Thursday, December 28, 2006
Maybe I need very brief, daily posts to refine my skills (and maintain my sanity). Sooner or later I'll figure it out.
Until then, I repeat the words on a friend's T-shirt: Merry Whatever!
Monday, October 02, 2006
In the words of a friend, "How is that possible?" Well, simply by getting an MRI to confirm that I'm anosmic. Anosmia is the lack of a sense a smell due to several possible factors: childhood virus that damages the olfactory nerve/ bulb, deviated septum, allergies, etc. I've had several other tests done to narrow those options down to paralysis of the nerve/ bulb or tumor. Since I've never recalled smelling and lack other side effects, cancer is almost certainly not the cause. We're basically looking for how extensive the damage is. From what I figure anyway.
This mess started when I went to the ENT for vocal issues over the summer. Since I was already there, several people suggested I mention the fact that I've never been able to smell. So I did for curiosity more than anything else. Nasal sprays were prescribed and a CT scan was scheduled. The drugs did nothing perceptible and the CT scan ruled out the deviated septum or any other nasal deformity. The next step is an MRI. I can't say I actually think this will do anything, but my parents are willing to front the cost (out of some strange guilt) and I'm still curious.
Even with the MRI, chances are that none of this can be repaired due to the irreversible nature of nerve damage. So, its kind of like the doctors shoving me in a tube for a while only to say, "Congratulations! You officially have a paralyzed cranial nerve #1!" Well, thank you for that spectacular enlightenment.
I've been asked several times over the past few weeks why I've never noticed that I lacked olfactory function. The most successful response I can give is comparing it to color blindness. There's a test for it because otherwise, you don't know. I've been aware since about high school chemistry, but never really pursued it. My most convincing test came when I accidentally touched an oven mitt too close to a hot stove while moving a pot. I didn't realize anything was wrong until I saw smoke.
By the way, test your smoke detectors often. Mine didn't go off.
I think my favorite comment thus far has come from my mother: "So, you were telling the truth all along..."
Monday, August 28, 2006
A few people knew that last Thursday night I auditioned for the Theater department's Chicago. I figured that as an opera singer, I needed to gain more audition experience as well as learn how to adjust to Broadway. My career options include both, so I should try to familiarize myself with both. The title of my post relates to a relatively recent Disney movie (before the company killed animation) about an awkward girl who finds out that she is a princess. Ok, cheesy, I know, but cheese done well and if you've seen the movie, you can see where my story is going.
I signed up a few days before auditions began and felt that I had a firm grasp on what was expected of me. The list included about 16-32 bars of a song and a group dance audition. There was also some suggestion of reading a part with one of the professors, but materials would be provided that night. With that in mind, I jotted down an 8:30pm dance audition and a 9pm vocal audition. I would have liked to space the two a bit more, but work and class didn't allow for it. Besides, auditions are short; I could go from one right to the next.
Arriving early for once in my life, I checked in with the students at a check-in table wearing my sweatpant capris, short t-shirt top and jazz shoes. Yes, I own jazz shoes, but they were from our production of The Crucible - not from a dance class. The girls in charge asked me about my audition schedule to which they responded with, "Um, you can't do that."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the dance audition is an hour and a half long. You won't make it to your vocal audition."
"Are you kidding!?"
"Keep your voice down! The theater doors aren't soundproofed well."
I attempted my version of a whisper. "Ok, so what do...."
"ok, so what do i need to do?"
"Go, talk to Ms. ---. She's really nice and maybe she'll let you come in for the second half of the dance audition."
So, I sought out the dance instructor and described my dilemma. She was extremely kind and told me to just join in late. There were multiple routines and I should be able to catch the all lady "Cell-block Tango."
Now, I had a half-hour to kill. Venturing outside, I ran into a friend of mine and began chatting. He was preparing for the role of Billy Flynn and asked me what I was preparing. I explained that I was originally going to audition for Mary Sunshine, a very easily snowed-over reporter who always believed Flynn's lies if they made the murderess sound innocent. She's also the only role sung operatically while everyone else performs in an early jazz/ vaudeville style. I say originally because I had discovered that the department was considering casting a man for that role. Needless to say, a guy in drag singing mezzo-soprano will always beat out the funniest female soprano. I had brought "Green finch and linnet bird" from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. I figured that most people wouldn't be reading for a lead anyway and if they liked me, they would place me where they wanted me after callbacks.
"So, who's monologue are you reading?"
"You're supposed to prepare a monologue."
"Wait, that wasn't posted on the sign-up board! It sounded like they would just have improv with a professor...."
"Don't worry. There's copies inside - just grab one of them."
So I did and I'm proud to say that I learned Velma's monologue from "Cell Block Tango" in less than 30 minutes. I figured since I was already ticked off, it would be just a small step to murderous bitch.
My audition drew nearer and I decided to sing a little just to make sure I was still vocally warm. There were quite a few others singing outside, so I didn't figure this would be a problem. I sang all of about 6 bars full voice when a side door flew open.
"Who's singing out hear?!"
I sheepishly raised my hand, " Uh, me. Sorry."
"We're trying to work in here, so could you find somewhere else?"
After apologizing again, I figured if my voice could carry inside the building, I was warm enough. I thought that guy was a teacher and was just annoyed because audition chaos was invading the school. Oh, well. I scampered inside to get in line. The same check-in girls were lining up 9 o'clock people and I waited for my name to be called. It wasn't. I questioned and got the response of, "Oh, so you are here?"
Nope, I showed up about an hour early only to leave just before I'm supposed to sing. Gosh.
"Ok, well do you have your paperwork?"
"What paperwork?" I answered suddenly feeling exhausted.
"Well, we'll move you to 9:30 and have to fill it out."
Can I just say that I could have filled out that stupid half-sheet of paper when I checked-in originally or even in line? All that was needed was my contact information, emergency contact information, spouse/boyfriend/best friend contact information and schedule conflicts. Then, I was told to wait for my turn to get in line ("Please don't go anywhere this time.").
I should now mention the massive amount of costumes surrounding me. Girls in full flapper outfits with push-up bras, wigs and stage make-up stared at me. Personally, that didn't bother me - you're supposed to go into an audition dressed neutrally, not as a character. Granted, I wished I had dressed more professionally or at least decided to forego the flattening sports bra, but whatever. I could sing and act and that's all I cared about.
My turn finally came up and I strolled into the studio confident and effervescent. I greeted everyone and stopped dead in my tracks. The teacher who was so annoyed with my singing was sitting right in front of me. Directly in front of me. After a mental Fuck!, I prepared myself to sing.
Startled and worn-down as I was, I believe that I sang well. My monologue sounded good, but unless they took the shaking for unbridled rage, I think I sunk it. I left the room with a smile on my face and made my way to the dance studio. As I watched the routine, I prepared myself to jump in at the next chance. Considering the short length of the audition routine, this wasn't too bad. Just as I was about to jump in, the instructor turned off the radio and announced that the callback list would be posted tomorrow.
The ridiculous thing is that I was certain that I could have danced that routine and danced it well. Go figure. Needless to say, I did not receive a callback, but so far, several people have really enjoyed the story. They don't call it "getting experience" for nothing. Now, if I only thought that this experience would help me in the real world....
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
So here goes a couple of weeks worth of updates:
Kim's wedding was beautiful and very amusing for those of us who know her well. Her nephew was the ringbearer and was given a large bell along with instructions to yell "The bride is coming!" Considering the hyperactivity of this 4 year-old, I think this was far better than entrusting the actual rings to his small hands. No Wagner was allowed, so instead she entered during "The Great Gate of Kiev" from Pictures at an Exhibition. The boisterous opening bars played on a loud organ in a small stone church startled a good portion of the guests. I was informed beforehand and therefore was allowed to make observations and giggle. The groom's father sang a beautiful song - he might have written it, too, but I'm sure on that.
The humorous part of the service for me came at communion. I'm Catholic just so we're all on the same page and the wedding took place in a Protestant church. I am not supposed to receive communion - its a simple difference in beliefs about the meaning of it all and a whole other post. Anyway, a small group of people get up and grab these trays of tiny pieces of bread and little cups of wine or grape juice or whatever...it would have stained my outfit either way. The way this apparently works is that the tray carriers pass the trays down the row and then they get passed back. On to the next row. I had thought about this and even mentioned it to Kim, so I wouldn't cause problems at her wedding. It seemed simple enough - I just pass the tray on.
No. I wasn't counting on the persistence of these people. The girl handling the trays passed it to me and I passed it along. Then, I tried to give it back to her and she took it. And held it right in front of me. I whispered a "No, thank you," but she didn't seem to hear me. So, I repeated myself. She still didn't get it. By this time, the other handlers were way past her and I could sense an impending scene should I have to talk louder in that echo-y church. I don't know - maybe she was deaf? So, I shot her a Look and waved my hand to suggest she move on. With a glare, she raised her trays indignantly and proceeded to the next row. This wouldn't have been all that embarrassing if my friends weren't unsuccessfully stifling laughter next to me.
A week later, to satisfy my need for impossible arguments and swollen eyes, I trekked back to my parents' house. By the time I had gotten there, I was exhausted. I had sat in a doctor's office, spent several hours conversing with the Residency people and driven over 2 hours. At precisely 11pm, my father cut off the TV and said, "We need to talk." I now understand the dread men feel over this phrase. To sum up our 2 hour discussion, I'm self-centered, overly naive and lack motivation. By the way, I didn't get in-state residency and was told that I needed to show proof of a student loan without a family co-signer. Translation: I'm screwed. This is what set my father off. This situation was my fault; I should have come home for the summer and worked at a friend's restaurant. Ledo's was the direct result of my selfish desire to screw my family and stay in my apartment.
The grad school discussion is what set me off - I'm used to the other shit. How am I going to pay for it? How do I know I'll get in? Couldn't I go for some other degree because I can sing and the degree makes no difference in auditions for opera companies or Broadway? And speaking of, didn't I always want to set up my own business right around here and sing in church? Wouldn't I be happy just singing in church? And the voice problems I've had, aren't they my fault for stressing too much and, if I stress so much, isn't that a sign that I'm going into the wrong career? Etc, etc, etc. I am proud to say that my father raised his voice and I snapped right back, "Don't talk to me that way!" Um, maybe not smart, but still a step for me. Since then, things have settled back down, but I know it won't last.
Speaking of grad schools, I'm planning on going up to Manhattan during Fall Break. Aaron is going to try to travel with me, but he's staying at one of his friend's places. I'll stay with someone else - I'm not sure who yet, but there's the possibility of one of Tony's friends letting me stay. Don't worry, I do know these people and I completely trust Tony not to stick me with a crazy person. I've got a few ideas about teachers and I'll contact a few this week about setting up a lesson. Its so exciting! Oh, and my parents don't know........ :)
I've gotten several messages about that last post, so I should explain that. My best friend in elementary and middle school was a guy named John. About halfway through 6th grade, his family was transferred to Florida and we were serious pen pals until a received a particular letter. He said that he had shot his sister. Not badly but enough to get arrested for it. His letter was written quickly and sloppily with a distinct note of desperation. He kept asking me to pray for him. Three days later, I received another short letter in about the same style.
I don't remember if I ever wrote back. Actually, I didn't remember those letters until I found a box recently of his letters and little things he gave me. I was reminiscing fondly when I came across those two letters. Suddenly, I felt cold and guilty - he was begging for my help and the person he trusted most, loved, confided in and routinely stuck up for was never there when he needed her the most. I just have this strong feeling that I didn't. The horrible thing is I can't remember why. Did I get freaked out or did my mother (who made a point to read my letters) forbid me to write? Both are possible, but after much brain-racking I still don't know. I had one letter two years after those others written in his normal style. Quite frankly, I sobbed that night. Not the I'm-in-trouble-with-my-parents-again cry, it was an odd, immensely painful episode.
I waited a day to settle my nerves and composed a letter apologizing for not keeping in touch. I didn't mention why I felt the strong need to contact him, just asked about him and updated a little about my life. I sent it to the last address I have for him. I have yet to receive a reply. I'm not terribly optimistic, but I wanted to try. I had to try. And I can think of several people who would laugh at me for such an attempt. He may have gotten the letter and torn it up. I may never know, but at least I tried. And that, in itself, has made me feel a little bit better.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Without a second official job, I've been able to actually see people besides when they need to check out books. Yesterday, I (stupidly) volunteered to help Mike move all of the opera set and props to an off-campus location. Several others showed up and we managed to make a good time out of it. Shana and I discussed Tennessee as a possible grad school and Tony joined in for a discussion on choir aesthetics. I said "fuck" in front of everyone which made Mike almost drop to the ground laughing. Apparently, he isn't around me very much... And I get opera brownie points for this although what that translates to has yet to be discovered.
Tonight, I attended the Aeneid String Quartet's performance at Starlight Cafe. Krysta, Peggy and Grimes were there and we had a blast. All four of us are fairly witty people and that just makes it fun for me. I really hadn't met Grimes before although I'd seen him around campus, but I see why his students think he's awesome. Some of the other apartment complex regulars were there, but I didn't really get the chance to mingle with them very much. The restaurant was freakishly crowded for a Wednesday night. Good music, good friends and about 3 cups of hot tea made my night fabulous. And considering how expensive that cafe is, I only spent about $3 all night - my college-sized budget is happy.
Tomorrow is my rheumatology appointment. I go to confirm suspicions and regain control. I'm optimistic and grateful that the solution to my vocal problems (which haven't gone away) is something I can easily obtain and not career-destroying. The simple fact that I noticed this so early is a huge blessing. I know what to do and I'll be better in no time.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I quit Ledo's Pizza on Sunday. Yes, I've complained a lot about this job, but I was going to try to see it through until school started. My shift Saturday night changed my mind. There's one evening manager that annoyed me on a regular basis and decided to crank up the antics a notch or three. I was the focus of every joke that night and was chewed out in front of the customers. A few jokes here and there, I can take that in stride - I have a decent sense of humor after all. I despise mean-spirited jabs. Especially when they're accompanied by a fake smile or smirk. The chewing out occurred after I made a mistake on a pizza order - the first since I started working there. Actually, the customer (with little kid in tow) didn't care about the mistake. Ironically, I think the manager's behavior will keep that person from coming back with the coupon he received.
It was almost as if he were trying to get a rise out of me. I calmly continued my duties until the end of the night, knowing very well that if I tried to defend myself, I would say something nasty. Really nasty. After a phone call to my parents who couldn't seem to decide whether or not they were pleased or disappointed in me, I decided to go in the next day and speak my mind. Well, I had decided that about 2 hours into my shift, but I like to make decisions with a level head.
So, early Sunday evening I walked up to an empty restaurant. No, it was open, just empty. The younger manager was outside with the waitresses smoking and I asked to speak with him. He tried to get me to sit down in a booth to talk, but I refused. I wanted this to be short and to the point. I dropped a little plastic bag in front of him and began.
"I quit. Here is my shirt and my badge."
"May I ask why?"
"Sure. You can ask your father for more details, but I consider myself an intelligent young woman who doesn't like to be talked down to or ridiculed in front of other employees and customers. I'll be back to pick up my last paycheck or you can mail it to me. Your choice."
He seemed stunned that I quit, but that faded as soon as I mentioned his father. Apparently, I'm not the first one.
I still have to go pick up my paycheck today. I'm hoping it will be a simple run in and out deal. At least, I plan on making it that way. Then, I drive up to my parents' house to help my father with some office work. I'm not stupid, I'll need money at some point. As long as this doesn't get thrown into my face all weekend...
I also hoped that the general decrease in my stress level would have a gradual, positive impact on my voice. Nope, wrong again. As of today, I have not been able to sing an A above the staff for a week. For those of you non-singer people, this is bad. I usually can and need to sing well above that on a regular basis.
After trying everything I know, I emailed my teacher for a lesson which we had yesterday. Overall, my technique was fine, but my voice was breathy. That typically means there's swelling (not good), irritation (not good), or damage (not good). They can be caused by anything from allergies to immune disorders to air conditioning changes.
Take a wild guess what I think it is.
I've had some suspicion that my RA was slowly seeping its way back into my life, but its all been circumstancal evidence. Joint stiffness in the morning, but especially after I've worked out. Fatigue, but I've been working two jobs and teaching lessons. My knees hate my bicycle, but my tires could need air again. Everything could have an explanation other than arthritis. I think its about time I start keeping track - a doctor's visit may be in order.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Several recent events have kept me from updating for the past week or so. Let me be brief:
1. Job craziness
I bolted my way across town to the Olive Garden praying for a successful interview and new job. To my dismay, the interviewer was absent, so I have to reschedule. The hostess did put little stars next to my name for showing up though.
As far as the pizza joint is concerned, I've about had it. The latest problem involves the drawer. Well, its an old problem that has gotten worse. Everyone else can ring on my drawer, so when it was off by $9 last week, it was my fault. Four dollars came from my pocket, while one waitress made up some excuse about wrong change and added $5 from her tips. She swears that she didn't know where it came from... My friends who work in other food service industries have informed me that my suspicion that this way of balancing the drawer is illegal was correct. Nice tidbit of information, but I can't do a fucking thing about it. Besides, I'm trying to get another job.
I just finished reading The Devil Wears Prada and I have to say I'm grateful that my job isn't as bad as Andrea's.
2. Funeral craziness
My grandfather died last week. Not that it was completely unexpected, but I was under the impression that he'd hold out a little while longer. The phone call was received late Monday night (I was already in bed) and I left Tuesday evening. We thought that we would - at latest - be leaving Wednesday night for a Thursday viewing and Friday funeral in Maryland. Try Friday instead. So I got to call both jobs and explain that I would not return until a full week after I left. Oh, and I leave again for a wedding on Thursday night and don't return 'til July 5th. I was kinda hoping that the pizza joint would fire me, but unfortunately they have me on the schedule for tomorrow.
There was a viewing on both Saturday and Sunday for a total of 6 hours. Granted, this setup was far better than the 4 viewings that my grandmother desired and was reluctantly talked out-of. The funeral was Monday morning because although my grandfather had passed early the week before, the cemetery could not accommodate us until then. My father grumbled something about union workers not coming on the weekends. Ok, I'm all for workers' rights, but a cemetery that doesn't do funerals on the weekends??
Other than everyone I met that apparently knew me as a 3 year old telling me that I looked 16, the funeral events went smoothly. It was the family that fried my nerves. As my cousin told me in the limo heading toward the cemetery, "We put the FUN in Funeral!"
3. Generalized family craziness
Mom decided that with Amy's wedding just around the corner, that I apparently needed dating advice. I don't apply enough make-up or wear heels with my blue jeans or act prissy around the boys. Ummm.....What happened to finding someone who liked me for well, me?
Before the first viewing, my mother burst into the hotel Chris and I were sharing and declared that she would be applying my make-up for the evening. After a few minutes of arguing, I let her paint. But I wasn't quiet about it, especially when she put on so much mascara that it appeared more appropriate for the stage. She allowed me to clean it up a little and left. I attempted to wash it off, but the damn stuff had dried already. It took a good 10 minutes to get clean and re-apply MY way.
Since the hotel was directly across from a mile long mall, we did go shopping. In the process of buying shoes, I was asked if I normally wear sneakers with my jeans. I responded in the affirmative while specifying that special occasions warranted an exception. Apparently and according to my mother, this is what makes me appear young - not the fact that my mother's entire side is full of women who look 5 - 10 years younger than what they are. She asked me why I did this and I informed her of my need to move in ways that heels were usually a hindrance. I run, dance and generally goof-off. I've even been known to rough-house with the boys, but she didn't need to know that, so I omitted that. To this new revelation, she asked me if some of the other girls wore heels.
"Yes." Where is she going with this? I wondered.
"Do they play around like you do?"
"Occasionally. Some more than others. Some girls are just wussy," I teased.
"Well, do these other girls all have boyfriends?"
Yeesh. So that's what she was digging at. I managed to control my tongue and answer diplomatically. Several other similar instances involving my flirting techniques, future boyfriend, husband and/ or children crept up throughout the weekend. There's no need to repeat them here. Just understand that I was temporarily annoyed and then, let it go.
Chris managed to contract both an ear infection and a stomach virus about Sunday morning. The virus exposed itself outside the second viewing under a tree. Two days and a phone call to me later, the doctor has declared him contagious. No one else has showed symptoms, but all expect the immuno-suppressed sister to be the next fly to fall.
You've got to love the optimism in this family.
So far I feel fine, but I have a strong feeling that Chris is rundown from basketball camp, hours of car rides between 3 states and the funeral. A few days of good rest will fix him.
Ok, so brevity didn't happen tonight. Oh, well. Goodnight all!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
There was a dinner afterward, but it was run a little differently this year. Usually, the 7th graders are drafted into serving the graduates and their families at a sit-down meal in the cafeteria. Bread, salad, entree, desert -the works. This year.....not so much. Yes, the 7th graders ran around with appetizer, but the meal was buffet-style. This created a long line and grouchy people. On top of that, the graduates lacked a table of their own and were forced to sit with their families. In other words, they were up and down the entire time trying to eat and talk to their friends. The most annoying factor was the lack of seating organization. Now, I'm not a huge fan of seating charts - I think they're silly unless you know a certain combination is combustible. Actually, I still have Erica's seating chart from the choir formal...... Regardless of my propensity to steal seating charts before everyone knows where to sit, there need to be enough chairs in existence for the total number of butts attending. This flaw was remedied eventually by either the shuffling of folding chairs or removal of excess population. I'm going for population considering that all in our family except Chris and Mom left way early - and we weren't the only ones.
As for my parents, I'm still a bit stunned. Early in the day, they told me that we would have a discussion that evening covering my finances and job status. After my intestines untied themselves, I simply resolved to go to bed early before both parents returned home and avoid the situation entirely. Well, Mom was home earlier than I thought, so plan B kicked into action. I made a huge cup (pint?) of tea. At least then I could sip and think without seeming at a stupid loss for words.
Well, the moment came. And was surprisingly brief. We started somewhere around 11pm and ended about a half hour later. There was no shouting, no name-calling although I was the implied idiot again, but hey, that's old ammunition. The turning point came when my father tried to drudge up some old nonsense - I can't even really remember what it was except that it sounded exaggerated - Then, my mother spoke up and reminded him how they decided that they "weren't going to go there." Sipping my tea thoughtfully, I relaxed a bit, but not too much since I hadn't left the house yet. But I knew that it wasn't going to be as bad as a feared. My parents usually believe in the United Front Discipline System. My mother's interjection showed me that they weren't really in agreement on how to handle this.
God must have liked me that night.
The biggest surprise came when my father handed me a check for my summer apartment expenses.
Yes. You read that right. Read it again if that helps you. After all that mess about me paying my own way, they handed me a check. I was fully prepared to take care of myself. I want to take care of myself. There have been so many nights filled with sobbing and yelling and God only knows what hell I put my immune system through....
But I'm not stupid. I took the check.
This fact will probably be used against me in future arguments. At least I know in advance. I'm not sure what inspired this generosity, but I'm grateful as I can now save some money for next year. I try not to question too much. I'm a big believer in the whole guardian angel/ God looks out for you stuff they crammed into my head in Catholic elementary school. Maybe my parents have started to accept my adulthood and my choices.
My mother told me as she shoved as small, boxed tea infuser mug set into my hands the next morning, "I found this at half-price. I was too pissed off to spend too much on you." Well, maybe acceptance isn't the right word......
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Alas, this was not the end of the "discussion." Ironically, my parents would prefer that I take a day off instead of cramming my schedule. This is ironic because the next segment of parental wisdom advises me to work about 50 hours a week. Making things even more felicitous, there is a job available for me nearby my parents that will work me about those hours for $8 an hour. Did I mention that I have two jobs, piano students and a soon to be art income that I must simply drop in order to do this? Granted, I would be making more money than I do now, but I'd have to live with my parents - snowballs chance in hell. I would like to maintain my health and sanity this summer, thank you very much. But the money problem still remains.
So far, the jobs and piano students don't cover all my basic expenses - food, rent, utilities, etc. It comes close, but I will not be able to save anything for next year. So, here's where the art comes in. There's a few stores downtown that will sell not only my original artwork, but any other crafts I drop off as well. I understand this can be sketchy, but its worth a shot especially since I've just taken up making my own greeting cards. Nice, multilayered ones that most stores don't carry. This store doesn't and they'll also take my posters, etc from my online store. Might as well try.
As for trying, I've added Olive Garden to my list of applications. I have an interview, but its not until the 20th. My mother has a legitimate concern that no jobs will be available then. They did want to have me come tomorrow, but that's impossible as I'll be en route to another state. I will try to call them frequently to see if I can move my appointment up. I'm going to start spreading word that I'm willing to babysit too - a few of my professors have little ones and they know me well enough to trust me. I would have to figure out what to charge since I haven't done this sort of thing for money (family pays nothing) in years. Maybe I could Google that.....
This brings me to where the dirty fighting began today. I am driving myself crazy trying to support myself and my mother calls me an idiot. Flat out this time, not implied. I should pack up, come home, start my handpicked job and be grateful for such thoughtful parents. My mother went as far to say that they should have made me come home this summer. I make inept decisions and I will suffer for it next year - basically, I'm an idiot again. This went on for a while sticking to that same theme and was reviewed again after closing at Job #2. I should have ignored that call.
The worst part about this is that my brother's graduation is tomorrow. I can already sense how this is going to play out. Everyone will behave themselves until the festivities are done and then, I'll get corned in the kitchen or the den to "discuss" my job situation further. My father is already upset about my grandfather, so he'll fly off pretty quickly. Mom will follow shortly, since Dad put her in charge of dealing with me this summer. I'll be exhausted and jittery from all this today. Whether or not I can prevent a panic attack this time is what may be my downfall. Either way, I won't be able to "win" the argument.
I'm already frightened and for someone like me that's hard to acknowledge. This should be my brother's important day and it could be ruined basically by my presence. Yet, I have to go - I can't just skip his graduation. I would love to just drive back after the event, but its highly unlikely that this idea will be tolerated. I'm trapped.
On top of all this, I've become aware of a concept that I've refused to take seriously for a while. My parents don't like me. They haven't for a while now. They love me, but that's automatic. If I was their age and a friend of theirs, they probably wouldn't associate with me except when they needed help with something. I would probably be in that group that they talk about now.
Its getting harder and harder for me to brush off what they say to me. I've been chanting "I'm not an idiot" and "I deserve better than this" all day. It only makes the tears flow faster. What if they do try to force me back into their house? How to I refuse without telling them how I really feel? Its not like they'd sit back and listen, anyway. Hard work should pay off, but I just feel like I'm chasing my tail.
If anyone has any suggestions, I would be most appreciative. Words of encouragement are also welcomed. I need to sleep because its nearly 1am and work starts at 8am.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
1. I've worked 2 weeks and I don't know my wages.
2. The tax forms I was given are from 2003.
3. I have to take written tests every so often which would be fine if they weren't blown off and open book. So, they're giving me busywork homework - Blah!
4. There is a 17 year old girl training me. This wouldn't come under this list if she knew how to train. She doesn't. My second night, she left early without telling me and let me close by myself.
5. The other waitresses are already talking behind my back.
6. The other waitresses are idiots because I can hear them talking behind my back.
7. Everybody else can ring on my drawer and its frequently off by the end of the night. I won't lose my job over it, but I'm the implied guilty one. Just so you know, at the last cashier job I had, my drawer was never off. Never. I think I hold a record there or something.
8. I don't know my schedule. Tonight's my last night on this schedule, but there's no new schedule up and I don't know when it will be up.
9. I've been told that once I'm done training that I will begin training other people. Um, somehow I don't think its wise to have a new person training another new person.
10. The food's not that great. Even worse, its supposed to be an Italian restaurant and I'm Italian. I could cook their menu better than they do.
11. Women are in the front and men are in the kitchen. One of my friends couldn't get an interview because there were no kitchen positions available. When he said that he had server experience, they told him that there were no kitchen positions available. On top of that, the kitchen staff get paid way more than the up front staff. The waitresses do get tips, but counter girls like me get minimum wage or slightly above it.......I don't know which I'm getting yet.
12. One of the managers is probably only a little older than me, but show's up with his pants ready to fall off and an untucked shirt. He walks around talking on his cell phone (which isn't allowed) and sends people on coffee runs. He is also the son of the owners.
13. I think he has a crush on me. I'm really uninterested.
Well, I'm sure I left something off the list, but I need to get ready for work. Tomorrow, I start following up on other applications and I few restaurants that I heard were hiring. Wish me luck!
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
My singing, for example, hasn't bounced back the way I was hoping it would. After about 30 minutes, my voice feels tired and the back of my neck is stiff. Usually, that's a good signal that you're doing something wrong. My problem has been that I can't tell the difference in my technique until the symptoms show up. Then, its typically too late for that session. My mission is to avoid damaging my voice and I know stress is the main culprit, but I can't seem to pin this one down. I don't feel stressed when I walk into the practice room, but I definitely do by the time I leave.
I want to try to get all my recital repertoire learned by the end of the summer. Add in about three opera roles to my already busy schedule and well, I need to find a way around this stress-is-killing-my-practice-time problem. I might need to go back to my theory that hot tea relaxes me. During my last opera stint, I brought a thermos of hot tea with me to every rehearsal and performance and it seemed to help with the tension. It seriously could be a placebo effect, but there are worse things than tea. And heck, the tea I drink contains massive anti-oxidants and no caffeine naturally. Finally, an addiction with health benefits...
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I would post a video here, but alas, I'm not that computer savvy just yet. So, follow the link!
I've also listed the pieces included in the medley below. I do owe credit elsewhere for this listing, but the internet being as it is, I don't know to whom.
Mario Bros. "Flag/Stage Clear"
Super Mario Bros. Main Theme
Mario Bros. 3
Mario Bros. "Star"
Mario Bros. "Dungeon"
The Legend of Zelda
Mario Bros. "Game Over"
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I haven't found a second job yet. This is particularly distressing because my parents have threatened to whisk me directly home in a week if I have no new employment. I think that's the absolutely last place I want to be right now. Well, maybe Iraq would be worse....
Its not like I haven't been trying to get another job. I've applied all sorts of other places, but with very little luck. (Please see Autonomy Wars IV for more information.) I went over to Hallmark to pick up a Mother's Day card and used that opportunity to gently suggest once again that I am very interested in their money. I was told that the manager who was in charge of hiring had been in very little and that if I did not receive a phone call in a week, that I should come in again. Waiting a week puts me exactly at my parents' deadline.
On top of this, I don't have enough students to balance this out yet. Tutoring will pick up when the semester starts, but piano is a bit sketchy in the summer. Summer 1 begins on May 16th, so its really close, but not close enough. I do have a new little student. He's 4 years old and had his first lesson today. He has no previous musical experience, but some of the things he did were better than some of the 8 year-olds I've taught. Ten minutes into his class, I had to improvise the lesson plan to accommodate him.
My main goal tonight is to somehow get a copy of my tax papers from my parents without tipping them off. Don't worry, they don't even know about this blog - I'm not that stupid. I think that I'll tell them I need it for the in-state residency people. Come to think of it, I probably do. I should be able to handle that, but I'm terrified about tomorrow.
I've never had to deal with the Financial Aid office. I don't know how to work these people. I have to manage to convince them that I should be allowed to file independently from my parents and get a loan to cover tuition. Keep in mind that I'm paying out-of-state until the residency people approve me. I love how I can work, live, register my car and pay taxes to this damn state, but not automatically qualify for resident tuition. Do tears effect these people? Or would it just harden them further against me?
After all that is handled, I get to go job hunting again. I know of a few places that I haven't forced my presence upon yet, although they fall into my parents' "Do Not Apply" category. I just need another fucking job. My stress has reached meltdown proportions and something has got to give here. Hopefully, it won't be my sanity. Well, what's left of it. Its gotten so bad that I left church early today because I couldn't keep my composure. I was doing ok until the Prayers of the Faithful announced the death of a former coworker of mine. Not that I knew him well or anything; its just startling. I lasted until the Communion hymn which happened to be one of my favorite songs and one which we sang at my grandmother's funeral. That did it. I said my post-Eucharistic prayers and skeedaddled with tears streaming. That song speaks to me on so many levels and it just overloaded my already taxed system. Here are some lyrics to give you an idea:
I will come to you in the silence,
I will lift you from all your fear.
You will hear my voice,
I claim you as my choice,
Be still and know I am here.
I am hope for all who are hopeless,
I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadows of the night,
I will be your light,
Come and rest in me.
Do not be afraid, I am with you.
I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me
I will bring you home;
I love you and you are mine.
I am strength for all the despairing,
Healing for the ones who dwell in shame
All the blind will see,
The lame will run free,
And all will know my name.
I am the Word that leads all to freedom,
I am the peace the world cannot give.
I will call your name,
Embracing all your pain,
Stand up, now walk, and live!
It has been suggested to me that I go receive counseling for all this mess. I went for maybe 2 sessions the last time something like this happened, but I panicked and stopped going. I know I need to do at least some little things to help myself here besides the aforementioned. My friend, Rai, had a chart to help her determine where she was on her anxiety scale - I'm in her red zone. That's part of the reason I'm spending so much time blogging these past few days. Blogging, drinking water, exercising and a clean apartment all mark the "green zone," so I have to try and do those things. At the moment, my apartment is clean but messy and I already tried to drown myself this week when I forgot to exhale through my nose during a flipturn. Luckily, the lifeguard got a kick out of it.
I'm trying to make sure I stay social too. Its hard with all the demands of work and financial aid visits, but I have time. My natural tendency is to pull inward and let no one see what's happening. I don't want to burden anyone, but a few friends know the situation and have listened to my rant and ramble. I seriously need to get them medals or really good Christmas presents or something. I also must go and practice - I haven't in at least a week. I mean, I tried, but crying kinda interferes with singing. Especially when you cry every time you try to sing.
Geez. I've been typing for about an hour. Off I go to wash clothes and drink some tea.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Another battle with my parents rages.
It all began a few nights ago when my mother called about my bridesmaid dress. Apparently, the dress my father picked up looks like it could fit 2 of me and requires severe alteration. Mom was not pleased for a few reasons:
- This would be costly and they've already paid for the dress.
- I'm not at my parent's house often and the alterations would take a few visits to accomplish. A scheduling crisis looms.
- The dress tag read "6" instead of "2."
- I must have measured myself wrong - according to my mother. Since I could not travel 2 states north to have measurements taken during the school year, I did it over the phone. I asked the seamstress very specific questions to avoid things like this. Granted, this was over 8 months ago and I couldn't recall exactly what the woman had said to relay it to my mother. I attempted to retake some of the measurements over the phone, but although the ones I took matched with what was on the dress, my mother still swears that I am wrong.
So, basically, this is all my fault. I have a few reasons of my own to think otherwise:
- They wouldn't let me pay for the dress. I had written a check and stamped an envelope.
- They haven't taken the dress out of the plastic to really look at it. I know from personal experience that a dress can look hideous on a hanger and beautiful on the body.
- The dress tag was handwritten and it could have be a mistake or poorly written. I've played with this - you can make a 2 kinda look like a 6. Its hard, but it would be enough to panic my mother. Or, it could have been a 4. That seems a little more likely to me.
- Most dresses are made about a size up when they're ordered that far in advance. You can't fix a dress that is too small.
- I don't know how else one measures at the bellybutton. Now, I didn't pull the tape overly tight to get the smallest reading possible, but I have a pretty good idea from opera measurements that I'm not way off here. And I want to breathe. I'm hoping this can double as my next recital dress.
- The dress will look long as the seamstress had no idea what shoes we were wearing. Hemming up a dress is the easiest alteration possible.
- I told her I wore a size 2. I asked about a 1000 questions on measurements and such to avoid this argument. If its as wrong as my mother thinks, then its not my fault.
This "discussion" on my irresponsible tape measuring skills quickly bridged into other ways that I'm irresponsible and take advantage of my parents. I write "discussion" because I don't usually define the word "discussion" as a situation when one person literally yells over the phone to another, but my mother thinks the whole phone call was a "discussion." Whatever.
So, back to being irresponsible. I have yet to have found a second job. There are some strong possibilities including Hallmark and private teaching, but nothing is set in stone. I have been asking and applying since early March to no avail. My parents put boundaries around where I could apply including but not limited to no late night shifts, no "creepy" parking lots (um, take that as loosely as you feel) and it must enhance my nonexistent social life. Well, just fuck my chance of getting a job. I've ignored that policy and applied anywhere with a help wanted sign.
In case that method doesn't work, I've created flyers for tutoring and teaching piano. It takes far less students to make up for a 20 hour part-time job, so I figured this might be a good option. I think my mother's ok with this for the time being, but my father abhors the idea. Keep in mind, that to them, music is not a real job; its a job for married women whose husbands earn the real living. Their kids are in school and the mom is bored apparently. Every time I go or call home, my dad reminds me how fabulous I'd do in law. Yeah, not gonna happen.
My father will accept the teaching gig only if I get enough students and they've all signed contracts. Now, I'm not stupid - of course you create a payment contract so that you don't get screwed. Piano students are notorious for that. As far as numbers, I'm working on it, but I view this very opportunistically. The job that works out first will win. The trouble I'm having is that I already work one job and have to tell every possible employer that theirs will be my second. Very few have seemed pleased with that. And I have 2 weddings to attend and a few random doctor appointments. Not that I won't switch with someone, but its harder with two jobs.
The most promising situation at the moment is the Hallmark store. I applied about a week or so ago and had a good conversation with the manager there. I checked the status of my app yesterday and talked to a completely different manager. She said that they hadn't started going through anything yet, but they would pull mine out and look at it that day. I should expect a phone call.
The other related conflict is that I won't make as much money as my brother, Joey, does at Harris Teeter. I tried to explain to my parents that Joey has worked there for about 4 to 5 years and I'm starting new. I couldn't pull that same trick because the doctor wouldn't let me work for 2 years. My library wage will be raised in the fall, but probably not by much. Joey also doesn't live in the frat house over the summer and therefore, saves my parents on rent and such. His frat is part of student housing - he has that option. I would have to move out for 3 months and find a new apartment since mine wouldn't be there when I came back.
My parents do pay for a lot. They pay my tuition, rent and utilities. I've been taking on a bit more every year, but 2 years without work has done a number on my checking account. I've offered to get student loans to cover it all and that was rejected. In the last conversation, my mother threatened to confiscate my savings account. It doesn't have a whole lot in it, but I definitely need it for graduate auditions. That was the last straw. My savings since 2nd grade could be gone because they got mad at me. But I'm not supposed to apply for student loans to pay for anything - how am I to handle this???
I have a plan and I've enlisted several friends with financial aid wisdom to aid me. I'm going to the Financial Aid Office on Monday and applying for some type of loan. The trick is that I supposedly need my parents information which I've never had and they'll never give. That's why I've never been able to fill out a Fafsa form. I've heard that I might be able to file without them. I hope so. If not, I'll go to Bank of America. I already need to go there to see about transferring my savings account from the little church bank its in now. The loan shouldn't be as much as a burden since I should have instate residency in June. Tuition is much less expensive that way.
A few of these friends have literally kept me from emotional explosion the past few days. I have always felt like I was inadequate and incapable of taking this kind of step. Well, and a lot more than just that too. I'm fighting to overcome what was instilled in me. I can make good decisions for myself and follow through with them. I can do what I want to do without it making me feel like I'm some sort of selfish toddler. I am worthy of love and happiness. I have to re-evaluated myself and my place in this world to make it all happen.
So, say a prayer or five and feel free to leave any tips on the comments page. I've also set up a few Affiliate links from which I'll receive some sort of commission. I'm trying in every way I know how to prepare myself for the storm to come. The war is not over, but the turning point is coming...I can feel it this time.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Allow me to explain the irony of my situation over Christmas break. I am told that I must receive the seasonal all-healing drug of the gods: the flu shot. So, within about 24 hours of the highly praised injection, I begin to feel sluggish and fatigued. Keep in mind that I'm a very energetic person and slowing down physically or mentally has never been within my capabilities. In my usual manner, I continue to push through until the annual drive to visit my grandparents in Maryland.
We return home exhausted and I awake the next morning feeling 10 times worse than the previous day - which was pretty crappy to say so myself. My mistake was immediately stumbling down the stairs to take some sort of medicine. Due to some weird quirk of mine, I should not come in contact with any humans within the first 15-20 minutes of waking up sick lest I ball my eyes out. My mother is apparently ignorant of this rule and I should have known better than to enter into her vicinity in that state. Should have, but didn't.
My mother's internal radar quickly picks up the flustered signal of unwell young. I got the usual questions like " Are you feeling ok?" "What's wrong?" etc. There was about 5 seconds where I tried to answer like the adult I know I am and then broke down into sobs in spite of myself. Instead of sympathy or motherly tenderness, I recieved the equivelent to "Suck it up."
According to my mother who is an RN, I had flu symptoms from the flu shot. I consider this the flu, but apparently, the medical world doesn't. I say, if a shot containing a dead/weak form of a virus gives you the same symptoms it would have if it was a strong virus, then you still have the disease. The only exception being that you're not contagious because the shot is too weak for that. So, I called it the flu; my mother called me overly dramatic.
This "Flu-like phenomenom" created an issue - I had three songs left to learn and memorize. I hadn't even started these songs at all. Debussy songs. Panic began to set in. I drove myself crazy with never-ending listening sessions. Translations and IPA were drilled, but that only helps so much with learning an Impressionistic melody.
When I finally could phonate again, only about a week remained between me and my jury and about two weeks for my recital. My primary instinct was to pull the keyboardist-type marathon practice sessions in order to insure the success of those pieces. Any singer would tell you that this methodology is suicidal when applied to the human voice. Piano was my first instrument, so overpracticing is a habit I carried over to voice. Luckily, I was smart enough to know this and avoid suicide. But, the instinct is there and the resulting stress from going against instinct ranks up in the houndstooth level (I'll have to explain the Stressometer that Rai and I created at some point, consider houndstooth in the uppermost levels).
When my jury was over, the nail-biting part had been passed successfully. I chose to have Munden, Kramar and Smith as my jurers, creating a comfortable atmosphere for myself. To my delight, they only asked for two songs in addition to my offered aria and sent me on my merry way. I can't say that this wasn't considered when I began planning the members of my jury. These are not people who want to spend about 30 minutes listening to a recital and nit-picking at translations for a student they know is an overachieving nutcase. Being an overachieving nutcase has its advantages.
So then, my teacher and I began the "polishing" phase of recital preparation. Now, we had two different definitions of this final pre-performance time. He thought that I could learn to stand perfectly still, add expressive gestures, sing pianissimo and correct any minor diction and rhythm problems. My expectations weren't quite as high for my last week of practicing, but I managed to achieve all except standing still. What do you want - I'm Italian.
The marked day finally arrived. Most of my friends recommended spending the day watching TV, drinking water and studying a little bit. I, however, confiscated an old wobbly bookcase from the stairwell at the School of Music and proceeded to repair it. It was about two hours worth of hammering and cursing. Then, I reviewed my music and got Jamie to do my hair.
I like my way better.
With about thirty minutes before I was supposed to meet with my accompanist, I clicked my way up to a practice room to warm up. After warming up, I clacked back down three flights of stairs, around the construction fencing and straight into the mud before the recital hall. I had no other option with the mud. Apparently, the construction workers enlarging the SoM determined that a sidewalk could wait until Monday. Luckily, clear 3-inch heels are easy to clean.
Yes, I wore 3-inch heels and sang. And sang well, if I might say so myself. My recital flew by so quickly that it hardly seemed over when I thought we'd just begun. There were some made up words - some covered better than others. Between my friends and I, we discovered that every time I forgot something coincided exactly with the moments I deliberatly tried to stand still. Oh, the irony.
If you would like to listen to my recital, it is available online from the video my father shot. Its not the best quality and he did misspell sorority (we're a fraternity, thank you very much), but overall its an excellent job. Here's the link: http://homepage.mac.com/rolanddavis/sarah.html