Friday, December 19, 2008

Winter Wonderings

There's no place like home for the holidays. Especially when your family puts you up in the exercise room. Always comforting to know your family will make room in the inn. Even if you're not pregnant. Speaking of which...my little sister is! I wish she'd timed things a bit better so she could have birthed a baby Jesus for the family Christmas pageant, but she's not due until the end of June. I suppose we could postpone the pageant...

And the snow? It's everywhere! Tuesday night in Ann Arbor we got a fresh blanket. It was Roommate Christmas that evening and in an effort to get myself in the mood for white hot chocolate (it smelled like popcorn and turned out a bit sketchy--no offense intended Kara), I decided to shovel my driveway. Here are my problems with snow shoveling.

1. I like straight lines. I always have. But in an effort to achieve them while shoveling, I find there is always a bit of leftover snow that escapes me and lines the edge of my beautiful rows. I can't stand this thin line of snow. It taunts me. I heard it. I suppose I could be a true perfectionist and vanquish the thin line, but since my driveway already takes over an hour to shovel--I really spend time focusing on my shoveling technique. I'll work on speed next---it seems useless. Never mind the fact that halfway through the shoveling process, the driveway has already accumulated another inch of snow.

That's all I care to say about shoveling. Except that I secretly love/hate it. Or not so secretly.

In conclusion, I changed a diaper today. We're babysitting the 5 nieces and nephews while their parents are in CA. It had been a long time since I had last changed an infant, for which I'm grateful and will continue to be so. I also helped write/wrote my brother's research paper. 3 and a half pages. Intense. And I practiced piano with my niece for a bit. Most importantly, I got my hair cut. I only do so when I'm in UT, which isn't very often, so I find myself grateful once again.

And I like snow. Especially when there are mountains and ski slopes to go with it. I'm learning to snowboard over break. My brother, who is now approximately 6'2"--YAY for tall boys!, will be my teacher. Still dealing with the concept of a 16-year old teacher.

Here's to 3 weeks in Utah!

The END

(DISCLAIMER: The snow shoveling man is, in fact, not me. I'm just sayin'...)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Intervention emails?

I opened my inbox this morning to find emails from the National Body Challenge and MHealthy Wellness Assessments, the U of M's health program. One had the subject heading, "Why We're Fat." Talk about a slap in the face from the great beyond. Included was the following quote by Thomas Jefferson:

"We never repent of having eaten too little."

Harsh. I suppose that means we should repent for eating too much. I won't do it. But I am going to the gym. The mystical powers of the internet and email were too perfectly timed to disregard. And I repeat, harsh.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Trendy...

I'm all about introspection. Pinpointing trends in my life, evaluating my behavior, finding myself flawless, and moving on. So...not entirely true, but as I was uploading some pictures this evening from my camera, I caught a trend worthy of contemplation.








Yes, the trend is food. Apparently, the past two weeks of my life have been joy-filled because they were food-filled.

I went to Texas. Which meant, I had to have Tex Mex. And go to Barnaby's, the greatest salad establishment in the state. Niko Niko's was a must, since good Greek food is almost non-existent in Ann Arbor and I hadn't been to PF Chang's in over a year so...Compound this with the fact that it was Thanksgiving and you're probably beginning to understand why I had such a great time in Houston. Eating myself into oblivion. (For the record, there was only one day I ate pie for every meal).

Upon returning to MI, it was evident that a Second Thanksgiving was in order. First, my roommates and myself are really just that grateful. Second, we had no leftovers. You decide which was the primary motivation, but it clearly had to happen. And about Twelfth Thanksgiving is still sitting in our fridge. The beauty of leftovers.

This trend might seem problematic. Could eating so much, so consistently really be that healthy? I appreciate your concern, but rest assured that it is unwarranted. Why? Because food fills me with joy. A simple cup of hot chocolate piled with whip cream, chocolate chips, and anything else that I can throw in it, makes all seem right in the world. And if I have developed such a knack for enjoying the simple pleasures of life, should I feel guilt or concern about that talent? I hate to be consistently stealing the words of another, but take the example of Michael Scott:

"I enjoy having breakfast in bed. I like waking up to the smell of bacon- sue me- and since I don't have a butler, I have to do it myself. So most nights before I go to bed I will lay six strips of bacon out on my George Foreman Grill. Then I go to sleep. When I wake up, I plug in the grill. I go back to sleep again. Then I wake up to the smell of crackling bacon. It is delicious. It's good for me. It's the perfect way to start the day."

So simple, yet so profound. Perhaps a bit dangerous considering the injury which ensued, but the premise was accurate. Food = Happiness = Health. I could see this evolving into a top-selling self-help book...something about healthy living and living healthily not being synonymous. More focus placed on having a healthy appetite, and a healthy figure. It's a message our society needs to hear. Comfort food is a constant! It will ALWAYS comfort you!

And this is my life as evidenced by my photos of the past two weeks. Cradling the 2nd Thanksgiving turkey may have been a bit much, but...I've burned far too many calories typing this post, so no apologies. A quick run (or slow waddle) to the fridge is in order. Bon appetit!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who Am I?

Might seem like an intense title for a blog post. Inspired by Zoolander, of course it rings of depth and profundity. The answer to the question Derek poses to himself? "I don't know. I guess I have a lot of things to ponder."

I have justifiably been taking Derek Zoolander as an example in my life and pondering the same subject. Who am I? You might be asking yourself why, and rightfully so, someone as confident and humble as myself would need to reflect on such a topic. Here's why:

We all know that media portrays only truth, and there are obviously situations in which people transform personalities/physique completely. While I have yet to turn into a steroid-eating, woman-chasing monster (my man-hunting has not yet reached monster qualification levels), I do feel that I occasionally experience the duplicity of personalities this movie so clearly portrays. In this film, drugs are the transformation catalyst. In my life? Stress.

Here I sit in Houston, having finished the opera, my Masters recital, and a series of stressful auditions, and I find myself a calm and overwhelmingly pleasant individual. While in Michigan under the strains of graduate school, I tend to feel more like the woman pictured below. No, it is not actually me, though I do tend to react to stress by dressing in a similar fashion.

I admittedly let stress get the best of me on occasion. I become more abrupt, less conversational, and make appallingly racist jokes. When I leave the pressure of my program, I look at my planner without hyperventilating, I do crazy things like read for pleasure, and I still make racist jokes. I mean, a girl's got to be a little consistent...

While it's clearly not ideal to be at least two individuals (I want to name at least one side of me Bon Qui Qui in tribute to my "outta da hood program" sistah), I feel comforted in knowing I am not the only one who finds it difficult to cope with the stresses placed upon me (primarily by myself). My dear friend Michael Scott understands the realities which I face. Some of you may recall the Season 3 Episode entitled "Safety Training." This is the plan he develops to more effectively help the Dunder Mifflin office understand the dangers of stress in the workplace, depression being the primary side-effect in his example.

"You may be asking yourself, "What am I doing on a trampoline?" Well, I thought I'd bounce here for a while, relieve some stress, and then move on with my day. Not! Here's the plan. Dwight, is going to gather all of the office workers and all of the warehouse guys, we're going to have another safety seminar. Only this time, where's Michael? Oh my God! He is on the roof! Now I have got their attention. I... tell them, about the cold hard facts of depression. And then I say, "Hey! You ever seen a suicide?" And I jump. And they freak out. And they get to see... the dangers of depression with their own eyes. Nice side note: They might think "Hey, I should have been nicer to Michael." But that's... not why I'm doing this... Then, I land on the trampoline, take a couple extra bounces for fun. I climb off, walk around the corner... Ta-freakin'-da."

I have no immediate plans to implement such an example in my life, as I am content with my current reflections. Simply recognizing my dual-personality and my poor habits in coping with stress have inspired me to make some changes in my life. I don't know what they are yet, but hopefully those inspirations will follow shortly.

Observations aside, I got the job I flew to NYC to audition for last week! It's in San Francisco and I'm psyched! (But not in the crazy way I've been discussing in this post). "Ta-freakin' da!" Here's hoping I get a year round job next....:)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How sweet it is...

I love what I do. Even more importantly, I love that there are people who love me and support me in what I do. I just spent a wonderful weekend with my parents who came to visit me, see the opera I've been working on all semester, and listen to my second Masters recital. I'm afraid I was a bit stressed over the weekend with a research paper hanging over my head and a recital to play on Monday, but I loved having them here.

It was also an amazing sensation to play a recital for a hall filled with so many of my friends from the various aspects of my life: church, school---I guess those are the only aspects of my life, but still...:) I loved walking out from the green room following the performance and seeing so many of the people who make my life possible in one place. Thank you to all those who put forth so much effort to be there!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Do svidaniya

At this point in the semester, survival is the objective. Successful survival is the ideal. Life starts feeling a bit like a video game: I have to beat a level and in order to do that I have to first destroy the freaky little monsters, then jump over a lake of fire, and finally kill the big bad creature at the end. (So what if I haven't played video games since the original Mario Bros when I was 8!) Point being, with each obstacle you pass successfully you're one step closer to winning. Or surviving in this metaphor.

Well...I totally made it past the freaky little monsters! I played my piano dress rehearsal for Eugene Onegin today and now I get to bow out and let the orchestra step in. I'm finished with the opera.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

UCTSOMPWWSTSMPTTMLOCFR

I believe that in today's society one must be wary of the acronym. When the need arises to mask the complexity of an operation behind a series of capitalized letters, the validity of such an organization is drawn into question. In truth, I reference only one specific acronym---UPS. For those of you who spend time on www.acronymfinder.com, let me clarify: I am referencing United Parcel Service, and not Underwater Photographic Society as you may have initially suspected.

I wage an ongoing war with UPS. It consists of me purchasing articles online (I'm actually an Amazon Prime member, and make good use of that membership), and UPS attempting to deliver them. I miss the initial delivery, as I tend to be away from home ALWAYS, and they leave me an official notice which says they'll try again the next day. Sometime between the hours of 8-11, 11-3, or 3-5. So could I possibly arrange my schedule so they can deliver it in that time frame? Needless to say, I miss the package, they repeat the process, refusing adamantly to leave anything at our house without a signature. My free 2-day shipping becomes free 2-week shipping while my packages gather dust in a warehouse 20 minutes away.

I occasionally make the sojourn to Ypsilanti, taking my knife with me of course, and brave the UPS facility. As I did today. The forces of Utterly Pathetic Service were aligned against me and just as I handed over my package slip, all the power died in the building. This left me stumbling blindly about in the darkness (with knife in hand of course), knocking over towers of packages, and eventually taking shelter in a vacant brown delivery truck. Or maybe not---BUT in the twenty minutes I waited for the computer system to reboot this wouldn't have been an impossibility. I was thrilled when I could finally learn the status of my package. As the Unhurried Product Salesman pronounced my package sentence, I could do nothing but gaze at him in horror and disgust. My package had been returned?!?! Without me receiving notification? (For the record, UPS claims they informed me on a postcard. But delivery was most likely attempted somewhere within a 24-hour time when I was expected to be patiently waiting at the door for a delivery). And thus passed my Ultimately Pointless Sojourn.

The acronym won this round. But thankfully I am not alone in dealing with the complexities of UPS.

Please stay tuned for updates concerning the status of my package which was supposed to ship my PowerbookG4 to the magical land of CA for repairs: UCTSOMPWWSTSMPTTMLOCFR. I mean, what good is only a 3-letter acronym anyway?

Monday, October 13, 2008

All in a day's work...

You can learn how to anything online. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should.

I believe in do-it-yourself projects. Sometimes. Mostly when it saves me money. Or just when I get random urges to beat "the system." That invisible world of "they" who are out there to take my money because I know nothing about "their" line of specialty. The automotive repairs "system" for example. Whenever I have to take my car in for repairs, I have no choice but to believe what they tell me, smile prettily and hope for a nice employee and a discount. I have no power, because I know nothing about cars. Vicious system. I no longer have a car in an effort to protest against "them." (Amongst other more practical reasons, such as it dying and leaving me stranded in Wapakaneta, OH.) Anyway...

On Monday, September 22nd, my hard drive died. And no, I had NOT backed up ALL my files, but thank you for asking and reminding me of my idiocy. Thankfully, I didn't lose much, but I AM still mourning the loss of this summer's pictures. Without a functioning hard drive, I found myself facing a decision. New computer? My 12" Powerbook G4 is my child. Could I really replace her so easily? Plus a new laptop is quite an investment (I'm committed to remaining in Mac realm) and I'm not sure I can take that type of financial plunge at the moment. The only other alternative was repair. But $300+ to spend on a child who's natural lifespan would be no more than another year or so...

I chose Option C. The "I can learn how to do anything on the internet so why should I pay a professional?" route. Here's how my last Wednesday night went down.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN:



Feel free to note the amazing method in which I kept the 1,789,343 invisible screws sorted.

After a couple hours of intense concentration (I can see why 12" Powerbook repairs are more expensive--tiny parts!) I had completely taken apart my computer and resassembled it with a new hard drive. The only casualty was the F2 key. With great anticipation I pushed the power button, having renewed my child's life--bringing her back from the dead if you will. And...

It didn't work.

But I really enjoyed myself! And just for the record, I think I might have just gotten a faulty new hard drive. There's no way the error could have been in the repairs. Needless to say, my baby is now safely scheduled for a doctor's appointment to diagnose her current illness. (I will NOT tell them I tried repairing it myself.)

MORAL OF THE STORY: Do not attempt do-it-yourself projects if you see the *****VERY CAREFULLY***** in the instructions. Chances are you're not qualified to deal with directions that come in CAPS and are surrounded by foreboding stars.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Extraterrestrial Evidence

If you were wondering if "returning to Michigan" is synonymous with "dropping off the face of the planet," this entry is to reassure you that it is. Which makes me scientific evidence that life exists beyond this Earth. Add that to a resume!
POINT: I am alive, and slowly taking control of the life that awaited me here in this northern wilderness.

The semester started almost before I arrived, my first meeting with the conductor of our fall opera (my teacher) was scheduled for the Sunday before school started. I arrived Friday evening, and immediately set up camp at the music school. Aside from the time I spend sleeping--which I value VERY much--I have maintained that camp and done so at least somewhat effectively. The opera's going well, my Russian's improving rapidly and I now know a plethora of words that I'm sure will be enormously helpful in everyday conversation: eternity, sermon, fate, duel, etc. But who ever said that opera was practical?

Speaking of practical, I've started filling out JOB applications. Yes, it might seem a bit strange to you that I would actually abandon my calling in the classroom and my short-term summer jobs, but the time has come...maybe. More school is not entirely out of the question as the DMA program here is quite compelling. Anyway...how many jobs do you have to apply for that require a headshot?!?! Well, ALL of mine do. Welcome to the world of performance! So while I was in UT I did a quick shoot with an amazing photographer and instead of doing JUST headshots, we decided to have a good time. She just happened to have a leopard print umbrella on hand...
Here are a few of the pics:





You can check out more of Brooke's work here or on her blog. She's fantastic (and you'll probably see some gorgeous pictures of my sister Dani's wedding as well).

So, here are the current cities under consideration for future residency. Let me know your preferences as I have yet to decide mine---though the decision will most likely be determined by a future employer. :)

Houston, TX
Washington D.C.
Los Angeles, CA
San Francisco, CA
Miami, FL

Here's to a crazy fall of auditions, opera, the "rebuilding" of the MI Wolverine football team, and my last year of life as a student! Maybe...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jail Break

Frequently people neglect to see the similarities in my profession and serving time in jail. Understandable considering there aren't many. But I will ask you to consider for a moment, the black and white striped prison attire of yore. And the usage of the expression "behind bars." Now, consider the following taking special care to note the colors of the image:

Yes, that's right. Black and white. And stripes. Anyone ever thought about how musical measures are referred to as "bars" and that university practice rooms are actually called cells?
Well, the latter is a blatant falsehood and the similarities may end there, but I thought it was a topic worth considering. Especially since during my stay in Utah I have spent approximately 9 hours a day seeing black and white---keys, scores, you name it. I'm up against a serious deadline, so I wasn't leaving the house, my appearance was far from attractive and my hygiene was becoming questionable. (All tendencies experienced while serving time). While going stir crazy, I realized something needed to be done. Something drastic. So, instead of just stepping outside like a normal individual, I left the state. On a jet plane. (Insert music here).
My weekend in Houston was fantastic. It was a melding of my worlds as I introduced friends from my Utah life to my Texans. Got a dose of Tex Mex, more chocolate chip cookies than could possibly be good for any individual, and a healthy new mindset. Which made coming back to the keys today the wonderful job that it is, instead of drudgery and jail time.

As proof that this actually happened---I DID leave the piano room---I have pics of me with people that were known to be in TX over the weekend.

Adam Smith. Only two simple words that describe the funniest man alive. Adam Smith.

An evening out at the Galleria Mall and Cheesecake Factory.

ANN!!! She's beautiful, talented, fantastic--and now she lives in Texas! Could things get any better?!

Sondra's dinner appetizer at Cheesecake Factory. Just one of the many reasons we get along exceptionally well.

Ever heard of Lip Venom? A lip plumper for those who might long for a fuller look. This condition is called Venom Lip, the direct effect of an allergic reaction to the aforementioned product. I think if my lips had this type of reaction you might not see my face anymore.

My Utah State friends, now transferred to Texas.

Only a weekend, but it was a needed and well-rewarded escape!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Bon Qui Qui

Occasionally I incorporate random phrases into my every day conversations---typically quotes from movies, The Office, or the hilarious happenings of my everyday life. This video goes out to my High School girlfriends who at lunch today heard me use the expression "Do not get loud with me." (Please read that with the slang dialect as it is somewhat difficult to provide a transliteration).

If "I will cut you" is not used in your daily conversation after watching this video, you may need to see it again. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Things happen. People lose their heads. In this scenario it happened to be the groom, but in the Rhodes' home, you never know if you might be next. Not to imply that we live in a hazardous environment--I did just return from the land of Middle-East terrorism--but I will say that the stress of two weddings in two weeks creates a bit of chaos. Two weddings you say? I could handle that easily. Well, compound the insanity with a move.

While our home isn't exactly mobile, in about a month our family will be. For some time my parents have kept a small "For Sale by Owner" sign in our frontyard. (FSBO for those of you who prefer professional terminology). With the market being what it is/was, this didn't mean much. But 2 days before my return from Israel, I was informed that the house hadsold. As the new owners would like to be in as soon as the possible, it was expedient that we find another home. This picture was clearly my first choice, but it didn't seem to meet all the families' needs. For those interested, the Utah Rhodes' camp will be moving up the hill and down the street from where we currently live in Alpine. I will maintain my current residence in Ann Arbor, but rest assured that my transient lifestyle will continue and my location will change in approximately 8 months.

With the sale of our home has come frenzied house cleanings, inspections, and house shopping, all within the two week/two wedding time frame. Welcome to our lives. Lest you misinterpret this entry and it's suggestive photos, no one has lost any heads. The brides are in fact behaving admirably. Above all, my mother is nothing short of a miracle worker, preparing countless intricate details for each of her daughters "days" and maintaining a functional (mostly) household at the same time.

This is a representation of my mother's exceptional talents.
For those concerned about my well-being amidst the insanity, fear not. My tribute speech for Karlie's wedding is nearly prepared and I skillfully escaped tying bows around the 300 guest gift boxes by not so skillfully tying bows. Basically, life is good. 2 days to the first wedding and only another 16 to the second! Heads should be able to stay intact for such a time frame. Thankfully I'll be here to witness any loss of limbs or sanity, while enjoying the beauty of my sisters' nuptials.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Approximately 33 hours, 3 flights, 2 layovers, and 5 movies later.....I'm home!!! It's hard to believe the summer flew by so quickly. Watching the movie Prince Caspian on flight number one seemed to pinpoint a bit how I felt. Leave reality for a while, have some amazing adventures in another world, and then--almost as if it had never happened--you're back in reality. Which is also fantastic, but completely removed. Doesn't get any more profound than Disney.

Needless to say, it was a fantastic month. Here's why:






My friends!!! I would say the primary benefit of my work is the number of fantastic people I get to meet. Singers can be a bit overwhelming, but for the most part I thoroughly enjoy spending my time with them.






The place!!! Israel is a truly fantastic country. The scenery is unbelievably diverse, as are the people. I went with Karlie to get her bridals done and was mind-boggled when the photographer told me he never wanted to visit. His first reason was the terrorism. Valid, but it has subsided considerably over the past few years and Tel Aviv, for being a big city, actually has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. His next concern was that it was a third-world country. The conversation had to end there. You can't argue with ignorance, but please note that Israel is NOT a third-world country. In case you were wondering. Anyway...these pictures are from Jerusalem, Nazareth, and the Dead Sea.

Last, but definitely not least, is Yotel. I had an 11-hour layover in London beginning at 9:30 pm. The prospect of sitting up in the airport all evening, following a 5 hour flight and looking at 13 hours more was not a happy one. Thankfully in Heathrow they have a small hotel (Yotel) with the smallest rooms imaginable, but television, movies, AND free internet. Basically, the greatest invention ever. Which brought my trip to a nice close. Long live the Yotel.

And now...I'm home!!! So, anyone who's in Utah---look me up and let's do lunch! Here's to a fantastic summer!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Living Nightmare

I hate the umbrella. Typically it's some obscene shade of neon and being waved high in the air. Behind it is a hoard of people with cameras, sunburns and fanny packs. And yesterday, I became what I hate. One of those people mindlessly following the umbrella. And it wasn't just any umbrella. Check it out.

My irrational disdain of such tourism was thrown back in my face. With a Wal-mart umbrella. Talk about irony. BUT...I have to say that this tour was for the best. While in principle it was not my ideal, I saw far more in a day than I would have on my own and I learned some interesting facts. Here are a few that I enjoyed.

Tel Aviv has a population of only 260,000 but on any given day there are a million people in the city. Apparently everyone commutes in to work. Needless to say, there are some serious traffic issues.

60% of the world's diamonds are exported from Israel.

Apparently Nazareth in the time of the Savior had a population of only about 150. If this is true (I inherently doubt everything tour guides tell me), Mary's situation as an unwed, expectant mother, seems even more amazing. Only a real woman could put up with such small town gossip.

I'll save the other interesting facts for a later blog, but here are a few pictures from the day.

Hanging out at the Jordan River where baptism has become a strong tourist attraction. For a small exorbitant fee you can pay to be dipped in these waters.

The Mount of Transfiguration.

An olive press in the ruins of Capernaum.

Along with these sites, we made stops in Nazareth, Tiberias, and the Sea of Galilee. More pictures will be added in the future in case you're desperate to see them. I will say that while it's interesting putting places with names you've heard you're whole life, if you didn't already believe in the events that occurred there, seeing them commercialized will do nothing for you. This being said, I'm grateful I got to see them and look forward to my Dead Sea trip tomorrow!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

When in Rome

Once upon a time, I was in Italy....

Monday, July 21, 2008

Life in the Lobby

I live in a hotel. The Basel Hotel to be exact. More accurately, I live in the lobby of the aforesaid hotel, since apparently I was assigned one of the 3 rooms in the hotel that doesn't get wireless internet. This being the case, I've gotten to know the hotel staff very well so I can put in quality time on Skype and checking my email. Despite the inconvenience of being a permanent fixture in the lobby, I am VERY grateful for my internet service and decided I should blog my appreciation. Not just about my internet, but my life in Tel Aviv. So here goes...

I live in a hotel. Which means I have maids. They make my bed, tidy my room, and bring me fresh towels every day. I haven't lived at home for a while, so this is quite novel and refreshing. I could really get used to it. Beyond the housekeeping, I get free breakfast every day. And it's amazing!!! Lots of salads (Israelis are really into salad for breakfast), veggies, fruits, eggs, pancakes, pastries, cheeses, cereal, yogurt, etc. I love food and even more importantly, I love having someone make it for me. So life is pretty sweet. I don't have a washing machine which is a bit problematic, but it could be worse.

My hotel is approximately a two minute walk from the Mediterranean Sea. There are plenty of sandy beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and refreshing salty breezes. I've always loved the ocean (especially when I can actually see the bottom) and it's reinvigorating to be able to go for a seaside stroll at the end of a long day at work.
Only negative would be the sand that manages to take over my existence.

I get to go to work every day doing what I love. Not everyone is so lucky in real life. I play the piano for a living and will for the rest of my life. Which is fantastic!!! On top of that, I'm currently working with some top people from the business and getting wonderful job experience that I know will help me in the coming years and job applications. Beyond resume building, I learn A LOT from all these people. Sometimes I learn what I don't like and what I don't want to be in the future, but that's also quite useful, so...I'm glad I came!

I meet amazing people everywhere I go and Tel Aviv is no exception. First, there's the White family. Ashley (Mott), B and there wonderful family have been so kind to me--picking me up for church, having me over for dinner--basically just being family away from hope. It's always wonderful being around such strong church members and they have made my stay in Israel much more enjoyable. There are other members of the Tel Aviv branch who are equally friendly and have been very interesting to meet. Just an interesting side note, but our church meetings are typically conducted in four different languages: English, Russian, Spanish and...whatever they speak in the Philippines. Quite the international experience.

Beyond church, there are wonderful singers and wonderful people in this program. It's always fascinates me to hear peoples stories. So many different people in this world and so much to learn from all of them!

Finally, being here in Tel Aviv has made me especially grateful for all the wonderful relationships I have at home. I have so many people I value in my life and being away from all of them just makes me appreciate them even more.

Basically I have a wonderful life. And it's pretty great in Tel Aviv. I'm tired and looking forward to some time in Utah, but I'll miss my little existence here in Israel. But mostly due to the fact that once I leave I'll have to start making my bed...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Shalom

I have no desire to ever learn Hebrew. In case you were wondering. It just sounds difficult and I can't even read the letters, so it's out.

As you can probably deduce from the above statement, I made it to Israel. I got to Tel Aviv Sunday evening, started opera rehearsals on Monday and have been busy ever since. Coming from Italy the work load's been a bit of an adjustment. Something about having a pausa in the middle of the day that just makes everything feel more relaxed. And the Italian attitude in general. Here in Tel Aviv I've only had two long days at school, but it's felt like a week. Partly because I picked up some type of virus on my flight to London and have been suffering from a cold (in the hottest climate ever), but regardless it's been long.

That being said, I absolutely LOVE it here! Tel Aviv is breathtakingly beautiful. You can see the beach and the Mediterranean from my hotel window and it's lovely. And even better, the program is fantastic! My conductor loves me and is arranging for me to work with some Russian conductors on the opera I'll be doing in Michigan in the fall. The program coordinator gave a masterclass last night, and it was brilliant. And really well attended---about 400 people! I play for one tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The people in the program are very friendly and lots of them are very talented as well. My roommate is from Mexico City and is one of the nicest girls ever! We won't be roommates for too long because her boyfriend will be coming to Tel Aviv next Wednesday, at which point she'll move out---but that just means my own room! The other pianists here are incredible, which is a bit intimidating but more inspirational than anything. Most of them are older and have a lot of great advice and helpful suggestions.

Basically, life is good. And I'm in Israel. รจ tutto.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Time

It's hard to believe that I've already been in Europe for five weeks. Despite the slower pace of life in Italy, time still flies. Tonight we have our final concert in Urbania and tomorrow I'll begin my official week of vacation. The itinerary looks promising: 2 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Naples, 2 nights in Florence, and a final night in Bologna. Then I catch a flight for London, spend an evening there and then fly to Tel Aviv.

It's the oddest feeling, but I often get the sensation that I live in multiple worlds. Per esempio, I have this life in Italy at the moment. I go to school, I have rehearsals, I go grocery shopping, I eat gelato--basically I've settled into an Italian routine. I have fantastic friends, a great roommate, etc. but tomorrow this world will vanish. The people I've met will all go their separate ways and I'll then have to start a new life in Israel, where I'll stay just long enough to create a world and then leave.

All the above makes for an interesting lifestyle and it just happens to be one that I love. There are negative aspects, especially the good-byes and the transiency, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I get to meet fantastic people from random places around the world, study cultures and languages---all the time doing what I love and making music. And best of all, at the end I get to go home. To a semi-divided world in Utah/Michigan. Pretty sweet setup.

But the end of an existence is always a bit sad, hence my reflections of the day. Urbania has been wonderful and I love the Italian people and culture more than ever. (I've decided to retire in Italy). And I'm really looking forward to Tel Aviv and my rough sojourn in a hotel with free wireless. So...here's to the end of an existence and the beginning of another!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

France, Italy...guesses for next year?

Birthdays are fantastic. I mean nothing can beat that amazing feeling of aging overnight. Here's how June 5, 2008 went down:

I'm not normally much of a cereal fan, but this specific type, "Vitalis," especially the frutti di bosco flavor, is brilliant. I'm considering eating the cost of shipping multiple boxes home. It was the perfect way to start the greatest day of the calendar year.

I went to school to continue my commitment to education, occasionally perceived as avoidance of the real world, and the Scuola had gotten me a beautiful rose. Wanyi, a fellow pianist from Michigan, was my sidekick for the day and, more realistically, my entire time in Italy.

During our 30 minute class "pausa," we hit the Thursday morning market. Picked up some fresh fruit, porchetta panini, and calamari, but mostly just enjoyed the fact that it was a beautiful day. (It's tended to be a bit rainy thus far in my Italian experience.)

Urbania is small but beautiful and everywhere you look there's a hill that looks picture perfect. This is the view down the street from my apartment.

A little gelato appetizer---they don't eat dinner here until 8:30 or 9, so I swear it's necessary!

Went to dinner at a small hotel and it was fantastic! It was the 4 pianists, the director of the program, and one of the faculty coaches.

This was the antipasti. Delicious!

The dinner party.

It also happened to be Jennifer's birthday---another one of the pianists, so we went in on a cake that was pretty freakin' brilliant. Unfortunately we didn't get home from dinner until just after 11:30, so the actually eating of it was postponed until Friday. It was worth the wait and topped off with some amazing gelato.

I had planned several wishes over the past year, so even though I was candle-less I found a way to make do.

Overall, it was a lovely day. The most interesting bit to me, however, was in pondering last year's birthday in France with a mixture of nationalities in comparison to this one in Italy AND my 22nd in Utah. It's really just interesting to sit back and watch where life takes you. And wonder where I'll be next year on June 5th!
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