9.30.2007

happy girl


...sitting outside, listening to acorns drop onto flagstone.

watching two bluejays chase each other through the trees.

serving as a denim pit stop for a traveling grasshopper.

letting the sun dry my hair.

almost finishing the sunday crossword.

soundtrack? distant birdsong, the breeze through the trees, the fighting bluejays, a random dog collar jingling as they walk by.

Aaaaaahhhhhh....

hoping your day is the perfect day for you.

9.29.2007

Nicely nicely rahree

Screening applications.

It's a little heartbreaking.

I definitely know where I would fit, were I still singing. And therefore I understand why some folks try to distinguish themselves with well-intentioned descriptors: hard-working, mature, curious, collegial, supportive. You're showing us that there's more to you than on that collection of papers, the glossy photo, the painstakingly selected aria list. You are more than that! And I firmly believe, were we to meet in any number of non-auditiony places, that I would really like you. We could grab a cup of coffee, talk about books and movies and favorite places to be. It would be fun!

But it doesn't matter. Either you are singing at the level that we're looking for or you're still working your way up. You could be Mother Teresa, but we can't take you unless you sing well. And unfortunately being a nice guy in our business is not resume-worthy.

I wish it wasn't so. I am a big fan of nice. Having worked and studied with both old-school screamers and nice guys, I will opt for the nice guys almost every time. For people who are kind and thoughtful I will go out of my way even on the busiest days. I will book you last-minute flights, find a hotel that will take both you and your dog, cut an emergency check, even offer to find your SO's luggage and store it while you're onstage. I will coddle your supporters, bring snacks to your rehearsals, and drop everything when you enter my office.

If you're not a nice guy, I'll do a few of the same things for you. Because I like to be a nice guy, too. But if you're mean I'm professional and little more. It's just the way I'm wired - Momma don't tolerate no meanies. No divas, no divos, no pitas. Not allowed.

Luckily, I work with nice guys.

And we are pouring over every scrap of paper, struggling with the staggering number of your applications and the small number of slots. As I read, I promise that I'm trying to think of what I would've wanted to hear, putting myself in your shoes.

Best of luck. I'll be pulling for you, nice guys.

9.25.2007

The Scales of Justice...

...tipped.

It took a while. Lots of waiting, lots of misdirection from counsel, lots of not-talking-about-the-case during aforementioned waiting.

And a long talk with several strangers to decide a several-hundred-thousand-dollar lawsuit.

I hope to never have to be in court for anything (other than jury duty) again. But if I must, I have to say that I hope the jury takes it as seriously as we did.

I'm usually pretty comfortable with contradictions and ambiguity, but then most times I'm only responsible for me or for those I know really, really well. I couldn't believe how much more information I needed to feel secure... info that they didn't provide. And they provided WAY more information on other topics that I didn't need.

Enough, done.

Now, full speed ahead to auditions and grant applications and classes. And maybe, just maybe I'll actually get in to the office this week!!!

9.24.2007

May it please the court

Today was day 1 of jury duty {you can call me Madame Jury Foreman}, and I have to say that it was pretty interesting. I'm a confessed L&O junkie, and have been singing the theme song for the better part of the week in anticipation. I didn't think I'd actually get to serve, since most cases are settled before the trial begins. There are seven of us total: six jurors and one alternate who listens to all the testimony but only gets to weigh in if something happens to one of the other six. This is a civic case, where we'll be finding for damages rather than determining whether someone is guilty or innocent.

It's still hard.

You hear about the heightened emotions in the courtroom - heck, that's why it makes such great drama, right? Our beloved Volpone hinges on several of those dramatic moments (and it's taken all of my willpower to not break out into song in this courtroom!) But the aspects of the trial that have touched me are centered around the innate humanity of it: that each person involved is essentially calling the other a liar. (In a very civilized manner, but liar nonetheless. In a very, VERY small room. Lil' miss non-confrontation would have a reeeeally hard time with it.) That the events is question happened years ago...my memory is such a sieve, I'm not sure I could answer questions about the weather or what I did on any given day in 2004. That a group of strangers are concentrating like blazes to make sure they're totally informed about the events of these two people so that they can be fair to both. I like the idea of being fair, but it's such an elusive thing in real life.

The plaintiff and the defendant only speak for themselves in the most choreographed way. Objections are rarely dramatic but sound more like rude interruptions. Explanations are cut short, too much information given is summarily struck from the record. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to ache to tell your side of the story, but only be permitted to in tiny bites. (Like learning a score one measure at a time, rather than being able to listen to a recording or play through the whole thing. ) The counsel for one side tries to clarify, the other to obfuscate, and then they change roles. The situation is rigid, but the tactics they use are fluid.

In a way-too-over-the-top manner, maybe Volpone wasn't so far from the mark.
It feels like a big, big responsibility.

I just hope that we can do right by both folks, although I'm not sure it's possible.

Settling in for an evening of solitary domestic bliss. Laundry, garbage out, a mushroom swiss burger for dinner, and new tv on the tube.

9.23.2007

early-morning ramblings





It's early. Still-dark-outside early.

Hubby is en route to a conference out of town. It's a bit of a double-edged sword: I certainly don't mind being alone. I like the quiet, the autonomy, the clicker all to myself (which never happens in real life!). But there really is a big hole in the fabric of home when he's away. I know that one of the big reasons that I'm ok with being alone is the strong foundation that we have together, and the network of friends and family that I can call on if something goes wrong or I need to talk. It's easy flying on the trapeze when you've a HUGE safety net.

Have had some sad news from friends lately...multiple friends, which is a little unnerving. Life has not turned out the way they'd hoped, and big changes are afoot. And, along with those big changes comes soul searching, heartbreak...lots of hard conversations. It's all for the best, but that doesn't make any of it any easier. I want to be able to support them, to give them some solace but I'm at a bit of a loss. I'm hoping that just being around, available and a little nebby will give them the opportunity to take what they need from me.

The real reason that this hits home so loudly for me is that I realize that there's very little different between us...some circumstances, some choices, sure. But could I wake up and find myself there, even if Hubby and I work at our relationship every day? Sure. Could I be living from paycheck to paycheck wondering if I'll be able to make rent? Absolutely. It's only a twist or two away.

There are many times that I'm sure that I come across as a Pollyanna here. But I really am thankful for a lot of things, and realize that I have it pretty good. And I owe it to the people around me to spread it around a little. Here's to being a catcher - being flexible, safe, and strong.

Okay. Last time I post before coffee. I promise.

On today's docket? A walk in the park and a light lunch with some girlfriends, some football on the tube, MOUNTAINS of laundry (how is it never done when there's only 2 of us?!), and a little bit of opera for work - clips of Volpone for a grant app and continuing to build the aural library for auditions. (First deadline is Monday, BTW. Get yer stuff in.)

Sun's coming up. Time for the Sunday paper and a little BBC. (How can the day be bad when you start it with those charming accents? Can't.) Hoping your timing is on today.


Update: had a GREAT walk/chat with a fabulous singer who is also good people. Sushi (not great sushi, but good for in-my-home sushi), a glass of vino, and a winning score for the Steelers. No laundry was done/harmed in the posting of this edit. But I did rediscover a favourite blog - check out the Chaucer link on the left.

9.21.2007

Cool stuff

I have found a new favorite website. It's here.

And while you're there, check this out.

Note to self: think bigger, be braver. Look at the fun you'll have!

9.19.2007

hodgepodge

  • I don't know if it's karma or what, but I'm sitting at home with a cough, a sunburned nose and GORGEOUS weather. Am about to move out to the patio for some fresh air... it's good for invalids. I have to be thankful that I'm not singing anymore - it makes the rattling in my vocal mechanism way easier to handle.

  • And - karma again, I'm sure - Hubby is sicker than I. And it goes without saying, WAY whinier than I am. Because he is the only man to ever contract a cough and sniffles and IT'S JUST NOT FAAAAAAIIIIRRRRR. (Wait, that whining was me.)

  • I need to get a large list of operas that I'm unfamiliar with or not-quite-familiar-enough with into my ears before the end of next month. Since we don't cast until we hear everybody, this list really lives in a state of flux, mutating after every audition day. But I have to start somewhere, and it's a great excuse to clean my ears out! I will entertain suggestions, if anyone wants to educate me!

  • And the flip side of the coin, after listening to opera-opera-all-the-time-opera, I'll need some other, less intense rep to listen to. Am trying to assemble a playlist that revolves around the different cities we'll be in. On the list so far? Soul Coughing's "Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago," Lyle Lovett's "That's Right (You're Not From Texas)," Suzanne Vega's "New York is a Woman," and a live version (from 1979 - I know you're jealous) of Billy Joel's "Vienna." (So maybe he wasn't talking about Virginia. But MAYBE HE WAS....) Again, I will happily entertain suggestions!

  • I am LOVING that YankeeDiva is recording the title role in Alcina. She's so cool... I can't wait to hear it!

  • Think Denk (I don't know him, but I do love his writing. And I hear that he can twinkle the ivories, too!) turned me on to this. With all the opera on my plate, is it any surprise that Rahree = hearer? And rehear? Wisdom, indeed.

C'est tout. Over and out.

9.16.2007

the irony and the ecstasy




Just got back from vacation in Florida, and was totally surprised to step out of the airport and have it be Fall. It was most definitely Summer in West Palm when we left. See for yourself.



Came home to beautiful weather (yay!), new couch cushions (yay!) that don't fit (bummer...) and several deposits of days-old cat puke (ew.). And hundreds of work emails (I know, wait until tomorrow to read them, stupid!) and - usually I'm pretty good at juggling lots of things - I dropped not one but two balls at work. And both just happened to hit the fan while I was gone. (Shit! ShitshitshitSHIT!) So, rather than taking tomorrow off to re-enter, I am going to work to fix the mess I left behind.

The warm fuzzies of vacay are gone, and now I'm feeling sad and stupid.

And sunburned.

Awesome.

More pictures and happy stories in a day or two. I promise.

9.12.2007

parting shot

Went out to the patio with a cup of coffee, a blueberry scone and the paper this morning. The weather is beautiful - comfortable, sunny, low humidity... and since I have plenty of room, I thought you might like to join me. You can have the Style section as soon as I finish the sudoku, okay?





Back soon to regale you with tales from Florida. Have a great weekend - hope yours starts early and well!

9.10.2007

Monday Morning Playlist

Here's today's car mix tape. ( I just read this book, and have fallen in love with mix tapes again.) Feel free to request one...it'll probably be on CD, but whatev. This one has some old friends, some new things that I want to sing along to, and a wild card or two...

1. Teardrop - Massive Attack
2. Stitched Up - Herbie Hancock & John Mayer (a good car-dance song)
3. Ray Ray Rain - Bettie Serveert (Oh, college in Pittsburgh...)
4. Cigarette - The Clarks (and ditto #3)
5. Loneliest Girl in the World - Cary Brothers
6. A Strange Education - The Cinematics
7. Move By Yourself - Donavon Frankenreiter
8. The Crane Wife 3 - The Decemberists
9. Not California - Hem
10. Listening Man - The Bees (one of my new favs)
11. Down the Line - Jose Gonzales (ditto #10!)
12. Supernova - Liz Phair (
13. Car Crash - Matt Nathanson
14. Falling Through Your Clothes - The New Pornographers
15. Gravity - Sara Bareilles
16. Here We Are - Patrick Park
17. New York is a Woman - Suzanne Vega
18. Wheat Kings - The Tragically Hip

We'll see what tracks are put on repeat and which are skipped over...

In other music news? Getting into the shed on the ol' lunch break. Nails? Cut. Will that really help me any with my playing? Doubtful, but hey, deny yourself nothing in a dream, right?

9.09.2007

In the 'shed.

After so many years in school, September is my New Years. Making resolutions to change behavior in January seems a little like cheating, like deciding halfway through wolfing down a pint of Hagen Daaz that you'll eat the rest by tiny spoonfuls, one-per-day. (which never works, by the way.)

So it's time to cut the fingernails and get back to playing a little every day. While I'm out-of-practice enough now to not call myself a singer anymore, and wasn't ever really at the place where I'd call myself a pianist, I do like to play. This is the first job I've had where I haven't depended on my playing [singer, voice teacher, choral music, church musician, pit player, conductor...need the piano for all those. Well, at least I did.] and I've found that I've lost a whole lotta skill. Terrifying, as I had very little to begin with! Time to get back to the basics: Bach so I don't mush everything together with the damper pedal, Czerny so that I can get patterns back into my hands, easy Debussy (damper pedal makes it sound soooo much better!), Chopin to stretch my tiny hands... and the big book of easy-cheesy classical hits to read through, starting at the beginning and just turning pages until I reach the end. And, of course, opera scores...starting at the overture and playing through the piece, singing along with the arias I know, humming parts of the ones I don't.

It's easier to do this humbling starting-over in the autumn, when all of the heart-breakingly gifted artists have left the building (with the exception of my boss!), when I'm not so nervous about someone good hearing me play/misread/make mistakes. It's a great time to take stock.

Fingernail clippers at the ready. Next to a book of Preludes and fugues. Rock on.

9.07.2007

My hubby is a GOD!


From this...
















...to this!






















And from this....

















...to this!

















I'm in heaven!









(Can you hear the angels singing?!)

Off to the home stores this evening/tomorrow morning to pick up some patio furniture... invitations for coffee/martinis/cocoa on the patio coming soon!!


Way to pick me up, hubby - this is a hell of a love note! You're the bestest ever.

9.06.2007

Pavarotti - Nessun Dorma

Pavarotti is dead.

My mother had "King of the High C's" and several other LPs that she would play around the house when I was young. I saw him (and his white handkerchief) once in Pittsburgh in the late 1990s at the Civic Arena on tour. My knowledge of him has been largely limited to recordings and PBS specials. And say what you may about the lack of reading music, the divo fits, the weight issues, the ballzando delivery. I don't care. He is my very, very favorite tenor, and probably one of the reasons I got into this crazy business. I struggled to attain the warmth and ease with which he sang, and the slightest resemblance in the voice of any tenor gets me buzzing.

(Funny, as much as I practiced I never got any closer to sounding like him...)

As an adult, I'm usually much more drawn to singing actors...I can forgive, and even expect, ugly sounds that occur in service to a strong character. I hate park and bark, blank faced vocalism. But Pavarotti could do no wrong in my book - all he had to do was sing.

Rest in peace. The standards of the heavenly choir just went up a notch. Addio.


patio progress






Hey! Check out my front yard! Or, rather, my front dirt pit!

Is it just me, or does the pink garden hose look like a reeeeeeally big earthworm?




Here's the bobcat I was talking about, sitting next to the sand for the patio. Rrowr!





And here's the french drain for the gutters. We're being good neighbors and routing the lady-next-door's downspout into this, too. Go, us!





Here's the view of the road from our little townhouse...it's the first time ever that we've been able to see it, now that the euonymous bush is gone. Deer throughout the park are sobbing at its senseless demise...


Come to think of it, I'm not sure how I feel about the neighbors being able to see us....they might think we're social or something...




The landscapers are coming back for day two today....sod, shrubs and PATIO! I may just be able to have a glass of wine al fresco this evening...

9.01.2007

Saturday morning playlist

  • Copland Clarinet concerto - my favorite piece to wake up to...
  • Love Me Like The World Is Ending - Ben Lee
  • Chuck E's in Love - Rickie Lee Jones
  • Screenwriter's Blues - Soul Coughing
  • The Guy That Says Goodbye To You - Griffin House
  • The Break In - Ari Hest
  • See the World - Gomez
  • All I Need - Air
  • Folk Song - The Sundays
  • Prison Food - Ben Folds
  • It Looks Like Love - Josh Rouse
  • Listening Man - The Bees
  • Shostakovich String Quartet no. 1 (Emerson Quartet)
  • Down the Line - Jose Gonzales
  • Whip-Smart - Liz Phair
And, by the time Liz comes on it's time to get the fanny off the couch and get moving... it's feeling like a Sunday morning rather than a Saturday. (Which is cool, because I do love Sunday mornings, and having 2 in 1 weekend is sooo luxurious!) Hope everyone has some fun planned for the long weekend....or at least some "me" time set aside.