uri_mh1488118231382I went to see Cinderella last night. It was so good. Absolutely hilarious with a wonderfully talented cast. The music was stunning. The main actor / prince was played by a South African! The modern adaptation worked well, and wasn’t quite as surreal and experimental as Hansel and Gretel…I think I liked that it was more restrained when it came to the modern/digital effects. And did I mention that it was hilarious? I had a terrible view in the first half, blocked by those sat in front, but in the second half the woman behind me had somehow convinced those in front of me to switch seats with them…It was rather mysterious …. They didn’t seem to know each other and I don’t know how that happened. But my view improved too so I was pleased for whatever bargain had been made.

I went by myself but thankfully my sister let me text her as usual. It does make me feel a bit nervous going alone. A bit self conscious? At the interval I went to the bar to get a drink, I discovered you could get free water and ice to drink. Which yay. But . I stepped into someone before even getting to it, then I spilled the water, then I dropped my phone, then I managed to get my water and some ice in my bottle, picked up my phone and knocked into someone else on my way out. I get so clumsy when I’m feeling nervous. I was just so aware that everyone around me was in pairs or groups and it turned me into a clumsy idiot, making a fool of myself. I don’t mind doing things by myself, and I also like to use these outings as an opportunity to test/push my anxiety. If I can feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m alone, then I can surely feel comfortable around others. I don’t always succeed though. But that was just one small incident, the show itself was great.

Today I’m out in town. I went for my annual check up at the opticians (I’m that wierdo who actually goes every two years as recommended.) Thankfully my eyesight, although not perfect, is not so bad to need glasses. I’m in Starbucks now, writing this and treating myself to delicious things. :)

As usual the weekend is flying past. I’m sorta looking forward to the week as I’m out the office a lot…Nice to do different things and I get to go to site once which yes :)

“Warm spring that left, won’t you come back to me?”

The past weeks have been swinging between extreme highs and extreme lows. Work is…there is a situation I cannot talk about but which is crushing me right now. I am stressed out and anxious. But in other ways things are good right now – my flat is not looking like a complete disaster for once, I have been getting into reading again and enjoying some good dramas too, my neighbour’s cat has taken to coming into my flat and letting me play with him and cuddle him, and I’ve had some pretty good weekends spent actually doing stuff and not holed up at home feeling sorry for myself (see: work.)

One of my goals when I moved to this city was to take advantage of the cultural elements available to me, and take advantage of my salary, to see more shows. I love going to the theatre to see ballets, plays and operas and I don’t do it nearly enough. So I’m doing something about that now. Opera North are currently hosting a Fairy Tale season and I’ve got tickets to them all. I love fairy tales, especially the dark originals. For these shows too, I admit I was drawn in by the posters, which show the main characters in traditional costuming, although I have been confused as to how different the operas are turning out to the posters. (Very confused.) Anyway, I also bought tickets for Turandot in May. This gives me something to look forward to in these stressful times, and gets me out the house, which is also good (see: no moping.) It’s not too expensive either. After all, you can get a seat for just £15, and I bought a three opera package which meant that both Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella were £13.70 each! (Lets not talk about how expensive Turandot was even with a three opera discount – I wanted a good seat and I better have got one!)

So, the other weekend I saw the first of the fairy tales: the Russian “Snow Maiden”. My sister came up to my city and we went out to supper and then to see the show and it was all awesome. The Snow Maiden was extremely odd – it felt like it should have been sung in Russian, and the costumes were a bizarre mix of traditional and modern that made little sense (I don’t get why the Snow Maiden was in jeans for nearly the entire show whilst all the other characters got to change into different costumes. It was in stark contrast to the beautiful dress that Snow Maiden is wearing in the posters for the show. Shouldn’t the main character be the most beautiful, the one that stands out the most?) But it was short and funny and wonderful. My sister and I went shopping the next day which was also great fun.

I went to see the second of the fairy tales last weekend: the German “Hansel and Gretel”. This was a full on modern production of the opera. Again not as advertised, at all, though I did end up loving it. The music was stunning, and the opera itself was…surreal. It was very odd and slightly disturbing (young children singing happily after brutally burning to death a witch OK then) but it felt true to the dark spirit of the original fairy tale. I thought it was a more successful modern rendition of the opera than the Snow Maiden – the snow maiden swung between traditional and modern, which was confusing, but this one went all out modern. So OK. It was also hilarious… and I loved some of the odd details, like the witches wand being an electric beater (so random) and the use of video and cameras. It was really great. I also appreciated that it was also short – as much as I enjoyed 5 hours of parsifal, it can be a big demand on your time to sit through such a long show! I missed my sister, my default show-going partner, but she let me text her throughout the evening so it was like she was right there with me anyway. :)

I am looking forward to Cinderella, although I was drawn in to that by the gorgeous poster (the dreamy dress Cinderella is wearing, with bare feet) and from these two I can tell already that the actual product is going to be very different. Cinderella will at least be sung in the traditional Italian. Both Snow Maiden and Hansel and Gretel were in English. :( I can understand that for accessibility and drawing younger crowds (a goal of this opera season, if I’m reading the programmes correctly) it makes sense to present the operas in their English versions, but one thing I enjoy about the opera is getting to hear different languages. I would have loved to have heard Russian. Oh well.

This weekend though I am…actually holed up at home. I had plans to go out and buy some more fish, but it’s too cold and miserable. Winter is starting to get to me – dark mornings, grey, dull days and then it’s only a matter of time before its dark again. Last weekend there was actually some sunshine and I felt optimistic that spring may have finally started to come…the bulbs are starting to show… surely it should be time? I need some sunshine already. I’m starting to get cabin fever. I pace through my own flat, filled with restless energy. That’s maybe just the anxiety though. I wish work would be better. Then everything would be so great. I suppose it’s an impossible dream to want everything to be going perfectly well at all times. Come spring, hopefully things can settle down at least. Being pushed to these extremes, often quickly, is exhausting. I try on focus on all the good things going on in my life right now, those highs, but the stress of the lows leaves me so tired out and makes even being happy feel too effortful.


I am currently planning my next holiday.

Plane tickets are booked, and I’m waiting for my bills for this month to go through so I can purchase train tickets and book some hotels. I’m going to Copenhagen for a few days with my sister, then I’m carrying on alone to Germany. I am taking the train from Copenhagen to Hamburg, and from there to Lübeck, then Schwerin, before back to Hamburg and home. I’ve always wanted to do ‘Europe by train’ but that’s unfeasible, so doing it on a small scale like this is also exciting. It’s been a while since I’ve travelled on my own and I’m not familiar with Europe so I’m a bit nervous, but also excited! It’s going to be quite a whirlwind trip, just 10 days, as I can’t take too much time off work but I’m determined to do and see as much as I can. I’m not even fussed about spending time on the train- I’m looking forward to experiencing German transport and seeing what passes me by through the window. (Not even commuting by train can destroy my love for high speed overland travel, which is ideally what trains are.) I’m going to have to pack light though, which is making me nervous. I like having lots of stuff! Being overly prepared to the point of paranoia in other words.

I also can’t believe I’m going on holiday twice this year. The last time I travelled so frequently was when I lived in Malaysia, where the cost of living was so low and the places I wanted to go so close I could afford to. As much as I love the far east and am planning on returning to South Korea and Japan, and likely checking out Taiwan and China at some point, I’ve always wanted to explore Europe more. It’s so close by! And yet I never had the opportunity, but mostly the money. Cost of living is high in the UK, and being a student is financially as it’s reputation holds.

I love my job but obviously, like all jobs, it’s not always exciting, and it’s not easy. It can be nice to remind myself of the outside benefits of working- namely earning money,and all the doors and possibilities that opens up. I’m not particularly financial stable yet, not this close out of uni, and I’m fairly poor with money anyway but I keep my bills paid and i try to keep my debts low and contribute to my savings as much as I can. Whatever is left, I play with. It’s so nice to be able to treat myself to holidays, to a couple of Starbucks a week, to take away food and quality shoes. (Its the best being able to afford proper shoes, not cheap thin ones that fall apart quickly, which you have to keep wearing anyway because broke.) I have a good job, a good home, and am leading a comfortable life style, through my own work (and ok, a small contribution from my bank…) It’s a nice feeling- this independence. It has its downsides, but I’ll focus on the positive today. I’ll leave it there.

Basically, I’m seeing more of Europe and I’m so excited!


A weird adjustment to working is dressing for work. I find myself getting quite sick of wearing the same things all the time, but still wearing them all the same, stuck as to what I should be wearing. I try and look at what the other woman in the office are wearing but their styles vary so widely that it’s not actually that helpful. If there is one thing that strikes me as the common theme: modesty. I was told about the importance of this in engineering before I started working as an engineer, but you can really see it in the office – dresses and skirts are just above the knee or below, no one wears very high heels, no one wears heavy makeup, bare arms and low necklines are also out.

I’ve always thought I dressed fairly modestly. I like my t-shirts to come right to the neck both front and back, I don’t wear v-necks and I button up all my shirts right to the top. Yet, I miss wearing shorts and miniskirts. I’ve always hated midi skirts, and preferred shorter a-line skirts. I feel so frumpy in an a-line midi though, that I’m left with stretchy pencil skirts only. I become very aware of my figure, in these new tighter, but longer, skirts. Heck, I really miss slouchy clothes. I used to live in loose fitting clothes, hating the feel of material against my sensitive skin, hating my figure and wanting to hide it. My office isn’t formal, but turning up in jeans, a baggy sweater and a mens hoody is, obviously, not acceptable. Suddenly, half my wardrobe is sitting unused because what chance do I have to wear it anymore? I have to keep buying more clothes even though I’ve already got clothes, simply because so much of what I have is not appropriate for every day anymore. Thankfully my office isn’t formal, so I don’t need to wear suits or shirts or heels, on the flipside I then also find myself worrying about looking too dressy. If I wear a dress, or an a-line midi skirt, will I look too done up?

The singular a-line midi I own is clearly haunting me. I want to wear it but I’m totally afraid to. I don’t feel quite ready to take “risks” with my office wear. I don’t want to look slouchy, but I also don’t want to look too formal. I really don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. Finding the balance is hard. I find myself having to learn how to dress all over – suddenly trying to work out how to wear fitted sweaters, midi skirts and of course the office staple, the cardigan. Thankfully, all my basics are still OK – all my plain t-shirts and long tops – I just need to learn to restyle them for the office. Thankfully, I am making my cotton only with a hint of viscose wardrobe work for the office environment. I’m not dressing how I like or how I feel comfortable though, and it’s hard not to feel like I’m playing dress up, and badly. It’s hard not to feel self-conscious. It’s hard not to worry about looking fat and frumpy.

I still sometimes pull on an outfit in the morning, just to take it right off again, change into something else, struggling to find something that feels right.

“There is a fire deep inside us, and nobody else can see when it burns out.”

The longer you step back from blogging, the harder it is to step back in. You want to write a casual entry, but it feels like you have to fill in the spaces between, and it becomes awkward. So here I am discussing this awkwardness to ease back in. There will be gaps, perhaps.

Let’s just pretend they aren’t there.

I have now finished work for 2015. I have until January the 4th to collect my thoughts before starting again. Starting work has not been easy. By November I was back at the doctor’s office to get stronger medication and a referral to counselling. I’ve had a lot of problems sleeping and getting out of bed in the morning: it was humiliating being told off by my boss for tardiness. This isn’t who I am. But it, sadly, is who I let myself become. I tried to start running. I envisioned those characters in books and movies running away from their sadness and their anger and frustration, and unfortunately the reality is not so swift and graceful or relieving. I stopped running. I did some more Yoga, but not really enough. I took the stronger medicine. I ate badly and relied on plenty of sugar to get me through the days. Well, that is what I have been doing. That is what I am still doing. Work is very difficult, very challenging. I love it, it’s everything, everything I have ever wanted but it’s also very new, very different, and did I mention hard? There is a steep adjustment curve coming fresh from university. I am trying, trying much harder, taking every day at a time and persevering. I want so badly for this to work. To become the person I envision in my mind, and not let this anxiety cripple me.

My new city is still very different, and a little overwhelming. I have settled nicely into my new flat – I have my new marimo, I have been slowly increasing furniture, putting more pictures up, trying to keep up with the chores (there’s a rabbit hole you cannot fall down when you aren’t feeling mentally well: whatever happens, keep cleaning, keep showering, keep putting your best clothes on. Do not let your surroundings mirror your feelings, or they will consume you.) I have been into town a few times, and each time felt better and more proud of myself as the crowds make me feel just a little less shaky and nauseous. Somehow, I got my Christmas shopping done. I also invited my mother and my sister round to my flat for my mother’s birthday. My sister and I took our mother to see Girls, the musical based on the calendar girls. It was very British and very funny. My mother loved it. Before that, we took her out to a fancy supper. The place was loud and crowded and I hated it, but my mother thrived on the energy of all those people and being out. I was so happy to make her happy – this was my idea, and it had worked, I thought. The next day was not so great – my sister was grouchy, and my mother and I reacted to it, and it was pouring with rain, so a trip to the city centre to shop was not pleasant. We had to rush, too, which didn’t help. Then we went home. I felt sad and disappointed as to how things had turned out. We had a fancy lunch on Sunday, the whole family and my sister’s boyfriend, and I am embarrassed by how snappish and moody I was. I guess that childishly I wanted to get back at my sister. Her boyfriend was there – let me make her feel that same uncomfortableness I did on Saturday. Let her taste that bitter disappointment. That was my outing, and you ruined it. I can be a terrible person sometimes, especially when my anxiety isn’t stable. I can be so withdrawn and cruel when I am hurting. Its so easy to become self-absorbed when hurt. Pathetic, really. After lunch, my Dad took me home and the work/sleep cycle started again.

I will be going home for Christmas. Home again. I keep going home. Returning to the safety of the nest. I envision myself in a comfortable armchair, cat snuggled up on my lap, a warm and heavy weight slowly causing my legs to go numb, her claws slightly pressed into my thigh. A book, my kindle, browsing on my father’s tablet. The sound of the birds outside. The sound of my father and mother, inside, somewhere in the house. I want to be home.

And yes, it’s Christmas. I don’t feel particularly fazed, as ever. I never like this time of year. Its dark, the year is closing before I am ready for it to, and I want to go home to South Africa, and to what once was. Every year, the same heavy feeling of homesickness, but now, for the first time, it is rather the memory of it. I no longer have anything to long for, and the absence of those ties is perhaps worse than having them. I want to go back, fetch the rope and stretch it back out. Tie the knots a little tighter this time.

Next year I will be 24. I will have spent 18 years of my life in the UK. Some other dates, all around this time. My grandmother will be dead for three years. My cat, it is her 10th birthday on Christmas, which she nearly didn’t make – she had cancer, and maybe still has it. We are all ageing, moving slowly towards the inevitable end. I feel older. But also too young. I work every day feeling like I slipped into an alternate universe, or into another point of time, and am having to adjust despite my alienation and lack of understanding of this new, foreign culture. Next year, I will be working for the whole year. This is my life now. Its thrilling, but terrifying. Where will I be next year? Will I finally adjust? Will the counselling work out, third time a charm? Will I ever stop feeling embarrassed for every little thing I do or say?

The future and all the potentials it holds are enormous, it’s overwhelming, it’s amazing. Here’s to next year, here’s to this year. I survived it, in the end. Never thought I would, to be honest.