12.27.2007

touchdown!

Not as in a Steeler touchdown [although those are usually followed by an exclamation point, too], but as in touching down at home for 36 hours before hitting the road again. After the multiple Christmas dinners [and boy, were they good! A little too good...the pants are WAY snug.], I'm heading to the left coast for some r&r. My hopes for the trip are:
  • easy flights
  • some good vino from here and here
  • a nice dinner here
  • ringing in the New Year with these guys ...I reeeeaaaalllllyyyy hope they play "opera singer" [hmmm...I'm sensing a theme for the trip...CakeTour2007?]
  • remembering my camera. and not the phone camera, but the real camera so's I can actually take some decent pictures. (and continue the Tall Building Tour in EM's honor!)
Off to run some errands and do a mountain of laundry before a crack-of-dawn flight tomorrow. If there's something I shouldn't miss seeing in San Fran, drop me a line!

To all 5 of you who read this [hi Mom!], I hope that 2008 brings you joy, good health, and busloads of laughter. And I hope that the one thing that you really really want, (even if your head doesn't know you want it yet, and your heart can't quite say exactly what it is), is given to you this year.

-rahree

12.21.2007

'tis the season


I love that the holidays give us both time for indulging and time for reflecting... two of my favorite things! The indulging part I'm heavily entrenched in at this time...a little too entrenched, as my body is begging me to lay off the chocolate, butter and nuts (but they're just soooo much better than vegetables and water! i can't help it!) and get my fanny out of my chair in favor of some movement. I'm working on it. No really, I am. Really...

The reflecting part is more difficult for me, not because I don't like to do it, but because I'm often not terribly honest in my reflections. Or I'm too mean. Or I just gloss over the hard parts. This year I'm hoping to get a more honest read on where I am and where I'd like to be. Not quite sure how to do it, but I'll give it a shot.

So.

I'm going to bring back the list of 5 things I'm thankful for... I found that my day was really positively impacted by having to name specific good things before I got out of bed in the morning. And while I'm now out of bed a little bit before I'd like, it's still totally doable.

On my list of things-I'm-grateful-for today?
  1. Catching up with friends. I had the great good fortune to see JB and MB [no relation!] on Wednesday. They are both fabulous ladies, former work colleagues who I now count as friends. (And MB makes some MAD treats - I wish I could say that they weren't already gone, but good sweets are at a premium at Chez Rahree!)
  2. Stories. Another friend, BW, is a fabulous writer who sends around a heartwarming Christmas story each year. It's one of my favorite gifts for a number of reasons: it always captures the true spirit of the season, rather than the commercialism or the stress that I'm usually feeling at that point: his writing is totally inspiring: it's a lovely way to check back in with him and get a status check of his life and family: he lets me share it with my family and friends, which is the best regift ever.
  3. Community. Since our pup came home, our neighbors have welcomed us into a community of dog-and-kid-lovers that we didn't know about. I know more of my neighbors by name now than I did in September of this year, and they have graciously offered support in so many ways. It was so unexpected, and really so lovely.
  4. Family. Looking forward to heading to the 'rents and in-laws' homes to catch up with folks and siblings and cousins...
  5. A little bit of time out of the office. I love my job and my coworkers, but I'm getting very little done...it'll be nice to take a little time away and come back refreshed in the New Year.
Posting will be light over the next week or two with the travel to the Great White North (aka Pennsylvania) and then to San Francisco for New Year's. (Any recommendations? I've never been!)

To you and yours, happy holidays!

12.18.2007

Playing hooky

So I've been out of the office for several days, eating bon bons and being pampered with pedicures and massages and the like. I love "work."

Just kidding!

I have been out of the office, but have simply traded my woodland digs for a temporary office in Shirlington. We're in the home stretch of the last day of recording final programs for our radio show, Center Stage from Wolf Trap. The hosts, BMc and RK, have listened to hours of music and are able to spontaneously weave together interesting banter that's as fun to listen to as the "hot tunes" themselves. Because they're pros, they're able to remember and correct their phrases on the fly...I find it amazing, as thoughts drop out of my mind as soon as I voice them. (Sometimes sooner. ) The music is really eclectic, ranging from ethereal Japanese wind music from Michio Miyagi to Kurt Weill's sexy cabaret tunes and including fine chamber music chestnuts from Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart. It's a great mix, and the aural satiety I'm feeling is amplified by the tasty lunch from Shirlington Thai...I'm fat and happy in my chair, researching various tiny tidbits for inclusion on air and checking email. Watching these programs pull themselves together is a wonderful way to spend a few cold winter days! I'm back in the office tomorrow, doing some interviews and catching up on some end-of-the-year paperwork before the holidays.

And in other news? The pierogi are made. All 13 dozen of 'em. Whew! I would've taken pictures of my flour-caked kitchen, but my hands were so gooped up that I didn't dare touch the camera. It's an involved process: making the potato & cheese filling one day, making the dough [it's a soft, sticky dough, hence the goopy hands], rolling it out, cutting, filling and sealing each one and then boiling them. It's not difficult, but it is time consuming. But, and I say this with all sincerity, each one was made with love. So they should taste pretty good!

Step aside Mrs. T. There's a new Polish lady in town.

12.14.2007

Ph. D. in procrastination

So I'm happy to say that I am TOTALLY in the holiday spirit. It took a while, but I am happily listening to carols and feeling generally jolly.

But I haven't done a single thing.

Baking? Nope.
Pierogi? Nope.
Decorating? Nope.
Gift-shopping? Nope.

Wait! I did send half of my Christmas cards! But only half...

So this weekend is aaaaaallllll about me getting my proverbial backside in gear. If it was a perfect weekend, here's what I'd do:


After work today?
  • pierogi filling
  • Christmas cards, part deux
  • make the big list for presents

Saturday?
  • long walk/playtime with pup
  • gym [please? you know it's bad when I want to go...]
  • pierogi construction
  • hit the mall with hubby and totally knock out the shopping list[this is a recipe for total disaster, but in my perfect world it'll totally work out. Deny yourself nothing in a dream, right?]
Sunday?
  • leisurely morning, with Sunday paper and boatloads of coffee
  • baking?
  • more shopping?
  • yoga
Sounds lovely, right?

And, in true procrastination fashion, in writing this tiny post I am now totally running late for work! Eeeek! 'Bye, all!

12.12.2007

lessons

Played a tiny bit of piano and sang a tiny bit at the office holiday party this evening. Having a project to prepare for was such fun! And I feel strongly that it's important to continue to perform [even in these tiny ways] so that I really remember, as I'm comfy behind my desk, the courage and guts it takes to get up in front of people and sing.

So, what did I learn/remember?
  • That the self-critical singer never goes away, no matter how casual the gig. It's never quite good enough, and it's one of the few aspects of my life that I feel that kind of insecurity. It may have very little to do with the actual reality...I mean, they're not going to book me as a solo act, but I don't think that they'll fire me either.
  • That the nerves don't go away either. Holy cow was I shaking!
  • That preparation is way more fun for me than the performance.
  • That the "Don't suck!" mantra does still kinda work. :)
  • That I sounded like a MILLION BUCKS in the car ride home! I could've driven around and sang in the car all night... in fact, I was seriously tempted. I could've charged money for it, I totally sounded that good.
  • My colleagues are pretty darn awesome. Lots of talent, and they play well with others... the pianists, flautists, violinist and singers were fab...I was in good company! And my non-performing colleagues? Generous and supportive.
So, to my performing friends of all stripes, I salute you!

Today goes solidly into the "Good Day" category. I mean, I made my Barns debut! How cool is that?!

12.10.2007

Pushing the envelope

I've gone on record as being non-confrontational to the extreme. My pets, on the other hand, have no such hang-ups. For example: most of my neighbors are reasonable people and think that exuberant, small puppies are totally adorable and must be cuddled. The pup gets all kinds of lovin' from my neighbors. But there's one neighbor in particular who could totally do without out the pup. He's from another country, and often places business calls on his front stoop at odd hours, as cell phone signals are notoriously absent from the 'hood. He's a busy guy with a really deep voice.

The pup thinks he is the coolest human EVER.

Puppy has practically sniffed all of the smell out of this man's lawn. If he's outside on a call? Must be waiting for the pup! If he's inside? Well, the pup will wait outside his door, patiently, for him to emerge. And me? Well, imagine the above scene with a soundtrack of, "C'mon, puppy! C'mere! Let's go. Pup. Come ON. NOW." as a kind of ostinato, and you've got it.

This poor dude is probably ultra-tired of his two stalkers. Especially the one who walks upright and should know better.

12.09.2007

delicious lethargy

There are a million gajillion things I should be doing. Cleaning, grocery shopping, buying holiday gifts, baking...you name it, and there's a good chance that I should be doing it.

But I'm not.

:)


I've been spending the last few days catching up with friends, reading back issues of newspapers and magazines [ostensibly for gift ideas...], shaking off the funk I've been rolling around in, going to bed either unreasonably early or late, watching silly movies, and generally getting myself back in tune. And I'm almost there! (Whew!)

Took the puppy to the riverfront this morning - it was a mud-covered funfest! Good times, watching the pup running around, greeting kayakers at the landing, dipping his (huge!) paws into the river... good times, indeed!

On the docket today? Gladly, not much. A grocery store/hardware store run, maybe some chili or stew in the crockpot, a crossword puzzle and early pjs. Maybe even a little football or Jack Sparrow on the telly. Sounds perfect to me! Hope you can carve out a little time today to relax during this busy, hectic season.

12.05.2007

my own personal soundtrack

I'm outside at 9:43 pm with the pup. It's pitch-black with beautiful stars.

I'm scuffing through the snow...black boots, black velour jammie pants, black hooded sweatshirt [hood up - it's cold out!] and a long black coat. And a small black dog.

And I realize that the chorus running through my head is Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper."

Hmmmmmm.....

Snow Day!

Wow, a beautiful day today! There was a dusting on the ground when I left the house this morning, and by the time I got home after work the grass was totally covered. And the puppy totally redeemed himself and his piddling tendencies by being so amazingly cute in the snow. Chasing snowballs, burrowing, making snow angels...it was a very exciting day for the little guy. At right is the view from my office. While I live and work very close to Washington DC, my days are spent overlooking parkland. Deer, hawks...it's nice work amidst beauty.
The view of my office, however, is a little scary. I've never quite learned how to purge [ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you it's true!], and the piles are wearing me down. I think tomorrow will be all about getting organized, with a few meetings thrown in to keep me on my toes. I live in constant fear that I'll toss something that I'll need later on...time to address that fear.

But I was also reminded today that I do, in fact, live in the South. These people cannot drive in weather! I passed several accidents on my way into work, and was released early to get a jump on the home commute before the roads froze. In Pittsburgh? This would barely get a mention on the news... but here in DC, it was a biiiiig deal. One of my colleagues , who lives two or three towns over, had a 3-hour commute this morning. Wow, does that bite or what?

On the docket for this evening? Some creative writing, some for work and some for pleasure. A little professional reflection. A cup of tea and a kitty curled up on my lap. And outside my window, a winter wonderland. Life is good indeed.

12.04.2007

Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk

Ok, I'm totally jumping on the bandwagon and posting my version of the Meme that's been going around.


Here are the rules:

1. Put your iTunes/ music player on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER WHAT

After you’ve answered all of the questions, tag 5 other people and then let them know they’ve been tagged to do the meme themselves!

OK, let's see how well my iTunes library knows me!

1. If someone says ‘Is this OK?’ you say

"Going through the motions" by Aimee Mann

"Something isn't right, I don't know how I know..." Good one, iTunes!


2. What would best describe your personality?

"You're not the only one I know" by the Sundays

"So I say I'm in love with the world
and what is so wrong with voicing a doubt when I'm on my own
it's perfectly fine to sleep in a chair
from Monday 'til Saturday
and what is so wrong with talking out loud when I'm all alone."


3. What do you like in a guy?

"You've got to hide your love away" by Eddie Vedder.
Yep, I like 'em tortured and distant.

4. How do you feel today?

"Rubberband Girl" by Kate Bush

This one fits like a glove...bouncing from task to task, not often getting as deeply involved as I'd like.


5. What is your life’s purpose?

"Change Partners" by Fred Astaire
I'm not sure about this one...ballroom dancing?

6. What is your motto?

"Iowa" by Dar Williams
"But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother,
We dont like to make our passions other peoples concern,
And we walk in the world of safe people, and at night we walk into our houses and burn."

7. What do your friends think of you?

"Sparks" by Coldplay
"But I promise you this,
I’ll always look out for you,
That’s what I’ll do. "

8. What do you think of your parents?

"Penny on the Floor" by The Clarks
"I know it's gonna take some time
Before I look at you without looking at my own face." Yup, I'm turning into my mother...

9. What do you think about very often?

"Edge of the World" by Josh Ritter

A twangy instrumental...again, my dear iTunes, you're doing pretty well!


10. What is 2+2=

"Heart of Stone" by Griffin House

"when i offered you my hand & your face told me somethin' so wrong"...maybe the equation should read 2-1=?


11. What do you think of your best friend?

"Il finto Stanislao" overture, Verdi

Colorful, epic. Relatively short. Yup, that works!


12. What do you think of the person you like?

"No Better Place" by Fountains of Wayne
"And here is your reflection
In a building uptown
A ghost inside some Madison Avenue display
Like water under bridges
You're slowly passing by
As you sail between the rooftops and the sky"

13. What is your life story?

"Love Keep Us Together" by Martin Sexton
"It's been a long night tomorrow's another day
Call me when you find out the answer
And I'll hope and I'll pray
To a power that will keep me from goin' insane in the meantime"

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?

"Into the light" by Alice Peacock

She's fairly new to me, Alice Peacock, but this is a perfect tune.


15. What do you think when you see the person you like?

"Closing Time" by Lyle Lovett
"The night's all that's left behind
You take your part and I'll take mine"
Wow, iTunes, way to totally depress me...

16. What do your parents think of you?

"Shoot the Moon" by Norah Jones

"The summer days are gone too soon
You shoot the moon
And miss completely
And now you're left to face the gloom"

Wow, really? I don't think I'm a terrible disappointment... better see if good Santa is to me...


17.What will you dance to at your wedding?

"Australia" by The Shins
I would've totally enjoyed this one!

18. What will they play at your funeral?

"Juicebox" by The Strokes
Who's so cold? Oh, yeah. I'm so cold. Whoops.

19. What is your hobby/interest?

"Tomorrow Morning" by The Blue Nile

Hmmm... not sure what this one means...


20. What is your biggest secret?

"Black Wave" by The Shins
that my goose is cooked is, unfortunately, no big secret...

21. What do you think of your friends?

"Fool to Cry" by Rolling Stones

"Even my friends say to me sometimes
And make out like I don't understand them
You know what they say
They say, daddy you're a fool to cry"
(OK, it doesn't quite work, but...)

22. What should you post this as?

"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" by Rufus Wainwright

"everything it seems i like's a little bit stronger, a little bit thicker, a little bit harmful for me"


Amen, Brother Rufus!

So, there are some old favorites and some newer tunes on this list, and more than 2 that i hardly listen to anymore.... i may have to redo this one with my favorites, although my iPod seems to know me pretty darn well!

Anyone care to join in?

12.02.2007

An elf at work, the Grinch at home


Today was Holiday Sing, the new way that I kick off my holiday season. It's a free event at the big theater, where the Marine Band - conducted elegantly by a friend from grad school (a pleasant and welcome surprise!) and two of my esteemed colleagues lead 7000 people in holiday songs. Trees and poinsettias, beautiful music, a legion of local choristers, and some special appearances by Frosty & Santa and some particularly mischievous elves add up to quite a show! And this year's was particularly dramatic, with the power cutting out a la the Renee Fleming concert in 2006! (Kudos to the Marine Band for playing so well - and following a rallentando - in pitch blackness! Amazing!) I sang and danced [backstage, thank you!], ate my weight in fabulous iced chocolate brownies, and totally coveted Biff's (the Stage Manager Elf) hat. 'Twas the coolest. The evening ends with "Silent Night," with the lights turned out and all of the participants, on stage and in the audience, with lights/electric candles lighting their way. It's one of the most beautiful moments in my year.


One of my favorite things about the holidays (and also one of the reasons that I love my job so much), is that there's a real sense of camaraderie...I love showing up without knowing what'll be asked of me, and just fitting into whatever shaped slot they need a peg for. Trimming greenery? Sure. Wrangling a choir? No problem. Moving cars? (You really trust me with your keys? Oooookkkkaayyyy) Flexibility, a sense of humor, and comfortable shoes...all I really need on those days. And many of my colleagues are similarly flexible and good-humored...and those who choose to wear uncomfortable shoes make them look pretty comfy.

The issues happen immediately after the show...it's 6:00pm once everyone has left the building, and I'm panicky because Boo (aka Piddles McWhizzerson) doesn't do so well after 6:00pm. I have a tree to take home from the show (yay! free tree from the office raffle! I already have the lights and ornaments unpacked and ready!), but it's getting so late that I forego it until tomorrow and run home. Fighting the rain and the traffic, it takes me about 30 minutes to make it to Chez Rahree. I let the dog out of the crate, get him to the door, put the leash on....and am too late. Four hours worth, all over the floor. (And I know it's not totally his fault...he's just a baby, and I was gone past my usual time. But I'm already tired of cleaning up after this pup, no matter how cute he is.) Add to that a crushing headache, crappy wet weather pup's constant desire to use me as a huge teething toy, and another night sleeping next to the crate on the couch and well, I wish I was back at work.

Tonight? Sinus medicine. Steeler football, finally on network TV in the DC area - huzzah! Pajamas early, a nap on the couch next to Piddles, and a little bit of writing. I'm trying to make myself do an exercise every few days, whether it's a character sketch, free-writing to a prompt, journaling or blogging. (Breaking myself of the blogging habit, which is essentially freewriting about my daily life, is going to be hard. But I keep promising more content, and I think the only way to get more interesting content is going to be to think harder and practice more. Bummer, eh?) It's really the only thing that's popped to the forefront for my next 30-day project...I'm not sure it counts, as it's a bit of a continuation of last month's missive. But it'll have to do...at least until I grab onto something better.

Here's hoping that this week is kind and sweet to you, and that whatever gets you in the holiday frame of mind happens in a lovely, unexpected manner.

12.01.2007

mission:unaccomplished

It turned out that today was not meant for pierogi-making.

Sure, I have ten gajillion pounds of potatoes and 2 gajillion pounds of cheddar cheese, but my heart was not in it. My heart, evidently, was very much into playing with the puppy in the frigid air, watching good-bad movies [as opposed to really bad movies or good movies that i should like but that leave me totally cold...] like the first REAL Star Wars [with a hunky young Harrison Ford...i miss him] and the Mummy, catching up on this season's Project Runway, and making a big pot of stew in the crock pot. But don't fret, my pierogi-lusting amici... for pierogi made without love are not real pierogi. Loveless pierogi are lead weights encased in dough, and they make you grumpy and irritable and fat. Whereas the real, lovey-dovey ones make the eater happier, slimmer, cheerier, better looking and richer.

It's the truth.

So I'm postponing until next weekend, so's I can spread the love, rather than the grump.

Otherwise today?
  • Still trying to figure out a new 30-day project.
  • Most years my time outside is limited to a walk to the car...more time outside in the chill with Mr. Piddles is making me 1.) acknowledge how lucky I am that my basic needs are met and 2.) making me look around for ways to help those whose are not. I know it's a big time of year for grass-roots philanthropy, but I still want to do something.
  • Sleeping on the couch with puppy, as he's totally asleep, and I tend to sleep through any middle-of-the-night crying.
C'est tout.

11.30.2007

Last day!

How about that! We made it (mostly) for a whole month blogging every day! Granted, the content was a little iffy, but you, Gentle Readers, didn't reprimand, and for that I am grateful. It's been lovely having you along on the audition tour (and the accompanying Tall Building Tour), and I hope it's been mildly interesting. I will definitely still be "writing", although I have high hopes that I'll have more to say when I'm not saying it every day.

I have high hopes for this weekend [she says, as the puppy slumbers...all things are possible when the dog is sleeping!], with lots of little plans. One of the things I'm hoping to get done is my Christmas Eve contribution: pierogi. Being three-quarters Polish, Mrs. T's don't make the cut for our Christmas. If I'm making them solo, it usually takes 2 days: one for the filling and one for the dough and assembly. It's not necessarily that they're labor intensive, but rather that I have the attention span of a gnat. One task? Fun. Two? Onerous, laborious, no-fun. So tomorrow entails a trip to the store and making a vat of cheddar-cheese-mashed-potatoes. Sunday I'll be up to my elbows in flour, listening to carols on the iPod, and getting into the holiday spirit!

Also on Sunday is one of my favorite work traditions. I'm there to wrangle kids/usher/help out, which means I can float to wherever I'm needed, which is always fun. And I get to wear a Santa hat and sing Christmas carols with 7,000 of my closest friends! How cool is that? I'm also excited to see an old colleague from grad school who is now conducting the ensemble. It should be a fun - if chilly! - day.

My five:
  1. Met expectations.
  2. Successful closure.
  3. Curling up on the couch on a lazy Friday night.
  4. Flat shoes.
  5. U-turns.

I'm also trying to figure out what to tackle for my next 30-day project. It's been really enjoyable (most days!) writing every day, but I'm wondering if I shouldn't try something new. Any suggestions?

Happy Friday, all. And thanks for reading!

11.29.2007

ketchup

Missed my 5 this morning...here goes:
  1. Getting up early enough to see a red sky through the bare tree branches. Beautiful.
  2. Traditions.
  3. New and new-to-me music.
  4. Getting my creative muscles moving again.
  5. Puppy breath.

11.28.2007

Divine Justice

Oh, here's a cosmic love note to all the singers we heard on the tour. Especially those who wore jersey dresses or conspicuous panty lines...

Some background: I trained as a singer, but haven't really kept up with things since taking my current position. My singing is now limited principally to my shower and automobile, with some occasional choral gigs and such. I don't miss the internal pressure - of always having to be on top of my game, of struggling to reconcile what I want to sound like with the actuality, of hearing "Don't suck!" in my head over and over again before opening my mouth. But, bottom line is, I still love to sing, and will seldom turn down the opportunity.

Current situation: I'm singing with some colleagues for the office Christmas party. Fun stuff- arrangements of carols and such. It's a blast: I work with some really creative people, and it's a joy to be able to make literal music with them.

Refinement: I have a solo. GAH! And I can't sing it from my car or my bathroom. (I already asked.) (Don'tsuck!Don'tsuck!Don'tsuck!Don'tsuck!Don'tsuck!Don'tsuck!Don'tsuck!)

Further refinement: What the heck am I going to wear?? After my somewhat harsh critiques of singers, I find myself on the other side of the issue, wondering if I own anything that's festive enough for a party that won't show how I breathe or shake if I get nervous.

So, if you're wondering if I was talking about you in any of those posts, know that I'm terrorizing myself over this little performance. Revenge is sweet, right?

I'm thinking velvet... wish me luck!

Random thoughts

Struggling a little to make sentences tonight. Work was a little distracting today, primarily because I'm still trying to remember how to sit behind a desk without anyone singing at me... I found a million excuses to wander around the building, some officially sanctioned, some of my own invention. There are lots of meetings, and lots of holiday events to plan/prepare for/attend, lots of opportunities for me to leave my office. Tomorrow? All about clearing through some of the noise and getting some things done. I hope.

We had a big meeting that reinforced several things for me: firstly, that I have real difficulties leaving emotion outside of the meeting room. I know on an intellectual level that everyone brings emotion into high-level meetings, but when voices rise there's a primal part of my brain that wants to either slink away and eat my weight in junk food, or jump on the table and assert how correct I am, and how the other party is smoking crack. And, while it might be amusing after the fact, I'm not sure that my little binge/victory dance would actually help accomplish anything. Secondly, that I have two really great role models. Professional, articulate, calm... they make it look easy.

Some things that I'm loving:
  • Chocolate-covered pecans. with the salt still on the pecans. Deadly, in the most dee-lish way!
  • Robert Goulet. He's come up in conversations a lot lately...
  • ABC's Pushing Daisies. It's a sweet spin on star-crossed lovers, has beautiful cinematography, and every once in a while they let Kristin Chenoweth sing. Gotta love it when the dead girl gets the guy.

And my five:
  1. Dreams.
  2. Silliness.
  3. The aforementioned salted chocolate-covered pecans.
  4. Thick wooly socks.
  5. Getting into the holiday spirit, a little bit at a time.
And some things that I need:
  • A good new book to read.
  • Inspiration.
  • A serious trip to the gym/yoga class/pilates class.
  • Courage.
  • More laughter!

11.27.2007

Re-entry

Oh, going back to work is a treat. Mondays RAWK!

Not.

The pile of papers on my desk? Huge. But comprised of teeny-tiny receipts, invoices, correspondence. It's like confetti, but losing a piece results in a biiiig problem.

Leaving the puppy at home? Tragic. For me - the pup was just fine. How could he live for minutes - nay, HOURS - without me?!? He is totally conked out this evening, though...just when I'm ready to play!

A big part of today was all about numbers...reconciling audition expenses, totaling up the dollar amount. It's only an enjoyable part of the job on the days when A.) all the math adds up B.) I have money left over. I wish either A or B happened more often. The other part was trying to solve the casting puzzle...charts, whiteboard schematics, dry-erase markers, revisiting audio & video... It's a bit of a brick wall at this point, but we have to slog through it in short order, because so many other decisions (Studio singers, artistic personnel, production personnel) depend on the Young Artist results and need to be made and finalized before year's end.

But work is done for the day. And now? Squirmy puppy is at my feet, the Steelers are on the tube (scoreless in the 3rd quarter! I know - Shut. Up.) and I'm trying to kick my own butt at solitaire scrabble. It's not going so well, and I'm not quite sure what that says about me. (Other than maybe it's past my bedtime?) Let's see if puppy and I can stay up until the game's over, and then turn in...

My five:
  1. Not having to censor.
  2. Being valued.
  3. Manchego cheese. [so in the movie The Count of Monte Cristo, every time they mention Count Mondego I get this craving for cheese...they say his name A LOT.]
  4. Making it through uncomfortable and/or unpleasant situations.
  5. The lusciously fuzzy-sleepy feeling you get right before you fall asleep.
Here's to Tuesday being absolutely magnificient!

11.26.2007

monday morning.

Wow...I was hoping that I'd be smarter after a few days away from work, but I think the opposite has happened. Sorry. I've been spending my time watching the puppy, watching the cat watch the puppy, watching the puppy pee on the floor... it's been terribly exciting.

I will say that it's been interesting watching the cat and dog negotiate a truce. The cat is curious, but his nose is more than just a little out of joint. He wants to play with the pup, but isn't quite sure how to, exactly. The puppy thinks the cat is the strangest puppy he's ever seen. They circle each other, the puppy tries to pounce on the cat, the cat swats at the pup's tail when he's otherwise occupied...they're figuring it out, but there are lots of misunderstandings and surprises. But they still seem pretty open to each other: the cat isn't hiding, and the pup keeps trying to get a good sniff of the cat.

Going in to the office today...am feeling a little bit of guilt for leaving the pup home, and cannot even imagine how difficult it must be to leave a baby. To all my mommy friends - brava, brava brava!

11.25.2007

Sunday

Coffee? Check.
Newspaper? Check.
Hideously early wake-up? Check....
Good mood? Check!
The crabby Rahree of yesterday is in retreat, and Sunday Morning Rahree is happily ensconced in piles of newspapers, HGTV on the tube, cup o'joe #2 on the end table, and sleeping puppy at her feet.

I have some random things to do today before heading into the office tomorrow. It'll be the first day spent at my desk in a month, and I cannot WAIT to get some of this stuff done. For today?
  • catching up/lunching with a friend.
  • meeting one of Boo's half-brothers at the C&O Canal.
  • writing a script/bullet points to prep for some prelim phone calls at work.
For tomorrow?
  • submitting check requests for all the folks who played/monitored/consulted on the audition tour.
  • reconciling all of the petty cash we spent with the mountain of receipts we accrued.
  • contacting some folks regarding housing for next summer. [Yep. It's not too early.]
  • setting up a meeting with colleagues at work to create a social network for next summer.
  • running home to let the dog out at lunch...we'll see how he does on his first day home alone.
I tend to have really big plans for next summer at this point in the year...the excitement feels a little like Christmas for a kid. Big plans, big hopes...tempered with a little bit of realism. A very little bit of realism, honestly. It's like the opera version of the Six Million Dollar Man... stronger-faster-cleaner-cooler-louder-easier-more FANTASTIC. As a teaching colleague used to say, "Deny yourself nothing in a dream." I never do. ;)

In unrelated news, it's taken me all of 3 hours to write this paltry post...it's amazing how much mischief these animals can get into!

My five:
  1. Crisp fall days.
  2. Cinnamon.
  3. Expectation.
  4. Alone time.
  5. Surprises. Good and bad, although I definitely prefer the good ones...

11.24.2007

blahblahblah

Sadly, nothing interesting to report today...I'm feeling both a little under the weather and terribly blah, and am staring at a total mess of a house. Lack of content (But Rahree! That's never stopped you from posting before!) + craptastic self and house = reeeeeeaaalllly short post. I'll try to get inspired and write something worth reading soon.

My five for today:
  1. Clementines! Little tiny bits of goodness that remind me of the holidays AND summer at the same time.
  2. Crock pots. They're awesome. You didn't know it, but I'm cooking right now.
  3. Playing the "what if?" game.
  4. Good friends who will overlook your disaster-of-a-house to play with your puppy.
  5. Curling up with a good book or a bad movie.
Have a good evening, all.

11.23.2007

Black Friday!


I've been up for four hours already. And while I should wait until I have a brain cell left to post, I'm even too dumb for that... here are some random thoughts:

  • Having a puppy was WAY more fun yesterday when it was warm outside than it was this morning at 2:30am in the freezing cold... good thing he's cute.
  • I may never get the hang of "That's what she said." I'll apologize for all the botched attempts now, because I'm going to keep trying it until it's funny, dammit!
  • Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd? Have I died and gone to heaven??
  • Black Friday...why do I have a totally perverse urge to go to the mall? To buy stuff for ME? Bad Rahree, bad...
I've had a few days away from work, and am starting to process the whole audition tour a little more. I have to say that I'm going through some serious withdrawal...after luxuriously having my colleagues available to me almost 24/7 for several weeks I'm now wishing I had an excuse to call or write... it really speaks to how much I like and respect my colleagues. (And has nothing at all to do with me being totally lame. Right?)

And while there's a literal ton of work to be done before next summer - casting being the most pressing issue - I'm totally excited for the season to start. (The summer always looks like fun in the wintertime, I know.) I have a few personal windmills to tilt at before the season begins, though. If I'm successful, they should make this summer a little easier for our artists. The cold calling begins on Monday. Wish me luck! (Or sing me your version of "The Impossible Dream!" Or the Mission: Impossible theme... )

But there's little work-work to be done today. On the docket? Laundry, in a biiiiig way. A nap (which never happens - anyone have advice on how to train yourself to catnap?). Lunch with a girlfriend in Bethesda. Some visiting for Boo. Maybe Christmas cards? (I think I already have a gajillion, but I have no idea where I put them...) And hopefully a later bedtime than last night: I swear I was asleep on the couch by 8:30pm or something equally obscene.

My five:
  1. Toasty-warm Kitty curled up on my lap.
  2. Crossword puzzles.
  3. Homemade bread.
  4. Geographically-challenged close friends.
  5. Reconnecting.

11.21.2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble!



I love Thanksgiving. It's the perfect holiday: sufficient food interest, an inclusive, secular nature, and a moral imperative to recognize the good things in my life that I often take for granted. No presents, no crazy mythology, and the glory that is stuffing. Bread sauteed with butter. Add a little cheese on top and, well, I'm in heaven.

This year I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm expanding the daily 5 to 10.
I'm thankful for:
  1. Family. While mine isn't so close geographically, they're with me daily. (the phone company is really thankful for that, too!)
  2. Friends - the surrogate family that you get to choose! I've been blessed to find some great new amis, and to reconnect with some amazing folks from my past.
  3. Good health. Other than accruing a year's worth of blisters in one week (in heels... I know, DUH.) in NYC, things are pretty good. Knock on wood and take a vitamin!
  4. Being able to sing for fun, without the pressure of having to make a living from it. Granted, I don't sing nearly as well as I did when I was trying to make a go of it, but I'm way less neurotic. Well, I think so, at least. Boy I hope so....
  5. Tiny puppy and Irked kitty. It's nice having critters in the house.
  6. A fulfilling job. I write a lot about it, but it's the truth.
  7. The space and opportunity to reflect.
  8. Creativity. Here's to delving into new projects and disciplines.
  9. Security...in who I am and where I came from.
  10. Possibility... I'm not sure what's coming ahead, but I'm sure it'll be a great adventure.
What are you feeling thankful for?

Best wishes to you and yours today - happy tryptophan! :)

Picture of Mt. McKinley by EM on my little camera phone.

pictures



Ok, so I'm having sizable technical difficulties actually getting a good picture of this cute little guy's face. Black dogs? Not so good for a cameraphone. He has taken a liking to my paisley scarf, which I've dragged along for far too long...it's a worthy cause!





He's got a red collar and leash, a stuffed hedgehog that grunts, and a propensity to dump in the dining room. Good thing he's cute, huh?






Did I mention he's a superhero? Look at how FAST he is!










And Kitty, well, his nose is seriously out of joint. And he's not had a nap today. Come to think of it, I haven't had a nap yet, either... maybe I should rest up, just in case this is a rough evening!


On this Thanksgiving eve, I hope you all are happy, and being pleasantly surprised!

edited: if you're really interested, check out this little clip.

Puppified!

I am home, with a small (16 pound chunker!) black labrador retriever puppy fast asleep on the floor next to me. I'll post pics in a bit because, well, it's more difficult than I thought to get pictures of an all-black dog who doesn't stay still! I'm calling him Boo. He's doing that twitchy-paw thing, dreaming of chasing leaves around the yard, maybe? Or of getting a really good sniff of the cat? The cat isn't quite sure what to do with the new arrival... he's curious, and has tried to "pet" him twice but has lost his nerve. The puppy wants to be buddies, but isn't quite sure what kind of weird dog this is...

I'm looking forward to introducing Boo to the neighborhood this afternoon!

11.20.2007

Go to bed, Rahree.

The house has been - I think! - puppy proofed. I still need to pick up the correct food (I have 20# of the wrong food in the trunk of my car. If anyone's interested in free Iams Large Breed, call me!)and a travel crate from a friend before heading up to Mt. Airy, Maryland tomorrow morning to pick up the puppy. We got a call on the house phone tonight - a rarity, as we use our cell phones so much that the landline is only helpful to telemarketers and calling for pizza - from a family in our "neighborhood" (within 5 miles of us) who adopted a pup from the same breeders we did. They wanted to know if we wanted to get our pups together for a play date. I am totally charmed! Imagine! A stranger calling up to see if your puppy would want to play with theirs! How cool! People are cool! And so are their dogs!

Ok, it's really time for me to go to bed. Not so much with the making-sense this evening. Cumulative fatigue has set in...

But before I go? An extra Five for the day...because I'm feeling extra thankful

  1. Impending puppy, and all the good and bad that accompany it. (Kissing the whole sleeping-in thing goodbye after this evening...)
  2. Sharing.
  3. New-to-me music.
  4. A cool job and a great boss. (lucky when you get both, eh?)
  5. Getting back in touch.

Last day of auditions, y'all


Today we're hearing the last batch of singers/coaches/directors who've applied for our summer season. As I am always nostalgic before the event is completed (don't judge!), here are some random notes in reflection.



  • Lots of folks who sing for us obviously listen to several recordings of their arias to get the "gist" of them. But I think many skimp on both the translating [literal and paraphrasing] and the dramatic arc of the scene. They may sing a note-perfect, stylistically appropriate version of the aria, but can't telegraph why the pauses are there, or what the motivation is, or what the context of the song is in the scene. Start by defining the aria: what has happened right before your character sings? Why is he/she singing? What does your character want to happen as a result of singing the aria? Then look at the aria itself: when does your character's emotion or intention change? Mark those beats, and then give yourself a verb to illustrate the tactic/intention you've picked. Actions will always read better than feelings on stage...

  • The ladies who auditioned for the Studio program were the winners of the audition-wear contest. (You didn't even know that there was a contest, did you?!) The percentage of undergrad singers who dressed appropriately and elegantly was for some reason higher than that of the "adult" auditioners. (A special brava shout-out to CM - gorgeous!) I cannot stress the need for foundation garments strongly enough... we saw 6-packs in the wrong places, had a few near-Janet-Jackson moments, and were fascinated by the shadows of belly buttons under pretty dresses. And really ladies, please realize the risks of jersey and satin dresses - they are not your friends in the audition room, no matter how pretty they make you feel at a cocktail party. If you take one thing away from this blog, let it be the joy of heavier-weight fabrics for auditioning. And foundation garments. Please.

  • Auditioning is so difficult...traveling to a strange place to sing in a room that's new to you for people you don't know but would like to work with. I think singers forget how much the folks behind the table are pulling for you. We know you're nervous, we understand the difficult nature of this weird quasi-interview process. But we really do want you to come in and kick butt, to knock our socks off! And we know you can. Let yourself.

  • Ask for feedback. All of the typing we're doing while you sing? It's notes on your performance. We probably don't know you, have no idea of the path you've taken to get where you are...it's a great chance to get to know your voice through someone else's ears. And, since we save our notes from year-to-year, if you've sung for us before we notice your progress. We had a studio auditionee come back this fall who took all of our advice from the previous year's audition and implemented it for this year. The difference was huge, and duly and happily noted.
More pearls of wisdom (ha!) to come, I'm sure.

The most difficult part of the last few days has been actually being home... when we're on the road, we settle into a schedule that services both the travel issues and the project at hand, and is uber-focused with little distraction. But being back "in the office" means having to deal with paperwork, upcoming deadlines, and all of the Holiday events (Oh, yeah and having to take care of my own house instead of eating in restaurants and having people make my bed for me in the middle of the day...total bummer.) on top of trying to distill all of the information we've been collecting in our heads for next summer. It's making my head spin a little... it's harder to do work at home, harder to focus, and I'm a little more irritable. I'm sure it will pass, right? I have to say that, on this tour I've had great fun - I think I've belly-laughed more over the last few weeks than I have since the summer! And my boss and EM and JW are really so easy to travel with - it's been a real joy. Again, I am totally spoiled by my job.

So, on today's to-do list:
  1. Go in to the office early and knock out some paperwork prior to auditions.
  2. Hit the grocery store after work for Thanksgiving fixins.
  3. Hit the pet store to pick up puppy food and supplies.
  4. Puppy-proof the downstairs of the house.
Because, dear readers, tomorrow is Puppy Day! I'll be heading up to northern Maryland to get the newest member of the Rahree clan, a black lab puppy. Pictures to come tomorrow - you'll have to check back in!

Today's five?
  1. Terribly creative bed head. Today was a good one...
  2. Courage.
  3. Good friends.
  4. Excitement.
  5. Reflection.
Edited 8:03pm - If you 'd like feedback on your audition, please send us an email after January 1, 2008. We're just not smart enough to do it right now...

11.19.2007

short on brain cells...


...and with a fairly long to-do list this morning. Here's my morning 5:

  1. Tylenol PM.
  2. This song, which for some reason always calms me down.
  3. Black tea.
  4. Transitions, even if I'm no good at them.
  5. Good music.

And, because I'm a slack master, here are some of the tunes from Philly and Virginia on my tour playlist.
  • Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen
  • Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John
  • Sailing to Philadelphia - Mark Knopfler & James Taylor
  • Ride - Cary Brothers
  • Going to a Town - Rufus Wainwright
  • Vienna - The Fray
  • Virginia - Tori Amos
  • Vienna - Billy Joel (From that live disc, again.
Hope everyone has a good day...I'll try something more substantive later today, but no promises.

11.18.2007

sooooo close...


I almost did it...almost managed to post every day in November. But Philadelphia broke me. Between the travel, the spotty internet service and running into some dear old friends, it just didn't happen. Sorry, internet! Maybe if I post a really, really loooong post can you count it as two? Please?

Anyway, the technology crisis of 2007 is over. (And confidential to Coloraturaaah - I tried to administer comments with my iPhone and hit the wrong button. Thank you for the note - all is well. And good luck with your G4! Make sure you close everything down when you run updates...close EVERYTHING!) I'm a little unnerved at how naked I felt without a computer for 36 hours... it really is a bit of an addiction, although much more socially acceptable than, say, crack. I will say that my newest bit of technology, my iPhone, filled the void pretty well. Next thing you know I'll get my brain hard-wired, I suppose.

We're back home today for Studio auditions in lovely Vienna, Virginia. It's nice to be back, although we've been running around for just long enough that even coming home is a little disorienting. (My cat is protesting the arrival of a sorta-familiar person who is taking up his side of the bed. He's not picketing yet, but give him some time. He's feisty.)But today we were happily ensconced in the Barns, and AMM - a true Goddess - spent the day with us and plied us with caffeine, pastries and even cheeseburgers! at normal-human intervals, so it was a terribly civilized, pleasant day.

The Studio auditions are, because they're geared for a younger student than our Young Artist auditions, very different in terms of repertoire. Studio singers are allowed to offer art songs, and I've heard several favorites from my singing and teaching days: lots by Hundley, Ricky Ian Gordon, and Quilter, RVW's Silent Noon, Copland's Why do they shut me out of heaven?... so many beautiful melodies that I remember first hearing in school. The other "wild card" in this audition is a monologue. I am a HUGE fan of offering a monologue in auditions for two reasons: it's simply not enough for singers to park and bark anymore, and it's nice to see the acting range of a singer when they can't hide behind the music. Here's one of my favorites from an earlier city on the tour. Sometimes it's easier to engage your audience in your native tongue, in the vernacular. And I must admit, after hearing a block of sad arias we certainly enjoy hearing a comic monologue!

This evening I'm happily ensconced in my living room, in my pjs, having a true veg-out evening. Two more days of Young Artist auditions coming up, followed by NPD [new puppy day!] and Turkey Day. And then several days of puzzling: looking at all the pieces (read: singers, spaces, conflicts...you get it) and figuring out ALL the possible options. But tonight? Football, pizza and an early bedtime. Perfect.

My five?
  1. Sunday afternoon football games.
  2. Flannel jammies.
  3. People who take care of me, even when I don't realize I need it.
  4. Raking leaves.
  5. Early bedtime.

11.16.2007

I'm back!


Oh, Cincinnati, you tried to work your evil mojo on my computer, but the magical Geniuses prevailed and I am online again! After two hours and some remedial instruction at the Mac store, all is well in Rahreeland. (On a side note, I am a little concerned at my total inability to live without the internet. It's as scary as a crack addiction, but way more socially acceptable. I'm going to have to think about this for a while. After I check my bloglines feed...)

Back in town for 36 hours and then to Philadelphia for more auditions, and to meet up with former Trapper MM, grad school buddy CD, and two former students and totally fantastic ladies, BS and LR. I haven't really seen either of the latter 2 girls since they were in high school...looking forward to getting to know them as grown-ups. Let's see if they can bring themselves to call me by my first name... :)

But, lest you think that I'm having a DWO, (Day Without Opera), let me reassure you that I will indeed be keeping my ears primed this evening. Three of my favorite opera men, LM, JM and MC, as well as femme fatales MI and L2 have this little project that opened last night. Will be catching it - and catching up with them - this evening.

Thankful for? These things:
  1. Autumn leaves in the wind
  2. Easy companionship
  3. Good music
  4. Macaroni and cheese
  5. The light at the end of the tunnel

11.15.2007

Cincinnati hates my guts

Today's post is a short one, as I have commandeered my lovely boss' computer to write my blog entry. [It's my comeuppance for looking down on PCs...and I won't say she's gloating, but she'd certainly be justified.] My macbook has turned, overnight, into a doorstop. Tomorrow morning at 10 am I will be walking into the Apple store in suburban Virginia, arms outstretched, dead computer in my arms, sobbing and wailing and gnashing my teeth until a Genius resurrects it.

I may be there aaaaallll day.

Today we finished the Cincinnati Studio auditions, and have started to talk about concrete possibilities... the short list has been whittled from a jillion possibilities to less than twenty, which is heartening. And the Tall Building Tour continues, with photos from the Carew Tower in downtown Cinici to come soon. But we leave the midwest this afternoon, and head back to the DC area. And not a moment too soon - I'm afraid that Cincinnati might fry every piece of electronics I own if I don't get out of town fast!

Here's my five:
  1. The first flurries of the year
  2. The last airplane ride of the tour
  3. Homecomings
  4. Belly laughs
  5. Eggs. Dis - ***-oriented. And all the other sayings that have made it into my personal vernacular.

With any luck, I'll be back tomorrow.

11.14.2007

Wednesday in Cincinnati

Cincinnati reminds me, in many ways, of Pittsburgh. I'm a devotee of da 'burgh, having spent almost 15 years living in on near the city. There's something about the landscape and the grey weather that make me feel right at home.

My list of five-things-I'm-thankful-for:
  1. Reunions
  2. A hotel room large enough to do yoga in. My back is MUCH happier!
  3. Starbucks baristas who call your drink by your name. Today I think I'll be Lydia. Or Ingrid. Or Esmerelda...
  4. Autumn leaves... the colors are so striking this fall.
  5. Familiarity
We're hearing singers again in the Patricia Corbett Theater at CCM. It's a beautiful room with a great piano. Our pianist, DL, is fab: she has a wide knowledge of the repertoire, and is a master at helping less-experienced/super-nervous singers put their best foot forward. The most nerve-wracking part of the day is trying to navigate down a wide, rough asphalt path that cuts down a hill from the sidewalk above to the theater entrance below. In heels. Rahree is not known for her coordination, but she's doing OK so far...fingers crossed!


Here's to more great singing! [Am I a glutton if I'm still enjoying it? After two-and-a-half weeks?]

11.13.2007

If it's Tuesday, it must be Cincinnati...

I'm losing track of what day-of-the-week it is, which city we're in, who I've corresponded with or unintentionally ignored, when bills are due...I'm pretty much a hot mess with random arias swirling around in my head. Lots of opera, lots of talented singers, lots of hard decisions...

I am going to self-reference an earlier post about what I think makes good audition wear. Ladies, bulges are not attractive! There have been several guilty parties on the last few audition days in multiple cities, and it must stop. We do not need to see panty lines, belly-buttons or the like. Heavier fabrics, better hose, hell, even a pair of spanx will help you look more polished and keep our eyes where they belong...I'm not saying that I'm not facing the same challenges that you are - heck, compared to many of you I'm looking at much larger hurdles. But this is a business - put yourself under an unflattering overhead fluorescent light [And we all know which department stores have the worst ones...] and take a good look at yourself. It's hard, but those of you who look professional convey a greater sense of authority and maturity, and allow us to concentrate more fully on your artistic merits. Because let's face it; if we're thinking about your outfit more than we're listening to your aria, well, then neither party is really doing their job, right? Clinton and Stacy are rude and crude, but you need a tough-love friend like that to help you prep your package.

Lecture over. Mom has left the building.

Here's my five for today. It's a little late, but I couldn't quite get my act together to post this morning.

  1. Crazy dreams. (I dreamt that I had been tatooed from mid-calf to toe with colorful, symbolic designs. I didn't remember actually agreeing to the ink or having it done, but I was OK with the result. Weird.)
  2. Bad late-night movies. This is one of my all-time favorites. Don't judge.
  3. Beauty
  4. Good looking buns
  5. Trivial pursuit. I totally suck at this game, but when I know an answer I feel like a million bucks.
Until tomorrow...sleep well.

11.12.2007

Another piece of the puzzle...


There's a great guest post up on KPW's blog that you should check out if you're a singer...it really does a good job of explaining the audition and casting process from our end of things. It's also illustrates why, even though I am loath to relinquish my fuzzy slippers for another suitcase and airplane, I'm excited to get back to finishing this puzzle. We're looking forward to finding some more puzzle pieces in our upcoming cities! (Really, it's like Sudoku with a cool soundtrack - what could be more fun?)

And it's great to see old friends and colleagues in the audition room, to hear what they sound like after several years of keeping in touch sporadically. For me, it's really difficult to relinquish the bonds of school...they open their mouths, and I'm the supportive classmate, really pulling for them and loving their performance in the context of my knowledge of them. But then having to weigh them against other singers, well it's pretty difficult. They're a talented bunch, and I know that while we might not see them this summer, we will soon.

Lots of lists today... first, the iPod list for Cincinnati:
  • Cincinnati Traveler - Hem
  • The Cincinnati Kid -Frank Sinatra
  • Ohio - CSNY
  • Cincinnati - Rex Moroux
  • Ride - Cary Brothers (Not technically a Cinci song, but I like it...)
  • Cincinnati - Trey Anastasio

And my Veterans Day Five:
  1. The incredible generosity of strangers.
  2. Perspective.
  3. Raking leaves on a crisp autumn day.
  4. Tea.
  5. Courage.

11.11.2007

home again, home again, jiggety-jig

Woke up in my very own house this morning (which was lovely!) with Marie's aria from La fille du regiment floating through my head...a sign that the audition tour is not finished yet! Il est la, indeed. Things are starting to shape up, and while there are still a dizzying number of variables there are some strong front-runners in the repertoire department.

Today is all about laundry, repacking for a short jaunt to Cincinnati, and catching up on local life. And watching as much HGTV as I can possibly stand.

My Sunday-morning five:
  1. Fuzzy slippers
  2. Relaxing
  3. Feeling useful
  4. HUGE piles of newpapers to catch up on - with lots of puzzles!
  5. Mischief - of the benign sort, naturally. ;)

11.10.2007

High Five

Saturday morning's list of five things I'm thankful for:
  1. Home. (Wherever, and whatever, that might be.)
  2. Lightening up. In every way.
  3. A wonderful, curiosity-filled childhood.
  4. Good books.
  5. Gem├╝tlichkeit

11.09.2007

Odds and ends


Audition observations o' the day:
  • Interludes - don't tune out. We can tell volumes about your knowledge of a piece and your acting skills by watching you when you're not singing. It also gives us a glimpse into whether or not you're a collaborator in the ways that you respond to your pianist... think about it.
  • Eyes closed - I had lunch with a friend who also just happens to be an opera director. We talked a little about this, and his comment was "But you only have 10 minutes to communicate who you are to a panel, and eye contact is the primary method that you have - your eyes should be open all the time!" Couldn't have said it better myself.
  • Do not fear color. Burgundy is a big one this fall, with some guys looking very chic in black suits and burgundy shirts. And there have been lovely dresses in plums and greens. And it's way easier for us to recall you in our discussions if we can say "the soprano in the blue dress," as opposed to "the soprano in the black dress. No, the one in the long sleeves who sang quando m'en vo. No, not the one wearing the pearls, the other one with the sparkly necklace..."
One more day of auditions in New York, and then a laundry day back home in DC. This particular tour has been jam-packed not only with auditions, but with meetings with conductors and directors, colleague visits and the like. I've not quite managed to spend time with everyone I was hoping to, and I'm pretty bummed about it. Let's hope that it doesn't take me a year to get back to NYC!

Friday morning five

OK, so I'm going a little overboard on this Five thing, posting two sets some days. But it's really more of a symptom of being a little confused about which day is which, and if I've already posted or not...I'm running on 7 brain cells, and they're not necessarily the strongest ones, Darwin be damned.

  1. Stolzman playing Copland's Clarinet Concerto - the easiest, most pleasant way to wake up. (It practically guarantees a good day...I'm not sure why I don't wake up with it more often...)
  2. An extra hour of heavy, dreamless sleep.
  3. Shades of grey, both literal and figurative.
  4. Autumn.
  5. Good health.

11.08.2007

Misc.

A great day today! Familiar faces, some arias that were totally new to me, and a big reminder that while my ears are largely uncooked, my basic instincts are fairly sound. Boy, do I have a lot to learn, but I'm happy to have the opportunity to do so with some first rate musicians. Don't call me Pollyanna, but I am totally a lucky girl.

Other notes:
  • Thursday is the new humpday. We're halfway done, although the majority of the traveling is finished. Starting to get some ideas about the summer, and it's pretty exciting.

  • Times Square? Is always packed full of people. Always. This country girl can't quite handle it.
  • Today's audition update? Lots of black in the room today. Don't start mourning so soon, folks! Be brave enough to wear color - it helps us to remember who you are!
  • In my real life I'm a total tv junkie, but on this trip not so much. I think I've turned on the tube once, to watch the Steeler game. (We'll part of the Steeler game. It was Monday night, and late, and if I watch the whole thing they'll always lose... it's a fact.) I'm feeling more than a little virtuous about it: have seen operas and sights around town, walked all over, had great conversations. I might swear off the idiot box for good! Or at least until I make it home...
  • As a poor surrogate for TV? YouTube. Check out this, this and this. And send me links...I might soon eschew traditional cable for 3 minute snippets of home video.
  • Met the lovely and talented LDM (She was my wife once in grad school. If you have to ask, well, then you don't really know opera, do you?) at Sardi's, of
  • "Well, I bet you go to Sardi's. That's wonderful." "What's so wonderful? You can make a pot roast - that's wonderful!" fame. There are caricatures and drawings throughout the restaurant, and the bartender makes a mean Cosmo. I will now cross this particular tourist attraction off of my list! Walked back up to midtown and had a good, honest talk; actually said some things out loud that I didn't know I could. Good stuff!
  • Met two beauties, LM and ACB on the West Side for munchies this evening. The community that my boss has fostered/created in VA is just lovely, and it's always nice to re-connect with folks outside the madness that is summer at WT. While the picture is dark, it's a pair of concentric onion rings...pretty AND tasty, folks!

I have melted into a puddle on the couch, and in the interest of sleeping in as late as possible tomorrow, here are my five:

  1. honest conversation
  2. dark chocolate and caramel
  3. reconnecting
  4. Rossini and Mozart and Handel
  5. silly movies
Looking forward to more auditions

Thursday morning

The effect of a few hours sleep on a Grumpy McBitcherson? Priceless. I'm a whole new woman!

My morning five:
  1. happily waking up before the alarm goes off
  2. new experiences, large and small
  3. beautiful architecture
  4. reunions
  5. funky colored tights
Today's another day of auditions here in New York, and also a day of trying to catch up with the many, many folks we know in town. We'll see a few in the audition room, but we're also trying to visit with non-singers [I know - who knew?!] so we'll fill breaks and meals with meetings and meet-ups. This evening we'll be breaking bread with some more folks... There'll be lots of camaraderie, which I always look forward to, and more food, which I shouldn't necessarily look forward to as much as I do...

Have a wonderful day, all.

11.07.2007

To winge.

I'm too tired and moody to post anything beneficial this evening. Observations:

  • Burgundy is the new black, evidently. We've seen lots of it walk through the audition room doors. I approve.
  • For the love of cheese on toast, don't close your eyes when you're singing. This means you.

Okay, I've been sitting here moping, waaaah, poor me, I have blisters on my feet and I'm tired. And one of my favorite silly songs pops up on iTunes (try Camel Walk), a friend sends me awesome ninja and Chuck Norris jokes. And a buddy from undergrad found me on Facebook. And I got to see most of a really interesting production of Cendrillon. So I'm done winging, and am going to bed, and will hope for interesting dreams. Happy Rahree will be back tomorrow, I promise.

Wednesday morning list

My rolling-out-of-bed five:
  1. Crazy, vivid dreams
  2. Sunlight reflecting off mirrors
  3. Storypeople
  4. The wide-awake feeling (sans caffeine) of walking in brisk air
  5. Openness
(it's sounding a little crunchy granola today...maybe Seattle is catching up to me.)

If you have five (or one or two) you'd like to share, please do. Happy Wednesday!

Lemons and lemonade

One of the difficulties of posting daily while traveling is the fickle nature of the internet. Couple that with my reluctance to buy a wireless card or take on a yearlong additional phone plan, and you have the crapshoot that is my posting this evening. The gentleman at Roomlinx was very nice, but seems that they'll need to reset the server - could be done within the hour, could be tomorrow morning. So here I am, with all kinds of things to talk about and no forum! It's like laryngitis for my fingers. Not sure when this will hit the blog, so please be patient - if I miss a day I'll try to blog twice [and interestingly! there's the challenge!] the next day. God help me.

The morning started out sloppy and sweaty. It was raining. There were several errands to run en route to the audition space. I decided that a biiig soy chai latte without the little cardboard cupguard was a good idea. Lots of rain, lots of walking in a heavy wool coat, lots of latte on my lapels....it could've been a totally craptastic day. But today's auditions? Very interesting and fun. Fingers B. was our pianist today, and he's both a delight to listen to and a super fun guy. We heard some really first rate singing today, as well as seeing a few familiar faces from years [and cities!] past. Today Anne Truelove's aria is taking up gobs of precious real estate in my head. Just ask those aforementioned saintly colleagues who have to walk around town with me...they'll tell you.

After auditions I met up with J, a friend from high school (All-Eastern Choral Festival. In the early nineties. Never you mind how early in the nineties it was.) and undergrad. It has been so lovely to spend time with him, catch up a little and rekindle our connection...really great. We had dinner at a fabulous Ligurian place in Hell's Kitchen called Nizza (you can read a review here. I can say firsthand that the ravioli and salad pictured are fabulous.), and headed uptown. I'm loving that he's so close [rehearsing one floor above our heads in the studio building! They're dancing and singing and jumping around and moving set pieces, and every once in a while it sounds like they're coming through the ceiling. One singer today was in the middle of Papgeno's first aria when a huge BOOM came from upstairs. It seriously had to be the largest bird ever.]

But wait! There's more!

In true turista tradition, EM and I headed downtown to the Empire State Building for cityscape gazing and photo opportunities. After seeing Seattle from the Space Needle a few days ago, it felt pretty damn cool to have been in two of the highest spots on either side of the nation in the space of a week. Pictures to come!

Now? Tending to the pesky blisters that come with 10 extra pounds and stupid footwear choices. And going to bed so's I can listen to more opera tomorrow.

This really is the coolest job ever.

It's early, but here's my five. It's funny, in opera lingo, your Five are the Five arias that you choose for auditions and competitions - you can sing them backwards and forwards, with polish and character and impeccable vocalism. It's fun to think about carrying 5 good things around in my head with the same intensity which I used to carry my five arias. It's a change I'm digging.

  1. The shimmering city lights from the top of the Empire State Building
  2. The new album by Griffin House
  3. Ligurian food. Who knew?
  4. Freedom
  5. Spontaneity
Edited at 1:11am to add one of EM's fabulous Empire State photos.

11.06.2007

tuesday in new york


Tuesday morning's list of things I'm thankful for:
  1. a favorite song on the alarm
  2. the sound of rain bouncing down the sides of high-rise buildings
  3. camaraderie
  4. in-room coffee
  5. the cosy feeling of a grey day.
A little bit of work, and then off to the studios for another aria-filled day. Meet me for coffee and conversation this afternoon? Bring your umbrella and a good story. I'll try to do the same.

11.05.2007

It's a total cop out...


I started to write a really interesting post for you all. It was about conflict, and it may yet show up here. But, truth be told, I'm not quite smart enough this evening to get it out in any language besides gibberish. So you'll just have to wait... I know, I know, it's not fair, but I promise when I can figure out how to say it it'll be just right.

Today we started the New York leg of our auditions. Got some exercise this morning and walked to a new studio where we'll be based this week. It's a lovely space with big windows, sprung maple floors - which is not such a big deal for the singers but is totally helpful when I'm practicing my tondus while on break - and a lively acoustic. And I'm in heaven, because JG is rehearsing upstairs all week! I've known JG since high school, went to undergrad with him, and consider him more extended family than a friend. (He's spent Christmas Eve with my crazy Polish family - he's TOTALLY family!) Coming to New York and having time to spend with him is a wonderful bonus, and more than makes up for the sex maniacs in the hotel room next to mine. (O.M.G.)

Tomorrow will be 10 days away from home. While the singers and music staff I know are accustomed to picking up for large chunks of time, I'm just not. While I do love to travel I'm a total homebody at heart. I will say that being away from my daily routine is allowing me some great perspective, and while it's not an easy mental neighborhood to walk around I think it's important to look dispassionately at where and who you are from time to time. I'm not totally happy with what I'm seeing, but I'm a work in progress, right? We all are, right? Aaaahhh...you can tell I'm tired.

It's been a lot of opera already... My sweet colleagues are putting up with my annoying tendency to hum arias while I walk, although I'm not sure how much longer that will last -the putting-up-with-the-humming part, that is. Today's fav? Korngold - Pierrot's Tanzlied. Would that I was a lyric baritone...I think it's really just that I'm not able to make the noise anymore, but my heart's still singing along. (I know. Gag.)

In an attempt to be more mindful leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, I'm going to start listing 5 things that I'm thankful for each day. I'm going to actually try to come up with the list before I allow myself out of bed in the morning...let's see if I make it to work tomorrow! Feel free to share your own.

Today's Five
  1. The opportunity to walk to work.
  2. Band-aids. (see #1)
  3. Deep connections to friends
  4. Raspberry tea and rugelach
  5. Conversations that change the way I look at the world
G'night, John Boy.

11.04.2007

10 hours to go. More or less...


Today was our second and final day of auditions in Chicago. I could see where the "Windy City" nickname came from, as the wind whistled off the lake and between the buildings downtown. Started off the day with a walk through Millennium Park, filming a short video for a colleague and making fun of the sounds coming from the Antarctic exhibition at the Pritzker Pavillion. ("Hello, my name is Rahree, and today I'd like to start with a song inspired by the sounds of whales giving birth, as transcribed by Hohvannes. WAAAAUUUUUNNNnnnnnnkkkkkkkk...." Juvenile, yes, but also fun in that stupid 13-year-old way.)

We heard singers for the second day at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Saw some familiar faces (including TallBlondMezzo, a gorgeous compadre from grad school) and heard some really fine singing.

And now? We're sitting in the waiting area of another airport. Funny how they all start to run together... The curbside checkout man was terribly nice to me, as of course my suitcase weighs about 7 pounds more than it should. I hope that something really great happens to him, and for that matter all of the lovely men who have let my behemoth of a suitcase slide through the checkpoint without making me pay the fee, tossed it into cars and cabs and hauled it upstairs. I love you all. My back and terribly wimpy biceps thank you!

Heading to New York this evening. I enjoy New York, as it's fairly familiar to me, I love the neighborhood in which we stay, and there are so many buddies that I am excited to catch up with. And to get in the mood, here's my playlist:

• New York is a Woman - Suzanne Vega
• New York City - John Lennon
• New York State of Mind - Billy Joel [from a live 1976 bootleg @ Shea Stadium. Incredible. You're jealous, even if you don't know it yet.]
• Boy From New York City - Manhattan Transfer
• New York, New York - Ryan Adams
• New York - U2
• New York City - Norah Jones
• Brooklyn Stars - Matt Pond PA
• Leaving New York - REM
I'm going to wait for a few days before listening to that last one... :)

Tomorrow? A day of Studio auditions at a new studio on 42nd Street. JW is back to join us for these, and it's always fun when he's around. I'm looking forward to it!