Thursday, December 31, 2009

This year, 2010 and ME

Last year I wrote about how I'd been living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgia Encepthalomyelitis, which I think is a lovely sounding name to describe a right bastid of an illness. While it had affected me badly in 2008, I thought it worthwhile to think about what I'd done in 2009 and how I am now.

Since I arrived home last Thursday I've slept approximately 17 hours a day. I had always said coming up to Christmas that I'd be taking time off and that the holidays were going to be about eating, reading and sleeping. These I have done, sleep being the priority. I'm revelling in its reparative powers, allowing thoughts to process and ideas for the new year to form.

The ME has been quite bad in the last year. The brain fog continues to affect simple memory and linguistic functions - at worse I lose the thread of a sentence mid flow and have little idea of what I was talking about (perhaps a good thing) while at other times simple words or phrases will just not appear in my mind to be said (ironically, I'm not sure of the proper way to say that).

The pain - fibromyalgia - has continued unabated, a constant presence with some days much worse than others, nightime being less about sleep and more about finding a position where my joints don't hurt. The fatigue hasn't been too bad - Sundays tend to be a literal day of rest - and hasn't prevented me from doing too much but my moods have been quite often manky and I'm surprised that certain people have been able to put up with me.

Despite all that, 2009 has been an exciting and productive one, and one I'm proud of and not ashamed to celebrate - many many festivals and events attended and volunteered on, a new job, new friends, lots of opportunities, lots of memories and experiences.

It's presented many challenges - no better or worse than those faced by others - friends lost, opportunities missed, promises not kept, lessons learned the hard way - but overall I feel I took it head on - simply because that's the only thing I could do. Whatever the downsides, the brilliant people I met in 2009 were by far the bes thing about it.

It was a year I became a real media whore - contributing to 4FM, i105107, Newstalk, Morning Ireland with Radio One and being caught on TV cameras on a couple of occasions. I've been in a lot of newspapers and some magazines. I've spoken at conferences and masterclasses.

The position with has widened many of the doors I had opened and moving from Community Manager to Communications Manager was a sensible and mutually beneficial move for all concerned. It teaches me a lot but I bring as much to the table. 2010 will be, in may ways, the make or break year for and it will be interesting to see how the input of management, of employees, of volunteers and of members will shape it and bring it closer to failure or success.

2009 also saw me work and volunteer with the Irish Blog Awards, with the Abbey Theatre, with Barnardos, with the National Campaign for the Arts, with the National Gallery, with Cinemagic, with Darklight, with the St Patrick's Festival, with the Street Performance World Championships, with the Carlsberg Cat Laughs and Comedy Carnival festivals, with Eircom, with Bórd Gáis, with the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, with the Dublin Writers Festival, the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival and the Dublin Theatre Festival, with the Science Gallery, with, with the Labour Party, with the National College of Ireland and Metro, with Arthur's Day and the Guinness 250 Celebrations, with ABSOLUT Fringe for the first time, with the Cork Jazz Festival, With Sony Ireland, with Toys 4 Big Boys, with and more.

I got to interview and chat with many different people who do really interesting things. This in itself has inspired me in at least one project for the new year that I'll definitely be asking for help with.

I've had lots of cups of coffee with lots of people talking and advising on social media. I've had lots of invitations to events and previews. I've worked hard and benefitted from it. Laziness was never an option. Enough of that done in the past.

2010 then will be an interesting one - a busy one. I'll be launching at least two websites and podcasts and involved in the launch and implementation of more - including at least one very high profile site. I'll be event blogging and tweeting.

Most of all though I'll be working. There are a number of tourism and charity initiatives I want to assist on, as well as continuing to support the arts. As smarmy as it sounds (and belive me, I know how smarmy it sounds) I continue to appreciate the opportunities and rise to the challenges. I continue to look forward to getting to know people.

No new year resolutions for 2010. I don't need them - the to do list is long enough without them.

Happy New Year to you and yours. Hope you enjoy it. Coffee soon? :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Interview with Donal Skehan, author, musician and blogger

It's not that I forget. Honestly, it's not. It's that I promise myself I'll do things tomorrow and then, of course, there's something else to do. I need to be more organised!

Anyhow, I'm slowly but surely catching up with things here and so I finally get around to publishing this interview with Donal Skehan, the Good Mood Food blog blogger and recently published author.

It's actually quite scary to think I filmed this on Wednesday, October 21, the day of his book launch in Dubray Books on Grafton St but am only publishing it now.

It was great though to sit down with Donal, whose blog I read and who I follow on twitter and find out more about the new book - Good Mood Food - where the inspiration came from and how he manages to fit in Industry, due to release their new single "My Mistake" on Ruth Scott's 2FM show tonight.

I've been reading Donal's book since I bought it and have promised myself to set aside time in the new year to learn how to cook properly!

In case you're interested in the launch, Donal's speech and brilliant introduction by Eoin Purcell and by Niamh Hatton of Mercier Press, are below:

Thanks Donal for your time - hope it's all going well and good luck with the new single!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Carrying a fan for AIDA at the O2 and Odyssey this weekend

I'm fulfilling yet another "would love to do that" this weekend - stepping out on stage at the O2 in Dublin and Odyssey Arena in Belfast as part of the ensemble of Verdi's AIDA.

This production will be one of the most spectacular versions of Aida ever to be staged and will appeal to both opera connoisseurs and novices curious to experience the delights of the opera for the first time.

When I say "part of the ensemble", I mean part of the triumphal march in Act II, when the Pharaoh takes to the stage to meet his princess. I'll be one of the two fan bearers following him out and standing behind the throne. Oh, the glamour. Steph and Niamho are also taking part, thanks in part to taking the audition. Okay, okay, we just showed up.

Still though, great way to spend a Friday and Saturday night - on stage at two of the country's biggest venues, listening to live performances from the stage in a spectacular production - "very much a first for Ireland as this production of Aida is larger than any ever done before."
The production brings new meaning to ‘grand opera’ as The O2 will be transformed with spectacular sets and scenery and a cast of over 200, including 20 ballet dancers, will take to the stage in lavish costumes to perform one of the greatest operas ever written accompanied by a full orchestra and a choir of 75 singers.

The O2 will be unrecognisable when the stunning sets are built for the show. A 12 metre high pyramid will dominate the stage, along with the throne of Pharaoh, and statues of Egyptian figures as well as eight palm trees.

With principals including Rosella Redoglia as AIDA (previously Abigaille in Nabucco), Stefania Scolastici as Amneris, Ernesto Grisales, the Colombian tenor as Radames, Camilla Corsi as the Priestess and the Coro Lirico Italiano and the Sinfonica Nova Amadeus Orchestra conducted by Stefano Seghedoni, this is sure to be one of those experiences none of us will forget.

I just need to work out how to stick the phone in the costume for a sneaky twitpic.

I doubt it will be as grand as this, but here's a version of what we'll be doing:

Aida is set in ancient Egypt and tells the tale of Aida, an Ethiopian princess who is captured and taken into slavery in Egypt.

While there she meets with Radames, the Captain of the Egyptian Guards, who falls in love with her.

Radames becomes torn between his love for Aida and his loyalty to his leader the Pharaoh whose own daughter, Amneris, is in love with him.

The story reaches a climax when Radames is asked to lead the Egyptian army into battle against the Ethiopian army headed by his beloved Aida’s own father, the King of Ethiopia.