Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Girlfriends and Balloons

Today I did absolutely nothing. I mean, really. I thought I was doing nothing before, after the job ended, but that nothing was nothing compared to this nothing.

You know when you finally getting around to watching The Omen and then take an inadvertently long nap that your Christmas Break has really started.

But this blog is not about that. No, it's not about the presents, the cookies, the late nights, the eggnog, the carols, the endless giftwrapping, the Christmas trees, or even the fancy holiday meals. It's not about making sure you see your mom, your dad, your in-laws, your sister, your brothers-in-law, your brother-in-law's girlfriend, your sister's in-laws, your husband's high school gang, or your old horse trainer.

This blog is about my very own girlfriends.

So I have this group of girlfriends from college. You've already heard about two of them. They got married this year and I had a cold for both weddings. Well, there's a third (who is already married and for whose wedding I did not have a cold). And then there's me, so altogether we make four. Which is a perfect number for trips to the beach in Beatle convertibles, which we do often. When we were in college we (mostly) lived together and threw the most fabulous parties. We once threw a combination dance party/luau, which was the talk of the town for the next year. Later we talked with a girl who was a couple of classes younger than us who actually said "I knew I had made it when I got invited to a Jones Ave party."

Truly. We were epic.

These girls are GOOD FRIENDS. I know this because I have not always been one. I am not prompt with the phone calls or emails. I sometimes forget birthdays. I up and move away to far-off places, much to their chagrin. I haven't sent one of them a wedding present yet (sshhh!). I live on a different, wacky plane than them. They are schoolteachers, with full-time jobs and homes that they pay mortgages on. They buy cars and sometimes expensive purses. Meanwhile I float around like a curly-haired balloon, flitting from one "career" to the next, not knowing where my next paycheck may come from and driving my mom's ancient hand-me-down car. My purses average around the $4 range.

But through these ten years they have held on to me, curly-headed balloon that I am. They have clawed their way in again and again, past the silent phone and the non-returned emails. They keep coming back and forgiving me for all my trespasses. They grab me by my string when I'm about to float away and say "don't forget about us!"

They love me. They are always there, no matter what. They are there to tell me the truth no matter what. Because they knew me and they know me. They're not going anywhere, and they are the rock that I can tie my string to.

Or the tree branches that I keep getting caught in as I float away, or...something...

This metaphor has worn itself out.

Bottom line, a girl like me needs girls like them.

I love you, ladies!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just Dance

For this blog post, I thought I was going to catch you all up on what's been happening in the three weeks since I last posted. But that's not what I really want to do. I want to share a note that I wrote to myself this morning (Hey, I've been reading eat, pray, love and SHE does it all the time so shut it). Here's what I wrote:

Dear Me,

I'm sorry I haven't meditated in a long time. I'm sorry I haven't worked you out or stretched you with yoga. I think you'll understand, though. You see, it's my last week with these people. Ever. On Sunday I have to leave, give them up and drive away, and it's going to break my heart.

So anyway, I've been playing, dancing, laughing. It's been wonderful. But it's time to get back to you. Back to reality. Back to life. I'm sad, but I've learned.

And thank goodness Christmas is coming, so I've got something to look forward to!

Love, You

You guys still there? To those of you who haven't clicked off in disgust because ohmygod this chick is actually writing a letter to herself, thanks! And hang in there, cause it's about to get real.

I have learned so much from this experience. I uncovered parts of myself that I haven't enjoyed since high school. I danced day-in and day-out, and it was amazing. I was sexy, and I remembered what a potent drug that is. I threw the parties that I always wanted to throw but forgot about. In these last three months I stopped being the Old Married Woman I've been for so long now, and started being the Young Girl of my memories.

For that, thank you thank you thank you!

My world has broadened and opened. The possibilities for my life are endless. I am beautiful and talented, and I can do anything I want. And what I want is to sing and act. I don't care how and I don't care where, whether it's in a casino or on a stage. When I'm not doing that I want to dance and laugh and play (and meditate and do yoga and knit. I haven't forgotten that part of myself!).

But the heartache of leaving is hard. I think this life is destined to be a series of little heartbreaks. My heart will break every time I have to leave my husband again, like it did back in September. Then my heart will break when I have to leave whatever family I've created for whatever show I'm doing. Over and over and over again.

Last weekend many of the people in the show left in the wee hours of the morning while we were all at Lava. Of course, I cried, not so much for them leaving, but in anticipation of the goodbyes we're all going to have to say on Sunday. I suddenly felt terribly lonely. But I looked up into the lights flashing across this strange dance club and remembered how far I've come. All I can do now is say goodbye and keep what I've learned and hopefully keep in some form the people that I've grown to love.

Then I did the only thing I could do right at that moment, and the only thing I wanted to do.

In the infinite wisdom of Lady Gaga, I Just Danced.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Death of AnnaMaria

Yesterday during work an old man came up to me, said "may I?" and put a dollar bill in my cleavage. The boys agreed that I should keep that hard-earned tip for myself.

Then later that night we made $73 in tips and sang for Frank Sinatra Jr.

What a last day for AnnaMaria. You see, on Tuesday we switch over to being Dickensian Christmas Carolers for the last three weeks, British accents and everything. I feel a little sad about this, to be honest. I knew it was coming...I just didn't think it would be so soon!

No more endless renditions of Santa Lucia

No more cheesy Italian accent

No more jokes about Cannoli

Well, all good things must come to an end, right? RIP AnnaMaria, you unwitting floozy. May you return to my life again someday.

Any ideas for my Dickens Christmas Caroler character? I could use a few good name suggestions...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Adventures in Canada

Editor's note: Due to sketchy internet connections in Canada and my penchant for international traveling, this post was written on Monday but posted on Thursday. Hey, just be glad you got it!

Greetings from cold and dreary Toronto! This post comes to you from My Hostel Room. Yes, a hostel. I’m getting too old for this shit.

Anyhoodle, I’m fresh off my latest audition triumph. This morning I drove my friend’s car over to the Royal Conservatory of Music at the University of Toronto to audition for Tanglewood. I’m very pleased with how it went. By the end all the auditioners were looking at me, which is a good sign that I managed to catch their attention. After my second piece I got a satisfied-sounding “mmm, thank you!” Always a good sign.

So will I get in? It could go either way. But I did a great job. Frankly, I’m amazed at how great a job I did because things did not go so smoothly in the wee hours of the morning leading up to the audition.

Read on, my friends, read on.

I did not plan this trip out too well. By yesterday morning I still didn’t know where I was going to stay. This turned out to be good because I learned on Saturday morning that some of my friends from Turning Stone were also planning on a trip to Canada on this very same weekend! What are the chances! So early yesterday morning before my long day of lessons I finally booked a hostel for all of us to stay in. I got a quad for them and a single for me.

So I teach my lessons all day (after driving the two hours home from Oneida the night before [after a full day of work] and getting back at 1 in the morning). I have an intense lesson myself in preparation for today’s big event. Then I gather up my things and drive the two hours back to Oneida to pick up the others.

Need I mention that by this point I’m exhausted already?

I pick up the peeps and we finally get on the Road to Canada at about 10 p.m., which means we won’t get into Toronto until about 2. And my audition is at 10:20. Like, I have to be up, showered, breakfasted, dressed, makeuped, transported to a strange and scary place the whereabouts of which I have no idea, and totally prepared to sing opera to the best of my ability by then.

Well, by the time we actually get into Toronto and find our hotel it’s 3:15 (I blame the kilometers-per-hour). We get there, get our keys, and when I open the door to my room someone is sleeping in it! Ah, the joy of hostelling. I go back downstairs and the guy at the front desk, who I’ve already labeled as not-too-bright, can’t find me another room. Oh, he tries and tries, while I stand there silently weeping inside.

We end up bunking all together with one of us on the floor. It was fine, but they wanted to have a giggle-fest sleepover. I told them in the middle of a giggle session that I would murder them. They quieted down after that.

I’m pretty proud for nailing the audition on four hours of sleep with a persistent chest cold that just won’t quit. And for not killing my roommates in cold blood. I'm finally learning to control that temper!

So that’s my audition story. We spent the rest of the day exploring Toronto together. Actually, I should say that we spent the rest of the day eating and drinking our way through Toronto! It was an exhilarating and exciting day.

This brings me to my latest life lesson. Last night as I was leaving my apartment in Oneida I could only think about how tired I was and how I wished I didn’t have to make this trip. But then something rose up inside me that said “what an adventure you’re about to have!” This upbeat voice is strange to me, but it was absolutely right. I could choose to be upset about the scary feelings and great energy expenditure of the trip, or I could choose to see it as the adventure that it really is. What a gift to be able to up and drive to Toronto in the night with friends in order to manifest my destiny. This trip is the end result of my hard work and my dreams.

The moment is here, and I grabbed it and lived it fully for every second.

That’s something to be proud of. Here’s to the adventure!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sex and Consequences Part 2: WTF?!

Editor's Note: Apparently I cannot cut and paste text from Word into this blog. Therefore I will have to re-type this blog that I wrote on Monday night. The things I do for you.

Hey there folks! This post comes to you direct from Au Bon Pain in Port Authority, which, if you've been paying attention, can mean only one thing:

I've officially finished my first big-girl competition in NYC.

It wasn't so bad. I'm pretty proud of myself. There were no unnecessary nerves. I connected to my core and sang for all the reasons I wanted to. I didn't sing so that the people in front of me would like me. I sang for me. There were some pretty big names in there, but I didn't care. My body did betray me with some old bad habits, but I think I accomplished about 75% of what I wanted to.

You know, I'll take that for my first time out!

Since I won't hear back from them begging me to appear for the semifinal round for a few weeks, I'll return to the title of this blog post. Ah, consequences.

I just got off a fresh conversation with my mother-in-law about boundaries. Men used to invade hers all the time. Since she didn't drive, she'd take the bus and routinely wake up being kissed by some random guy. Unbelievable, I know, but true. She mentioned that this happened a lot less often when she wore pants. But something she did sent out signals to men that this kind of action would be okay.

I think I do this same sort of thing. I've already been hit on by the guy where I bought my pizza and the guy cleaning the floor of Au Bon Pain. And yes, I'm wearing a skirt. But these are nothing compared to what went down at the Casino the other day.

Another of our "friend" couples that we see every week was there for the day. Like most of the rest, they're very nice but make me a little uncomfortable. The first time we met them they were there with their Monseigneur (spelling? I don't even know what this title means, but he was an old guy in their church). Ever since, when we see them once a week the guy has us either leave a message for the Monseigneur or talk to him on the phone.

Weird, right? It sort of felt uncomfortable, but I didn't logically see any reason as to why that should be so, so I did it.

So on this particular day, we're handing out these promotion free-spin thingeys (don't ask). I need to get rid of them, so when I see the man half of this couple sitting in one of the bars I sashay over to him to give him the thing. I guess when I did this I separated myself from the pack, and they continued on without me. The man gets up to greet me and grabs my hands.

He says "uno" and kisses me on one cheek.

He says "due" and kisses me on the other cheek.

Then he says "tre" and tries to kiss me on the mouth. He's holding my face in between his hands and actually pulling my face towards his.

At this point in the story everybody asks "what did you do?" Well, I don't really remember what I did. Perhaps I blacked out in horror. But I do know that I got the fuck out of there.

I felt so violated. It was quite disturbing. Why would this man think that this kind of action is okay on any level? Obviously I need to set some boundaries and tweak my character a bit. There will be no more "harmless" kissing on the cheek for either male or female guests. Also, I think AnnaMaria will suddenly acquire a serious, rather large and jealous boyfriend.

Well, I guess it's a learning experience, right? Excuse me while I quietly vomit. And then change into pants.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sex and Consequences Part 1: Halloween

I swore I'd never be one of those women (and by that I mean most of the women in America) who uses Halloween as an excuse to dress like a male fantasy and slut it up.

Nope. No sexy nurse, sexy cat, or sexy bunny costumes for me.

But that was before I worked for Sex Central, otherwise known as Vegas.

When the costumer and the manager were discussing Halloween costumes for us they actually considered putting me in a showgirl outfit. But not the regular showgirl outfit that they usually wear. No, they wanted to put me in the Halloween version of the showgirl outfit, which involved a G-string and a cape.

My response was "In the first place, no. For another thing, no. No no no no no."

This is what they put me in instead:

(Pay no attention to the beautiful woman next to me. She is taking attention away from me on my very own blog. That's just wrong.)

I wish you could see the short skirt and the black fishnets, but you can't.

It was generic and nonspecific, so I played it up. I got into the spirit of things. I changed my character to give the costume some context. I was mean to everyone. It was great fun.

Apparently, this made me sexy. I didn't think the costume was anything special, but the response I got from my coworkers was pretty extreme. And I'm ashamed to say this, but I enjoyed it. A lot.

Sex is power, and I was powerful for two days. Frankly, it was a nice change.

Now I understand a little more why women dress the way they do on Halloween.

While I was in costume and character we ran into one of the couples that regularly comes to the Casino and talks to us. This ended up being disturbing on several levels. The fact that I was a different character threw them. I didn't drop my new, mean, powerful character when I talked to them. The woman didn't seem to realize too much, and she chattered on about how they wanted our addresses so they could write to us. But the man, who usually asks to get his picture taken with me while he looks at my boobs out of the corner of his eye, wouldn't come near me. I realized then that the fact that I was playing a character was too strange for him to reconcile with. He doesn't realize that when we usually see them I'm still playing a character.

These people think we're really their quaint Italian singing friends. And as I thought this, I registered what the woman was saying about our addresses. In her mind, we're all BFFs that will be pen pals after we've returned to Italy. I bet she has visions of all of us on some sun-drenched Tuscan patio, drinking wine and laughing and singing together.

For the first time I felt bad about lying to these people, because that what it has become. I ran into another of the men that I see regularly after hours in my normal clothes, and I pretended I was still Italian because I had told him I was while I was working. I didn't know what else to do.

There's more on this topic, but that's about all I can do today. Hence the two-part blog entry. I just went through another wedding with another cold, so I'm toast. And I have my first competition in the city tomorrow night. Wait, what am I doing not asleep right now?!

Tomorrow, consequences.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The moment has come. I know It's what you all have been waiting for.

Pictures of my life at Turning Stone are HERE, people.

Without further ado, let me commence the show-and-tell.

Me in work mode, waving to a little kid. Check out the sexy bazooms. The costume used to come with this beautiful necklace, but it gave me a rash. So now it's just bazooms.

Playing/dancing with the stiltwalker

The segway that leads the way through the casino, complete with speakers pumping cheesy music. We call it the mechanical goat or the electric gondola. Yes, that's an inside joke, and it's funny as hell! Too bad you don't know it...

Another action shot

This is a good shot of the whole gang at work in a different part of the casino, even though it's dark.

Casanova and his courtesans dance

Me and the showgirls. My roommate is the one on the left (hi Kristin!). Isn't she gorgeous? (Psst, she eats cake too!)

One of the living statues

The statues and showgirl feathers.

I couldn't resist posting this one of the statues backstage at Lava. And speaking of which...

A view of the Hellclub from above. Those things on the floor are what the aerialists spin on 20 feet above the ground. Our usual VIP booth is the one to the right of the steps.

So there they are. Proof that I'm not making all this up! This week should be fun because on Friday and Saturday we're dressing up in Halloween costumes and performing the dance from "Thriller." You'll hear all about it, of course.

Hope you enjoyed them!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Beauty

I'm hoping you won't hate me for this post. But it must be written, because my goal for this blog is full disclosure about what's going on in my head and my life (within reason!). So get over it and enjoy.

I am pretty. It's taken a lot of hits over the head to convince me of this fact. When I was in high school you could have yelled it in my face and I wouldn't have believed you. When I was in college and was literally told so on several occasions I started to wonder if it was true. Then I went to Japan where I was a giant, out-of-control, frizzy-haired monster; definitely not pretty. When we returned I got married, and the only thing that mattered to me was that my husband thought I was beautiful (awwwww! Stop that gagging!).

Now, at the Casino, something interesting is happening. I am one of the Beautiful People. Granted, it's not too difficult to attain this status when the casino-goers generally are missing teeth and/or limbs and carting their oxygen tanks around (I kid. But only a little). I think this is true because as I sing and dance through the Casino, people are constantly stopping to tell me so. It's quite nice, actually. Also, I noticed soon after arriving that when we all walked through the casino it was a little like this:

There's boys in there too, but that's the general reaction

It's a heady thing, being one of the Beautiful Ones.

Last night a friend and I went into one of the fancy restaurants for dessert after our shift. Usually when we go into this restaurant it's in costume and character, to sing to the clientele. As we walked up in our street clothes the staff oohed and ahhed about how different we looked. They immediately gave us a choice table. Everyone came over to visit and talk to the "real" us, from waiters to restaurant managers. Our waiter wouldn't let us pay for the dessert.

We were special. We were celebrities.

Would this have happened if we weren't pretty people? Maybe, because we're talented, too, and people love it when we sing. But I don't think it would be so easy to win people over. Beauty equals power. Being beautiful gives me a protective shield. People are kind. Doors open easily. If I would choose to, I could easily manipulate people. I'd like to think that I'm above this, but I'm probably not. I can get away with a lot if I just smile, and I probably have without thinking too much about it.

Don't hate me because I...actually wrote this post. I won't go there again, I promise, but I think beauty, sexuality, and power is an interesting topic. I wrote a whole paper about it last winter. If you're interested in further discussion, give me a shout-out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Life as a VIP

Wow, it's been a long time!

Mostly I've just been ashamed because I keep forgetting to take pictures to post on the blog, and so I've been avoiding you completely. Oh, the shame, the shame.

But this week's the week. You will get pictures! There, now that I've put it in writing it might just happen...

But I digress.

I spent Friday night as a VIP at Lava, the nightclub at the casino (if you remember correctly, it's reminiscent of hell, complete with stripper poles). Okay, so I know it's just a small casino in the middle of nowhere, New York. But I'm not gonna lie.

I felt like hot shit.

Maybe it was the security guy who personally lead us to our booth. Maybe it was the girls on swings high above us, their tassel-covered breasts glowing in the red light as they gyrated. Maybe it was the aerialists performing with strips of fabric 20 feet above the ground. Or maybe it was the sexy fire-eaters flirting with the flames just feet away. Or the security guards/waiters waiting to anticipate our every need.

Whatever it was, it was pretty cool.

Other than being the VIP at nightclubs, I've been having a grand old time going to haunted houses with my coworkers, drinking into all hours of the night, going to the gym and soaking in the beautiful lap pool and hot tub, eating free food, and learning to juggle (that last one is not going so well, but whatever). Oh, and there's the singing-for-five-hours-a-day thing, which sometimes sucks but more often is sort of fun.

I know it's not real life, but it's my life for the next two months, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it!

On Saturday night I got home at about 10:15 and the frat boys across the street were sitting around a fire. They drunkenly called me over and we started to talk about the Casino. I told them about the jugglers and showgirls (they were very excited about the latter), and then one guy asked me what I did. I said,

"I'm an opera singer."

"Oh..." he said. He paused, and then he asked,

"Is it awesome?"

"Yep," I said. And it was.

Then they started to break apart the fence belonging to the apartment complex as another guy poured more lighter fluid directly onto the fire.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Love and Power

Love flows, even inside a Casino.

It's an amazing experience to start singing for someone and see their eyes widen, their attention focus. Many of the people I sing for are unsure of what to do with the attention and the sound that I am giving them. They remain uncomfortable the whole time. But many others respond with their body and soul, whether they mean to or not. These lovely people often baffle themselves. Several people have started crying, much to their confusion and amazement. It is a profoundly moving experience to touch someone like that.

I especially love that the truth of beauty and humanity through art comes out in the middle of a Casino, the center of materialism and falsity.

Take that, bitches!

This truth that I hold inside me and let out through my singing makes me infinitely more powerful than all the people who are technically "running the show." My love and my voice is power, and I've been afraid of that power for many, many years. What a gift to discover this and get a chance to use it day after day, to focus on what is important, which is the connection between me and whoever I am singing to.

All the rest is just noise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Unexpected Happiness

I had a weekend of wonderful compliments, including "have you lost weight" and "you're a good writer!" The latter compliment was from my mother-in-law (hi Carolyn!), who knows her shit when it comes to writing. So I'm very excited about that one! Yay for good compliments!

But back to the present. Last night I drove back up to Oneida, New York for my second week of work at the casino. And let me tell you, I was surprised by my reaction to that. I actually looked forward to coming back up here. When I got here I put my room in order and unpacked, and then reveled in the coziness of it all. I looked forward to seeing my new friends again and spending another week with them. It's not like when I had to return to Syracuse-even though I loved my apartment and roommate I was so burnt-out that the idea of another week of intense labor made me very cranky. But now I regularly get enough sleep and I spend my time learning new music and singing.

So as it turns out, this job makes me very happy. So much for my inner warning system, which was going off like a mofo initially. Of course, it's only been a week, and I am presently well-rested from the weekend. Maybe we should check back in on Saturday...especially a Saturday in mid-November. We'll see. I almost hope that my warning system was indeed correct, because I've been relying on it pret-ty heavily lately, and if it is faulty, well then, I'll have to go back to using logic to make decisions, and that never goes well for me, as I am highly illogical (don't believe me? Ask the hubs. He'll tell you everything you need to know).

So I know many of you out there are asking "What exactly do you DO?" For those of you who haven't received my detailed explanations over the weekend, well, I'll tell you! I dress up in a fancy Renaissance-style dress, put lotsa makeup and false eyelashes on, and then parade through the Casino. There is a segway with cheesy music attached to it that leads the way, and we all-stiltwalkers, clowns, gondoliers, scantily-clad women-follow it waving and blowing kisses. Then the parade stops in various areas and we go around and "do our thing" for the small groups of people that aren't so scared of us walking towards them that they run away. (Seriously. It's emasculating to ask someone if they would like you to sing to them and they emphatically reply "no." It's like living with my sister again.) We do this three times a day, five days a week. At the end of the day I am exhausted. So I sleep for nine hours, work out the next morning, and begin again.

There's so much more to talk about, but I really do have to start my day. I'll leave you with the disturbing question that has been reverberating through my head-my god, why, oh why, does working in a Casino make me happy? What does that say about me?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sex, Drugs, and Rock n' Roll

Okay, it's more like cleavage, pastries, and Italian opera, but it's probably the closest I'll ever get.

So you guys, guess what? Working for Vegas is kind of...awesome.

Where do I start with this saga of the past three days? I suppose a rundown of some highlights is the way to go.

"Yeah, I'm sorry I kept getting in your way in the show on Friday. I kept thinking 'they TOLD you not to go near the stripper poles!'"-spoken by a "little person" when talking to some of the girls in the "Love Kittens" dance troupe.

Rehearsing for two days in a club called "Lava," whose walls are covered with red faux snakeskin and whose windows are covered with red plastic. It's like being in Hell. And, yes, there are stripper poles there too.

Having a roommate who is a "showgirl." Her costume is made out of feathers and a red sequin bikini. Her job is to look pretty and be nice. (Add to this-realizing that showgirls can be smart and passionate and great friends. I have such good luck with roommates!)

Standing in front of the director of the show in a beautiful renaissance-style gown, and having him say that it needs to be sexier and that some of the front has to be cut away. (It has been accomplished. I am now not just an Italian singer-I am a SEXY Italian singer.)

Walking through the floor of the Casino, past rows and rows of slot machines, smelling of smoke, but smiling and waving and laughing and thinking "So thees ees what eet-a feel laike to work een Deesneyland" (ees my fake Eetalian accent dat I tahlk with all-a day and the people, they think I-a real Eetalian)

The director tells us to use "nice, daytime makeup." I do, and it is roundly agreed that it isn't enough. One of the girls literally slaps pounds of makeup on my face. The director loves it. She chirps happily "you're a showgirl now!" I throw up a little bit in my mouth. It's hard to hide cause she's currently applying dark lipstick with a trowel, but I don't think she notices.

So that's it. It's a nice deal-free food, free housing, lots of singing. I'm sure there's a lot more I could talk about, but frankly I'm exhausted from my first day of work. Don't worry, I'll have lots more stories about this strange world for you!

Oh, and the pastries part? There's this amazing confectionary there in the Casino that sells huge slabs of sugary things, and I can get as much as I want-for free.

Both Heaven and Hell, in one place! And that place is Vegas.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another room, another roommate

So here I sit, hours away from home, in a strange apartment, in a strange bed, with a new roommate.


This life is not for the faint of heart.

And my roommate is very nice, but I'm looking at the music I have to sing for the next three months, and I can't help but feel that I've made a big mistake.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Probably not really, but in my little world it sure feels like one.

Here's the story: two weeks ago I auditioned for what I thought was a two-day strolling gondolier gig. It turned out to be some sort of five-day-a-week every week thing, but I never got more details about it because they passed on me.

Then yesterday I came home to a barrage of emails asking if I would be available to start the gig TOMORROW (that's today). I said no. I had a shift at the restaurant and, besides that, woah! Too fast!

But they were pressing me for a commitment, so I said yes. They have an apartment waiting for me up at Turning Stone Casino, and I will be working there five days a week, Tuesday through Sunday, for lotsa cash and meals.

Sounds good, right?

Well, the problem is, it doesn't feel good.

First of all, I don't want to move away from my husband again, plain and simple. I don't want to uproot my life again. It's all so sudden and jarring. I have to stop my beloved acting classes (that I already paid for). I have to pack again. And again. And again. Just like the last two years.

Plus, they want me to start tomorrow. I told them I needed more time (truly, one more day is all that I need to get things in order), and that it wasn't right to just drop my job, but they put the pressure on. I stood firm, but apparently they aren't so happy with me now, even though they still want me. What a load of crap. They wouldn't want me to do that to them, so why do they feel it's okay for me to do that to someone else (I even said that to them)?

It feels sort of slimy. They think I'm not being serious about this job, when I'm just being responsible. That should be a plus for them, but somehow it's not. And I'm not thrilled about working in a Casino. Casinos make me sad. They're horrible places. But the money is good, and I get to sing.

So I'm taking the extra day and putting things in order here in Ithaca before I drive up tomorrow night. But I don't feel great. It doesn't feel right. But maybe I'm just scared or something. I simply don't trust my feelings yet, even though everything inside me seems to be screaming. But is it screaming for the right reasons? Or is it just screaming because I'm afraid or something?

And frankly, if I don't like this job after a couple of weeks, I'll just treat them the way they expect me to treat others. I'll give them two days notice.

Probably not, cause I'm better than that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There's no place like home

I know what I want! I know what I want! I'm so excited, I can't wait to tell the whole world. Finally, finally, I've relaxed and meditated and realized that I've been cut off from myself for so, so long. I've been so afraid of what the truth is that I've shut down the true part of myself that I've been fighting and raging against all these years.

The truth is so simple, I could laugh and cry with joy.

What I want is peace and happiness. I want children and pets and home and knitting and husband. I want family. I've been fighting, fighting with it for all these years. All these things have been grouped in with failure to me. But suddenly, it's okay. It's okay to want these things. It's not failure. It's my true heart and soul.

Yes, I do want to sing, but I want to sing from my soul. I don't want to sing from fear anymore. I want to sing because I love it and it's a part of me. I'll still work on my career, but I want each opportunity, each practice session, each competition, to be a time to free my inner soul from the bonds that I've wrapped it in so tightly. I've rarely accessed this place when I sing, I've only sung from my head and my fear, but I want to get there each time I make a sound. It's a place of power and joy, and I want it.

And whatever happens, happens. Really, truly. I cannot fail because happiness is the only goal, and I already have it. My happiness will only grow, and singing professionally will either be a part of it, or it won't. It's that simple. It's been there the whole time.

I feel such joy and freedom! I feel like Dorothy when she realized that her true happiness and love was right in her backyard all the time, she just needed to see it. Now all I need to do is click my heels together and allow it all to happen.

How amazing!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The fire of Frida

I just love my life.

I wrote this the other night as I sat in rehearsal during the break between Acts I and II of Frida:

I'm sitting in the corner of a dance studio walled with cinderblocks. In the center of the studio, the choreographer works with one of the dancers. Other performers mill about, talking, laughing, memorizing lines, studying their scores. The walls of the room are crowded with tables holding endless props: a flask, flowers, lanterns, sombreros, paintings, pitchers, bowls. scissors. The conductor sits with the pianist on her small bench, going over musical details. A grown man, my compatriot, walks around wearing only tights, a black shirt, and a skull mask. Another little boy, four years old at the most, wanders around aimlessly with another skull mask on, stopping in the middle of the dancers that are rehearsing to gaze at himself in the mirrors lining one of the walls. The dancers have to stop so they don't trip over him. I am blissfully, completely happy. All these people together, paid and unpaid, to pay homage to what we love. The music, the story, the emotions. All come together to create a truth that is greater than anything we could create individually.

Each performance and production is like fire. It blazes with intensity on both a large and a small scale. Each time you step on stage it leaps up hotly and sears your belly. Each time the piece is performed from start to finish it blazes hotter and hotter until its ending, and then it smolders and dies as adrenaline levels return to normal. Each production, over its weeks, does the same.

And we performers, we live for the fire. We live for the flames of adrenaline, beauty, and exhilaration that each moment, each performance, each production creates. The fire is love, a love that each of us are sure of in the very core of our beings. It is creation and humanity and the life experience that draws us all together for this one brief moment.

Underneath each performance and production lies a certain sadness. The sadness comes from the knowledge that this particular fire will come to an end. They all must. But if you're very lucky there will be a next production coming up, and a different fire to warm your belly.

I hadn't expected to be so introspective and esoteric in this post, but there it is. A tribute to this Frida fire, and then to the next, and the next, and the next! Viva la vida!

P.S. The picture at the top is of my character, a Calavera. I am having so much fun being a nasty demon!
P.P.S. Come see Frida this Friday and Saturday in the Civic Center in Syracuse. Each performance is at 8:00 in the Carrier Theater. Tix are $15/$12 for students and seniors. You won't be sorry!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Musings and Updates

I realize that I haven't posted anything in quite a while. Well, that's because I've got nothing going on. Really, nothing. I haven't had any lessons because after school loans, health insurance, gas, and groceries, well, there's just not enough left over. So here's a few choice examples of what I've been doing with my time:


I finally deigned to go on icanhazcheesburger.com, and have since spent many an hour wading through the crap to get to the truly brillant. Take, for example, this gem, which makes me laugh and laugh every time.

I will be posting more of my favorites, whether you like it or not. Hey, I've spent a lot of time choosing these masterpieces. You might as well see what I've been working on.

2. Twilight

These characters are, in general, idiots. I mean c'mon Edward, even though you're trapped in a seventeen-year-old's body you have, like, a century of wisdom behind you, right? So why are you such a moron? The rest of them are no better. Apparently, in Forks, Washington, nobody knows how to use their brains. I hate them all.

And yet...and yet...I can't stop reading...and, dare I say, caring.

This is what happens when you're a grown woman and make the conscious decision to read teen fiction. It's a mistake.

3.YouTube and Hulu

my current favorite on Hulu:

And this beauty that my sister just sent me. Listen to the first link while you watch the second. Believe me, it ups the enjoyment level 73%

That's about it. I'm auditioning this weekend for this strange two-day strolling Gondolier job up near Syracuse. That's really all I know about it. It might be crap. But you never know till you go out for the audition, do you? And rehearsals for Frida, also up in Syracuse, start in earnest for me this Sunday. A week of no Moosewood and pure Opera (with friends-bonus!) is coming up, and I'm ready!

And speaking of Moosewood and Frida, tonight I had the pleasure of waiting on our Maestro. Worlds collided, my friends. Worlds collided.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Epic Evening FAILS

Plural? Yes, plural.

Let's start with the first evening, which was two nights ago. This fail was made all the more poignant by the gloriousness which preceded it.

I had a whole lovely Sunday off. After teaching voice lessons I met up with (new!) friends to see RENT, which is possibly the best musical written ever. It was an epic afternoon. I cried, I laughed, I clapped along, I jumped to my feet at the end in gratitude. The afternoon was made even more glorious when I learned that I was standing next to...wait for it...Bobby McFerrin! Yukes says I should have tried to take one of his dreads as a souvenir. He's right. But at the time I was paralyzed, so I did nothing. It's better this way, no? Now I can still say truthfully that I am currently under no restraining orders.

Warm with creative fulfillment and Bobby McFerrin vicinitudeness, I proceeded to my next destination; the liquor store, to pick up some wine for Yukes and my romantic lobster dinner.

It was while in the store that I heard my phone beep. I had a message. I put the phone up to my ear, and what I heard made my blood run cold.

"Emily, this is the manager here at Moosewood, it's 5:15 and you were supposed to be here at 4:30. Call me as soon as you get this."

Ohnoohnoohnoohno....I sped home wine-less, checked the schedule, and realized with relief that they were wrong. I wasn't on the schedule! Huzzah! My evening could proceed as planned! And then...I saw, in teeny-tiny letters that I could barely make out, my name. Crammed with another name into the 4:30 slot.

Let's make this long story short. I was there in ten minutes and inconsolably cranky. I got reamed out by the manager, who first asked me what had happened and then, when I told her, informed me that my answer was no excuse and that I had better not let it happen again.

It got to me, even though it shouldn't have. I'm sure I'm not the first human working at this restaurant to make this mistake (especially when things are written so freaking small). I got over it, of course, but you know...

It sucked.

Fast-forward to tonight and our second evening fail. Strangely enough, this evening's fail took place at this very selfsame restaurant! What are the chances?!

It was a quiet evening on the patio at Moosewood. Suddenly the hostess turned to me and said she had just given me a nine-top.

And what a nine-top it was.

(For those of you who are not familiar with the restaurant lingo, a nine-top means that this particular table has nine people sitting at it. And if you don't know this, than I can only sneer and say "Well, I guess they never taught you that at college!")

It was two mean, mean families. The first thing that happened was that one of the women asked me to bring bread right away for her baby, otherwise she would "start to go crazy." As I ambled off to get the bread, said baby threw her pacifier at her father, who said to her "good throw!"

Warning bells jingle-jangled in my little head.

They barked orders at me two-at-a-time, willy-nilly, and were impatient when I asked them to give me a second so they could write it down. The teenage girl sneered at me. The parents ordered for their ten-year-old, who then quietly said to me "I didn't get to order what I wanted," and, while his parents continued yelling "he wants butter and cheese" said "I want tomato sauce." I listened to him.

The chimpanzee father on the end was the worst of them. He refused to look at me as he demanded more onions and more dressing on the side. I was just a gnat to him, a bacteria that was created to bring him exactly what he wanted. His little wifey covered his tracks very nicely, joking with him for being so impossible and apologizing to me.

Now I know why waiters spit in the food. But to be honest, I would have preferred whacking him in the head.

At the end of the meal their kids were getting antsy, so they asked for the check. I gave it to them and checked on my other tables. The next thing I know, neanderthal dad hits me on my arm with the little check-book thingey. Yes, hits me. He informed me that they needed to pay now.

I looked at the check, and felt a cold sweat break out across my forehead.

I realized I had forgotten to add the 20% gratuity.

I knew this jerk would not be happy about it. But I had no choice. So I turned around and told him.

It did not go well.

That little man made quite the scene in the middle of the tranquil Moosewood night. Of course, in the end it just solidified his place in the the heierarchy of the Universe as pond-scum. But my mistake burned through me as the rest of the restaurant-goers watched.

Oh well. Every job has its days. The manager (a different one) was sympathetic and let me off early. I drank a glass of wine and fantasized about being fired from the restaurant, finding that man (it wouldn't be hard), and killing him.

Probably that won't happen.

At least not the second part.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Partying with Mozart

Last night I had a dream that I was partying with Mozart in his apartment in some foreign city on New Year's Eve. He was wearing the wig and everything. I was disappointed by the apartment-I thought surely someone so famous could afford something bigger and more glamorous, but it turned out he was going to move in with his girlfriend soon and was just waiting the lease out.

The only music Mozart had in his apartment was classical LPs.

And I didn't actually have any fun at the party because Mozart didn't have any alcohol there, which I found surprising. There was plenty of breakfast food, though.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Weddings, Weddings, Weddings

Whew! I am in up to my elbows people, and sort of loving it!

This Friday was the wedding of afore-mentioned-friend Nicole. It was a gorgeous affair. Not only is this woman one of the smartest people I know, she is also hands-down one of the most beautiful. Check her out!

Unfortunately, I woke up the day before covered in mucus. On the inside. Eeww. Yes, I had contracted a summer cold the day before one of the most intense, potentially-funnest days of the summer. Put bluntly, it sucked. I felt like ass. I couldn't imbibe, which everyone knows is one of the greatest features of the wedding. All I wanted to do was lay down on one of the benches overlooking the sunset at the country club. But there was hair and makeup to be done, a bride to take care of, a dress to wear, singing to be done at the ceremony, copious pictures to be taken, a hot summer day to be contended with, and dancing duties to be performed at the reception.

Oh well. We can't win them all.

I also mentioned earlier the awesome girls in the bridal party. Again, though I couldn't fully appreciate their fantasticness due to my gross state, they were fabulous. Here's a picture of us doing a "wedding-vogue," which is what the photographer called it (P.S. she is TOTALLY my next character-work person!)(P.P.S. I'm the third one from the left, the pale one holding her flowers up, surrounded by awesomeness)

After the wedding was over, I slept for two days straight.

Now it turns out that my sister is also getting married in October! OMG I'm so excited! Then I have another wedding for one of my best friends in November that I'm in, and the duties are starting soon. Weddings weddings weddings! If you need me for the next few months...well, don't. Cause I'll be busy.

Now I'm feeling better and realizing that I haven't done any work on my own singing career for quite a while, due to illness, weddings, and waitressing. Time to buckle down and get back in there! So today I'll be at my computer working on financial proposals and finding venues.

P.S. I apologize for the poor grammar and valley-girl nature of this post. I'm not sure my brain is totally working yet.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Tennis and Toni Morrison

I'm going through a phase. It's one of those transition times that are extremely uncomfortable but necessary, when you know that if you just go through the discomfort you'll come out the other side better than before (Caveat: the next paragraph or two is/are about the mechanics of singing, so if that sort of thing interests you then by all means read ahead. If it doesn't feel free to scroll down).

The ability to trust has always been an issue in my singing. I am unable to trust that my breath and support will truly carry the tone, and so I manipulate a bunch of other stuff that would really work better if left alone. Onstage I am unable to trust that the work I have done will pay off better if I let it take over, and so I monitor what I'm doing every second and end up suffocating it. In general, I am unable to trust my very self, the self that I need most when I am alone onstage and need to produce this powerful and compelling sound.

As a result, my sound is very often less than powerful and compelling. I'm afraid to let it go without monitoring it, and I kill it before I even start. The body can tell when your brain doesn't trust it, even if you think you're doing a pretty good job of tricking it!

(Mechanics done, powerful wisdom and armchair philosophy to commence. Stop scrolling if you know what's good for you)

So about a month ago I was bitch-slapped across the face twice by two nuggets of wisdom about trust that fell from the sky one after the other. The first was while watching Wimbledon with the hubs. The men's finals ended up being Roger Federer (natch) against Andy Roddick, (not so natch, making him the underdog). Now, I don't watch sports all that often unless forced to, but when I am forced to do so, tennis is the least painful option. So here I am one month ago, quasi-enjoying what could only be called one hell of a match. Andy Roddick is on fire. Apparently he wasn't doing so well a year or so ago, and as a result he stepped up his training regimen and worked like a dog for the past year. His comeback is amazing. He is fighting like a bulldog for his first Wimbledon victory, and it is truly thrilling. Then one of the commentators says something like this:

"This match is so beautiful and amazing because Andy is really able to trust all the the training that he's put in for the past year."

I'm paraphrasing, because it was a month ago and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, but it went something like that.

Well, that sentence, whatever it was, really struck me, because of course that's exactly what I need to be doing. I need to be working hard day-by-day, but when it comes time to perform in front of that piano, I need to drop it all and trust in the work and my own self. I need to trust that I've been working hard enough and that my body knows what its doing. And then I need to leave the rest behind.

The second slap came while reading an article in Oprah Magazine (don't hate. It kicks ass). The article contained several writers' perspectives on writing, and it included an interview with Toni Morrison. In it, she talks about following something as simple and intuitive as an image or sentence to discover characters and scenes. She says: "I go forward...starting out with an image, even if I don't know yet how to squeeze it, how to use it. It is trusting that picture that keeps me going." Later, on this same topic, she says;

"What I feel most is that because I am open and available, the universe-the idea-comes to me...It's that being open-not scratching for it, not digging for it, not constructing something but being open to the situation and trusting that what you don't know will be available to you. It is bigger than your overt consciousness or your intelligence or even your gifts; it is out there somewhere and you have to let it in."

This echoes that Pablo Neruda poem I wrote about earlier. You can claw your way desperately to your goal because you're terrified or what will happen if you don't, if you stop scratching and working. Or you can relax while you do your work in a spirit of play, and trust that whatever you're meant for is out there waiting for you to be open to its call.

I'm learning how to do the latter. It doesn't come naturally to me. I'm much more of the desperately clawing type. But thanks to the wisdom of three voice teachers at once, I'm finally learning how to trust my breath and my body's natural ability to make sound. While I do this I feel out-of-control and childish, like a baby re-learning how to walk (or something). But I think I can trust that I'll come out the other side a more compelling, relaxed, and soulful singer.

And while we're at it, it would be great if I could trust that my first shift on my own, a busy Friday night, won't be a complete disaster. I'm terrified but...serenity now...om...wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Woah, Nellie!

I have been a waitress now for two days. And I am exhausted. This morning I was supposed to get up at 8 and spend the first half of my day working on my singing stuff and doing yoga. So far, I've gotten up at 10, read some Twilight (no judging!), and caught up on the blogs I follow.

The day is not going as planned.

Crikey, this work thing that you all do sucks! Where's the time for reading poetry? Where's the time for working on your short story? Or doing the dishes? Or singing?

But actually, I sort of like being a waitress. I know, I'm totally shocked, too! I like the fast pace, the fact that the time goes quickly, the many varied responsibilities. The free food at the end is not bad, either. If I could only learn how to carry those damned trays, I'd be golden!

But I do have to figure out how to work for money and work on my singing career at the same time. I'm going to try to boost myself off of the futon after I write this rambling little ditty, but no promises.

Is there anybody out there who has managed to figure out how to juggle (hah, I wrote jubble the first time, which is now a word that I will try to find many opportunities to use) money-making and singing? Any words of advice?

Until then, I'll be dropping dishes and making the kitchen staff mad at Moosewood restaurant. Come see!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ode to Laziness

In the true fashion of How the World Works, I opened up Pablo Neruda this morning and came across his "Ode to Laziness." After yesterday's post I feel it's appropriate to recreate the poem here in all its glory. I'm going to re-write it in prose form because it'll save space and I'm curious as to how it will go. Perhaps Neruda will roll in his grave, but then again, maybe he'll like the exercise.

Ode to Laziness

Yesterday I felt that my ode wouldn't get up off the ground. It was time, it should at least show a green leaf. I scratched the earth: "Get up, sister ode"-I said to her-"I promised to produce you, don't be scared of me, I'm not going to step on you, ode with four leaves, ode for four hands, you'll have tea with me. Get up, I will crown you among the odes, we'll go out to the seashore on our bicycles." Nothing doing.

Then, high up in the pines, laziness appeared naked, she led me off dazzled and sleepy, she showed me on the sand little broken pieces of material from the ocean, wood, seaweed, stones, feathers of seabirds. I looked for yellow agates but didn't find any. The sea filled all spaces, crumbling towers, invading the coasts of my country, pushing forward successive catastrophes of foam. Alone on the sand a ray opened a ring of fire. I saw the silvered petrels cruise and like black crosses the cormorants nailed to the rocks. I set free a bee writhing in a spiderweb, I put a little stone in my pocket, it was smooth, very smooth like a bird's breast, meanwhile on the coast, all afternoon, sun and fog wrestled. Sometimes the fog was pregnant with light like a topaz, at other times a moist ray of sun fell, and yellow drops fell after it.

At night, thinking about the duties of my fugitive ode, I took off my shoes by the fire, sand spilled from them and right away I was falling asleep.


This is a beautiful illustration of what can happen when you allow life to take you along on its current, instead of hammering away at it, trying to get it to open for you. Creativity and beauty are natural outcomes of relaxation and ease and delight. This is definitely something to remember as we pursue our careers, whether they be opera singing or medical writing, or anything else. It's an idea that I'm going to try to hold on to, at least for the next few days.

And I think tomorrow will finally be the right time for that blog about trust. Until then, live with ease and joy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

On relaxing

This morning I woke up at 10:45. Yesterday I woke up at 11:45 because I was partying hard the night before with good people (I still only got about four or five hours of sleep, because the first five were just pass-out sleep, which doesn't count). Yesterday I was supposed to do some work, but instead I read Fahrenheit 451, did some Ballet (sort of-does the old NYC ballet tape count?), watched Frida, talked with my husband, listened to This American Life, actually ate dinner with my husband, meditated, and rounded out the night with some Pablo Neruda.

I still feel vaguely guilty about not doing work, and about not doing work right now while I'm writing this blog. After all, guilty is my default. But really, should I feel guilty about finally getting good amounts of sleep, spending quality time with new friends (some of whom will be going back to college soon and I'll have to find some way to live without them), reading good literature and poetry, spending time and actually having conversations with my husband, and learning about Frida Kahlo's paintings? Nope.

(P.S. The movie is not good, but the images are beautiful. Watch it with the sound turned down)

Nope, nope, nope, I shouldn't. I've spend the last two years busting my ass for a Masters degree. I deserve a little R&R. Plus, it's not like I'm not working, I am, just not as hard as I did for those two years. And isn't that what summer's about? Taking life a little easier, allowing yourself time for reading, pursuing your creative instincts, writing? I suspect most people in America tout this summer ease but don't really follow it. But I am. It's been wonderful and healing.

If only I could get rid of this vague guilt! Plus, I now am fully realizing the importance of actually making money. But the new job starts on Monday, so that's taken care of. Until then, I'm going to cram in all the Pablo Neruda I can!

And here's my favorite quote of the day, taken from Fahrenheit 451:

"Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that."

Happy beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A quick, casual survey

Hello all! I've been meaning to write this big blog about trust, but there just seems to be no time to actually do it. Between my busy social schedule, my generous sleep schedule, and my fun-time trips to New Jersey, there just don't seem to be enough hours in the day!

So I will get to this when I can find a chunk of time, but until then I'd like to ask anyone out there in cyberspace reading this if they have a piano. Specifically, I'd like to know if anyone here in Ithaca has a piano. I've been dying to put on an "Aria Abend" with my friends, for my friends, here in Ithaca, but I don't know of any free performance spaces. If someone out there has a piano and is willing to donate their living room to a night of classy fun, let me know!

I'd like to make one more request to you loyal readers out there: is anyone interested in donating their services as a campaign manager of sorts for me? I'd like to earn some funds for the auditioning expenses I will incur this fall, but I need help! This person would be sort of a spokesperson and advocate, and hopefully will help me start to sell..me! I of course am willing to barter skills for help...too bad my only skills are opera singing...I can make a mean pan of brownies, though, and I do teach voice lessons. I also have knowledge of fine wines and have been known to purchase a bottle or two for friends...

Okay, that's all the requests for now, thanks for listening! More later, I promise.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Oh, so THIS is how it's gonna be.

On Friday I finally got a job! I'm gonna be a waitress at the most famous restaurant in all of Ithaca, the Moosewood restaurant. Apparently, it's the Mecca of vegetarianism. I'm really excited to make money, cause things are in dire straits here at the Gibson household, but I do have a few reservations.

The last time I was a waitress it didn't go so well. It was at this fancy-schmancy restaurant, which would have been great for tips had I stuck it out. Unfortunately, the management attitude there left something to be desired. I knew for sure that I was outie when I couldn't find the ramekins in the back room, and one of the owners sneered at me, showed me where they were, and actually said "well, I guess they didn't teach you that in college." I'm not even kidding. You know, I must have missed the "Where to find everything in Cafe Gallery in Burlington, NJ 101" course.

Also, I'm not great at multitasking. I have a unique ability to forget something as soon as someone says it to me (this manifests itself especially when it comes to people's names). But I was hired on the spot after my interview, so I'm hoping that they like me enough to overlook these small issues. At least until everyone in my section is screaming little things like "where is my water" and "we've been here for three hours and haven't even seen our waitress yet."

Then, yesterday, I got an email from Neva Pilgrim of the New Music Society up in Syracuse asking me to perform a role in an opera. Some backstory: I just went to one of their concerts on Wednesday and was re-introduced to her. I asked my friends how to get involved in this society and got the reply that it was hard, that you had to ask her for work because she didn't really approach people. And then I got the email three days later. Do I dare to believe that she liked some of the performances I gave so much that she actually contacted me? Regardless, this is not an opportunity to pass up. It's an all-important role for my resume, and a foot in the door with this society, and possibly other musical societies in the area. Rehearsals start at the end of the month and continue into August.

My new job stipulates that I have to be fully available during the month of August, their busiest month of the year.


So THIS is how it's gonna be as a singer.

I get it now.

I must make this work out, but I'm not sure how to do that yet. I'll have to use the old noodle and try to exploit the fact that I'm pretty sure the Moosewood manager loves me.

It should be interesting. I'll keep y'all updated. And if anyone knows of any good exploitation tactics, go ahead and send them my way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Real-World issues

I just smashed my French Press and burst into tears. The tears were partly because of my beloved French Press, giver of life in mornings and afternoons, but also partly because I just got back from applying to jobs at Moosewood restaurant and Starbucks, but my hopes are not high. I've been applying to about five jobs a day, with no results. I am fast running out of money, with nothing on the horizon. Ergo, I am freaking out.

I spent the last few weeks relaxing a little bit more because when I didn't, I got panic attacks. It was great. But now I realize that my relaxing has left me shit up a creek without a paddle, as the saying goes (and thankfully did not happen on the night of 6/19. Thanks, Brian!). It's hard to focus on the big picture when you don't know how you're going to pay for food for yourself and your freakishly-metabolic husband. That guy could eat a steak a night if you'd let him. Seriously.
And so far the only gigs I've gotten is singing for retirement homes. For which I have to find an accompanist and pay for. So I'm paying for singing at retirement homes. And where is this money going to come from, as well?

It's enough to sent you straight to the couch with a bottle of wine. The real world looms, and I am not equipped yet to make money as a singer in it, which is the worst position ever to be in. I need to up my game right now if I'm going to make this work, because I'm out of options. I just have to figure out how to do that without money.

Speaking of the real world, we met up with college friends of ours this weekend. They had a baby almost two years ago, and were asking us when we were planning to have one. I realized then with horror that we're actually regressing. Two years ago I had a job with regular hours and could have supported a baby. Now, I prance around singing when I want and taking acting classes, for chrissake, without the pressures of an actual job. It's like that Benjamin Button story. At this point I'll be throwing tantrums and hurling bowls of Cheerios through the air any day now.

Oh wait, I already throw tantrums. Bring on the Cheerios!

But seriously, I could use a little perspecive. It's not my forte.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hollywood, here I come

These days, part of me wants to ditch this opera-singing stuff and just become an actress. I would model my career after America Ferrera, who has the worst name but is the best actress. I'd start out my career with a movie about "real women" who "have curves," and my performance would be so unforgettably magnetic, so raw and real, that the offers would come flying in for non-ingenue roles for the larger lady. I even think it's this weird fantasy that finally has me getting more serious about losing weight. I'd like to try out for the Ithaca College films this fall, and I want to look decent in them. Who knew acting would finally be the ultimate motivator?

But seriously, acting rocks, and I'm pretty good at it. Where else can you scream at someone that you hate them and mean it with all your heart? Where else can you sob uncontrollably and be admired for it?! (P.S. Crying is my secret superhero power [utilized often and with great success by Panic-Attack girl], and with acting I'm learning how to control it so I don't randomly burn people on the street with it. Talk to my family about THAT)

So let's bring this back to my real life and the subject of this blog, which is The Singing. I admitted to Yuki the other day that it was annoying that I had to sing in all these foreign languages, now that I knew how powerful the English language can be on stage. How can I possibly get across the same emotion when I'm singing in French, German, or Italian? How can I show it when I can't scream or sob, but have to sing pretty? Plus, when you sing opera you can't actually look at the other person, heaven forbid, because your precious sound will go into the wings and be wasted. I love opera for its drama and tragedy, and so many of the stories are so powerful. The drama is the reason I went into this field. But how do I reconcile the skills I've learned in acting with the restraint I need for singing?

After I admitted my new quandry to Yuki, a realization came over me. I don't have to know how to do this right now. I always freak out when I discover the next thing that I'm lacking as an artist (because there's always more out there that you're not doing well enough. It's just how it is here). But for the first time I felt "the journey." What I mean is, there's so much emphasis in the field today about becoming successful when you're in your twenties. These days, if you hit 30 and aren't working, you're dead in the water. Prime breeding ground for panic attacks when you're 29 and just starting out (again), right? But for the first time I felt past all that. Becoming an artist is a process that takes aging. Experience will teach me how to do all the things I want to do, and I really am just at the beginning of the process. My work is getting richer every day, but when I look at it through the magnifying glass of my day-to-day routine it's impossible to see. I'm doing things today that it would have been impossible for me to do six years ago, for various reasons.

And if they don't like what I have to offer, they can suck it, because the process is what counts, regardless of the outcome. But I think they will like what I have to offer. Cause I have a lot of work to do, but I'm becoming an awesome actress, and that's what's important to me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Whoops! The world doesn't operate on singer time

I had big plans today, people. Big plans. I've been sitting on my ass reading Fahrenheit 451 since Monday, and I finally got to the place yesterday where I realized I just HAD to get some work done. I had plans to drive to Syracuse today to keep my ex-roommate-now-bff's cat company while she's in Boston doing granddaughterly duties. So I thought "Hey, this is a great opportunity to get some work done in Syracuse!"

I called the Music Office to request a nice big room to practice in (since I haven't started to put the exercises given to me by the Goddess into practice yet-yikes!). Nobody answered the phone, and as I was leaving a message it dawned on me...the reason nobody had answered the phone is because nobody is there. It's July 3rd, and offices are closed. I left a lengthy reiteration of my thought process in action on the message machine for all to hear, and then moved on.

I then thought "Ok, so I'll go to the library and get some scores and CDs that I need to check out. It won't be a total washout!" Got in the car (just barely remembering my friend's keys to her apartment-now that would have been nasty) and drove up to Syracuse doo-dee-doo-dee-doo. Got to the library, hoisted my pile of books into my arms that I need to return, and found out that the library was closed too. Hm. I guess this makes sense, but why hadn't I thought of that? And why does it piss me off that just when I'm ready to work, the world decides to take a vacation? I've got stuff to do, people! Nevermind that I could have done it any of the three preceeding days! Cater to me!

So here I am in my friend's apartment trying to keep the cat happy with a variety of stringlike/fuzzy toys. I guess I'll try to practice here, and it should work out because, let's face it, I'll never see these people again, and if they have complaints I'll be long-gone and in sunny Mexico before they knew what hit them! Oops, wait, that's the end of a different plan. But at any rate, I won't have to deal with the consequences, my ex-roommate-now-bff will. So let's do it! It should make the cat's life more interesting, at least.

And speaking of which, I think this cat needs to get laid. He's way stressed-out. Like me when I try to get work done. Yes, make the connection if you want to.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Perhaps Fame and Fortune

I got back from North Jersey and New York City late last night, and I'm happy to report that both states did wonders for my flagging self-esteem.

Sunday morning was my friend Nicole's bridal shower. Now, I don't know how you all out there feel about showers, but I'm not such a fan. They seem like a relic from an ancient past that has no place in today's feminist society. "Let's throw all the men out so we can finally drink tea and coo to each other about women things like babies and wedding dresses, because the rest of our time is spent cooking meals and cleaning the house and ironing." (actually, I like talking about babies and wedding dresses. I like tea too. Crap). They're generally not much fun, due to a lack of alcohol.

But the girls at this shower turned out to be mega-awesome. They strongly seconded my desire to hit the mimosas right away, which boded well. Later, when I started talking inappropriately about various races, they thought it was funny. The odious present-opening segment of the shower, which is the most feared and hated portion of the afternoon, was undertaken with a lightness of spirit and a general sense of making fun of the whole process. There was banter. At a shower. This is unheard of. So thanks, awesome girls, for making this particular shower a memorable event and for making me feel entertaining and worthwhile! I can't wait to hang out with you again-next time in our bridesmaid dresses!

Plus, there were copious amounts of cake, which makes any shower worth going to (check out my sister's various odes to cake on her blog, if I can figure out how to link it up).

Whoops, I realize that I've strayed far away from the actual point of this blog, which is to chronicle my anxiety-ridden singing career! So let's move on. Yesterday morning I took the train into the city for a lesson with Sherry Overholt, goddess of voice teachers. First of all, it felt good to be back in the city again, and I wasn't scared at all when it actually came down to it. I attribute this to a certain level of comfort with the city that I've finally attained (after going there how many times?!). Second of all, the subway spit me out at Lincoln Center and Julliard, and my lesson was right down the street. When you're having a voice lesson down the street from these places, it makes you feel pretty awesome and sophisticated. I got a sophisticated iced coffee to walk the streets with. It just felt right.

Third of all, and most importantly, my voice lesson was AWESOME. This wonderful woman got sounds out of me that I had never heard. She told me I was a contender. People, it felt so good to get some positive reinforcement! She also told me I was a lyric soprano, which is sort of a surprise but makes me very happy. Lyrics get all the good dramatic parts. And I'm no good at hitting the real high notes anyway (Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about and want to know, look up Opera Fach on Google).

So I have a list of exercises to do, a list of arias to learn, and a new lease on my singing life. I'd say that's worth $110 and a trip into the city! If you're looking for me today I'll be in the practice rooms at Cornell and up in the library making photocopies. Yay!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Begone, Panic Attacks

I've started this blog because, apparently, I've become panic-attack girl (defender of all that's good, unless she's pacing the apartment, crying and nauseous. If she is, and she usually is, go find another superhero). My idea is that somehow airing my emotional dirty laundry to the world will help the anxiety I have about the unformed and scary future go away.

Maybe I should re-think this plan...

Anyway, here's my deal. I did my undergrad in Voice Performance (that's Opera Singing) at Rutgers (holla New Jersey!) without really knowing why I was doing it. Then I had a breakdown Senior year 'cause of the performing stress. A trusted colleague had said to me "if there's anything else you can do with you life, DO IT." I took his advice to heart and decided to explore the possibilities of teaching, even though I had no certifications.

Fast-forward four years later. I'm married and living in Ithaca cause my adorable and genius hubby is getting his doctorate at Cornell. I've been a teaching assistant and substitute teacher, an after-school program employee, and an English teacher in Japan. I am currently a teaching assistant in a school for "children with disabilities" (if that isn't a euphemism, I don't know what is). And I'm miserable. I'm angry. I'm resentful that my husband gets to do what he loves while I get paid peanuts to have angry children throw desks at me. As a result I cry while doing dishes and scream at the hubby because he never does the dishes (whether this is actually true or not, we'll never know).

Long story short: I decide to try to go back to singing. I fail miserably several times (Ithaca College, you're on my list). Finally I get into Syracuse University, into a program which is not well-known and will cost tons of cash, which I realistically may never be able to pay back. Any singer/businessperson/rational human being will tell you that this is not a good move to make. But I'm desperate, so I do it.

And here I am. I've just graduated. I've made some good progress with singing and performing. And now I am FREAKING OUT. Again, to keep things brief and concise, here's a short list of exactly what I'm freaking out about:

1) I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm just not quite good enough for this career
2) Even if I was, I'm now five years behind. Everything I'm doing now, I should have been doing five years ago
3)I'm almost thirty and my biological clock is ticking LIKE THIS.
4) Opera and family do not go hand-in-hand
5) I'm scared of everything

Okay, I think that's enough personal information vomited into cyberspace for one posting. Plus I feel guilty about all the stuff I'm not doing (yoga, cleaning, working on my career, practicing). And just writing this has made my heart rate speed up.

I need to chill out! I'm definitely open to suggestions as to how to do this.

Next time: More neurotic ramblings! I am traveling to NYC for a lesson (scary, of course!) this weekend, so I'm sure that will open up a whole new can of worms. I know: You can't wait. Neither can I.