a letter to the horse that saved my heart (and yours)

to the horse that saved my heart (or, chanel):

when i saw you first the first time, i immediately knew you had to be mine. i'd never seen a prettier face, and the light in your eyes shined brighter than any other's i'd ever looked into.

when we jumped around for the first time, we didn't miss a single thing-- every jump was smooth, every move up off of my leg was accepted, and for the first time since boo had passed, i felt happy, if even for a moment.

when i found out you were blind in your left eye, and you still jumped around like a pro, i was sure you were special. aside from the occasional scoot away from a shadow or look at a funny jump, you were so brave. you never said no to a chip or ran off with me after a flier. you never held it against me when i pulled up right before a jump, or when i pulled a little too hard out of frustration. you never said no, even when i was asking you to say yes to a terrible decision.

in the weeks following boo's passing, i felt like i was wading in a really shallow pool. as each day passed by, the pool was filling up quicker than i could cry, and eventually i felt myself treading water. all too soon, i was drowning, and my legs grew tired, and fighting the current became harder, and i finally understood what it meant to never see him again. but drowning was not an option.

thank you for giving me something to look forward to on my worst days. thank you for being there when i needed to make mistake after mistake after mistake. thank you for being kind to me at our first show even thought you were on the verge of a panic attack (new places are scary). thank you for not having 'second rider syndrome' when clinicians had to get on you because i just wasn't getting it. thank you for being perfect when mclain got on you and making me look bad. thank you for showing me everything i was doing wrong without being mean. thank you for being a teacher instead of a principle, and thank you for sharing your light with me.

sometimes i feel like going a week or two without riding, because grief weighs heavier with each day that passes. i've begun to truly understand what it means to lose a horse, and to have to go every day without hugging them.

i cry every morning on my way to a show because it's difficult to load a horse onto the trailer other than my golden unicorn. i cry every time i change into my coat and breeches because it's difficult not to put on a number with drambuie's name on the back. i cry every time we walk back to the trailer after a class, because it's difficult to be looking over different ears.

in the midst of it all though, when we're warming up, or on course, or walking out of the ingate to either a smile or a frown from our trainer, i forget all of that. and with each opening circle, i take a deep breath so that you can take a deep breath so that we don't both shut down. and with each approach to each fence, i'm grateful that you're waiting with me. and each moment we're suspended in the air, i swear i'm flying. 

it's difficult to forget the competing i wanted to be doing. without fail, we take home a blue ribbon every week. and that's fun and fine and makes the walls in my apartment look really beautiful. but as i say every sunday when we're schlepping ourselves to some strange town on long island: it's not about the ribbon, it's about the ride. to me, a blue or a red or a brown ribbon just means we showed up in the ring and got around (our first obstacle). and sure, each ribbon holds a different value to me. a yellow ribbon means i rode well but could have been better, a brown ribbon means i have a lot to work on, and a blue ribbon means i rode my best. they are not about how everyone else rode compared to me, or how many points i get with each one. at the end of the day, it's about having fun, riding better than i'd ridden the week before, and enjoying the ride.

accepting stepping down a level was a decision i made because you were waiting for me in the barn, and had come home off of a lease right when i needed you. a friend told me that something as terrible as boo's passing couldn't have happened if there weren't something waiting for me at the end of it, and you were that something. i couldn't stomach sitting on a dozen more horses, so i said no to looking for anyone else. sometimes the right one just falls into your lap, and you'll do whatever they need, even if it means not qualifying for a final or moving up in the eq. sometimes, for the slightest moment, i regret my decision to take on a different kind of horse, one that needed to be taught to slow down (even if we turn and burn sometimes, much to our trainer's disdain). but at the end of the day, when you're sticking your nose out of your stall begging for attention, how could i ever regret you?

i am grateful for a horse with a heart bigger than my grief. i am grateful for a horse who lets me lean my head on her shoulder to cry while she's snacking on hay. i am grateful for a horse who put her heart in mine and accepted mine in return.

i don't know what my life looks like without you, and i know that time will come. but for now, i'm beyond grateful to have a horse that saved my heart, and made breathing a little easier.

thank you. thank you. thank you.

shelby

when you lose your horse too soon and how to cope

there isn’t a gentle way to start this post, so i’m just starting: two weeks ago, my horse passed away.

it was a monday, so the barn was closed until 3 pm. as you can imagine, i was concerned when my phone went off at 6:00 am and the barn owner was calling (for those of you who don’t have a life with horses, that’s never a good thing). she said he had a little tummy ache, and i drove illegally fast the entire way there in my pajamas and whichever coat my fingertips reached first.

i’ll save you the traumatic details of what followed and give you the spark notes instead. all you need to know is nothing that could be done at the barn was helping, so we ran to ruffian (the equine hospital). the last time i saw him, he was being prepped for surgery. all that followed was a lot of phone calls and trips downstairs, where we were told worse and worse news with each visit. eventually, euthanasia was put on the table, and i made a decision without a moment’s hesitation—when euthanasia is an option, there is seldom truly an option.

we left with an empty trailer, empty blankets, an empty halter, and a piece of tail taped at either end. i couldn’t breathe.

i spent the next few days in vancouver on a trip to see my significant other for the last time, with my phone going off every minute with condolence after condolence. that trip was going to be sad anyway and it somehow managed to be more miserable than i could have imagined. i appreciated the love people wanted to share with me immensely and i wouldn’t have gotten through that first week without all of it, but it was a lot to take in during such a short period of time. i managed to sleep more than i knew i could that week (entire days), and eating was very difficult. getting on a plane and going home was the impossible task, and i barely managed it.

when i got back to new york, the world i left behind still existed: everyone still felt sorry for me, my car still smelled like iodine scrub, and my horse was still dead. to add on to all of that, i’d seen someone who i truly believed would be the only person i loved for the rest of my life for the last time, and reality was hitting me like a baseball bat to the face. my aunt tolerated my morbid jokes and sporadic crying, and my parents always answered my phone calls. my friends were supportive of me (each in their own ways), and my boss let me take a week off from work. my significant other was incredibly understanding, and for the first time in my knowing him, he let me call him to cry whenever i wanted to. despite my mourning, though, all i wanted to do was get back on a horse.

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my first day back was overwhelming, as was to be expected. my hands shook the entire drive to the barn, and i thought of a thousand different ways i could say, “please don’t touch me,” without hurting people’s feelings. i knew i had a lot of hugs i couldn’t stand coming my way and wished everyone would kindly leave me alone. i had to give people the rundown of what happened every five minutes, and even people that didn’t come up to me were pitying me from a distance. being the girl with the dead horse really isn’t fun.

fortunately, my first ride back was better than i ever could have wished. i lessoned on tanner, who i’d leased the year prior. i made all of my distances, kept him together, and rode with confidence. it was like we’d never been apart. i finished my last course and cried like a baby, grateful that he was there for me every step of the way, as i knew he would be.

each of my rides thereafter continued to be better and better. i cried every time i got off of a horse for a week, including at a horse show my second day back in the states. getting to the barn got easier and my hands eventually stopped shaking, but it still felt like i was dragging myself there with cinderblocks strapped to my ankles. i weepily banked my horse’s stall and found myself uninterested in my photography; but i was never going to not get through it, because my friends and family were there to catch me every time i felt like i was falling.

when i came home, i was anxious over whether people would judge me when i’d started looking for horses as soon as the plane had touched the ground. i remembered grumblings going on when another girl who boarded with us seasonally had imported a new horse recently after her young mare had foundered, and i became nervous about doing something people disapproved of. i knew, though, that if i took too much time off before looking for something new, i’d never come back strong, and i’d miss my chance at finals. the search began as quickly as i’d asked for it to, and we were in the car looking at a prospective horse two days after i’d gotten home.

my biggest fear coming out of ruffian was that i’d never love riding again. my second biggest fear was how long it’d take me to find something i really loved and could work with.

here’s what you need to know about boo before i go any further: he was perfect. i truly don’t say this because i think all horses are perfect (which they are). boo was my heart horse. he was kind and forgiving and took every joke i threw at him. when i slam chipped a fence or yanked on his mouth by accident (don’t panic—he barely had anything in his mouth), he would canter out without a fuss, like “okay wow mom you really screwed that up but let’s just try it again”. and we did. i would run him through a fence, and we’d try again. i jumped him over a standard and knocked the entire thing over, but he let me try again. i ran him into a wall once, and he walked away from it without a complaint. no matter the task, boo was up for teaching me, no matter what it cost him.

he was the cuddliest bear in the barn, and kisses were never far from you. he was gentle with children and loved dogs. he groomed my favorite pony and loved nuzzling the top of my head. he was generally kind to the horses and people around him, and he slowly became the most social horse in the barn. his face was always hanging out of his stall, looking for his next kiss victim. he let me take thousands of pictures of him and even let me put a hat on him. he stood for my graduation photos, and tolerated a tassel flying in his face. on my best days, he stuck his nose on mine and gave me kisses, and on my worst days, he hung his head on my chest and let me breathe through whatever i was dealing with. he was my best friend and my teammate.

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no one prepares you for when your horse dies, and there is no clear-cut program to making yourself feel better. i always knew death would be a part of my life with horses, but it was never supposed to happen this soon. i saw too much too soon and did more paperwork for vets and insurance companies by the end of my two months with him than most people deal with by their third horse. i had to balance crying when i couldn’t help it with being on the phone every day to answer detailed questions about his passing for half a dozen different people. my life was never supposed to go this way, and my biggest task became learning how to cope when everything felt broken, when giving up felt like a viable option.

what i’ve learned from all of this was there is no correct way to come back from a traumatic loss. i also finally learned the value of being able to ask for time away from my obligations (i.e. getting a week off from work or getting and extension on school assignments). i also learned that not everyone needs to know what you’re going through (sorry to the man i yelled at when he tried to get me to smile… but also please don’t ask me to smile for you?!).

mourning comes in waves, and i know that two weeks out i’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. i think i’m through the roller coaster of sadness and anger, and through wanting it to be the only thing i talked about with people. i don’t cry unexpectedly anymore, but i still cry (a lot). i think i’m starting to feel okay enough to get through the day without feeling like i’m forcing myself out of the house anymore. i think i’ve found a new horse i love, one who will make me feel proud to be her teammate and companion.

so what have i learned? well, i’ve learned that life is really unfair no matter how much goodness and love you try to put into the universe. i’ve learned that no matter how many times you pick your horse’s feet or how long you spend poulticing and wrapping their legs, an anatomical error cannot be beat, and death is stronger than any fly spray you own. i've learned to be okay with anger, and cry when i need to. i’ve learned that people will feel sorry for you for a long time, but that they will also feel really happy for you when you learn to rediscover the love that brought you to horses in the first place. i’ve learned that people will wrong you no matter how much you’re enduring, and sometimes your horse dying can’t change how selfish and inconsiderate people are. i’ve learned that your significant other will do things out of loneliness right when you leave that will destroy every fiber of your soul, and that it doesn’t matter that your horse died to them, because your trauma doesn’t keep other people from acting out of their own selfishness. i’ve learned that despite being disappointed in people i thought i loved, i have an incredible support system, and that no matter how lonely i may feel, i will never be without love.

so when you lose your horse and you don’t know how to cope, start with breathing it in, and then take it one day at a time. i’ve learned to choose kindness, and to apologize when i slip up and act out of anger. i’ve learned to do things in my own time. i’ve learned the true value of getting back on the horse. i've learned to keep my favorite book, to kill a mockingbird, in my bag at all times, because there isn't a frown that scout finch can't lighten into a chuckle. i’ve learned that sufjan stevens only works for me when i’m at my worst, and i couldn’t be more grateful. i've learned to write, and write a lot.

you will falter and fall down a dozen times for every step you take forward, but the weight of mourning will only crush you enough to keep you in bed with the lights turned off for a while. it won’t kill you, and things do start to go your way eventually.

now playing: 'louise' by big brutus

 
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new years resolutions are stupid

i hate new years resolutions. i hate them. i hate them. i hate them.

why?

they set me up for failure, i get upset when i don’t achieve them, and honestly, i forget half of the ones i make or forget how or why i wanted to achieve them.

when i graduated high school and moved to college, i finally started to realize how fallible i actually am. kids in high school, and younger, are biologically programmed to be egomaniacs, and are not ashamed of it. i often lay away at night thinking of all the dumb things i did as an adolescent and older teenager to embarrass myself. i think about all the times i was too loud or talked back to someone because i was so self-righteous. i think about all the times i insisted a boy date me, because i was the best thing he was ever going to have. i think about all the times i strutted around my high school, because playing the lead in the drama’s spring production made me royalty amongst the seven and eight year olds in the primary school.

i think about all these things now, and remind myself that i still do dumb stuff all the time, though i mentally whip myself for not knowing better because i’m an “adult” or i’m supposed to be a “grown up”.

that’s all garbage.

i can confidently say that i am twice the person i was when i graduated high school. i don’t even like her anymore. (who is she?) and i am half the person now that i will be in four more years, when i am four years out of college. or maybe not. maybe i’m twice that person now. i hope not, but who really knows?

i can be really selfish with the people i love most, and for one of the most driven and busy people i know, i can also be incredibly lazy. i have so much love in my heart, but i am stingy with how many people i share that with. and maybe that’s because i’m way too jaded for my own good, or maybe it’s because i’ve spent more time with myself this year than i have with other people. maybe it’s even because being in love is really scary, or because i am constantly afraid of being left. or maybe it’s because i’m selfish.

i hate new years resolutions because they assume that i am going to be this idealistic version of myself who gets things right all of a sudden, who tells herself to be better and just is.

i think we all run into speed bumps. the bumps become less frequent as we get older, although they do get larger. and one bump after another grows until we are hitting mountains and completely standing still, unable to strut down our high school hallways from the fit we threw in the dean’s office over not being excused from a school trip for what we believed was the ultimate reason. we have to stop and look at the obstacle and our lives stop with the obstacle. suddenly everything is harder, and we carry weights in our chests we never imagined possible before.

and i think that’s really scary. and they often feel like impossible feats. and somehow, we are expected to get through them because we made a new years resolution that we would.

and then we do. and we strut this time through washington square park from class to class, or through doors to our retail job, or through doctors offices as we finally get ourselves to therapy.

so i resolve not to resolve. because learning patience takes much longer than just 2016, and looking the way you want is impossible when you look completely different in 2017 than you did in 2013, and you don’t control who is your friend in 2012 versus 2018.

instead i promise to be kind when i can, and apologize when i lose my temperament. i promise to listen when i’ve done something wrong, and pick my battles when i’ve been wronged. i promise to take each day in stride and make adjustment to improve my life accordingly.

happy new years, weirdos.

now playing: 'mystery of love' by sufjan stevens

Shelby PhillipsComment
i think nicholas sparks would hate this

i’m not a cynical person.

some of my favorite visual experiences are the christmas lights on 57th and 5th, or the way the moon looks on the ocean’s surface in the middle of the night. claire de lune is one of the saddest and most beautiful pieces of music, and i never tire of shakespeare. i love the sound of rain against the window of a dark room on a sunday, and there’s no place i’d rather be most days than cuddled up in bed doing absolutely nothing with the person i love.

but i think all of these things—despite their beauty and sensuality—are deceiving, and paint life not as it is, but as we wish it were.

popular cinema, theatre, and literature rarely tell you how difficult being in love can be, thought i might only be saying this because i never read the unbearable lightness of being or saw about time until after i was conditioned to believe in fairytales.

my first heartbreak came as a shock to me, and felt unfair, because i felt entitled to being loved by another person.

the movies tell us that falling in love happens in one sensational moment, hitting you like a train. nicholas sparks leads us to believe that love will work out some way or another, no matter how sick your father is or how awful the war has gotten. kundera tells us you can have your cake and eat it too, and fitzgerald agrees (though you might die after all is said and done).

i wish i’d read more plath and eyre growing up. i wish i’d seen annie hall much sooner. i wish virginia woolf was taught in all middle schools, and that people would stop romanticizing romeo & juliet. i wish it hadn’t taken so long to get women published, because it seems to me—save for jane austen—women were writing more often than men about how difficult love is and how painful and confusing falling in love can be.

does love feel like getting hit by a train? yes.

but it doesn’t start with a train, unless you’re meeting for the first time on your way to vienna. falling in love starts all over the place.

sometimes you’re the first to be noticed, and it takes you a bit to catch up. sometimes the thing that will bring you more happiness than most pleasures ever did will be standing right in front of you, waiting to be seen, for days, or weeks, or months. sometimes they tap you on the shoulder in a crowded theatre and try to talk to you while you’re trying to get some reading done. sometimes they are persistent and insist that they will be the best and most loving thing that will ever happen to you—over and over and over again—while you repeatedly reject them in favor of destructive relationships with other men that are good for a night or two, or in favor of men that will obsess over you and use all of your weaknesses against you to knock you down a few pegs in an argument.

then, after all of that, one mistake after another, you finally notice. and you’ve missed it by months. and the person on the other end of being noticed is packing their bags to leave you behind, but they’re not doing it to hurt or spite you. sometimes you run out of a time because it took too long to notice them back or to take them at their word when they told you that they’d love you the way you’ve always wanted to be loved—with respect, care, and understanding.

it took me one too many breakups to learn to say no to relationships i knew would hurt or were a waste of my time. i was in for the thrill of fighting and breaking up a bunch of times until eventually i was too tired to put in the effort to text them and accept them back. it took me two years too long to accept and want the thing right in front of me that would bring me unparalleled joy.

i haven’t been in love in a very long time; not since high school. between being broken up with and cheated on while at my grandmother’s funeral following my high school graduation and last january, i’d almost accepted loneliness and short-lived escapades. i’d accepted disrespecting myself or people i was in a meaningless relationship with. i’d accepted being told that i was too much, or that i expected more than someone was willing to give, ultimately being left with the feeling that i was disposable.

i have a lot of regrets, one of the biggest being too caught up in my own world to notice the outside, and asking someone for friendship in lieu of a relationship for far too long, even when i knew friendship wasn’t what i wanted. i regret not listening to myself, and listening to my friends instead when they told me i should go for the person who bought me flowers and asked me how anyone could be so beautiful, instead of the person who read me books and thought i had a beautiful mind. i regret being so selfish and taking short term opportunities before i took the person who would make me happiest, because i knew he would wait. i regret getting caught up in my own self-disrespect, and risking losing the person who respected me more than anyone who ever bought me flowers.

what the movies tell us is that long distance is difficult, but that it’s okay because some screenwriter got paid a lot of money to give their netflix characters a happy ending, where they end up in the same place with some sort of convenient resolution to having to change careers or leaving their lives behind. what they should be telling us is that long distance is really hard, and it strains relationships, and you will fight a lot because fighting on facetime and being able to hang up and go make bad decisions an entire continent is a long easier than fighting in person and having to share a bed. they should be telling us that you probably won’t end up in the same place, despite planes and cars being at your disposal. they should tell you that you will fight and cry more than you want to, and being together is person hurts when you’re not together in personal anymore.

there are people in this world lucky enough to have few bumps in their relationships. they get their fairytale endings, and are worth a 20th century fox movie deal. but very few are as lucky.

i wish the entertainment industry would take something from eastern europeans and accept that things don't have to be painted in bright colors and marinated with a spoonful of sugar. i wish films like lady bird and phoenix were the ones bringing more crowds to the movies than trolls 2. i wish people wanted to see life as it truly is, instead of how they wish it were. i wish we were more okay with being disappointed and sad, instead of feeling like these emotions betray us somehow.

i am grateful for the manic joy romantic films and books have brought me, and i am guilty of watching the notebook thirteen too many times. i am grateful that my father can put me on planes that take me all over the world. i am grateful for a job that can do the same. i am grateful that i can wake up each morning knowing that someone loves me, even if he’s on the other side of the continent.

i am learning patience i am learning to trust that i will wake up to a world that is alive and that needs me, even on my darkest days. i am learning that love is barely like it is in hallmark films.

but i think i’m going to be okay, no matter the outcome. i have it now, and what will happen, will happen. that doesn’t change that it happened, and that i will always have it with me.

now playing: 'romulus' by sufjan stevens

Shelby PhillipsComment
adapting

i definitely knew i would stop blogging frequently when i came back to new york, because i knew that my motivation to blog was rooted in the need to make sure my parents weren't worried about what i was doing on a weekly basis while i was in england.

but now i'm back home and the seasons are beginning to turnover, and the days are shorter, and i've started going to the library. and i wear my glasses more frequently and i changed my schedule to something i wanted from something i thought would impress my "normal" college friends who spend hours in the library each night learning equations and curing cancer.

and i started to stick to my i-will-not-surround-myself-with-people-who-treat-me-poorly policy, and i think i'm learning how to be nicer to the people i love most, and i think i'm learning to ask for what i want without apologizing for myself. and and i think i'm learning how to finally get my leg underneath me when i ride, but i don't think most of you understand how important that last part is to me.

i spent my first two weeks in school in a history class i was absolutely miserable in. the class primarily consisted of men who liked to take my ideas and pass them off as each other's, and the ta apologized that i had to deal with it, but oh so kindly encouraged me to try harder to make my voice heard. as if i weren't already. and when i told my classmate i was going to drop the class, he told me it was probably because i didn't care about all the people who died during the war. and so i walked out and dropped it immediately.

the one thing i want to learn is how to tell people i don't want to spend time with them, but i don't think that's something i can learn to do, because i don't think it's socially acceptable. there definitely isn't a gentle way to tell someone, "hey, i appreciate that you care about me and want to hang out, but i just don't feel the same way." no matter how i say it, it probably wouldn't go over well.

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saying goodbye never gets easier, and i wish that was something that could be learned. i wish heartbreak didn't exist, and i wish my face didn't fill with pins and needles when someone i'm in love with disappoints me, or asks for something for himself that doesn't align with what i need in that moments. and i wish that i didn't manipulate him into getting what i want as a means of getting back at him when i feel manipulated.

i'm really proud to see the people i love most learning about themselves, and learning how to live in the world the way they want to. nothing makes me happier than seeing my best friends finding joy in their lives, and receiving the love they give to other people.

even when my best friend struggles, she always handles it with poise and wakes up in the morning to try again. i could say the best thing she ever gave me as my platonic true love is kindness and understanding. but really the best thing she ever gave me was the fact that she still wakes up, and gets dressed, and feeds herself and showers, despite how hard her mind is making it for her to do all of these things whose ease most people take for granted. and so when i don't feel like getting out of bed, or walking to class, or getting chores done, i always have her there as a reason to do all of the things that would otherwise be very easy. and i love her for that the most, i think.

now playing: '6/10' by dodie

Shelby Phillips
oxford: parting is such sweet sorrow
our revels now are ended. these our actors,
as i foretold you, were all spirits and
are melted into air, into thin air:
and, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
the cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
the solemn temples, the great globe itself,
yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
and, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
leave not a rack behind. we are such stuff
as dreams are made on, and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.
— shakespeare, the tempest
 my favorite girls

my favorite girls

do you ever use a quote on an earlier post that you later realized is perfect for your farewell post? and regret it immensely? so you quote the play you kept quoting all summer because it's brilliant and you've wanted to work on it for months? me too.

*this post is really honest*

i left bada five days ago, and it feels like i never went in the first place. from the drive home from the airport, i felt like i'd never left new york-- everything was so familiar, and nothing felt different. i'm definitely not the same person i was when i left, but i wasn't reborn or anything profound like that. i wasn't expecting to be, but i didn't feel terribly new in my skin.

i can tell you one thing has changed-- my tolerance. for my friends, for the way i'm treated, and for the people i work with, whether i chose them or not. the longer i was in oxford, the shorter my patience became with people from back home became. i can't tell if this is because long distance makes me so anxious that i lash out at my close relationships, or because i was shown vast amounts of love that validated that i am worth more than i often give myself credit for. now that's not to say that i'm some goddess that needs to be put up on this pedestal-- because, trust me, i know that i am not-- but i came back with the clearest intentions to cleanse my life of people that made me feel like less of a person than i should ever feel.

 fab group

fab group

i often stayed up late making big plans: plans to cut so-and-so out of my life, plans to call so-and-so up and tell them that i wanted or needed more from them, plans to produce this-and-that. in hindsight, 85% of these big plans were far fetched, and should definitely never be carried out. bad ideas, truly. however, 15% of the plans made sense, and still do.

times are a'changin', kids.

okay. bada.

i left england certain that i know more than i give myself credit for, but i also really don't know much. about shakespeare, about theatre, and about people/life in general.

i've always known how sheltered my life has been. i've always been conscious of my privilege. i've always been conscious of prejudice and sexism in the world. however, i can honestly say that i've never been exposed to it in my everyday life, though.

 my parents are the best

my parents are the best

i grew up in miami, and then i went to nyu. now that's not to say that being the good wife who cooks and raises the kids isn't the unsaid rule of the city i grew up in, but i went to an all-girls school that promoted independence and dedicated our senior year to feminist literature. so the cooking and cleaning definitely wasn't left to me. (do i even need to tell you how liberal nyu is?)

*mom and dad, this will probably make you uncomfortable*

while in england, i was disrespected intimately, told off for believing in my rights, and grabbed when i didn't want to be. i don't need to spend much time on my disappointing hook up, or on being pinned against a wall because a drunk man needed to explain something to me. unfortunately, most women i know all have stories like mine.

i will, however, talk about being reprimanded for (this is not an exaggeration) 25 minutes by a guy who was upset that i defended myself when one of my classmates tried to shut me down. i was reprimanded for using buzz words in response to my sexuality being attacked. i was reprimanded for sarcastically using "cis-gendered male" as a retort to my classmate telling me to "stop caking all of that bronzing shit" on my face. i was reprimanded because, "he's from the midwest, so if he doesn't believe in abortion rights, then we have to cut him a break". and all i could get out in those 25 minutes was the word "no" in response to "do you have a problem with me being cis-gender?".

i could go on, and on, and on about this. but i don't care to. i think i've made my point. i've already spent hours writing about it. i've already spent hours not sleeping because i was buzzing with anger, both at him and at myself for only being able to say "no" in response to "do you have a problem with me being cis-gender?" because i don't deal with being reprimanded very well.

i was really excited to come back to liberal-minded new york, to say the least.

my last week in oxford was somewhere between euphoric and chaotic. i was at my wits end with a lot of people. i have very little patience for complaining and unprofessionalism (do you really need to get up to go to the bathroom right now while your classmates are working?). i never understand why actors in school complain so much about being actors, or about being in acting school-- if you really hate it, why are you here? you have the choice to leave. no one is making you become an actor. i promise your parents would prefer that you became a doctor or a lawyer or something that will pay your bills.

but anyway. i digress.

shopping during the last week of school was so much fun. i found a new brand that i love (jack wills!!!!), and i got an adorable dress at topshop that makes me feel like a flower sprite. i also had fudge for the first time in my life from fudge kitchen, and it was unbelievable. i finally stopped eating at the dining hall, because it was seriously messing with my digestive system, and i got a good dinner with my parents, cousin, and granny when they came into town for my share day.

my last lesson at old manor was kind of all over the place. i felt scrambled, and i wasn't sure where my brain went. i started spiraling at the beginning of my lesson, and i never picked myself back up. we had to end the lesson on a low course with one big jump at the end. i think i spent too much time chasing heights in the lesson, and rushing to putting the jumps up higher and higher, and not enough time thinking about me and my horse. but i learned my lesson and i'm trying to keep staying patient and humble. i'm definitely not looking forward to keeping the jumps low back in the states, but i am looking forward to seeing tanner.

share day went fairly well, though not without its hiccups.

 jack wills is bae

jack wills is bae

the tempest was such a joy to perform, and although i didn't get where i wanted to with it in the two weeks we had to work on it, i still felt good walking away from it. the deep blue sea also went well, despite someone opening the door in the middle of my scene and hitting it against me to get in the room twice before almost knocking me to the ground. i wish my scene partner hadn't needed so much prompting during my second scene, and i wish i hadn't rushed into my first scene. but it wasn't a show. it was an open rehearsal, and a learning experience.

it was strange to come home and feel like i never left, because oxford was the cleansing experience and wakeup call i needed. i still get scared of playing roles that i think are perfect, and i'm still not scared of auditioning. i need to keep reminding myself that no matter how much research or table work i do on a role, no matter how many lines i can quote or relevant facts i can spit out, i can't act how knowledgable i am. i still have plenty of blocks, but i've also learned how to be much more open than i ever was at atlantic. i've learned to share all of my parts-- good and bad-- with the people who want to share them with me, because the bad stuff doesn't scare away the good ones, only the ones who needed to be scared away in the first place.

 rupi kaur, milk and honey

rupi kaur, milk and honey

more than anything, though, my best moments at oxford came when i watched people learn and grow. nothing beats the feeling of watching someone to care so deeply about fail, and fail, and fail... and then succeed. nothing beats watching the quietest girls you sit with at dinner roar with a fire unimaginable when they step on stage. nothing beats watching your favorite people play kate, lady ann, lady percy, beatrice, benedick, macbeth, constance, or macbeth. there is no greater joy in the world than being able to give your attention and life to someone for their brief moments on stage, while they throw their hearts over the fence and jump over it to the other side, where they have no idea what they're going to encounter.

this career-- this craft-- takes heart. it takes grit and bravery. it takes stamina and a willingness to give everything you have for as long as it takes to tell the story.

mom and dad-- thank you so much for trusting me to go away and work my butt off in another country. thank you for sending me abroad for the second time. thank you for always believing in my passions, and supporting me in everything i love. thank you for always letting me go where i want, and trusting me to be an adult. thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me be an actor.

thank you to my company. thank you bada. thank you midsummer.

i had to write a farewell speech, and i didn't know how to, so i wrote a song instead.

sonnet 87

Shelby Phillips
oxford: week 3
have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart... live in the question.
— Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
DSC_5533.jpg

i was looking for a different rilke quote to match with this post, but i couldn't find it. our shakespeare teacher read it to me and my scene partner last night before we began working. oh well.

anyway.

i am relieved to report that i am not writing this at 6:00 am, although it is definitely 2:01 am. i really ruined my sleep schedule and gave up on fixing it again when i realized i only had a few days left in the uk.

guys. i only have one day left of classes. that's absolutely insane.

as expected, i received many a concerned email from my parents after my last post. y'all, i am super fine. they made me laugh.

okay, here's what i've been up to during week 3 (in bullet form because nothing was exciting enough to warrant me writing about it sooner):

 punting!

punting!

  • guest class with alex waldmann (brutus is rsc's julius caesar), which was actually my favorite guest class thusfar
  • free coffee at jericho for sharing my notes from said guest class with the barista (score!)
  • lots of rehearsals
  • lots of crying about getting frustrated over miranda
  • lots of joy when i sort of figured miranda out, bit by bit
  • last ride on charlie, and i was a mess
  • getting stuck in the rain for over an hour because my taxi never came after my ride
  • haircut
  • punting with my cousin and his friends!
  • new photo collection

my time here flew, and i will obviously write a farewell post, and i'm not even sure if i want to be writing this post right now, but i'm feeling guilty that i'm so far behind on writing, and i need somewhere to put pictures, so this honestly won't even be a great post.

if i've learned anything from my last post, it's that i have significantly more patience with other people than with myself, whether it be classmates or teachers.

 riding in the rain on charlie, the weirdest moose

riding in the rain on charlie, the weirdest moose

it's no secret that i've been getting frustrated with whatever expectation i am asking myself to live up to with miranda, when there is literally no expectation beyond being false and sucking. i get stressed every time i have to rehearse the scene, so much so that my heart rises into my throat, and thinking in a straight line becomes nearly impossible. i always feel on the brink of whatever, and i can never really get there myself, which makes me feel really incapable.

my biggest fear coming out of acting school this year was that i would never be able to do the best work i ever did in school in the real world, because most of the time the best work i ever did was aided by someone pushing me to do it. an that's been true of what my work here has been like. and i guess it's true that when you're working on a production or a film, you'r.e always in process, and you will always have people working with you on getting better and dropping into a character better. but i guess what i'm really feeling is starting to be afraid of auditioning-- because i never was before-- because i'm starting to be afraid of not being prepared enough.

i guess being afraid comes with the career. blerg.

now playing: 'skinny love' by bon iver

Shelby Phillips
oxford: it's 5:36 am right now and i have not slept yet
we are such stuff
as dreams are made on, and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.
— shakespeare, the tempest

mom, i promise i haven't been doing this every night. it's just, tonight, i couldn't sleep.

i was all set to tuck myself into bed at 8:30 pm, but then i started watching a movie, and then at 10:45 pm i desperately needed to go for a run, and then i kept running into my friends on the streets (who were all going out to or coming home from a night out), and then i ran for 45 minutes, and then i decided to hang out with a friend (whom i'd been too busy for earlier because i was apparently going to sleep), and then i called mike, and then mike called me, and then i talked to tori.

and now it's 5:40 am.

and the sun is coming up.

and it's really cold outside.

and i'm sitting on a damp bench next to the deer park. which is literally a park filled with deer.

but i have my pink sweater and a red rain coat and i kind of feel like paddington bear, except his coat is navy.

i wrote in my last post extensively about how i wasn't missing all of the places i missed my friends from. but then yesterday, i started to miss home quite terribly. each one of my homes. (i have many)

i've often been impatient this week, and i can't tell if its because the food at the dining hall is still terrible and i am still only eating tomatoes and potatoes and i am dizzy because of it, or because i genuinely miss being home.

isn't there something said about how quickly the romantic feeling in a relationship wears off determines the quality and longevity of the relationship? maybe not officially, but it's definitely something people panic about. like, if you have your first fight within the first month of your relationship, or something, then it's not going to last?

i don't think england and i have had our first fight, but i think my need for the comfort of home is greater than my need for romance. i think i ran away from home too quickly to this program, and i put a lot of pressure on it to heal something that cannot be healed by escape alone. escape is a fair prescription when the illness is a rough week, or a bad business call. but i think whatever i'm trying to fix i much larger than that (and i know it is).

*mom and dad-- i'm fine. i'm just musing.**

being 21 is very strange, because it's a romantic age that has a lot of pressure put onto it. i'm on the cusp of coming from being naively young, to just being young. i'm supposed to be an adult and manage myself, but my dad still pays my rent and helps me when i need it. i don't think i should ever feel that i need to be without my parents-- because i definitely never will be able too-- but i do know there comes a time when calling them too much for the wrong reasons is frowned upon, even if my dad never gets sick of the sound of my voice.

i want so much to be my own adult, and pay my own bills, and buy my own horse, and do everything for myself. howver, this program has taught me one big thing: i know very little.

i don't panic about auditioning and getting jobs and supporting myself, because i know i can do all of those things.

i will have the career i want to have, because i have no option but to; if i don't, all of this will have been for naught, and i'm not one to waste time. the aesthetic of my headshot and the expansiveness of my resumé are the least of my worries when i walk into an audition, because if that's when i'm most concerned about in that moment, then i shouldn't be auditioning in the first place.

my shakespeare teacher-- who is one of the wisest, most empowering women i know-- told us this week: when you say yes to a character, you birth yourself into the part; you automatically become enough for it.

my biggest fear is not getting the part, but being enough for it once it's given to me. i'm working on miranda from the tempest right now, and i constantly do not feel substantial enough for her. when i was assigned the scene, i was filled to the brim with joy-- my cup was overflowing. i attacked the scene, full force.

but, miranda is perfect. she's wild, and curious, and simply complex. she has a life inside of her that burns so bright, that you cannot help but fall in love with her. she hasn't touched anything bad in the world, because she's been hidden from it, like a treasure, her whole conscious life. she's uninhibited in everything, and scared of nothing. she doesn't know what a miracle she is. she doesn't understand other people, because she has only ever truly known herself.

that's terrifying.

i'm not too smart to play her, but i know too much to understand her. poetry spouts out of her, because she speaks from her heart. i don't understand what that feels like.

i wish i did. 

it's 5:59 am.

this is an abrupt ending.

it's cold outside (51 degrees) and i'm starting to feel tired.

the porter was out, bright and early, smoking a cigarette. i told him before he could even ask that i was up so early to write, and not because i was doing the walk of shame.

the bells are starting to go off, so i think i'd better sign off.

6:12 am.

cheers

now playing: 'sigh no more' by mumford and sons

Shelby Phillips
oxford: i would not wish any companion in the world but you
i will tell you something about selfish people. even when they know they will hurt you they walk into your life to taste you because you are the type of being they don’t want to miss out on. you are too much shine to not be felt. so when they have gotten a good look at everything you have to offer. when they have taken your skin your hair your secrets with them. when they realize how real this is. how much of a storm you are and it hits them.

that is when the cowardice sets in. that is when the person you thought they were is replaced by the sad reality of what they are. that is when they lose every fighting bone in their body and leave after saying you will find better than me.

you will stand there naked with half of them still hidden somewhere inside you and sob. asking them why they did it. why they forced you to love them when they had no intention of loving you back and they’ll say something along the lines of i just had to try. i had to give it a chance. it was you after all.

but that isn’t romantic. it isn’t sweet. the idea that they were so engulfed by your existence they had to risk breaking it for the sake of knowing they weren’t the one missing out. your existence meant that little next to their curiosity of you.

that is the thing about selfish people. they gamble entire beings, entire souls to please their own. one second they are holding you like the world in their lap and the next they have belittled you at a mere picture. a moment. something of the past. one second. they swallow you up and whisper they want to spend the rest of their life with you. but the moment they sense fear. they are already halfway out the door. without having the nerve to let you go with grace. as if the human heart means that little to them.

and after all this. after all of the taking, the nerve. isn’t it sad and funny how people have more guts these days to undress you with their fingers than they do to pick up the phone and call. apologize. for the loss. and this is how you lose her.
— rupi kaur, "selfish" from milk and honey

"shelby, why would you start a seemingly lovely post about your friends with something so sad?"

well, dear friends of the internet (hi, mom), i will tell you why:

every time someone from back home asks me if i've made friends here, i laugh. i ask myself, "why would i have any trouble making friends?"

well, it probably has to do with the fact that any parent worries that their child isn't having the best time they could've possibly imagined for them. not sure why my friends are asking me the same question, but that's fine.

do i miss my friends from home? yes, tremendously. i miss the friends who i can get to by walking to their dorm, the friends i have to drive to see, the friends i have to travel out of state to see, and the friend i have to leave the country to see.

but, i don't miss the places i found them in. truly. new york suffocated me more and more towards the end of last semester, and miami has hardly been a place of respite for me. girls can be catty, and even boys-- "friends" or significant others-- bring me worse pain than i could have wished on my worst enemy. sometimes breakups come out of nowhere, because you got something somebody wanted, or because a rumor was spread, or because you said the wrong thing at the wrong time. and frequent loss is detrimental, and needs more healing than a therapist or a thoughts journal can bring.

i've said it before: spending a month in england with lovely people who all just want to act their faces off to the tune of the bard is excitingly romantic. romanticism isn't a bad thing; but, it can be a disappointing thing. my friendships here are all romantic, because these bonds are formed in the likeness of temporariness. we know we have limited moments here, and our moments are fleeting, so we all seem to be in a perpetual state of sharing all of our best parts-- our life forces, in full-- with each other.

i chose to share that poem at the beginning of this post because one of my favorite people in this program (let's call her juliet) shared it with me yesterday after having a conversation about frustrations we were dealing with over people we cared very much about back home. honestly, i am not usually sensitive to poetry, because i feel silly when i am, because i've slowly become more and more embarrassed of much i want to live in a romantic world. that is, reality checks have become far too frequent. but this poem really sat with me immediately, and i felt hurt instead of embarrassed.

even though i've said our moments here are running away faster than we can catch up, and my friendships and attitudes here are romantic, i think my friendships here function because they are such. everyone needs people in their lives who they may not see very often, or talk to as much as they'd like; but-- we all need a person or two in our lives who-- when we do get to talk to them, brings us unconditional joy.

it is such a relief to have people in my life who need to receive and want to give unconditional love. it is important to have girl crushes, and it is important to have friends who just want to sit in a circle and compliment each other, and laugh at each other's first impressions of everybody that they now love so dearly.

i've told myself for about a year now that i will cut out people who drain my life force, and really refocus my attention on those who feed it. i don't need to have dozens of friends to be successful or to be happy. on the contrary, desperately wanting to keep so many people around only hurts you more, because it demands that more of your energy be spent on less meaningful things. instead of putting my best heart into six different people, i chose three. and now i have two more. and tomorrow i may only have one, but i may also have seven. as long as they are receiving what i want to give, i keep them.

artificial and circumstantial friendships will come and go, and boys will come and go, and horses will come and go. i feel so empowered and rejuvenated by being around people-- especially girls-- who like me for my good and bad parts, and give back what they take. and when all is said and done, and i look back on my life, i want to know that i put my best self into people-- whether it be one, three, or six-- that were willing to receive it.

now playing: 'gravity' by sara bareilles

Shelby Phillips
oxford: if music be the food of love, play on

i wanted to write about this in all of my blog posts, but i'm so excited about it that i decided to give it its own post, especially because all of my other ones are longer and clouded with exciting news of guest classes and hamlet (guys, i am still not over hamlet).

i've discovered something new that fills me from the crown to the toe top-full: writing music to shakespeare text.

so many of his plays have music, but a lot of the poetry in his plays fits beautifully to music. thus far, i have written music to cymbeline ("fear no more the heat of the sun"), the tempest ("where the bee sucks"), romeo and juliet ("gallop apace"), and hamelt (ophelia's mad song). i am also working on as you like it ("think not i love him"), othello (desdemona's song), and love's labors lost ("when daisies pied").

ugh, honestly i'm just sitting here across the pond geeking out over writing music to shakespeare and other people loving it and writing songs for my friends to sing and just wanting to do this forever. and now i have all of this music written, and a lot of it in the works, and i don't know what to do with all of it.

honestly, my dream is to put on an evening called "a midsummer night's picnic" where it's totally free and people bring picnic blankets and wine to a huge park somewhere in new york (probably brooklyn because that feels like the most ridiculous thing to do for something so ridiculous) and everyone sits around enjoying music. and it won't even be a performance or a "show". it'll just be me dorking out on my guitar and all of my favorite people getting wine tipsy. that's my dream.

so if anyone wants to give me some park, that would be grand.

anyway, here's "wonderwall"...

"gallop apace" from romeo and juliet. i wrote this for my friend lucy, but i'll post her singing it once we have a chance to sit down and record.

Shelby Phillips
oxford: hamlet, julius caesar, and lilac flowers
i want the sweaty man boy, but minus the sweat. so just the man. yeahhhhhhh!!!!!!
— overheard outside my window tonight, accompanied by the smell of pot
 look at this cute little set up i made on my windowsill! credit: tanya

look at this cute little set up i made on my windowsill! credit: tanya

happy sunday!

warning: don't read this post if you have any intention of seeing hamlet on the west end or julius caesar at the RSC.

ok.

hamlet.

WOW.

i have an embarrassing confession to make: before friday night, i'd neither read nor seen hamlet. *pause for tomato throwing and being kicked in the butt*

okay, glad we got that over with.

i am always wary when directors try to modernize shakespeare, especially when i walk into a theater and technology is the most present force on stage from the beginning of the play. i was pleasantly surprised to find that this production handled technology very well.

 unrelated photo of me and my friends, ft. a baguette and  the tempest

unrelated photo of me and my friends, ft. a baguette and the tempest

from the moment you walk into the theater, the world of the play is incredibly clear. it's set in a house-of-cards-eque world, with modern corner sofas and sliding screens on stage. the opening scene, during which we first encounter the ghost of hamlet's father, is set in the security room of an ambiguous castle in denmark (obviously, because hamlet is part of a really fucked up, power-hungry royal family). instead of having the actor playing the ghost of hamlet's father (whose name is also hamlet? c'mon, bill. you invented words. did we really need two hamlets?!) walking around on stage and giving everyone the heebie jeebies, his apparition appears on the security cameras, which is the perfect way to update shakespeare's intention of freaking the audience out by putting a ghost on stage. obviously, if this guy was walking around on stage, nowadays we know it's all a façade. but, but using technology as a means of representing his ghostliness, it totally updates the way we interpret the paranormal nowadays, which is mostly as essences that we pick up on cameras and recording devices. it was even creepier when the ghost of hamlet's father beckons hamlet to come to him, because the screen showed the ghost transporting himself around the castle through jump cuts (or bumps) from him being at the back of one hallway to all of a sudden being right at the camera waving hamlet over. it was very slenderman-esque.

initially, i was concerned when andrew scott started speaking, drunk with grief, so much so that he seemed actually drunk. i was worried that his casual handling of the language would soil the whole thing, but it actually served the play tremendously. he was so charming to watch, and his erratic outbursts were never unexpected, because you always expected him to be unexpected.

the music was beautiful. fleet foxes meets simon and garfunkle. does anyone know where i can get my hands on that?

that night, i got caught in the rain and missed two buses. i finally got on a bus at midnight and was back in bed at 2 am. i called mike on the bus, and struggled to comb out my rain-sopped hair. definitely a damper on my night. *i am so sorry that was terrible. i'm just gunna go...*

 has anyone seen a wolf?

has anyone seen a wolf?

the next day, i was up reasonable early (9:30 am?) to get on a bus for our program's day trip to stratford-upon-avon. i was not looking forward to it for two reasons:

  1. if you've done stratford once, you've done it a thousand times, and i've done it twice.
  2. we were going to see julius ceasar, which i was not looking forward to because it is both incredibly violent and one of my least favorite plays.

the thing i was looking forward to most was taking pictures of my friends in the gardens in stratford, but my dream was rained out within twenty minutes of us being there. on the bright side, i got myself a joules rain coat, which i've wanted forever! i wanted a yellow rain jacket, but they only had red in my size, which was a blessing in disguise because red definitely suits me best.

shakespeare's birthplace was cool and expensive to get into.

a few words on caesar: it was brilliantly acted, but it was incredibly violent, so i don't like it any more than i did when i walked into the theater.

today, we had an audition masterclass with pippa nixon. she was lovely, and the class brought me a lot of heart and confidence in my ability to bear the burden of going through hundreds of auditions and only getting a few jobs. she had us do physicality exercises that helped us understand where certain attitudes about ourselves live in our bodies, and had us create mock audition scenarios in small groups. i kept going up on my lines during that little game! i guess my friends make me more nervous than professionals do!

that's all for now!

cheers!

now playing: 'noble heart' by phox

the only photos i was able to get before it rained all day!

Shelby Phillips
oxford: week two

to come home, or not to come home: that is the question.

 lawn chillin'

lawn chillin'

y'all! i am so happy here! that is not to say that there haven't been plenty of moments of why-aren't-things-going-exactly-as-i-want-them-to-in-this-very-moment, because there have been, but those are so few and far between.

okay, so:

pros-- i am working with a group of people that are all excited about spending four weeks out of their summer vacation working on the man, the myth, the legend: billy shakes.

cons-- not everyone comes from conservatory training, so not everyone is used to being given a scene and being expected to be off book within a day or two for rehearsals and class. it's also very difficult to ask your classmates to work a certain way, especially when it can come off as you telling them that they're not working hard enough. touchy, touchy, touchy.

monday and tuesday passed by pretty uneventfully. class is class. i'm learning and acting my face off, but nothing special.

 charlie did not get up when i told him it was time to work-- my kind of horse

charlie did not get up when i told him it was time to work-- my kind of horse

on wednesday, i was finally able to get back to the barn after a week and a half, and i felt like such a smushy lump on a horse. it's the worst feeling in the world, because all of my muscle memory is there, but i felt so off balance, even after only having taken off nine days. but, i jumped 3'6 (1.10m?) for the first time, and i swear i touched the sky. in europe, they'll let you jump as high as you want to and as high as is safe for your horse, as long as you're riding safely and effectively. my leg wasn't perfect, but it was almost as far at the girth as it is when i'm jumping 2'6 back home.

i rode this precious gem named charlie, who did show jumping starting when he was four until he was six. then, he sat in a field for two years, for whatever reason, and then the barn got him and has been trying to get him back to being in a routine again. they've had him for about a year, so he's safe and fun. let me tell you, though, he is just a big awkward moose who cannot change to save his life. ana (my trainer here) asked me to change direction while i was cantering, so i tried to change across the diagonal. obviously it didn't happen, and she then tells me that i should stick to simple changes. so we bop around and we look like awkward moose freaks together, because he's forgotten how to be a horse, and i've forgotten how to ride.

 not sorry about my leg

not sorry about my leg

so we look terrible, but i rode effectively and he was so attentive to everything little thing i asked him for. by the end of the lesson, i was galloping (safely, lesley, i promise) around a course, saving time on corners and rolling back right to the center of all of my jumps. by the end of my lesson, i was jumping 3' lowest, and jumping 3'6 at the end of a combination. i haven't felt that good about myself in a very long time. it was nice to let go of having to look pretty, and to just buckle down and get the job. it was also fun to be on a horse who knew he was a moose and just wanted to do his job. of course, i'll jump right back into my normal routine when i get home, but having fun is good for me for now.

wednesday evening we had a master class with john hefferman, and that one was definitely my favorite to date. he basically brought people up, let them do their monologues, had them play a game while they did their monologues a second time, and got incredible results. i mean, wow. easy and fun. theatre is easy and fun. *repeats to self every time i want the ground to open up while i'm on stage because i feel lost*

but anyway.

thursday was pretty chill. tanya and i decided it would be a superb idea to go on a ghost tour of oxford. it was not. here's why:

 taking pictures of tanya taking pictures

taking pictures of tanya taking pictures

  1. it was still light out, because the sun sets at 9:30 pm here
  2. ghosts are fucking terrifying

it was also a great idea:

  1. turns out, it was more of a history tour of oxford, with some ghost tour sprinkled it
  2. we got ice cream

i didn't sleep well.

friday, today, hello! today was/is exciting. i went up in shakespeare and did my scene from the tempest and it was so freeing. miranda is a joy, because, as a result of being daddy's little captive for thirteen years, she is poorly socialized and, therefore, a five-year-old at heart. basically, this means she says whatever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants to. wow. what a magical thing to be able to do. i got to run around on stage and jump from one thing to another without feeling or seeming unfocused because that's what the text allows her to do. ugh. (hipster grunt like some brooklynite who just had really good cold brew that everyone pretends they discovered) i love shakespeare.

i'm going to see hamlet tonight on the west end with my cousin and his girlfriend. i am beyond excited! this post got a little long because once i start talking about horse i just don't stop, so i'm going to leave it here for now.

cheers!

now playing: 'pulaski at night' by andrew bird

Shelby Phillips
oxford: week one
 one of the newer building on campus

one of the newer building on campus

i am embarrassed to say that most of my photos from this week are yet again iphone photos. sorry mom.

(i've already talked about some of this, but here it is again)

oxford is beautiful, and i don't think i'll ever want to go home. on our first day here, we had a cocktail party on the cloisters lawn, rich with hydrangeas.

 flowers at the victoria and albert

flowers at the victoria and albert

saturday was uneventful, minus auditions for groups. oh, and i got drinks at the turf tavern with some new friends, which is what the leaky cauldron is based on. i was not as excited as my potter-head friends were.

sunday was supersaturated with introductory handshakes and having to tell people where i'm from and where i go to school way too many times. we had a master class with fiona shaw, which was, as promised, life-changing. in the evening, we had a pimms reception on the cloisters lawn again. i am sad to report that pimms is not as tasty as i'd hoped it'd be. drinks were followed by a formal dinner in the hall (aka hogwarts). i was just about ready for someone to plop the sorting hat on my head.

we have master classes every sunday and wednesday, 4-6 pm. wednesday we don't have class, which gives us time to catch up on rehearsals and to schedule tutorials (one-on-one time) with our teachers.

i found a barn to ride at, and the school horses are so nice. the dressage horse i rode for my first lesson used to show all over england, and now he just hangs out and has the occasional lesson. his name is thomas. i think i already talked about this in my last post.

classes during the week were all introductory. the first few weeks of anything are always my least favorite, because i'm so eager to be cut loose and to get right to work... although, it was exciting to watch people make exciting discoveries in their work-- especially in voice class-- and for those who are not used to conservatory-style training to buckle down for a long four weeks. everyone seems really optimistic.

 happiest blanket patron

happiest blanket patron

on tuesday, my new friends and i went to see a production of much ado about nothing in a garden, and i was overjoyed. they set it at the end of world war ii in italy, and the music they wrote for the show was gorgeous, especially hero's epitaph. it was a bit chilly, but they had blankets. at intermission, i was so happy that i skipped around wrapped in my blanket.

on wednesday, we had a master class in the meadow with julian glover (game of thrones). not my favorite; but, what can you do?

thursday and friday were fine. class, class, class. i found the best cold brew in oxford at this place called jericho coffee.

on saturday, i took the bus into london. i visited the victoria and albert and cried at danby's paintings. disappointed love was my favorite painting from the gallery. the theatre exhibit was an absolute joy. they had costumes ranging from idina's elphaba, to a 1930s much ado benedict, to the mikado. they also had a special display for vivian leigh and peter brooke.

 disappointed love, danby, francis, born 1793 - died 1861 (oil on canvas)

disappointed love, danby, francis, born 1793 - died 1861 (oil on canvas)

funny/concerning/uncomfortable story: while i was looking at the peter brook display, this boy (around my age) started talking to me about a strange sketch of a bird inside the display, and it turned into a conversation about what each of us were doing in london. he was from whales, and studying at cambridge for the summer. after about twenty minutes, i gracefully said goodbye. later, while i was walking towards the tube to meet family, he walked by me on the street, did a double take, and "coincidentally" noticed me. he asked for my number and i gave it to him. i never heard from him?!?

that evening, i went to a family bar-b-que in wimbledon (i have family in london) and enjoyed a homemade meal for the first time in a week, which was such a relief. the food in the dining halls is terrible, and i always get the same thing to eat: tomatoes with balsamic, potatoes, and water. delicious. admittedly, that's also exactly what I ate at the bar-b-que, but it was better!!

today, we had another master class with elliot worrell-barnes, and he showed us this short film he made this year. essentially, it's a bunch of Shakespeare speeches and scenes stitched together to create this totally separate piece. he made this because he basically had all of these moments of frustration in high school, drama school, and the real world where he often felt ostracized by the fact that shakespeare on the professional stage-- whether it be at the national or on broadway-- was often done by "posh white men" with heightened speech. he wanted to create something that showed people that he knew, people that looked like him and the people he works with, speaking in their own dialects. for example, the man in the vest and the rings who you see towards the beginning of the piece will never get a job in this day and age acting Shakespeare if he uses his mother dialect, which is a shame because he's brilliant. watch here

next week, we start working on scenes and sonnets. i'm really excited to start working on the tempest. i'm also going to see hamlet on the west end with my cousin and his girlfriend on friday, and on saturday we're spending the day in stratford-upon-avon to see julius caesar at the RSC.

cheers!

now playing: 'cherry wine' by hozier

Shelby Phillips
oxford: first impressions
 the cloisters

the cloisters

 

well, i dropped the ball and took very few photos this week. excellent start.

please enjoy pictures from my iphone.

travel is not exactly a point of interest, so i will spend few words on it-- planes are crowded, there were crying babies, the food was disgusting, and my legs cramped up the entire time.

my aunt and uncle who have lived in london for 30+ years were beyond generous and picked me up from heathrow to drive me an hour to oxford. they have a cute mini coop, so it was a little cramped, but fun.

arrival in oxford was a bit hectic.

 high street

high street

i'm lucky enough to be living in the middle of oxford on high street, and my building is hundreds of years old. the porter laughed at me when i asked if they had an elevator, because i'm staying on the top floor of my building, which, mind you, is a medieval building. medieval.

(four flights of stairs a dozen times a day gets exhausting really quickly)

i'm spending the summer with BADA, which works with the yale school of drama for their summer programs. every one of us had to audition for the dean of students and two other faculty members so they could place us into groups-- i'm pretty sure i forgot how to act when i walked into the room.

thankfully, i have a lovely group and i'm making friends.

 thomas!

thomas!

most importantly, i found a barn to ride at. it's a 10-minute cab ride; £5 each way, which is a relief. lessons here are so much cheaper than they are in the states. i rode this sweet dressage horse named thomas, and he was a star. he's in his early twenties, so we spent most of our time getting warm and loose so that i could ask for more connection. once he gets going, he's a star. i did a real leg yield for the first time. i did get frustrated at times, because dressage is so unfamiliar to me as its own discipline, and there's so much work that goes into it. mad respect for dressage riders.

i have a jumping lesson next week!

cheers!

 

now playing: 'pulaski at night' by andrew bird

Shelby Phillips
hey there

i think writing is important, and i've never been one to overshare on social media, but i also think sharing is important. my trip to england seemed like the best opportunity to get started with this whole here's-how-i'm-feeling-without-making-you-read-about-it-on-social-media. this also feels like the best place for photos that don't belong in a collection. so i guess this is a thing i do now.

cheers!

now playing: 'bright lights and city scapes' by sara bareilles

(the dog is unrelated to this post, but she's cute)

Shelby Phillips