Why such a savage u-turn?

Rejection is the pits. Everyone experiences it and you’d have to be an android to be immune to its effects.

I have been single pringle for nearly 2 years now. My singledom kicked off with rejection. Within that time I have been rejected by several men, all of whom had their own reasons for doing so. And while it stings, I do my best to manage it gracefully. My management of rejection on some occasions is better than others.

On one such occasion, I was stood up on a date. The date was his idea, in fact he insisted on it yet he never showed up. Initially, I finished my whiskey at the bar and laughed about my stoic refusal to waste my make-up. But an hour or so later, after it set in, I felt an internal bitter rage brewing. The kind of rage that unfortunately turns me into the worst version of myself. I was sitting in a packed train carriage on my way home, surrounded by couples who were all lovingly snuggling into one another. My internal monologue was rife with misogyny and self-loathing. I internally ranted with alacrity about the women around me. This must be what men really want! Quiet, frumpy, mumsie types who don’t take up too much space! Dainty pastel women who do pilates and would never fucking dream of exertion! Vapid women who might live on the edge once a month and indulge in a shandy and some gluten-free Lindt! FUCK YOU!

I detest that inner voice. Internally lambasting other women for having different priorities to me, as though that somehow means they’re less deserving of love. I’m ashamed of myself in those moments. Unpacking internalised misogyny is a work in progress for a lot of women. It’s a constant battle to reduce the sound of that inner voice, but I’m hopeful that I’m winning. These moments don’t last long and by the time I had disembarked from the carriage, it had passed. I put my headphones on and marched down some dark and rape-y alleyway home, just to prove a point. Not sure who I was trying to prove a point to or what that point was, but you get the picture.

Rarely is my internal savagery outwardly leveled against those men who reject me. I didn’t send a message to Mr No-Show detailing how I was going to seek revenge by doxxing him. I’m not entitled to his company. I, like most women, haven’t had that entitlement massaged into the psyche. Yet conversely, I have been on the receiving end of some of the worst tirades of abuse from men whose company I have declined, not stood up. Simply declined. To the extent that I don’t even flinch anymore. I’m not alone in this.

A recent online dating stint led to me sharing some interesting exchanges with my friends. Much mirth ensued. My responses hopefully serve to represent my current deficit of fucks.

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But one exchange in particular stood out. I showed it to a friend. Aside from being appalled, he asked why the guy had taken such a savage u-turn. I mentioned that I was used to it. USED TO IT.

The initial message from this stranger was a very brief inquiry about one of my little hobbies, Nanoblocks (think mini Lego). I didn’t reply and I can’t remember why.

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Maybe it was because of the fact that he didn’t introduce himself. Maybe it was because I read his profile and thought we wouldn’t be suited. Maybe it was because I saw his pictures and wasn’t attracted to him. Maybe it was because his profile was blank or his profile was littered with statements like ‘no fat chicks’. Maybe it was because he liked Big Bang Theory. Maybe it’s because my inbox along with most other women online, was flooded with copy and paste gems like this…

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It doesn’t matter why. What matters is his response. And with my response, I decided to let him know that he was wrong in assuming I’m content with what he has *told* me I’m content with. I felt I had to explain how I really find contentment:

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Some men can go from ‘liking’ a woman to subsequently wanting to eviscerate her from her navel to her chin and stick her head on a pole, in an instant. The flip flop is often baffling for men who don’t operate that way. Men who don’t respond with such violence are often incredulous when we tell them that this happens all the time. And not just online, in person too. So believe us when we tell you that these men are your friends, colleagues, brothers, fathers, sons etc. You know these men. You have shared dreams, car trips, drinks, barbells, food and merriment with them. Maybe you could take steps to help these men you know. You could help them take stock and unpack the motives behind messages like these. You never know, maybe you could be the genesis of great change and evolution within another person. Wouldn’t that be something.

Eleven Arms Productions and The Kambara Collective are working on another play at the moment, I Am Katherine. I’m so proud of it. It’s a show I wrote together with several other women as a modern response to Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. These women are ferocious. Some of their stories are touching, some are frightening, some are downright hilarious and some are of their experiences with savage u-turns. Book tickets to our fundraiser so that we can raise funds to keep telling these stories for as long as it takes to make a change.

 

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Did that happen? Yes, it did.

A friend sent me this article/listicle recently and I thought it was brilliant.

It was a relief to read that from a psychological perspective, misogynists can be difficult to spot.

I write this from the position of a woman who a few years ago asked herself repeatedly “How the hell is this happening to me? Why didn’t I see this coming?”

Let me say first and foremost that this is not a rant about all the shitty things a shitty ex once did to me. I have dated lots of wonderful men over the years, some were better than others. I’m also sure there have been times when I have been a less than spectacular person to be with. But this is an illustration that misogyny in romantic relationships doesn’t have to be a frying pan-to-the-face for a cold dinner affair. It doesn’t even have to be the generic exclusionary misogyny that we see in sport or gaming. It’s the insidious misogyny that oozes from unexpected places. Places that are close to us. In bed with us.

I pride myself on being emotionally intelligent enough to know when someone has my best interests in mind versus someone who is routinely trying to destroy my happiness. I’m a lawyer, a litigation lawyer for fuck sake. I know how to talk fightin’ words and solve problems….for other people.

Subjectively though. Um yeah…I’m not so great at the subjective stuff. Always improving though!

The above article really hones in on the main self-loathing problem I had which was the fact that I didn’t spot it sooner. And that I, a feminist, managed to end up dating a misogynistic internet troll. Not a joke.

“How the fuck?” I hear you ask.

It was really easy. Things started off wonderfully. There was charm, excitement and fun. He insisted on us being together and waxed lyrical in reassuring me that it was a good idea. However, after a few months of being exclusive, things descended into what could only be described as the gas-lighting to end all gas-lightings. It was the wonderful feeling at the beginning that made the subsequent months so confusing and horrific. How did we go from that…to this?

It began with trolling me on social media. Not hiding the fact that it was him. But making it well known that any opinion I had, on anything, even my vocation as a lawyer, (which he was not) was completely wrong and the mansplaining would ensue. This happened several times and after I asked him to stop, I was told “C’mon, it’s Facebook, are we seriously going to argue over Facebook?”. The trolling continued but it was more subtle and it was countered by complete charm in real life.

He didn’t like my male friends. This was because his friendships with his female friends weren’t genuine. They were insurance policies just in case things didn’t work out with me. He feared that this was mirrored in my friendships with men and so he would become passive/aggressive whenever they were around.

He would always keep his promises for his male friends but would regularly break promises with me. This struck me only after I read the article above.

Then the flip flop between being extremely kind to being extremely rude intensified. To the extent that I never knew which version of him I was going to get.

Then the constant competition with me. Instead of congratulating me on my hard earned successes like buying a house, finishing graduate school and getting a new job. He would be briefly congratulatory and play the part of the proud boyfriend, but then would dig up something about me that I’m not particularly good at and focus on it. He would dissect it and disguise it as “just saying”.

He would go to great lengths to create situations that would give rise to me being jealous about other women. He would deliberately and overtly exclude me from conversations he was having with other women in my presence or from hanging out with him and his female friends. I was told “that never happened” or “it wasn’t like that” or the real stinger “I have to ask [female friend] if you can come with us for a drink.”

There was the classic fawning over other women on social media so that I, my friends and family could see, thus humiliating me. Then when gently asked not to do it anymore, the gas-lighting would flare up about how, again, “it wasn’t like that” or “you’re jealous and overreacting, it’s Facebook.”

There was the time when we were out to dinner and he lectured me from across the table about the law (he is not a lawyer and has no legal training) only a few days after I successfully contested a traffic infringement for him.

Whenever I expressed my feelings about our relationship or wanted to talk about something that grown ups talk about when they’re in a relationship, he would roar “I NEED SPACE!” And when space was immediately and easily given, I was bombarded with a litany of text messages about inane things and demands to spend time with me. It wasn’t about space. It was about control.

When I became very unwell, confined to bed and lost 6kgs in 2 weeks, I received an exasperated “No offence, but are you going to get better any time soon?”. My illness was inconveniencing him.

There was the infidelity that I found out about later. Obviously.

I knew in my heart of hearts that my family and friends didn’t like him, and they are the most loving and easy going folk around.

There are so many other jaw-droppingly horrible things that I was subjected to in that short period of time that I don’t want to re-live and it’s unnecessary to do so.

So, what did I do?

I had a nervous breakdown. My beloved friends and family had to take care of me. Literally.

Yes, I dated a misogynist.

But as Sagan, in his ever perspective-giving voice and turtlenecked glory once said: “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

A much valued lesson. Everything will be alright.

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Next stop – Rumination Station then express to Ruined Confidence

Oh that dreaded noise in our heads that tells us all the reasons why we don’t deserve something or can’t or shouldn’t do something.

Simply said, when I’m feeling confident, I seek and need less.

But all it takes is a few knocks off my perch both professionally and personally, then BAM! Confidence does a Jimmy Hoffa along with happiness.

People are often surprised when I tell them that this happens to me. A friend said to me on the weekend “But you’re so confident!” The simple answer is, I hide it. But like all feelings, it comes out in other ways.

Below is a list of the things that have helped and I share them in the hope that readers also find them helpful.

Friends. My friends have been great sounding boards with this. And some have even sat me down and said the most beautiful and encouraging things (hugs included), that I instantly feel the confidence build back up again. Slowly. They’ve also shared their experiences and so the exchange has been lovely.

Goals. I wanted to enter a CrossFit competition but the ol’ confidence gremlin prevented me from properly seeking out a partner for it. Then I just talked myself out of it altogether. Winning. So I decided to focus on a solo trip to Iceland I’ve had in the pipeline for many years. Tickets and accommodation are go! I’ve been doing all sorts of research into the cultural, geological, astronomical and geographical aspects of Iceland and it’s gotten me excited about the adventure and thus, confident.

*Be wary of the goal setting trap. The internal monologue that tells us “I’ll be happy when…” The best time to be happy is now, of course. But that’s easier said than done. So the goal above is not that I’ll be confident when I get to Iceland, but that I’ll gain confidence in the process leading up to it and in the adventure itself.

Favourite things. I’ve allowed more time for my favourite things. It’s easy to get too busy with no time for nice things. I’m reading some delicious sci-fi, seeing and being in some wicked theatre and having some rip-roaring d and m’s with friends. Yes.

Play. This ties in with the above but stands alone as a state of mind, an attitude. I promised myself many years ago that I aim to never lose a sense of play, no matter how old I get. I want jokes. Tickle fights. Play fights. Joking with someone at the gym or on the phone with a friend. Enjoying making others laugh and laughing with others. Soul food.

Personal care. I’ve saved up some money and on Friday I’m going to buy myself a new dress and get my hair done. I rarely buy myself clothes or go to the hairdresser. I spend my money on other things. But it’s the little acts of self love along the way that make working the daily grind worth it.

“Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” Ann Landers

‘For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.’ Carl Sagan

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crying bride

I came across an article today that I will not link to this blog because I don’t want to increase their site visits. The article posed a question to its readers: “Guy dumps girl because she put on weight. But look at her now! Should this glamour take him back?”

The article insinuated that now that this woman has proven him wrong, and is now in fact desirable, she should consider re-entering the relationship because her value has been established by her clothing size. Basically, she got even and he has learnt his lesson and is sorry. Don’t punish him further by being unattainable. Or maybe she should stay unattainable because that will make him want her more? I’m confused.

This made me think about how value is attributed to women in relationships and how women value themselves.

I then went down the classic click-on-links-until-you-end-up-somewhere-shitty-on-the-internet-road and ended up somewhere shitty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bachelor_(U.S._TV_series)

I then noticed the detail that is devoted to The Bachelor’s wikipedia page as distinct from The Bachelorette’s page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bachelorette

On The Bachelor page the results section is quite detailed. It also includes an involved Elimination Process that lists several stages that the women must pass in order to get to the final round of which there can only be one winner.

The Bachelorette page has less detail and includes a complaint from one of the Bachelorette’s. Yawn.

Both pages come complete with colour coded charts. Red if there was no proposal, green if there was. Put simply, red = sad and green = happy.

The story about the glamour reconciling with the douche and The Bachelor send the same message: you are worthless if you are a single woman so any relationship is better than nothing, and once in that relationship your partner determines your worth by how many people show interest in you at any given moment. You are not a person, you are stock.

This struck a chord with me. I was in a relationship once wherein the amount of engagement I received from my partner waxed and waned in line with whether or not there was a perceived threat on the horizon. Basically, it was a game in which, like the stock market, my value increased in the eyes of this person depending on the level of interest other men showed me. If it was a quiet month, my stock would plummet and the value placed upon me diminished. Conversely, it was panic stations whenever this guy thought someone was going to attempt a takeover of his stock. This led to marketing campaigns by yours truly to try to assuage any fears over any hostile takeovers. Once he felt he could relax about his investment again, he would ignore me cash in his dividend cheques until the next morning when the stock market opened. I was a commodity, not a person.

A fucking exhausting and mind-numbingly boring dance that I could have done without.

After a bewildering couple of months, both my happiness and my health were deteriorating. I put an end to the relationship because my happiness and my health are paramount. I value myself. End story.

But it’s not end story, is it? I hear of women staying in these situations all the time because they’re told to. “10 Things That Turn Men Off” or “How To Keep Your Man” or the classic “What Men Really Want” and so on.

Like me, the woman who was dumped for being overweight was only valued by her partner based on the amount of interest she received from others. Now that she is desirable in the eyes of others, her worth has increased. No consideration has been given to the fact that she might be a person who might not want to constantly vie for attention in order to get her partner to realise what he’s missing. The article’s message was that if she was single she might miss out so she should endure abuse because women need to be in a relationship…with anyone.

Shows like The Bachelor support this view. Women should have to vie for the favour of men, any man, a complete stranger and get him to propose so that she can prove her market value. She then must maintain that market value in order to keep said stranger.

The Bachelor narrative is simple. His stock is worth more. Why? Because reasons. So, he gets to choose. There is a saturation in the market and he’s the only investor. He makes the women battle it out. He knows that men benefit greatly from pitting women against each other and the majority of women don’t realise it, so they fight each other accordingly. Besides, being a bachelor is awesome! Being a spinster however, (yes, that is the correct word for a single woman, not bachelorette) is akin to having leprosy circa 29CE. The visual image to accompany this trope is a lonely, miserable woman with her cats living like something from Extreme Hoarders. The visual image to support how awesome it is being a bachelor is a jawline from GQ and sleek interior design. Think Patrick Bateman but without the murders and executions, just mergers and acquisitions of women stock.

The message to women is: for the love of all that is holy, don’t be single. Get a ring and get a husband and have a TV wedding. Don’t get left behind.

These stories don’t encourage women to stop and think: Why am I being told that this is the life for me? Why am I being told that this is how I am to be valued? Why am I being told if he “liked it he should have put a ring on it”? Which is essentially saying, if he hasn’t asked you, he doesn’t love you.

I don’t believe the answer is as simple as the narrative of The Bachelor. Marriage means different things to different people. Which is a good thing. It’s better than the historical purpose in the West which was to legitimise births therefore securing land rights and inheritance. When I was young I thought that I would one day get married. Then I did a complete 180 on that as an adult and for years scoffed at the idea of the State being involved in my love life. Now, I’m in a place of happy ambivalence and rarely think about it. Except when these articles land on my lap, then I remember and then there’s fightin’ words. Plus, we have so many reminders popping up in mainstream media that I think it’s almost impossible for a woman to truly forget. Women are constantly reminded about their worth being measured in terms of ‘beautiful bride’ or ‘devoted wife’. It’s on our minds whether we want it to be or not. We’re bashed by this from a young age. We make oh-so-anatomically-correct Barbie dolls with wedding dresses and give them to little girls as gifts. This helps to entrench the role of ‘bride’ or ‘wife’ from a young age. We make dolls that urinate so that we can coach little girls on their rightful place in the world as nappy-changers. Pieces of plastic that urinate. Other dolls like Bratz, teach girls that their natural state is not appealing. I’ve yet to come across a toy created for boys that attempts to convince them that they should change pissy nappies or provides them with an extensive wardrobe for their wedding day.

But my happy ambivalence has more to do with the people I’m hanging around these days. Some balk at the idea of wedlock and some don’t but important thing is that we all share a similar view as to what love and commitment is. I find this calming and therefore my opinion is less positional on the subject. I’m also glad to hear that ambivalence is apparently on the rise in the US:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2014/09/24/i-do-no-thanks-the-economics-behind-americas-marriage-decline/?tid=sm_fb

The weddings I’ve attended over the last few years were all of my creative cronies so it has been very much outside-the-box type stuff and meaningful for those involved. They all had proper shindigs on shoestrings, full of love and intimacy. They also had written original music and scripts, so nerr. I cried at one of them because I had introduced the couple to one another years before. I also realised I was a noisy crier that day. Life lessons.

Unlike the Coppola sisters in the above article, not one person at these weddings asked me when I was going to get married. I say if you’re going to take offence at the life choices of other women, don’t ask those questions.

Another thing they all had in common was that each of the women in the aforementioned ceremonies valued themselves, they valued their own life choices and did not sacrifice their happiness just to be in a relationship.

gollum

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Nasty Girl vs Independent Women

Young boys and girls born in the last 15 years must be as confused as the cast of Twin Peaks (no disrespect, loved the show. I’m being facetious). Seriously though. They must be so confused because if they’re not, they should be.

Who am I meant to be? What is OK? What is not OK? I’m inspired to ask these questions because I’m sitting at home flicking through some old CDs and I come across a few dusty Destiny’s Child albums. When I drove around in my first shit heap of a car, I would crank this music. Even when Faith No More was up loud, and my friends would complain, I’d stick on Destiny’s Child instead and have a good sing song with my mates in the car. I also used to break it down to these tracks in clubs in the early 2000s so I thought a little nostalgia should cheer me up a little. I’m at home sick from work you see and so I’m limply draped across the couch covered in a film of my own mucussy ooze.

I flick through the tracks and note the lyrics to Independent Women and think “Ok yeah, I see what they’re *trying* to do here. Although they’re way too focused on ‘dolla’s’ and ‘rocks’ as distinct from happiness derived from self-actualization. They might want to drop the excessive cash references.”

“Independent Women”

Lucy Liu… with my girl, Drew… Cameron D. and Destiny
Charlie’s Angels, Come on
Uh uh uhQuestion: Tell me what you think about me
I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings
Only ring your cell-y when I’m feelin lonely
When it’s all over please get up and leave
Question: Tell me how you feel about this
Try to control me boy you get dismissed
Pay my own fun, oh and I pay my own bills
Always 50/50 in relationshipsThe shoes on my feet
I’ve bought it
The clothes I’m wearing
I’ve bought it
The rock I’m rockin’
‘Cause I depend on me
If I wanted the watch you’re wearin’
I’ll buy it
The house I live in
I’ve bought it
The car I’m driving
I’ve bought it
I depend on me
(I depend on me)Tell me how you feel about this
Who would I want if I would wanna live
I worked hard and sacrificed to get what I get
Ladies, it ain’t easy bein’ independent
Question: How’d you like this knowledge that I brought
Braggin’ on that cash that he gave you is to front
If you’re gonna brag make sure it’s your money you flaunt
Depend on noone else to give you what you wantGirl I didn’t know you could get down like thatCharlie, how your Angels get down like that [repeat until fade]

Then I listen to the lyrics of Nasty Girl and I’m astounded at the vitriol and spite that is emanating from my speakers. Really?! That’s your message to young girls and boys circa the millennium? It’s one big slut shaming rant aimed at disgracing women for enjoying male company with or without clothes.

“Nasty Girl”

You’s a nasty, nasty, trashy, nasty
Sleazy, nasty classless, nasty

Nasty put some clothes on, I told ya
Don’t walk out your house without your clothes on, I told ya
Girl what you thinkin’ bout lookin’ that to’ down, I told ya
These men don’t want no hot female that’s
Been around the block female, you nasty girl

Shakin’ that thang on that man
Lookin’ all stank and nasty
Swore you look cute girl in them dukes
Booty all out lookin’ trashy
Sleazy put some clothes on, I told ya
Don’t walk out ya heezy without clothes on, I told ya

You nasty girl, you nasty you trashy
You classless girl, you sleazy you freaky
I never met a girl that does the things that you do
Change don’t come your way it will come back to you
Put some clothes on girl

Hard for women like me
Who try to have some intergrity
You make it hard for girls like myself
Who respect themselves and have dignity
You nasty girl, you nasty, you trashy
You classless girl, you sleazy, you freaky
N A S T Y ya nasty, F R E A K Y ya freaky
Girl where’s your P R I D E, put some clothes on

Nasty girl, you so, you so, you so
Nasty girl, nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty girl

Nasty Girl‘s message is clear: Don’t you fucking dare go out the front door in a short skirt. If you do, you deserve what happens to you. You don’t deserve love and you’re a piece of shit. Independent Women‘s message is clear: Money, cash, dollars, diamonds and cars. It’s not easy being independent. But if you are and you call a guy over when you’re lonely, make sure you tell him to get the fuck out when it’s all over.

Ok, let’s ask the philosophers, Destiny’s Child some questions to resolve the existential conundrum plaguing young boys and girls…

Question: So, let me get this straight. I can’t wear what I like and I can’t enjoy male company?

No. You can’t.

Question: Ok, what about enjoying sex at least, can I do that?

Are you out of your mind?! Women don’t enjoy sex. Ever. If they do, they’re sluts who don’t deserve love.

Question: But, I’m in a relationship, and we love each other. What do I do?

You play mind games with each other so that the both of you mask your fears with an icy veil of aloofness. The both of you need to undermine each others confidence. You *must* tell him to get up and leave but only after *he* has come.

Question: Right. So, what can I enjoy?

Money. You can only enjoy money and you can only enjoy it alone.

Question: Ok. But I don’t have any money. I’m living week to week.

That’s ok, it’s not easy being independent. That’s why we wrote a song called Bills Bills Bills. Get your boyfriend to pay those bills, girl. 

No. This little trip down nostalgia lane has not lifted my spirits. It has dampened them with a fire hose. No wonder we’re at each others throats half the time with misnomers like this being blared into the ears of the masses on FM radio. People are listening to this. They’re taking it in. They might not realise it, but they are. I danced to this shit with a Bicardi Breezer in my hand and didn’t think anything of it. Pop stars don’t think anything of it. Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle still don’t think anything of it. Why the fuck am I only coming to realise this almost 15 years after the fact? I’ll tell you why. And this is the clincher. I was too young to understand what I was listening to and most likely I applied these toxic principles in my day-to-day life as a young woman, not wise enough to realise that I was playing a role in the proliferation of women hating propaganda, albeit passively.

I must note at this point that like most pop stars, Beyonce, Kelly and Michelle did not write these lyrics alone. Each of these tracks there were at least 3 other ‘writers’ outside of the above named. There were a mix of men and women contributing to the messages these songs bandy about.

These messages are not just confusing girls. They’re confusing boys to the same extent. I can only imagine life for boys being an extended scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas but without the narcotics binge. And without the knowledge that you’re simply on a bad trip and to give yourself another 12 hours and you should be right as rain. Not knowing what to do at any point because what you thought was OK, is not, and how you would like to be treated is completely fucking wrong because Beyonce et al told you so. Becoming angry and confused you follow the path of male entitlement and instead, you perpetuate the “Battle of the Sexes” because record companies release this bollocks just like my cat released a load on the carpet.

I guess the only thing we can do is repeat the opposite of this until fade.

I wonder what Jay-Z and Beyonce are going to tell Ivy when she grows up?
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That old feeling

It had been over a year since I was in the rehearsal room. My post-grad just wouldn’t allow for any acting. The closest I came were a few poetry readings with the motley crew at The Dan O’Connell. You can perform poetry as distinct from reading it, if you want, but it’s not acting. So, Thursday night was a bit of a big deal for me.

I had a stomach heaving sense of inadequacy being around a large group of incredibly talented performers, all of whom knew each other and were clearly part of a happy family. Not to mention the accent I had spent time polishing up on was changed at the last minute and I discovered I had a much larger role than I first thought. Panic stations.

But after a while, I got over it and got into it and had the best time. Everyone was so welcoming and the director was so generous with his time.

As I was rehearsing a huge wave of nostalgia washed over me and I was reminded of all the rehearsals past where I smiled and laughed from beginning to end. The picture below reminds me of such a time.

Coincidentally, I was taken to the MSO on Sunday where I saw a number of musicians relish in their art. It was such a beautiful thing to watch and I really wish I could remember to have fun with my acting and enjoy it more often as opposed to allowing the anxiety of not being good enough to take hold.

I think I’m really going to enjoy this show.

Image

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Data: A lesson on love

As I sit on the couch watching Star Trek TNG, from the beginning, I have a flash back to when I saw TNG for the first time. I was about 8. I remember sitting on the carpeted floor, cross-legged, jammies on because it was straight to bed after the show. I was enchanted in front of the TV. I was mesmerised by the idea of space and alien adventures.

And then it happened. A ‘man’ came on the screen but he wasn’t like any man I had seen before. His skin was a translucent gold colour, in fact, he looked like he had jaundice but had rolled around in glitter. He had yellow eyes like a frightened cat. His name was Lieutenant Commander Data.

I was in love.

This man was incredible! After watching a few episodes I saw that this man was highly intelligent. He was strong without being the typical (and often ridiculous) figure of masculinity. He was kind without losing himself to others. He had flaws he was aware of and he spoke about them openly in an attempt to understand and improve. He held a mirror up to others. He was affectionate and compassionate. He loved children and animals. He possessed a childlike curiosity but carried a great deal of wisdom and insight. He dressed up in costumes and played murder mystery games. He knew himself but he was like no-one else I knew.

A few weeks later at school we were sitting around talking about who we were going to marry. Because it was 1991, the usual names popped up like Michael J Fox, Chesney Hawks, Rick Astley, Ralph Macchio etc. I remember sitting there hoping that someone else would say his name so I wouldn’t feel so odd. But no-one said they wanted to marry Data from Star Trek. I couldn’t contain it any longer, I had to confess (I went to a convent school in Ireland so it was part of the deal) and so I blurted it out. “I love Data from Star Trek and I want to marry him!”. Some of my friends were stunned, some had no idea who the fuck I was talking about. Someone replied “Really?! But he’s yellow!” and I replied “I don’t care.”

Then one of my friends asked “But how are you going to marry him?”

Peeling back the veil of nostalgia, I see that there are a few moral lessons here. I became aware of racism and I became aware of peoples perceived ideas of beauty. But most of all, I was made aware of the unattainable. Data was not real. He was an android. A robot filled with circuitry and Asimov’s positronic brain. He was a character from a TV show.

I’ve just experienced the same learning curve but through the eyes of an adult. But ironically, I feel like at 8 year old again. Bewildered but happy.

Lt. Cmdr. Data:[after the “quarrel” with Jenna] In my study of interpersonal dynamics, I have found that conflict, followed by emotional release, often strengthens the connection between two people. 
Lt. Jenna D’Sora: But… there’s something so forced and artificial about the way you’re doing it, Data. It’s just not the real you. 
Lt. Cmdr. Data: With regard to romantic relationships, there is no real me. 

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