Friday, 23 March 2012

It's good to be home

It's a weird feeling being back home. It's definitely a good weird, but weird nonetheless. I guess this is what happens when you live in a different city for so long. Everything is just as I remember it at home, but things are a bit strange and it's taken a bit of time to settle down again.

With the exception of a brief run home at the end of January after TNA when I was barely in the house anyway, I've not been back home the start of the year. I moved back up to Leeds on January 3rd and haven't been back to Liverpool since then. It's only been two and a half months, but it started to feel like a lot longer as the end of semester drew nearer.

One major plus (naturally) is that I don't have to cook every day. I've missed my mum's cooking, I really have. There's a fair bit of cake making going on which I quite like...I guess if anything it should just make me want to do more baking back in Leeds. I think she's on a bit of a mission to fatten me up and add a few pounds to my waistline before I go back. I dread to think what she'll be like when I move to Austria and don't come home until Christmas...

Regardless, it's good to be home. Even though it's been a relatively quiet week and I've not been overly busy, it's been good to take a week and not overdo it with work. That'll all have to change next week though...there's a LOT of work to be done. I've made a steady start on it, but I need to hit the ground running next week. To be honest, the major things that need to be done are the Portfolio submission and a Phonology essay. The Portfolio shouldn't be a major problem and I've done a good chunk of the first task, but the Phonology essay is a bit like pulling teeth. Taking an hour or so to read about 10 pages isn't great progress...but doing that meant that I understood what was going on. Sort of. Oh, I really regret 'picking' that module...

Anyway, I've been keeping myself occupied with work. Remember the company I'm doing my year abroad for in Austria? Well, we had some email communication over a few things earlier in the week, and the topic of part-time work came up again. So I've been doing a bit of translation work this week for them. It's been really interesting doing work and looking at the level of German being used. From what I can tell, it's not too dissimilar to the level we were doing in Applied German Language earlier in the year, and I'm far happier translating into English which all works out splendidly. I've become something of an expert on the ADAC GT Masters championship though! Seven articles all related to that championship in some respect is quite a lot of knowledge to pick up about it. But I'm looking forward to getting some more work from them in the near future and seeing how that goes.

One thing that was really good during the week was going to Beatlife. I've not done any drumming for a few months for various reasons, and I've really missed out on that because it is something pretty important to me. I hadn't been to Beatlife since...well, I think the Southport Air Show last summer was the last time I played with them. That was back in July. That's a hell of a long time to not play with these people.

Going back there was good fun though. I'm amazed at seeing how much people have grown (namely Harley and Matthew), and it was good to see everyone again, have a little chat with people and get some drumming in. If anything, Beatlife is proof that my short term memory is the problem with having a terrible memory. I can't remember what I did a few days ago, but I can easily remember Beatlife rhythms that I've not played for 8 months or so. Maybe it's just because I'm awesome though. ;)

My Facebook page finally made the switch over to the new layout earlier in the week. It couldn't hold out any longer and went over automatically, so I figured we may as well just get on with it. I don't look at my page too often anyway, so if it's a mess, it can be a mess. One thing that's useful though is that I could quite easily delve into the archives of my Facebook page. So I went for a little trip into the archives and looked up some stuff from a few years to see what's what. There are still hazy patches that I don't quite remember after the concussion, so they're where I usually go to when I look in the archives. Facebook offers "high points" as an option to view stuff...but unsurprisingly doesn't have "low points and moments you don't want to look back on". I wonder if that option was deleted during beta testing...

The trip down memory lane was a bit grim though. There's a reason that stuff is in the past and I haven't looked back at it for a while, so maybe next time I want to go into the archives I'll look up things that aren't so crushing for my self-esteem. We choose what we look back on in life.

I said a few weeks ago that things happening really quickly, especially in relation to year abroad stuff. That's all coming true now...Hessie said to me earlier that she's off to Frankfurt on June 8. Obviously, that's a really early point to move out, but that's how things are working out for her. It gets the ball rolling though. I'll be moving out a month or so's all a little crazy.

Crazy is one word for it. Exciting is another. Things are really picking up in life. Short term, the next few weeks are looking good with some exciting things coming up. Long term...well, it's going to be an experience, and it's going to be an experience that I'll be making the most of.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Taking to the stage

I'll warn you now, this is going to be an entry heavily focused around one topic. I'm not sure why that's a warning...if you read these, you clearly have some sort of vague interest in what happens in my life to some extent, and since this is about something that's been fairly prominent in recent life, it matters.

Back towards the beginning of the academic year, there were plans put in place for a German Theatre Project. Some time around late October/early November, sessions started running for it. The only reason I can make that connection is the fact that we had a session on my birthday which interesting way of spending my 20th birthday. Such is the joy of life though! Anyway, we had some sessions, were given a gigantic pad of paper which consisted of the script and told to go off, find a role we liked the look of and then audition for it. Due to being a fairly small group, there wasn't a great deal of competition for the parts. It was largely a case of reading some of the lines and then being congratulated on getting the desired role. Huzzah!

At first, I was pretty sceptical about the project. I'm not an actor by any stretch of the imagination, so the idea of being involved in a theatre production wasn't something that captured my mind. To be honest, I wasn't planning to be involved at all. It was only after the first session when Amanda told me that there was a distinct lack of male representation (a slightly problematic scenario when the play is about four male friends) that I thought about getting involved. So I told Mandy after Core that I was interested in getting involved and before you know it, I was involved.

It was always pretty difficult doing rehearsals knowing we were still missing out on key characters, namely Bruno. Bruno's part was pretty significant as the entire play takes place in his house he wasn't the sort of character we could cut out. After the Christmas break though, we suddenly had a main character and a completed cast with the addition of the German department's favourite Giles: Dr Harrington!

And so it began properly. A full cast and an edited script with a couple of dates chiselled into the future. The idea of performing in early/mid March before the end of semester seemed ideal. I mean, when you're in January, March is a fairly long way off...right? Unsurprisingly though, the last six weeks, much like the rest of this year to be completely honest, have flown by and we quickly found ourselves with the realisation that the play was coming up on us quickly.

There were some fun moments along the way. At the tail end of February, we did a collaboration day with Sheffield Uni. I won't lie...this day was incredibly useful and great fun, but it also served as a gigantic wake up call regarding the amount of work that we had to do to get the play up to standard. This was February 25th, so it left us with...about two weeks? At this point, I think a fair few of us were thinking whether we'd actually be able to get this done. Even with having such a small group, I don't think we could really say we were comfortable knowing our lines and being able to do scenes. Panic stations.

So to counter this, we scheduled a lot of extra sessions. I think we must have clocked up over half a dozen extra rehearsals as we got closer so that we could have everything nailed.

I was quite impressed though when it got to the week before the play and I suddenly knew my lines. It turns out going through them endlessly either on my own, on Skype with Jess and Amanda or during rehearsals did actually get them engrained in my little brain, the words stuck and I was able to start doing scenes and try to figure out how to act.

Acting was always going to be a problem. I'm not an actor. I've never really acted. I was a shepherd in the Nativity in primary school, I was the Wizard of Oz in Year 2 when I did most of my scenes behind a screen (just like in the film) and then I did a Big Brother voice over in Year 6 when I was again behind a screen. So it seems that I'm pretty good at doing voice overs and whatnot behind screens, but I've never really had to do acting. Any other type of performance I've been involved in has had me on the musical side of things like I was for Fiddler on the Roof. That's much easier I think.

Most of it seemed to just occur though. With my character, I was either getting bossed around by Jess, who was playing my wife or drinking and stumbling over my words (unintentionally). We cut out the stumbling over words with the great realisation that I could just speak a little bit slower, which also helped nail pronunciation when that was a little bit of an issue with some words.

So to the performances. In short, they went really well. We knew our lines, we knew when to be on and off stage, we knew when we were active and when to be frozen in position. We had a healthy audience on both nights consisting of students, friends and teaching staff from the German department, and we got some really great feedback and comments from staff about our work. All in all, everyone seemed pretty pleased with it.

Tuesday night brought an end to the Leeds German Theatre Project for 2012 though, and it was a bit of a sad moment really. We'd worked hard on this for a few months and things came together, everyone was pleased with the work and...well, I don't really know what I'll be doing with my time when I've been learning lines and in rehearsal. It's a good chunk of time that I've gained back now, but I think I'd rather be in the project!

All that's left for me to say is to thank everyone. It's going to seem REALLY cheesy, but's all true. I don't go for the sentimental stuff all of the time, so make the most of it!

To Mandy and Helena for coming up with the idea to put on a German play, thank you. It's been great fun and despite my initial hesitance, it turned out to be one of the best things I've gotten involved with.

To Julia for helping with the language and prompting us when we let a line escape our heads, thank you.

To Thomas J-C for helping us to film it, thank you. Hopefully we get to see an edited version where everything will look perfect at some point after Easter!

To Hessie for designing a set and controlling the lights so that we looked professional, thank you.

To the cast: Amanda, Amy, Helena (again), Jess, Jacqui, Lucy, Susan and Dr Giles, thank you. It was great fun working with you guys. We had a lot of laughs and goofed around a fair bit, but we still managed to put on a great show which everyone enjoyed. We made it!

And to anyone who came to see us, thank you. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Where does the time go?

It's not quite been a fortnight since the last blog entry. But then again, the last entry I posted was while sat in a train station at stupid o'clock in the morning while waiting for the first train out of Preston. Not that I have too much against Preston, I just wish that they had trains running to Leeds a bit later than they actually do.

So, I'll start with one of the big points from the last entry. After sending off my application to Adrivo Sportpresse and having an interview, I was sent some translations to do so that they could evaluate my translation skills and see what my written English is like. I sent those off on the Monday and on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email telling me that they definitely want to offer me a job and had some brief contract details. Needless to say, I had a bit of a grin on my face for the rest of the day.

Now that the Employer Proposal form has been put online, that was sent off yesterday to be filled in. Once that's done, this could all be sorted and finalised before the end of semester next week.

That's a bit of a mental thought though...I finish for Easter next week. That's just 5 more days of university (I'm not including Fridays since they're a day off) until I have four weeks off. Not that I won't be busy during those four weeks though...I've got a couple of essays that I'll be working on over that break. Even though most of them aren't due in until May (and even as late as May 21st for AGL), I'd quite like to have most of the work done by the time we come back from the month off. We'll see how true that is in just over a month.

Another rather saddening thought is that this time next week, the Leeds German Theatre Project will have been completed. Successfully. We're in the run-up to show time now, and there are just a couple of rehearsals left on Thursday and Sunday (though I think that's largely for the tech stuff to be sorted out). Back at the beginning of the project, I was sceptical as to how well we could do with this. Two months ago, still without a lead character, I was sceptical. Three weeks ago, I was sceptical. But with less than a week to go, we're going to do it. After a considerable number of re-writes and edits, we've all pretty much learnt our lines and we know what to do. There are photos of us in costume and there are posters to promote. We're all set to go, and it's going to be good fun. Once it's over though, it'll be a bit of a shame. It's taken up quite a bit of my time in the last few weeks, and rehearsals have been a near constant thing since November on a Tuesday evening. What on earth am I going to do with that time?!

So, I highly recommend Jugendfreunde next Monday and Tuesday evening in Baines Wing. It's a delightful little comedy about four friends and marriage. Plus, you get to see some of us in costumes and Dr Harrington will (hopefully) be wearing a moustache. What more could you want from an hour of German theatre?!

All of this leads me to my question which, rather handily, makes up the title of today's entry. Where does the time go? I mean, I know where it goes. Our rock revolves around the Sun, and as it does, our clocks and watches move in a circle. The sun rises, it sets, it rises again. Time is one of those things that we don't really think about or consider too much, but it's always there...ticking away in the background.

But I mean, it's already March. MARCH! That's the third month of the year. Pretty soon, I'll be done with my second year of uni and I'll be moving out to Austria for the year. But of course, that'll no doubt fly by as well and before we know it, I'll be back in Leeds for the final year of my degree. After that, I graduate and get thrown into the big wide world and have to start living more like an adult. I know I'm not the only one like this though...I've had this conversation with a few people in recent days, and we're all amazed as to how quickly life seems to go.

I have no idea what the next few months will bring...the only way to find out to is sit back and enjoy the ride.