Saturday, 5 September 2009

Hello internet. How the devil are we? All good? Excellent. I’ll do some blogging then.

So where are we up to with life? Well it’s all good. Busy busy. But what I really wanted to discuss was the whole singing process.

Progress is being made my friends. Lessons are continuing and I’m still treading that fine line between building confidence one minute then being shot down the next...but it’s all fun and games.

Other progress has been made. I have been to a couple of festivals which have been ace. One of the best bits of both was when the guitar was dragged out and we all had a bit of a sing song. And guess who was on lead vocal duties? ME baby. In front of people and everything. The first time was in front of two people, which was terrifying, but I was drunk enough to get over it and we sang until 5am. Then the next time there was about fifteen of was awesome. I shouted more than sang, but we had a right old good time.

Then last night I was messing with a new song for the band. The lyrics have been about for ages and it just needed a tune. I’d tried about a thousand but hadn’t got anything I was happy with. I stumbled onto something I liked almost by accident and knew immediately I would forget it if I didn’t record it there and then. So I very quietly (it was 10pm) sang it into the mic and knocked up a rough demo. Upon hearing how proud I was of said tune, my lovely bandmates demanded to hear it. I explained it was just a rough idea and it would sound much better when done properly, but they demanded anyway. So I showed them! And do you know what boys and girls? Nothing bad happened. They said they liked it. They said they liked my voice and couldn’t wait to hear a finished version. And neither can I!

Oh and I also recorded a song for a friend who was leaving, and presented her with it on her departure. I’d forgotten that. Check it out, I’m making so much progress I’m actually forgetting things.

These might seem like babysteps, but they’re bloody massive leaps. We’re moving forwards boys and girls, we are moving forwards. See you on the stage.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

So I was sat doing some work with my newly upgraded Microsoft Word when I noticed there’s now a button allowing you to directly publish to a blog. Cool feature, I thought. Makes me wish I had a blog. Then I thought...wait one gosh darned minute. I do have a blog!

I started it with such high hopes, then it failed miserably. Sorry about that everyone. I’m sure you were all really upset, checking for new entries every day without any reward, crying into your pillows, writing despondent poetry, that kind of thing. Please accept my sincerest apologies.

Unfortunately I’m currently writing without internet, so I have no idea what my last entry said or where things were up to. However the plans outlined in the original brief are sort of on track, so I feel I should provide an update.

Let’s start with an overview of work and such. Things are going swimmingly. I’m just finishing up the first year of the postgrad course, which has been enjoyable for the most part. I get a brief respite soon before the second year starts in September. All being well (and assuming I get the funding) once that’s out of the way I should be able to progress onto the third year, which will mean a dissertation and then a masters. But one step at a time! My clinical work is, for the most part, really enjoyable. Obviously you get the odd character through, but 99% of people are a real pleasure to work with. I’m constantly exhausted and finish a day completely fried, but it’s good. I just wish there was less paperwork and less politics...but I’m not alone in thinking that.

I feel as though I’ve grown in confidence over the past few months, I am starting to feel as though I am actually good at what I do. People generally have positive things to say. Obviously I’m not perfect – I make mistakes, I miss things, I say the wrong things. But I feel I’m moving in the right direction which is all that matters, right?

I’ve also been considering my future plans in recent weeks. I’m going to document this here so that in months and years to come I can look back and laugh at everything I haven’t done. Anyway recent life changes have made me realise just how much I want to see the world! My lovely sister lives in Australia and I’m eternally jealous of her for having the guts to up sticks and leave. So Down Under is the obvious contender for number one on my wish list. The plan is to finish this postgrad malarkey first, as I’m not one to turn down free education. However while that is going on I’ll be scrimping and saving and attempting to raise enough moneys to take a year out to go and see the sights. Then who knows, if I decide the Home and Away life is for me, maybe I’ll look at going out there permanently. However I’m far too young to worry about such things yet, which is not a bad thing at all.
However, that is WAY too far away for my liking.

I considered taking a year out sooner, but the truth is I love my job and I love being paid to study. So my plan is to entertain myself by taking advantage of cheapass flights and hostels over the next couple of years. The plan is to have a beer in as many countries and as many cities as possible. If I look after the pennies I can arrange mini adventures whenever I feel like it. I am in the delightful position of being young, free and unattached. It’s about time I took advantage of that! I have also just bought a lovely new camera, so I can spend my time taking pictures of pretty things that I see along the way. Once I learn how to use it. Super duper.

I feel I should also document my other bits of progress. When I set out with this I half intended it to be a way of recording my steps forward in terms of getting over my ridiculous phobia of singing in public. A somewhat unexpected aspect of my job is that you are made painfully aware of every flaw you had been ignoring. Work and this nonsense kind of tie in nicely on some level. Hopefully that will become apparent as the blog continues to progress...but we’ll see how it pans out. And no bugger reads this anyway, so what the hell?! SO! In true CBT fashion I decided to address this. After all...I’m no hypocrite, it simply won’t do to not practice what I preach!

So I decided that a graded exposure approach would be most appropriate. All I have to do is slowly build up to the things I’m avoiding the most. Easy right? Well not quite...but we’re making progress. Through the Yellow Pages I enlisted the help of the lovely Linda, a singing tutor based near Preston. I think it’s fair to say I was quite nervous initially but we massively hit it off. I was really fortunate to immediately find someone who is exactly what I needed.

Despite that, the first session was horrid in every sense of the word. Everything I was worried about and then some. I was unable to get a note out. However she firmly told me that wasn’t going to be good enough and by the end of the evening I was hitting a scale. Over subsequent sessions we worked on technique through LOTS of HORRIBLE exercises. Some I simply cannot do whilst some I manage to nail straight away. It’s very strange. However technique is what I need more than anything and I think I’m feeling benefits already. The difference now is that I’m able to give it a go!

She also made me decide on a song to work on. I made the mistake of choosing a song I liked. I will now never be able to listen to that song again without hearing her telling me off. It’s been fantastic though. Without seemingly meaning to, she’s slowly wearing away all of the things I’m most afraid of. By making me sing into a mic and playing back the recordings she’s helping me to overcome the anxieties around that, in addition to helping me identify how I can improve. However at this stage let’s make one thing clear – I still HATE the sound of my own voice. She keeps telling me nice things (mixed in with telling me exactly what I’m crap at!) but it’s just not having an effect. It has been the cause of a few arguments! But still, I’m going to continue. As I’ve said since the start, I have no plans for X-Factor, I’m doing this simply because I want to. Anyway, I’ve just read a Dave Grohl biography and apparently he hated the sound of his voice for years. So if it’s good enough for Davey...

I’m now at a stage where I really look forward to the lessons. I’m seeing it as a challenge. My goals are still to get a set together and get over the fear once and for all but I’m in no rush. However I think the biggest realisation is that it just doesn’t matter. I’m doing this for me and not for anyone else, which is hugely liberating. I recommend it. If I get to the stage where I’m able to stand on a stage and sing songs I love, it wouldn’t matter in the slightest if I get booed off and everyone calls me horrid names. The simple fact that I had done it would be enough!

It’s also quite amusing how the lessons have sort of turned into ad hoc therapy sessions. I feel Linda’s taken me under her wing a bit. We discussed things in a bit more depth last week. She was surprised to learn that I was completely unable to sing even in front of my closest friends. In addition, how this had stopped me from taking to the front of the stage of my band became apparent, despite us currently being singerless. The plan is to now work on some of our songs to investigate if I am capable. She also found out that no one knew I even wanted to sing, no friends or family. Indeed only one person in the world knows I’ve even been going to see her and he’ s sworn to eternal secrecy. (Although I have just realised that at least one person who may read this knows me in the real world. Oh well. Hi Martha.) It was interesting to have it pointed out to me I suppose...most notably because it nicely brings us back to the impact of my anxiety around social appraisal...and my original formulation. Told you I was good at my job ;) Anyway in time as my confidence improves I’ll be looking at that in more detail, and working out ways to get over it. For now I just want to get to a level I’m comfortable with. We’ll get that sorted out, then I can start convincing my bandmates to let me have a bash at taking centre stage.

Anyway. If you have managed to read all of this, well done. You have quite an impressive attention span. I will make more of an effort to keep it updated, and hopefully it will be an uplifting tale of one silly boy’s efforts to overcome his silly shyness, subsequently massive impacts on his professional and personal life. Or it could be a glorious tale of crushing defeat and cringeworthy embarrassment. Either way, you’ll probably get a cheap laugh or two at my expense along the way...and isn’t that what the internet is all about?


Sunday, 8 February 2009

NVQ funs.

Finished my NVQ. Well sort of, I've done all they asked me to, there might be a few more bits and pieces to add later. But I've finished most of it now, with about half of it being done in the last three days.

But my god. What a completely ridiculous qualification. An absurd waste of time. Every question is nonsense. I've learned absolutely nothing. Just spent hours and hours doing the most stupid little tasks so that I can tick boxes.

Don't ever do one. Go and read a book or something. Better yet, get a qualification that may one day prove to be of some use to you. That is my advice for the day.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Bonjour! Ca va?

I've just returned from Brussels. Decided to go on a mini adventure after finding some cheapo flights. It was AAACE.

I've spent the week wandering a lovely old city, looking at nice buildings, visiting museums and art galleries, eating waffles and drinking beer. We went to Dr von Hagen's Body World exhibition, which was amazing. Lots of dead people and such, obviously, but so so interesting. Go and see it. Went for lots of nice meals, and although I had to eat bloody steak it was still fun. I don't think I've ever done so much walking in my life. Oh and the hotel was TinTin themed. Beat that.

And I managed to communicate to many french speakers as well. Not so much with the dutch. But the french went okay, considering I havn't thought about it since year 8 of high school.

Anyway, I shall now stop raving like an excited five year old. Did I miss anything?


I've just joined Twitter. What's the big fuss about?

Sunday, 25 January 2009

I am the Wilrus.

Hello. Thought I'd write some brief nonsense whilst waiting for my tea to cook.

I finished my assignment, just about. Hurrah. Probs gonna fail but oh well. Now onto the NVQ. What a ridiculous waste of time. Don't ever do an NVQ.

I've spent the weekend sorting out my recording setup. I bought a shiny new microphone and have wasted hours experimenting with different positions. It really is as exciting as it sounds. But there's only one way to learn, and that is what I'm trying to do. It would be nice to get some half decent recordings of Cherno songs as well as the bits and pieces of my own stuff I've thrown together over the years.

I have nothing of interest to say today, apologies.

ps I just watched a programme about Orang Utans. I want one. Or maybe two.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

I'm so tired I might die.

In addition to my clinical work I have to finish / start my essay and skills assessment stuff for Thursday. That's about 12,000 words, give or take. In 7 days.

I also have to get a multi-user audit database up and running for the head of service. I did computing at A-level...that's as far as my knowledge goes. I'm totally winging it. But not only do I have to get it finished, set up and working as soon as possible, I have to input three months worth of data into it. So maybe 6-700 patients? Who knows. What I do know is that I'm rapidly running out of time. There just arnt enough hours in the day.

And for some reason I decided tonight would be a good idea to start rugby training again. In the rain. While I'm full of a cold. That was a snotty experience. And the rain did nothing for my hair. Anyway, now my legs hurt, my feel hurt, my shoulders hurt and my jaw hurts...the jaw thanks to a lovely high shot (didn't appreciate that one...I got him back though).

Oh by the way my first clinic went well. I was a bit flustery and rubbish for the first assessment but the young lady didn't seem to mind and I think we got on alright. The second was lovely and came in just to tell me she didn't really need therapy at the minute, we just had a bit of a chat then she was on her way. And by the time the third came in I was beginning to feel like I'd been doing it all my life...everything just seemed to fall into place quite naturally. I'm confident both my people will respond really well to what I have to offer them. Happy times.

But now I'm going to bed...for I have a lot to do tomorrow. Hurrah.

All the best,

Monday, 12 January 2009

Scary scary times.

Well tomorrow is a fairly monumentous day. I get to see my first patients. All on my own. Eek.

I had a few booked in before Christmas but (through no fault of my own...) they didn't show up. Not a good start.

It's nothing too scary, hopefully.

I guess I should probably go through some notes or something in an attempt to remember anything I've been taught over the past few months. But 24 is on soon. And I have a disgusting cheap pizza to eat first.

Yum. Disgusting cheap pizza.