Monday, November 28, 2005

singing the la la la's

Well I did it. I joined a new choir. It was fantastic! I left feeling very welcomed. Also, I found out that the choir had only been going for a year, so everyone is still learning music. This meant that I was able to keep up and I actually was able to join in singing at my first rehearsal. That was a great feeling. I remember the last choir I was at, when I attended the first rehearsal I could only sit and listen, because everyone knew the music so well they just launched right into it. It took me ages to learn some of the songs, and even now I'm not sure if I had learnt all of the music.

About three years ago I auditioned for the Royal Philharmonic Choir. It was an audition that began brilliantly and then quickly went downhill. I should probably explain that I cannot sight read music. I have been in two choirs (now a third), but I have always been able to get on with an 'ear' to music, so to speak. I can sort of tell when to go up and down etc., but that's about it.

So, I went to the audition, not expecting much, but I thought I'd give it a go. The audition began with some scales. I normally sing Soprano, and can sing fairly high notes. As I continued going up in scales, I noticed the Pianist give the musical director a bit of a look, as if to say, not bad.

The second part of the audition was to sing a piece of music that I knew. I had brought along a French classical piece that I had sung in my previous choir. So, away I went, and I daresay that it went rather well.

The final part of the audition was to sight read some music. The Musical Director told me to go over to the stand where I found some classical German music. He then told me to sing the Alto part. This is when it got quite scary. There was absolutely no way I would be able to do this. He told me to proceed, and that 'Lars' will do. I quickly scanned the music, looking for 'Lars". The music began, and I felt my face grow hot because no matter how hard I looked I could not find 'lars', and therefore, where to begin. Entirely missing the cue to begin, the musical director began to sing the part, trying to be helpful. Just as he began to sing, it dawned on me that 'lars' meant sing 'la la la', and not worry about the words. I'm sure some of you reading this probably realised that's what he meant straightaway! Anway, it was perfectly obvious that I was having trouble reading and therefore singing the music, so the music director then asked me to clap the notes instead. Keen not to disappoint in anyway, I began clapping. The wrong notes. This time I noticed the pianist give him a look, but this was was clearly showing how unimpressed she was. The audition ended by him not looking me in the eyes, and uttering something along the lines of don't call us we'll call you. A few days later I received my rejection letter.

I like this new gospel choir that I've joined. They're nice and relaxed, with no music sight reading ability needed.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The things I can do.

Well second year of my undergraduate degree is now officially over!! There's nothing like the feeling of walking away from that last exam of the year. This summer I have made some plans to do things that I have been putting off because of study. My previous post had my immense reading list that I am planning to get through. I am also planning on doing some writing. I have what I think (and hope) a mystery novel floating around in my head. I'm going to set a writing schedule for myself over the summer and see what comes of it. The other thing I am doing is joining a gospel choir. I have been involved with two different choirs over the years, and I left my last one because I began my degree and found I didn't have time for it. So, the other night I rang a contact number of a choir I found that rehearses literally just around the corner from my home. In fact it was interesting the way it came about.

On the weekend Richard and I were away for a rowing regatta out in country Victoria. (He's a rower). Richard was towing the rowboats, and as we left the rowing club, coming up the long drive, I noticed a lovely bluestone church on the corner and spent a few seconds admiring it. On the Monday at work - which is now very quiet because all the students are gone (except for summer school students) - I decided to get on the internet and see if I could find any choirs that rehearsed close to home. I found a handful, but the gospel choir really caught my eye. And what's more, they rehearse in the old bluestone church I had been admiring over the weekend. How fortuitous is that! Anyway, I am going to attend a rehearsal tonight after work for the first time. Hopefully it will be great. I'm really looking forward to giving my vocal chords something to do, they have been getting very hoarse from disuse. Also, because they practice on Thursday nights, I think I will be able to fit rehearsals in next year (or at least for first semester), because so far the class timetable has me at uni during the day, which will leave Thursday night free.

So those are my plans for the summer. Reading, writing and singing. I feel like I'm getting back to the basics of who I am. In the past three to four years I have been trying out different things, and finding that I either lose interest or it just doesn't feel right. I think you have to be really passionate about something for it to work properly. It's good to try out new things, but sometimes when there is so little time it can be better to focus on the things that you can do.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

kennelling the Pooches

Over the weekend Richard and I attended a rowing regatta out in the country. We put both our dogs in a kennel for the first time. This proved to be quite traumatic for me. I can just imagine what I'll be like when I have children!! (If and when).

Now one of my dogs was quite ok. Nelson is a terrier cross and we got him from the RSPCA three years ago. I get the impression he has been in kennels before, and certainly, the RSPCA is a kennel type of environment. Kaz, on the other hand, is a Jack Russell that we have had since she was eight weeks old. I'm very sad to report that her kennel experience was very traumatic for her. My mum went to collect them since the kennel closed at 5pm, and the last rowing race was 3pm. Therefore we would only return to Melbourne by 8pm. Anway, went to collect them from my mum's place, and my poor Kaz just would not take her eyes off us. It was as though if she blinked we would disappear. I was feeling very sorry for my pooch. Nelson on the other hand had lost his bark! When he sees other dogs he either wants them to come over to him or he go to them, so he can say a nice doggy hello. Kaz is the opposite. Because they were being kept together we had ticked the box saying to keep them separate from the other dogs. Poor Nelson. I think he must have barked for the whole weekend, shouting over to the other dogs that he just could not get to. The result? He lost his voice. Even though I felt bad about it, it was quite hilarious to listen to him bark when we got home. His bark is slowly getting back to normal now though.

We thought it would be a good idea to try out a kennel for them as we are going away in January, and also we are trying to find a 'good' kennel that we can trust. I think that if we go away camping on the next regattas we could take Kaz with us. Nelson hates camping. The bugs literally sends him bananas. He's been camping with us twice and both times we had to put him in the tent just to keep him sane. Also, he likes to wander and has selective hearing when being called. Kaz loves camping. She is very docile and will sit quietly with us. I think definitely for the next camping trip we will take her and put Nelson in the kennel and tick the box that allows him to socialise with the other dogs. He will have a fantastic holiday, and Kaz will happily sit with us and be the well behaved dog she is. Other than the camping I think next time we are away we may have to find someone to housesit and look after both of them. Which we have done before. Or, unfortunately for Kaz, it will be back to the kennel.

My reading list (so far!) I just seem to keep adding to it.......

Well second year of my degree is almost over. I have one more exam to get through and then my summer begins. I still have my part time job to go to, but it's nice knowing I can relax for a few months and not worry about anything due in.

I've made a huge list of fiction books to read, not necessarily to be finished by the end of summer, but I can certainly make a start on it. I thought I might use this post to share my reading list. Please feel free to comment if you have read any of these titles and let me know what you think. But no spoilers please!!

1. The Rule of Four. Caldwell
2. Arthur & George. Barnes
3. Pride and Presience. Bebris
4. Espresso tales. McCall Smith
5. Vellum. Duncan
6. Pomegranate soup. Mehran
7. The Big Over Easy. Fforde
8. Hyde Park gate news: the stephen family newspaper. Woolf & Bell
9. A breath of snow and ashes. Gabaldon
10.The secret river. Grenville
11.To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee (re-read for my book discussion group)
12.Summer at Mount Hope. Ham
13.The Ghost Writer. Harwood
14.The book thief. Zusak
15.Knife of Dreams. Jordan
16.A thing of blood. Gott
17.Justice Hall. King
18.The city of falling angels. Berendt
19.A conspiracy of Paper. Liss
20.The book of lost books. Kelly
21.The Dante Club. Pearl
22.Great Books. Denby
23.The Apothecary's House. Mathews
24.The conjuror's bird. Davies
25.Seven Ancient Wonders. Reilly
26.Climbing the mango trees. Jaffrey
27.The Stone Ship. Raftos
28.Is history fiction? Curthoys & Docker
29.The Minotaur. Vine
30.Uncorrected proof: the true history of the Australian book scene. Anonymous
31.Suspense and Sensibility. Bebris
32.Italian joy. Coulson
33.The Italian Secretary. Carr
34.Sicilian summer. Johnston
35.Living Dangerously. Fforde
36.The Game. King
37.The Serpent on the Crown. Peters
38.The Historian. Kostova
39.The History of Love. Krauss

Well that's it so far. The bad thing is that each day I just seem to add to it. This list doesn't even include all the classics I try to get hold of as well! It's me playing catch up after two years so far of study, and letting my fiction reading take a backseat.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The travel bug strikes again!

Well I'm all excited. I have the itinerary planned for our next trip, Im going to book tickets, accommodation and tours probably tomorrow. This is what we're going to be doing:

21 Jan Saturday - Leave Melbourne for Hervey Bay (Queensland)
Sunday - Hervey Bay
Monday - Day tour Lady Elliot Island, snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef
Tuesday - leave for 3 day Wilderness Safari on Fraser Island
Wednesday - Fraser Island
Thursday - Fraser Island, return Hervey Bay. (Australia Day)
Friday - Hervey Bay
Saturday - Hervey Bay and Uncle's birthday party (the whole reason why we're going!)
Sunday - Hervey Bay
Monday - Hervey Bay
Tuesday - return to Melbourne.

I'm feeling pretty satisfied about my planned itinerary. I've got a friend that I travelled with last year around Europe, and I had an itinerary all planned out about a couple of months before leaving. He was completely freaked out by it. Do you think that makes me a control freak? I just like to think that it's better to know what you're doing so that you get the most out of your time there. When I returned to work I had people coming up and saying, did you really do all that? Every thing you had on your itinerary? They seemed pretty amazed. I think it forces you to keep going, rather than spend time asking yourself where to next, and then by the time you get your act together half your day is gone. Also, I can't help it if I know what I like......and in case you're wondering, hubby is happy to just go with the flow. In fact over the weekend I overheard him tell someone that I had it all planned, and he seemed pretty pleased by that. :)

Definitely been bitten by the travel bug.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

My shit year continued

Well in my last post I mentioned that I was having staffing problems and that Amy was part of all that. One thing I did forget to mention about Amy, is that she was often late to work. I would arrive expecting her to be there or turn up soon after, and I would get a phone call an hour later saying she was at the doctor's! One time she didn't even call and turned up at 11am, rather than 8am, when she was supposed to start, saying that she had been to her friends house because her brother had just died. I know that sentence sounds callous on my part, but there are three reasons for that. Firstly, I was at the end of my patience with her. Secondly, she could at least have rung - she does have a mobile phone. I was beginning to worry about her, then when I found out she was ok, I got annoyed. Thirdly, a few days later I asked her if she was going to the funeral, and she replied that she was not. I would have greater sympathy for what happened if she had at least attended the funeral. By the end of the four months that I put up with her, I went through my diary where I jot down who was in for work for pay etc., and realised that this sort of behaviour was averaging at least once a week! I don't know why I put up with it for so long.

In addition to this, I had another staff member who worked every Thursday. His name was Joel - the wanna be actor/producer. He was the sort of person where if you told him to do something, you would have to ask about three times before it was done. I had come from an environment where if I asked a staff member to please do a job, it was done immediately, or at least prioritised accordingly.
Joel was often at least a few minutes late. This I don't mind so much, but there was one afternoon when he had come in and was busily talking to one of the other staff members. Being fairly quiet, I said to him that I was going to send him home. The time was ten minutes past two. He looked at the clock, turned to me and very cooly said, I'll work till 2.30pm and then go. He then turned back around to the other staff member and continued his conversation. That was it. I told him very calmly but forcefully, that no, he was finishing up now, and if he was concerned about the extra ten minutes past the hour, that we can put that down for all the times that he's late. Lucky for him he didn't answer me back, because I think I would have fired him on the spot.
Well, I'm going to unfortunately admit that I put up with this kind of behaviour from him for far too long.

One day I told him that I wanted to let him go, he actually pleaded with me and set about making a case as to how badly he needed the money etc. Me feeling sorry for him actually relented. I know, very bad management on my part! I will admit to that.
When I did finally make a firm stand and say that I was letting him go and there were going to be no 'buts' about it, he came in for his final pay check and walked into the back area where one of the other girls was cleaning the floor using bleach. Joel is the type of guy who wears his jean trouser legs well over his shoes dragging along the ground. You can guess what happened. The next day he brought in his jeans, nicely folded in a plastic bag, and proceeded to show me the damage the bleach had done. He then asked me to cough up $250 for them, as this was the amount he had paid for them. I told him no, and that because he had walked into the back area on his own accord, that was his bad luck. I well and truly had had enough of him by this stage.
To cut a long story short, I eventually did offer to pay him for it, but he didn't bother coming in for the money, so that was the end of that.
This all happened towards the end of our stay at the cafe. So, for the first four months I had to put up with Amy and for the latter part I was putting up with Joel. I think the final three months I was fairly stress free with regards to staff. Except for Tanya, who wasn't a bad worker, and is a lovely person, but she suffers from depression and that made things difficult. She would often use her children as excuses, and it's very hard to argue with that. How can you argue that work comes before family? Particularly as I don't believe in that.

On a personal note, one of the things I found hardest to deal with, was the fact that people thought I was stupid. It was an attitude that came from people time and time again. Just because you work behind a counter does not mean you are stupid and uneducated. I constantly found that I was justifyng myself. Richard and friends kept on telling me to just smile and take their money. In my previous job, I was always talking to borrowers. They respected my opinion. They would come and ask me for advice on what to read. I would help them with their research. I found at the cafe that I was not getting anything out of it. I would go home each night disatisfied with my job, with an aching body because I had been on my feet all day. Considering all my previous jobs were all government positions, I suppose I was a bit spoiled. I just didn't know how spoilt I was until I went into business for myself.

Well, a year went by,and we finally sold it!
Looking back it all seems a bit surreal. I literally have to ask myself, did I really do that? Did I work myself to the bone that much
Now, two years later, I am working a very comfortable job at a university library and I am studying an undergraduate degree to become a teacher. It all seems a world away from the cafe. So, that's the story of my shit year. I went into it, with optimism, excitement, big stars in my eyes, only to come away, deflated, sad and fairly teary. But, as they say, when a door closes a window opens, and that's exactly what's happened to me. I had been thinking of doing teaching for quite a few years, and that whole episode propelled me towards it.
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