Roller-Coaster Days

I was ready to chalk up 2012 as a wash...as a pretty-good year, a year with challenges and good things but mostly meh things.

And then I scrolled through my pictures, the snapshots that I took on my phone over the course of the year. And a lot happened!

I threw a kick-ass 40th birthday weekend for my hubby at Deep Creek. Four other couples, an ice storm, too many G&Ts in the hot tub, pizzas that were ridiculously huge. A beautiful view from the great room.

Ryan Adams at the Strathmore. Great, intimate show in a beautiful space. Dinner at Black Market Bistro with BP beforehand. A fab evening.

Gave a master class at American University. Loved teaching again!

Found a hand-drawn picture of 2 hands making a heart in a book that I bought. What a wonderful surprise!

Went to the podiatrist to figure out why my ankle hurt. Realized that I will likely never run a marathon, and made peace with it.

Visited with RT and singers who were back on campus for the Artist's Lens show.

Visited Pgh to meet with the Chatham Baroque and saw my girls D & K. And spent a rare few hours at the Carnegie Museum, walking around the Hall of Architecture and reminiscing.

BP framed a doodle & poem of mine. That made me feel special.

My car made it to 100,000 miles! And then I got a new one.

Went to Boston to represent WT at the Inspector premiere, and then walked around all day...and saw my old roomie K and her hubs and their little man.

I found a huge wolf spider in my office. HUGE.

I went to the Opera America conference, and participated in the Opera America Leadership seminar. Opera Camp was a wonderful time, and the folks I met were really spectacular.

We lived through a derecho in July. (And by "we," I mean "Northern Virginia AND Don Giovanni." Can't imagine what the dude did with the found time...oh, wait. I can.)

The costume shop gifted me with a pair of superbly hoochtastic periwinkle suede heels.

I got paid for writing my first article.

We got a new shower.

Worked a concession stand (for a monster of a kids' show!) for the first time.

Started a blog about work transitions. More importantly, heard a lot of interesting stories about other's struggles, and got some good supportive feedback about the project.

I went to a ball.

Hubby took me to Colorado - Denver, Vail and Boulder.

My engagement ring broke. (Altitude? Or indulging in too much bacon? We'll never know...)

I reunited with cousin Eric after - what, 30 years? - and met his family in California. Also reunited with a slew of pals from undergrad, my teaching days at CTY, and students who have grown into exceptionally cool human beings.

Saw JG and met his hubby C, and saw his show...and sang along (in my head) with the whole performance. Such fun!

Jogged in Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati, New York, and Houston.

Climbed up to the Coit tower.

Hosted K for her first night in NYC. Fashion District, Broadway, Times Square, Lincoln Center, Upper West Side. Fun stuff.

Tried kombucha for the first time.

Outran hurricane Sandy.

Fell in love with Pumpkin Spice Rooibos tea and Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore.

Kept a journal.

Made a happy dance video.

Sent postcards from the road to pals in the US, Switzerland, and Germany.

Ran a 5k.

Spent long-overdue time with Rach. Beers and bagels, forever and ever amen.

Played on the stage at the Barns as part of the annual X-Mess Spectacular, which was quite spectacular this year.

Finished NaNoWriMo. Even went back and re-read it without tossing my cookies.

Made some great new friends, and got to know some folks better. They've been the real highlight of the year.

Not to say that crappy things haven't happened to me or to people that I love. There have been lots, really volumes of heartbreaking suck. But in between those moments have been some wonderful moments, too.

Wishing, for all of us, more highs, and fewer lows in 2013. Let's take care of each other well.


Looking back, looking forward.

Well, the annual holiday visit, AKA The Running of the Polocks is done. It's always a big, crazy, inappropriate mess - this year's iteration had zombies, a niece and nephew who are almost as tall as I am (UNACCEPTABLE!), a new bride, homemade pierogi and golumpki, a bit too much wine, a water main break, and an ungodly amount of animal hair (thanks to Mom's menagerie). It was crazy and lovely and exhausting. It's a good thing that it only happens once a year, because my head (and arteries) could maybe not take much more.

Now that the trip home is done, I can focus on my favorite way to ring in the New Year - by a huge, house-wide purge: streamline, simplify, get rid of all the ancillary crap I tend to accumulate. I started today with the kitchen - reorganized the shelves (anyone care to bet on whether I can find anything in the coming weeks?), tossed out all of the expired stuff, moved things I don't use often to storage, and made a big ol' goodwill pile. (Anyone want an architectural bundt cake pan?) I'm thinking that I'll tackle the wardrobe and the bathroom tomorrow, the den on Saturday. And if I'm brave? The basement on Sunday.

(For the record, my garbage cans are already full.)

The other things I'm hoping to do over the next few days are creative: writing, singing a little, reading through the pages I wrote for NaNoWriMo. (Yep. Still too chicken to dive back in.)

I'm a little superstitious, and I can't shake the belief that the way in which I spend January 1 will augur the way the rest of the year will unfold. So I'll spend some time planning a few things that I want to make sure happen, and then trying to stay open to see what actually might happen. I'm planning to reread Annie Lamott's Help. Thanks. Wow... to take a long walk with Boo...to hit the gym or run... to write... but there's still plenty of time to watch the day unfold, to see what the day - and year - might bring.

Call me Pollyanna, but I'm super, unreasonably excited.



(Boy, that's fun to type!)

Today was an epic day! Mayan apocalypse, equinox, and - last but not least - my half birthday. (I didn't start keeping track of half-birthdays until my first teaching job. Those girls celebrated their half-birthdays with as much verve as their actual birthdays!) We were granted an early holiday break, so I spent the day doing holiday-related domestic tasks...last-minute shopping, wrapping gifts, and the labor-intensive pierogi-making process. I only made it a few hours with the pop-ified carols, and then had to bah-humbug them off. But it was largely a lovely day, even if the holiday spirit hasn't quite taken hold.

In the spirit of giving, I have links for you!


Too sparkly.

(Does such a thing exist??)

Friends, I think we all need some sparkle this holiday season. I for one am not feeling too sparkly these days...I'm feeling uninspired, behind the eight ball, pudgtastic, and a little surly. I'm horrified by people's actions (the news is not something I can watch anymore - who can stand to have their hearts broken first thing in the morning, every morning?). I'm torn apart by sad news from friends and family.

I'm feeling a little sensitive, is I guess what I'm saying.

I really have very little to bitch about - my little bubble is intact, and is largely more positive than negative. But even that is making me feel guilty. (oh, Catholic school...your effects really are long-lasting.)

I'm feeling a little like the sky in the DC area...highly changeable, alternating between the celestial versions of a drama queen and an epic bruise.

So to combat all of this blergh-ness, I'm going to put on my favorite Christmas tunes (Mambo, Santa! MAMBO!), make a cocktail, and stick tiny pins and beads and sequins into tiny foam orbs.

Time to rally like a beeyatch.

My five:
1. The lovely shopgirl who was super-cheery this morning. (There was only one. ONE. The rest I tried to out-surly.)
2. Moody December skies.
3. The gym. Sometimes you just gotta lift heavy things. (and by 'you?' I mean 'me.')
4. The prospect of a hot bath this evening. Hallelujah.
5. A clean house.

p.s. the cat either isn't into sequins or he's totally over my attempts at crafting. (and, since he's my cat, you KNOW the first part of that statement isn't true...)


Holiday Party Recap: Fun was had, AND I still have a job!

When you work at a performing arts non-profit, it's pretty much guaranteed that a high percentage of your colleagues have performing in their blood - like attracts like, right? And, when you have the staff holiday shindig in a theater, well, you're just asking for theatrics.

Ask and ye shall receive.

This year's entry was an original tune by Kevin Cassidy. It was super fun to rehearse and perform! The best part of the whole process, however, might've been walking past his office every day during the week leading up to the show, and hearing "Hey...I have an idea..." Ideas that got bigger and sillier and more awesome each day.

It's a Christmas Miracle, folks! Hope you enjoy it.


one of those days.

So, Tuesday.

Work up at 4:45am. With the rest of the house. Decided to get moving early. Coffee, dog-walk, gym! (When was the last time I made it to the gym before 9am? Summer, that's when.)

A decent interval on the elliptical with the new Vanity Fair and new tunes. YES.

Locker room. Who forgets clean undies and socks? That'd be me. Sigh. Pit stop at home before hitting the office. The cold air makes me realize that I have a hole in an unflattering place in my jeans. Hoping that the shirt covers the goods, because there's no time to go back home - again - to change.

A weird day of contracts and furniture-moving and slightly contentious debates and loose band rehearsals and phone calls and general distractedness.

Dinner plans thwarted in several ways: lack of ingredients for the planned meal; wrong timetable for options #2 and 3 (raw and burned, respectively.); and something that was simply make-do as a result.

Chilly night. Dog walk. Laundry and litter pans. No sign of the extra Christmas cards that I SWEAR I bought last year.

I'm thinking that, maybe, waking up before 6am should not be in the cards for tomorrow. Here's hoping for more brain cells with a little more sleep.


Saturday morning.

It's Saturday morning, 6:35am

(Seems early, but when one falls asleep at 8pm in front of the tube, it actually makes for a rather full night's sleep.)

So, I've written in my journal, and am surfing around the interwebs to see what I missed from last evening.

And I found this.

I would think that, being on that canoe would be a little like being smack dab in the middle of a phenomenal orchestra playing an epic new work...listening to things swirl all around you, not knowing where the harmonic structure was going to go, how things would be voiced, but just being awed and surprised and delighted at the inventive newness, the constant change, the fleeting, ephemeral moment.

Since I can't have my very own orchestra and my very own premiere this dark December morning? I'll daydream about a canoe, a good camera, and easy access to some remote place. I'll walk the dog by the creek and hope to catch a glimpse of the blue heron or the ring-tailed hawk that shelter there. And I'll take comfort in the fact that there are patterns and ensembles that I cannot see or hear, but that are making beautiful music nonetheless.

My five:

  1. Quiet.
  2. Coffee. (The caffeine is key, of course, but the ritual is as important.)
  3. Sufficient sleep. It seems to make a world of difference.
  4. Lights. The early darkness is much more festive with a little sparkle!
  5. Clementines. Palm-sized sunshine.


(Insert ominous jingle bells here.)

It's December!

(How the hell did THAT happen?)

I'm spending my work hours lamenting the fact that I'm so tired, and my evenings staying up later than I should. And I'm frittering that time away...I'm not buying Christmas gifts or making pierogis or writing or saving the world or anything useful.

(I'm kinda ok with it.)

But tonight? Tonight I got home (in the dark. I'm going to need to get over that...), and turned the music up LOUD. Made an awesome, almost-healthy dinner (there was bacon involved...and for that, I will not apologize.) and had a dance party in the living room with my pooch, who might have 4 left feet. (Or maybe he was just irritated that he didn't know how to dance...we'll have to do this more often!)

I had lunch this week with a pal who is equal parts supportive and challenging. And, during the lunch? I was called out on a few things... for not taking charge, for not being aggressive enough. The analogy was a buzzard going after a bunny (and not, ostensibly, to take it home and care for it until the end of its days). Going for the goal, rather than waiting for it to materialize...or not.

(It was good to be called out on being a chickenshit...not pleasant, but good.)

So, this evening? Quiche. (heavy on the spinach...and on the bacon.) Maybe a second glass of wine to keep me warm when walking Boo around the block...can't wait for these to restock! A little bit of writing, some music, and maybe - just maybe? A long soak in the tub before bed.

And also? LINK-O-RAMA. Here are some things that I found and loved.

  • I'd ask for this for Christmas, but I already bought myself one.
  • Tara is one creative lady. Here's a great post about freelancing and just doing it.
  • Zan is also awesome, and the juxtaposition of drawing, Todd Rundgren, and get-off-your-assitude here is fantastic.
  • I listened to Local Natives for years straight. Here's something new. And here are two (one two) in my permanent rotation.
  • More music: this time? An awesome Hall & Oates cover. I need a van.
  • Shall we double dutch? (You do remember how, don't you?)
  • This is pretty much how I spent my Thanksgiving, minus the deep-fried turkey, but with all-day pajamas. The whole plan is solid, but I can personally vouch for the gravy.
  • More music, but with a literary bent. (When the opera moves out the other genres rush into my head like water, evidently!)
  • I daydream that I'm the kind of person who would not only make these, but would make the HELL out of these. (For the record, I am not that person. I am the person who would buy all the gak, and then eat the marshmallows and chocolate chips by the handful while dancing around the living room with my labrador.)

It's almost the weekend, lovelies. Hope yours is wonderful.


Finish Line

Ok, so the fall is always a rough time for me to stick to a plan. Work is intense, there's travel, yadayadayada. But this fall, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month. (Again. Last year I made it about halfway, 24,000 words.)

This year? I met the quota. 50,000 words.
(Hot. Damn.)

Fifty thousand words. Fiction. All while running around the country, listening to opera and seeing opera and researching and casting.

At the very least? I have learned, without a doubt, that I spend too much time vegging...and that I can actually do some cool things when I stay focused. After writing online for so long, the longer format was a real challenge, as was the dictum to not go back and reread, but to just continue to write. I've named the same character Greta, Deirdre, and Marla, just because I couldn't remember from day to day which name I had decided on the day prior.

But I've also found an interesting hobby. An artistic, creative outlet. A way to daydream on paper. And in this medium? It's ok that it's not perfect...heck, that it's likely not any good at all. But unlike performing, no one sees it while it's actually happening. It's like a fantastic secret! A superpower! It indulges my love of the process, of imagining, of the impossible.

I'll admit that I'm happy to walk away from the chaos of that story for a few days...but I'm also looking forward to re-reading it, seeing if there's anything worth salvaging, and reworking it extensively. (That, my friends? Is masochism, pure and simple.)

So, if I've surprised myself in this way, what other ways might I surprise myself? Next year is a big year for me - big round birthday and all of the baggage that sadly goes with it. I'm doing a lot of self-examining, and meeting this particular milestone makes me wonder what I actually might be able to do if I concentrated.

Heady stuff, and good mental fodder for a cold winter night.

Thankful for:

  1. Steaming cups of spiced tea.
  2. Knit caps. (My neighbors are less traumatized, now that the ferocious bedhead is under wraps.)
  3. Good books. Reading this one now, and in the market for suggestions!
  4. More holidays invitations than this introvert could possibly hope to attend. (granted, 60% of them revolve around our outgoing CEO, but I'll take what I can get.)
  5. Candlelight. 
And here's a song that's been making me smile. 


Thankful for...

so, so very much.

We have a Thanksgiving tradition that started about 6 years ago, when I first started at WT, and was on the audition tour right up until Turkey Day. (It's a great tradition - why mess with it now that we end the tour early, amiright?) I do some kind of exercise in the AM: gym or a run around the neighborhood. (Justification for second helpings of stuffing. Obviously.) A dog walk, a needed shower, and then it's Game On in the kitchen. Always a turkey breast (because there are just 2 of us, don't want to be eating turkey for a whole month!), always stuffing, always mashed taters, always gravy. Veggies rotate between squash and beans and, sometimes, both. I turn the music up and chop/stir/emulsify/whisk/taste/dance for several hours, while the animals watch on with curiosity/befuddlement/abject horror. (Elaine Bennis has nothing on my dance moves!) We eat between 2 and 3pm, often in our pajamas, and then spend the rest of the afternoon reading, watching football, taking leisurely walks around the neighborhood.

Today's meal was heavy on the butter (YES.), and I still have more stuffing leftover than braincells in my head. (Which is actually OK...I'm all for leftover stuffing, and now that I'm blonde I don't really need those extra brain cells anyway.) But it was a success: nothing burnt, nothing undercooked, an embarrassment of culinary riches to tuck away in the fridge for the week ahead and a perfect excuse to make turkey stock.

I have a comfortable life. It's not perfect, but I'm safe and sheltered and have more than sufficient. There are things that I worry about simply because I have the *luxury* to worry about the big picture, rather than trying to figure out how to feed myself or my family, where or how to live. I have a house that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer. My hubs is a good man, my pets are adorable (or, in the case of the cat, an adorable douchebag.), my family is wonderfully weird, my friends are warm and generous - often to a fault.

I am one lucky, lucky girl.

It's difficult to pin down gratitude. I find that, when things are good I don't take time to be really present and count my blessings. When things are bad it seems like the blessings are so scarce. The reality is in between somewhere, skating the line between Pollyanna and Eeyore.

But were I able to only count one blessing, over and over again? Maybe it would be my health, my job, something intrinsic to my being. I think, however, my biggest blessing is the wealth of people that surround me:

Old friends (many of whom I've been able to spend serious time with this year) who are deeply known to me, even after decades apart, after a simple hug.
New friends who have changed the way that I see the world and myself.

These wonderful folks? Have become an intrinsic part of who I am. And I am better, so very much better, for knowing them.

I am loved. And for that? I am immensely grateful.



Phew! What a Sunday!

So, someone had the fantastic idea to share some spicy Mexican chicken tacos with the dog last night...Sunday started at 4:45am with a dangerously rumbly-stomached dog and a number of trips outside. Because Yours Truly is totally, 100% lame and had fallen asleep at 9:30pm on a Saturday night? (Don't judge.) It wasn't so much of a big deal. I got my full 3 morning pages done, longhand, in my journal and made a pot of coffee. It was good to be awake early because at 8:15am?

At 8:15am I was running a super-hilly (OK, for me.) 5k. In 34-degree air (which, truth be told, is preferable to warmer weather. I love warming up mid-run!), which I totally overdressed for, if that's possible. But the Smartwool socks and the new playlist kept me chugging right along. (It's yours for the taking - send me an email if you're interested!)

Hubby & the pup met me at the finish line and we walked home together in the sunshine...and hubs ordered breakfast burritos, the arrival of which was perfectly timed with my exit from a ridiculously long shower and my subsequent ensconsing on the couch. 

In fact, I spent most of the day on the couch, writing and watching HGTV and The Food Network's Thanksgiving Live. (Oh, Giada...you were awfully handsy with Alton....and he just didn't seem that into you. Maybe next time a smaller hit of that Lemon Whisky drink that Sunny made? Just sayin'...) 

I also added 2k to my NaNoWriMo word count, and even though it's a total hot mess as far as characters and plot (I've named the same character at least 3 different names. It's going to be a problem.), at least it's an ongoing hot mess...you can't create and edit at the same time, and I'm honoring that and just creating. There'll be LOTS of editing to come, fo' sho'...but I'm committed to making it to 50k.

Now? Guilty pleasure time: glass of wine and the new(ish) Avengers movie, rewatching the last 30 minutes (the cheap shot the Hulk takes at Thor? One of my favorite parts. Lawdy that never gets old!) over and over again. Getting ready to walk the dog before the Steeler game, which I will likely only make it through a quarter, maybe two. Getting a few more chapters into Zadie Smith's NW before falling asleep. 

My five, for a late-autumn Sunday evening:
  1. Ridiculous media. Hulk, you're totally the bomb. SMASH!
  2. Toasted walnuts. I'm always amazed at the transformation just a little bit of heat can make.
  3. Going for a leisurely jog with 1,400 of your closest pals. Race days are so fun, even if you don't actually 'race.'
  4. Writing. Heaven forbid when I actually have to/want to show this stuff to people. (Ugh.) But the writing? Is super fun.
  5. Unstructured time. So very grateful to have nothing on the formal to-do-list today. 



We're back!

Almost 10,000 miles.
Close to (maybe more than, actually) 1,000 arias.
Six operas (including 2 different casts of Bohéme) in four cities: Fidelio in Seattle; Moby Dick in San Francisco; Carmen in New York; Bohéme (x2), Italiana and Volpone in Houston.

It was a big tour.

For this first time in years, though, I'm not 100% wrecked upon return. It's nice to not be completely exhausted! But I will say that the return to a visually-oriented life is more difficult than usual. I've been so accustomed to relying on my ears - critical listening in the audition room, listening to traffic cues walking around the various cities, depending on my iPhone alarm to get my fanny out of bed - that it's taking me longer to react to visual stimulus. (I know, it totally sounds like hooey. Had I not seen but still almost run three different red lights yesterday while running errands, I would totally agree with you. But the tracks of rubber my brakes laid down speak for themselves... And thankfully so.)

So, I'm taking this opportunity, feeling a bit like a fish-out-of-water, to rewire some of the old connections that aren't working anymore, or that have become defaults. I'm looking for stories, songs, images that comfort, that challenge, that inspire. Suggestions needed and welcomed!

I've also hit a bit of a sticking point: I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, but have hit a rough spot. I don't know what's going to happen next... and moreso, I'm suddenly concerned that what I've written is just bunk, and it'd be ok if I just ditched it.

(Would the world stop turning if I shelved it? Nope. Do I need to finish it? MOST DEFINiTELY.)

I realize that I'm wanting to step away from it because there's a part of me that wants it to be Good, and it's not. Now, my rational brain knows that the first time you do ANYTHING you're likely going to totally suck. But my cowardly heart would rather not take the path than take it and fail. And my desire to be more creative is all the more terrifying having tried and failed to make a living at performing.

(I have family members who are living various aspects of this...I do not want to add my name to the list.)

But, the final word is that its something i need to do, to be able to look at myself in the mirror. So, if you have any words of encouragement? Pep talks? Hell tough love is appreciated. Send it my way - I could use any and all of it.

And, because I'm so amazingly needy? If you reply I will happily return the favor...pep talks, homemade pierogi, voice lessons, a curated playlist or book-of-the-month club. Name. It.

Feeling pretty thankful this evening. Here are five things, in no particular order.

1. Ridiculous glossy magazines.
2. Wool insoles. I had toasty feet, even in my basement office!
3. Laughter with colleagues. It's nice to be back.
4. Good friends. I'm so fortunate to have so many, scattered all over. Y'all rock.
5. Creative dinners. Nothing as funas throwing a bunch of disparate ingredients together, adding heat and drinking a glass of wine. (Come to think of it, maybe that's why summers are such fun!)


Mes amis, je suis tres fatigué.
(I can't remember if that's actual French or my own pidgin hybrid. Anyhoo, it serves as an example of my current level of brain cells, at the least.)

We're leaving Houston this morning, and it's not a moment too soon. I mean that in the very best way: usually the town in which I light the candle at both ends is NYC. But this year H-ton is giving the Big Apple a run for its money. There are people whom I know and love all over this town -at both HGO and Rice, and living in the city or nearby. The number of alums of our program in this town is just amazing - it always feels like the best kind of Old Home Week when familiar faces start popping into the rehearsal room between auditionees.

We've seen 4 operas (2 fantastic casts in Boheme, the most adorable Italiana I've ever seen, and the first non-WT production of Volpone!)

(I can - and practically did - sing along during the entire rehearsal of Volpone. I have missed that piece!)

Tuesday - which was a 2-opera day (boheme student production in the AM, auditions in the afternoon, Volpone at Rice University in the evening) was also Election Day. Which, this year, would've been my dad's 70th birthday.

So, yeah. A big, amazing day on many levels.

I have to say that today I might not listen to a single operatic note. I've hit saturation, and the construction noise outside my window is sounding more entertaining than any music that I could summon.

I'm having breakfast with a pal this morning, and then we're hitting the road for Chicago. Back in Virginia for Monday and Tuesday.

Home stretch.

My five:
1. Reconnecting with friends. This tour makes it easy, but it's something I should do more of outside of this annual trip.
2. Shaking off the 'jaded administrator' cloak and finding myself truly delighted in the opera house. (more than once in a week seems absolutely decadent)
3. Flat shoes. My body kinda hates me.
4. Having a good short list for next summer. It's going to be exciting!
5. Laughter. In Houston, it abounds!


Made it!

Well, we definitely had a relatively easy night of things, comparatively speaking. Lost power for just about a half-hour right around bedtime, and the winds were dying down by 1am. We didn't sleep much, but the big trees on our property (and our neighbors) are all still upright, the power and heat are both on, and the gym is open. (Dammit.)

Next challenge: packing. We have a flight scheduled for noon tomorrow to Cincinnati...anyone care to place a bet as to whether we'll make it? As a precaution, KPW made a rental car reservation...so, best case scenario we'll fly, worst case? OPERA ROAD TRIP. (Which actually sounds pretty OK to me... Win win!) The more difficult part will be trying to pack for two very different climates; we start and end in cold places (Cinci and Chicago), but take a 5-day stop in balmy, 70+ degree Houston. Oh, and did I mention that I'm determined to not pay the extra baggage fees?


Time to get creative with the clothing options. But first? Time to get walking with the dog and to the gym to work off yesterday's wine and beef stew.

Hoping you're safe and warm.

My five:
1. A sturdy little house.
2. Power.
3. Those selfless folks who look out for our safety during big events like this.
4. A new travel adventure!
5. Lazy 'snow' days.



Winds are kicking up, the power is flickering, and things are getting scary.

(I'd rather skip Grease 1 and Sandy altogether, and go right to Grease 2. Michelle Pfeiffer is so cool.)

Making base camp in the living room, staying as distracted as possible until the power goes out with FB and weather maps, having a glass of wine. (Maybe two.), digging into the new John Irving book.... that's how I'll be spending the next 36 hours.

Stay safe, friends.


Sunday on a Saturday

Tomorrow is a work day, so today is technically Saturday and Sunday all in one. I had grand plans for today - a million things on the do-to-list, both necessities and fun things. But several factors have combined to make that list almost impossible:
1. The weather. Practically Perfect in every way.
2. The animals, who have decided that I'll leave forever if they let me out of their sight. One of the two have been my constant companion (sitting outside the shower, clamoring to join me in the bathroom, jumping on the counter when I'm pouring a needed cup of coffee) since I woke up this morning. (and yes, they tag-teamed the wake-up, too.)
3. A sudden, almost-lethal case of the clumsies. I have 4 new bruises, have both skinned & burned my hand on the hot grill, burned the other hand on the oven, stubbed a toe, hit my head. And I've only been out of bed since 7:30am.

So, it's in the interest of self-preservation that I'll be sitting on the porch, drinking water out of a cup with a straw (and trying desperately to not put an eye out), and doing some reading and writing this afternoon. Maybe the dog will get a walk if I'm feeling bold...

Maybe it's the barometer? Or maybe I'm just feeling disjointed, and it's manifesting itself quite literally. Dunno. But I do feel fairly justified in taking it easy for the rest of the day. :)

Wishing you a wonderful afternoon, and the perfect amount of leisure time. Oh, and grace...

My five:
1. Beautiful fall afternoons.
2. Homemade pumpkin pecan spice muffins.
3. Dishwashers and laundry machines and microwaves that make life so very easy.
4. Sweet stories. Moonrise Kingdom was a winner, and I'm head-over-heels into Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.
5. The (literal) calm before the storm.



I'm home after an operatic (both in music and in scope) week in NYC. I always overextend myself in the city, have never been able to spend much time sitting in a hotel room decompressing. And I'm starting to see it as a really good thing - even though I'm tired-as-all-get-out now that I'm home, I wouldn't have traded a single moment - the reunions with pals from Carnegie Mellon; a production of Carmen that (while not my favorite opera) mightily exceeded the last production I caught; seeing the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood in previews - reliving the fun that I had music directing it way back when, and basking in the company of a pal I've known since high school and another pal who is one of the coolest girls I know; and hosting a good friend for her very first trip to the city. I am happy to have a few days to decompress (and detox, let's be honest...I don't need to actually eat or drink ANYTHING until the next leg of the tour), to reflect, to putter around my house and to write.

Funny how sometimes it's easier to feel like yourself when out of your element? I'm happy to be home, but I'm going to try to keep some of the momentum, the energy from this last week, spinning through even the quiet days.

My five:
1. Autumn. The trees in my yard are the epitome of the phrase "riot of color."
2. Walking around without wearing a backpack.
3. SUPER cuddly pets. The dog missed me. I think the cat did too, but he's alternating between needy and still-angry.
4. Coffee on the porch.
5. Refreshed relationships. Here's to friendships that transcend years.



It's 6:23 in Seattle, and I've been awake for an hour already. (Time zone acclimation FAIL.)

Yesterday was lovely. Another heinously early wake-up, followed by a short jog down to Pike's Place. Back to the hotel, then a short walk to Whole Foods for provisions, then a walk to a breakfast meeting, a full day of auditions, a dinner meeting, and a production of Fidelio at Seattle Opera. I was asleep by 10:30 local time, but obviously had difficulty staying there...and I'm totally starting to feel the impact.

We've stayed in 3 different hotels in three different parts of town in the past few visits, and I am totally, 100% lost in this small city. I cannot get oriented...got turned around during the jog, on the way to the audition site, all over the place. I'm choosing the wrong path 100% of the time...you'd assume that I should just go against my natural inclination and choose the other direction, but somehow THAT's the wrong direction, too.

(Hoping that's not a metaphor for my life at large...gulp.)

Today we travel to San Francisco. Short flight, with some time this afternoon to kill (read: forced nap) before dinner plans with a pal from my undergraduate days and his wife. If I were home, I'd be grumpygrumpygrumpy about the lack of sleep, but I'm enjoying the feeling of being a little bit out of it, a little discombobulated... letting my ears do the heavy lifting for the time being.

My five:
1. Mom! It's her birthday today.
2. Large-scale changes of scenery.
3. Generous colleagues.
4. Comfortable shoes.
5. Brave singers. Nicely done, Seattle.



Yep, that's not really one of my words...but in a few days I'll be flying over several hundred miles of well-ordered farmland and cities en route to the west coast. So, to prepare for both this trip and the subsequent ones, I need to quite literally get my things in order. My typical method? Do all my laundry, and then pull everything out of the closet, drawers, storage bins and go through each piece to decide whether it's something to pack away, give away or keep. There's always this nebulous pile, of things that-i-want-to-keep-but-that-don't-look-right/fit-right/make-me-feel-good. And it's that pile that tends to hang around longer than it should - doesn't often make it back into the closet or drawers, but usually sits on top or a dresser or on hangers over the door, mocking my indecision.

So today I'm planning to set a timer (to somewhat quell the wishy-washy part of my head, and to also make sure that the task doesn't expand to fill the entire day), to spend several hours getting organized, and to be ruthless with the wishy-washy pile. Clear space, clear mind, right?

(Here's hoping!)

Also on the docket for today? Roasting veggies, a jog in the cool rain, and some writing. I should run errands, but I may just revel in being a homebody and leave the car in the driveway.

My five:
1. Quiet, slow mornings.
2. Old photographs.
3. Fleece-lined slippers.
4. Snuggly pets. (Who needs to turn the heat on when the cat wants to be a permanent lap blanket? Although he does seem to suck the momentum out of the air.)
5. Candlelight.


Saturday, 7:36am

It's the last Saturday of September. I woke up with the very tip of my nose cold from the breeze through the open windows...from this point forward cold nose, cold fingers, cold toes. I'm actually OK with it - like any good Pollack I've been carbing up and skipping the gym to put on my winter insulation. (Ugh. It's been largely unintentional...today's goal is to move more, plain and simple.)

In less than a week the boss leaves for the west coast, and I'll follow her a few days after. Yep, it starts.

On today's docket? After working free of the heating pad (being a girl is awesome), I'll be walking the dog to Timbuktu and back, going to the Farmer's Market (and, later, improvising dinner), and maybe taking a drive to the nursery to pick up mums for the porch and bulbs for the beds. (I've been thinking about planting bulbs for years - put some into the townhouse beds the fall before we moved...let's try it again, shall we?) Other plans involve writing and maybe sitting at a piano for a while, and if I'm disciplined at all (I know, I know...) switching out summer tanks and skirts for winter sweaters and tights. The organizing will be brutal, but maybe I have enough brain cells on this grey-ish day to do one thing well and completely?

Maybe. I'll report back.

Getting back to listing five things that I'm grateful for. It doesn't so much fit on my other blog, but I've gotten back in touch with a group of girls from my childhood and have been getting back into a gratitude practice. So, for this autumnal Saturday....

1. Sleeping with the windows open.
2. Unstructured time.
3. Connecting with people who make me smile.
4. A new journal. All those crisp blank pages!
5. The space/room to create sometime new.

Happy Saturday, all!



It's a cold morning, and I'm wearing my fleece for the first time albeit with flip flops. Can't find my fuzzies. Boo is dozing next to me on the cold porch. Kitty's inside, watching the busses through the window.

9.11. Sara Sturdevant ousting me from my classroom to morning meeting, which I was planning to skip, and then flicking on my classroom tv to show the first tower being hit. Then tower 2, then Shanksville, then full panic.

It's what drove my decision to move, to start singing again, to put myself out there more. It's been more than a full decade now, since that day.

I can't remember the promises that I made to myself. Tucked away in some random, scattered notebook in a box or maybe a landfill somewhere.

I wonder if I've been true?


coming storm

Today is the day of the sea change. Right now it's hot as blazes,the kind of day that happens in mid-summer (usually when we're producing something at the FC. *That* kind of hot and sticky.) But I'm sitting on the porch, watching the cat melt into a contented kitty puddle in the heat, toggling back and forth from a writing notebook to a weather application...watching a line of storms plow their way southwesterly. They're in Frederick, according to the map, and here outside DC the breeze has picked up and become lovely and cool, and the sky has glazed over grey grey grey.

I forget, with all the technology and obligations and electricity, that we're all still inextricably linked to the world, the weather. Regardless of how we insulate ourselves from the less comfortable aspects of it with air conditioning and cars with heated seats and the like, it still affects us, weighs us down sometimes, lifts us up at others...

How do we - I - forget this? It seems enormous - like forgetting about the elephant standing on your left foot.

I slept for almost 12 hours last night: tried to rouse myself at 5:30, but failed and hit the couch for several more hours. I'm fighting a headache and all manner of other tiny, pointless maladies.

Somehow, I think, as this new weather pushes in, it'll sweep out some of these aches and cobwebs and such...will leave me feeling renewed.

Here's hoping, right?

My (long overdue) five:
1. Morning naps.
2. Yoga pants.
3. Unstructured time.
4. Cool breezes on warm days.
5. Daydreaming


lemme at 'em!

It's that moody place where late summer and autumn struggle with each other... today has been heavy, humid, with those torrential downpours that last for 8 minutes and then burn off into sticky air and sunshine. Somehow, the evening is feeling a bit more like fall... the breeze shakes the rain from the leaves in impromptu faux showers, the sky is grey and moody, and while I can hear a plane overhead, it's obscured from view.

I've written before about the ways in which I struggle with transitions...but I don't think that I've ever talked about how valuable I find that struggle. I feel, somehow that I have to remake myself out of whole cloth at the end of every summer. "These are the things that I like to do." "These are the things I should do/eat/love/reject." And I am guessing - maybe blindly or naïvely - that, in just questioning those statements I have the opportunity to rework myself...to fine tune the me that I hope to be in light of where and who I am.

I won't lie...things feel different. Personally, professionally, physically, spiritually...some for the better, some for the worse, and some just plain different.

But for the first time in a while, I feel like I've come into my own skin a bit more. I'm ready to stand up for myself, to say what I believe and what I need - kindly, sure, but without sugar coating.

It's going to be a wild year, for sure. And from what I can tell, I might be ready for it.



It's like a train schedule...accurate to the minute. The day after the season ends I'm reduced to a puddle of yoga pants and sloth. After a performance that will go down in my heart as something amazingly special, I hopped over to the cast party for a little bit to nosh and chat. The Studio kids did their rendition of "Firework" in the foyer of the house, pictures were taken, and I got enough hugs from folks to tide me over to the audition tour. Home shortly after midnight, and to bed shortly after that.

I slept until 11am.

(I could totally, 100%, take a nap right now.)

The order of the day? Yoga pants, naturally. A Pandora station that cycles through the Sundays, Ivy, Mazzy Star, Radiohead. Ice water and coffee and juice and almond cookies. The NYTimes, Washington Post, and A Partial History of Lost Causes. Endless sudoku. Eavesdropping on the neighbors. Stretching in the front yard between tosses of the tennis ball with the dog. A little bit of worthless, contentless journalling, both here and in my actual book.

If I get some energy? A shower, a quick walk into town for something tasty to throw on the grill. Likely to happen, but no promises.

Reflecting on the summer...the people, the situations, the art. Thinking about the things I'd do better. Not writing anything down in that regard, not making lists of to-dos, to-remember. Just sitting with the information, hoping that the quiet will sift it around a little bit. I'm in better shape than I usually am at season's end, but I'm still pretty darn slow.

Setting the bar low for today. And am almost giddy in the thought that I have another day to myself tomorrow. An embarrassment of riches, it feels like.


Bullet Points

Somehow, I can't make them work as nicely with this new interface...so, please forgive this messy-looking post.

- The mosquitos are both vicious and heavy-footed. I can feel when those little bastards alight on my ankles, arms, feet. Just smashed a bloody one across my palms, like war paint. Ew.

- Feeling dissatisfied today. No doubt from the transition, from the thought of going from full-out and not being able to stay on top of things to having a total dearth of social outlet. I went to the gym, and in a fit of middle-aged-lady pique did as many weight machines at as high a weight level as I could manage. That'll show 'em, right? Or maybe it'll just make me even more tired and totally unable to raise my hands to shoulder height...

- Took my car to the mechanic to get rid of the icky mildewy smell in the AC (outcome? temperatures will drop to a totally comfortable level for the remainder of August, so that I have no need to turn my AC on until 2013.), and found out that my mechanic's name was Chaz - spelled Cyz, of course. Because he's from Warsaw. And knew how to pronounce my last name, even with its dearth of vowels. Now that we've met, and in spite of the fact that we've determined that I only know how to swear in Polish, he's expecting to see me at the Polish church in Silver Spring and is pushing me to bring my mom. I love that, in every city, there is a small town that will find you if you let it. Cyz, so very happy to make your acquaintance today! (And thanks to Sadiq for making it happen!)

- finally put my FitBit back on today. By day's end, I feel sure that I'll have logged at least 12,000 steps. Granted, I've only tooled around my neighborhood, but I'll still take that # as an accomplishment.

- (I also went to the gym and had a green smoothie and did some work and cleaned the litter box and took out the garbage and folded laundry. Yep...feelin' miiiighty virtuous. Balancing it out with a glass of wine or two on the porch.)

- Hubs is looking at new cars. Now, if you know me, you know that this is a bit of a thing for us...but this car would be for him, not for me. I'm Ok with that...mostly because I am going to be able to drive my little beater for another few years without having to feel badly about dinging something new, and will likely get a guilt purse or watch out of the deal. EVERYBODY WINS!

- I've woken up singing the last few days...it signals that the summer's almost over, because I don't sing when our folks are in town. But I'm so compelled to now - I wake up in the morning wanting to chirp like a bird. Making a very public note to schedule some time with myself and a piano and a recorder next week...and not just a paltry half-hour, but something more significant.

I always feel more compelled during transitions to reach out. If you've not heard from me over the summer, give me a nudge: I guarantee that you've been on my mind, and that I'll be reaching out sooner rather than later to reconnect.


A moment's reflection

It's well past midsummer. When I walk the dog alongside the creek there are huge fallen leaves from the trees who have sighed and ceded...it's too hot, the end is too close, they're too tired. They've started to shed their skins, to conserve themselves.

There is the faintest breeze tonight. The sun is gentle, the cicadas sing as if it were their last night in town. My neighbor throws her blonde hair into a skrunchy and mows the lawn in the fading light. I love the smell of fresh-cut grass. I kill a striped mosquito and feel a little badly about it...it's a nice night to be alive.

We spent the morning at Children's Hospital, remembering the important parts of singing: collaborating, communicating, sharing. No reviewers, no maestro, no notes session. Songs in English and German, classical and pop and musical theater. The children were happy for the distraction, but the adults - the parents, the nurses, the support staff - were joyous at the noise our singers made. Lesson learned: we can inspire and uplift even when we are struggling ourselves. And the reasons that you - that we - were drawn to this whole artsy-fartsy thing in the first place? Still totally, 100% valid, no matter where you are on the amateur-professional continuum.

It's 8pm. After a truly horrible night of sleep (lack of sleep?), I'm looking forward to sundown. A different neighbor is singing along with his walkman intermittently as he walks past...the cat is toying with an unfortunate cicada...the sky is an indeterminate whitish-blue, save for the neon sunset peeking around the clouds.

Four more days of singing, of camaraderie; of stopping to talk, to really listen, to encourage, to empower, to support, to confide.

These last four days? I would willing stretch them out indefinitely. The aftermath of the art-making might be my new favorite part of the summer.


Lessons Learned, Vol 8,284,305,294.7

Good thing my folks were teachers, because otherwise this whole never-getting-it-right thing wouldn't be half so interesting. Today's bullet points:
  • Perspective and a good night's sleep are tightly correlated.
  • Transcendent theater can undo a bad day.
  • When something unreal happens, take the time to acknowledge it. The next moment will wait.

I'm writing, obviously, from a strange mental neighborhood. 

It's August 1; writing the 8 on my to-do list means that we have conquered July and all of its inanity! 

It's also my parent's wedding anniversary - would've been #42...can you believe it?

It's also a full moon. 

We had a dress rehearsal of a show this evening that made me laugh out loud, but also made me leave the room for wanting to ugly cry at its saddest moment. (the impulse was reigned in, but barely...see bullet point #1.) 

Someone left me (well, could've been for my hubby, but I'm going to claim 'em) a beautiful bouquet of flowers on my porch. 

There was prosciutto at work today. (WIN.)

I had someone tell me, in a concerned voice, that I looked tired. (I was, but I thought I looked ok? Hmm...)

The dog chewed up the sea salt carton. (Who's puffed up like a toad? Well...both of us. Forget I asked.)

In other words, the day's been a bit of a mixed bag.

My favorite moment happened this morning...I was walking El Diablo through a neighborhood park that follows a stream. About a pace ahead of us - really, really close - was a blue heron. Easily as tall as me, he was so quiet, so beautiful. He walked with us for what would equal about a block...watching the oblivious dog sniff at the edges of the path, watching me. And I couldn't stop watching him. After a number of steps he flew farther up the path, to perch on higher ground. But those few minutes of eye contact with a wild animal? Amazing, and humbling somehow. He didn't give a crap about my schedules and spreadsheets, or even about the art that I was making. He just wanted to know whether I was a threat or an ally...and I couldn't find the inner peace to be the latter, so I was automatically the former.

(Well, in my defense, I did have my attack dog with me. Milk bones and tennis balls BEWARE!)

It seems somehow emblematic of something else. 

I've written before about transitions...how I struggle and rail against them even as I welcome them in. And, to quote someone much smarter than I, "Leave-takings are in the air." Artists that I didn't have the chance to really talk with are leaving for their next projects. In less than 2 weeks the offices will be so very, very quiet. And I will both cherish the silence and mourn the loss of activity, of people, of art-making. 

(Harumph. I am more fickle than I had thought.)

Transitioning now to horizontal and sweet Lethe. But before that? Cleaning up the noxious mess that someone has deposited in the basement (UGH.) and making a pot of coffee for tomorrow morning. Thursday is a free day, which also means that my out-of-office is happily going up in mere minutes. And if I do nothing but drink coffee, nap, write, and make a decent meal tomorrow? I will have earned an A+. 

Wishing you a day of malleable devoirs, of guilty pleasures, of naps and icy drinks and Olympics coverage sans snark. 

I'm all about idle hands tomorrow.
(But the only bread machine in my house is called a TOASTER. Nick Shadow can suck it.) 


Friday, my new boyfriend.

It's Friday night. 10pm on the dot as I start this.

It's been a crazy, crazy day.

Started by oversleeping a bit. Heard the horrible news from Colorado before my body could process it. Coffee, dog walk - with a serious game of catch thrown in - and a morning run in my new sneakers. (Which, for the record? Even make this chubby lady feel fast!)

Work. Our company manager RxT solved a particularly nasty travel puzzle. We got a singer back from the weather gods (stranded in Cincinnati...I totally can't relate.) and I spent more time than I'd care to admit on our 2013 budget... a particular challenge in that we don't know who's coming, what shows we're doing or when we're doing them yet. Funny money, indeed.

By 6:45 my brain was fried. But there was one more stop. Inappropriate Aria Night. The boss lady and I have a bit of a tradition of covering pop tunes - we have a Leonard Cohen tune that we trot out on a semi-regular basis - but were both ready for a new tune. The basic requirements are:

  1. we both know it. 
  2. we can put it together in one, maybe two, run throughs. 
We wrote alternate lyrics to this tune. And sang it in front of a bunch of opera singers. (We're not proud, obvs.) And it was SUPER FUN. I don't know why I always forget that, even though this singers around me can kick my ass any day of the week and thirteen times on Sundays, I still like making a bit of noise with friends now and then.

Snuck out early to run errands/get a start on packing for a week of classes in NYC (freaking out a bit...I don't so much usually leave during the summer, and even though I'll be working while I'm gone, I still feel reeeeally guilty for going.) After the freak-out had subsided, the dog and I went for our evening constitutional, around the neighborhood, in a cool rain. 

It felt like September...calm, peaceful...a welcome change to the recent heat & humidity, for sure.

Tomorrow? Exercise. Healthy eating. Laundry and packing and errands. Maybe a new book to read on the train if I'm lucky. One certainty? YOGA PANTS ALL DAY LONG.

Hallelujah, amen.

(Hoping your Saturday is high on frivolity and laughter, and low on irritation and sadness.) 



I have a love-hate relationship with July. Love that we're usually in full-on Whack-a-Mole mode - we're efficient in a way that we're not the rest of the year. And there are interesting people everywhere, great music happening in rehearsal, connections being made - it really is an exciting time.

But on the hate side? The hot, humid weather that makes a mockery of my running plans and makes my head look like a cotton-candy machine run amok. The total dearth of free time. The tendency to choose wine and tv over exercise and veggies. The fact that I talk to my mom once every other week, rather than every-other-day.

It's a catch-22.

It's a temporary catch-22. In less than a month, the office will be quiet. I'll be mourning the loss of buzz, of music-making, of the occasional artist visit. I will be kicking myself for not getting out more, for whinging about the workload.

I will also be exercising regularly. Sleeping better. Having conscious conversations with my husband. Spending time with neighbors, pals, family. Maybe even making it to the beach or lake for some R&R. But the office will be too quiet, the impetus to DO will have evaporated.

So, no more whining. Digging in, knowing that I might not sleep sufficiently for a few more weeks, but that I'll make up for it. I'm ready, July. BRING IT!



Oh, lovelies....it's been a week. Or two. (Really, closer to two.) But mostly due to my own folly and reluctance to MISS ANYTHING THAT MIGHT HAPPEN. It's that same gene that does not allow me to sleep when I'm in New York City, that forces me to put in earplugs and listen only to my own heart, that has resisted napping until my mid (read: late) 30s.

But after a big weather event, a busman's holiday, a quasi-festival weekend, and the boss getting on an airplane for the left coast? Well, this girl is tired. Not panicked, not stressed (which is a lovely compliment to all of the wonderful people with whom I work, and to a leader who is an excellent planner), not scrambling. Simply, plainly, tired.

(In full disclosure, my husband works these hours most weeks, if not for the extra day or two a week. So this is me whining...but hey, my tiny corner of the interweb, my whining.)


Tomorrow is my day off. My first since June. And I have no fewer than eleven things I'd like to do:
-finish writing an article
-edit another article
-walk the dog
-buy a new shower curtain
-get some really good coffee
-clean the house
-sleep in
-read the paper
-linger at a coffee shop
-have a glass of wine on the porch
-make a new playlist
-spend one of the gift certificates I've accrued.
-make something fantastic for dinner.
-take the dog to the vet.
-cut the cat's nails.
-did I mention laundry yet?

Yep. Yepyepyepyep. Unless you have a time machine I can borrow (I'll trade you a Banana Republic gift certificate for 3 hours! It's fair, right?), something's not going to get done. And to be honest, in the off season I have PLENTY of time to tackle all of those things. So, what to keep and what to kick to the curb?

-groceries --doubtful. i have a crock pot and the makings of chicken chili. We'll rough it for anything else.
-pedicure --homemade. But maybe tangerine? Anything non-blue/gray is out of the comfort zone...
-gym -- non-negotiable. The fat clothes are tight.
-finish writing an article -- also non-negotiable. My first deadline!
-edit another article --maybe...if I get into the groove.
-walk the dog --another non-negotiable
-buy a new shower curtain -- postponed.
-get some really good coffee -- Important.
-clean the house -- I'll tidy up my closet so that I can use those gift certificates on something non-redundant.
-sleep in. -- not likely.
-read the paper -- ipad NYT? over coffee. Yes.
-linger at a coffee shop -- forfeit for next day off.
-have a glass of wine on the porch --non-negotiable.
-make a new playlist -- could happen.
-spend one of the gift certificates I've accrued. --as a reward for gym/writing? YES. That's $.
-make something fantastic for dinner.-- 2 words...CHICKEN CHILI. as far as comfort food goes, I'll take it.
-take the dog to the vet. --if he's still itchy/scratchy? Yes.
-cut the cat's nails. --Highly unlikely. Would have more success as a blood donor (and now that raises another tempting thing...I could totally give blood tomorrow! Should I?)
-did I mention laundry yet? --No. But it's non-negotiable at this point. Get. It. Together.

Ouf. So many things to do...so little desire. I think I'll prepare for tomorrow by listening to the cicadas, watching the cars pass, walking the dog around the block, and hitting the hay early. Here's hoping that tomorrow is rejuvenating enough to let me fully engage in the rest of the week!


the distance is shorter than it appears

So, part of my job is choosing singers for our Studio Artist program and casting a scenes program. (I'm lucky to have a gentleman, GL, who is both smarter and more generous than I might ever be, whose gentle leadership I treasure. It's probably much more his program than mine, but he lets me think that I know what I'm doing... and makes me look good when I'm really uncertain. And no, I won't tell you his name because we're keeping him forever. So don't ask.)


We did 2 scenes performances in the Barns this weekend. And I cannot convey how very exciting they were. Our mainstage projects are exciting in a very different way, naturally... but the amount of growth I saw from the first sing-through to today was simply astounding. It reminds me of the reasons that I loved teaching. It's so nice to revisit the (totally unmerited) pride that I feel in each of these singers, the amazing path they've traveled since our auditions almost a year ago. I've always been more of a process person than a product person...and while these folks are still unfinished products, I am so very honored to be even a small part of the process.

Growth is awesome. And humbling to watch. And so very, very exciting.

Tutti bravi, y'all.


It's that time of year...

...when my job gets seriously in the way of any social life. And it's a damn shame, because we have a great group of people-who-also-just-happen-to-be-kickass-musicians with us. And I never get to spend as much (read: almost any) time getting to know them. It's a tragedy; we spend all of this time searching for talent, hearing auditions, learning about the singers, figuring out rep, bringing them here, working with them...but when push comes to shove I get so little agenda-less time to get to know them.

Le sigh. I am totally whining about not having enough of a social life. Read my eighth-grade diary, and you'd find it's same song/different day.

So really, this is a bit of a love letter to all of the folks with whom I've not carved out enough time to sit and visit.

(The love letter to the friends and family I'm neglecting for the next several weeks in service of my job? That's coming soon. Promise.)



So, we're in tech for a Don Giovanni...my first, truth be told. I've heard bits and pieces for years on the audition tour, even studied one or two arias myself in school. But this version? With the sleek stage and the a-little-too-realistic-fights and the shower scene and crazy projections? Not to mention a cast and team who are wholly collaborative and supportive and courageous?

(Oh, and did I mention that these folks can SING??)

Well, it's making me feel more like a proud teammate than a cougar... (and these days, well, that's a Christmas miracle.)

SO excited to open this puppy on Friday. A few miles to go between then and now, but it's shaping up to be one of the most exciting, visceral shows I'v worked on. You should seriously start hitting me up for tickets.

(and if you liked the tunes in that new Sherlock Holmes flick? Ours sounds better, AND has the kick-ass fight sequences. Really, RDJr should be knocking on our door...)

(and, to continue the parenthetical thoughts, how am I supposed to become a jaded opera administrator when I get so excited about a new production??)



I have never been one to let a birthday slide under the radar...even now, as those numbers get bigger and rounder. I love any excuse to celebrate! (And let's be honest, the fact that I haven't killed myself by some random act of stupidity is not to be minimized.) My birthday is on the summer solstice, the longest day (most hours of sunlight) in the year, so it's always made me feel a little bit special. When I started at my job and found out that KPW had the same birthday? Well, it seemed like a huge sign that I was in the right place. Over the last few years, I've met several folks with whom I share this special day...and it's no surprise that we share a real affinity towards each other. Maybe horoscopes are total bunk, but I think there's a little bit of similarity between the Birthday Twins, and I find it a great comfort.

I've also started a birthday list - all of the things I want to do this year. There's an item for each year I've been on the planet, and at this rate I'm going to have to really bust-a-move to get 'em all done! But that's not really the point, I suppose...the real point is to dream about the upcoming year, to think about what I want to accomplish, to take stock. (I do one of these each year, but I don't revisit from year to year...I get a clean slate with each birthday.)

I hope that today you get some quiet time, some raucous laughter, some time to daydream, and a big slab o'cake. Because if it's not your birthday? It's your UN-birthday! Still occasion to celebrate!


My braim herts

I spent the last several days in Philly at the Opera America conference. I was part of a Leadership Intensive, and was determined to squeeze every drop out of the experience.

Was I successful? On some levels, for sure. My head is reeling with the sheer amount of information and faces that I'm struggling to process and retain. I laughed, danced, ate & drank, and reconnected with some of my facorite folks in the business. But dealing with our own season and my ill-advised propensity to burn the candle at both ends, with a healthy dose of introversion added in, and you have one very tired girl, whose head is still spinning.

My last day off was June 7. My next will be June 22. The challenge will be to pace myself enough to both get everything done at work, process the great stuff I was exposed to at the conference, and take care of myself enough to be happy & useful.

Wow. Not a terribly upbeat entry, eh? Pollyanna's not gone, I promise...she just needs a nap and a massage.

(For the record, KPW and I will be celebrating our 94th birthday on Thursday...and I don't feel even close to that, even with the fatigue!)

Back to my chirpy self soon-promise!


I need a little Chuck Norris in my life

So, the season has started, for all intents and purposes. I can tell, because I had one tiny thing that I reeeeally needed to accomplish? And yet here I am, in my jammies, working on it while sitting on my couch at 9:11pm on a Wednesday. Because I couldn't get it done between 10am and 7pm.


The roller coaster has left the deck. Here we go!!


Memorial Day

Oh, it's been a lovely lovely weekend. A quick trip to visit dear friends and their adorable ruffians (if I could steal that dreamy middle child to be my very own, I'd totally do it.), kitchen experiments - mostly successful, although the epic battle of Le Creuset vs Rhubarb won't soon be forgotten...or remedied, I fear.

It's been a good time to nest...the season starts in earnest for us tomorrow, and there have been some big things going on on the home front...a long weekend to revel in good company, sunshine, grilled meats and beverages heavy with condensation is just what the doctor ordered.

I'd be remiss to not say thank you to the men and women who unknowingly procured this lovely respite for us. My dad couldn't serve (back and eyes), though he wanted to. He had a picture of his uncle framed in his uniform on his dresser top. (the lost name is my own fault.) This uncle was handsome in his sepia photograph...a medic, killed by a sniper, even with the red cross on his armband.

My dad wished for the privilege of service...his daughter recognizes the incredible nobility and courage needed to serve...but is grateful to have her loved ones close by.

Spending the rest of the evening listening to nostalgic music, watching the sun make green disco balls out of the trees, and generally feeling unsettled but Ok...and open to possibility.

My five:
1. Low-humidity evenings.
2. Sunglasses.
3. Pandora. I'm a sucker for a good nostalgic 90's singer/songwriter mix.
4. Shaken ruts.
5. Idiotic optimism.


Quel. Whirlwind.

So, my little household has had some pretty significant shocks this week. Nothing that we can't recover from, and nothing that I want to outline here, but significant.

Add to that a raft of friends and colleagues going through parallel/way-more-serious issues? And you have a Rahree who is largely unbalanced...mostly in a good way, though: caring less about procedures than relationships, realizing that small talk is the best form of currency, and that sometimes the best thing you can do is wear something pretty that coordinates with a still upper lip.

(I feel sure that cupcakes will play a large role in our collective rehab, and I'm running (in the humidity! WHAAA?) to pro-actively compensate.

Sometimes big happenings cut through enough bull to make you realize the larger reasons: what's important, why that's so, and how to streamline in a thoughtful way.

This is Memorial Day weekend, and I'm planning on sleeping, running, writing and reading. (Simple, and blissfully so. Sounds perfect, right?) I am exceedingly grateful to those - especially those whose families I know and love - who have sacrificed so that I can do so. And, so that I don't fritter this gift of time away? I have 3 big projects outlined to tackle, and if I'm serious, thousands of words to rearrange.

I'm looking forward to the challenge. To the reading, the thinking, the writing. And to do so amid the quiet of a Facebook-less, work-absent weekend.

Because come Tuesday? The season begins and we are off to the races.



It's been one of those exciting, chock-full weeks. Opera. Chamber music. Art. Recording studios and gallery tours and conversations that try simultaneously to find common ground and push limits. I have been challenged, laughed, eaten more restaurant food than this body sees outside of the audition tour. I am reminded of how good these people -my compadres , nay, MY people - are.

I am one lucky sonofagun.

But, honestly? I'm tired. This was a good trial run for summer workweek, for sure. I am very glad, however, to have some time to decompress with a mindless movie (the A Team, if you must know), wearing my favorite pjs with sleeping boys (canine, feline, and human) all within arms' reach.

Wishing you some unstructured time this weekend-fritter it away with impunity!

It's been awesome.


what a difference a day...

...or ten make. I was pretty darn grumpy the last time I posted, fo' sho. Sorry about that - things are really, for all of my bitching, quite lovely here in the Virginia 'burbs.

I'm sitting on the porch (yay!) in the almost-dusk, listening to the whir of the coke fridge and birds and the occasional thunderclap roll across the sky. My shoulders are bare, my hair is a humidity-frizzed mess, and my arms are probably covered in mosquitos, but if I don't actually SEE them then maybe they're not really there. I'm sipping a glass of wine that, while not exactly my cup of tea (?) is more enjoyable that I would've given it credit for. There's something to be said for cold and sweet-ish on a warm night, and for leaving preconceived notions at the door. Small surprises are lovely.

Work is about to blow up. Even with the small season the anxiety dreams are full-tilt...my subconscious doesn't quite believe, again, that I can actually get it all done. I hope, again, that he (me?) is wrong.

I have a fitbit that doesn't work. I am a faithful Weight Watchers food tracker until I reach the evening, and then the candy in the cupboard makes me its beeyatch. I will likely not shed those last (mumbledymumble) pounds before the summer begins. And, at this point...in the dark, on my porch, listening to the birdsong? I'm unconcerned.

I'm happy.

Wishing you a comfortable place to put your feet up, a bug-free outdoor space, a tall ice-filled glass that leaves puddles on your tabletop.


Grumpy McMoperson

It's finally summer in suburban DC - the warmer temperatures, the pop-up thunderstorms, the bad hair...all here. And it's OK...aside from the bad hair, I'm ok with the warmth and humidity thus far, even though no one consulted with me beforehand.


(I'm in a bit of a mood.)

One of my favorite small businesses is closing today. The folks were super nice to Boo and me, and we really looked forward to popping in during a walk, making some small talk, with Boo happily making the rounds to get some lovin' (or a little bite of turkey or bacon.) They saw a cable news promo that I did and texted me - they were so excited to see someone they knew! (And, let's be honest...they probably were doubly excited to know that I clean up ok, as I usually see them when I'm baseball capped or snow-jacketed.) I didn't spend much money there, but was looking forward to shooting them some business this summer...but not anymore. I hope they're all OK, and I do hope that they stay in touch...even though the likelihood is small.

Sigh. I hate it when good people leave. I am WAY more comfortable doing the leaving than being left.

I've spent the day cleaning out my closet, moving winter clothes out, summer clothes in, and making 3 piles: toss out/give away/ TBD. It's that TBD pile, the I-don't-know-I-like-it-but-maybe-not-on-me? pile that I'm currently giving the cold shoulder...just don't want to have to make any hard decisions, even with clothes. I'm grumpy that some things never quite fit right, that others wore to tatters/shininess/pill-encrusted way sooner than I would've liked.

And even though I work in classical music? I'm sad about MCA. I know, it's ridiculous on some level...I didn't know him, wasn't watching someone I love struggle or simply slip away. But I love the Beasties, and a lot of their music opened up conversations with people that I couldn't talk to about anything else. They were a personal bridge of sorts.

It's going to rain. Hubby is sick and needy. The dog is itchy and needy. The cat is recovering from surgery and is needy. Our bedroom is still covered in clothes and bins and boots, because as in many areas in my life, I start strong but simply fizzle out... which will translate predictably into a SUPER grumpy me when I walk upstairs to go to bed and realize that I didn't finish the job, and now have to make room on the bed for the humans and pets.

I am endlessly irritated by that Gotye song that is ceaselessly playing on the radio, because the dude talks about how he just felt 'meh' for the girl, but then he's all up in arms because she actually walks away completely and doesn't want to talk to him again? Dude. Grow a pair and move on. You get to choose your actions - not how other people respond.

(I need to bite the bullet and get sirius or pandora or something. gah.)

The entitled lady bitching about her first-world problems is going to take a deep breath, take the dog for a long walk, ditch the computer for a book and a glass of wine...and maybe will write some letters on real paper instead of staring at the computer screen.

My five:

  1. Sweet neighbors. I'll miss those Deli folks, for sure.
  2. Making progress. Getting dressed tomorrow in my spiffi-fied closet will be a treat.
  3. Quiet. Listening to the birds, the compressor of the coke fridge, the dog panting, a plane overhead, somewhere above the cloud cover...beautiful.
  4. Flowers. Hanging baskets are blooming like gangbusters, the peonies are in flower...it's pretty out.
  5. Space. Things are starting to get busy at work (hence, likely, my irritation), so having an evening to be lazy and lame is lurvely.




(I keep typing 'blooger', which makes me think 'booger', which is not at ALL what I'm intending to write about...)

ANYWAY, I knew it had been a long time since my last entry, but in the intervening weeks Blogger has changed formats, and I am feeling strangely disoriented by those changes... not that I'm blooging (v. To blog poorly) less, but I'm over here a few times a week, and to do it well takes a little more thinking somehow, than typing my feelings and daily routine... the normal pre-season drivel seems less compelling than it used to.

(But that's not stopping me from dishing some out right about now, is it? NOPE.)

So. Disoriented is a good way to describe the last several weeks. Working backwards from yesterday: my first 12+ hour workday of the season (which ended with some of the best piano playing that I may have ever heard. Elegant, thoughtful, but just enough raw passion to make it truly exciting.). An overfull work week with lots of good things advanced, a Skype lecture with a local university (!) and with a fantastic dress rehearsal loaded in? Awesome. And also, taxing. Especially when riding on the heels of a trip to Boston (opera! reconnecting with an old roomie!) and a less-than-glorious sinus infection.

(Huh. Maybe this is in fact an exercise in 'blooging' in both content and nasal iterations...)

Things are getting busy. People arrive soon. I have to-do lists on three different platforms. The weather moves between summer and fall.

Today has been a little unsettled, but lovely. Hubster let me sleep in this morning. I went to the gym, and there was a class that was a dance class like I had in college (but with easier steps and waaaaay less range of motion) which made me so very happy. Car is inspected. Dinner plans sadly cancelled, but the Hubs picked up mac and cheese (to which I added truffle salt...I think I may have heard angels sing...), and now we're watching movies and waiting for a break in the rain before walking the dog.

I apologize for the bitchfest. I apologize for the scattered posting... link-o-rama to come soon!


Abundance of Riches

It's been one of those get-it-all-done Saturdays that, while not everything gets done, feels good just in the doing. Got my roots prettified, and then spent the day getting messy: weeding, hauling years' worth of crap out of the basement for the dump, cleaning out the shed, power-washing the porch & furniture, patching the porch ceiling, oiling the teak, grocery shopping, making dinner...feeling a bit like a superhero cross between Bob Villa and Martha Stewart.

To celebrate? Porch time with hubby. A glass of wine and a butter cookie (shortbread is the BEST.) and Pandora on a folksy station. It will likely take me more than one attempt to get the dirt out from under my fingernails, but that in itself feels like an accomplishment.

Happy Saturday, my friends.


Mixed Blessings.

courtesy of Google, as this little blog had totally slipped my memory... (Mom, please excuse the poor grammar.)

I will file this under 2 different systems: firstly, under the moniker "Nothing you do on the internet ever really goes away."

And, with more gratitude and love, as "That visit with Dad was really awesome. How wonderful to have the internet jog my memory."

My five:

  1. Time-filled weekends.
  2. Saying 'yes'.
  3. Momentum.
  4. Memories.
  5. Inspiration.


Oh, chickadees, life is busy!

...and grand. Life is both quite busy, and full of exciting prospects. If any of said prospects materialize outside of the purely theoretical realm? Well, no doubt I'll be spilling my guts here. But
I'm feeling the need to keep these special ideas just a wee bit closer to the vest... for the time being, at least.

It's spring here is Northern Virginia...all adolescent in its dramatic atmospheric mood swings and propensity for bright colors. I spent yesterday redding up the house (a Pittsburgh term, for those of yinz who grew up elsewhere) and collecting donation bags for purple heart. Tomorrow will start with an adrenalin-fired tv interview where I hope to represent my company well and, at the very least not get fired, and will end with an uncomfortable but necessary medical procedure.

(Life really is all about the ups and downs, isn't it?)

Happy Palm Sunday to those who celebrate it... and Happy Sunday to those who don't. Let's try our best to be good to one another this week, shall we?


whhhhhyyyy is this so harrrrrrrdddd?? (Caution: WHINING AHEAD)

Oh, friends. The last two weeks have been a total and utter crapshoot.

  • Sick mom? Check.
  • Laid-off brother? Check.
  • Hubby who can't function due to intense back pain? Check.
  • A multitude of Dr.'s appointments? Check.
  • A long-awaited concert missed because of anxiety? Check.
  • Sleepless nights? Check, check, ohsweetjeebuscheck.
  • A big goal denied? Check. (Half marathon weekend. And I'll be sitting out.)
  • Another big goal also denied? Check.
  • A questionable health issue raised? Check.
Lest I come across as desolate (which, being dramatic, I'm happy to allow for effect and all...), I've had some wonderful conversations. Mom is fine, hubs is fine, and we're working on fine-ing up my brother. I have people who love me, a comfortable life, a (usually) good head on my shoulders. I've been doing my best to care for the folks I love in specific ways. Paying it forward, living the example. Don't ask for too much. 

I'm trying.

And I realize that these are first world problems. Had this confluence of events happened the March after my dad passed? Wouldn't have registered. Would not have mattered a whit. If I was struggling for shelter, for gratifying work, for the health of my nearest and dearest? This would all be shuttled into a dark corner to be revisited when time/space allowed, if it remained relevant.

But now? At this point in my life? This unlucky confluence has shaken me to my core. 

I'm not a quitter. 

I've always been rewarded when I've put myself out there. 

I feel ashamed for failing, and ridiculous for being upset, and unsettled for physically being less than 100%. 

I've never been one for needing to hit age-related milestones,  but I'm finding that I'm freaking out because I'm not where I thought I'd be, in so many areas. 

I'm frustrated. Big Time Frustrated.

And I'm also frustrated at my reaction. I believe that the way one approaches challenges speaks volumes, and the fact that I'd like to curl up in a ball with a big glass of chardonnay? Well, that's not the kind of girl I want to be.

It's giving me perspective on how hard is it to get up once you're down, and how that skill gets rustier the more comfortable we get. 

Duuuuude, am I rusty

I called mom (because seriously, if you can't call mom who can you call?) to vent/get some much-needed sympathy. (And my mom is killer at doling out sympathy that doesn't feel condescending...she's a PRO.) And she said that maybe I'm just in a holding pattern, waiting for something to happen. And that I need to be patient.

(She allowed how I'd need to figure out HOW to be patient on my own, because it was something she was still working on.)

So, even though the goal was to put aside the Poor Me feeling starting this morning? Well, I think that I'll do it for real tomorrow. Use the weekend to reframe, to get some perspective. Being helpful always makes me feel better, so maybe it's time to head to the Red Cross to donate? Maybe it's time to head downtown to cheer on my training buddies for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon? Maybe it's time to do some more focused work on the new site?

Maybe it's time to spend the weekend reading and eating my weight in Samoas? Hmmm...(don't judge!)

Or, maybe it's time to stop flailing around...to just listen. To let the cream rise to the surface and to discard those things that aren't working.

(In the abstract, that sounds bigger and scarier that I intended. Thinking small. Small changes in outlook = big results.)

What things are you struggling with?