Friday, February 6, 2009

Zen and the Art of Textbook Maintenance

Hello again,
I've had a few requests to start up this blog again, which is so sweet. I'm incredibly touched that people are at all interested in my often very uninteresting life.

I hope this finds all of its readers well and happy. At the risk of sounding very Jane Austen-esque...I am exceedingly well. Perhaps that's why I haven't felt the need to post in a while. No angsty ramblings necessary really. My life is pretty much at an even keel now...and I'm enjoying it. I'm not doing nearly as much singing as I'd like. I'm also working a very low paying job at a Barnes and Noble, but lately I've felt an overall sense of well-being, as trite as that sounds. I've had some vocal issues, which have been frustrating, but I've also suddenly and very truly believing that singing is what I am meant to do and that somehow it will happen for me in some way and that I will sing for the rest of my life. I hope that doesn't sound egotistical or anything. I've just recently come to terms with the fact that voice is my calling. Which is ironic I suppose, considering one needs a voice to actually make a "calling." But somehow, amid my usual nervousness I have come to realize that it's all good. It will happen. I shall make it happen. It is what I am meant to do. Very Zen. Very "Om." But still, comforting in its own way.

I've extended this to other parts of my life as well. Maybe it's an Obama thing (oh yes, since I've last posted...BARACK OBAMA IS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES). That's enough to make me feel protected and well-taken care of. I know its schmaltzy. I know it means I'm putting a lot of faith in a man who is essentially a politician. But I believe him. I believe in his power to restore the world's faith in America. I believe in the whole "Yes We Can" thing. I've totally bought it. Dont' get me wrong, he's definitely disappointed me a few times already. But I still get a little choked up when I see certain things on the news. I watched a video of a soldier saluting him as he boarded a plane and I got very misty. I know everyone has said this already, but his presidency is so symbolic of just how far Americans have come, and how far we can go. It's exciting to be an American again! As my friend Bri says, HUZZAH AND REJOICEMENT! Ha ha ha now I have Handel stuck in my head. "Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion, behold, thy King cometh unto thee..."

Anyway... I've had a rough year as far as friendships go...but I'm Zen about it now. I'm becoming decidedly more comfortable with me. I'm slowly (sometimes very slowly) learning to say "I'm sorry you don't wish to spend time with me, but for all intents and purposes that is your problem. So if you don't want to put in the effort then that's fine. There are plenty of wonderful and gracious people in my life who do value me." Weird huh? I'm ever so slightly letting go of the "everyone must love me" disease. It's an odd feeling actually. I feel like I'm losing a part of my identity in some some very good way, though. I'm gaining a new identity, and I kind of like it. There are total setbacks though, and I'm sure there will be always. There are days I feel very useless, making $8 an hour shelving textbooks and answering questions for pushy students. I have noticed that I try to overcompensate a lot. I mention my education and my degrees a lot at if to say "I'm somewhat smart, I swear, even though I'm behind the counter and you're going to Harvard." I must work on that. It's unnecessary and kind of ridiculous. There's enough smart to go around. I don't have to feel like I should claim "smart." People are intelligent in their own wonderful ways. Must work on that...

There are other frustrations. I'm increasingly more upset with my inability to provide for myself entirely. My parents pay my way far too often. It's disheartening. I can feel as independent as I like but at the end of the day, I'm still beholden to them in so many ways. Not that they hold it over me or anything. It's just a feeling. This could very easily be ameliorated by my finding a better job, but I have a defeatist attitude about that lately. No one is hiring. I'd sent out tons of resumes in the fall and no one cared really. Plus I'm exhausted. 9-hour days on your feet take a lot out of you.

So frustrations, yes. Escapisms too though. Ohhh the escapisms. I think I throw myself into multi-media frenzies when things aren't quite working in my personal life. "Wuthering Heights" was remade for the BBC much fun. And then there are wonderful new tv obsessions like QI (thanks Maggie!) a fabulous game show from the UK that basically consists of the amazingly witty and charming Stephen Fry and a host of British comedians sitting around a table and talking about interesting things (for anyone who doesn't know QI stands for "Quite Interesting). It's delicious and hilarious, and if you look hard enough on the's downloadable!

In other news, "Sunset Boulevard" has weaseled it's film-noir self back into my life and heart. Just when everyone thought it was safe! *cackles maniacally* In all seriousness though, the show has enjoyed a renaissance lately (a revival in the Netherlands, one in London and one on its way to New York, a new film loosely based on it starring KEIRA KNIGHTLEY...which is BEYOND WRONG), so it's been hard for me to avoid it. Someone once told me that I had such an intense connection to this story that it was almost like a first love. I suppose that is true. It's been fun revisiting something that meant so much to me as a child and seeing its affect on me as an adult, and as someone who has studied music and drama. (As much as I love "Sunset" of the score a laughable sometimes, I won't lie). I suppose that will happen to me as long as I live. Not just with "Sunset" but with all of the stories, books, operas, musicals and films, I enjoyed when I was younger. I look forward to revisiting them all as I grow older and discovering new and exciting ways of thinking about them. I wonder what I'll think of Dorabella if I sing her when I'm 35.

So that, as we say, is all for now folks. Please please please let me know how YOU are.

Peace and Love and, as I was taught in college, Om Shanti


Friday, September 19, 2008

Being Dorabella

And it is high time that I posted.

Phew. So summer happened. It started out pretty terrible. Things happened that made me re-evaluate myself, my decision to stay in Boston, the life style I've was heavy stuff. It was lonely for a while there too...I had a part to learn so it was translate my libretto, vocalize, go to the gym...every day for about a month and a half or so. I got super lonely for a bit and I hated it.

But then Germany happened. Ah, Deutschland. I've never been so terrified before ever. I had never flown by myself before (shocking at 26, I know) and my German is minimal at best so I was petrified of flying into Frankfurt on my own. I felt like I had the flu the whole time I was on the plane, on the train and for the first 36 hours or so I was in Germany. I guess it was a whole bunch of fears physically manifesting themselves...what could I expect from this new country? what could I expect from the program?
It was one of those rare things in life that exceeds your expectations. I got to sing a role in an opera! It was touch and go as to whether I would for a while...but I did (thank god for the translating and the vocalizing) and I had a total and utter blast doing it. I'm pretty sure this is what I was meant to do; create characters onstage with music. It's pretty exhilarating. Your simultaneously yourself and not's an amazingly freeing and exciting thing. Dorabella was a great gal to play as well. I'm glad she was my first role. She's so upbeat and funny...scatterbrained and misguided...reminds me of me when I was 15. It's cool to be 15 for two hours. She was a bitch to sing though...phew that music is high! There were bits I still didn't sing well by the time we performed but I was proud of my performance as a whole, proud that I did something complete and had an evening with an audience. A rather reserved German audience, but an audience nonetheless.
Then there were the people. My Weimar family. They were all extremely supportive and lovely. I miss them terribly. I miss my French "soeur," Nadine, who hails from Quebec and played my sister onstage with grace and beauty. I miss Riley, who taught me that it wasn't enough to love opera, that I had to love myself in opera as well. I miss Natalie, who charged me 50 euro cents every time I said something self-deprecating (I charged her right back when she did the same to herself). I miss Benoit, who was a consummate flirt and a lot of fun to hang out with. Danielle, who played my sassy maid and had an even sassier tongue offstage. I miss them all. I could seriously write something that intimate about all twenty of them. I love them all. I got invited to go back next summer and I think I will. I hope I can. I hope a few of them are there again.
In conclusion, I had fun. It's what singing should be...and I kind of lost that in the last months at BoCo. For whatever reason I wasn't having fun. I think Germany fixed that for me. In addition its a tremendous sense of accomplishment, knowing you've sung a full role. I feel like the next time I'm faced with a challenge I'll be able to tell myself "Hey, you sang Dorabella...this should be a piece of cake." So danke, Deutschland. You've given me many gifts. I hope to see you again soon.

and now its back to the United States. Ahhhhh, the US. Unfortunately, the more I travel, the more I come to terms with the fact that America is my home. I always wanted to be a international citizen...someone who could theoretically fit in anywhere, but sadly no. It really is home. It's where I am most comfortable in spite of myself, in spite of the insanity that is coming out of Washington, in spite of the fact that I hated telling each and every German I met: "Mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut. Ich bin Amerikanisch."
It was nice to get away from the political madness for a while. Not that you could really get away from it. But still, it was nice not to think about it too often. Coming back was a bit of a shock. I felt like I had to scramble to pick up on what I had missed. And the election is now only 47 days away! I can't believe how emotionally invested I am in the process. I've never followed an election so closely nor felt so nervous about its outcome. I'm horrified that the Republican machine will be allowed to keep going...allowed to continue to invade my home and take away all the things about it that I hold dear. I'm terrified that feminism might not mean anything to anyone anymore; that I, as a woman, will have to live in a country where abortion may become illegal. I'm scared that Iraq may only be the beginning...that a McCain government would start us on a path to World War III. I see McCarthyism returning, women and minorities having to fight for the right to vote, the first amendment being overturned, Muslim witch hunts...I see all of that when I think of a McCain government. It's horrifying. My father seems to think that the country is still very backward, and that McCain may very well win. I agree that the country is backward, but I'm allowing myself to be swept up in the Obama "hope" message. I have to believe there's hope. I don't want to fear my own home.

That's all I've got for now. I'm living in Brighton, Mass. and looking for a job. Singing a bit, etc. That's my life for a while. I'm kind of enjoying it, except for the terrifying election part. I'm planning on having an election night party with lots of booze handy. Lots of booze. I'll either need to celebrate like crazy or drown my sorrows like nobody's business.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Unfortunately, one of my good friends at the conservatory lost her father right when we were all celebrating graduation. I went to the wake. It was incredibly surreal. It was such an emotional day for obvious reasons. I'm of an age now where people lose their parents. That is so very scary.
Then there was Tim Russert's sudden death. I just watched some of the coverage of the funeral and found myself crying. I really didn't know Russert's work all that well, I didn't feel like one of those Americans who "knew" him because he entered their homes on the air...but still, the loss was palpable. I felt so bad for his son.

Needless to say it was important to me that Father's Day be honored an celebrated this year and at this time. Amidst all of the sadness I have to remind myself that my father is still very much here with me. So, Dad made the trip up to Boston by bus and we hung out for the weekend. It was brilliant. We did nothing in particular; visited the library, took one of the touristy swan boat rides, ate some nice food, but it was still wonderfully special. To say we're close is an understatement. I once read that Gwenyth Paltrow referred to her father as "the love of her life." I knew exactly what she meant. Of course she didn't mean it in a romantic way, but rather that her father was someone she admired and loved and shared things with on a special and inexplicable level. I feel the same way about my Dad. As I said, I have to remind myself that he is still here, because sometimes the pain and worry I have when I think of losing him is overwhelming.

All of this of course, is not meant to discount my Mom. My relationship with her is just as loving and intense but of course, in a different way. I see her as an extension of myself, or rather that I am an extension of her, since she most definitely came first. We are so alike it's ridiculous. Yet she has paved so many roads for me, created so many possibilities for me out of love and respect and given me an incredible sense of morality and responsibility. She's really my moral compass. An incredible standard to which I try and hold myself. And I know she doesn't always believe this but she is so very strong. We share the girly things in life, costume dramas (like Anna Karenina! which was amazing) and chick flicks, Austen novels and such. We are likewise beyond close. She can say "I was talking with so and so earlier about the thing" and I will immediately know who "so and so" is and exactly what "thing" they were talking about. We have our own language in that way.

And so a reminder that my parents are still here and their love still keeps me afloat while pushing me forward. Losing them is a terrible and horrible fear, but I truly believe that I should shelve that fear for the time being and allow myself to enjoy the here and now. Looking forward to many more memories, Mom and Dad.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Perfect Nights

Every once in a while you have a perfect night. People accept you and welcome you with open arms and you feel special, important and completely comfortable. You find yourself suddenly not caring how you look or sound. You sense that just being yourself is entirely and completely enough. You just sit back, sip wine, laugh and have a hell of a lot of fun. I love those times. I will cherish them always.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Well said, Maureen

click on the title to read a great op-ed by Maureen Dowd.

I find this aspect of the Clinton campaign (among others) appalling. After the centuries of oppression endured by people such as Barack Obama, the Clintons have the gall to suggest that he looks down on the American people and that he's too "elite" for his own good? Please. Please please please. It's sick, it's low and it's unworthy of you. I'm sure you had it real rough at Wellesley, Hil. I'll bet you had to get up at the crack of dawn and plow the fields before you could head to poli-sci classes. Incidentally, did anyone ever make you give up your seat on a bus? And I'm sure it was even harder at Yale Law...those New Haven peeps are bad ass.

Give me a freakin' break. From one white girl to another: Keep your mouth shut. This is one fight you can't win. Our ancestors screwed up and his ancestors suffered. He himself is still suffering because whatever anyone might say (*ahem Condoleezza ahem*), racism is still very much a part of the fabric of the United States. Case in point: you're demonizing him, Hil. Your aligning him with the stuffed-shirts that are supposed to be your enemies. Those people who wear expensive suits and look down on the little folk? Those are the Dick Cheneys and George Bushes of the world. If Obama has expensive tastes, if he has an education on his side, so what? A person can be cultured without being elitist. Besides, since when is education a deterrent rather than an asset. Oh that's right, since Bush came into power. Find some other way to combat him. Here's a thought: use your wit and intelligence, use the fact that you're a woman and have access to a point of view he doesn't have. I suspect it's too late though, babe. It's certainly too late to win my vote.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Online Quizzes and cheesey crackers by Annie's

Here is proof of my constant post-recital procrastination:

You Are Boston

Both modern and old school, you never forget your roots.

Well educated and a little snobby, you demand the best.

And quite frankly, you think you are the best.

Famous people from the Boston area: Conan O'Brien, Ben Affleck, New Kids on the Block

Arty Kid

Whether you were a drama freak or an emo poet, you definitely were expressive and unique.

You're probably a little less weird these days - but even more talented!

You Are Thai Food

Trendy yet complex.

People seek you out - though they're not sure why.

You Are Romanticism

You are likely to see the world as it should be, not as it is.

You prefer to celebrate the great things people do... not the horrors they're capable of.

For you, there is nothing more inspiring than a great hero.

You believe that great art reflects the artist's imagination and true ideals.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I know this is the first blog entry in a long time but there is a very specific reason for that, I promise. graduate recital was two weeks ago. I didn't want to write an entry between Christmas and now because I knew they would all be along the lines of "I'm nervous about my recital" or... "I'm busy preparing for my recital and I'm stressed out." Who wants to hear that after a while? I mean, I'm a singer, y'all know that... I didn't want the singing to be responsible for all of my thoughts and outpourings.

That said, I'm gonna put a little bit about the recital in here, mostly so that I can look back on this someday. It's a very big, very emotional, very self-indulgent I just want to jot down a few memories and then be done with it so I don't sound like too much of a diva.

First thing I have to say is that I had high expectations for myself with regards to this recital. Too high. This whole thing is looked at as a "culmination" of your education. I somehow took that to mean that this should be the greatest bit of singing I had ever done or would ever do. What's funny about this is, in reality the recital is as far from a culmination as possible. It's a total and complete beginning; a moment were you say to your friends and family "here is the work I have been I'm gonna take this work, build on it, and try to make a career from here on out." There is no possible way I could have done my best singing ever. And I didn't. I made mistakes. I sand incorrect lyrics. My voice actually broke mid-phrase at one point. I belted out one particular note as if I had no training was an ugly sound. Ew.

Yet my coach always says not to be afraid of ugly sounds, that they are necessary and sincere when made at the right time. So that's that. And there were some pretty sounds. There were great moments, moments were I was proud and moments were I felt like a singer. That's all I should have asked for for myself. In that way, my recital was successful. Here are some of the memories I will always have of that day:

-Tripping as I walked up the steps to begin the recital...and realizing in that moment how very human I was and how I would always always make mistakes.

-Realizing that my friend and I were creating a unique and intimate experience for my audience as he strummed his guitar and I sang my way through a Spanish song set.

-Placing my hand on the piano as I prepared myself for my final piece and saying very clearly to myself in my head "This is the last piece, enjoy this...take this moment in and it will all be worth it."

-My Dad standing up and presenting me with flowers as I took my first bows. He had tears in his eyes and he said "You're the best, toots!"

-My friend Laura leading a standing ovation for me.

-The procession of people that came to hug me afterwards and made me feel like I was a new bride.

-My Mom hugging me tightly and crying that she was filled with so much love and admiration.

-My Aunt Soph hugging me and crying, saying she was so proud.

-Walking down some stairs into our own little private section of Vinny T's restaurant and having my Dad get up from his seat and start the whole table applauding for me.

Okay...that's out of the way. I cringe as I write this because it sounds so self- indulgent and self-congratulatory. I just want to preserve these memories, really. I'm not writing this out to puff myself up in any way. I hope you all understand.

So...that's that. My first full length recital. Hopefully the first of many. By no means a culmination.

Leaving the diva me behind,

I have to just sound off on this whole Dick Cheney/ "So?" thing that was in the news recently.

For anybody who hasn't heard, Dick Cheney was asked what he thought when faced with the reality that the majority of American citizens feel that this war is no longer worth fighting. He literally gave a smirk and said "So?"

Now, Michael Moore wrote a great editorial in response to this, much better than anything I could ever write, but I feel I have to say something and I'm very sorry but I feel that profanity is in order:

Listen Cheney: F**k You. You have absolutely NO right at all in any way to play fast and loose with people's lives. Not Iraqi lives, not American lives. You are a citizen of this world, no better than anyone else on this planet in any way. WHO besides your own money-grubbing, blood-hungry, penis-envied self, gave you the right to decide who lives and who dies? And who gave you the right to treat death and destruction with such flippancy as if you were stepping on an anthill rather than destroying an entire country? I feel I have to join the million-voiced chorus that keeps having to remind you that your office is an elected office. For all intents and purposes, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE PUT YOU WHERE YOU ARE. Don't get me wrong, I sure as hell didn't vote for you. And I'm pretty damn sure your election into office was rigged. But how dare you, a man who conjures up the image of "democracy" as though it were sacrosanct, hold the voice of the people in such ridiculously low esteem? You're not even making a decent show of PRETENDING to love democracy. If it weren't so abominably appalling, it would be funny. "So?" SO?!?!?!?!?!
So this: "All men are created equal...they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

You swore on the Holy Bible to uphold these principles Mr. Cheney. And your actions suggest that you either do not care for these principles, or do not care for the holy scripture which you so doggedly cling to with regards to your policies and rhetoric... or that you do not care for either. The level of hypocrisy is mind-blowing. You do not care that we the people find your war to be a direct violation of these unalienable rights, and you do not care that you deny these rights to our foreign brothers and sisters and our men and women overseas on a daily basis. And what's worse, far worse, is that you think you are getting away it. You always seem to be slyly congratulating yourself on pulling the wall over our eyes; that somehow we won't figure out that this all has to do with greed or that those of us who do figure it out won't have enough of a say to do anything about it. You are thriving on the OPPOSITE of the American principle, which is so very ironic considering you have taken it upon yourself to uphold "Patriotism" and "Americanism" in this country.
I say to you, HOW DARE YOU? How dare you take away our rights under the pretense of knowing what is best for us? How dare you allow the slaughter of hundreds of thousands on both sides? How do you lay your head down at night on your Halliburton pillowcase?

I see your "So?" and raise you three. So what if you think the American voice is inconsequential? It is not. So what if you think you have succeeded in quieting all dissenters? You have not. So what if you think your neat little retirement package will ensure a bright and happy future for you despite your past sins? It will not. I am a heathen Agnostic but I shall tell you this: at some point we all have to pay for what we do (that was Oscar Wilde who said that, you probably don't know him, he was too gay and too witty for you).I hope that when you beg for mercy, some terrible demon looks down on you and says "So?"