Archive for the ‘Twisting and Turning’ Category

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Why I Sing

August 5, 2008

I figured something out tonight. I figured out why I love the performing arts so very much. I watched some tap-dancing Broadway babies for a while on TV, and I suddenly realized: it’s not Life, it’s what Life Could Be that I love to see. Sometimes it’s What Life Is — listening to any jazz or blues singer for a while, and you find yourself saying ‘yeah, it’s like that, it’s just like that, and that’s why I feel it so deep…’. But that’s what I love. And that’s why I do it. And that’s why I like to watch it, listen to it, be overcome by it.

Why bother? With what particular arrogance do we find ourselves on stage, thinking we have anything more or better to say than anyone else before?

It’s because we need to know, we need to be reminded — often — that life is worth living. Life, in all of it’s glory, pain, exhaltation, horror, hysteria, impossibility and all the rest. Keep going. Just a little farther down that yellow brick road, surely we’ll find our way home this time.

I am tired. I am lonely.

In the awkward, strange and tragically funny category, I’ve managed to pull muscles in my neck. And some of the stress that I don’t talk about here has exacerbated. I alternate between feeling like someone is strangling me, feeling like I’ve swallowed a chunk of apple and fear that there is something really wrong with me. The chiro assures me all is fine, but I wish this would go away faster than it is.

I had a fun trip to the ENT who stuck tubes down my throat and assured me that my chords are fine. I try to be grateful for that in the hailstorm of chaos and stress I seem to destined to fight my way through. Again.

Singing is a bit on hold as I get through piles of work and waiting for this to clear up.

I am tired. I am lonely.

I write this only to remind myself that I am still here and that for some reason I’ve never really understood… I must prevail.

* * *

I Wish I Was In New Orleans — Tom Waits

Well, I wish I was in New Orleans, I can see it in my dreams,

Arm-in-arm down Burgundy, a bottle and my friends and me
Hoist up a few tall cool ones, play some pool and listen
To that tenor saxophone calling me home
And I can hear the band begin “When the Saints Go Marching In”,
And by the whiskers on my chin, New Orleans, I’ll be there

I’ll drink you under the table, be red-nosed, go for walks,
The old haunts what I wants is red beans and rice
And wear the dress I like so well, and meet me at the old saloon,
Make sure that there’s a Dixie moon, New Orleans, I’ll be there

And deal the cards roll the dice, if it ain’t that old Chuck E. Weiss,
And Claiborne Avenue, me and you Sam Jones and all

And I wish I was in New Orleans, ’cause I can see it in my dreams,
Arm-in-arm down Burgundy, a bottle and my friends and me
New Orleans, I’ll be there

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I Send ‘Em Packing

October 9, 2007

It’s been rough waters, lately. Let’s take a look:

1. I returned from my wonderful yet exhausting 5-week vacation only to come down with a sinus infection that has taken be about 3 weeks to fully recover from.

2. The antibx I took for the SI led to a YI and for some reason, I also came down with a UTI. I have had more YIs and UTIs then I normally get ever lately (YIs not a lot, and UTIs, until this year, only once before.) The only thing I can connect it to is it seems to be happening more since I got pregnant last year. That’s a long story that did not come to fruition and that for the moment, I don’t care to write about. But I wish things would calm the fuck down.

3. My ‘internet friend’ turned out to be an unreliable neurotic who I told, in no uncertain terms, to go fuck off yesterday. I told someone off in Yahoo Messenger. It was kind of weird, but it also felt really good to tell her *exactly* what I thought. Which I don’t always do. I often walk a fine line of biting my tongue around the numerous people in my life who I find to be, frankly, a little nuts. Maybe YM was the only thing that made it safe to be honest, but god it felt good. And given her response [“well, my friends think you’re neurotic for considering canceling a trip to NYC just because you had a sore throat” — oh, do seriously fuck off, sister], I know I did the right thing. Onward.

4 & 5. Here come the two most painful: I haven’t written at all about this, but my one brother with whom I am very, very close [as opposed to the 6 remaining living siblings who I do not allow in my life due to their insanity issues] has prostate cancer. He found out earlier this year and told me before we left on our trip. I am terrified of losing him at times. And yeah, I know PC is not that bad and you can live with years for it, blah, blah… but when it’s someone your that close to, it’s not a cocktail party. To boot, he has refused the standard treatment [surgery or chemo] due to his fear of some rather unpleasant complications. His choice frightens me although once I researched things, I came to understand. But I am scared. And now he is telling me that he is having very strange and as yet inexplicable joint pain. So bad that he can’t sleep at night. He’s been tested for everything under the sun, including spreading cancer, all negative. I’m thinking it’s too many herbs or supplements. And I’m praying for some relief for him. He is much older than me and I’ve always known I would lose him one day… but I don’t know what I will do if that day comes sooner than I ever expected.

My youngest brother, who has a habit of writing me passive aggressive emails about once a year, along with the occasional drunken phone call when he’s in a particularly painful spot, like the end of yet another failed relationship, had the misfortune of sending me another one of his masterpieces yesterday. It was the wrong day for him to do that.

On the tailwind of my YM honesty session with my Internet Friend, I decided that it was time to get down to it with C. So I took him up on his passive aggression, and I threw it right back at him… except with clarity and logic and several years of therapy in my back pocket. I know his deal. I know where he comes from and just what kind of fucked up he is, and in his arrogance or ignorance, he assumed I don’t. Wrong. As usual, faced with the Words of Truth, he backed right down, calling me crazy, naturally. But also admitting that ‘I made some valid points.’ Shit yeah, I did.

It felt good to tell him exactly what I thought as well. It is possibly the last time he and I will ever speak. It made me sad to ponder that, of course, but as always, I left the door open. He knows that when he wants to straighten himself out and get real with me, I am ready for it. I just don’t think that there will be any straightening any time soon. And anyway, were we really speaking before? The only difference will be that I will no longer be upset [hopefully] by his dysfunction. He’ll have to hit somebody else up with that.

So yeah, I send ’em packing. I am so sick of crap from people. I don’t think I’m the only one to feel this way.  And yet, it seems like something that’s not talked about enough. I sometimes think a lot of people wander around in an ambiguously disconnected state, never really knowing what it is they really think or feel, pushed along down the stream of life like a dead leaf. Aren’t we supposed to do more than that with the time we have here?

Or, at the age of 43, is it that I’m just incompetent when it comes to dealing with people? Is the hermetic life my eventual conclusion? I sometimes think it will be. I ensconce myself away with the only person I think I really, truly trust in this world, my husband. And my cats. And that may be all I need.

***

Singing is very hard right now. La Dolce is asking me to do strange things, difficult things, insisting it will bring results. 10 weeks off of vocalising is not a good thing to do for singers, so I guess I’m paying my dues getting back to where I was. It is hard. But the arts are hard, so there’s no room for complaining, just room for work and dedication. Maybe it’s the cure for my ills. Do re mi fa so la ti do.

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I Love The Difficult Questions Most

July 20, 2007

Lesson #2 today. She seemed moody when I arrived. The husband was exiting the bathroom when I arrived, and making it over to their second apartment. My teacher lives, with her husband, in what I call Opera Row, a small group of apartments on a palm tree-lined street that feels oh-so-Hollywood. It’s basically in Latino Central of a very Latino town, a little divey and the palm trees are an odd accoutrement to the whole scene. Add in various singers, trilling and crescendoing in and out of hearing range as you approach the building, and you have a rather charming little scene for voice lessons. Let’s just say, I’m digging it.

I am curious about their relationship. Two professional opera singers, married. Do they compete? Do they correct each other’s coloratura and tessatura? What if one gets all the roles, and the other one doesn’t? What if one’s career hits the skids? Opera singers have been known to do dramatic things, you’ve got to wonder how they handle it.

I told them about the slippery behavior of the other teacher. I needed some perspective and I got it. I am hoping it didn’t introduce any suspicious thoughts, like me hitting on her man, or anything. Not sure why my mind jumps to that as a possibility for what was going on today, but well… it did. He’s hit-worthy, but homey ain’t playin’ that, etc. I’ve had enough vocal drama to last me quite some time, thank you.

I sensed something as I was walking in today though. Something… off? Hard to say. Who knows what it was. If it was anything, I’m sure I’ll find out soon. Oh joy.

Other than that, the lesson was good. I asked her difficult questions today. I asked her to repeat what she said about me singing opera. And the verdict is this:

• Singing in the chorus: oh, most definitely

• Singing small roles: very good to excellent chance. And she fucking *called* the artistic director of ABC Opera already and told them about me. I forgot to kiss her for that today, but I should have. I may have an audition with him in the fall. I will definitely keep y’all informed about that one.

• Beyond small roles: here’s where I got out my Texas-sized balls, folks, and asked her the big question: can I go farther? The answer: She doesn’t know yet. She needs to hear me sing more, she needs to hear how I treat an aria. Holy fucking shit, I can’t even believe I asked her that. Mind you, this does *not* mean I’m heading to the Met anytime soon. Most likely never. But singing in smaller venues, perhaps in leading or supporting leading roles… it would appear, my friends, that this might not be entirely pie-in-the-sky thinking on my part. But there’s a shitload of work to do before I’ll know that. So for now, no more ballsy questions, just my nose to the grindstone and all that.

I apologized to her for being so audacious, and she said I didn’t need to do that. Ain’t she nice? Did I tell you that I like her?

My teacher has a phenomenal voice. Beautiful. I want to sing just like her. Can I be you when I grow up? Clearly, she is much, much, much better for me than Blackbeard and his head games.

And since I’m on the subject of Blackbeard, and I mentioned finding some nuggets in my research: let me just tell you all now that I have seen BLACKBEARD’S ASS. And I didn’t even have to sleep with him, go figure!

How is this possible, you ask? Apparently, Blackbeard’s modeling stints have ventured into the ‘fine art/nudes’ category. Yes, my friends, Blackbeard will take it off if you pay him enough.

I can only imagine the mind-fucking he was pulling during THAT photo shoot. Cuz if there’s one thing he’s good at [and mind you, it’s possible this is the ONLY thing he’s good at], it’s mind-fucking.

Someone from the school where I was studying with him called me today. No message. Was it him? Who the fuck cares. I may rendezvous with him this weekend, just to kind of wrap things up. I’ll surely write about that if I do.