The Queen of all Lamedom

Hubby is out of town. Usually that's all the excuse I need for a soiree...invite the girls over, start cooking, pick up enough wine to lube the conversation and put the playlist on the iPod. But my big tour - three weeks on the road - begins on Tuesday, so I'm feeling like a bit of a homebody. Got home from the recording studio, took the dog on a jog (he was not terribly excited at the lack of sniffing-around-in-the-bushes, but I was thrilled to not be freezing my tush off!) tried to make up a packing list, started a load of laundry.

And lost all momentum.

I'm curled up in a chair with the laptop, a bowl of popcorn, a silly fiction book and a glass of wine all within easy reach. I'm trying to not think about all of the things I need to do at work tomorrow, and am instead organizing my iTunes library, researching external hard drives and winter boots, lurking on Facebook, deciding what kind of candy to give out for trick-or-treat tomorrow night... important stuff. And I'm contemplating going to bed early, just because I can.

Again, I promise real content soon.

A-B-C, easy as 1-2-3

Check this out. I can hardly wait!


It's my least favorite time of the year.

I've scheduled singers, and sent "no" emails to those that we didn't have time to hear this year. As a former singer, this is bad karma time...I know and love folks who did not get an audition with us this year. Knowing how hard it is to get auditions, I feel very much like the Grinch...siiiiigh....

There are always a large handful of people who need to swap times/cities...and it's tricky because they may have made the cut in one city but not in another. (Hint for next year? Apply for the first deadline. And if you can make it to the DC audition day, do it.) It's even trickier to keep track of all the folks with issues, keep them current and fix problems, and then have more issues arise the next day...it's neverending.

I've started to contemplate packing. How does one pack for Houston, LA, AND Chicago in one bag without going overweight [like last year...oops...]? I'll let you know.

I went running last night...feeling sad and frustrated and a little overwhelmed. And the run felt really good. Granted, I almost got hit by a green taurus with crappy brakes, but it totally made me run faster! (There's that karma thing...get it? Carma? Aaaahahahaha... no future in stand-up for Rahree.) So, on the bright side, maybe this exercise thing is taking hold. Here's hoping!


slackmaster flash

Boy, so much going on, and so little drive to blog about it. Sorry folks...it's not that things are exceptionally bad or good, it's just me trying to get some private time before hitting the road on the audition tour. I'll be again trying to blog every day in the month of November, but until then things will be a bit scarce.

I'm in the midst of screening applications for the Studio program. It's taking me much longer than I had initially thought it would...some singers have limited performance opportunities, others have taken lots of initiative to get experience, some have done many competitions...it's more a reflection of the priorities of their degree programs than of the singers at this point, and they don't line up cleanly. There's no set of criteria that is consistent for all of the singers, which is good, but means that it takes me quite a while to suss out whether they're ready to sing for us. And it's difficult to reject folks who are obviously passionate about the art form at the very outset of their careers. Here's hoping that I've divined the right info from each application.

There'll be a blog at some point about resumes and writing samples, as well. For now, suffice it to say that you should check to see how your resume prints when you send it as an attachment; it may not be as orderly as you intend...

Heading to the southern end of the state for a wedding this evening. Enjoy your weekend!


Happy Anniversary!

Today it's been five years.

Five years. Two states. Three towns.

Two rounds of graduate school.

One stray cat and one pedigreed dog.



Bad movies and good date nights. Sometimes all at the same time.

Touristy weekends. Trips to California, New York, Philly, Florida, Deep Creek, Rehoboth, and back home to da 'burgh.

Grumping. Spats. Both infrequent and largely unmemorable.

Fibbing about where and how we met. (I think that most folks saw through the "he tripped on the sidewalk in front of my house..." line.) Going for coffee that first time at Dancing Goats on Ellsworth Avenue...me changing my clothes 5 times before leaving the house, you drinking a HUGE coffee, even though, well, you didn't drink or really like coffee...you did talk kinda fast that evening...

Knowing that I could fall in love with you the first time you baby-talked to a puppy.

Sharing the happiest moments. And the most tragic.

Knowing that it's all better because we have each other.

Thanks for the past five, babe. Here's to five more...and five more after that, and five more after that...ad infinitem.

Love you.


Early morning five

I've not been terribly disciplined about writing every day, or really every other day...and I've not been consistent about adding the 5 things that I'm thankful for to every post. So I'm switching it up...starting with five, and seeing what comes from them. Some days I'm sure that they'll be sufficient on their own, and some days they'll trigger some writing.

For today? Just five.

  1. waking up early AND rested.
  2. the opportunity to nuture new and old friendships
  3. gettin' creative in the kitchen!
  4. excitement
  5. nerves...if you're not a little nervous, are you really risking anything?
Happy Wednesday, all. And remember, not only is tonight a presidential debate, it's also the season finale of Project Runway! Choose wisely.


non-audition post!


I'm not Unitarian, but after reading this, I'm leaning toward it.

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Atom Bomb of Sweet Reason.

Get yours.


My colleagues rock!

I've written often about how much I enjoy my job...the work is interesting, different daily, and the folks I work with are class acts. Case in point to the left. A few weeks ago we were at the International Children's Festival with Moe and the niece and nephew. We were walking toward the exit when we saw a little boy alone, hiding behind a tree. Obviously separated from his group, he was crying and trying to avoid detection. The picture at left is of the Senior Veep in my company...yep, you read that right. She is responsible for soooo much at work, and yet she dropped everything to help this lost little guy. Here's the conversation:

Everything ended up fine, but it took a while to get him to stop sobbing
enough understand him:
his name: Rashid
age: 5
brother's name: Khalid
brother's age: 7
who drove you here? - my brother
your 7 year old brother drove you here? - yes
was there a grown up with you? - no
was there a big person with you? - yes
was it your mom or dad or grandmother or... - no
who was the grown up? - I don't know
what do they look like? - gray shirt and glasses
man or woman? - I don't know (!!!)
when did your brother get lost? (telling him it was his brother who was
lost, not him, made him feel better :))

Anyway, eventually I had enough info to give to the Rangers, and Central
sent 2 Rangers to us.

Rashid was totally freaked out by the 2 big guys in uniforms, even
smiling big guys, and started to back away, but when I told him they
were Rangers, he stopped dead in his tracks.

"Are you a Power Ranger?" (I swear!)
P.J. said "No, I'm a Ranger, but I don't have special powers" and that
was close enough to a superhero for the kid.
He wrapped P.J. in bear hug and off they went to find the brother.

The lesson here? You're never too big, too important to be nice to someone. Adventures of an Opera Singer has a similar take. And it's a lesson that's lived daily by the folks I work with.

Today's five?
  1. Lazy cups of coffee with good friends - I can't believe it's been 17 years since "Aquarius" at Roselawn... so good to see you, K & T!!!
  2. Living within walking distance of good music.
  3. Two good, silly animals.
  4. A small to-do list.
  5. The possibility of some retail therapy.


Saturday afternoon

Lots of things to talk about, but only time enough to mention them. I could write whole posts on each of these, and maybe someday I'll be disciplined enough to do so!

  • Application deadlines have all passed. We've yet to see the last batch that have come in, but now we start screening and scheduling. A word to the wise for future seasons: read the app and follow the directions, and when you have a problem let us know. Don't call us because you're nervous or because you need to be talked through the process. And please don't call us because you haven't read all of the directions...we actually spend time trying to ensure that our directions are clear, and we do a decent job. (When you can't follow the directions on the page, we make assumptions about what kind of singer you'll be...) Looking forward to actually getting on the road and hearing some of these folks!

  • Some work on this long weekend, but also there's a visit with two of my oldest and dearest besties from undergrad...they're in town for a family affair, and I'm so excited to steal some time from their celebration to catch up with them!

  • Ran today...lots of stops and starts after the initial mile-and-a-half, which wasn't so great. But the good thing? When I actually added up all the running, it came to 3.2 miles. Hot. Damn. Next step is to refine the playlist so that I don't run out of steam too soon.

  • The most important thing? It's Mom's birthday today! While my celebration with her will have to wait a week or so, I'm hoping she has a great day. She's an inspiration, a friend, a role model...she's the best. Happy B-Day!!!
And my 5?
  1. Mom. {duh.}
  2. Friends who are considered family.
  3. Football season.
  4. Sticktuitiveness.
  5. Naps.


Application mini-rant

I check my work email from home. With the various application deadlines and the questions that accompany, it makes sense to respond quickly to questions. We'd hate to miss hearing that singer because our application isn't responding correctly, the payment pages aren't working, etc.

But many times, in the wee hours, singers send us emails that are less than professional. The tone is too friendly. The sentences are almost in English, but not quite. There's the occasional lol or omg.

Not. Okay.

This is a business, one at which you hope to make a living. And while you'd like us to judge you based on your singing, it's your materials and your correspondence that will get you in the door. Proofread your resume. Heck, proofread your application! How many have we already received that reversed first and last name? At least 15. If you can't get your name right, why should we hear you? And it's not just folks applying for the Studio tier that are making these missteps...there are many Filene Young Artist applicants who are having issues with last-name-first-name order...

If your materials are pristine, it reassures us that you are put together...that you're making a serious, concerted effort to work in this difficult field. It tells us that you're a certain caliber of artist. That you're a professional. And when we don't know you, or know you just barely, the lack of polish in those materials can be a HUGE red flag... can make us doubt whether you're ready to make that step and whether we should put our full resources behind you.

Remove that doubt for us. When you call or email, keep it professional. We can be friends once you get here...until then, show us that you're grown up. And that you want it.



I can't keep up!

Lots to talk about! Where to begin???

I taught my last voice class of the term tonight. I was consistently surprised by the folks in my classes...their curiosity, their willingness to go outside of their comfort level, their lovely voices. We sang tunes by the Beatles, Paul Simon, Colby Caillat, Andrew Lloyd Weber... and many others. I love the generosity of spirit that they showed in trying something new and doing so wholeheartedly, and am inspired to do the same. Making Noise classes - you ROCK!!!

The presidential debate is tonight. I am watching House instead, as I have already voted [absentee, my babies!] and my hubby and I are not watching because we fall solidly on different sides of the argument. And we get along so well when there's not an election...

I have a cat on my lap. The dog is asleep, and Mr. Sir is curled up in a ball all toasty and warm on my velour sweatpants. The dog is a jealous boy...it's nice to get some kitty time!

I'm taking off for a mid-week girl's night here...meeting the Pittsburgh posse halfway(ish) for some catching up...wine, trashy magazines, and lots of venting coming right up! These girls have always grounded me, been my go-to girls for both good and bad. Hell, they took me to Vegas for my batchelorette party...need I say more?!? I am so lucky to have them. (And I'll be stocking up on treats to show them how lucky I am!)

But before I go play with the girls? Running. Must go tomorrow. 2.8 miles on the docket tomorrow... we'll see how well I do!
UPDATE: walked the 3 mile loop with the dog and THEN tried to run it...I was less than successful. But that first mile felt awesome. So, maybe it's the long walk pre-run, or maybe I need to be a little more consistent with my running days...or maybe I need NEW SNEAKERS! I think that's it.

And when I get back to work? Screenin' and schedulin' my friends! Studio auditions, FYA auditions...lots of people to get through, and the challenge is to get through them in a thoughtful, fair, measured way... the way that I'd want someone to process my application if I had submitted one. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with applications at week's end. If you're interested in more, check out KPW's blog here. And know that my undergarment comment may be harsh, but it's true.



It's been a strange day.

A lovely day, please don't get me wrong. Beautiful weather, good health for everyone, fun plans, good friends...really, an A-One kind of day.

But the day started at 5am with an alarm that really should've been silenced. It was followed by sleep in fits and starts. And in those naps and dreams, I dreamed about my father. For only the second time since his death...

But this time, rather than delivering a missive, he just spent time with me. We were lost and confused (at a county fair or country racetrack or English mansion...it was hard to tell), but together. And the togetherness made the uncertainty OK.

And I think that's what I'm missing. To be black and white about it, things were OK when my dad was around because I knew that we'd all figure out the solution together. And now we're - I'm - missing a vital piece. Not that I can't figure things out, but it takes more thought, more second guessing than it did when I could just pick up the phone...it's more difficult.

We had dinner with friends this evening, and it was K's dad's birthday. K's dad has been gone for a few years, but it's still a present loss, like my own. But it felt nice to get together with them, to cook for them and chat, to toast K's dad's life. I hope they felt loved...even if what we have to offer is a pale comparison to familial love.

So I'm searching for connections this evening...and really, isn't that what we're all searching for, all the time?

Thankful for:
  1. good, warm, onion-and-garlic spiced memories
  2. wine-stained rocking chairs
  3. weather that's warm enough to sit outside, but cool enough to conk out all of the mosquitos
  4. time to think
  5. supportive family and friends


Back in the saddle!

I got an email yesterday from a new friend, who casually asked how my training was going.

Truthfully? It wasn't. Going. Miss Slackmaster Flash had only run as far as the 7-11 for her candy bar stash. And, while I was totally irritable and moody, I was totally ok with it, as long as I didn't have to sweat.

Ah, yes... remembering all that hooey I wrote about "lifestyle change" and getting healthy...blah, blah, blah.

But things have changed. Suddenly, drastically.

Courtesy of the mirrors in various, unnamed Tysons Corner Mall shops.

The combination of pale, ripply and flabby under a fluorescent light? Totally dispelled any illusions I may have had. (And I had, tall, svelte, busty, longhaired, gorgeous illusions... I loved those illusions!)

So, this morning, at the butt-crack of dawn, the running shoes were tied, the bed-head hidden under a cap and the iPod set to the Booty Groove - you know, those tunes that get your fanny moving...I scrapped the usual workout, (because, I don't know, I'm 2 weeks behind at this point?) and just ran until I felt that I had gone a decent distance...not enough to kill me, but enough to feel like I had done enough work.

Two and a half miles, folks. Without stopping. Tadaaaaaaaa!!!

I am officially back!

And awesome, I am officially awesome. Because not only did I run AND enjoy it AND do a decent distance, but I also did it prior to 6:30am. Take that!

Now, since I'll be missing the work 5K, I'll be trolling for a new one to sign up for. I'm totally doing this! And, in related news, check out Gmaps Pedometer - push the record button, and double-click on your starting point...it allows you to map your route and see how many miles you've walked/run, and gives you a link so you can go back to the route you've mapped out. Here's what I did, pre-dawn today.

Today on the work/home docket? Picking up puppy from the vet, heading to voter registration, getting the car inspected, listening to operas X and Y, and maybe doing a little recording. A coach/conductor friend, IG, will be stopping by this afternoon - it's been a while since we've seen him, and I'm looking forward to hearing all about his busy year! And there are many, many loose ends to firm up regarding the audition tour...rental checks and insurance policies, monitors, and screening applications. Today's the deadline for the Studio Artist applications, so I'll be starting to read through the applications, essays and recommendation letters. It'll be a busy day!


It's beginning to look a lot like...

...audition season!

I mean autumn...of course. Autumn!

(And audition season!)

It's one of the most exciting times in our office...daydreaming about the next season, re-working wish lists, listening to oodles of opera to prime our ears for the best singing. The applications are flowing in, many familiar names, and many more who are new to us. There's definitely a sense of possibility in this brief time frame, a feeling of hope, a feeling that anything's possible. And this feeling of possibility is being echoed by today's beautiful cool, sunny weather...yessir, today I can do anything.

(Except work, evidently. Whoops.)

I'm spending a large portion of today with iTunes and scores... my operatic knowledge isn't tiny, but it's no match for my travelling companions. So I'm listening to operas that I'm not familiar with, but maybe should be. And, instead of listening for just "my part" and how it fits into the score as a whole (yepper, you can take the singer out of the costume, but somehow you can't take the singer out of the administrator's head.) I'm trying to get a feel for the piece as a whole; orchestration, vocal types as well as vocal weight and color, and general pacing and content (read: is it interesting on both musical and dramatic levels?). It's really a different way of listening, and I find that without a score to follow I'm at a bit of a loss...once I know the story and music more, I'm sure it'll be easier to separate myself from the printed page, but right now I'll take all of the tools at my disposal.

And I'd love to give you a hint of what I'm listening to, but the truth is that it really doesn't matter...I'll spend hours learning and refreshing a score of scores, and because we pick the singers before the repertoire there's no guarantee that even one of the shows I'm listening to will be on the 2009 season. Think of it as studying for a math test, and walking into a chemistry lab on exam day...yep, it's a little like that! But learning a new show? Never a bad idea.

Also on the docket for today?
  • Recording and posting accompaniments for my voice class nextTuesday.
  • Replacing some of my puppy-chewed clothes with honest-to-goodness new ones. (Yay!)
  • Finding and unpacking my winter clothes
  • Breaking in the new crock pot - Yay!
And finally, here's a long overdue five:
  1. crisp weather
  2. apples
  3. courage
  4. friendship
  5. socks... because now I actually, finally, need to wear them

p.s. if you're a dog lover, send some extra hugs to Boo, who is at the vet being robbed of his manhood as we speak.