Christmas, early!

Whee! Something you might not know about me? I'm an assembly junkie.

Not school assemblies, or other meeting of large groups of people. I'm talking getting a box of a gazillion pieces that magically transform into a dining room table or a barbecue grill. I love IKEA and all it stands for, mostly because purchase of just about anything = an afternoon solving a big 3-D puzzle. And the best thing? After solving the puzzle, which is a great thing all by itself, I get to use said puzzle for cooking, sitting on or at, putting my clothes in. I think I've assembled the dressers, bookshelves, desk, Weber grill, one of the beds... you get the picture.

At right? This afternoon's project. Bidding hubby's college-era tile topped kitchen table adieu (it was all I could do to not break it into little pieces...) and putting together a pretty, dark wood table. With a leaf. So we can actually have people over without sitting in each other's laps. (Which is a great conversation starter, but not so good on chili night.)

So, if you panic when faced with a box of parts and a Swedish direction sheet, gimme a call. I'm totally available.


a little friendly (if prudish) advice.

Now, I may receive serious hate mail for going here, but I have an opinion or two (and, well, it's my blog and i'll kvetch if i want to) for singers regarding audition wear. Now, I am no expert, audition-wise, fashion-wise or otherwise, so please don't hate me - other folks are smarter and not as ADD as I am, and can probably focus around these types of distractions. These are just things I've gleaned from my limited time behind the table.
Most of these are aimed at ladies, because they have more options and therefore more occasions to stun/shock than most guys. So here goes Rahree's list of clothing-that-distracts-me-from-your-singing.
  • Please don't wear eveningwear unless it's specifically asked for. (Is it ever? Maybe, I s'pose.) No tuxes. Long skirts or dresses are great. If said dress is backless and/or covered in sequins, not so much. Think of it less as a recital performance, and more like a job interview. A really, really strange job interview.
  • Please wear something that you feel confident in...worrying about a loose strap rather than your character will telegraph to us. And then we'll be right there wondering with you if something's going to slip.
  • If you're not a high-heel wearer, practice in them. Or skip them.
  • If you're a nervous shaker, those lovely jersey dresses that move with you and are soooo comfortable will show us your shaking & nerves. And your breathing. And a pretty good idea of lots of other things. I own a bunch and looove them, but if you're wearing them to an audition, at least make sure it's a dark color. Or sing your arias in it under a totally unflattering fluorescent light. You'll see.
  • Skirt - vs - pants? Don't care. At all. Whatever you feel better in will work just fine.
  • Here's the biggie. Please don't skip the foundation garments. Please. You have no idea what the temperature in the room will be, but we sure will when you enter. Plus, if you're doing ANYTHING with coloratura, I beseech you, wear a bra. If you're totally working a plunging neckline - and those dresses are totally cute, too - do us a favor and pin it up a little or wear a tank underneath. That way no one - not you, not us - will spend any time speculating if we'll be having a Janet Jackson Super Bowl replay.
  • And, along the same lines, we don't need to see said foundation garments...hide those bra straps and vpl, ladies.
  • Guys, if you wear your jacket, make sure it doesn't compromise your movement. Or make you carry yourself like your dad. (it's a total token comment. If you're clean and ironed and your clothes fit and you feel good, there's usually enough structure in men's clothes to hide breathing and jiggling. BUT if you look supa chic and put together, we will totally notice.)
I'm really not a prude. I love cleavage (or, rather, would if I had any) and curve-conscious clothes. And I am no fashion plate. Any of these "don'ts" would be total "do's" in other circumstances ... but they will distract us (meaning me) from the real reason we're all there: to hear you sing, to watch you perform.

And I mention these things because I love you and, well, I'd rather remember your beautiful voice or your compelling characterization than your jiggly boobies. No offense.

(The men at the table might disagree, but like I said, my blog, my bitch.)

i'm a thief

Totally stole this from ASL (a favorite guilty pleasure) and had to share. I adore this video. (Even the tennis scene.)

Here's a shout out to the quiet guys.


loose threads

  • I'm about 2/3rds of the way through Eat, Pray, Love. Makes me want to meditate, do yoga, and eat pasta for every meal. Not at the same time, though...those headstands are probably waaaaay harder with a stomach full of oriechette.

  • Making travel arrangements for the audition tour. Be glad I'm not your travel agent...I get really insulted when flights are more expensive than I think they should be. AND I DON'T WANT TO CONNECT IN DENVER, THANK YOU. I love Denver, really...I just like to park my fanny of the plane until I've reached audition destination. The layover time cuts into my drinking-at-the-hotel-bar-time...

  • One more work thing - the online application is up, which means that life will be MUCH easier than it could've been. No random pieces of paper, fewer money orders, more trees surviving... and less data entry. It's a beautiful thing. (And I didn't have to learn HTML...how cool is that? But I'm guessing my boss did...)

  • Started a diet on Monday, ate my weight in cheese on Tuesday... how am I doing? In one word? Crisco. (fat in the can) siiiiiigh....

Okay, this was a pretty worthless post. (but i will still post it because laziness is one of my many charms.) I'd promise better tomorrow but I'm not sure I can deliver. But I'll try real hard not to end every thought with an ellipse. Even though I really looooooove them....


grindstone? i guess...

Spending this week cleaning up the remains of the summer. No one is in the office this week, so I'll spend today with the windows open and the iTunes cranking. My office is in the corridor with the IT guys, who are always surprised with the sounds coming out of my office... some opera, some pop, a smattering of jazz, and me singing along with all of it! Poor guys.

We've had a handful of applications trickle in, and are still waiting to see if we'll have an online application this fall. (Note to self: learn HTML. Fast.) I know that putting the application materials together is a HUGE pain in the butt...everyone wants some variation on the "application, headshot, resume, fee, recording" melody, and it can be maddening. But if we don't know you, our first impression starts there. If we do know you, we're looking to see what's new/different.

But the two projects I have lined up for today are Grantmaker and Travel Agent.

Grantmaker: Must start working on paperwork for the NEA, which involves sifting through lots of statistics and past applications to make sure numbers are accurate. It's a great way for me to familiarize myself with the process, as I've worked on smaller grants but never a big one. And a great way to learn more about the company...it's hard to keep on top of a company history that's been around longer than I have...

Travel Agent: booking travel and hotel reservations for the audition tour. There are more of us this year with the Boss, EM and me, [I'm doing the whole tour rather than just 3 cities - yay! I think.] , and with JW flying in and out for the Studio auditions. This makes me nervous, as it seems that I can't get the dates to gel in my head, and I live in fear of booking the wrong, non-refundable flight on the wrong day or stranding someone on the other side of the country... the faster I finish that, the better.

But the best part of today, and this part of the season, really, is the daydreaming. Since we don't pick the opera until we've heard the singers, it's time to listen to operas I'm not as familiar with, to revisit old favorites, to start adding to the mental library that'll allow me to hear someone and say "Wouldn't she make a great ?"

And at the end of the day? Meeting hubby for a "modeling gig" on the lawn. Free dinner & a show, and the chance to hang with hubby and some friends, all for the price of a few pictures. (Heck, free food?! I'm in...I'm soooo easy.)


The circle game

I love Joni Mitchell. And it's a good thing...

Spending today tracking (and justifying!) all the money we spent this summer. Ugh. My boss was up until the wee hours last night working on it... makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Actually my head hurts independently, as not only is our budget due but one of the big funding proposals is due, too. We are in the land of spreadsheets, and for some reason the longer we spend here, the harder speaking English becomes. As a singer/musician, the budgeting process always stunk because, quite frankly, there was never enough money to live the lifestyle that I wanted...beer money was really lesson money, shoe-shopping money usually turned into gas money... heck, I don't have to tell you.

But I will tell you that it's the same thing in a opera company. It's no easier figuring out where the numbers came from, why tickets sold or didn't, why there's less money for a cool project because you have to pay utilities and that's just unfair... again, I probably don't have to tell you.

But the most momentous thing that happened today? {Besides actually finishing said grant proposal?}

(wait for it...)

Today, in the mail, six days after a rockin' final performance, we received the first application for 2008.

We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game


small changes...

From this......

to this.

Summer is officially over, and I have the hair to prove it.

Hair? foxy brown, kiddies.

Mood? WAAAAY better. Almost up to needed sleep quotient, had some hard but good talks with hubby...on the up-and-up.

Work? Sadly quiet, but productive. Looking forward to getting applications in and hearing auditions, but taking a break from opera to make mix cds - has anyone else noticed that the chord sequence in "keep the car running" by arcade fire sounds a little like Bruce Springsteen's "on the dark side"? Is it just me?

Steelers update? Kicked the Redskins' butts! (In pre-season, so it doesn't really count, but I'm enjoying it regardless.)

The autumn is shaping up to be a great blend of interesting work and fun time off. Hubby and I have some travel plans, and some projects to fix up the house. I worked the last concert of the season (may do a little bit on the musical load-in next week) and am back to a largely 9-5 schedule for a while. Looking forward to catching up with friends and family, learning how to use my stove again, signing up for some yoga/dance classes, and daydreaming about learning how to do something new... new signature dish? new dance move? new creative skill? new practical skill? I finally have a little time to figure it out...

(... after projections and financials and budgets are finished... just a little more spreadsheet time, and KW's done the lion's share so that should fly by tomorrow... I hope.)

Any recomendations? Recipes? Things I should try?


no perspective today.

Woke up in the middle of the night with the rain POURING down. No thunder or lightning, just rain in sheets. It was magic.

Fell back to sleep.

Woke up to a contractor going through the house with hubby. After the discussion about Perfect House, we decided to stay in this house for one more year and upgrade the kitchen & landscaping & add a half bath. The whole situation is making me feel gross: bitchy and stuck and overly demanding and frustrated. Our house was just fine until a few days ago - now there's nothing right about it.

I'm sure that the guy who wrote The Tipping Point would have something to say about it. I'm reading his second book, Blink, which is about our ability to make quick intuitive decisions and why they are sometimes wrong.

It's the being wrong part that I'm having a problem with. I know I'm not making sense, I know that staying is more fiscally responsible. I know that we might not be able to afford to live in a neighborhood that I like. But I want to move. *sigh*

In the get-Rahree-into-a-better-frame-of-mind game, I'm having lunch with a good friend that I haven't seen since June, and will be doing a little shopping. (Since I don't have to scrape together a down payment for a house, I can afford some "school" clothes, right?) Hoping to get some time in at the gym or in the park, just to get out of this funk.

Debbie Downer signing off...

Edited at 6:48pm: I'm happy to say that, after a midafternoon margarita, some girl talk, a little retail therapy, KEY LIME PIE and an hour on the elliptical, Debbie Downer is gone. In her place? Happier Helen. Or Slightly Nauseous Nellie.


transitions? not my thing.

Took today off work, and had a total meltdown.

Partially due to the end of the season...being overtired, trying to get back onto a schedule.

Partially due to skipping work today...i've been there so much lately that it feels a little weird not going in.

Partially due to finding possibly the cutest house ever, and falling in love with it. Going through all of the motions, figuring out mortgages and such. And getting into a huge squabble with hubby regarding said house.

Me: emotional. ready to start a family and not wanting to do so in my teeny house. wanting to move every 3-4 years, & having reached said limit in this house. wanting a house with neighbors who like each other and with room to have parties.

Hubby: rational. treats the decision as a business decision, and won't assume more risk than he thinks is sustainable. wants to build a nest egg, retire early, get a beach house.

Me: have never had a nest egg or a beach house. would like to retire early, but RIGHT NOW would like aforementioned pretty house. takes hubby's reluctance to go deeper in debt to mean that he doesn't want kids and we're trapped in this hole of a townhouse for the REST OF MY LIFE AND OMIGOD HOW DID I END UP LIKE THIS?!

Yeah, I'm no good at transitions. And hubby, for the record, is pretty good at talking the crazy lady down from the roof. Here's hoping for more perspective tomorrow.



ingredients for tonight's sigh of relief?

  • one FANTASTIC opera. Bravo, all!
  • one Steeler preseason win against the Redskins. Whee!
  • one mondo buffet breakfast, served at midnight. with hash browns. LOTS of hash browns.
lots of reflecting to do, but first, sleep. G'night, John Boy.


breathing room

Last show this evening...load out until the wee hours of the morning. (Early-morning wakefulness brought to you by Starbucks and a slap in the face) It'll be sad to see these "kids" go - they've been a great bunch; both good at what they do and good to each other. (it's that latter part that's sometimes tricky) And colleagues T&EL and JW are moving on to new states and countries. They'll be missed.

But today, a change is in the air.

Literally. It's cooler. There's no humidity. The sun is out full force.

Figuratively. Fewer people to keep track of. Shorter days at work. An autumnal sweetness in the air.

I'm starting to reclaim my time...am starting to get back in the habit of walking/exercising daily. It's my favorite way to track the seasons: to watch the way nature segues gently from green to brown to golds and reds. And the young bucks have fuzzy antlers - so cute! (Although I don't tell them that - they get pretty sensitive.) It feels like a luxury to slow down enough to notice what's going on around me without it having to shout for my attention.

I have oodles of teacher friends from my 7+ years of teaching, and they're all winding up for re-entry. So I have this teeny-tiny window to catch up with all of them before they're caught up in lesson plans and adjusting to insanely early alarm clocks. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with them before December hits and we wonder where the time goes.

Along those lines, saw the John Hiatt concert (with some teacher friends, naturlich) on Thursday, and he was talking from the stage about aging. How no one tells us how quickly time will move when we're adults. How important it is to make time, to spend time with the folks we care about.

I'm looking forward to taking a deep breath and looking around.


the good seats

Another day in the amphitheater. Another day of listening to glorious music played for me and a handful of colleagues.

Yup. Life is tough.

Tonight is the dress rehearsal for Flute. In the big theater our rehearsals are mostly closed: the park rangers and support staff [food & beverage, merchandise, ushers] are not around, so it's dark and not terribly safe for folks that are unfamiliar with the park. When the National Symphony rehearses it's during the day - less problematic but also usually closed. When the opera's in the building, though, lighting needs, orchestra schedules and singer throats dictate a 7 or 8pm start time.

The best part? A mostly full-out performance for the handful of people involved with the show. The director and assistant director, designers, music staff, title operators will all be there taking notes and running the cues one more time. Stage management will be tightening up cues, and maybe even taking a spin in a unicorn costume. (Hi CZ!) Those of us involved in the admin side of things, however, can usually take at least part of the evening to sit in the house and listen. To let the music wash over us when there's no one else around, to watch the singers we've grown so fond of owning their roles and singing brilliantly, well, it's truly a little slice of heaven. You should be totally jealous.

Toi toi toi to the singers and musicians tonight. I'll be the one clapping the longest.


internal clock

I'm an early bird.

When I was little, my folks bought black-out blinds and covered the walls of my room with cork to keep out the sun and the sounds of the birds. Because I didn't sleep. Ever.

In high school I loved to sleep in, but hell, who doesn't?

In college my dance classes were all at 8:30am. No thinking, just stretching for the first 30 minutes...it was a great way to start the day, no matter how much I hated getting out of bed.

When I was teaching I had to be at school by 7:45am. I went through a jogging phase where I was getting up at 5:00am to run.

But I've been working until midnight or later the last few nights, and my body is all ausgefucked. "Sleeping in until 9am? How old are you? You know you're not in high school anymore - you couldn't get your butt into your 90s jeans with a crowbar!" (My body talks trash like a pro.)

For this week? NOT an early bird.

It's 10:30am. I've been up for an hour. My cat is totally harassing me (with his claws), my work to do list is already WAY over 20 items long, and what I'd really like to do involves long walk in the park followed by a late lunch with buddies and a nice glass of wine and a nap.

Maybe next week, eh?

My consolation? The long nights at work are fun - beautiful music, great colleagues who won't be in town for much longer, and weather that is being amazingly cooperative for mid-August.

More to come on work...after i figure out how this IV caffeine drip works...



...because I'm addicted to this site, I am totally tickled by this site. not as consistent, perhaps, but some of them are really good.


...lots to write about, not enough brain cells to do it well. saving it up for later this week...

instead, multimedia from Frank of Postsecret. If you've not visited the site, you should. More importantly, if you're carrying around a heavy secret, consider sharing it with someone...it really will make you feel better.


Brought to you by August and WDVE

I moved to Pittsburgh, PA as a high-school freshman. I fell in love with wxdx, an alternative radio station that played Siouxsie and the Banshees, REM, Love and Rockets, The Smiths...you get it. But there was another station, wdve, that had the bestest morning show ever. And my buddy D and I memorized just about every routine on that show. Bobby Subgum, Zig and Zap, Stanley P. Kachowski...we could sing/recite them all...

...and, for the most part, still can.

So here's my tribute to late August weather, Hot as Hell, a "sensitive poetry" by JT, ripped directly from 1980's radio.

(Read aloud in your angriest voice)

It's hot as hell,
Hear what I say!
My whole life is a big flambe.
I'm as hot as an engine in a Chevrolet
It's hot as hell, damn hot, OK?!

Ain't got no air-conditioning
Ain't got no fan,
My back porch feel like a fryin' pan
I'm an angry, sticky, smelly man.
It's hot as hell, don't you understand?!

It's hot!
It's hot!
It's hot as hell!
Makes you wanna run outside and yell
"You wanna know how my armpits smell?"
It's hot as hell.

I'm gonna kill you.

Just think of all the info that I could've remembered had that little gem not been stuck in my head. But - if anyone has these morning show tapes - PLEASE LET ME KNOW - Christmas is coming, and my brother will buy the whole set from you. He might not give them to me, but at least they'll be in the family.

Next installment? The commercial for Buford's House of Liver. Stay tuned! (I know you will...)


It's 105 degrees outside...

...and the mailman brings my school clothes. Long sleeved gray top. Black wool sweater dress.

Oh, the irony.

three steps ahead, five steps behind...

So I'm chasing the seasons again. It's the end of August, one of the warmest, ugliest days we'll see all year and I'm thinking about fall. Crisp air, wool sweaters, really good apples, snuggling weather. I tend to gravitate to fall as my personal New Year: it's a time to reflect on the summer's madness and make some notes about improving it for next year. It's the time to reconnect with hubby, and my totally ignored family and friends. (If they're still speaking to me.) Time to take control of my body, to take better care of myself. (Boy, it's sad that I have to set time aside to do that, but it's true.) Time to get organized, to purge my house and my head of those things that are harmful, wasteful or just taking up space.

And I'm ready. Totally ready, despite the fact that the season isn't finished, it's going to be 100+ degrees today, and it's mid-August.

I've been in a bit of a holding pattern lately, waiting for something to happen, to not feel so tired, to have to pull together with hubby to make a decision. We've been making lots of hypothetical decisions, which I think is good - those conversations are hard for me to instigate. But I can have all kinds of discussions for discussion's sake...

So, on today's agenda:
  • run errands: target, pet store, goodwill
  • spend some time with Hansel & Gretel - try to get the abbrev. score from OTNV
  • hit the gym
  • drop in @ work to play some piano and conspicuously wear my glasses...
  • find a new recipe for dinner
  • call some of the buddies I've been neglecting and make some catch-up dates
  • get a new book/magazine to read - just finished White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Any recs?
  • spend some time cleaning out the mental closet
  • make some promises to myself and set some structures into place to really try to get there.
That's plenty, I think. Gotta get a move on if I'm going to get even half of that list done. Maybe I should've put "tackle the hard tasks first" on the list...because you KNOW I'm heading to Tar-jay first...


200th post!

Ta DA!

I have officially been writing WAY longer than I should've.

To celebrate, I am re-linking to one of my favorite posts from Yogabeans. When people ask me if my husband does yoga I say "hell, NO." and think of this post. If Marge Simpson ever runs out of action figures to put through their paces, I will happily volunteer Hubby and his grad school buddies for class. If she can put up with that sassy Batman, she can totally handle my crew.

To recap from the first post: still love hubby, job, cat. Still looking for a house. Still trying to decide about starting a family. Still too obsessed with shoes. Still a little too crisco (fat in the can), but still working on it.

Yup. As lame as it is, things are still good. And for that I'm thankful.


only in this job...

Sitting in Flute rehearsals, listening to some great singing and watching some super-smooth staging and tech movement. It's one of those afternoons when I'm amazed that I get paid for doing what I'm doing.

(Although I keep thinking how easy it would be to put a techno percussion track on this whole show and play it at a dance club with some trippy video... a project for another time, I'm afraid.)

It's been a busy weekend....three orchestral concerts, two Studio performances [more, but that's all I made it to], two Barns operas, more arrivals and departures than I can count. Today is relatively quiet and it's totally welcome. Watching these folks sing makes me realize how lucky we've been with singers and staff this summer, how well the singers play together, and how the summer has been fairly easy, all things considered. Tiring, but things could've been WAY harder.

Just a few more days until things get super quiet...not sure how I feel about that...



Why are the cutest shoes not comfortable for more than a few hours? It's like the cuteness factor is inversely proportional to the comfort factor. Unfair.
And don't lecture me about flats coming back/being cute/being better for me. My husband is a full foot taller than I am. Without heels on, I end up squarely in his armpit.
It's summer in suburban DC and it is insanely HOT.
His armpit is not among the places I want to spend any more time than need be.
Fall-winter-spring? Fine. Mid-August? Most emphatically no.
C'mon geniuses of the world...make me a shoe that adds 2 or three inches to my height, makes me look taller and thinner, makes me nicer to mankind AND doesn't feel like I'm trying to push my toes into the barrel of a ball-point pen.
I know there'd be a market for it.


...everywhere, but not a drop to drink...

Today was a rich, musical day. A good day!

Started off watching a dance class with our Studio singers. They've been taking sporadic classes with B, a Mark Morris company member,{BTW, he's brilliant. Adore him!} and had their final "class-with-an-audience" today. I was lucky enough in undergrad to have dance classes several days a week, and actually sat in on the first day of class with the Studio and B - I LOVE dance class, even if I'm not so good at it; love being able to articulate a musical phrase with my body rather than my voice. And it's so great to see the folks who are nervous at the start really take ownership at the end. I'd be totally lying if I said that it was easy to sit and watch, though. It was so hard to sit still!

A little office work and then the "dancers" from the morning presented a scenes program - Mozart, with a Verdi finale thrown in. I have to say that I've heard grad school singers and even WT auditionees who aren't as good at recitative as these folks have become. And even though it's not due to anything I did, I can't help but be proud of their progress.

Nice chats at the reception following the concert, and then a quiet ride home.

Took the longish way home, past horse farms and over the river. It was just starting to get dark, just starting to cool off in that hazy, late summer way. I opened every window, let the wind comb my hair, and sang my fool head off. "Persuasion" by Teddy & Richard Thompson. I love this song on many levels: that it's a father-son duo singing one of Dad's songs (one of my earliest memories of singing is harmonizing - with a loretta-lynn twang - with my Mom in church every time Amazing Grace was on the docket. )I love that I can interpret its meaning differently depending on my frame of mind when I hear it, and that the vocal qualities are so different, with Richard being gruff and Teddy being almost too-pristine. And I love that I can sing along with the melody or the harmony, but choose most often to sing a third harmony part. Actually, that's the truth with most of my car-sing-along tracks...I'm the invisible bandmate, the backup singer who doesn't bother being tasteful and just harmonizes with everything.

Which gets me thinking. I miss collaborating musically. Now that I've had a year to start to get this job under my belt I finally have some time for some extra-curricular activities. I've taken a small directing gig, but I'm doing little actual music-making.

It's time.

Time to figure out what - who? - my voice is after this hiatus and change of profession, and how to be heard. It's exciting - time to explore things that have been verboten, time to get back to some writing & composing...playtime. And time to find some friends to play along.

Boy, am I looking forward to it. :)


37 years ago today...

No, it's not American Gothic, even though there's an apron and a pitchfork-of-sorts in the picture. [Dad, bunny ears are 2 fingers, not 3...] Today is my folks' 37 wedding anniversary. Thanks for giving Mikey and me such a great childhood, and a providing hubby and me such a great role model for a relationship that lasts.

(And congratulations on not killing each other. Or Mikey or me. It's totally appreciated.)

Here's to 37 more!