Personal, Updates

Dating, honestly

I love feedback. Feedback is useful for knowing where you are with someone, checking in with them to make sure you aren’t falsely picking up on non-verbal cues that are giving you the wrong impression about a situation. I like to have regular meetings at work to discuss how I’m doing, what I do well, how I can improve and so on. I’ll probably never be offended by anything you say, as long as it’s constructive and delivered with a veneer of positivity. Maybe it comes from my teaching years, the whole ‘two stars and wish’ rule of feedback. You’re really funny, I like your little hat; it would be great if you could talk about something other than the plight of bees… Two positives, and a wish for future progress.

It was a strange – but not entirely unbearable – experience taking part in the Guardian Blind Date column in the weekend magazine a few weeks ago. It was a quick process, myself being apparently one of very few heterosexual female applicants to the column in a long time (probably should’ve read more into that, I’ll know for next time). As a singer, I’m used to standing on a floodlit stage or platform and letting myself be taken over by another character, another person. But this – this was me, on a real-life, ‘warts and all’ (ew) dinner date with a stranger. This person didn’t know me, and was rating me based on a couple of hours of my company. I had nowhere to hide.

I’m not going to go into the details of the evening. You can read all about it here, if you are so inclined.

Dating is horrible, and I’m never going to enjoy the process. It’s expensive, it takes up a lot of your leisure time, and thus far it has been a romantic dead end. I have close friends and family members who have met their partners on dating apps, and good luck to them. It just isn’t for me. Part of the reason I don’t think apps are a good idea is that they make finding a partner so easy. You look at a catalogue of willing participants, presumably after the same thing as you (‘DTF’ or ‘no hookups’ are the two options), and you swipe right on the people you like the look of. You go on your date, you have an okay time, and maybe you keep seeing them. One day you find them sitting on the toilet with the door open in your rented bedsit in Enfield and you wonder whether you should’ve given Mark from accounts another chance. No controversy. No long-distance. No tension. No romance.

Adding to the long list of things the media blames my generation for, perhaps we are sanitising relationships to the point where marriages can be arranged through an algorithm on a phone. I wasn’t expecting to meet the love of my life on that blind date, but I did consider it a more traditional option than Tinder. I was the one who got ghosted, despite not being remotely interested in seeing the guy again. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong, I’m too aloof. Like Chandler when he’s trying not to get back with Janice.

Problem is, I might seem nonchalant but the lack of intimacy is starting to get to me, gnawing away like woodworm. Eventually I will become hollow and my external structure will collapse, leaving behind putrid dust. I’m about to turn 27 and, other than my magazine “date”, the last time I was involved with anyone, the country was still very much in the EU. Back then, there wasn’t even the slightest suggestion of the fetid hell-scape that the last 12 months has become. When I turned 26, the future looked bright, at least for a week or two post-birthday.

I’m flying back to London in an hour or two, having spent a very pleasant three days back home on the Isle of Man. The pressure to be in a relationship here is unreal, mainly because there is nothing else to do, and being a single woman is tantamount to being one of the old-school witches they used to roll down Slieau Whallian for lols. It’s time for me to make a swift exit back to lovely, cosmopolitan London. Maybe I’ll keep Bumble on my phone just in case.

Confessional, Personal, Travel, Updates

Rewinding, and NYC

Cold, but happy.
Cold, but happy.

Everyone has a happy place. It might be somewhere that no longer exists but in memory, like a beach visited in childhood. It could be a family home, or somewhere further afield you don’t often visit. Hell, it might even be Disneyland. Your happy place might be nowhere specific, but somewhere indefinable surrounded by the people you love.

My happy place is New York City. I love it for many reasons, and I enjoy being there at any time of year, even in early June when the damp and cold makes you feel like you’re going to go mouldy. My aborted trip to see my friends at French Woods in July was a huge blow to my confidence and self-esteem, and in the months that followed I became defeatist and increasingly isolated. I had my show, so I couldn’t take off for the week. What I wanted most – to see my friends at camp – was somehow out of my control. It was impossible.

I decided about a week ago to fly out to Manhattan next month, for about as long as I can afford given the shoddy exchange rate this side of the referendum ($1.22 = £1? Lame). 2016 has largely been a series of disappointments, save for a few moments of happiness (Edinburgh, hey) where I felt kind of normal. It certainly didn’t help that 2015, in comparison, was one of the most exciting and wonderful years of my life. 2016 never had a hope in hell, really.

Why do I love New York? Let me list the ways. I love its diversity, and seeing people from places you don’t often come across in the UK like South America and North Asia. I love its chaotic order with its grid plan and subway system simmering away a few feet under the concrete. I love the culture and the museums and the parks. I love the food. God, I love the food!

I feel free in NYC. Despite the tall buildings, stagnant air and tumult, my mind makes sense of what is happening around me in a very specific way. This is the New York I know from Hollywood movies and television sitcoms. All around the city are recognisable markers that reconfigure your location on the planet. You are, inescapably, there.

I fell in love in New York. Not with any one person, but with the music my new friends and I made and the incredible feeling of achievement – and loss – when it was all over. It is this that draws me back. I’m not trying to recreate those feelings, because I know they’re gone. Like any beautiful memory from the past, I hope my return makes me feel comforted and valued. I made an impact in this place, albeit a hundred and fifty miles out of the city centre. I made myself proud and I worked hard and took risks. I was the best version of myself in my happy place. After this year, I need to remember that feeling more than ever.

News, Singing, Updates

Opening Night

“Women can always put things in fewest words. Except when it’s blowing up; and then they lengthens it out.” – Charles Dickens, ‘Oliver Twist’

After a mentally, physically and vocally exhausting week of tech and dress rehearsals, we are about to perform our first show in front of a paying audience. Having looked at the tickets available on the Gaiety website, we are going to have a full house tonight, which is equal parts terrifying and exciting.

It’s such a privilege to be involved in any production that performs on the Gaiety Theatre stage. The auditorium is beautiful and the stage is perfectly proportioned for a Manx company. Taylorian have done magnificent things with the set and we’re dressed to the nines in our Victorian finery. Plus, there’s a dog. I’m super excited.

Gaiety Theatre

Things I’ve learned this week:

1) Lots of theatre people in one place + hot lights + heavy costumes + exhaustion = tension;

2) It is hard to sing with a live orchestra;

3) No primer in the world will stop pan stick from sliding off my face during a performance;

4) Make sure hat is superglued/stapled to head.

The production is incredible and there are some seriously talented kids and adults in the cast, so a ticket will be worth every penny.  In fact you’ll see it once, tell all your mates and come back again. The weather is dreadful so come to the Gaiety Theatre and feel warm and fuzzy inside. Get your tickets here.

Let me know what you think!

Elizabeth xo

News, Updates

On Disappointments

Being a performer – whether that be a singer, actor, dancer, mime, circus artist or someone who dresses up as a Disney princess for a living – gives a person a certain edge when it comes to life’s inevitable disappointments. One of my earliest disappointments came at the age of 11, when puberty hit and suddenly I found my formerly gamine, ingénue self in the body of a small hippo with C-cups and a huge bum: my ballet career was over. It was crushing, but I’d recently begun high school and soon found that orchestra offered new challenges I was happy to accept.

Another blow came around the age of 25, when I had to accept that the years of performing in my beloved orchestras had left me with hearing damage to my left ear (the one that the neck of the instrument vibrates very closely next to) and fairly substantial tinnitus. To this day, I can’t sleep without some kind of background noise like a fan or rain-noise app because the ringing would cause me to lie there all night questioning every life choice I have ever made.

I am writing this from my bedroom on the Isle of Man, despite the fact that on the 4th July 2016 I had every intention of being in Hancock, New York, watching the 2016 French Woods staff and students perform in their annual ‘Fourth of July’ celebration concert. In what I can only describe as hideous bad luck, I developed acute bacterial tonsillitis two days before I was supposed to fly out. Then Aer Lingus cancelled the flight from Dublin to New York a few hours before we were meant to fly. Then Aer Lingus lost my luggage. In the theatre world we might refer to this as a ‘triple threat’. There was absolutely no chance I was going to New York this week.

A really important life skill every creative person develops is resilience. Those knock backs you get when you don’t get cast in your favourite musical, when someone doesn’t like your interpretation of a song in a competition, when the haggard, spinster examiner says you’re “the wrong size for ballet” and fails you on the spot – they make you strong as balls and totally able to deal when crises like my nightmare of a weekend occur.

If recent news has taught me anything, it’s that really important things can change overnight, the global economy can go into meltdown because of an opinion poll, and that if you make an absolute sh*t-storm of something, you can always walk away.