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. Tuesday, 9 July 2019 .

I've been on leave for the last ten days - not at work this week and definitely putting my 'other job aka my blog and socials' on hold too. My nana is in town until next week so I'm spending heaps of time with family, living offline. We've all been watching Brooklyn 99 after dinner and because nana is here, she's been doing most of the cooking so I come home and food is literally ready to go. It's been blissful. It's been stressful. Just like family holidays can usually be. Chaotic, even. But also loads of fun and memories I will keep forever.

On Saturday night we went to my auntie's for movie night after dinner (we're constantly eating, I've just realised) and at midnight nana was playing piano, my cousin was on the violin, and my little brother was dancing the floss to a classical track. We sang lots of Beatles songs, a bit of Disney, and just chilling out. It's been great. I still have five days off. BRB off to make the most of it.

. Sunday, 30 June 2019 .

I haven't seen a theatre show since Aladdin - a good half a year ago - and I keep asking myself why? I love going to the theatre! Seeing Once last night reminded me of everything I love about theatre. But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

In a rather serendipitous turn of events (a key theme of Once, even!), opening night of Once happened to be on the same day my nana arrived from California. She's a big theatre fan like me, and because she is a professional musician, she's seen most of my dream Broadway shows a few times so the love for theatre and music and film definitely runs in the family. I slid into her DMs a few weeks before and asked if she wanted to come with me to opening night and said that it's okay if she doesn't feel like it after long hours of travelling. She said 'Of course! No rest for the wicked!" so Saturday night was all a go!

I've never been to ASB Waterfront Theatre so we wandered in early, had a pre-show meal and cuppa at Feriza's (they do the best matcha lattes), and read through the playbill while waiting. We were excited. She had never seen the film and I haven't seen it in years so we approached the night like we had no idea what was coming. ASB Theatre proved to be the perfect venue for this show, though - cosy enough to be intimate, big enough to feel like you're part of something grand.

We made our way up to our seats early and saw that most of the cast were already on stage. At first I thought we were just really early and they haven't finished setting up/final run through just yet. But then the cast started playing music, just jamming, having a great time on stage, walking around the theatre greeting the crowd while singing/playing music. The banter was refreshing. Walking in to that environment immediately made people perk up and feel like they're not just the audience - they're a part of the story, of the family. That we weren't just mere spectators. We were an important part of the show. 

If this were a concert, they would be both opening act and the headliner. My nana asked if this was it or was there actual dialogue and storyline or was it a concert. And you know what? We would have been happy either way.

For those unfamiliar with the story of Once (seriously where were you in 2007?), it's about a hoover repairman who moonlights as a busker/street musician while hoping for his big break. His paths crosses with a Czech immigrant who is also an aspiring singer-songwriter and together they make some pretty sweet music while also dealing with their own issues. For a split second, I totally forgot that it was set in Dublin. So when the accents came out (Irish and Czech respectively) I was really surprised! Such excellent accent work on all the actors/musicians part. It's not the easiest to spend hours and hours daily speaking with an accent but they pulled it off well.

One of the most beautiful songs ever written came from Once. Even if you haven't seen the film, you've probably heard of 'Falling Slowly'. Not only has it won an Oscar for 'Best Original Song' in 2008, it's probably one of the greatest contemporary love songs of our generation.

Hearing it live was an experience. Weeks before opening night I've already been playing it on repeat but no amount of streaming could have prepared me for that moment of hearing it live. Not even when I watched the NZ cast perform it on their Facebook page. Hearing it live with Adam and Lisa's voices and all those instruments together. Magic. The best part of 'Falling Slowly' for me has always been its simplicity. Even the scene where we hear it for the first time. No theatrics, no gimmicks, no big performance number. Just a beautiful melody and meaningful lyrics.

Acapella was also one of the strongest parts of the show for me. At one point of the show, they (have I mentioned the cast are also the musicians/orchestra? Talk about clever!) gathered in a semi circle, just the harmony of their voices. It felt so personal, so raw. We were nearing the end of the show at the point and the characters already felt like good friends so an acapella track really cemented that for me.

The end song, with the whole accompaniment, caught me by surprise. And even though I already knew what was coming and how it was going to end, I found myself still tearing up as it ended. A standing ovation from everyone in the theatre, and a very well deserved one at that.

Lisa Crawley and Adam Ogle absolutely exceeded expectations in their roles as 'Girl' and 'Guy' respectively. I wish the night didn't have to end as I just wanted to sit there and listen to them sing. They could do baby shark for all I care and I'd probably ask for an encore.

I only really have two critiques. One of which is the blocking. I know it's meant to portray the intimacy of the story, and how as the viewer it really does seem like you're part of the show and watching it unfold, but I would have loved to see Lisa Crawley's facial expressions while singing some of the songs. I wanted to see her emotions and to feel her characters feelings even more. I think seeing more of her face as she sung would have been more powerful.

The other critique I have is that the season should have been longer! I want to watch it again but don't think I have the time to. I saw Aladdin three times at The Civic and each time I watched it felt like the first time. I would have loved the chance to do the same in this instance. I know it's called Once but I'd like to see it 'thrice'.

Once is a must see. Bring tissues, bring your friends, bring your Tinder dates... this show will move you and make you feel a little more alive and hopeful, ready to dream a dream again. Thanks Jesse Peach for bringing this to our shores and congrats on such a beautiful show!

P.S. shoutout to some awesomely familiar faces too! Jesse O'Brien and Emily Campbell are Hamilton talents doing not just the city but the whole country proud. I thoroughly enjoyed their performance and their talent. Seriously. So amazing!

Thank you Elephant Publicity for having us along. Once is only in theatres until July 14 so get in quick and get your tickets here. Set photography by Jakob Munford.

. Sunday, 16 June 2019 .

It's been quite a week. And then it's been quite a weekend. Actually, I realised today that it's been quite a month. So busy. So hectic. So. Much. To. Do. Is it because we've only got six more months of 2019? I don't know but everyone around me seems to be in the same boat.

I don't really have that much life update at the moment mostly because it feels like all I've been doing is work/thinking about work when I'm not at work. There hasn't been much time for living lately. Yesterday was the first time in a while where I truly felt relaxed! I was up bright and early and went to brunch with my little brother and my friend Simon. We ordered quite a feast at Oyster and Chop but gosh their breakfast fare is so delicious and so well-priced. I'm definitely coming back for more!

We went for a walk around town after to get my brother new shoes and also treat ourselves to some Mecca goodies. I stocked up on my HG Mario Badescu spray and some Lanolips because winter + being sick has been brutal on my lips. I haven't been able to wear lipsticks in ages! I spent the rest of the day assembling a clothing rack and sorting out my closet once and for all. It was oddly relaxing and I can't wait to automate my morning routine by having my clothes on clear display. I also cleared all the clothes off my couch and sat on it this morning while having my breakfast smoothie. Life really is about the little things.

I realised something while I was sat there, though. I'm not the tidiest person in the world and have some hoarding tendencies that I get attached too so I have ended up with quite a lot of stuff. Most especially stuff I have no room for. So downsizing and getting rid of things that do not spark joy is actually really essential for me. And most of the time I get so overwhelmed with tidying (because I don't wanna do it/I don't wanna spend my very little time of not working doing more work instead of relaxing) that I don't want to start. I just kinda pretend the clutter isn't there and I'll do it another day. Then I'd carry on but it was always at the back of my mind and I'd feel guilty for not doing it. It's a cycle. But I realised today that actually the decluttering is only a short investment of time, and when I do get it done, I'll have the free time to enjoy and relax completely without guilt and without that voice in my head saying I should be cleaning. I don't know if I'm explaining this right, but it feels cathartic.

So I'm actually excited to get more decluttering done now because I know after this I'll literally have so much time to do what I want! I started writing fiction again on Saturday night and it felt so good. I'm currently halfway through a book, there are places to sit and write in my flat that's not littered with stuff. It's so silly that I resisted this for so long! I can't wait to get rid of more stuff! On that note - HMU if you need all the things.

This week is a bit hectic but I'm feeling so much more relaxed and ready to handle it this week. But for now I'm off to lounge in the couch (we watched Murder Mystery on Netflix and it was epic) because my dad is launching his own TV show on channel kordia on Free View TV and the pilot is showing tonight! So so proud. Happy Sunday!