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.

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Gotta have standards. Right?

I was planning on blogging about boys and drinking and all that good stuff, but instead of just going off on an unrelated tangent, I should explain a few things first.

I’ve always been a closet romantic. Ever since I was old enough to read the love stories. It’s pretty pathetic, if you ask me, and there’s a certain layer of vulnerability there that I’m really only comfortable sharing where no one can see me blushing a little as I talk about it. I am just a sap for romance, and the idea that the chemical combination that produces a feeling of love somehow exists boggles me and fascinates me simultaneously.

But in the same breath, I realize that for me, and the lifestyle I’ve chosen, the attitudes I’ve adopted, this is an unlikely scenario. I am not a slut and adamantly refuse to put myself in a situation where I will be taken advantage of, so it seems unlikely that I will ever find myself a “right” dude. Let’s be honest here: all boys want is to get in pants. Don’t even lie, if you are a gentleman. Just don’t even open your mouth to protest that one. You know, and I know (hate to break it to you, but the WORLD knows) that the male species has serious issues controlling the hormones that derail the brain and send thoughts elsewhere in the anatomy. To the real area that makes decisions.

For a girl, it’s not just about the sex. Sure, that plays a part, or should. But later. I’m going to be honest and admit that physical attraction is just as critical to the lady in a heterosexual relationship. And sometimes a girl just wants to score, and screw the sweet-talking for weeks or months or years beforehand.

But that’s just not how I’m truly wired. I’ve had one “serious” relationship: three years ago. Since then, it’s been on-and-off, very brief flings– if that’s even what one would call them. They weren’t serious enough, in any regard, to be called friends with benefits, or any of that other jazz. But there was No Romance. In any of them. Sweetness, sure. Sometimes. Courtesy? Mostly. I guess.

But I can’t help but sigh over the idea of a gent who would understand me, or make an effort. I don’t need (or want?) some uomo perfetto. But a guy who would make the time to see me, who wouldn’t treat me like a booty call, wouldn’t expect me to follow his every command, and would not take off assuming I only want him for his body? That would be a nice change. He would be even more of a winner if he liked classical music. Or maybe if he didn’t call it shit. I’ve had one of Those Boys before, who somehow didn’t understand that opera was my major? Or, you know, my future career? Yeah. That didn’t last long.

See, I used to have standards. Then, after my first (cough, only) boyfriend, I fell under the impression that boys would never like me. I felt as though this kid I’d been dating had stained me somehow, like he left an undeniable mark that everyone could see. My standards went out the window and I hoped for anything I could get.

Now I’m a little older. Three years older, actually. And I have more perspective, and less clouded judgment. Or so I would hope. I’m in a new place with new people and I feel like, in this new life, I should reset my standards.

I do want to have that chemical cocktail of amazingness, after all. I just don’t know if it’s attainable. See below: My List of Standards, narrated as if I were speaking to a boy.

01. Please be a hockey fan. Or, if you’re not, pretend you like it. If you diss my favorite sport, I’ll just get cranky. (If you’re a Leafs/Sens/Flyers fan, however, prepare for some flirty banter. Sabres fans are highly approved of, as well. As long as you know what the hell’s going on… because I do. For example, Philly beat the Sabres in preseason Friday night 3-1, and they play again this Sunday. First regular season game’s the 8th. Know this crap and I’m yours. Possibly.)

02. Don’t be scared of me. Apparently I’m scary. Please be brave. I’m really not intimidating, I just have a loud laugh, bright hair, and a tendency to sing whenever and wherever. But it’s not in an I’m-so-great way, it’s in an I-freakin’-love-singing way. Please don’t be a wimp. That’s not hot.

03. Be smart. I don’t mean you need a degree (right now) or anything. I’m not judgmental if you don’t like school/books/education. But in my world, if you’re articulate, literate, and considerate you’re pretty well off. It’d just be a nice plus if you liked learning.

04. Don’t insist on getting in my pants right off the bat. Or right away. Or at all. I’m so over horny boys trying to “get” me. No thanks. Let me hold the reins there. If I like you enough we may get there. Eventually… maybe. Okay, when and if I damn well feel like it.

05. Don’t presume to tell me what to do. Understand that we’re each individuals. Not each others’ parents. I won’t give you instruction as long as you don’t try controlling me. Been there, and I’ll pass.

06. Romanticism is not outdated. That is all for number six.

07. And finally, please don’t call opera “shit.” Note: if you’re a musician you get bonus points. (If you sing to me, I’ll probably swoon. If you actually sing, like for real? Definitely swoon.)

That’s really all there is to it. For me, anyway. The hockey and music ones are the biggest, I think. If we can talk sports and appreciate Rachmaninov together, I’m done for.

And I don’t quite know why I’m thinking about this. I did go to Alex’s this evening and she had her gentleman friend there to spend time with some of us Eastman folks. It just makes me think, if she can handle a boy, why can’t I?

Too bad I can’t find any straight ones here. Ivana did a nice explanation tonight: she told us she had a pie chart. “Fifty percent at Eastman are gay or confused. Forty-five percent are straight but taken. Three percent are straight but weird.”

And that leaves the rare straight semi-normal two percent to ponder.

Musings on the probability of success

Today has been long and exhausting so far.

I had my choral ensemble placement audition today. I sound like crap, by the way. The humidifier I bought at Target was only on for about a half hour before I had to leave. My throat hurts. My head hurts. I’m not “sick,” yet, per se, but I sound terrible.

Being in that room made me want to cry. I know sol fege. But I sang do-re-mi-fa-sol-fa: and the ending note ascended. It should have been la. I wouldn’t be surprised, honestly, if the grad students and professors in the room (there were five) simply noted down that I should go back home. It was so not my best, but it was all I could do at the time. Competing with stupidly paralyzing nerves and my own lack of knowledge just exhausts me. That’s why I’m glad this isn’t a cutthroat place. If people were outright mean in addition to outstandingly talented, I would be screwed.

Apparently they told Rachael (who auditioned after me) that she sounds like a voice who will really succeed at Eastman. I (obviously) was told no such thing.

That’s really cool they told her that, and as I was talking to John and Tong I heard her and got distracted because it was so pretty. And it was only vocalizing.

But now I’m wondering what it would be like to fail. The parasitic leeching doubt’s just there, and, well… two years of previous classical study might not cut it. It wasn’t intensive study, either. I was part-timing it previously to this week.

Shouldn’t giving it everything matter, though? I know I’m practically infantile in my knowledge of classical music and opera. I get it, okay? But I want to learn. The desperate nerd in me is trying to drag classes closer so I can go and get some homework. The obsessive musician is clamoring for my lesson tomorrow so I can get feedback and have a concrete reason to work in a practice room for the maximum hours allotted a day like I really, really want to.

But on the other hand, what if I’m not qualified to be here? I’ve been telling myself, they’ll teach me. They’ll teach me. They won’t judge me for what I don’t know, they won’t hate me because I’m ignorant. Students or faculty, anyone I respect and/or admire for who they are or what they do, won’t think I shouldn’t be here because I’m still learning what they were proficient at years ago.

I don’t want to be considered out of the running for success simply because right now I don’t know anything. If I am willing to learn, isn’t that important? If I crave the knowledge I’ve seen in action here, if I want it and will reach for it with all that I am, won’t that factor in?

If the thought of failing is breaking my heart, shouldn’t that mean something?

This doesn't really lighten the mood for me, but he is my new humidifier/penguin

ESM! ESM!

So here’s what’s up with college. Specifically, Eastman.

IT. IS. AMAZING.

It sucks being away from my family. I really miss them. Like, I Really Miss Them.

But GOD. I am at this school, this premier institution with a brilliant faculty and astonishingly friendly students. I know at least half of my class by name, if not name and major. My Big Sib is the greatest most outrageously busy yet successful person I think I may have ever met. Currently I’m enjoying a really excellent balance between rushing around and downtime. I’ve signed up for classes, which begin Monday. I’m going on a tour of Rochester tomorrow with some of the most talented, levelheaded and sociable individuals I have ever had the pleasure to meet, then I’m going to a Redwings game.

And I have only been here almost five days.

It’s unbelievable.

I know learning and classes will keep my occupied. I’m well aware that, at times, I’ll be a completely antisocial hermit with grungy hair and extra black coffee, hoarded in my dorm, locking Lucy out. But I also know that, with the right harmony in place*, a premier experience here will be mine. Not exaggerating here: the most freaking phenomenal time of my life is here. I’ve thought about it and waited and worried and waited some more, anxious and tense and tweaking out.

Waiting’s done. It’s here. And whether I was qualified to be here or not, I’m here now.

I’m going to grab this time with all I’ve got and hold it close, savor it. Then I’ll make it mine like no tomorrow because really, my life is what I make it now. I’m making it successful by being here, making it musical by living here. And making it something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life by pulling every sparkling golden note from each moment I’m here.

The ESM lobby.


*Music pun

Time for the fall

I had it out with my mother last night.

Those of you who actually know me, and/or my mother, will realize that this is not the simplest or most enjoyable activity.

Those of you who don’t know me, and/or my mother, will please take note that we are quite similar… type A personality, somewhat aggressive and domineering, like to be in control, fairly intuitively aware of when someone is having a difficult time with something. The difference is, my mother will confront this struggling person with a “what’s your problem? your tone sucks” (i.e., that’s what she said to me yestereve), whereas I will either allow said individual to continue to work out whatever it is they’re dealing with in peace, or I will ask them about it (hopefully a smidgeon less abrasively… although I’ll confess to being an abrasive soul on occasion).

Anyway. So we were sitting on the porch. Me: bowl of popcorn and some grape juice, Nora Roberts’ The Villa in one hand and a texting conversation with Michael in the other. Ready to relax and burn up the forty-some pages left in my book before the natural light faded.

Mother: “So when are we going to Wal-Mart? What else do you need to get?”

Me: Rattled off list of supplies still necessary.

Dad (eavesdropping by the grill, pretending he’s not being awkward standing there): “Are you going to bring your fridge?”

Me: Explanation of how I don’t know because my roommate’s sister facebooked me about how they have a fridge already. Further explanation of how, even if I don’t bring it this year, I will need it next year when I have my own room.

Mother: “You know, you sound like this all has to go your way. Like, you are entitled for everthing to be exactly the way you want it.”

Me: “That’s not how it is–”

Mom: “That’s what I mean. Your tone… sucks.”

And that’s when I ignored my father pretending to be part of the conversation and forgot to calculate the effects of what I said or how I said it.  Basically I just spewed out what I didn’t know had really been gnawing at me.

“I’m going to a high-intensity musical conservatory in less than two weeks, where I know no one and I’ll be expected to work my ass off every second of my day. Not that I mind, but on top of that I’ve never done college before, have no idea what to expect or what to do or how to do it. No one’s there to help me and I’ll be completely on my own. I’m sorry if that gives me a ‘tone’ since I’m terrified and will have no idea what I’m doing. It’s just a little bit of added stress, if that’s understandable. Just a little stressful for me.”

So now it’s said and aired, and I have come to the realization that leaving has really started to worry me. It’s like the wait before an audition, before a performance. I feel prepared, but unsure of how I’ll actually perform. I mostly am anxious because I don’t know what’s in store, I don’t know what’s waiting at Eastman. Hogwarts, it feels like, but I doubt it will be that fun. Challenges, stress, coffee, no sleep. Hopefully it will be the time of my life, but who knows, really. I’m sadly undereducated and as much as I love music, I don’t like to be behind.

I just don’t know what to expect, and that worries me. The wait pressures me. All that I’m leaving behind here seems so final, so like the end of summer, the end of childhood.

I’ll deal with it and kick its ass with intensity, but for right this second, it’s stressing me out.