A lot can happen in 24 hours.
Last weekend I took part in a playwriting competition. The rules were:
> You have 24 hours
> Write a one act play: 5 - 30 minutes
> Include all of the four random criteria you are given.
> The 4 scripts with the highest scores as determined by a panel of judges will be performed in March.
My criteria were:
Location: A hoarder's home.
Character: The Bordin Twins
Line: Where can I get one of those?
The first thing I did was NOT write because I wanted to see what would happen if I let the ideas float for a while. Then it was all systems go.
We were also told to take photos from the front line as we worked on our scripts, so I set the timer on my camera, unfortunately most were blurry but here are a couple:
Finally I came up with an idea about two cleaners who have the task of dealing with a deceased hoarder's apartment in which everything they find appears in two's apart from one object, a mirror.
During their cleaning they discover why it's the only object without a pair.
But that's all I'll say in terms of plot because I don't want to spoil it for anyone that comes to the show in March.
Yes, that's right - my play got chosen! I'm really stoked about this. I wasn't expecting to get any writing up on stage in Korea and never this quickly. I love how organic and immediate the process has been. So refreshing.
So in a month 'Eye Level' (title of my script) will be performed at Changwon's Nobi Theatre. We can choose if we'd like to be involved so I put myself forward as a potential script prompt or actress.
Although I told them to go easy on me because I'm not an actor. Though I have been a tree once.
Yes. I have been a tree. The situation people often joke about, but it actually happened to me.
And there goes my last shred of dignity this week.
I was once a tree. I wish I looked half as cool as this guy in the movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but the trees were not where they put the resources for costumes.
As the story begins, I think I was about seven or eight and our class was putting together something for the end of year concert. Everyone had a role.
What I really wanted to be was one of the birds. They had the beautiful colourful costumes with individual paper feathers and they got to dance.
I was not chosen to be a bird.
The girls that got chosen to be birds had studied ballet or gymnastics and were pretty.
I had studied Grade Three Musical Theory and read 72 books during the school holidays, but that doesn't qualify you for being one of the birds.
Also, by this time my blonde hair had been subject to the Spanish blood somewhere distant on my Welsh Grandfather's side that meant gradually from about four onwards it started to naturally get darker. So I had long, straggly brunette hair which would have been fine, but paired with how pale my skin was, always made me look ill.
I remember people asking me: 'Are you ok?' 'Are you feeling ok?'
It was at this age too that I had a really terrible bout of whooping cough and lost so much weight that I looked like I'd escaped from a Stalinist camp. So when I was told I was to be part of the scenery - a tree, it was kind of like - 'quick, put the sick looking kid in the back'.
This is one of a number events I somehow internalised because I went through many years under the impression that I was just hideously ugly, to the point that in highschool I would often take the longer route home if it meant less people would see me. Even if it was one of those days I had to carry my guitar amp and Fender Strat, as well as my backpack full of books.
Ah, childhood memories, they are hard to shake. And it surprises me how often I still feel like that kid. I've come this far and am rock solid in who I am, my personality and moral code but for some reason, from time to time I still feel like that ugly kid whilst everyone else gets to be birds.
I'd like to introduce you to Kate "Smurf Shoes" Morris. This version of Kate appears when I forget to bring my indoors shoes to work.
In Korea, most public elementary schools require you to change from outdoor shoes to indoor shoes. I no longer leave my indoor shoes in a cubby outside my school because my last pair got stolen, so I bring them with me each day. Today I forgot.
If you forget, then you have to cover your outdoor shoes in light blue tissue paper hair nets, the same as you might find worn in a food preparation service. Fortunately mine had working elastic in them today, because this is not the first time I have forgotten my indoor shoes and if you get hair nets with no elastic/snapped elastic, they come off every three steps. This is very annoying.
Here is a photo of Kate "Smurf Shoes" Morris:
(Un)Fortunately as school was out and I am desk-warming, only one other person got to see me in my fantastic blue shoe covers.
I mean, if you are going to make me wear shoe covers, at least make them out of fabric that is good for sliding across floors in and I could have spent my day pseudo-skating up and down the halls to keep warm.
When I was little, birthdays used to be a thing.
SNAPSHOT EIGHT YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- Invitations and RSVPs
- Pretty dress, patent shoes
- Hair tied back with a ribbon
- Infamous birthday cake (one year I had a swimming pool, the next a horse's head)
- Orange wedge jelly boats and fairy bread
- 10 other little girls running up and the down the hallway screeching and popping balloons.
- Pass-the-Parcel and Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey
SNAPSHOT FOURTEEN YEARS OLD:
- Dunedin, New Zealand.
- I'm too cool for birthdays and have decided it's something other people celebrate but not me.
- My friends throw me a surprise sleepover birthday party anyway.
SNAPSHOT 29 YEARS OLD:
- Gwangju, South Korea.
- I slipped over in my apartment and have bruises all down my left arm.
- Almost forgot my birthday.
- I buy a candle from Paris Baguette.
- A slice of cake from Starbucks.
- Light the candle, eat the cake, by myself, in my apartment.
- I watch five episodes of The Office (US) on my laptop (which sounds like a lawnmover because the fans are broken).
- Then write my favourite Great Gatsby quotes over all my dinner ware.
At some point during my life I lost the point of celebrating my birthday. My question became: Yes, it's my birthday - but why are we celebrating it? All I've done is complete another revolution around the sun, a feat which I'm definitely not alone in.
I am also extremely uncomfortable with days which have social expectation and celebration attached to them or me as the focus. Think Birthdays, Christmas, Graduations, Weddings, Valentines etc... there is an expectation they are supposed to be happy-happy-dance-around-the-maypole type gigs. I spend the entire day holding my breath waiting for the one thing to go wrong and break the illusion, because in my experience 99% of the time it always happens. In many ways it's easier to not participate in the illusion at all than have it fail and disappoint.
Back to birthdays: So I decided to downplay my birthday as much as possible and my rule became I'll only REALLY celebrate when something cool happens. 'Cool' usually meant I won a writing award or something like that. But when that happened I didn't celebrate properly then either because I thought, I'll celebrate next time - when I climb another rung up the ladder.
And now? I haven't written anything of note in a while. So if that was my rule for celebrating then my life has become one unbroken nothingness devoid of celebration.
Maybe I need my birthday celebrations back again just to break up the nothingness.
These days when my birthday rolls around I make a goal - something concrete I can achieve which doesn't rely on anyone else (otherwise the goal is potentially impossible).
In 2012 my goal was to be in a different country by the time I turned 29. GOAL: ACHIEVED. I am in South Korea and although from time to time it can be isolating and has the expected frustrations of living in a non-English speaking country, I genuinely like my life here.
But 2014... I think my goal might simply be to celebrate my birthday again. Properly. As much as that idea makes me feel uncomfortable, it's probably time to bite the bullet and get over myself.
I have created a hypothetical fad of the future: Novelty contact lenses with a water-tight layer of thermotropic liquid crystals. This is the material used in mood rings.
Imagine if one contact lens could be all these colours?
Your eyes could change to anything within the normal spectrum of human eye colour. I call this product: ALL EYES ON YOU. Get it? All eyes on you? Ha. Yeah...
But stupid hypothetical marketing name aside, apart from the fact people might be a bit nervous to have thermotropic crystals so near their light detecting organs, it could be a good seller - on the novelty factor alone.
The real reason I am talking about eyes though, is less about a potential money spinner, and more about the newly released How to Destroy Angels (HTDA) music video "How Long". HTDA is a musical collaboration between Nine Inch Nails frontman, Trent Reznor, and wife Mariqueen Maandig but on a side note, I don't care how many cool things Reznor has done, it's almost eclipsed by that trainwreck of a bandname: How to Destroy Angels. Could it be anymore teenage goth? It's so 90's it practically bleeds black lipstick.
Thankfully, in my opinion "How Long" as a song and music video are not too bad. View it on the NPR website here.
There were three things I was immediately reminded of during watching it, these were:
- Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" (thematically)
- When Doves Cry - cover by Quinton Tarver from the 1997 Romeo and Juliet - OST (musically)
- the repeated use of "glowing eyes" as a motif in music videos.
Glowing Eyes in Music Videos 101:
1. From the imagination of art director Rob Sheridan. "How Long" - How to Destroy Angels.
2. "Midnight City" by M83 and they liked their glowing eyes so much they repeated it in "Reunion" a couple of years later.
3. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" - Bonnie Tyler.
The one that inspired them all?
I wonder if this music video makes any more sense now than it did back when it was released.
Glowing eyes in music videos. What does it all mean? TVTropes describe glowing eyes as a character designer's "shorthand" for suggesting power. Glowing eyes usually suggest the person or thing in possession of them is supernatural or alien. That works for No.2 and No.3 of the above, but in terms of "How Long" - it's a dystopic view of our own future so perhaps the interpretation is that in one version of the future we are no longer human as we know it or that we lose our humanity.
Glowing eyes in music videos. It's a thing.