Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A girl named Sue.

I hate the name Sue. I had a horrible neighbor growing up whose nickname was SueSue and was the most wretched tantrum-throwing, parent-abusing, dog-nose-denting cow ever born, and who grew up to be a serial procreator and useless layabout.

Sue is a legal action, a Johnny Cash song, a negative association. I never diminute the name of anyone unless I've known them for such a long time that saying their whole name over and over would take hours off my life. I would appreciate the same courtesy. Suzy is fine, as long as it's spelled correctly. Suz is just great. Everyone calls me Suz. As long as the nickname has the "zzzz" sound, I will accept it. But not Sue. Not ever. Especially not from a Dean's office staff person who has never even met me. That is not OK.

Oh, and here's my new hair:

Oy. I have chubby girl cheeks.

Monday, January 30, 2006

My shoes are muddy.

I don't want to be here anymore. I want to be here, or here or here. Or anywhere that serves clotted cream and scones.

Ignore the pound of transfatty acids.

I was baking cookies last night, and I doubled the batch so Christian could take some to work without depriving me of my 3 am cookie fix. He took all of my cookies to work a few months ago to make everyone like him and I was deeply pissed. I had been fantasizing all day about that big, dense block of sugar and caramel chocolate chips I was going to have as soon as I got home only to run into the kitchen and find a little pile of crumbs. I was wrathful.

I had to use four eggs, so I cracked two and glanced in the bowl. Hmmmm...four yolks?


So, I checked the sink and yes, two shells. I cracked one more egg and another double yolk slid slimily into the bowl. Ah, modern farming science. There's nothing akin to growth hormones for adding flavor to my eggs. I'd like a second puberty, please, with my souffle.

It does raise the question, though, of whether or not a double yolk in the chicken coop would mean twin baby chicks. It seems that the shell would be awfully small.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The winter of my discontent.

Why, why oh why do I keep getting sick? Am I going to have to believe that my mother was right and I should have been taking vitamin supplements with names like "Wellness Formula", "Juice Plus" and "You Eat Like Shit So You Need All the Help You Can Get" all along? OK, so I made that last one up, but still! She has been haranguing me for years to take immune supplements with B12 and Q47 and such and God, if she's right, I'm going to need more than a vitamin. I've been fighting the supplement wars for so long I don't think I can go into the health food store without them recognizing an enemy in their midst and pelting me with vitamin E capsules that will explode and blind me so they can inject echinacea into my bloodstream without my taking them down.

I have no voice and my sinuses hurt. I had pleurisy last month. What is this, 1815?? Pleurisy?? I want to go home. I want Mentholatum and French onion soup. I want my mommy. I'll even tell her she was right.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I need a mantra to chant at auditions.

When I was small, I had grand fantasies of fame on stage. What I was doing on stage, however, was always a bit blurry around the edges as I never imagined myself as an actress, like most little girls. Years later, after choral singing and developing some stage lust, it seemed logical that I would do musical theater, and that fit into my schemes as I had sung in musicals in high school and had memorized Camelot and could irritate an entire busload of kids with "Where are the simple joys of maidenhood". I had never seen an opera and, although the movie Amadeus fascinated me when my pianist cousin made me watch it, that world was so foreign that I may as well have suddenly contracted a desire to be a Russian socialite as try to be an opera singer. It wasn't until I got half way through college and started loitering in the music department with my fellow choir members who did want to sing classically that I found out that you didn't have to be studying from the time you were twelve and be the product of a stage parent. Hell, I liked Bach, and I thought I could sing the shit out of him. I found out, though, that my drive was lacking. I hated practicing as I could never make my voice do what it needed to do and I'd inevitably end up frustrated and bewildered. I made it through my undergrad recitals by force of will, graduated, moved to Seattle and started over with the teacher my former college roommate was studying with and who had taken her from a light soubrette to a dramatic coloratura in the short space of a year. I found out that my voice was good but my technique was absolutely dismal. So very dismal. Over the next few years, while my voice improved, I never took any chances and I didn't do much to aid it along. I didn't coach with important people and I didn't try to make any connections. And still I never doubted that my turn would come. I just had a feeling, and my feelings tended to be right. Well, at 25, I thought EVERYTHING I felt was right.

Then I utterly crashed. I started having terrible panic attacks and the anxiety that had been subdermal my entire life erupted like shingles. I was incapacitated. For months, I didn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I just cried. As "movie of the week" as it sounds, I knew that the only thing that could disperse the crushing worry was singing. Not practicing at home (I hated being home), but being in a production. I started auditioning for local groups and got some work in operetta. I still didn't do any of the things other college graduates did, namely audition for young artist programs and compete, but I couldn't have as I didn't even know they existed. So, I sang in town and worked at an assistant job and thought that I was doing what everyone else was doing. Well, it wasn't. I was behind. So behind that, when I finally did catch on to where I should be, I had no resume, no professional credits in opera or concert and no way to quit work for singing, which I would have to do if I wanted to be a young artist.

So, rather than take a chance and try as hard as I could, I convinced myself that I didn't have to go that route, that I could keep working my job and audition for local compaines that rehearsed at night, I'd get heard and people would looooooove me. All of my years of not making contacts came back to bite me, though, and other people got cast ahead of me. People who weren't as good but who were known, favored and friends with the director of whatever company couldn't even be bothered to send out a "thanks, but no thanks" letter. I got into the Seattle Opera chorus, and have worked steadily with them, gratefully, since 2002, but I see what happens to choristers. They're always choristers, and I'm way too much of an attention whore to be in the back forever.

So, now I'm 33 and time is almost up. I've made some very painful but realistic observations in the past few years. Most singers I know who are making a career are supported by family or a spouse and have not had to work. They are good networkers, ruthless self-promoters and rarely show emotion. Singing is a business, and like any other business, weakness is frowned upon and the strongest and most cunning survive. Kind of like nature. A singer friend made the astute comment that I often seem self-conscious, an unforgivable failing when dealing with other professionals. We're all teetering on the edge much of the time and no one wants to think that the person they just hired is about to pitch over the precipice.

I've come to a crucial point. I'm sick to death of hating my day job, of being exhausted and frustrated. It's all of my own doing, I know, and I have to struggle with bitterness more often than I care to admit, bitterness directed more towards myself than others (except when I make the grave mistake of reading other singer's bios and then want to hire a hit man to remove them from the competition). I have had some good singing jobs lately, and I need to make them grow into more. I need to get off my ass and stop feeling as though I'm inconveniencing someone when I ask to sing for them or coach with them. I need to prove that I'm capable and strong.

In the next few months, I will audition for two early music events in which I desperately want to be involved. I HAVE to make this happen. I will NOT be a 40-year-old woman who worried her way out of the thing she could do best. And I'm not talking about filing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I hate working next to the NICU.

You've seen nothing until you've seen a two pound preemie. Incubate, little peanut. Incubate.

Only my skirt merits a comment.

Only three people at work on Monday noticed that I cut six inches off my hair and completely changed the style. One person did comment, however, that she and I had the same skirt. Apparently, people look more at my ass than my face.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I was privileged to spend time with the nephews in all their fabulousness on Saturday. Jayden was very proud of the poo he made all by himself IN THE TOILET rather than on the floor and he had to show me, prompting me to comment, "Ah, I see you had corn for dinner last night." He had the good sense to wrinkle his little nose and say, "ewwww," in that tone usually reserved for use by teenagers who see their parents kissing.

Republicans and the Arts

It is an inherent irony that those who support the arts (the wealthy who are often Republicans) and those who create the art (the poor who are usually Democrats) so heavily rely upon each other for their entertainment/livelihood but wouldn't spit on one another if on fire.

In Die Fledermaus it is tradition that, during the Act Two party, special guests, usually benefactors, celebrities or politicians, are announced by the Butler character and are invited to sit on stage during the ballet number as a sort of "Gee whiz, aren't you keen to be a supporter of our little art form, so thanks and here's your chance to fulfill that fantasy of being on stage without having to answer uncomfortable personal questions about your campaign donations (well, for the politicians, at least)". While I wasn't surprised that Slade Gordon and his wife were the special guests on Saturday night, it was a devious little bit of programming as it was broadcast night and none of us could boo without everyone in the world hearing it.

Clever. Very clever.

(I edited this after consuming revivifying amounts of caffeine. Never blog when exhausted.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Bus Rules shall now be renamed Rules for Everyone

Everyone needs to take a shower every day. Every, single day. And wear deoderant. And wash their clothes. Or at least change them. And wear underwear.

Please wear underwear.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I shall from this point on be known as Louise.

I want to have an iconic haircut, one that, when friends see it on other people, think, "Oh, that's Suzy's cut. It looks better on her." I want to be content with one do and one color and retain both for many years, so every picture of me looks like me and clerks don't have to ask for four pieces of ID, including one with my current hair color, to confirm that I haven't stolen some blonde's wallet.

The problem is that I've never been able to adequately describe how I want the stylist to cut the back of my bob. I want it shorter in back and longer in front, and I want the back blended from the lower edge of the bob down my nape. I don't want a little hair wedge that comes to a point and looks like bangs on backwards and I don't want a precarious precipice. This is not 1985.

Shall I try again? Shall I throw my hair and caution to the wind and call the stylist who did my updo for New Year's who seemed to understand when I asked her if my bob description was clear? Shall I????

If I shall, I shall post pictures.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

I also like to kiss his little drumstick legs.

I love Fritz's smell.

He smells a little bit like his pellets, a little bit like the outdoors and a little bit like poo. The first thing I have to do when I take him out of his cage is sniff the narrow space on his back between his wings. When I breathe in and out of my nose really fast I can lift the soft little feathers up and down and make them flap like he's flying. He looks very rumpled when I'm finished. I do make certain to only do this when I don't have a runny nose.

One of these days I'm going to accidentally suck up a loose feather and get it lodged in my sinus. Then I'll have to have it extracted and I'll be written up in a major mental health journal for my bizarre and troubling behavior and a case study will be done on women in their thirties who have made their pets into surrogate children. There will be TV ads for drugs to treat this condition in which a woman with a tragic expression on her rapidly aging face is surrounded by a shower of little falling feathers. The drug will be named Surraxate, or some other such name invented to imply the elimation of the need for displaced affection.

And here I thought Paxil would be enough. Apparently not.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I will not be bringing a salad, entree OR dessert.

I am morally opposed to potlucks. Not church potlucks or neighborhood potlucks, mind you, where either the organization cannot afford to feed the hordes or the organizers merely wish to bring people together and the food is incidental, but work potlucks, where the organization can pay, and where staff are expected to spend $20-$50 out of their meager paychecks to make a dish large enough to feed all of the other employees, most of whom don't bring a dish themselves. AND, inevitably, at our potlucks, I can never eat what the other people bring anyway, as the ersatz chefs get faux-posh and put things like anchovy paste in the sauce and then top their quiche with pine nuts. Rat bastards.

Therefore, I will NOT be bringing a dish to the Valentine's Day potluck. I know my artichoke dip will be missed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Do I look like I can fit into a tutu?

Never let a choreographer run an opera rehearsal. Wearing an unfamilar dress weighing upwards of ten pounds, three inch heels and a very hot wig while having to trot and conga and fling ourselves about the stage all for the sake of a parallel line does not for happy singers make. We are not light or light footed. We are not dancers. We're big people with much weight to be borne by teetery shoes and our muscles and joints can't comfortably take the unfamilar strain. Yes, I know we need to exercise. Shut up. But, there is no reason on God's green earth to EVER run a scene three times at a dress rehearsal. Never, ever, ever. If we don't have it by now, we're not going to get it, as should have been painfully obvious by the blank looks on choristers' faces when asked to move even the tiniest bit from the spot they SWORE they had been blocked to. Worst. Rehearsal. Ever.

Monday, January 09, 2006

The curse of Sallie Mae

And, in addition to tragedy, we have comedy. It turns out that we owed back payments to Sallie Mae as, when we changed our checking account last summer due to some punk ass shithead stealing our outgoing mail and said mail containing checks, we didn't change our direct debit for SM as we changed it for 10,000 other things and that one got missed. Well, they never contacted us with payment requests and they tanked my credit. As soon as we found out (a credit check was run for a refi and my heretofore perfect credit had dropped by 100 points), we electronically sent them a payment for the total amount owed.

Today, I received an email saying that the bank returned the payment as they couldn't find our account. WHAT??? I want to know why on God's green earth all this shit is happening now. I thought this year was going to go so well.

And I swore I'd never post anything of import...

I hate it when bloggers try to be deep and meaningful and just end up sounding pretentious. However, in light of recent events, I can't help it. You will listen, and you will like it.

I'm very sad. I know that it takes a while to get over losing a pet you adore, but I'm unnerved by how deeply I'm feeling Stanze's loss. We only had her since last July, and she was a tremendous challenge, but I think her difficult nature made me love her more. We worked so hard with her trying to understand why she behaved as she did and trying to modify her more aggressive tendencies. When she made progress, though, I never felt such pride, or as much love as when she would let me pick her up without any resistance. She was so alive, so clever and so vibrant that seeing her hanging from my hand would overwhelm me and I'd have to kiss her. She was so beautiful and tiny, so precious. It's impossible to forgive myself for not being gentler with her. I end up justifying it to myself that she has been so deft and agile and disliked being handled so much that we couldn't keep her on any perch or finger or horizontal surface for long, so, on some level, I thought that when I pulled back, she would jump off her perch and be fine. That didn't happen, though, and I'm sick with guilt and anger. I will never again forget that these tiny creatures are immeasureably fragile. No matter what bites I may get or what aggression surfaces, I will never handle any pet with anything but tenderness.

I just hate that Stanze had to teach me this lesson with her life. It's so unfair and horrible. We've tried so hard to be the best pet owners we could be, researching and providing them with the best of everything, but it obviously wasn't enough. I don't think I'll be able to get another bird to be a companion to Fritz. We'll have to be his flock, now, and no bird will ever be treated better.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

We come in a distant second.

Because many aviculturists think that wing-clipping is inhumane and keep their birds fully flighted, they have to be very careful about open windows and doors. Now, our birds are fully flighted (or were) because I just can't stand to see them pathetically flapping their tiny wings and crashing into the baseboards because they try to fly and can only get about two feet before plunging to the ground and inevitably sliding across the wood floors and into the walls like hockey players on ice (but without the helmets or missing teeth). So, we kept both of them flighted and, while it was causing problems in that they both knew that they could get away from us and to each other with little effort, and there's nothing as hilarious as a tiny green bird navigating its way through the Christmas decor to get to its mate, we thought the tradeoff of seeing them fly through the Pottery Barn beady garland was worth it. Yes, I'm cruel.

One of our morning routines is to bring one of the birds into the bathroom while I'm showering and drying my hair. Stanze loves the blow dryer and it's a good time to work with her where she can't hear Fritz chirping for her and consequently get so agitated that she actually turns herself upside down screaming for him. I crack the window as the room is tiny and gets very hot, but I usually open the bottom, which is screened. Well, we left the top of the window open over night and I forgot to close it when I brought Stanze into the bathroom, and, on Monday, she made a mad dash for freedom. I don't think she quite realized how cold and wet freedom would be, though, and she only made it to the cedar tree in our backyard, where she eagerly hopped down branches until we could get her and bring her back in and dry her off with the low setting.

It was a terrible moment, seeing her little feathery form shoot out of the two inch opening. We both screamed like little girls and ran outside in the rain half naked. We took both of them to get clipped that day.

One unexpected benefit of this happening (and our isolation of her in the room next to the bedroom where she can't hear Fritz because the bite she gave him on Sunday was HORRIBLE) is that she now realizes that we are her FRIENDS and that we are not trying to steal her love to barbecue him. He wouldn't be very meaty, anyway. Christian was beside himself last night as she let him take her out of the cage without ripping off a finger. Below is proof.

We'll see how long it lasts.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I ended up in Puerto Rico via Russia

New Year's Eve went well. Really well. So well, in fact, that the man himself complimented me last night while at rehearsal for Fledermaus. He said I was wonderful. The word phenomenal was also used. About me. With the word acting in the same sentence. Hee. Of course, he was probably just being nice. I did end up sounding Russian when I tried to put on a Puerto Rican accent. However, he is a very kind and gracious person. I'm sure he was just being nice. Yeah.

People at the after party pulled me aside to tell me how much they liked me. I was stared at. I'm hoping it wasn't because I was continually having to hoist up my dress. Note to self: add straps to dress. Big boobs + strapless dress + gravity = high class.

Mom's jacket and the accompanying dress were much admired.

The girls were all fabulous, as always.

I need to grow out my bangs. I have a potato face. Eep.