Uncovered -Queen & Bowie

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So tired I feel like I’m practically blind today, but it was definitely worth it!

Last night I had the good fortune of attending the closing night performance of Acting Up Stage’s annual Uncovered show. This year, an impressive assembly of Canadian talent performed selections from the musical libraries of David Bowie and Queen, and included a pair of actors who basically channelled the ghosts of Bowie and Freddie Mercury as they tackled a variety of quotes from over the course of each legend’s career. The whole evening turned into a somewhat intimate affair, as our Bowie and Mercury held a dialogue on stage in between the amazing musical numbers throughout.

My more-or-less-friend-now, the lovely and obscenely talented Melissa O’Neil, had given me a heads up some time ago that she would be a part of this show, and I marked it on my calendar right away, as I fully intend to just support her and her career whenever possible. I looked up the show online and thought it looked pretty cool, but still really had no idea what to expect. Even figuring out that another insanely talented friend, Gabe Grey, would be playing Freddie, didn’t change how much of a happy surprise the evening ended up being!

It made me sad that I’ve missed the other 9 years of this Uncovered show, but determined that this won’t have been my last. So much fun, guys!

I stopped watching Gabe pretty early on, because he was so good that, in my mind, he pretty much morphed into Freddie Mercury. For those few hours, my friend wasn’t on stage at all. He had transcended himself. And the woman playing Bowie? Holy Hannah! Applause greeted her first words, but from that moment on, she was David Bowie. She had every mannerism and movement down to the point where it just seemed natural. She was he.

Watching Melissa O’Neil sing – especially when she is obviously really enjoying herself – is an absolute joy. I woke up with her version of Let’s Dance in my head this morning, and every time I think about seeing her last night, a giant stupid grin appears on my face. I think that’s how I looked the whole time she was on stage, actually, so it’s a good thing it was dark in there. I realized after that it was also the first time I’d gotten to see her perform live. I’ll need to make sure it’s not the last time for that, either, ’cause damn. I adore that woman to no end, and this show just cemented that feeling all the more.

I loved every single performer last night, and there were several I hadn’t known of prior to taking my seat and pouring over the programme. I can’t count the number of times I was given goosebumps throughout the night, or driven into bouts of gleeful cheers and applause. I was crushing on all the ladies of the stage, including the wicked talented woman rocking the violin. But it was one incredibly talented performer who pulled tears from my eyes not once but twice, just due to how stunningly beautiful her renditions were. Divine Brown rocked my world and broke my heart and put it back together again. She’s seriously, like, not of this earth, guys. Just whoa.

She turned me into Wes Bentley watching a plastic bag floating on the breeze in American Beauty. So, so beautiful.

My whole evening would not have been possible were it not for my friend, Sarah, who snagged our tickets AND managed to pick up some flowers for Mel when I had not the time nor the cash flow after my work day ended, AND still beat me to the subway on our way back downtown. So eternal thanks to that woman! I suspect it won’t be her last night out to support these crazy talented folks, now, either!

Go check out Acting Up Stage Company’s website here. They do amazing work in the world of musical theatre, and have an impressive line-up of content coming all year long!

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Life & Con Crud

Ah, there it is. The dull scratchy pain at the back of my throat; the vague tightening in my chest; the sense that my body is a little more broken than usual.

Con Crud is settling in.

Next weekend is starting to look like it’s going to be just as busy, too. I’m basically never going to sleep again!

Patreon page is up and running at http://www.patreon.com/TheMindReels

I’m trying to get as many people as possible to sponsor us for $2 per month, as $24 per year doesn’t seem like that much, yet would make a ridiculous difference for us if enough people signed up! We’ll see.

I’m also sitting on yet another amazing/geeky/artistic idea that I need to put out into the world before someone else does. The trouble, of course, is that I have none of the skills required to bring it about. I either need to learn to draw, or befriend an artist type who can help bring my seedling ideas to a more concrete fruition. Because damn – I should be pretty rich by now.

Anyway.

The fog brain is still going strong today. Definitely struggling. Hopefully I can get to bed – and sleep – at a ridiculously early hour tonight and feel somewhat refreshed by morning. I’ve got stuff to do!

Officially Amazing

According to my Facebook memory feed, it was one year ago today that I first learned I was officially a Guinness World Record holder. I started to cry pretty much immediately. Tears of happiness, relief, vindication – a myriad of emotions went through me in the moments following that message. I had to read it twice to be sure that it was real; that I had actually done it.

I actually had.

I needed to confirm a couple of things for them, and even then it would be a few days before the website reflected The Mind Reels’ official amazing-ness, so I decided to only tell a couple of people right then, and make it all more public later. Tim and I created an announcement video to thank those who had donated to our crowd-funding campaign prior to the event, but the majority of the celebration would have to wait until after visible proof was available.

I got home from work that evening and cracked open the bottle of craft beer that one of our lovely guests had gifted to us at the event. I’d told her that I would only open it once I’d heard back from GWR, and drink it either in celebration or to drown my sorrows.

Naturally, I drank it from my Guinness glass.

I’ve had mixed emotions about the whole thing all along, really. It was almost exactly a year between the time I came up with the idea to attempt breaking the record, and receiving the notification that I’d been successful. It was a bittersweet success, however, because I’d also learned a lot of hard truths along the way, and the toll it took on me – on every level – is still affecting me even now.

All the stress and anger and frustration and just staying awake for 55+ hours wrecked my body, of course, but it also did some damage to my state of mind, my heart, and my spirit. I learned that I am a terrible leader, in that I do not inspire confidence nor action in anyone else. I learned that things would likely go better if I just set out to do them myself from the start, because depending on anyone else to step up and help will only end in stress and failure. Most heart-breaking, though, was learning that I’m unable to get others to see my vision and work towards helping me to make it a reality.

That whole thing was intended to be an event to pull the entire channel together, raise our visibility in the public eye, and propel us all forward as a team. Instead, it ground everything to a halt, and even a year and a half later, we are still struggling to get started back up again. Those of us who are struggling at all, I mean. Most just seem to have stopped all together.

I couldn’t even get local media interested, even though I was trying to shine a light on Canadian talent, among other things.

Learning that we are no longer the official record-holders made me want to take another run at it – to make it bigger, stronger, better – rather than feel defeated by it. I have SO MANY ideas for making the attempt epic – even more so than the first one was envisioned to be – but it would require a lot of teamwork, and I do not have the ability to inspire that in others. I can’t even get my own little show going again, let alone something on that grand a scale.

And this isn’t me being down on myself, really. Maybe a little, but I feel like it’s mostly me being down on everyone else, and just trying to be nicer and more polite about it than I actually feel much of the time. Since the GWR attempt elevated my awareness of how things are, I’ve been constantly torn between asking for help to make other visions a reality, and just doing things myself/not doing them at all. Even small things require effort, and while I am no stranger to putting in said effort, I recognize that I can’t do everything myself. Not well, at least. So I’m not sure whether to focus and do one thing as well as I am able (despite my admittedly mediocre talent or ability), or do a few things half-assed, or accept offers of assistance, even though I no longer believe in anyone’s ability to follow through.

That’s pretty much the crux of it, I think. I don’t know what it is about me that makes those closest to me not believe in me, as I’ve proven time and time again that I am stubborn enough, at the very least, to do what I say I’m going to do. From where I sit, it’s everyone else who is falling short of the example I set. From a relatively young age, I’ve tried to lead by example, in fact. Yet for some reason, however, no one follows. It often makes me frustrated and angry, yet it’s an impotent anger – the kind that lets me cry and yell and stamp my feet and even slam the door…but still go to my room.

Maybe it’s time for me to focus on finding the source of that disconnect; the reason that I don’t inspire the confidence in others that I feel in myself – that I start off feeling in all of us, until I am let down yet again. I think I need to figure out what it is about me that holds people back from believing in me, and also determine why I keep giving out second chances, hoping for different outcomes, and whether or not I should continue to do so.

I broke a Guinness World Record, guys. Just imagine what else I can do – and how much more we could do together.

Because I imagine it all the time, you know. And it’s amazing.

Sometimes I even feel sorry for some of you, because you can’t see it, too.

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Thinking

On the way to work this morning, it occurred to me that someone should open a dance studio of sorts for – or offer instruction for – same sex couples. Traditional dances could be altered slightly so that neither partner has to “be the guy” or “be the girl”. It could be balanced out a bit; equalized. The classes wouldn’t even have to just be for gay couples. There’s lots of occasion where friends dance together and it would be fun to have an alternative that wouldn’t necessarily be misconstrued as mocking, or garner otherwise negative attention.

Another thought I had on the way in was that I should figure out how to turn something I love doing but am not great at doing, into something more lucrative; perhaps some kind of service to those who are good at doing it. Or some way of bringing together people who are good at it, and giving them a space to network and share ideas and the like. I’m not exactly sure what I could or would do – nor of how to make it somewhat lucrative – but the seeds of an idea are there. And there is possibly something to it, so we’ll see. In some ways, I am getting better at following through on ideas. Just not at budgeting my time in order to make it realistically feasible most of the time!

Speaking of budgeting time, I’ve re-applied to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre again. I’d sent in an application a few months ago because I wanted to work in the Nursery feeding baby squirrels and the like. However, since I can only do weekend shifts (everything else conflicts with my real job hours), and those fill up the fastest, I was not accepted as a volunteer this spring. I was managing to be okay with that – I’m tired a lot of the time, and I’ve never made the trek all the way out there even once, let alone weekly. But then I saw on Facebook that they are still looking for some people to take evening shifts in the Wildlife Care department, and while I can still only do weekends, maybe no one else is up for Saturday nights all summer, or something. It’s also a longer time commitment than I am necessarily comfortable with, but I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it. I’ve sent in an application, so we’ll see. If they turn it down again then any other concerns I may have are moot anyway.

I’ve been kind of a rock star at work lately – again. Not in my regular duties (heh…dooties), though that’s fine, too. But it’s the extra stuff I’ve been doing – fixing problems, investigating things that don’t quite add up and sorting out what went wrong – I’m really, really good at that. It’s the kind of thing that can’t be taught, really. Or it can, but only over time. I’ve spent nearly 16 years learning the way things work here, and while I can’t use any of those talents in the real world, all that time spent has given me a wealth of knowledge to draw from, and a certain understanding of the little ins and outs involved in several different positions apart from my own. That’s something that someone who has been here longer but always performing the same tasks wouldn’t have. I am a great investigator. A great “deducer”. A great problem-fixer. It means I get more frustrated more often, but it also affords me the opportunity to not only challenge myself, but to also achieve some sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I figure something out.

I just completed a task I started yesterday afternoon – it took nearly a full day, but I did it. It’s done. And while I am certain there are many more questions coming my way about it in the future, I am ready. I know what was done, what was wrong, how it needed to be corrected, and how it was fixed. Because I did that part myself, and found the answers to my own questions going into it all by myself, too. I have everything – all my notes and paperwork – bound together and filed in my “Problems” folder for easy access. I am confident that I will be able to answer any and all of the questions that come my way.

I’m not confident that I didn’t make a little mistake which will likely add to other people’s confusion, but I am certain that I will be able to explain it to them when the time comes.

‘Cause BAM! #rockstar

I kind of wish I could do stuff like that full time, and have someone else hired and train to administrate orders. I feel like it would make things way more organized around here, and thus make all of our jobs easier. But at the same time, it would likely just be a source of never-ending frustration for me. So I guess I’ll just keep taking those moments of pride in my work on the occasions in which they appear, and try to be satisfied with that.

In other news, if Canadian politicians can’t abide by the time-honoured rules of Red Rover, they should not be allowed to play it in class. Like, what the hell, people? Don’t you have jobs to do? Oh yeah – I believe you were supposed to be voting on the Compassion Bill to give people the right to die with dignity. Too bad some of the people most affected by that bill don’t have the luxury of time to fool around so much.

I’m sure in their final agony-filled days, though, they’ll find the childish antics of their elected officials pretty hilarious.

The Frustration Of A Worthless Wait

I’m not entirely sure how to talk about this, in part because I know it’s yet more whining, and in part because I’m also not entirely sure what I am trying to say. However, I’ll do it, anyway, because I’m me. Haha

I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my dependance upon other people to get things done. At work – I mean, that’s just the way things are, and I don’t really want more responsibility, or anything. I just get frustrated with waiting on others to help me complete a task. Only sometimes, though.

My larger frustration in is other aspects of my life. I feel sometimes like I spend more time waiting on other people than I spend actually doing anything. Logically, I know that’s not the case, and even if it were, it’s not like I’m not capable of doing things on my own. I just catch myself up in wanting to do things as a team, or share the workload, or even just get another opinion before moving forward with something. I think that’s more where my frustration lies – not in the other people, nor even in the waiting for them (well, maybe sometimes it’s those things, too) – but in the fact that I bother to wait at all. Why not just forge on ahead and do my own thing? If someone catches up and wants to join, all the better. But otherwise, why am I waiting? Why do I hope that someone will meet me partway and work with me to achieve even more? It’s not like anyone is taking my possible contribution into account when going about their days, doing their own things. So why is it so important to me to try and include them?

I don’t really have any confidence in my own abilities, that’s true. And, to my mind, it’s with good reason. So that might be part of the reason why. Yet, I’m the one getting frustrated with my own self, so really…do something, or don’t do something. But don’t not do something and then whine about not doing it.

That’s some sound advice, there, Self!

I guess sometimes I want to share my creative brilliance with people who have actual creative talent. Yet I also don’t like people, so why I would want to share anything with them is kind of beyond me. Unless I just want to use them for their talents, to push us both toward possible success. That probably sounds mean, using someone, but when it’s for both our gains, I think we could both stand to not whine about that! Haha

There’s also the recognition and acceptance that I can’t do everything I want to do entirely on my own. But there’s plenty that I can do, so again…stop whining, and do something, or don’t do something.

The whole thing makes me angry, and nervous, and excited, and empowered, and sad. So, in essence, I stall. Freeze up. Stand in impotent defiance of what I’m not sure I’m ready to change, or even know how to go about it.

And so, in the meantime, I continue to wait.

Seeing The Forest AND The Trees

Last night I dreamed I had a job interview. Of sorts. We were at a Tim Horton’s for a chat and she got me a cookie when she was getting herself a coffee. It was kind of informal. But an interview nonetheless.

And I think it went pretty well, which – of course it did, because it was my dream and existed entirely inside of my head. I remember I was fighting tears as I gave a couple of answers (one about teaching, and one about my current job), but I worked hard to answer honestly, and it felt kind of like a release after. Getting some of that stuff out felt good, even if it wasn’t real. I realized one of my problems might be that I often see the big picture, as well as the details. I see the whole forest AND the trees, which can be overwhelming sometimes. There is the universal struggle to find balance, but added to it is the understanding that it’s an impossible line to walk. You see all the things to do, how each of them affects the whole, and all of the things not done. Because they can’t all be accounted for. You can see all the trees, but you can’t give each of them the individual attention they need at all times. I think it’s what made teaching hard for me, and what makes my current job difficult, as well. It drives me crazy sometimes.

Well…crazier.

I also realized I was behaving kind of like an abused animal – one who has forgotten that human kindness exists. She bought me a cookie and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Which is somewhat true of me in real life, really, so that was interesting to me this morning, as well.

Anyway, what I really want to talk a bit about today is writing. I haven’t been doing a lot of it lately – this blog aside, of course – but I have been doing a lot of mental preparation for more new writing, as well as editing of things previously written. Last night was one of the more painful examples of the editing process, as I needed to get a short story down to under a certain word count, and I wasn’t a huge fan of what I knew I had to do to get it there.

There was a section of text that I’d written a long time ago – a scene that was one of the first conceived when I thought about writing the story to begin with. I loved that scene. I remember working harder on that one segment than on any other part of the story. Even as I was going over it more recently, I found little ways to tweak it and make it even better. The words flowed, the imagery was strong and beautiful and felt like it came out of some long-buried piece of my heart.

And last night I deleted it. The whole thing.

I knew it wasn’t necessary to move the story forward, and that I could get from A to C without needing B taking up more words, even though they were so very pretty. So I deleted B. And as all writers know, B is for Baby. I killed my Baby.

I did it quickly – didn’t give it one final read-through or anything. I just highlighted the whole section and hit the Delete key and then reminded myself to breathe again. And it was fine. It’s fine. The story is better for it. I think. Pretty sure, anyway.

Hoping to get it sent out later today, too, so that will feel good. It’ll feel complete.

That’s a weird thing about writing, hey? Most tasks require you to add more or do more or achieve more in order for it to be complete. Yet with writing, you build it all up, and then the sense of completion comes only after you take enough away; subtract from. Delete. Sometimes you go back and add things – dialogue, description, even entire scenes. But even those aren’t done until you’ve edited them and tightened them up and taken away the unnecessary.

Writing can be like sculpting, in that sense. The art of subtraction.

There’s probably a life lesson in that, but I don’t want to discuss it right now. I’ve killed my Baby – that’s enough subtraction and sadness for the moment!

Another thing that came up yesterday and got me thinking had to do with Carving The Light, my first novel. My Facebook memory feed gave me a look back on my imaginary dream cast for the no-doubt-Oscar-winning film adaptation of the book, with a few different suggestions for each major character.

Since those days, though, I’ve actually gotten to know many crazy-talented artists, and I started thinking it might be fun to dream-cast THEM into the imaginary film. At the risk of desperately wanting to shoot such a film, it could be very interesting to see what I come up with. My mind has already been working on it a bit, but that’ll be a post for another day. The important thing – for this entry – is that there is a tiny twinge of excitement inside me surrounding the idea of revisiting the imaginary cast with people I actually know. Even just talking to Tim about it a few minutes ago got me all wound up about it again.

In addition, there’s something about having people I am more familiar with in mind for certain characters that makes me want to tweak the characters and/or the story itself more – not necessarily cater any part of it to any of them, but to make it better on the whole. Flesh out the trees, improve the entire forest. Somehow, the idea of certain people in certain roles makes the story more concrete in my mind, and therefore I can already see ways of improving the overall piece.

There is definitely something there.