7.12.2014

It seems that I can only post once a month, and when I post the entry needs must be full of typos and grammatical errors. I'm apologizing in advance.

We're at the halfway point of the season. So far we've:

  • Opened and closed Giulio Cesare in the Barns.
  • Produced a concert at The Phillips Collection.
  • Had 2 performances of the Beethoven with 4 of our singers, once in Philadelphia, one at Wolf Trap, both with the amazing Philadelphia Orchestra and the wonderful Bramwell Tovey
  • Opened and closed Instant Opera, which has added the zurtlecorn (part zebra/part turtle/part unicorn) to my list of Animals I Want To Meet, and which also kicked serious patootie both at the Childrens Theater-in-the-Woods and at the blue show for our young professionals group.
  • Started rehearsals for Carmen.
  • Started rehearsals for the Double Bill.
  • Started rehearsals for Steve Blier's recital.
  • Started rehearsals for Les Six.
  • Hosted a Welcome Reception for stakeholders.
  • Worked 4 National Symphony Shows. (Met Ben Folds (!!!) and Matthew Morrison and Laura Benanti.)
  • Hosted an artist panel with Eric Owens, Eric Einhorn, Will Berger, Josh Winograde and Michelle DeYoung and streamed it live over the interwebs.
It's a lot. 
And it's all pretty dang awesome. 

But I will say that my favorite parts have been when I've had time to hang with the singers and staff. It's less than I'd like, but I love every minute - these are some fantastic folks, spending their summers with us.

Trying to get some rest today before tomorrow's Aria Jukebox. If you're in the area, come by at 2 and vote for your favorite arias for the 3pm performance!

6.07.2014

Where is my head?

Seriously, if it wasn't bolted on I'd be in serious trouble. 

The season started last week - rehearsals, snags galore. It's all fine, but it was a week. And it was just the beginning of the season.

I've been trying to write every morning, since Henry wakes up with the birds at 5am (a habit that needs must stop pronto). I feel like I'm writing the same things every day. Most damning is that I stumbled across my journals and writings from 2012, when I was doing NaNoWriMo and had somehow beautiful language at my fingertips. I miss that place. 

There's a wren's nest next to my left shoulder, in the end table that my neighbor Jen gave me. The mama wren co-opted the slot where a drawer might go, and had at least three babies. They're quiet now but they were chirping to beat the band a few minutes ago...I think I'll move to another seat on the porch to give mama some room to feed them. 

The sun is conveniently hidden behind one of the mammoth ferns hanging on the porch for another 10-15 minutes. When I start to go blind I'll walk the dogs around the neighborhood, and bless my hubby for not forcing me to go to a graduation party on the other side of the world, where I know no one. (He's there, doing the right thing. His wife is not as good as he with that whole thing...) 

Gabriel Kahane on Pandora. He's playing a show literally down the street from me on Monday. I'll be there - I'm a little obsessed. His writing is so great.

Had lunch with a punk rocker/actor (actor/punk rocker? does the order matter?) on Friday, and I realize how I love my opera people, but I seem to only traffic in opera people. Leadership Fairfax was an eye opener in that regard: I am craving different points of view, to have my narrow worldview shaken. 

Mama wren is ready to shake my worldview. And Mr. Sun is giving me a very bright warning. Time to walk.  Hoping to have a blissful evening - full or quiet, but either way just the way you like it.


5.15.2014

Big day.

What a day, chickadees.

I spent the majority of the day in this program, learning about the invisible people in our community. Families who are struggling with eldercare. Undocumented immigrants. The incarcerated who are trying to rejoin the community. The homeless. Those who have suffered - or been killed - as the result of domestic violence.

Not a day full of laughs, to be sure. But an important day.

I was reminded, over and over again, of how protected I am. (And I am grateful for that, in a renewed fashion.) I know people struggling with these issues. Heck, some of them are in my field, community, neighborhood.

You can earn a great education and still not be able to feed your family. You can struggle with homelessness, and cloak it in a highly transitory lifestyle. You can have a job function that seems so specialized that you can't figure out how to parlay it into an actual, rent-paying position. Art and poverty are obviously not exclusionary. (hello, bohéme.)

The problems that face our communities - both my local one and our artistic one - aren't all that dissimilar. And I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was overwhelmed by both the existing need and the correlating goodwill.

It's a lot to process.

(Even more to process on scant sleep - I'm not sure how new moms do it, but I'm seriously considering slipping the four-legged babies a benadryl cocktail before bedtime to avoid the new 5am canine alarm clock. Haven't these guys heard of beauty sleep? 'Cause mama could use a double-dose, at least.)

The day wrapped with a HH with two colleagues who I adore. We all have birthdays within 2 months of each other, and we try to get together monthly to chat and catch up. They're SUCH fun, and relaxing with them was a perfect foil to the very intense day.

Our first seasonal staff member arrives on Monday.
We've been talking about new projects, and San Diego Opera, and Google Glass, and all kinds of other things. And, in the meantime, we're getting ready to welcome singers and patrons and some serious art-making into our (currently) very quiet world.

I'm ready. And nervous. But mostly ready.

The challenge will be to remember these feelings about the community, about these unseen populations, and find a way to interface with them once the hubub dies down.

If you'd like to join me - in the artistic endeavors or the community ones - I'd love the company.


5.05.2014

Heinz 57

I MADE IT.

I had a big project this spring that came to fruition at the end of April. It wasn't music/art related, which was one of the things that made it difficult. And it was also amazingly enlightening - not just in terms of subject matter, which provided in and of itself a huge learning curve. Turns out that I'm not as laid-back as I had hoped to be (some of you - hi mom - are laughing inappropriately hard at that last comment.), and that I am a good consensus builder up to a point and then "Get'erdone" takes over and I'm less likely to suffer fools.

There were many fun moments, some that were more interesting, some contentious moments, too:  but the biggest wake-up-call came when I realized that, as an arts administrator/ performer, I don't automatically have fewer skills or less know-how than my peers in other industries. Again, maybe that's not news to many folks, but it certainly seemed like it to me.

The project is done, and was done successfully. My teammates are great people - I was really lucky to have a great group. (We're collectively looking forward to the next time that we can hang out together without having work to complete while doing so!)

And, during that? We got this little guy:


His name is Henry, and he has turned our household upside down, in the best ways. Three months old on Cinco de Mayo, and already 30 pounds. (In related events, the big dog is down 5 pounds, and so is mama!) 

The big project is done, and there are several other projects that have wrapped (warped?) over the last few weeks, which felt good. I took last week off, and spent some great days in Pittsburgh hanging with Mom & some good friends that I adore & don't see often enough. And then, this weekend, I ended up with an epic, stupid sore throat that kept me out of the office today. (Truth: I wanted to make sure it wasn't strep. When I found out it likely wasn't, instead of going into the office I took a three-hour nap. I'm pretty sure I made the right choice.)  

Work starts picking up soon - lots of details to settle in the next three weeks. Stage management arrives after Memorial Day, and then we're off to the races. SO many things to do before then! If you're inclined to come to Virginia for some music this summer, you'll let me know, won't you?

3.21.2014

Fall back, troops.



I'm retreating.

I've said yes to a few too many things. All good, and good for me, but different and unrelated and brain-stretching. 

So, as I try to wrap my mind around them, I'm instead drawn to a book on Les Six, another on creativity, a pandora radio station populated by good friends from high school and college (Harriet fro the Sundays, Edie, Morrissey, Robert from the Cure...wonderfully mopey stuff), and a ridiculous bottle of neon orange nail polish. There's a large snuggly lab sleeping again my calf, and I have a lined notebook full of story ideas that I'm going to tackle as a celebration once all this crazy stuff is finished. 

Planning to spend half the day tomorrow working, and the other half at a farm, eating goat cheese and drinking beer. Thinking that the ends will likely justify the means.

I always panic a bit in the spring... So much to do, so few hours. I forget, every year. Will one of you kind folks remind me next year that things will be more intense than I remember? Thanks in advance. 

And if you have platitudes or inspirations or daydreams that help you get through, will you please share them? I could stand to lengthen my perspective a bit.


3.09.2014

Sunday. Taking stock.

I've been reading this book. Among others...I'm a polygamous reader, but I'm faithful to all of the books I start. (Except for this one...couldn't finish it, because I just despise Ignatius. I'm sure that, in a different stage of life, I'll pick it back up again and enjoy it. But that won't likely be happening soon.)

Anyway. I started that book. It's all about finding ways to structure your work so that you do your best stuff when you're most suited to it. And it talks about slow incremental progress. And it talks about the reactivity of work and the loud voice of email. And it talks about the power of habit.

It's hitting me at a vulnerable time. Or, rather, at an impressionable time. I took an office job to have a regular (well, -ish) schedule and paycheck. But sometimes I dream about freelancing and restructuring my days accordingly. There are things that I want to do - play more piano; compose; write. I only allow myself to indulge in those things when I've "done my chores." When I've run out of other things to do - running errands, cleaning, gym, cooking (ok, this falls into both the Must category and the Enjoy category), working.

It seems backwards, right? Putting off the things you love for the things you must do? Sometimes it's ok - necessary even. But as a habit, it's a pretty shitty one.

In the off-season, there's no good reason for me to check my work email on the weekends. My boss has my cell # and uses it when she needs. Outside of that, everything can wait until office hours. And yet, every weekend I log on several times just to see... It's a distracting waste. (Granted, in the summer my phone is on and my email checking is constant. But that's different, and finite.)

So, I'm trying to re-prioritize. To make some new habits that allow me to create. To cut down on the amount of purely reactive action that I take. We'll see how it works out. I'll likely be grumpy as all get out as I figure this stuff out...please know that if I'm snippy it's me, not you. And that I'm sorry. It's for a good cause, I promise!

3.04.2014

And the point was?

I started following Humans of New York today because of a post they shared on Facebook that hit home. It's a photo of a pretty girl, a big knit stocking cap on head, a coat and a shearling vest, but flat and oh-so-bare ankles. She's sitting on her suitcase, somewhere at Penn Station if I had to guess. Her quote is:

"I wish I'd partied a little less. People always say 'be true to yourself.' But that's misleading, because there are two selves. There's your short term self, and there's your long term self. And if you're only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays."
I'm more than a little terrified that the above quote sums up my life. That I've done thirty-day projects and tried things, but haven't kept that long-term vision in my sights... and now I've forgotten what it is.

(How's that for a Tuesday crisis of confidence? Go big or go home, I suppose.)

It's Mardi Gras, and I've celebrated by ditching any semblance of healthy eating for cake and cookies and homemade bread FROM MY NEW COLLEAGUE (we've been calling this position "The Unicorn" for months, because we really didn't think we'd ever get another staff person. But we did! And she's awesome!) WHO JUST STARTED TODAY AND I REALLY HOPE COMES BACK TOMORROW. (Oh, add wine and cream-cheese frosting to that list of things that have leapt into my mouth unbidden.)And the day was pretty good until I decided to grill burgers and my back stoop was a sheer sheet of ice and my grill was covered in ice and it took forever to chip everything out (because there wasn't really a good Plan B and I really wanted a bleu cheese burger) and I almost started a grease fire BUT at the last minute resisted the urge to just throw a metric ton of snow onto the grill to subdue the flames and so we're all ok and plus burgers for dinner!

So I guess it's not all bad, even now, right?

My street wasn't plowed, and evidently doesn't get a lot of afternoon sun, so my impending dog walk would be scary except I have these things, which are nerdy but so awesome that you can judge away and it bothers me not at all. Not falling on one's butt when one has a large labrador in tow (or maybe he's the one doing the towing...anyway) is a very good thing!

Lent starts tomorrow. As always, looking forward to the structure, and to living with less excess for a while. I know I'm not here often anymore (although this will be my 1138th post. Crazy, right, that someone could write so much and say so very little.) If you're looking for more regular updates from me, you can find them over here.

Here's hoping that, in the next 40 days, we find what we need by giving up what we don't.