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.
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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.

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.

If music be the food of love (sing on)

I had an audition today!

It was *just* for the Messiah sing that is apparently supposed to happen at Eastman every year, but they didn’t do it last year and now I have auditioned, and it was a blast! Granted I felt like projectile vomiting everywhere before hand, but it was so fun!

I sang my very first recit ever (and it was fun!) and I sang a little aria (also fun!) and then I left (the very best part!), but I was happy with myself, and with my singing. It’s all a balancing act, almost a power struggle between my body, that mostly knows what it should be doing, my mind, that tries to remind the body but sometimes short-circuits, and my nerves, that never cease to attempt sabotage of the worst and most mutinous kind, every time.

But I sang, and now I want to sing some more, and that’s ultimately why I’m here. So, I’m going to go practice. Because I’m happy.

Reflections on stars and the moon

I’ll preface this by saying, I don’t really know why I’ve thought about these things lately. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d probably figure that it’s part of some larger circle that needs to return and resolve. But anyway.

At some point within the past three years, I’ve realized that the boy I gave most of my innocence to wasn’t the person I thought he was. He never pretended to be someone else: no, he didn’t pretend. But I did. I saw the hurt and the sadness in him and I wanted to fix it. I saw the scars she had inflicted and the wounds he didn’t want to admit his parents had left him with. I saw a sharp mind and an experienced, worldly soul and I wanted to help him grow. I wanted him to be the man I’d always read about: the one who swoops in to sweep the strong, independent, outspoken and vibrant woman off of her feet.

Well, here I am, nearly four years older and a hell of a lot stronger. And more independent, and hopefully more vibrant; although I can’t comment for sure on the outspoken because I feel like I do an awful lot of listening these days. But I’m smarter, and I suppose that lately it’s struck me just how much stronger.

He was eighteen then; I was fifteen. I was precocious, sure, with quite a bit of educated reading under my belt and a pressure to be better, to learn about the world.
He had been cheated on and, I guess, manipulated. His parents were divorced and I’m sure he’d seen a little too much of the world.

Those aren’t excuses, for him or for me. I guess I could fall back on my old quantification: I never said I loved him; I never gave him everything; I never expected too much, especially toward the end.

But that’s not entirely right. I never said I loved him but I allowed him to manipulate me, to make me think I was less than I am. I allowed him to tell me things about myself that weren’t true. I let him steer me away from my family and my friends simply because he wasn’t that close to his and I wanted to be with him. I gave him my trust. I gave him my loyalty. I gave him my time, my being, little parts of my heart that I’m proud to say I reclaimed and then some.

Long story short, I think it’s really interesting to see how capable I really am of looking back on the only “real” relationship I’ve ever had to see the issues I’d viewed as such complexities then become clear as day, now.

Now I sit here in my room in the dorm building of a school that is leagues and leagues above and beyond what I’d even dreamed of attending four years ago. I’m going to be in debt for the rest of my life, but I charged headfirst into that with the full intention of making the most of myself in the time I’ve been given here. I’m doing something I love, and am going to continue to. I am capable of doing almost anything.

And I all I can think of right now is how much has changed, how much I’ve learned in a few short years. How much I’ve grown. How much my life could have been like the song “Stars and the Moon” from “Songs for a New World.”

And it never changed
And it never grew
And I never dreamed
And I woke one day
And I looked around
And I thought, “My God…
I’ll never have the moon.”

But I’m not. That’s not me, but it could have been. But I don’t think I need someone who can give me the moon, as romantic as that might seem. I’ve grown up surrounded by strong women who take the moon for themselves, and I intend to be one of them. I’ll have the stars and the moon for myself.

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.

Tри (three)

What?! Three blogs in one day — what is happening?

Yeah, I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I guess I’m just in a place where my thoughts are streaming forth in word form and hey, I can type ’em out and they’re relatively cohesive. That, and I can’t seem to peel my face from this laptop lately whenever I pick it up. That’s why, if I need to check/send emails, I wait until all of my shit is done. That way I don’t waste a half an hour on pointless (yet, somehow, captivating) timesucks like facebook, tumblr, and deviantart. I don’t know what my problem is with these but they are most useful when I’m bored. Here, that is, um, never?

But yeah. So thanks to my mostly finished work I have allowed myself to flop around from site to site and here I am again. Third time today. Maybe it’s a charm?

I suppose I shouldn’t jinx myself.

Anyway. I didn’t accomplish all that I wanted to today, although I did discover that my amazing roommate and I share a childhood– we both read the same series of books. I’ve actually never met anyone else who’d read them all as obsessively as I did, so the fact that the only one I know lives with me by chance is extremely strange, yet awesome. I was doing some work at my desk and she was leaving; I have one of the books here for mindless relaxing reading, and it was chilling on top of a pile of papers. She picked it up and said, “These books were huge in my childhood.”

Clearly, the only honest reply I could make was, “They WERE my childhood.” (In reality, Harry Potter played a huge factor, as well as a number of other books, but I digress.)

So that was something cool that happened today. Also I am doing a linguistics group project. I was originally really concerned because I don’t have many friends in the class– it’s a giant lecture class that I’m just barely on time for twice a week, so there isn’t much time to talk. But it turns out that the girls I’m working with are really invested, focused, and interested in some cool stuff. Our project is going to be a comprehensive analysis of acoustic phonetics in different songs. We’re each going to analyze a verse (probably/possibly the refrain) of a song from our cultures. We’ve got some reggae from Jamaica, salsa from Puerto Rico, chiptune/videogame music from America, and I’m yanking in some Russian– Tchaikovsky’s Oтчего?. I am really super pumped about my contribution because I’ll not only represent for my favorite Россия, but I’m hauling some classical (and sicknasty sweet piano accompaniment) over to jam with the bumpin’ beats that we already have.

Like I said, super pumped. But anyway.

It’s already 11:11, so I’m making a wish and going to bed. Cпокойной ночи!

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.

Live for today, we’ll dream tomorrow

I’m motivated.

I’m motivated and I’m cleaning and I’m listening to Anberlin and the Avett Brothers and although I have to go to SA in less than twenty minutes, for once my music is louder than Ms. Next-Door’s and life is good.

Also, there was a little sunshine today (and blue skies <!!!>) so that may be contributing to this “life is good” moment.

OH. And I’m going home tomorrow. Did I mention that? I cannot wait. I really can’t wait. That’s honestly what’s gotten me through this week without freaking out. Ah! I can’t wait. Have I mentioned this already? GOD.

Anyway.

Back to my swiffering, and improvving along with the Avetts’ “Jenny and the Summer Day.”

little poem

one day my thoughts, however irrelevant, will fill a book

like a real book,

with pages

and words

and blue ink.

one day my songs, however foolish and romantic, will be sung

by a real person,

with feeling

and heartache

and my love.

one day my dreams, however meaningless right now, will be brought to life

in their own time

with passion

and reality

and my blood.

one day my voice, however bright or strong, will be silenced

the world won’t drop a beat

no more words

no more dreaming

no more song.

one day i’ll pass, unknowing of what-all i leave behind,

but the singing

and the thoughts

and the dreaming?

they’ll belong.

 

“I want to have friends”

Why is it that the Avett Brothers always pull me back to myself? When I’m a little out of it, or shaken, miserable, glum, whatever… they pop up on shuffle and voila, reassurance. Or at least closure; or more importantly, a reminder that life isn’t about the little stupid dramas that are pointless anyway.

I want friends that I can care about. That let me care about them and can trust me. As I rely on them. To be honest, if not kind. “I want to have friends, that I can trust.”

That’s really all. Otherwise, you could probably be a psychopathic slasher and I’d probably not care. It’s really just honestly, or the lack thereof, that hurts. Is it something I did? Should I have left a friend to dwell on his own mistakes without talking them over? Should I have asked about things right away instead of speculating on my own time? Is there something I should have done differently?

Or does it not matter at all? As long as we care about each other and can forgive, and move on, does it matter? Aren’t we all thrown into this outrageously difficult world with our own problems and situations and manners of dealing with them? Shouldn’t we disregard mistakes– our own, others’– and make an effort to love everyone without judgment, without anger or jealousy or anxiety?

If I felt like tossing a reference out into Brendan’s neck of the woods right now (and I do), shouldn’t we love one another unconditionally? Without becoming jaded or sick about it? Like Jesus would. I guess I went there. Well, I said the Avetts brought me back to myself when I’m upset. Myself tends to love God, and also wants to love people. “I want to fit in to the perfect space; feel natural and safe in a volatile place. I want to grow old, without the pain… give my body back to the earth and not complain.”

Real, and well this is my life right now

So I found this quote on Ivy’s blog and nearly started crying. It’s silly, I know.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing, in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously. I hope you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), I hope that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

-Neil Gaiman, “A New Year’s Benediction”

But it’s just that I think I’m experiencing a period of self-hatred right now. I know that is probably silly, too. There’s all this crap about loving yourself floating around and being shoved down everyone’s throats, and up until recently I believed it. I wasn’t truly deeply happy, although seeing my family always inspires a serious dose of love. Upon reflection I think it’s that I hate myself. I love everyone around me. I love them so much it hurts and would never want to leave them (that’s why going back to Eastman generally just makes me sick). But me?

I feel stupid. I feel undereducated and barely literate. I know of few ways to rectify this and in any case my schedule this coming semester absolutely would not allow it. Those “fine books”? Yeah, right. Because I can read for fun. And if I could, where would I get the books? Rush Rhees? Because I have that much time.

I feel ugly. And I know it’s not what you look like that matters. That’s what I tell myself every day. I tell myself that just because I’ve gained a little weight I am by no means fat. I’m curvier, and that’s supposed to be attractive. Right?
I can’t even fall back on cleaning horse stalls to tone up. It’s winter and the tractor is clogging the barn. My dad cleans them every few days because he uses the tractor and if I tried messing with that whacked-out setup I’d break the barn. And if I make an effort to work out it will be like confirming I’m a mess and need to fix myself. I’m just scared to make a change, and for that I despise the insecure and procrastinating parts of myself that slap and tug, each in opposite directions.

The idea that I will kiss someone wonderful this year is unlikely at the very best. I need to not focus on boys or relationships. Boys terrify me. I hate writing that and I hate that it’s true. I hate that I’m too much of an insecure coward to take steps to get to know anyone like that. I hate that the only boy who would kiss me has two other girls he’s also propositioning and I hate that I would even consider that offer. I won’t take it. I know that he won’t care and we’ll move on and stay friends. Chemistry means nothing, the physicality of it all means nothing unless there’s love. And that’s just not in the game plan. I won’t waste my time when there are so many more important things to be doing.

That looks so dramatic and stupid and I’m sure that three years ago I’d’ve been scolded and told to stop being… oh shit what was it. “Emo?” Yeah, well… That was a long time ago and I know the psychology of my situation then back to front. I’ve put it aside.

But I’ve also thought through my life in terms of the big scheme and if I stumble across someone in the distant future who can value me as more than a good time, more than someone to manipulate, and more than a secret meeting, I’ll maybe reconsider. And to be honest I’m jealous of the normalcy, the innocence of my sister, because she has so many options and the good sense and sharp mind to tell all the jackasses and lost causes I seem to attract to go screw themselves.

So this is one step I can take. One thing I can and will firmly refuse. Without love, I won’t make myself vulnerable to anyone. It’s such a hopelessly romantic statement and looks like I’m a giant loser, but the drain that kind of attempt at loveless commitment can take would cost me too much, in terms of emotion, and time.

Most importantly time.

But I will sing. I will write and I may finger paint. If nothing else I will progress musically to the best of my ability, even if that ability happens to be less than everyone else there.

I keep returning to a thought: that I’ve been told I need confidence.

Well you know what? You get too confident and then life sucks when you find out you’re not even close to as good as you thought you were. You try your damnedest to mix humility with the confidence and hope you shine, hope to God it’s working because you crave to do what you love, and it hurts even more when it’s destroyed. You think you know something and you keep seeking that knowledge and you try and fall flat on your face. I’m in a place right now where if I take those kinds of chances and fall, I may not be able to get back up. Everyone knows everyone and they talk. They talk they talk and I keep thinking I don’t want to go back and spend as much time socializing because sleep is great, but apparently their opinions matter and I don’t quite know why. It’s only three and a half years more.

But these people will be around, connecting in the future, for the rest of my life. What do I do? I don’t know. I don’t know.

What do I want?

I want to dream. Dangerously, outrageously. I want to do, and do something useful to benefit people. I want to serve, I want to help. I want to give of myself to improve the life of someone else. I don’t want to dwell in this place where I’m sad and I’m stuck and miserable because I’m ashamed of myself.

I don’t just want, no– I don’t just want to.

I need to surprise myself.

Nothing matters but knowing nothing matters

Some things change, and others stay the same. I think that’s a quote from somewhere. Truth is, I’m sitting belting out Wicked like it’s nobody’s business, and reading the FBI’s Year in Review Part Two.

Guess that quote I think might be a quote’s true.

I’m pretty sure I’ve changed. So much. And I say “pretty sure” only because, I mean, how can I analyze myself and stay unbiased? Obviously I’m a little discombobulated when it comes to self-reflection.

But I’m writing again. I mean on paper. In a book. My sister got me a journal, one of those really really cool ones you see in Barnes and Noble with the leather and the strings that tie it together? It’s got some Italian dude’s manuscript on it. I’m not going to consider whether the music is legit or not because honestly it’s beautiful and I’m not that much of a music snob. I also promised myself to write whatever I want in it. It’s gotten pretty uncensored and disjointed and stream of consciousness, but if it helps me sort myself out even more, and streamline my focus so I can do what I’m here to do (whatever the hell that may be), then it doesn’t matter. No one’s going to read it, anyway. Or so I tell myself. Maybe when I’m dead or whatever some brave soul will crack it open and decode my crappy handwriting. But until then? It’s not exactly a diary and I’m not going to hide or safeguard it… but I refuse to censor myself. Whatever comes into my head goes through my pen to those pages.

Not that I totally censor myself here, or anything. I don’t. But there are some things that are more comfortable reflecting on in a hands-on, pen-to-paper method. Those thoughts become less available to me when I’m aware there are those who may read them.

But yeah. So I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’m not going to suck at school anymore. Being around everyone at Eastman makes me feel stupid. This makes me doubt my own capabilities (not that I’m a genius or anything). I know that my writing isn’t conventionally correct in many ways. There are issues in my sentence structure and grammar and anyone acknowledging that this is true knows what I’m talking about. But since I love reading and learning and music and thinking… I want to stop feeling inadequate every time I discover my own faults. I know I can achieve good things academically. It’s just intimidating being around people who are naturally good at it… more naturally good at it than I am. I know that in reality I am insignificant but I like to think that with the right discipline and strategy I’d be able to accomplish something worthwhile in any area of study, whether I’m automatically good at it or not.

That said, I have to go. I’ve got a letter to write and a CD to send to a certain German in Schwäbisch Hall.

And I know I didn’t really discuss the title of this post. I kind of wanted to, because it fits where I am right now in terms of mindset a little. Maybe another time. In any case it’s a line from Wicked’s “Dancing Through Life.”

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!

Poem with no form, but some eighth notes

Hearing notes in my head
Soaring, soaring
Audiation of
Brilliant white, gold

Hearing chords in my mind
Running, running
Pigmentation of
Blooming pure sound

I hear those triplets
Calling, cycling
Down a brick road
Of sevenths

I hear a leading tone
Aching, yearning
To meet up with its
Love next door

Just a whirling line
All of it mine
Keeping time
In my mind

Underneath the abject willow

This is the song that is stuck in my head. It’s really great. And it’s also why I can’t get to sleep.

I want to sing in all of these different, intriguing languages but it’s funny how out of nowhere a song in my own native English can pop up on the radar. And be really meaningful.

“Underneath the abject willow” is a Britten tune that speaks of love and rejection and coming back from all of it. Life’s too short to wait and wonder, and although it’s beautiful to pause and enjoy the scenery, without action, without loving someone, it’s all pointless.

It’s just the song to inspire a few pretty thoughts of what a puzzled girl could do if she wanted to. Could do with life, if she focused. “Underneath the abject willow, lover sulk no more; act from thought should quickly follow: what is thinking for?” (Britten 1). So gorgeous. ♥

All that lives may love; why longer bow to loss, with arms across? Strike, and you shall conquer.

Take a few and chill the hell out (badly titled, but I’m tired)

Don’t people realize what they look like? When you stand there and rant, complain, bitch, whatever you want to call it, don’t you understand you’re making yourself look like an incompetent moron in the public eye? Doesn’t it hit that no one takes you seriously?

You can’t spout hot air and expect those with common sense to utilize your knowledge.

Being spoiled does not immediately qualify you for a practice room. You’re not entitled, or above the rest of us. If the general populace has to wait five to ten minutes during rotation time for rooms, then by God, certain previously overindulged hotheads should have to suck it up as well.

If all is being done to open previously locked rooms, effective immediately, that should be satisfactory for the moment. In addition, the freshman rush will trickle down once this class learns that they will not be sent home for only putting in six hours as opposed to twenty. It’s already calmed significantly since the meeting last week, where practice room availability was discussed ad nauseum. There are actions being taken, but no swift solution.

But no, apparently it is Not Enough. Nothing can be done quickly enough to appease “the masses,” which, clearly, are breaking down the doors of Eastman to get rooms. That’s why students are rioting in the hallways and smashing pianos and screaming for more space.

Let’s be serious. Here, the music comes first. We’ve not all been previously privileged enough to assume that the practice rooms should clear when we stroll by. Most of us are musician enough and mature enough to sacrifice a little when it comes right down to it.

And let’s face it. Ten minutes in a day, to settle down, to sit down, to wait? Ten minutes to calm down and pause?

Too few of us take those moments. I’d suggest anyone really worked up about the issue to take a few and consider how much more effectively their time would be spent. Instead of complaining.

What a concept.

There are more important things than aural skills

Well, it’s hit me.

Something useful to do. Some of the things Liz Shropshire said, some of the points she made and the clips she showed, had the impact I knew they would. There is incontrovertible power behind the simple verses sung by children who’ve suffered unspeakably.

I want to be involved with this foundation like it’s my job. I want, I want, when really I need to do this. For those kids, for their families, and for myself. It’s a necessary human function to want to give what I have. But for this, I would give what I am, and I hope that can make a difference.

A child with a Shropshire harmonica (photo taken from http://teachingchildrenpeace.org).