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.

Half of a confession (one’s enough for tonight, anyway)

My room is a disaster zone. Half-wrapped gifts are strewn everywhere, flashcards half-studied lie piled on my desk and all of my books and notes for every class I’ve taken this semester are piled on my bed, waiting for me to organize them and decide what I can throw out, what I can use to study from, and what I need to bring home for the break.

I have some Christmas music playing, but it doesn’t help the pressure go away. I have cinnamon coffee freshly brewed on my desk, and that does help. But it also serves as a reminder that I have four days left to prove that I can be a smart, dedicated, and productive person. I feel like this semester has pressed me into a corner, and while cowering in that corner, afraid of the work and the knowledge and failure, I’ve forgotten that I really am someone who loves to learn. I absorb new knowledge. I LIKE IT.

I didn’t like anything about this semester except the German language and diction classes, the excitement Dr. Laitz brought to written theory class, and the door Frau Balsam opened for me (helped me open myself?) into the world of German lied. Those things, and my illegal Christmas lights.

They make me happy now, when I force myself to reflect. They’ll make me happy for the next four days, until I can get the hell out of here and prepare myself for the semester to come in the comfort of my own home for a month. I am looking forward to learning the rest of the rep for Lucy’s and my recital, I am looking forward to teaching again… I am looking forward to being a huge cookie monster and going crazy for Christmas. I haven’t been this thrilled to be celebrating this holiday since I was about nine. I’m not kidding, either. I think it has something to do with the fact that I can now get my parents things: real, useful things. And I can spoil my sister like I’ve always wanted to be: with random, frivolous, happy little things that have no value to the rest of the world, but are so fun and precious between the people who give and receive them. (Although, Michelle, if you’re reading this, I didn’t get you a thing…)

Oh, and I can’t stand this– this pointless rambling about stuff that’s not really pointless, no, but it’s not the heart of the matter. None of it’s why I’m writing, none of it has anything to do with the sick feeling I have, all the time. I can’t even blame it on seasonal depression, because there’s no snow (yet).

I can’t (won’t) talk about the one thing, the thing that’s really wrong with me regarding finals week. That’s not for a public blog. But I can talk about the boy thing. And it might seem a little bit stupid, a little girly. And certainly a lot unimportant, considering you’d think there could be one or two other things I could be thinking about, right?

But no. Instead I sit here wishing that, for once in my life, I could meet someone. Maybe it’s this stupid little hope I have of a sleigh ride in a quiet woods, with gentle snowfall and a knitted scarf. Maybe it’s the hazy daydream of laughing with someone, of caring for them enough to find them a thoughtful gift. Maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me that pleads for an impromptu hockey game on a frozen pond, or a morning of making hot chocolate with Bailey’s and Christmas cookies, or a night curled up together watching tacky traditional holiday movies.

But those things happen in books. Those things happen in movies. And those things happen mostly in my mind. And they happen with someone who’s not a musician, who understands that there is more to life, and who’s typically about four or five years older than I am. Someone who wants all of me, not just the physical aspect. Someone who at least pretends to have a brain located somewhere other than the place where all boys keep theirs.

I’m not saying I want to get married and have babies. In fact, I turn a little green when I think about that. Honestly it’s too early, and I want a Career (yes, with the capital C). But (and this really is pathetic, because there are bigger worries, in reality): I’m lonely. I haven’t dated anyone in over four years. I’d trade all of the kisses since then for someone that respects women, respects what I do, and is a real person.

And that’s enough my emotional weeding for the evening. I have three finals this week and a recording session tomorrow evening (as well as class), so I should probably go and pretend I’m being productive.

Another late night

So.

If I said I think too much, would that be surprising? In any way, shape or form?

Probably not.

But here is what I think anyway.

I think that my really weird and awful and revolting dream set the stage for an equally weird and awful day. I think that I may be getting sick and will be taking every precaution against it.

I think that this dream makes me scared to sleep again. But I mean, I have to. My eyes are just so tired. I want to snuggle up somewhere and just drop off the face of the planet for a few hours.

That sickening, heavy leaden feeling in my stomach won’t go away. I don’t want it to remanifest itself if I nod off. Who knows what it might be tonight? God. I don’t want to dream.

Unraveled

I think I have unraveled a tiny portion of my churning unpleasant mood.

I don’t think the boy thing is directly related to the baby dream. Which is good.

But I do think that A.) I am disgusted with myself for thinking about boys/a boy, and in turn being distracted and B.) Letting that distraction keep me from being goal-oriented. Right now I’m of the mindset that I should just trust myself to do the best thing and not make myself sick thinking about the potentially negative results. But this is college. Everything here is bigger and badder than high school, and that’s great, but… that means that every mistake I make is bigger and badder, too.

I also think that the baby dream was partially correctly analyzed by the dream interpretation website. I just had a quick discussion about it. It was proposed that, due to the setting (here) and the instant and huge fear it gave me, that something here is developing, being born, and I’m scared of it. Whether it is for the best is yet to be seen. It was part of the newness and the unknown prospect of the baby that made up a large part of my terror. That same newness and unseen features could apply to whatever it is that’s growing. It could be my potential, or the prospect of a relationship, or my future. Or even something as simple as my voice.

The flat-out worst dream I think I’ve ever had

The dream interpreter website says that I am trying to achieve inner growth and development. It says that I may be headed in the direction of a new idea, direction, project or goal.

It obviously does not realize that dreaming I was pregnant with a dead baby at school is probably the most disgusting fucking thing I could dream. I didn’t know who the father was. I didn’t know if the baby lived. I only knew that it was a boy, no one would help me, and I was alone. Except for those who scalded me with looks for shook their heads in pity.

I’m so scared. I feel like I’m sick. I feel like I’m alive and sick and like the dream is true. I know it’s not– how could it be!?– but I feel the way I did in the dream. From the thick band of weird all around my stomach to the horrified sadness. That dream represented everything that could go wrong. Everything. And I lived it. I lived the terror and the shame of it, felt the life inside me and then the death touch it. The rank touch of failure swiped nasty claws across my heart last night.

But, according to the dream website, apparently some aspect of my personal life is trying to grow or develop?

It’s going to stop. I know what my inner romantic thinks is going to happen in my “personal life,” and I won’t let it. I’m not ready for or craving a relationship. And that’s what I want when I decide to get close to a boy again. Although something in me tells me I should go for whatever opportunities present themselves, my actual brain, that has my future in mind, is adamantly screaming, no fucking way. Just stop. You’re so stupid.

I’ve never full-out denied myself something and meant it. So it’s strange when another side of me is straight up rebelling at what my logical mind is telling it.

I’m pegging it down as the fact that I’m just really pathetic and feel wrung out and sour and down and will leave it at that. With any luck this sickening feeling will be gone by the end of the day.

Wish projection = formula for success

So I haven’t written anything meaningful (to me) in about a week.

I have, however, produced the hands-down shittiest piece of writing in my life. I would say that to my professor’s face. That’s how horrendous it is. It helps that the course is only a semester long and I only have to pass it. That’s not my actual goal- I would like to knock the disapproving smirk off of her face permanently- but I feel as though that may not happen and will be pleased as long as I get through the class and never have to take it or anything similar ever again.

Speaking of goals. The other night, I had a dream. It’s been stuck in my mind for a while now, because it started as kind of a puzzling dream, and I was wondering, Okay dream, where are you going with this?

Allow me to set the scene a little bit. I have an affection toward the actor Matthew Gray Gubler. Not only does he play a great character on Criminal Minds (my favorite show for many reasons), he is actually a pretty cool dude in real life. Despite his elderly status (he’s thirty) he’s still got a pretty face on him and is doing interesting and motivating things with his life. I mean, come on, he’s directing, he’s acting, he’s being an artist– all of these things people say you can’t make money off of. And he loves it.

It’s a motivator for me because I do multiple things that people tell me will never get me any money. I mean, let’s be realistic, I’ll end up living in a box (or so I’m told). I sing classical music, want to write about it, speak and teach about it, love performing/acting/fingerpainting– yeah. Box on the side of the road.

Back to Gubler. He’s only thirty. Granted, to me right now, that seems like, um, old. But in thirteen years, that’s where I’ll be, yo. Okay, sorry. Twelve years now. Yikes. But he’s only thirty and he’s actually doing things with his life. He’s where he’s aimed. He’s famous.

Granted there’s a certain allure to fame that I’m sure isn’t so shiny once you actually get there. But I’d really like to find out for myself. Not only does fame ensure you can actually pay those college bills, it provides a conduit to sincerely make a difference in the world. To be a change.

And God knows I’d really love to be a change.

But back to my dream, I’m derailing here. So, I kind of admire this Gubler character, and he’s not too hard on the old eyeballs, either. For being old. Therefore I was confused when, in my dream, he was dating a friend of mine here at Eastman. I was like, okay, cool, but I’m having this dream. Let’s swing the focus here, huh? Instead, Rebecca’s on his arm, and then the scene spins and suddenly Rachael is telling me that he broke up with Rebecca and had started dating her… then Rebecca is telling me that he broke up with Rachael too. They both kind of merged into the same person after a while and were telling me all of these lovely things he used to do with them– outings, and walks in the country at sunset, and art show premiers… all of these great adventures. I got really jealous, and kind of annoyed now. Because those are all things I love to do, and Matthew (in my dream) had completely met me. We were on speaking terms.

The dream spun and shifted again, a spherical twist that put a giddy leap in my heart that stayed; suddenly I was having a drink with Gubler at some outdoor cafe and he was wearing his funky glasses and wide-brimmed hat. And I think plaid. We were… together. The paparazzi were there, that’s how I know.

Then we were in line for something and Jack and Matt and David were in line ahead of us? I remembered (in my dream) once having the tiniest crush on Matt and feeling balanced and not awkward about it (because nothing had come of it) when Gubler came to stand by me.

this guy = symbol of ambition ? hmm.

And you know that feeling (and this has really only happened once for me, in real life), when a guy comes up behind you and it’s not creepy? He just stands there and he’s warm and solid and present. You can tell he wants to be there and he’ll reach for your hand and/or rest a hand on your waist. That happened in my dream and I was just so… so settled, so satisfied with where I was, who I was, and who I was with.

 

Now to analyze: I don’t think this dream means I want to “be with” Matthew Gray Gubler. On the contrary, I’d rather just meet him and discuss all sorts of interesting things with him because A.) I’m sure he has a bajillionandahalf leagues of girls throwing themselves at him, and B.) I’m sure he has a wide scope of things to talk about and wanting to get in his pants would kind of deviate from any type of actual thought-related discussion.

Not that I would turn my nose up at an outing with him. I love adventures, any time, any where.

But that takes me back to my analysis. I think Gubler represented my goals. My wishes and desires to achieve, to be There in that hot light of the public eye. First I was confused, why don’t I have that? Then I was frustrated, I should have it by now. Then I did have it, and it felt right and I felt centered.

Just one possible analogy. But my eyes are getting dry and I’m tired so I’m putting this away for now. It was nice to do some storytelling for once.

Corpses and your rigor mortis? float away

I had a nightmare the other night, and other last night. That’s two consecutive nightmares, and to tell you the truth, it’s pretty unusual for me. I do tend to have super weird dreams, but not in a row like that.

Let me tell you about them.

The first was of The Flood. This is the third dream I’ve ever had about it. The first took place at my house, the second can be foundhere. The most recent was at a school with many children and (for some reason) animals. All of the little ones and pets I cared about. We were teaching, and then– we saw this massive wave rise up and so we rushed into the main building, which stood in the middle of the hill that is my front lawn.

When the wave broke the windows shattered, the walls collapsed. I was left to search for the survivors among the corpses.

Scary, to me. Yes I know it's just a dream.

Last night I dreamed about death as well. It was hunting season. I think for turkeys. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure bow hunting for turkeys is allowed, but this was, like, intense hunting. For pros or daredevils, and it was also a sort of male rite of passage ritual.

A bunch of youths went into the woods. Karen and I were in charge of monitoring them, of tracking them and their successes. They were marked in ranges on a blue map, as well as the beasts they’d be stalking. Each beast had a name, and was expected to combat the youth.

This is where I get confused, because in my mind’s eye I definitely see a dead turkey, but on the map they were labeled as monsters.

Moving on. Andrew’s path was marked with the Mauler’s. I feel like it should be Mahler.

Moving on again, my bad. So Andrew was supposed to face Mauler/Mahler. But Nickolas, the Nickolas that I miss and haven’t seen or talked to since he’s “grown up,” crossed into the wrong territory.

He was out way too long, and so Karen and I set out to look for him.

I my dream-thoughts I told myself it wouldn’t turn out this way. Everything would be fine. He would be okay. When we stumbled upon the embankment where Mauler/Mahler the Monster/Turkey lay sprawled beneath the slickly pounding rush of water, I told myself, think analytically, critically. While my guts churned in trepidation and nausea rose in my throat, I commanded myself to look at the lay of the land, to figure it out clinically. It wasn’t for Nick, it was my job.

So I pointed out the facts. The rock adjacent to Mauler/Mahler would be perfect if one was going to stand and kill the beast. But the angle of the water would have made it difficult to maintain balance. If fallen, an individual would flounder and make his way out at best, but against an angry beast… he might trip again, and hit his head– there. The boulder smeared with blood. Okay. From there, he would try to pull himself out of the stream if he was functional. If not, the current would carry him to the other side, to–

The sprawled body of a good friend faced downward in a shallow pool. Shallow enough for me to turn his head as I prayed for it to be a joke or a dream or just plain fake. Shallow enough for him to have maybe lived if he had just ended up with his face to the side.

I was the one to tell Karen. I was the one to pull his dead weight against me and wish it wasn’t cold and lifeless and stiff and dead.

I hate dreaming about corpses. I guess that’s why I needed to blog and get it out of my system before I sleep tonight. It’s just been a while so I’m not as used to it as I could be. I’m sure there are many psychological explanations behind these dreams but I won’t bother wording them all now. I’m tired and my mission of the evening is over. So, dead bodies. Take your rigored decomposing selves and float the hell away from me.