considered the notion that I will have to share that space with someone else. I look at houses online that I will never be able to afford, but I sit there and think “yes, that could be my sewing room, and that will be my guest room, and that will be where I hold elegant dinner parties for all my friends.” Ok, so maybe not that last one, but I do think about the life I want to have, and it never includes another person.

But last week, my emotional state of mind meant that I was sitting there, crying over one thing or another, because everything seemed to set me off (seriously, it was a very wet week). Amidst all the tears and negative thoughts that brought them on, I wondered for the first time in a long time, if perhaps I should try and meet someone. Because maybe coming home to someone, and cooking with someone, and getting into bed next to someone at night, isn’t the worst thing in the entire world. I didn’t go so far as to sign up to Tinder, but I did spend a fair bit of time wondering about the appropriateness of wearing a sign declaring my single status, and the phrase “girlfriend wanted, enquire within”.

My emotional state has calmed down significantly in the last few days. I was able to clear my head, and brush away the last of the negative thoughts that plagued me last week. Much like the way you sweep the floor during a spring clean, I purged all of the malicious, insidious thoughts from my mind and now I’m back to my normal, contentedly single, people hating self. But the thing I need to remember going forward, is that even the most content single people feel lonely sometimes too. There’s nothing wrong with me for occasionally craving human connection. Actually, I think most people would agree that it is actually perfectly normal. Ah well, so I’m the weird one, what else is new?

Blogging; Creative Outlet, or Self Indulgence?

Tonight I went to see Aurora at one of my favourite venues in the city. It was an ethereal, uplifting experience and one of the most beautiful live performances I have ever seen. I was going to write a post about it, and then I got struck with a thought; does anyone care?

My blog is not themed. I don’t talk about fashion, or write recipes, or solely review films. I’m not consistent in either the dates of posting, or in the content. I literally just write about whatever happens to be occupying my brain at any given time. It is eclectic, and often a little rambling. I have a number of followers, and a few who regularly read and comment on my posts. It’s a nice feeling, to know that there are people put there who actually like the way I write. But still, now that this thought is in my head, I can’t shake it.

I often say that the reason I write, and indeed blog, is because it’s a creative outlet that I deem necessary for my sanity. In many ways, writing is a kind of catharsis. But it is, predominantly, just me writing about myself. Experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, things I’ve done, and thoughts that have popped into my head. I’m not in any way giving advice. I am not funny, or educational, or motivational. So, why do I think my thoughts are worth posting to the internet, instead of just writing down in a diary for myself?

I guess there’s a part of me that wants to be heard. Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of being a writer. Maybe by posting blogs about my day to day life, and getting a response, is a way to live out that dream. Maybe there’s a chance that something I have to say might resonate with someone (or multiple someones) out there. Or maybe I’m just arrogant, and think that I’m more important and interesting than I really am. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that I’ll continue writing. Because, whether for creative purposes, or just to stoke my own ego, there’s something to be said for getting things out of your head and onto paper (so to speak).

Do any of you ever feel that way? Have you ever questioned why you write? Let me know!

Two Shades of Grey

I don’t consider myself a particularly vain person. I don’t primp and preen, nor spend hours in front of the mirror basking in my own reflection. I mean, I do have very specific rules about leaving the house in trackies, but overall I think I’m fairly humble about my appearance. And yet recently I have noticed something that has, on more than one occasion, had me staring intently at my head in the mirror. You see, it has come to my rather offended attention, that my hair has started to go grey.

I am 26 years old. Still young, by anyone’s standards. And yet there, atop my brunette head, are the telltale signs that I am finally turning into the old lady I am forever professing to be. Only now when I make old lady jokes, there’s going to be a hint of truth to them! I noticed the first grey hair, right in the centre of the top of my head, perhaps two or three months ago. I made a joke, and moved on. After all, one grey hair is nothing. But then, yesterday as I was getting ready for work, I saw it. A second traitorous hair hiding at my temple. Cue feeling personally victimised by my own body, contemplating dyeing my hair (despite making a decision to let my natural colour grow out), and making plans to immediately go find the Fountain of Youth.

As my recent return to theatre will attest, I have a tendency to be a little dramatic. So, the emergence of these silvery threads amongst the dark (oooh, wasn’t that a poetic phrase), meant that everyone on my Snapchat list received a photo of the temple hair, unceremoniously yanked from my head. I announced plans for my impending funeral, because obviously two grey hairs means I’m old, and about to die. And there was at least two inches of colourless hair there; how the hell does grey hair grow so fast without my noticing? More to the point, why doesn’t the rest of my hair grow so fast? Rude.

I told myself that two grey hairs really isn’t a big deal. I could embrace it, like Tara Moss, one of my favourite badass babes. At 45, she is rocking her greys with grace. Total idol. But, on the other hand…guys, I’m 26! So I’m taking a moment to feel personally offended that my hair has the audacity to start greying. But then, on the other other hand, I can now totally join the ranks of super cool wizards, the likes of Gandalf and Dumbledore. Hey, maybe this going grey thing isn’t all bad!

Image result for gandalf the grey

Creating Away the Dark (at Least Temporarily)

I only work two days a week. This is a development that occurred a few months ago, when the agreed upon hours I was working in the other shop were cut back completely, and indefinitely. It was a change that meant all the savings I had managed to put away (a meagre $1700 by the time my hours were cut) suddenly had to go towards the weekly cost of living. I am now down to my last hundred in savings, and any progress I had made towards my long term goals was not only halted, but I actually ended up about 100 steps back…or 1600 steps, really.

Anyway, my financial troubles are, amongst many other things, one of the reasons why this week has not been a super fun time inside my head. So, as I often do when I feel the beginnings of a depressive episode coming on, I decided to try and vent it out in a creative way. For you other creative types out there, I’m sure you can understand the catharsis that comes with just spending hours working with your preferred medium. For me, my creativity manifests itself in garment creation and more recently, embroidery. Usually accompanied by a giant mug of tea. Listen to me; I sound like a little old lady – in fact yesterday my father quipped that soon I’d be ‘taking up knitting, or crocheting like a real old woman”.

But ageist comments at my own expense aside, I find a kind of peace when I’m creating, whatever form that may take. And lately, I’ve tried to expand my horizons. I am a very stubborn person, and I like to try and teach myself things as autonomously as possible. So, whilst my brain is doing it’s hardest to overwhelm me, I’ve been battling with equal fervour to keep the insidious thoughts at bay. This week, I bought a bunch of art supplies and did my first ever watercolour painting. It sucked. I mean, it major sucked, but though the end result was certainly nothing to write home about, I did feel a strange kind of pride in my wonky sunflowers. And, as watercolour painting was one of the things I was determined to try this year, it did feel good to actually make a start on my newest creative adventure.

Supernatural shirt weirdly appropriate for this week.

This wasn’t enough however, and so I picked up my long unused ukulele – another of the things I said I was going to do more of this year, ooops – and found a tutorial online (I mean, I said autonomously but some things just require YouTube!) and started to practice again. Have I forgotten everything I tried to learn since the last time I picked up my uke? Absolutely. But did I get a sense of productivity and accomplishment because I’m actually getting somewhere this time? You bet your blog reading butts I did. So, between making terrible watercolour art, and practicing scales on my ukuleke, you’d think my time would be pretty well occupied? Apparently not enough. On top of these newer creative pursuits, I started making my costume for our upcoming play and I completed another embroidery project.

Embroidery is not something I ever really considered until this year. I admit, I always kind of thought it was a little old lady kind of skill, and one that I didn’t see I’d have much use for. But then I came across all this amazing embroidery artwork and decided that I absolutely had to try it for myself. So I did. Again, teaching myself basic skills and resorting to YouTube to get the hang of other stitches to improve. The difference between my first hoop a couple of months ago, and my second one this week is noticeable to even the most untrained eye. I already have two more hoops planned for the near future; one as a birthday gift and one inspired by Firefly, because I am rewatching it at the moment and falling madly in love with the characters all over again.

A whole Lindsey Stirling playlist worth of embroidery.

The truth is, even despite occupying my brain with as many creative outlets as I possibly could, last night I still broke down in tears and spent the night staring at the ceiling, with dark thoughts chasing each other around my brain. I knew it was coming, but at least I managed to do something productive this week with my abundance of time off. Gotta count for something, right? Anyway, this post ended up being much longer than I was expecting, but at the very least, it has taken up a chunk of time in my otherwise long, loud and boring work day. So, I’ll leave you with a question! What are your favourite creative outlets? Any genius musicians, prodigy painters or clever wordsmiths out there? Come say hi!

“Bubble Bubble”, and Jumping Back into Theatre

“Foil and Stubble!”

It has been over 12 months since I made my acting debut in my friend’s original one act play; Max Pry, Private Eye. It wasn’t something I had ever considered, but when the opportunity came up, I grabbed it with both hands and threw myself into the deep end. What I got was a fantastic experience with a bunch of wonderful people, and the acting bug. Recently, I was given the opportunity to be a part of another production, and you can bet your butts that my answer to the question of my participation was a resounding yes.

One major change between my last theatre experience and this one, is that this time my friends now have a proper production company, which is rad as heck. Unlike the other production companies in my home town, Uncertain Curtain Productions (um hello, is that not the coolest name ever?!) is a theatre company with a difference. It is, primarily, “a theatre group that provides access to the performing arts for people who identify as neurodiverse (E.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia, Mental Health Disorders)…by embracing the notion that “Our Differences Are Our Strengths”. “

Uncertain Curtain’s first ever play as an official theatre company, is called Bubble Bubble, and is a comedic retelling of The Frog Prince. Written by our fearless leader, Sarah-Jane; Bubble Bubble is witty, clever, and features a cast of kooky characters that you can’t help but love. Half our cast are kids under 12, and the rest of us are adults…though we act like 12 year olds a lot of the time, let’s be honest. So, as you would expect, our rehearsals have been a bit of a whirlwind. But, with our performance dates just a few short weeks away, it’s coming together really well and I’m excited to get on stage again.

Theatre is a fantastic creative outlet, and the more involved I get with it, the more I want to stay involved. Being on stage is a buzz like no other, and I’m thankful that I’ve been given another opportunity to get up there. Whilst I’m still a novice at this whole theatre thing, it’s such a fun and rewarding experience and I’m really looking forward to seeing the end result of our current performance endeavour.

Hellboy (2019)

I’ve been looking forward to the new Hellboy film for weeks. After watching several impressive trailers, I went to see it last night with high expectations. What I got was somewhat less than I was hoping for, but still an enjoyable cinema experience.

Neil Marshall’s take on everyone’s favourite big red demon has been met with mostly scathing reviews. Many people are holding it up against the Guillermo Del Toro versions, and saying that it falls short. Whilst I did thoroughly enjoy the 2004 adaptation and the sequel in 2008 (I mean, how cool was the Angel of Death, y’all?), I tend to find these kind of comparisons less than helpful. I feel that two different directors with two completely different visions, need to be critiqued on their own individual merit.

So I want to begin by saying that, despite its shortcomings – and there are quite a few, if we’re being honest – I actually quite liked this most recent take on Mike Mignola’s acclaimed comic. A general consensus amongst reviewers seems to be that David Harbour does an excellent job in the title role, and I agree. Plus, he looks absolutely fantastic. However, he can only do so much with the script he is given, and here I feel is one of the areas where this adaptation falls a little flat. Oftentimes throughout the film, the dialogue comes across somewhat clunky, where it should be free flowing. There are quite a few scenes that lack chemistry between the characters, and a lot of this has to do with what they’re saying – or not saying – to each other. And don’t even get me started on the less than stellar British accents! Despite this, there is a smattering of humour throughout, which helps to offset the moments where conversations sound stilted.

The film opens with a gravelly Ian McShane voice over for black and white scenes, interjected with startling red. The opening scenes tell of the Blood Queen Nimue (played by Milla Jovovich), and her defeat by none other than King Arthur, with the aid of Excalibur. But the rest of the movie proceeds to jump back and forth between what seems like too many subplots and flashbacks, and the effect is somewhat jarring. We’ve got vampires, giants, secret societies, Nazis, changelings, cat like beasts, and Baba Yaga herself. It’s the last character in particular that struck me as being unecessary. Whilst the scenes involving the grotesque, scuttling hag and her walking house are amongst the most effective visually, I found it to be a pointless addition to an already overloaded plot. The film suffers from an abundance of minor characters, with little to no real explanation for their presence.

The plot for Hellboy is drawn from the comics Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt and The Storm and the Fury, but it feels rushed, with too much involved to be properly explored with any real depth. And it’s a shame, because with a little less unecessary subject matter and a little more substance, the plot could have worked a whole lot better, and flowed a whole lot smoother.

Effects wise, there was some absolutely fantastic gore throughout. I know a lot of people are complaining about it, but the video game playing, horror movie fan in me loved it. And in particular, the hell beasts in some of the final few scenes are the stuff of nightmares. Set against moody, apocalyptic skies and a gritty London backdrop, the gloomy colour palette works extraordinarily well against the splashes of blood and sheer unapologetic violence. Nimue’s vengeance presents in creative ways, and the CGI deaths of a few in particular were highly effective. Admittedly, there are moments during the film where the smaller budget (compared to other comic adaptations) shows, but overall it was a successful use of the R rating.

A couple of mid credits scenes hint at the possibility of expanding the universe with a sequel, but it all depends on how well or poorly this film does. Despite most of the reviews I’ve read, and though there are definitely things I would have liked to have seen done better, I really enjoyed the film for what it was. And I’d quite like to see it further explored, should the possibility of a sequel be a reality.