Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Dear God, thank you thank you thank you for keeping it green for our trip to Michigan in 4 days. I know, selfishly I do not care about any of the people who are moaning over the lack of a white Christmas. Please forgive me for that. Selfishly, all I can think of is how our trip will be 3 hours shorter, how we will be able to jump out of the car in our socks (because I hate keeping my shoes on for an 8 hour trip) in the case of a baby or dog emergency. All I can think about is how we can open the windows if one of the dogs throw up, and how we can even stop and let Baby S run around if she's bored. It's the best Christmas present I could have asked for :)

While we're on the subject, are you upset about Santa? See, here's the thing...I know that there's nothing wrong with presents and trees and giving and receiving and snowmen and all of that. But basic Christian theology is this: Jesus died while we were still sinners. Which means, Jesus died while we were all NAUGHTY. All of us, and so why do we have to tie this holiday in with a guy who only gives presents to NICE kids (which is a lie anyways, unless your parents are horrible and abusive you probably aren't getting coal). So I don't like Santa. He's the OPPOSITE of Jesus, giving deserved gifts rather than undeserved gifts, right? Every year I need to declare that on the internet, ok?

I recently realized I'm the worst parent ever when the pediatrician's office called to say that not only had we missed Baby S's two year checkup, we also never got her 15 month vaccinations. This came on the heels of discovering that we are almost out of the "lead zone" with her. When you become a parent, there is a series of self-judgments that emerge. I believe it's impossible to be prepared for these. Now, for the rest of your life, you feel not only responsible for what you do, but responsible for what someone else does. Eek. That means when my daughter says "Get out" to someone she doesn't even know, I think, "I'm an awful person."

However, I am taking her in tomorrow (after my own appointment, hoping to pull them both off like a mean bandaid) and finding out what the rash all over the lower part of her body is. I am betting on eczema, I guess we'll see. And me, I am horribly embarassed to admit that I haven't been checking my blood sugars AT ALL for the first time since my diagnosis. I don't know why, I am just rebellious I guess, or stupid.

All of this is boring me. THis year I would like to write a book and record an album. And find a few auditions, and sing. It's pretty much the same goals every year. I'd like to lose 50 pounds between now and next August, and then get pregnant. I'm lining up the goals like crazy! Let's say I just get two done...that would be awesome :)

I need a vacation. Oh yeah, I've got one coming :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Divine Dissatisfaction

Every Saturday and Sunday night I get to have a little time alone. There is a little moment between Baby S going to sleep (around 10pm) and when Hubby gets home, (around midnight). I am usually so exhausted that I don't want to stay up, but the peace of it is so nice that I force myself to stay awake, making it significantly less pleasant than it could be.

This weekend has been a whirlwind of students, lots of moved and cancelled lessons, and next week is almost a vacation--my students have 4 days of 6 hour rehearsals after school (can you imagine that? It sounds awful). I am going very lightly into suggesting that they come for lessons, they probably need that time to sleep, but it makes next week financially tighter.

I have been searching through auditions, dreaming of what I could do next, but not seeing any real possibilities. I used to throw my net out wide, hopeful of any possibility, but now I am specific. After all--auditions now seem like so much more of an effort, and I am trying to find the stuff that I love, rather than just trying to get something (anything) that will let me be on stage. Novel, isn't it? To think of singing in terms other than desperation.

We used to make fun of an online forum where singers would post things such as "Have you heard from X opera?" "Has anyone gotten accepted? Rejected?" The desperation and fear would be so intense, and so ridiculous. Mainly because the things they were asking about were the equivalent of "opera sweat shop". Low pay, long hours, and getting treated like horse poop are still so normal in opera. And since I feel removed from that now I hesitate--am I exaggerating? But I can then remember all the things I've heard from opera directors, about using up singers like tissue, or not wanting to talk to siners because you didn't want to explain their failures, blah blah blah. It reminds me of when you hear guys who sleep around trying to talk about women....after a while there is simply no humanity left to them in the word "singer." There is simply object: god or pawn.

There is so much to be frustrated with when you are really following God, when you are doing unpopular things, when you believe in even the hard stuff, when you accept that you're not really supposed to be satisfied in yourself, and yet feel completely loved at the same time. But the most frustrating thing is the way God is so often represented (by what seems to be the loudest people) with a strange sense of self-satisfaction that you can't explain to someone who doesn't believe, because you yourself don't understand it....You commit yourself to a God who made Himself fully humble, low, born in a manger, died on a piece of wood, but you yourself feel you're "doing alright with God" or "everything's good" or you're better than someone else because of how good you are? Humility is the key to it....dissatisfaction is essential.

And sometimes this is how I feel about art. By itself, art is so utterly divine, it is beyond our knowledge or comprehension. I know it's real, I've seen the evidence I long for it every day, but I can't explain it to you fully. I can only give you a shadow. I am humbled by the amazingness of it. And partly I know that because nothing I do ever gives me complete satisfaction. There are so many great feelings attached to it, but satisfaction is rarely one of them. Yet so often it seems like the loudest of the arts folks are cocky, always self-satisfied, hardly searching for something amazing so much as just trying to stay in the career of it.

Martha Graham: No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive Ahhh, blessed unrest.

I'm exhausted.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Small Town Bravado

Is it December? This season goes so fast. I am toying with the idea of calling the doctor and asking not to see them until January. I have to see the doc every 3 months now. And although financially it is unwise, I just hate going there. I would love to have a month of just not thinking about it.

I miss getting this tag of "healthy" so much. I don't remember ever judging others for being ill, but did I, if I have so many judgments toward myself?

Two nights ago, while feeling a little sick of Baby S, we trudged out into the semi-freezing rain to go see something called the "fire and ice parade" which sounds very fancy but made me feel like I was in a smaller town than ever! We parked behind a building downtown moments after the parade started. It was a bit hard to find (not a good sign for a parade) but we did hear the marching band, and just barely missed it. The rain was coming down pretty hard, and it was that temperature where rain is just barely still rain, and not snow yet, so ...awful.

There were, it seemed, about 15 vehicles? It could have been more, but some of them were just like...old Corollas wrapped in a string of Christmas lights with a heavyset woman in a pair of sweatpants throwing candy canes out the back. For Baby S, it was awesome. All the lights, they had a REAL reindeer for the finale, some dogs dressed like reindeer, and people walked alongside the parade throwing candy at us for the whole thing. People "in the know" brought bags to collect candy. I had soggy pockets full of tootsie rolls by the time we left.

It was friendly, and polite, like most things here. It was fun, and perfect for a little child, with none of the incovenience of drunk people, $15 parking or long walks in the rain. It was, like most things here, small but fairly satisfying. Three of the vehicles were supporters of Ron Paul, and I was quite happy to not have a bag with me when they started with the brochures. I am not sure how much politics I ever want in my Christmas parade, whether I am on your side or not.

Baby S likes to run around the house now with her toy camera saying "I picture you." and taking pictures. It's adorable. Everything she does is adorable or torture. Not a lot of middle ground over here.

And I feel like I made some weird emotional breakthrough yesterday, though I can't figure out what it was. Like...I would write about it, but I am still processing it. Why do I have to want everything? Why do I want to be thin, and successsful, and happy in my relationship, and yet want all the things spiritually that I don't have, a true humility, a desire to serve all the time? I really want stuff.

Speaking of which, we have unforunately taught Baby S to say "I want, I want". So now in the stores she tells me she wants EVERYTHING. And when she reallly wants it, she just claims it for herself. "My baby. My doggie. My green house."

It is amazing how they grow, and I will say over and over, I didn't mind the brief time they were babies. That time is so hard. For me the joy of the kid is learning who they are, and I never really could figure out who she was when she was just crying to nurse or learning to roll over. But this time, now I want to stretch it out, slow it down. She loves repeating what I say. In the store, when she was saying, "I want it, I want it" I said, "I like this quite a bit actually." And she said, "I wike it quite a bit. I wike it quite a bit." That kind of stuff I could stretch out. She enjoys driving my husband crazy by saying his name. "Daddy, don't sit there." and then suddently you hear my voice come from her, "Come on Tye, don't sit there." The look on his face is priceless. I could slow that part down.
Just -maybe not the pooping in her pants part.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ho (cough cough) Ho

As I type this I am hearing a rerun of 30 Rock in the background where Tracy Jordan sings his "imagine Christmas wishes shooting out of your eyes" song. I am still laughing a little.

We are a sick house. The baby, somehow, manages to escape illness while Daddy and I pass it back and forth, I guess. My immune system seems to be the better of the two, while he coughs, sneezes and chokes down phlegm and I just feel tired and have a sore throat, but the general feeling is BLAH. I wish I were on a beach.

I have been eating a little strangely, meaning that I haven't been thinking about it enough, since T-Day. I didn't weigh in this morning, and I am hoping tomorrow is not too horrifying, but I just don't want to see anymore doctors. I hate doctors. Can I skip this next appointment? Can I? We owe so much money to doctors. BLECH.

Speaking of money, I calculated out that if we continue paying $350 a month to hubby's student loan it will take 468 months to pay it off. Which means that someday we have to earn more money. Ain't no better conclusion. And that I will not be allowing Baby S to ever take out that much in student loans. Oy. The thought practically keeps me up at night.

I want to be on stage SO MUCH RIGHT NOW. It's killing me. Who will have me? I'll do anything!! Well, not anything, but I think at this point I'd do OUTREACH for schools, and that is pretty much tantamount to artistic torture. I need a new opportunity....must. go. looking. It was this time last year I auditioned for Sweeney. So I guess it's something about the horrifying cold coming on that makes me need to sing my lungs off. Or act. Or hopefully both.

I am tired of thinking about weight loss. I want to give myself credit for being 50 pounds lighter than when I gave birth. I also want to beat myself up for not being 60.

We trimmed trees today, and Baby S (who maybe I should start calling Little Girl S) hung ornaments on her own 3.5 foot tree. It was so cute and so annoying. She could not stop hanging them all on the same branches!!! Ugh. It feels so confusing to have a child who develops quickly and is bright but is still a child! She has become insanely affectionate, offering kisses and hugs to people who don't even want them. She is talkative, but repeats every bad thing I say, which is a lot of pressure!

We looked at baby dolls together at the store last week, and she kept saying, "i want this one" and then would change "i want this one" and then within seconds came again. I heard myself saying, "oooh, I like this one quite a bit." And she instantly repeated, "mine quite a bit" "want quite a bit" It is funny to hear her repeat that kind of thing.

Amazing to think 2 years ago she was a drooling little constant nurser. I remember still at the beginning how it took a little time for her to look me in the eye, to relate to me, and I felt like a cow, being used for my milk. And then how one day it seemed she started equating the whole thing with love, and we were partners.

And now she walks through stores with me going, "oooh, amazing!" "O my gosh, amazing"!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning


I had a rather good Sunday this week. It tends to be the hardest day for me. I teach on Saturdays, usually just a few lessons, and then Sunday is the first full "free" day. Which sounds great, except I don't have any childcare from Friday-Sunday, and hubby is only home until noon on Saturday and Sunday, and the rest is just me and the baby, trying to figure out what to do that works around her. Sometimes the days are unbearable, with no one to take over when she gets cranky or really "two year old-y" or whatever else she can get.

But yesterday was day 2 of amoxicillin for strep throat. I was finally feeling better and able to swallow. Baby S was funny, cute and not too difficult. It is amazing to think what she can do now. She is starting to correct "baby" words with the real words for things (she has always said "cow cheese" as her favorite snack, and now she says the actual "cottage cheese", only she says it quite slowly, "Coootttage cheese", it's kind of amazing). She does a mean summersault, and she can stack blocks, do ABC games, paint with me, use clay (to make lumps, but it's still fun). We went shopping yesterday and she put all the items in the cart for me. As long as I keep her involved, and make her role important, she stays happy and honestly, helpful.

So today I feel less of the need to force hubby into "you must make up for leaving me alone for 2 days" although we're having a "cleaning day" to prepare for the in-laws (and the new couch!) I can actually put my foot through the lining of the current couch. It's literally falling apart at the seams. And my sore throat is 80 per cent gone, and I just weighed myself and I'm down 10 pounds since July. That's 10 pounds in 4.5 months.....which really would only mean about 25 pounds a year....not enough to get pregnant next summer. But enough to make me feel like my work is paying off. All those meals I replaced with soup this week worked! *sigh*

I am really missing being in a show. I want to sing, sing, sing. So I guess it's about 4 months. The time I can go without singing in something before I get sad. It's starting to sink in, I think, that this is the important thing, that I keep singing, rather than that I somehow find a way to call myself a "success" in singing. Maybe I could just enjoy the art of it, rather than the business. I think? We'll see how long this healthy thinking stays around. We singers have a way of squashing it :)

Speaking of squash...I don't like feasts. I like Thanksgiving because I like meal fellowships. I like sitting across from people and just enjoying them. I like giving thanks to God, and I've got a lot to be thankful for. But the food. Ugh. I kind of miss NYC for that...untraditional Thanksgivings with single people. So hard to marry these two sides of me. THere is the side that loves to be a mom and a homeowner, a part of a family, with a few dogs and a garden. But I also long to be an urbanlady sometimes....a single person who eats foreign foods, bucks tradition and witnesses some crazy art every once in a while. I'm a little lost in between sometimes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Running and Gazing

Why have I not blogged in a month? I guess so much has happened, I have been busy, and hubby has been using my computer at night? Those are my guesses.

This month I took 3 teenage girls to Chicago to watch young opera singers compete in the MET finals. I kept trying to decide how specifically I would blog about that experience--it was quite a bit of humor. But I expected to feel--left out? I expected to wish I were about to be told that I was on my way to NYC to start a career again, but I didn't. Instead, I felt kind of "in the know". I knew the weird sexual practices of one of the judges, I'd talked at length (in the past) to another. I was able to predict the judges 2nd picks for the singers (without even seeing what the singers were offering!) and I picked the winners (not who I would pick, but who I figured they would).

Mostly I just enjoyed the awe of 3 girls from Cedar Rapids driving through the city. I enjoyed their reactions to the singers. We went to an all-vegetarian restaurant for dinner (they'd NEVER been to one!) and had the girls request such naive things as "can we see a hooker?" (which by the way I did not indulge). I enjoyed showing them a world I once fell in love with. And out of love with. And back in love with...well, you get the picture.

I have noticed recently a large number of friends running marathons. It sounds wonderful--but I definitely think there is a trend since the fall of our economy. I think running is perfect for the time we're in--a world where you are competing not against some ridiculous glass ceiling, or a world that tells you there's no money for what you want to do, but essentially yourself. No one I know is training to beat a Kenyan. They are training to beat their own time. And they are deriving great joy from doing it. Weight loss is like that, I guess. At the end of the day, you're the one who put the fork down. At the end of the day, you're the one who got up at 5am to train, right?

I got a little down today thinking about some guy I met on the internet when I was in NYC. I once put up a serious ad on craigslist when I was lonely--this was probably only about 6 years ago. Amid the weird responses, I got one response from an aspiring opera singer. He was a nice guy, I guess, who wanted to complain about how hard and lonely it was to be a singer. And our lives, our careers, pretty much paralelled. He hadn't done more than I at that point. And I thought he was so whiny, actually--so negative, all he wanted to do say was "why aren't I getting what I want?" So we never even met.

He debuted at the MET this year. Isn't that amazing, that our paths could have been so outstandingly different? I am not sure yet, that I couldn't catch up with his path somewhere--but I am well aware of the long-shot.

I hoped the girls wouldn't ask me a question about this on the way to Chicago. How do I explain these bizarre trajectories? I guess, hearing their difficult stories, even at 16, I know that we don't really get to 16 without knowing there is some pretty major heartbreak and frustration. But at the same time, I sometimes wish I could stare at a few high-rises and get those same stars in my eyes again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prayers, Paychecks, Pottytraining, Pedagogy

Living without a paycheck is a hard thing to do in the US. I make just as much money as I did at quite a few jobs in the past--were you to look at the ANNUAL amount. It is still just squeaking by with hubby's paychecks, medical bills and debts. But at the same time, there are weeks when I don't make half as much as I've planned to. The kids forget. The parents say "can I pay you next week?" etc etc. And sometimes there are no-shows. Sometimes I say, "hunny, I'll get 60 bucks tonight and then make a run to the store for diapers and milk and stuff" and then no 60 bucks come. It's a tough ride. Say all you want about saving, planning....when you've planned and it just isn't there, there ain't much to fall back on.

There is an upside. My time is my own. I always felt so trapped sitting in front of a computer having finished my work, hoping for some interesting conversation. I got in trouble for too many emails at work--I was trying desperately to entertain myself! I certainly have a challenging job here. Each student brings about their own issues, their victories, and I love being part of that. I am nervous about all-state this weekend. Two nights ago I dreamed of being chased by choir teachers through the neighborhood. I am hopeful that my students will come to me rosy-cheeked and satisfied. I know what it's like to not get picked. I am not so crazy about seeing that next week. But I certainly feel like I'm on a pretty major ride.

Baby S pees when she wants to. She likes the potty, but it's all on her terms. We have evenings of freaking out because she is naked and her legs are wet. WHY WHY? And then we realize she just poured water on herself....or lip gloss. Or sometimes we find pee. It's a DELIGHT. I wish she had the ambition of a 12 year old "I will get this done, mommy!" but it's nowhere near that. It's more like, "eh, I'll pee in the potty if there's candy and I'm in the mood."

I have so many prayers regarding where we are to go next. Where are we going to church, where are we working, what will be the place that brings me sanity and hubby peace? Does all that come in a place? Sometimes I love Iowa. Sometimes I think the glass ceiling is leaving bruises on my head. It depends which day you ask me. In the meantime--I am asking for some faith too. I feel faithless these days. SPinning rapidly, trying not to grieve what used to be my anchor. I am wondering why that's been so easy to lose track of.

I must go to sleep soon. On Thursdays my day starts a whole hour early than any other day, and that BITES! It is so hard to get Baby S up, and myself, and clean the house, and feed the dogs, and yell at hubby, and apologize, and kiss him goodbye. That takes a long time, trust me.

It is gettin' cold here....and that means winnnnter. I'm not ready! Can we have a November Indian summer? Does that happen? Where suddenly it's green and we can go running outside again? Alaas, I think probably not. At this point I am just praying for a winter like last one, which wasn't nearly as bad as the previous, in my opinion.

I miss my california sandal-wearing days when it gets a chill here. I almost forget what it's like to not expect snow! I just start dreaming of white sand beaches with hubby and his lobster-red cheeks. Although the last few nights I've lost him to Arkham City.

Goodnight blog.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bored?

I am down 9 pounds. Let's just start with that. I have lost 9 pounds since July 1. 9 Pounds I'd been trying to lose for a year. I feel hopeful, and that is a great feeling. If only I could go through days not thinking about it, not being afraid of my weight or wishing good news would rescue me.

But I am bored. And that boredom, coupled with a fear of how much worse the winter will make it, is feeling like depression. I am not in a show. I am finding my students annoying--constant last minute cancels, chasing them for payment, all of our bills questionable every month because we don't know what day I'm getting paid. Ugh. I have been drilling all-state choir parts with students which is SO BORING. None of the artistic joy I normally find in a lesson. That ends soon, and hopefully will help.

Kids are boring. They are lovely and make you feel loved and give you someone to love, and are boring. They want to do the same thing 10 times, have the same discussion 10 times, and eat the same thing 50 times. The "cute" stuff they say becomes grating the 1000th time they say it. You can love 'em all you want, but if you are someone like me, who thrived on world adventures, urban conversations, witty banter with friends, challenging spiritual quests, the 2 year old is boring.

I find Iowa lovely--and sometimes I just think the new people I meet here are SO intriguing. But I really miss the adventure of the city. EVERY DAY in NYC I found something new. I met someone interesting (not always a pleasant experience, but the adventure was worth it)! I felt like every day someone wanted to argue with me, to discuss with me, to sing me a new song. And here, I just find the same faces.

How can I be someone who loves the un-urban environment (loves the farms, the open spaces, the relaxed atmosphere, the live chickens being sold in stores) and yet who desperately misses the skyscraper way of thinking? I do. I miss it. I fell in love with hubby partly because he was someone who WOULDN'T give in to my desire to get lost in arguments to keep myself occupied. But now I want him to fight with me! I want a challenge that's fun. At least, you know, more fun than weight loss.

Who's up for a trip to Asia? And where do I get a few thousand to do it? Can I somehow talk myself into planning some musical adventure over winter when I barely feel like getting up? There must be something better than potty training and spending weekends sadly alone, missing the one person I actually moved out here for. I need a group of witty, crazy, intellectual people to drive me crazy. I miss kayaking, I miss the subway, I miss chinatown.

Bored.

Friday, October 7, 2011

MINE


Baby S is two and one month. I thought it's been a long time since I just posted about her, minus the constant complaining.

It's been a week of bickering for hubby and I. We are cooped up, and need some romance time, I think. This may be the hardest part of parenting.

Baby S sings the alphabet song and calls it "A, B, Me." She won't really sing it completely unless you do it with her. She likes to point at various people in the room and yell, "Daddy, try" "Mommy, try".
She also sings : Jesus Loves Me (with hand movements), Tiny Tim (aka the bubble song) Twinkle Twinkle (God help me I'm starting to hate this song), Ring around the Rosie, Wheels on the Bus (She's especially good at this one), Holy Holy Holy, Row Row Row Your Boat, Itsy BItsy Spider, and a few others. She also likes the Elmo Song, "You Do It, You Use the Potty" which she occasionally screams at full volune while walking through stores. She seems to only know that line.

She says "Daddy hold you?" when she wants hubby to pick her up. She repeats funny phrases she hears. Yesterday she came home from daycare with two new ones:
"Knock it off, Bullseye" (that's the name of the dog at daycare)
and "How do you do, Mommy?" (my personal favorite).

She likes to go to daycare and BSF (kind of like Sunday school). When she leaves she often says, "Goodbye, kids". She acts shy when you take her, but then never cries. She seems to want to go to the toys right away. She loves any sort of standing toy (workbench, kitchen). She also is starting to love baby dolls and always loves balls.

She loves books so much you can read her 5 or 6 at a time. She loves the fully read books with stories, and the ones where you just ask her to find stuff. Probably equally.

She requests certain diapers by the characters on them, and cries until I give her that one. I will not be bullied, so I simply put other diapers on her and let her cry. Her favorite is "unchin" (elephant). She sits on the potty for huge amounts of time. She does the whole routine: potty, hanging out, toilet paper, flush. But she does not pee or poop. Every time she gets on I remind her "What do you get if you put pee in the potty?" and she says, "Chocolate." But she never gets any chocolate, because it never happens. Fascinating. The worst part of this is that sometimes she wants to go potty on the big potty when I'm on it. Then there is great screaming. "My POTTY. MY PEE." She tries to push me off.

She easily speaks 4-5 words at a time, but you can't always understand what they are. She loves to repeat what daddy says right after he says it.

She loves to cuddle. She loves to kiss and says "I love you (wuv you) Daddy, Mommy, Nana, Bubbe" She sometimes hugs me and says, "ooooooh, mommy". THat's my favorite, I think.

She has a weird sense of humor, but mostly laughs at us being goofy. She laughs when we dance or jump up and down, and when I put the bubble wrap out and run on it she laughs so hard she can't breathe.

She is obsessed with all animals. We found a frog together, and she keeps revisiting that place in the yard. She talks about all dogs and cats, and pretty much you can watch any tv show with dogs or cats in it and she will watch it with great patience.

Her favorite food is chocolate. In any form. Following that, she tends to like proteins and vegetables best. Fruits after that and all carbs (except noodles, she looooves noodles) at the end. She changes her tastes quite a bit though, which I like. At first she called all meat CHICKEN. I tried to teach her BEEF when we were eating it, so now she just says CHICKENBEEF. I'm not sure how to change that.

She loves walks--walks with the dogs, just the two of us, any walks. I dread a long winter with no walks. Swimming, climbing and general mayhem. She's a wonderful handful. And unfortunately, has just started growing fond of the word MINE.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chaos Theory

I made it through September. Why is that month always kind of tough? Maybe it's the season changing, the start of school, the lack of husband. Any of those things, I guess. It was stressful. This morning i filled out an application to teach at a University, sent my CV and cover letter and made them as needlessly long as I could to impress them with my VERBOSITY. Hubby's been helpful with the baby lately, but I am tired (so very, very tired) of whole weekends alone with her. I feel stuck, knowing that if I make plans she may or may not be cooperative with them, and her naps become so erratic with me trying to accomplish things. We end up stuck in the house more than I'd like and I clean, and clean, and did I mention how much I hate cleaning?

And I feel like such a bad mother on a day like today, when I got to do nothing for myself, not even the gym, and just had moments of looking at her like, "could you please just go somewhere else?" When all she does is want me to play with her all day long. I did take her on two walks (her favorite thing) and run through the house on the bubble wrap carpet we've created....but otherwise, I got the feeling she felt cooped up with me too.

I keep thinking about this event, years ago, when I was searching for an apartment in NYC. My friend and I (and the broker) were checking out an apartment we liked. I wanted to see how loud the bedroom was (it was close to the street)so I shut the door. I turned around, this moment by myself, and neatly written on the back of the door were the words THIS TIME IT'S DIFFERENT. Neatly, in print, by hand, and about 1000 times, from the top of the door to the bottom. I think sometimes about what that person was trying to say to themselves. I would assume there was an irony, like it's NEVER different. Like every audition, every relationship, every addiction is the same. exact. thing.

But the truth is that this time it is different. Every time it's different. Every attempt I've had at weight loss is DIFFERENT, and every conversation with a loved one is different, and every Sunday stuck with Baby S. The only thing in this world you can count on is change, right? And I am different. Every time. THe circumstance, the weather, the people. I find this reassuring because it means THIS COULD BE THE TIME. Or maybe not. OR MAYBE! Ha ha.

John Raitt, a famous broadway dude (if you don't know) once said to me and a few others that success was like a whirlpool. And he and all his friends got sucked in eventually. They walked and walked around it, hoping. And when I think about it, it probably looked the same every time you walked around. Except for, as he put it, suddenly and without warning someone got sucked in. Whhhhsp! And then the walk dramatically changed. There are so many areas of my life where I like to think of this odd analogy. But I guess the most important part to think about it is that those who stopped walking around it...those who made a B-Line away from the whirlpool, they didn't get sucked in. I mean, they could have found a new whirlpool. God knows there are far more than just one, and we should too.

But I think the last time you walk around you think to yourself THIS TIME IS NOT DIFFERENT. It's the same old thing, and you just can't do it.

I hope that the person who lived in that apartment didn't drown in hopelessness writing that. I hope that they saw that every time WAS different. I hope that their hope didn't turn to a hard shell in that deafeningly loud NYC bedroom. Sometimes I like to imagine that the very last, 1000th time that they wrote it, it was different, and they got what they wanted, and they moved out. Or up. Or that they wrote all of those words on one single day, walked away from that door, and never once again assumed things were the same.

For me, THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT. THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Perspective


Yesterday was a tough day. In the morning we took Baby S for her monthly lead test--it continues to go down (we won't know the results for a few days)--but it's hard to watch. She has to be held down by 3 people while we take enough blood from her arm to fill the vial. Then we had breakfast as a family at the local grocery store. We sat next to a table of older men, obviously retired, having a wonderful time. They were laughing and telling stories and I asked hubby, "you think they come here once a week! It's such an advertisement for the fun of retiring." He said, "I bet they come here every day." and then it looked even better.

After Baby S's appointment, we rushed to Lowe's to get more cement for our walkway, a project which I hate spending money on but love getting done (story of my life). We couldn't do what we wanted (brick) but it still looks nice, and is a good, wide path. Good for walking. We ended up spending too long there, thanks mostly to chasing Baby S, and ended up running to my doc's appointment. When we got there, 10 minutes late, they said that since it was so close to lunch, they needed to move me to after lunch.

Ok--so I came back after "lunch" (which really meant wandering through stores) and got the news...all tests negative, no problems, just this lifelong desperation of trying to lose weight and feeling like a failure, beating myself up, going to groups, appointments, clubs, paying dues, exercising, cutting b ack, and still having diabetes. And pretty much every other problem that comes along with excess weight. When I think about it, I hardly want to go on, I just want to .....give up, to hide under my bed. The doctor says, "look at the good news here! Weight is complex and difficult, but you could be battling something even worse." I hardly hear him, but I keep going. I had a bizarre weight gain this week. I had been steadily losing a pound a week for about 7 weeks. And then suddenly a 3 1/2 pound gain....which means my work meant so little....I still feel like an enormous failure, and the worst is that for the life of me, i can't even imagine how this could have happened.

I taught a few lessons, had a few no-shows, and generally hubby and I had a fairly nice afternoon. I tried to shake off my worries, I promised myself we just had to keep going. I prayed for more faith, which lately feels completely gone. I feel tired of praying for the same thing. After a lifetime, I feel like there's no one listening.

I had my low carb dinner, put Baby S to sleep, and hubby and I laid down together (which we hardly ever do) for the night. We talked about happy stuff, and I felt happy to be there with him. But in the quiet, I reviewed the day, i felt anxious, I mourned times of better faith. I felt him breathe heavily next to me in the middle of all of my swirling, worried thoughts. And asked him, "is something wrong?" and he said, "you know those moments where you realize everything is just....perfect?" and I closed my eyes and said, "I guess so. yes."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Letter to the Student who cancels last-minute

Here's a real letter I sent today. I like it, and think I should create a template. This is like the singing-teacher's curse....it doesn't feel good to charge a non-rich person for not showing up, but it seems respect is so hard to get without the consequence of money.

Dear XXXX,
Please try to let me know a day in advance if you cannot make a lesson! My whole day is scheduled around the students for that day--that means Baby S's daycare, her nap, my errands, housekeeping, anything social I want to do, etc, not to mention other students who want last minute lessons. It is SOOO much more considerate to give me a day to prepare for a change like that (especially in a situation like this week, where you probably could have anticipated this being too hard). You are the first lesson on Friday, and you can't imagine what a difference that half hour makes.

I completely understand you changing and cancelling and you don't have a commitment to come every week, but I just wanted to let you know that I already have a really loose cancellation policy--the danger of that--as we see--is that students will take advantage of me. If I had to miss a lesson with my voice teacher and called her that day I would have owed $120 for the hour, and if I missed it, she would make me pay. I am trying to use the deterrent of personal responsibility instead of money in this case. Please try to respect that..

Thanks,

Singing Teacher

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cafe Ole!

Well, so much for my "I'm going to write 8 posts in September" deal with myself. I often, as I've said before, "write" these in my head and then don't lay them down on the laptop, but this one deserves writing.

This morning after the gym I noted that I had more cash than usual in my wallet ($28) and decided to use that as an excuse to get a pricier coffee. I almost always get a nonfat cafe au lait with 1/2 a packet of Splenda. I only get it twice a week, on my hardest days. All of that is to avoid overspending on coffee. It works. I would prefer a nonfat latte, but the rule of coffee is that espresso costs more than coffee. So I do the "poor man's" version of the latte. The cafe "au lait".

My favorite part of this might be when the people who work there write "CAFE OLE" on the cup, as if it is somehow spanish and festive.

Wow. TMI. It has just occurred to me that this is going to be a snobby blog post. So WARNING: THIS IS SNOBBY. I'm going to live with that.

I went to my favorite place to get the coffee. We like this place because it is small enough that the owners are occasionally there, though it is definitely part of a chain. Perhaps it is a franchise? It's not Starbucks, so the champion of small business in me likes to go there. The people who work the counter make GOOD coffee, they know about coffee, and they have, to me, often a better product than Starbucks. Though not always.

Today I broke the mold, spent $3 (I never spend $3, that sounds insane to me) and ordered a small cappuccino. THe woman said to me, "do you want it wet or dry?" And I said to her, "I have no idea what that means". (What the hell is a dry coffee?) So she explained that "wet" meant that there was a small amount of espresso with steamed milk and the rest of the cup was filled with foam. Since this is the only way I've ever heard of a cappuccino being made, I said that would be fine and skipped the explanation of "dry."

Then she said to me, "This has a strong coffee taste. Just want to make sure you're ok with that."

And I said, "what other kind of taste would it have?"

And she said, "well, some people are used to gas station cappuccinos, and then this kind of freaks them out a little."

And I said, "oh, well that's syrup," And the conversation ended.

I drove away thinking of how I grew to love cappuccinos. I lived in Italy for a year, and for the first time in my life, I started drinking coffee. I think I had waited before then because the bulk of my coffee exposure was mom's 2 day old folger's instant coffee reheated in the microwave, stirred with a pen, and then sweetened with the "sugar free" equivalent of 18 packets of sugar. I grew to love them in Italy, where we would eat coffee and cookies for breakfast, made in that little silver pot I loved so much. We would put in plenty of rich milk and the taste didn't need an ounce of sweetening. I still miss those coffees. When out in Italy, I would stop in little cafes and have a cappuccino or macchiato, in a little tiny porcelain cup. I don't think there was ever a size option, or an option of any other sort.

I am still not a caramel macchiato with whipped cream and syrup on the top kind of girl. Coffee is supposed to have an edge of bitterness. You should be able to taste that it was made with cold water. It's an adult drink, and shouldn't be sweet. The milk is better when steamed, or at least warmed, before added to the coffee. The milk is what cuts the bitterness. It should be a breakfast unto itself, held in both hands to start the ritual of day, and not served in a tumbler. Coffee is designed to be small and drunk slowly. And just to review the italian for anyone who cares to have it reviewed here you go:

Cappuccino: If you see the "cap" beginning to an italian word it means Head. Da Capo is the beginning of the piece, Capellini is pasta that looks like hair on your head, and CAPuccino has a head of foam. Don't like foam? Don't order a "dry cappuccino". Really, that makes me wince a little.

Latte: Milk. Way more milk than coffee. The milk should be heated or steamed.

Macchiato: Spotted. More coffee than milk.

See how simple that is?

And yes, I like the strong coffee taste. Heaven forbid someone as cheap as I am spend $3 on a drink with a taste they don't like. Bite your tongue!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ask and Receive?

I am totally overloaded with students. I mean, at this point, I don't know how to turn them away, but i need to. I take Sun & Monday off, and then between Tues and Saturday I teach approximately 29-34 lessons a week. I thought I could go more than this, but I am learning that physically, I just don't have it in me. Today was 9 students, and that is doable, but exhausting. Tomorrow is 12. Yowza. Friday, the day I used to "take it a little easy" will be spent entertaining Baby S all morning, and then teaching for the rest of the day, probably about 5 students.

Don't get me wrong...firstly, if you add up how much moola this is, it's incredibly nice. I am only doing what I love! Dreamy!! We are actually paying medical bills, rather than just hiding when the phone rings. I also love it. I love my students. But it would also be nice to pick and choose a little--to earn as a salary instead of getting used to this big number and then suddenly earn half in December, when kids are sick or school is out and no one takes lessons.

Baby S is a little miracle. She is happy to go to daycare, and happy to come home, and always seems to have fun, as long as she's going somewhere. She talks up a storm, and sometimes it's delightfully funny (today she turned around to a classful of preschoolers and yelled "Bye kids!" much to my entertainment. It is hard, though, to manage this teaching schedule and being her mother, and honestly, it's impossible to have someone watch her for all lessons, so she's present for at least 7 or 8 lessons a week....way too many.

Something I'v noticed about myself which is incredibly lame and embarassing is that I cry at sporting events. I CRY at sporting events. Here's what happens (and it happens sometimes while watching tv at home too). Tonight, for example, we went to a hockey game. I like hockey...it's fast. Like basketball with ice, which is kind of awesome. And then the home team scores, and everybody screams, and the lights flash, and the music, and I'm hit with this enormous well of emotion--like I can't believe how unified the whole room is. And then suddenly, my chest gets tight, and I find my eyes well up with tears, while a lot of semi-drunk people stand up and sing some sort of "Goal" song. And I try to hide it from hubby. I am somehow "touched" by team spirit, so much that I want to sob out loud.

Ridiculous. But at least it makes the game more interesting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jesus in a tie-dye shirt

I did a rare thing tonight. I got a babysitter and went out by myself. It would have to be something special to do it, and it was. I went to a David Wilcox concert. For the past 3 years, I have checked his "dates" as he travels around the country, longing to see him perform. The last time I saw him I believe was in the mid 1990s, which is about a hundred years ago, in California.

Every year, it's been the same thing....he's kinda close, but not close enough. Other states, bigger cities. It's been disappointing. But this year, at the last minute, a tour date was added, here! Blocks away, actually, and I had to do it.

It is a strange thing to go out by yourself after a few years of marriage. I dressed up, I wore makeup, and it reminded me of NYC, the single years. THe timing was nicely mine, and I knew I'd get a ticket, since usually it's easy to find one. The concert was in an art space--with a beautiful ceramics show. What a beautiful find in a still-recovering part of Cedar Rapids!

I watched people file in, and there was definitely a "hippy" vibe. David Wilcox is an insightful, warm folk singer, who performs with just his guitar. His writing is complex (both in terms of text and music) and yet personal, funny and touching. He reads poems that are rhythmic and fun during performance, and all of this seems to attract a specific crowd here in CR. Let's see....I was a little on the younger side, I'd say. A majority of the women seemed to be letting their hair naturally grey. I saw at least one in their sixties with that tell-tale former hippy braid down her back. The jewelry and clothes seemed bought on trips to other countries...Peru, Thailand, and I figured just about everyone in there will try a foreign food without batting an eyelid. In my time alone I thought about hubby, and how he would much rather be watching the Lions play football.

I thought, "am I a hippy?" I mean, I don't see myself as one, but I guess at this point, hippies don't exist too much, they earn too much money to be hippies anymore, right? And just then, Jesus walked in, wearing a pink tie-dye shirt, Kahki shorts with a belt and a pair of sandals, proving that they do exist. So maybe I'm on my way, but not quite there yet.

This concert, like every single time I've seen David Wilcox, involved my tearing up, my renewed faith in a God who shows up when least expected, a little giggling, and a lot of reflection on how I define my life. The first time I saw him perform I felt so grateful he existed. He tells stories the way I long to. I suppose if I hadn't been an opera singer, I would have loved this type of journey....one person, one instrument, and a lifetime of music. I love that his music seems to get happier as he gets older, just like my life does.

Tonight being 9/11 had an incredible introduction by a man who had worked at the WIndows on the World restaurant the first year it existed. He said as an intro that each one of us has their own complex connection to 9/11. And who better to sing about complex connections than David Wilcox, and man he was right.

Here's lyrics to my favorite song of his, which he performed tonight, and the first time I cried.

You say you see no hope,
you say you see no reason we should dream,
that the world would ever change.
You’re saying love is foolish to believe
‘cause there’ll always be some crazy
with an army or a knife
to wake you from your day dream,
put the fear back in your life…

Look, if someone wrote a play
just to glorify what’s stronger than hate,
would they not arrange the stage
to look as if the hero came too late?
He’s almost in defeat,
it’s looking like the evil side will win,
so on the edge of every seat,
from the moment that the whole thing begins,

It is Love who mixed the mortar
and it’s Love who stacked these stones
and it’s Love who made the stage here
although it looks like we’re alone
in this scene set in shadows
like the night is here to stay
there is evil cast around us
but it’s love that wrote the play…
For in this darkness Love can show the way

So now the stage is set.
You feel you own heart beating in your chest.
This life’s not over yet.
And so we get up on our feet and do our best.
We play against the fear.
We play against the reasons not to try
We’re playing for the tears burning in the happy angel’s eyes

I just read this to my husband, crying a little as I read it. I finished and I said, "do not make fun of me for crying." And he said, "hippy!" And we laughed a little.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Ball

I wish I knew quite where to start lately. It is an incredibly difficult thing to watch your spouse go through something painful at work. People we trusted seem to now betray for no reason at all. Drama, yelling. And worst of all, this gnawing feeling that he's somehow stayed too long at the ball.

I wholeheartedly believe that who hubby is, and why I love him, has largely to do with this career. I suppose that makes it harder. I would never have met him, never have loved him, if what he did wasn't challenging, creative, and probably ruthless. I don't believe for a second in giving up and living "simply" in that way--if you have the heart to keep going. I never have. and as a person who has had my own rounds with career, the entire thing is even harder.

We've both said if I could somehow find a job that paid well and that I could love, he could certainly take some time off and hopefully watch the baby along with the video games I'm sure he'd love to wrap himself up in.

Everywhere you go, there are goods and bads. I guess we know that. And if you've never been anywhere, you probably suspect it. But some places are better than others. I think about how much I loved NYC sometimes, I miss the good parts. But there were definitely bad parts. Here, I got to sing two roles I dreamed of for years. I would never have thought that. We love the home we've built here (and I mean that somewhat literally--there's been a lot of building here). Daycare, reliable. Help when we needed it.

But I miss the intimate relationships of other places I miss. And it seems Iowa, oddly, has had more than it's share of lies and scandals, of people not being who you thought they 'd be. We are disappointed in churches, and never made a single intimate relationship worth mentioning. And I feel sad about that. I am not a "family beats all" person. Not by any means--I want other types of relationships in my life, and I am so afraid of this being so much the attitude in the midwest that I won't be able to choose friends.

I like the idea of moving closer to hubby's family. But I have a lot of fear about that...sometimes I wonder if hubby's lack of trying for intimate relationships has to do with the cushion of family, and I want Baby S to learn how to form real bonds to people she's not related to. Just as I have been changed and happy in that way. Until I find some real relationships outside of this "Family" world, I am going to feel isolated. And I'm just tired of that. I can't figure out if part of that is me--after all, I wasn't nearly the most social person in either show I was in. Maybe that was my chance?

I've had students drop me recently, reminding me that students and teachers come and go. I've done it, they might love me and still do it. Nothing earthly is forever.

And in the meantime, the idea that this time is ending...the house getting packed up and sold, and our married life starting again, is so daunting I just want to bury my head in my hands. I have fantasies about going into hubby's office and yelling, throwing things, exacting revenge. Because I'd hoped we'd settle a bit here. But the truth is that we've stayed too long at the ball. Too long.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Seen & Heard



I have a splitting headache tonight. I am not sure if it's from this week of stress, of the churning of our whole little worlds in here, or this pill I'm taking, which seems to function as "gastric bypass in a pill", constricting my stomach and slowing food digestion to give me better blood sugars and help me lose weight. It is not a pill I probably need to be taking. My sugars have been in excellent control for almost a year now. But, as anyone has read on here, I feel hopeless about the weight loss. I don't even get it. And so if a little bit of nausea, burping, heartburn, stomach pain and diarrhea will help...sign me up. Right? I weighed myself this morning and I was down a little short of a pound. Which I don't understand, since basically I hate eating and have lunches consisting of broth and toast. I am eating--just not so much. THe intense workouts at the gym must be doing something too, no? So the thing is, in the last 6 weeks I have lost 4 pounds. And that is weight loss. It is. So I refuse to call this anything less than victory.

I found myself feeling sorry for myself today. I have found myself saying things about not being the "kind of person" who dreams for a career and gets it. I am not the "kind of person" who says they're going to lose the weight and drops a few pounds the first week. I am a slow, patient, tortured plodder most of the time. And this can be something I find peace in, right God? Is that a road to peace or just a "poor me?"

My husband has to find a new career. And this would all be totally fine if I wasn't FINALLY living a life where I get to sing, and make music. And I make some ok money--not enough for him to leave me or anything, but enough to really supplement our life here. And will that happen in the next place? Will it be too urban? Not urban enough? Ugh!

If that wasn't enough to stress me out, there is the whole man/woman thing, where men seem to want to produce a rabbit out of a hat, by themselves, while no one helps or encourages or asks questions about how they're going to do it. And although this man may think "oh, my wife will be so thrilled when it all works out" the truth is I'd rather be a part of this. A partner, a confidant, an advisor and supporter. But at times, I'm not sure what he even wants from me.

I used to pray in NYC that God would see me and make me feel seen. There is something so awful about looking down the barrel of change, rejection, or risk, and not having any idea where that ends. But if I know God's hand is on it, it feels more like a . . .road. A place with a good destination, with places to stop on the way. In NYC, I always felt like people appeared and showed those things to me. And here, I miss that.

I mean, it's better here. It may sound cheezy, but here I get to choose love every day. In NYC I chased love the way I'm chasing weight loss here. Mysteriously, it would not find me. Here it comes easily. But I still find the same feelings, when life gets tough, just wanting to be seen or heard.

My stepsister sent me something that I wrote 5 years ago--that I didn't even remember writing! But I love it.

2006:
Twenty minutes ago I was on my way home from work when a woman, easily in her 80s, with a soft “jewish” accent, said to me, “do you want to see something good?” This being New York I hesitated…but she took my arm and pointed toward a tree, “do you see that there?” and then another tree, “and that?” and a third, “and look at this one right here…Isn’t nature beautiful? Kids play here…the cars go by, and nature keeps growing…and it’s always good.”
And I smiled my way home.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tough Week

I started the week with a visit to a specialist--my struggles to move on to something where I can get off medicine for diabetes is something that sits somewhere between physical and emotional, unfortunately, and hurts, badly. It is tough, I am really just on the border, taking low doses of drugs and not seeing high blood sugars. On the medicine I am completely in "controlled" range--but here I am, a person who used to be well, and now is sick.

THe specialist started me on a new drug (and by new, I mean approved last year) and so far that drug means headaches and slight nausea, and I feel quite unenergetic...but reading the reviews of other people, how this drug not only brought down blood sugars, but promises weight loss, I will definitely at least go through this first supply (a free sample). If headaches and nausea would move to a place where I could have a baby again, or feel good about myself, or get off of insulin for the next 20 years, sign me up.

Then today an emergency phone call from my husband came and the reminder of why it sucks to be married to the news was in. This station has him working a record number of shows, and those on his "lowest priority" show are starting to complain. So ---at previous stations, he has produced one show a week (like...the 6pm news). All of the other producers do one or two shows. And he works two shows a day three days a week, and three shows a day on the weekend. At 45 hours a week, he is already overworked. And they are telling him he's not putting enough time in to the third show. Scolding him. Using awful management tactics of ganging up on him and saying 'everyone's complaining' when he knows it's not everyone.

And then the follow-up email. The paperwork that says, "this is the news, and we're preparing that firing you will seem somehow humane, and somehow have to do with non-performance, rather than the fact you never went out drinking with us."

And there's the news. And all of our stability just went to crap. We are scrambling tonight, pulling up jobs, working on resumes, and of course he's wasting time responding to the email that I know has nothing to do with compromise or good management (this manager is pure self-serving reactionary stuff, no actual leadership). Hell, in his first month on the job he drank with the staff and took home a 21 year old from the office. Resulting in a small suspension. Blech.

So I'm mad, but hubby's madder, and so there's nothing I can do but hope he doesn't come out cursing and swinging. And that somehow we find a job that's not in the news.

In the meantime, the headache is coming on again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Community


Oh jeez. I forgot about this month after the show when I always feel a little depressed. How did I forget about that? I notice there being a little bit of a depressing spin on my thoughts. I went to an award ceremony last night, where I tied as winner for "best lead actress in a musical" at a local theater for my role in Sweeney Todd, and it was wonderful. But the next day I feel this sense of sadness that I never seem to be on the "inside" of the lovefest that is the arts. It's my own fault. I come off of a show enjoying people and respecting them as artists, but I don't write "I miss you so much it hurts" on their facebook walls.

And I guess that's why, when the playful, loving, ribbing comes on, I'm not really a part of it. That's ok....except, it looks fun from the outside. I wish I knew what my "community" was. I have lots of places where I enjoy people, but no place I can't walk away from. Somehow, I guess that's my personality. But I still feel like I'm supposed to be different. Like I'm supposed to be on the inside. Or something.

So let's just talk about my new obsession. I want another baby. I'm actually kind of ready now, but I won't do it until I weigh 50 pounds less. I WILL NOT. Because it would be bad for me, bad for the baby. And yet I can't seem to lose that. I'm seeing an endocrynologist on Tuesday. And hubby is expecting a new hope, new answers. It's like the Obama election up in here....but I'm a little afraid of the "usual results". Lots of talk and little change. *sigh* I do sound depressed.

Apparently babies are like potato chips? Who knew.

So, I've got a good life, but now a reminder that it doesn't matter where I am, I am always on the outside. It's not bad....I have a ton of love. But if hubby wants to move me, I just gave him the bright green light. And hopefully in the next spot, I'll be 50 pounds thinner and getting pregnant.

And if wanting it were the same as making it happen, it would be awesome.

I want a church again. REALLY< REALLY REALLY. I miss it so much. But finding, re-committing, that all seems like a task I'm hardly up to this moment. Hubby's on the same page, but it's hardly an easy page.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mom & Baby's Day Out


I am on major mommy burnout. It happened fast. The last week in July I was performing in a show, with plenty of help--hell, I was practically MISSING the kid! And then everyone left, and the house was quiet, and that was nice. The show was over, I had time to rest, and we are transitioning daycares....and then I realized it was just me and her. Day after day. Hubby working 50 hours a week, and me doing all of my teaching with a baby. A well behaved baby--but instead of say, resting, in the middle of teaching 9 lessons, I'm fixing noodles and juice, turning on Elmo. Cleaning up something destructive she's done to entertain herself (the kitchen floor currently has an enormous piece of crayon artwork on it, and I'm just not in the mood to get on my knees and scrub yet).

In addition, at night, after the teaching is done, I get at least a few hours of just me and the baby, cooped up in here. I'm too exhausted to go do anything, so I try to just run around doing "damage control" until her blessed hour of sleep. The weekends, when I'm generally not teaching, are worse. That's a 12 hour day with no hubby, no help, nothing but me and Baby S. No friends, no plans, just me and Baby S.

Don't get me wrong, I laugh with her, she's insanely affectionate, she wants to kiss and cuddle and play funny games, brush my hair and sing songs. With a baby, you stay in an "in love" phase for a long time....it's like early on in dating someone where you just keep saying to yourself "ahhhh, they're wonderful, aren't they?" but there's another end to it. The part where you wish you could give her away for a day or two.

Yesterday, afraid of being stuck here, I packed her in the car and drove 30 miles (she slept the whole 30) to a local "pick your own" orchard (apples $2 a pound, and usually a fun time). I love stuff like this. The weather was hot, but not unbearable, although it seemed to get more unbearable. I bought her a "fresh apple slushie" which she would not let me have a sip of (and continued to scream at me when I tried). We walked down a path and looked at apple trees, threw stones into the creek (and then, unfortunately, accidentally threw the apple slushie into the creek). We collected apples in a basket until she wanted to be picked up (the heat getting to both of us). I said, "ok, I'll hold you, but you have to hold the basket". That lasted about 3 minutes until she said, "take it" (her new favorite phrase) and then I carried the baby and the apple basket.

After a bit, I realized I'd walked too far, and the only possible way of getting back a little more quickly was to cross the creek. So we took off our shoes and socks and I held her hand as we waded across the creek. It was the coolest part of the journey (temperature wise) and definitely her favorite, as she then made me cross it a few more times before I called it off. We were just climbing out when I heard a vehicle coming and scrambled to get out. It was a man (probably in his 80s) driving an old John Deere tractor with the name BESSIE painted on it, and a big wagon full of about 5-6 families. He said, "do you want a ride?" and we hopped on (thank God) and got to ride around for a while.

The whole thing was fun, and the kind of day I love to spend with her, but the expectation that somehow I might have exhausted her (the way I did myself) never seems to pan out. So the night was long--with lots of games and periodic destruction...and me begging her to relax, plying her with sweets, hoping for her to go to bed so I could just have some time alone.

She didn't fall asleep until 10:45, and soon after I crashed, not really letting me have any of that sweet mommy time. Today is another day of me and her (hubby is working on his day off today) but it at least means when i teach on Wednesday he'll be watching her.

I suppose the thing in my head I can't get rid of is how soon I'll want to sing again. Right now I'm too exhausted to even think about it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?

Here's what she said to me......

Um, it is 1:30 in the afternoon and I am in my nightgown, listening to the sweet, sweet sound of the baby finally falling asleep (can I get an amen?) Hubby's just put her down, to great wailing and nashing of teeth, and her signature tossing of the binky into the air as protest.

I have an injury, and opening night is Thursday. It's not small. I have a bit of a "tricky calf" meaning that 6 years ago in NYC I ripped the muscle, my foot turning blue with the blood in my leg, the pain unbelievably sharp and unstoppable. I spent 5 weeks on crutches.

Last night, amidst hopping and doing the Charleston as Katisha, my 3 inch platform shoe broke. And then I felt a pop, and then happiness as we know it did a grand pregnant pause. I hadn't been having a good night--the director barked at me twice for walking the wrong direction onstage and because of poor time management on someone's (cough cough) part, it was the FIRST time I'd ever run the scene on stage. Confusion? Ahem, of course. I hadn't even gotten to run that scene for 3 days, so no big surprise, right? I don't like being barked at.

So the injury is not as bad (by any means) as the one I'd previously described. Already, after about 12 hours of R.I.C.E. I am feeling a little better, and can easily walk to the kitchen. I can't speak for my charleston, though, and I'm a little worried. Thursday? Doable. Tonight's dress? Eh.

The baby saw her first movie last night, though I wasn't there. Winnie the Pooh. Had my mother not been an hour early for the film, it would have gone better. She hated the previews, apparently. But sat, unflinching, from 7:15 to 8:10. My mother said she had to check her for signs of sleep. Then at 8:10, tired of the whole thing, and got up to leave, so my mother did too.

I lost a pound this week! YAY! That makes 3. Each one worked for like crazy. What makes me especially sad is that my 5 intense workouts at the gym are probably responsible (at least in part) for both the weight loss and the leg injury. hardly seems worth it, you say? BIte your tongue. This pound is a long time coming.

So I'm frightened, and I don't know what's coming next, ugh. Who likes that? I have been reading singers' bios today, feeling jealous, I guess a bit. Nothing like when I was younger. At some point, i guess it's kind of like winning the lottery...I mean, you can hardly be jealous of the guy down the street who just won the lottery, right? Fate. Whatnot.

It set me off a bit that a guy yesterday in rehearsal (a sweetheart of a man) told me that I had a "robust" voice, and then laughed nervously, as if he had just told the biggest-chested woman he'd ever met that she was "busty". . . so I took the compliment, the awkwardness actually improving it. Then I wondered for a while, how do you sell a big voice? He made recommendations for the local Iowa auditions, most of which I'd done. Of course, the Verdi requiem solo that the Iowa City Chamber Choir just did was sung by a lady who sings at the Met sometimes...hmmm....so I can't really compete with that, Right?

At what point, might they want me because I've got chops? I've come to think just about never.

So in the meantime, I keep singing, and icing my leg. I am enjoying the moment. Preparing for another audition, throwing my hat into the ring and wishing for the best. Que sera, sera. (sing it!)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This Time Around

I am currently looking at doing another audition in August. It's 7 hours away, and most of me does not want to do it. But I believe a very necessary part of "mainting the craft" is auditioning. Kind of like the lottery slogan "you can't win if you don't play." So, I'm planning it.

This show has been so exhausting. I can't decide if it's the drive down or the schedule outside of the show, or just me? I just bought a bottle of Vitamin B supplements, hoping that will help with my energy. I just feel like sleeping half the day. I also miss the baby, and she misses me. I am currently indulging her in an hour of Sesame Street (also known as "Elmo") while downing a bottle of chocolate milk (something I should, perhaps, have never exposed her to) and sitting on mom's lap. Of course, it's more like crushing mom. She likes to lay back and push her head into mine as far as it will go. Super unpleasant. And right now she is elbowing my stomach. But she hasn't had mommy time in so long that I feel she should get it.

When my mother drove her to a babysitter yesterday she spent half the ride yelling "Bubby Stop, Bubby Stop" because she didn't want to leave me. Heartwrenching.

She has really been staying up late, which is not helpful for any of us. Last night it was about midnight before she went down, which means inevitably 1am for me and 2am for hubby. Ugh. I am not sure if she's staying up to hang out with me, but honestly after rehearsal I'd really rather crash a lot faster.

There is a whole world that opens up when your toddler falls asleep, a million things you've been waiting to do. In the past 2 years I've grown accustomed to looking at my husband and holding up my arms in "victory" when baby S finally falls asleep....I imagine that will last a while.

Ok--Elmo's over. Tears and gnashing of teeth. We may eventually need to hold an intervention.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Center Stage

Ahhh, it is late and I feel exhausted but far from sleep. I worked out (hard) and had a HUGE coffee before rehearsal at 6pm....it seemed at the time to be necessary but now I'm a little worried that tomorrow will start too late. It's a hard balance--the late rehearsals and the early start to being a mom and teacher each day.

This was the first night in a while that I came home to a sleeping baby....blissss.

TOnight's run-through was surprisingly smooth. For a piece that is as specifically directed as this one, each scene is like a memory test, and somehow to stay in character is a real challenge for me. I am frightened of the huge costume (the wig which must weigh 10 pounds and the 3 inch tall shoes) and the dancing! Ugh...somehow I know it will work. I will never forget listening in to a rehearsal of young college students years ago trying to learn a Mozart quartet and the music director (possibly half drunk) saying to them, "Stupider people than you have learned this quartet." Sometimes I say that to myself when a show seems too difficult.

The most challenging part, the thing which made me want to write a blog entry tonight, was the notes. The run-through finished early and the director (a very kind and patient, sweetly funny man) gave copious notes. Mine seemed mostly positive, and I was encouraged. And then he lightly said, "You know, I have never seen a mezzo stay away from center stage more than you." He joked that most opera singers are drawn into center stage, and the room laughed, and my chest fell. I cried on the way home. Somehow, I wanted to ask myself, "is this it? IS this me? Am I just still so lacking in internal confidence at this point that I don't want to be center stage?"

In real life I feel like I am so much more "look at me look at me" than anyone I meet...but in the opera world, I want to hang out in the corner, seriously learn my part, skip the drinks at dinner, schmooze little, and avoid affairs with the tenor or flirting with the entire cast. And I ask myself if THIS part of me, this non-opera person that I still seem to be in this environment, is a big part of why I'm not as successful as I once dreamed of being.

I wonder if, at an audition, some part of me says, "I don't belong in center stage. Maybe someone else here will look more like they deserve to be there."

When I came home and cried it to hubby, he said gently that he didn't want to hurt me, but the truth is I am always looking for some sort of answer. Is it my weight? Is it my technique? Is it my confidence? And at some point I just have to stop looking for the answers and just love the thing I love.

He is so right about this. I am center stage right now. LOVE IT, PIPES. LOVE IT.

worry about the shoes instead or something. Right?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Directors

I was thinking of blogging tonight about more of the stuff I'm struggling with, about the exhaustion, about my feelings of worthlessness regarding my weight, about how wonderful my husband is and about how I'm missing my daughter lately, being busy and rehearsing in every free hour.

But instead, I'm going to write about directors.

I find generally (in my world) there are 3 types of directors.

1. The opera director. These guys are usually older, flamboyant, possibly with foreign accents, and almost always men. They like few rehearsals, and are much more interested in painting visual pictures with singers than exploring the characters. They know the terms, they know the music, but there aren't many new ideas. They try to pull off big stuff--like 80 person choruses or live animals, but miss things like the complexity of relationships on stage.

2. The theater director. Everything is about character with these guys--they believe the whole thing is driven by the cast and stage embodying this experience. They like a lot of rehearsals. They want time to flesh things out. THey don't tell you much about what to do beyond the "blocking" (the places to stand) and then they encourage the actor/singer to find the magic. They are patient, but occasionally annoying as they don't seem to manage time as well, being more indulgent with just about everything. (generally, they often smoke).

3. The musical theater/operetta director. These folks are high energy, and seem to have the biggest job here--they have to get a real feeling of the characters while also finding "buttons" (the places in the music where you create a sudden, perfect picture on stage). They are often manic, often change their ideas, and usually explode at some point during the production. They are occasionally brilliant, I think often because they have chosen this difficult way of expressing themselves.

My favorite thing to do is usually to be directed in a musical theater or opera production by a theater director (the type 2). This is because I like having some freedom. I don't like micromanagement on stage. Generally, though, I tend to get frustrated with them by the end, as they run out of time--it's 3 days left before the dress rehearsal and there's a whole chunk of the staging that they haven't dealt with. The lack of time management is hard.

I don't care if they don't know the word "aria". Some opera singers seem annoyed when the directors don't know musical terms. I have never found that to be a hindrance to a great show.

My least favorite is the opera director. I can't tell you how many times I've had to "re-direct" myself as part of an opera chorus where the director literally learned NO ONE's name who wasn't a lead in the show. I have spent HOURS in boring rehearsals where directors were indulged by casts as they played with the pictures and never once talked about the fun--the story, the characters, the lifeblood of the show.

The musical theater director is in the middle for me. I worked once with a famous one who changed things up until the very last second of rehearsals--trying to fine tune, to innovate. I have worked with those who seemed to direct and choreograph our every move. These folks are just EXHAUSTING. But like I said before, sometimes a little trust and you see brilliance.

I suppose these types have a little to do with background and a little more to do with where the directors find they "fit". They cross over each other all the time. But just like singers, eventually they seem to land somewhere that makes sense for them.

I am so exhausted tonight after working the Act I finale for this show. The director has demanded bigger, bigger, bigger. But by the time I get to stand up, I've been sitting and drinking coffee for 4 hours, just trying to stay awake, missing my baby. I know this is a challenge for the role, that she doesn't appear until the whole first act is almost over. . . but someone, please.. . help a mama out.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mall of America


The last few vacations have been my "brain children".. . meaning the ideas originated with me and I saw them through to the actual trips. But I promised hubby that come the 3rd anniversary of our marriage (wow....does it feel like just three years or should I say how could it be 3 years already?) he could pick the trip. And in keeping with our marriage theme of "we don't really like the same stuff" he picked the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

sigh.

So for the last few months I have been saving for a trip to the big mall. Consumerism is alive and well, apparently, as this four story mall with an amusement park in the center was THRIVING on a random Tuesday in July. It was not just teens, not just kids, not just families, not just Americans. It was really--um, everybody.

The trip was really nice. The hotel we stayed in GORGEOUS, with two indoor swimming pools and a hot tub (all enjoyed by us, very nice) a bed you wanted to run away with, and generally a pretty good deal, including mall coupons and a really good free breakfast. It was also 4 hours in the car (each way) which normally would be fairly awful, but was actually not that bad. We have trained ourselves by doing 10 hour trips with a baby and two dogs, so that now 5 hours is actually not that bad!

We talked about our daughter for most of the trip--and about half of what we bought there were things for her. We stopped at that by pledging to each other that we wouldn't buy anything else for her. I noticed we also did a lot of impressions of her, and pretty much everything had some sort of baby reference. I was dying to get away with her and in less than 48 hours missed her. Weird.

I am coming back to the SHOW, which is fun and frustrating. They changed a few schedules this week and seem to have trouble understanding that my original list of conflicts and their original schedules were VERY IMPORTANT CONCEPTS. So once again, I feel like someone thinks my time is worthless, and that honestly is crap. Even in the arts, time is paid for with cash. And I find that anything you give someone for free becomes intrinsically worthlesss. UGH.

I received an email from one of the girls in the cast that she wanted to collect $10 from each person to get gifts for the director, music director, conductor, pianist, and stage manageers. All of whom are being paid for their services. When we are not. Does that sound right? I am trying to figure out how to diplomatically decline. I am happy to give you a gift--when I feel you haven't been compensated well enough for what you did. These folks are compensated plenty. And not one of them has volunteered to pay my gas. Especially when they call me to drive down for 30 minutes and then don't manage their time well enough to use me in the rehearsal. DO I sound bitter?

It's still fun. Katisha= fun, fun fun. At the end of the day, whether I like the cast or not, or the admin, or the stage manager, I am in love with the role. That's the thing that will make me long for it the moment that curtain hits the ground.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Big But


It's late, and I can't believe we're in our second week of July. I know a few people who died tragically young in July. I guess--that sounds like I'm not making enough of the loss of each person. But that is not the point at all, I guess it's just that this month is filled with lots of remembering and a certain type of melancholy. On July 12, I lost Dari, my lifelong friend who at times I loved so much I thought I could forego a husband and run away with her. Dari was life itself, full of ideas and fun and love. But she also was always being chased by demons, things she couldn't escape. And her risks were always so big....as if pushed from behind by fear or memories or compulsion. We fought over this. It was so hard to be her friend and not constantly want to save her. And that's how we lost her. In an accident that will forever make me conscious of head injuries.

I lost a friend from grad school, Susan, to Leukemia in July a few years ago. The year I moved to NYC, I had no one to love there, and my birthday came around. That morning, I got a package at the door of my apartment, and it was an enormous beautiful bouquet of flowers--sent by Susan, whom I felt I'd hardly known. She wrote me supportive emails, I sang at her wedding, and she filled every day with laughter. I think she made it past 40, barely.

My friend Jennifer from high school died a few years after her wedding. She was in a coma so long that I couldn't remember if she actually passed in July, it might have been June. But it was definitely mid-summer. She did amazing animal impressions, could recite most of the Wizard of Oz by heart, and invited me into her heart and life more than once. When I think of her husband, and how he must still grieve, I usually tear up.

So here's an odd turn in this email. I have this life so packed with joy, and I often don't let myself experience it because of my weight. I have, in the past two years, had this weight problem that will NOT budge. I have been true to diets, exercised, written down my food, seen a counselor, and I called my husband from an opera rehearsal tonight, in tears, telling him that it was the last straw, and I needed him to get me to lap band surgery--because I can't seem to get myself there. I am so afraid of everyone saying I gave up, I couldn't try, I didn't "do it" the way I was supposed to.

And that is my big but. That is the thing that keeps me from enjoying a night like tonight, where I sang a role I've always wanted to do in a rehearsal with a director who was amazingly full of ideas and inspiration. It is the thing that keeps me from fully living right now, from wanting to wear sexy stuff for my hubby, from fully engaging with my genius little daughter. It is the thing that interrupts my relationship with God, and makes me feel in rehearsal like I'm the biggest woman there, and therefore not really as worthy as everyone else--despite my multiple compliments and my pure, pure joy in being there.

I don't know what's next. All I can do is throw myself prostrate at the medical community and God's hope and ask for something that will make this nightmare end. And yet, part of me just wishes I would just be fat, live with it, die a little younger, and not live every moment of my life in penance of this thing at which I feel I've failed.

And I guess the other point is this: All of those beautiful women at the beginning of this email are not remembered for their size. They were all different sizes, and all 3 causes of death had not a thing to do with whether their guts were big. And sure as I write this, anyone who adored them would gratefully add 100 pounds to their weight and have them back in their lives.

So somehow...SOMEHOW I have to learn that life must fully go on and be filled with satisfaction and happiness regardless of whether I am the heaviest I have ever been. It must, somehow, not eat me alive, so to speak. I have to somehow, someway learn to deal with my big but.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Last Post in June

This blog is dedicated to my lifelong friend. I went shopping for her, but I did not get anything. Then I thought of a brilliant other idea, and got lost on the way to the store. Then an unexpected bill went through (my husband neglected to mention setting the insurance up on autopay) and I had 35 dollars in the account, and so I waited, and now that there's enough money, there's no time to send it. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my friend who in 7 minutes will be 38 here in Iowa. Though she's not in Iowa. We have gone through some amazing times together--we have fought and laughed and grown in both different and the same directions. This is one birthday I could never forget.

Here's a phrase I hate "the pounds melted off of me". I mean, I don't hate it, because every time I hear it it sounds as good as "I won the lottery". But I have never once in my life experienced something where weight melted off of me. On my best, most restrictive diet, the pounds slowly & ploddingly came off. Once, I fasted for two days and then did 7 days of the cabbage soup diet. I did lose- I think - 6 pounds that week. That felt like melting. But I also wanted to eat my own leg off.

I suppose there was a time where I would have felt a little bit of "poor me" from this, but at this point, I figure it's just my thing. Everyone has a thing that's hard, so that's mine. But I am tempted tonight to beat myself up that my calories have not been great the past few days.

I started a new medication that makes me feel pretty ill. But I have read that it can result in some weight loss at the beginning, and that would be awesome. I can't help but think insulin is really working against my weight loss--I have NEVER worked this hard, this consistently, and seen so few results.

Anyhoo, on a brighter note, hubby's parents brought out TUBS AND TUBS of his toys from childhood. They kept -what looks like-ALL of them! Amazing. I don't have a single toy from my childhood. At first I thought it was a bummer, and then hubby gave me permission to sell them on ebay *rubbing hands together*. You know what he has? Diecast vintage tractors! Do you know what those sell for? Some of them sell for almost 100 bucks a piece on ebay! It's like I won the lottery, though it will be a lot of work to list all of these, many sell for 20-30 bucks, and that's 20-30 bucks we would not have had. Maybe we will finally make a significant dent in these medical bills. FINGERS CROSSED.

Baby S wore a pair of underpants around the house tonight. UNDERPANTS! When did she become a kid? She still peed in them, but we're moving, we're getting there. One morning the sun will rise and she'll be potty trained. She asks me questions, and walks through the store calling out the names of everything: "yogurt, milk, crackers, that!, snack, chocolate" ....it's a very different way of experiencing the supermarket.

I have more to say...must blog again tomorrow. But if you receive a text from me that doesn't make sense, please note it's from the baby. She's figured out where the "send" button is.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mama

Soft and Destructive
and Faintly smelling of sweat
I am not sure how to hold your ever-ganglier legs
which willingly kick with no thought of safety
You say "OK"
and stroke my face
and hit me, though you know you shouldn't
Nothing is more frightening and exciting
than you becoming you
demanding Elmo
requesting chocolate milk
and laughing as you point to your belly
I am not who I was two years ago
I am me, reflected in your questioning eyes
that can't look at me when I've scolded you
but sometimes look at me with a type of love
I thought I'd never feel and
I highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

There is Beauty in the Bellow of the Blast

Tonight was probably my favorite way to spend the night. I drove down to Iowa City, sang in a rehearsal of the Mikado, listened to beautiful voices and felt really complimented by their reactions to me, doing a role I've always thought I'd love to do. The rehearsal was smooth, well-scheduled, and I can't wait for the staging to begin.

Then I came home and cuddled up into bed with an exhausted 2 year old, who likes to look up at me and stroke my face before falling asleep. (Then of course she screams for a few minutes and tries to kick me, and then falls unconscious, it's all part of the routine).

The last week we've been ripping out the attic piece by piece with my husband's parents. I suppose I feel quite a bit of guilt about the fact that every time they visit, they spend the whole time doing babysitting and difficult home improvement projects. At one point during the visit hubby said something to this effect to me, and then of course when I asked him if we could just not have them do the project he looked at me as if I were insane. Maybe we just don't talk about this? It's so much easier over-hashing everything with my mother, perhaps we overcommunicate, but it's the thing i know better.

Baby S looks more like "little girl S" lately. I have printed out instructions on "3 day potty training". Sounds like fun, no? Through this trip she has asked me whole questions like "Nana go?" when she can't find her grandmother. I looked forward to this stage from the time she was in my womb....when we would play make-believe and have four word conversations and she would still want me to tickle her. I don't miss the baby part too much, but this I will miss.

My husband just commented on the Lifetime TV commercials playing in the background. I have gotten into a habit of absconding to the bedroom where I watch only girly television programs and movies. It's like taking back my womanhood. I haven't seen a movie without an explosion in it (in the theater) for about a year. In my list of "things husbands are good for" I would definitely leave out "getting to see the movies you want". During previews on our last date night hubby leaned over to me during the "cowboys and aliens" preview and said, "somehow I'm seeing that." And I openly sighed, knowing I would be seeing it too.

He bought me a dress today, and it's pretty and fits, but I need to lose 25 pounds before I will show my arms in a dress. I'm working, I'm losing, I can feel it. A pair of pants now fits me again. I'm going to see the dr. tomorrow to beg for another medication so I won't have to fight medicine to lose weight. But I feel so terrible telling him I wouldn't wear it until I was thinner. He shrugged. He knew I would say that, and he hoped otherwise.

Sometimes I miss the excitement of NYC. Sometimes I see people with pictures of themselves at the Tony awards or in Chinatown or living that "something new every day" life, and I miss it. But I waited 6 years of living there to sing in shows like this, to feel like a real singer, doing full roles with an orchestra, knowing it would probably sell out...and then I get it in Iowa? I thought I'd work through the loneliness, and then I find Mr. Right and he drags me out here.

I don't think I can tie this one together, this blog. I am just as confused tonight by the good stuff as the trials right now. But I am seriously happy. Ha-ha-ha-happy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Probably Never

In moments that I'm not usually proud of, I start making lists of "probably never". Like, I'll probably never wear a bikini (outside the confines of my house), or I'll probably never be on the Met stage at this point, or maybe even I'll probably never live in a big city again. Those kinds of things. It's awfully strange, to feel like I need to put a finger on what I don't think is possible to accomplish. But I guess, as someone who dreams big (and I do--trust me--the list of "maybes" is much longer) there is going to be a downside.

I've been questioning, as someone who feels a little disillusioned by the pursuit of a music career that has had more surprises than satisfying moments, how to pass this stuff on to students. I mean, how do you bridge encouragement and practical advice? When Martin Katz told me all I had was green lights, did he know about the heartbreak I would go through? Did he know I would see a counselor in NYC because I couldn't stop trying to seek validation in negative places, after opera company on top of opera company told me I was good but not quite what they wanted?

so today I gave a hard lecture to an undisciplined student. But I found myself saying as I talked to her that she had the magic, that she had something special in her voice, something unusual, but she was nowhere near keeping up with the big girls. I tried, I put my fears aside, and I tried.

I hate being told by students that their parents want them to audition for American Idol (if you don't know this--it's very common in a talented kid now). Because American idol is like the posterchild for People Who Don't Think They Need to Work for It. It reminded me of a statistic from the movie "Waiting for Superman" (which, by the way, I have not seen, it sounds depressing) where they talk about how Americans rank low in everything education-related except for confidence. We have a bizarre amount of confidence that a little talent is all it takes for a life in music. Eek. If only people knew...

But there's an upturn to this stupid blog this evening. I just saw a movie, a fictional movie, a sappy, fictional movie where everybody's hair looks perfect all the time, and I always find myself believing that there is just a moment coming. . . a moment when things can change and that whole "probably never" thing will suddenly be a "you won't believe this..." because I used to say I would probably never find someone who wanted to marry me or I would "probably never" have my own apartment in NYC.

Years ago, for no reason at all, a judge at the Met Competition pulled me aside and said someday I would be rolling in piles of money. And then he didn't pick me as a winner. And the director I'm about to work with next month doesn't even remember that 3 years ago I auditioned for him and he said he was honored to hear a voice like mine (one of the best compliments of my life) and then didn't hire me. In fact, he's been hired to work on my show, and has never hired me at all.

So somewhere in there, probably never is just a reason not to keep going. I'm tired of giving myself reasons.

Possibly. Someday. Those are way better reasons.