Return to L.A.

We're back in Los Angeles today, hearing auditions in this fair city for the first time in a few years. We have lots of pals on the docket, and the potential to hear some really great singing. I met a pal last night near the opera, and the walk towards Disney Hall and through the pavilion always takes my breath away a little bit. 

(The fact that I got a little schvitzy on my walk just further illustrated how far we are from Washington D.C. and its freeze warnings! #FTW.)

I went to bed ridiculously early last night (late for east-coast me, but too embarrassing to post here), and forced myself back to sleep after the inevitable 3am wake up. So I'm feeling REALLY well-rested! Time for some yoga to stretch out the ol' back, and then onward!


Navel Gazing.

What a day, my lovelies. What. A. Day.

And I mean that in a mostly positive way - I have three pals/relatives/mentors (and some are combinations - don't read into this too specifically if you know me IRL) who have been making some plans, and have taken some BIG steps. Life for all three of them is going to be radically different! And - I'm guessing, but it's an educated guess - it's going to be most radically awesome.

Now, I am pretty much in love with my situation - great job, great hubby (just passed 10 years married in the rearview!), great community of family and friends and neighbors. I should just be revelling in their good news right?

So, why am I feeling a little left behind? Stagnant? The good girl in me is so full of "Shoulds" that I'm wondering if I only am feeling unsettled because I feel like I should be feeling unsettled.



An evening at home.

The chariot leaves tomorrow morning for Philadelphia, at o-dark-thirty for more auditions.

I had a whole, long list of things that I needed to do to be prepared for the next leg of the tour. And the critical things got done. But the recommended things? The 'shoulda's?

Wholly, blissfully undone. 

Today's list of things accomplished is pretty short.

I ate a cubic ton of pizza. My laundry is tumbling in the basement, in anticipation of the next flight. My Spotify account has been upgraded (and unlinked from my Facebook page), and stocked with some key repertoire choices. My anniversary present for the hubs has been purchased. I hit the mall and walked out without buying any of the things that I thought "Well, kinda.." (HUGE win for Little Miss Impulse.)

It's 6:15 on a Saturday night. And I'm going to spend the evening doing relatively nothing. (#lame #oldladyandlovingit)
-walk the dog around the neighborhood before dark, to better admire the changing leaves and the sweet smell of autumn.
- take a bath. (one hazard of travelling with a JanSport backpack - which is sturdy as all get out and suits an old woman not-at-all - is that you can load it up. Heavy pack = muscle spasm. The bath is medicinal! (As is the glass of wine!)
- pack for Philly and Chicago. Here's to hacking this short trip to crazy levels of efficiency! 

I'm always amazed by the generosity of people, of the diligence and resilience of singers, and at this time of year moreso than almost any other. I think an early bedtime will allow me to be the most open to receive, encourage, discern when the first singer opens his/her throat tomorrow morning. I struggle with saying "no" and that sadly hasn't gotten any easier. But maybe I appreciate that difficulty more now.


opera and extra-curriculars

We're in New York City, hearing auditions at the lovely National Opera Center in the Fashion District, where the women are uniformly 20 and impossibly thin with manes like horses. (It's enough to make a girl order another glass of wine in which to drown her flabby sorrows.)

I have a double-pronged agenda for NYC: as much opera as I can stand, and as much time with pals as I can manage. Using that measuring stick, this week has been awesomesauce. I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to, but I got some good quality time with Jason, Noelle, Manu, Justin, and Erin & Liam. 
Cutest. Baby. Ever. 

(I spent a good chunk of the afternoon making out with this little man in a hotel room. Making out = fish kisses to the forehead. I'm hoping he'll still be cool with being my boyfriend when he's 30 and I'm 106.)

I also got to see 2 shows at the Metropolitan Opera in the last 2 nights. Last night was Shostakovich's The Nose (aka Schnozzstakovich.); thorny music, a crazy/awesome production concept and great execution, and an absurdist theme that was pretty awesome. It was 2 hours - no intermission - straight through. 

Tonight was Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. I've wanted to see it for forever, as mom's a big fan of Russian orchestral music and I grew up listening to Tchaik for kicks.  I'd never seen Netrebko, or Beczala, so when the option was to see the (almost 4-hour-long) production from standing room or not at all? Well, the choice was easy. And folks, it. was. FANTASTIC. I would totally, right this red-hot-minute, see the whole thing again FROM STANDING ROOM. That good. 

So, yeah. Good trip. One more day of auditions here (please, y'all, a note o'caution: tomorrow is NOT the day to start with Lensky or Onegin or Tatiana. Leave it on the list, but pick another starter...because you'll end of competing in a game that, for the time being, you can't win.)


A Gentle Call.

Since I wrote last the government has imploded, NYCO has filed for bankruptcy, and the conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra has resigned. 

(It feels a little strange to be making packing lists for an operatic audition tour. And yet that's exactly what I'm doing.) 

I'm taking a community leadership course this fall (stay with me - not a total non sequitur, I promise), and one of the ideas that came up was that of shared values. We assume that we all have them, until it's obvious that we really don't.  

When I was teaching, it used to drive me bonkers that I was supposed to be both a content expert and also convey strong values to my students...mostly because I was in my 20s, and was trying so damn hard to master the content that I couldn't possibly imagine teaching values other than "Killing is bad. Well, almost all of the time. Yeah, I guess you'd have to look at the context. <deep breath> So, shall we start at measure 52?" (I was glad to have curious, slightly argumentative students, but when we waded into deep moral turf I was SUPER happy to turn them over to the Philosophy or Religion teachers.) 

Building consensus is difficult. We - as a nation; hell, even just taking my little suburban neighborhood as an example - are woven from a complex tapestry, and to assume that we all want the same things (ok, outside of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) in the same way is to be slightly myopic, or maybe a little naïve.

I'm not a my-way-or-the-highway type. I believe for every bit of sensationalism wrung out of the news today there are good - nay, wonderful - people doing good work. Listening. Collaborating. Making beautiful art. Being responsible, being flexible, being supportive.

I would challenge us - myself first, and all of us - to seek substance over sparkle. (My husband is guffawing at that sentence, as I am a lover of all things shiny. When I walk past a jewelry display he caws at me like a crow, I love shiny so much.)

It won't be easy; we'll have to dig deeper for it. We'll have to listen a little harder to that quiet voice inside us that says "Wow. Was that amazing? I think that was amazing..." instead of asking for confirmation from friends and strangers. We'll have to buy in, show up, put our money where our mouths are and a host of other clichés that have been bastardized by business to get us to buy things.

(And when I say "we," I mean "me." But I'd love it if you joined me.)

Find something special. Enjoy the hell out of it. And then get behind it, in any way you can. 

Let's grow some good stuff from the ground up.