Sunday, July 26, 2009

Now We Are Three (and on antibiotics)

Last Sunday. Birthday Party. Lots of Nigella led cooking. Cupcakes. Number 3 Biscuits.
Buttermilk birthday cake. Home made sausage rolls are to be made in morning.

Night before: Eat entire bodyweight in smarties, clinkers, jelly babies and chocolate logs in bid to decorate Train Cake To End All Train Cakes. 

Possibly all birthday cakes. 
Possibly, when we are 4, he will get a birthday pikelet.

Drink copious amounts of wine with parents in law, husband and sister in law, all of whom are working and drinking steadily in effort to get cake decently iced and decorated.
Mission accomplished before midnight.

Day of party. Festivities start at 11am. Panic starts earlier. Suddenly list of tasks for morning seems enormous. In good news, the celeriac has been grated. But in bad news the thawing mince is revealed to be TOTALLY STINKING. Husband despatched to buy more mince. Note that even at this late stage he is not despatched to buy FROZEN SAUSAGE ROLLS.  

Arriving guests. Luckily there are only a handful. Because this guest has gall to be on time she is given chores to do. Mince returns and through serious Kitchen Wizardry is mixed into puff pastry and tucked into oven. And we all know that if the sausage rolls are cooking then all will be right with the world. Sister in law whips out enormous platters of sandwiches all minus crusts.

Around this time things start getting slightly fuzzy for me. Yet I have not even cracked open one of the bottles of champagne. Hmmm.

Guests arrive. There seem to be hundreds of adults. There are 5 guest children. 

Pass The Parcel is played. I have bowed to pressure from every other parent on earth and slipped a chocolate frog between every layer of paper so all participants will, bah humbug, win a prize.

Much shrieking, laughter, screaming and running up and down stairs. Meanwhile, children play on trampoline and assorted pedal car things and trampoline.

Food eaten. Cupcakes have pink icing eaten off top. Number three biscuits seemingly inhaled. Sausage rolls proclaimed great success. Adults manage to fight off anyone under two feet and scoff lot.

Children are as angels and play so nicely parents end up staying. Brother in law makes loaves and fishes type pasta and manages to feed entire group, despite fact he has just come off 3 weeks of shooting still photographs on film set. 

Everyone collapses when last guest leaves at 8ish. I manage to finally recall that there are luckydips to go with the party bags as the last child leaves.

Think that he is three. Imagine many more birthdays to come. Imagine making number 4 biscuits and then number 5 etc etc. Remember woman in toyshop saying that we were "brave" having a birthday party at home. recall self scoffing at the very idea of having a party at a commercial venue. Feel very ordinary. Put self to bed.

Afterwards there is probably one or two day's grace before flu hits and what a corker it is too. Culminates with sad scene of Myself, Tricky and C at the local doctor's in "family" appointment. Not swine flu, something much less famous. We leave with various antibiotics for various secondary type lung and ear infections (having antibiotics for flu being, of course, pointless, as flu is a virus) and I get a delightfully quaint purple puffer to help knock over a horrible prolapse inducing (well that's what it feels like)spasmodic cough. 

Purple puffer will work in a week maybe but on the other hand, can also cause mouth thrush. Hoorah. Only good thing is that I have had my alcohol free 'dry july' after all. Well for a week at least.

And Tricky had a simply marvelous party.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"When I am 3 I can go on the Monorail"

Next Saturday is Tricky's birthday. His friend Sebastian is flying back into Sydney that day and so we are having our party on Sunday.

The plan is to play Pass the Parcel and to eat a cake shaped like a train. There are five days to make and assemble said train and so I am not without anxiety. 
(I'm not without anxiety at the best of times really. The trip to Los Angeles I won as part of the playwriting comp, I still have not organised. Anxiety. Planes. Long distances. Meetings. Potential failures. When i get round to booking a seat I will need to have one extra just to accommodate my fears. One ticket with anxiety. Economy please.) 

Luckily there will be enough time because this is not one of the weeks just gone, one of the incredible weeks of writing, listening and creating that have punctuated June and July so far. 
I think it started with that weekend away, that weekend of not being woken every four hours and being able to pop in for a film or a spot of shoe shopping or a long browse in a bookshop. 

And then there was this two weeks of astonishing brilliance; a workshop with theatre legend Edward Albee  (Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Three Tall Women, Zoo Story etc etc etc) and (concurrently, curses) a workshop with the resident actors of the Sydney Theatre Company to explore and develop the written "shards" that playwrights gang 7ON had created.

I twittered some of this stuff, not blogged it because I was unable to string more than 140 characters together at a time, and frankly it's a bit gushy and embarrasing but since I've already written quite publicly and at length about IVF, birth, dildocams, my lala, breastfeeding and various ups and downs of Special Magical Grownups Time with poor old long suffering C, I think I can handle admitting to a playwright's crush on Mr Albee. At one point I offered (via Twitter) to cut the plot of my play AND do his laundry, such was the strength of my feeling. 

And still is, frankly. 

This is the second workshop i have done with Edward Albee, the first was nearly three years ago when i was heavily pregnant. 

Last time was a much larger workshop. There were a lot more people involved, directors and and actors, it was hard for shy people to spend much time with Theatre Legends but this time, this year, it was just a small group of writers. Shy people could get a look in.

But here's the terrible thing, the really embarrassing thing; i told myself before the fortnight started that there was nothing I could learn from Edward Albee. That there wasn't anything he would say that I hadn't heard before and that it was all old school playwrighting anyway. 

And it was, and it was and yet it so wasn't. 

 I had heard it before, but it was only now, still sleep deprived, amazed and grateful at the chance to have two weeks worth of time spent studying and writing and reading, not snatched hours between naps or other jobs but two real weeks of 8 hours a day, that I heard what he was saying. 

And the Big Thing he said, that I grasped and held onto (and really this is what gave me my playwright's crush) was that we have lineage. Because I had always felt kind of alone, scribbling away, that's one of the things that brought 7ON together. And I reckon most playwrights do feel like that, especially when your work isn't being produced or performed. But what we were learning was that as a playwright, as a writer of story and character, we are all connected to a huge and ancient river of writing that goes back in time through  (Albee's big four;) Brecht and Chekov and Pirandello and Beckett and back to the Greeks and back to whoever first told the first story by a fire. 

So that I have a tiny but vital connection to playwrights like Caryl Churchill and Mark Ravenhill and Simon Stephens just as I do to the Australian playwrights I admire like Ross Mueller and Lally Katz and Suzie Miller and Caleb Lewis and the 7ON gang. 

And, Edward Albee. 

And that's why, even though the plan was a week with Albee and then a week at the STC, I had to keep going back. Even though the second week was all film scripts and I could only make the afternoon feedback sessions,  I kept going back and I kept writing it down. And I wasn't the only one. We have a small small theatre industry and it can be very easy to become disheartened and jaded and hardened. And I can whinge with the best of them but this time when people started to complain about the usual gatekeeper tactics I wanted to say let it go, just write, if you have a story to tell then you need to write it down and if you listen you will learn more about ways of telling that story...

I asked if Albee would sign my copy of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. It's an old version, one of those beautiful Penguin Plays, and it belonged to my mother which made it already precious.

He wrote: From one playwright to another. Courage!

And because I wanted to give him something, I gave him a copy of my book, which made me laugh to myself, because, honestly, what was he going to make of that? Luckily it made him laugh too. I am enjoying your very funny book, he told me at the prize ceremony on the last night of the workshop.

The first thing Edward Albee said to me, three years ago, was you must be about eight months pregnant and I laughed nervously because of course i wasn't eight months pregnant, lordy if I was due to have a baby in four weeks I would not be at a writers/actors workshop doing all that improvising and carrying on, I would be at home getting ready

As it turned out, I was due to have a baby in four weeks. Tricky came just under a month early. And I wasn't ready. And in some ways I have never really caught up. Nor do i expect to.

And now, he is about to turn three. 

And I have just turned forty one.

And he is old enough to go on the monorail (with his Mummy and Daddy).
And I am old enough to listen and to learn about writing again. 

And to go to Los Angeles. 

With or without anxiety.