New Job…Again.

I finished my old job last week. This week I have been driving all over the state to meet the requirements for the new job I start on Monday. At 7am. In a location two hours away from my home. So guess who gets to get up at 4am on Monday…yup, you guessed it; this guy.

I am excited, and nervous, and worried that I won’t be good enough. I am applying for houses and getting excited about living on my own again, and I hope this time that I get a decent place to live. I can’t wait to have my own stuff again, instead of it all being locked away in a storage shed. I’m looking forward to hanging my art prints, and setting up my books and DVDs, and being able to play video games until all hours of the morning on my day off, and having a sewing room again. Basically I think the most exciting thing about this new job, aside from the better money, is the notion that I’ll be back living my happy little solitary life…probably with a puppy, for cuddling purposes.

My old job was never meant to be long term. In fact, I lasted there longer than I expected; nine months. My new job is in a call centre as well, but instead of answering questions about health insurance, I will be working with a different focus. Am I prepared? Yes, I think as much as I can be. And it’s something new, something different, something that I can see a a future in. We’ll see how I go.

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Lady Bird (2017)

Last week I took myself out on a date, and I went to see Lady Bird. I read a review a while ago by the guys over at MovieBabble and it piqued my interest, so I’ve been meaning to go see it for a while. I scored some free tickets for the cinema through work last year (the one good thing about my job) so I thought I’d take advantage of the midweek lull at the movie theatre, and the fact that it’s at the end of the showing cycle (both of these things contribute to less people to have to share a theatre with, y’all). 

The titular character is played by Saoirse Ronan, and I’ll be honest here guys; if you don’t love her then we can’t be friends. The 23 year old Irish-American (swoon) actress is incredibly talented, and Lady Bird is just one more film to be added to her ever growing list of fantastic performances. Set in 2002 in Sacramento, California; it tells the story of Christine McPherson (self-dubbed Lady Bird) as she completes her final year of high school, and prepares to go off to college. As a teenage girl on the cusp of womanhood, Lady Bird is certain of what she wants, and determined to go onto better things; to break free from the monotony of her home town and go to live in a place that has ‘culture’. Of course, her desire to leave is at odds with her mother’s equally strong desire to keep her close to home, and just one of the many things the two butt heads over.

Under Greta Gerwig’s direction, this film has a sense of frank honesty, and she tackles the coming of age genre with a touch of humour, and attention to detail. If the goal here was to be as raw and real as possible, then Lady Bird comes through. I feel as though all the characters reminded me people I know, or have met. Everyone from Lady Bird’s upbeat and positive best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), to aloof, superior and somewhat condescending love interest, Kyle (Timothee Chalamet) was vaguely familiar to me. And each of the relationships in this film are essential to the driving forward of the plot. Though of course, the loving but turbulent relationship between Lady Bird and her mother (Laurie Metcalf), is at the centre of it all, as both women try to assert themselves in the face of conflicting interests and ideals.

This film was beautifully shot, with some really strong performances and a story at the heart of it all that I think most, if not all of us can relate to. Which of us hasn’t wanted desperately to move from our home town and experience something new? Which of us hasn’t dealt with those pressures from teachers, and indeed adults as a whole, in our teenage years? And which of us hasn’t gone through those mini existential crises, whilst we try to figure out who we are? Though the plot is not the most original (we all know that “girl ditches her true friends for new friends who turn out to only like the version of herself she’s created to impress them” trope oh so well), the performances make up for it. There’s something sweetly poignant about it, and it can’t be said that the film has no heart. With her directorial debut hitting home so accurately, I’d definitely be interested to see more of Gerwig’s creations in the future.

Airport Woes 

I hate the airport. It stresses me out. It makes me angry, and frustrated. At the airport, I am not a nice guy. Tensions are running high, and everything annoys me on a greater scale than usual. From time to time, I find myself there, though very rarely (if ever) for reasons of my own. Usually when I’m at the airport, it’s because I’m doing the pick up. Tonight, it was for my brother, who flew in from Darwin for his two weeks of annual leave. 

I drove down, fighting my tired eyes by blasting the air con and loud music in my car, in an attempt to keep myself alert. It went smoothly enough at first, but there were the roadworks, which forced me to take a different and completely unknown route to the airport. Then there was the driving around, the finding a park only to then be ushered away because I had been there “too long”, then there was more driving and…well, I hate the airport.

If I’m lucky, all I have to do is find a park, pick up my person, and drive away. If I’m unlucky – and I usually am – I have to go through all the rigmarole, getting increasingly angrier with every passing moment. If I’m really unlucky, I have to actually go in to the terminal and do the baggage collection, and the waiting, and all that other not-so-fun stuff. Honestly, in no way do I envy those people who often travel for work, and spend a significant portion of their time checking in and out of terminals, collecting luggage, waiting in lines, getting randomly selected, hailing cabs or busses…

I don’t go on trips myself. At least, not the kind of trips that involve needing to board a plane. I’ve only ever had three occasions to catch a plane; once when my mother and I visited my sister in Queensland when I finished year 12, once a few years back for a compulsory work related assessment conducted in Sydney, and most recently to Queensland again for my sister’s wedding. On all three occasions, they were trips essentially planned by others, for purposes not my own. In fact, the only real holiday I’ve ever had was to Tasmania, and I travelled there by ferry. Not that that was a particularly pleasant experience either, but at least it was less stressful than the airport.

I like to go on solo adventures, and long drives. It might take me longer, it might even be more expensive. My butt might get sore, my eyes might get tired. But would I take those slight inconveniences over the much greater one of having to endure the airport? Every. Time.

Ozark: Slow Burn Heats Up in the Finale 

I just finished the first season of Netflix’s original series, Ozark. I have to admit, I wasn’t immediately sold on it. The crime drama centres around Marty Byrde, (played by Jason Bateman); a financial advisor who finds himself on the wrong side of the dangerous Mexican cartel he works for. In a desperate attempt to keep himself and his family alive, Marty strikes a deal and relocates the family from Chicago, to the Ozarks in Missouri, where he must launder 8 million dollars by the end of the summer. 

The series has all the signs of a good drama. Intrigue, dissonance, an array of unscrupulous characters, and a healthy dose of good old fashioned conflict. The writing is sharp and the plot seems to propel itself forward smoothly enough. Where the show is let down, however, is in the lack of diversity of character. With an abundance of different people in the show, one would think they would each have a distinct set of personality traits that set them apart from the rest. But by the second or third episode, it became clear that the actors were all playing variations of the same persona; bland, wooden and ultimately watered down. I felt like the entire show was spoken in muted monotone, and the characters all had this kind of droopy hopelessness about them. It seemed like the supporting cast blended into one giant background character; the lodge owner Rachel, practically indistinguishable from FBI agent Roy Petty; or awkward Wyatt Langmore who is as resolutely uninteresting as Sam, the real estate agent.

The obvious exceptions to this are Ruth (played by Julia Garner) who is exactly the kind of no nonsense, tough talking, out of the box thinker required to inject some much needed fire into the series. And even she took me a few episodes to really warm to, though I had to admire her propensity for ruthlessness right from the start. She has a depth the other characters seem to lack, hinted at within the brief exchanges with her incarcerated father, and her unexpected tenderness towards her cousins. Jonah, with an intelligence that seems to far outweigh that of his older sister, his innocent curiosity, and his willingness to do what it takes to protect his family, is another welcome change to the boring character landscape.

This, coupled with an overuse of a grey/blue colour palette, did a lot to give Ozark the feel of something as cold and lifeless as a body on a slab. But, it’s saving grace lies in the execution. As a viewer, I found myself curious to see how it would play out for the Byrde family, with adversity bearing down on them from all sides, and new conflict arising in the midst of the old. You can’t help but root for them, as you watch them band together despite past infidelities, and hold true to family values that become more important to them with each passing episode. It’s true, the show has a slow burn, and you don’t quite realise how far it has progressed until the last few episodes, where things really start to heat up (literally!), but it comes together in such a way that I’m pleased to hear they’ve announced a second season.

Ozark has hard suspense interlaced with hints of tenderness, a seriousness that is set off by the odd bit of humour, and a satisfying combination of stylish production and absolute plausibility. The first season leaves you with an open ended finale that suggests that the troubles Marty has battled all season are only just beginning and the show, despite its shortcomings, provides a solid ten episodes of entertainment.

Night Time Wanderings 

I haven’t gone for a walk in a long time. It’s been months since I first bought a gym membership, and I still hate going. I’m beginning to think this fitness thing isn’t for me. But tonight, after stuffing my face full of dinner (and leftover cheesecake for dessert) Igot a flash of motivation. I laced up my runners, put my headphones in, and took off. Nothing intensive and full on, but I’m keeping a nice pace nevertheless. 

I think thats the thing. Fitness on someone else’s terms doesn’t work for me. I prefer to go on my own; music in my ears and the night air on my skin. Instead of getting up early to go through rigorous training regimes that seem to have little effect for me so far, I find its better to go for a walk after the day has ended, a wind down instead of a wake up.

It gives me time to think, without the upcoming day clogging my brain with thoughts. And lately, with a long string of mini existential crises sapping all my energy, a little quiet reflection time is a relief. The exercise is simply an added bonus.

It’s the middle of summer. It’s 10pm and still 30 degrees. There’s not even a breath of wind, and there’s a sheen of sweat coating my brow, and pooling in the hollow of my throat. There’s few cars around, no people. My breath comes steadily, and I am very aware of the blood pumping in my veins. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this.

26.01.18

Teetering on the edge of “tear my hair out” frustration.

Hit with a severe case of no inspiration.

Sweating in heat, lack of precipitation.

I can’t even be bothered with masturbation.

There’s a holiday opinion dividing the nation.

Proving their points in mass demonstration.

Though all I can think, to my indignation, is

Long weekend, but no motivation.

Max Pry, Private Eye, and My Foray into Theatre 

This weekend we performed our play, and it was one of the most fun and incredible things I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Written by my incredibly talented friend, the one act play, titled Max Pry, Private Eye, is set in the late 1930’s and follows the story of Max Pry; a detective who dreams of becoming a famous private investigator. The problem is, Max is a terrible detective. In fact, his greatest bust (discovering Frankie “The Cruncher” Pavlov’s hideout in a down town laundromat) was purely by accident. So, when Max’s boss gives him an ultimatum that could see him demoted, Max teams up with some (equally terrible) gangsters to stage the bust of a lifetime!
After three months of rehearsals, we took to the stage on Friday night for the first time and it went off without a hitch. Me, who has previously sang in front of crowds utterly shaking with nerves, found myself stepping onto the theatre stage confidently and without fear. Admittedly, that may have been because there is more involved in theatre that I had to focus on, but nevertheless! Our lines on-stage were delivered to perfection, and as I listened backstage in between my scenes, the other scenes ran just as smoothly. The couple of times we did forget a line, the ad libs were so good that nobody noticed a thing.

We had three performances that each had the theatre almost full, and a good few of my friends and family showed up to see us perform, which was really awesome. The costumes, made by myself and our lovely production manager, looked fantastic and really helped make the show. The set, designed and made by our playwright’s father, looked sensational. Honestly, everyone involved did such a wonderful job and I am so proud of everyone that had a hand in bringing Max Pry to life.

We even made it to the paper a couple of times, and we got a fantastic write-up about how the play was working to encourage neurodiversity in the arts. For those of you that may be unfamiliar with the word, neurodiverse is a blanket term used to describe autism spectrum disorders, ADD and mental health disorders, amongst others. The idea was a shorter play with a longer rehearsal time, to allow for those who may be suffering from neurodiverse disorders to be able to participate in a production that doesn’t have the high demand and stress level of a full length play. And I can’t even begin to tell you how kind and considerate the cast and crew were. 

My role in the play was that of Dotty, the femme fatale if you will, and I loved playing the character. Though, with her sass, wit and penchant for casting a dirty look, it was pretty much just like being myself…in a blonde wig. In fact, I was offered the role purely because the playwright and her parter (both good friends of mine) thought that the character would be perfect for me. And, in an attempt to step outside my comfort zone, I took on the role without hesitation.

Honestly, it was such an incredible experience and I think I’d be keen to get back on the stage again at some point. But, for now, it’s been a long and busy weekend, and I think what I really need is a cup of tea, and a nice relaxing Sunday.