Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Red Queen's Race

There's a part in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass that I think sums up the life of a performer--or, let's be real, grownupitude in general--pretty well. Alice has just met the Red Queen (not to be confused with the Queen of Hearts, who, while still pretty great, is from a different book entirely), who explains to her that the geography of Wonderland is set up like a giant chess-board and that the way to advance one's position is to advance to the other end of the board. Alice begins as a White Pawn and wishes to become a queen. And then this exchange happens:

'Now! Now!' cried the Queen. 'Faster! Faster!' And they went so fast that at last they seemed to skim through the air, hardly touching the ground with their feet, till suddenly, just as Alice was getting quite exhausted, they stopped, and she found herself sitting on the ground, breathless and giddy.
The Queen propped her up against a tree, and said kindly, 'You may rest a little now.'
Alice looked round her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'
'Of course it is,' said the Queen, 'what would you have it?'
'Well, in OUR country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'
'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'

 For the last couple of years, I've been doing a lot of running, and it's easy to feel like I haven't gotten much of anywhere. Audition season is often like this, but the past year felt particularly demoralizing. Coming off the high of my first 5K and singing the most musically difficult role of my life (oh, Turn of the Screw, you gorgeous sadist), I spent a couple of weeks in New York City, got new headshots, recorded new pre-screening audios, and reformatted my CV. I was on this.

And then the invitations for a live audition just . . . didn't come from most places I applied to. The few auditions I did get didn't lead to gigs. And, as a singer, someone whose instrument is literally a part of her body, it was easy to internalize this rejection as a reflection on my worth as a person and/or artist, rather than just an indication that maybe the roles that were available weren't a close fit for my voice or personality. This impulse to beat myself down was a rookie mistake, and I'm not proud of it. So, my first truly miserable audition season in the books, I'm preparing for the start of a new round this fall.

That's the thing with a lot of life--unless you were born with an insane level of talent, plus a great work ethic and understanding of your field, PLUS some stunning family connections, you're going to get rejected a lot, and it's going to suck, and you're going to have to either keep trying or find something else to do. Audition season is absolutely the Red Queen's Race. For three to five months at a time, we sprint from room to room to room across Los Angeles or Manhattan or wherever, and we get a breathless four-to-eight minutes to prove that we are the answer to whatever question the casting director is asking himself at the moment. Some of those rooms are too small or too hot or have terrible acoustics, but we do it because the only way to even have a chance at progressing to the status of Queen (or, like, convincing somebody to pay us for singing high notes, amirite?) is to keep moving. The second we stop, we may as well be moving backwards.

All of this is to say, it's been a really long time and I missed writing for the two or three of you who actually read this shit (hi, Mom!). Here's a reaction gif to illustrate how I feel about being back:

So. Now that that long-winded and heavy-handed metaphor is out of the way, here's some stuff that happened over the last, like, two years:

  1.  My hair was short, and then long, and then short again. It grows fast, so we're pretty much back to status quo now. Yes, I know you give a shit about this, and you're welcome for the update.
  2. I visited New York, like, five times, and Los Angeles three or four. I have developed a grudging appreciation for both of these places (and a very enthusiastic appreciation for my amazing friends who live there), but it's cheaper to live in Chicago, so I'm gonna stay here a while.
  3. Last summer, I spent a month in Hawaii and somehow came back paler than when I had left the Mainland. This may be due to the fact that I even wear a cardigan to the beach.
  4. After my beloved Camry was destroyed in a car accident right before Christmas 2012, I bought a Toyota Corolla, whose name is Napoleon, who is now paid for in full. I feel good about this.
  5. I saw the following shows during various audition trips to New York City: Matilda (twice!), Pippin (circus-y!), Cabaret (Alan Cumming!), On the Town (?!?!?!!!!), and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (patter songs!).  There's still a list of things I'd like to see despite being THE POOREST, but discount ticket vendors are the actual best thing ever.
  6. In September 2014, I left the mostly-full-time job I had held for nearly 3 years and decided to see if I could support myself on substitute teaching and tutoring alone which is mostly working so far? Ten months later, I have just taken on a fourth part-time job, still live and die by Google Calendar, and am no longer suffering from at-least-weekly migraines.
  7. And finally, this jerk still lives in my apartment. We play fetch, and sometimes she gets to come on road-trips.
So there we have it. I've been a bum, and I'll be around more now that the obligatory "I'm sorry for my protracted absence" post has been written. I love you all.

Friday, March 15, 2013

They're American planes, made in America

In lieu of an actual post (and I am so very jet-setting and whirlwindy these days that I haven't had time to write anything real down), I thought I would take a moment to transcribe what I typed into my phone in an attempt to stay awake at various points during my recent return to the US from a weekend in London. Also, all of the preceding was just one sentence. Wow. In any event, this is what I'm like over the course of a few hours when running on little-to-no sleep:

11 March 2013, 4:10 a.m. GMT (or thereabouts)

Waiting on the train to Gatwick. No wifi. Haven't slept yet and probably will not until we depart for Manchester (2.5 hours UGH).

In the station (which is freezing): squatters sleeping under the escalators, man who has sneezed but not wiped his nose pacing from one end of the station to the other, kid doing first push-ups and then the Electric Slide to stay awake. Three kinds of people in Victoria at 4 am: homeless, crazy, and on the way to Gatwick.

Missing Chicago not because of the weather or because I don't love London but because I miss my own bed and the cat, electric heating pads and hot showers and peanut butter, which nobody thinks about till they have been in a foreign country and craved it but the shops sell only Nutella or Marmite (worst of all possible fates) because THERE IS NO PEANUT BUTTER IN EUROPE. Thinking about becoming a peanut butter evangelist. Eventually, though, the Toast Spread Crusades would inevitably follow, which would be a damned shame.

No sleep in 22 hours now. Nausea setting in, headache settled behind the eyes, imagining that the train is rocking back and forth. Sore from my long walk and imagining that my body is poisoning itself with lactic acid seeping from muscles into veins. Feverish but no fever. Entire body is vibrating. So tired.

Took tomorrow (today) off from work. Plan on taxi-ing home, feeding Pen, taking muscle relaxant, sleeping till tomorrow morning. Might sleep on plane, will probably sleep on plane, but never any guarantees.

Train moving. Stay awake. STAY AWAKE.

- - -

About two hours later:

Did not stay awake. Got a blissful thirty minutes of sleep on the train.

Shin splints made the jaunt between the two terminals an adventure. Can't wait to sprint from my gate in Manchester to the gate for the flight to Chicago.

Breakfast at a French(-style) cafe: omelette, fried potatoes, coffee. The waiter offered orange juice and I was disoriented to say yes so I had three beverages, including water, which he found very amusing. Feeling more awake now, but only just. The nausea is, at least, faded, and that was the part I was having difficulty with.

Boarding now.

I feel compelled to add that, despite the above bitching and moaning, it was a relatively pain-free journey from London back Stateside. There were no unnecessarily long waits at customs or security, and there was only a minor scare in Manchester where my seat had been changed due to a flight delay and I was interrogated by a man about my business in London as two military men with the biggest assault rifles I have ever seen looked on. Probably not all that frightening if you aren't completely disoriented from lack of sleep.

Next adventure: Florida. Will post updates from the road, if at all possible. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Putting it together; or, BS reassembles her jigsaw life

After the accident.

It took about five days for the initial shock to pass. Christmas night I watched the Doctor Who Christmas special (of course) and then went to do something else around the house, and happened to pass the television just as BBC America aired the very end of "The Angels Take Manhattan" which is, as anyone who watches Doctor Who knows, soul-crushing. This was the thing that broke through the post-accident brain-fog, and the thing that broke me down. After five days, I finally cried--a lot. It was, I think, a reaction to the realization of just how bad the accident was, and how much worse it could have been. The car that hit my Camry was a Hyundai Sonata, going between 35 and 40 miles an hour; a larger vehicle, or one traveling faster, could have seriously injured or even killed me. My airbags didn't deploy. Somehow, no glass was broken, I didn't hit my head, the most serious injury was the bruising from where I slammed into the driver's-side door.

I've been back in the city now for a little over a week, and it's beginning to feel as if I'm coming out of the stasis I was in during my visit to my parents' house. The holiday season, usually stressful, had a little extra kick this year, because in addition to the fallout of the accident, we also made the decision to say goodbye to Macavity, who had been a member of our family for seventeen years and nine months, after  taking a sharp turn for the worse between Christmas and the New Year. All in all, I have decided to consider this holiday season to be the lowest possible point, from which things can only improve. And, I have to admit, it's impressive that this holiday season finally edged out the year I was seven or eight and Mom had to take me to the hospital on Christmas Eve because of a high fever, after which I projectile-vomited the fluorescent pink medicine the doctor had prescribed all over my grandmother's house. That year, I opened gifts with the family while lying on the floor. That was the year my grandmother bought me a copy of Monica Furlong's book Wise Child and a collection of female-centric fairy stories called Tatterhood, which is, it is possible, are the books which first gave me an awareness of feminism.

Now that I think of it, I don't have that many memories of childhood, but the ones I do have are vivid.

So. I'm piecing my life back together after re-entering the world of the living. My re-entry was, it must be noted, not half-assed in any way: I arrived in town on Tuesday morning, and on Tuesday night a friend and I went to Hansel and Gretel at the Lyric, after which I attended an opera-affiliated networking event at a swanky bar. The next night, I went out with a friend in Wicker Park. And then I didn't leave the house for two days, because being social is work, man.

Speaking of work, I have been doing a lot of it. In fact, work takes up approximately 50% of my life (the remaining 50% is split between sleeping, drinking coffee, and reading books I hated or avoided reading in high school). I will not talk about work here, because work takes up too much of my life already without infiltrating my blog.

I taught at a high school yesterday, which was a nice change of pace from the everyday grind of making phone calls to musicians to talk about other musicians. This time it was sophomores, and the subject was chemistry (a class that, for the record, I somehow avoided in high school). Thankfully, the teacher left a worksheet for the class to do, and the subject matter basic enough that answering questions wasn't too difficult. During my planning period, I read Of Mice and Men because I had finished The Jungle while the students were working on homework during academic lab. The Jungle is an excellent book, and Of Mice and Men kind of made me hate everything. I guess one could argue that both books involve terrible people doing terrible things to other terrible people, but at least the over-the-top call to action at the end of Sinclair's book reminded me of the over-the-top choral endings of Shostakovich's 2nd and 3rd Symphonies, and those always made me smile.

This entry is terribly scattered. I suppose that's the result of my brain being shocked into almost-frantic action after doing so little during the holiday. Well, we'll just have to go with that, I suppose. I have more to say than I had expected.

A student in one of my classes yesterday had a birthday. He turned sixteen, and I realized that there are students in high school, which is damned near adulthood, who were born either the year Monicagate happened or the one before it. This is the first time I have been aware of a group of people who, for the most part, have their own thoughts and ideas and are well on their way to being independent human beings, who are too young to remember a major cultural event I remember reacting to (and, for the record, my reaction at the time was, "Really? You're calling his leadership into abilities into question because of that? Really?!" I was a precocious twelve-year old). It occurred to me, as it sometimes does: I am nearer to thirty than twenty, and I don't feel any older than 22. Is this a thing that happens to everyone, the feeling that there is a huge discrepancy between the age one is and the age one perceives oneself to be? Either way, it's a strange moment of self-awareness for someone who still occasionally gets carded while buying tickets for R-rated movies (which did happen in November, when I bought a ticket for Lincoln).

Speaking of R-rated movies, I am currently half-watching a pre-rehab Robert Downey, Jr. movie called In Dreams and I have no idea what's going on. I'm less lost than I was during The Expendables, but still . . . 

I think I've said about all I want to say for now, though. In the future, there will be book talk! There is a truly terrible book I've been meaning to write about but I needed to take a couple of months before going back to it, because it may be the worst thing I have ever read. Hilariously so. More on that later.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter is coming; or, BS's continued adventures in narrowly-averted disaster

To be filed under: things that could have turned out much worse than they did:

I am writing about this, first of all, because my mother asked me to. Last night I was in a car accident in which both cars were totaled. Thankfully, no serious injuries were incurred, either to me or the driver of the other car, but the experience shook me pretty badly. Everything happened very quickly, and I went immediately into shock, so my memory probably isn't to be trusted completely, but here is the sequence of events as I remember them:

Some friends from book club (more on that later) and I had made plans to hold a holiday party, and as my apartment is both large and centrally-located, I volunteered to host. The whole event was thrown together very hastily, so I had decided to drive over the grocery store after work. The weather was, as everyone who was in the Midwest last night knows, terrible: freezing rain transitioning into wet snow flurries, low visibility, and extreme darkness. As it was rush-hour, I decided to take a side street rather than the heavily-crowded intersection of three streets, where cars were backed up at least two blocks to the south. I paused at a stop sign and inched into the intersection to see whether there was any oncoming traffic, but I didn't see anything so I went through the sign. I didn't see the other driver until just before she smashed into the passenger-side front door of my car, so I must have missed seeing the car approaching because it was obscured by some larger vehicles to the right of the intersection. There was a loud metallic crunching and scraping sound and the sound of breaking glass, my glasses flew off my face, and I was knocked toward a row of parked cars. I don't remember much from the next few seconds, other than that I somehow managed to avoid hitting a parked car and pulled my vehicle to a stop in the oncoming traffic lane.

I had bought a six-pack of beer at the grocery store; in the collision, the bottles were shattered and beer was soaking into the floor-mat. I remember being very afraid that the police would think I had been drinking, since the car reeked of alcohol. Someone driving by who saw the accident pulled over and called the police, who sent a State Trooper to take witness statements. A friend who was going to attend the party at my house took a taxi to sit with me as I waited for the police report to be written up, and another drove over to pick us up after the car was towed. Apart from the very few vivid memories I have of those horrible two hours (listening to the rain through the gap created by the smashed door, a pedestrian stopping to ask for directions to the Oglivie train station, explaining the concept of the Assassin's Creed series to the friend who waited with me as the State Trooper prepared the accident report to distract myself from the fact that I was sitting in a totaled car waiting for someone to come take it away), the entire experience is very much a blur.

I have only been in one other serious car accident in my life, when I was 17 and backed my Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight into an irrigation ditch during a blizzard, then crawled out of the door and up through the snow to sit on the side of the road as I shook and rocked back and forth. It doesn't feel real. The only confirmation I have, the things I keep going back to to re-ground myself in reality, are the photos I took of the damage as I waited for the tow, the fact that my car is no longer parked on the street, and a soreness on the left side of my body where, I assume, I was slammed into the driver's side door by the force of the impact. The woman driving the other car was not too badly injured; her airbag deployed, and the only injuries she suffered (at least, that she told me about) were scrapes on her face and some bruising on her chest from the force of the bag hitting her. Opa's Camry, which my family bought from him when I was finishing high school, is most likely finished. Mom says that the fact that my injuries were so limited must be due, in part, to the fact that he is still keeping an eye on me, even now that he's gone. I don't know that I believe in an afterlife or that the people we love continue to watch us after they're gone, but what I do know is that this accident could have been much, much worse than it was, and that the fact that no one was badly hurt is a small miracle. And, oh, there are the tears I've been waiting for the last 24 hours. I suppose that means the worst of the shock is over, and I can start to process what has happened.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Yeah, it happened again; or, Absence makes the heart grow . . . ?

I'm sure I've said it before, but so often it seems as if, after a long period of stillness, everything happens at once.

It started with three auditions, in three different cities, over the course of two weekends. That's enough to shake anyone up (and, yes, I'm aware that this is a big part of my chosen profession, but if I'm not allowed a jolt of apprehension before an audition, particularly in my first Real Audition Season, what's the fun in doing it in the first place?), without having to worry about getting lost, finding that a giant hole has somehow been torn in your the one pair of nylons you brought along, and coming down with chills and body aches two days prior to a weekend with multiple engagements. First World Problems all, I know, but anxiety doesn't seem to give a damn about societal privilege, so I refuse to apologize. In the end, I felt as if the auditions went well, for the most part, although now I have entered the most agonizing stage of all--the wait for results. And so it goes.

The second of these auditions took me far south, almost to St. Louis--no lie, there is actually a town in Illinois called Effingham, and I was near it, resting for the evening in a Holiday Inn in a town called Pontoon Beach, which, as far as I was able to tell, has neither a pontoon nor a beach within the city limits. The drive was rainy and took ages, as solo roadtrips usually do; I crossed through the dreaded Land Without NPR, and by the time I reached the hotel I was completely strung out from miles and miles of highway. Less than 24 hours later, I turned around and drove all the way back. This was audition number two, one of two that weekend.

Road-trippers, a friendly word of advice: if the song "Turn the Page" comes up on shuffle on your iPod as you are driving through the dark, and you feel that this song expresses the deepest feelings of your soul, you have been on the road too long. Also, did you know that the lyrics to Kanye West's "Monster" the more times you listen to them? Because they do. I promise.

So as I approached my exit on the freeway, after five hours of driving, I noticed a strange sound. "Oh my God," I thought, "please let that not be my car." And, of course, it was, in fact, my car. Thankfully, a friend with a talent for fixing cars was over to come over the next day, go for a drive with me, and determine that the horrible unsettling noise coming from the front of the car was just an early signal that the brake pads need to be replaced in the next couple hundred miles, something which he can do easily in an afternoon. So that's what we're doing tomorrow. 

Between solo road-trips and the resulting long hours spent at work trying to catch up for time lost due to traveling to and from auditions, I've had the opportunity for some serious introspection lately. I'm the sort of person who tries very hard to cling to logic at all times, even (especially) when dealing with incredibly illogical emotions. Right now, however, I'm not sure whether that tendency to seek logic in the midst of chaos is a help or a hindrance when it comes to dealing with grief, as I am at the moment.

This morning, I got the news that a friend with whom I worked at a restaurant during the gap year between college and grad school, and whose sister was one of my favorite co-workers during my time at Starbucks that same year, passed away suddenly late last night. There are no words for this feeling--mostly because the feeling hasn't really settled in yet. There are, in my experience, two different kinds of grief--when someone dies after a long illness, in many cases one does much of the grieving before the end really arrives. This is especially true when losing someone to Alzheimer's, as we did both my paternal and maternal grandfathers--we see them slip away by inches, as if their death is occurring in slow motion, in front of our eyes.

When we lose someone suddenly, especially if that person is young, grief comes on more slowly. It has been about eleven hours since I found out about this passing.  I have not cried yet, except in fits and starts, for a minute or two at a time. This slower grief feels to me like an approaching thunderstorm--the rumbles in the distance, the flashes of lightning growing gradually more frequent, the electric smell in the air. The news does not feel real yet, even though the viewing and funeral are scheduled. What I feel are not so much emotions as shadows of, or precursors to, reactions that will hit hard at some point in the very near future. Is it possible for an emotion to feel far-away? Maybe this is the shock. Distantly, I feel anger, that somebody so young, so intelligent and positive and empathetic and passionate, is gone, and yet there are horrible, selfish, apathetic people who will live for decades and decades more; it feels like there is no justice in the world, and no sense of reason governing the allotment of time to each person to contribute what they can to the world. The sadness is coming--I feel it behind my eyes, and caught in the back of my throat, and in a growing tightness in my chest--but it isn't quite here yet. This waiting, the sensation of something creeping up on me, this slow grief, is agonizing. The lack of catharsis is maddening.

He was so young. He had so much more to give. I don't understand.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I just move on; or, BS Lives And Dies by Google Calendar

I run so fast
a shotgun blast
can hurt me not one bit.
I'm on my toes
'cause Heaven knows
a moving target's hard to hit.
-"I Move On," Chicago

Very, very suddenly, there has been an extreme uptick in the number of calls I get asking me to substitute teach. And by "extreme," I mean "at least one call every day for the past three weeks." This is, at least, a much-needed additional source of income, even if I feel guilty every time I have to turn down a call. Now I'm slightly less hesitant to turn on the heat in my apartment, meaning I don't have to work morning shifts at my other job wearing a scarf, hat, sweater, and fingerless mittens. Si, mi chiamano Mimi, indeed.

It seems unthinkable these days that there was ever a point in my life where I eschewed the use of Google Calendar; now, with my life simultaneously so packed with things to do and so up-in-the-air, I can't imagine keeping track of everything without being able to switch appointments around on my phone as-needed. Also, those half-hour empty blocks that appear periodically in my schedule? That's a friendly reminder: Eat something. Because otherwise I'd forget.

(Penny is rolling around on the floor, playing with a catnip mouse and occasionally getting distracted by the texture of the fireplace bricks. What a stoner.)

As I write this, I am planning for my first real audition season. Quelle aventure! Already there are two lined up in two weeks, with the very real possibility of a third to be scheduled in the near future. Among the other singers I know, I am late to this particular party, but, as a very wise woman once told me, it is the responsibility of every working musician to find a path that works for them, and not to bind herself to any predetermined idea of what one should have accomplished by a certain age. Finally, at 26, I find myself vocally and emotionally prepared to deal with the insanity associated with this process. So, come on, Audition Season 2012: let's do this.

For a Few Dollars More is on television, and I am left thinking how incredibly weird I find the entire concept of Spaghetti Westerns. Obviously I don't have much experience watching them, but it's so strange to see a movie where all of the dialogue is dubbed, and even more so one in which one or two of the characters are obviously speaking English and the rest are obviously not. Watching someone's mouth moving out of sync with his words jars me in the same way as a movie string quartet composed of people who have obviously never played a string instrument: the incongruity is shudder-inducing if I pay too much attention. (Also, why is there nudity in this film, but no blood when someone is shot?)

So, that's life at the moment: running. So much running. Last-minute changes to plans and lots of narrowly-averted disaster. And, in the end, I guess that's where I feel most content.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Always through the changing

I posted the music video a while ago, but I really am still completely enamored of A City on a Lake's song "Oceanside," to the point where I even recently downloaded it from iTunes so I could play it on a loop when the mood strikes me. I first found out about it when Vienna Teng mentioned the music video at her impromptu not-concert and mentioned that she had been watching it over and over since Alex Wong uploaded it to YouTube. It feels right, for some reason, to be listening to this particular song during the transition from summer to fall.

Meanwhile, the cat and I continue to go about our daily business--working, in my case; for her, alternately sleeping and begging me to play fetch. I've started sleeping again, finally, and am able (for the most part) to function in the Real World. That being said, I still don't leave the house much, since I work from home and the farthest I trek on a given day is to the local coffee-shop, where I can be at least around other people, even if I don't feel like interacting with them. I'm reading a lot--I just finished The Devil in the White City (from which my head is still spinning, because whose mind works like H. H. Holmes's did, really?!) and have begun The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

We underestimate the extent to which sleep, or the lack of it, affects our lives--or, at least, I did until I wasn't sleeping any more. I'm still dealing with insomnia, but it's much, much less intense. A while ago, during the Month Of No Rest, my sister bought me an insomniacs' journal and I've been writing things down during the worst nights. I don't think much about the things I write as I'm putting them down and sometimes when I go back to re-read, it's sort of bizarre--dreams and musings and whatever thoughts I need to exorcise in order for my brain to shut down. And it helps. I hope I don't have to use it much, I hope that these incidences of insomnia continue to decrease, but it's nice to have a specific place to write things down when I need to.

What else? My apartment is a mess right now. Well. Maybe not by other peoples' standards, but by mine it is a disaster zone: my work computer is on the dining room table instead of on the desk in my bedroom, I haven't vacuumed in a couple of weeks, a couple of cardigans are slung over the backs of chairs because I didn't feel like hanging them up, I haven't put away the clean laundry from a few days ago. I realize that this sounds ridiculous, but to me it feels like chaos, so tomorrow will be dedicated to some serious cleaning.

Also--and this is a big thing--I am finally beginning to feel as if my voice is my own again. Lack of sleep took a serious toll on my singing. In the middle of that horrible, horrible month, I made a recording for audition season pre-screening requirements. It came out pretty well, but I definitely felt as if I was listening to a voice that belonged to someone else. And after two weeks of sleep--the real kind, where my brain got rest as well as my body--I sang again, for a voice studio recital. I haven't heard the official recording yet, but Mom took some video for Dad, who had a gig back home and was unable to attend, and I listened to that. The singing felt good, it felt easy. And the recording sounded like me again--less thin, less obviously strained (although I am fully aware that I am my own worst critic when it comes to listening to recordings, which I hate anyway, and I'm sure people who don't know my voice wouldn't be able to hear much of a difference). I feel ready for audition season--one appointment is already scheduled, and the penciling-in of another may be imminent. There are so many more applications to be filled out and sent, but the notes and the words finally feel connected to my body again. It feels good to love what I am doing, and to be able to trust my instincts again.

The "Nimrod" variation of Elgar's Enigma Variations just began playing on my iTunes. Oh, my heart. Sometimes, when I listen to this piece, I feel as if it is very slowly trying to push its way out of my chest. Elgar. You destroy me.