singing

All posts tagged singing

Diary of a druggie

Published December 20, 2012 by crazyinpink

Things have been a bit manic in my pink world as of late.  In keeping with the sitcom that is my life, I’ll provide updates on the various sub-plots going on.  Bear in mind that my pain has been very bad lately so I have been on quite heavy doses of my painkillers.  But, even so, things have certainly been interesting!

The One with Political Unrest

Northern Ireland, as some of you may know, has its fair share of turbulent history.  I grew up during the peace process but still, riots, bomb scares and the like are very much part of life here. Things have been relatively quiet over the last few years.  Then, the council of Belfast voted to remove the Union flag from outside the City Hall.  If you have any idea of ‘the Troubles’ you might know that this was not taken well.  Riots kicked off and disrupted everything, traffic, Christmas shopping, everything.  It has been two weeks since the flag was taken down and there are still protests every day. Some of them are peaceful and there was a wonderful prayer rally in the city on Saturday morning but my wee country still remains troubled.

The One with the Choir Drama

Rehearsals began in earnest for our Christmas concerts last week. Our first rehearsal had to be cancelled at the last minute due to aforementioned riots so we only ended up with two.  My choir buddy Ellie had been extremely anxious about returning to choir after the fiasco of her relationship with that guy from choir who turned out to be advertising on gay dating websites.  We had concocted a plan, codenamed Operation Crazy, that we would stick together and if anyone were to bring up the subject of her ex, I would immediately start acting crazy and distract them. Rehearsal One went well, all of us concentrating on sight-singing.  Rehearsal Two featured my friend not feeling well and as we held up a radiator during the break, she offered up all the dirt on her ex to a fellow choir member, even showing him the photos she still has of all the dating profiles.  The guy is a bigger gossip than most of the women so I for one was not overly surprised when barely a day later, she started getting facebook messages of a not-very-nice nature from her ex’s friends. *sigh*  The culmination of all this drama meant that she spent most of the day of the concerts complaining and saying she was never coming back. Our matinee performance was going well until she whispered to me that she didn’t feel well and was having a hypo. It was a long day of rehearsals, soundchecks and then two concerts and I had stocked up on my meds, made sure I’d eaten and had snacks to get me through and I don’t even have diabetes. Ellie was diagnosed earlier this year but as far as I can see, has not altered her lifestyle at all. She eats more takeaways and junk food than anyone I know and always has a sugary fizzy drink in her bag. She had, for some bizarre reason, not eaten so it was no wonder that at 4pm she felt rotten. As soon as the interval began, I whisked her off-stage and tried to get her to eat some chocolate buttons. She insisted on staying in the corridor and not going into any of the dressing rooms and didn’t go on for the second half. It sounds awful and I don’t mean to be bitchy but part of me thinks she stayed there so that people would see her and give her attention. After the first concert ended, we had time to go get dinner and by this stage, I was knackered and just wanted to sit down and have some hot food. Ellie was adamant that we should go to the Christmas market, outside and crazy busy, but I overruled and stated that I was off to Nandos with the others.  She eventually came round to the idea and was miraculously all better for the evening show.

The One with Graduation

I graduated from my Masters last week.  With decidedly mixed feelings.  I still haven’t quite got over the injustice of my final grade. Because of a silly little sub-rule, I graduated with an average of 71% but only received a commendation instead of a distinction because of the marker of my dissertation. I know in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter much but I am a perfectionist when it comes to my studies and this will annoy me for the rest of my life. I was told off by my mum for not being excited about this graduation and being too hard on myself but the excitement didn’t really kick in until the day before. Unlike my last graduation, I did this one on a budget. Did my own hair, got one of my GB girls to paint my nails and got a dress in the sales a few weeks ago, wearing a pair of ridiculously sparkly heels I got last winter.  The day went really well. It stayed dry and, bizarrely, sunny (although still cold, it is December after all). I ended up sitting next to my two friends from class in the ceremony and got a lot of cheesy photos taken after in the reception.  Then my family went out for lunch and the restaurant put  a sparkler in my ice cream sundae and gave me a box of Ferrero Rocher as a graduation gift!! I should wear gowns more often!

The One with Doctors

I’ve had several encounters with doctors recently too, on top of everything else.  My silly tummy still only lets me eat plain chicken and mashed potatoes so I returned to the doctor as instructed after trying their waste of space indigestion medication for a month. The doctor I had was barely older than me, didn’t seem to know what endometriosis was and was clearly out of his league with a complex patient like me. It was a complete waste of time. I felt such despair as I had only that morning found out that my pain doctor was so backlogged that it would be February before I could get the drug infusion I was due in September.  How on earth was I meant to get through Christmas unable to eat and spending every day in excruciating pain?!  Then the clouds parted and a crowd of heavenly host (or a nurse from the pain clinic) called out to me with good news of great joy. A cancellation! Before Christmas! So, I got my infusion on Monday!! Hit me hard since I haven’t had one since June and I’m obviously not eating as much but I feel much better already. Truly was a Christmas miracle!!

 

I have several other tales to tell, mainly about the men in my life, but I really must go wrap some presents and sing along to cheesy Christmas music.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment of the sitcom that is my life, tentatively titled ‘Diary of a Druggie’.

Brought to you by Tramadol – it’s awesome!

Advertisements

Breaking down in public

Published October 10, 2012 by crazyinpink

People tell me I’m strong.  I like it when they do because it implies that they have an appreciation of what I have to deal with in my life.  I also don’t like it because it makes me feel like a fraud.  Sometimes I don’t feel like being strong.  Sometimes I break down and can’t see how my life will ever be what I dreamed it would.  I haven’t felt very strong lately.  There are a few reasons for this.

The Guy

I did a Brave Thing and asked out the guy I like thirteen days ago (now that I’m counting or anything) and he hasn’t replied.  Not only am I hurt and rejected but I also can’t help but feel a bit stupid.  I really thought he liked me and not in that way girls usually trick themselves into looking for ‘signs’ and hidden meanings.  We got on really well and he used to invite me out with his friends, tease me, help me, always took an interest.  I’m as guilty as anyone for over-analysing men (or ‘manalysing’ if you’d prefer) usually just for a bit of a laugh.  I’m not an OTT giggly girl who NEEDS to have a boyfriend in order for her life to have meaning.  I’m not even someone who is desperate to get married the older they get (although I know a lot of people like that).  If anything I’m hopelessly pragmatic when it comes to seriously considering a relationship.  I love flirting but actual relationships I take seriously.  And when I weighed up everything I knew about him, I thought I was making a good decision with this guy.  He can be quite shy and I thought I’d go for it since I no longer work with him and I won’t be seeing him any more.  But I got it wrong.  And now, ironically, I realise how much I like him and how I miss hanging out with him.

The Conference

Best Friend and I were asked to organise a conference to be hosted by our university next year.  This conference is held at a different university every year, I’ve been to the last three, Best Friend to the last two. We were advised to have a committee to help us.  Our committee met for the first time last week.  Aside from Best Friend, the rest are girls in their final year of PhD. Most of them are lovely and very helpful.  But one has already made it clear that she doesn’t like me.  I don’t know whether it’s because I’m ‘new’ and a first year in a position of authority, though I have the most experience.  It could be because I’m on such friendly terms with the staff and have contacts throughout the university.  There are few parts of uni where I have not worked at some stage over the last five years so I know a lot of people as our staff member on the committee was quick to point out.  It could just be because I am the complete opposite of her.  She is rich, I am poor. She is serious, I have a pink Little Miss notebook. She is married with her own house and grounds, I am a single girl who still lives at home.  Her attitude throughout our meeting made it clear that she thinks I am not someone worth listening to. It didn’t upset me really, more made me think ‘what have I got myself into?’ I have to work with these people for the next six months.  I’m only starting my PhD career, I don’t need enemies already.  That night I went out with my Toyboy and watched the latest Will Ferrell movie then had a McDonalds.  My mood was considerably improved after this.

The Concert

Saturday night was a big concert with my choir and orchestra.  I turned up to soundchecks raring to go but my good intentions quickly evaporated when I discovered that I was sitting in the far corner of the stage.  It was actually a separate stage a good foot lower than the rest, added on the end almost as an afterthought.  There were no lights or microphones and my two fellow sopranos and I were surrounded by altos. We couldn’t even hear the rest of the choir and could only occasionally see the conductor.  This isn’t a big deal except that this is always what happens at concerts.  The last three years my friend and I are always put into the back row at the end as if we’re distant relatives that no one wanted to invite to the family wedding so you seat them as far away as possible from everyone else.

Pain

The last week or so I have really struggled with my pain levels.  Sometimes it seems to operate in weird cycles, like for a while it’ll constantly wake me up in the middle of the night or just appear at a certain time in the day.  At the minute, it seems to crop up just after I’ve eaten. On Friday I had lunch with a friend and barely half an hour after I’d finished my pasta I was bent in double over the table with painful spasms. I was already a bit cheesed off at the concert on Saturday then I discovered that I couldn’t eat any of the tea provided for us.  It all contained fish, eggs or cheese.  My friend ate an egg and onion sandwich and found a bit of shell in it so quickly decided she wasn’t eating any more.  Her boyfriend was called on and arrived soon after with some chicken nuggets for us which we scoffed in a darkened room so we wouldn’t get caught.  In our usual pre-concert prayer meeting, I felt the familiar twinge of my ovaries deciding they were going to wreck havoc on my body.  I spent the twenty minutes before we went on stage alternatively hunched over and pacing, trying distraction techniques to help relax my muscles. The heat patch I slapped on in the interval did no good and by the time I came off stage I was wrecked.

I completely broke down in the dressing room and the tears started.  My friend quickly pulled me into a hug and let me cry onto her shoulder.  I don’t often cry in public so when I get teary it freaks people out.  I just felt so worthless.  I was exhausted and couldn’t keep up appearances any more.

Have you ever kept going even though you want to stop?  Fueled by the thought that everyone thinks you’re strong so you mustn’t let them down by showing a sign of weakness.  I just want to curl up and watch old episodes of Friends until I feel strong again.  Right now, I think I need to let myself feel weak for a little bit.

 

Superstar

Published July 25, 2012 by crazyinpink

It isn’t often that I get completed obsessed with a particular tv show (unless, of course, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch) but I am ridiculously invested in the current ITV talent show ‘Superstar’.

In my defence, I have been pretty much confined to my bed or sofa for the last week recovering from my op and since it has been on every night, its been something to keep me occupied.  I generally loathe tv talent shows.  I freely give out death stares when people ask if I’m watching whatever Simon Cowell-concocted drivel is on the box.  Even more annoying is people telling me that I should audition for one of these shows after they’ve heard me sing.  I wasn’t always so cynical though.  I loved Popstars back in the day, although I was only 11 or so and Noel who ended up in the winning band Hear’Say (remember them?) was my first ever crush.  I recently got overly excited when I recogised him performing at the Olivier Awards. I also got really into the first Pop Idol, by then my love had grown for the ever-mocked Darius.  He was my fave but my appreciation for his good looks was nothing compared to my best friend’s stalkerish obsession with Gareth Gates.  There were pictures of him in frames everywhere in her house and even a weird collage/shrine in her closet. We were both v upset when Will Young, who neither of us fancied, ended up winning.

Then the X Factor came along and I gave it a chance.  The only good thing about it was the group that came second in the first series – G4.  To this day I still love listening to their 3 albums and wear my tour t-shirt proudly as a nightie. Theirs was the first concert I ever went to.  I’m so hardcore.  (The second was Nickelback…)  After they were robbed of first place (does anyone even know what happened to Steve Brookstein?) I turned my back on the genre.

My love for musical theatre compelled me to take an interest in the BBC shows that then sprung up casting Maria, Nancy, Joseph and Dorothy.  Back in the day, I wanted to be in musical theatre.  I blame this entirely on the fact that in P7 I played the Narrator in Joseph and won an award.  Despite giving in to the more sensible and realistic ambition when I was about fifteen of wanting to be an English teacher, I still harboured a secret love for musicals.  Even after a real charming singing teacher told me, at age thirteen, that my boobs were too big for it and I ‘didn’t have the face for musical theatre’. She left soon after that to take a job on a cruise ship, never to be seen again. *maniacal laugh*  In my first year at uni I joined the music society and quickly got involved in musical theatre, singing my favourite songs and getting to be Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady and Ariel from The Little Mermaid. When I got ill in second year, I just about managed a show as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray and a brief appearance as Elpheba in Wicked before bidding adieu to my musical dreams.

This past week, I have become a little too obsessed with Superstar.  I’m not even a big fan of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, even though it is an Andrew Lloyd Webber work and there is no one better. My tendency to root for the underdog has meant that my favourite, Tim, was kicked ot early on.  My allegiance then shifted to Niall, who had a great Irish accent and looks exactly like a younger version of my dissertation supervisor.  After he left I supported Jeff from my home town who apparently went to my school and would have been in the choir at the same time yet I hav no memory of him at all.  When Jeff got the boot, I went for David who made it to the semi-finals.  Now, with only a few hours to go until the final, I have run out of people I like.  My mum is a big fan of Roger for reasons I suspect have nothing to do with his singing.  Rory is a great rock singer and has the exact same eyes as Andrew Scott who plays Moriarty in Sherlock (brilliantly too, I might add). The only one I don’t like is Ben, I just don’t get what the big deal is.  But, given my record, that probably means he’ll win the thing.

Back on stage

Published June 5, 2012 by crazyinpink

Three nights onstage and three days later I’m almost fully recovered.

Last week saw my return to concerts for the first time this year.  My choir (the Christian one I’m still proud to be a member of) was supporting the Christian songwriters Keith and Kristyn Getty with their special guest Stuart Townend.  Nearly every church in the Western world has heard of these songwriters, their hymn ‘In Christ Alone’ is probably their most famous.  Personally, my favourite song is ‘There is a Higher Throne’ which remains my go-to solo piece when I’m asked to sing somewhere new.  The second verse goes like this:

‘And there we’ll find our home, our life before the throne

We’ll honour Him in perfect song where we belong

He’ll wipe each tear-stained eye as thirst and hunger die

The Lamb becomes the Shepherd King, we’ll reign with Him’

Things haven’t always been easy for me.  I’d like to think that I’m a positive person, or at least I’m trying to be.  But there are times when everything gets a bit too much.  My dad had an affair when I was a teenager and my mum fell apart.  He left and blamed me and hasn’t spoken to me since.  I had to get a job to help support my mum and I continue to work to help pay the bills and everything.  I’ve had to live with the most awful condition that I wouldn’t wish on anybody.  It affects every part of my life and every step towards diagnosis and treatment has been a struggle and still is.  There are times when I feel sorry for myself.  I wonder how I’m ever going to have a ‘normal’ life, if my friends are going to still be there for me, if I’ll ever find a guy who can handle all of it and how or if I’ll ever have children.

The words of this song are such a comfort to me when I’m having a rough time. ‘He’ll wipe each tear-stained eye’ even when I read those words I feel comforted.  My faith in God may not be perfect but it is my constant source of strength.  It isn’t particularly cool to admit to believing in God but I’m not ashamed.  I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my faith.

 

The concerts were amazing.  Three nights to a sold out concert hall.  Three days of soundchecks and rehearsals, back stage banter and dressing up.  I did all three nights but my friend only managed the middle one.  She got such a bad case of the giggles that I had to actually take her out of the prayer meeting before the show started.  I had heat patches stuck to my back and was knocking back the Tramadol during the intervals but it was such a great experience.  Hearing the thousands of people, on stage and in the audience, singing together.  Making friends with the cool band guys from Nashville, dancing to the impromptu jamming sessions after the show, meeting the people who wrote the words that have helped me through so much.  ‘Twas a pretty great weekend.

The Singing Historian

Published May 29, 2012 by crazyinpink

A nickname I have in the School of History.  Professors and lecturers are always amused by my ‘double life’ as one of them called it; they’d see me studying hard in the library and in tutorials during the day then when they went home they’d see me singing on TV.

 

I’ve always loved singing, its just one of those things I am effortlessly good at (one of the very few things I might add). My first solo was at the age of two; ‘Jesus loves me’ at a church barbecue. In school I was always in the choir, usually singing solo and in P7 I was the Narrator in our production of Joseph and his Amazing technicolour Dreamcoat. I still know all the colours of that coat.  Grammar school was much the same, choirs, chamber choirs, singing lessons. I joined the university choir but since it was student-led and a bit of fun, I really missed the challenging atmosphere of a ‘professional’ choir.

I auditioned in 2009 for two choirs.  The first choir is part of a Christian organisation that includes an all-Ireland choir, chamber choir and orchestra.  I was an original member of the short-lived Youth Choir initiative that only lasted a few years. This choir puts on concerts twice, maybe three times a year. Rehearsals are few but intense, you have to be able to sight-sing and work on your harmonies at home. I love this choir. Being with such a group of Christians who just want to worship God is inspiring and makes me feel completely at home. We’re doing some concerts this weekend in a concert hall in Belfast and I can’t wait. 

 

The second choir is much more problematic. I heard about it through a friend who wanted us both to audition.  We both did. I got in; she didn’t.  The choir was brand spanking new, the first ever Northern Ireland gospel choir.  But even though we were all new, it took a really long time (over a year) for me to feel comfortable with the other members, to find friends. And even though it was a gospel choir, the choir was not a Christian group.  Our director could not stress this point strongly enough: we sang songs about Jesus but we weren’t allowed to discuss religion or try to force our ‘beliefs’ onto other members. So strong was the anti-Christianity of some members that they refused to participate in concerts held in churches. Some members were openly gay. Yet we rehearsed and performed songs that said ‘Oh happy day! When Jesus washed my sins away’.

I had trouble squaring this with my own beliefs.  I am a Christian and I believe that God made me the way I am for a reason, He gave me talents to use for Him and His glory. Singing, therefore, has always been something that I’ve done for God. The break after the first year of gospel choir I thought long and hard about whether or not to return. I loved the singing and performing but I felt uneasy with the ethos of the choir and the egocentric atmosphere. I eventually decided that even though the “choir” might not be singing for God, I was.

Last year, still struggling with the same issues, I reached a point where I could not stand to be associated with the choir any longer.  The choir operates a hierarchy system of the director’s ‘favourites’, the elite who get to do all the smaller, higher profile gigs and get all the solos. I was on the fringes of the elite, a powerful soprano who could hit notes the others only dreamt of but not ‘gospel’ enough for a solo. (Apparently the definition of ‘gospel’ in the choir was the ability to do X Factor-style air grabs and wail runs of off-key notes, turning a simple three note tune into a bad Mariah Carey impression of over three hundred notes) Around November, I was doing a gig with a small group of twenty for a big Remembrance concert. With time to kill after the sound check, the choir went to Nandos for dinner. Around the table the conversation was gossipy, bitchy and selfish. Even the church-going members were telling stories about adultery, maintaining that your life only begins when you get married and how life wouldn’t be worth living if you didn’t have children.  There I was, a girl whose family had been torn apart by adultery, the only single person at the table living with an illness that has high correlation with infertility.  The melancholic mood only escalated back at the concert hall when I got changed into my choir outfit. 

The choir had to dress in red and black but there was no set outfit for everyone.  I had worn the same red dress for just over a year (since I don’t own anything else that colour).  That night when I came out of the bathroom, the director’s husband pounced on me and suggested I pin my black cardigan (the only costume item provided for us) together with a brooch to ‘cover up’. Initially confused, I assumed he wanted me to ‘bling’ up so I said I hadn’t put my jewellery on yet. He went on to explain that he meant I should cover up because I ‘didn’t look good on stage’, he could see what the audience saw and it was not pretty. He gestured over my tummy and said ‘some of the other big girls prefer to cover themselves up’.

Were it not for the fact that I was already feeling low, I might have punched him. How dare he say that to me. The man himself is the size of a small mountain and his wife, our director, is a size 22. I’m not under any illusions that I’m a supermodel, I’m a curvy girl and proud of it. I’m a size 16 with big boobs, a small waist, big bum and yes, a bit of a tummy. I don’t cover myself up because I’m not ashamed of my body.  This is who I am. But that night that man made me feel like the ugliest girl ever.

I only did one other concert after that, one I’d already committed to. But I couldn’t stand to put myself back in that environment again, especially with the severity of my condition and my uni work. I took the term off, citing medical grounds as my reason. When I see choir events advertised or stories pop up on my facebook I groan and roll my eyes. I said I would think carefully about whether or not to return. To go back means I will get to perform more, be in the spotlight, but it would be for the glory of the choir and our director, it would mean hours of rehearsals with people who couldn’t care less about me, sacrificing my time and effort into something I no longer enjoy. I just can’t do that anymore.