Sunday, January 24, 2010

one of those days

I had one of those really off days today. One of those days where nothing's really going wrong, but nothing's really going right, either.

It started off well enough; I got up and out of the house by 1 pm, which really is saying something for me. I called my family and talked for the entire duration of my epic public transport quest and was even in a decent mood when I realized the Glebe markets must be every Saturday, not Sunday.

Glebe is a cool place. It reminds me of Camden; it's just quintessentially bohemian, without being overly poetic, which would annoy me. There's lots of cute (if bohemian can be so described) cafes and the buildings are well settled, which means they're old but have charm and still look nice. It's a more colorful place than most, and has more used bookstores than most, and I have absolutely no unpleasant memories associated with it, which also helps. It's safe different.

And so I had a lovely afternoon, eating a BLAT served by a Turkish guy who should have been in my elementary class, but eventually managed to understand what a credit card was, bless his cotton socks. I tipped him extra for his achievement.

Then I strolled two doors down to a cozy coffeeshop and had a cup of tea. All was still well. I don't quite know when the tide turned, but it hadn't turned yet.

Next came Oedipus. Oedipus Loves You, to be exact, and frankly ought to have been a telling enough title to scare me away sooner. It was a modern interpretation, part of the Sydney Festival, and very, for lack of a more polite word, modern.

Now the Sydney Festival is something I am definitely all for; I think it's absolutely fantastic, and full of great theater, music and general revelry. I've been sorry I haven't been to more shows in years past, and I was adamant I wouldn't miss out this year, seeing as I've actually got all of January in Sydney. The first show I thought I'd go to was an avant garde interpretation of Hamlet, but I gave when I realized it had not only closed, but was also performed entirely in German. Before you gasp in too much understanding here, I should point out that I have also performed in a play entirely in German, so am perhaps not the last person you'd expect to attend such a tragedy (obviously no pun intended). However, Biedermann und die Brandstifter was years ago, and I never entirely understood the other characters' lines even then. I decided to give Hamlet a miss.

Smoke and Mirrors looked intriguing, too, as did an Indian musical show featuring performers in human-size boxes, but both had sold out, so I decided as I am generally fond of Greek theater in small doses I might give the no-intermission Oedipus a try.

Walking into the Seymour Centre, my immediate thought was that I'd clearly missed a memo on clothing: many of the crowd were decked out in red, black and white (incidentally my high school colors, though I doubt they realized that). I surveyed my own purple-and-jeans ensemble in the bathroom mirrors and decided they'd just have to live with it. Anyway, there was no time, let alone money, to shop before the show.

As the curtain was going up, I was reminded that perhaps they're been some note before I purchased online tickets warning me of nudity on stage. I had not been warned I was about to encounter (this was truly a first for me) a naked man with no penis. Either that or they had incredible costuming going on, but I'm not too sure where else they could have stashed it. Gosh, the things you never knew about the Sphinx.

Most of the rest of the play was clothed, and it was very well done. Edgy, but perhaps you'd gotten that idea already. There were several key songs throughout, and a very intriguing interpretation of Oedipus' family as a contemporary dysfunctional one in children's pools and bar-b-ques and counseling, etc. Oh, and Irish accents.

I think the most fascinating part were the two large screens above the set. One had a live video feed looking on a bed (also viewed through the third window of the set from the traditional side view). The other had a live video feed of images that reflected the on-stage action: a techie was on-stage the whole time, mimicking the action with photo cut-outs of the actors, lyrics of the music being sung, cards with psychological disorders written on them, etc. It was quite fascinating.

The script was intelligent and witty, though the horror of the actual events is bleak enough to make you desperately want to burst out into a chorus of Godspell's "God Save the People!" At least that was the effect it had on me.

By the time noose-laced Jocasta and Oedipus, who was overtly wiping stage blood from his eyes to be able to see the audience, took their bows, I was ready to get back out into the fresh air and sunshine. Thank goodness it doesn't get dark early this time of year.

After that I set about trying to find a good location for my upcoming birthday party. I've been working on this for weeks now, with limited success. Part of the problem is everywhere wants to charge me for the privilege of bringing them business. The other part of the problem is I'm inviting friends from both sides of Sydney. The south-of-harbor dwellers favor pubs on the south side of the city center, while the northerners prefer classy bars in the CBD. I have to admit, I'd side with the northerners if I had my druthers, but, frankly, I'm after numbers this year. That and I need a place that doesn't mind fancy dress, as we're coming with definite costumes in tow.

To this end, I made a visit to Bar Cleveland this evening. Bar Cleveland is on Cleveland Street, which happened to be the same street Oedipus was on. So, I thought, nothing to it, I'd just take a merry little jaunt from one to the other and see what there was to see.

Again, I was thankful that it doesn't get dark early this time of year.

I can't figure out if it's actually a bad area of town or if my imagination was just running wild, but I was definitely imagining the worst as I meandered my way cautiously down Cleveland. The shops were looking distinctly shabbier than they had in Glebe (which maintained a different sort of character), and people seemed to be giving me more sideways glances than usual. Or maybe that's how I was looking at them.

By the time I made it to the Bar, I was feeling distinctly shaken, which possibly accounts for the man mistaking my accent (here was another first) for Irish or Scottish. I took a quick look at the room, then headed immediately north. I passed a motley bus stop crew moseying to their feet and I glanced at the bus number and destination. 303, Circular Quay. I needed no more -- I hopped onto my saving bus, reassured in the knowledge that it'd take me back into familiar territory. And so it did. Minutes later we passed Wentworth (my breathing had gotten distinctly more regular when I knew we'd passed Central), and I breathed a sigh of relief. Although I hadn't been lost at all the whole time, I now was on claimable turf. My workplace whizzed by, and I felt even better, finally departing at Circular Quay.

Here I set about trying to find other, more northern-esque, places to host a party. Nothing struck me particularly favorably, and I was exhausted from having hiked half the city. Fed up with myself for not being able to find the pubs I was looking for in the Rocks (it's such a small area, I couldn't figure how I'd misplaced a few), I collapsed on a bench and tried to cry. I couldn't.

After awhile I gave up and hiked back to Wynyard, where I had the comfort of knowing my bus was coming, if nothing else. Come it did, and I got on to see a red, black and white duo I'd noticed pre-Oed. All I really wanted to do at this point, though, was to sit somewhere friendly and read Harry Potter.

I got off at Maisy's, my favorite (well, it's the only) 24 hour place in my neck of the woods and asked the waiter if I could please sit upstairs.

"No," he said flatly, clearly not understanding my need for a bit of emotional space.

"Oh," I said flatly, taking the seat he'd indicated at the lonely spot for people who meander in by themselves, this time trying not to cry.

Thankfully a minute later a couple at a back table got up and I asked the same waiter if I could please take that seat. He acquiesced.

I took a seat and he brought me my drink, but by that point I had tears streaming down my face. Realizing he'd perhaps been overharsh in my seating arrangements, he sympathetically brought me some extra napkins and patted me on the shoulder. I had the impression I'd now be allowed to stay as long as I liked, so I made excellent headway in Harry and had got as much of the mascara stains off as was going to be possible by the time I left. I tipped him extra, too.

And now it's the end of one of those days. I've seen Oedipus Rex on stage and finished a Harry Potter book, all in one evening. I desperately hope I dream absolutely nothing.


Hollys_joy said...

Kim, I love you so much. I wish I could have been with you for your strange, slightly off day. :)

KIM said...

oh, holly, i wish you could have been here, too!!

Johan Donald said...

Its really nice to read such a great post.. Thanks for sharing..
Sydney Festival

Sam said...

Great post Kimmie! Bar Cleveland! I know what you mean - even though that whole area is being/ is "gentrified" (Man! You should have seen it 20 ago when I rented a studio space a couple of doors down - *shudder*) it is still a little for Macy's! My school friends and I used to always hang there after going to parties or clubs or The Oaks!! So glad to hear it's still kicking along - do they still have that basket arrangement that goes ups to the 2nd floor?

I think you are very brave going to see that play/musical (?). It sounds like it was interesting at the very least!

Lastly, so sorry I've not been able to say "Hello" at work - you've no idea what an all consuming world Cambridge is for me at the moment!! I'm soooo glad I went to sit in the Cambridge nest - I'd be a total wreck if it weren't for Yulianto and Shazza! I'm in the middle of wondering whether to do it again next cycle. There are several pros and cons to consider - I could even write an argument essay on it!

Anyway, hope IELTS is going well - if you ever need any help on that let me know as I've taught it litterally for about three years straight!

Happy Australia Day sweetie and pardon me for the HUGELY long comment!

KIM said...

dear sammy,

THANK YOU for the hugely long comment!! :) i'm glad we at least get to communicate this way, if not at work!! :) i'm not teaching IELTS, though ... ellies!! (how do you spell that??) i love them, bless their little cotton socks, as matty would say!!

YES, maisy's still has it's basket system and i'm thinking about the oaks as a party location possibility ... it's close for me, i just don't know if i can drag south-siders over the bridge?? speaking of -- can you come?? or walk me back to the station if i go for bar cleveland?? ;)

HAPPY australia day to you, too!! can't wait to hear about what you get up to!!