Sunday, October 15, 2006

It was a long night of drinking

...So on the first Jaeger shot, he said, "We have to toast to something...something terrible."

"Frat boys," I suggested. (We'd had to fight through them to get in.)

He rolled his eyes at me and said, sarcastically, "Sorority girls."

"Dover scores," I said, laughing.

"Schirmer scores," he said.

I don't remember what we settled on, but in the morning this conversation seemed ludicrous. And like something that wouldn't have happened two months ago.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Studying French but hating every minute of it pays off

Turns out that with two hours, a French dictionary, and the wonderful 501 French Verbs book, a girl can translate a page and a half of French and pass her 1-year proficiency exam.

All I have to do to meet the rest of the language requirement is take one year of Italian or German. SWEET.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Things have made a 180

As, of course, everyone knew they would. I'm meeting people, I'm learning things, I'm collapsing in giggling fits in front of new friends and professors, and I was just offered another scholarship for $1000, just for singing in the choir.

Follow your bliss, indeed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This may only be valid at the moment

I'm sitting in a cute little cafe that just happens to have internet access (unlike my apartment) in Boulder. I've been here four times in my eight days here. This is the second time I've sat at this table. You could say it's the place I know best, other than the music building and my apartment.

Life is currently difficult. Not, of course, as difficult as it could be; the flip-side of this complaint is the number of my blessings. I'm holding on with the tips of my fingers while I attempt to make a life here, and I'm scared shitless. I'm also breathless with something resembling excitement, but these past few days have been HARD. I don't know for sure, but I feel like I've failed all my preliminary exams, leading me to worry about how I'm going to pay for an extra couple years of school (which is slightly ridiculous; I do have one more chance to pass them before I have to take any remedial classes). Regret at not studying more weighs me down.

I'm just lonely, and homesick, and bummed. I wish there was some sort of award for Doing Big Life Things On Your Own.

More later. I have to go take another exam. Ooof, I feel ill.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The people who work here are, like, idiots

M: I'd like a grande 2% mocha, please.
Barista: Frappucino?!
M: Mocha.
B: Mocha Frappucino?!
M: No, just -- just a mocha.
B (picks up cup, looks at me): Now, what was it again?
M (leaning in, smiling to keep from slapping her): Grande. 2%. Mocha.
B: Okay! Thanks!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Notes from life

In about an hour (traffic willing), I will be sitting in bar on Queen Anne, reading a book (don't start) and waiting for a friend. I will be thinking about how I might should be at home, packing. But at this point, the packing seems nearly pointless. The past few nights, I go home, spend an hour or two packing, and at the end of the evening the same four kitchen implements have yet to succumb to boxes.

Everything left has a planned place, but it has not yet been time to complete the process. I've been packing for three weeks. I'm ready to be done.

Notes from work

L: I'm grabbing a Jolly Rancher.
M: No! No candy for you!
L: I know, I shouldn't.
M: Whatever. Hard candy doesn't have that many calories.
L: I know, just sugar. I just like to suck on something.
M: That's what she said.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I don't have to be anonymous anymore!




Look! It's me! Guess which one is me. Go on, guess. Yes, I'm the one in the middle. Okay, okay, no, really I'm the one on the right. But if you were actually in the picture, looking at the camera, I'm the one on the left. Eh?

Picutured with me are my brother and my sister. Pictured on my brother's face is his patented "Portrait Look." We're in Portland, a few months back, and this picture has graced my desktop at work since then.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sign me up for more heartache

Now that the recital's over, the reality hits: I am leaving town. And I probably won't return to live here anytime soon.

So I keep breaking out in sobs: quietly in the grocery store, tearfully in the car, no-holds-barred on the couch, pitifully on the phone. Everywhere, sobbing.

I constructed 7 boxes this morning (okay, afternoon) and have only managed to fill one of them. Granted, it's so fucking hot that after I was done packing that box I needed another shower, but at this rate only 1/3 of my stuff will be packed in three weeks. Maybe I'll start getting up at 5 am, to pack during the coolest part of the day.

And to top everything off with a nice little broken heart of a cherry, I am excited about a boy for the first time in months. But he lives in Vegas, which is a) not Seattle and b) (perhaps more to the point) not Boulder.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blog Hiatus

Hi.

You'll notice I'm not writing much in the blog lately. And I've come here tonight to tell you that it's official: I'm putting the blog on pause for a few...weeks or so. It's just that I've been feeling guilty about not writing, and that's stressing me out! And there are a lot of other things stressing me out. Guilt induced by my dozens of readers! That's like, a baker's dozen of guilt!

So anyway. This means I won't be finishing the "Blog Project: Recital" series either. Too busy learning, reviewing and rehearsing the songs to write about them. (If you've been following the series, I'll tell you this: turns out I'm not singing Let the Bright Seraphim. So only one of those write-ups applies. You'll love the recital anyway, I promise.)

I guess this is kind of becoming a new series: the I-Just-Don't-Care-Enough Series. To wit:

-slowing down the blogging pace

-not putting away the laundry (although, let's be honest, that was never a priority)

-wearing wrinkly pants to work (see above)

-not stirring my polenta with a wooden spoon

-responding to flirtatious emails with a hearty "Eye-roll, SUCKA"

-lazy crawl stroke form

-the fact that there's a guy at work who will probably always think my name is Michelle as I can't be bothered to stop him in the hall and say, "Actually, it's Margaret. MAR-GAR-ET. Which you knew, for like, two seconds until you got me confused with someone else named Michelle or something (and thanks for that, by the way)," because who wants to turn a casual exchange of hellos into something fraught with tension?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

SOMEbody has a case of the I-don't-wannas

This evening, I could've studied the International Phoentic Alphabet. I could've read three chapters of _A Short History of Opera_, Third Edition (because according to my "plan," that's how many chapters I'm behind). I could've studied English, French or German diction. I could've studied some world music, or maybe reviewed some music theory. Oh! Oh! And I could've looked for an apartment in Boulder.

But I didn't WANNA do any of that.

The one thing I have to do before I move is, um, find an apartment. That's it. The rest will, more or less, take care of itself. But I don't want to spend a year or more of grad school taking make-up courses in diction, languages, piano proficiency, history, theory and musicology. So it would behoove me to at least make a go of it, eh?

Oooh crap. The other thing I need to do is get ready for my recital, which is in 16 days. Not that anyone's counting.

But I don't WANNA.

I think this truculence stems from tiredness. So stop reading this. Because I'm going to stop writing and go to bed...NOW!

(But I DON'T WANNA!!!!!!!!!!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Blog Project: Recital

All right! Next piece! Second in the Blog Project line-up, but FIRST on the program! I totally meant to do these in order, but somehow "Oh Sleep" snuck out first.

So...did we have a format for this before? I do believe we did: here we go.

Let the Bright Seraphim
From: Handel's Samson

Let the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud, uplifted angel trumpets blow
Let the Cherubic host, in tuneful choirs
Touch their immortal harps with golden wires

Despite the limited number of words (27 -- count 'em), this piece comes in at about 5-6 minutes. It's written in a classic Baroque form: A, B, A. On the repeat, the singer ornaments the vocal line, which is a little like jazz improvisation. I've been listening to Arleen Auger, Kathleen Battle and Joan Sutherland and making notes of their ornaments. I hope to plan what I'll be doing at my recital, but in the future I'd like to gain the confidence to be spontaneous. It'd be great to have an arsenal of possible ornaments and choose on the spur of the moment, so each performance is different. That, to me, is the essence of live performance.

Samson, according to Wikipedia, is an oratorio rather than an opera. It's occasionally been staged, but usually it's performed in concert form. Apparently, it's considered one of Handel's finest dramatic works. If you know the story of Samson from the Bible, you know the story of the opera. Actually, that's rather a bold statement, since I don't know the Bible story. I've heard that the oratorio is based on it, but I can't say for sure from my own experience, you see.

Originally, Samson ended with a funeral march that summed up all the sadness and strife, and then a chorus and solo. A year after he wrote it, though, Handel wrote Let the Bright Seraphim and a new chorus, and changed the ending.

Have I mentioned the nature of Let the Bright Seraphim? It is full of joy and exultation. There are tons of runs and coloratura, making it a bit of a showstopper. There is a trumpet part that plays with the soprano part in a call-and-response fashion, which gets entertaining when the soprano switches things up in the repeat and the trumpet is able to mimic the ornaments. (Of course, in the case of this recital, trumpet = piano.)

In terms of interpretation, I'm going for joy and pizazz. I hope to get through the runs without breathing (much) in the middle, and I hope to ornament skillfully. Mostly, I just want to impress the pants off of everyone.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Blog Project: Recital

When I was in school, I really loved researching and thinking about the pieces I was singing. Issues of interpretation are endlessly fascinating -- tempi, dynamics, text: change one and you change everything (well, okay, maybe not, but that sweeping statement sure sounds good). With arias, you have the context of the opera and the role to work with. With art songs, you have only the text -- you have to almost create your own opera.

So in order to prepare for my upcoming recital, I've decided to use the blog as a way to delve into each piece. I want to explore again, and write again. Sooooo, without further ado:

O Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me?
From: Handel's Semele

"O sleep, why dost thou leave me?
Why thy visionary joys remove?
O sleep, o sleep, again deceive me,
To my arms restore my wand'ring love."

I first fell in love with this piece's melody. As Alex Ross wrote in the New Yorker on May 8 of this year, "There is nothing in music more unstoppably beautiful than a Handel aria moving in slow regal splendor." And it's true: the music makes you stop what you're doing and listen. This aria is also short -- there's no da capo section that requires ornaments.

As I started learning it, the music and the text struck me as mournful. Like she'd lost her "wand'ring love" and desperately wanted him back. So I was interpreting it that way, like all the dotted-eighth patterns were sobs. I didn't know anything about the opera, so tonight I looked it up. Turns out I was wrong -- she's not mourning a loss, she's waking up from a dream. A sexy dream! You know the kind.

Everything I read about this opera casts it as a sensual, sparkling drama. There has been confusion about whether Semele is an oratorio or an opera; the first act is largely static, casting it as oratorio, but the second act contains a lot of material that is easy to stage. Also, the libretto was originally written for an opera written by John Eccles, which was never completed. The Rough Guide to Opera says, "Semele is remarkable for the sheer sexiness of much of the music...but there is tragedy, too, in Semele's inevitable end." So yes, Semele dies. Not surprising. She dies for loving the wrong man (Jupiter; those Gods are just hard to please!) too much. Such is the fate of women in much of opera!

I'm going to experiment with more playfulness and maybe a slight sleepiness next time I sing this. It's not the kind of waking up that you do on the mornings you have to work. It's less angry, more dreamy. You know when you wake up from a lovely, lovely (all right, sexy) dream, and you've had enough sleep, so you're not upset that you're awake, but you do want to go back to that dream world? That's where I want to come from next time I sing this. And I'll see what works. You never know.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Update from the Week From Hell

I am so tired that tonight I rubbed eye makeup remover on my forehead.

Luckily, I did not then rub toner in my eyes.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The iPod 10: Randomizer!

All right, so everyone is doing this, but I thought I'd join in the fun. I put my iPod on shuffle and wrote about the first 10 songs that came on. Now, I have to say that what's on my iPod is what's on my iTunes, and about 80% of what's on my iTunes comes from Alex's iPod and Bruce's iPod. Much of it, I've never listened to. I just copied it over thinking, "Oooh, that might be nice to listen to!"

Without further ado:

1. "Who Needs Forever (Thievery Corp Remix)" – Astrud Gilberto, Verve Remixed
I have never heard this song. But I like it. As with any good remix, the original remains in some identifiable form.

2. "Desire Brings Me Back" – Blondie, The Curse of Blondie
I’ve never heard this song, either. I don’t really like the first 50 seconds, but it gets better. Is this older Blondie? Because I thought I liked Blondie, but maybe I’ve been mistaken. I could live with not hearing this song again.

3. "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes" – Supremes, Diana Ross & The Supremes Anthology
Yeah, I’ve never heard this song before. But I like it. Classic Supremes – but with a fuller backing band than I’ve heard on other tracks.

4. "Prairie Fire that Wanders About" – Sufjan Stevens, Illinois
Finally! A song I’ve heard before! Not my favorite song from this album, but that’s like saying chocolate isn’t my favorite ice cream flavor. I mean, sometimes I’ll eat it.

5. "Yeah! Oh, Yeah!" – The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs, Vol. 3
I’ve heard this song before, too! Yeah, oh yeah. The Magnetic Fields do mean-spirited love songs like no one else.

6. "Je Suis Titania" (from Mignon by Ambroise Thomas) – Maria Callas, The Passion of Callas #1
I’ve probably heard this once before, because I know I’ve listened to this album all the way through at least once. But it’s completely foreign to me. I don’t know Mignon at all, really. Callas shines, though.

7. "I’ll Follow My Secret Heart" – Arleen Auger, Arleen Auger: American Soprano
I fell in love with this song in 2000, and sang it in my senior recital. I used to listen to it over and over and over again. It’s by Noël Coward, and falls into the “follow your dreams” genre. Very sweet.

8. "Easy to Love" – Billie Holiday, Collection 1 (1935-36)
I know it better as Ella sings it, but I’ve heard this version before too. It’s easy to love – the lyrics are great.

9. "Radio Campaign" – M. Ward, Transistor Radio
Sheesh. We’re only on the 9th song? “Come back, come back, my little peace of mind…” This man is masterful with the following: lyrics, playing the gee-tar, and sangin’.

10. "Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing" – Nina Simone, Nina Simone
I’ve heard this song before, but not this version. Makes no difference, really, if it’s sweet or hot. Doo-wah.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Seit ich ihn gesehen

Life really has been going well. The title of the post I've been thinking about writing is "Hello, I love you," alternately about my life and my ipod -- depending on which I'm particularly enamored of at the moment. I've been operating at this base level of happiness brought on by the whole grad school thing, and I've really been enjoying it. It's like nothing can phase me!

Except.

On my way home tonight, I thought, "God, it would be a terrible night to run in to Ben. Thank God he doesn't live in this neighborhood anymore." And then I stepped out of the video store and ran into him and his new girlfriend. There I was, two DVDs in hand, my purse open to reveal a package of gummi bears, no makeup, hair a mess, new zit, clearly a case of Miss Lonleyhearts and the Solitary Sunday Night. I felt like saying, "I WAS JUST HAVING DINNER WITH AUDREY! SERIOUSLY! AND BEFORE THAT WE WERE AT A MOVIE! I'VE BEEN HANGING OUT WITH PEOPLE ALL DAY!" or "WHY AREN'T YOU OUT OF TOWN?" or "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME." or, more prosaically, "FUCK." I tried to not be weird, I tried to make it seem like it was no big thing. Ultimately, I didn't want them to have a conversation about me after we parted ways. On one hand, it wouldn't surprise me if she knew nothing about me. On the other, whatever we had was clearly not any sort of benchmark.

Here's why tonight's interaction is confusing and frustrating: for all intents and purposes, I am much happier now than I was a year ago. A year ago, I was in a "relationship" that wasn't going anywhere, although I didn't know that then. I didn't know what it was, but I was terrified to lose it. I wanted, so desperately, to be the one who lasted, the one who won him over, the one who was enough, the right one. It felt like a competition, and all I had to do was wait it out. And then I could be the girl who had everything. But it wasn't what I thought it was. And even NOW, I struggle to find a word to describe what it was.

So, having that large uncertainty out of my life is a good thing. I'm not constantly fighting a losing battle anymore. I don't wonder if today is going to be the day he's going to end it, again. But part of what was so hard about ending it was losing a friend. He was my friend, he understood me, we had a shared history, private jokes, similar interests. He opened my eyes to things, like travel and food and what kind of kitchen I wanted in the house I would eventually own; things I'd thought about but not from that angle, or not as extensively. He was challenging, and he always had good, sound things to say.

When we "broke up" or "ended things" or whatever, giving up that friendship was the hardest part. But there was no other way. I don't know how long I would've gone without calling or emailing him, but when he emailed in December and said he missed me, I felt strong enough to meet up with him and see. Just see. I'd been carrying around the question of friendship since late July, and at the end of the evening, I thought it was answered: yes. Yes, we'd be friends, and it was no big deal. So in January, I suggested our next get together. Then I got busy. We exchanged a few emails, but things were still busy. In April I thought, "You know, friends usually see each other," so I suggested another get together.

And now it's been over a month. And I've been getting mad. Angry. An emotion I'm not entirely comfortable with. Yes, we're both busy, but, as I mentioned above, friends usually see each other -- at least once in awhile. Or email. Or phone. I'm not picky. But we have no friendship here. We're not building on anything. I don't know if I should've mentioned this in December -- my terms and expectations -- but I thought that sort of thing was understood. And I don't like to be the sort of person who keeps track of this sort of thing, but I don't want to be the one always driving the friendship. The petty part of me wants to say that it was his big idea in the first place, but I missed the friendship too. So the bitter, cynical part of me takes over. He missed what we had. The excitement, the tension that drove our friendship in the first place. And we don't have that anymore, and we won't ever have it again. We can never have what we had, and is it no longer worth pursuing anything? So seeing him tonight was fucking sod's law. (I think what I need to do is never think about Ben when I wouldn't want to run into him: days when I'm running and sweaty, and nights when I'm going home alone with candy and DVDs. SERiously.)

I don't even WANT that uncertainty again. But I feel cheated out of the friendship I thought I had, or was going to have.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Risky

A list, if you will, of things that are risky:

-Mixing medications without consulting your doctor

-Driving

-Eating undercooked chicken or pork

-Eating raw eggs

-Telling everyone how glad you are your boss is gone and you can now get some ever-loving WORK done, for crying out loud

-Driving and/or riding motorcycles

-Mailing loan and scholarship acceptance documents from work

-Forgetting to make copies of aforementioned loan and scholarship acceptance documents

Monday, May 15, 2006

Catching up

I know, it's been awhile. Here's why: I realized last week that for some of you, this is your way of keeping in touch with me. Or should I say, keeping up with me. And that, frankly, sucks. It's not reciprocal, for one thing, and it's completely passive, for another. (Certainly, this is not the case for everyone, nor is it the case for those of you who I don't know.) I'm not writing this as a replacement for real human contact. I still call people, email people, see people, and I don't want this to become a substitution for people calling, emailing and seeing me.

(And maybe part of this anxiety/frustration stems from the fact that I'll be leaving Seattle in three months. That's three -- 3 -- months. Ninety days. [Shit! Ninety days!] It's possible that I won't ever come back to Seattle permanently. Things are changing and I don't know what my life is going to look like in a year. So I feel like now is the time to spend WITH people, not blogging about whatever it is I blog about. And also, what if I don't have time for blogging in grad school? What will we do then if we're not in the habit of actual friendship?)

I also feel like I've forgotten how to write about anything other than grad school. So here are some other things:

1. McSweeney's published a piece I wrote in their "Reviews of New Food" section (maybe, if I remember, I'll make this link prettier later): http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/newfood/. Ta da!

2. Audrey took me to see Islands last week. I went having heard none of their music beforehand. Usually, this makes me nervous. But there was no need to feel nervous that night: the band was great. It helped that I'd had a few drinks and we got there one song into their set, but mostly it helped that the songs were catchy and the band was entertaining. Their album is now all I can listen to. In my car, at least -- it's all that's in there.

3. Most Wednesday nights, I can be seen -- and heard -- singing at the Open Mic at the Hopvine on 15th, usually sometime between 9 and 10. I'll be the one without any instruments, just singing.

4. I'm suddenly making new friends. Well, suddenly as of a few months ago. It's odd to meet new people right before you leave town, but also, maybe, not odd. This should probably be the subject of a different post.

5. I'd forgotten how much I lurrrve Elizabeth George until I picked up _With No One As Witness_ (again, sorry for the ugly formatting -- blame Safari), her most recent Lynley-Havers mystery. This is the 14th in the series, and I think I own 12 of them.

6. Bedtime!

7. Ninety -- 90 -- days. Fuck. And yay. Yay and Fuck: yuck.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What do you think they'll give me if I wait a little longer?

Yesterday, I found out that Colorado wanted me enough to give me a whole lotta loans for next year, which would have been fine. The shocking amount (which, it must be said, I did not take lightly) covered tuition, room and board, and left a little extra for stuff like food and living. I had hoped for some free money, like work study or even a scholarship, but it looked like I’d be living on loans for the first year. The amount would’ve gone down with each year, as I (hopefully) earned scholarships, teaching assistanceships, etc.

Anyway, all of this is to say that whoa, that amount of loans freaks me out. The good news, at least yesterday, was that I wouldn’t have to call any governmental agency and beg them to give me more money. They already did! They gave me enough, or at least enough to be poor and living off of borrowed money (is that like living on borrowed time?). It was “enough,” and it was fine. Fine. After last year, I told myself I’d go to grad school this year by hook or crook, no matter what it cost. Still, it was scary.

Did you catch that part in the last paragraph, when I mentioned the good news yesterday, thus foreshadowing the fact that there was other, better, news today? Here it is: the good news today is that the head of the voice department called me to say that some scholarship money had opened up, and they wanted to recruit me, if I hadn’t already decided to go somewhere else.

I said that I just found out about the whole loan thing yesterday, and I hadn’t yet made a decision (LIE), but I was very interested in hearing about the scholarship. As soon as I said it, I realized I probably shouldn’t have mentioned the loans, because the next thing he asked me was how much I’d received from them. I said, trying to be vague, that it was a full amount of loans, and that I’d like to borrow as little as possible. So then he told me that they wanted to offer me an award that will cover 6 hours of graduate tuition a semester (a full load is 5 hours), plus $4000. Yes please, I said, I’ll take it!

We talked a little more and he said he’d have the dean send me a letter with all the info and a financial breakdown of “6 hours of graduate tuition.”

And now I am really freaking out, because, even though I’ve said it before, HOLY SHIT Y’ALL I AM TOTALLY GOING TO GRAD SCHOOL.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Considering the Audience

I've been thinking all day about how to tell this story without actually telling it. Two people know exactly what happened, four know generally what happened, and a whole bar's worth have a pretty good idea. I just don't want to end up too...exposed. And, I mean, my parents read this thing.

So perhaps I won't tell the whole story. But I will tell you this much: I haven't been kissed like that in a long time. (And by "like that," I partly mean "with complete disregard for anyone else in the bar.")