A life of moments

“Oh, if life were made of moments
Even now and then a bad one
But if life were only moments
Then you’d never know you had one”

Let me tell you about two moments in my life, both related to the 21st-23rd of February 2007. My upper school did a production of Bugsy Malone. I was 16, nerdy, and had just chopped all my hair off in some kind of show of teen individualism.

I knew I wouldn’t be cast as Blousey Brown (the lead) and I didn’t want to be. Ever since playing the little match-girl in year 6 I’ve been successfully blending into the background of shows. I just wanted to be involved.

Then the cast came back, and I’d been given a one-line part, as the failed opera singer who auditions to sing at the club.

My heart sank, and I went to find Mr Jones to tell him that I couldn’t do the part. I was so self-conscious of my voice already, and I felt like taking the part would be the final nail in my already quite firmly sealed  social coffin. He was nice about it, and said that I should do it – it’s the right style of voice for me – but he let me drop it on the promise I’d still be involved.

And I was. In that show, I ended up doing everything, from building set, stage managing, costume, to playing about 6 different parts and helping choreograph some of the dances. It was one of the shows which definitively gave me a love of every side of theatre.

Moment two came a few weeks after the show. We were packing down after a live rock concert which Mr Jones organised every year. He was a “cool” teacher, not really much older than us, and with a background in media which meant that traditional dirge-like music teaching really wasn’t for him. The DVD for Bugsy Malone had just been sent through, and as we packed down the amps and staging for the concert, he mentioned he’d watched it.

Then he turned his head to me and said “Sally, has anyone ever told you you’re amazing?”

I found out yesterday that Mr Mark Jones was fatally injured in a car accident last Friday. Since I heard, I have seen so many other people sharing their moments, and that’s what he gave people. Until the second moment, I’d thought he didn’t like me, with my classical voice and my complete inability to learn the flute. But in a few words he proved otherwise.

When I got to Uni, I met OperaSoc, and suddenly found the people I’d been looking for. I could do all of the theatre things I wanted, without feeling like I’d lose friends in the process by being “uncool”. I don’t think I’d have joined if I didn’t have Mr Jones’ voice in the back of my head reminding me that I’m an opera voice.

He also, incidentally, introduced me to ‘Into the Woods’. It’s my favourite musical, and one of the productions I am most proud of my work on. The quote about moments which I began with is from the show.

Now I’m a trustee of Northern Opera Group, and I work in the building where I took part in my first OperaSoc show, and where I gave countless hours to improve on the backstage skills which Mr Jones began teaching me. It is not overstating to say that everything I am today, I am because of those two moments.

I’m desperately sad that Mr Jones can’t give other people their moments any longer, but I have 100% confidence that in the almost 11 years since my moments, he’s done the same for hundreds and thousands of other people.

He’ll be in my heart and memories forever.

Supernova

Last night the sky was so perfectly clear that I stood outside for 15 minutes before I got home, and just stared at the stars.

The thing about stars is that they mean everything. They have been interpreted in literally every way possible, from controlling and dictating our personalities, to creating everything in the universe. They can make you feel tinysmall, like nothing you ever do will matter in the vastness of the cosmos. Or they can make you feel huge, because out of all of the particles in the vastness of the cosmos, a few billion decided to come together and form you.

(Youtube is just full of such terrible videos, how did we even cope in the mid-2000s?)

Headache

Lately I have a constant headache. I don’t know if I’m getting ill, if I’m tired (which seems unlikely given how long I slept for today), or if I’m just run down.

The fact that I’m medicating with pear drops may not be helping.

I have a good track record with illness. I had chicken pox when I was 6 or 7, which I managed to bounce my way through though I quite effectively while making my mum and brother ill. I got glandular fever while I lived in Spain and didn’t even actually notice (though I did feel pretty under the weather for a weekend or so).

Unsurprisingly, I’ve no idea where this post is really going, because my head hurts.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Dido lately, after rediscovering her album in my CD case (which is full of gems which I bought in the early 2000s, and a lot of Christian rock/pop because that was my chosen rebellion). I’m not suggesting that Dido is giving me a headache, but it has matched up very closely in timing.

*insert sensible ending to post here*

A note on fireworks

Let’s be clear. There’s really no upside to fireworks.

They are momentarily pretty, sure, but there are so many things which are pretty. Stars, sun-kissed hills, ice cream, rainbows, art (misc). And most of them are pretty for far longer than fireworks.

And of the above, only one is an explosion, and stars are far enough away that I’m not immediately afraid for my life. Fireworks, on the other hand, are often very nearby, and are (in this country anyway) often handled by people who are wildly ill-equipped to manage explosives.

That’s really all I have to say.

Down with fireworks.

Next Steps

I’m going to get a promotion and buy a house.

Easy to say when it’s just in letters, on a back-end-of-the-internet blog. But that is what I’m going to do.

The promotion is already happening, a bit. Not in a permanent way, but in a very definite we-can-work-on-this way. In a moving forward productively way.

The house thing is happening as well, in that I have looked at a lot of houses on the internet, and one in person, and I’ve talked to an adviser about mortgages, and googled “the best place to live in Leeds”.

It’s all terrifying.

I’ve made a bit of a significance out of always moving forward, and always bettering myself in small ways every day. Right now I have a lot of times where I feel like there is no possible way of climbing the enormous mountain of life, or even the enormous mountain of getting out of bed in the morning. But I also have a few times where all these things feel achievable, and like things that I have watched other people do with great success.

And like things that will not end the world even if they don’t pan out perfectly.

So here I go, taking steps.

We need to talk

..about Tinder. Mate. It’s so weird.

I’m something of a serial monogamist, though serial is probably taking it a bit far. I’ve had about 6 boyfriends, and 5 of those were between 16 and 18 when the most couply thing to do was hold hands and maybe meet up at the park. So I’ve never really “done” dating.

It’s been a month, and so in a moment of bizarre adventurousness, I decided I needed to Get Out And Meet People, so like all good millennials I took to the world of the internet. Because nothing says “healthy adult mindset” like picking out your best pouty photos in the hopes of getting strangers to like you.

I don’t have high hopes, I have to say. I’m (despite all appearances to the contrary) very shy, and apparently you really have to be willing to talk first. I also have no idea what to say. Hi there, I’ve recently separated from my long-term partner, I’m having some kind of life crisis, also I quite like opera. It’s a winning line, I’m sure.

And I don’t know what I think about the other people. Sure, some of them must be like me, just after a quick way to meet some new people in different circles (don’t get me wrong, I love my circles, just interested in new circles [but not Google circles, no-one cares about those]) but they are vastly outnumbered by people with terrible bios full of cheesy jokes or random quotes from obscure TV programmes. Or maybe those are the same people and I’m just doing it wrong.

Who knows, quite frankly.

com·men·tat·ed, com·men·tat·ing, com·men·tates

It’s easy, in times like these when everyone is a first-hand witness to the atrocities of the world via real-time coverage and social media, to feel the need to share your commentary on every event.

But actually, you don’t have to.

Terrible things are happening every day. Terrible people are making a lot of them happen. Those people feed on attention, they are greedy for it, and they depend on it. No, ignoring the problem will not make it go away. But you can be a helper without discussion of the acts, the motivation, and the reactions.

Good places to help right now are:

Only give to charities and organisations whose work supports your personal beliefs, and be aware that there are organisations in the world who may not use your funds as you might like – a little research will normally turn up most problems, or you can use resources like aliveandgiving to check a charity’s credentials.

Current Skillset

Name: Sally
Age: Some
Gender: is a social construct

Skills: General administration
Good phone manner
Diary management for others
Complete inability to manage personal diary
Will apologise for literally anything (profusely)
Creative, but only in very specific ways
Good cook
Bad teenage skin (note: not a teenager)
Can lose glasses almost immediately
Personable
Strong ability to preempt the needs of others
Strong ability to incorrectly try to serve those needs
Flattery
Loves buying presents (presents are often terrible)
Can coexist with cats
Likely to say all of the wrong things at all of the wrong times

Where now, nowhere, now here

When I was about 13 I picked up one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read. It was called “Fire and Hemlock”, by Dianna Wynne Jones, and though I’ve read it a lot of times since, I’m still not totally sure I can tell you what the story is.

It interweaves the story of a young girl with the folk tales of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer, and you spend the whole book not really knowing if you are coming or going. In particular, a set of vases are featured which depending on how they are positioned read any of “Now Here”, “Where now”, “Nowhere” or “Here now”. I loved the idea of these, and the idea that even if you feel like you don’t know where you are, it only takes a change of perspective to flip that on it’s head.

At this moment I’m somewhere between nowhere and where now? I’m beginning to take the first steps towards the first thoughts which will eventually lead me to now here.

Then the question will just be, where next?

Where the heart is

Home isn’t  a place, home is people.

This isn’t my first statement as an online lifestyle guru (though obviously that’s what I am). It’s an observation from the last few weeks, in which I’ve moved out of what I would have called my home, and learnt that Leeds is full of places which feel like home to me thanks to all of the fantastic people here.

Life is full of change, and full of things which don’t come through. My relationship with my boyfriend was longer than my relationship with this blog, but long doesn’t mean right, and so in the end moving on was the right decision for us both.

I’m not over it yet. 8 years is a long time. But I know that in time, I will be, and while I work through this I am so lucky to have the best people in the world creating my home for me. I’ll never be able to say thank you enough times to the people who’ve let me cry on them, text them when I’m sad, leave my things with them, move in with them (a particularly big thank-you here).

So. If you need my new address then please get in touch (if I know you. Don’t post me things if I don’t know you. I’m not famous. That’s just weird). If you fancy catching up, I’m all ears and also time.

Thank you for being my home.

 

(Also maybe this is the start of me blogging more again, but also maybe not, please don’t get your hopes up)