May 2014

Colds and Singing

It is winter (well not quite yet – but my heater, dehumidifier, and winter duvet have become fixtures in my daily life, so let’s pretend it is). Colds have started becoming an issue.

I had an amazing day last Thursday. I scored an understudy for a lead role. Then I had a big rehearsal. As I finished off the rehearsal, I started to shake. I asked the others if the room was cold but it was not. As the rehearsal finished, I shivered. The lady who took me home put this down to the shock of scoring the big understudy role. When I got home, I got into bed with four layers of clothes and I was still not able to get warm. The next morning, I had a full blown cold, and I am still getting rid of the cough and snotty nose components.

For non-singers, a cold is a pain in the nose, some days off work, some annoyance, many used tissues and a lot of coughing.

For singers, colds are a greatly annoying, singing limiting thing. If you force your voice to do things when you have a cold, you can ruin it. Getting pneumonia, which is a side effect from a cold, can have lasting effects on your voice. I am glad I was not singing when I got a bout of it.

Back in high school, I got so many colds just before vocal performances. It seemed like the viruses could smell performance day, and rallied around me a few days before to ensure that I would be infected for the occasion. It was a massive source of stress and when I did not sing, I was so happy that a cold was just a cold, rather than being a barrier to practicing my singing, doing the thing I loved.

Not so much now. I have this massive part to learn, and I have not sung a note. I have missed two rehearsals and I feel like I am letting people down. Yet I know I am doing the best thing for my voice, and hopefully, in the next few days, I will be back into it.

Dictionary of Whimsy: Fridge Tetris

Fridge Tetris, verb

Act of attempting to fit all things that need to be refrigerated in all the available refrigerator space. This will often involve rearrangement of items, taking out things that smell funny, working out whether bottles can be stacked on their sides without spilling them, figuring out whether things can be stacked on top of each other without tumbling down* and generally hoping that all the things will fit.

Causes can include:

  • Organisation of house-parties, which can include the necessity to store many bottles and various foods (that will end up getting stacked on their sides)
  • Large numbers of people sharing a disproportionately small fridge
  • People you are living with who acquire** lots of things which they keep in the fridge but do not (always) use them

*this is dangerous

** acquisition of things can be through buying, and through diving into dumpsters (which can have a negative impact on fridge smell)


Dictionary of Whimsy: Attached Aunt

Attached Aunt, noan

1. Person, male or female who tries to make their single friends go on heaps of dates, gives them advice on what they are ‘doing wrong’, tells them they are hot and ‘being wasted’ when they are single.

2. Person who says the following expression(s):

  • When you know, you know
  • It will happen when you least expect it
  • When it happens, you will feel your life is complete
  • There is plenty of time
  • You are looking in the wrong places
  • You are so awesome, why are you single?
  • Have you tried internet dating?
  • Guido is a nice friend of ours. He is such a nice man, but he has never had a girlfriend*/had his wife walk out on him for the milkman two years ago**/ was just dumped by his fiancee*
  • The reason why you are single is …
  • At a wedding (<insert name of only other single person>) likes you
  • OMG, you had a conversation with someone – you are going to marry them, right?
  • You are just too busy for a relationship***

3. A person who is in a relationship who needs to get a hobby

4. Well meaning individual who thinks that everyone in the world will be happier once they have a partner. They may be using this attitude because they are deeply unhappy in their relationship and want a distraction.

*A nice man not having a girlfriend is not a pressing world problem. I am not a judge or someone who was put on the planet to solve injustices. Ask batman, superman or an agony Aunt. I will not be a pity girlfriend.

** So should we take pity on him? Or should we conclude that the milkman had nice biceps****.

***Actually, that one is true.

**** Full disclosure: I have a thing for nice biceps.

Classifications of Conversations

Do you ever find yourself in situations where you know that your foot has entered your mouth?

Do you find yourself in situations where other people inject massive amounts of awkwardness into a situation, like when your boss talks about his sister’s career as a porn star*?

I have thought long and hard on a solution to this and here it is below. My classification of conversations. When you find yourself talking with others, you cannot always say everything that comes in your mind, but there are some places where this is possible more than others. I am lucky to have many people in my life where my conversation level can be five – although having level five conversation for a long time will be draining. Or you can just ignore this and talk about farts a lot**.

1. Formal conversation – avoid anything that can be seen as remotely dodgy which leaves little to talk about but weather, work, and possibly furnishings (although, this may be going too far). Ideal for: Job interviews, chats with strangers that can be encountered in elevators or shops or other public places. Understanding nods in lieu of conversations are also acceptable***.

2. Polite conversations – politics, religion, sex, emotional baggage, relationships and bodily functions are no-nos. You can chat about most things, but you cannot have an opinion on them. Ideal for: workplace chit chat (at the coffee machine, with people you may encounter once a month, who you barely know the name of), chats with people you have just met.

3. Casual Conversation – Conversations that can include pretty much all of the above, but you can express opinions. Politics and religion can be mentioned with caution here as well. Earthquakes are acceptable where the only damage was to mascara and nerves. Unless you know your colleagues very well, this is probably the conversation maxima for a workplace. Ideal for: First dates, the family dinner table, nice dinners with friends, within team workplace chats, or workplace chats over a couple of wines.

4. Familiar Conversation – Anything goes here, apart from the truly icky. Opinions can be expressed, and religion, politics and sex can be discussed, but not too much. A bare minimum of bodily function conversation is allowed. Emotional baggage can be discussed, but not too much. Ideal for: chats with close friends and family when food is not around.

5. Icky conversation – conversation that should be confined to chats with doctors and other health professionals,  close friends (even then, it is a push). Definitely not dinner table fodder.

* This is a true story

** Then you will have something in common with the three year old son of my cousin.

*** The exception is job interviews – because in these scenarios saying stuff is a good idea.

Dictionary of Whimsy: Negative Over-extrapolation

Negative Over-extrapolation, verb

1. taking one negative aspect of something and applying it to the whole situation e.g. This song is bad so the whole concert is bad

2. taking one negative aspect of someone and applying it to their whole personality e.g. She is scared of spiders so she is scared of everything.


Negative over-extrapolation is not a positive thing because:

(1) It is very negative – as stated in the description. Negativity is not good for mental health outcomes. Some reasons why are summarised here. There are more legitimate sources with references and stuff which the googles can find.

(2) It lacks accuracy – judging a student on the worst 10% of their exam will give most students a failing grade, even if they got 100% in the rest of the exam.

(3) It is guaranteed to hurt people that the comments are directed to, even if this is not intentional, or supposedly in their best interests. Words are powerful. You do not want to be the person who puts negative thoughts in a person’s head. Negative thinking is a dangerous hobby.

Dictionary of Whimsy: IMP

IMP, noan or adjective

1. Intimate Male Presence

2. Male who is intimately present in the life of another person, where the relationship has not been defined

3. Not boyfriend

4. Male who is dating someone, in the stage of the relationship where it is “a thing” – for example more than one date has occurred, but has not been defined due to lack of  communication on the subject of refusal of one or both parties to discuss or name the relationship, or both parties being too busy with other pursuits (sometimes carnal) to bother.


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