Saturday, 1 December 2018

Scrapped, More Edging and Other Flashbacks

Hey all! Another of my monthly (by-monthly?) updates. What's new? Well, as of this coming Monday (3rd Dec ... how on earth is it December already?!) I'll be heading back home to Malaysia for a month-long break. Yup, apparently despite all the odds I'm still pursuing this PhD thing and will be back next year. From this point forth it's pretty much going to be a step-by-step, month-by-month thing, where at any point I might decide I don't want to keep going and just throw in the towel. It's just the way it's going to have to be.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to heading back and having a good rest. Meanwhile, I'm finishing tying up some loose ends here for the year, including... well, I had to get rid of my car. Basically a couple of nights ago, while I was driving home, the engine died abruptly and the car was left stalled in the middle of the highway nearby. Fortunately I wasn't far from home, so I managed to push the car onto the side of the road, and a kind stranger who saw me came running up to lend a hand.

The next day, my mate L decided to check out the car, and, failing to diagnose the problem with his limited mechanic skills, I had to fork out $300 to join the RAC so as to get some roadside assistance. Long story short, they towed the car to a workshop, determined it would cost quite a bit to get it fixed (in which case, it was more worthwhile for me to scrap it and deal with finding a new used car next year), and then charged me a further $170 to have it towed back to my house in Myaree. $470 — or in access of RM1,500 — to get a broken-down car moved from one spot to another without any repair. How about that!

As of 20 mins ago, a car scrapper came by to pick up the remains of my Peugeot and paid me $200 for the prospective spare parts. And that was the end of it. Byebye, car. You served me relatively well for two-odd years, and considering I paid $1,000 for it in 2016, I suppose it was an investment well-spent. As for the future of my vehicular needs, let's see what happens when we get back from holidays. It's 2019 Nick's problem, arf.

What else? It's just been a month or so of finishing up the music for my new project, Dames & Dimes, which was commissioned by Cempaka Schools and will make its World Premiere sometime early next year. So a lot of my time has been spent finishing up the composing and scoring work for it. As of this week, I'm glad to report all the work has been done, so that's one more completed project under my belt! In the meantime, rehearsals and production work has been underway for the upcoming Malaysian re-staging of The Edge by theatrethreesixty. I'm very, very excited for this production, especially since it celebrates 10 years since Chris Ling designed and directed the 2008 workshop staging, and he's also the man behind this new production!! Whoo-hooo!!

Speaking of The Edge, I submitted it for a Broadway producer's "Pitch Book", and now it's been featured in the line-up of new musicals that producers could potentially look into staging. How exciting! Fingers crossed someone will be interested... ;)

Click on it for bigger view!

Another noteworthy moment since my last post: Oct 20, celebrated my housemate's birthday and presented him with a fun personalised children's book as well as a photo book of him and his 15-year-old puppy Digby, which he (my housemate) absolutely loved!

And other highlights: hanging out with Carol, Scotty, Bernie and Mikey at the Christmas markets in the city; lunch with my mate Liam yesterday, which was a treat as he's usually so busy; receiving complimentary cinnamon rolls from Spirals Cinnamon, a bakery in Mt Hawthorne, courtesy of my friend Cheryl in KL whose aunt owns the Perth-based bakery with its yummy goods (side note: that was in response to a particularly bad mood week that resulted in me publicly asking, on FB, people to visit me at my house address. I ended up receiving a box of Krispy Kremes from Levon and Alissa; a visit by Sarah and Nina with their pup Shiro, which led to dinner at their place and awesome catch-ups with our mutual friend JT; and, of course, Cheryl's delivery of the comforting cinnamon rolls). And, I suppose, importantly, ticking the boxes for me to return to Perth next year to toil away on the doctorate. Whoo-hoo.

Well, I guess that's all for now! I'll aim to update further when I'm back home, but don't hold me to that, LOL. Till then... see ya!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Contemplations, Royal Show, Digby-Bren Time and Rick & Morty!

Hello all! I can't believe we're almost midway through October. Seems like time is just a flying, and I'm not entirely pleased to report that in terms of my future in Perth and the PhD, it's as uncertain as ever. The biggest challenge right now is completing the work for Dames & Dimes, which I committed to at the end of last year and now fully understand why my PhD supervisors told me that in order to take it seriously, I had to avoid committing to other projects. As much as I'm enjoying D&D and the complexities that come with composing in this style (Broadway/30s big band/swing etc), it's been a full-on job that is depleting my creative resources (and I say this in a neutral/positive way, i.e. a person has only so much inspiration at one time, ha!).

Coupled with some side effects from the Pristiq that I've been on for the past few months, the biggest seemingly being my inability to get a proper night's sound rest (I get up, on average, 4 to 5 times a night, which is plenty; also, my dreams are noisier, more vivid; not necessarily bad/nightmarish, but just... a lot to digest, frequently involving pets, family, friends, or my own future, which tells you what my brain is trying to process, I suppose!). So the past fortnight or so has seen me being a little crankier and moodier at home (poor Bren, my lovely housemate), because of the lack of proper sleep and the uncertainty with my postdoctoral future.

A part of me believes that the fact that I place priority on D&D, and really just want to compose my PhD musical more for the experience/achievement of composing the musical rather than to dig into something deeper, already tells me that my mind is made up as to what to do study-wise. But quitting now opens up several logistical questions, namely, what do I do with the rest of my stuff? When do I get rid of them? When do I go home? I want to be home in December; do I now have to (resume) deal(ing) with all the loose ends in order to make a December deadline? Or do I go home, come back in early Jan next year, and see what happens? Garrrgh.

I think what makes this particularly stressful is that my previous supervisor, the lovely Jenny, has a different mindset and understanding of what a PhD entails compared to H, my new supervisor, who is really cool but different. Y'see, a PhD should be a new contribution to existing knowledge, and Jenny believes that the creation of a new work, or the writing about oneself which is new and has repercussions for other researchers and academics, is a contribution to knowledge it and of itself. But H has the more traditional, dare I say "rigid" view of research, i.e. it's less about the creative work and the self, it's more to do with the bigger picture. The musical itself isn't enough.

I'm not saying that Jenny's p.o.v. is simplistic by any means; there would still have been a rigorous engagement with theory required. But I think what's stressing me out now is, under H, I need to figure out the bigger picture behind my musical idea (which I won't talk about publicly just yet). In other words, the musical is simply a tool to explore a bigger, deeper, more important idea/concept; the writing of the musical is a means towards finding out something theoretically bigger with wider-ranging effects on the research/academic community and which contributes new knowledge to the existing theories and information out there.

As my dear friend Mel said: "I want to know more about _______" (fill in the blank), "because _________, in order to ___________". So, for example, for her thesis: "I want to know more about female performers during Shakespeare's time, because it is an underrepresented and under-researched area of Shakespearean and theatre-history studies, in order to reclaim the role and representation of women in a predominantly male-oriented era. (I'm filling in the blanks based on memory; these might not be her actual answers, but it's close enough to give you an example.) So, for my own proposed thesis: the first blank is the subject of my musical. The next two blanks are still a bit of a wild card.

Maybe, just maybe, all I want to do is write the bloody thing.

It's not all been bad though. I'm almost done with the composing work for D&D (though the next step would be the notation/scoring, which is going to be a full-time job in itself); and Bren and I have been spending quite a bit of hangout time together, which is always awesome. We've been making it a weekly thing now where we go for lunch at Delicious Fingers, this nice cafe nearby, on Saturdays; followed by picking up his sweet 14-year-old puppy Digby and spending a Digby afternoon. We've been doing this for the past three weeks now (today, Saturday, will mark the fourth), and it's been cool (though it means more spending money, ha!). Bren and I have also been going for proper dinners at Clancy's, most recently last night, and again Saturday last week with his mates, including Ross and Troy. Good lads.


Bren and Diggers in love.

On Sunday, Sept 23, Carol, Scotty and I headed to the Perth Royal Show (thaaaanks, Carol weehh!). We spent the entire day there, which was tiring but also a lot of fun, and I left with a couple of showbags, including a box of Lindt chocolates that were gone within a few days, arf arf. We had access to the VIP area courtesy of Carol's workplace, so we had a prime seat to view the goings-on in the main oval in the evening and the fireworks that ended the show. All in all, it was a great day out, and I bought my housemate and myself some Rick and Morty plushies as a memento!

Having a good day out!

Ni haoo maa?
Carol and cake.
Wood-chopping competition in progress.
The weeks prior to that were spent with me heading to WAAPA and chilling with Michael L from New York (I mentioned this in a previous post) and getting to know the WAAPA kids better too. So that was pretty cool. I attended several of Michael's masterclasses and made new connections, and we even saw a couple of shows together – Sunday in the Park with George, and Best Bits by the third-year graduating performers.

On Thurs, Sept 13 – after spending the night at Joey and Aleesha's new house about 40 minutes south of here, dogsitting their pup Horace while they had landscaping work done – I headed to UWA and saw an opera that was performed in a swimming pool, which was really, really unique and cool! The singers were literally around the pool and in the water, and they had a live musical ensemble and everything. It was a very good show, although I paid something like $65 for a ticket and the show only ran for about 45 minutes, so I'm not entirely convinced that it was worth the ticket price. But never mind, it was an interesting performance nevertheless, and I'm glad to have had the experience.

I think that's about all for now. Heading out for lunch shortly, so I'm going to sign off on this post here. Till my next update (which hopefully won't be next month)... see ya!

Housesitting Horace at Joey and Aleesha's!
Rick & Morty on Bren's shelf!
Pickle Rick and Mr Meseeks on my shelf!

Monday, 3 September 2018

Steamboats, Hot Tubs and Staying Power

Hey all! Aw man, once again time has just zipped by, and before I know it, it's already September! Crazy, ain't it? Well, let me update you on what's been going on. Firstly, you know how I previously mentioned that I was getting ready to pack up and leave good ol' Perth, because I was done with the PhD? I'd even reached the point of selling a bunch of my unwanted items... side tables, mini fridge, old portable air-conditioner and what not!

Then, about 2 weeks or so ago, I had a chat to my dear friend Mel at uni, which led to — surprise, surprise — the possibility and probability that I'm not leaving Perth just yet! Ya-huh, it looks at this point that I'm going to give this PhD thing another go, even though I'd be embarking on a new topic and new direction. Couple with that a new supervisor, and I might as well be right at the start of this PhD (ad)venture, not past the halfway mark!

I won't divulge too much info about the new subject because it's pretty hush-hush and the topic is public, i.e. someone else could very well steal the idea if they were so inclined... but I'll be meeting with Helena, my new supervisor, this coming Friday and will be proposing this subject to her, so wish me luck. More on this as and when it unfolds!

What else? On Saturday, Aug 23, the Gang met up at Bernie's house for a somewhat-shrouded-in-secrecy steamboat and games night organised by Beattie. It was a fundraiser, so we all got to pitch in and collect some funds for Beattie in aid of project-building in Myanmar, and all in all it was a fun night with some yummy steamboat, good company and a fun mini-brain-teaser boardgame called King Dominion. Here are some pics from the night. We should do get-togethers more often!

Mmm steamboat!
Serving it up!
Game in progress!
All hail Queen Bernie, the winner of the games night!
And her trusty steed... Rudolph??
I've also been catching up with more friends from uni, now that I've managed to move past the sinking feeling that I had been neglected and ignored by the uni community (fun fact, turns out most people have their own lives to live!). I managed to have a movie night with Justin and Claire, who I've not hung out with in 10 months since our previous Harry Potter night (we kept the theme going by watching Fantastic Beasts instead this time around!); also met up with Sarah and Ellin and the theatre folks last Wednesday on campus; and last Friday I picked up my good friend Michael L from New York, as he's back in town for two weeks doing some master classes at WAAPA. It was great to catch up with him again, and he's re-introduced me to some of the kids at WAAPA last Saturday night when we caught the 3rd-year Musical Theatre batch's final production of Sunday in the Park with George (a very good production).

Saturday was also a busy social day as I hung out with my dear Plant Lover Housemate at his brother's place, where I'm increasingly feeling like one of the boys, the Gay Flower amongst all the Straight Thorns, hahahaha. We had some beers and just chilled before I headed to my friend Mel's birthday party (same Mel as in paragraph two, who helped me rethink the PhD). It was a Mexican-themed party, so there was the prospect of tequilas, but I couldn't have any because I had to head to WAAPA to catch Sunday... so, not one to miss out on free booze, I naturally drove back to Mel's after the show and hung out with her and the remaining guests, who turned out were family members, making me the only outsider in the group, LOL. Still, there was tequila, and an amazing nacho chip dip, and — circa midnight — an awesome HOT TUB!

Sexiest photo evah!!
Well, I'll pause for now but come back soon for more updates, k? Gonna work on more music now, motivated and inspired thanks to the WAAPA kids and Michael L's positive affirmation of my work. Take care and check back in again soon!

Friday, 10 August 2018

Dimes, Dames and Digby

Yo wassup! Me, not too much... just been working on next year's musical project for Cempaka Schools, which I can now formally announce is titled Dames & Dimes as they have already released a preview poster for it! Check it out!

The show is very much in the midst of being composed, but as more details and updates happen, I will report on 'em here, for sure! (I'll also make updates on my composer page on Facebook, which is pretty much the only online activity I have for now; even my website is currently down... I'm trying to work out what's wrong with it, but so far no luck... stay tuned!)

What else? Not much, hahaha... just been killing time. My housemate, who broke his collar bone last month, is back at work, so I'm back to spending most of my weekday afternoons alone. Still no contact from anyone from Murdoch Uni, sadly, which tells me all I need to know about how much significance I actually played in most uni folks' lives. I can hear you now saying: "Nick, you have to be the one to make the effort..." - but my response to that would be: "Why should I be the one to have to reach out to so many, when so many don't seem to care?" We could go back and forth on this, I guess. But at the end of the day it doesn't really matter anymore. I have no love left for Murdoch, and little love left for Perth, so I'm out of here, and it will only be a matter of time...

I've been spending most of my days (apart from music-making) watching Netflix. In the past few months I've covered a few series in their entirety/latest, namely:

* Lost in Space 
* Westworld
* Dark
* The Staircase
* Barry
* Salvation
* Good Girls
* Kim's Convenience
* Dark Tourist
* The Marvelous Mrs Maisel

and I'm finishing up Schitt's Creek as well as bingeing on Black Mirror now. You can easily Google the titles if you'd like to find out more about 'em, k? Haha! Good times.

I leave you now with a photo of my housemate's doggy Digby, who came round for a visit recently. Ain't he a fluffy ball of gorgeousness??? Yes he is! Yes he is!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The Edge 2018: Love and Loss

Yo! So I realise I haven't written too much about The Edge, the show that just finished early last month at The Blue Room Theatre in Perth. All in all, it was a very good experience, though (as I believe I've mentioned) I only wish there had been a better turn out for it. We worked very, very hard and in the end, the amount of pay we got was in the region of $500, which is still better than amateur/community theatre, but speaking from a professional perspective it certainly could have been better. But for profits to be better, people need to come see the shows. And while we had good turnouts for the last few shows, when your cast and musicians outnumber the audience on some nights, let's just say things could have been better!

But I'm not going to dwell on the turnout aspect of it, as all in all the reviews that we received were overwhelmingly positive, and I'm very proud of the people who worked on the show. In particular I'd like to highlight the courage and strength of Claudia Van Zeller, who played the mum Lilly in the show. Sadly, two hours before she'd been due to go onstage on one of the nights, she'd received a phone call saying her father had suddenly passed away. Can you imagine?? Lilly's first scene on stage would feature a funeral for her dead relative; she'd have to sing about putting people to rest. For Claudia to have to receive such devastating news was... well, devastating, as I can only imagine!

Despite this, she performed that night with more pathos than ever (we were all ready to pull the plug on the performance if we had to), and while her singing was understandably more emotional and tearful than she'd otherwise have done it, the audience did not know any better. It was stressful, emotional and simultaneously a relief for the rest of us who had to witness this; such a high level of commitment, strength and bravery needs to be applauded! Claudia dedicated the rest of the run to her father and also credited her fellow cast members for helping her through that difficult time. As I later messaged to her, it was she who deserved huge thanks, hugs and props for being such a trooper.

Claudia as Lilly. Pic by Shaun Ferraloro
So that's one Edge-related story. I'll come back and post more about the show soon, so check back in for updates, k? Till then!

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Cookie Night at Cottrill St!

Hey all! Well, tonight has been a fun night!! Carol and Bernie came over this evening and we went a little bit nutty baking cookies, hahaha! Check out our haul... what a sugar load! We had a so-so dinner of Chinese food (with salt-and-pepper squid that we had to send back as it wasn't the freshest), and spent the evening chilling, baking, laughing, dancing and sugar-highing while poor one-armed, temporarily-disabled Plant Lover Housemate hibernated in his bedroom. On the plus side, he now has a buttload of cookies to help finish up! ;) Here are photos!

Me getting my hands dirty...!
Bernie and me moulding away!
It's a cookie-palooza!
Clockwise from top right: Peanut butter chocolate (a so-so experimental batch); Anzac cookies;
M&M and chocolate; white chocolate macadamia; and white chocolate II. YUM!!!
Plus, here's a short hilarious little video of Bernie, Carol and me going batty in the kitchen... and Judi sending a response back, LOL!


All in all, Cookie Time at Cottrill Street was a warm and wonderful one on a wintery night. Here's to more!!

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Wrists, Collar Bones and Beer

Wassssssup! Not much for me, no real new updates regarding the packing-up-and-leaving situation as outlined previously, but the decision is definite that I will be leaving. I've discovered that I am entitled to some annual leave as well as personal leave, so I will be applying for those and hopefully that should buy me some time, a month or two or hopefully more, so I don't have to rush to get all my stuff packed up and whatnot. I'm not really thinking too much about this right now, to be honest, so I guess until my next update, no news is good news... :)

A couple of dramatic happenings this week. Firstly, last Sunday, I hopped on back to Facebook after a prolonged period away and was just in time to see an acquaintance of mine post a photo of her bloodied wrist. The poor girl had self-harmed! Argh!! She lives about 30 mins away, so I wasn't sure what exactly I could do, apart from post a message asking if anyone closer to her could check in on her. My mate Bob, who's back in KL and who happens to be her BFF, was also super concerned (that's an understatement!) and was trying to get help. Fortunately, we were shortly informed that her father was with her, so that was a collective sigh of relief from everyone. Rest well and recover, hun. Nobody/nothing is worth that much pain. Big hugs.

The whole experience made me think of how useless one can feel in that kinda situation... me, half an hour away; also, not being very close to this friend, do I rush over? What would that do, apart from potentially endangering myself and others on the way? What if there were many people there with her... would I just be adding to the mass? Or was it enough to send out a message asking other people for help, like I did and Bob could only do?

I came away from that (rather brief) incident not shaken, exactly, but made thoughtful about my own struggles with depression. If I felt this way about someone who I'm not very close to, how would others feel if I were to self-harm (not like I've ever had the "courage", word used ironically, to do so)? Could I put my family, closer friends, etc through that kind of worry and grief? No, I don't think so. So... yeah, it kinda puts things in perspective, a bit of a reality check. I've been struggling too, but not to the extent of hurting myself, thankfully; and I hope, pray, that my friend and others who might be going through the same thing will be able to find much-needed support and solace from those they love.

Also, I think I'll stay off FB for a little while longer.

* * *

Then, on Monday, my dear housemate Plant Lover went out to his bro's for the afternoon, which was par for the course. He usually comes back before dinnertime, but on this occasion I didn't hear from him even after 8:30pm. It was strange but I was only mildly concerned. Later he texted me to say he had just been discharged from the hospital as he had broken his collar bone. Turns out he had played frisbee with his bro and a mate, and then did a dive, hit the ground, and heard a loud crunch. That was followed by passing out, twice, and an ambulatory pickup to the nearby hospital. Doh!!

So the past few days has been poor Plant Lover with an arm in a sling, looking all the worst for wear. Yesterday morning I drove him to the hospital at 6:30am so he could go in for surgery. Now he's asleep on the couch, uncomfortably so, and luckily for him his family has been round to look after him, plus he has the Best Housemate in the World who's more than happy to help him out as best as possible, haha! I really don't mind, especially given how much I truly do adore the guy, aww shucks. I sometimes think maybe I should go home and become a nurse or something. Something noble and giving like that. Except I really don't have a background in science, much less medicine and health and all that. Oy, did I miss my calling...??

Cue creepy stalkery music: Soft kitty, warm kitty,
little ball of fur... happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr...!

* * *

Let's go back to Sunday! It was a good afternoon out when Carol, Scotty and I headed to Applecross for lunch and beers! Yay! We ended up at Grill'd for burgers and then chased it up with a pint at the nearby bar, before heading to Gelare for ice-cream and waffles, mmmm goood! 

Look how happy we are. Thanks for the pic, Carol Wehhhhhhh!!!!
That's all for now... check back in for more stories and updates soon. Till then!

Thursday, 5 July 2018

So This Is Where We're At...

Hey all! Day Six on the new antidepressant. Mood has been not entirely stable; it was pretty low a couple of days ago, and I've been feeling mildly headachy for the past couple of days. On the plus side, I'm not seeing much else in the way of side effects, which is good. What's also helping is that a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders because, as of yesterday, I received the blessing of my family to put the PhD on hold (or, if I so desire, to give it up entirely) and return home.

So you read it here first, boys and girls. After 2 years back in Perth, during which I've accomplished some things but haven't accomplished others; during which I've had some fun but have been feeling isolated and largely unsupported... I'm ready to call it a day. And the parentals have given their nod of approval. My supervisors at uni have told me that my self-care is ultimately what's important; "the university is just a machine," one of them even said as recently as yesterday.

I have two options: A six-month "pause" on the scholarship, during which I could remain in Perth subject to immigration conditions (the relevant dept will be notified of my suspension and will set rules accordingly) or return back home to Malaysia and then come back in after six month; or to dis-enrol 100% and consider this attempt at PhD-ing over and done with.

Either option leaves me with the conundrum of what to do for money, since I might not be able to work without a valid student visa, and since I wouldn't have the scholarship money coming in, which in turn would mean I wouldn't be able to pay for rent. (Speaking of which, I have to figure out what to do with the lease on this new place, which, as you recall, I just moved into a couple of months ago.) I do not have enough money in savings to keep paying rent without the scholarship allowance. Poo.

The more realistic option for me, I'm thinking, is to call it quits altogether. The chances of me coming back after six months and practically starting from scratch (since my new supervisor isn't entirely approving of the method of research I'd been looking at for the past 1.5 years) are virtually nil. "If you choose to continue, whether at this juncture or six months from now, you'd be in for a lot of work," she warns. "You'll have to think if the pressure might be too much. You'd practically be starting all over again, and you might find it difficult to finish it within the 1.5 years you have remaining on your scholarship. Realistically you would need another three years, if not longer."

Yikes. Screw that.

Boys and girls: for all intents and purposes, it's over. The truth of the matter is, my love affair with Perth came to an end weeks/months ago. So I'm really, truly ready to move on. Or in this case, move back. And with the family giving their thumbs-up, I've moved many notches towards the right on the Stay/Go meter. The decision is at least 90% made.

And like my new supervisor said, ultimately my health and care are the most important things; I shouldn't stay out of a sense of obligation to the university, or the scholarship, or family. "Do what's right for you," she says, while also reassuring me that there's no shame in leaving: "It doesn't leave a black mark on your record or anything. If you wanted to, you could re-enrol and start again in future." And she told me the story of one of her current PhD students who burnt through a three-year full scholarship at another university, failed to finish his/her PhD, and started from scratch at Murdoch. So there's that.

Ultimately where does this leave me? Trying to work backwards from a predicted date of departure, I suppose. I'm trying to work out realistically how much time the uni would allow me to retain my financial allowance and immigration/student status, which impacts on my rent payments, lease agreement, and right to remain in the country. I have to work out with the Real Estate Agent what to do now that there are circumstances that change everything. I have to discuss with poor Plant Lover Housemate, my beloved roomie, on how this affects him and what he plans to do with the lease and the household material possessions, some of which belong to me. I have to sell my car. I have to pack up everything. And this could all happen within a matter of weeks.

So wish me luck, boys and girls. This is an impending closing of a chapter; the end of an era.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Feeling Pristiq

3pm Saturday: Day 1 of my new antidepressant, following the lack of effectiveness of Lexapro, which only made me feel fatigued.

Eight and a half hours later, feeling pretty OK. No adverse effects yet, but it's a slow-release med, so who knows if I might feel something later (I hope not). No vertigo or dizziness or 'high' sensation; no accelerated heartbeat. Not feeling sad either, so ... hopefully it's kicked in? I don't know.

I guess we'll find out. Wish me luck.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Back But Not Necessarily Better Than Ever

Hello all! Yikes, has time flown or WHAT! I can't believe we're at the end of June already, when my last post was in April! But yeah, quite a bit of stuff has happened since, most prominently the three-week run of The Edge, as mentioned below! I'll come back and retrospectively post more about the show, including photos and all that, but let's just say it was a tremendously moving experience, even though it was a bit frustrating due to the difficulty in securing a solid audience turnout. I guess that was to be expected, with that sort of topic. But Carol, Scotty, Bernie and Beatty (hiiiiii guy and girls!) attended on one of the weekends and they loved it, YAAAY!!!! Bernie even said it's her favourite out of all the shows of mine she's seen, hahaha. Awesome possum.

But yeah, the audience turnout could have been better, and even more frustrating was how many people out of the hundreds of supposed friends in Perth I'm connected to on Facebook showed up for the shows (grand total? Maybe one out of the current enrolled batch. One fellow PhD candidate. And a handful of other former students). Yes, yes, I should be grateful for their attendance, and believe me, I am; though I was surprised how hard it hit me that so few others made the effort to show. So much so that I wrote a long FB post about it (to be linked eventually); and then someone commented about how I ought to try being a better friend... and long story short, I've disabled my FB account (again! I did this this time last year!) and have been off it for about two weeks now, which is difficult, considering how isolated and alone I've already been feeling; without social media, it's been magnified manifold! Gah!

Compounding the sense of isolation and separation from the Uni community, I've also lately been feeling really bummed and directionless with regards to the PhD. You see, my supervisor Jenny retired at the start of the year, and my co-supervisors (who are really nice guys but I think are relative newbies to the supervision scene, hence they can't be promoted to primary supervisors) want me to go in a different direction research-wise; a notion supported by the person who is likely to be my new main supervisor. So suffice it to say, I've been freaking out and anxious about all this change... coupled with the fact that I really haven't done all that much fukkin' research to begin with... well, let's just say that right now, one of my seriously-being-considered options is to call it a day and withdraw my candidacy. Yeah.

So we're at that point, folks. I've literally just had a meeting with the two co-supervisor dudes, and they didn't initially sound optimistic about my progress (or lack of). But they're telling me it's really up to me how I wish to proceed. They did say, however, there's no shame in recognising when something isn't really for you. "It's brave to admit it; it's brave to 'fail', for lack of a better word," they say. Sigh.

All in all, boys and girls, it's been a pretty rough time. From the loneliness at home, exacerbated by the temporary(?) quittage of Facebook; to the confusion with PhD direction; to my ongoing missing of the doggies back home and lack of creative inspiration (still have a composing project to go that's fallen behind schedule due to all this)... and The Edge being a critical success but a commercial less-than (which is all one can hope for, right? I guess?)... it's been challenging. My depression has been rearing its fugly head again in recent weeks, so much so that as of today (Friday) I visited my long-neglected doctor at the uni and have been prescribed a new bout of antidepressants... a new type, in fact, which I haven't tried before. So I'm bracing myself for a new round of side-effects (gaaah) once I pop the first pill, which will be tomorrow. Wish me luck.

So that's been the latest in the madcap world of NickChoo, boys and girls. How have you all been?

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Back on The Edge, baby!!!!

I'm back! So for some theatre updates: the main event being the great news I can finally share that my musical THE EDGE will be having its Perth premiere in... oh, about five weeks, OMG!!!! It will have been five years this November since the Malaysian production, so I'm thrilled (and nervous?!) that this is happening!

We've been rehearsing since the end of March (see table read, etc below) and we had an official launch at the venue, The Blue Room in Perth, on April 5, with a night that featured the cast singing a medley of The Greatest Measure and the title song as three different sets of audiences were brought into the performance space. The night went really well and the feedback has been very positive, with many people saying our presentation was the best one (yay!) and that their curiosity (I presume) had been piqued!!! Here are some photos from the night!

The show runs from May 29 and tickets are already available: if you're keen, do check out the Blue Room's website, as well as the Facebook event page!! Our info has also been posted in the Perth chapter of Broadwayworld, so that's super exciting!!

I'll come back with more details on this and other news, but I'll leave you with this sneak peek of the cast performing the title song from the show. This clip hasn't been shared anywhere else yet, so this is a special preview! Enjoy!!

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The North Lake Road Drama

Yo I'm back! So. Let's talk about the some of the crappy stuff that happened in the process of moving house. The main issue, I suppose, was the new housemate we had, the Law Enforcer guy, who as I'd discovered was pretty unreliable when it came to money: late bill payments, non-payment of debts, etc. He went away on a holiday for about 20 days and only got back 3 days before we were due to move out. Subsequently when the cleaners came to do the final "vacate cleaning" in the house, his stuff was still all over the place, which, of course, made it kinda stressful for yours truly, who had been tasked with letting the cleaners in.

Then there was the issue of cleaners' payment: I'd asked the dude to leave $100 as part of his share of the cleaning on the kitchen bench. That evening, the money wasn't there. The dude claimed he'd left it. But, unless we were blind, there was no money to be found, and unless the cleaners themselves had pocketed it and denied it, he'd not left the money. Subsequently, Social Housemate had to leave $100 of his own money to make up for the shortfall, which, again, was one of those infuriating things that really didn't need to happen, grr argh!!! Let's just say I'm glad to be out of that house and away from the idiocy of certain people who, in all honesty, make terrible housemates!!

But the household woes weren't over yet! You see, part of the agreement upon moving out was that we'd leave the house "in the same condition as when it was first leased", i.e. about four years ago, before I'd come along (no matter how ludicrous or improbable that sounds). Subsequently I'd arranged with my mate Jay, who's a professional painter and construction guy, to come over and help work on bits and bobs around the house that needed a touch-up. Jay, who lives over 60km away, was more than happy to come over and do the job for free. So he'd gone about the house touching up areas that needed to be touched up, using paint that had been prescribed by the landlady.

HOWEVER: when he got to my room, the paint didn't match the walls! So that was odd!! The paint we used matched the rest of the house perfectly, and yet the areas that Jay touched up were obviously not matching, which Jay surmised to possibly have been because the walls had been painted over before (including right before I'd moved in, by the previous tenant)... or possibly because the previous tenant had not used the precise, correct shade of paint when he'd done the repaint job!!! So the landlady then said it was up to me to get the entire room repainted, which I thought was a bit of an overreaching request. This ended up being a bone of contention among me, the housemates, the landlady, and some of my friends on Facebook who gave their opinions as to whether this constituted a case that required a complete repaint. What do you think?

See those patches??
In the end, though, I managed to get a guy off the Airtasker app/website to come and do the job, and the cost of it would be split among me, Plant Lover Housemate, Social Housemate and the former guy who lived in the room, sigh. Let's just say the entire thing nearly drove me stark raving bonkers because... well, because it kinda felt, once again, like I'd been put in charge of the majority of the moving-out arrangements, and it felt like I was handling all the issues on my own! How incredibly infuriating... especially when you factor in this factoid about the overall story:

Last Saturday (not yesterday, but a week ago, the 14th), my mate Jay, Plant Lover and I had gone to the house to do the almost-final inspection painting, and the landlady had asked that some of the busted light bulbs be replaced. So after driving back to my new place, I decided to pick up some light bulbs and head to the house and get it sorted. I did that, drove over, and saw a man in the driveway: turns out he was the landlord, who I'd never met, so I left the car and greeted him and got distracted, and we went into the house to talk about things and look at problem areas, blah blah blah. Later on, halfway through discovering that my lightbulbs weren't the right kind and needed to be exchanged in the store, I realised: I didn't have my wallet.

I didn't have my wallet. And yet I must've had it, since I'd bought the bulbs to begin with. Thus began the whole panicked wild goose chase of retracing footsteps; scouring the car for it; checking at the shops and leaving messages with the manager for it to be returned to me if someone found it; looking through the entire house (which wasn't hard since the place was empty), and and and and and... not finding it. Jeezus. What a way for the whole frustrating North Lake Road House move-out to culminate!!! So I had to cancel bank cards, make a police report (fun fact: not all WA police stations operate 24/7; I had to wait until Monday before I could make a report); and mourn the fact that I'd lost my Malaysian ID card and Malaysian driver's licence, the latter of which I'd been using to drive around in Perth, grrr arrgh!!

On the Monday after I'd lodged the report, while buying some fragrance diffusers and candles at Dusk in Garden City (yup), I'd received a phone call from a sergeant in Rockingham, about 40km away from Myaree where the wallet had gone missing, to be told that they'd found a couple of my bank cards. In Rockingham. The policeman said he'd dispose of the cards for me since they'd been cancelled anyway. "Also, I can't return the Maybank card to Malaysia, unless you want to pay for me to go on a holiday!" he joked, to which I guffawed obligingly, sigh.

In a way, his phone call provided some closure as it meant I wasn't imagining things and the wallet hadn't disappeared into some mystery hole in my car that I just wasn't seeing; it had well and truly been misplaced... stolen. From my car, I suspect, as I tended to chuck the wallet into the passenger seat after getting in. And since I'd been distracted by the landlord at the house and had walked away from the car unlocked, someone must've taken it from the car despite it being parked in the driveway. Which was the cherry on top of the icing where it came to the whole housing situation.... and this was before the landlady demanded a room repaint! GRRR!! ARRRGGGGH!!!

Anyway, it's all over now. I never found the wallet or my ID. The room has been repainted thanks to the Airtasker dude, Remi, a lovely young French man with beautiful soft brown eyes and a delightfully lilting French accent. He did a wonderful job, too. See? It almost made me want to make mismatched patches on some of the other walls, arf arf arf.

So that's hopefully the end of the North Lake Road house drama (apart from what I foresee to be the stress of chasing the former housemates for money to settle the final bills). The good news is that the landlady was pleased with the painting job by Remi and Jay (and some of it was my own work as I, too, went about painting over some of the smaller flaws around the house) and she said we'd be getting our bonds back in full, which, according to Plant Lover Bren, is quite a rare occurrence. So... yay for the win, I guess!! Now to settle in and make this new house on Cottrill Street a home.

As part of the ongoing beautification of our new home, Plant Lover and I bought a moon wall clock. After hanging
it up, we both stood in the middle of the floor for several moments, 
looking up in beatific silence at the moon.
That's that for now, boys and girls. Come back again soon where I'll have some updates on the exciting (and not so exciting) musical theatre front!! Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Hellooooo, Cottrill! (II)

Here's a little treat for those of you who'd like a video guided tour through our humble new abode...

Hellooooo, Cottrill!

Hey all! Whew, sorry for the lack of updates... it has been a whirlwind of activity lately, both good and bad! Let's start with the good... or rather, the bittersweet. I'm out of the house on North Lake Road! Whoo-hoooo! Yup, as of Saturday, 14th April, Plant Lover Housemate (Bren) and I got our stuff out of that house and into this new place in Cottrill Street, where I'd picked up the keys from the real estate agent's the day before and had done a massive-ish clean of the entire place. It felt like a step backwards after the modernity of North Lake Road, and it's definitely a humbler house. But once Bren and I got our gear and furniture in — an arduous 12-hour day of moving and lifting furniture which left me achy and stiff and sore for days — it began to feel much more like a home.

Ping-pong table and lemon tree in the courtyard.
Outside sofas to relax on!
One view of the kitchen/dining/laundry area.
Living room, with tiny monitor serving as a placeholder for our new big-screen TV (hopefully!)
Another view of dining and kitchen.
My humble bedroom. Hope to do more in terms of decor soon!
My study/office/studio! Out of view:
a comfy faux leather recliner chair!
The original idea was that I would have the master bedroom and Bren would have one of the smaller rooms. But somewhere along the way, I'd asked if I could have the spare bedroom (it's a 3-room house) as a study, and Bren said sure. The only issue then was that he later felt uneasy with the idea of me having the equivalent of three rooms in the house (if you count the master bedroom as 2 rooms), while he only had one. So he expressed that concern very nicely to me, and we mutually agreed that he would have the master bedroom, while I would have the two smaller rooms; one as my bedroom (almost strictly: no screens, apart from my phone, which I still intend to wean myself off of once I'm in there!), and the other as my home studio/study/office space. I'm happy to report it's worked out very nicely for us!

As of this Tuesday, just a couple of days ago, we had NBN internet set up and running in our place. A funny story: Bren had asked what we'd like to name our wifi connection, and we'd come up with "Chooey and the Bren", hahaha! So we'd gone about the house singing: "Chooey and the Bren! It's Chooey and the Bren!"... only he then went and called it "Choochootrain" instead. "Why not?" he exclaimed laughingly when I jokingly protested. "Choochootrain! I like it! Don't you like it?" I had to concede that it was pretty cute. Later we had to set up a second wifi connection (something to do with ghz and speeds, don't ask me) and he decided to call it Choochoobren, which I approved of, heheh!

So that's the positive news with regards to the housing. The bad stuff... well, that will be coming up shortly. I'll leave you with this photo of Bren's weed pants, which I got him for Christmas. Why the photo, you ask? My reply: "Why not?" ARF. ARF. More to come... stay tuned!