Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shadows and Light Tour

There were so many words and feelings swirling around me during the Lior concert that I went to see tonight. I had to blog about it, just to remember it. Sorry. You don't have to read it or anything! It's rather long and a bit ramble-y but it feels oh-so-important to get it out.

Once in awhile, it really hits home to me about what I do and why I do it. It is inevitable in life that, every once in awhile, something or someone will inspire you more than other things and other people have recently. Being inspired to continue is the greatest feeling; it validates your belief in yourself. Sometimes, there'll be somebody who comes along and just blows your mind, every time; somebody who tends to validate your reason for breathing.

Check out the picture up top. (I'm sure he won't mind, should he ever be extremely bored and searching amongst the internet attic for mentions of his own name, with additional search terms of "oh god" and "possibly the best person in the world"). That's Lior. Who's Lior? You probably already know. In fact, you've probably already had your own version of discovering Lior for yourself! You've probably been to one or more of his gigs in your town. You've probably stood in the crowd and swayed to 'Bedouin Song' or 'Diego and the Village Girl' and had your own epiphany. Well, that's cool. Let me rave on about mine.

The first time I saw Lior live was probably at least three years ago now, if not four. He was holed up in the Republic Bar, in North Hobart. Packed house. He managed to silence the place when he sang, and I was so impressed. How could anybody be so at ease on a pub stage and yet appear as though they would be equally at home singing from the top of a pyramid, or in a lush forest, or in a market, or a famous concert hall stage? He was remarkable to me. Until that date, I had never encountered a singer who was SO FABULOUS live. I knew his album ("Autumn Flow"), and was amazed that his live show was even BETTER. I had never encountered a singer who managed to make their live shows better than their recordings. Lior did that. He improvised confidently, and took us down pathways to his Eastern heritage (hell's bells - a topic I won't go into now, but, suffice to say that, ever since viewing "Aladdin" as a young girl, I always wanted to explore a thesis topic to do with Eastern ornamentation in vocal music - and then I met the hierarchy at the post-grad department at uni - blech). I was young in my musical and singing education back then (and still am, God forbid), but I knew that what I was seeing and hearing was special, and unique to Lior. He delivered his show with rare honesty that I've never found in another singer.

Moving forward about a year, I saw Lior again, in a different venue. A place called "The Venue" (which is actually about a two-minute walk from my current doorstep, but that's another stalkerish point altogether). Lior was more on display here, less of the pub noise; it was more like a concert instead of a gig, and it suited him. Fast-forward to a couple of months ago, and I was like, "Wut? Excuse me? Lior is doing a show at the Theatre Royal?" (One of the oldest, most haunted and most elaborate theatres in the history of Australia.) This, I had to see.

Lior, you never disappoint me (or your millions of other fans worldwide). This time, Lior brought along not only a string quartet (more on that in a minute), but an opening act (which, come to think of, he did both other times as well... duh) and a master craftsman whose speciality is shadow puppeteering. WOW. How innovative is that? One bloke and his guitar, with four string players, a girl with HER guitar, and a guy showcasing shadow puppetry. What a team. Magic! The string arrangements for Lior's songs were lovely. Nothing too adventurous and nothing out of the ordinary, but completely suitable and didn't detract from or steal the spotlight from Lior at all. Enhancing the mood nicely, I'll say. The shadow puppeteering in a really big moon-shaped blob on the back curtain during the songs was - shall I use the word again? - masterful. Entirely creative, this guy, Stephen somebody, was backstage using all manner of strange and unrelated objects to create shadows of stories on the screen; stories which had been carefully thought out and designed to reflect a kind of story and mood to accompany each song. Wow! Didn't know what to watch - the shadows, the string players or Lior! I don't know why I'm so surprised at the showmanship of this tour but I guess I really wasn't expecting it.

That quick minute on the string players - I knew the first violinist! I don't know her well or anything (she is amazing, whereas I am - hello? Have you BEEN paying attention?), but she got to play with Lior! So jealous right now...

Lior's witty repartee between songs has really relaxed. He wasn't ever uptight or anything, but all the experience that he's gained since his first national tour has really shaped him into an even more charismatic, funny person, who just seems so at home on the stage. He delivered so many funny stories and one-liners to the audience tonight. It was really great. He is an awesome story-teller. I am really impressed with his growth as a performer. Vocally, he was as impressive as ever, but I was most interested by the showmanship - the thing that really sells you to your audience, you know? Boring thing for me to notice, but that's what I noticed.

In his show tonight, Lior got kind of personal and mentioned a time where he was living in London, and feeling completely uninspired by his surroundings and his day-to-day activities. He talked about almost forgetting the reason that he was in music to begin with. And can't we all identify with that? It's taken me ten years, some performance experience, plenty of life experience and a few hypnotherapy sessions with a very qualified psychologist for me to nut out that I am not the only person who feels like this. I am NOT the only musician who ever feels like this. Lior talked about needing to rediscover what it was that he so loved about music, and being inspired by a cleaner at his apartment whose dreams were so close to the surface of her that she was blinking back tears after talking about them for only a minute. Isn't that kind of wonderful? I mean, she probably feels shit most of the time that she's not living her dream (hence the tears), but isn't it also kind of amazing and beautiful and wondrous that her dreams are, as Lior put it, so close to the surface? I had to agree. I think it is the most tragic thing in the world for somebody to forget their dreams.

My dad sent me an email forward the other day (as he often does), that was directed at older people. It said something about how, as you grow older, you learn what it feels like to regret having never pursued some of your dreams. This forwarded email (always so bittersweet with a touch of irony - if only the writers of these crappy forwards put their names on the emails so that they, too, could be famous for fifteen minutes) gave the impression that it is completely normal for people not to have pursued some of their dreams in life.


Whose dumb idea was that?!

Shit. This life, you know? It ends. One of these days, maybe sooner than I want, my life is going to end. It is. I'm going to stop breathing, and everything that I will have been working on (no doubt leaving piles of unfinished scrapbooking, hundreds of unread books, my bed messy, piles of things "to be sorted" on the floor and half-learned songs scattered all over the house) will be cleaned up, dealt with, shelved, sold, given away and moved on from. It's true! Are you frightened of it? I am, a little bit. I'm worried that I'll die before I get a chance to really experience everything I want to experience. I mean, I don't lie awake thinking, "Oh shit, really gotta work on that opera career" or "Christ be Jesus, must get me that seventh book in The Princess Diaries series tomorrow because I might be dead by Sunday". It could be a cool personality quirk if I did, but I think mostly it'd just be annoying. For me, and for you, because you'd be reading about it. Hell, you're reading this. What's to say you wouldn't read the neurotic blog posts of a paranoid woman?

One day, I'm going to die. And so are you. And I don't want there to be ANY regrets.

(I also don't want any of my previous English teachers to see my incorrect usage of the word "and" so many times in one blog post...)

I don't want to get to forty and regret not having done this. This! This. What Lior is talking about. On a different scale. I'm getting to the point. Do you know what Lior does for me? He does for me what somebody else does for you. You probably know who it is, but I don't know who you are, so I'm just going to attempt to guess. Let's say yours is Kermit the Frog. The little green man excites you and makes you want to live peacefully and spread happy messages of love, green-love, ribbits and world peace to small children on network television. Every time you see him do something great, you get so keyed up! You get so excited! He is affirming your desire to help the world! "SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM BORING TV!" you will shout from your rooftop, after viewing the newest and greatest Muppet movie. "WORLD PEAAAAACE!" you will yell, as though Kermit is there yelling it with you. You feel like somebody understands your point of view. Somebody validates your TRUTH. Your reason for living. Your reason for breathing. The one thing that you want to achieve more than anything else in your entire life. Somebody else wants that and is living that and they're being a living inspiration to you each and every day. It's such a powerful feeling. It makes my tummy bubble happily and words spin around crazily in my head, begging to escape, and an all-powerful, all-encompassing desire to leap out of my theatre seat and race down to the stage, skidding on, panting, and going, "Sorry I'm late! I was dozing up there!"

It can be so hard. It is so nice to hear somebody so successful talk about how hard it can be to keep going. Isn't it nice to know that people with successful music careers, big tours, mega respect and mega bucks can also suffer from this scary thing that is pursuing music as a valid career and lifestyle choice? Geez, man. It's kind of frightening. All I know, and all I've ever known, is that there are many different choices out there for me to make, and many different career paths that I could've ventured down, but this is the one that lights my fire. This is the one that sets my blood ablaze and rigs up one hell of a party in my body. Music makes me want to sing, to dance, to run around in mad circles barking happily, to write prolific amounts of words than can never do justice to what I feel and to pass on this happy, happy feeling to all of the little cherubs who cross my path and want to learn to sing. Music makes me feel more alive than anything else on the face of the earth. I want to sing EVERY type of song, and master EVERY genre of singing that there is. I don't want to be restricted by anyone or anything and I want to experience everything. Music is my dearest friend, and my partner for life. I could never shun it. But sometimes, this realistic world in which we live brings me down occasionally, and the lack of money, the lack of security and the constant adventure can wear me down...

Isn't it nice to know that Lior feels the same way?

Thanks, Lior. You and your stunning concert (as always) have just made me feel glad I'm alive.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Something they really SHOULD bring back

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self-esteem
I believe I'm loved when I'm completely by myself alone
I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

(Darren Hayes & Daniel Johns)

I miss Savage Garden.

That is all.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Layout & Hijacking


This is Natalie hijacking Pam's blog because I currently can. Cue evil maniacal laughter.

I'm done with your layout, Pammy... hope you like it! Though really, all I did was make you a header and the rest took care of itself.

B says she's been watching some sort of cartoon (Winks Club? Winx Club? It is a club of some kind. I am sure of it.)  and the three main groups of characters are Fairies, Pixies and Witches. Apparently, your blog name and mine have Fairies and Pixies covered so she's going to think of a witchy name for hers. Message her with suggestions!

Uncle Karl layout for Elephant Fairy blog coming up soon...

You know that behind those stylish black sunglasses lie a pair of laser beam eyes, and he only wears leather biker gloves because he must conceal the scars from the retractable adamantium claws that keep accidentally sprouting when he's trying to sketch a bouclé jacket for his new Spring collection. If that doesn't inspire fear and motivation, I don't know what will. And I may or may not just have watched a Marvel Comic movie adaptation.


Natalie Faye

P.S. Everyone reading this should also add Team Supahero to their blog rolls because Pammy also blogs there and it is frankly awesome.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Team Baby, And The Thing That Made It All Worth It

Birthing babies

Holy shit. I had no idea that birthing babies was such hard work.

Okay. So I knew that labour was painful. I've seen the movies and read the books. Women screaming, men panicking, doctors yelling for things like forceps and scissors, and eventually, a baby's cry piercing the silence.

My best buddy of over ten years gave birth nearly three days ago now. Months ago, we had the 'discussion', and it was decreed that I would be allowed to be present at the birth of this, her first baby. I didn't really think too much about it. I knew it would probably be a bit gross but I was very excited about the prospect of seeing somebody being born and all that it entails.

Thursday, April 9. 15:30. Phone rings. It's my friend. She says that she thinks that the back pain she's had for the past two days (two sleepless nights) have been the beginning of labour, as the pains are ten minutes apart quite regularly now. I rejoice. Baby! One problem. I'm over two hours away.

Thursday, April 9. 17:30. My housemate and I are on the road.

Thursday, April 9. 18:30. I get a text message advising me that my friend's contractions are five minutes apart now, so she's at the hospital already. I panic quietly, urging time to slow down so that I can get there sooner.

Thursday, April 9. 19:45. I arrive at the hospital, and run down the ramp towards the entrance, huffing and puffing my way up to the labour ward. I am stopped by a locked door and am eventually let into her labour room, only to find my friend, her husband, her mother and her oldest sister, not to mention a nurse. My friend is pacing back and forth, moaning, occasionally leaning forward on the bed, her face scrunched up in pain. "Shit," I think, "good thing I hurried!" We are convinced that labour will happen soon, as my friend is in incredible pain at very regular intervals.

Thursday, April 9. 21:00. A resident (read: doctor-in-training) comes in to tell my friend that she thinks my friend MIGHT have an infection because her waters MAY have broken a day or two earlier, and so, they're going to put in a cannula and feed my friend antibiotics to combat the problem before it becomes a problem. My friend doesn't really care, as she's too preoccupied with the incredibly difficult and painful contractions that her body is now subjecting her to at four-minute intervals. The resident examines my friend's wrist for ten to fifteen minutes, trying to find a friendly-looking vein. She eventually settles for one in my friend's wrist, and pats it uncertainly for a number of minutes, causing fear to grow in the pit of my stomach. I've had inexperienced people poke me with needles before, and it hurts. The resident gets out the big needle and starts sliding it into my friend's wrist. My friend starts to react... loudly... and then louder... and louder... crying now... screaming, in fact... and the resident says, "Oh, I've missed it," and instead of pulling it out, she wiggles it around! To try and find the vein by the power of the wiggle? God knows. So my friend is in agony in her abdomen and her wrist now. The resident eventually gives up, and then does a vaginal examination, only to figure out that the waters haven't broken at all and there's no risk of infection at this stage. Total eye-roll moment. We all mutter ferociously about how the next person to insert a needle will have a minimum of thirty years' experience.

Friday, April 10. 00:00. My friend is in total agony with her contractions. They are four-to-five minutes apart, depending, and contracting across her lower back and her front. I have never seen my best friend in so much pain. It worries me greatly, as I hate to see her so upset, exhausted and in so much pain. She cries with every contraction now, and is starting to say that she doesn't know how much longer she can keep it up for. The nurse comes in and suggests morphine. My friend is very reluctant, but we talk her into it. She's too tired to deal with so much pain.

Friday, April 10, 02:00. My friend's cervix has dilated to 4cm, but shows no sign of budging any further for a few hours. The morphine appears to have slowed the contractions down, as they are now ten minutes apart. We agree that we (her mum and I) will go home to get some rest and come back in the morning. I fall into bed about 03:15.

Friday, April 10. 05:30. I'm awake. I have to get back to the hospital to see how my friend is. I want to make sure that she's okay and I really don't want to miss the birth.

Friday, April 10. 06:30. I arrive at the hospital. The nurses are surprised to see me so soon. Fair enough, too. I really only slept for two hours. I chat with my friend as she deals with her contractions in bed. They're manageable at this stage, but picking up pace rapidly. We go for a short walk down the corridor and poke fun at some art on the walls. The contractions are becoming more and more regular, and increasing in severity. My friend is beginning to regret the walk.

Friday, April 10. 08:00. The staff have decided that my friend's labour is not pressing enough, and have come in to tell her that she should either go into the maternity ward and hang out there, or just go home and wait for the contractions to get worse. I'm thinking, how much worse do they have to be in order to qualify for a bed around here? The doctor then performs a vaginal examinations and reneges on his assessment of five minutes ago, telling my friend that she should stay in the hospital but hang out in maternity instead. We move all our stuff to the maternity ward. My friend is offered panadeine forte, but she declines at that stage, as she'd prefer to not take pain medication unless she really needs it. My friend is very upset that the staff seem to think that her labour pains are not exciting enough to be worried about.

Friday, April 10. 10:00. My friend is experiencing some very nasty contractions. We're all hungry, so I call my sister to come and get me for a food run. The nurse on duty has come in to introduce herself, and we're all a bit shell-shocked by her personality. "Hellooooo, dear!" she greeted my friend in a saccharine voice. "Are we having a baby today?" ... No, grated cheese. What do YOU think?

Friday, April 10. 11:00. I return with the food. We go for a walk to the hospital grounds. My friend can hardly move for contraction pain, and is utterly miserable, pausing after a few paces to dance around in agony.

Friday, April 10. 12:00. My friend is in so much that she doesn't know what to do. Her mother suggests a bath. We ask Barbie (as we have nicknamed the nurse) to run my friend a bath. Her older sister departs for her Easter holiday regretfully. It's now just my friend's mum and I, and my friend's husband. He goes home at this point to freshen up. The bath's warmth is very soothing to my friend. Her mum and I sit on either side of her, massaging her back and trying to help her through the contractions as she grips our hands, tenses her entire body in pain and cries her way through each contraction, regular as clockwork now as her body tries to prepare itself for the oncoming watermelon push-out.

Friday, April 10. 14:00. My friend requests another vaginal examination, desperate to know if all this pain has dilated her cervix any further. We are moved back to the labour ward. The contractions worsen. My friend can't speak properly for crying, exhausted and spent, each contractions wearying her more than the previous.

Friday, April 10. 17:00. My friend has been given a drip of fluids and sleeping stuff to help her relax. Apparently relaxing brings on the baby. I am entirely unsure at this point how anybody is supposed to be able to relax through contractions, as they seem to be the most horrible thing upon the earth. I make the mistake of walking past the nurse's station. A midwife on duty pulls me over for a short lecture on my friend's cervix, and the amount of dilation that still needs to occur. She ends her speech by telling me that my presence in the room isn't relaxing my friend and that I should just go home and come back later. I am extremely offended and sit in the corner of my friend's room, sulking, for over an hour. I eventually decide that maybe the midwife is right and I should go home for a break.

Friday, April 10. 19:45. I return to the hospital. My friend is in a chair, crying with exhaustion and pain. The midwife is there, telling her all about her options from then on in. The doctor arrives and tries to explain, loudly, about epidurals and pain relief but my friend is contracting and can't hear him for the blood pounding her ears as her body deals with the pain. After some long discussion and long episodes of crying, pain and exhaustion, it is agreed that my friend will have an epidural to relieve the pain and allow my friend to rest in between contractions.

Friday, April 10. 21:00. A South African anaesthetist comes and administers the local anaesthetic and the epidural. My friend is tucked up in the bed and soon slumbers between each contraction peacefully, her features gently relaxing as she can't feel the pain for awhile. Her drip is inducing her, and the contractions are as regular as a heart beating.

Saturday, April 11. 01:00. My friend is starting to feel the contractions again as the epidural wears off on one side. We are all exhausted by this point. The nurse comes in to examine my friend, and says that she needs to be induced further. The drip is altered. My friend's husband goes for a nap in the other bed. I take a brief nanna nap in the relatives' lounge while my friend's mum reads.

Saturday, April 11. 03:00. Things are well and truly underway. My friend is starting to contract repeatedly and, worse, she can feel it now.

Saturday, April 11. 03:40. My friend has just had six contractions in a row. The nurses and doctor get into labour mode and start setting up properly for the birth. Bowls and instruments are set out everywhere, the end of the bed removed and my friend examined. I am sent to fetch her husband from his nap. He proves difficult to wake. My friend is given instruction to begin pushing, and so she does with each contraction. We all alternate between holding her hand, holding her legs in stirrups and checking out the V-action as she begins to open up. Eventually, she is clutching the hands of her husband and her mother, and I am left sitting on a seat in the room, watching with the best possible view as the doctor gets into place to deliver the baby. My friend is beyond exhausted, but, with the news that the birth is really very imminent now, shows some gumption and pushes with gusto.

Saturday, April 11. 04:10. The baby's head crowns. Kind of. He needs some help. The doctor inserts a suction cap which adheres to the baby's head and guides him out gently. Then the suction cap and the head don't quite fit through, so my friend is snipped around the edges to make the hole bigger. The baby's head appears properly. I am fascinated by the colour. "It's green!" I say to my friend. "I can see the head!" "Oh good," she replies tiredly and continues pushing. The rest of baby begins to emerge, and I realise that the baby is in a sack with a greenish tinge to it. The head and shoulders are through, and the rest of the baby slides out with a plop, unfolding into a little person. The doctor catches the baby expertly, peels back the sack and, in one swift movement, places the baby on my friend's chest as blood and ooooky bits pour out of my friend into a large bowl. My friend and her husband look at her baby (a boy) delightedly before he is whisked over to the little baby platform under a bright light that they've got in the labour room (I dunno what it's called). I am in tears as the miracle of what I've just witnessed dawns on me. All these hours and hours of horrible, intense pain have all just culminated into the arrival of a tiny little person. Watching his head and shoulders emerge from her vagina, however "too much info" that may be, is possibly the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed to date.

My friend needed stitches, and was stitched up after she passed the placenta, which I was disgusted to see was as big as the baby itself. "How did you fit that all in there?" I wanted to know. It was amazing. The nurse showed us all the various parts of the placenta as the baby was taken away, having swallowed some of the amniotic fluid and the meconium. The green tinge was a result of baby having been stressed at some point during the pregnancy and pooing inside the sack. He was covered in little bits of it. After my friend was stitched up and the drama had calmed down, we all adjourned for the evening. I got home at 05:30.

I returned six or seven hours later with my father and sister to meet the baby properly and have my first hold of him. He was so sweet. I was bubbling over with excitement, despite the tiredness. What a hell of a ride. The labour was pure hell, but the birth was magical.