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.