Schreiben

Well, well. It’s been a while. Hi, WordPress. Hope everything’s been cool here.

I’m at work right now, on a little break while I sit in the shop and make signs for the town of Olean. My life is riveting, I know (major points to whomever caught the sign making pun there).

I’m still trying to figure out how to readjust to not being halfway across the country. I loved South Dakota. The hills, the air, the people… I adored it. Now my softer, greener hills here on Cattaraugus don’t seem quite as ferocious and wild. Instead, they’re the shyer, prettier younger cousins to the loud and brazen Black Hills of the Dakotas. I think I love them equally.

I also thought the buffalo out there were the coolest damn things. Tatanka, tatanka! Oh my God. Just so awesome.

Anyway, what else to talk about? I have to start learning some roles. I need to solidify my theory and get that Berg together. I also want to explore the Rimsky-Korsakov set Paulina sent me.

I need to figure out my living situation for next year and email a man about a job. Then, and only then, if I have time, can I snuggle down with my new Russian books.

Oh, and since my mother has been sick the past few weeks and has been unbearably cranky because of it, I volunteered to make dinner tonight. What the hell was I thinking? I don’t really “cook.”

In any case, I suppose I’d better get back to work before I get in trouble for blogging on the job….

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Guten Abend, mein Knab…

Today was decent. I felt the need to get myself organized, so to provide myself with that extra boost (that I most definitely was not getting on my own), I signed up for a coaching with the wonderful Berri. She and I talked about my preoccupation with “other things” (like, credit-bearing homework) but it was nice to hear someone who’s not a peer tell me flat-out that I am here to sing, and that’s what’s most important. It’s different from hearing friends say it over and over, and it’s different than telling it to yourself. It’s fact, coming out of Berri’s mouth, and from anyone else you respect and trust.

It’s about getting myself organized, which I did, and planning out rep absorption logically (currently in process). Speaking of which, Paulina just referred me to another sassy Italian piece, so I’m going to IMSLP that shit before I lose my groove. Guten Abend…

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.

Underneath the abject willow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.