Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Minds of Others

Ready to read!
(No spoilers!)

Reading 'The Casual Vacancy' has (thus far - I'm not finished) made me think about how people's minds work. As a longtime hardcore fan of children's literature and, in more recent years, the works of such authors as Dodie Smith and Agatha Christie, I am used to a certain type of thinking. The opening pages were quite jarring to me, as everyone - everyone has an agenda. Everyone's thoughts veer towards the unkind and coarse or selfish with only a few exceptions.

Rather naively, this shocked me. Of course this is a work of fiction and contains heightened characteristics of human nature. I completely understand that, but it has made me think about thoughts and motives. Do people really have such dark thoughts when faces with a sudden death? Thoughts which have absolutely nothing to do with actual death?

At this point I should admit that I am a ruthless self-analyser. I question every thought I have and every action I take. Part of this just a trait of an anxious personality. The idea of causing anyone else unhappiness on purpose is horrifying to me and I'm deeply convinced that something terrible will happen if I ever make anyone suffer, intentionally or not. On the whole, though, I don't have nasty thoughts about people. I'm usually too busy being worried about something.

If someone had asked me sixty pages in to describe the book, I would have said that it's a grotesque depiction of the less attractive aspects of human nature. It sounds strong, but it really did catch me quite off-guard. The topic at the start of the book is sudden death, and how everyone copes or does not cope with it. It's a subject that I have some experience with, and am therefore interested in. Pagford's inhabitants are each self-obsessed, their thoughts are for themselves.

It's a good and very different exercise to be presented with a group of characters with whom I don't immediately sympathise. I'm looking forward to unwinding the rest of the book.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Rant About Being 'Old'

There must be different kinds of 'old.' When crawling home from recital at 10pm, dying to fall into bed on a Friday night, I looked around at the people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s who were perfectly happy to be out and about, in bars, in clubs, walking around. All I could think of was Miss Marple and my duvet.

I must be the kind of 'old' that a person can only be born as The kind that must wear earplugs in loud spaces, CANNOT stay up all night and just can't justify spending money on cheap shoes. I know I'm not alone. The fact is that I've surrounded myself with many friends who are exactly the same as me. It's the only way I can feel normal. It's just so difficult to ignore when I'm surrounded by 20-year-olds who eat pastries for lunch and can sit through a three hour recital from 8pm...

None of this is a problem, really. The only thing that worries me - and that has always worried me - is the inordinate amount of trouble I have with my body. You know, whether it's back problems, muscle stiffness, torn cartilage or various viruses and infections, I'm generally crocked. I know people in their 70s who are generally healthier than I am.

It's all starting to feel a little bit futile. You know, as soon as I get going with a good running routine, I become ill, and my progress is hindered. As soon as I get into a good cycling-to-college routine, I barely have enough energy to go to the bathroom, let alone cycle anywhere.

If this is what I'm like in my 20s and teens, what is ahead of me? I'm a fan of positive thinking, it got me to 5K and kept me there for quite a while, but let's be realistic. I'm going to be unwell for the rest of my life. And there does reach a point where you just stop talking about it because you feel that people won't believe you. I have at least one friend who I know doesn't believe me when I talk about what's wrong with me at any given moment, so I just stopped telling her.

Rationally, though, I'm not sure why people would believe me. If you, in your life, feel alright most of the time, I'm not sure how you could understand a seemingly healthy person having all of these random and unrelated problems. Personally, I currently can't imagine what it would be like to feel just totally 'ok.' Not brilliant. Not amazing. Just base-level-fine.

This blog went in a direction I didn't expect it to go...

Friday, September 7, 2012

New Beginning and JOY

I posted a while back about starting singing with a new teacher, and how she encouraged me to apply for various courses immediately. Well, I did! And I was accepted straight into the third year of a four-year Bachelor of Music (Hons)! It was a bit of a whirlwind of practice, new repertoire and technique and working very, very hard indeed and I am currently delighted, daunted and rearing to go!

The last two days have been induction talks with first years, and the one other lady in my position. Unlike the first time I went to university (I have a BA in Music and Drama and Theatre Studies), I've just felt incredibly privileged to be able to attend this college. That's not to say that I wasn't excited and full of wonder the first time around - I definitely was! Arguably, the last few years of working, singing and trying to make a living have taught me just how vitally important the right degree is.

This time I'm attending a conservatoire, as opposed to a university. This means that the focus is on performance, and only people who are serious about pursuing a career in performance are studying there. The difference, even in the induction days, is wonderful! The staff have been extremely clear on all aspects of student life at the college, and there appears to be an excellent pastoral care system. The timetable is FULL and the onus is on the individual to plan their practice times. There was a good talk about how to maximise your practice times. Once I've gotten into a groove again after the summer, I may write a bit about this.

It's so nice to be around musicians! There was a lovely moment today when we were brought to the library for a little tour. At the end the librarian said that we could go upstairs to look at the sheet music for our individual instruments and so we all proceeded calmly up the stairs... but once we got to the top, we all practically RAN to our sections and all that could be heard were 'squees' and 'aws' and excitement! It is the first time that I have ever witnessed anyone having the same reaction that I do to sheet music! The singers and I paced up and down the vocal and opera sections in jubilation, pulling out our favourites and potential new favourites to show each other!