Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Biddy Biddy Bum

Well, Baby S has a fever of 101-102, and has had it since two nights ago. She occasionally gets cooler, but it's a long fevery week so far, and we've got no idea what we're going to do tomorrow. Today hubby stayed home. Tomorrow, I have 12 students. That's a lot of money to lose. So I am guessing I'll be taking her with me to school to teach, and I have no idea how that's going to go. Ugh.

My prayer is that somehow she wakes up feeling better enough to go to daycare. PLeeeez.

I watched a few 2 year old girls on Tuesday, and was fascinated by how similar they all are--a little bit bossy, pretty talkative, quiet for snack, wanting to pee all the time, and really getting to a point where they can express their imagination. I like mine better than all the others though. I have to admit, not one of those little ones charmed me the way mine does.

We have almost finished taxes, and I am really disappointed by the small amount we are getting back. It's true, with voice teaching we are happy to get anything back at all (once we combine hubby's income) but still disappointing. Especially when tax counting revealed that we spent more than 15 per cent of our income this year on medical bills and insurance. Ouch. So no big debt payoffs. And we are especially disappointed to have such a small amount of money to go on vacation with. How will we do it?

I decided to make a list of what I would want to do or buy if we doubled our income.
1. Pay off our debts
2. Start tithing again
3. Do whatever weight loss programs we want to do
4. Send Baby S to Montessori
5. Take a trip outside of the US
6. Pay someone to finish the work on our house that hubby doesn't have time to do.
7. Visit family more.
8. Get a pedicure every once in a while.
9. Beef up that college savings for Baby S
10. Take some voice lessons.

Right now, I am just hoping for enough to stay afloat, fix the piano, get the furniture hauled away from the side of our house, and take a trip now and then. Oh, and NO MORE big medical bills this year. Please, please please.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happiness, or something like that

Attempting 8 blog entries this month....so I am writing what's in my head rather than shoeing it away.

Since I'm back in that "where can I sing" state, or have been for the past few months, I am seeking resources for auditions. I stumbled upon a forum for classical singers which I guess I must look at once or twice a year now, and passingly. I don't really understand a lot of what they write now, meaning that anxiety seems very foreign to me. I'm wrapped up in so many different things that I can't even remember the painful focus of opera.

I read the post of one young guy who basically said, "I'm talented, and why aren't I getting work, is it the universities' fault, for producing too many of us? Is it wrong if I teach?" and the post was very interesting to me. I've been thinking about it for the last few days. Basically, everyone agreed, TOO MANY NEW RECRUITS! Too many universities encouraging people to try to get work in a field with a tiny number of available slots.

This didn't seem right to me. After all, I never thought, ever once, in the time that I was at the University, that there would be enough spots for all of us. I figured we'd drop it. I figured only the most intense would remain, and the talented. I mean--some people go to universities and never even get a role during the time they're there, at SCHOOL! I mean, why think the world will be easier?

And I also reject the idea that universities train people to make money. Academia is its own beast, designed to round us out, to make us thinking people, to highlight our specialties. But it isn't the road to money. Not for most of us. And when you're an artist, it definitely isn't.. . . if you're smart enough not to go 100 K into debt at school, then you should know too that for an artist, it's the time to enjoy what you do without the worry of how you will feed yourself or others. It's a time of learning more who you are...and I think it should be valid for that alone. I mean, sure the cost are out of control. I am not sure why my friend's brother who teaches at Oxford makes half of what the voice teachers at University of Iowa make. It seems weird, but let those universities start figuring out how not to implode. Just make sure we take it for what it is.

My teachers never led me to believe I would be a star. Maybe I'm grateful to them for that. Their compliments were hard-earned, and I got more "false hope" (if it was false or not) from visiting "professionals" .. . opera directors, pianists, people from young artist programs. My university told me I was average. I just settled back, sang in the chorus, and learned about the things I loved.

So....I really should go back to this guy's post, because what was RIDICULOUS was that the first response was some idiot saying "how do you know you're that talented?" ugh, stupid. Because, number one, talent and success are not that related. And people over 30 in the arts know that. Some really great people make it big, and some people who are really confusing. What? Him? And every once in a while you meet some total unknown who has the voice of HEAVEN, and who knows why they never get work? And TWO, we all believe we are talented, or we wouldn't walk down this crazy road. Who says, "well, i'm not that good, but I think I'm going to risk poverty, loneliness, move all over the country, sing in front of people I don't know, and spend ever penny I have to develop my voice?" No one does it.

If you sacrificed for your voice, you believed you were worth it. And I absolutely don't think that's such a bad thing. In fact, I wish more people thought it was wonderful. I want my students to think that the sound of their voice is beautiful. Who wouldn't want that?

So I want to say this to that guy (although I'm saying it here because I don't want anyone else's opinion): Find something that makes you happy. Don't give up the singing part, really, because I want you to be the world's best singer. But if you have to ask this type of question, your road is probably not that easy. And if your road isn't easy, you need more than one thing on it. Meaning, you will not be happy with a sign above you that says : SINGING, WHY AREN'T YOU FAMOUS YET? so find a few other signs. Find one that you can do that makes you happy. CHARITY, IT'S FUN TO GIVE or FAMILY AND FRIENDS, I LOVE HANGING OUT WITH YOU or DOGS, I HAVE FOUR. or I LOVE SWIMMING or I WRITE COMEDY Or something....anything really, something you can acheive, you can build, something someone else can't take from you. Find some happiness, or something like it, or you'll always wonder if there are too many singers in the pool.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Options

Hubby's home this morning. Monday is good, it's a reset of our whole week. Here we are, all here in our pajamas at 10am. I have teaching today, and a dentist appointment, but what I don't have is 12 hours of the 2 year old alone today, and that's a blessing. I remember everyone telling me when I had a child that my days of sleeping in were over. At this point, we sleep in all the time. So I'm not sure that was the case in our house. I let her take a late nap (5-7pm usually) then she goes to sleep at 10, and then sleeps until 9am. It's a good deal. If she's up earlier, she's usually content to have a soft blanket and a rerun of Barney in the living room while we continue sleeping. So....the dogs actually deny us more sleep than the two year old.

I saw a facebook post a few days ago about a mother aching for the memory of her toddlers, longing for cuddly time and little kids who want to hug you. The response was overwhelming from others saying the same, and I wondered if I would feel like that. To me, there are a lot of things to miss. I miss being on stage every time I'm not on it. I miss the excitement of being engaged to someone I loved. I miss NYC, and friends. Sometimes I even miss my old temp job and the hours we'd spend laughing. So I guess someday I'll miss when Baby S wanted to spend 5 minutes kissing me on the couch (as she did last night). It's adorable and sweet. But I don't think I'll miss this any more than the rest of it. I really look forward to her whole life--I can't wait to see her in a sport. I can't wait to see the look on her face the first time she gets applause for something, or gets a best friend.

I tell you one thing, I do not miss the baby stage. I keep saying to hubby I'd be more excited about having a 2nd child if we could pop one out that was already 2 years old. Baby stage means sleeping less, trying to figure out what the crying means, lugging that baby everywhere you go, feeling bound inside. Babies are blessings, but it's more what they will be than what they are, to me. Babies are worry--what's that fever? Why can't they eat carrots? Is this enough poop? Should they be napping more? Can I give them a bottle without ruining the breastfeeding? Sheesh. The exhaustion sounds so familiar. At 2, I have a kid who can already help me carry the groceries in :)

I guess I feel life moves and changes so much it's hard to miss things much. Unless you sit down and think about it. And once upon a time, that thing was embedded in me that I would have to sing. That thing stays stronger in me than any of the other missing.

This week I submitted a request to audition for the Lyric Opera of Chicago chorus. It would be a great gig, and hubby said he'd move closer to Chicago for me. Of course, he'd have to get a job equal to that salary just for us to equal the lifestyle we have here, but that doesn't sound impossible. And the schedule might actually be easier. 10 years ago I would have thought singing in a professional opera chorus was nowhere near where I wanted to be, but now it sounds wonderful. I would still try to do roles somewhere, but no longer with that crazy idea that I have to make money at it to be happy doing it. I'm just trying to do something a little less frustrating than balancing 30 students. Maybe 10 students and a singing gig? That sounds wonderful.

I'm grateful to have options, though. Grateful for a lot today--even with a high weigh in this morning after a whole week of working hard. Grateful for the options.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Head in the Clouds


It's been a rough week. Full time child care followed by a lot of students, barely any hubby time, no friends around, difficult news from dad's end, more drama from other family members, and rejections from opera companies who don't want to hear me.

Some weeks are easier than others. Next could be a walk in the park. But I am realizing that teaching voice in this way--tons of private students--may be more headache than it's worth. A formal teaching job would fix this issue, but sometimes I spend hours in a day rescheduling students, I am swamped by last minute cancellations, and many students make your extra work feel unappreciated. I find that at the end of the day, no kid is as ambitious as I was (and am) and I have some expectation they will do the work I do (and did) on my own path. These expectations are my own failing, and only come back to bite me in the tushy. Just like every polite "please don't let the door hit you on the way out" that I get from opera companies.

Does everyone dream like me? I never seem to approach anything with "hey, let's try this, and just have a good time doing it". No. I dream of being the greatest opera singer ever. And then when I find a new musical theater role, I check out the movie, I listen to 400 Youtube clips, I sing the songs around the house, do a nationwide search for auditions, and dream of it being the role I'm "Known" for someday. Why am I insane like this?

I don't think...."oh my child will be a good kid." I wonder if she will save the world, be famous, be something unusual. I didn't dream of meeting a good guy....I dreamt of meeting someone who would expose me to some new life adventure.

And there, friends, is where my head is. No wonder I cry every time I hear Kermit sing about the "lovers, the dreamers, and me". I am willing to accept the former two. I hardly have the life of a "lover". But the dreamers and me, absolutely.

There are good things about this. I am creative. Every scenario leads in my head down a yellow brick road of good times. I don't get bored in the car. I drive around with no music on writing movies in my head. I always have stuff to say, and I have purpose every day. I find new causes when I run out of old ones. And I am a pretty good counselor when it comes to ambition, failure, hope and perseverence in other people. Really, feeling down? Call me. I can tell you a story of loss and hope, as it is what I feel like I experience every year of my life. Loss, disappointment, surprise that the dreams aren't quite what I expected....and then hope, because there is always a new one.

There are bad things, though, as you can guess. First of all, it's EXHAUSTING. Really, I can't even seem to watch a TV show without picturing myself on it, writing it, or the subject of it. It's often unrealistic. Will i be the first champion tennis player over 50? Probably not. But I'll consider the possibility. But I think the worst thing is that a bad week, a bad day, a bad hour, makes me feel like I have failed a million times. I rack up failures like other people go through toothpaste. Finish one, move on to the other. I am not any of the things I DREAMED I would be.

Because I never dreamed of anything normal, anything fine and good and sweet. I dreamed of greatness, of changing the world, or myself, or making thousands of people feel things they didn't think they'd feel, or showing them a new compassion, or somehow having a body of work that made my life significant. And unfortunately, let me say again, UNFORTUNATELY, my cloudy brain will not let me accept anything less.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Doin' it all wrong

Before having a baby, I had a million plans as to how to make her the perfect adult. Really, it's amazing to watch the plans flake away (this, by the way, is the same thing I experienced in dating, marriage, and career...and probably school..you know, just a few things). I was thinking today of all of the things I just "do" because parenting is so hard! It keeps going all day long. At night too. Sometimes I look at her sleeping and I think, "hey I can keep doing this". But that's usually when she's sleeping!

Plan #1: Not too much tv.
I'll admit she watches almost exclusively PBS. But when we're home together in the morning, I leave show after show on while I clean the house. I feel guilty, but I have grown to LOVE what Sesame street allows me to do.

Plan #2: No fast food.
When picking Stevie up from a sitter and shuttling her somewhere else it often occurs to me she hasn't eaten. I do not tend to plan ahead and bring snacks (maybe occasionally). What I do often is get her "nuggets." She now requests "nuggets" (SIGH)at the sight of various fast food restaurants.

Plan #3: Foreign language learning from infancy.
I'm going to get on this SO SOON....I swear.

Plan #4: The best daycare
She's barely ever in daycare. Just 2 days a week. But the affordable home daycare she goes to is . . . well, it's fine.

Plan #5: Not too much sugar
Now, I do want to say, she does not eat sugary cereals, or juices with sugar, or those awful "all corn syrup" drinks. But our #1 bribe is chocolate (i.e., "if you go pee on the potty you get chocolate.") This is a difficult one, as she occasionally wakes up and asks for ice cream in the morning. She is a fan of the sweets.

I love being her mother. I love little things, like her waking up and saying 'mommy' before her eyes are even open. I love that I have such an amazingly sweet and well-behaved child. But I often choose convenience over that "let's do it right" thing. I always hear pregnant parents talk about all of their plans....but the day-to-day, boy that changes a lot of them.

I got turned down for an audition today. I am trying desperately to survey auditions--many people hear for principal roles in the Spring. And I'd loved to get a singing job for the summer. But I feel disheartened--I'm not finding much. And I'm at a loss as to where to start. Seems like this has been easier in the past, but I know there's something coming.

I have started practicing BELTING at home! Whoo....it's interesting, but to me I sound a little like a monkey in labor. Baby S seems to love it. We've been singing "Everything's Coming Up Roses" together. I guess at least I've done that right :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is this 2012?




CHCHCHCHANGES.....look at these pics....one year apart almost to the day. How does someone grow that much in a year?

I wanted to write last night but was feeling completely flattened out, could barely get off the couch. I have been so lethargic for the past week. I have no problem exercising, but the rest of the day, I just feel my body dying to sit, and easily sleep incredibly long nights. I don't know what that is...winter? vacation? So this morning I woke up with a pretty big case of vertigo. I've had this occasionally for my whole adult life, and have literally no idea what happens to cause this. My latest theory is that allergies somehow give me quite a bit of fluid in my ears, and that causes the dizziness...but it's just a guess. It's almost always the morning, and goes away by noon.

But of course that ruins half the day.

Soooo....that's my first post of the new year. Vertigo. Sheesh. However, I was happy last night, with an adorable two year old yelling "happy new year anybody!" (she says anybody instead of everybody) along with a happy husband and a life that is filled with love, I felt pretty grateful.

But what I'm really grateful is thinking back over the past year. I doubled the number of students, and sang two roles I have always wanted to sing....my daughter is growing and healthy, my marriage is happy, and I've lost a few pounds (certainly not what I'm hoping for, but it's on the way). I got off of insulin for meds that I prefer, and generally, well, I'm hopeful.

I have a lot of goals but most of them are to continue what's happening now. I am hopeful for improvement of health in our house, our medical bills to finally get paid off. We are taking a vacation in March and I am hopeful that somehow we have enough money for it! I am hopeful for more time on stage, and just submitted for an audition today. I am hopeful to be pregnant with a 2nd (and last) child by New Year's next year. And of course, that I be about 40 pounds lighter at that point.

We're praying that hubby starts getting bites on a new job, too. Or me. Either one of us could get one :) Someday I'm hopeful that hubby has a job where he doesn't have to work on New Year's Eve. Doesn't seem that hard to get. But for now, it's not a possibility.


But the best part is that I'm hopeful.

We had some challenges. Rushing to the hospital back in May to find out hubby needed emergency surgery I would rather not relive. Financially, the year was tough. With past debts, we're just not earning enough. I want her to go to a great preschool...is that possible? I want a lot for her.

The 2nd Christmas is the BEST. Babies are delightful at 2 years old, knowing what they're opening, undersstanding the idea of presents, and grateful for literally every one. She is entranced by christmas lights and reindeer, and it renews one's good feelings about "holiday"....so that was pretty awesome. The 9 hour trip in the car was the best it's ever been as well. Thank you God, for an EASY Christmas. No drama, no heartache, no 12 hours driving in the snow. I will admit, the fish died while we were gone, in the care of our neighbor who felt awful. My theory is he got too cold, but I guess I won't ever know. RIP Mr. Dorothy.

Happy New Year Anybody!

I hope a lot of people get the kind of joy I've had this year.