Saturday, October 29, 2011

Brave Face

Today is my husband’s birthday! And he is in Macau...

We miss him terribly today, and even with our iChat videos we can’t manage to really connect and make him feel close to us. The internet is amazing, but sometimes a rough connection can make us so frustrated that it would almost be better not to talk at all. Henry is having a rough day, very clingy, and the weather is miserable so we can’t get outside and run around. All in all, it’s not a very fun day.

Or wasn’t, I should say. I started this post at naptime, and the first half of the day was really hard. But, as is often the case, if I set my mind to it, naptime was a bit of a reset, and we ended up having a really fun afternoon. We made pumpkin bread, Henry helping dump in the ingredients; we bundled up and shoveled a little snow; we watched most of Monsters, Inc. in several 20-minute segments. I’m waiting now for Matt to wake up on the other side of the world and praying for a better connection this time. It would be nice to see him smile on his birthday.

Days like this are hard. And sometimes I wonder if I make them harder by not grinning-and-bearing-it better. By not putting on a brave face. I felt awful that I couldn’t fake a smile for Matt this morning. But these days I am a terrible faker! When my first marriage ended, I told myself that I was through with faking it. Years of hiding my unhappiness and anger didn’t exactly serve me well, so I just said enough was enough. And until now, it has worked.

But now that I’m a mom, I wonder: Do I need to learn how to fake it again? To put on a brave face? Henry is a very sensitive boy, and while I never want to lie to him or present a dishonest picture of myself, does he really need to see how stressed and upset I am? Does Matt? Do my friends? My colleagues? Who really needs that information? Is there a way to maintain my honest living and not make everyone around me as miserable as I am??

I’m laughing a bit as I write this, because in this moment I am not miserable. Tired, yes, but not miserable by far. But I’ve been thinking about this this afternoon. How did I change things around for us today? I think I just gave over to what was happening, to the day that was unfolding. A day we can’t get outside is a day that Henry will need a lot of holding, lots of reading and lap time, lots of convincing that he is really tired and needs a nap. (Two out of three of those are really not bad at all...) So this afternoon we just did those things. And it was fine. I gave up on getting to the laundromat (in the snow?? what was I thinking, anyway?), gave up on getting any studying done (sometimes I can while he’s awake), and just gave over.

There is something to be said for that at work, too. Accepting your fate and just deciding to make the best of it. I guess that’s different than putting on a brave face, though, isn’t it? It’s not faking it. What is it? Making lemonade? Accepting? Giving over?

Maybe it’s just living the life you have and not the life you wish you had. I like that.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Remember the audition in this post?

I've been meaning to tell you that I got the job. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Better living through blogging

The season has started.

In the past ten days, maybe less, I’ve gotten two job offers and two inquiries for interviews about my life as a blogger and working musician and mother. So even though I’m not really working much this fall (except for a one-night concert at an awesome club in NYC), things carry on apace! Guess I’d better get to writing...

The thing is, “my life as a working musician and mom (and blogger)” is tough right now. B (my husband and fellow opera singer) is out of the country on a gig and I’m solo parenting our very spirited (artistically temperamented!) child. I’ve been on the road with Henry alone many times in the past, but being home (not working) is different, not to mention the fact that he is very different at 15-months than he was at seven! Let’s just say that if “getting into things” is Henry’s job right now, he is at it like he’s up for a promotion. Keeps me on my toes!

I used to compose my blog posts in my head throughout the day, sitting down and regurgitating paragraphs of brilliant prose that had been stewing in my brain for several hours. But now by the end of the day I can barely remember where I left my computer let alone piece together a blog post from memory. After making and eating and cleaning up meals and snacks, reading dozens of books several times each, changing diapers, walking and running and playing inside and out (regardless of weather), cuddling, crying (both of us, often) and napping (also both of us), I am done. I barely have enough energy to log onto iChat and check in with B, who is lonely without us on the other side of the world. How am I supposed to write? What should I write? Many people have been asking me to start up again, but honestly...

I am not a “mommy blogger.” I will actually go out on a limb and say that I feel that genre has probably done more harm than good. Well, maybe equal harm and good. Blogs have become so slick and sleek as more and more people are making their living through them, but now reading a mom blog is akin to reading a fashion magazine: Do you feel better or worse about yourself when you read it? Do you look at the pictures and compare your (real) life to the (edited and Photoshopped) one on the screen? How’s that working out for you?

Nobody likes a complainer; I get that. But nobody likes a fake, either. So I’m going to try to find the balance. This blog used to help me work through things that were troubling me, issues I needed to focus on; it was a great place to brainstorm. Even now, after working on this rather short post, I feel a bit of mental clarity. I know it’s good for me. Maybe it will be good for someone else, too.

I still get the occasional email from a young singer who tells me that my blog has encouraged or inspired them. Even though I often feel discouraged and uninspired as I figure out this working mother thing, maybe writing again will help. You’ll have to live with a boring Blogspot template, though; the last thing I have time for these days is learning graphic design. So until I get some high-paying sponsors and hire a designer...

But this is me. You just get me. Real, unflashy, working hard to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


So my friend LMB sort of challenged me to start blogging again while I’m out of work this fall. I’ve tried several self-imposed challenges of the “write every day” type, even starting a new blog on Word Press instead of Blogger, hoping a new interface would kickstart me. Nothing has stuck, and this might not either, but here we go in any case.

Yes, out of work. I finished up a super fun Figaro at Opera North in mid-August, and between then and early December I have no work. Well, I have a one-night concert event - a fund-raiser for Gotham Chamber Opera at La Poisson Rouge - but that’s it. Scary! Thankfully, because of my past work at the Met as a weekly soloist, I actually qualify for unemployment! How many freelancers can say that? I am grateful and not at all ashamed. :)

It’s a tough time in the business. I think it’s safe to say that most of my friends are in similar situations. Smaller opera companies (the ones that aren’t top tier like the Met, Chicago, San Francisco, etc.) seem to have shrunk their seasons to fit in the period from January to May, rather than filling the full school-year type season. Not sure why nobody want to do fall operas, but those jobs were few and far between. It’s a bit of an ego blow that I didn’t get one of them, but when I look around at my fellow “starving artists,” I know I’m in good company. But what do we do in these months??

All of my work this season is in NYC, aside from a short jaunt to Dallas for a Messiah (with B!). I’m thinking about taking on some voice and elementar piano students here at home. I would love to put on a recital somewhere, but that pays exactly zero dollars and requires tons of prep time that I need to be spending on my winter and spring gigs. (Lucia! In Hong Kong!! Yay! Over Christmas!!! Boo.) So, we’ll see.

In non-singing (or, should I say, non-no-singing?) news, I am quickly becoming a Pinterest addict. I have already implemented several ideas I’ve picked up there, and I am constantly looking at ways to improve or enhance our home and our lives. Great recipes, fun activity idea for B3, tons of organization and decorating tips. Love it! It has inspired me to pick up my needlework again, working again on a huge project I started in January 2001. My mind is full of fun gifts ideas for friends and family, and I can’t wait for Christmas.

** In typical representation of the way I’m operating these days, I started this post on October 1. Ah, well... So much for a 31-day challenge! But, at least I’m writing again, and hopefully I’ll find something interesting to say...
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