songs

Since I finished work FOREVER on Tuesday I’ve been so busy, who would have thought unemployment would mean never being home. Of course this is because James is still here for a few more days before he leaves Afghanistan. James is infinitely more social and active than I am, so we have been catching up with friends a lot. Also, he got us tickets for Everclear on Wednesday, and Madama Butterfly on Thursday. We agreed that there was probably not a huge amount of overlap in the audiences between the two concerts.

Everclear was James’ favourite band when he was a teenager, whereas I had never heard of them. We did wonder before we got into the venue if we would be feeling particularly old and out of place, but of course everyone there was our age, except the singer who looked positively geriatric. I wore earplugs, did not know any of the songs, and was content to mostly watch James watch them:
 photo IMG_0045.jpg

Although for one of the encores at the end they played the one song I knew (because it was on the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack) and I found myself quite excited.

Now I want to find a festival/concert where they play 90s rock. Blink 182 and Foo Fighters must still be touring, right? They played Everlong at the intermission and I got ever so nostalgic.

Last night we went to the Melbourne Arts Centre to see Madama Butterfly. I have been to a couple of comedic operas and plenty of Chinese opera, but by some incredible 32-year oversight, I had never been to a tragic opera. I am hopelessly, exaggeratedly moved by sad stories set to sad music, without any qualitative discernment between tacky commercials or great artistic works. At least crying my way through an opera is less embarrassing than crying my way through a Levi’s or Qantas ad.

I thought the costumes and the set were just so beautiful. The set designer Peter England has some photos here, including this one:

 photo set_2.jpg

Without having seen other performances of Madama Butterfly to compare it to, I did find Hiromi Omura’s Butterfly adorable, full of personality and quirks which made me feel her pain so much more. I wasn’t particularly stirred during the first act, but began tearing up during “One Fine Day” (although it is very moving music, who wouldn’t get a little catch in the throat?), but when she hears that Pinkerton is returning and orders for all the flowers in the garden to be brought into the house — Suzuki warning “But the trees will appear desolate as winter” — I broke down crying and the tears pretty much didn’t stop until the end.

I know it wasn’t the most perfect production ever, and James voiced several very valid criticisms after the show, but I feel that in order to really appreciate it, I’d like to read it in Italian (with an English or French translation side by side) and then go back and watch it again. Just as I mentioned here, I want to really feel and understand each word instead of one in twenty (sidenote: James and I were at our favourite restaurant Entrecôte on Tuesday and a group of Italians were sitting nearby. I have never claimed to be very good at listening to Italian, although I can read it moderately well. However on this occasion the only word I understood the entire time was cazzo… fail.). I shouldn’t really allow myself to get distracted from all the other things I need to do, but then again… I’m unemployed! Surely now is the best time to partially memorise an opera in Italian?

I was also quite dismayed (although with hindsight, not terribly surprised) to recognise throughout Puccini’s music… many strands that had been cribbed and stolen by the writers of Les Miserables! I’m sure if I was more familiar with opera and classical music I would have encountered other instances of this thievery before, but I was surprised nonetheless.

Advertisements

disguise

This morning I stopped to get a chocolate-stuffed waffle on the way to work, after seeing the psychologist. I used to see this particular psychologist a long time ago, and she greeted me warmly, before confessing that she destroys her records that are more than 7 years old, and it’s been at least that long, so while she remembered me, she didn’t know anything about me anymore.

I think I’m quite relieved, really. The person I was 7 years ago was seeing a psychologist for completely different reasons, so I’m glad she didn’t get to review her notes on who I was aged 24. Instead we focused on work and burnout and the halo I have to let go of.

Anyway, I stopped to get a warm melted-chocolate waffle, because it was a waffle-eating crisp cool autumn-type morning. In front of the waffle shop there was a busker playing “Hey There Delilah”, which I’d never heard before the time James played it to me, in Paris, when we were staying in a tiny flat with a view out onto Notre Dame. I immediately loved its cheesiness then, and I love it now, and of course whenever I hear it I get many feels about our relationship and counting down the years till I’ll be done with school and James will be making history.

It made me smile because they’ve got planes and trains and cars and James was going to be with me in just one more day. So I sent him a text to tell him about my waffle and the busker, and he told me he was at the airport going through security on his way home. So happy!

Of course, then it turned out he wasn’t coming home, because his paperwork wasn’t quite right and apparently they are pissy about that kind of thing, and suddenly our happy long weekend away in Port Campbell was not happening and James is not going to be back here just yet, and whilst it’s only a few more days apart, not something awful like what can happen when your favourite person in the world is an aid worker in Iraq, so of course I can’t be too melodramatic about it… I am sad.

But I powered on with my day, got my work done, went to Bikram, and then resisted the temptation to treat myself with a load of chocolate bunnies and instead downloaded the last few episodes of GIRLS and made plans with my darling Nat for the weekend (including a sleepover, because who wants to be sad at home?). Gotta be tougher than the average woman.

never on sunday

I woke up early today and lay in bed enjoying not having to get up, not having to work, and listening to the rain outside. Through various meandering trains of thought, I started thinking about non-latin alphabets, and remembered a weekend spent deciphering the Greek lyrics to Never on Sunday by Pink Martini. Nowadays of course it would be so easy. I would google the lyrics, google “Greek alphabet”, find a wealth of resources and quickly learn to read the lyrics out loud.

But this was in 2001. I was 18 and living by myself for the first time, after seven years of boarding school (the last two of which I had mostly spent living with my boyfriend Christophe). I had a small but perfect studio, Rue des Trois Baudus, in the beautiful town of Cahors in South-West France. I had no computer or internet of course. I spent a lot of time reading, writing in my journal, or listening to the half-dozen CDs I owned on my portable CD player over and over, making it virtually impossible for me to listen to them ever again voluntarily. These included Selmasongs by Björk, Big Calm by Morcheeba, The Joshua Tree by U2, Faut qu’ils s’activent by Tryo, Gran Turismo by The Cardigans, and Louise Attaque.

One of those albums was Sympathique by Pink Martini. I haven’t really listened to Pink Martini in the last 10 years, but at the time, I thought their eclecticism and melting pot of languages was just wonderful. All of France adored the song Sympathique (which I will still sing to myself these days, after all who can resist a song with the lyrics “je ne veux pas travailler“), but the entire album was full of different languages and styles — French, English, Spanish, Japanese, Greek. I was captivated by the beauty of the Greek song Never on Sunday/The Children of Piraeus (Ta Paidiá tou Peiraiá) in particular, and the liner notes conveniently presented both Greek lyrics and an English translation. But reading the English was nothing like understanding the song, as I wanted to really feel the full effect whenever I listened, and to be able to sing along, with emotion.

So I sat down next to my CD player, and pressing pause every 3 seconds, I listened to the pronunciation of each word over and over, compared it to what I was seeing on the page, looked at the English lyrics to work out what the meaning of each word was. I did this over and over until the Greek letters no longer looked abstract symbols, and I could sing along, first reading from my phonetic notes, then directly from the Greek, and finally understanding each word and not just the gist of the song. This took me through the entire afternoon, evening, and late into the night, but as an 18-year-old who only worked 20 hours a week at the local Carrefour, I had plenty of time.

For the rest of that year, I could sing Never on Sunday tunelessly, even without the CD playing. And today, after suddenly remembering this, I used my magical iPhone to pull up the song and play it for the first time in many years. I started to sing along — badly, most of the words forgotten — and then my voice broke and I started to cry. It was so evocative, a full 14 years later, also living by myself, on a warm but rainy weekend, suddenly remembering my 18-year-old self, staring out of the window at the soft grey sky, on the other side of the world. Memories of living Rue des Trois Baudus, funny things like the fried nems you could only get once a week, at the Wednesday market in front of the cathedral. The twin lens reflex camera my grandfather sent me and the black and white photos I took of the streets around my home.

I am very grateful to my mother for making that year possible. For indulging me, by paying rent that I naively assumed was her duty, as my mother, to pay, even though she had very little money of her own. For taking me to the supermarket every few weeks, which was always such a fun shopping trip together, and which meant parking down in the place and then carrying everything down the tiny dark passageway of the Rue des Trois Baudus, and up the stairs to my flat. For not resenting my keeping my meagre Carrefour salary for “fun things” like clothes and books and travel, rather than contributing to rent or food.

For allowing me to be alone, be independent, free of responsibilities. I didn’t truly understand what a luxury that was, but I did appreciate it, almost as much as I do now — my biggest luxury of all is having a place of my own where I can shut the rest of the world out, sing along to songs — badly, always — and enjoy a Saturday morning with nothing and nobody to shatter my peace. I hope the same things for you, mummy, now that you finally have your own little maisonette, alone with your dog, your study, your coffee and your red toaster.

one of those days i did for me

I always love reading “a day in the life” blog posts, clichéed and cheesy though they are. My mother regularly does them on her blog and it makes me really happy to see snapshots of her life, as we are so rarely together! And I dream of the day I can convince James to share his crazy Afghanistan life in that format. Given how mundane my life is at the moment, it seems like the best way to write about it is to… photodocument it. It is however bordering on impossible to remember to take pictures all day, so these have been compiled over the last month or so and then reassembled into a single day’s worth.

So we start.
My alarm goes off at 6:45am, but often I cannot drag myself out of bed until the last minute. If I showered at Bikram last night, then I’m going to spend bathroom time… reading stupid things on the internet instead. I do *NOT* like getting out of bed.

 photo IMG_0555.jpg

Breakfast time. Our toaster’s spring catch thinger has mysteriously died and we still haven’t got round to buying a new machine… so rubber bands and a keen sense of smell do the job. I generally have peanut butter and banana on toast.

 photo IMG_0556.jpg

Quick hello to the three-legged ginger cat who squats our porch in the mornings.

 photo IMG_0625.jpg

It’s cold walking to work and I obviously look as sleepy as I feel.

 photo IMG_0640.jpg

I’ll confess to my wake-up method. I’m ashamed but I’m not, I just can’t help dancing around listening to Kelly! Otherwise it’s my other favourite playlist at the moment, compiled by The Moldy Virgins, aka Sana and Cici my Hong Kong grrls.

 photo IMG_0641.png
 photo IMG_0627.png

Trams, trams, trams. My commute is 45 minutes, which flies by thanks to my iPhone. Often I listen to favourite podcasts The Infinite Monkey Cage or Answer Me This to block out anyone who thinks talking on the tram is a Good Idea.

 photo IMG_0558.jpg

Work. So patriotic, yet so grim.

 photo IMG_0564.jpg

I have a window desk. In winter this allows me precious sunshine, and year-round, extra storage space for my crap, including my 10-ton backpack and my handbag. BAG LADY ROSIE.

 photo IMG_0565.jpg

I can’t show my desk when it has work on it, because everything is super-confidential. So here it is at the start of the day. Ignore my coffee habit, it has since been reduced to once every 10 days (so I can FLIP OUT whenever I do have a sip).

 photo IMG_0566.jpg

I will relent and show you my other workspace: the floor. I am a really visual person, and whilst workmates and bosses tend to arch an eyebrow when they walk past, sometimes the only way I can re-write a long document is to print it out and get out my scissors. On this occasion every person in the office came over to ask what I was doing so I set up a little sign informing them.

 photo IMG_0642.jpg

One of my favourite things about my job is that my work-mate G and I spend our day winding up the third person in our office pod: A. Or is he the one who winds us up? Anyway, most of the day is spent teasing each other. Here is A after I told him to google blue waffles (in case the expression on his face isn’t enough of a warning… don’t do it. Really. Don’t.).

 photo IMG_0644.jpg

The day drags by till 5pm, at which point I take off my joyful office hat and put on my merry study hat. I set up my laptop in front of my PC, and scroll through around 40 pages of reading for school whilst taking notes. The readings are all online as scanned PDFs, and whilst it is harder to read, I don’t feel right printing off an average of 500 pages per course, which are then going to gather dust in my already messy bedroom. I don’t have a picture of this but it’s nothing very exciting. I am substituting with a picture of my studying at Babka’s yesterday instead.

 photo IMG_0660.jpg

Around 7pm I make the choice to either keep studying and stay till late — if I choose to stay, I go to the office kitchen and microwave myself some dinner, then settle in for the night. I’ll catch a tram home around 10:30pm, and stumble into bed around midnight. IF however, I’m feeling frisky, then it’s off to Bikram I go. Either way, I leave the office looking like a bag lady, because I always carry school stuff + Bikram stuff with me everywhere I go.

 photo IMG_0570.jpg

Bikram always greets me with a warm gust of sweaty studio smell and The Quintessential Bikram Quote:

 photo IMG_0576.jpg

No Bikram pictures, because it would be weird to take photos at any stage within the studio. Then I take the tram home, getting home marginally earlier at the fun time of 10:30pm, which leaves me time to watch some TV shows, waste time online, and snuggle with Coco the cat before bedtime.

 photo IMG_0663.jpg

les jours filent et se ressemblent

It’s been over a week! What did I do? Well I finished the essay and submitted it on Sunday night. Then I had a workweek jampacked with what some might call stress, but luckily I was able to squeeze in lots of Bikram to make up for all I missed last week. Oh and I had a “touch-up” on my hair-cut and now it finally is looking how I want it to!

(Instagrammed to compensate for the fact that it’s slightly grundy in this pictures, as it’s post-Bikram and still kind of wet and lank… but you get the idea)
 photo photo-50.jpg

Today I was particularly lucky. I couldn’t drag myself out of bed for Bikram at 5am — ok, I didn’t even try, just rolled over and went back to sleep — so I worked 8:45am to 7:20pm, ran straight out my office onto the #1 tram, was fortunate enough that the #96 was just arriving when I changed at Swanston and Bourke, and arrived at Bikram at 7:50! Just in time for a really good, strong 8pm class. I’ve been enjoying morning classes to start my day all week, but evening classes are such a nice way to end a Friday night. Ok, it probably doesn’t sound that fun, laying all sweaty in a stinky room at 10 o’clock at night, just letting every stress of the week go… but I feel really good.

Tomorrow is Saturday… and I’m at school all day! Lucky me, I’m doing a course for students “returning to study”. I don’t know how much I need it, I hope it’s not a waste of my precious time off, but I’m not too confident about what the University of Melbourne expects of me as a postgrad so I thought I might as well go.

So I guess this blog could be re-named “Work Study Bikram” as there isn’t much else happening. But I’m happy. I am aware that I probably sound like such a new-age hippy when I start extolling the virtues and merits of Bikram… but I can feel how different a person I am now, especially at work — my boss was in my face screaming about my campaign and I was able to just breathe and stay calm, and try and calm him down too by reassuring him that everything is under control. Which it is — but his anxiety used to be so contagious that in the olden days I would just start crying and screaming back at him and doubting myself and my work.

When I worked for David in Taiwan this time last year, he told me over and over that my positivity and encouragement helped him face what seemed at times like an insurmountable, impossible task (but we did it! woohoo!). I really want to bring that to my current boss, despite his hysterical tendencies; I think deep down, even if he doesn’t acknowledge it, he does just want to hear that everything is going to be ok. I’m a superficially negative person — I complain A LOT! — but it’s generally meant to be entertaining rather than a real cahier de doléances. Bikram has made me so much stronger emotionally, and I really hope that my boss will benefit from the fact that I no longer yell at him and break down in tears… who knows, maybe he’ll stop yelling so much too.

In fact the only thing that’s made me cry in a long time is this. I had to stop watching as I was on the tram on my way to work and it was not a good time to start bawling… And nope, no real logical explanation why art+music (even when sponsored by ING) make me so emotional — but I suppose it’s good to know I still have irrational feelings!

hiding from the heat

gratuitous reference to my favourite band Haim’s awesome song Go Slow — I just love every single one of their 7 songs so much! this one is currently on repeat, not because of the words but I adore their sound:

My life this week: wake up at 6:45. Shower. Get dressed. Get on the tram. Get to work. Work from 8:45 to 5. Work on my essay till 10:30. Get on the tram. Get home just before midnight. Sleep. Repeat.

Today there was a slight deviation: I got landed with a campaign in Singapore and Malaysia, so I had to work till 7pm (and this will continue until the 19th of April. Yay!). The essay is sort of done so I decided to go to Bikram, which I have missed sorely (quite literally — back is KILLING me).

Then as the tram approached Fitzroy, I realised that I had barely eaten or drunk all day. Apart from my delicious coffee at 11am, I’d only had a mini-falafel wrap at lunch and the handful of chocolates my boss sprinkled on my desk in an attempt to boost my morale. I was dizzy and tired and hungry. I stayed on the tram.

Then I realised I really, really wanted to go so I got off at the next stop and speed-walked back to the studio. I explained my situation to the teacher who looked worried and told me to take it easy. I slammed a Staminade before class and shamefully inserted myself between the cold-air vent and the guy who had set up his mat in front of it, fully expecting to either black out or throw up during class. And completely unexpectedly, I had a really strong practice — it felt so good to stretch and twist and sweat! I was so energised I could have gone a second class… if only they did 10pm classes hey.

I’m debating whether to go again tomorrow morning before work. There’s still a nasty knot in my back and I know I might not get to go in the evening if there’s a lot of work to do on my essay… but maybe a better plan might be to get some sleep.

violently happy

I rode the tram home from work today in a state of bliss, wearing the biggest grin on my face. I don’t know if it’s because of my exceptional Bikram session last night or because today I did nothing but interesting and stimulating things at work, but I just feel like everything is so perfect. Especially my relationship, which is hard to explain given the long distance thing, but I still consider myself the luckiest girl regardless. It helps that I now have a 4-day holiday for Easter as well, but I just am generally so happy at the moment. Do they get boring, these constant updates of how Today, I Felt Happy For Me? Well for me it’s nice, anyway.

(musical interlude with my still-favourite-song-of-the-last-month, which always has me rocking out wherever and whenever I listen to it)

I went to Bikram again tonight. I knew it wouldn’t have the miraculous effect that yesterday’s session did, but I just felt like it would be a great way to finish a lovely day, plus I knew Josh would be teaching and he brings such great energy to his classes. And ok, I admit it — he keeps an eye on my practice and always congratulates me after class, telling me I did well, and if there’s one thing Rosie loves and responds to, it’s praise and recognition. I kind of know that yoga is supposed to be above and beyond praise, but it motivates me so much more to try and do better if I know that the teacher is watching and actually notices that I’m pushing myself and improving.

Oooh and injury update: I got confirmation from the doctor that I do have patellar misalignment. Apparently I need physio, but I’m pretty terrible at organising such things (plus they cost dollah-dollah-bill). However I have serendipitously discovered that the Uni of Melbourne needs volunteers for a long-term study on kneecap pain (and its correlation with arthritis, sounds promising). I wrote to the person in charge and she seemed keen to get me on board so yay, more investigation of my stupid knees but for freeeeee!