Monday, January 31, 2011

Smells Like Piss

Let's see. I am under the weather. I love that phrase. It seems so descriptive,as if bad weather is weighing down on you, causing your headache, tiredness, sore muscles, sore throat, post nasal drip and general ickiness. I finally caught whatever Baby S has had for the past week--not surprisingly since I must ingest an oddly large amount of her saliva over the course of a week.

Probably better not to explain that.

The weather is freezing, thick, and white. It is relentless, quiet and hard to drive on. All I can do is repeat the "PUERTO RICO" mantra in my head. I am going to the beach in March. I am going to drink Margaritas and sit in the water, and hopefully tan.

Baby S's new skills are animal sounds. You can say, "What does the cow say" and she will say "mooo", "what does the sheep say" and she will say "Baaa", and just today added the "what does the horse say" "nay". Her favorite new word is "clock" which she pronounces "cock". My husband is worried about the impression people might get of what we say at home....but I assume people will know she's saying "clock."

Hubby did some work on the house tonight and the baby was doing better out of the house, so I took her to a music rehearsal. Generally, Baby S is very well behaved, so it didn't seem like a bad idea. As I left the house, hubby said, "if anything happens, call me and I can come pick her up" but he was working on the house AND had just watched her for 3 hours of my teaching voice. So I didn't want to bug him. She was great at rehearsal, until halfway through, when she had a wet and poopy diaper, and I changed her. And then...I realized I did not have a replacement diaper. So....I wasn't sure what to do, and I let her wander "al fresco". Why? I cannot tell you why. I watched people hold her and play with her while she pulled at her crotch (probably fascinated by the freeing feeling of not having a diaper on) and squatted, freaking me out.

It was a terrible rehearsal for me, half sick, distracted by the baby, exhuasted from having not slept and taught all day. Eventually, it happened, and she peed, wetting her pants, the floor beneath her chair (an easily cleanable chair) and the laminate floor. I quickly swept her up, cleaned off her pants and came back and cleaned up the room. I am not sure if the large number of people there even noticed what happened, but I thought, "WHEN am I going to get better at this mothering thing?"

I am finally losing weight. I joined weight watchers this week, and combining that eating program with my 12 step program. It is just what the doctor ordered. I feel great, I feel like sticking to this, and I don't have to obsess alone about my "failures" along the way. I also don't have to roll my eyes as I sit in a weight loss room which never really addresses the core issue, the addiction, the slavery....I have a place to go to deal with that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This week I have worked out like crazy--I have done the type of workouts that make you want to give up, wince, cry, etc. I only took one day off (Wednesday)...I don't remember how long ago I started these--I think it was last Friday. But I feel FANTASTIC. Man, I love exercising. It took a few days. It hurts. Moments before I am hoping for ANYTHING to distract me, but I make myself do it, and I am happy.

Pretty good start huh? I calculated my students' comings and goings today and realized that in the month of January I got 5 new students and lost 5 students. The best news is that the ones I lost were (except for one) students who never cared anyways. Those are so hard. The ones I got seem eager and interesting. On top of that, I do love teaching. I love encouraging students. When I can stop the lesson and say, "Now that was goood", the feeling is downright satisfying.

I missed my weekly BSF group, a time that I love, because Baby S was coughing and sniffly. UGH. She has been waking up a lot at night and hubby and I both look exhasuted. She has also started having conversations with me! Here are some examples:
Baby S: Pee.
Me: Do you need a new diaper?
Baby S: Ok! (Runs to her room to get a new diaper)

Baby S: Cheese!! (goes to fridge)
Me: Do you want cheese? (getting a piece of cheese out for her)
Baby S: Gingy cheese? (referring to the dog, as she hands her cheese over, looking at me).
Me: No, No, that's the baby's cheese. Don't give that to Gingy!!

I am loving Mrs. Lovett....I like the weirdness of some of the other singers in the show (Man, I miss weirdness in Iowa! I feel so at home) I had a brief conversation with the music director that was one of the first real connections I've had since being here. Of course, in the back of my mind there's this knowledge that we're leaving, maybe not too far in the future. Hubby is getting more miserable at the job. I miss it when he's happy and well-rested.

He's been really stepping up to take care of the baby as my outside life increases. I am using it for all its worth--as I know that come April he'll probably stop. But for now, the occasional laundries, dishes, diaper changes are very very appreciated.

I have been repeatedly asking myself how I got here. This life is such a turn from everything I expected. I fight the urge to see this as some sort of giving up. After all, I'm still auditioning, still learning new roles, still working at it. But I did leave the scene, didn't I?

I realized the other day that I am more than 10 pounds less than I was last January, and a few pounds less than my breakdown in late September. I am always going down the scale, just at such a snail's pace. I'm joining a weight loss group on Saturday, along with my meetings....something's gotta work. I believe this is what I should be doing. I guess this can be surprising on every level. Life, I mean. God. What on earth is going to make you happy next. Futures are not to be begged for, I think. They are to be prepared for--like first dates?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fragile Things

It seems like I wrote on this blog yesterday, but when I looked at the date I was shocked to see 5 days have gone by. When did that happen?

I am feeling burned out by the toddler again. It happens quickly. Last night I was up periodically, standing over the crib, mostly asleep, trying to get the baby to "stick" to sleep, hoping, praying, yawning, creeping off to pee. Finally exhausted I put her in our bed, where hubby cannot seem to stand the occasional baby kick in the back, and eventually got up to sleep in the living room. I got up at a normal time with the baby, sending him to nap in the bedroom and having one hell of a morning trying to clean the house with the baby following me around throwing things on the floor. I can never get ahead. I feel like I fail at housekeeping with a 17 month old. Some people can do this. Can someone tell me HOW?

It is freezing. We are in deep freeze, everything is ice. Everything is shiny and slick and cold and grey. I hate it. All I can do is recite a sad mantra of "spring spring spring" because it certainly is too early to pray for it. I understand winter depression. After cleaning I told myself I was going to come up on a new year, still fat, still watching all of my old friends sing professional opera while I had the time of my life singing for free. The sign that a career has passed you by, right? That may be my depression talking. We are juggling bills like a circus act unto ourselves. My birthday is in 2 weeks. Ugh. How to just enjoy what I have? Be grateful? I have so much, but I really can complain....

Thank God for the Sweeney rehearsal tonight. Every moment was enjoyable. I loved watching the music, hearing people interpret, thinking about Sondheim's purpose in everything he composed. I am more fully alive in rehearsal (music rehearsals especially) than anywhere else. I also feel born to play this part. I am so eager to inhabit her, scared of how intense it will feel, as she's pretty nutty. I love singing it--I love singing something that's half opera and half bawdy belter. Yum!

I've been working out every day, focusing on the goal of 4 hours of exercise a week. I am trying to stay happy with the fact that I am 10 pounds less this January than last January, but I have voices saying FAILURE.FAILURE. I wonder if I would have been enjoying the fruits of a fabulous career if I'd ever battled this demon better. I felt so happy 30 pounds ago when I would tell myself I was the "bigger side of normal". Maybe I should have been less happy there. Tonight I had the time of my life at a rehearsal where I had to neurotically avoid looking up, hoping I wouldn't see myself in the full mirror across from me. I literally winced when I saw it.

I found out this morning that the student I mentioned in This Blog just a week ago got the solo in choir! We worked on it--I yelled at her a bit actually--and it sounded pretty good when she left. But I grinned ear to ear when I found out she got the solo! Good stuff.

Let's pray for a night of no baby wakes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Ramblings of a Tired Woman

This is an end-of-day ramble, just to prepare you. I have been thinking about blogging today, but with so many different (opposing) ideas that I had no idea what to write about.

My mom has been here for the last week--I notice that I don't blog much when we have visitors. As soon as I put someone on a plane I have an itch to go home, lay in bed, watch Frasier and write a blog. So here it is. Of course, I am not yet sure if what I say has any significance.

I went to a musical rehearsal tonight for the show. It was a rehearsal not about me at all, I was just helping to fill in my part so the ensemble could learn theirs. It was relaxing, and frankly, not a bad way to end my evening....counting rhythms. I am good at counting now...only took 35 years or so. I used to think I counted, but I realize the level of concentration is far more than I (or any of my students) could identify with. You can't just absently tap on your leg. you have to actually know if you're on 1 or 2 or 3 or 4. Took me so long to figure that out.

I have put off calling my good friend whose mother passed away in November. She was very close to her mother, like I am. Maybe that is why the call is difficult. Maybe it's because I need to buy a phone card because she's not in the US, who knows. I know how important it is, now, to let someone know you care about them losing someone. It took so long for me to realize this too. What on earth did I do for the first 30 years of my life?

I am teaching so many students tomorrow that I feel tired in anticipation of it. Thankfully, the ones I teach at night are eager and talented. During the day, they are students that I have to "manufacture" energy for. That is always tough. My current ongoing prayer is a mix of "God let me finally lose the weight" and "Please get my hubby and me to a beach this Spring". I'm not sure which has a better chance.

The house is clean. Thanks mom. The baby has been saying "bubbe bubbe bubbe" all day. She was also exhausted. Thanks for that too mom. We went out tonight and bought new cereal and butter--which we always have to replace when mom leaves. It's an odd snack, but I guess you want whatever you deny yourself.

I want to drive to Kansas and audition for something. it's 7 degrees out and I have no free time.

This morning I had to answer the question, "how does the world taunt you?"
And this is what I wrote:
Money will make you feel safe.
Physical beauty will make you feel loved.
A happy family will make you feel complete.
Success at work will give you self-worth.
And God never gives you what you really want....does He?

Can't seem to get that out of my mind.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Guess I Wasn't the Best One to Ask

I have a new student or two this January. One of them, after her lesson tonight, was poked by her mother with an under-the-breath whisper of "Ask her..." and the student furiously looked at her mom. "no. no." I joined her mother, trying to look welcoming. The girl timidly stared at me until her mom finally started, "Basically...when the kids were told about voice lessons, their teacher told them 'either you have it or you don't. so don't waste your time if you don't think you have it. And my daughter wanted to know..."

I looked at the girl, "you want to know if you're good?" I smiled. I wanted to say out loud, "God don't we all". I remembered staring at teachers who didn't believe me and wanting them to tell me--was I wasting my money? Am I talented? Is there a point? I sometimes, still, add up the cash I've spent on voice lessons and various coachings (in my head, of course, a very rough estimate)trying to decide somehow if these things were worth it...I am pretty sure at this point that it's a futile exercise at best.

I wanted to say, "do it! Get better at something. Believe you can. BLindly plow through it and to hell if I think you're good." But I didn't. I told her exactly what I thought: great pitch, some good musicality, very beginner, voice sounded too airy, too weak, and needed to be strengthened. But I couldn't give her that "you've got that certain something" speech.

It makes me think of a student I have now who to me is "ok". She continues to work and amaze me every few weeks. I mean, this girl is PRACTICING. (SHOCK!) She keeps winning stuff at school....solos, getting into the best choirs. She'll be a sure thing for musical leads and ....all because she just believes it. WHether or not I tell her.

I tried to tell this student about the people I'd known who had been told "you don't have it" and went on to great things. Maybe I should have mentioned my parents' friend who auditioned for 100 symphonies before he got the job as 1st chair in one of the best in the nation. Or Beverly SIlls' now famous story of her multiple City Opera auditions without any luck, finally ending up being one of the most loved AMerican Opera Singers of all time.

I do not believe that you can talk yourself into being good. It's not that simple, in my opinion. But I do wish I could hand that feeling over to every student who walked into my front door.

Years ago, a man I barely knew who was judging a competition pulled me into the room where he was giving "comments". I had not won. I had gotten an encouragement award. He told me, "you are a million times better than all of those junk-a-turas we heard today. You are a rare thing, the slow burn. If you keep at it, get a desk job, let your voice mature, be patient...someday you will be rolling in piles of money. You have gold in your throat."

When I think of that moment, I feel unstoppable. I'm pretty sure he added on 10 years of "trying" to my singing life. How do I honestly give that feeling to those little doe-eyes, staring up at me, asking if she's good?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Less Sweet Than Usual

Hubby is giddy as a schoolgirl tonight, watching a good football game.

We have a habit now where he stays in the living room and I take the baby to the bedroom, turning off the light, leaving on the small tv, and using a mixture of nursing, bottle and pacifier to lull her to sleep. It works about 90 per cent of the time. Occasionally, knowing her dad is in the living room still awake, she will pop up, (suddenly, and with some energy) and say "Dada" and try to leave. Sometimes I let her, and hear her torturing her dad in the living room (the state of being too tired to play so she's falling over, crying and whining and generally running around in denial).

When things get ugly, hubby will do his quick "Wrap and plug" in which he wraps her as tight as a baby burrito and gives her a pacifier. She screams for about 30 seconds and then falls unconscious.

Lately it's been more challenging. She's been wanting to get up, so last night's precious 11 hour sleep was exactly what we needed.

Hubby was diagnosed with a bronchial infection today. He's on a few drugs. This is good because I was literally only days away from suffocating him in his sleep. THe CONSTANT COUGHING is horrible. horrible. horrible. It's every few breaths, like living with someone who has smoked for 20 years. Awful. It also means so much more work for me, grumpy exhausted husband, etc. Please God, let this be the end of it.

On the other side of our medical front, all of a sudden my sugars are low. I have no idea why--but every time I go to take them, they are in perfect range, or a hair below perfect. Why? I don't know. Maybe my exercising more? I haven't weighed myself recently but jeans are still no looser than they were two months ago. I guess we'll know at the doctor's office on Thursday. Mysteries, Mysteries....

I am sooooo enjoying the rehearsals, think my co-stars are quite talented (my Sweeney is fantastic, though I can't understand why someone wouldn't learn how to read music, as he announced at the first rehearsal. It's not like reading English or something--it's easy!!! I guess just the fear of something you don't know? That I can understand) The music director is really likeable and knows what she's doing. . . I don't know, I want to give them due credit but the truth is rehearsing for a show is pure delight.

I am toying around with the idea of writing a set of art songs (I've done it before, but man was it time-consuming) and entering a competition this December. Sounds fun, doesn't it? Maybe I'll use some of the upcoming snow days....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dream Analysis

Two nights ago I had the following dream.

I was in Tempe, Arizona, driving. It was an area I'd been in many times, but suddenly the road turned into a roller coaster. I realized that since I hadn't gotten off at an earlier exit, I was unwittingly on this roller coaster--my stomach churning and my head hurting as we hit each hill. The sister of my old friend appeared near me, and I asked her where I could get off, and she showed me an exit.

After exiting, I desperately wanted to relax. I sat down at an outdoor coffee shop with her and realized they were doing a talent show--a big stage was set up, with screens around it. We spoke to the two guys at the table next to us--two pudgy, almost bald, effeminate men in their late 50s wearing leather vests and full eye makeup.

After a bit, one of those two men got up on the stage and announced he would be singing the hit song "Comfy, Cozy, Jewish" which people reacted to by saying, "no way can he pull that off." He opens his mouth and a recording of a female opera singer starts this song, which is really called Comfy, Cozy, Jewish. Moments after he starts his lip synch the screens around him light up with pictures of crazy Michigan football fans, decked out in full regalia, dancing in perfect choreography.

My husband looks over at me and says, "I like the cheerleaders."

I woke up wondering, "Does this mean I'm pregnant?"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Going, Coming, Whatnot

It seems I am either extremely happy or depressed in these last few days. I am frustrated with weight and for the first time in my life considering looking into lapband surgery. I can't believe I am even writing that. I don't want an easy way out, but all the work I've done--all the exercise, all of the emotional work, and I am still not able to cut foods out altogether. Nor am I able to lose more than a pound every month or two without cutting things out. At the end of the day, there must be a way to greatly reduce my intake of food. I have certainly realized that 1600 calories a day doesn't cut it...and I feel at a loss. I really do. Being back in my 12 step program has helped me, but even with all of my recovery there, the weight is still here. I just want to see the other side of this hill sometimes...give myself an actual chance to succeed.

That said, I have felt kind of blissed-out at motherhood and wifehood. Is that odd? This kid is SO CUTE! Babies--eh, they're overrated. But one year olds! Ahhh, it is so lovely to see her, she simply expresses love and kisses and hugs and cute language all day long. She looks forward to seeing me when I come around the corner. It's better than a puppy! She talks to herself all day in a language I don't understand and immitates me, using everything as a "phone" by tucking it under chin and saying "I know, I know".

And the hubby--well, he and I have been smiling and dancing around the house and flirting for the past week. I am not sure what it is, but I am feeling utterly grateful for both of them.

Tomorrow I work on Mrs. Lovett's music for the first time with someone else. I don't know if I'm underprepared. If this were an opera, I wouldn't dare go see her without being memorized. But it's musical theater, so I am allowing myself to learn it in the early rehearsal process. It feels scary & adventurous!

Hubby and I are talking about moving. He has actually started a search for jobs...and it seems outrageously hard to uproot us. But I also don't know how we could be here for 3 years without the feeling that we involve. I miss the love of friends so much sometimes it's painful. Sometimes I just feel so isolated with my beautiful family. Is that odd? The family unit is not enough for me. Whine, whine, I know. But I need a bit of both!

I'm looking forward to my students, to singing, and to finding a new way to deal with this weight. I am looking forward to possibly leaving, and to staying here. I am totally confused by all of it.