Tuesday, 14 January 2020

The Artist Has Died

So as of yesterday, 13 Jan 2020, I've come to a decision to take an indefinite break from music-making and creative artistry. It's been a difficult few weeks / months / year since I've been back from Perth; and when you factor in the 2.5 years away doing the PhD, plus the years prior .... it's been a long haul, boys and girls. And I'm extremely, extremely exhausted.

Yesterday I received news that a proposed 10th anniversary staging of Follow The Light probably won't be happening because we can't get enough funding. Imagine - a show that gets put on once a decade, and we can't get the funds to get it started. I had also been in talks with a theatre group to put on a musical in December this year; that plan has been shelved. Which leaves me with the realisation that for the first time in years, I have zero commitments music-wise. And as such, there's no better time, I think, for me to go on a much-needed extended break. For how long? I don't know.

You see, I believe now that I've been a delusional Nicky. And this stems from having written my first melody at 12 years old, having written my first full song at 14, without any compositional training. I'm capable of writing full-length musicals, and arranging music, all without formal education in composing and related streams. I've been compared to Lloyd Webber and even Sondheim - other people's words, not mine - and these sorts of praise have led me to believe that, if you're given a gift, you have an obligation to use it.

So this whole thing about me having to compose and come up with musicals and whatnot has been a self-imposed burden around my neck... that "it would be a shame to be given a gift but not use it to the fullest". Couple that with my early religious days and the dreadful misled belief that it's "God-given talent", and it became a burden that I've been carrying since my teen years and which, yesterday, I decided to part ways with.

It's not worth it. The Malaysian arts scene is a dead end, and the majority of people in it are toxic: from the best friend who claims to support you but who leaves you in the lurch the moment some other better opportunity comes along; to the seasoned performer who projects their own issues during shows and ruins the experience for everybody. Then there's the whole struggle to find audiences for shows: for my recent show, we barely had 30% capacity audiences... for a venue that seats 40. It was hugely demotivating. There's the abovementioned difficulty in finding funding; while other, arguably lesser, shows get restaged, and other theatre companies that are backed by big corporates believe that only overseas productions are significant.

It's all. Not. Fucking. Worth. It.

I'm tired of largely being my own cheerleader. I'm tired of seeing my skills as a "gift". I'm returning it. Hell, I'm throwing it out into the garbage.

I need to forge a new identity other than being "artist/composer", because for the past 15 years or so, especially since 2003 when I began writing musicals with fervour, that's who I've been. Nick, the composer. Nick the artist. I even went on a whole deliberate exercise to remove "Nick the Journalist" from public perception, to my detriment. I don't know if I'll go back to being Nick the Journalist;  maybe it's time to see who Nick is without any labels.

So that's all for now in terms of being a "musicmaker", as this blog has proclaimed for the last 15 years or so. I'm done. I'm throwing in the towel, and you know what? I don't think anybody's really going to miss me.

I'll still come back and update this blog with things that even more everyday and mundane, and heck, maybe I'll finally enjoy the hell out of doing it. But the artist side of me is, temporarily or not, dead, and the Malaysian arts scene is the culprit who twisted the dagger. I have no idea what I'm going to do next or where I'm going, or even if I'm going to put up with life much longer, but I'll make decisions in the next few days / weeks / months. Wish me luck.

Monday, 6 January 2020

If You're Wondering What's Up With This Wallpaper...

Maybe if I push hard enough into this bean bag I will find myself in an Adventure Time-esque alternate reality filled with unicorns and rainbows.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Kitty Cats Grow Really Quickly

Tommy, approximately age 5 to 7 weeks!



He's becoming a real cat!!!

Shared This on Insta Today

(...Just getting it out of my system, I guess.)

I'm beginning to think that this doctor-prescribed double dose of antidepressants is making me think suicidal thoughts, which is one of its ironic side effects. For the past two weeks or so my brain has been filled with the notion of "I just want to die", which is actually very untrue deep in my heart; it's more along the lines of "I'm not sure what I'm living for", which has a completely different meaning when you get right down to it.

Nevertheless, I'm not okay, guys and girls, and when I ask for a bit of positive affirmation (and don't get any), it just contributes to this feeling of hopelessness. One might argue that it's ridiculous for someone to expect validation through the deceitful conceit of social media, and yeah you'd be right. But right now I'm feeling lost, and alone, and I'm sorry to use this as an outlet but it's really all I have. I have literally one close friend who's not part of the arts scene, and I'm distancing myself from the arts right now because it's intolerable and toxic, which leaves me pretty much alone.

So yeah the brain's noisy and filled with thoughts of despair, and my family is tedious and un-understanding, which leaves me pretty much this one space to say: "Help me." (Don't ask how though. I don't know.)

Hindsight Is...

Happy whatever! Still in a bad headspace, so the New Year celebration has been nonexistent. Not sure why I'm posting. Probably just to increase the number of posts on this blog, for whatever that's worth. Not sure if anybody's really reading this anyway. Les sigh.

Anyway, as I did in 2018, last year I kept a list of highlights of each week. So here's the rundown of positive / happy / optimistic moments that occurred within every seven days in 2019, bearing in mind that the definition of "positive", "happy", etc. is really subjective and contextual. Nevertheless:

Week 1: New Year's 2019! All the catch-ups: Chris, Nicole, Michael V, etc.
Week 2: Back in Perth. Attempted Mum's chicken stew!
Week 3: Watched Bohemian Rhapsody. Also Vice with Levon.
Week 4: Conclusion of the PhD fiasco. Meetup with Jenny; Uncle Andrew & family in Perth. Lunch at Lapa with the Gang.
Week 5: Last day in Perth.
Week 6: Back home and Chinese New Year.
Week 7: Catchups with Razif, Alex C., Aaron T.
Week 8: Catchup with Chris again!
Week 9: Saw Olabola. Submission of M1 Singapore Festival entry.
Week 10: Catchups with Aaron & Adeline. Met with Kev & Irinna during short trip to Penang for grandma's birthday!
Week 11: Back from Penang. Finished painting the balcony!
Week 12: My birthday! Also, Cammies nominations (The Edge)!
Week 13: Dames & Dimes debut at Cempaka!
Week 14: End of Dame & Dimes.
Week 15: Rehearsals for Cammies begin.
Week 16: Band rehearsals for the Cammies.
Week 17: Cammies Awards night!
Week 18: Penang trip and meet-up with Judi and Adrian!
Week 19: Dinner with Alvin & Karynn. Alice's Wonderland footage.
Week 20: Worked on Aidilfitri ads music. Terry's belated birthday.
Week 21: Meeting with Colin K.
Week 22: Perth Edge-versary. Met Natalie M.
Week 23: Survived the week (what can I say?)
Week 24: Resumed chiro. Catchups with Gabriel T; Aaron's dad.
Week 25: More catchups: Cheryl T., Alia K., etc.
Week 26: First week on new antidepressant (Cymbalta).
Week 27: Managed to compose 'Spooktacular' for upcoming Spooks.
Week 28: Kids Musical Theatre workshop begins.
Week 29: Managed to compose Big Deal and Vampire's Lullaby for Spooks.
Week 30: The END of the dreaded kids' workshop!
Week 31: Ice-cream with Alvin & Karynn, with Hilda.
Week 32: Three more Spooks demos.
Week 33: Finished Act One of Spooks.
Week 34: First day of new meds (Brintellix) and it seems to be working!
Week 35: Began reading The Weight of Our Sky.
Week 36: Finished reading The Weight of Our Sky.
Week 37: Bought a dehydrator! LOL.
Week 38: Ashley did well at the vet's.
Week 39: Rearranged my bedroom layout!
Week 40: Lost/Found rehearsals commence.
Week 41: Happy Kerbie Day (Oct 10)
Week 42: Bren's birthday.
Week 43: In Kuching for WAK Festival and Lost/Found.
Week 44: Back safely from Kuching.
Week 45: More meetings; Colin K.; Doctor Sleep at the movies.
Week 46: Commenced cast recording of Lost/Found.
Week 47: Cast recording continues.
Week 48: Resume Lost/Found rehearsals for JB.
Week 49: JB tour of L/F.
Week 50: KL leg of Lost/Found begins. More importantly: WELCOME, TOMMY!
Week 51: KL leg of L/F ends, thank heavens. More importantly: TOMMY POOPS!
Week 52: Christmas lunch; the Cats movie, HAHA!

Also in 2019: the movies I'd watched – from earlier in the year to the latest, including rewatches of those I'd seen before; a much shorter list compared to 2018:

Wonder • Wildlife • The Impossible • Rings • Vice • Catch Me If You Can • Bohemian Rhapsody • Sorry to Bother You • Boy Erased • And Then I Go • Widows • The Perfect Storm • Apostle • Final Destination 5 • A Cure for Wellness • In the Heart of the Sea • War Horse • Green Book • Nightcrawler • Velvet Buzzsaw • Io • Inglorious Basterds (final movie in Perth) • How to Train Your Dragon 3 • Ben is Back • Instant Family • A Dog's Way Home • A Monster Calls • Alita: Battle Angel • The Quake • Shazam • Isn't it Romantic • The Sixth Sense • Rim of the World • Unbreakable • Us • Speed • Always Be My Maybe • Wonder Park • Curse of the Weeping Woman • Toy Story I, II & III • I Am Mother • Aladdin (2019) • Men in Black: International • Annabelle • Child's Play (2019) • Annabelle Comes Home • Toy Story 4 • Annabelle Creation • Dark Water • Crawl • The Lion King (2019) • Brightburn • The Secret Life of Pets 2 • Ma • It: Chapter II • Ad Astra • The Hole in the Ground • The Babadook • Terminator: Dark Fate • Doctor Sleep • Jumanji: The Next Level • Cats

Finally, I'd begun saving RM1 notes and coins from roughly the day I'd returned home from Perth last year, and today decided to give it a count. I'm happy to say that in approximately a year, give or take a month, I managed to save up a bit more than RM1k! That's not too bad, a nice little bonus to start the year eh? Off to the bank tomorrow... :)

Moneh moneh moneh... moneh!