Friday, January 30, 2009

Circus Bang!

Finally the dam wall burst. After the makeshift meeting in the Tons’s dressing room (voluptuous ladies with even bigger voices.), my ears were burning with what I had just heard. I was furious.
I grabbed my cell phone and stormed out into the freezing car park that surrounds the tent and glared at the huge and useless Battersea power station (a symbol of redundancy if ever there was one) that loomed over us. My nostrils were blowing hot steam and I felt like I could catch on fire if it wasn’t so cold. I called my mom. I was going to bitch. I was going to rant and rave and give a huge speech about stupidity, incompetence and irresponsibility, but instead once I heard her voice mine broke and all I could do was cry like a child who’s had a bad fall.“The tent is closing down.” I said.
It has been an uphill slog since the day we landed in this recession rocked country. With no cheap labour available we literally shovelled gravel and worked our fingers to the bone to erect the 100 year old Belgian mirror and velvet palace, and have worked tirelessly to keep the tent afloat ever since. We’ve had more ups and downs than Wendy and Christine’s trapeze act and I think new levels of substance abuse were reached by certain members of our motley troupe in a rather futile attempt to cope with the impossible demands of compensating for a completely lacking advertising campaign. Going out flyering at the crack of dawn and then working until late at night catering to a tent full of people who were mostly comped. To be honest I stopped joining them after a week because it was exhausting, embarrassing and simply a little too late. Funders pulled out before we even left Cape Town and our leader has been like our salaries, erratic and often falling short. Yet I still admire his determination to fulfil his dream. I’m extremely optimistic about most things in life but on this particular day only half an hour before the show is about to begin I am feeling very upset, and for a few reasons. This is not the first show I’ve been in that has ended prematurely (Fangs, Rent, Rocky Horror.) And this is not the first time I am left feeling shafted financially after being made an endless list of promises. But enough of the “woe is me.” If I really want to bitch there is only one person to blame and that is me. I chose every one of these jobs and I have allowed other people to take the reins and dictate what happens in my life and for that I have sacrificed my right to complain. I’ve been letting other dodgy people drive the bus and what I should really have done is take the wheel. If I really think I could’ve done things better then I should’ve done them in the first place. I should have been marketing and fighting for my own dream and not desperately trying to save someone else’s. I want to be a singer and a valued performer and actor and not a pretty yet goat-like two bit stilt walker. When I traded those dreams in for a ticket to London I also handed in my backbone. At least I’ve got it back now even though I’ve had to see my ass first. It was and still is an amazing show but I didn’t ever feel amazing in it and I guess I just wanted a regular salary and a chance to see the world. Someone once said that if you trade freedom in for stability you will eventually lose both. I think I get that now.
A few weeks ago my gut told me it saw an express freight of high grade shite heading for the proverbial fan and so I spruced up my CV and to my gut-wrestling terror began secretly auditioning for shows and different companies up against London’s finest singers, dancers and bonafide “triple threats” (Actors who can really sing and dance.) I won’t lie I saw my ass at more than one audition. Chose sheet music for a song that was WAY too high for me and squeaked myself into new realms of humiliation with an army of young Christina’s, Britney’s and Justin’s all standing within earshot watching my cock up and waiting for their turns to do a much better job at that audition. But I also aced another one and got a special mention for my voice and realised how badly I need to sing and be told that I can and should. Now I have a final call back for a singing gig on a cruise liner on Sunday in Yorkshire and other than that a long flight back to sunny Africa to look forward to. Once again, a future imperfect but I’m enthusiastic at least with a new found interest in Buddhism and meditation. I have also crumbled under craving and have started eating meat again because I was getting so sick of cheese and soya! But this decision will be up for review again as soon as I can afford to live on a more varied vegetarian diet. Or maybe I’ll just give myself a bit of a break for a while. Its bad enough I don’t drink, drug, and smoke and haven’t even so much as smooched anyone in four months. Let me at least have my chicken wings! What I am unbelievably grateful for from this experience is the amazing time I have had in London. Art! I have been to the Tate modern and I have also seen dodgy Asian drag queens singing arias in The Two Brewers (Love you long time Lloyd!) I’ve run along the Thames, felt snow on my face and I’ve seen bearded old ladies on the bus. I’ve gone through a kg of glitter playing Pan and spent a fortune on tea at Starbucks. I have had a jol and I have reconnected with old friends (Carla, Helen, Heinrich, Jennifer and Nathalie) and made so many new ones (Chris, Craig, Kara, Belinda to name a few). I value the friendships I have made and continue to make as I go about my journey. I learn something from every single person like how to fly on a bar but stand on the ground from Wendy and how “Ubuntu” is alive and well far beyond the borders of Africa from Benny and Marta. I cannot deny that I am not exactly where I want to be but I am so grateful to know that where I am now, I am Loved. Aluta Continua (The struggle continues.) Thanks London. Love you long time.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Resistance Crumble

So on the fourth day of my newly found vegetarian lifestyle I felt an insufferable craving for meat. I was waiting at a bus stop in Clapham Junction at 2 am sober as a judge, ravenous and staring through the glass and golden arches of the Mcdonald’s across the street. It looked so colourful, warm and welcoming and the bus would still be an eternal 15 minutes of nose dislocating cold. So I reared my lip in a rebellious smirk, marched in and ordered a ¼ pounder with cheese which I wolfed down before even getting back across the street to wait for the bus. It was strange. Afterwards I felt no guilt or remorse but I didn’t feel any satisfaction either. It didn’t taste as good as I imagined it would and I realised that it was the rebellious act that I craved more than the flame grilled patty. I want to kick against the conformity of my life. I have resumed my vegetarianism for the time being until I can honestly believe that it is best for me to be otherwise. But I am focussing on what this “takeaway” incident has brought to my attention. I feel stifled. I feel like I’m in a hole gripped by rules and the whims of other people pulling me under like quicksand. All because I have shushed myself saying: “Bite your tongue! Do you know how lucky you are to have a job? Do you know how many people there are out there who are down and out, have nothing and you have loads PLUS you get to travel! Don’t be an ingrate.” This is no fault but my own. My attitude has been: “I will pretty much do anything or endure anything however humiliating and shitty as long as you keep paying me and I don’t have to make any decisions. I’m just so grateful to have this opportunity. “
The other morning I woke up with the words: “Think bigger Bruce Little!” repeating over and over again in my head. Think bigger Bruce Little? Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am prone to getting random songs and sound bites spontaneously spouting forth from my subconscious mind, so much so that I have been dubbed the human jukebox in more than one dressing room. But this particular “morning mantra” was different. Could it be that I could dare to want more from my life than what I already have? That I could dare to dream bigger, to wish to play a bigger role in the world and travel much further than I have deemed possible? Or am I just falling into the trap of seeking what the Buddhists call the five harmful cravings? (Money, Sex, Fame, overeating and oversleeping.) Do I really just want to be rich and famous so I can OD on ¼ pounders with cheese and sleep all day? No I don’t think so. I want to be of use to other people, I want to bring joy and empathy into their lives by singing and performing. I want to be a Loving, respectable and responsible individual in a Loving, respectable and responsible environment. At times I wish my life was a novel so that I could skip forward a little and see what going to happen to me. I’ve never been very good at handling anticipation which is why I cannot sit through a horror movie. The suspense almost renders me unconscious with anxiety because I literally stop breathing as the poor hapless victim finds themselves somewhere dark and alone with a dagger yielding madman hiding somewhere in the shadows. I always want to scream: “Don’t go in there you stupid bitch!” But she never listens and the stupid woman gets stabbed and for some reason once the killer is out and shredding her I no longer feel the need to bury my head in the blanket and can watch undisturbed because the suspense is gone. That is how I manage with most things in my life. The suspense of waiting outside “the office” to see the headmaster for bad behaviour was always much worse than getting smacked on the palm with a ruler once you were in the thick of it. My imagination seems to create a much worse situation than what reality ends up producing.
So what should I do? I can hardly sleep at night wondering what I can do to beef up my dreams and perhaps make them a reality. There are so many options. London is literally a free- for-all buffet of careers, religions, societies, courses and places to “find yourself.” I’m not sure where to start, but I know I must begin soon because I currently “find myself” tirelessly pursuing someone else’s dream and other people’s dreams can only really lead to other people’s happiness.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Intimate Vegetables

I am reading The Art of Happiness written by Howard C. Cutler and HH Dalai Lama and boy oh boy is it blowing my hair back! (Just got a really short hair cut so this is not an easy feat.) I’m halfway through the book and this Cutler guy and the Dalai Lama are discussing the issue of intimate relationships (my favourite topic.) Being that the Dalai Lama was nearly 60 at the time the book was written and having been a celibate Buddhist monk that entire time Mr Cutler was naturally curious about what his holiness the DL had to say on the issue of romance and intimacy. First of all when asked by Cutler if he had ever been lonely DL replied without hesitation “no.” This blew me away. Is he serious? How could a man be a celibate monk treated almost as a deity for sixty years not ever have felt lonely? When asked what he attributed this lack of loneliness to he said: “I think one factor is that I look at any human being from a more positive angle; I try to look for their positive aspects. This aspect immediately creates a feeling of affinity, a kind of connectedness.” In other words every single relationship that HH Dalai Lama has is a meaningful and intimate one and he does not try and put all his eggs in one basket, so to speak, by having only one meaningful intimate relationship as we all try and do in modern society. After reading this I realised how many wonderful “intimate” relationships I have and how lucky I am. There is my fabulous family, those that are immediate and those extended. My crazy Porra guava princess Sonia, JC and the "boys",Chrissy Dudgeon, Cath Hopkins and Cath Daymond, Gox, Fanny, so many other “best” friends, the UCT drama crew and every amazing person I have worked with on every show. I have been blessed to have an “intimate” connection with so many phenomenal people. On the other side of the coin, I have also snogged and got frisky with others who will never have the faintest idea who I am. Strange. The Dalai Lama believes in Love and intimacy but he is not a fan of our notion of romance in western society. He believes it will lead to “frustration” as it is based in “fantasy” and I think I agree with that despite having dedicated so much time, money and effort to finding the “Love” of my life. Funnily enough I think I may have stumbled on the true great Love of my life and now understand that it is supposed to be me, myself, and not a six foot six newly retired rugby player that I would hope to meet in an ashram. Then I took a look at myself and thought, “mmm do I really want to fall in Love with that?” And to be honest there are a few things I am struggling to Love but it’s good to know that for any relationship to work you need time and compromise, even if it is with yourself.
I hope to be the change I wish to see in the world as inspired by the words of the great Mahatma Ghandi. I want a world with more joy and laughter so I should entertain myself and strive to laugh and help others to do so too. Yet there are still mornings, in which the frown on my forehead is so deep that it threatens to chew on the nearest person that bumps into me on the tube. There are a number of practises that I am adopting in order to create this change such as meditation and I have become a vegetarian despite my enjoyment of meat because after extensive research over the last four years I do believe it is more beneficial to the earth and everything on it. I have waited long enough and read enough and it feels right to me but I don’t plan on being a self righteous vegetarian activist just yet as I think choice is a precious commodity. So if it doesn’t bug you then chow that biltong stick with my blessings. I would still love to share my life with an amazing man who would function as an intimate companion as well as a lover. But I also can’t keep living in this fantasy world that dictates that I can only really be happy once I am sharing my bed with an Adonis. I can be and am going to be happy right now with what I’ve got to work with. Or at least I’m going to try! I guess we are all perfectly suited to our imperfections. It amazes me that I got on a plane and flew thousands of miles to another continent and the same person with the same baggage is still with me. Even in Harrods in London the chubby little moffie from Mafikeng is still alive and well inside, struggling to “walk the dog” on his coca cola yoyo. I want to put my arms around him and kiss his cheeks and tell him how delightful he is. Looking at him now it seems an easier task to Love him than I’ve been making it out to be. Especially when so many wonderful people have done it effortlessly over the years. The only true change I can affect is change from within. I cannot make someone Love me for who I am. I must first begin this task and then someone else may decide to join me. That would be fabulous. Two days ago I woke up and it was snowing outside. I had never seen it snow before that very moment and I am almost thirty. I had seen evidence that it had snowed in the Highlands of Scotland as a teenager and I had seen images of it in films and on television but I had never actually seen the magic of snowflakes before that very morning. It felt like a miracle. Part of me had begun to fear that I may never get to see it snow in person but lo and behold there it was on my face after years of hearing it happen only for other people. New things can come into being for me just like the snow. I could master the Art of happiness and know authentic Love in my life independent of money, fame, sex or status. It could just fall into being like a flake of ice from the sky. Anyone who knows me knows that I drink enough green tea that it’s a wonder I don’t share the same complexion as the incredible hulk. Sometimes in the morning happiness doesn’t have to be toned pectorals and a call back for a feature film opposite Hugh Jackman (mmm but wouldn’t that be nice!) Sometimes I can allow myself total contentment in the simple act of a well made cup of tea. As Wendy (one of my “intimates”) says as she eats a biscuit, it’s the little things that can really make you happy.