The entire flight home I could hardly contain my excitement, riding wave after wave of adrenalin. Now brunch at my grandmother's house on a Saturday morning has been a family tradition ever since I was born. And just to be safe, I had also told my mother that I was sending some gifts home for Christmas and they would be delivered to my grandmother's house between 9-11am and someone needed to sign for them. But alas, she still failed to be there for my arrival...but it turned out to be a lot more fun as I got to surprise all my family members in stages.
Stage 1. My grandmother... As I pulled up in the cab I was greeted by my cousins who helped me with bags and my Daisy (grandmother) can wandering out looking like a stroke was imminent. After encouraging her to breathe, I gave her a massive hug and we couldn't wipe the smile off our faces. I then saw my grandfather Pete, who greeted me with, "What are you doing here?"
Stage 2. My mother and sister... after Daisy made a vague phone call to my mother and sister to encourage them to come up as soon as possible ... they still taking their sweet time ... finally my mum and sister Holly arrived at Daisy's for lunch and I came running out the front door where we all instantaneously burst into smiles and tears. Mum claiming "I knew you'd come home!" (She had no idea - but can you imagine if I hadn't?!). After several minutes of rejoicing in hugs and smiles, Holly took a step back and said, "You're Joan"! Now, I had to let someone in on my secret to come home, just incase they were planning to surprise me with a trip to NYC or travel anywhere else. So I had told my other sister Allyce all about it. However, Daisy was buying a Jet Boat ride on Sydney Harbour for the whole family and to ensure I was included on the boat, Allyce had lied and said her husband's friend from the USA (super creative) was visiting and would it be possible for her to join us. Slightly hesitant since it was a family only kind of outing, my mother of course said that it was no problem and asked for her name. Allyce replied, "Joan." Now I have an alter ego named Joan!
Stage 3. My auntie Janette pulled up in the driveway and I hid in the kitchen cupboard. My aunt and I share a passion for scary movies and have a long ongoing history of practical jokes of jumping out of places for the sole purpose of scaring the shit out of each other. As she entered, someone asked her to retrieve an item from the pantry and I jumped out! After more laughter and hugs I exclaimed, "I've been waiting since January for someone to open that door!"
Stage 4. My dad. My dad had been out running errands and finally turned up for lunch. As he walked up the driveway with his head focused on the ground, I jumped out of the front door in a 'Ta da!' type fashion. He gazed up and then dropped his head straight back down. Then he did a double take. His eye's popped out of his head, just like on a Loony Tunes cartoon. Another big embrace and my said, "I'm not easily surprised, but that was a surprise!"
The moral of the story is, if you ever have a chance to surprise your family in the sam manner, DO IT! The month's of guilt about lying to my mother was totally worth it!
The summer was spent catching up with family and friends, I went to the beach just about every single day (happily getting up at 6.30am to wander the sand and waves), jet boating on the harbour, Christmas cooking and New Years Eve at Sydney Opera Bar. I got tickets to the event through my friend Lisa who was the LA Production Supervisor on the Guinness Black Lager commercial I worked on. At the event we met Matt Falloon, an amazing Balloon Twister who captivated us with his charisma and his plans to travel to the USA at the end of the month for Twist and Shout, a balloon twisting convention in St Louis. He intrigued our passion for story telling enough that we decided to film a documentary about Matt and the world of twisters. I followed Matt in Sydney and filmed a preliminary interview with him (thank you to my crew - Narelle and Holly) while Lisa and another colleague Leeann, worked miracles back in LA organizing a crew to follow him in St Louis, Chicago, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. More details to come in next month's blog!
We also celebrated my sister's and my own birthday with a luxury weekend of arcade games at the Crown Casino, spa treatments, and the most extravagant Melba buffet at the Langham in Melbourne - where we had M&M naan. The weekend was also plagued with a million fried rice pranks calls between our rooms (small things amusing small minds - so many laughs...). And of course there was a stint of shoe shopping (I stopped myself at 7)! We also visited Phillip Island and indulged in Panny's Chocolate Factory, Go-Karting and saw the precious ferry penguins march up the beach. Then we headed back to Melbourne for some Australian Open Tennis...timing it perfectly to hit the 45 degree (celcius) day (probably 55 degrees on the actual courts)! I got to see Soeda, Tsonga, The Williams sisters, Ferrer, Baghdatis, Sharapova and some other up and comers. Definitely made me keen to get a racket in my own hands again!
All of a sudden the end of January was upon us and time to pack. Goodbyes never get any easier. But the new year in New York holds so many exciting opportunities including being Assistant Director/Co-Producer on Spanish Director, Dani Zarendieta's film! As well as more commercial productions and a myriad of my own projects! Who knows what adevnture are install for 2013!