‘A little bit insane’

Yesterday I made the first move in blogging again with a statement that I’m on the cusp of a big adventure. But why? This morning I opened my Facebook to a memory of a status I posted two years ago that made sense then, but not now. Context, that’s the key. So, context to my adventure:

For the past however-many years I have raved to anyone who would listen that I had my own production company and I was making creative work and one day we’d do really big things. In the past year myself and my awe inspiring partners (don’t tell them I said that) really set our sights on the big things, clarifying the dream and beginning to run at it. No, we didn’t know what in high hell we were doing, and we spent a while trying to find the path whilst all the time pushing the dreams and goals to bigger and better heights. To this day there’s still a part of us that is clueless, but the one thing becoming an adult has taught me is that we all are a little clueless all the time. So we’ll be alright.

We really set our eyes on creating great work and opening a building, and I had pretty much decided to give up on everything else other than that dream when I got a call from a very certain Scotsman…

In late November 2017 I received a phone call I didn’t expect asking me to interview for a job in London. Up until this point I had assumed my application wasn’t successful and had moved on, but the Scotsman asked me to interview the next day. By happenstance I would be in town so I accepted. He wasn’t anything like I’d expected (he did wear the jumpers I’d imagined him wearing though) and he offered me the job on the spot. Suddenly I was going to be living in one of the biggest cities in the world, and I started work in two days’ time.

Stress doesn’t really cover what the next month was. Christmas in hospitality and events is hard enough. In a new job in a new city in a new everything and sleeping on a friend’s couch… Baptism by fire sums up about half of it. But I was at the beginning of a great adventure.

During my interview for the job I stated outwardly that I was a creative person who made and would continue to make creative work across all platforms. I had learned the hard way in my previous job to never hide who you really were, and I’m sure my job hunt lasted as long as it did because I refused to be anything but me in my applications (though with fewer swear words, to make a good impression and such…). My new boss seemed altogether on board. I tested that onboard-ness a month later when I pitched doing a show in our pub’s secret cellar bar. Everyone (including a part of me) said I was insane to make that ask that early into my contract, but none of my successes ever came from me being anything other than me: ballsy, blunt and relentlessly creative. That’s how, at the age of 20, I started my own company and how, by 23, I sold out my shows at the biggest international arts festival in the world (not that I’m bragging or anything. But I am proud, as I should be). These traits are generally clumped together to form the phrase ‘a little bit insane’. So that’s what I was when I took the job, and when I asked if I could put on a show downstairs in our bar. And I got a definitive ‘yes’.

Jones‘ didn’t sell out, but it did inspire, enthuse and enthral everyone who came to see it. To me, it was therapy, and it was me taking my life back. An old friend from the times when I was at my most ‘a little bit insane’ was involved in the project. We hadn’t seen each other for years, but he said that although I’d grown, I ‘haven’t changed’. Truth is I had, and I’d lost my kind of crazy, but through the past few months, and epitomised by Jones’, I had found it again. And I have no intention of losing it again.

Jones’ was also my first ever London show. London. LONDON! It was the first show I’d written solo, it was the first immersive show I had directed, it was the first show I’d charged a decent ticket price for… it was a success.

It was also the first major step in this ballsy, blunt, relentlessly creative and crazy adventure both me and two of my favourite people are on.

And I want to write about it.

So here I am, restarting a blog I love, writing about a thing I love, balls-ily, bluntly and relentlessly. Seems like something Carrie Fisher would be proud to have inspired.

So, to getting One Foot in the Door and questioning why I put this on the internet,

Last Minute Business Jem

What got you to where you are now? Have you ever done something totally mad and it’s put you on your right path? Tell me your story in the comments section below. I can’t wait to read them!

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A New Hope

Yes, that is the name of a Star Wars film. Yes, it is the name of the first Star Wars film, and yes, I have just finished reading Carrie Fisher’s Princess Diarist (it’s a great book, go read it now). The book recounts the beginning of the new age in film making, in story telling, in the world and in Fisher’s life. Star Wars IV changed everything, and was A New Hope.

Today I am starting my own journey. To say I am only starting today would be an insult to all the hard work I’ve put in over the previous years and months, but today I am deciding to document it.

For the past few years here at Last Minute Business Jem I have struggled to find myself inspired by the content that once drove me to blog almost every day. I’ve moved on and grown as a person, my priorities and interests have changed, and you know what? That’s okay. I’ve always wanted to get back to this blog; I enjoyed it endlessly and still do, I’ve just not known what to blog about.

But after the past month I have found my itch, my love and my addiction to writing again, and – through the Princess Diarist – found a compelling argument to write some of my thoughts about my present form of existence down. So here I am.

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I promised pictures of kittens in my About section. Not everything has changed. (Here’s a recent picture of me and my cat. He is distracted, but I am happy to see him, can you tell?)

I don’t know what the story this blog will tell is, but I know I am stood on the cusp of some great adventure. I’ve moved to one of the biggest cities in the world, I’m taking life by the horns and I’m about to go travel part of the world. Things are happening, and I want to be able to read about them 50 years from now, and also to think ‘why did I put that on the internet?!’.

So, until next time and thought….

 

 

Last Minute Business Jem

 

What is your big adventure this year? Let me know in the comments section below and let’s start a conversation. And if there’s anything you want to hear more about, let me know below!

# Me Too?

Over the past week a movement has struck social media to raise awareness of the widespread issue of sexual harassment, with women from all over the world posting the hashtag #metoo.

metoo

I first saw this post at the very beginning of the week. I read it and signed a breath of relief, deeming myself not one of those people. A quick scan of my existence concluded that no, I didn’t believe this applied to me. As it popped up in the timeline of almost every woman I know I counted myself lucky.

Until I saw one post. It wasn’t a copy and paste of #metoo as with all of the others, but a post that listed but a few of the encounters this friend had endured. They ranged from the extreme – of which I am lucky to never have had to survive – to the every day. I realised I had been mistaken in my assumption that #metoo didn’t apply to me. Yet it wasn’t the listing of the unwanted gropes or derogatory cat calls, the shaming, or even the habit of checking my back and holding a pair of keys defensively that got me: it was the admittance of a tactic that is used by too many women.

engagement
Source: http://www.beautytipsmart.com/big-diamond-engagement-rings-on-hands-designs-photos.html/

Wearing a fake wedding or engagement ring to warn off unwanted attention is a tactic well known to women. Somehow holding a hand up with a sign of ownership to another man has more weight than a woman simply saying ‘no’. There are all number of things wrong with that, but I’ll leave that to you to ponder upon. I, however, had never, until the #metoo movement, thought anything more of this tactic than it being just that, an easy way to get left alone. In the rare times I have gone out without my very cheap, very fake, very convincing-in-pub-and-club-lights ring it takes several ‘no’s, countless excuses and inevitably a dodge and hide into the bathroom to avoid many encounters. Don’t get me wrong: not every interaction is like this, but there are enough for me and countless other women to know exactly what to do in the routine of escaping unwanted sexual advances. And yet when presented with #metoo for the first time I didn’t class myself as someone who had been sexually harassed or assaulted. Because to me, it’s just… life. And that’s not cool.

As this movement has taken off I have seen men shocked and affronted, and some asking how they can stop this, or apologising for any past discretions. This made me think: If I as someone who has had numerous conversations about this and who lives through it every day is shocked with the spread and depth of this issue, how do those of the accused gender feel? Not everyone is guilty, but there can be some confusion and doubt in this seemingly complex situation.

It is all of our responsibility to address this situation and to right this doubt and confusion. The hashtag is a good start, the engagement with it even better, but now we need to actively do something about it. If you have seen someone you care about post #metoo, or if you posted, or if you are one of the countless women who haven’t posted #metoo for whatever reason, and even if you fall into none of these categories, there are a couple of things you can do to be mindful and to finally turn this abhorrent reality into history.

Everything I am about to say can be bundled into one simple thought, presented by Anne Victoria Clark earlier this month in the form of ‘The Rock Test’.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
Source: Dwayne Johnson’s Twitter Feed: @therock https://twitter.com/therock

Men: Whenever you are interacting with women, treat them as if they were Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Would you grab his ass again after he said ‘no’? Would you even grab his ass without his permission?! Treat women (and everyone else you meet) as if they were The Rock in all his glory.

Women: Whenever you are uncomfortable or dealing with someone who has forgotten you’re The Rock, treat yourself like you’re Dwayne Johnson (out of the ring; don’t hit anyone.). He’s kind, gentle, wonderful and strong, unapologetic and confident. I’ve seen a lot of women finding themselves uncomfortable in an unwanted situation, but they just stand, smile and take it. I’ve done it! We need to be kind, confident and straight. If you’re uncomfortable or don’t want any advances, be The Rock and say confidently and kindly ‘No thanks’. Don’t apologise. Just say ‘Nah man, I’m not cool with that. No thanks’. Be as clear as possible and don’t give room for anything else. Just remind the other person you’re The Rock, just as they are.

If that’s too abstract for you, here are a few further tips:

Men (though Women, read this):

Empathise – Stop, Think, then Act

The thing you are about to do to a woman; would you be comfortable if roles were reversed? Don’t touch anyone unless they tell you they want you to and apologise if you get it wrong.

Accept

When you make an advance and a woman says ‘no’ or doesn’t seem a thousand percent into it, stop. Accept her decision. It’s not an insult to you – it often has nothing to do with you – so just go ‘OK’ and move on. We aren’t playing hard to get! One of the best interactions I’ve had with an interested stranger was when he asked me if I’d like to get a drink, I said no and he said ‘OK, have a good day!’ and went back to his life without any hurt. Simple as that. It was refreshing. It made me respect him, because he respected me.

Additional to this, if a woman or person comes to you and says they felt uncomfortable with something you or someone else did, do NOT tell them they are ‘overreacting’ or ‘being dramatic’. Whether they are or not is not the point – they felt this way and that is all that matters in consent. Accept it and act with the appropriate amount of kindness.

Don’t stand idly by

If you see another guy making a woman uncomfortable, don’t look the other way. Take the measures you need to in order to check that she’s ok, and if you see your friend making someone else uncomfortable call them out on it. The world is currently being made to look at what happens when we look the other way and don’t say anything. Don’t let it happen anymore by being passive: Stand up.

 

Women (though Men, read this):

Teach

We are all daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends. We are all females in men’s lives. Share your experience with men and boys so they can understand and be aware of what it’s like, and what you think they can do about it (these tips aren’t exhaustive!). Teach your boys to respect women and people in general. Answer and encourage their questions in how they cannot be part of the problem.

Be straight with men – Stand up

I, too, have a secret signal I give to my friends to get out of situations with unwanted strangers. I, too, know the worry you have over consequences of being clear and strong. But, it has long been concluded (whether accurately or not) that men need things to be stated clearly and without subtext. We all know what it’s like to wonder ‘what did [they] mean by that?’. Leave no room for that wonder or the assumption that you’re playing hard to get. Be kind and understanding and make your stance clear. Don’t play games.

Don’t let others stand idly by

I am ashamed to say that I have seen and then chosen to walk past a woman who was pressed against a wall by a guy chatting her up. Why? Because a few hours earlier I had not stood idly by, had interrupted a similar situation, and had the woman call me all sorts and attacking me because I was getting in her way. Don’t be that woman. If someone asks if you’re alright, don’t attack them. They’re just showing care. All you are attacking is their willingness to help someone else out. It’s scary enough facing the chance the man may attack you, but to also face the chance that a woman may attack you… that’s not cool. All you do is decrease confidence and willingness to not stand idly by.

And on this note, don’t join in on the shaming that occurs when a friend confides in you. No one is overreacting. Encourage yourself and other’s to speak up. We are witnessing now what happens when we empower ourselves enough to speak up and call things out.

All of these tips hold relevance to both of the sexes. And if that’s still too much, then just work by this: be kind to one another. That is our responsibility.

 

Last Minute Business Jem

 

 

Do you have any tips to help end the need for hashtags like #metoo? Any thoughts on the tips mentioned above? These are not extensive, how would you suggest we all help end this issue? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

 

You couldn’t have planned that

Listen to this article here: https://soundcloud.com/user-164943907/you-couldnt-have-planned-that 

Today I was reminded of the importance of meditation. I’m not talking about surrounding myself with candles and clearing my mind and soul, I’m talking about just sitting, switching off, and existing, for even a minute. We can lose ourselves so easily in this busy world. It’s busy, noisy, opinionated and fast. And if we’re not careful, we can get swallowed by the wave of the rest of our lives, and miss the precious moments we are living right now. It’s this wave of frantic activity and distraction that I am beginning to have the sneaking suspicion is the cause of that thing old people warn us of: Regret.

you-couldnt-have-written-thenI wouldn’t class myself as someone who is regretful – as a child I prided myself in not having any regrets, but only having lessons learned. I was either a wise kid, or the most pretentious arse in the playground (I wouldn’t discount either of those options). But recently I’ve found myself getting caught in the rapid wave we call life and ambition, getting hurled blindly through the sea toward some vague goal, surrounded by the bigged up achievements of others that I somehow feel I need to compete with. I haven’t realised until now how much I was actually drowning without noticing. I wasn’t seeing the wonderful scenery or Nemos around me, or enjoying the water massaging my skin along the way. I’ve just blindly been looking for the surface, and haven’t realised I’ve been running out of air. When all along, all I had to do, was enjoy the ride, make the most of it, and trust that I’d find the surface eventually.

As My Chemical Romance as that sounds, I don’t think I’m too alone in this feeling. I can’t be There are so many writers, and speakers, and people striving toward the one solution to this problem. The one thing that will stop me from getting a glimpse in hindsight and wondering painfully why I didn’t say that thing, or do that other thing, or notice that other thing back then. In the moment. What I’m eluding to is this idea of Presence.

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Back in university I spent a good three years studying the principle of presence (the pretentious element of my personality garnered in pre-school has evidently survived middle school). It gives you gravitas, they said, weight. What I eventually learned was that it gave you life. When you’re in the moment, there’s nothing that can escape you, and nothing to worry you. When you fall out of the moment and don’t trust that gravity will bring you to the surface and give you the air you need to breath, you get bogged down, you feel dirty and gross inside, and your sight becomes foggy. The blinkers go up and you start to drown, not seeing any of the hands reaching out to you as you fall. This, my wonderful readers, is regret. Or at least where regret harbours.

And it’s so damn easy to not live in the moment! Or even in the very skin you live in! With the world at our fingertips, we can be with our family abroad, or part of the government debate, we can be in space, or fuzzing the fluffy little kittens on the internet. The one place that it’s hard to be is in our own body. Never mind the time or space that our body happens to have found itself in. And, saddest of them all, if we aren’t in our bodies, in the time and space we occupy, how can we be with the people we are around? How can we really BE with the things that matter most? Our lives. We’re so caught up in sprinting headlong toward our own goals, into heated internet debates, or into any place other than the one we are in now, that we miss the present. We miss the moments that give us the most joy. That give us the best memories. We’ll never remember that status Stacey wrote at 3.15 in the afternoon whilst we were having a late lunch with our loved ones. We’ll never remember the plans, or the worries about those plans, that we were focusing on instead of our kids when they ran out of school and excitedly told us about their day. We won’t remember any of that shit. Because that’s exactly what it is: Shit.

But one day, hopefully not when we’re old and can’t do anything about it, each and every one of us will have that moment where our head breaks out of the water for a second, and we’ll realise all the fun we could have had. You’ll realise that the story your kid is bringing up again after six years had an impact on them. And you‘ll have missed that impact.

What I’m trying to say, without the poetics or the verbosity, is that we need to give ourselves the time, patience and forgiveness to live entirely in the moment. If not all of the time, but at least once in a moment, a little more than now and again. Yes, make plans, action those plans and rejoice in the idea of that future, but don’t spend your life living a plan that isn’t happening instead of living the beautiful and magical reality that is your life. Because the saying is right; the most memorable and magical moments couldn’t have been written. So stop trying, and just be.

CAKE!!!

 

 

Jem, Last Minute Business

 

Any top tips for staying in the present? Any thoughts on listening to the article? Missed the link? https://soundcloud.com/user-164943907/you-couldnt-have-planned-that

Comment below!

From Pirate Ships to a House of Cards

When you take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival you don’t really notice anything around you in the first few days. Routines are being set, kinks are being fixed, adaptations are being made, and you’re not noticing the building works across town that block your usual route down there (HOW DO I GET TO VOODOO ROOMS NOW!?), or the places that have closed down (RIP Counting House Fest), or any of the rest of the festival and the amazing work being put on around you. You’re working around the clock to ensure you and your show are a well-oiled machine so the enjoyment can finally begin. You don’t notice the changes.

CD after first show
After our first ever performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016. And champagne.

This festival has been a big change for me. The festival itself hasn’t changed one bit: The same acts are here, the same kinds of shows, the same routines… but this time I’m seeing it all through a wildly different perspective. Four years ago I was a bright eyed clueless flyer-er for a small show at the same venue I now find myself at, but this time I’ve moved up the ranks to being the director and producer. I’ve come full circle to find myself in a completely new ballgame.

It’s a ballgame not quite like any I have played before. The rules are the same and I’ve seen some of the players before, but the game is completely different. I learned to direct and produce work from the directors and producers I have acted for. But when you’re an actor you don’t notice the way the game changes when it comes to the live performances. You’re too wrapped up in what you are doing to notice the hire wire act the director suddenly has to play between keeping you on track, improving the show, and ensuring you feel like you’re doing a good job. Then, when you’re in a festival situation, the director also has to balance the sociable with the leading as you’re probably all living together. You suddenly aren’t aware of the fights the producer has to win and the lengths they have to go to to be the magician that makes reviewers and opportunities appear in that audience each night. Nor are you aware how much this creative process turns into a numbers game.

My role in this international festival of art and culture has taken small steps up throughout the past three years, but this fourth year brings one giant leap for this woman. But the environment is still ever changing and I’m still having to adapt in my roles. I’ve gone from captain of a pirate ship to a fixer in a house of cards.CAKE!!!

 

Jem

Last Minute Business

 

Any tips?! But, seriously. If not, then come along to the show I’ve directed and produced – Cats and Dogs Give the Best Advice – playing every day from now until August 20th 2016 at Spotlites on George Street at 7.40pm. Book your tickets here.

 

Edfringe Ahoy!

So here we are! The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016!

Cast and Puppets 1

Well, not quite. I’m currently sitting on a train on my way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016, but I’m still going to throw my arms up in joy and shout ‘we’re here!’. After four months of rehearsals and nine months of development, we are finally ducking here. This has been a process of hard work, dedication and a lot of puppet love. My cast have pushed boundaries and I have pushed them further, always encouraging us to make ourselves laugh and be stunned. Hell only knows what our audiences are going to experience going in cold. I can’t wait to find out.

Although I sit here with my mind and my body feeling every sleepless, determined hour of the last year, I am still glowing with satisfaction. I don’t know what the next two weeks will bring for our show and us as people, but I am fulfilled by the remarkable fun and hard work my cast have put in so far. They’re a cast I can rely on and have never doubted, qualities of this familial bunch that will be tested by the turbulent nature of the beast that is EdFringe. But they are strong, and resilient – they had to work with me for four months! – and I have every confidence they’ll take this monster in their stride. I cannot praise them enough.

Yet I won’t praise them too much right now. We’ve still got a blockbuster scale mission in front of us and they might read this, so ‘Oi! Work!!’ I shout. I can’t wait to show them the wonder of the magical place that is Edinburgh in August, and I can’t wait to show them off. I can taste the excitement.

For now, though, I’m just checking in at the start of this journey. I am the captain of a good ship, with a great crew, and a wondrous adventure in front of us that would have even Jack Sparrow stowing away in the hull. It’s all been done with not a single drop of rum so far, let’s see what hell we can bring this beast whilst we’re sipping on the golden nectar of life. Come at me Eds.Director Jemma Rowlston attacked by Puppets

 

Jem

Last Minute Business

 

Since September 2015 I have been producing and directing ‘Cats and Dogs Give the Best Advice’, a kids’ show for adults. It is now (about to be) playing at Spotlites @ George Street at 7.40pm every night from August 6th – 20th. Come check it out!*

 

*Only one puppet was hurt in the making of this show.

A Poorly Noted Rhyme with a Big Sentiment

A little something for a few who will know who they are. Thank you my friends…

This is a poem to say thank you
To all those I have come to love
You have filled the holes
In my heart and soul
And shown me to see above
The bad times, the hard times, the tough times.

As the year draws to a close
I hope your hearts are filled with all of those
Delightful things that make you smile
And make your life feel worth while.
Because you gave me that
Once upon a time
And for that I thank you
With this poorly noted rhyme.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Last Minute Business Jem CAKE!!!

Forget Me Not, Myself…

IMG_0506
Sometimes you have to hand write something to get it out…

Over the past few months my life has led itself down a path unintended. This unexpected adventure has filled me with lessons, love and unimaginable fun. I am a clearer, happier and better person than I was before. I am also viewed by many, it seems, as something other than me. Or at least, they’re missing an idea of a big part of me. The people I spend my days around – whom I want to spend the upcoming future around – seem to see the things I view as my core merely as the footnotes of me. The things I define myself by are viewed by others as irrelevant.

Why?

Because I never showed it to them.

Why?

Because I didn’t think it was important.

That, my lovely reader, is my dilemma. At some point in my existence I thought my shiny core wasn’t important in and of itself, never mind important enough to share with other people. I didn’t place enough relevance, respect or love on my true self to make sure everyone and their uninterested mother knew about it.

If I’m honest with myself this has been my fatal flaw for the past couple of years. I’ve lost people, caused havoc, and created a lot of doubt in my world because at some point or another I didn’t show who I truly am. It’s become a tendency, a habit. But never before has it denied me something I deem so intrinsic to myself, and never before has it shuck my world like this…

Life can get fast; a huge tidal wave of excitement that sweeps you away and makes you forget to hang onto a few things. Sometimes that’s your toothbrush, other times it’s your self. And often you won’t realise you left those things behind until you’re looking in the mirror and seeing your un-brushed teeth… or your untrue self, reflected in the eyes of others.

It’ll make you look at yourself and your life choices. And you’ll have that moment where all you can see in the future are people grimacing at your breath or the remnants of breakfast stuck in your teeth. But that moment won’t last long. My anguish at my invisible core didn’t even last to the end of hand writing this article before I had moved on to finding the solution. Because no matter how little the world around you sees who you really are, you are still that person. You can still be that you. You do not need permission or acceptance. And maybe showing those around you that true part of yourself will get you gasps of awe and amazement just like that first time you showed them how great you are.

You are you, no matter what others may deem you as. You just have to remember to hang onto that and always bring it out, and not just as a party trick.

CAKE!!!

Jem, Last Minute Business

Have you ever needed to convince others to see you as you view yourself? Have you ever forgotten about a part of yourself? Tell us your story in the comments section below and we can all help to see each other a little clearer. 

Cat Video Sunday

So, today I sat down to write an article; a poignant, touching, clever article. I have something to say and I wanted to say it. Then, just as I was waiting for the word document to open, notes in hand, I tabbed over to facebook. Big mistake. At least, usually it is.

Today when I opened facebook I was inundated with cute, fluffly, adorbsable (mainly) cat videos. Every second post was a conversation with a cat, or a massaging cat, or the token flying squirrel. As much as I wanted to write a poignant, thoughtful, funny article, I was completely and utterly distracted by the joy of cat videos and the internet. And that was alright. Sometimes we just have to take a moment and enjoy something that makes us feel fuzzy inside, or things that make us go ‘awh’. Sometimes a week just reduces us to having to do such things for our souls.

So… today…. I present to you fuzzies…


Posted by ViralFeeds on Sunday, September 20, 2015

and happiness…

and cuteness…