10 things to be grateful for in 2017

And here we are again. I’m having trouble thinking about 2017 as a complete entity right now, to be honest. The last couple of months have been so insanely busy and I had so much trouble getting back into things after the trip to Australia in June that the first half of the year feels just incredibly remote. From what I hear, 2017’s been a pretty dreadful year for many people. Mostly for me it’s just been exhausting and a bit confusing at times, but it was still quite hard to pull together this list. Ah well. Here’s to 2018 being generally more positive and energised!

  1. Djelibeybi, of course. As always, immensely patient and supportive, he’s been an absolute rock over the past couple of months of insanity. This month we’ve reached 20 years together, so of course I’m amazed and grateful that he’s stuck around so long too!
  2. I survived November and December!!! For about 6 weeks there I was just lurching from one thing to another, feeling perpetually like something was going to come apart in some terrible way: From Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, we were straight into rehearsals for our Bastard Assignments gig with Mocrep which went straight into the gig, which went straight into urgent preparation for a uni presentation (and another Community of Objects performance), then to Bath for the presentation/performance itself, followed a few days later by a second (nearly week-long) trip to Bath, then a residency period in Aldeburgh, then Christmas travels. And now I am finally at home and having a little holiday. Huddersfield was our best gig ever, Mocrep were amazing, the presentation & performance seemed to go OK, the residency was super-productive. And I’ve been home for five days AND I HAVEN’T GOT SICK. Definitely cause for gratitude.
  3. Bastard Assignments. Always fun, always challenging. And now also my principal job. I feel our work as composers and performers is improving, how we work together is improving, we’re getting more prestigious opportunities and this year has felt like a real turning point for us as a group. Exciting times.
  4. PhD. LOVING the PhD. Loving everything about it, even the stressful stuff. I love travelling to Bath regularly and getting to take a couple of days just to focus on research, my supervisors are amazing, I’m loving the work and just everything.
  5. Reading glasses. OK, so not terribly grateful for these at the start – they’re a bit of a nuisance, and I really didn’t want to spend the money, but they’ve helped so much because now the reading I need to do doesn’t make me so tired, and I don’t feel so stupid because I can’t get through even a paragraph without my eyes skating off the page. They’re also helping with threading the sewing machine!
  6. Gradually getting to grips with fitting. I haven’t really sewn very much this year, and I’ve struggled a bit with fit, so that several attempts have been less than successful (although definitely wearable) but I feel I’ve learned quite a lot and that I’m making progress.
  7. Random strangers on YouTube. This feels a bit of an odd one. I’ve not had much time for YouTube in the past, although I’ve had an account for ages now, but there are three vloggers in particular whose work has been helpful for me this year: Simon Clark, whose day-in-the-life-of-a-PhD-student was very helpful for me when preparing to start my own PhD last year, has been one of the important sources which persuaded me to start my own vlog this year as part of my research (14 episodes now and counting!); Ellie Mackin Roberts, an Australian academic in the UK whose posts about organising research I found very helpful and whose general encouragement of academic kindness and promotion of mental health awareness in academia I find very admirable; and Gabby Young, a London-based singer-songwriter who maintains a very bubbly sewing vlog which often keeps me company while I cook, and – more specifically – whose amazing forays into the creation of stage outfits encouraged me to make my own (fairly meagre) first attempt at sewing stagewear and to contemplate future, more advanced creations.
  8. The beginnings of financial independence? Maybe? I should probably explain a bit here because otherwise it’ll just sound lame – Djelibeybi’s been generously supporting me ever since I started my Masters degree in 2012. The last couple of years, I’ve been building up my income little by little – last year I covered my uni fees, but he still covered all my other expenses. For the last six months though, I’ve managed to cover all my personal expenses – including uni fees, Bath trips, clothes, medical expenses, etc. without having to ask him for help. He’s still covering my half of the mortgage and utilities, etc. but it’s definitely a big step forward and one I intend to build on!
  9. That I got to go to Australia over the (northern) summer to celebrate my mama’s 80th birthday with her. Hurrah for Qantas points!
  10. Travel. OK, so yes, right now I’m tired and just so SO thrilled to be at home and not needing to go anywhere for a whole 2 weeks, but the travel this year has meant so many exciting things: not only to Australia to spend time with parents and friends, but to Huddersfield to perform at hcmf, to Bath for a day in the BSU TV studio which resulted in this insane creation, to Hereford to perform at a Proper Music Festival, to Brighton to perform at Brighton Fringe, to Aldeburgh twice for residency weeks at Snape Maltings, plus all the Bath trips for PhD sessions and to see my piece trainlines set up in a Proper Gallery. I’m incredibly grateful for these opportunities and that I’ve been in a position to take them up!