March 30, 2013

When he has disappeared, Mother clears her throat. I don't turn around and look at her in the rocking chair. I don't want her to see the disappointment in my face that he's gone.
"Go ahead, Mother," I finally mutter. "Say what you want to say."
"Don't let him cheapen you."
I look back at her, eye her suspiciously, even though she is so frail under the wool blanket. Sorry is the fool who ever underestimates my mother.
"If Stuart doesn't know how intelligent and kind I raised you to be, he can march straight on back to State Street."
She narrows her eyes out at the winter land.
"Frankly, I don't care much for Stuart. He doesn't know how lucky he was to have you."

-- kathryn stockett, the help

I honestly don't think I've ever fully known what I'm worth until the last month or two. there is tremendous power in it.

March 27, 2013


nearly every performance of rinaldo, my friend sharin (she is a wonderful colleague and a beautiful singer, you should hire her) would come out onto the stage with her umbrella and stand under the 'rain' (a shower) and sing lascia ch'io pianga and all of my complicated emotions would come out and I would cry big fat baby tears. this was acceptable because I was alone in the booth and nobody could see me but sharin.

aside: having your own personal soprano sing to you specifically from the stage is pretty special.

I should preface this by saying that I actually first cried at rinaldo on the very first day of rehearsals back in february, and this is going to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I am a total sap, but it happened when sharin sang her very first aria (which is definitely not sad) because she is a really good friend from a larger group of really good friends, all of whom I treasure and miss, and I hadn't seen her in awhile and here she was singing and she was a grown up opera singer, and sounded so beautiful and so I secretly cried a little but didn't tell anyone.

last saturday, on the afternoon of closing night, I drove over to the hotel where all our artists stay and picked up a keyboard I had rented for our conductor for the duration of his stay. let me just take a moment to tell you that gary is possibly the single loveliest and most gracious person I have ever worked with, excellent on the podium/at the harpsichord, and beloved by the singers, orchestra, and staff. rinaldo was very likely either the hardest or the second hardest project I've worked on in my eight seasons at the opera (galileo being tied for the lead), and it would have been unbearable if gary hadn't been unfailingly helpful, patient, knowledgeable, and appreciative. he is the first and probably only conductor to ever refer to me as 'his goddess' at a public event. the two of us make up our own mutual appreciation society.

anyway. I came over to pick up the keyboard and gary had informed me a few nights before that he also was going to give me all his leftover food (they're here for over a month, so they have what essentially amounts to small apartments), and that he had 'something for me.'
'should I bring it to the office, or to the theater?' he asked me, one night after a show.
'to the theater is fine!' I replied. 'no need to make an extra trip to the office.'
'oh good!' he said, then paused. ' you have a car?'
'gary, what on earth!!' I said. 'did you buy me a pony?! because you know, I already have one.'
'oh no! well ... isn't two better?'

so I came and brought a cart from the hotel lobby and we loaded up the keyboard and the stand, and then he handed me a bag of groceries and another bag and said, 'here's the loot!' and I peeked inside and there were bottles, but I didn't take them out while I was standing there. we hugged and he said, "I'm terrible at goodbyes! so, see you in a few hours." and then I got into my car and opened the bag and found a card and these:


which in case you can't tell is two bottles of bourbon, both local.

the card came via pony post:

and was so sweet and wonderful that I choked up in the car.

so later that night when it was dark and quiet in the theater and sharin was standing there with her umbrella, singing her heart out, I sat in the booth, lit by one stand light, and quietly bawled my little heart out. and it wasn't because the aria is so sad and beautiful (which it is) but because there are gracious, wonderful, amazing people in the world, and they are my people, and we were all there together in the room making something beautiful.

in depression you want to see things like this but you just can't. you can't recognize most beauty for what it is, particularly in yourself. I feel so lucky to have my people. all my wonderful people. just, what, 8 weeks ago? I felt like I might as well abandon everything and everyone in my life and go be a park ranger somewhere in the woods, alone, because what is the point of my life right now really.

these people are the point of my life, really. now and always.

addams family

March 24, 2013

oh hey, internet.


• the city accidentally did me a huge favor by putting a turn lane in on my street, right in front of my apartment, because in doing so they turned the part of my street just before our driveway into a no parking zone. every day for the past, oh I don't know, fourteen months? I've mentally cursed out the neighbor in the building next door who parks his huge-ass child molester van so close to the driveway entrance that I'd have to come to a screeching halt in order to make the turn. so thank you, city of portland. also the turn lane is pretty ace.

• it seems like a hundred years ago that I was falling asleep in the middle of rinaldo tech rehearsals. time passes so strangely.

• I discovered during the run of rinaldo that I really like cherry jolly ranchers. (our director brought a bag in to the theater). like, really like. because I am 12.

• in other junk food news, I had most of a bag of popcorn kernels left over from a party we threw this week (I'll tell you about that later) and so I finally braved making popcorn on the stove, since I live in the dark ages and don't own a microwave. and y'all, that shit is easy and now I am in danger of eating nothing but popcorn for the rest of my life.

slightly less miscellaneous:

cookie and I have been hanging out a lot. her leg healed but not before I shelled out $170 on a vet visit, which of course happened to be scheduled about 12 hours after I realized she no longer looked lame. I didn't cancel because I was afraid to trust my instinct. so the vet visit went something like, 'yep ... she's totally fine.' incidentally this is the second large vet bill I had to pay in a two-week period, since I'd had the dentist out just 10 days before for a full float. as a result of paying about $325 to columbia equine this month, I'm currently subsisting on $18 worth of groceries.

by the way, the one fortunate thing about the vet visit was that her all-clear came the day before tech, so fortunately my days of getting to the barn at 7 AM to cold hose and then going back at 9:30 PM ended just before I would have had to instead visit the barn at 5 AM and midnight instead.

anyway. we have been hanging out a lot, although not so much the last few days, when I have just been too worn out. my goal has been to see her at least every other day, either to ride or to hang out, graze, groom. I've taken to walking her around the property on a lead, like a big dog. although this is ostensibly because I want to expose her to new sights and sounds (something I have been pointedly bad at while I have owned her), it might also be because while I was sick last weekend I watched like 6 hours of the best of the dog whisperer with cesar millan. so if you need a dog trainer, call me?

so, cookie and I are kind of hitting the reset button, and I am feeling better about all of it than I have in a long time. now, she nickers to me when I come in the barn door. also, if I stand at my tack bin, which puts me just out of her reach, she makes this ridiculous face:


which is her attempt to mug me for treats. it usually doesn't work.

I had this thing happen a couple of weeks ago where we decided we wanted the singers & orchestra to play bird call sounds backstage at the top of one of the numbers in rinaldo, a number called 'augelletti' (little birds). so I contacted our principal percussion player to rent some, along with a thunder sheet and a wind machine. (it never stops amusing me that this sort of thing is par for the course in my job). then someone asked me to find out how many bird calls he was going to bring over, so I asked, and he said: one.

one bird call.

this was two days before the first time we'd use the calls in rehearsal, so I promptly went in a panic through the entire internet trying to first figure out what kind of bird calls to buy -- they were being played by the singers backstage and there really wasn't time for 'nightingale calls 101' -- and then where to buy them where they wouldn't cost a fortune and could be shipped to me overnight. I discovered that you could buy children's whistles that realistically simulated bird tweeting when filled with water, but after much searching and hang wringing I could only find one vendor on Amazon who could get them to us quickly enough. I placed the order on a tuesday morning for a wednesday afternoon arrival and felt pretty good about it all. the order was for a dozen bird calls. I signed up for a trial of amazon prime and the grand total of the order was $9.98 so I also felt pretty smug and awesome.

then on wednesday, they arrived and were nothing like I thought they'd be and were not even water whistles but rather regular whistles made of wood, in the shape of birds. fuck. me.

at this point, half-panicked and with about 17 hours to go, I made a comprehensive list of every toy, party, and game store in town, with a plan to call them one by one the following morning. not having bird calls wouldn't have been the end of the world -- it was our first tech rehearsal, more than a week before opening night -- but our conductor so enthusiastically believed that I could produce any musical change, item, or instrument at will that I really hated to rob him of that belief.

in the end, totally by accident I thought of cargo, this crazy imports shop downtown where incidentally I spent about an hour and a half on my birthday last year with g, trying on funny hats and making all the lucky cats' paws move and opening the drawer of every cabinet and table they were selling. and although their online catalog is far from comprehensive, there were the birds, $3 apiece. I went to the store in a state of terror, afraid they'd be out of stock or would no longer carry them or god knows what else, but I walked in and there they were, an enormous display of them just next to the register. like, 150 bird whistles. every shape and breed. the girl behind the counter, seeing me grabbing fistfuls of them, demonstrated one to me and I nearly cried in relief.

this is why every night when the singers played them from backstage -- despite being children's toys, they are remarkably bird-like and very present and require no amplification -- I think of them as my birds. I brought one of them, a rooster-shaped one, up with me to the spot booth and at the end of the aria before the bird cue, I'd crawl out of my chair, lay on the floor by the spot window, and bird call as loud as possible, in hopes to add a little magic for the folks in the second balcony.

rinaldo closed last night and today my only goal is to do nothing for as long as possible. although it's supposed to be a relatively nice day -- normally a recipe for total guilt and restlessness for me -- unless portland pulls out 80 degree wather and birds come knocking on my door and the ice cream man drives by a few times, I'm pretty sure it's gonna be me, zelda, netflix, and probably some of that popcorn. and if you happen to need 11 bird-shaped wooden whistles (I broke one), give me holler.

March 11, 2013

in progress

friday, march 8:
I have been in the rehearsal room so long with this group of people and this music that it could be 10 AM or 6 PM and I wouldn't know the difference. time seems not to even matter. I look at the clock and it's 3:51 and only much later do I think, damn, it's almost evening.

except for 14 bars I accidentally broke off the page (and therefore left off entirely) of the bassi part, the rinaldo parts are, thank god in heaven, perfect. the bassi part thing was so stupid -- I had made a much nicer (and actually correct) version but somehow I added the old version to the parts. it was an easy fix but I hated my record to be marred by a stupid oversight. we probably lost about 1 minute in rehearsal about it so, you know. it's fine.

trap room

hours worked in the last 7 days

it's possible I have never worked harder in my life than I am working on this show. there was a lot of work in galileo but most of it was elective on my part. I certainly didn't have to write ten blog posts, one for every scene; I definitely didn't have to attend as much staging rehearsal as I did. for rinaldo all of the work is necessary, and none of it is from mistakes on my part. I've had to rewrite several numbers on the fly in rehearsal because suddenly, hey, actually we wanted this aria from the 1731 version but we thought we wanted it from the 1711 version, which is the version we (we = I) originally transposed. oh, but actually the 1731 version is lacking a da capo so if we could combine the 1711 and 1731 versions, taking the changes from the latter and incorporating them into the longer format of the former, that'd be swell. and we thought we wanted the oboes to play the trumpet III and IV parts for this aria but actually we want them on the trumpet II and III parts instead. and in this one number we want the oboes to play the trumpet part except for 15 non-consecutive bars where we want them to revert back to the oboe part.

I'm actually not complaining about this process at all. I've adopted a very zen attitude about the ever-fluctuating state of this music. it's a good opportunity to develop my ability to edit on the fly, right? and also if I were grouchy about all these changes, well, then I'd be tired AND grouchy and that's frankly too much. but it definitely is very tiring. there's not the same sense of "well, now the orchestra readings are done so my work here is over." I mean, I am still getting emails from the trumpet players saying, "actually we added the oboe to these two bars in #38 also, we forgot to tell you, could you change it?"

our conductor is the loveliest person on earth so I really don't care about any of this. but I did sleep until 10:30 this morning and needed every second of it. that is, by the way, in addition to having slept on and off for part of yesterday afternoon.

as usual, this is why I have not had time to blog. you understand.

by the way in addition to all that I also was going to the barn twice a day to cold hose Cookie's knee. the vet came out on wednesday and declared her to be sound, but did say, "geez, that lump is super weird and I have no idea what it is." we returned to riding on thursday but I haven't had a chance to see her since. after hanging out with her twice a day for almost a week, I miss her.

overheard in the office: "gary is in the camerata room 'spontaneously ornamenting.'"

March 2, 2013

suspense, suspensory

cold hosin'

so my horse may or may not have a serious injury to one of her front legs. a few nights ago our barn owner called to tell me that cookie's knee was swollen, but she had already cold hosed it (the equine equivalent of icing it) and there wasn't really any reason for me to come down. I went down friday morning and hand-walked her around the arena, because (depending on the cause) the movement can help the swelling. then I cold hosed again and I felt okay about it and left her. later in the day our barn manager called and said he'd taken a look and he thought that it was definitely some sort of blunt force trauma and that she probably banged her knee on the stall wall, which would have made sense because she was just moved from a stall with an open panel front to one with a solid wall front.

friday night I came back and was going to take her through the whole litany of 'things you do when your horse is mysteriously busted.' I poked and prodded her knee to see if any of that pressure hurt her (no), but halfway through that process I discovered a mysterious lump on the back of her leg, just behind the knee. bigger than a pea, smaller than a marble, and cystic to the touch -- not bone hard but not squishy like swollen tissue. somewhere in the middle. I quietly freaked out and showed the barn manager and his wife, and we all pretty much scratched our heads. he thought maybe it was an old ligament injury that had healed. pressing on it doesn't seem to faze her at all. but I have no recollection of any time before I bought her when she was unsound at all, ever. so I just don't know.

in the course of the last week, cookie has had her teeth floated, has moved to a new stall, has had her feet drastically trimmed, and then has been ridden on her drastically trimmed feet. any or all of these things could be the cause of the knee and/or the mystery lump. the knee and lump may or may not be related.

my horse has been sound the entire time I've owned her, and, I think, her whole life. so this whole 'treating an injury' thing is new to me -- which is kind of hilarious since I have been so chronically injured myself.

last night I cold hosed it again, walked her a lap or two around the barn, then hung out with her. I was waiting for the barn manager to feed so I could give her some bute, a horsey NSAID. but you don't give it on an empty stomach. all told I was there for nearly 3 hours. I think the poor girl was like 'why are you still here, standing in my stall?!!?!?'

best case scenario is that she just banged the knee and it will be fine (honestly I can't even tell if it's even swollen anymore; at any rate the swelling was never very bad), and the lump was something that somehow I never noticed. worse case scenario is that the lump is an indication of a tendon or ligament injury, to her check ligament or suspensory or deep digital tendon, the connective tissues that run down the back of the leg and tie all those fragile bones together. tendon and ligament injuries can take a year to heal.

it will be what it will be. I'm concerned about her, and super bummed because I had just started riding regularly again, but if it turns out she busted a ligament then I guess I'll just get really good at wrapping legs and we'll have to find some fun things for her to do in her stall for the next few months.

through all of this it occurred to me that there is probably no clearer indicator of just how bad things got for me than the fact that I was considering selling that horse. the idea that I was so desperate and terrified and sad is now sort of incredible to me. yesterday night I had my arm around her neck and I thought, I can't believe I ever considered selling you, and that was when I realized just the full extent of how badly and how long I have been depressed. today I was mucking stalls and thinking about what I was going to do about all this and I realized that I was concerned and bummed but that also, it was okay. and I realized that I think I've felt bad for much, much longer than I was actively aware of. because it has been ... longer than I can remember when I felt like I had a full handle on my life. or that I accepted that I didn't have a full handle on my life but anyhow it was fine.

modern medicine, I am grateful for you.

I mean, I thought about selling that horse. now when I contemplate how the eff I'm going to pay the vet bill (particularly if they bring the ultrasound machine out), I wonder where else I'm going to NOT spend money and think, well, I guess I will just be hungry for awhile. I did want to get back down to race weight.

in the meantime, send us good thoughts. how pathetic if both of us are busted!