The Best and Worst of Humanity

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Yesterday, my phone was stolen. I was working as a wine promoter in a liquor store handing out free samples and this particular couple was suspicious from the get-go. They didn’t take anything, or so we thought until it was break time and I went to use my phone. They were very slick, very good at misdirection. In my phone case was also my debit card and public transport card, and they managed to spend $100 using the PayPass technology automatically included on many credit cards these days. I hate PayPass. I never even used it and now it has betrayed me. I can get the money back, although replacement costs and time lost in hassle is frustrating.

Why am I filling the internet with bad news? Because from every situation can be taken many different kernels of truth. Most people in my situation stop at the “my stuff was stolen, those bastards, I’m angry” truth. I certainly went through that phase. But then came a different way of looking at things, which I espoused to a friend who was outraged on my behalf:

I don’t often experience the worst of humanity, and somewhat ironically it’s just reminded me of how lucky I am.

I’m surrounded by beautiful people…and loved ones in this magical bubble and it’s probably good, in a way, to be reminded that there are people who don’t have that. Those bastards who stole my phone, I know who they were because we were suspicious of them at the time, they have a story. I don’t know what it is, but pretty sure it involves drugs and some form of abuse. That doesn’t excuse them, but it makes me reflect upon my own life and imagine how different it could have been…

Upon posting that my phone etc. had been stolen, I received many heartwarming messages from the people in my life; the worst of humanity also inspired the best of humanity. I think that’s a common theme in life – something frustrating, terrible or even horrific happens to you, inevitably, and it sucks. Of course it does. And it’s completely okay to wallow in that, for a while. But look closely, because within those thorns that are pricking you there are roses. There are people who care, people who are good and a beautiful blue sky.

At the end of the day, in my case, it was just stuff. Things were stolen. Others have lost much more and I am so fortunate to have the people I do in my life, and I was extremely fortunate to have those people who have since been lost.

Thief, this does not excuse you. I hope you learn something from this, too, and I hope that whatever situation you are in which lead to this occurrence improves. You can still be the best of humanity, you always can be, and so can I.

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The Clock Has Been Ticking

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Much time has passed since I last posted on here. To be fair, my life has been filled with events. For one thing, my wedding is in March and I’ve been running around figuring things out like how how many people we can afford at the reception and what music to have (the jury is still largely out on that one). I’ve also been acting as much as humanly possible – as an extra in television series such as “Ms Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” as the lead in student films:

And writing/acting in my own projects as well as attending class each week and, of course, continuing my discipline of a Doctor Who Quote a Day, which I began back in March:

I recently auditioned successfully for two different projects, one theatre and one film. One is with the 1812 Theatre performing a very physical role in a heartwarming coming of age story entitled “The Book of Everything” and the other in an original short horror film with a surprisingly uplifting ending called “After Trauma”. I’m very excited to get my teeth sunk into both projects and to continue developing my acting technique!

Keep you eyes open for a Doctor Who Series B minisode in the coming weeks, too; we spent a day filming in a park, much to the delight of two young boys on bicycles who later asked for our autographs!

And, speaking of clocks ticking, here is a cello loop pedal improvisation of “Clocks” by Coldplay.

An Exciting New Chapter

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I have returned safely from Los Angeles and am currently adjusting back to my Aussie life. It feels like the last month was spent on another planet or in a dream, but I have taken the experience back with me; everything has changed. For instance, the day after I arrived, I had a Skype audition with the Director of the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts (NYCDA). It felt very strange to be holding an ipad steady with one hand whilst delivering a monologue to the tiny inset camera, but it was certainly worth the effort as I was offered a scholarship to study there next year!

 

Killer 1

A photo of me performing one of my monologues at WCOPA

I had researched various acting courses in Australia and resigned myself to the fact that they were simply too expensive and I didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of them; I was confident I could learn the craft in other ways such as classes and community theatre. That is, until I discovered NYCDA. I devoured the course book, asked the staff representative questions and listened intently to my friend as she described her experience of the summer course she attended recently. Everything I heard struck a chord within me, it just felt so right.

 Although I initially wasn’t offered a scholarship at the competition as some of the other actors were, I persisted and asked the staff what I needed to do in order to study with them. The answer: call us, and they were so impressed I actually followed through in calling that they arranged a Skype audition. And the rest is history.

So, what now? The rest of this year will be spent job hunting, applying for grants/sponsorship, fundraising (click here to help me), wedding planning, completing paperwork and training in acting as much as I can. It isn’t going to be easy, but that only makes it more interesting, right? Sure, my future husband and I might end up completely broke and homeless in a foreign country, but that’s better than not being true to my heart. And I’m certain that, somehow, we will afford this. Just you wait. 

Challenges and Beauty

Music

I am sitting in a small hotel room in Downtown Los Angeles awaiting the beginning of what I’ve been preparing for since March: The World Championship of Performing Arts. It has not been an easy journey to get here, though I feel incredibly fortunate to have been offered this opportunity.

If you don’t know what the World Championship of Performing Arts is (I didn’t when I first auditioned), here is a link to their website

Most of Team Australia arrived early so that we could adjust to the new timezone (Australia is fifteen hours ahead of Los Angeles) and, of course, experience Los Angeles attractions such as Universal Studios and Disneyland.

Here I come to my first challenge; I arrived even earlier still in order to visit long lost family in North Carolina. Being an infrequent traveller and the owner of only one debit card, I didn’t think to organise any backup form of accessing money. Of course, knowing this, a particularly malevolent ATM machine at the airport decided to eat my card. Fortunately for me, my family looked after me and I was eventually able to receive some emergency money, but if anything else were to go wrong once I was away from my US family and require finances I would be in a little bit of a pickle…

…and so, the day after we visited Universal Studios, what did I do? I danced around outside the hotel, fell over and badly injured my ankle. Putting aside the fact that I’m supposed to be dancing, singing, playing cello and acting – all of which require a healthy ankle to be done to the best of my ability – I was supposed to be going to Disneyland in the morning! I should have gone to a Doctor, probably. But Disneyland! My beautiful friend offered to spend the entire day pushing me from ride to ride in a wheelchair. Despite the tough physical exertion (Disneyland has a surprising amount of hills), we both had an amazing time and I honestly believe it helped me much more than a Doctor could have. Whatever I’ve done to my ankle, at worst it’s a ligament tear and all I can do is rest and wait anyway.

The following day I resolved that I would go to a Doctor, but I couldn’t find somewhere that would work with my travel insurance, so I ended up going to hire a cello instead as I need one for the competition and, again, the emotional relief it brought me was incredible. As it happens, I have torn a ligament in that exact same ankle before and I can’t afford treatment here (see above credit card fiasco) anyway. My lovely teammates – go Team Australia! – have been helping me get around and even found me some crutches!

Which brings me back to the beginning: registration is in three hours. What am I going to do? I’m going to wrap my injured foot in lights and learn how to perform with my injury. At the end of the day, things go awry for everyone all the time and it isn’t helpful to dwell in the negative. I have accepted that it sucks, that it’s painful and limiting and I am now focusing on how I can use it for good. What can I learn from this? I am certainly learning the kindness of others towards someone in distress, how to perform simple tasks without falling over and, most importantly, how to turn something terrible into something beautiful.

The Medallion Calls – Cello Loop Pedal Improvisation

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I realised that if I took the chord progression from the main theme, I could loop it and create another Pirates of the Caribbean cello loop video! I also remembered that I own a Jack Sparrow costume of sorts and couldn’t resist dressing up, because why would you not dress up as Captain Jack Sparrow whilst playing cello? Unfortunately, I didn’t foresee the slight issue of my beads tapping against the side of my cello, but in my opinion it was worth it.

Mr Willerby vs Ms Hood – A Comedy

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I wrote this years ago and thought someone out there might enjoy it, so without further ado:

 

MR WILLERBY VS MS HOOD

 

Dear Mr. Willerby, 

It has come to my attention that your border collie has been digging up my garden and soiling my lawn. This is most unpleasant for me as I am a working woman and hardly have the time to clean up after my cat, let alone your dog.

I request that you keep your dog within your property or on a leash at all times to avoid a reoccurrence of this most distasteful incident. Thank you in advance for taking such measures to ensure the stability and tranquillity of this neighbourhood.

Warm regards,

Ms. Hood

 

Dear Ms. Hood,

I apologise for the erratic behaviour of my dog, but you have no right to command me to tie up my poor Binky all day long solely to avoid a bit of dirt out of place in your garden. It is only natural for a dog to dig up a little dirt now and then, and dogs need exercise.

In case you haven’t noticed, I have a job too and don’t have the time to take Binky out for walks as often as I’d like to, so I leave him untied now and again. I humbly suggest that perhaps you should invest in a fence as an alternative to allow Binky his freedom and exercise. 

Thank you in advance for taking such measures to ensure the sanity and wellbeing of the animals in this neighbourhood.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Willerby

 

Mr. Willerby,

You are completely out of your mind if you think that I am going to spend all my hard-earned savings on a fence just to stop your dog from destroying my garden which I have painstakingly planted and watered with my own hands. What kind of a name is ‘Binky’ anyway?

I humbly instruct you to keep your dog off of my property or I will have to tie him up myself. Perhaps you yourself could invest in a fence?

Sincerely,

Ms. Hood

 

 Ms. Hood,

You are completely insane if you think that I would purposely subject my dog to such torture as to let you tie him up. You obviously have no idea as to the nature of the canine species. 

As to the fence, if you knew me well enough, which you don’t, you would realise that I am not earning nearly enough money to build a decent doghouse, not to mention a fence. I am sorry that Binky has taken such a liking to your garden, but that’s life and I’m afraid that you’re going to have to get used to it.

Mr. Willerby

 

Dear Mr. Stubborn idiot,

How dare you tell me to ‘get used to it’! If you thought for one second that I am going to let some dog-loving delinquent force life idioms upon me, then you’ve got another thing coming. 

This is your last chance: keep that flea-ridden pest off my property or I will have no choice but to chop his legs off with my small, but extremely effective chainsaw.

I’m warning you that I am not the kind of person to go back on their word…

From you know who

  

Dear cat-loving psycho-woman, 

If you so much as breathe on my dog I will tie your cat to my washing line. That’ll give Binky some exercise. 

From your worst nightmare if you cross me

 

Dear retarded freakazoid,

I have now sprayed copious amounts of pesticide on my garden to ward off possums and other feral animals that destroy my garden. Your move.

From the winner

 

Dear at-risk-of-cancer soulless inflictor of pain,

Binky had his stomach pumped. Your cat isn’t coming home for dinner.

From the arbiter of justice

 

Dear pimple-bum bastard,

If Mr. Waffles isn’t back tomorrow I will call the police…and this time ‘Binky’ will suffer more than a stomach pumping…

From the angel of death

 

Dear owner of the shaved blue cat,

He’s all yours. Don’t touch my dog.

From the exterior decorator

 

Dear surprisingly artistic but nonetheless sadistic moron, 

Alright, I have a proposition for you. We each pay half for the fence, then Binky can run free and I can eat my vegetables without fear of free salad dressing. And why won’t the blue come out? 

Sincerely, 

The mediator

  

Dear mediocre mediator,

I accept on the condition that you give Binky more room on his side of the fence. The dye is long-lasting. It’s a fashion statement.

Regards,

The fashion critic

 

Dear crappy critic, 

It’s a deal. Dinner Tuesday? You can taste the vegetables for yourself.

Robyn

 

Dear hooded vigilante,

I’ll bring dessert (and yes I’ll leave Binky tied up).

Timothy

 

Know That – why I do what I do

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Know That – why I do what I do

I’m one of those people who on certain topics is very erudite and articulate and on others is at a complete loss at what to say. The former is true of music, philosophy, Doctor Who, elements of pop culture and the performing arts; the latter is true of pretty much everything else. In particular, I struggle with wanting to say something in a time of stress and being unable to open my mouth because I’m petrified I’ll mangle it and just make things worse.

That’s where music and drama come in. When I write or perform music, lyrics, poetry and scripts I suddenly find myself able to express things that are otherwise trapped in my heart like caged birds. This was especially true throughout high school: I lost several people dear to me within a short space of time in tragic circumstances, but I simply couldn’t talk about it. So, I wrote poetry and played my feelings on my cello or the school piano. 

When it comes to relationships, I’ve written songs for people which say the words I could never find the appropriate moment to say. That’s the category this latest song comes under. When someone close to you is struggling emotionally, sometimes the worst thing you can do is try to cheer them up with harmful cliches such as “suck it up”, “look happy” or “it could be worse”. Sometimes you have to let your heart break silently to avoid making things worse for both of you and find another way to soothe the wounds. That’s where this song comes in. It says everything I can’t think of in the moment when I want to say it, in a form which can be turned on or off as needed and doesn’t come with any awkwardness or unintended false impressions; it can speak not only to its intended subject, but to many others who hear it and find something poignant within it. It can remind me of what I was feeling at the time and how important the sentiments expressed in it are to me.

This version is just one take at home with minimal editing. I like it that way because, despite the inevitable little technical cringe moments, it’s raw and present. It will be with me forever as a source of encouragement. I hope it says something to you, too.