60: A quick thought about friendships.

I haven’t written anything in a while. This is disappointing because I had managed to keep up a consistent schedule for over a month but sometimes other things are more important. I have been trying to make new friends and find some meaning in the world. I want to connect with people. This has always been important to me. I find I get too attached to people. I know I’ve said this before but it remains relevant.
I care so deeply about everyone and everything. My husband told me that he admires how much I care but sometimes I care too much. I’m too invested in the happiness of others. Even the people who have treated me poorly. The people who I once connected deeply with but who have moved on.
I wonder sometimes if I will find a friend who cares as deeply for me as I do for everyone else.

I wonder if people understand me or if they humour me as my thoughts wander so much.

I express myself in unique ways. We are all just looking for those who express themselves in the same way or at the very least those who can comprehend us.

55: Why I don’t like goats.

I want to start off with a disclaimer; if any of my old housemates happen to stumble upon this, rest assured that living with you was great as I got some fun stories out of the experience. These were great people but the situation itself was very strange to me and I just wanted to share my experience.

I once lived in a share house with three other people. This isn’t uncommon when you’re young and trying to pay the bills. We were all performing arts students in some capacity. I had completed my course the year before but I found myself in this living situation because of who I was dating at the time. I usually prefer to live alone or sharing my space with only my partner. My boyfriend at the time was much more inclined to share with his friends therefore the house was already established when I moved in. I had been friends with this guy for about a year and when the friendship evolved I found myself living at his house. The house he shared with two other women and occasionally some others. 
There were two large bedrooms, two living spaces, one bathroom, a kitchen and dining area, and a small bedroom/office area. My then boyfriend was living in one of the rooms while the other bedroom was empty. The smallest room was full of random furniture and the person who had once occupied it had recently moved out. This is when things get interesting. As I mentioned earlier, there were three people living in this household yet two of the bedrooms were vacant. 

You might be wondering where the two women were staying? The two women had annexed off the living room by nailing blankets to the ceiling and the polished wood floor! The living room furniture was squashed in to a small living space at the back of the house while the main, much larger, living space was being used as a makeshift bedroom. This seemed ridiculous to me but I tried to bite my tongue. These people had been living in this arrangement before I came along so it wasn’t up to me to interfere. Not long after I began staying in the house one of the women moved in to the empty bedroom while one remained in the living room. 

This was a strange environment to suddenly enter in to. I didn’t know these people. The woman who continued sleeping in the living room would write on the walls and skate in the house. She had lived in a lot of squats in Melbourne and was always full of interesting stories, such as her previous living arrangement where all the household were using the same towel. I always made sure to keep track of my towel after that story. There was also always a puzzlingly large number of toothbrushes in the bathroom which prompted me to keep mine separated.
The other woman was vegan and had encouraged a mutual friend to eat vegan food most of the time also. One day both the housemates were away in the city and this friend of ours came over with a great deal of raw salmon they had purchased from the deli and ate it all ravenously, presumably taking advantage of the break in their vegan diet, I found this extremely amusing. For a group of people living on a vegan diet, a suspicious amount of our non-vegan food would go missing. There were two fridges in this house but no obvious organisation. It was extremely confusing for any outsider.
The house was a private rental, which meant that the owner had left some furniture on the property… Including two pets! One had died before I moved in but the large fish tank remained as a sad reminder. The other was a bright blue yabbie, who lost a claw after my cats moved into the house with me, we quickly returned him to his owner before any more harm could befall him. There were also four couches and an outdoor dining set left for us to use. (It always seemed to me that four couches was a tad excessive.) The pet situation escalated when the vegan housemate came home one day with a baby goat. They expected to let this goat live in the backyard, however, our backyard did not have any lawn for the goat to chew on. The yard was all rocky pebbles, which meant that the young goat would often resort to climbing on the outdoor furniture which belonged to the owner of the house. As the goat got older we began to worry that it might accidentally damage the furniture so I would have to go out and scold the animal. This didn’t work for very long as the goat learned to ram me in response. With shins covered in bruises my boyfriend and I were well and truly sick of this goat. The goat’s human mother was feeding it soy milk and leaving audio books playing for it while she was at work yet somehow this wasn’t stimulating enough for a growing billy. 
Eventually the end of the teaching year came along and both of the women moved out to return to Melbourne (the goat moving out along with them). I couldn’t wait to carefully tear down those blankets and reclaim our living room. We lived in the house for a year after everyone else had moved out. It was nice to spread out and use all the other rooms for their intended purposes.
I wrote a short story in high school about a group of friends who all share the house. In the story I had the main character buy an old motel and all of her friends moved in to the various rooms and made them their own. As a teenager the idea of all of my friends living with me in one huge house seemed like such an appealing idea. In reality my share house experience was very different. After my previous experience I can’t think of one friend with which I would willingly share a house. No offence to any of my friends out there, however, I enjoy the control and privacy I have in my own home. 

I do live with my husband and clearly I love him. Living together means we have so many opportunities to spend time with one another but we are adults with our own interests and therefore we find ourselves speeding our free time very independently. We are very introverted in the way we live and that’s the way I like it. We may go out and socialise but when we get home we unwind in our own space. The best part of my current living situation is the control I have over my own space and there’s not a single goat!!

43: Sand

I bumped in to someone from my past today. It was strange and awkward, yet familiar and nice. From the moment I saw them, all the memories came flooding back. The good and the bad. It’s interesting how in a brief moment your mind can have you relive months and years. My brain can make me feel everything in a second that I had forgotten years ago. Every emotion is as real as it was back then. When you lose someone from your life that meant so much you never expect to see them again. You hope that if you ever do you’ll look good, as though all those years haven’t worn your body and your mind. The sands of time have blasted my corners and worn away at my spirit. I am different now than I was then yet somehow I’m the same. I’m simultaneously the 16 year old girl who didn’t know any better and the 24 year old woman who definitely should. I wish I could talk to my past self but I’m not sure what I would say or if I would even listen. Sometimes time moves so fast and I can’t keep up. We were all so eager to grow up but now we have and yet we are still so young. I wouldn’t recognise the people I went to high school with, I would know their faces but I wouldn’t know their souls. I have lost many friends over the years, some over juvenile arguments, others purely due to the progress of time. These people meant so much to me. I keep thinking of that old analogy they often bring up at weddings. We are all sand and the sand of other people mix with those who we get close to and although you may separate you will never be able to remove every grain of their sand from yours. The people in my life have profoundly changed who I am; from introducing me to new bands to having shared experiences, I will never remove their sand. 

Chapter 19: Is This Seat Taken?

It’s hard making friends as an adult. When we were children our only obligation was to school. We didn’t have bills, jobs or children of our own. We were forced to socialise with one another every single day. Maintaining friendships is easier when you are in the same room for six or more hours of the day with nowhere else you have to be. You become so attached to your friends that even the thought of being separated into another class seems unbearable. I went to four different primary schools and two high schools so I quickly learned not to become attached in this manner.

I hated school. I loved the academic side. I like to learn and I’ve always loved knowledge. I was considered bright as a child so school was good. School was easy for me so I was expected to push myself and do above average. I was put into an accelerated learning program in high-school which meant that I graduated high-school at 16 years old. (In Australia most people finish high-school at 18 if they don’t drop out.) But I wasn’t very happy when it came to the social aspect. I struggled to maintain friendships and to make new ones. I was weird and chatty and some people just didn’t know what to do with my personality.

I know I can be intense when people first meet me. I’ve actually been told this by friends on more than one occasion. I don’t behave this way on purpose. I was picked on in school for being so hyperactive and talkative. Anyone who has met me knows that my mouth moves as fast as my thoughts do. I can’t imagine what it must be like from the outside. From what I have been told I feel like it must be comparable to that scene in the movie Yes Man when Jim Carey’s character has had red bull for the first time. I have grown out of this hyperactivity to a certain extent. I feel this may have been influenced by the annoyance or blatant hatred of my peers. Sometimes being a colourful personality makes you a target. It wasn’t all bad though, when I found theatre I found people who were just as vibrant or at the very least accepting.

They tell you that high school is the best time of your life. I remember going through high school thinking if that was the best time of my life I didn’t want to know what the rest would be like. I hated my awkwardness and I hated most of my peers. I realise now I didn’t even notice half of the people in my year level because I was so consumed with hating those who made my life miserable with their jeers. I’ve been told I’m bitter and pessimistic which I guess I should work on but sometimes it feels more like I’m scarred and realistic. I found that in school you want to be unique enough to be interesting but not have a personality too loud that people find it off putting. I have realised for a hundred people who hate me for being myself there is at least one person who likes my references and goofiness. I kept these people close.

Making friends as an adult is more complicated. Friends start to fall into categories. You have your friends from the past who you’re slowly drifting from without the linch pin of the school yard. Then there are the people you work with, who like your old school friends you may not have anything in common with other than work. If you have a hobby or you join a club you might make friends there. And there are your couple friends. The worst part of couple friends is breaking up. Whether it’s you or your friends who end things it will always be awkward and as much as you swear to yourself you won’t chose a side it’s kind of inevitable. I’ve lost a lot of friends this way, sometimes even friends who started off as solely mine.

As I get further from highschool I find it harder to make friends. I find myself second guessing whether or not the people I was once so close to would find my friendship imposing on their newer shinier lives. When I make new friends I find myself trying my hardest to show restraint, which isn’t a quality I would say is my strong suit. I don’t want to seem desperate or too eager but then I worry I will seem distant and rude. I have to find a middle ground between following them home like a stray puppy and locking myself away in a bomb shelter so I don’t accidentally smother them.

I hated making friends in school but now as an adult I find I have come full circle. Sometimes I wish things were as easy as they were in primary school. Where who you sat with at lunch became your instant best friends and you were inseparable and shared your connectable markers and cried if you weren’t put in the same class.

Chapter 02: How I Fell In Love With Theatre.

I want to talk for a second about theater and my experience.

I was never particularly sporty as a kid. I guess you could say I was a performer. We already know I was a story teller searching for her outlet. I did dance sporadically as a child. Nothing really stuck. I was a bright child, as everyone kept telling me, and expectations were high. World. Oyster. Blah blah blah. I didn’t make friends easily, apparently I’m a lot to digest, and I moved schools a few times in my academic development.

One school I went to offered an advanced learning program for senior primary school students. There was a test you had to pass to get in. I did it. And I didn’t. I looked at the ones who did manage to get in to the class and noticed that they all had extra curriculars under their belt. In hindsight I don’t test very well. I know now that my massive amounts of anxiety on the day of the test probably contributed to my failing the test. It is important to note that vomiting before, after and during a test due to pend up nerves probably won’t help you succeed or concentrate. But as a ten year old I believed that the highest contributing factor to my failing the test was what they had and i did not; extra curricular activities. I never enjoyed clubs and if I am being perfectly honest I still don’t work well with others but at the time I managed to sway towards doing something in the realms of an activity.

I joined chess club one lunch time. Hated it. I don’t like losing and I wasn’t very good. Then I’m not sure how it happened but my mother got me into doing short courses in drama with her drama teacher from high school. She told me about how this woman had influenced her and about her own experiences of doing plays and musicals in high school, i rolled my eyes and dismissed her, as most children tend to do. When I become a fully fledged “grown up” and i recount my time doing theater in school I do hope my children are a little more sensitive or at least attentive than i was at that age. Just as I hope that these essays don’t bore those who read them to tears and that you all take something away from what I am about to say about something that ended up changing my life.

So I started doing these courses on weekends. Script writing, camera technique, editing, recording, voice projection (like i ever needed it, i think I would have benefited more in learning how to use my indoor voice) and improvisation. i learned how to read a script and work with others, how to talk and stay on topic, how to stand up straight and think on my feet. All the things that doing drama as a child teach you. Including how to play space jump for hours. Those early days of drama classes were all theater sports, improv, improv and more improv. I suppose the other kids didn’t have much interest or patience but I wished we could focus more on learning about scripts and the craft in a way that mattered. This and public speaking lessons in school gave me more confidence. I still get awful stage fright though. Probably more than before because now I actually care.

I wrote my first script in school. My sister and I were always putting on little performances at home combining our interest in singing with my background of failed attempts at dance classes. So when I wrote my little play I wanted to perform it right away, i showed my teacher who allowed me to gather some other students at lunch time to rehearse, outside, which we could have done anyway without my teacher’s support. I’m not sure how it even happened but I do know that in the end we (a group of about a dozen 10/11 year olds) put on our little play in front of the rest of the grade, in the assembly hall, with my parents and teacher present. I look back and wonder how it happened at all, why they even let us put it on, or how they sat through it. It bothers me now that my first and only play was so random and not very good. It was drama and it starred a young female reporter who inherited a house which was home to an evil ghost which she had to banish at the end. It’s a strange memory. I even named the lead after a student teacher our class had had temporarily the year before because i had admired her for being so young and pretty and relatable. In my primary school year book we all had a little biography written about our interested and what we wanted to be when we grew up mine read something about becoming a director of theater.

When I moved to high school i knew no body. I attempted to join a drama class in a nearby town but I was shy and didn’t like to join a group with so many existing friendships. For my thirteenth birthday I received a small video camera from my parents which i had always wanted and believed I would do great things with. i found the tapes years later. There was lots of footage of me and my friends playing around or dancing at sleep overs and talking about boys they liked, disappointing to say the least. I wish my younger self had tried a little harder. I remember writing down some notes for a short video series idea I had. If i had known that things like that were possible maybe I would have filmed a bit of it but YouTube didn’t even exist before that same year (and wouldn’t feature in my world for a couple more years) so there was a feeling that there was no point unless it was a feature length idea.

In year 8 we finally began doing Drama as a school subject. I was excited and one of the only students in the class with any experience. We ended up playing more theater games and learning to juggle. My entire high school experience up until this point could be described in the same way i would describe this drama class. I found it underwhelming and under-stimulating, especially as I lack the coordination for juggling. I moved schools half way through year 8 to a school with an accelerated learning program and a much more promising theater studies curriculum.

It was an anxiety riddled environment going into a class of people who were already familiar with one another, most of whom had been friends since childhood. I was the misfit and my confidence began to deteriorate. The Drama class was great although I didn’t try as hard as I might have done due to fear of embarrassment. These kids were quirky and worldly and much more experienced than I was. I tried to stay out of the improv games because I was so intimidated but I much preferred the group activities where we wrote and performed. We sat in on a small performance by the upperclassmen, I was enthusiastic and optimistic about what we would learn in the following years and how I could continue to study the craft for the rest of my life. The school hadn’t put on a show in a few years and that year they decided to revive it’s annual production.

Back to the 80s. We had an amazing music department at my school and most of those who auditioned were from there. A few of us from the drama department decided we wanted to be involved even though we weren’t singers, we volunteered and were assigned to costuming. The costume closet was a bit of a mess and we spent a lot of time just trying to catalog what we had. It got me out of class and I was making friends so I was happy. It was an easy show to start my theater career with because all the costumes just had to fit into the 80s theme.

Weeks went by and eventually we had finished our job and were helping to bump in to the theater. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been backstage before and I still remember to this day what it was like to walk in. The organized chaos was thrilling. Everyone fed off one another. The energy is contagious. There were three of us who had worked on costuming and my two friends were soon reassigned. One to filming the show and the other to follow spot which I had gotten out of due to my fear of heights. I was left standing in the wings surrounded by props and set pieces when the director (who was also narrating the show) handed me a list and asked me to take charge of the set changes.

I was terrified but still optimistic especially as I became infected with the enthusiasm of my peers, so I stepped up. I read the script I borrowed from my best friend at the time (also starring in the show) and I memorized the changes in a couple of hours. I learnt by doing. That was my first experience as an ASM (assist stage manager). I admired everyone’s roles and quickly got to know what everybody was responsible for. By the end of the opening performance I had decided this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. During the second show I made my first mistake, I got cocky. I had memorized the changes but accidentally got ahead of myself and skipped a scene in my head therefore putting out the props for the next scene. I hated myself. I burst into tears when i realized. I expected to lose my job and everyone to hate me too. Luckily it was time for intermission and all my new friends gathered around me and reassured me. When the show closed after two nights we all went out for pizza and sat around singing show tunes until the early hours of the morning. The adrenaline coursed through us all. These were my people.

I still didn’t fit in to the mainstream but at least I knew I finally had a group, friends connected by the blood sweat and tears of a mutual passion. From then on I had somewhere to go at lunch. It changed my life. We would hang out in the music room every day at lunch and I continued to do this until our senior year when the music teacher retired and we were all herded back into the mainstream. We laughed together and cried together and fought with one another and fell in love with one another. I figured out later that every group of friends did these things but to us it seemed we had found something special. Our own little bubble.

I went on to participate in productions until I graduated. I applied to study live production, theater and events at TAFE but they consistently dodged my calls and sent me information about an acting course that I had no intention of enrolling in. I found out later all this confusion of information was due to the program only being in it’s infancy. As with most things however there was a silver lining and my close friend benefited greatly from my mis-sent enrollment information (he applied and got in). The following year after graduation I applied again to the appropriate course and got in. I moved an hour away from my family to be closer to the thing I loved.

I studied live production for a year. It’s a long and confusing story about what happened over there. One that woul do no good recounting here. It was the best of times and the worst of times. From that year and the resulting events I have developed a love/hate relationship with theater. But today, in this story, I want to write about my love. I worked on four main shows while studying, I also participated in two or three others as a part of my course work and helped bump in and out and tech for my required work experience at a local theater. I believe I gained a lot from these experiences. At the end of every show I am involved in I feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction. I also believe I learn and grow from these experiences. I quit theater when I no longer enjoyed the experience and felt more relief when I wasn’t in the theater. I wanted to hold on to that feeling I had when I first walked in to a theater and I found that I couldn’t keep my positivity and excitement if I had continued at that time. I needed a break.

I would also like to mention that over the years I volunteered at a small local theater company. Just doing stage hand work but also befriending my fellow thespians, musicians and all round creative people. It’s inspiring the kind of people you meet being involved in a small town hobby company like the one I was with. You meet, sometimes for the first time, these people who you didn’t notice before or you didn’t expect to share this passion with. Every day people banding together to doing something that makes people happy, including yourselves. You find yourself talking to people of all ages and walks of life when you participate in a production. Sometimes you find your new best friend, or enemy (unfortunately, it is competitive) or even your future spouse.

When all is said and done I do miss working in theater. I look back at my experience as a happy one. I do recommend it to anyone creative or lonely or friendly or even bored. I hope that one day my children can gain what I did. Team work, confidence, elocution, and friendship (all very important thing to learn).