Trick or …

Halloween is possibly my favorite holiday.. I love this time of year.  I used to celebrate this day as the start of the Pagan New Year,  but now I’m really not sure where I stand on the whole religion thing so I don’t celebrate that way anymore.  I always make a point to carve a pumpkin and over the last couple of years I’ve used the excuse to try and figure out how to make pumpkin pie: something which is harder than it sounds given that several things on the recipe are not available this side of the Atlantic. This year I wasn’t home so sadly neither of these rituals were observed.

I did something this year I’ve never done before: I went trick or treating! No no not for myself. I’m a little old to be begging for candy at people’s doors. I draw the line right around borrowing a cup of sugar. I went with my friend’s kids D who’s 5 and makes a very scary skeleton, N who is an oh so cute but deadly witch. She’s 3.  They had a blast.  I believe this tradition should be encouraged.

It’s safe to say that Halloween is kind of glossed over in the UK. Trick or treating is not all that common and while we make some attempts at spooky theme nights at local night clubs costumes and all that, we don’t go all out the way the Americans do, something which makes the gothic-side of my personality very very upset. I mean this is the one night I can legitimacy get away with dressing like a vampire and not have people questioning my sanity.  Sigh.

I keep threatening to go harass Gadget Guy for Halloween next year… mwahahahaha… Seriously though, I want to go play in the pumpkin patch  and have so many Trick or Treaters that you need a piece of paper and a pen ‘cause 10 fingers is just not enough to count them.

Happy Halloween … blessed be.

Ali xX

Still here … sort of.

I have not been this BUSY in years. I am not used to it and I’m exhausted and perhaps a little more stressed than I should be.

I’ve just finished a 2 week work placement at the local women’s hospital (soon to be the IVF capital of Europe apparently -yay). I will write about it when I get a chance, I promise. For now just let me say that it was a rollercoaster of emotions and I couldn’t really concentrate on anything else. My body is not used to going to work 9 to 5 Monday to Friday. I was aching all over for days. Midwives are some of the busiest people I have ever observed. At work, they power walk everywhere and never stop. No time for breaks, a snatched cup of tea if they are lucky and perhaps some chocolate left by grateful parents. A high work load, heaps of responsibility and pressure… and it can be emotional thrown into the bargain. And still I wasn’t put off. In fact I want to be one of them more than ever even though some of the midwives assure me this means I’m crazy. I loved my placement and really didn’t want it to end.

I’m working on the dreaded university application at the moment, too. Yeah, selling myself is not my strong point and competition for places on this course is soo tough (about 400 applicants for 16 or so places). I’m writing and re-writing  my supporting statement – you know the bit where I have to explain why I want to be a midwife and why on earth they should give ME a place… me. Me. Ohh pick me…  pleeease !  I cannot wait until this form is sent off and at the same time I want to make sure I get it right. It’s pressing on my mind a lot lately. There’s a lot riding on this application :S stress.

On top of all this, I’m going out of town for two weeks to take a very special trip… which I might be allowed to tell you about when I return but I need some permission first. I’m excited! I have a feeling I could be in for another emotional rollercoaster… and I’m excited! I’m not going to have any internet access while I’m away… sooo …this is a hello… goodbye post. See, I told you I was busy busy. I’ll be back, I promise. I’ll be catching up on my reading list too. I haven’t forgotten you. I’m thinking of you and wishing you the best.

Take care…

Ali xX

Scareshow gave me the creeps.

I am an impulsive person.  I know this.  Sometimes I act first and think later. So, when a local farm was advertising for actors to take part in the scareshow and haunted hay rides that they run around Halloween it all came together in my head: I used to love acting…  then this panic stuff happened… but I’m over that now (yeah I was having a good day)… So I shot off an application, feeling triumphant. I never thought any more of it. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything and in all honesty I forgot about it.

Then I got this e-mail inviting me for an audition and my jaw just dropped (it was a few days later and I wasn’t feeling “so over” the panic thing). Instead, I was kicking myself for being so silly.  I mean I hadn’t even considered how I could actually get to this farm. That’s how much I wasn’t expecting to hear anything.  After umming and ahhing for a few days I decided that I would attend the audition “just to see”.  I mean, drama was my passion and I know for sure that a few years ago I would have bitten your hand off for any chance to dress up in a creepy costume and scare some kiddies… and adults too if I could get away with it.

I am clearly not that person anymore.  I did not enjoy the audition and its not because of the 2 hours it took me to get there (that’s 2 busses and a 15 min walk- see what I mean about not thinking things through?) It frustrates me that I just can’t connect with something that used to be my life. I always felt more comfortable in character than I did being myself:  slipping in and out of character and spending days in rehearsal was my idea of heaven. It felt so easy to me.  By that I don’t mean I was really good at it. Just that I was really comfortable. I truly enjoyed the challenge of trying to bring out each character that was handed to me.

I think I’ve grown wiser and perhaps owned up to the fact that i wasn’t as good at it as I imagined I was/wanted to be. Actually, I believe I got stuck in a rut when I found a type of character I was good at and inadvertently turned all my characters in the direction that made me more comfortable. I lacked variety. I believe I could have been better if I had realized what I was doing and made a conscious effort to stop, but that’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight. not that this matters to any of you…  unless you happen to be  the drama teacher who I believe tried to tell me this on at least one occasion in which case I know I should have listened. I realized this sometime in the second year of my Drama degree and it took a loong time for me to stop kicking myself…. maybe one day I’ll write that story.

I was so out of place in that audition room. I’ve never tried to carry on improvising while my brain stopped working from awkwardness and nerves but I now know why some people hate acting and maybe have some clue what stage fright feels like. It’s gawd awful.

I didn’t give up I stayed through out the whole thing,  but I tell you the relief that I felt on leaving was about the same as hearing the bell for the end of the school day after being stuck in a double period of German  language I never could get my head around.

I wonder what happened to me. Am i still more affected by the anxiety issue hanging around in the background?  Is the realization of how young, clueless and slightly obnoxious I was making me cringe so much I can’t focus?  Or have I truly lost my passion for the theatre… am I just over it an feeling awkward as I would around a former lover?

I did get offered a part after this audition. I couldn’t take it for a number of reasons.  Turning down a part would have been unthinkable a few years ago… but I just felt relief… perhaps I’m running scared.

Hmm… I’m curious about this change in me… I don’t like it to much.

Ali xX

Time Warp !

DSCF0632

Nooooo not the dance from the Rocky Horror Show … but really today I felt a little like I got stuck in a time warp and thrown back a few years.  I was at a University Open Day.  Nothing really unusual about that: I mean I am applying this year and I’d like to make some good choices. But as coincidence would have it, the university I attended 5 years ago (typing that=youch) actually has a midwifery course with a great reputation and it’s right on our doorstep. Yeah, me and KM didn’t move far. So, I found myself back on campus trying to focus on midwifery and not drunken… aherm… drama rehearsal flash backs. (Only a performance art student could have nightmares about carrots as a result of their degree- don’t ask). Actually the place has changed quite a bit since I was there.  Whereas it used to be a college affiliated with a university when I enrolled, its now a full fledged university in its own right and with that new buildings sprang up everywhere (about 2 years after I left… well, graduated I might add).  Suffice to say that I went to the midwifery talk but decided I could pass on the campus tour being given by this year’s newly arrived intake.

All in all, the day was a success.  The midwifery facilities and the lectures impressed me, and the college is once again on my application form. Here’s hoping they might want to take me back. I promise to drink less and go to class more… honest! Older and wiser I am.

I’m coping quite well really, despite feeling really old and rather silly back at uni. I swear these people look younger than I was! And then, just as I turned a corner and KM and I were about to have a very unusual soppy moment… a la “awww this is where we met”… our jaws dropped instead and the song “… they paved paradise and put up a parking lot…” was suddenly playing in my head. Yeah, they knocked down the building where we first said hello… the cheek of it! In all honesty that building was… was much closer to a deprived area in desperate need of redevelopment than paradise BUT still …  the memories… this “parking lot” is where we met. Where I won my 6 month long fight to finally get a National Insurance number (another looong story). Where I first found out that despite all my efforts to sabotage myself, I actually was going to graduate…and now its gone. Sigh. Makes me feel old.

Mmhum so we had to take a picture of the  gap in the landscape. Sad, I know, but there ya go.  I’m a silly sentimental sod at times.

Ali xX

And then there were three.

Remember back in this post… I talked about the possibility of a kitten joining our household? Benjamin moved in yesterday and so far seems to have settled just fine, despite a small amount of family drama. I am getting used to having the little guy around.  Boy, this kitten is sociable. He spends most of the time sleeping next to me, or sitting on my lap asking for attention. That’s when he’s not pushing a stray Hershey’s kiss around the room or staring at his refection in my makeup mirror.  He also has such a loud purrr  that never stops!

Say hello to Benji ..

Benjamin
Benji
Ain’t he cute?

Ali xX

Can I have a word…About the (uncussesful) Chicago 2016 bid.

I’m just gonna come out and say this: I wanted Chicago to win the 2016 Olympic bid so badly.  Yes, I cared even more about this than when London was in the running for the 2012 games and seen as it has been my hope that the games would come somewhere near me since I was small I can tell you that I wanted London to win its contest a whole lot. Last time I got lucky and the victory tasted sweet. This year, not so lucky. Chicago came last of the four possible cities in the contest for this great honor and quite frankly I, like many people, was SHOCKED… and so very disappointed. LAST?

Chicago is (allow me to sneak in the expected Frank Sinatra reference here) my kind of town. It pains me to say this given my baseball loyalties, but I even prefer it to New York. I often like to joke that Chicago is like New York except chilled out a bit and with a larger dose of fun.  I believe, mostly because of its size, New York like London can be a little impersonal and overwhelming. I LOVE it, but I find it kinda hard to relax. I doubt I would ever want to live in Manhattan. After a few days I’d be so ready to get out of there and recover from what feels like sensory overload from the city that never stops.

Chicago is not like that. I love the vibe when I visited 2 years ago now I found the people so welcoming and friendly. They took the time to look me in the eyes and ask me where I came from how I liked their city and even threw in a few “thanks for coming out to see us.”  Overall, I got such a sense of hospitality. Now, you might or might not know that Gadget Guy is from there so I will admit this whole feeling welcomed and at home may have had a lot to do with having friends over there to show me around as opposed to having to go in on my own tourist style. I still believe the town has something special and the people here are FUN and have a great sense of humor, although the insane bias of the place towards the Chicago Cubs has me a little puzzled… like guys, there’s a second team here ya know.  Those White Sox ain’t too bad. I mean, they have actually won it all THIS CENTURY… but anyways I digress. The architectural history of this lakeside city gives it a truly jaw dropping skyline, not to mention the flowers, trees and general greenness  squeezed into every space it seems at times. Do you know they have a beach here too… with palm trees? I’ve seen it!  The place looks GOOD and if you don’t believe me, take a car down Lake Shore Drive. You’ll see.

So why do I care?   Like I said, I love the city. In fact I’ve spent most of the two years since I got back trying to figure out when I can go again and rather sad I never went sooner. It’s safe to say that internationally this gem is somewhat overlooked. It doesn’t have the same destination status of New York, L..A. or even Florida. I truly believe this is a mistake and that the city is capable of hosting a fantastic games which would put Chicago and all its charm firmly on the tourist map for years to come, not to mention if the Games showed up in the Windy City I would move heaven and earth to be there and soak up that atmosphere.

I’ve heard a lot of theories as to why the result was so shocking, why Chicago got ditched in the first round. Of course we will never know, but it may have been some flaw in the bid, some concerns about money, people love to blame whether it be Chicagoans blaming Mayor Daley or Republicans clamoring from the rooftops that this yet an other Obama disaster. Whatever. Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault. Maybe Rio really did have a stronger case and you have to admit that the Olympics going to South America for the first time is pretty cool.

I’m disappointed with another issue and these are the stories that were emerging from the city that public opinion was so against the games that people were actually burning Chicago flags. Seriously. I don’t understand these anti-Olympic feelings. Yes, I get that the games cost money LOTS of money, but I don’t buy the argument that this is just not the “right” time.  I suspect that actually hosting the games is kind of like having a child: there never is a “right” time. You do it because you want to and you make it work.  Yes, we’re in a financial downturn, sure, but 2016 is 7 years away. 7 years. A lot can happen in that time, so Chi-town you’ll get no sympathy from this British girl  given that London won the games BEFORE this financial implosion and we have 3 years now to figure something out. Do you hear us bitching or throwing the toys out the pram and refusing because we suddenly think this REALLY ISN’T the right time for us? NO. Because hosting the games is an honor.  It’s a privilege to welcome champions and citizens for all over the world to your home, to be a part of the Olympic  legacy of  hope, peace  and healthy competition  is a once in a life time chance.   It’s pretty darn special.

Yeah, I know traffic will be HELL. I know the crowds will be a major disruption to your lives and probably would make living downtown kinda crap for anyone who can’t afford to take time out from daily life just because the Olympics roll into town… BUT it’s not forever.  It’s 2 weeks. 14 DAYS. Suck it up already.

I worry that the international reputation of the town has only suffered because of this “not in my backyard” attitude and I can’t help feeling this type of thinking is a little short sighted. To be quite honest, it’s not what I expected form the people of the Midwest who made me feel so welcomed.  You kind of came off grumpy and unsupportive and at the end of the day, much though it saddens me, perhaps a town where this disapproving voice is so loud, doesn’t deserve the games. How sad.

Congratulations Rio. See you in 2016!!

Ali xX