May 28, 2013

31 & 364/365ths

my last few moments of 31. it's been hard to write these last few weeks; hard to sit still, hard to make anything coalesce into thought. so many things going on. challenging things, good things. exhausting things. the opera season is over and I finally had a weekend and maybe in a few days I'll figure out how to relax and will finally stop wondering where am I supposed to be right now?

over the weekend I bought myself some birthday gifts, mostly with gift certificates I had saved from other holidays. I left all of what I bought in the original bags, to be opened tomorrow, because when you're a grownup sometimes you have to create your own magic. tomorrow one of my very best ladyfriends is kidnapping me for some sort of mystery birthday surprise, because she knows me and therefore knows how much I like mystery birthday surprises.

31 was in many ways just the same as 30: good until it wasn't. this year it feels very much like I'm turning a page onto something bigger, letting go of what hurt. 31 was beautiful and dangerous, dark and hopeless, frightening, grief-stricken, lost. it was filled with regret and longing and terror, but also love, and forgiveness. a crucible. I have come through it, for a moment at least, and hopefully for a long time to come. I came through it. may I always remember that there is a way through.

'it ended bad, but I love what we started.'
-- fiona apple

May 20, 2013

facts & figures

days worked consecutively without a day off: 18

days off in the last six weeks, prior to yesterday: 2, non-consecutive

work days until I go on furlough: 14 (holy shit)

pages of to-do list to complete before furlough: 3, 8.5 x 14" sized

number of salome errata corrections to make in 14 days: something like 1000

number of days until my birthday: 9

amount I have thought about this birthday: 2 on a scale of 10

be honest: okay, 3 on a scale of 10.

okay OKAY, maybe 3.5

days until the thing I am most looking forward to, which I have not told you about yet: 23

number of presents I received this weekend, of both the thank-you and early-birthday variety: 5

miles I have run in the last few weeks: ..4?

number of pancakes eaten this weekend while my sister was in town: about 12

number of dresses purchased while shopping with my sister: 3

number of dresses purchased that have ponies on them. PONIES: 1

I took today off work and am finding, as I did during galileo, that after so many consecutive days working, it's very difficult to sit still. the looming feeling that there's Something I Have To Do is very strong. this shapeless cloud of guilt is particularly unfun in combination with the fact that I'm still tired and don't really feel like, say, cleaning the house from top to bottom. although I do want the house to be clean from top to bottom. problems.

May 14, 2013

'you're not home, it's probably better'

I am calling to wish you well. I am calling because I want to
change something I said. A year ago you asked me three questions.
I thought you were asking my birthday wishes and answered all
wrong. If you remember (if I know you you’ll pretend you don’t)
I answered:

1) No, I have always been homely.
2) Yes. I believe you have always been too lovely for anyone to bear.
3) Silk. It is not always expensive, and it is impossible to tear.

It’s my birthday again and because I am cleverer now I can answer
you with more nerve. But because I am still me I am pitiless
enough to have your number and call you with this excuse to let
you know I am still alive (I won’t push it by telling you that I am

1) Yes. Thank you.
2) No. I found it a most repulsive photo.
3) Same. Though I don’t think of you, still it’s a near-perfect heat.
And so dear when ruined.

-- brenda shaughnessy

though it doesn't begin for another fifteen days, I have it on good authority that this next year of my life is going to be significantly better than the last.

May 9, 2013

comments from librarians which have recently made my day
"I am just now writing to tell you that we received from Schirmer the set of Galileo that you prepared last year, and it is so wonderful!  Oh my gosh!  I cannot begin to imagine how many weeks of work went into this project!  I appreciate SO MUCH all the work that you did!  So, thank you."
-- from an email from one of the librarians at cincinnati symphony orchestra

"Greetings from Mo Wedow. He just loves you!"
-- from an email from the librarian currently working with our conductor from Rinaldo

"Now I understand why Gary likes you so much."
-- from the same librarian, on the last evening of the conference

minor emergencies: Falstaff edition


orchestra reading 1: our second bassoonist calls in with an emergency and we don't receive the call until just after 9 AM for a 10 AM rehearsal. I have only ever hired one bassoonist other than the two in our orchestra, and that bassoonist lives three hours away. not helpful. the principal gives me two names to call, and then I realize that we also don't have the music. the second bassoonist lives an hour away. I write a frantic 911 post on the MOLA board but the unbelievable irony is that all the librarians who might normally be able to help me are across the river at the conference. in minutes I have an email from a librarian in NYC -- the one we rented the parts from originally -- saying he has masters of all the parts and he's going to scan the bassoon book and email it to me ASAP. I begin calling the subs, pacing back and forth in the lobby of the building, our conductor hovering nearby nervously. the second person I try is jovial and agrees to come in. it is 9:30.

the bassoonist and the music arrive almost simultaneously to their spot in the orchestra at 9:58. the conductor comes over and pats me on the back. "you have tremendous grace under pressure," he says. in truth, I feel a hair's breadth away from bursting into overwhelmed tears.


the baritone singing our Ford takes a wrong step off a set piece in the final room run of the opera, horribly spraining one ankle and tearing a muscle in the opposite leg. he spends the night in the emergency room. he is rendered totally immobile but still wants to sing. there is a great deal of work put into making this possible: ramps built for the stage, dressing room assignments altered, helpers recruited to wheel him back and forth, to help him move around. the whole opera is restaged during tech, which makes everyone twice as exhausted as usual.

but theater is made of people who get things done. we open tomorrow, and you can't tell that there hasn't been a wheelchair on stage all along.


during halftime at the final dress, the principal trumpet -- a very affable chinese man, skinny like a beanpole, who always gives me a hug when he comes in the building -- comes over to talk. his eyes are red and he looks exhausted. he tells me that his wife and young daughter, age 2, are in china visiting family and that his daughter is in the hospital with a high fever, that she has had a few seizures, that he is out of his mind with worry. he says that a pediatrician friend of his has assured him that the seizures are probably normal, and I reassure him of the same thing; my kid brother had them too, as a young child, and though febrile seizures are terrifying, they are usually not a big deal in the long run. but of course there is no reassuring a parent whose child is on the other side of the globe in a hospital, sick and scared.

when I come into work early this morning there is a message from him: his daughter has acute meningitis. he is flying to china, effective immediately. because he is infallibly decent, he calls me and apologizes, which I scold him for. he gives me the names of a few subs, saying in particular, "so and so is the best and could really use the money."

I leave messages for the people I most want to play and then I sit and wait and wait and pace and try to work on parts for next season and mindlessly scroll through the internet. my stomach churns. at a certain point I make more calls. I get in touch with one person, who is completely unavailable but passes off more names. I write a few emails. the concertmaster and I are in nearly constant touch as she tries to get his car home, to get his music from his office, to get all the relevant items to me.

most of the morning is spent either on the phone or waiting for the phone to ring. I call the conductor and both of the other trumpet players and the personnel manager and the concertmaster and my boss. I look musicians up online to figure out who the best options are. falstaff is hard. I call one guy on the recommendation of a person whom I've already called, and the guy sort of takes a gulping breath and says that though he'd like to see the music, he thinks he can do it.

then there is a mad scramble to get the music. the concertmaster can't get out to get the actual part until later in the afternoon, because, understandably, she has her own obligations. I offer to drive down to her (two hours south), pick up the music, drive it another hour south to the sub, and then return to portland. we debate whether this is necessary and she thinks not. I write to the librarian mafia but get no bites. finally, exhausted from pacing the office, exhausted from lack of food (I intended to be at the office until just before lunch and instead am there until 3), I go home, forwarding all my calls to my cell phone. on my way home, the same librarian who helped me with the bassoon part calls. he's on his way home and he'll send me the trumpet part. by 4:30 everything is situated. I nearly fall asleep fully clothed on my bed.

I am still worried sick about the trumpet player.

and now for something completely different:
unusual candy bars -- a review (part 1)

big hunk: like if you combined the worst parts of the charleston chew and the sugar daddy with stale peanuts and then made it twice as big as a normal candy bar.

u-no: first of all, is this pronounced 'uno', like 'number one,' or 'you know'? second of all, this is basically an extremely fancy truffle-style three musketeers. this is the only candy bar I had to eat in two installments.

take 5: I laughed this one off but actually that pretzel really is a game changer.

May 1, 2013

the best collective nouns
a cloud of bats
a wake of buzzards
a glaring of cats
a peep of chickens
a waddling of ducks
a bloat of hippopotamuses
a cackle of hyenas
a scold of jays
a pandemonium of parrots
a pride of peacocks
a gulp of swallows
an ambush of tigers
a zeal of zebras

this comes up because late one night during the conference, over beers, the question was posed: 'what would a group of orchestra librarians be called?' and for some reason it is driving me fucking NUTS. it is the best question and there's a really perfect answer out there somewhere. and I want to figure out what that is.

fancy pants
today I was at lush buying myself a tub of fancy face wash. (it is worth the money.) while I was there, I got a sample of $90 moisturizer. ninety dollars. nine zero. I just finished putting it on my face. results pending.

I am having a lot of trouble making myself sit down and write about last weekend's conference. it was a really special experience and while in many ways it's not difficult to explain why, for some reason it is taxing to say why. I can tell you that it went beautifully, that I survived moderating my panel (in a gala dress), that the metropolitan opera librarian attended my panel and was very kind afterward, that orchestra librarians sure can close down a bar. I met some exceedingly wonderful people. we -- the symphony librarians and I, known collectively as "the Js" (Joy, Julie, Jess) -- did not want anyone to leave. I miss people profusely. the world is big, and our profession is small, and we are very spread out. we help each other out a lot but hardly ever get to work together. we hang out for 3 or 4 days and then part. it's surprisingly hard.

I have to write at length about it for the opera blog so I guess I will have more to say about it then. for now I just want you to imagine what it was like to come back from your best friend's house after a long weekend together when you were a kid. namely: a little lonely.

overheard at the office: conference edition
how did oregon get the pretty librarians?

what ninety dollar moisturizer smells like