February 2, 2010

per pieta

1. Jason.

2. Last night in rehearsal, as I was trying to stumble through after receiving the news, I was talking to a chorister & one of our volunteers about the summer of 2011, when, because of two consecutive abridged opera seasons, I will be off work (along with many of my colleagues) for five months. I said I want to see it as an opportunity to do something extraordinary, and mentioned that I hope to celebrate my 30th birthday by traveling to Mongolia to ride on a horseback expedition through the Gobi desert. Both of them -- surprising to me -- were aghast. I explained how I have always had a fascination with Mongolia; how it's considered the birthplace of the horse; how it would be with a professional equi-trekking company. The chorister, obviously not personally onboard with the idea of traveling to a very remote, very empty foreign country, nevertheless smiled sincerely and said, "I have always loved that you know just what you want for yourself, and you go for it."

After the chorister walked away, the volunteer looked me square in the eye and said slowly, as if he really wanted me to hear it: "I think you should carefully reconsider your plans." A thing I cannot for my very existence ever imagine saying to a person. So belittling, so condescending. Why?

3. Our concertmaster, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for over a year now, is back in the hospital with a grapefruit-sized tumor in her stomach. Her prognosis, which has always been bleak, has taken a terrible lunge for the worst.

4. After rehearsal last night, a group of our musicians, all roughly my age, stood around in the pit lounge making plans to get a drink. I had to walk past them at least three times as they conversed; I secretly hoped they would invite me along. They didn't. I clutched my scores to my chest and shuffled upstairs, feeling like Cinderella, alone.



  2. Jess, words simply cannot express how sorry I am for your loss. While it's probably small comfort now, please know that I was sending you and your entire family as much positive energy as I could possibly generate.

    Ever since I started announcing the items on my epic 2010 to-do list, I've gotten similar reactions from people, many of whom seem convinced that I’m either “going through a phase” or warding off the “obligatory” mid-life crisis. I guess I’ve kind of given up explaining what motivates me to jump from an airplane, take salsa lessons, or get a tattoo; even if I could, I’m not sure it would make any more sense than it does right now. The only thing keeping them from sharing in the excitement and adventure is a complete and total lack of imagination.

    And re feeling like Cinderella: been there, hated that.

  3. Thanks, Bob. People sometimes really can't understand things outside their purview, I guess. It really puzzles me. I just can't imagine not being enthusiastic about somebody's new life goals -- large or small -- and I definitely can't imagine knocking them, even if I didn't agree with them. Especially since, in the particular example of this person I talked to, it wasn't the idea of travel abroad or travel alone or any of those things; it was just location. Very puzzling. I agree about the lack of imagination.

    In other news: tattoo?! Hadn't heard about that one :)