Lieber Freund,

I’m so scared. 

I’m going to pretend I’m writing a letter here. If I’m writing a letter, I’m not sitting here freaking myself out, I am writing a letter to someone else, describing my frustration. A letter to whomever feels like reading it, whomever is comfortable indulging in my few minutes of personal panic at this point in time. 

Dear Friend/To Whom it May Concern,

I’m worried my life is going to be a complete waste.

I have to trust that it isn’t: I know that. I have to believe that there is some cosmic plan out there just for me, guiding me step by step through my life. It’s only by believing that, that I can have hope. Hope that my existence here will mean something. 

That’s what it all comes down to, isn’t it? Whether or not something of me will remain once I’m gone? Isn’t that how it is for everybody, to some degree?

I’m sitting here at a desk in room 921 of the Hampton Inn in downtown Philadelphia. Tomorrow is my audition for the Curtis Institute of Music. I’m applying for a Master’s Degree in Opera Performance. Monday, I audition at the Academy of Vocal Arts. 

But. WHAT AM I DOING??? I’m twenty-one years old and already I love this– what I’m doing– with so much of myself that it just about breaks me in half to think of failing to get into one of these schools. Yes, I have Eastman (or DO I?? It’s not as though I’ve gotten an acceptance letter yet)– but Eastman for six years? Will that be okay? How will that look on a résumé? Would I be better off applying to some random Hochschule? Their deadline doesn’t end until this end of this month. Can I AFFORD to live in Europe? Can I afford the travel costs (the answer: no, not really*). Am I only considering applying there so I won’t look like a complete waste of time? If I don’t get into grad school (or AVA)– WHERE DO I GO?

I have been telling myself that it’s too soon to know. I haven’t even sung here yet. I don’t know what my cosmic plan is, and blah blah blah.

Well, bullshit to me, because I’m terrified with not knowing. I know this is not a big deal for millions and millions of people, most of whom have waaaay more important things to worry about– and I’m extremely grateful that I don’t have cancer or a child to worry about, or massive debt**. But this? 

This is my life

I have to decide what to do with the rest of my life, if I’m not good enough

I guess the answer has to be, “Be good enough. Be more than good enough.”

But to be the best, you have to know all of the things. And I most certainly do not. I don’t even know a quarter of the things. Or an eighth. Or a seventeenth.

Anyway… the rant is winding down because I have to go bed. Thank you for reading, Friend. Thank you for indulging me as I pause here awkwardly, just now remembering I was pretending to write a letter, for the sake of preserving my own illusion of sanity…

If this were to be a letter, I’d have to ask a few questions. Rather, I’d want to. That would steer me away from my own rambling… 

How are you today? Give me the long answer, because otherwise what’s the point of asking?

Have you made any plans for the rest of your life? Tell me about them. Spare no detail. I can’t be the only one around here whose dreams are widely unrestricted (to the point of madness). 

Last but not least, why haven’t you been around lately? I constantly check my phone to see if you’ve popped up on Skype mobile. It’s nice to have a distraction like you, you know. Actually, maybe you didn’t know that. Awkward again…

In any case, now you know. And I should bring this to a nicely rounded conclusion. Somehow. 

Tomorrow I audition at Curtis. That’s something I didn’t think (or even know) I was capable of pursuing. 

Monday I audition at AVA. That will be the longest shot on the planet for me, but at least it will be fun… 

Tuesday I might be leaving for home, if I don’t get called back for AVA. And I think I might be okay with that. 

I keep trying to tell myself that if I stay in Rochester, it will Be Okay. I will have an apartment. I might get a cat (so long as he can pretend he’s a dog). I can take all the language courses my little heart (and wallet) desire (can afford). I will have time to really solidify my technique… I am comfortable there. 

Do I want to be comfortable? Don’t I want to work, and do this work, in a place that forces me to the highest level I can stand? 

God knows, that I don’t know. I have to believe that it will happen how it’s supposed to happen, in this grand cosmic scheme. Or else… or else what? I lose faith in everything, probably. And I am too in love with what I’m doing to let it drop so I can have some incredibly pointless crisis of consciousness. 

Sowieso. If you’re reading this, thanks for taking the time. If you’ve skipped ahead to here, I can’t say I blame you. If I’ve annoyed you, find something else to do… If your name is Michi, why are you reading my blog instead of talking to me in person? I probably haven’t heard from you in a while… 

That said, I think I’m about done. Cathartic pretend letter completed. 

Gute Nacht,

KM

 

* And by “not really,” I mean “not at all”

** Oh wait, I’m in debt FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, because of music school

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Weltschmerz v. Wanderlust

There are so many things I could write about, but I have such little motivation.

Well, that’s a lie. I am motivated to begin and end this blog post. I am motivated to one day finish sorting the hundreds of pages of music and class notes scattered about my room. I am motivated to do all of my Lieder translations today, and look at the music for Russian diction. I am motivated to sing through Joan’s Aria, and I am motivated to restrain myself to only two cups of coffee today.

But after that I may switch to beer.

These have been the longest two weeks of my life. Professionally, emotionally, and mentally, I’ve been completely drained. My energy is at an all time low– all I “want to do” is sit quietly by myself. I don’t even really want to listen to music. That’s another all time low for me. I could at least sit with something on in the background, usually. But today and yesterday I’ve put on the last-resort playlist of the Avett Brothers’– the soundtrack of my adolescence and the only music I can listen to with a combination of compliance, satisfaction, happiness-in-remembering-home and abject misery. It’s very strange. I guess I would compare it to the musical equivalent of the concept of “Heimat.” The Avetts are my musical Heimat– especially their older songs denote my experiences both at home and at Eastman. They were the soundtrack to both homes and can comfort just as readily (and often at the same time) as they bring heartsickness.

Anyway, what was I saying?

All time low. That’s right.

But overall the past two weeks have been successful? I sang as one of eight finalists for the Friends of Eastman Opera competition. Didn’t win, but I’m not complaining, as I had my senior recital a short two days later. Both my family from home and my musical family here were mostly present, in person or over the internet. It flew by in half of an eye-blink and then this week occurred. Long opera rehearsal combined with work, schoolwork and classes… and then thoughts about the summer and how I am supposed to afford it… My brain is just frazzled. And this is without considering the natural human element. The drama here is just suffocating.

But, I’ve read a little poetry and kept to myself as much as possible. This is not to say that I’m antisocial… but sometimes (okay, more often than not) it’s refreshing to get away from others. I can’t distract myself with a dog, so no escape there… I’d go for a walk, but it’s cold outside: plus, it’s not as if Rochester is necessarily picturesque. The escape occurs when I can leave Eastman. Mostly figuratively, you understand, but when I picture myself in Philly this summer my spirit gets just slightly lighter.

And Germany. Let’s talk about that for a moment.

I have wanted to go for nearly six years now. That’s over a quarter of my life. I’m of the opinion, if you’ve wanted something for a quarter of your life and haven’t achieved it yet, it’s time.

The question is, really, how? How to afford it, how to get there? How to convince my mother? And again, how to afford it? There are so many other things that need to be paid for, the least of which being rent, and the greatest of which being the summer program in June I’ve already committed to. How to make another pocket of money, in order to travel alone, halfway across the world, just because I want to?

There really aren’t any acceptable excuses for wasting money (or even debating wasting money) in this way. I must just be selfish. Why can’t I wait for life experiences to find me? I keep telling myself, if it’s meant to happen, it will. I need to be patient.

The funny thing is, while typing “happen” just now, I made the mistake of writing “happy” instead. Twice, I did this.

Now, that should tell me something.

There are some things– like Eastman, like this Russian Opera Workshop– that happen almost on their own. Yes, I’ve worked hard, but that doesn’t always mean success. These things have occurred by a stroke of blessed, cosmic luck, and I am supremely grateful.

But other things in my life (my senior recital, which received six “brava”s from the six present faculty members, or the Mahler solo in October) have taken place and been highly successful because I’ve worked. And loved the work, and worked with love. That has to count for something, too. The work, and love, and cosmic power have to come together at some point, for some people, sometimes– otherwise no one would ever accomplish anything they set out to do.

So there’s that tangent. I want to travel and experience things (and, you know, maybe actually learn this language I’m obsessed with). I just have no idea how it’s going to happen. The sad part is, if I hadn’t signed on to do Russian Opera Workshop again, I might have been able to scrounge up the funds to do Goethe-Institut in July. Now, there’s almost no way, because I owe Ghena money and of course I’m thrilled to be singing Joan; it’s going to be another incredible June. But it is expensive.

And I feel as though I’m going to miss something! I know it’s strange, at twenty-one, to really worry about missing life. Extrinsically, I realize that I have plenty of time and blah, blah, blah. But if I’ve learned nothing else, I know that that is really not always the case. I’m stuck here at this conservatory, garnering a fabulous musical education– and I should only be grateful. I am grateful. But I don’t leave. I don’t meet anyone. I don’t sing anywhere. I don’t even have time to learn music because I’m busy with rehearsal and classes and work. And outside of this grey, miserable, freezing, windy, sunshine-less city, the world continues spinning and others live full lives with love and happiness and other types of motivating forces that often don’t seem to exist in Rochester.

But this wasn’t really meant to be a “look at how pathetic my life is” ramble. It originally started off as an update on the life of a tired soprano, for the three souls on the planet that might actually wonder (three is being optimistic, anyhow). And I know, too, that if I want change, I have to make it. That’s just one of those things, though, that is much, much easier said (or typed) than done.

I’m reminded of a poem I recently read; it resonates with my own unwinding, stormy mood this week. Like I said, this wasn’t supposed to morph into a gloomy mess, but here we are. Might as well indulge…

Ûber die Heide 
Theodor Storm*

Über die Heide hallet mein Schritt;
Dumpf aus der Erde wandert es mit.
Herbst ist gekommen, Frühling ist weit–
Gab es denn einmal selige Zeit?
Brauende Nebel geisten umher;
Schwarz ist das Kraut und der Himmel so leer.
Wär ich hier nur nicht gegangen im Mai!
Leben und Liebe– wie flog es vorbei!

My own poetic (ish) translation follows… watch out, world… 

Over the heath echoes my footstep;
Muffled out of the earth, it roams with me.
Autumn has come, Spring is far–
Was there ever once a blissful time?
Brewing mists spirit around;
Black is the grass and the sky, so empty.
If only I had not gone here in May!
Life and Love– how they flew past!

*For posterity’s sake I feel I should mention that Theodor Storm (besides being one kick-ass name) was the author of Die Nachtigall, one of my favorite poems ever. The text was set to music by Alban Berg and features as the third song in the cycle Sieben frühe Lieder. I sang these nearly a week ago for my senior degree recital.

January

I’m supposed to be note-taking while I read for history class, but I’m really just sitting with a bowl of soup and a big glass of wine. My history book is spread out on my lap, open to the first page of the reading; I’ve titled my notebook page with the source material and my pen is at the ready.

I want to do the reading. I want to be productive and thoughtful and intellectual, and, dare I say, “smart.”

Well, I suppose I am, objectively. But there’s more to life than being smart and a good note-taker. 

There’s a lot to think about, to reflect upon, in this new January. I’m twenty-one. Most people have lives by now– they’re either finishing up school with a definite plan or they’re already working or beginning families or establishing themselves in some other way. I spent this afternoon in rehearsal and then walked home in the freezing cold to drink tea and try to get healthy again, during which I took a “What Disney Princess are You?” quiz and tried to locate a suitable recital dress online that won’t break my bank account. It just feels a little strange, to live life so abstractly. 

And still, even knowing that studying and recital dresses and whatever aren’t the most important things– they’re what’s immediate to me right now. The concepts of marriage and “real” jobs are so far away– and who says marriage is in the hazy future for me, anyway? Or children? Or even a stable family life with my own immediate relatives? I might be halfway around the country by this time next year, studying for a career that’s touchy at best– what am I doing? 

I’ve blogged before about having a kind of faith that would allow me to do anything. I’d like to say that belief– in self, and in an Otherness– is returning to me in some capacity. Otherwise, I would have been a basket case long before this little period of reflection. This introspectiveness isn’t happening with an overtone of dread or foreboding– it’s logical, calm, and clear. Here I am, with not one clue as to where I will be in a year, and I’m fine with it. I know there’s an infinite amount of work yet to accomplish, and I’m terrified, but I’m facing it. I’m ready to try and tackle it. (Not sure if it’s actually doable, but I’m prepared to give it a go.) That’s where I am right now. 

I’m supposed to be note-taking while I read for history. I’ll get around to it. I might sit and enjoy being here for a few more moments.

To keep my love alive

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly working to make sure that you stay in someone’s good graces?

I do. And I hate that.

“Don’t behave a certain way, you might piss Soandso off… don’t send that text, you might look insecure… don’t bother reaching out to anyone, you’ll look like a fool.” What happened to the good old “just be yourself” slogan? Apparently, “just myself” doesn’t cut it very often.

It’s like a lose-lose situation. Either I cave in, exhausted, and pander to those whose opinions of me matter a great deal, or I don’t care one whit what they think of me, and I look like an idiot. And then I guilt myself for it later. What’s wrong with me?

In other news, that’s what’s on my mind tonight. I’m absolutely bone-tired without any good reason for it, my bed is beckoning, but I still have things to do and I can’t seem to accomplish anything– except what’s probably too much thinking. For example, I can know, on the one hand, that this post is full of absolute nonsense, but here I am, continuing to write. While writing, I’m considering the fact that no one will look at this, and if they do, the likelihood that they’re someone I know/worry about impressing is remarkably slim. Nevertheless, here I am thinking about it. It’s a good thing that writing, just like my few fickle stabs at composing, is something I do for myself. And only me. I just pretend I have readers because it helps move my mind along. Otherwise I tend to dwell and obsess… hard to believe of me, I know.

I really should be going to bed.

Instead, I guess I’ll talk about the title of this blog. It’s stuck in my head; it’s a song from “A Connecticut Yankee,” a musical based off of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which, I might add, the downtown library here Does Not Have. No matter, it’s not as if I could make time to read anyway.

I suppose I could be reading right now.

Well, I’m not.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside my head, this is a pretty good representation. Complete with Helvetica font. I’d make some pithy statement to wrap up my original concept of worrying over impressing others, but I can’t think of one. It’s too much work, just like it’s too much work to make someone like you if they really don’t. This brings me back to the odorous dead horse metaphor. I’d just as soon revive the damn thing, and you’d have to drag me away to stop me. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that I can’t see the poor sucker is dead as a doornail. I can tell. I just choose to believe otherwise.

Does that make me stupid, or crazy? Or just tired?

Don’t worry, I’m leaving. Finally. Goodnight.

In limbo

I only have about seven drafts of previous attempts saved somewhere in the nebulous internet space where all drafts go to die, suspended in permanent Draft Limbo. I don’t want to go back and reread, because I’ll just feel guilty for not finishing them. And also I’ll probably wallow in whatever problems I felt I had to work out.

I’m only here now because my real journal is at home and I feel as though I should try to stream-of-consciousness away the doldrums that’ve been harassing me for the past little while. Some days are good, some days are, well, Not So Good, and I know that’s normal, and probably healthy. But there’s just something else, some greasy underlying mental or emotional abcess that I don’t quite know how to drain away.

I’ve been in a decent, businesslike frame of mind lately. I feel as though I’ve had to be. I have grad school applications to submit tonight, and that requires all of the faculties…  I can’t afford to think about the future in any capacity, I just have to complete the required steps with purpose and with efficiency. If I don’t, I go into complete meltdown mode… i.e., last Saturday around dinnertime, in my closet. (Yes, my closet is big enough for me to entertain a complete meltdown. And yes, the littlest, stupidest thing set me off. Something totally unrelated to applications, mind you– but because I was thinking about how incredibly important these applications are, it didn’t take very much straw to send this camel tumbling ass over teacup down the side of her metaphorical sand dune.)

Also, this is the first Thanksgiving I’ve not been home for, and although I know there are a million and one things to be thankful for (and I am), it still makes me sad not to be around my family. You know, my teacher had us over for a late lunch yesterday, and it was extraordinary… but she was talking about going over to her grandmother’s when she was young. The carpet in the dining room, as well as this massive, beautiful grandfather clock were her grandma’s… she said it made her feel as though her grandmother was with us. I’d like to think that those we love can still be with us in spirit, even after they’re gone. I know this just took a turn into a weird place, but what the hell… this will probably end up in Draft Limbo as well.

That brings me to weird topic number three… what happens when we die?

Just kidding. Sort-of. I’m so sorry you can’t really sense my arch, philosophical tone via computer. Or phone, whichever. (It’s not like anyone reads this anyway.)

In other news, one of the original songs from She Loves Me just came up on my Christmas playlist… it feels a little like someone’s putting a mediocre effort into sawing at my heart with a butter knife. I’d forgotten what it was like to be broken up with someone and then see them out and about… this is it! How bittersweet.

I’m going to leave it on. It will be good for me to keep hearing it– that’s the way to get over something. It’s not as though I can go back and magically have the show back. The energy, the companionship, the happiness of being busy doing something you’re in love with… that’s part of my problem, too, I suppose. I think I’m at a point in my life where I am forced– on an almost daily basis– to relinquish control. I have a few control issues. It’s one thing to know that there are things I can’t change: things about grad school, or about relationships, or even about the way this semester is going to turn out. It’s another thing altogether to say, “I give up. I’m giving up completely and I’ve given it all I have… here it is. There’s nothing left for me to do, and I can’t change a thing from this point forward.” I can’t completely say that– not right now, not yet. As soon as I send these applications in– tonight– I can say it about grad school until I hear back. I’d love to say that about my love life (what love life? you may have asked just now, to which I respond: “Good question.”). I’m just too stubborn (and a little aggressive), and I know it. It takes every ounce of self control I have not to force my company on those I’m interested in. It’s just hard, even knowing I’m fighting a losing battle in the alleged romantic department, not to take action. Logic dictates not to continue beating a dead horse. My own emotions hint that if I keep beating it, it might come back to life. And I know, if I leave it alone and have a little faith, I’ll either move on when it doesn’t resuscitate, or it will breathe again on its own, without my help… but it’s so hard to just let it be.

I used to have the kind of faith that kept me sane and happy and disciplined. This was that all-consuming, it’s-going-to-be-fine-even-if-I-screw-up-in-some-extreme-way kind of faith. I’d like to think that I still do, somewhere, and it’s just dusty. But I don’t really know how to access it. Do I need someone else’s hand to hold? Some other person’s support? I’d like to think that’s not the answer. The only other answer I have for myself involves putting my trust in something bigger. Something else, that has it all figured out so I don’t have to worry. In the interest of total disclosure I’ll say that I think that thing is probably God– but what that means for me, personally, in the grand scheme of things, I can’t say. I don’t know. It’s taken a good handful of years to even admit out loud, to my closest personal friends, that God is something relevant to my life. (And here I almost backspaced and typed “The concept of God”… so if that doesn’t tell you how tenuous that line of thinking has been for me in recent years, I don’t know what might.)

Le package room aka work

Le package room aka work, aka I didn’t bring anything else to do so here, you have a picture of my face and a run-on fragment of something aspiring to be a sentence

Anyway. It’s approaching the time where I have to stop playing on the computer and do some package and envelope logging. I have the easiest job on the planet, for the record… for which I am thankful.

And it looks like this post isn’t going into Draft Limbo, after all. Good evening!

Dear Friend,

She-Loves-Me-Logo-JPEGTonight’s the show! “She Loves Me” opens in Kilbourn at 7:30 tonight… my cast goes tonight, and again on Saturday. I am SO EXCITED.

Jacob was just over (he brought his accordion….) and we ran through our scene together. I’ve discovered that is one of the best colleagues a girl could ask for. I’ve treated him as a combination of great friend, accompanist, therapist, drinking buddy, and partner in crime. But most of all, we’re collaborators. Having the opportunity to build a real relationship with someone from artistic groundwork has been a huge privilege of participating in this show, and I think it gives a great deal to our onstage chemistry as well as on a personal level. I’m extremely grateful, not to mention proud of and excited for the work we’ve done.

There are a lot of other things for which I can be grateful today. My mom and grandmother are coming to see the show. I’m in really good voice today. I belted an Eb (what the hell, actually). My hair looks nice. I’m not as socially awkward as I could be. I’ve had coffee. I’m not sick (knock on wood). I am surrounded by some of the most talented, kindest, extraordinary people on the planet. And I am so happy.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Puppies

I can’t sleep.

I think that’s partly because I’ve had some caffeine later in the evening– aka a large black coffee during rehearsal (so, what?) and kahlua after the SA meeting (again, what’s your point?). 

I also think it’s partly because my brain won’t turn off.

Last night I had a number of very strange nightmarish dreams that ultimately resulted in a restlessness and an urge to wake up but no real motivation to remove myself from bed. The dream I had closest to waking was my most vivid, and it involved puppies.

I was on this trip with my family. My parents and sister were both there– at some point I think Michelle may have left– and Mark and Karen were with us. Mark and Karen, for some reason, were both wearing white, and Mom, Dad and I all had our dogs. Molley was there, as a puppy, which is still hard for me to think about, really, and Grizz was there and little. I’m pretty sure Dad was keeping track of TJ the Beagle (who is, in fact, still a puppy). I don’t know what I would have done if Potter had put in an appearance. I probably just would have started sobbing mid-dream and that would have been that.  

But anyway, we were on this journey and it mostly consisted of walking. Michelle was really, really tired; we all became that tired by some point. The puppies were breathing heavily and their feet were bleeding. I feel as though we passed my house at least twice but no one but me seemed to see that it was there; “This is the wrong house,” they kept saying. So, onward ho. 

At one point, Molley seemed to turn to me; I knelt by her, and I was so, so sad. Sad that she was in pain when all I wanted to do was get her away from the commotion of the world and back home and nourished, and incredibly sad that in real life, she’s no longer with us. In this dream she was just a sprightly young thing, however, so she turned to me and looked at me with puppy eyes, deep chocolate brown and so like Potter’s– and reassured me. There was something about that point in the dream that was just wrenching– it was as if she was telling me, Look, this sucks, and you’re right, I’m not doing so well. But it is going to end and you will wake up and I will no longer be suffering– and neither will you, if you keep on going. 

I’m taking that to be true. It has to be, somehow. I’ve spent a while lately thinking about what’s important right now and how I can prioritize some of the things I have to get through in the next few weeks (months, years). It’s another layer of stress that melts away when I can get myself in the mindset of, “It will be over eventually, and then you can breathe again…”

I have also been trying to keep myself in a lighter frame of mind. It’s all too easy for me to forget how to play, and I had such a good time this summer learning and studying my craft in a playful way, an easy, this-is-fun-and-wonderful kind of way. Interestingly enough, the Dream Moods dictionary cites dreaming about puppies as either a symbolization of my own playful and carefree nature, or a blossoming friendship. To care for a puppy symbolizes a dependability that others can rely on. 

I’m going to take those things as a positive sign. I’m also going to go to sleep now, as I have an early (ish) morning tomorrow and would dearly like to be up in time to get to it… Thankfully I’m tired now and won’t have much trouble getting to sleep, provided I can stop thinking long enough to drift off. Gute Nacht!Image

Miss you, sweet Molley Grace!

A lot of moving

I was going to work on other writing, but I found myself headed here first. Despite the fact that this wifi situation is laughable and that I’m alone in the pitch black living room with my laptop and makeshift bed, I still needed a different kind of closure: one of a written, personal nature. So here it is. I guess. 

I’m leaving tomorrow morning for Rochester— by seven-thirty, at the latest, by my mother’s decree. This is good, because it signifies a return to my “normal” life, a busy-ness and a whirlwind of activity. This is good for me. In other ways I am very much a hermit and prefer to laze and read and absorb and enjoy. The whirlwind forces me to enjoy from an active standpoint. 

I don’t like to leave the hermitage— the cloisters, if you will. My parents’ house— it sucks to call it that, now, but this is my first very real move away out of the house with all of my furniture and run-on sentences— my parents’ house is out in the country, five minutes by car from civilization. I love it there. I don’t think it’s far enough away from people, personally, but it’s as far as I can get at this point and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My summer has been a peaceful time of very low emotional and/or mental stress for me, and a huge, relaxing blessing. 

 And it’s over. Tomorrow, it’s over, and I leave my family for the Real World again. And this time I’m taking almost all of my belongings with me. I’m moving out. 

Things are changing. I have my first “real,” named role in an Eastman show. I’m also in a student-run performance/collaboration. I’m also Eastman’s student body president, and I also have a job where I make real money on campus. Things are changing, and things are happening. 

I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that they will also be happening at home, and I won’t be there to witness. My sister is entering her junior year of high school. My mother has a birthday soon that will turn her an even number that ends in a zero. My grandmother isn’t going to have me there to saw branches off the crabapple tree or lilac bush, or to rip stubborn shrubbery out of her yard. Granted, my mother is just as capable of doing this, but she is beyond busy. 

I’m going to have to watch as one of my co-volunteers accepts a position on the Hollywood board: we have worked together since the current board has been together, really, and now he gets to call shots and be even more involved, and I will only be able to drop in whenever I’m in the neighborhood. I feel neglectful. In addition, I have to wait and worry about my old dog at home. He’s eleven now, and allergic to life and tired of the puppy. I feel like I have to wait and worry about everyone. 

I should feel excited, and I do— but the work ahead of me is daunting and I feel as though life is going to move on, yet again, without me. This summer at home, I feel as though I might have just barely managed to catch up with it. I should have known that it wouldn’t be for long. 

A summer update that will probably bore you to tears

Well, I’ll be leaving Philly tomorrow after a month of Russian opera.

I guess when you’re not paying attention to time, it slips away, like a thief in the night, or something similarly slippery… this is really contingent on whether or not (and why) said thief is slippery.

Ah, yeah, so, whatever. I’m tired, I’ve been reading for the past few hours, I walked around this city all day, and I haven’t showered (not going to until the morning, either, take THAT, Routine). And yeah, so please forgive me if the metaphors aren’t as strong as I’d like.

In other news, I’m going to have to be all business when I get home. I know Michelle is excited to have someone else at home, but I guess she might have to work (???) mid-day, and that means I have to drive her down: joy and happiness. I’m pretty sure that falls right in the middle of my “read and eat lunch” portion of the delightfully color-coded schedule I made myself. I really only wanted to have to head downtown once a day: for lessons, around four. And that would be all… oh well. I guess that’s real life? Run errands, pay for gas, cry when you used your gas money on a Giulio Cesare score, beg pitifully to parent A or B for gas money and/or ask Grandma to invent some yard work. I’ll reiterate, joy and happiness. Not. (This is not that I mind yard work, for the record. I just hate asking for things.)

Oh, and the yard work portion of the program brings me to the next hot and sunny streak of weather: we’ll be doing hay. AKA, Dad will be tractoring, and Michelle and I will be doing hay before Mom gets home so she (hopefully) won’t have to do very much. I’m pretty sure we’re just baling the south field, and not putting it up in the barn, which would be cool, although admittedly not as great of a workout.

I should probably spend some quality time with Buddy once I get back, too. That poor horse has it made– doesn’t have to do a damn thing but eat, sleep, and shit– but he doesn’t get many visitors, unless you count the cats (who could care less), and dad, when he feeds him and cleans stalls. Yeah, I could probably clean the stall when I get back, too… If I find the keys to the tractor you can bet I’m moving that out of the barn and cleaning the actual barn, too. That place is disgusting, and I get that no one wants to hang out in there– too many memories of Poco, and Molley Grace– but come on. We can’t sweep once in a while?

But who am I to talk, really? I spent maybe a couple of hours a week down there last summer, tops, and when I was home in the fall I barely set foot inside. Ghosts of animals, I guess, stick around the longest.

I’m trying to think what else I have to ramble about. That’s what this is– actual rambling, because I’m tired, because I’m sick of stupid facebook and twitter, and especially because I’m sick of netflix. And the light in this dorm room is too crap to read by; in any case, my eyes are tired. Judging by their super-easy fatigue lately, I think I’m going to have to start being more careful about my reading light, and how long I stare at the computer in the dark. Just– yeah.

Speaking of writing, though (even though I’m technically typing of writing… oh, whatever)– I have a June journal nearly completed. It originally started the day I got here, because I wasn’t sure if my roommates were going to be psycho soprano bitches or not, and because I was exhausted from the Happening, and I missed home a little. So I hid out in my room, meticulously organized my stuff, and set up Pages to write.

Six pages later, I went to sleep, and later awoke to discover my awesome roommates, the awesome program and (lack of adjectives, sue me) this awesome city. I started the journal, though, with the intent to show my grandmother what I get up to, once I’m back at home. I still might show her, if she’s interested in reading about it, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have to edit some of my language… doubting she’d appreciate the Fuck word. Still, I tried to be strictly facts unless something about the program upset me (which only happened once or twice, thankfully) or excited me (which happened rather frequently).

Like tonight! (There, I can ramble about Francesca.) Tonight was great. Seriously. It was a story, finally, and it was the coolest thing to see it start to take shape. I found myself wondering why, if Lanceotto loved Francesca so much, why couldn’t he be completely honest with her? I guess he was too prideful– she made him weak, and although he acknowledged that, it made him feel unmanned in the same breath (boys and their penises, whatever). I also wondered why he couldn’t confront his brother directly. As in, “Hey man, I’m pretty sure my legal wife is in love/having a hot, steamy affair with you… Can you confirm? And if you so confirm, can you maybe be polite enough to get the fuck out of here? Thanks, bro.” Or something along those lines.

And Francesca: there is a character that Rachmaninov (or Modest) could have dug into. I’m not saying they didn’t do a great job, because, well, holy shit, the part is awesome. And I guess one could choose to portray her a variety of different ways: demure, stone-faced, pretentious, desperate; she’s really in a tough spot, though. What could have been her options? Run away with Paolo, perhaps– don’t leave your husband to languish in the wake of your infidelity for long. Just like ripping off a band-aid or something. Or, potentially the more honorable thing to do might have been to break things off with Paolo and tell him to get lost, and try to love her husband. I get that she fell in love with Paolo because he was the one sent to greet her, but if she had pushed those feelings aside right off and, I don’t know, tried– maybe it’s just me, but I would have liked a happier ending for these characters.

And, okay, the rambling is going to have to end (forgive me, and thanks, if you’ve gotten this far without rolling your eyes and calling it a day). I walked over four miles today and I’m about ready to call it a day myself. Or a morning, rather, as I suppose it’s closer to one am. Dobrye utra? Image

Why read the paper for upcoming births, when you can just check Facebook?

I just found out via the informational super-timesuck that is Facebook that my best friend from kindergarten is– wait for it– PREGNANT.

Now, we don’t really talk anymore, unless we run into each other. We were pretty good friends right up through school, although we only hung out a few times. So why do I feel so, so sick right now?

I think it has to stem from a number of things. I’ll make a list. Lists I can do, especially when I’m upset or stressing.

Why I Think I’m Upset Because My Best Friend from Kindergarten is Having a Baby

1. We’re not even twenty-one… she’s older than I am by like a week! Are we old enough to care for living organisms wisely? Is twenty a responsible enough age? I thought this was the age to run around and get shit-faced and make impulse buys and have indiscriminate sex? Most people our age (the ones I know, anyway) can barely take care of themselves. Like, they can’t even wash their hair on their own. And maybe I’m strange for feeling this way, but I know that I can barely take care of the puppy, and the puppy’s not even my puppy, officially. Let alone a baby. A freaking human being thing relying solely on me.

2. I don’t know the dad situation. This requires a sub-list.

a.) None of my business, first of all.

b.) From what I glean from Facebook, they’re together and really happy or something of the sort, which eases my panic slightly

c.) Like I said, none of my business, but she’s known for having gone through many boyfriends. Doesn’t say much for stability… but what the hell, who am I to talk? I won’t have a steady job until August, so I’m leaving that alone

d.) But speaking of jobs, so she’s going to work in town for the rest of her life? What does Baby-daddy do for a living? They’re just going to stay in this itty-bitty town with the same people and the same routine for the rest of their lives? How is anyone okay with that? (Sub-sub list: 1. I should not be so judgy, and I know it. Let the record state that I am not attempting in any way to pass judgment, I’m simply ranting and worried and stream-of-consciousness-ing this shit. 2. My mother was okay with staying in this itty-bitty town with the same people and the same routine, ever since she and my dad got together. She’s worked at the same bank in the same town for nearly thirty years. Then again, she was married for ten years before I came along, so… not sure exactly what that’s proving.)

3. Back to reasons why I’m upset: this smacks of poor planning. Isn’t there something else, at twenty, that one wants to do before settling down with a child? Like, I don’t know, move? Travel? Live? For me, child-rearing refuses to be a pastime that one chooses to engage in when there are a few spare minutes. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but from the second a kid is born, they need to be the Top Priority. There should be thought and effort and love poured into that child’s upbringing. I know that if I ever had a child, they would be the center of my world, immediately. With that knowledge in place, I can comfortably say that it will be a long, long time before I am financially stable enough to support anyone other than myself. And when that happens, I’m test-driving the money theory with a giant dog, just to be sure. There’s just no way I’d even think about bringing a child into this world without a safe, stable home, enough money for healthy food, and adequate time to spend with it.

4. That said, I’m starting to think that I might be equally upset that my friend has the freedom to have a child. That sounds crazy, probably. And you know, I never thought I’d want one (I still quaver at the thought a bit). But there came a certain point (I can’t remember if it was earlier this year or last) where it hit me: if I want to make something of myself, and have a career in the profession I am most passionate about… I am going to have to give something up. I fear that might be a real relationship. I fear that I might have to give up marriage, or if we’re being modern, a deeply committed romantic partnership. I fear that means giving up any possibility of children of my own. A successful opera singer (sopranos, particularly) will hit their prime mid-thirties. Guess what that means for me? All of those years before– my twenties, early thirties, when most women meet a man and fall in love and have those traditional, often lovely things– need to be spent working. Practicing. Singing. Otherwise, no payoff. No success. That’s the way it looks to me right now, and although I want the work, and need the stage– I fear I don’t have the freedom, the luxury, to just meet a guy and have a kid with him. I can’t be that irresponsible, or that disloyal to myself and my goals, because honestly? The second I learned of a new life, one I’d be charged with loving, raising, and protecting? All of my goals, all I’ve worked for, would evaporate in favor of that child.

So maybe it’s that I’m too selfish. Maybe I’m too scared. But maybe the reason my stomach sunk and my heart broke a little upon reading that news, about my best friend from kindergarten, is that I can’t. And it’s such a common thing to see or hear about today, with young women who aren’t necessarily in a permanent relationship or supporting themselves. Not that that’s what she’s like, or what she’s going through. I hope that she and her current boyfriend will stay together forever. I hope this baby will be born into a stable, happy, loving home and grow to be someone magnificent.

I hope my list will be sufficient to get me through the rest of the facebook updates I’m sure will come… and the moronic comments that will undoubtably accompany.

[EDIT] because I just can’t leave anything alone: I did a little more creeping into the cybersphere and I honestly think that they’ve got it figured out. I update mostly for my own peace of mind, to resolve the shock a bit for myself. It’s just so strange to know that people I’ve grown up with are going to be raising families of their own. It’s even stranger, and going to be significantly more difficult, I imagine, to reconcile myself with the fact that this is something I will not get to do if things work out for me career-wise. The busiest, most successful people I know fell in love late in life, past the time when they could have had a family. The people I respect the most, that fall into this category, tried marriage and children and sucked at it, divorced and then found the love of their life. So, I guess it’s a predetermined game for me, and I have to deal, and not freak out because other people get to have a traditional life and I can’t. I chose this— because I love it, because it loves me back, and because I can make some kind of a difference by doing it.

And if it makes me sad to read about all of these pregnancies on Facebook, well… I mentioned it’s a timesuck, right? Might as well not even waste the time.

Expedition to Well-readedness*

Who knew a person could actually own so many unread books? I feel like a hoarder. Actually, I think I might be a hoarder in real life. A book hoarder. (I posted pictures; you’ll see. Just promise not to judge. Or, if you do, don’t tell me.)

I’m not only a compulsive Amazoner (“Oh, look, this book is only $3.99! That’s basically free! I’ve never read that… “), I’m a used bookstore junkie. Ask me about the Schumann and the biography of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf I found at Greenwood Books, just down the road from Eastman. Go ahead, ask me.

It’s not that I don’t want to read them. It’s not that I’m not capable. It’s simply that pesky thing, that life thing, that keeps interfering. I think that half the reason I buy so many, revolves around the simple fact that every time I see a classic I haven’t read and don’t own, or a three-dollar, four hundred page steal, or a twenty-cent gem at a garage sale, I am reminded that I spend a great deal of time meandering about, complaining about how busy I am (occasionally/aka most of the time, I actually am that busy, but I digress**). Whenever I see something I’ve been meaning to read, or might enjoy, I can’t help but grab it and flip through, maybe smell it or something; I fantasize about the gray afternoon in a presumably not-so-distant future where I will curl up with my treasure and relinquish Life, just for a few hours.

It rarely happens. HOWEVER,*** this summer I have vowed, due to my lack of a full time, real-people job (don’t worry about me, though, I’ll still be busting ass), that I will plow through the mountains of books in my room. That’s right: not pile, not stacks, not even singular mountain: MOUNTAINS****.

There are going to be hours this summer where I will stare at page upon page of cyrillic and transliterations and just want to scream. And so I plan to soothe myself with a good old-fashioned English language storybook. If nothing else, I’ll get through some trashy romance novels. And for some tragic drama, toss Sophocles in there (since I found the complete works all nicely bound together in Greenwood! Love that place… almost as much as I love Sophocles). Maybe I’ll add in Vonnegut, and although he might be somewhere in the depths of the mountain (appropriate, actually), I’d like to finish at least the classic Tolkein.

But we’ll see. Maybe I won’t have as much reading time as I’d like. Maybe I’ll pull an Oedipus and stab my own eyeballs out for lack of patience and eyeball stamina. Or maybe I’ll read half my unread library and be pleased with myself.

I have been tallying a books-read count since January. As of right now, I’ve gotten through a whomping nineteen (and a seventh, I have a 700 pager going currently). I’ll keep this updated, maybe. If I remember… ha, ha.

In other news, I am blogging for the first time ever from my bedroom at home in the boondocks. We have previously only ever had dial-up internet, and I am pleased to report that my stubborn mother finally, after nearly twelve years of mutual hatred, read the death sentence to the old-fashioned internet connection after one too many failed attempts with online taxes.

And now I have to resume the cleaning of my barely-unpacked bedroom. Below are my mountains of books… photographic evidence. Remember not to tell me about the judgments I’m sure are to follow.

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You’ll see that at least I have a bookshelf with which to store them (in the background)… albeit a currently empty bookshelf

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There are books in those pink tote guys, too… this bookshelf is about ready to call it a day

* Complete with footnotes and halfway decent grammar

** Holy shit, run-on sentence of my life, right there…

*** Naturally in caps due to its importance, not my itchy caps lock finger

**** Here we see my exuberance, exubing***** exuberantly

***** Clearly not a word, I’m just feeling rambunctious today

Parentheses overload (get over it)

Yeah, so… I haven’t written in what feels like forever. I wonder how many times throughout my blogging career I’ve said that (not going to bother counting). 

In any case, there’s nothing much going on with me, except the MASSIVE WORKLOAD I’ve attempted to take on and the blatant, glaring lack of vocal progress I’ve been (not) making because of it. Twenty-five credits, plus being exec secretary, plus studio rep, plus the opera, and am I in that fraternity still? I spend most of my free time either homeworking or watching netflix because whenever I try to read (you know, like, books) my eyesight blurs together and I end up realizing I’ve been away from my room for twelve hours straight without accomplishing anything but class and rehearsal. I wish I were exaggerating. 

In other news, I’m psyched for the Dominican in sixteen (!!!!) days. Tropical beach, please. Sunshine, a Sex on the Beach (and/or sex on the beach), I’ll take it. That would be fine.

Until then, I have to get through the next two weeks, which include two aural skillz midterms (next Tuesday and Wednesday, and may I remind Eastman that next week is NOT midterms week?), at least two in class performances, two (maybe more) coachings, a couple of French quizzes and oh shit I just remembered I have a vocab quiz in Deutsch tomorrow.

Yep, things are busy. But at least I can still take a few minutes to sit and write about them. I was in kind of a funk for the past two weeks: I just had an audition in Toronto, so last week (and weekend) I was worried about that… and then the beginning of this week just didn’t want to end. TGIF, seriously. Plus I had been on an eat-everything-in-my-room slump for a while, and hadn’t motivated myself to the gym. Luckily I was dragged to zumba tonight and spent another half hour after that working out. 

Anyway, that’s all I got. I only have four and a half hours of class tomorrow so I will actually have some free time to go all-out with the aural skillz studying, etc. Bis bald!

I have to share, too

I have to share these posts, the first by a colleague of mine and the second by his friend Justin (whom I have never met).

ANDREW:

I have to share this post by my good friend Justin. He sums up very eloquently the plight of harassment that is still very real for gay people (tempted to emphasize ‘gay men,’ although some may disagree with me) and even people simply assumed to be gay. Read this if you want to know what it feels like, if you want to understand why myself and many others are still so outspoken about creating an accepting world for gay people to live in. It’s not just about rights; it’s about about respecting difference on all fronts, and it’s about bringing a moderate-to-high level of understanding and empathy to your interactions with your friends, and, yes, even strangers. We all have demons and prejudices that were transplanted to us at a young age. At this point, it is our moral and civic duty to try to obliterate these prejudices…to see people for the good that radiates from them rather than judging them for the aspects of their person that you cannot understand. Read below.

—————————————–
JUSTIN:
“I feel the need to write something VERY important and I hope all of you will read this and consider it. I don’t want to proselytize here, but this is something different anyway, a personal issue.

Last night, walking in downtown Boston from the subway to the museum, I was harassed by a small group of (white, male) thugs. It was dark but very early in the evening, and somehow I was the only one on the street. Had I needed to call for help, I’m not sure from where it would have come. I tend to pay no attention to people on the street and have only rarely had issues of this kind, but this group of men proceeded to provoke me from across the street with homophobic slurs (“faggot”, “Clay Aiken” – never heard that one! – among other things too explicit to write here; to my brothers and anyone else who thinks “faggot” is funny, *this* is how it is used and what it feels like). I didn’t acknowledge them, and they proceeded to cross the street, follow me, and continue to harass me. One of them laid an aggressive hand on me. I naturally walk quickly, and somehow was able to get away with only a little more attention from them. I said nothing throughout the whole exchange – an exchange of their demeaning idea of fun (or “civil duty”, for all I know) for my sense of security.

(It’s worth mentioning that I was dressed normally, like any New Englander in deep winter: heavy coat, hoodie, scarf, boots. That I was immediately assumed to be gay, however accurate, was not obvious. That merits a different discussion.)

I do not often fear for my safety on the street in general, and I am loath to think that I should have to as a gay man. However, this is not the first time I have been accosted in public for being a “fag”. As for last night, I am over it, in as much as that is possible. However, it leaves a myriad of questions to be addressed. Questions which range from: “What the fuck kind of society is this?” to “How is a verbal and physical violence of this kind any different from the non-support so many LGBT people receive, from people they know, from their country and society at large?” I can’t answer the first question. But about the second: “It’s not different.” The effect – be it psychological or physical – of not feeling as though you matter, to a single individual or to a society, is an silent and destructive form of abuse. I in no way mean to trivialize the troubles of those who have suffered abuses far greater than I have; and I should mention that in many areas of my life, I feel supported and cared for. But not in all, and incidents like these remind you of those colossal gaps. For the record, my sexuality (like gender, like skin color) is on the table for precisely no one to discuss, for no one else to have a say in. The ways in which one can be violated are many, but all they feel the same at the end of the day.

I consider myself lucky to have gotten off so easily this one time, in a situation in which my privacy, my personal space, my sexual safety, and possibly even my life is at stake. You never know, and everything hangs in a tenuous balance. There is no excuse for sitting idly by. To say nothing IS a lack of support. To say nothing is to do nothing, while abuse ten times greater than this is happening all the time. People need to know EXPLICITLY that you are backing them, that you care about what they are feeling, and that they are valued; and it is not enough to be “mostly valued” or “pretty much supported, but not totally”. Nothing – literally nothing – will happen on a societal level without this kind of attention on a personal level.

I don’t mean to be sappy or dramatic, but I feel like, this once, I deserve to say whatever the hell I want. Because it’s huge, but it is so, so fixable.”

I felt the need to repost these thoughts once I read them via a facebook post of Andrew’s. I thought that this would be a way of giving the matter attention on a personal level, as Justin calls for. 

There are a couple things I wanted to call attention to, and to discuss a little. First the “gay thing.” As a girl who’s grown up on the outskirts of a small town, and a smaller community, I was privy to the typical village-y small-minded stubbornness and old-fashioned thinking. Remarks like “that’s so gay” were common in my public middle and high school days and toward the end of high school “faggot” was a frequently heard term, especially from the athletic, “I’m really hot, cool, etc” boys (both white and Native) who thought that they could continue to reaffirm their manhood by supposedly undercutting their peers’.

I don’t pretend to have never spoken the word (although I do not use it now, and haven’t for what feels like a very long time) and I don’t pretend to have held the same views I do now in high school. But the beauty of humanity is in change, and accepting the faults in one’s own character and learning from them, addressing them. And in trying to fix them.

But even in the adult world I’d experienced problems, stemming from lack of consideration, respect and education.

I’ve worked for Cattaraugus County in western New York for two summers now, and I like my job, for all it doesn’t challenge me a great deal. It’s physically demanding, and the hours are long and usually not air-conditioned or filled with empty time. I’m either working extremely hard (physically) or I’m sitting around, extremely bored. But 98% of the time I am accompanied by at least one white male over the age of 20.

None of these men are gay. Most of them are outspoken. And nearly all of them refer to one another in a playful, down-putting but affectionate sense as “homo” or some variation of “faggot” (I’ve heard “gay boy,” too) at least a handful of times a week.

One of these men was my supervisor. I can’t tell you how depressing this became. I made every effort to ask him to stop (not in front of his work buddies, so as to not upset him). We had many conversations about homosexuality, not because I really wanted to, but because he liked to hear himself talk. We also discussed gay marriage, but to my surprise, on this he ended up agreeing with me– in that everyone has a right to marry someone they love, no matter the gender. After that small victory I began to think there was a little hope for the manly-man men at the county.

My hopes were dashed when one of my other supervisors, a devoutly religious guy, decided to bring up the topic of gay marriage and lecture me on it one day in the truck on the way to a job site. He asked me what I thought, and I told him, assuming he’d agree, too. He’d seemed like an easy-going, open-minded guy.

He puffed right up like a bantam rooster. “it’s wrong, it’s immoral, the Bible says, blah blah blah.” I’m embarrassed now because I kind of just let him ramble on. But this summer I called him a bigot to his face, in front of a few coworkers. I might have been considered insubordinate or what have you, but he went on a rant in front of everyone about “the gays” and I let him have it. He wasn’t expecting me to say anything, but I made it clear that I found his remarks offensive and he never brought up the subject again. He had obviously been raised with a specific set of values and adhered to them– that in itself is admirable. But he refused to reconsider, to self-reflect, or to admit that there might be something in the world he had a limited understanding of.

And honestly, the biggest fault in a small town,small county setting is the sheer lack of awareness. Half of those people haven’t met an Asian, let alone a homosexual, and wouldn’t know what the hell to do if they did. They base their judgment and mindset on the media and what their children come home talking about (that is, if they pay attention to their children in the first place), and of course, the stories their friends tell them. And that’s really all. Until some fresh wave of insight arrives to deconstruct the ignorance, there will continue to be huge numbers of people (small-towners particularly)

who do not realize the sheer injustice and prejudice in the views they hold. It’s just miserable that so little is being done to bring about the awareness and the acceptance that gay people (among other minority groups, as well) so desperately need.  What’s America doing to remind everyone of our little motto– oh wait, it’s actually a pledge, right? “…With liberty and justice for all.” …RIGHT?

– – – And now… a New Ramble! Get excited, kids. If you’ve stuck with me this far, that is.

The second thing I wanted to dwell on is street harassment. There were some really good comments below Andrew’s post that talked about this. I won’t post them here because, well, I’m going to talk about it (and also this isn’t facebook).

There’s been an escalation in street crime in my area. I live in the artsy-fartsy district of Rochester (East End) and we’re all music people, in some form or another, living one on top of the other in our own little corner of the city. It’s unlikely to walk to class or down the road or across the street without saying hello to someone you know.

That said, we’re smushed up against kind of a seedier neighborhood. Not that seedy neighborhoods as a whole are filled with creepy, lecherous middle-aged men with a hard-on for engaging in street harassment, but the likelihood increases that there might be a handful of people you pass on the sidewalk that are, frankly, unsavory.

I mean, no biggie. You just pass on the street and go about your separate lives. Right?

(Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.)

Well, or not. We’ve had two muggings in the past week. One of them happened outside of an apartment where some of my good friends live. I know that at least two of them heard the victim yelling for help and called the police, then ran down to him as his attackers were scuttling off with his cell phone and wallet. This occurred in a well-lit, highly populated little section of our corner of the city. This happened right down the road from my building. This took place shortly after the school closed for the night (eleven pm) and the person who was attacked and robbed was walking home from practicing.

It doesn’t matter whether he was gay or straight or a fucking Martian. He was victimized and it happened very close to home. That is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable anywhere.

I feel that, as a student population, we have been (for the most part) walking to class and our friends’ apartments and home from the gym and to the library and the café and our jobs with more than just a small slice of fear tagging along. When I walk home, I walk fast, and I keep my cell phone in my bag (although that’s just being safety conscious in general) and my coat zipped all the way. I don’t wear heels unless it’s to studio class and I keep my bag across my chest so no one can grab it easily. It might be paranoia, but I’m not that tall and against two bigger guys I might not stand a great chance at keeping my valuables (or potentially even my physical safety) unless I could clear a knee to a set of balls. You know?

On top of that, last Tuesday a friend and I were harassed– verbally– by a set of four or five guys, clearly inebriated, pushing a bicycle (yes, between the four or five of them) up the street. They were coming from the seedier part of town. My friend and I hurriedly crossed in front of them… I’m an impatient person and they were taking forever to meander their way up the sidewalk. We kept our heads down and simply walked across the street toward our building, but one (and then two, and then three and the rest) of them called after us. “Kelly, hey Kelly!” At first it was an invitation, a cajoling, “Hey Kelly, hey blondie, where ya going?” Then they started to warm up to the game, and the catcalls became threatening. “Kelly! Hey, fuck you Kelly! Why don’t you come back here, Kelly? We’ll fuck you, we’ll fuck you up!” And so on.

There were others on the street. It was well lit. It was right in front of Eastman. We didn’t report it– we didn’t think to, we were just happy we were across the street, and after that we tried to ignore them, and they continued on their merry way in the other direction. We’re lucky they didn’t follow us, I guess, now that I’m thinking back on it. I’ll admit it, I was a little shaken… mostly pissed off, but nervy and jumpy as well. It just sucked.

And I can’t say that an alleged increased police presence has helped a great deal. They increased the police after the first mugging. And oh look, then there was a second one.

I guess I just don’t know where a desire to commit a crime, or to waste so much energy on violence or hatred comes from. Yeah, there are times when I want to give an annoying classmate, a difficult colleague, or a creepy guy leering at me in the gym a healthy punch in the head. But that negativity spawns from frustration, at myself or at a situation or admittedly, often at a person– even then there’s no real inclination to actually physically or emotionally harm someone. And, to be honest, as someone who’s experienced a form of emotional abuse, that shit’s no joke either. You’re left feeling just as vulnerable, just as wrenchingly insecure, and you hate yourself and resent the rest just as much.

And I mean, let’s be serious, all violence is horrific in real life. But there’s something about randomly mugging someone on the street– or following them, harassing them– or calling names to a random passerby– that’s chilling. It could happen to anyone. And as Justin pointed out, you really never know. The situation he (or I, or the guy outside my friends’ apartment) found himself in could have escalated and become much, much worse. You just never know. What happened to Justin is terrifying, and I think it’s made worse by the fact that his antagonizers– bullies with nothing better to do– used homophobia as a mask for their own cowardice (as evidenced by the Pack Attack) and general jackassery. 

All in all, I felt it was important (for me, anyway) to add my own thoughts about harassment to Justin’s and to Andrew’s. The more ideas that can be pooled and discussed and thought about, the more consciousness can be raised around these very real problems in our society. Because you really never know. That’s why I wanted to talk about it: so more people might know, and maybe think about it and talk about it with their mother or their roommate or their elderly neighbor with fifteen cats. And then maybe someone somewhere might, instead of watching How I Met Your Mother, walk their elderly cat lady to the post office on the day a group of Hey Kelly-ers might have considered her easy pickings. You just never know.

IMG_1483

This is just a picture of a crazy cat. Not a cat lady. Sorry…

And here we go again

Well, here it goes. Into semester six of college. 

I guess not quite yet. Officially it begins tomorrow morning when my mother and I update our FAFSA and then stuff all of my luggage in the car. Then it’s off to Rochester again. I’ll be leaving my beautiful home, family, and dorky, smelly dog for the city and stress, exhaustion, coffee overload. 

I keep trying to suppress my excitement. It’s always so bittersweet– I never want to leave, but I go crazy when I have too much free time. And I always figure it’s better to go back with some sort of enthusiasm, then dread.

I’m finally going to be caught up with aural skillz. I want to get my first tattoo. I’m going grocery shopping tomorrow at Wegmans with my future roommate and then to the gym and then to rehearsal from four pm to whenever it ends. 

And then I have Sunday, a day to settle in.

And Monday it’s back to a twenty-five credit load week, complete with work four out of five days, extraneous coachings, and forced time at the gym. I have until March 10th to look hot in a bikini (that’s when our Last Family Vacation happens). Yay, Spring Break. Too bad I only have two months. 

Anyway, it’s going to be rough transitioning back, but I think (hope) (at least at the beginning, when it’s kind of easy) it will be fun. 

I’ll try to keep writing over the course of the semester, but we’ll see if I have the time.

À bientôt!

Things I want

A dog.

My own place. Preferably with things like a kitchen. And a bathroom.

To pass theory. With all of my heart, I yearn to pass theory. In fact, if I could kick its ass all the way from here to Never Land, that would be optimum.

To go to grad school for free.

To write a book this month. I promised myself last November that it would happen and it didn’t. I guess I hadn’t wanted it badly enough.

A 3.5+ GPA this semester.

To take Intermediate Deutsch next semester without getting yelled at.

To learn to learn to learn to learn to learn to learn to learn without fear of failure

Reviens, reviens radieuse

The song I’m singing tonight for studio is Fauré’s “Après un rêve.” That means, “after a dream.”

I feel like I’m waking up.

I’m waking up from a strange place into a world that’s grey with some splashes of color that are only glimpsed in moments of great artistic or emotional poignancy. I’m waking to a shimmering dawn that’s bleached but still beautiful, and it’s only those moments of clarity that lend it something really special.

I did my first “breaking up” yesterday evening. I woke up this morning and was just sad for a while. It’s weird for me to wake into sadness but there I was, and my heart hurt.

I don’t think it’s the same for him. I think his distance was achieved a few weeks ago and that’s why I’m having the more difficult time of it. I did the breaking up, but it was because I refuse to see myself as a last priority, and that’s what I was becoming. It wasn’t because I wanted to be alone, or wanted away from him.

So I’m a little sad, and feeling kind of bleak today. But something interesting, and, I suppose, valuable, happened to me today, both in my lesson and in Intro to Lyric Theatre.

I almost cried.

I was on the verge in both places, both right after I’d sung. My Intro piece, “Meine Liebe ist grün,” is a Brahms Lied that stirs up extravagant imagery: glistening, glittering glowing sunshine throwing a verdant lilac bush into dazzling happy light; dizzy with love, a soul rocked into love-drunkenness– these things are beautiful. But the accompaniment is set strangely– a thickly textured, rambunctious sweep of notes that leave the listener hanging at unusually placed fermatas– this leads me to interpret a story of a person yearning for a love as extravagant as the harmony… but whose needs aren’t really fulfilled.

I cried a little after singing that today, because it applied to me.

Après un rêve was a little less extreme, but its entire encompassing theme is a yearning: Awakening from a slumber, you’re there, you call my name, we venture off into the light together… Then I begin to wake… Return with your lies, return oh night mysterious– the concept is of one clinging to something that isn’t real, and the melodic language is powerful.

I have to sing that in little over an hour, so I hope I don’t blubber in class, too.

I guess they’re just incredibly relatable to how I feel right now. That’s where I draw from the sense I have of color, and real artistic breakthroughs… It’s moments like these, “real” moments, when I’m feeling something (other than pressure and stress, ha ha) that remind me I can bring “real” things to the music I perform. Granted I’m just the tiniest bit upset still, and that doesn’t help a whole lot… but the fact is I remember I can feel other things and bring them to what I’m doing. And that’s something important I can draw from this.

Perch’io non voglio

I’ve been doing a lot of crying lately. It’s stupid, I know. I know, I know, I know. But I can’t help acknowledge that there must be some validity to my own feelings otherwise I wouldn’t be such a mess. I’m not normally like this.

And I feel ridiculous trying to blog about it because I feel like it will just be a huge list of complaints, and that pisses me off more than anything– the complaining, the bitchiness, the constant WHINING from EVERYONE HERE… Why aren’t we happy? As a whole, all this school does is complain. The workload is too much, the students don’t get enough (from the lecture, from the facility, from the dining center, from the ensemble office, etc)– which is true, this is true! But the negativity is so catching and God help me, I’ve just been bursting into tears the past few days and it’s not even that time of the month.

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be here. In someone’s opinion, I would be “happier” at home.

That’s true. But it’s also true that I’d hate myself if I gave up everything I’ve worked so hard for. It is my decision to put myself through this absolutely exhausting, challenging, difficult school, and it is also my decision to pursue this as a career– and don’t tell me that someone else’s passion for this is greater or their experience is more vast– don’t tell me that. I am learning. We’re all learning, and are at different places in our development musically, and in terms of repertoire and general knowledge– don’t I deserve a chance to get my feet under me, in my own time, on my owns terms, before I’m dismissed as a farm girl that should go home? I don’t want to determine at this stage of the game what I want to do with my life– but do I need someone else insinuating where I’d like to end up? Hell, no. Go away.

That doesn’t change the fact that I miss my home. I miss my family. I miss my sweet dog, that I’ve raised from a puppy for the past ten years, who left this world yesterday.

I miss hugs and an environment where the people around you care about more how you’re actually doing, than how you’re going to affect them and their career. I miss a place where others respect me and what I can do and don’t doubt me, constantly. I miss an environment where I know what I’m doing and don’t doubt myself.

But I love the challenge, and the things I’m learning here. And for the most part my colleagues are wonderful people. I don’t know if it’s the planetary alignment or something in the water, but the atmosphere here has just been unbearable. That coupled with homesickness (and dogsickness? or wait, I think that’s called a level of grief, maybe), and this week has been no fun at all.

Dear Boy I Used to Love,

I think you’re an idiot. And I think you gave up too soon.

You told me once you wanted to work hard. I took that to mean you wanted to work hard no matter what it cost you, because you were determined to make something out of the bullshit life handed you. I saw that as a perseverance to be respected, a drive that would prove to the world how special you were, and how extraordinary.

Well, I helped get you a job, and you fucking blew it. I put in a good word for you and you decided that it wasn’t for you. Instead of sticking it out for the summer, for a measly twelve (or less?) weeks, you quit. You left your colleagues with a reminder of the kind of dumb shit they hate to work with– someone with a piss-poor, know-it-all attitude and a preconceived notion that life owes you.

Allow me to clue you in: life doesn’t owe you a goddamn thing. And you can look down your nose at me in jaunty confidence and treat me to a patented, affronted reverse-snobbery; you can ask me how the hell I would know, haven’t I been handed everything I could ever want?

I’ll tell you something, and it’s up to you whether you want to pay attention. The only reason I grew up with a childhood so different from your own, is because my mother worked as hard as she possibly could at a job she was mentally overqualified for, for nearly thirty years. My mother’s work ethic and drive to give my sister and I a childhood so far removed from her own, are the sole reasons I didn’t grow up with your childhood.

Where do you think she got her drive? Possibly her own determined mother who worked day and night to be the only provider for her three children. Perhaps seeing her father and uncle kill themselves with the bottle had something to do with it. Maybe it was the fact that she realized, almost too late, that she might not fulfill her own potential as a human being. She didn’t go to college for long. She realized that she needed money and she loved my father so they began a life together– but they earned everything they now own from the ground up. Her life wasn’t fucking peaches, either, but she didn’t whine or complain that the work was too hard or that she deserved better than what was handed to her. She didn’t blame others for her mistakes.

She passed those traits on to me. I don’t blame you for hating me. I don’t blame you for giving up on our friendship without so much as a struggle, even though I was hurting and I needed you. Even though it looked like I hated you, I was absolutely miserable without you and you didn’t even bother to look away from your empty-headed, real-college friends to notice. By the time you figured it out, it was too late and my heart had broken and spilled out and healed over. And you didn’t so much as turn your head, except to complain to other people that I was “mean.”

I’d thought we’d worked toward becoming friends again, but you don’t give a shit. You don’t have the balls to tell me so, even now, and truthfully I don’t care enough to make it clear to you. Then again, maybe I’m hoping in some deep recess of my heart that you’ll grow up and we can share some (not all) of the bond we once shared. I do think that once (if) you pull your head out of your ass and realize you’re going to be twenty, that you might come to remember that I apologized. I apologized, and after that I didn’t know how to behave because how could things go back to normal? You seemed to have thought they could in a heartbeat. But I couldn’t do that. I didn’t know how.

Then you were angry and the cycle of misunderstanding started again. I was mad too, don’t get me wrong. I was furious. Even now, you seem not to give a shit that you’ve disappointed many of those who care about you, including my family and, well, me. Like it or not, I do still want the best for you, even if I don’t really like you as a person anymore. And if that didn’t make any sense to you, read it again.

I know now that you think I’m some pretentious diva who lords her expensive school and fancy ideas over everyone (don’t worry that I’m paying for the expensive school out of my own pocket and that I work constantly). Because I’m quiet, I’m stuck up, and I don’t tend to drink like a sloppy whore so I’m not any fun. I don’t dress to cover only my tits and ass so obviously I don’t fit in with the girls you prefer now, anyway. Yes, I’m a bitch, and I’ll stay that way in your mind until (if) you decide to grow up and maybe then you’ll realize: I would have given you everything.

But it’s okay. You’ll continue to earn mediocre grades and a respectable beer gut at some state school where it doesn’t matter how well you actually do, because unless you have something special that sets you apart, you’re going to settle for a mediocre job somewhere that you loathe. You’ll take your enjoyment on the weekends with your slutty girl friends who only want in your pants because they believe you’re the best they’ll ever get. Not because they want what’s best for you as a person or as a lover, not because they give a shit about your dreams or your hopes or your fears.

It’s okay.

It’s even more okay because I’m thinking about this after seeing your pictures on facebook… Don’t you realize potential future employers see those things? How could you be so stupid? I know for a fact some of your past employers have gone back and looked to see what kind of a dumb ass they were mistaken enough to hire, so they won’t do it again. I hope you don’t have really high goals for future jobs. Then again, if you don’t like the work, you can just quit, right? That sort of lack of discipline is acceptable, isn’t it?

I think you talk big and you never follow through. I think you had all of these big plans and loved to tell people about them, and then you realized it would take blood, sweat and tears (God forbid you don’t have “fun” all the time) in order to achieve those goals. So you quit. You gave up too soon on those dreams, and on working hard. And on me.

But, Dear Boy I Used to Love,

I’ve long since given up on you.

Stream of nagging consciousness

So for most of today I’ve experienced simple, so-happy-I’m-stupid bliss raging blood-spattering war against a persistent nagging feeling that there’s no real reason for me to be so happy. Read that single-comma-ed run on one more time in a single breath and then you have my day in a nutshell.

I just saw a picture of a guy I know on facebook. He had a laughing, pretty girl (much shorter and more petite than I, with a little more charm in her laughing face… let’s face it, who has a charming laughing face?!) on his arm, and a smile that read “I’m getting some.” This guy I know, well, he and I may or may not have entertained the idea of entertaining one another. To some extent we did, for one hot endless summer night.

We talked a little after that but it was obvious that nothing would come of it. But for some reason I allowed myself to build castles in the air around him for a little while, and it took a few weeks for them to gently collapse back to dust in my brain. But the time we had was nice, as he was nice. We were compatible and there was some serious chemistry. And then there was no contact so the chemistry faded softly away, as did the niceness and the friendship.

So why is it a blow to see him with someone else? Why, when I Have Someone now? Maybe it’s the heartsore “what could have been” coming back to nudge me. Maybe it’s the memory of that warm night and his mouth on mine, persistent and electrifying. Maybe it’s the absence of a new and shiny friendship that fell off into nothingness, or maybe it’s simply a bittersweet melancholy that whines at inopportune moments.

I don’t know, exactly. Maybe it’s a combination of them all. But what pisses me off the most is that I let it interfere, for even one moment, with the happiness I have right now. The pleasant fizz under the skin at the thought of moments that might arrive, the ever present maybe of thrills that may or may not ever be realized. The challenge, the adrenaline of discovery… I have that now, or at least a taste of it. I don’t want to ruin it by worrying myself into a paranoia that complicates it all just because something made me sad and that prods me into thinking I might not be justifiably happy.