Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Singing Singing and more singing

On Thursday I arrived in port in the beautiful city of Astoria,OR. I'd never been, so I didn't really know what to expect. I was also very nervous because the majority of my music for the operatic scenes program I'm going to be in was not memorized...I was operating on faith and Red Bull.

When the girls and I (the lovely Teaira and Sammy) arrived for an overnight stay in Baker, OR, we all began discussing how we all feel we can live without meat. Teaira and Sammy both said that they mostly eat chicken, but I discussed with them my recent woes of not being able to eat any type of meat without getting sick...(its an odd recent occurrence,and it doesn't happen all the time, I still haven't pinpointed what types of meat or cooking method cause it...anyway moving right along) Hence, the vegetarian pact was born.

We all decided to be vegetarians for our entire sojourn here in Astoria. We wanted to see if we felt a difference in our energy levels, if we stopped having random migraines, etc... So far, we've been doing pretty good. We did give Sammy one out so she could try some of Astoria's famous clam chowder when we got there, and also for the seafood dinner that our voice teacher Ms.Lane was dying to take us out for. (I tried to explain to her that I'm not much of a fish fan, but she told me that Astoria just might change my mind....I relented and agreed to seafood dinner night)

So far the pact is going pretty well. Sammy had her clam chowder at a very expensive fancy restaurant called the Baked Alaska (I ordered an appetizer made completely of onions and cheese, they were sauteed and baked, don't get your panties in a bunch, this is about trying to be healthy after all.) and seafood dinner night has come and gone.

Astoria also is not what any of us were expecting. There are lots of hills...now when I say hills I'm not talking about the small annoyances of Pocatello that roll up and down when people are trying to run the half marathon...I am talking San Fransisco GIANT, STEEP rolling hills...everywhere! The houses are built a la Aztec style on flattened hill tops...and we get to walk...yes WALK everywhere!

Our vegetarian pact has now become the Astoria diet...I can say that last night while I was in the bathtub I noticed that my little "pooch" at my midsection (as I lovingly call it) is starting to sit a little flatter. I haven't noticed much change with how my clothes fit, but then again, its only been a week...can you imagine how hot I'm going to be after 3 weeks...its going to be pretty spectacular.

I did make the mistake of telling one friend that I had decided to be a vegetarian for 3 weeks, and now they are all worried about my health. Let me assure you dear readers that I am making sure I get plenty of protein. I had my first Gardenburger at a cafe called the Wet Dog Brewery when we got into town on Thursday, and yesterday I tried a black bean burger....and my sojourn into tofu, a tofu teriyaki bowl went a little like this....

Okay, when I think tofu in a meal, I think of the way they do it in Idaho. If you're eating chinese and order tofu instead of meat, generally they bring you a plate or bowl with a few schmeckles (yes I am using a yiddish term, that just happened!) of tofu, tons of veggies and some rice or noodles mixed in depending on what suits your fancy. Apparently at Tokyo Teriyaki in Astoria, OR, they either don't have many customers that order tofu that often, or the chef looked out of the kitchen, saw my beauty and wanted to impress me with his tofu preparation skills, because when I got my tofu teriyaki bowl it was a mound of overflowing teriyaki through which I had to dig for about 6 pieces of vegetables and maybe a half a cup of rice....the tofu wasn't too bad, had the consistency of a donut, but there was so so much of it...let's just say I've definitely decided that I wouldn't mind a tofu teriyaki bowl again, but I would prefer if the cook didn't fall in love with me from the distance....(I guess I just have that effect on people...)

Yesterday was our first Masterclass with opera great Richard Zeller. Sammy got to sing for him. I was proud of girlfriend...she sang a high C# at 9:30 in the morning. (Silver Aria, Ballad of Baby Doe...youtube people! Youtube! Its pretty much amazing) Richard Zeller bowed to her and her impressive early in the morning high note singing skills. We made a new friend named Cecily she goes to the Boston Music Conservatory, she is 19 and cute as a button. She told us that while we was taking notes she tried to find a dessert that could describe the sounds of the voices she was hearing. She told Sammy she was a lovely berry tart with delicious custard on the bottom.

I get to sing for Richard Zeller today...I'm slightly dying and nervous...no wait...I will try to Teaira method...I'm excited! I'm excited! (its the same type of energy!) I will be singing Ebben? ne andro lontana from a little opera called La Wally...you probably haven't heard of it, but that's okay. (go to youtube and find a recording of Callas singing it...its pretty much spectacular although the Gheorgiu recording which is more recent is also stunning)

I am in an opera scene that is being directed by actor Harry Danner, he is Blythe Danner's brother and Gwyneth Paltrow's uncle...and he loves me! I will never forget when I opened my mouth to sing the first day of staging, his head shot to look at me faster than Robinhood's arrow. He then asked me about my future plans after rehearsal and continues to talk to me (and very few other people) Yesterday, after waiting and waiting and waiting( they were fixing the staging) I finally got to sing my two measures of recitative before the quartet starts. I sang it, he looked at me, smiled and said, "Perfect, you can go home now." We all giggled and got back to work.

His wife Dorothy Danner is directing other scenes, for her I have an non vocal role as one of the witch's mean cats in Hansel and Gretel. Dorothy has been in over 800 runs of different Broadway shows as an actress and dancer, including the original Once Upon a Mattress starring Carol Burnett. Can we just acknowledge the fact that she has also directed Kristen Chenoweth? We all keep joking that we now have touched Kristen Chenoweth and Gwyneth Paltrow in a round about way because Dorothy and Harry have all touched us, either by shaking hands or by accident... Come to think of it that means I have also been touched by Carol Burnett in a round about way, excuse me while I do a happy dance...I thought about never showering again, but I also don't like smelling like a foot....so my fear of smelling like a foot has won out, and I continue to shower.

Well, I'm off into the wild blue yonder. I will keep you updated as the days and weeks progress. I will even post some pictures when I have more time.

No moral today kiddies...go about your business!

Hugs and Loves until next time.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Life's Little Teachers


I know its been a week since I blogged last. I blame the sinus infection that decided to take over my brain cavity (seriously, it had to have been in my brain, I swear...it was no fun). While I have been in my infirmed state, I've had a lot of time to lay back and watch life pass me by. Usually, when I'm ill, I'm trying to deny it with every fiber of my being and rush on to the next big task at hand. However, I think I'm learning that sometimes we get sick for a reason. Sometimes we get sick because we need to slow down and watch so we can learn. As I have gradually started to speed back up thanks to the miracle of antibiotics, I have realized a very important truth:

and I have been learning a lot so far this summer, and my best teachers are the people that some would least expect.

The weight of this hit me tonight when I held my little sister's sweet 5 month old baby in my arms. She had been crying and wouldn't stop. I pride myself in the fact that I have a freakish magic touch with infants. They just stop crying when I hold them. Kiersten, flustered, handed Brianna over to my arms while saying, "I just don't know what to do. She can't still be hungry, she doesn't need a diaper change, and I can't give her any more gas drops for another 2 hours." Of course, as soon as she has said this and hands her over to me Brianna stops crying. I felt Bri's little body start to relax. She moved her little head and laid it on my chest. I can't prove this, but I swear when she does this she is listening to my heart beat. She looked up at me with her big blye eyes smiled and reached out for her pacifier and helped me put it in her mouth. The rest of her muscles went limp as she held her little head to my chest, listening to my heart...I swear listening to my heart... I remember how I used to love to do that with my dad. He'd get home from work, start dinner, turn on his soaps (he was addicted to General Hospital, my mom taped it for him every day, I swear its a true story...) and I would snuggle up in his lap, put my head on his chest and listen to his heart. I would feel so safe, I would relax and just let myself slip away into the moment.

As I think of this, the silly thought dawns on me. How much love must be in her little heart as she rests her head on my chest and relaxes in my arms? How much must she trust me to go completely limp and just...be.... This little person can sense that I love her, that I will protect her, she listens to my heart, and she trusts me enough to relax, go limp and give in to the power of sleep...Why can't I be more like that. Why can't I just have faith in the heart of the person who watches me and protects me, why can't I sense it better, and listen to it? Why can't I love and trust with such abandon?

I need to let go. I need to have faith. I need to rest my head and believe that I can hear God's heart. I need to believe that He will protect me and make sure that I end up where I need to be. I need to trust, "go limp", and let the chips fall where they may. Sometimes, when you've done all you can do, all that's left is for you to relax and wait...all you can do is give in to the power that resting can have.

This got me thinking about kids in general and what other lessons I have learned this week.

I was at the grocery store with my two year old niece Raylee. She is way too smart for her own good. Not only does she look like she's 5 (she's a tall kid) she probably has the cognitive skills of a 5 year old too. On this particular trip to the grocery store, we were going to get her a cookie for he success in potty training. Smith's has these giant sugar cookies that are frosted and decorated beautifully. A confectionary work of art, its almost a shame to eat it...and Raylee loves them, they are a better bribery tool than you could ever imagine. (Yes, I bribe my niece, I have no shame) Raylee has been waiting for a new bike that was promised to her if she could potty train in a certain amount of time, but at this moment she didn't care about her pink Barbie tricycle, all she wanted was a cheap sugar cookie and could hardly contain herself. We walked into the store, and Raylee proceeds to go find a little old lady sitting all by herself by the apples...She walks up to said little old lady and says proudly, "I'm a big girl, I went poo poo in the potty, and now my Aunt B. is going to get me a cookie." This little old lady was slightly stunned but smiled and said, "good for you sweetie." I grabbed Raylee's hand, smiled and we walked away. As we walked Raylee shouted, "Goodbye!" This kid has NO FEAR... There are two lessons I learned from this experience.
1) You should never be afraid of a new experience and 2) Well, lesson 2 is a little deeper. Have you ever watched a little kid get excited over something that seems so trivial and simple? I watch it every day, but I never really pay attention. On this particular day, however, I find myself thinking and wondering when I lost that. When did I lose this childlike excitement over something so small? When did I start forgetting to be grateful for the little blessings. There are little blessings in our lives every day, but I think as adults we get so bogged down by the trials and errors in our lives, or the lack of big things that we want, we forget to recognize how awesome it is to have the small things. Raylee was so excited that she had succeeded, she was so excited that as a consequence of that success she was going to get a cookie she had to tell the first person she met. How often do we snub our small daily successes and forget to be excited about the "cookies" that we get in return? I need to get better at remembering...I need to get better at being excited for the "cookies" while I wait for the "bicycles" of life. I need to stop focusing on the "bicycles." Like Raylee, I need to believe in the promise of the "bicycles" and enjoy the cookies that come to reward me while I wait.

My next lesson. While I was dog sick, I was still nannying for my sister. On one particular day, I wanted to die. I felt like my head was going to explode and that I was going to die...( I know, I already said that, but I really did just want to die...) I opted to spend the afternoon lying in my sister's big cozy bed with my nieces. (My nephew was at school still) We watched a Barbie movie. I will admit, without shame, that I was excited when the girls picked Barbie and the Nutcracker. Its one of my favorites. I have always loved the E.T.A. Hoffman story of the Nutcracker on which the ballet is based, and this movie, while computer animated, has amazing ballet routines that were choreographed by the San Francisco Ballet...I just get wrapped up in it.:) NO SHAME, I'm seriously, admitting that. I was lying on the bed, watching sugar plum fairies dance across the television screen when Addie's little voice broke my concentration (or lack thereof, I was sick after all) "Aunt B....?" I looked into Addie's big Precious Moments eyes and she asked the question I knew was coming, "Can I have a drink?" I got up out of bed, got Addie a sippie of juice and brought it back to the room. I got back in the bed, buried myself in the covers and started zoning out watching the movie again as the mouse king was battling Barbie and the Nutcracker in the living room. Addie then starts to tickle my arm and whispers, "Aunt B. does that feel good?" Of course it did, I smiled at her and nodded my head. Addie continued to tickle my arm, she leaned over and whispered again, "Aunt B., you're the best." It was so random! I giggled, turned back to my little dolly and said, "Why am I the best?" She giggled and said, "You just are Aunt B. You just are! Why? Don't you know why you're the best?" At the time I giggled, buried her under the covers and had a pillow fight with her...but her question was actually a lesson that I rushed past..

"Why? Don't you know that you're the best?" How about we rephrase that: Why don't you know that you're the best? How often do we let ourselves get bogged down because we don't feel we meet some standard that is imposed upon us by the world? Why do we even care what the world thinks? I hate to state the obvious, but the world isn't exactly the best place...should we really care? I think not. Why don't I know that I'm the best? Again, this is something I'm working on, but it seems like Addie doesn't mind reminding me that I'm "the best" she tells me every time I come over to nanny and always at the most random of times when I'm not expecting to hear it.

I am the best...why don't I think so...well, I look at the reasons why I don't think so and I think...."hmmm, that's pretty dumb...I really am the best!"

I'm so blessed to have these little teachers in my life. From this moment on, I vow to make more of an effort to listen to the lessons they teach.