9.12.2014

TGIF

I'm writing this at 8:51pm on a Friday night. Things should just be getting started, right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

After a 4:30am wake up from the boys (they wake up WAY too early. Good thing they're cute.)

I've walked. Taken photos. Written in my journal. Crunched numbers. Screened applications. Walked the hounds. Made dinner.

DONE ALL THE THINGS.

I'm tired.

Tomorrow is the Wolf Trap Ball, which is a lovely evening out with the hubs and some of my favorite colleagues. But, in order to sparkle tomorrow, mama's going to need some serious shut-eye tomorrow.

(How long do I have to sleep before I look like the 29-year-old me? Hell, I'd even settle for the 35-year-old me. She was pretty foxy, right?)

Three weeks until the audition tour starts. A few precious weekends before the road beckons. When I'm not gussied up in my fancy clothes, I'll be in my yoga pants, hanging with my boys, reading and writing and cooking and ignoring the monsters in the back of the fridge and the dust bunnies in the corners.

Hope you'll be spending the weekend doing the things you love to do. (If you need permission? Consider it granted.)

9.05.2014

It's as easy as riding a bike.

Which, sometimes isn't all that easy.

I used to love riding. Many of my favorite childhood memories are accompanied by my trusty bike: at first, a pink one-speed with hot-rod handlebars and a polka-dotted banana seat, and when I hit middle school a red Huffy ten-speed. Riding around the neighborhood in gangs, to the pool, Covey's (the corner candy store), it was my favorite mode of transportation.

I liked to ride FAST.

But I took a nasty spill...one that landed me in the hospital twice. It was traumatic, and I turned my back on any kind of biking. Just temporarily, I thought...but weeks turned into months turned into years.

Like, over 20 years.

In the meantime, I married a bike guy - someone who loves to ride, and really, really wanted me to ride with him. He bought me a bike - a nice one, but not too expensive so I wouldn't feel guilty for ignoring it. (which I did. constantly.) He put cages on the pedals, but then I got stuck in them and fell over on my one attempt, so he took them off. He got it serviced every year, just in case I wanted to ride sometime. Once or twice we took them to the beach so i could noodle around.

It was too much pressure.

I avoided the damn bike.

But then several things happened:

  • I stopped going to the gym.
  • My knees started to hurt every time I tried to run.
  • I started walking every morning.
The walking made me realize that I really love to be outside, rather than in a class. I loved seeing other parts of the neighborhood, watching the small changes in the scenery. 
But, unless I dedicate hours every day, my walks take me in a fairly small radius; I want to see more. 

And, I still dream of going FAST.

So today, when hubs was at work, I took the bike out. Just for a short ride, to see how I'd do.
After five miles, I learned some things:
  • Boy, a lot does come back really quickly!
  • Some things don't. I still can't balance without both hands on the bars. It made signaling really tough.
  • My turning radius sucks. 
  • My seat (both bicycle and personal, if I'm being truthful) are a little low.
  • I still like to go FAST.
I didn't realize that I had something to conquer, but it seems like I indeed did. 
Looking forward very much to getting back on the bike tomorrow. 

9.02.2014

Article: One is Not Enough

Have you all read this article?

It's all about creative people needing to have more than one outlet for their creativity. And the joy that comes from creating something that exists outside of one's primary discipline.

I totally get it.

I want to be really good - no, excellent - in the creative areas in which I work. The standards are high. But it doesn't mean that I don't like to work in other mediums. Au contraire, mon frere! I have at least three different projects on burners during the months I'm not in season at work...anything from writing fiction to preparing a Beethoven sonata to drawing every day, or instagramming the bejeezus out of my fairly mundane existance. I'm currently on staycation, but I'm also editing a story I started over a year ago, doing a little bit of songwriting, and playing around with some images for an album cover. I've signed up for a course to make a stained glass window later this month, and am SO excited about it!

These projects energize me - much more so than just watching tv or zoning out. Whether they have value to anyone other than me is secondary; the primary purpose - for me -  is simply to make.

I'm not alone.

My pal Paolo, who started life as a visual artist, is also an amateur shoemaker. Kat plays cello in her spare time - she's a scenic designer and painter by trade. Writers, visual artists, musicians...almost everyone I know has a primary arts field and a secondary one in which they dabble.

Today, I got a delivery from another one of the tribe: soprano Tracy Cox, who is a gifted, award-winning soprano and one of the coolest ladies on the planet. She also makes AMAZING jewelry. I had been struggling to find a statement necklace: necklaces aren't really my thing, but I would like them to become my thing. When Tracy offered to help, I was really excited.

And I was even moreso today, when she delivered the finished products:




I am super thrilled with what she made, and feel pretty fortunate to have such wonderful, custom pieces from a multi-talented artist. 

(You can check out more of her work here, or email her at neonbeautiful@gmail.com for inquiries.) 

Do you have your hands full with artistic pursuits? Tell me all about them!

Edited to add the link to Neon Beautiful Designs instagram page. Check it out!

8.30.2014

Introverts Unite!

I have lots to say about the season and it's awesomeness. (Awesominity?) But instead, let me tell you about my Saturday.

I'm kicking off a week staycation, and after being sparkly and on for most of the summer, I took a full day (unintentionally) to appease my inner introvert. The day went like this:

  • 5am. Wake up to a dog nose-whistling. Fed the hounds, and then we all fell back to sleep (hallelujah!) until 6am
  • Gave said hounds chewie toys at 6am; Napped for another 45 minutes on the couch as they chewed.
  • Woke up for realz. Coffee. Journal. Porch time with the critters. A chat with the neighbor.
  • 8:30-9:30am Start & finish a beginner Code Academy class on CSS.
  • 9:30-noon. Red up (clean) the house. Laundry, vacuum all the dog hair. (A larger job than one might assume.)
  • Noon-1pm. Walk around the neighborhood, with my new favorite playlist from my colleague Kevin. Stare at a snapping turtle who was just chilling under the water.
  • 1pm. Shower and clean up. Lunch!
  • 3pm. Start to read. Nap instead. For two hours.
  • 6pm. Pick up sushi for dinner. 
  • 8pm. Transcribe botanical and watchmaker journal pages for The Smithsonian. Such awesome geeky fun!

Other notes.
Phone: dead. Didn't notice until I couldn't order sushi at 6. If you've tried to find me, I'll be back online by tomorrow am. (well, later tonight, but I'm going to bed.)
Number of people I spoke to today: 2, including my husband.
Time I'm going to bed: sometime within the next 2 hours. 

It's been a wonderful, antisocial, rejuvenating kind of day. Looking forward to a week of getting my geek on - outside of the office!

The return of My Five - 5 things I'm grateful for:
  1. Naps. 
  2. Avocado.
  3. Quiet. (There's still so much to listen to.)
  4. Cobalt blue.
  5. Good music.


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.