Sunday, February 15, 2015

Every day is the 14th

Happy Saturday to me.
I acknowledge and thank my friends and fam who have expressed their love today, if I must have a Valentine I'm happy for it to be one the gals.
But also I don't love them any less any other day of the year and the fact that people still go along with the whole charade of there being a corporate holiday purely to prey on people's insecurities boggles the mind. Events that are advertised as great places to meet someone ('Alone on Valentine's Day? Misc. Venue in Brooklyn anti-Valentine party', 'Get Lucky Night - noone goes home alone', things like that) are frankly insulting.  I don't like being told that because I'm alone I must be waiting for V-day to come around every year so I can go hunting for men....I don't like being told that I anything so, it stands to reason. It's as bad as telling people and women in particular that they need to lose weight for anything but health reasons, or that they have to shave their legs to be worthy of their gender.

...yes, typical and I hope by now expected rant over.
Well there's probably more where that came from, but for now.

So here's what I did today:
Sleep in
Walk MishMish
Hop on the subway to Gratton St, Bushwick BK to visit the monthly vegan market, mostly to get a Yeah Dawg hot dog, the most crazy delicious hot dog that is all vegan and so good that even hardened meat-eaters would enjoy the taste. And I mean I can make that judgement I think because until not very long ago I was a HARDENED meat-eater and still am when occasion calls.  So I got my Yeah Dawg and also a doughnut and a samosa for later (I brought Tupperware with me.)
It's snowing today quite a bit and I'm in Bushwick, in an area that's all 1-storey warehouse and garage-type spaces, an old industrial area. This means there are lots of big square walls that have been copiously covered in graffiti and murals.  The loud colours against the falling snow, white-out sky and snow covered ground compelled me to take a bunch of pictures

Cool nuh?

And now I'm sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by the epitome of Brooklyn cool, that is to say chalkboards, reclaimed wood furniture and mismatched chairs, those light bulbs with the really visible oversized filaments, exposed brick walls, a noticeboard full of ads for bands and yoga, people my age on Macs with either much longer or much shorter than average hair and a myriad of cute but ironic prints and knitwear...honestly no place does this vibe like Brooklyn.  I dunno. Maybe Copenhagen or something.
And I can't help but feel that I really want to live here! I did a few things in the last couple of years that I've fought against with myself for a while: joined the gym, smartphone, errr mostly stopped eating meat and dairy.  I've fought against being swallowed up in the hipster tide - I'm self-aware enough to know that it would be so easy for me to just slide right in but I am trying not to be the big cliche that I naturally am.  But...but...they have such nice coffee shops and furnishings and vintage knick knacks and music and yes, great knitwear...I want the knitwear!
Bah. Personal integrity....who'd have it?

Monday, February 9, 2015


Yup I've already failed but it's for a good reason I swear! I can't help when inspiration strikes.

This is how it went down: brushed my teeth, brushed my hair.  Switched off the light.  Had some water.  About to climb into bed when my thought process interrupted itself to have an idea.  Thought process -
I'm writing a lot in my blog about trying to find some calm and inner peace
She says, writing in her blog on her laptop in her apartment...First World problems
Although I bet there are people in the world with no blog laptop or NYC apartment who have a lot more inner peace than me
Not that many of them wouldn't like the opportunity to live an easy life I'm sure
WAIT what are some actual first world problems not just the dumb ones that people hashtag like 'my iPhone 6 bent, #FirstWorldProblems' and think it's funny when it's actually quite sad

Here are some ideas of what real #FirstWorldProblems might look like

- I can't sleep at night because I put so much pressure on myself to keep up with the breakneck pace of the city in which I live

- I'm quite lonely and I think that looking at a screen and judging a person by a few images and a couple of lines of text is a legitimate way to find love

- I can't cook anything because it's so easy to get food delivered

- My dog is overweight and at risk of health problems because I think it's fun to keep it indoors all the time and feed it from my plate and carry it everywhere in a bag

- I had my body surgically augmented because my partner wanted me to and implied that they would cheat on me otherwise

- I have debt from student loans that I will never be able to pay off, ever

- I spend more time at the gym than with my friends because I'm obsessively dedicated to maintaining an Instagram-ready body at all times

- I dislike myself every single day because I see so many advertisements and magazine covers featuring one version of ideal beauty or success

- My ambition is to become a star on YouTube making beauty tutorials

- I've been to University five times but never finished because I can't find anything I actually want to do and nothing is fulfilling

- I work so many hours for a huge paycheck that I never spend time with my infant children

- My pre-teen daughter knows all the words and choreography to Anaconda by Nicki Minaj but knows and cares nothing about the traditional music from my birth country

That's a few ideas.  I chose those things because let's say a person from Burundi or the Democratic Republic of Congo or Malawi were to read those.  Those countries have some of the lowest GDP in the world and they suffer low life expectancy, poverty and disease.  They could really use the plentiful food, advanced healthcare and opportunities we have in the richest countries in the World, no question.  I could show them a list of things like 'food'  'a sanitary plumbing system' 'shoes' 'a comfortable bed' 'school'
all that stuff.  But I could show them this list and I don't think they'd want a single thing on it.

So as much as people laugh and joke about #FirstWorldProblems like when Starbucks is no longer serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes or when Taylor Swift removes her music from Spotify or when the WiFi signal just isn't strong enough to upload this hilarious Vine*.....I personally think it's worth remembering that the biggest FWP of all is that anyone even mentions that crap when the things in my list are also going on.

Deep thoughts on a...Tuesday morning OH CRAP so much for going to bed.  Night.  Siiiigh of disappointment in self.

*read that fragment back and tell me it doesn't sound like utter gibberish

Midnight Rambler

I've arrived at my blog with no clear purpose other than to do one creative thing today.  It's been a day of practicalities, boo.
Although one thing I have to do which I promised - confess

Last night having declared outright that I would complete a short list of 5 simple tasks before going to bed, I can announce that

I failed, guys.  Shrug.  What can I say? I totally, totally failed and I have to own up to it.  I did some of the things, I tidied up, I prepped my bag and then I got completely sidetracked making a ton of new plans for things that do need doing...but not at midnight.  BAD TESSA.  That was the whole point of the exercise.  I am very aware that something I could really improve on is my focus.  Last night my only focus should have been getting ready for and going to bed so that I could have a great night's sleep and wake up early today.
I let myself become distracted and try to do ten more things so the one thing I was supposed to do turned into a shambles.  I know this.  I think it's good to be able to multitask but it's also good to one thing really well before going on to the next thing (continuing yesterday's theme of one thing at a time). The other funny thing is often if I'm doing 5 things at once I can actually do all of them well - I'm not just a multitasker I'm a pretty adept multitasker - but and I've never asked myself this before, at what cost?
I'm easily stressed, I have a weird schedule that changes a lot which can be hard to keep up with, sometimes it's really physically demanding, and sometimes doing too much just makes me feel plain grumpy and put upon (even though I'm the one that puts the things upon) so while I can do the things and have it all and wow look how busy I am isn't it intimidating, it doesn't mean I should.  The cost is my own serenity, in  nutshell.  And I'm starting to think I might like some serenity.

Something else I do that scrambles my brain: on subway rides or any other time where it's kind of forced downtime (for example if I'm babysitting late and everyone's asleep) I will make lists, lists and lists and lists.  And then action plans to complete the items on those lists.  And then some more stuff I just thought of.  So a 20 minute train journey turns into what is essentially a meeting with myself.  A list-filled self-meeting.  Some of this is useful.  If it's a crazy day it can be good to check in and make sure I'm running on schedule and that I know my next moves.  But sometimes it just ends in my being more stressed than necessary especially since I made a bunch of plans then had to cut my thoughts off because I got off the subway and went to do the next task of the day so they never quite get finished until the next subway ride...basically I don't give my brain any breaks.  Probably this is why I often find it hard to fall asleep - my brain is so practiced at taking any moments of inactivity and turning them into county council meetings that it just doesn't know when or how to hush.
I'm doing it right now
I'm trying to strategically think through why I can't get to sleep when I should be simply GETTING TO SLEEP
I need to fix this!
Ordinarily I would probably make some kind of list but that seems incredibly counter-intuitive right now.

Well as they say if you do what you've always done you'll have what you've always had.  So time to try something new...tranquilizers! I'm kidding nobody panic

One thing I always say I'll do but don't is meditate so now could be as a good a time as any.

So, today's 'make yourself accountable' is
I will brush my teeth
I will sit and be calm and breathe in a meditative fashion for 10 minutes
Then I will go to bed!

Those 3 things
It isn't a list I didn't number anything.  Ok.  Here goes.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


It's tough living in NY.  It's REALLY tough doing theatre in NY.  And this weekend I didn't feel so tough.  So I'm checking in with myself and giving myself some advice.

I had a good week - veeery busy, productive, exhausting.  I went to the gym, I did a dance workout with Lauren, I worked, I auditioned almost every day (and worked simultaneously, don't ask me how but I did it) I ordered and picked up new headshots, I rehearsed.  Good for me.  I felt very illustrious and proud.
Then the weekend came and I didn't stop.  I went to a dance call on Saturday morning, followed by groceries, cleaning, a tap performance and a Birthday party then today a final tap performance and now finally I have stopped
Even Saturday's open call from which I was cut didn't bring me down, although it entailed getting up at 6 and putting on a full face at 9am.  I was still feeling energised and good by the time I left at 12.
But by the time I had to make my way down to East 13th st to perform in this showcase thing, I was just about done with life and that feeling has lasted.  Essentially I'm tired and I feel like I battled heroically through the week only to find that I'm exactly where I began.  It's disheartening.  And that's a poisonous feeling for someone like me.  If you let even a tiny bit in it can be very hard to climb back out of the abyss of despair into which you will fall.
After the showcase today (which didn't go well today yesterday was better...but I will never feel happy about a performance in which the type of floor renders my sounds inaudible) I'd had enough so I made a swift exit and went to find a place in the East Village to hide out until I was ready to face the world again.  I went to Veselka to eat pierogi sitting at the counter, one of my favourite things, in an attempt to cheer myself up.  I walked around a little.  I bought sweatshirts I didn't need.  None of this quite worked in fact it made me feel worse and made me start worrying about money so I made my way home and here I am on my bed trying some blog therapy instead.  This is more effective.  I also wrote myself a post-it that I will reproduce here:
Dear Tessa
You're doing SO WELL.  You have a new resume credit and it's only February.  You joined the gym and it's made a big difference already.  You're putting the wheels in motion for a new dream right now.  You don't have to do everything all at once.  One thing at a time is fine.  Be proud.  You worked really hard last week so give yourself a break.  Love, Tessa XxX

This is all true and important.  Today wasn't great but every other day this week I achieved a lot.  The key thing here is 'one thing at a time'.  We all put pressure on ourselves.  Lately my pressure has been 'you have to become the most physically fit you've ever been and you have to book a job and create some awesome choreography and learn to play this song and get another survival job and keep becoming a better tapper and remember to vocalise in the shower every day and have the perfect audition outfit every time and' you get the picture.  
One thing at a time
Rome wasn't built in a day
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day - AA Milne

The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience. -Tolstoy

Imma keep it cool and Imma do me, it is what it is and it's how it's gonna be until I get there
I know I've got flaws I know I'm not perfect but all the ups and downs will soon be worth it, when I get there - Lupe Fiasco

Remember you are half water.  If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it.  Water does. - Margaret Attwood

Dripping water wears away stone.

 Having written all that down I feel much better. There are lots of auditions coming up, a number to prepare, a new and currently still secret plan to carry out, dancewear to obtain, songs to learn, laundry to goes on and on and on and ooon.  But in the interests of staying in a calm and happy place, I'm going to do one thing at a time.

It's 9.08.  All I have to do tonight is

  1.  Prep my bag for tomorrow, make sure I have the sheet music I need, my tap shoes and a snack.
  2. Do a SHORT core workout - 20 mins maximum
  3. Tidy up a little - put away a few clothes and things
  4. Get ready for bed
  5. Finish the week with some Netflix or reading.
And that's IT.  And by publishing it on the internet I am making myself accountable.  And if I go over the list and end up trying to do a bunch of other tasks that are not necessary at 9 on a Sunday, I have to confess my crimes in my next post.


Here I go, item 1.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Golden Girl

Ready to tap tomorrow in the Peridance Faculty Showcase in my gleaming onesie. I haven't had a gold costume in 7ish years, it's really quite exciting.


Today I want to write about the female fictional characters who inspired me as a child and therefore are partly responsible for who I am as an adult. So you can put the blame on them, ok?

No but seriously
I'm doing a '30 day drawing challenge', it's exactly what it sounds like you draw one thing every day for 30 days. Just for fun. The challenge has a numbered list of what to draw each day and number 8 was favourite character from a book. I actually drew Hagrid because I mean, what a guy. But it did make me think a bit about other favourite characters and I've got it down to a few, female characters that I could cite as heroines should I ever be called upon to do so. These characters are favourites of young readers everywhere especially girls I think, and there's a reason that they are so popular and enduring.

1) Anne Shirley
The imaginative, catastrophe-prone, romantically inclined, fiery tempered redhead and also maybe the original Manic Pixie Dream Girl? I don't know. I do know that as a young girl I had an Anne-grade imagination and lived in many vividly detailed worlds with various imaginary friends (I can still name them all today, not all of them were human). I also was grateful for a heroine who was very smart and an academic achiever who was a star pupil in English, literacy, reading, writing etc but had no head for maths. ME TOO! I also remember being a child who really hated to be laughed at if I was trying to make a real point (because most real points sound funny when it's a kid making them, this I know well) and Anne was very clear on that point too, she believed in being taken seriously as a child and she lived by it as an adult, as do I.
She was an often dishevelled, eccentric, hot-tempered, quite high-strung and bright child and teenager and those are also things we have in common.

2) Matilda
The poster girl for all bookworms
Luckily I didn't grow up like Matilda amongst ignorance and discouragement, I devoured books and was never deprived of the privilege. I couldn't identify perfectly with Matilda but I could empathise because the idea of someone not letting me read or tearing up a book or not appreciating that I was quite clever was very sad to me. I really do remember the sad feeling it gave me. Matilda of course also embodies values I hold dear like individuality, integrity, intelligence and inner strength. And some other stuff beginning with in, probably.

3) Sophie       
The Sophie books by Dick King-Smith are some of my favourites of all time ever. They are amazing, they have a lot of heart and they're funny and real and they're actually about kids for kids, not about weird teen-kid hybrids who are into relationships and clothes and being famous (genuine contents of some of today's children's literature).
Of course they appealed to me strongly being a country kid like Sophie and her family. Her garden in my head is very definitely the garden of the house I was born in, her wellies were always my wellies and her rabbits were our rabbits. I first learned to ride a horse around the same time as Sophie. I didn't have pet woodlice but it's probably because of Sophie that I wasn't afraid of them.
Sophie is also a paragon of doing whatever you like. She never let anyone squash her dream of becoming a lady farmer. She also took no shit from her twin older brothers and best of all had no time for prissy little wimps. Sophie vs Dawn = Tessa vs A lot of people.  'She was small, but very determined'.

4) Laura from Wreck of the Zanzibar
Laura doesn't feature quite as strongly on this list as the others simply because you can only meet her in one book and her story isn't entirely hers, but told through her eyes. She is a young lady from the Michael Morpurgo canon. He is another favourite and all children should read his beautiful, interesting and profound books. Laura lives on one of the remote Scilly Isles and during this book her people weather many disasters and life is     brutal.  I always thought Laura was the toughest in her family, she's incredibly compassionate and her dream is to row in a crew with the men and her twin brother. She's a girl so they won't
let her but during a shipwreck rescue she's the only option, she gets to row in the tempest-tossed Atlantic and proves herself to be one bad ass motherfucker.  Another girl who wanted to defy convention and made it happen.

5) Mildred Hubble
Before there was Hogwarts, there was Miss Cackle's Academy. And before Harry there was Mildred.  For child me Mildred is first a style icon. Untied laces? Check. Flyaway hair? Check.  Untucked shirt? Check. Holes in tights, general scruffiness, mysterious smudges of ink on face/hands. The works. She's a hot damn mess. I'm not known for being neat as a pin. Even when I try really hard something gets scuffed or comes loose so I really understand the curse.
Beyond that Mildred is important for young girls because she is an underachiever, a disaster magnet, and completely absent-minded but she tries and tries and tries. She's always trying. She's totally irrepressible and imaginative enough to never let a bit of trouble with the headmistress prevent her from coming up with a new idea that will most definitely end badly. Even when she tries her hardest to be a model pupil it gets messed up for her (I feel you Mildred) but she maintains a positive outlook and is a stellar friend. She also takes no shit from the school's resident Queen Bitch so she's a disaster but not a pushover. Idol.

So those are my top 5 childhood literary heroines.  I'm really glad I wrote all that down.  It's been a long and grueling week, I've been tired and frustrated and sore. This has been a replenishing visit to my youth and also some good quality inspiration. I will summon my inner Anne, Sophie, Matilda, Laura and Mildred to get through the equally grueling weekend and next week!
Thank you characters and authors who made them.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

I've arrived

In the 21st Century, that is. 
I'm blogging from a smartphone in a coffee shop.
Actually I might still be a bit behind the times still is blogging in a coffee shop still  a sign of modernity? Or is it a bit mid-2000s maybe
Perhaps if I was blogging from my Google Glasses?