AN OPERATIC WEEK

Aroldo

It really does feel like I am spending all my time in a theatre. And it’s marvellous.

Yes, I am aware of how much energy is sapped and how I feel so unfit because my limbs ache when I do the usual daily walking et cetera – but these are the risks I chose when I desired to be a performer. My entire schedule is squiffed towards what I can do whilst I am confined to a green room and dressing room.

Well, ‘confined’ is perhaps too strong a word. But it does mean that the stage takes priority when it comes to working out how my week goes this week. I have responsibilities, and there is no way I will not uphold them.

One thing I know – or I like to hope in any case – is that the final photos will be glossy and glorious. Working on such a big stage with proper lighting and management leads to some great I know because I’ve seen it on the monitors.

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If my phone had not given up on me/y’all, I would happily have shared more photos on my Instagram… Instead, here’s a blurry-as-shots-come webcam photo of my as an Essex girl just before Friday’s dress rehearsal.

The opening night is tomorrow and I’m as worried as the obsessive perfectionist. I feel like I am aware of the little pieces that need tweaking and the acting and singing that I could be pushing myself to make even better. We had some costume adjustments for the final act – which, without giving away too much of the artistic direction – is a complete u-turn from the previous three acts, visually and socially. For anybody who knows the history of Verdi’s opera Aroldo and its previous manifestation as Stiffelio, they clue is in the additions Aroldo made on Stiffelio.

But anyway, this means that costumes have had to be changed, and with that comes an uncertainty about whether they will be there in time, whether – and, of course, whether I will have time to acquire the necessaries of my own costumes. Most have been provided, but then there are the little things that one needs to consider. For instance, in the first act, the ladies wear a lot of makeup, and of course I am set constantly wondering if what I have done is enough or even correct.

But we continue on. There is time. Even with the opening night coming up, I still have time before the performance itself to do a final costume check, tune myself up, and go back through a listing of the dance moves. Those crazy dance moves…

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There are still tickets left if you’re around in London the 20th-25th March (ie. Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday this week), 7pm at Stratford East Royal Theatre. You can get tickets here:

http://www.stratfordeast.com/wh

Quick Takes: Truth Tables, Fantastic Magic, and SPG Hit

Seven Quick Takes is hosted by This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

As we near advent now, it is time to reevaluate our goals and our behaviour, and orient ourselves towards the Lord and His genesis into human life. Christmas is such a pivotal time for Christians because of the birth of Christ.

~2~

This song by Steam Powered Giraffe has been going through my head, the life-affirming self gratifying song about owning one’s issues:

~3~

I’m trundling along in the university term now. At the time of writing, I’ve just finished week 7 out of 10, which means that we’re both winding down in ideas and digging deeper. On most classes, we know enough now to start exploring the topics beyond the weekly reading.

~4~

In Semantics today, we discuss the inclusive and exclusive ‘or’. That is to say, differences in the use of ‘or’ in sentences such as ‘tea or coffee?’ and ‘milk or sugar?’. At first glance, you wouldn’t think of how ambiguous English is, but, actually, there are so many things that ESL speakers her wrong because they aren’t used to English intuition.

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~5~

I’m going to see Fantastic Beasts tonight. I’m excited to see it, as there is no book as a basis. I was never much of a Potterhead, though the films started my reading career when I was younger, but I am looking forward to seeing how the worldbuilding has evolved since its 2-dimensional start in Philosopher’s Stone to the nature of being a witch or wizard in the roaring 20s.

~6~

Editing has been rather good this week, thanks be to God! I’ve been making headway rewriting chapters 15 and 16, including things that whether Cathy is a klutz or not, and her slight obsession with the furnace exploding.

The extract below is such a new addition, heightening Cathy’s distrust of Petite Victoria.

~7~

Cathy simply stared. By dint of habit, she listened to the whole utterance before drawing conclusions. The science of listening and interpreting.

“I saw it, let us say, in your eyes the moment you stepped up to my plinth. Not only because you listened and spoke to my people, but do-gooders all look the same. Expressive, bleeding-heart eyes, always reaching onto tiptoes to reach for the next astral body.”

She didn’t stretch. Cathy bit her tongue. Arguing back would do her no good. The woman guided a hand through Cathy’s elbow, and the force of it dragged her along the path.

 

Quick Takes: Two Weeks

I fully meant to be part of the blog-hop last week, but, somehow, it escaped me, and this I guess this is a culmination of last week’s and this week’s adventures.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

I must say it every week, but my time is being swept away from me now, though not necessarily in a bad way. This week, I mostly focused on my schooling. Plus, I’ve not done that much.

~2~

Though, of course, it was the obligatory All Saints Day on Tuesday (1st) and Newman House, the university Chaplaincy in London held a beautiful Mass with the Bishop presiding. It was all very exciting.

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The Bishop also blessed the new cross out the front of Newman House.

~3~

As it was, I chose not to do anything for Hallowe’en. I’m not much into deliberate drinking when there’s nothing to do or no point, and I have never been into asking for gifts door-to-door. Besides, getting a costume together is something I don’t have the time for, nowadays. Everything is just too complicated at the moment.

~4~

I’ve had experimental participant credit to gather, and it recalls to me my days as a first and second year undergrad. There’s a certain vulnerability at being a participant or other people’s research, particularly if it counts towards a mark or their degree. Nevertheless, within that vulnerability of stepping into something created by someone else, for all that we are ignorant, is an inspiration for my own work. I’ve always been fascinated by the potential experiments one could create to test for all sorts of unique aspects of humanity.

~5~

Tomorrow sees me for the third year at Steampunks in Space, the unique convivial in Leicester Space Centre. With astronomy and space having always been one of my favourite sciences, I love that we get to explore this museum and its exhibits whilst also in some of our best garments.

~6~

Have I been editing? Well, yes, I have. Cathy’s now in Italia, which I suppose is progress, even if I can echo the sentiments I made on Monday about NaNoWriMo.

~ 7~

Cathy opened her eyes one at a time. Dull afternoon clouds, grey-tinged, yet exhausted now of their rain, lay above her. A second passed before she realised that the world looked sickly due to certain goggles pinching the bridge of her nose.

She willed herself to whip them off, but her arms ached. A thousand bruises pinned them to her sides.

Spoons, Priorities, and Blogging

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When I did my undergraduate degree at Reading, I specifically picked accommodation that was not on campus, but not too far from it either. I couldn’t face being enclosed in a campus, and it had been my initial wish to join a city university (instead of trying to convince us that you pick the wedding dress you don’t expect to like, they should argue we pick the opposite of what we expect, campus v city unis). For various reasons, that didn’t work out, and I ended up falling in love with the greenery, open spaces (the lake!) and the layout of Reading’s campus anyway, so it became my pleasure to study there, not my pain.

In any case, I, by fortune rather than order, was never more than a half hour’s walk from my lectures every year. And that suited me perfectly, to have a brisk walk in the crisp mornings of the Michaelmas and Hilary terms.

Perhaps, I got too used to it.

Indeed, I have always loved London, so it is not much of a culture shock to be living and working/studying here. However, of all the tedium and issues one would have about London…I guess it never occurred to me how draining I’d find commuting in every day. I don’t live too far from the UCL campus and linguistics’ Chandler House, but the bus I take is still 30 minutes in good (London) traffic. I could take the tube – but, let’s be realistic, I can’t afford that luxury on a daily basis. I have savings, but I don’t have income. Soon, my savings will be gone.

I’m usually one to keep busy. I’ll try and fill my evenings with activities, because that has been how I relax. But lately, it only feels like effort. Trying to catch the bus at the right time to be able to arrive on time for events; working out when and how quickly I have to get home, so I have time to cook dinner before leaving again – if there would be time for dinner at all. I’m running around all the time, and I often wonder of the point of doing these extracurricular activities I have loved before when I have more stress by thinking of them.

Perhaps it is the night. We in GMT gained an hour last Sunday. Sounds good, but it means that some days I will not be home before it gets dark. This is one of the reasons Summer is my favourite season – the hours of glorious sunshine, Vitamin D are maximised. Even then, though, I’d get exhausted by 9pm.

I learned a few months ago about Spoon Theory, and I do find myself using it more in conversation nowadays. “Are you going to the event?” “Probably not, I feel out of spoons.” To me, I equate it with the feelings of social exhaustion I get from being around many people at once or for a prolonged period of times. That’s definitely a problem at the moment as our classes are all the same people, most doing General Ling. Like me. The same people over and over.

I sound like a terrible person, don’t I? Humans are social creatures; we are meant to hang out and share and understand each other.

But some of us can’t hack it. Don’t blame.

As such, however, sometimes I have to let things drop off the radar. Sometimes, that’s going to events with friends or peers, other times that’s forfeiting a piece of uni work because relaxing and completing it are incompatible – and sometimes it’s leaving my blogging schedule behind and not feeling pressured to come up with a topic or follow through with a post I’ve started writing.

It’s true – there are many I’ve left by the wayside, including reviews I started years ago for things I always wanted to review but never had the energy to continue. That’s okay. I might do it one day. Or maybe I won’t. I have no Fear of Missing Out.

Do I have certain priorities for what I need to do? To stop myself losing spoons?

I don’t know. Of course, blogging isn’t my priority and university work is, but the situation isn’t as black and white as that; it depends on the day, how much work I’ve done, when I woke up. There are so many factors.

So…wait and see is all I can say.

7 Quick Takes: Of Work and Play

It’s Friday, which means it’s that time again for 7 Quick Takes, hosted over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

This week has been a hectic one. I suppose it started as it meant to go on. Non-UK people probably didn’t hear, but I bet if you live in the south of England, you would’ve heard about the extensive South Midlands train line closures, resulting in there being only one direct route in and out of central London. I was meant to be on the way back from The Fiance’s in Leeds, aiming to be home by 10pm, with my train pulling in at 9.30.

As it was, I went via Sheffield and that train too was slow, and arrived into St Pancras at 11.45pm. Luckily, taking the tube (<3 London) meant I was definitely home at quarter past midnight.

But still later than I would have preferred.

~2~

Too, I’ve been out of the house most days. I’m almost midway through the Michaelmas term now and that means that I have been trying to keep up with my experimental participation credits. If I can get 5 this term, the pressure will be off me a little next term.

~3~

Then again, there’s the Phonetics. A graded test every week. I don’t object to it, but it a concentrated amount of revision that can/could be problematic. Revision is great for the memory, but our consolidation is somewhat hindered by being thrown new stuff on top of what we are still trying to fully encode in long-term memory. It is the level of study I expect, though. (I pity the first years that they have to do it.)

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English pulmonic word examples.

~4~

And then there’s syntax.

Which every week involves reading. I am forever thankful I have a day off, otherwise I do not know what I would do in terms of the work-leisure balance.

~5~

Nevertheless, I have God to thank for keeping me on top of things. Often, I wonder where I would be without Him (well: nowhere). There’s just enough of all the elements in my life to keep me pootling along in somewhat good health. Besides, I am constantly thankful that I am where I am now.

~6~

You can imagine, too, that there has been little to no recent editing. Cathy’s finally on her way to the continent (not to be confused with The Continent).

~7~

Head down and slanted to the right, Jonathon’s blue eyes focused, mouth raw but shapely… His voice drowned in a whisper that Cathy had not the time, nor the expertise, to lip-read. A slice of steel spun from his fingers and latched itself onto the dockhand’s shirt-sleeve. It balanced there for a moment before the three of them realised that it had no made an incision.

Yet.

“You, sir, are mistaken,” murmured Jonathon.

“I really do think—”

“No, you will listen to me.” He was deathly quiet. “You have no idea what you are dealing with.

That’s all for now! Have a good weekend.

7 Quick Takes: A Recap of the Vanished

I know I’ve been absent from 7 Quick Takes Friday for a while now. Some of it has been out of my control – moving and all that jazz – but some of it, I must admit, has been laziness on my part. So, of all the things, this is a Friday catch-up, I suppose.

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

Oh, September, how you are a tricksy month, particularly for someone like me who took a rather distended break from blogging and writing et al, and whose mind now is struggling to settle back into routine.

~2~

I think I will relish returning to the normal routine of student work getting in the way of writing work, though. Giving myself a reason to get out of bed will surely aid my brain into inspiration during the day.

~3~

Speaking of which, that’s coming up soon. I get enrolled soon, and then lectures after that, though it still feels like a lifetime away. I know it will pass so quickly; and part of me wishes so, whilst the other is perfectly happy to freeze time in the here and now.

~4~

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What am I reading? Oh, wow, what a question, since, if one goes by my Kindle app, I am reading quite a number of things at once. For my own amusement, I recently stumbled back into reading THE SECRETS OF GHOSTS by Sarah Painter and published by Carina, a small press that has impressed (!) me with its selections of titles and way with voices.

~5~

Image result for heart of brassThere are a few books I’m reading for writing style inspiration:

THE DARK DAYS CLUB by Alison Goodman; HEART OF BRASS by Kate Cross; A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by VE Schwab.

A theme, right? Well, I have to read up in my fields. 🙂

~6~

On the writing front, I’m slowly rewriting my novel H, a historical fantasy that floats about from New York to Italy. Here, our plucky young heroine, Cathleen ‘Cathy’ Cattoway, returns to New York in the dead of night to question the man who last saw her betrothed.

~7~

When they docked unceremoniously in New York—Cathy’s boots slid her across the moisture-sleeked deck like untethered weights—the morning hung dark and heavy over Ellis Island, mist-less yet crammed with whispers of forbidden conversations out of their reach. Even the residue of last night’s Passing made Cathy’s hair stand on end. Out here the air was a mixture of gaslight fumes, the smell of bitterly cold air, and fouler scents, too…

7 Quick Takes: Prayer, Trust, and All the Choices

I’m back for the Friday 7 Quick Takes today. Hosted, as usual, by This Ain’t the Lyceum. Check ‘em out!

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

Choices, Choices, and More Choices. I’ve been trying to make a few *big* choices, difficult choices. Retrospectively, they’re not things that would seem that important to other people, but making choices is something I struggle to do definitely. I’m a maybe person; I like things in the middle. And, so, making a singular yes is difficult.

~2~

Inviting God into the Everyday. After going to World Youth Day, I have been trying to put God first (or, being honest, more first) in my daily life, even in just waking up and thinking about my day. That was one thing that helped me during exam revision. God and I working together.

~3~

Prayer is Enough. I will admit, however, that I’m not one of the best people to stick to a daily prayer schedule. I am trying, though.

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~4~

Thankfully… I am definitely doing a Masters in London. I have officially finished my pre-enrolment, so all that is left to do is wait the days out until my new term.

~5~

There Are Always Options. I’ve got to remember the mind-set that whatever happens and comes to be is part of God’s ultimate plan for me. Things go wrong, as they always seem to do around me, but in the end, they were always meant to go wrong; or, rather, they were always meant to happen differently to what I might have expected or even hoped for.

~6~

How is life, though? It’s good. I am enjoying the company of the three cats with which I am now living. Thus, the photo below. That’s Bovril, and she’s a sweetie.

~7~

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