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.

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Typing this with my eyes closed….

I am so tired right now. My eyes are bleary, my head is fogged, I’m a little disoriented and I’m a smidgeon loopy. Not from drinking, though. I’ve never been too tired to drink before, so tonight was really interesting. As this four o’ clock am hits, I’ll have been working/thinking/active for eighteen hours straight. What the hell?

Tonight we had Boo Blast: the Eastman Halloween party. It was at the Radisson (a new location for us) and around 300 people were expected to attend. It was nice, but exhausting. (I was Little Dead Riding Hood, for anyone who may have wondered.)

I also lost my Dakota bracelet there. My bag was partially open for some of the time, and I think it might have gotten knocked over and some of my things tipped out. But then again, I’m really freaking tired, so maybe even though I looked in every pocket of that bag, and all around my room, that it fell out somewhere unusual, or maybe I found it and placed it somewhere I forget about now.

I’m even too tired to feel like shit for it, even though I will (and do, mentally). I’m such an irresponsible ass.

ANYWAY I should go before the seriously atrocious grammar and punctuation (whatever) get the better of me. Guten Wochenende…….

Little post-departmental spewing of miserable words

Why is it SO HARD for me to fail? It’s worse when no one else can see it but my teacher: that means no one else noticed how much I really have to offer, and how much more I still needed to give.

“Die Nacht” is so important to me. Not only is it a favorite of my teacher’s, it’s a favorite of mine. The story is beautiful, the setting is beautiful. It just needed so much more than I gave it today. Part of it was nerves, part of it was energy. I had been so revved up all day long for this performance: it needed to be worthy of being second-to-last on the program. It needed to be clear enough to understand, it’s message had to be there.

I had shown my professor my dress and warmed up before the recital. She thought I was going to nail it. Then I sat through six or seven other performances before going to the green room. I think that might have been my problem. I didn’t nail it. I sang it with expression but with half of my voice, it feels like now. With only half of my love. I guess it makes me feel better that my teacher said my accompanist was underplaying it and undersupporting me as well. That makes it less all my fault. But it’s still a step back for me, it feels.

These performances only come once a semester, if that, and I disappointed myself and my teacher in this one. Also, I guess I was just looking forward to rounding out the week I go home with a great performance, and that didn’t happen. Not by my standards. And my standards aren’t very high: it’s usually, if I sing well, I’m on a post-performance thrill for the rest of the evening. Now, I just feel a sense of dread and disappointment, much like the one I’ve been carrying with me since Saturday morning. Maybe I thought, if I do this well, it will take away the parts of myself I currently don’t like. Maybe it will fix me, If I can sing how I know I can sing, in front of my department.

But I couldn’t. If I had done that in an audition, and undersung it by so much, it would have been a mess and I wouldn’t have gotten hired or cast. I wanted to leave a favorable impression on the voice staff; I wouldn’t be surprised if not a one of them gave me a second thought besides “Her outfit looked good” (which, it did). It’s good that I’m not doing the opera this year because there is so much more I need to work on.

It is just so hard to fail at something I worked so hard for. And for it to turn out mediocre? When I’ve previously sung it so, so well? I just wish I could grab time, grab it hard and twist its arm and make it take me back. Make it give me a second chance to do it again. I wish that so much, and I know it’s only because I care so deeply and so ferociously about what I’m doing.

And that makes it worse. Because I do care so much, and I rarely get a chance to perform, and I love it when it goes how it should.

I can do better. And that’s the end of it.

And when they ask you what you’re living for, say love

I wrote a song earlier (it’s not that uncommon for me, nowadays) that questioned, really, why we’re here. It referenced the grieving process, and the endless cycle of life, and death, and life again. It’s bizarre to know that my heart just ached when I wrote it. And now? It still aches, some, but I have my answer.

Funny how those things work out. It’s also funny, and by funny I mean bizarre, and sometimes annoying/frustrating, that sometimes, the more you think you can handle how you feel about something, the more it gets away from you. That happened to me tonight at the vigil: I was silent and respectful during the ceremony that consisted mostly of hushed speakers and a pathetic microphone and the wind in the courtyard, mirroring our breathing. I wrote my message to Victor, maintaining that respect and composure.

Then I saw David swoop right in to hug Katie and for some reason that embrace, one of friendship, support, and communal grief and understanding without words, took me right back. I thought I’d grown from my experiences with the fucking brutal unfairness of life. I thought I had grown from my experiences losing those I hardly knew, and those I knew well.

Well, I didn’t. I got back to my room and absolutely lost it for a little while. I didn’t bother to turn on the lights. I don’t feel bad admitting it here, but I’m a really ugly and disgusting sobber– I was a wreck and it would have been humiliating to be below with my classmates. So I cried alone. I cried, selfishly, because I was here and Victor wasn’t. I cried, still selfishly, because like Dan, Victor was only nineteen when he lost his life, with so much potential in front of him. I cried because I knew his family was coming in from China for the memorial service this Saturday. I cried because I know that those who loved him– and perhaps, even some who barely knew him at all– will be forever changed in one of the most painful ways.

I cried some for Dakota, even though he’s improved so much, because he’s lost a lot of time and a great deal of opportunities. I cried because his situation is truly heartbreaking, even though there is hope for him to recover even more than he already has.

And I cried a little bit for myself, because there is still so much life to experience, and I haven’t yet. And, stupidly, because I had pretended not to need a hug. My own stupid fault, but I couldn’t cry there. Seriously.

I realized afterward, after I’d written some lyrics and established a melody both haunting and pretty, that the communities I live in– both at home, and here at Eastman– are so strong and reseliant. People are there for each other. Like just a little while ago, when the sad knotted ache under my heart wouldn’t leave, and I had to talk to someone for just a few minutes. People here listen. People here care.

When Saturday rolls around, I cannot imagine the overwhelming situation Victor’s parents will be facing– having to say goodbye to their son. But I do know that this community will do all in its power to ensure that they have the strength, support, respect, understanding, and love they need to make it through.

That’s why we’re here. It’s not because we’re some science experiment, it’s not so we can make money and rot into the ground. It’s not for material gain or networking or technological advancement or to see if there’s life on Mars.

We’re here to love: whether in jubilation or darkest misery. We are here to accept it, to revel in it. And most especially, to give it.

When I lose my direction, I look up to the sky

Because I feel the need to talk about it, here it is.

Last night at approximately 3 am a nineteen year old freshman student was found lying dead on the ground in front of the Eastman Living Center. That is, my dorm building. It was reported he fell from a twelfth story window.

I can’t begin to comprehend this. I didn’t know him, but slowly we as a collective residential and student body are putting together a picture of who he was, and what happened. Everyone has their own theory, but only time will tell the truth. Did he jump, did he fall? Was he incapacitated in some fashion, or was he clear-headed?

I feel the worst for his family, and for his friends here. We are all waiting for his relatives to be contacted so his name can be released officially. I can only imagine what his roommate is going through– classes haven’t even started yet. I can’t fathom what it must have been like to look out the window for whatever reason at three in the morning to see a slick red pool of blood and flashing lights.

But, as our Executive Associate Dean, Jamal Rossi said in the first of a slew of emails about the tragedy: “One of the hallmarks of Eastman is a tremendous sense of community.  At difficult times like this, it is important to for us to draw together to support one another.” I suppose it’s going to take our tightly knit little school’s tendency to pull together and push onward and lift each other up in order to carry on.

More information (basically the only information out there) can be found here.

Sometimes I hear, sometimes it robs me blind

Today was a beautiful day.

Some events:

– George Eastman Day of Service with the freshmen and Ellen and Matthew Ardizzone at the Garth Fagan Dance Studio

– Bonding time with David, Kit, Andrea, two violinists and Sandra/Sondra

– Party in the soggy red Jeep (John: “There is something wet by my feet.” Brian: “It smells bad in here.” John: “It probably has something to do with the something wet here by my feet.”)

– My little sib Theo (paraphrasing): “You’re amazing. I can’t wait to hear you sing. You’re all so great.” (Slightly beer-induced but flattering and kind, especially since we are at the kind of school where everyone really IS so great and at times one might tend to feel somewhat inadequate.)

– Being at the same party as my secret, moody, might-be-gay percussionist crush, even if he is slightly weird and antisocial

– Being at the same party and spending time with my not-so-secret completely harmless mini-singer crushes David, Sam, and Theo

– Having friends who like to hug me

– Having friends… ridiculous but truest thing on this page. After a summer of talking to almost no one, it is so, so stunning to have people actually wanting to talk to me

– First kiss with the magnificent Matthew. Katie: “You guys totally just could have kissed on the lips and both avoided it.” Matt: “Want to just kiss on the lips?” Me: “Yeah.”

– My mother is visiting me tomorrow!!

Final-ly (blog for 407T)

Well, I’m done! For the summer, for the semester. Until August, I’m done with school!

Not really, but the thought’s a nice one.

I don’t have to go to school for grades, now, though. And that’s where I get giddy. I can be self-motivated and study and learn because now I have the materials and the tools. I can learn things because I want to learn them and because they make me happy.

I guess I won’t comment in depth about how much I’ve changed. I’m really glad I made a new blog, a new chapter, for this part of my life, because you can see from the very, very beginning of my summer (last summer) how different things have gotten. I feel like my mind’s been stretched and warped in so many new and interesting ways– not all of them good, but then again, whose mind is all good? I figure those parts will iron themselves out as things continue to shift and change.

I did a lot of thinking last night as I laid in my bed in 407T for the very last time. It’s strange to think that I’ll never spend another night in this room. I remember thinking that about my room at home last summer (but of course I’m headed back there and have been there since last August). Still, the nostalgia is kind of the same. And it makes me a little melancholy to dwell on how many hours I’ve spent in here, thinking and ranting to Lucy, doing work, tapping out aural skillz rhythm patterns… good times. And bad times: the vicious homesickness, angsting over problems with people I thought were my friends, learning who was really going to be there for me– like the invaluable support system Professor Cowdrick spoke of– and who I’d be there for.

So much that has contributed to my personal growth and change has happened here. While I was sitting in this uncomfortable, ugly chair at this cluttered little desk.

I know it’s just a room, and I won’t linger sentimentally over it once I’m out of it. But for this moment, I’m going to sit here thinking about the year I’ve spent here, in 407T.

Renee

So I’m supposed to be getting ready right now. RENEE FLEMING is singing in the Eastman Theatre at 3. I’m sitting here in my gym clothes, unshowered, and cranky because I don’t feel well.

I hate being sick.

That said, I know I need to cheer up and get myself moving. I also have a mountain of homework I’ve been shoving aside because I can’t seem to focus… but seriously this phase needs to work itself out because I really don’t have time to deal with it. I need to be present, and I need to be on top of this shit. I have my aural midterm in less than four days. Oh God. Oh God. And then the in class exam on Thursday. So, yeah. Need to be focused.

BUT. Renee Fleming is singing today! And I can get semi-dressed up and pretty and go hear/see her. I’m at the orchestra level, which is mad cool. I’m a little grumpy I missed her question and answer session yesterday, but we had a concert (gag, choir). But, as I kept reminding myself, if one is a forward-thinking and positive singer, one hopes that one would meet her in a more professional, different context someday. That would also be mad cool.

But yeah. I’m totally wasting time right now and I have an hour and one minute to get ready. I shouldn’t need that much time but I don’t want to rush myself. Ha ha. I mean, because I’m in such a rush as it is right now. I not only hate being sick, I hate being unproductive. At least I cleaned my floor, tried to work on my composition assignment, and have the Avetts playing loudly and obnoxiously (I hope the girl on this floor who likes to bump shitty techno in the middle of the night is here, and annoyed).

UHG. Yeah. I need to go. To Renee! Eventually.

So biutiful

So I just got back from seeing a movie with Nicole. We walked to the Little Theatre and saw Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.”

Well, oh God. I’m miserable right now. As I was telling a friend just now via text, “life sucks/I am so lucky. I don’t like to feel like shit about stuff like that, that I can’t change.”

“Biutiful” is about a father in urban, impoverished Spain who has to deal with a bipolar drug addict “massage therapist” wife, shady dealings with migrant workers, and seeing dead people. That’s basically it in a nutshell because I’m tired, but he’s also been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that has spread to his bones and liver. He has two children and a shithead brother and he’s too busy taking care of other people and surviving– too prideful, maybe– to ask for help. Or to tell his family.

It was biutiful.

His ten year old daughter eventually found out and by that time I was a mess. He not only reminded me of my mother– who suffers silently and gives selflessly all the damn time– but his love for his family was a tangible force the entire time. I could tell that he did almost nothing with a thought for himself. And he still suffered immeasurably.

It makes me feel likes someone’s grabbing my guts and twisting, squeezing for a reaction. I guess that means it was a good movie, but I’d like to think that it meant more than that. “Good movies” generally do.

It was another of those reminders (this time, a rather sickening instead of uplifting or bittersweet one) that life is so short. Any second might be that last, and what the hell do we do? We squander away time instead of spending it with those we love. We think of ourselves constantly– even right now I’m pondering how this movie made me feel– and there is so much more to do in order to improve the quality of life for others.

As for me, I don’t know where to start. Getting my education and studying like a crazy ass seems a fairly good place to start, but what about after that? What about during that? What can I do in the next three years?

More than I have previously in this lifetime, that’s for sure.

One semester down…

I can’t believe it. One semester over already. Seven to go.

Holy crap. For all of the agonizing I did before arriving here, I seem to be fine.

Understatement there. Life is amazing.

Let’s analyze because I’m too excited that I’m GOING HOME in less than an hour to write something super-coherent right now.

SIMILARITIES – THOUGHTS THAT HAVE REMAINED THE SAME SINCE ARRIVAL AT EASTMAN IN AUGUST 2010

– I still have trouble believing that this school accepted me.
– I still believe everyone dresses up here on a daily basis way more than everyone else in Rochester.
– I still adore my roommate.
– I still always want to be back at home. But I mean, it’s great here anyway.
– I still live off of caffeine most days.
– I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. But I figure I’ll just let it happen for now.

DIFFERENCES – THINGS THAT HAVE CHANGED OR THAT I DID NOT EXPECT

– I have made some of the best friends I think I’ve ever had in my life.
– I didn’t think that such supremely talented individuals could also be incredibly kind, hilarious, unique and wonderful all at once. But most really are.
– I never expected to thoroughly enjoy organ or chamber music. But here we are.
– My adoration for trombone music has quadrupled… and I liked it a lot before.
– I didn’t think I could improvise well, or arrange a song, or part-write.
– In fact, I thought my writing skills were completely limited to words.
– I am doing well in theory. That alone is insane.
– I’ve conquered serious, debilitating nerves. For now at least.

And, to me, this is most important:
I really feel as though I can call myself a musician now. Not a particularly splendid or learned one, but I’ve reached a point where I know what’s going on and can form actual opinions about things. It’s very different from where I was not even four months ago.

Anyway. I have some last minute packing to do, and under an hour to accomplish it. One semester down…

November blue? Make that December puce

So I haven’t written in a long time. Not unless it’s been for a class, or in music form.

I don’t know that there’s much I can cram into one post, especially since it’s late. I will say this: I am being challenged. I am being challenged on a daily basis to do everything I need to. It’s on the verge of being overwhelming, but this is what I asked for. Pleaded for, really. The concept that I can handle this much intensity, this much pressure, and have come from a rural small town school is unusual to me, now. I think it must be my parents who made the difference. Or specific teachers in honors courses that encouraged me. Why aren’t other kids so encouraged? I know that maybe three or four kids from my graduating class could withstand this much pressure. Perhaps more from the current seniors there could, as well. But this is craziness. I’m getting to bed at almost one o’clock on a Thursday, and this is not for lack of focus throughout the day. There’s simply not enough time to finish everything before now. And my first class tomorrow is at eight thirty.

I wonder what next semester will be like. I think I’m taking three more credits in the spring: that’ll be twenty one. Double majoring is going to be a bitch. A productive, wonderful, sassy and difficult bitch, but a bitch nonetheless. I mean, I’ve been taking all of the Music Ed courses all along so far, so I’m pretty much doing it already. I’m so crazy.

But I’m here, and that’s what matters. I’m trying and wearing myself out but I do take time (like, a half hour tops, but I take time) to unwind and wait for the tension to trickle off a little. That decompression is so necessary, I’ve discovered. As is sleep, and food, and orange juice. And caffeine. By God.

It’s just surprising. Still. That I’m even at Eastman, that I’m even participating actively in such a place. I mean… it’s Eastman. I try to ignore that fact that this is a big-deal school but it does tend to crop up whenever anyone who brushes against the musical universe has something to say.

But, thankfully Christmas break is nearly here (just two more weeks as of today/Friday).

First semester: almost over. Next semester: let’s see whatcha got.


* This blog needed some color in it, so here’s a lovely wave I found on stumbleupon. Also, I’ve mostly been posting to tumblr lately because it’s really simple and easy when I don’t have time to write. It’s mainly images and quotes and links to this blog, but if you’re interested, check out the link. I think it’s at the top of this page someplace? Anyway. Have a great night/morning!

Finally yellow

It’s been my favorite color since I was old enough to know my colors. It’s sunshine. It’s a dandelion. It’s my hair.

And it’s happiness, for me.

I wanted to put that happiness here, for anyone who reads my thoughts. The negativity some associate with yellow should vanish upon reaching this page, because, well, crap. I really dig “happy.”

It’s here. The big eighteen. I’m so old. And in some ways I still feel like I’m three again and sliding down brightly-tinted plastic with my hair static-ed all around my face.

Two years ago, I was going to get my learner’s permit with my mother.

One year ago, I was so insanely busy I don’t even remember what the heck I did. Oh wait, I think I went to musical and ate a giant cookie with purple frosting. Or that could have been the AIDA year. It might have been, because Kiener and Emma were there. Yeah, whatever.

This year, I’ll be in theory and in aural skills and traveling to get pizza with a completely different group of people in a still-new place. I’ll voyage to sing with ladies I respect and admire and return to be initiated in the ways of Student Association.

It’s so different. And I can’t help but think, it’s where I’ve wanted to be and worked to be for the past eighteen years without knowing it. I’m finally here.

Life’s not ebbing away that quickly

I feel like I start off with “Well, this is it” really frequently.

So, I think I’ll mix it up.

Well, this isn’t it.

It’s my eighteenth birthday tomorrow. I’ve decided I just have to look forward to it. I won’t be sad or apprehensive. I just worry because birthdays only come once a year and I’m kind of a little kid about it. I like the little happy birthdays I get, I like the idea that for one day it’s like Christmas, just for me. It’s silly and childish (and selfish) but I adore the thought of a pink cake with rainbow sprinkles waiting at home where there’s popcorn and my sister and Nora Roberts and my mother’s cooking (and my mother, duh) and Criminal Minds on TV. That’s what coming home next weekend will be. So that’s kind of propelling me into birthday excitement from afar.

But you know, I’m getting pizza tomorrow, after all. It should be a good day. I’m not a hermit, so others are going with me, and we’ll hit up Cam’s for an hour or two and gorge ourselves on what I’ve heard is fantastic food.

But still. It’s my eighteenth birthday tomorrow, and although it could be “it,” I refuse to let it be. It’s not an end to an age (although literally, okay, it is). It’s a continuation of what seems to be a crazy-good time at an insanely interesting place. Seventeen was really cool, and I don’t like the number eight quite as much as seven, but that’s all right. I can deal. Instead of the fresh taste of adult existence just slipping closer, it’s right here and in front of my face. The hard brightness of independence is officially arriving and nothing I could do will stop it. It’s easiest just to let it wash over me, like the crash of the surf in Mexico. It is whether or not I’ll let it knock me on my ass and drag me around in the sand that’s the important thing.

It won’t knock me down. Change is eternal, and change is a balancing act. Just like the tides, it will ebb and flow and keep my world from running crookedly. Eighteen is just a single swift ripple that seems huge when it’s approaching, but by the time it’s crested I think I’ll have a better perspective on it. It might not be as intimidating as it first implies. Or, perhaps instead of looking imposing, if I run straight towards it, and dive through it, it could be a lot of fun.

I don’t know. I just hope tomorrow will be a really good time and a promising, exciting, vibrant start to another year. If it’s anything like this T-Rex I edited earlier today, it will be a freakin’ sicknasty-great year.

Yeah, I whitened his teeth. Jealousy accepted, since we all want that dashing grin.

Here we go

This is it.

Those words sifted through my mind more than once today.

My family’s gone, off home. Or, I guess I am “home,” now, so… they went back to Gowanda.

Cool. I’m by my lonesome. Independent, isn’t that the right word?

But I don’t feel alone, and that’s totally not in a creeptastic way, either. I’m just comforted right now, even though I’m sitting by myself in my 2x2ft dorm. There is a lingering sadness, I’m not going to lie. Meesh and my parents are going to arrive back at the house to the constant obnoxious noise of the balding Grizzwald and also to my ugly cat. They’re going to maybe stop and eat on the way there and talk about their day.

I, on the other hand, will go downstairs to eat dinner with my big sib at 5, then to more meeting and an ice cream social (oh, yeah) until potentially 10:30.

It’s going to be a late night, I’ve never (ahhh, gasp!) showered in public (if that’s how we want to phrase that beaut) before, and I have to be up and at a location at 8:30 am tomorrow.

But shit, I’m on my own. Well, with God. But making my own moves, here. Like in the computer chess I’ve been obsessed with lately, the computer manipulates me to do what it wants. I learn from it, but I am not making my own moves.

Consider me making the decisions now. Let’s see whatcha got, Rochester.

This is it

Well, here we go. The next time I sit down and type out a blog it will be from my Mac, from my dorm, using wifi. I think.

We leave for Rochester at seven tomorrow morning. Yeesh. I wish it was five. I wish I could just go and get it over with, and yeah, that sounds bad. But it’s going to be the goodbyeing that’s hardest*.

I think I can do it, though. And that’s a weird part. I mean, I know I “can” and all that jazz but I don’t want to get a big head about it or anything. I just want to go and do it and be great.

That sounds silly but this is what I’ve been dreaming of since I started dreaming. Maybe not this college, specifically, maybe not opera: but opportunity. Opportunity to really go out in the world and say what I have to say, do what I can to be a difference.

This is it.

Here we go...

*I’m aware that “goodbyeing” isn’t found in any dictionary, thank you.

To ghost along the border of spiritualism: my first visit to Lily Dale

Get ready for one long, in-depth analysis


So my visit to the mediums of Lily Dale was a learning experience, to say the least. I’m a lot calmer about the whole idea now, knowing what can be expected there.

I learned a LOT. It helped that, the entire time, I was thinking of it sort of like a field trip, like a class. Milk all you can from it and remember it, that sort of thing.

I’d done some research before leaving, so I knew that spiritualism was a religion. Upon arriving I had so many questions: they just weren’t written down. I legitimately had no idea what to be prepared for.

It turns out we were to wait in line for two hours before being admitted to Circles. I met Sarah’s grandparents: her grandmother is a medium, and apparently so was her great-grandmother. I also met two ladies staying with Sarah’s grandma; one was from Britain and the other from Rochester. Apparently they frequent Lily Dale as visitors over the summer.

My first impression of Lily Dale as a place was that it’s beautiful. Quaint little houses, brilliant greens of the trees. A kind of innate stillness and picturesque quality underscored by an air of mystery, of presence. It was just really pretty.

While waiting, I asked questions. At first it was tough to get going because hey, I’m not a journalist– I don’t really have an excuse to pry, and as silly as it may sound, I didn’t want to offend anyone. They take spirits and things very seriously there. But I am an obsessed academic and eventually found a manner in which to ask, without sounding like a putzkie.

Here’s a brief summary of some facts I garnered from a few who know a great deal about the facets of spiritualism. Bear in mind they’re just knowledge I’ve gathered, I don’t necessarily put stock in all of them. More on what I do put stock in will come later.

– Firstly, spiritualism is: a religion, a philosophy, and a science.
– Spiritualists worship one deity, one creator God, but acknowledge the existence of many spirits, floating around in the ether.
– Spiritualists believe that, just as in life, spirits can change for good or for bad on the other side as well.
– Ouija boards are a NO-NO: they let whatever’s chillin’ over there come visit, with no boundaries to keep the creepers back.
– According to spiritualists, we each have a group, a “band,” of spirit guides that accompany us as we grow. They can change depending on how we change or how we come to need them, but they are there to protect us from things like anxiety, imbalance, health problems, and, of course, evil.

And naturally there are other things, too, but those are the most prominent tidbits of insight I scrounged up.

Now for details on my own ten minutes with a medium:

We got into Circles the first round (there was a massive line). There were at least twenty mediums set up on the floor of the auditorium. Seating varied: some had four chairs around them, some five, and others six. We were taken to a medium named Bonnie White, an older lady with pale hair and grey eyes, dressed in black. She handed me a watch and said, say when it’s been seven minutes, then you get three minutes to ask questions. So I was the timer.

This is Bonnie White, the medium we met


She started with a prayer. We held hands and she asked the great spirit to bring a white light down around us, to protect us and bring us only good spirits.

I will say this, when I first entered and sat down I felt a great deal of energy, not my own. Around me, a warmth touching my skin, the right side of my neck. It was pleasant, not unnerving or weird. Just different. But it was something.

It turned cooler as the sitting went on.

She started with Sandy, Sarah’s mom. Spent a few seconds touching her hands, “connecting with her individually.” Then Ms. White proceeded to tell Sandy things that a stranger wouldn’t know.

It was hit and miss, with Sandy and with Sarah. She did “sense” that they were mother and daughter. She hit upon Sarah’s boundless energy and constant activity, as well as her interest in athletics and music. It seemed as though she faltered a bit, though: if she stumbled upon something correct, she would blather about it for a little before continuing on: to fill the time, is my guess.

When it was my turn, Sarah took the clock. Apparently she’s better at reading cell phones than hand-clocks, because she gave me twelve minutes instead of ten (love that girl).

It was weird, to say the least. Maybe I just use weird as a filler word because I don’t know what should really go there to describe it.

I was skeptical, but then I’m always skeptical. I tried to keep an open mind, though, for the sake of… I don’t know. For the sake of academia.

She didn’t connect me with anyone from the other side, though. I guess no grandfathers felt like chatting with me (don’t know how I feel about that). Potter must not have wanted to, either, but if she’s in spirit form she’d be bounding off and eating something instead of waiting for me to hold hands with some bad psychic.

Instead Ms. White told me I was artistic. This is when Sandy, Sarah, and I exchanged glances because she told me I had a “good” singing voice, but art and drawing and fashion design were where I was really suited. Fact: I only ever finger paint. I suck at drawing. Blatantly pathetic.

Oh, and I’m going to the Eastman School in a week, folks. I think they accept at most ten sopranos per freshman class?

Man, I hope they have an art program so I can switch my major (HA).

No, you do not 'bong' on this instrument... merde, some people.

She asked me if I played a stringed instrument (no way, Jose), then said she saw a piano-like thing, and what did I play? I told her the xylophone, and she replied, and I quote “Don’t you bong on those?”

Oh, geez. If I wasn’t so curious I would’ve put my head in my hands, a mercy, please gesture before she could say anything similarly silly.

Then, a little later, she spoke directly to me. Earlier, when speaking to Sarah and her mother, and at the start of my reading, she was kind of speaking in show to the group. Now she was entirely focused on me. She began to get agitated. Grey eyes under bristling pale brows tried to connect with mine, fervently almost.

And this is as close as I can remember, it could be a little out of order but this is the gist:

“You’re very sensitive, I’m getting an image of a heart. You know what people are thinking, you’re very intuitive. This is hard for you. You know what people think and you’re right, but it’s hard to know it.

You’re very accurate, perceptive. You arrive at conclusions before everyone else, you’re quite quick. It’s sometimes hard, awkward really, for you to be there, but they’ll catch up. You get there differently, but you’re right. You are also on– what do you call it? Like, on the right note, you’re good at that. In tune. You know when you’re in tune or not.

But… you’re sad– anxious. There’s a spirit guide around you who just wants to calm you down. Do you have a lot of stress, relating to making choices? It’s difficult for you to know you’re path. Did you have a lot of stress recently about college?

But you can follow your intuition. You’re right when you do. When you see a light around a decision, take it, you know it’s right.”

And then she became the most lively she’d been:

“I– I just get this sense– I just really want to comfort you. Don’t be sad, okay? No one wants you to be sad. It will all work out. Your life is just beginning now. It will be an entire change for you, but it’s just starting. Just don’t be sad. You’ll grow from it.”

Later as she said the closing prayer it was as if she was trying to talk straight to me. “Let us be comforted and feel safe and grow and learn from new beginnings, wherever they may be and wherever they may take us.”

That was the weird part for me, when she started talking about being sad. I never mention that to anyone. Ever. She told me that the spirits “wanted me to” march forward with my head up. You know, be confident and all that jazz. She made a cringing motion when she tried to illustrate what they didn’t want me to do. They didn’t want me to enter this new chapter of my life weak and scared. They want me to go kick ass, apparently.

In Sarah, her mother, and her grandmother’s opinions, this lady sucked. I’m not saying she was legit, because I gathered she made stuff up to fill time. I’m not a fool.

But the part about being sad? It’s cute, I guess, that there are floaty guys that want me to not be sad. No one else would know that. In fact I try my damnedest so no one does.

When I got home, I rehashed it all with my mother and sister. My mother’s not “into” it, per se, but she’s aware of the fact that we’re not without ectoplasmic friends.

My mother has had contact with a “spirit world” before, and I’ve talked to people who have had legitimate touches with the other side. In the case of my mom, she didn’t ask for it, didn’t want it. “I never liked spooks.”

But she’s had vivid dreams, in which dead relatives have been with her, spoken to her. She doesn’t normally dream at all. Yet, she’s done a walk-through of her grandparents’ home in her sleep, where she saw things she wouldn’t have drummed up in her subconscious by herself (her memory is awful). She’s ridden in the car with her uncle on the night he died, from her sleep. And she’s had a conversation with a member of my father’s family that she’d never met: when she woke and described her, it was exact.

She’s been to see a medium twice in her life. She said the first time was out of spite, when she was in college. Her father died in an accident when she was in her early teens, and this was a personal visit for her. She was angry with him, and with the medium, for reasons I won’t discuss.

The second time, she said the best part was the dog the lady owned.

Schnauzer (not necessarily the type of dog the medium owned)

She did tell me, very seriously, that psychics and whatever were for entertainment purposes only. And I get that completely, because if you don’t know who you are or where you are in life, it’s highly possible to be duped and tricked. Personally I know that if I spent time trying to puzzle out the mysteries of the ether, I’d go stark-raving. But I’d like to have a professional reading done, for the hell of it. Just because I’m curious. I feel that I’m like my mother: I’d be able to go and keep a level, cool, head. Without putting my faith where it shouldn’t go.

I’m not buying into spiritualist rituals and all of their theories. But I’m a firm believer that there are things out there– call them what you will– and that they come in shades of good and bad. Where some would touch their relatives or friends with love, others would seek to harm. Whether we become these things after death isn’t up to me to figure out. I’ll gladly pass that decision on.

In addition, I know there are, because I’ve felt them. This is what I asked Sarah’s mom, a practicing spiritualist, about. I know when I was younger, and even recently, I’d be praying alone, just trying to have a conversation with God, and feel a little niggling worry, an unease. A lurking, creeping fear. I used to feel it a lot when I was eleven, twelve. I would get scared and start praying hard. Just curl up in my bed, jostled from my thoughts, praying like the dickens for it to go away, for God to protect me.

Sarah’s mom’s take on what to do was similar to my actions. She acknowledged that there were spirits who might try to bust in while I’m praying; she said the spiritualist action would be to say “God bless you, but leave me alone in peace,” and to always ask for “the best and the highest” spirit when praying. And something about asking for a white light.

See, I always just start going when praying, you know? Just, “Hey, so God:” and go from there. But it’s interesting to think that when I’m talking to him, there are eavesdroppers… some benign and some not-so. At least I can tell them to hit the road because it’s a private convo and know I’m not being a neurotic paranoid.

Sarah’s mom also told me something else. Let me just say right now that at no point was she ever trying to sell me her religion. She was just informing me about it, which was cool, because I wanted to know.

The board outside a spiritualist church

She told me that spiritualism wasn’t a mainline religion and that she was raised with a Lutheran background so she’d have something steady, then made her own choice to become a spiritualist when she was old enough to learn about it on her own. A remarkable statement I recall, though, was: “At the end of the day, I don’t think it matters necessarily what we call the one we worship, because it’s probably the same guy anyway. Allah, God, the great spirit, the Creator– probably all the same. It’s what you do in this life that matters– whether you use your life for good or for evil, what you do with it. How you love.”

It reminded me a little of Brendan, and even of my own conclusions relating to religion and love. Just love with all you have and learn everything you can. Keep an open mind and an accepting heart and you’ll be okay.

And so yeah. I’ll wrap this summary up with what my mother told me after I got back home and recounted to her the events of the evening.

“You’ve been raised with a strong faith. You have a strong faith. Don’t waste your brilliant* brain cells trying to figure out things about spooks. Know that there’s good and bad in this world, around us all the time, and that there’s God. The rest you can come up with yourself, but always remember those basics. And now I’m going to smoke and go to bed.”

*Not saying I’m brilliant here. Just quoting my mother, who is probably obligated by law or something to say that.

My love like a voice

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged anything. A few weeks, anyway. It’s high time the writing’s continued, especially this is the summer before I head to college for the first time.

This is the sequel to my previous blog of two years, Kick Drum Heart (http://amnerisblue.wordpress.com); the title of this one is the other half of the phrase the Avett Brothers sing of in their song of the same name. It’s a step forward, of sorts: a new stanza to the same song, if you will.

So! Take a look around, read some of my thoughts and rants and musings. Leave me a note if you’d like, I appreciate any and all input (and the fact that you give a crap what I have to say will undoubtably make my day, whether your comments are nice, nasty, or otherwise).

Anyway it’s about time for me to wrap this up, so, have a great day. :)