Big City Girl

Well, I promised you this post in the end of my last post, and I am not one to go back on my promises. I know that many of you have been waiting for said post with baited breath, almost as excited as you were when you had pre-ordered your Harry Potters from Dymocks, and it was the night before you could go and pick it up (shhh… don’t ruin my fantasy about how important my blog is in your life).
This post is dedicated to big city living and all the wonderful things you can do when you live in a city with a population that goes into 7 figures. There is a song, that some of you may remember from your years of watching Playschool, in which the singers alternately list the good things about living in the city and the country.

Living in the country is nice and peaceful, 
Living in the country is fun… etc.

As far as I’m concerned at the moment, they could have saved themselves the time and effort in writing the country verses and just focused on all the wonderful things that the kiddies could look forward to once they had moved to a great big metropolis. I used to have this little dream, which was that if ‘life’ ever got too much for me, if I ever wanted to give up on the acting and the rat race and all the rest of it, I would buy myself a little cottage in the hills somewhere, buy a collection of floral moo-moos, and spend the rest of my days baking (and eating the proceeds of said cooking). If it all got too much, I would just give up on it all and head for the hills, because, I was certain, that would be much more enjoyable and stress-free. Looking back on it, to a certain extent, that is what I did for the past year. I tried to stay fit and eat healthily, but every time I did, there was voice in the back of my head going, ‘Well, what’s the point anyway? No-one’s going to see you.’ Turns out heading to the hills is just as hard, and, in some ways, harder, because it took me away from everything I really loved and cared about. Most things became much harder to achieve.
In the past two weeks I have started swimming again (joy of all joys!), gone to spinning classes (which I never knew I liked before!), started kettlebell classes (which I never knew I didn’t like before…), broken my violin, and had it fixed the very next day, walked absolutely EVERYWHERE I have needed to go, bought ‘ethnic’ food from an ‘ethnic’ supermarket and many other things. I think the most exciting feeling though is just looking at all the people and all the buildings and the hustle and bustle, and just hearing the possibilities everywhere! All these people who are living their lives, they may be future friends, future partners, future colleagues! Who knows what things might go on in all those buildings in the next day, the next week, the next month? Possibility, possibility, possibility! That’s what seems to be screaming out of a city. Its exciting, and, more than that, its comforting. If there’s something going on, chances are its going to be going on somewhere near you.
Some of the other things I have done in the last two weeks:
1) Attended a Performance Artists Network’s 4 hour showing of performance art. This is not something I would normally have attended, even back home in Australia. But, as I have very few friends here, so consequently few social engagements, I have been attending anything and everything that is at all relevant to my interests. Some of these performances were very interesting. I don’t feel I have the required performance language to understand what was going on. There was a man lying on the floor, picking up grains of brown rice one at a time and putting them into his ear. There was a woman wrapped in white gauzy stuff and walking around the room. There was a very tall man standing in a room with a black hood over his head, holding a microphone. There was a man talking about time, who also had a sock puppet friend that seemed to what to feel him up as they were performing. I only managed to stay for an hour. Not because I didn’t find it interesting, but because I had no one to discuss the things with. But, also because I didn’t feel like I could fully understand everything. Its like my brain can only handle so much metaphor and symbolism before it overloads and ceases to function. So, the metaphor and symbolism in a David Hare play is do-able, as is a Stoppard play or Beckett play. Something like a Sarah Kane is pushing my limit, but I can stand it, as long as the production is good and I have people to help me afterwards. But, once it gets out of even an attempt at a narrative I start feeling like I often do in my real life: ‘But what does it mean? Which things are significant? Should I look here or there? Is it good or not? Am I enjoying it or not?’ I get very confused. This is not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I just left feeling like I possibly had missed out on many messages. I did see one thing I liked, and seemed to be able to interpret. It was a man, and he had a pile of papers which looked like blanked out government files, and he would burn then, whilst holding a picture of a victim from a foreign war, and then throw it on the floor. I felt like it meant that these people were nameless to us, covered up, destroyed, in their physical state by the war, and in memory or history by being censored. That was my reading anyway.
2) I went to an event in a beautiful bookstore called, ‘The Winding Stair’, that was in honour of al-Mutanabbi Street, which is/was a famous street in the book selling district of Baghdad, which was blown up by a suicide bomb 5 years ago. A movement was started in San Francisco by artists and writers to create 3 books each, to symbolically replace the books that were destroyed. I am uncertain of the philosophy behind this symbolic gesture, but, nevertheless, it was an interesting event to attend. There were many people there from the Iraqi community, though mostly men. A female Iraqi poet read a poem about her composer father, whilst they played some music of his underneath. It was intriguing. An Iraqi men did a short (15 minute) performance about his move to Ireland, which was absolutely beautiful. So simple, so short, but incredibly powerful. I was in tears, and went and thanked him afterwards.
3) I saw a performance of a play in Irish. Now, before you get too excited, I haven’t learnt Irish in my time here, nor have I miraculously soaked up the language from being around Irish people. In fact, I know a shockingly small amount of Irish. I know the word for good-bye, for prime minister, for parliament, and, that honestly is about it. I consistently mispronounce the simplest of words (to the delight of my Irish friends, I’ve found). But, this play had a simultaneous translation (via headphones) into English. I had hoped to hear more of the Irish, but it was difficult to concentrate on the story being told in English and listen to the sound of the Irish at the same time. I got better at it by the end, and it was certainly an interesting cultural experience.
4) I went back to Cork and saw a film at the French Film Festival and went to a stand-up comedy gig, just to prove that Dublin does not have the monopoly on cool big city things that you can do. The film was wonderfully fun and silly, the follow-up to the Lebanese director and actor, Nadine Labaki’s film ‘Caramel’ from 2008 (another fabulous film – go see it), and also had a very serious message, which no-one could argue with, even if it became a viral video on Facebook: be more tolerant of religious difference. 
5) This evening, I went to an event called ‘Milk & Cookies’, which is a storytelling night held in Dublin, where they actually give you milk and cookies as well as cupcakes and chocolate slice. Of course, me being me, I stood up and read a story, which, for the full Dublin experience, you can read here: In a new town, meeting new people, some people go to the local pub, some go to community centres, some join sporting clubs. I, go to open-mic nights, and if they laugh at my stories, or compliment me afterwards, I somehow feel accepted and happy with myself. It was a very fun night with lots of weird and wonderful stories. I was, intriguingly, the only woman, out of a 2 hour night of stories to get up and read. This was not for want of women in the room (one girl did get up and read, but read a friend’s story, not her own, though she did a very good reading, I have to say). I don’t know if it was that night in particular, or if it is common theme, but I was intrigued. I wonder if it was because, like the girl sitting next to me, most of the women were too terrified by the thought of standing up in front of a group of people and telling a story. But, there are many more actresses out there than actors, so it can’t be performing per se that is the problem. I don’t know. Maybe I should go to a few more of the events before I start making judgements. It was a wonderful night full of crazy wonderful stories, many of them with strange connections to Sydney. One was about 3 Irish brothers who ended up in Newtown, another was about Gilgamesh (whose statue, confusingly, graced the grounds of the University of Sydney), one involved a description of a house that was ‘as big as the Sydney Opera House.’ A girl told me after my story that it was wonderful, but that because my accent was ‘class’, she could have listened to me talk for hours no matter what I was saying. That was quite amusing. Usually I’m the one telling others that.

Carrie Bradshaw. Not an accurate depiction of my life in Dublin. But, I do love that jacket.

Anyway, that’s a taste of my new life in the big smoke. I’m off to the bigger smoke (again) on Saturday, when I head off to London. One might ponder why I am heading to London on St. Patrick’s Day, but that is a story for another post, another time.


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