A Survival Guide to Auditions

[Warning: May not include tips on surviving tsunamis and other calamities if they happen during auditions.]

AUDITIONS. You wait in line for hours until finally, all the time and effort you’ve invested in honing your skills–the sweat, the blood, and the nerves–come together in a 2-minute routine.  This is your chance to pour your heart and soul out to a small group of people who are sitting in one terrifying row and–quite literally–judging you.

You have two options: You can knock them off their socks, or you can fall flat on your face. It’s your choice.

Now, you probably disagree with that—audition results are obviously the judges’ choice, not yours. But there are especially talented auditionees who fail, and those whom you think look pretty average, yet surprisingly make it. There’s a very short distance between Pass and Fail, and it is your job to make sure that you travel as far as you can in the right direction before taking other factors into account.

So, hear ye, hear ye:

  1. You—play Bruce Lee? But you’re female! AND Jamaican!

Being extremely talented doesn’t guarantee that you’re the right fit. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Know the nature and genre of the production and, if possible, what roles are up for grabs. If you’re a brilliant actor who can’t carry a tune, you probably shouldn’t be auditioning for a musical. Or if the role you’re going for a basketball player role and you’re four feet tall—oh, you know what I’m saying.

  1. Captain Obvious says, Thou Shalt Comply With Thy Requirements.

Really, this doesn’t even need to be said. Yet inexplicably, a good fraction of applicants always neglect to bring a pen or their head shot, or leave a lot of relevant fields empty in their application forms. If a measly picture is too much, how could you possibly comply with the hectic rehearsal schedules?

  1. Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes!

Some productions feel there are requirements that are so obviously implied, they don’t need to be said. (Also, they’re testing your intelligence.) In case you fail that test, listen up:  ALWAYS bring writing materials. If a dance number is involved, bring work-out clothes and shoes. If they don’t specify whether to bring your own music for a song/dance, the safest answer is yes.  Prepare a copy of your portfolio whether they ask for it or not (if they ask you to fill out pre-printed forms, at least you don’t need to rack your brains for names and dates).

  1. If no one ever told you that wearing a Naruto costume to West Side Story auditions was a bad idea. . .

DO WEAR: Something professional (but not stiff) or smart-casual that shows your personal style. Something light and comfy, but with a cover-up or scarf in case the weather gets bipolar. DON’T WEAR: A frilly dress if you’ve always been a trousers type, or a leather jacket if it’s forty degrees out. Weird costumes like the ones in American Idol, etc.

  1. Avoid delusional choices.

Select your audition pieces to highlight your strengths. Stay away from “impressive” numbers that are way beyond your range. Experimentation depends on your time frame—a good choice would be something you’ve done (successfully) before and that you know by heart.

  1. Oil those joints.

Overconfidence will bring you down. Even veterans in the industry get warmed up. Stretch those vocal chords; stretch those limbs.  If you’ve been out of practice, waste no time and get back in. Start doing so the moment you make the decision to join the auditions. Watch yourself. Listen to yourself. Video cameras don’t do white lies; they tell you about spinach in your teeth and awkward mannerisms.

Finally, think of it as a job application, because it is. Remember that you’re here to show your best side, which means it’s probably not the best time to be a prima donna with a list of demands (not that there’s any good time for that, either). Whether or not it’s strictly true, make the judges imagine you’re Chuck Norris, and that you can FLY—and only then might you win the chance to spend the next few months trying to live up to that awesomeness.

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That said, auditions for FACEBOOKED! The Musical are happening tomorrow—this is an original musical by composer/scriptwriter Jude Gitamondoc and the rest of the OFFBEATS group.  (I’m pretty sure there’ll be many mentions of them in future blog posts.) In the meantime, you can find out about musical (and audition requirements and whatnot) here.

Also, the venue is 346-B Gorordo Avenue, right down a little road in front of KIA Motors. Here’s a map, and to be doubly sure, here’s a video.

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Stuff

People ask me if I have a blog, and these days, I’m a bit hesitant to direct them to this ol’ abandoned building. It’s certainly not for lack of things happening. So just because I’ve given up writing on proper paper journals (laziness) and because I might need to remember certain stuff (possible Alzheimer’s or a dramatic tv serial case of amnesia) in the future, here I am. Unloading said stuff.

BAG OF STUFF #1- Siddhartha In Taiwan (Again)

Right, I know this was ages ago. Earlier this year, we had a handful of shows in Manila (La Salle Benilde) and a bigger handful (I lost count) in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. This is also just an excuse to post these photos by Nabz Durado and Benjie Layos here:

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The Cast of “Siddhartha” at the Buddha Memorial Center

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Me in “4 Special Signs”. LOL at my face.

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All work and no play? No fricking way!

 

BAG OF STUFF #2- My Mini Opera That Didn’t Win

I signed up for English National Opera’s mini-opera writing competition, after which I promptly forgot about it. When I got back from Taiwan, I suddenly remembered. Also, I had two days left to write it. So, er, I did write one in a rush. It’s called “A Longer Dream” and I’m not too impressed by it. It also did not win, which did not help in improving my impression of it. But I did put it up in this blog somewhere and intend to polish it later on. Perhaps someday we’ll like each other a little better.

Was thrilled by the idea of Neil Gaiman having read my mini-opera though. Mine was based on his seed story, “The Sweeper of Dreams”, which I’ve loved for a while already.

BAG OF STUFF #3- Lots of Jumping at Handuraw

Our recent PAK performance was called “Jump!” and- you guessed it- someone did jump. Our improv concept this time revolved around a would-be suicidal jumper and a bunch of people on a ship deck who would try to dissuade (or persuade) the jumper to jump.  I drew the Jack and became the would-be jumper. Naturally, it was Chai (playing a 13-year-old) who jumped in the end. Our stories are always logical like that.

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Disclaimer: None of the actual jumps looked like this.

More like this, really.

BAG OF STUFF #4- Squeak at the Fete

Headbanging to “Silent All These Years” was never so much fun. Yesterday (yay, something recent!) we formed a proud cheering squad as Squeak (known to most humans as Jessica McYorker) knocked them dead at the Fete dela Musique. I always love her signature songs, but I have to say that her Samson-Hallelujah mash-up was kick-ass.

Proof that it actually did happen:

 

Squeak and her keyboard. Headbangers in crowd not seen.

 

BAG OF STUFF #5- Plans That Involve Selling Actual Bags of Stuff

The lovely sisters and I have something brewing. This involves picking out clothes we would have bought for ourselves and letting other people buy them instead. Said clothes are still busy at a photo shoot with an inanimate torso but will be available for your consumption soon.

A second future plan is a little less sisterly and a little more musical, and my co-conspirators and I have decided to bring it up often and proceed to be all mysterious about it, when asked…


A Longer Dream

A closed curtain. In front of it is a strange, ragtag trio of creatures.

 

Ringmaster:                                        We are not your ordinary late-night scragglers.

Goblin Girl:                                                         We are mischief,

Fairy Godhag:                                                                    magic,

Dream Trio:                                                        wishful-thinking hagglers-

                                                                We’re your dreams.

 

The curtain rises: a tableau in a little pub- a television features the impending victory of a football team, but instead of a raucous bunch of drunken men in jerseys, there is an oddball mix of characters gathered around the bar or scattered among the tables. A clown in pajamas. A Mafia lord. A tattered angel. And more.

 

Dreams:                                               We’re the ghosts beneath your bed.

                                                                We’re the stories in your head.

                                                                We are ragtag, zigzag, cats-in-a-bag

                                                                Of dreams!

 

Sad Little Drummer Boy:               (hauntingly) And when the night is done, we die.

 

The dreams stop for a beat.

 

All Dreams:                                         We’re your favorite late-night scragglers

                                                                We are hopes and hounds and hagglers

                                                                We are mischief, magic, mayhem-

                                                                We’re your dreams!

 

Sad little drummer boy:                                And when the night is done, we DIE!

 

Music slows down and so do the dreams, moving as if through liquid.

 

Ringmaster         :                              But there’s a world between the waking

                                                                And a slumber close to breaking-

                                                                That befuddles the most sensible of men

Dream Trio:                                        When you feel the dream-walls shaking,

                                                                And the sky you made is flaking,

All Dreams:                                         You are coming to the old Dream Sweeper’s den.

 

Spotlight on the Dream Sweeper. He is sitting in a corner table, perhaps the most nondescript of all the odd creatures. He is gruff, unshaven, his t-shirt rolled up at the sleeves to reveal a dragon tattoo. He is puffing on a cigarette.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              I was a young man when Time began.

                                                                I will be done when Time is gone.

                                                                I am no god, or reaper, or lord-

                                                                I am the Dream Sweeper,

                                                                And I’m very, very bored.

 

The Dreams start moving again, slowly, as if underwater.

 

All Dreams:                                         When you feel the dream-walls shaking,

                                                                And the sky you made is flaking,

Dream Sweeper:                              I do as I must.

 

A pale, golden-haired dream, scattering blood-red cherries, looks up, is touched by his broom, and turns into dust.

 

All Dreams          :                               In that world between the waking,

                                                                And a slumber close to breaking,

Dream Sweeper:                              I turn your dreams to dust.

 

The Sweeper moves everywhere- not as slowly as the dreams, but deliberately.

 

All Dreams:                                         (in varied whispers)

                                                                Hope, hound, haggler/ mischief, magic, mayhem/

                                                                spectre, story, soul-catcher, etc.

 

He touches them one by one with his broom and they vanish. It is raining ash. He sweeps the ash away.

The pub is taken away and he is now on the street. Apart from the Ringmaster and his little band, who are yet untouched, it seems to be deserted, but the music has turned ominous.

 

Ringmaster:                                        Merciless he is, they say,

Fairy Godhag:                                                    But mercy is for those he never spares.

Goblin Girl:                                         You’ll know the dreams he never sweeps,

Dream Trio:                                                        by their screams and tatters and their matted hair.

 

Slowly they crawl into the stage, alone or in clusters- grey, wild-eyed, howling, tearing at their hair, reaching out to the Sweeper, but he passes through without paying them any heed, and touches none of them with his broom.

 

Neglected Dreams:                         Our words are half-imaginary

                                                                Our battered souls are bent

                                                                When dream and dreamer are as one…

Dream Sweeper:                              Some dreamers pay the rent.

Neglected Dreams:                         ‘Til all our dreams are spent!

Dream Sweeper:                              LET ALL THESE DREAMS BE SPENT!

 

The Sweeper finally sweeps away the little band with a flourish, and the neglected dreams retreat. It continues to rain ash. He sets down his broom and takes out another cigarette.  There is silence.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              My work is done. Another night has gone.

 

Suddenly the silence is broken by an ethereal melody. Among all the greyness, there is suddenly light and color. A luminescent girl in a brightly-colored dress is balancing on the boundaries of dream, arms outstretched.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              Your story has ended.

Girl:                                                        There are some longer tales.

Dream Sweeper:                              I do as I must. When the night is done, you…

 

He makes a motion to sweep her away. She stares back at him, unharmed.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              …die? Who are you?

Girl:                                                        I am only here to dream.

Dream Sweeper:                              I am here to save you from it.

Girl:                                                        Perhaps I don’t need saving. Not I.

 

She takes his hand.

 

Dream Sweeper:                              Are you of another earth,

                                                                Have you come from tales of lore?

Girl:                                                        Have you known death, or birth?

                                                                Has a dream held your hand before?

Dream Sweeper:                              When I touch a dream, it dies.

                                                                When I do not is the dreamer’s demise.

Girl:                                                        I have not known a sadder fate.

Dream Sweeper:                              I am old as Time, and it is late.   

                                               

The Sweeper gets up to go, broom in tow.

 

Girl:                                                        You have no greater want, you have no greater fear.

 

He keeps on walking away as she continues singing.

 

Girl:                                                        When Time and dreams are done, you’ll find me here.

 

The Sweeper stops where he is, without turning his head.

 

Girl:                                                        You’ll find me here.

 

A half-smile.

 


Audience Participation

It was ironic, her being there.

‘There’ was onstage, surrounded by actors, taking a bow. The most human humans there could ever be. Humans who not only felt, but caught their emotions like fireflies and kept them in little glass bottles to be relived another day. Humans who opened the stoppers to these most private of emotions and presented them to the world on cue—humanity as an art, applauded again and again. And she was standing under the stage lights as if she weren’t the furthest thing from it.

In this, she did not speak figuratively. It ran far deeper than that, and it was the simplest thing in the world. She came into the world twenty-odd years ago, born to a very human mother in a spic-and-span delivery room—unremarkable, of average size, no tentacles or appendages. She grew up in a middle-class family, survived an ordinary-to-the-point-of-dull childhood. Not a single UFO sighting. No dead people in the mirrors. But since she was old enough to grasp the concept of human beings, she knew, instinctively, that being human was something she could never aspire to.

She did try, at first, thinking that surely she was mistaken. She mimicked all the other children—clapped in delight when she was given little presents, looked suitably devastated when her dog died. She knew how to appear in pain when she scraped her knee, knew how to feign surprise and horror. When she remembered.

But she was so busy watching the rest of the world, that every now and then, she forgot. It was the other children, as keen and sensitive as only children could be, who saw through her. They saw how effortlessly she lied without the slightest twitch of guilt on her face.There was a little boy, Daniel, whom she called her best friend at some point. When tragedy struck and he drowned in a boating accident, she did not shed a single tear.

“She’s in shock,” said the adults. But the children knew better, and she never had another friend until she was much, much older.

She wondered if she was evil, like the villains in the films. But it seemed that even the two-dimensional caricatures in those stories did what they did for a reason, they did these wicked things because they believed in something with all their might, however wrong it was. Many of them eventually turned around or were haunted to their dying days on account of conscience. It was a concept that would completely elude her for the rest of her life.

And not for lack of trying. She recalled, in vivid detail, how wonderful and warm the day had been when she and Daniel had taken his rowboat, as they often had, out into the lake. There had been a pleasant breeze on, and they were laughing and chattering like two typical eleven-year-olds. She had closed her eyes and tried to pretend, for a moment, that that was what she was. For the very first time in her life, she had almost believed it.

Perhaps, she had thought eagerly, perhaps not everybody is born without a soul. Perhaps it grows into you, a few years late. Perhaps everything has sorted itself out, and I am now a human being with a heart and a conscience.

She had glanced at Daniel, who had taken out his fishing rod and was basking in the sun, waiting for a bite. She had crawled over to him suddenly and pushed him off the boat. She had always been a strong little girl. He had never taken the time to learn how to swim.

Startled, Daniel could not even reach for the boat, and she had rowed furiously away as he began to panic. The lake was deep but not so large, and she had reached the bank quickly. Quick enough to watch him as he splashed and struggled.

He had called out her name. She had seen the final look of hurt and bewilderment in his eyes before he went under. And she had felt not the slightest twinge of guilt. Not when she had had to twist the tale and claim innocence. Not now, many years later, recalling the scene in perfect, meticulous detail.

No, she reminded herself. She was not evil. ‘Evil’ was only the polar opposite of ‘good’, but she existed on a separate set of poles entirely. She wasn’t sure what she was exactly. But she realised that human ethics and morality stemmed from their innate sensibilities, which also dictated conscience and their sense of right and wrong. She was only a scholar of their culture, trying to imagine how these theories translated into the complex mechanisms of their emotions. She was endlessly fascinated.

If all the world were indeed a stage, all of humanity were the players, and she was the singular member of the audience. She was, perhaps, a fluke of the Universe, but she liked to believe it was the natural way it balanced things out- that for normality to call itself normality, it had to have, at least, one whiff of the bizarre. Perhaps, amidst humanity’s ongoing show, there had to be a Watcher in every era. And when she died, there would be another to take her place.

(If she died. But she would find that out, sooner or later.)

So she watched. Life was stranger than fiction, but things did tend to move in tedious cycles, every now and then. And when monotony set in, she liked to break things during these Intermissions. Routines. Pride. Families. Spirits. Hearts. Necks. She especially enjoyed breaking necks, almost as much as she enjoyed breaking hearts. Shock and grief were always so interesting to watch.

They’d discover another one soon- in the dressing room, after the curtain call. She always did believe in audience participation.


Whale Sharks in the Year of the Water Dragon. (Almost.)

This Chinese New Year, I nearly got to see the whale sharks in Oslob, a day we now dub (thanks to Vince and DK) as the Almost Butanding Experience.

We set off carefree as can be, making stops for bathroom, smoke, and snack-buying breaks. We even stopped for a bit in Boljoon to take a few pictures of the schoolhouse and the church. Yes, we took our sweet time. After all, not too many people would be THAT interested in watching whale sharks, right?

Us pretending to be time travellers in a Coke refrigerator. A local "Doctor Who"?

Wrong. Apparently, it turned out that the whole of Cebu decided to go butanding-watching at the same time. The hype surrounding them was now a bit mad, to the extent that they had to impose a cut-off time to avoid stressing the poor creatures out. Today was especially busy because it was Sunday, and the day before a holiday.

Us waiting for our names to be called. In vain.

Anyhow, everyone had to sign in a logbook, after which the groups would be called in order after intervals to get a ticket. After acquiring this ticket, you could then choose a resort and a boat. Unfortunately, we were about six or seven pages away, and the line wasn’t moving very quickly. We decided to spend the rest of the day taking pictures in Carcar and Argao instead, and return on a later date, preferably a weekday this time.

In Argao, they have giant torta. Apparently.

The headmasters of the Boljoon schoolhouse. Since 1940.

Feeling mermaidy while someone behind me attempts to surf.

Oh, and that same day was the Chinese New Year celebration (it’s the Year of the Water Dragon, in case you didn’t guess from the title) at the Chu’un Temple, so after the Almost Butanding Experience, I had to haul my sleepless self there for another performance of Siddhartha: The Musical. It felt a bit like sleepdancing, and I nearly fell off the platform. Twice.

"Siddhartha" at the Fo Guang Shan Chu Un Temple. Obviously not one of those times I nearly fell.

Why do I have time for all these things? Well, after another BPO job that didn’t quite work out, I decided to go back to freelancing. I recently signed up for Odesk, which allows me to work from my computer on either a full-time or part-time basis, depending on the job or project I apply for. I’m not big on fixed schedules and I do intend to do a bit of travelling this year, so that suits me just fine.

(Oh, and if you’re interested to try something like that, click here or on that widgety thing on the top right.)

I’ll let you know when we have our Actual Butanding Experience. Stay tuned.

Credits to DK Maranion for most of the photos- she took the better ones in this post.


Two and Three: Bohemia and Taiwan.

Two. BOHEMIANS ON THE LOOSE

Worked with Cattski (and Peewee, and Jem) yet again, on a project of an entirely different nature, a music video for the Cat’s new album. The concept? Her eccentric friends gallivanting about the downtown city streets, basically being ourselves. Needless to say, we had a blast and a bit of a drink afterwards (also included in the video, which you should definitely not miss).

Find out more about it from the Cat herself. Here.

Three. “SIDDHARTHA” IN KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN

I mean the musical by Jude Gitamondoc, not the book by Herman Hesse. The one that has more or less set a longevity record for musical plays in Cebu. Its first run was in the Waterfront Hotel way back in 2007 which was followed by shows in Manila (CCP), Taiwan, Bacolod and Iloilo over the years. Some of the original cast are still part of the production, though many have come and gone. I auditioned and joined up in 2009 for the Bacolod-Iloilo run. This time, we were invited to perform in Taiwan for the inauguration of the Buddha Memorial Centre.

This put a lot of goodies in my First Time basket. It was my first time in Taiwan, the first time I went abroad with friends, the first time I performed in a foreign country, and the first time I ever danced the Sinulog!

Evidence.

Most of our time was spent on rehearsals galore…

That's me in the red-and-black arm warmers!

…but we did manage to squeeze in a bit of fun! We explored the grounds of Fo Guang Shan and a couple of museums, tried a bit of calligraphy (which I made a horrible mess of, predictably), ate at a scrumptuous buffet in the city, and window-shopped at a very expensive mall. Oh, and we took a LOT of pictures, so I’m (obviously) trying to find excuses to randomly put them up here.

Also, we did some shows, which was basically the point of us being there. Two turned into three, which turned out to be mostly (except that bit where Vince got his leg injured) a wonderful thing, because everyone felt that the third show was the best of all.

Here are a few glimpses of “Siddhartha: The Musical” in the Buddha Memorial Theatre in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. If you want to see the whole show, the good news is we’re performing again in the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration (Jan 22) in the Fo Guang Shan temple in V. Rama and on Feb 10 at the Cebu Coliseum.

Post a comment if you need further details on our upcoming shows!

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PS: A good many of the pictures in this post aren’t mine. They were grabbed from people who grabbed them from somebody else, so if you happen to be the photographer, great job and do let me know so I can credit you in this post. Thankees! 🙂


2011 Wrapped Up In A Pretty Little Box (With A Bow): Part 1

Okay, now I remember.

To make up for the long hiatus in bloggerage, I’ve decided to post a few photo highlights of how I wrapped up my year. But because I’m a bit of a cheater, this is just the December bit. Hee. Enjoy.

1. THE CLOCKWORK PRINCESS

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No, I did not actually construct a princess out of clockwork. Did the next best thing instead- I got involved in a Steampunk musical project. When I say involved – I mean I wrote the script with my lovies, Vince Gaton and Jem McYorker (check out her blog at http://selenografia.wordpress.com), who both happen to be very creative people.

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The Storytelling Team

I then collaborated with Peewee Senining and Paco Serafica for costume design. Finally, I joined my Very Dear Friends Yemma, Ainee, Nana, Jeo, Leomar, Graeme, Miko, Jem again (who also arranged one song) and Vince (who did the choreography) in the performance. Alex Uypuanco, our Director, also played Narrator.

Here we all are:

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The Cast of "The Clockwork Princess"

The whole shindig was for the Chaine des Rotisseurs annual banquet at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. It might seem a bit odd, having a musical play at a dinner. Well, why not? (It was odd. But also a lot of fun. We emerged in between each course.)

Here are some bits of the performance to munch on:

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To find out more about our musical Steampunkery, Cattski, who was our musical director and occasional proxy princess, also blogs about it here and here.

It’s getting late, but I’ll give you parts 2 and 3 soon. I promise.

If I remember.


The Prodigal Blog

If I have one solid talent, it’s the ability to lose absolutely anything. I’d lose my own body parts if they weren’t erm, attached.  This time, I misplaced my blog. Yes, this one.

Recently, I immersed in pictures of abandoned places, which made me realise that my cyber-journal was going in pretty much the same direction if I didn’t try to remember where I put it. At last I finally remembered it was a WordPress blog, and after many attempts, rediscovered my log-in name. (I don’t have much trouble remembering passwords, but my usernames are basically one thing now and its polar opposite in twenty minutes.)

Obviously I remembered it, or you wouldn’t be reading this.

The next tricky step- remembering why I wanted to write one in the first place.

(I’ll get back to you on that.)Image


And someday…

there’ll be nothing left.

Only me,

Staring straight into an empty mirror.


But my dreams keep bleeding through.

I can’t seem to focus or get my thoughts organized. I’m having flashes of déjà vu, as if only one foot were in reality, and one eye was looking out through a different window. Things are not happening in order in my head. I keep getting jolted back and forth and losing things.

 

This is not a brand-new malady- at least it isn’t for me. But my life is, at the moment, a bit of an Eat All You Can buffet, and my plate is heaped to the heavens. I can’t afford to drop any of it. I seem to be frighteningly close to stumbling. Again. I’m far too volatile. I need to stabilize.

 

First of all, I’m beginning to reconsider my path, which is alarming. This has occurred to me thousands of times already, and I have always heeded it and also have, as a result, shunted myself off into lots of very diverse directions. I’ve done everything short of becoming a professional assassin (which may yet be ahead of me) and I know that if I don’t stick to my guns in a single field- I’ll spend the rest of my life spinnin’ and grinnin’…. *breaks into song*

 

And to think, for the first time in a long time, I actually like my job. Not to the extent that I feel motivated and enthusiastic to go to work- I still have that AAAARRRRGH feeling each time I get up and go- but at least it’s not a feeling of dread or an intense desire to file a resignation letter. I’m not completely immune to the stress, but most of it bounces off, at any rate.

 

Yet there’s still that niggling feeling at the back of my head that a job shouldn’t feel like a job- that for the kind of person I am, it should be a field that operates almost entirely in the imagination. Perhaps I’ve never lost my idealism. Perhaps I’m in the wrong universe.

 

I suppose I should ignore this feeling and get on with Life.

 

But part of me will always be listening for a sound. That sound.

 

Random skull thing.