Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Laughter through tears

I have been lucky in the last couple of weeks to feel delighted.  Twice.  I may have mentioned before that life is a bit hard lately.  I'm exhausted by work and Peter's workplace hell continues.  So I guess that's why these moments of sheer delight that take you outside yourself are so very important.

It's a nice feeling, being completely in the moment and reeling with joy.  More than engrossed in a movie or watching a sunset, there is something about live performance that demands your undivided attention.

Earlier in January I saw Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs.  What I'm about to write will make me sound a teeny bit stalkery.  I adored Alan's book 'Not my father's son' and I follow both Alan and his husband Grant on Instagram.  Through social media you do feel weirdly closer to people, especially when the account doesn't seem managed by a marketing team.  Alan just seems genuinely lovely.

Watching this wee elfin Scot sing on stage (with Scottish burr intact!) I was swept up in his charm.  His anecdotes showed both his cheeky side (check out this internet ad for condoms for example) talking of a misstep during a short and all consuming relationship resulting in a tattoo of his lovers name on his groin. There were also stories relating to his family (a song for both his grand father, who suffered PTSD and father, the violent tormentor of Alan's childhood).  There were tears, and not just from Alan.  He has the gift of wit, charm and honesty, which draws an audience to him.  He can flip between humour and pathos within one sentence.  I'm sure he's told all these stories hundreds of times, but they felt fresh and anew for us.  A real performers gift.

I was lucky enough to be at a show on the day of Grant and Alan's 9th wedding anniversary.  He finished the night with a song he wrote for Grant.  I think it sums Alan up perfectly - the blend of laughs and love.  Check out Next to Me.  Ok, I'll say it - Alan Cumming I love you.  Perhaps this is why I'm so jealous that Alan followers Peter on Instagram (thevelvetunderwear)!

The other delight came in the form of David Sedaris.  This was my forth time seeing David live, and he seemed in the most playful and joyous mood.  Sporting blue with white polka-dots mid-calf length culottes, there was a lightness in his performance.  He read a couple of long form pieces, this one on gay marriage was particularly wonderful.  The other was from what is becoming a series relating to his family and their beach house - the Sea Section.  Do yourself a favour and read them if you have the time.  The rest of the show was snippets from his diary entries. Whether sentences or paragraphs, these observations from his day remind you how weird and funny life can be...and when I say 'life' I actually mean people.  He announced that this will be the content of his next book.  Then it was a Q & A with the audience.  Witty, insightful, interesting and hilarious.

There is something both David and Alan have in common.  Openess and honesty.  Flipping from joy to introspection in an instant.  I had face-ache after both performances.  So many emotions that my facial muscles got a complete work out.  It reminds me of the Dolly Parton quote from Steel Magnolias 'Laughter through tears is my favourite emotion'.  This, it would seem is true for me too.

Thank you gentlemen for your stellar company, and letting me lose myself in your talent for a night.  They remind me to take a moment, look around and smile.  For as crap as life is sometimes, it can also be wonderful.  Even just for an evening.

A sneaky shot of Alan thanks to friend Penny from her Instagram account

David Sedaris signed my book (he drew the Julia De Ville cross bone brooch I was wearing)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Keep a balance

So.  That was 2015 huh?  What a strange year it was.  A story in two halves.

The year began with us planning a holiday.  The first real, proper holiday in what seemed like forever.  We planned and saved and had a 10 day trip to Tassie.  It was beautiful and as I sat at the airport on my way home, I was mentally planning our return visit.  Peter and I haven't had much in the way of holidays since we've been together.  Even our honeymoon was just a few days in Daylesford.  Somehow there just never seemed to be the right combination of time and money that holidays require.  But fresh air, new sights and adventures are good for the soul...and brain.

Then we had the crazy and impetuous trip to Sydney to see Morrissey perform at the Sydney Opera House three times as part of the Vivid Festival.  It was nuts as this was a mere 2 weeks after we'd returned from Tassie.  We met friends, new and old, and spent our nights in gay abandon singing along with our hearts full of Moz.  Sheer crazy, exciting joy.  I can still hardly believe we did it.

And this takes us to the half way mark of the year.  Then life got hard and serious.  Peter's work seemed to be actively looking at ways to force him out.  Many workplaces don't know how to deal with depression and anxiety and find that magical way of adding additional stress and pressure and just make things worse.  We feared he'd be unemployed.  We'd feared we couldn't get assistance, even though my pay doesn't cover all our bills.  This meant trying to manage stress and Peter's anxiety as well as my own.

My work seemed unending.  I found that by friday I was exhausted.  Too exhausted to go out, see bands, see friends or do anything much at all.  Our weekends became quiet and we bunkered down just trying to rest from the week that was.  We didn't go out or do much at all.  Emotional and mental stress have a way of zapping all your energy.

I realised at some point that my balance was off.  Way off.  We've often found that getting Peter outside and doing something to stimulate his brain (going to galleries, the theatre etc).  It gets him outside the stuff in his head.  I guess I hadn't realised how much I need this too.  Being on the unending treadmill of work, sleep, work, sleep and repeat is quite soul destroying.  Especially when you feel like you are only just keeping your head above water, rather than saving or sacrificing for something fabulous - like travel, or a house or even a great pair of shoes!

I miss trees and the ocean.  I miss stuff that makes me think.  I missed fun.  And it seemed that the last six months were the opposite of the first six.  I felt like I was dragging my tired carcass across the finishing line of the end of the year.  Feeling crappy about being the most un-christmassy I think I've ever been.

So that was last year.  2016 is here and I know that something has to change.  Balance.  That is what I wish for the new year.  I have a few friends who feel the same.  Screw you bits of 2015 and the horse you rode in on.   And since I realised this I've had one song in my head - 'Keep a Balance' by the Meanies.  I loved hearing this song live when I was in my 20s.  The bass, the screams, the power and the lyrics...'Keep a balance, don't lose your head'.  OK 2016 - we have our theme song.  Let's go.