Wednesday, November 14, 2018

You do not have to be good

Someone I dated briefly implied to me, when we were breaking up, that I wasn’t ambitious enough. That because I hadn’t written or directed anything in the time we’d been together, I was somehow lacking.

And this has stayed with me.

And stayed with me.

And stays with me.

It climbs into my bed at night and shares my shower in the morning.

It whispers to me as I sit on the couch, eating popcorn and drinking wine, after a day spent writing words for other people.

It’s under my skin and in my pores. I stink of it.

It’s eating at me in that way only artistic doubts can. Thrown out so carelessly by someone who exists on another plane of society. Where jobs are easier to find. Where hard work and talent logically lead to employment. Where employment equals money. Where professional success is not so intrinsically linked to emotion and vulnerability.

And despite being told by friends that my drive is inspiring, despite being approached by strangers in the industry for advice on how to juggle two careers, despite owning 2 homes as a single, female artist… I can’t shake this feeling of finally having been found out. With one statement, I’ve been reduced to a place where I question all I’ve achieved in life. And how much I matter.

Which I concede is more a result of how I, as an artist, view myself, than any cruel intention on his part. And is possibly also tied to several massive changes in my life over the past 18 months.

But still.

And so reading this wonderful article today by Ann Dowd, and through that, finding this poem by Mary Oliver, is the greatest gift the internet has given me recently.

Thanks world. Sometimes you know exactly what I need.


WILD GEESE
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

On jet lag

Jet lag is not dissimilar to a hangover, but without the accompanying guilt or self-blame. I am confused and tired, foggy and forgetful, emotional and numb. And full. So very full. But with what?

I sit in a mediocre pub near my house, drowning the prog rock out with headphones playing Florence & the Machine, and my chest hurts. Because despite my 26 hour flight, it feels as if some vital part of me has been left on the other side of the world.

And I think of Poland’s grey streets and brown buildings and trees that rain tears in the wind. And the cafe with atrocious service that serves the most perfect breakfast of French bread with an egg and a pot of jam.

And the way the men could make their interest in me known without saying a word; the respectful simplicity of it.

And the theatre. My God, the theatre. The impeccable artistry of the performers with their 4 to 5 years of gruelling training. And the realisation that with great performers, even an average show is watchable.

And I sit here and try not to cry. Because while these inner west streets are my home, I’ve been shown something that is so primally *mine* that my body is screaming to be taken back.

Since childhood, whenever I walk through a field on a sunny day, something within me expands and a nostalgic feeling presses against the inside of my chest and skull, drawing tears. I’ve never understood it.

But on this trip, when walking through a meadow on the way to Radegast Station, this same feeling overwhelmed me. And I understood.

My body had been looking for this land my entire life without me realising it. The body remembers. It’s remarkable.

And someone I greatly respect said to me today, “Life is a mere blink, you know that. Your spiritual home is Poland and Poland will nurture and enable your passion. If you don’t give it a chance, it will haunt you in later years.” And I think, maybe he’s right.

Maybe this striving towards some goal that I’m not even sure I care about—success, children, an open-plan home with mid-century furniture—is just a distraction. It’s an idea of satisfaction that convinces me I’m doing what I love. It’s a path born of expectation, not the heart.

And so

And so.

And so.

And now.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The end of the thing that was

I think what you're looking for was me.
I think what I'm looking for was you.

(I worry we'll never find it)

I think you were a cunt.
I think I was too critical.
I think you could learn to not hear criticism where none exists.
I think I could learn to let things go.
And accept.

I think you weren't as bad as I thought in many ways.
I've realised you were much worse that I suspected in others.

I've been shown the things I needed. The things I kept asking for.
I've discovered the things I craved, in other people.
I've realised what I felt was missing really was.
I've realised what I took for granted deserved more acknowledgement.
I've realised just how extraordinary you could be.
But also how selfish. How cruel.

I wonder if I'll ever find the thing we had.

Maybe there are other ways to love.

That may lack the things ours didn't.
But have the things we missed.

Or I'll spend my life chasing after the perfection, without the pain.

And maybe one day settle for peace.

And be happy.

Without you.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Revenant: a few thoughts

  • The Revenant: a 3 hour immersive masterclass in male grunting
  • Man eats nothing but snow and roadkill for months and still looks like his 20y/o supermodel girlfriend is cooking him too many omelettes
  • If Leo wins an Oscar for this I quit
  • The best bit is when Leo spends the night in the horsetel
  • The stamina to survive shown by Leo's character is nothing on the stamina required to sit through this film
  • Tom Hardy should win the Oscar for best Matthew McConaughey impression in a Supporting Role
  • Pocahontas was really good (SO glad they didn't deviate from the traditional representation of Native American women)
  • They should've called it The Irrelevant
Thinking about these things is what got me through the last 20 minutes. Don't judge.... Unless it's this film.

Monday, May 25, 2015

On fear and racism.. and not texting at night.

A thing happened to me tonight walking home.  In the grand scheme of horrible things it’s not that bad. I wasn’t beaten or raped or stabbed. But I’m sitting here shaking and shocked nonetheless. Because I couldn’t get through to my boyfriend to pick me up. So I started walking home in the dark. And there were footsteps behind me. And I didn’t look behind me because I work so hard to not be that person. To trust people. To see the good in strangers, first and foremost. So as I reached a quiet intersection, and he came up next to me, and he was a tall, young, black guy in a dark hoody, I didn’t put my phone away because fuck stereotyping people based on their age, or skin colour, or what side of town they grew up on. And then I was crossing the road, in my naïve goodwill, texting my mum, and then he was sprinting up behind me, and he was grabbing my phone, and he was running away. And I yelled out. And then I froze. And I started crying.

And then, like the mad Polish woman I am, I chased after him in the dark. And a couple in their car heard me scream “you fucking cunt” and chased him down. The kid, and his mate. And the kids stopped and dropped my phone. And then ran away.

And I’m sitting here crying, shaking, in shock, with a weird ache in my gut, and I say FUCK THIS SHIT. Fuck the fact that they were black and that I can see how racism worms its dirty way in to people. Because people attribute the act to the skin, rather than the person. And fuck those two punks for killing my bravery. And fuck the world for bringing those kids whatever set of circumstances led them to that decision tonight. Because with the shock and the anger is sadness for those numskulls and their own life experience.

And all I can do is hope that my resolve remains. And that I will feel ok walking alone at night again. Because above all I say fuck you to fear, and its destructiveness, and I will continue to fight to the death for my conviction in the goodness of people.

Friday, November 14, 2014

It's a Redfurore AKA chill out Redfoo

Reading about this Redfoo thing, I can't help but be reminded of the time a certain Aussie playwright got really upset that "unintelligent" people were taking offence at his script, and went on a rampage of Twitter blocking and Facebook defriending.

Offence is offence. It's everyone prerogative to be offended by whatever they feel offended by. Should artists worry about every single way in which they may offend someone before releasing a piece of work into the world? I don't think so, no. Where's the opportunity for subversion and change if we all tread carefully?* But if something does offend people, you've gotta suck it up buddy. That's the price you pay for publicising your personal take on the world, and making money from it.

To make public claims that people just "don't get it" is puerile and kinda sad. Deal with it, learn from it (or not, if you stand strongly by your artistic decisions) and let your legal team deal with the ramifications.

Don't hate on the haters. It just makes you look petty.

*I'm not advocating for Redfoo, just so's you know. While I do believe that discomfort is a natural response to new representations of sensitive issues, in this case, Redfoo's just written a really crappy song that offers nothing remotely new or interesting. But that's just my opinion.

Read more about the Redfoo saga here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Headphones and hoodies


James Dalby, you make a sad day bearable.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Drink me to sleep

After an alcohol-free month, today is the day I am finally allowed to have a drink… yet I find myself inexplicably disinclined to do so.

Which is odd. Because I have been willing the 1st of August to roll around with more intensity than can be considered natural for anyone over the age of eight not waiting for Christmas morning. Seriously, this shit was difficult. Shamefully difficult. And at times the only thing stopping me from throwing in the teabag and downing some Pinot was the knowledge that (thanks to a StickK campaign) my best friend stood to gain $80 from my failure.

I quickly established wine-aversion tactics: soda water in wine glasses, late-night popcorn, motivational books, and a blossoming relationship with a Breville juicer. But none of these was able to replicate alcohol’s singular ability to quickly and effortlessly dissolve stress and emotional pain. And contrary to what I’d expected, the final week was by far the hardest; each day growing more torturous as the prospect of a freshly opened bottle of wine loomed. Whether this was as a result of the pressure of accumulated stress or the excitement of a difficult experience coming to an end, I don’t know. But I do know I came closest to surrender five days short of the finish line.

Which is why I find it so disconcerting that I now sit here, at ten o’clock at night, with two bottles of organic wine freshly purchased by my boyfriend sitting on the kitchen counter, and feel… reluctance.

Why?

Because during my 31 days of sobriety I accomplished things I’d been putting off for years. Things that seemed too difficult, or scary, or futile.

I wrote a funding grant for a theatre show, applied for inclusion in an Arts program, started a weekly eNewsletter, got published on artsHub, arranged reviewer tickets for a theatre show in Sydney, contacted a top acting agency about representation, registered a theatre company, and planned my stepson’s Communion. And as I write out this list I realise there may be something to this non-drinking thing after all.

So right now I feel as if I’m standing between my old self and new and I’m not quite sure which way to go.

Perhaps a glass of wine will help.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My issue with MTC's The Crucible

Depending on who you ask, MTC’s production of The Crucible sits somewhere between a sensitive and faithful interpretation of Miller's masterpiece and an excruciating poo.
It has been accused of depoliticising Miller’s text and likened to a staged reading. There’s even been a review of a review of the show.

But none of these commentators has identified my particular issue with this production: the depiction of Abigail, the 17-year old girl who starts the whole witch-trial cauldron bubbling.

High School students have been chewing pens over whether Abigail is villain or victim for decades, so I find it devastatingly disheartening that at a time when awareness of the ongoing vilification of women online and in real life is reaching a new tipping point, a mainstage production with the capacity to expose upwards of 15,000 people to this classic text has chosen the path of least consideration and settled on Abigail as bad-girl.

Let me explain.

Abigail Williams, as written by Miller, is a girl living in puritanical Massachusetts with her uncle after watching her parents get bludgeoned to death in their bed. She gets a job working for a family as a maid but sleeps with the man of the house and loses her job when his wife finds out. Problem is, she’s fallen in love with this man and now he wants nothing to do with her. Cue hysterical finger-pointing and contagious chaos.

Now look, you can talk about feminine wiles and manipulation all you like but a married man in his thirties who has sex with an unmarried 17-year old in the British Colonies of 1692 has a pretty good idea of the kind of future he’s sentencing her to.

And while I’m not saying that an interpretation of Abigail as vengeful accuser and villain isn’t plausible, there is certainly room for a much more considered, compassionate and socially relevant direction. One in which Abigail’s choices are a product of the cultural prejudices and situation in which she finds herself. Where we can see the fear in this girl, the helplessness, the adolescent selfishness and yes, the desire for revenge, but also the terror.

Otherwise what is this but a highbrow exercise in slut-shaming hidden behind fancy sets and award-winning acting.

Monday, June 24, 2013

On Step-Parenting

Falling in love with a man with children is not something I would have chosen for myself. But falling in love is rarely a choice. 

And the longer I’m in my current relationship, the more I’m able to look back on the past two years objectively and see that I’ve tried to fool myself into believing it’s no different to dating a childless man. But it is. Very much so.

And it has been difficult.

From that first awkward meeting in his lounge room being presented to an interview panel of two single-digit-aged boys, through fortnightly visits and school holidays trying to be friendly but unimposing, coming up with ideas of things to do, making them feel comfortable talking about their mum, and the girlfriend who came before me, it has been hard.

But it got easier. I told myself it did. And perhaps that’s true. Or perhaps I grew accustomed to the feeling of being a living reminder of what these boys would never have.

And then the youngest came to live with him, when we still lived separately and my struggles involved remembering to pack spare clothes for work and sharing his towel and always forgetting where I’d left my shoes.

And even though I knew it would be hard, that it would change him, that it would mean making lunches and supervising homework and trimming toenails and steaming vegetables, I supported the decision. I encouraged it. I reassured him that it wouldn’t scare me away and that I wouldn’t love him any less. That it was the right decision. Because I wasn’t one of those heartless women who turn a man away from his children, distracting him with a shiny new brood.  Because I wouldn’t deny a son the chance to live with his father. So I told him it would be fine.

And it was. In a way.

And it wasn’t.

Because four months later we decided to move in together, and in one weekend of removalists and delicate negotiations about interior design, I became the woman this child would see more than any other. His city-step-mum. The primary focus of his attention.

And I’ve welcomed it, and loved him, and worked hard to fill the gap left by not having daily access to the things only a mother can offer. But I wasn’t prepared for the sheer relentlessness of his need for attention. And despite my best efforts to remain disinterested, an instinct I can only classify as ‘maternal’ has doggedly put down roots in my cynical soul and I feel as if, in that weekend, I leaped from carefree kidulthood to middle-age, without any say in the matter.

Because whilst I’ve grown to love my boyfriend’s son and treat him as if he were my own, the fact is he isn’t. Not only because that position is already filled but because he was not a choice for me. He was a choice made by the man I love and another woman in another time and though I will continue to love and care for him as long as I’m afforded the privilege, I can’t help but be reminded of their love and failed hopes every time I look at him.

Which, I get it, isn’t really a big deal. Except that it denies me the bliss of ignorance. It reminds me that what you are certain could be the one thing that will carry you through the rest of your life in a cocoon of awesomeness is actually just as likely to turn out to be horseshit.

But the worst part is that I’ve begun to question whether I actually want to have kids of my own, when I’d never had any doubts about their inevitability, and I feel as if I’m in mourning for my own children. 

And that’s a feeling I don’t quite know what to do with. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

How many ways can you lose a friend?

It still amazes me how well I can function even from within the depths of deepest darkness.

And I step outside and the world is bleak and beautiful in the same breath of wind. And I listen to Paul Kelly sing Careless on repeat and allow my eyes to well and dry in a pathetic loop of self-pity.

And I think back on all I have experienced, suffered, been blessed with, and overcome in my 32 years and wonder if I will ever actually learn to live with myself. If all this endless work to self-improve, to be kinder, to forgive, to let things go, to accept what is, has really made any difference at all.

And I sit in my comfortable, White, able-bodied certainty and feel sad because apparently that is my right.

And even my depression disgusts me. But it's still the safest place I've ever been.


___________________________________

How many cabs in New York City? How many angels on a pin? How many notes in a saxophone? How many tears in a bottle of gin? How many times did you call my name, knock at the door but you couldn't get in? I've been wrapped up in a shell nothing could get through to me. Acted like I didn't know I had friends or family. I saw worry in their eyes, it didn't look like fear to me. I know I've been careless. (I took bad care of this) Like a mixture in a bottle. Like a frozen-over lake. Like a long-time painted smile I got so hard I had to crack. You were there, you held the line, you're the one that brought me back. How many stars in the milky way, how many ways can you lose a friend?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Friday, June 08, 2012

He built his wife a nest on the ground

The power of true love: a stork goes against instinct and builds a nest directly on the ground, because his partner can no longer fly.

The couple met in the Fedaczynski Rehabilitation Centre in the Carpathian Mountains in Poland. She came in with a broken wing; he with severe poisoning. Although the birds were emaciated and had very little chance of survival, the doctor managed to save them, and through the long months of rehabilitation they slowly fell in love.

"The love of storks is great," says Dr. Fedaczyński. "Birds are very attached to each other and when they couple, it is for life.”

When it became clear that the female would never fly again, her fully-recovered partner chose to remain with his new wife and spend the winter in Poland, not departing for warmer climates. And then in the Spring he began to build a nest, collecting sticks and laying them directly on the ground, so that his wife would not have to suffer. Mrs Stork sits by patiently and clatters her bill in happiness while their new home grows bigger every day, and in a few weeks it should be home to a couple of chicks.

The unusual pair have become a great attraction in the area. People are watching the behaviour of the birds in disbelief; nobody has ever seen a stork building a nest on the ground like a duck.

And now there are signs that the pair's inventive solution is being adopted by other couples. The clinic is home to other sick birds, including those who had lost the ability to fly years ago. To date not one of them had made attempts at building a nest, but seeing the actions of the devoted couple they too have begun to tackle the construction of nests directly on the ground.

Source: fakty.pl

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My people

are cleaners, taxi drivers, waitresses and strippers.
They bathe the elderly and repair potholes in roads.
They pull (heart) strings to send their children to schools that they can’t afford,
because “education is everything”.
They swallow their pride, forget their egos, grow skin thick as bark, and learn not to fight back.
They smile rarely but laugh easily.
They skype home.
They pray to a God who doesn’t speak English.
They drink home-made spirits and eat white pork-meat sausages. Around tables covered from centre to stomach in make-do food over white lace tablecloths.

My people
held onto their language
through a hundred-and-fifty-years of not existing as a nation.
They rebuilt a city from war-ravaged rubble into an exact replica of its former glory.
They are fathers of modern astronomy, Nobel-prize winning physicists and poets, world famous composers, novelists, film directors and Popes.

My people are my blood.
My blue eyes.
My bone structure and my ashen hair.
My beliefs.
My weaknesses.
My fire and my fight.

My people.

My Poland.

I love you.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Tips for Men

Tip for Men #1: Never cancel a date via text within 24 hours of the date. You've already ruined her day and made it clear you're not that into her. At least be a man about it.

Tip for Men #2: Shower. Every day. And wear deodorant.
There is no exception to this rule.

Tip for Men #3: Never washing your jeans was a marketing gimmick invented by Nudie to make more money. They age better if you wash them every couple of months. Wash your jeans.

Tip for Men #4: Own a peacoat. Preferably in navy. Every man looks good in a peacoat.

Tip for Men #5: Get your teeth cleaned by a dentist once a year. I am deadly serious about this. You think I'm exaggerating don't you? I'm not. Noone will tell you that you have bad breath so just do this ok?

Tip for Men #6: Let women into and out of elevators and trains first. Yeah it's old-fashioned but it makes everyone feel special. (Women: if a man does this ALWAYS smile and say thankyou).

Tip for Men #7: Women are less overt in their flirting than you think. If a girl smiles at you, smile back. If she's still smiling she wants you to talk to her, I promise. Don't walk away it'll break her heart.

Tip for Men #8: When a woman uses the word "fine", it never is.

Tip for Men #9: Don't take other people's advice too seriously. Even mine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Such be life

A recent avalanche of significant events has me feeling discombobulated. I’m fluctuating between sickening bliss, terror, fury, and fervent motivation of a kind usually reserved for evangelical extremists.

Here are the reasons:

1. First of all, there’s the problem of dating one person exclusively, and seeing them every day for two three (holy shit) solid months. Not only has my hard-earned independence disappeared, but so too my ability to be alone without pining for my lover’s company.  I mean, seriously, who am I? The saccharine quality of the time we spend together is so cloying I’m getting diabetes. But I CANNOT. KEEP. AWAY. Heroin would consume less of my time.

2. Then there’s the housemate who refused to leave when asked to do so. And who has become so Dexter-like in personality that I’m finding it difficult to physically and emotionally manage the level of terror, dread and fury she elicits in me.
God help my filthy pride, which would serve me better by shutting its dirty mouth and just letting me give in to all her unreasonable demands.

3. It’s three days until Polish family Christmas. Enough said.

4. And finally (well not quite, but some things don’t bear mentioning, even by one as honest as myself) there is my desire to finally get the theatre work up that I’d started planning 6 months ago but haven’t made any progress on since August, due to a combination of point 1, and fear. As well as my almost fanatical desperation to be involved in a film project with someone I consider an inspiration and (reluctant) mentor. Which, incidentally, I’ve already been told I can help with and which I’ve already put a little time into but which my impatient personality won’t allow me to stop obsessing over.


So.
No, wait. Hold up. I just thought of another thing.

5. That thing where when you start to love care about someone, you involuntarily begin to take on all their stress and pain as if it were your own. That thing’s happening to me too. 


So. That’s where it stands with me right now. Can you see why stuff be crazy in my head, heart and stomach?


Yeah...


So.


Such be life.


Afterword
I’m aware that as my readership slowly grows, and inevitably amongst people who actually know me, some of the life facts that I choose to disclose may seem overly candid. If that’s the case, I apologise. Albeit insincerely. If I can live with it, so can you.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Unbearable Weight of Staying

I have discovered, recently, an overwhelming and almost uncontrollable urge to escape any situation that makes me feel anything too strongly.

Because I am terrified with my current situation. With the potential for hurt, and disappointment - both my own and his. And the possibility, or inevitability, of the discovery of ugliness. And the future realisation that we are not perfect, neither individually nor for eachother.

And I wonder what the fuck I am doing here.

And I am reminded once again why I chose a solitary life.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On such a full sea are we now afloat

Why am I feeling so lost and discombobulated? Is this how it’s meant to feel when you meet a person you are attracted to and enjoy spending time with? Because if so, I think there may be a terrible flaw in the way our emotions develop and someone needs to say something about it.

I feel excited, scared, distrustful, happy, beautiful, anxious, exhausted, nostalgic, uncertain, protective and confused. In equal parts.

I mean seriously.  How is that a positive combination?

I’ve lost 3 kilos and I haven’t been to the gym in weeks. My room is a mess, I've got almost no clean underwear, I haven’t changed my bed linen and my dogs have forgotten what the park looks like. My parents are permanently annoyed with my lack of communication, my housemate is pretty much living alone, I have done no work on either of the theatre projects I had in planning, and I spend my work days writing about and reading up on things completely unrelated to work. I am, in a word, distracted.

And the most disturbing thing is that it’s gotten increasingly worse until today my head has screamed with the hurtful thought, “What am I doing?” and my instinct is to cut and run before I lose the wonderful relationship I’ve cultivated with myself over the last 3 years. But then what is the purpose of life if not to love and what will my life be if I forever run from that?
Well, peaceful for one. And lonely. Productive. Focused. Centred. And safe. Safe. 

Safe.

That's it isn’t it? Safety.
Predictability and equilibrium. Things I have chased my whole life and will continue to chase because that’s the legacy left by my childhood. But with that emotional security comes self-doubt, and longing, and nights curled up in bed with a Kelpie and an old teddy bear wondering what might have been had I not made the choice to live my life alone. Because I had made that choice. Whole-heartedly. And now the chipping away at my resolve is something terrifying and disorientating. And I long for my boring solo existence when emotions were rational and linear and my own company didn’t feel like there was someone missing from it.

So.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The world according to Ricky Gervais.

"I don't know what happiness is but it's definitely NOT just going with the flow. Going with the flow, for Christ sake? Don't ever go with the flow. Stop the flow, go against the flow, start the flow, but don't under any circumstance just go with the flow. It may ruffle a few feathers, but some people's feathers need a little ruffling. And remember: just because someone is offended doesn't mean they're in the right."


© Rich Hardcastle

Read the entire article here