Friday, 29 July 2016

[ 20 things you do when you're home alone ]

Generally we behave ourselves no matter who we live with; family, partner, housemates. It's common courtesy that shows you respect that this is their space as well.

But occasionally, a shooting star will cross, the planets will align, and you'll get an entire night at home to yourself.  At this time, your weirder self will unfurl, and all the quirky little habits we have come out to play. Here are some of the not-so-secret ones I know we all do...

1. No Pants Friday. Or Thursday. Or no clothes at all really.

2. Sitting on the furniture with said lack of clothes. And loving it.

3. Taking the rubbish out in your undies. It's to the back gate, no one can see you, who cares?

4. Binge watch a variety of shows on Netflix. No one else is home, I'll watch Gilmore Girls for 5 hours if I want!

5. Stand with the fridge door open for 10 minutes, dithering on whether you feel like juice or milk. Walk away and get a glass. Leave door open until you come back.

6. Eat cheese for dinner. A whole wheel. Then a packet of Tim Tams and half a bottle of wine. You're a grown up, no one is judging you. At least not face-to-face.

7. Spilt something on your top? No problem, you can lick that off. It didn't get dirty!

8. Walk around the house watching stupid crap on your phone for hours, laughing and bumping into furniture without feeling like an idiot.

9. Spy on the neighbours and make fun of them out loud.

10. Have entire conversations with yourself. Laugh at your own jokes.

11. Pee with the bathroom door open.

12. Use napkins as tissues and tissues as napkins. Leave them on the coffee table for hours.

13. Sing karaoke to yourself in the lounge room. Pretend you are in your favourite tv show, and act out all the characters, one at a time.

14. Take hundreds of 'casual' selfies in your best clothes and full make up. Lie on the floor in your pyjamas, scrolling through until you find the most 'natural'. Post with the caption 'random night out, haha!'.

15. Pamper yourself with all the beauty products at once. Walk around the house like you're in a day spa, chatting to other 'patrons'.

16. Reply to every single Tweet you find interesting. Starts arguments with people you don't know, but who have pissed you off for a while.

17. Stalk exes on Facebook. Stalk potential new partners as well.

18. Stare vaguely at the list of chores on the whiteboard. Firmly do none of them.

19. Fall asleep on the lounge. Drool like a puppy. Have the best nap ever.

20. Do nothing. Enjoy being smug about it.


Thursday, 28 July 2016

[ where are all my heroes going... ]

Trawling the papers for inspiration recently, I realised that it's creeping up to nearly a year since Sam de Brito died. Sam was a journalist, a larrikin, a sweetheart and a very proud dad.

He was also a man I very luckily got to call a friendly acquaintance, and one of my heroes in this life.

I started reading his column in the Sydney Morning Herald years ago, discovered he wrote books and read those too. We met at one of his book signings at Dymocks in the CBD, and I'm pretty sure the the feeling was mutual. After that, we emailed occasionally, followed each other on LinkedIn, and I even refereed a mock dust-up between him and Helen Razor on Twitter.

When I found out he has passed, I sat in my office and bawled quietly over my computer, then read all his most recent posts. I left the news coverage until later, because what I wanted to hear - even if it was just in my head - was Sam's voice.

In January of this year, a very dear man passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was my boss, my mentor, and my friend. Steve taught me a lot about the perception people have of you in the cutthroat corporate world, and also better ways to survive the zombie apocalypse.

With 30 years between us, we had a lot more in common than I realised, and the sound of his gentle rumble over the long phone chats we used to have is something I often think about. His wife and I still talk, and I cannot imagine how much she misses the love of her life, someone whose company she had for forty-odd years.

The same week that Broomie passed, David Bowie died, and then Alan Rickman a few days later. A shitty week seemed to get even cloudier, and to be really honest, I wasn't feeling especially charitable towards the universe by the time the weekend rolled around.

Bowie and Rickman each played small parts in my life; Bowie will forever be Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth, singing with his horde and furnishing my dreams on the wilder side of imagining. Rickman was always my favourite villain, dressed in smart suits or black leathers, and later as a ghost who helps his lover mover on.

Each of these various men did something different to my psyche; whether it was directly or from afar, and even simple knowledge of their existence shaped the way I looked at the world as I grew into it.

In a strange twist of fate, all my female warriors are still with me, or had already started to magically shape me by the time I was born. I treasure this wisdom, their fierceness and the complementary ability to show compassion, even when someone doesn't seem to deserve it.

Just as I hit my teenage years, my nana left this world, and I think I appreciate her more the older I get. A 13 year old doesn't really comprehend the wisdom of a 70-odd year old lady until she reaches adulthood and knows some of what she knew. Which may seem a little sad, but certainly comforts me when I think I know nothing about life.


The people who form my figurative army now are a smaller group than I thought, though the voices in my head are still a roar. I meet new people all the time - see the possibility of new heroes - but shared experience, mutual love and respect take time, and I have become so wary of artifice at the ripe age of 34.

The discovery that I would fight like a lioness for the heroes in my life now was actually rather a surprise. I was always highly strung as a child, and the air of the dramatic hasn't really left. That being said, I think I've settled into myself more, my vision isn't so self-reflecting, and this has made me crave external brightness like a flower to the sun.

I want my heroes close and I want so desperately to squeeze the inspiration out of them. Figuratively speaking of course. This is why I obsessively listen to certain music over and over, and over again. Why a character in a show or a film steals my heart and makes me want to dress a certain way, speak a certain way.

And more intensely, why I need the real heroes - the corporeal, no-so-everyday, substantial people in my life - to be around me as often as possible, and why I cling to them (sometimes literally) to feel their heartbeat, that unmistakable sign of their amazing spirit under my fingers.

These are not the same heroes of of everyone else, perhaps not even of others close to them. I know everyone has their own, and imagines them in their own way. But these are mine, and I wonder what will change when they leave my life, briefly or permanently, by default or design.

Is the me that is me evolved from all these people and the motivation I derive from them? Or am I still me without them near, the echoes of their brilliance in the things I do?

It would be childish to say that I want to be able to grow up, but I don't want my heroes to change. Not only because it's unrealistic and unfair, but also because I would be ignoring the fact that the reason I am so taken with someone is their ability to evolve and change, to become more, to become better.

Deep down I know that not all my heroes can stay with me throughout my life. Sometimes they will stay for a little bit, sometimes a long while. And they have their own journeys to travel as well. Sometimes you can see the end of your time together coming, no matter how far off, and it fucking terrifies you.

That shouldn't mean anything except that you hold tighter to their hand, turn your face towards their brilliance more often, take the time to just be with them. They are your heroes for a reason, and their physical presence in your life doesn't break that bond.

Where are all my heroes going? Forward, of course. Where we are all going.


~*For the greatest hero in my life - R*~

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

[ thought and memory ]

In Norse mythology, Hugin and Munin (sometimes spelled Huginn and Muninn, respectively) were the two ravens of Odin, who flew around Midgard (middle earth; the human world) and reported back to him of all that went on. 

In a beautiful poem, Odin, in his disguise of Grimnir, reveals his fear that one day Hugin may not return, but he is more anxious for Munin. Which can be supposed to say he fears his thoughts may go, but he is more worried about losing his memory*. 

Thought is reasoning or remembering experience, an activity of the mind, and memory is the retention or revival of events and recollections. But did one come first, or are they inextricably linked? 

The latter seems more likely and here it will be treated as such; in order to connect with your inner thoughts, you need to sift through your memories for feelings and connect them. To find old memories, you must reason through your thoughts to their conclusions. 


This meditation connects you to your own Hugin (hyoo-gin) and Munin (moo-nin); your inner ravens of thought and memory. It can be used for something as simple as finding your car keys, to more complex challenges such as discovering what you feel about a certain situation and why. It can even be used to help come to a conclusion about a weighty decision. 

Find somewhere quiet to sit, preferably a space that is dimly lit or has filtered, natural light. Sit crossed legged if possible, or against a wall if not, with your feet in front of you. 

Take the time to make yourself comfortable; drop your shoulders, even slouch a little, wiggle your bottom until you feel seated just right. Shake your hands out and place them on knees or in your lap. Roll your neck from side to side, let your jaw drop open, scrunch and release your nose. 

When all the kinks are smoothed out, ease into an upright but loose position and stare straight ahead. Find something to focus on - rainy days are especially good for this, as you can focus on raindrops on glass. Try to make it something simple. Let your eyes float in and out of focus on this spot. If necessary, you may close your eyes instead. 

Slowly, from your peripheral vision, see two misty shapes start to form, one on each shoulder, and each almost equal to the size of your face. Feel small, sharp pinches on each shoulder, and see a long, slender beak appear. Something small and shiny on each side begins to look back at you; the eyes of a bird. They are birds, large ones too. Your birds; your ravens. 

Still staring ahead, with your gaze soft and hazy, take a moment to indirectly watch them fully form. Imagine them preening and kneading gently into your shoulder. Feel a feather swipe your ear on one side, and a low gurgle rumble from the other. Feel a firm, but not unpleasant, nudge against your cheek. 

Breathe slowly and evenly for a little longer and let your companions get their bearings. Wait until they begin to hop around before saying anything. They will come to rest directly in front of you, but you need not look at them; keep your focus on the spot in front of you. They know you see them as they see you, and they are waiting for your instructions. 

Very gently and clearly, make your wishes clear, addressing each bird individually; 

Hugin; where are my keys? Munin; where did I leave my keys? 

Hugin; why do I feel sad about this? Munin; why does this make me feel unhappy?

Repeat your questions to each bird over and over, in a low, soft voice. Take as long as you need. Use exactly the same phrasing as the first time, and continue asking until the words seem to lose meaning for you and naturally drift off. 

From the corner of your eyes, see your ravens tilt their heads and shuffle around. Watch them shift about and launch themselves into the air, circling the space a few times. Keep your eyes focused on the original spot, and follow each bird as they plunge into the very same space your eyes are fixed on. 

Your surroundings will now appear to reform to where your ravens have taken you; see the last place you remember having your keys, the location of the situation that made you unhappy, or the place where a decision needs to be made. 

Take a moment to assess these visuals, breathe slowly and evenly as you take in these surroundings. Note where each bird is; are they sitting on a particular shelf or piece of furniture? Are they pecking at a certain object? Have they landed on or near a certain person? 

Keep breathing slowly and evenly, and with each breath take even more care with what your Hugin and Munin are doing; are they looking at you expectantly, or is their focus elsewhere? Is their stance aggressive and tense, or relaxed and waiting?  

Whisper your request again, repeating it quietly three times, with each time being more firm and pronounced than the last. Watch the birds sharpen their attention on you, connect yourself with that scrutiny and use your voice to convey the strength of your desire.

Recognise that these birds are of you, but they are not in you at this moment. They only recall and report what they see and hear. They observe everything, in the most precise detail, without judgement, and convey the nature of the subject. 

Recognise the information they are giving you; the places they are focusing on, the people they are indicating, the moment they have stopped in. Contemplate all the details your sharp-eyed attendants have presented you with. 

Once you feel you have perceived all the knowledge your Hugin and Munin have offered you, nod to them, thank them, take a moment to acknowledge this powerful part of you, that is not in you. 

Call to the birds, Hugin; come to me, Munin; come to me, repeating it over and over, softly, coaxingly. Watch as the birds shuffle around your scene and launch into the air once more, circling slowly. 

Refocus your eyes on your spot, let them become hazy, let the scene around you dim and fade slowly. As it does, see your birds soar towards you, watch them hurtle on a path straight for you. Let everything else drift away but the two black shapes coming at you. 

Right before they hit you, close your eyes, and feel a rush of air as Hugin and Munin whoosh past each ear. Feel the deafening silence at their departure. Breathe deeply into the silence. 

Continue to breathe slowly and deeply. Let the outside world filter back in, one sound at a time. Open your eyes and huff out a breathe. Clap your hands three times to dispel the energy. 

Sit for a moment and relish all you have learned. You now have everything you need to understand what it was you sought. Be grateful for such a gift and enjoy it. 


*There is debate around the meaning of Munin; memory or desire? For the purpose of a more powerful inspiration here, we will stick to the more archetypal belief that it means memory.

Friday, 15 July 2016

[ margaritaville ]

There's a quote somewhere that says; write what you know, and another that says something about; if writers waited for the perfect time to write, they'd die before anything ever got written. 

In that regard, bear with me. This is the first thing I've written in a while that hasn't been rolling around my brain for a week or more and gathered steam on its' own.

I'm off to Melbourne for the weekend and full of nervous energy at the moment. This usually happens on any trip I attend, so is reasonably normal, except for the fact that I'm off by myself this time. Alone. Unaccompanied. Unsupervised.

The mind boggles...

Back to the writing. I wanted to post something before I go, and then again not long after I return. Hopefully something I'd written while away, inspired by chill winds, bright lights, and heady cocktails. 

That being said, much like fake crying, I can't just write on command. I need something - anything - to spark me off. A particularly potent onion would even do the job; once you get the tears flowing, something usually comes out on its' own, prompted by the weird, uncomfortable feeling of self-inflicted pain. But I'm not sure where literary onions may be, let alone what they may be, or how to apply them. 

Enough about veggies.  When it comes to writing what I know, apparently I know a lot of random...stuff. Superficial political stuff. Current events stuff. Practical life-knowledge stuff. I even know a reasonable amount of interpersonal relationships stuff (which needs to be clarified with the fact that I appear great at assessing other peoples - not so much my own all the time). 

It presently comes down to what I know about writing. In quantifiable, awards / transcripts / certifications-on-paper terms, this amounts to nada. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Ok, not exactly. But you get the picture. 

Anyway, I haven't taken any writing courses since college - and yes, that is as long ago as it sounds. I don't know any current tips or tricks of the trade, and I certainly couldn't write a book on writing (which, to be brutally honest, sounds unbelievably dull). 

What I did figure out was this; I know how to bullshit. Like a champyon. If there was an Olympic category for fuckwittery, I would win Gold for Australia and retire by 40.  

I've basically spent the last two years and five months of this blog crafting written versions of internal conversations I have. Mainly with myself. Sometimes with characters or even real people I know, in my head. Which still means; by myself. 

I guess the reason I've assessed my bullshit-o-meter as scoring so high is that I actually spend a serious amount of time in these internal conversations. I walk to work and have mock-arguments with myself. I go to lunch and think about what the response to a certain train of thought might be. I lie awake at night, turning over twists of phrasing, and whether they amuse (usually me, hopefully others). And people do seem to like my stuff. 

Sometimes I wish I was funnier. I wish I could make people laugh at the drop of a line, as it were, and have a crowd in the palm of my hand. I never pictured myself as a comedian per se, but the idea definitely appeals now. I know I used to command attention as an actor, and still have that ability to a degree, but something about making people laugh as I get older holds so much sway. 

Jack of the Trades was never about being funny, or even getting a following. Not really. It was about getting the maelstrom out of my head and somewhere I could control it.

Though this doesn't mean I'm not enormously grateful for the support. The opposite in fact; I probably would have kept writing no matter what, but my confidence in topics have grown exponentially with the interest of those who read my work.   

Where I'm going with this is; whether a feast or a famine, I know the writing will come to me. There was a period of maybe a year there where I only posted something once a month, sometimes even bi-monthly. That was sad and due to any number of factors - job and failing relationship being the main ones to be sure. 

That being said, even those times produced some work that may not have been up there with my best, but certainly stuff I'm proud to have put together. 

What I know about writing is this; there is never a good time to start. There's never a bad time. It's all just time. I kid you not, my friends. In the immortal words of the great Terry Pratchett, writing is the most fun you can have by yourself. And no one day is going to be better to start than another. 

What I love about writing is that there is no wrong way to do it. You just write stuff.  And especially if you only every really write for yourself, it doesn't truly matter if it's good, bad or indifferent.  

Eventually, it is nice to have others read your work and tell you how awesome you are. Sometimes that happens, sometimes not. The other thing that's good about writing? You know you're a writer when you keep writing no matter what people say about your work. 

Some weeks the ideas come thick and fast, and I'm left with five half-assed blogs, at least 3 of which will never see the light of day. Others, I get just one bare-seedling of an idea that doesn't quite take hold until I start writing (clearly, this is where some of the more ludicrous rants began).  

So, what do I know about writing? Keep writing. Do whatever it takes. Read the news headlines, watch reruns of Seinfeld, go stare at Circular Quay. Whatever inspires the juices to flow. Head interstate, drink a little too much, and write until your wrist hurts. Inspiration and ideas will come. You just have to be patient*.

And on that note, I'm off to a little place I like to call 'margaritaville' to seek the muse. See you in three days, amigos!



Monday, 11 July 2016

[ the land not quite beyond our shores - part 2 ]

Good stories tell you where the characters came from, who their family is, what they do, and what their wider world is like. They fill in the gaps of why characters do what they do, who they love and swear allegiance to, and where their loyalties in life lie.

At least all my favourite tales do. I'd like to tell you a little of the backstory of the fae and their clans, their leaders and their courts. There are so many wonderful elements, that I'll start from the top and work my way down. From the rulers to the ruled, and those who pledge themselves to each court, to those who were born what they are and their legacy flowed into the human world.

Sometimes the stories are linear, sometimes they branch out into other lives and other realms. Some of them even disappear, never to return.

And some stories, the really special, incredible ones, come back to make us dream again in the modern world...


The workings of Faery are a wondrous and mysterious thing, and many of them have evolved since moving into the human world. Some more so than others, but all have a deep connection to each other, an unbreakable bond that has remained throughout the centuries.

The High Court of Faery is the most powerful and remarkable of them all, though not much is known of its exact origin or denizens. Being the first of the courts, the High Court retains much of its original power and continues to shroud itself in magic so old that even time is said to lie down for it.

Here, it is thought that the fates of all Fae are woven into different destinies, with many paths springing from these threads. The High Court is considered to be the home of the Norns, or weavers of fate, women-like beings who know all, see all and understand all.

It is unclear today if the High Court has a supreme ruler, but it is believed that the incarnation of the Goddess resides there occasionally, watching her children from this pocket of extreme magical concentration, and dipping her hand into their lives when she chooses.

Long ago, people conceived that all the Courts came from this one, all the peoples of Faery once were one court together. There is no one clear story of how the separation came about or why, but the strength of belief in the High Court remains, and stories of astral visits to the Court for revelations or spirit journeys still abound.

The rulers and peoples of all the other lands show respect for this place, though perhaps in a more detached way in these modern times. With no evidence that it does not exist, the Fae believe that it does. Unlike humans, this is enough, and strength of faith among the Fae is a mighty force.

The most well-known and prolific of the Courts then are the Seelie and Unseelie. Polar opposites, but two sides of the same coin, these courts encompass smaller courts as well as beings who pledge allegiance by birth or design.

Thought to be all sweetness and light, the Seelie Court are said to be the most helpful to humans. The original ''fair ones'', the Seelie were ruled by a Queen and King, of names I'm sure you've heard before; Titania and Oberon.

The faery queen and king had 5 children, a daughter of which was said to be the heir to the throne. Not much is known of Aoine, except that in a great battle she lost her left eye. In Seelie society, this disfigurement would make her somewhat of an outcast, marring her cold beauty. But that she is royalty, no one dare mention it. Her prowess as a warrior is considerable, but her looks and her station are what matters in the Seelie Court.

The Seelie come across as wondrous beings of light and sunshine, playful and compassionate, with many gifts to share. In many circumstances this may be true, but care must be taken with all Court Fae; they are all ruthless in their own way. The Seelie are much more manipulative and political about it. They will offer you the whole world while stabbing you deeply in the back. 

To be fair however, Seelie faeries mainly look to do good deeds in the world. As the higher rulers of Spring and Summer, they are in their element when it comes to beauty, art, music, popular culture and anything involving large groups of people celebrating. 

Today, no one can be certain who rules the Seelie. It is believed that Aoine has taken the mantle of Queen from her mother, but under what circumstances cannot be said. Nor has there ever been mention of a current King.

In the modern world, these fae conduct themselves much like they would at Home; taking jobs relevant to their station if they are lucky, they conduct business and make deals carefully, crafting a web about themselves that feeds the loom of their lives. 

Seelie faeries are known to be polite, politically savvy and generally peace-loving. But remember, the fae are not human - if something does not bend to their design, they will inflict their will upon it until it does. 

On the opposite side of the same coin is the Unseelie Court. These fae are thought to be all the unnatural that the shining ones would not accept, but this is incorrect. 

The Unseelie were once thought to be the army, the hard warriors of the Fae. Their unrivalled power and talent on the battlefield made them unbeatable, and for a long time, it is believed that was all they were. 

Again here, a grain of truth mixed with a lot of mystery. The Unseelie are a Court in their own right, and always have been. They fought the battles that no one else was willing to, and this has given them a reputation as mercenaries and death-dealers. 

Supreme ruler of the Unseelie is Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, wielder of Night. Her titles have been woven into many stories of dark queens, but none match her best on their own. She rules the Unseelie alone, and has for many thousands of centuries. With only one son, believed to be the first Winter Knight, the power behind the Unseelie Court remains unbreakable. 

With such a fierce character, it is obvious to see why such fae are thought to be mischievous, cheeky and even nasty towards humans. The Unseelie however, have a good relationship with humanity in general, if a more blunt one than the Seelie. 

Their idea of a deal is straight-forward, black and white, with the sharp edge of a blade at the end of any problems. Do not mistake this for unsophisticated though. Unseelie may use brutal tactics, but they are tactics all the same. When you are dealing with these Fae, you may get stabbed, but you will see the blade coming. In some lights, this makes the Unseelie a very fair crowd to have dealings with. 

 Not surprisingly, Unseelie are in their element in during the darker hours. They enjoy combat training, raw, natural environments, and action. In their quieter moments, hot drinks, jobs that require physical labour, and animals delight them. 

The Seelie and Unseelie have overlapping qualities and interests. As they came from the same place, this is not so extraordinary, but the subtle differences are what make them worlds apart as opposed to their obvious, face-value ones. 

This is where the Seasonal Courts show their overarching sovereign true. Much like a modern government, each Season rules like a state would, and the Seelie and Unseelie like their country. Except, of course, much more literally and with a great deal more power shared around. 

The Spring Garden and the Summer Court fall under the Seelie. The most prolific of the fae, the Spring reside in a realm of constant gentle breezes, blooming flowers and blue skies. Their nature is easy, light and cheerful. Stories of helpful and caring faeries come most likely from interaction with a Spring Fae. They are constantly busy seeding crops and plans alike, moving briskly and with purpose through life. 

Separate but connected to their nobles, Spring fae have little use for disingenuousness as they have no real time for it. Much like worker bees, Spring Fae feed the greater mass with their deeds and lives, filtering energy throughout their people. 

The Summer Court has a little more sophistication to it; a centre for trade and commerce, these fae are more business-minded than their Spring cousins, but just as good-natured. They tend towards hard work with an inventive flair, and though their play is not as frivolous, they certainly party harder than most. 

Summer faeries are strong and vivid, passionate and hearty. If you feel a little like you are missing long, hot days filled with laughter and games, seek out these fiery beings and you won't be disappointed.

Following the warmer seasons are the equally intriguing but more mysterious Autumn Castle and Winter Crags, ruled by the Unseelie Court. 

The Autumn Castle is, in fact, a real castle. Colossal in proportion, it is difficult to tell where the Castle ends and the surrounding lands begin. Ruled by the inimitable Ivy of the Green, this is court of quiet reserve, deep strength, and immense power, much like Ivy herself. 

 Lady Ivy is said to be the daughter of Nathaniel, leader of the Queen Mab's army, The Coming Dark - but more on them later. 

Ivy herself is a slight creature, slim with wiry strength and skin like very milky coffee. Her hair is the burnt orange of Autumn leaves and her eyes are green as forest ponds. She is gloriously beautiful but notoriously elusive and spends much of her time in the depths of the Castle doing no one knows what. 

Rumour has it that her sister - the Jack - lives in the human world, and that one day she will seek her out to fulfil an old quest from their childhood. But these are very old stories indeed, and have yet to bear fruit. 

The Autumn inhabitants live lives of quiet stability, watching the ever-changing worlds with a steady eye. These fae are known to be reserved and down to earth, but with a hearty passionate side that comes only with familiarity. They play the long game and they play to win; work and spend time with these faeries if you wish for long term goals or plans to prosper.

Finally, the wild and unforgiving Winter Crags are home to the most mysterious of our faerie brethren. As the name suggests, this Courts' home is situated high in mountains, surrounded by mist and ice, a truly dire expedition to attempt if you wish to seek these folks out. 

Ruthless and harsh, the Winter Court is the cold right hand of the Unseelie Queen herself. It is said that her son, the first Winter Knight, was born there and though it is forbidden to speak of, the presumption is that this is where his father came from. 

Winter Fae should be approached with caution and only in extreme. Their frigidity is known to make even the most confident of nobles crack under pressure, and they are unyielding beyond human comprehension. 

Do not mistake this for unemotional or unsympathetic however. The polar opposite but still kin of their Spring cousins, Winters feel things most intensely. These are warriors of the highest order, some of whom are the members of the Queens' Guard. They will fight to death for a cause true to their hearts, their sisters' and brothers', and most importantly,  their sovereigns'. 


As mentioned, a few of the key figures throughout Faerie overlap, mixing with the lesser Courts', but owing their ultimate allegiance to their supreme ruler.

Of the notable figures and groups, we have the armies of each Court and their champion, and it is important to understand how each of these entities work in modern times.

The Seelie corps are called the The Light Brigade and the Unseelie, The Coming Dark. Each collective are a truly terrifying thing on their own, and heavens help us all should they ever find reason to work together. That being said, these days they spend much of their time in minor skirmishes with each other, rumoured purely to keep the blood fresh as no greater game has presented itself.  

A Summer and Winter Knight lead these armies, respectively. They embody all the best features and skills of their realms and are generally related directly to the throne. Each is chosen by a right of magic when the predecessor passes, and no one knows how or when this may happen. 

The current Summer Knight is a cousin by blood to the Seelie throne and has been so for as long as memory serves. He lives and fights within Faery itself, and is said to have never left, and people say he has absolutely no desire to do so. With no interesting upheavals presenting themselves, he will continue in place for the foreseeable future.

Winter is more complicated. As discussed, Mab only had one son, and he disappeared many, many years ago. Some thought he had died, but without a body or idea of what had taken place, this seemed unlikely. 

Claimed to be in a magical sleep, the essence of the Winter Knight was said to have carried over to the human realm in search of a host to bring him back to life. Souls are a curious thing to the fae, and being incarnated or having the essence of a being manifest is not so strange. 

With that in mind, it is said that The Winter Knight manifested in recent times in a human male but didn't take. Like most things, without acceptance the essence faded and moved on. It is believed that it continues to search to this day in order to restore the true and rightful Knight to himself. 

Currently leading The Coming Dark then is Nathaniel, a noble of high birth and reputed to be an occasional lover to the Queen. Strong and forthright, Nathaniel has garnered respect among his legion and continues to this day. There is no mention of how things will change should, or perhaps when, The Winter Knight returns, but what is interesting to note is how far Nathaniel's blood runs presently.

Ivy of the Green, as mentioned, is said to be his pureblood daughter, and rules the Autumn Castle. His other daughter, whose name is unclear, was chosen in a obscure magical rite as The Jack to the Unseelie Court. 

The Jack, without being too blunt, is exactly what it sounds like; a jack-of-all-trades, a handyperson, a troubleshooter. But being faerie, this means much more than a 'fixer'. Here, it also means assassin. 

But this Jack is a half-breed, a mixed blood of fae and human, whom would never have been accepted at Court on her own. But that she is Nathaniel's daughter, there would have been outrage. Curious then that she is accepted, no? Nothing is ever straightforward in Faery. 

Here, it is time to mention again how tricksy and political faeries are. A long game is being performed by many players here, and a wise one would do well to keep their eye on all the players. You can never be sure who might do what, where, or to whom. 

What do faeries dream of then? What wishes, hopes and dreams do they aspire to in a world that is not their world? Do they all wish to leave Faery, a home that is not quite as home used to be? Or do they wish to return from the human world, a place they never considered welcoming, but has opened their eyes to the future? 

Another story for another time from the land not quite beyond our shores...


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

[ Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman. ]

We talk a lot about being yourself; being true to yourself, reflecting on your best self, striving to be the you that you know is inside. People spend years finding out what makes them happy, and what parts of their personality are most prominent and wonderful, and try to be more of that, more of the time.  

Here's the thing; for some of us, our best self is more than one person. Sometimes the quintessential nature of that self is being whomever we can be at the time and making that person amazing.

Hi. We're actors, and we live among you in plain sight. 


Actors never really switch off. The desire to be different every day never really goes away, and having a different life every time we step into a role is an adventure we can never really leave behind. 

Some actors move onto other things in the same industry; behind the scenes work, voice work, writing, theatre-building (an all-encompassing term that there isn't enough blog to cover), and a variety of other entertainment-based jobs. 

Even more actors get 'grown-up jobs' (read = jobs that actually pay the bills), and continue to live the dream simultaneously so they can support a lifestyle that full-time acting does not. 

The one thing all these paths have in common are that you can take the actor out of acting, but you can't take the acting out of the actor. 


Most days, I don't really miss full-time acting; endless hours sitting on set in 6 inches of make-up, freezing your ass off, drinking cup of coffee after cup of coffee, eating endless mini foods - great food, but mainly how catering works on set, and making (generally awkward) small talk with people you don't know. 

It's hard to miss the old hurry up and wait routine, as an old director/mentor friend of mine used to say, which meant that you had to madly scramble every call-time to be ready to go at the drop of a hat...then spend a minimum of 3 hours waiting until the crew was ready for you. Which they weren't. Because, reasons. 

And lastly, I don't really miss trying to herd 30 people to do exactly what I want, exactly where I want, at exactly the time I want them to do so. This is called stage-managing, and is generally considered the base-jumping of the performance world. 

Except. I do miss it. Just a little. And that's how, once you contract acting, it stays with you for life. Like herpes. 


In the last few years, I've done a music video, a short film, and a wee bit of modelling. This is probably the most sedate level of activity I've been in since I started acting way back when. That being said, I've written more in the last 3 years than I have in my lifetime - including when I was at school and wrote all sorts of rubbish. 

Not getting in front of an audience - be it technologically or live - means that I tend to act in social situations, just to get attention. 

What, you thought I didn't know this about myself? Seriously?

Anyway. My ability to be someone else doesn't mean I'm any less me. It just means I'm more of one of the mes' who live inside me. If you get me. 

For example; I went to birthday drinks the other week. I honestly wasn't in the mood, and that was before I'd even got dressed and left the house. I was in my pyjamas watching Hart of Dixie and curled up with some tea. I even had a hot water bottle on my feet. I was nanna-ing it something special and I really wasn't keen to give it up. 

So I decided to be another me. The me who wears kickass boots, tight sexy dresses, and a badass smile. The me who lets it be all about her for a while and shakes up a room. That me was prepared to stride in, flourish a wave of I'm here! and take over the party. And I did. Briefly, efficiently, and well. 

And then I went back to my other self; the quiet, shy little girl who just wants to snuggle on the lounge and watch Netflix for hours on end. I had satisfied a part of myself I'd forgotten needed attention and I felt good. Holistically whole. 

If this sounds like some sort of personality disorder, you may not be far wrong. But actors are multi-faceted creatures and it's hard to be just one person for every hour of every day, for the rest of our lives. We'd just die of boredom that way (you should all be so lucky). 


All the memes and jokes and weird inspirational posters you see about being yourself unless you can be something else; they are about us. Like everyone, we wake up and think; today, I will be the best me that I can be. Unless I can be a unicorn and eat cookies. For most people, you laugh and get on with your day, preparing to be positive and hoping for the best.

For actors, we think; fuck it, I'm going to be a unicorn and eat cookies today. I've got a tutu somewhere (obviously and for reasons best not questioned) and there's a great bakery on the way to work. Let's do this!!

Which can lead to disciplinary meetings and glitter on the boss' armchairs, but that's beside the point. 

Actors don't have filters that say we shouldn't do things. Within reason (mostly), we will try anything once, twice if the results are unclear. Understandably, this is a double-edged sword and should be treated by non-performers with caution. That being said, there is nary a dull moment for us, and we'll take pretty much anyone along for the ride. 

Being an actor means you take risks all the time, and with the significant stuff - your ego, your reputation, and most importantly, your dignity. But for us, a life half-lived, a life without certain amount of opportunity (read = liability) is no life at all. 

A note of caution for those of you attracted to the artistic types; the whirlwind speed and merry-go-round life of these people is not for the faint-hearted. We can't slow down because we don't know how. We can't sit still because there's so much to see, so much to do.

And we can't shut up for five damn minutes because, well, you know...reasons. 

On the up side, even non-practising* actors have a flair for the lively and indulgent, so your life will always be full of colour and adventure...or jeopardy and peril, to be honest...but at least it won't be tedious!

Ultimately, I think we could all spend more time hanging out with actors. We're awesome and you will bask in the glow of that awesomeness. 

Just don't ask us to dress for the job we want in life; some days, there's not enough bail money to cover that kind of expense. 


*Ok, I made that up, no actor is ever "non-practising" - we're not flaky religious types. We're just the normal kind of flaky...Wait. Moving on!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

[ It's not paranoia if the monsters really are out to get you ]

It's password day. You all know this day; the day where all your devices start to send messages, starting with your phone, that there was an 'error' logging into an application. 

There was no error. The password needs resetting. Again. It's been 72 days and it's time to update your security in this minor way that may save you hassle later. 

Usually these messages come at the most inconvenient time possible, when there is no way you can get to a PC and sit down to change them. Admittedly, with half the applications they are mobile, so this isn't a drama, but the other half are easier to log into on a full screen with full functionality. And you're at a lunch meeting in the city for the next few hours. 


While you're all thinking that this is probably up at the heights of first world problems, let me explain something first. Something you probably already know.

I'm a tad paranoid. Ok, maybe a little more than that. A spiritualist with a healthy dose of skepticism and cynicism. 

Alright, dammit, a lot of skepticism. But only with some things. And, as I'm sure you've heard me intone; It's not paranoia if the monsters really are out to get you. 

And I'm pretty sure they are. Between credit card fraud, social media account hacking, false emails, money scams, romance scams, and anything else you can think of, I don't think I'm unjustified in my distrust. 

So, I change all my passwords regularly. I wish I could say not *everything*, but it is literally everything. Some passwords only get changed once or twice a year, but they do get changed. 

In order to truly understand the scope of this task, you need to know two things; exactly how many personal applications need to be changed, and the precise nature of my OCD. Both of which are epic and prodigious. 

In no particular order, yours truly has Facebook, multiple Instagrams, Twitter, Pinterest (a word I can't even say without correcting the grammar), LinkedIn, two Hotmail accounts, one Live account, one Gmail, four financial accounts - each with internal accounts, two phones, a laptop, a tablet, and a partridge in a pear an orchard with a gate that has a combination lock. Which needs changing every 72 days. 

You think that's ridiculous? We haven't even got to my OCD yet. 


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder runs intermittently in my family, along with a few other unfortunate but surprisingly useful conditions. I once met a cousin of my mothers' at a family gathering who collected whitegoods and (primarily) instruction pamphlets. Apparently he had up to twenty fridges scattered around his yard at any one time, and his garage was filled to the ceiling with random brochures for stuff he'd never buy, never use, or ever even seen. 

His poor wife used to despair, but dealt with the whole thing rather equanimiously for two reasons; one, this cousin mostly had it under control. He could get a little carried away, but it mainly stayed within the whitegoods and pamphlet department, and he was happily getting treatment which helped immensely. 

Two - and I suspect this is why a lot of people liked him - I've never met a more gently spoken, interesting and knowledgeable man in my life. We chatted for an hour about this amazing dairy farm nearby, how assembling furniture is all about precision, and this wonderful place that sold honey. It was brilliant. His OCD meant he had a memory like a whip and his general knowledge was astounding. 

OCD isn't a great thing to have. It makes you rigid and frustrated, and it can be hard to focus on more than one thing at a time. That being said, I've discovered that well-managed OCD can be used like a tool, and sometimes means you have better attention to detail than anyone else. 

This, thank the gods, is what my mild version is like; certain things get done in a certain way and there are no deviations. My attention to detail has scored me no less than half a dozen varying jobs over the years, and my ability to see something through to the very end - even when I'm not wholeheartedly committed to the cause itself - is truly extraordinary.


Back to the passwords. 

Some people would go about this task slowly and give themselves a few days to a week to get it all sorted. You know, because you want to make sure that you cover all devices and accounts, that they all match, or are in sequence, or are things you'll remember, etc. 

Not me. Oh, certainly with the matching/sequencing/choosing something I'll remember thing, absolutely. Not with the stretching it out over nearly a week. Mine has to be done now, in one hit, and consecutively. And deviance from this practise has a lifespan of 24 to 36 hours before I start to freak right out.

What if I forget the password I've created by a letter or two and reset it to one thing, thinking it's another? 

What if I miss a number in the sequence and set an account up with one number and then screw up the rest, therefore not remembering where in the sequence I went wrong?


This is not crazy; this is what happened to me post-op at the start of 2015. Try to imagine attempting to reset 16 passwords, anaesthetic still running through your system, and your recall ability limited to a 2 hour window. 

To say I was a little agitated is like saying a mastiff is a largish breed of dog. 

And so, like clockwork, I make sure that when the error messages start popping, I find a window of about an hour to just sit and reset everything. Methodically, systemically, painstakingly. 

Even if I have to do it from my mobile. Which is unbelievably time-consuming and irritating. 


Paranoia and OCD go hand-in-hand, it's whether you let them rule your thoughts or just colour them. For me, a good splash of colour never hurt anyone, and being a tad cautious means that I can take calculated risks and still feel adventurous. 

It's important to recognise when I'm going overboard and losing the plot, but it's also important to remember that this condition can be used like a tool, and a rather handy one at that. 

And on that note, I'll be sitting here on my phone like an antisocial cow for the next hour resetting everything I can feasibly get to. I will intersperse this random clicks on my keyboard at work so it sounds like I'm working, which I still am. Sort of. 


Ps. The fact that the government knows where I am at all times anyway isn't on my - or my OCD's - radar at the moment, but we'll fight those monsters when we get to them...