Writer, Christian, bibliophile, musician, generalist.
1. I met an elderly gentleman today who, after hearing me sing, told me he wouldn’t be surprised if my brother and I sang opera arias. Judging by his southern Missouri accent, he didn’t seem to be extremely culturally sophisticated.
And yet, he knew what an aria was. How do we get my generation to learn as much about the world?
2. I like to dance. I don’t really feel self-conscious about it anymore, because it’s just movement to me right now. It’s actually really fun.
3. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau passed away today. What a loss to the music community. His recordings were among the first Lieder recordings I ever listened to. His artistry will be missed.
4. Dear St. Louis,
Every time I come back here, you beckon me to stay in some way or another. I keep finding new things to love about you, and I like that about you. Perhaps one day.
1. I’m home.
After driving 6 hours, I walked in, headed out on the porch, opened a magazine, put on some Steve Earle, and just sat for a bit. It’s so quiet here.
Up north, there’s the noise from neighbors, Sheridan Rd., and the constant cyclical coming and going of the El. Here, I’m pretty well alone with my thoughts, which suits me just fine. There’s a pretty low population density.
Here, we’ve got more acres than people, more crickets than police sirens, more grass than sidewalks. It’s better, slower.
2. Catalan is a hard language.
3. I’m really good at driving long distances by myself. That said, I don’t really like to.
4. Dear MO,
1. In making any decision which could possibly be an instance of libel or defamation, it would be a wise decision to think before acting against a major university.
Is that really a road worth going down?
In other words, I wonder what it’s like to live in a world where Walt Whitman is primarily considered a racist, which therefore leaves his poetry a moot point.
I’m not sure how exactly this is going to play out, but hopefully there’s some embarrassment at an individual level. I don’t think humility is an option, but embarrassment seems promising.
2. Back to Missouri for a couple of welcome days home. I need to recharge a bit. Hopefully I’ll have at least a little bit of down time.
3. I bought a Fitbit last week. It’s a pedometer/sleep tracker that works with iOS to keep track of what I do. And I love it after a week. It’s already hacked my mind to make me more active. I’m a completionist, so it’s right up my ally.
4. Dear Catalan,
you are a strange sounding language, and my brain doesn’t quite know what to do with you. I hope we can figure out something by tomorrow morning.
1. I took tonight to get a few things back on track. I’m not totally there yet, but I’m closer than I was. My computer is clean and organized, I studied some programming, studied some German; productive evening.
2. I need to set aside some time to sit down and write. I’ve been reading a ton lately, but I’ve let my writing fall to the wayside. I’ve been waiting for the mood to hit me instead of actively pursing the act, which is not the correct approach.
I also keep getting inspiration, but then decide for some reason or another not to write that idea down. Also not good.
3. I started working on Figaro’s aria from Il barbiere di Siviglia. It’s an insanely difficult piece to sing, often like running a marathon, but I feel like I’m finally in a good enough place where I can begin to really woodshed it. There are things freeing up already that i’d had problems with in reading it in the past. Good sings, all around.
4. I want to do another recital within the next year. I think that’s a good goal.
5. For some reason, the idea of spending an entire month speaking a language other than English in every opportunity available seems appealing. When I go to Germany later this summer, I kind of want to see how little English I can use. It would be hard, but my German would be fantastic after an experience like that.
4. Dear Lake Michigan and the surrounding shore,
you are beautiful. I feel really lucky to live so close and be able to see the setting sun cast its dying light over your waves. Let’s stay good friends.
1. I feel validated; we ended up discussing the concept I was discussing here last night about certain publications bullying anyone with a liberal arts major in a class I’m taking. Everybody seemed to take my side. That doesn’t happen very often. I call it like I see it.
2. Another follow-up: that book that I lost? Didn’t lose it. It was in my car all night.
3. Tonight is the first night this year where I walked outside and felt how much noticeably warmer it is out of doors than in. It’s going to be a long summer.
4. Dear sleep,
I’m glad we’re being better friends lately. Can we stay close for a while?
1. I am watching How I Met Your Mother.
Apparently, he’s about to meet her.
I am beyond excited. It’s means the series will probably maybe not jump the shark.
2. Every year around this time, journals such as The New York Times, Huffington Post, Washington Post, and USA Today publish articles on the subject of college education. So many times, these articles discuss the popularity of degrees, and cross-reference that topic with the practicality of those degrees.
Maybe I’m overly sensitive about this topic, but to me, a lot of it comes off like bullying.
When I think about the types of people those publications cater to, they are mostly business types; people established in the workplace. It’s almost confirmation bias: they like and share these articles because it validates their life choices.
The general consensus and theme of these articles is that getting a liberal arts major is the worst thing you can do with your life. You’re basically screwing yourself. Naturally, I don’t quite see it that way. There are more reasons to get a liberal arts degree than money. In fact, if you get a degree in the arts, you’d better be okay not making a lot of money. It’s calling the American dream into question. Do you need six figures to feel fulfilled? I certainly would not say no to that, but to me, that’s not my number one goal in life. I would like to be financially independent within the next year, but I also feel a need to express myself. I have a practical side, but I’m an artist. And that’s a part of me I can’t erase.
To have entered college and signed on the dotted line that the thing I entered into freshman year is the thing I would be doing forever limits who I see myself to be. I’m not knocking it, and for 80% or higher of the population, that’s the way to go. But I’m okay with uncertainty for now. Maybe that will change. But I absolutely do not feel as though I’ve wasted the last six years pursuing what I love.
And I have words for anyone who wants to say otherwise.
3. I finished The Instructions today. What an epic.
4. After finishing that, I started another book. This is a new one for me: I already lost it. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a book before. I can’t for the life of me remember where I put it. Maybe at Starbucks? Maybe at school? Luckily Amazon had it for $3 on Kindle, otherwise that might have driven me nuts for a while. I hate not finishing things I start, especially books.
5. My exit exam for my Master’s degree went really well today. I felt knowledgeable enough to answer all of the questions thoroughly. That was cool. There was nothing that really stumped me. Let’s hope I was right. I’m pretty confident I was though.
6. Dear Chicago weather,
Stop being an asshole. It was in the 40s today, and tomorrow has a high of 86. That’s nuts. You’re a jerk.
1. I prefer negative emotions to positive.
Maybe it’s not so much negative emotion as emotions that wouldn’t be considered directly positive, like happiness.
I mean, of course I want to be happy. But the emotions that speak to me— sorrow, longing, anger— those are what inspire me, what allow me to be creative. They bring out my best voice as an artist and breathe their own fire into my positive feelings when they come. I don’t like being happy all of the time, and so I refuse to do it.
The poem Wehmut captures my feelings almost perfectly:
I can sing well sometimes,
As if I were happy,
But secret tears well up,
That free my heart.
Playing in the spring wind,
Call out their longing-songs
From their prison-crypts.
Then all hearts listen,
And everyone is gladdened;
Yet no one feels the pain
Of the songs’ deep sorrow.
That was probably my favorite song from my Schumann set. I feel like it explains me.
There are a lot of people out there who want to ruin a good bad mood, unfortunately. People who look at you and say, “Smile!”
Those are my least favorite people. Because sometimes you just need to be sad for a while.
2. I just killed a huge silverfish. I need to figure out how to get those out of my apartment.
3. I read an article today about a guy who outfitted his house with solar panels, bought a Chevy Volt, and in about 5 years won’t be paying for any electricity and hardly any gasoline.
I feel like that’s something in my future. I hate bills. I like sustainable living. Problem solved.
4. Dear exit exam,
Please don’t be awful. I think it’ll be fine, but don’t throw me for any curves.
1. Well, that’s over. Long day. Good recital. I think i accomplished my goals, either in whole or at least in part. But they were goals. Ideals. I think I still presented a good recital. I’m interested to hear a recording/see the recording.
2. I hate the days before a recital. I feel like all I did all day was just sit and not do anything. This could have been such a productive day. Oh, well.
3. Dear stress level,
will you cool it, already? I don’t need you breathing down my neck.
1. Jackson Browne’s ”The Load Out” is one of my favorite songs. I think it captures perfectly the life of a performer. It’s seeing things that other people don’t get to see.
Browne talks about hearing “the sound of slamming doors and folding chairs.” “We just pass the time in our hotel rooms/and wander ‘round backstage”. That is so familiar to me. And yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m so excited to present my program tomorrow.
When I say a song is one of my favorite songs, I say that acknowledging to myself that I have well over a hundred “favorite songs”. And the songs I’m doing tomorrow are counted among them. There’s not a single song on my program tomorrow that I don’t feel strongly about. I hope to do them justice, I hope to do the composers justice.
I just know that I have to sing those songs. Those aren’t so much songs that I’ve picked as songs that reflect me, who I am.
Goals for tomorrow:
I’m a singer. I sing. I’m excited to share this recital. This is me.
2. Today was a good day. Hopefully tomorrow will be as well.
2. Dear everyone who has helped me along the way,
Thank you. I can’t say thank you enough.
1. Everything I really want to write right now is passive-aggressive and isn’t worth anything. I’m really frustrated, and even in explaining why, I’m tempted by passive-aggression.
This is awful. I feel cut off from myself.
I’m worried this frustration is going to block me emotionally on Saturday, but there’s no real way to get rid of it before then. I guess I just live with it.
2. I want this weekend to be over, but not over. That doesn’t make sense. I don’t care.
3. Dear allergies,
you’re doing so well right now. Please keep it up for another two days. I’m begging you.
1. Tonight was the dress rehearsal for my recital on Saturday. I had an opportunity tonight to really explore the sounds of the room, as well as to make some more specific artistic choices as far as interpretation and phrasing. There was nothing groundbreaking, but I would say my recital is now in very good shape.
The biggest hurdle for me right now is the remembrance that this recital is not the end of me, and it’s not the end of my musical growth. I feel like a lot of performers approach a capstone recital or a final performance and think of it as a finish line; and I’m definitely guilty of that.
But the reality of it is that next Wednesday, I have a voice lesson. And in that voice lesson, I will keep right on working. There will be new repertoire, new growth. The wheel keeps spinning.
The reality is that I will get better than I am right now. I know it’s everyone’s desire to have a finished product from the getgo, but none of us singers are finished products. We are works in progress. I am talented and my artistry is good now, and I am learning contentment for that.
The reality is that I will get up on the stage on Saturday and sing as beautifully as I know how.
I was reflecting that I’ve spent my time here at Northwestern seeking beauty and beautiful things. I’ve slowed down, I’ve leaned more into pieces than I ever had before. I think this recital illustrates that idea. Before, everything was fast and frantic. But now, the music I perform has nuance, inner tension, fragility, legato. I’ve found a sort of peace. And for that I’m glad.
2. It’s frustrating to me right now that my tired brain is not working as well as I’d hope it would. I should give myself a rest, but I want to keep working.
3. Dear to-do list,
You are still extensive, but I was able to spend a little bit of time with you today. Let’s keep it up.
See you tomorrow,
1. I have an inordinate amount of ground to cover in the next week. Gonna be short writings until this all blows over.
- recital to-do list
- MATA to-do list
- exit exam to-do list
- misc. to-do list
This has simply been a look into my life. The world doesn’t stop just because I want it to. Something’s got to give, and that something won’t be recital-related. That’s my biggest priority, bar-none. Here goes nothing.
2. In one of my classes, we had an extremely dull presentation delivered with much excitement followed immediately by an extremely interesting presentation delivered in a laid-back manner.
I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere, but I’m a bit too scatterbrained to piece it out.
3. Dear Gurion,
stop taking over my life. I have things to do, and you’re not helping.
1. Any time I see someone for whom English is a second language struggling to communicate with someone behind, say, a cash register, I am always inclined to either help or give words of encouragement.
For instance, there was a guy who was having a hard time with a baristo at Starbucks. The baristo was being confusing even to me ,who speaks English from birth, due to his difficult choice of inflection. He was simply repeating and clarifying what the customer was saying, but in a really strange way. So as I was walking out, I told him not to worry about it, and that the situation was weird to me as well. That seemed to cheer him up; I love giving people a ‘me too’.
But I just know how frustrating it can be to communicate with someone whose language is different from yours in a country where their language is dominant. Americans are kind of the worst about that. We expect everyone who sets foot in our country to speak English, but we also expect people in their own countries to speak English as well.
It takes a lot of guts to speak outside of your mother tongue. It’s an everyday occurrence for a lot of people, but for others it can be a real struggle.
2. It’s ironic that the word baristo is not recognized by spellcheck, but barista is.
3. Recital, recital, recital.
4. Caught the tail end of two awesome things tonight.
The first was the end of Die Walküre, which is one of my favorite things in the operatic repertoire.
The second was a Spurs/Warriors game. That was a battle.
Both cool things.
5. Dear Noah and the Whale,
I’m really hoping Heart of Nowhere is good. I think it will be, but time will tell. I just bought it and will be giving it a listen before bed. Looking forward to it.
1. I don’t think I’ll ever get over what a surreal thing it is to be able to wake up in one state and go to bed 333 miles away.
The act of flying, although an everyday type of act, is still pretty extraordinary to me. I’ve been flying since I was about three years old, and it lost its shine for a while, but still now I recognize what an unusual thing it is to hurtle through the air at high speeds inside of a metal tube.
Travel has changed us as a people. I’m glad I can go home for a couple of days with minimal effort, but it’s still weird. Not a complaint. Just an observation.
2. This week is going to be short on hours. I really need to be singing through my full recital about once every day this week, but I will be lucky if that happens. Here’s hoping. I’ll at least be able to spend some time with the texts.
3. Dear mouth,
stop hurting, please. I don’t want to go to a doctor.
1. Spent all day at my friend’s wedding. It was a really great day, actually; not a lot went wrong. And hey, now my friend’s married. Bonus.
2. It’s still hard for me to see a lot of people from home. People’s lives are perfectly fine without me, in general. I wish I could care less about that, but that’s just me, I guess.
It makes me a little angry, but it’s not my thing to show negative emotions in public. So I just brush it off.
It just makes me wonder who I’d invite to my wedding sometime down the line. Who will still care?
3. I’m going to record a single that will sell millions. It’s going to be a song to be played at wedding receptions and the idea is that the song will suggest the dancers to find the nearest 3-year-old and copy their dance moves.
It’s going to be called…wait for it… “The 3-Year-Old Shuffle”.
Boom. Nailed it.
4. Dear stars,
come to Chicago sometime. I need you. I miss you.