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.

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.

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.

Troubles of my thoughts

Aptly, “Affanni del pensier” (Handel) is a perfect description of my opinion of juries. I am excited and terrified, and sick with it. And I’d give anything for a moment of peace, at least.

I rehearse today at 4 with my professor in the Black Box of Doom (804). Again. And hopefully this time I will be able to add some artistry to the aria I received just over two weeks ago. To some, this might seem like no time at all in which to master the music. I, on the other hand, am not a super great memorizer (or writer, right now, apparently). I also have a shit ton of other stuff going on. That’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth. My planner is riddled with scribbles: “E-mail these people. Composition assignment draft; theory (theme and variations worksheet). Aural skills: practice. Rehearse- 4oo” and so on and so on.

I forgot to eat again today. This is the second time it’s happened. So, to make up for it, I bought myself an amazing sandwich at Java’s. But I’m still shaky, still feeling the aftereffects of being stupid and not nourishing myself. I didn’t want another stupid bagel again, though! And that’s pretty much the only good thing I can identify in that pathetic little food-providing institution they call the Pit.

Anyway. So I’m a little twitchy and full and nervy right now. I’ve got an hour and six minutes to solidify Affanni before Ciesinski hears it again. I might sing it through to myself here, then read it: again and again and again. Then sing through it softly one more time. I might speak the words in the order they go in. I don’t know.

I just want to do well. I’m working for it; I’m trying. I’m trying.

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.

You drift upon the silence of my dreams

I almost didn’t write. I had this window closed and everything. But I guess I needed to.

There’s not a whole lot going on right now, though: it’s one of those chunks of time that you’re so busy with everything that time just slides by.

Good. It should. I’m ready to go back home.

It’s silly, though, because I adore it here. I’m just ready to see my family again.

My accompanist told me this morning that he feels old. He’s twenty-five or six. I’m eighteen, and I feel old every morning.

I have eleven frappuccinos from Starbucks in my fridge (before you scorn me, I did not use actual money, I used declining).

I am completely typing stream-of-consciousness right now, so what you see is what I’m thinking, I suppose.

I’m listening to a recording of “The White Swan” right now (Ernest Charles). I sang it tonight in studio, and I got a lot of really solid feedback for it. It’s got an indigo and red-violet shimmer to it that’s edged with a sliver of white gold. That’s the song in color for me: deep jewel tones with a bright, hot edge.

It’s about someone who wants someone else. She thinks she’s forgotten this person, and has closeted away thoughts of them. But there’s something striking and vivid about a memory from before, of a white swan bursting through a sable pool she and this person saw years or days or months ago… and it slides deeply and sharply into her heart, that she craves this person more than anything. “I dared to dream I had forgotten you. Yet from the shadows of my darkened heart, like a white swan upon an onyx pool, you drift upon the silence of my dreams– and fill my heart with longing! With longing… and desire.”

It gets pretty intense. And as two of my favorite studio mates (grad students) told me this evening, with the accompaniment, “That’s hot.” So by that standard alone it was a great class. It never ceases to amaze me that I’m actually here. I’m really living, breathing– and studying at Eastman. What the hell?

A year ago I was hating life and yearbook and wishing to Jesus that I could just have fun. I thought for sure I was going to Syracuse to do something else with my life… besides sing.

I still want to do something else with my life: like be someone worth knowing? that would be cool. But singing is something I find myself connecting with on a deeper and deeper level every day. Especially since “O del mio dolce ardor” at the departmental recital, I just have a feeling (a confidence? maybe) that I should be doing this. I could travel with this, I could learn so much if I continue with it.

I take my music ed assessment tomorrow at 430. This is directly after four hours of classes (not counting the two in the AM). The assessment will determine whether or not I can double major officially or not. Oh God, what do I do if I fail it?

I won’t fail it. I hope.

With that, it’s time to conclude these completely disconnected ramblings and go shower. Buona notte, wordpress.

Blogs from home

A series of little bloggettes from my first time back home since college started.

12:17 AM 09 Oct 2010

This is so, so so so strange. It’s like, I’m home! Finally.

But so why do I want to cry? It’s like everything’s the same, and nothing’s the same. In a way, it reminds me of the dream I had around a year ago, where I was killed and came back as a ghost. Only to see that life had gone on without me, but I’d left a hole. That’s kind of what coming home has done to me: shown me the hole where I fit. The empty space I left behind that was sort-of filled but that had been waiting for me to come back to it.

It’s so overwhelming. The love is too much for me. I’m so lucky and so blessed. And I’m not ashamed to say I’m crying while I’m typing this because I’m so full of happy and– and– I don’t know if the word is unworthiness? Insignificance? Overwhelmed, overflowing. The love my family has for me is so huge. I was wrenched by time out of their lives and now I’m back and it’s like nothing ever changed. I just get to hug my mother for a few minutes longer. That’s the only difference.

But evidence of my absence is everywhere. My room, with only one pillow and no little pink lamp, shows that I haven’t been here. My laundry wasn’t in the wash, my dishes weren’t in the sink. None of my chaotic piles of makeup were dumped in their usual spot by the bathroom mirror, no brightly-colored, half-consumed coffee cups littered the counter. The computer desk was neat.

I just feel sad that I had to go. It’s like someone ripped off my arm, or something… and pretended that it was going to be gone forever, but for a few days they stick it back on and say, “enjoy, until we tear it off again.” I remember adjusting to college life being fairly difficult. Now I’m accustomed to the routine and the rhythm, but when I first got there I was just heartbroken. I don’t want that to happen a second time.

Saturday 09 October 2010 6:49 pm

“It’s not where I am, it’s you I’m with.”

I’m in the car typing this right now, and reflecting on life. It sounds really deep, but it’s not.

We get a little wild during car rides...

I think about life a great deal. But as the Avetts croon about love and existence and the car glides toward the sunset, I’m launched into a mindset that sends thoughts of home and belonging swirling through my brain.

 

Where’s my home now? I’m coming back from eating la comida italia with my family and wondering, now that my life’s been thrust into its own orbit, where I’m allowed to call home. There’s a sense of rightness and belonging about Eastman for me, and in Rochester. But in the same breath I feel that way about Buffalo and my home. Can I have two? Is that allowed? What about when I get my own apartment? Or move out of Rochester? Is it possible to make a life elsewhere, to have multiple homes that feel comfortable, wonderfully happy, and right?

Then the Avett Brothers chime in with “St. Joseph’s” and remind me. “It’s not where I’m am, it’s you I’m with.” As long as I’m with those I love and who love me in return– whether it’s familial or friendship or both– I am already home.

Sunday 10 October 2010 8:38 pm

I just got out of my third shower since I’ve been home. It’s an exercise in indulgence: I take a shower that would have been normal for me here, but at school is extravagant. At Eastman, we have the minute yellow bathroom stalls with mangy floors and flip flops involved. Non-adjustable spray with squeaky nozzles and an atmosphere of tension in case (gasp) some strange girl flounces in mid-exit and sees me in all of my toweled-up, drippy-makeuped glory. All in all I rush to perfect personal hygiene and it’s simply a mandatory procedure.

Here, I take time. Take those precious few moments to take off all of my makeup, to savor the clean white, steamy air. To stand with bare feet in a clean shower. The perfume of my home billowing around me, swirling with the sweet citrus of body wash and lotion and shampoo, is the scent that irons out the stress of a long day and a nervily-anticipated trip back to school.

Even the simple actions that I completely (typically) took for granted are purely divine now. Like, toweling off in a space that’s not two square feet. Having a well-lit and enormous bathroom with a halfway-recognizable color scheme. Not having to dig through a caddy to find the right item.

It’s so great. Except, I realized tonight that I’m already missing home. And I haven’t even left it again.

Sunday October 10, 2010 11:27 pm

I knew it would happen. I knew I’d love home so much and never want to go away and always want to stay here safe in this warm and cozy house with the people I adore and the sunshine and the comfort.

I know in my mind that I’d go insane. If I had to stay here all the time. And I’ve really just been trying to enjoy every second spent here and with my family. Playing Sims with my sister, watching the Sabres win (then lose), Criminal Minds marathons, and selling Harley tickets in Ellicottville. All of it is part of being home and coaxing every drop of happy from it that I can.

I miss Eastman too, but in an academic sense. I wish Eastman was right next door so I could step into my family’s life whenever. I’m so freaking happy to be with them right now it’s stupid, because when I get back I’ll be happy too and that will be a betrayal of sorts. But also I just don’t want to leave them. Their lives will roll on and so will mine and even though this visit was like no time passed, I know that won’t continue. Life goes on.

Damn it, life goes on whether I’m there or not. Something– anything, really– could happen at any second. I could get hit by a bus or get slashed in the parking garage or sweet Jesus God forbid fall from a stairwell and break my neck. And writing that makes me want to vomit but it’s the truth, and then what? And then what? Life would still go on.

I can’t wrap my head around it and I am so miserable trying to try. It’s so hard. It’s so hard to have two places I want– need– to be, with so many desires and hopes and fears tearing me in so many directions. Expectations and longings and worries and stresses. And I’m depended on to deal with them all, to handle it. I can. I mean, I can. And will.

Life goes on. But I’m still here and sad, this moment.

Just a few thoughts before I go and sleep

Have you ever been creeping on someone (yeah, my method is generally facebook) and found someone from their past that they obviously don’t talk to anymore? Like who’s commented on their older pictures, a LOT, or older statuses?

Then you go to that person’s profile, and you’re not friends, but from the comments you can tell that they were just really, really… nothing like yourself.

I just had that experience and it’s really bizarre thinking that there really are human beings so far removed from what I’m doing. From a general standpoint that looks really shallow and narcissistic. From the intense and focused academic’s, not so much. It’s just shocking to think that there are normal people “out there” living normal lives, with no intent to do anything more than file papers or make burgers or pump gas. It’s not as though those are bad ambitions, but for me, here, it’s such a driven atmosphere of incessant motion. It’s hard to picture the guy who’s bored on his couch watching some baseball with a beer. It’s tough to imagine the girl who’s going to college for something ridiculous like, oh, I don’t know, middle school math education or similar nonsense. It’s strenuous to think of the gal who likes to go tanning and get manicures and take her boyfriend shopping with her so she can talk to him in a cutesy voice. I just can’t picture someone who has That Much Time to Waste.

But maybe, like I said, it’s because it’s so far removed from here. Maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective. Perhaps that same baseball fan or the orange girl decked in pink with too much eyeliner would have trouble envisioning an opera major with a jam-packed schedule and insomnia.

In another life, maybe

So I realized upon waking up and reading what I wrote last night, I left a few important things out of my post.

First of all, I realize it’s a pretty personal subject. When I mentioned the vulnerability? It’s kind of weird leaving that last post up, just because it talks about crap I’ve tried my best to not even think about for a long time.

Because let’s be realistic. I sing opera. I have plans for my life, and they’re not all money-making or stabilizing. I’m ambitious and fairly smart and love to read, write, think, and work outside/shovel horse shit/run around with my dogs when it’s not snowy. I don’t fit the typical mold for a significant other and I’m aware of it. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it, or having a yen for it. Even if it doesn’t make sense.

And hey. This was a blog for my thoughts, first and foremost. So if I’m thinking about boys and the future, then that’s what I’m going to write about.

But upon further reflection, I almost feel as though I should resign it to fiction. Keep the thoughts of a future with some faceless, nameless gent within the pages of a word document. The idea of jeopardizing my future plans because of some unknown stranger is horrifying. It’s just not worth it.

So ignore my lists and forget the standards. It’s just a silly topic that happens to surface in my mind whenever I see my friends happy in that way. I’m glad for them, but in the more selfish section of my brain I do tend to wonder why I can’t have it, too.

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.

This is what happens after two weeks at Eastman

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this post, but if it doesn’t really flow or whatever, give me a break, I’m tired and I’m thinking in 2/4.

I’ve been hearing classical music in my head constantly. I find myself conducting to a piece in order to find its meter. Even if it’s Queen’s delicious “Somebody to Love” (simple duple, thank you very much, although it could be quadruple). I have had more spelling errors in my notetaking and writing within the past week than I’ve had in the past twelve months of my life. I daydream about living the Sibley Music Library, and I have a newfound fascination with the sound of a baritone range. I think I’m assimilating into what I like to call my musical Hogwarts.

And I love it.

Bach duet altered for marimba. I want to say it's in G Minor

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

Look at me, I’m tired and being ridiculous (also known as me, philosophizing)

I realize this picture is possibly as pathetic as me right now and twelve times as lame/cheesy.

All anyone really wants is attention.

I’ve discovered recently (yeah, over the course of the past week and a half) that I have an ambition to act eventually. Someday. I’d just like to be on TV, to have a group of people appreciate me for what entertainment I can bring them.

Normal people, too, I mean. Opera people are weird: delightfully so, but weird. It would be interesting to have a fan base at all, let alone one of normal people.

This is why I think acceptance is so necessary for everyone. I’ve spent most of my childhood struggling to be liked and accepted by the other kids in my classes. Finally my child self basically said, “Fuck it, I’ll just go be smart on my own and if anyone wants to join me I’ll be reading and singing and xylophoning over here.”

Granted, that was just about a year and a half ago, but still.

Here again I sit and wish for MORE people to like me. MORE people to read this blog. MORE people to follow me on Twitter, to want me to sing, to ask if I’ve ever thought of TV.

I realize it’s not as simple as it sounds, but if Dr. Heischberger thinks I can then hell, I’d try it.

In any case essentially I feel pathetic for aiming for more and craving more but ambition keeps forcing me to run at a ten-foot-high stone wall. Here, try this angle, here, try it again, here, practice some more and daydream some more and get your hopes up some more, More, MORE.

Maybe I’ll succeed eventually but until then my daydreams are what feed my intensity and my goal-making ambition. I just don’t want to get my hopes up too ridiculously high only to fall flat on my never-to-be-filmed face.

Holy discontent

It’s been a few long months since I’ve heard that phrase.

I really don’t mean for this to be a themed blog, and once I get going I’m sure I’ll be writing more about other things… but lately God’s been on my mind so in pure honest fashion I’m just going to spew words through my fingertips and throw it all down.

I’m throwing down the fact that I haven’t set foot inside a church since my Uncle Bud’s funeral a few Fridays ago, and that made me feel nauseous. Not for my own personal awkwardness, although that did leak in during the beginning, the waiting. It was so similar to the Versailles church, where reverence and upturned-nose-piety went hand in hand. Stomach churning, I sat there until it passed. Then I was able to focus less on the setting that was so familiar and more on the funeral service, as was appropriate.

But then we sang, and the little girl (five or six years old) kept turning her head to stare at me. My mother was silent, as is her custom, and held the hymnal. The speaker/songleader at the time sucked. And it was all so routine and re-recognized to me that the hard sour slippery knot in my gut started to slosh once more.

It’s something about God that makes me want to wring my hands in frustration, then throw them out into the air helplessly, shouting at the sky. People fight and die and argue and hate and kill for God every day, not understanding that he is a god of love. Of deepest, truest love without boundaries, judgments, limitations or conditions. Whatever I’ve done, God loves me. That mentality collides hot and powerfully with something in my soul: the idea that my creator values me and cares deeply for me, no matter what I’ve done, always brings me back to him with an apology on my lips and questions in my eyes. What does God want from me in life? What am I supposed to be doing?

The knowledge that what I’ve done wrong so far will be overlooked as long as I’m trying to live a life of love is a happy truth I carry around with me every day, in place of the heavy guilty burdens I should have on my heart.

And there is where my seemingly peaceful and placid relationship with God ends. There is so much I really could be doing for him, I just don’t know what. Or how.

I used to be en route to changing childrens’ lives through Sunday School. Then I was tutoring. Then I was singing, a little here and there on the side for people who didn’t care. And then I was going to organize a read-in for deprived kids in Alexandra.

Now I don’t have anything driving me but the ever-present urge to learn music theory and Italian diction and perfect vibrato. Maybe that’s the mission God’s currently giving me: nothing of major importance to the world right now, but something that will spur me to success in the impossibly competitive world I will enter this fall. I don’t know for sure. I do know, though, that it’s been a while since I’ve felt the urgent nudge of a holy discontent I used to possess, and I wish I could experience it again and follow through.