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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In limbo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Le package room aka work

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

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

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

Stream of nagging consciousness

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

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

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

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

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

What good would the moon be

I woke up this morning thinking that I would be really productive and get all of my work done.

I mean… I’d still like to, and plan on it, mostly. But I got side-tracked, as usual, and found myself writing. Then I was listening to Street Scene (our opera for the spring), and then I was here.

I said it in my last post, but it’s been a while. I feel sorry that I don’t force myself to write more. Even if it’s just my own musings, my own stream of consciousness, it still counts, right? I suppose I just feel bad sometimes because my stream of consciousness is not the most captivating nor the most interesting and I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.

On the other hand, though, it’s really easy for anyone bored or annoyed to click the little x in the corner of a screen. And it’s really easy for me to come up with excuses not to write.

Bad segue, but I really want to complete NaNoWriMo this November. I tried last year, and I tried the Summer Camp option in August. Much to my dismay (but not surprise) I can’t make myself dedicate. I can’t carve out fifteen minutes a day to channel my brain into writing mode. I can’t create believable characters because I’m so concerned with their believability (or lack thereof) that I give up altogether. I let my fear of what might be overwhelm me and I decapitate myself before I even start.

I don’t want to do that this year. Here, or for Nano, or in Intro to Lyric Theatre class. Or in life. I don’t want to short-change myself before I even embark on a task.

So here we go, new task. Write a blog a day until my birthday, 30 September, regardless of the topic or the logic of it or even the stupid sentence structure. And I’ll try not to let myself down here.

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Refusal to take myself seriously

It’s the end! Of the second year. Oh boy, oh my. Oh dear.

But here I am, still in one piece. Actually, I think I might be more whole than I was coming into school this summer. And I’m definitely more of a real person than I was at the beginning (middle, or end) of my freshman year.

It’s amazing, how much a span of a few months can change a person. March was the month of change for me, and it catapulted right into April with that same new, thrilling momentum. Now here we are in May, and all I can think of is summertime, cool breezes and hot sun, learning my music and keeping up with my language and theory skills. Not that I have a great deal of those, just to clarify. But I’d like to try to keep up.

That’s all I really want to do, to be honest. Learn, and drink coffee and sit outside with my dogs. But I’ll be working.

Anyway. Total change in subject now. So. I guess that last post was mostly me drinking. I don’t usually drink and write– normally I know better. But I’d gone out and come back within the span of an hour and a half, and I hadn’t felt tired.

But I had felt alone, and lonely with it, I suppose. That’s not really my style, to be clear. I love to be alone. In fact, I often prefer it; I’m more productive, and certainly more sociable when I finally do see people. I guess there’s something about a two o’ clock on a Tuesday morning that brings out the sentimental in me.

I can’t help but laugh it off, though. I’ve been really silly lately and I’m blaming it on the end of the semester and three and a half more finals to go. Speaking of, I’d better keep studying for Deutsch, and I think I’ve lost my voice final… Uhg. Maybe I’ll return to WordPress before I set out for the rustic land of dial-up internet. In case I don’t though, bis später!

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.

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.

It goes on and on, on and on, on and on (etc.)

So the earth keeps spinning and life keeps changing and here I am blogging about it.

My birthday is next week. The semester’s already nearly five weeks in and I’ve been to the gym every day for nearly twenty days this months. I’m loving German, enjoying but sucking at theory, and getting the help where I need it so I can understand the beautiful things that are going to shape me into a musician worth knowing. I’m trying to look for time where I normally wouldn’t, and also learning how to balance the mental health time that’s so very necessary to keeping a busy mind sane and efficient.

On a greater scale, my family’s nearly all grown up and a few branches have started families of their own. Life has taken my cousins all over the country; deaths have brought them all to one place again. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I would have ever gotten the chance to meet some of these people otherwise. When I asked  my grandmother to show me, finally, my great-great-grandmother’s autobiography, I discovered some piece of where I come from, some part of the family legacy that I and my sister and my cousins will build upon.

I’m living on my own (minus a few bills that I would otherwise have to pay on my own, but what the hell, that money is all being sucked into this thing I like to call “tuition,” anyway). I’m creating plans, choosing things for myself, making my own coffee… I’ve made my own coffee for years but it’s different when the coffee pot you use is something you bought with your own money, and the coffee you make is again something you purchased yourself. I’m almost a real person. That’s what it feels like to me, right now.

But life will go on, and we’ll have to see if my being almost a real person changes as it does.

And in springs May

I’ve updated! Finally. Made some much-needed, pleasant redecorations.

I also did some spring cleaning on my computer. Not physically– the screen’s still splotchy and dirty and there are the *cough* few little droplets of coffee here and there around the keys, but everything’s in proper working order so I’m not concerned. I’m talking about the inner spring cleaning, the going-through of all of my school papers and theory projects and compositions and whatever that were sprawled across my Desktop willy-nilly. Essays with names like “omgggdfakdjlkMUE111ESSSSAY” and “asdjffjkjkdshitttfinallythispaper.” Random photos that I posted on tumblr, some miscellaneous notepad entries with cryptic phrases like “bach cell0 suite in g major for marimba.”

All of that has been either deleted or relegated to my EASTMAN 2010-11 folder. So it’s nice and cozy. Also, all of my stories and to-do lists are neatly filed away. My background is currently rotating photos from home (in the summertime, outside, I might add). And I’ve got less than four days of Rochester left (!!!!!!). Tomorrow is “Reading Day,” where I will barricade myself in my room with a study plan I hope to have arranged by this evening (well, later this evening). Wednesday I have theory and music ed. Thursday I have ed psych. And Friday is the open book (LOL) Italian final and I am OUT OF HERE.

For home, for summer. My first summer as a grown up, I guess. I feel grown up now (not really, but I don’t feel like a child). I certainly don’t feel like I did before. I’m about ready to start actually contributing to the world. What a notion.

I actually do plan to be productive. In addition to my job, I’ll have practicing to do. Friday is also “Raid Sibley Day” so I’ll hopefully have a massive collection of German (also!!!!!-worthy) to learn! And three more of Tchaikovsky’s six romances.

But that’s for four days from now. So until then, I’ll sign off, bid adieu or what have you, and maybe read for a while.

It’s April again

There really isn’t anywhere else I’d care to talk about this. I only have a little on my mind, though, running around and around in a constant circle of worry and sadness with the ever-present and obnoxious hope. I guess here is the logical choice because the only people that tend to read this are a handful that know me, and they all know me well enough not to bring this up or tell me I shouldn’t post things about it.

No one is talking about it. Dakota is in critical condition– yeah, thanks, I know he is, I saw him for myself– and no one is talking about it. I expected some kind of prayer group, or you know, people being concerned? But apparently that’s not the case. Well, I am freaking concerned. This is the boy I went to middle and high school with, the outgoing but shy, sweet boy who loves to dance and laugh and act and write poetry. He is the boy whose best friends are some of my best friends, who’s been up to my house for bonfires. Who’s been in musicals with me since forever. Who’s going to Fredonia for theatre next year, with a writing minor. He has a half-finished tattoo that needs to be colored in, dammit.

I guess it’s natural that today’s been a long day to think about it. I get sick thinking that someone else with so much to live for might not get the chance. He’s strong, though, and his body will fight and heal and recover. I just want him to get better. I never want to hear the worst news. This was never supposed to happen. Hey God, if you give a shit, don’t take another boy away from his mother, his family, his friends. He has so much to offer the world. He might want to be forever young, but not like this.

Stay strong, Dakota.

Rest in peace, Dan. (Sept. 4, 1989 – Apr. 25, 2009.)

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.

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.”

“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…

All my loving

I see my family in three days.

Technically I see them next Tuesday, but I have to get through Friday, Monday and Tuesday for that to happen. I’m leaving straight from studio class at 730 in the evening to load up the car and get the heck out of here.

I can’t say I’m unhappy here, because I really enjoy myself, normally. But I am so ready to go home, to breathe real air. To see stars. The one Sunday we went to the beach at night? Yeah. Amazing. Just that little teasing glimpse hooked itself into my heart and still tugs, tugs, until the breath comes short in my chest and I can almost picture the sky from my house. I can’t wait to see the horses, to run around with Molley and Grizz and maybe go for a run. Okay, so I don’t actually run, but a leisurely jog with the dogs or a wander in the woods is certainly an exciting possibility.

I can chill out with my sister when the parents are at work. We’ll play Sims and eat Real Food and insult each other. Probably fold some laundry and do the dishes and laze around and drink hot chocolate.

Then, Thanksgiving. Oh my God. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Grandma’s house in Forestville jammed full of the Luders and maybe/hopefully Uncle Norm and Aunt Lena. Bursting with sounds and smells of football and Really Real Food. I’ll probably be chopping vegetables or making gravy or whatever while Uncle Dave struts around like the proud grandfather he is (regardless of the fact that baby Evan will be with Maria at Scott’s parents’) and Grandma runs around trying to make sure everything is amazing. She needn’t bother– it always is. There will be turkey and holy sweet baby Jesus mashed potatoes. And salad, and some weird casseroles that I probably won’t eat, but then. But then. Dessert. Pies and holy crap it doesn’t even matter what other goodness there is because there will be homemade freaking pie. More than one kind.

I’m going to faint just thinking about the phenomenal week that awaits me.

I just have to get through three days. And a weekend. I cannot wait to be home.

The view of the back of my house from a little ways into the backyard

From early this morning

I feel as though I talk about love a lot. I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but since I don’t plan to experience the concept in relation to a boy any time soon, it’s kind of irrelevant for me. And the fact that I’m discussing hypothetical situations and feelings that I’ve never had in that capacity? Yeah. Makes me feel like a desperate loser.

But, I suppose, isn’t it better to discuss things? If in twenty years I revisit this blog, I might be amused. Or writing it all out could help me actually do some deep thinking without getting really upset.

The only reason I got upset in the first place was because I’m a wimp. Okay, so I can pretty much handle anything. But really deep down, I’m scared of everything. The most you can do is live anyway, and be strong and vibrant regardless of the fear. To put it aside and in the back of your mind because it’s certainly the least important.

But there’s an undercurrent of quick, freezing terror sometimes. Just a swift jolt to remind me. If anything happened to my family or friends, I’d be nothing. I’m nothing without them. In the same breath, if anything happened to prevent me from living out the dreams I’ve laid for myself, it would be similarly devastating. There’s always so much to lose.

On the other hand there’s so much to gain. And that’s what that little streak of romantic in my heart keeps telling me. That’s why I’m not, say, a psychopath or something. Because there’s always that brave streak of “hey, dude, look at this, this is life and you are here. Live.”

Old

It’s really weird, isn’t it, to think that in fifty or sixty years, if I make it that far, my world will be so unfathomably different than it is right now.

I am sitting on my bed, in my dorm. A freshman in college with polka-dotted sheets and pink and orange, vibrant decor. A book on one side of me, my computer and phone on the other. So new to the world of real things. So new to living on her own, as her own.

In sixty years, where will I be? A stout little grandmother making my life with love and horses and big scary dogs in Wyoming or Montana? With a big, open house and plenty of kids around. And space to run and ride and work and learn.

Or will I be in the city somewhere, teaching master classes? Speaking and reading and developing new ways to think of music and education. Probably alone since that work is intense. I might have a decent apartment with plenty of books and a red coffeemaker.

Maybe I’ll be huddled near my sister in some suburb somewhere. A well-to-do, all-is-well, everything’s-the-same neighborhood. I can sit trapped in the house that’s identical to everyone else’s and write away while my sister’s grandchildren play nearby.

I don’t know. But I was just sitting here thinking, in fifty years, will I remember this exact moment? Will I recall that day when I sat and breathed and looked around, wondering if I’d remember? What will I think of my eighteen-year-old self? What would I tell her? What will I know then that is still a mystery to me right now?

What people will I have come across? What other lives that are strangers to me now will have brushed against mine? What lives will my family and I have lived?

Who will I be when I am old?