Friday, October 29, 2010

Lists: 4-13-06

I decided to clean tonight. MISTAKE!!! I should know better. It's one thing to decide to fold laundry, or dust and vacuum (am I the only one who always questions that spelling?), even just committing to the bathroom would be manageable. But no, I decide to clean which translates to me making a bigger mess. Cleaning means filing music, sorting through every stray paper imaginable, finding a more effective method of color-coding my closet, and so on.

So here I sit, on my bed amidst a pile of clean laundry. Blogging. Because that's related to cleaning....???

I won't attempt to justify my extraneous projecting, but I will tell you that I happened across my lists from 4-13-06. Yes, I'm a compulsive list maker. CLMD? Not the best abbreviation for a disorder---looks far too similar to "calmed." Moving on... Finding old lists is quite entertaining when examining how they compare with current tabulations. I found "Places to Go," "New Things to Try," "Professional Options," "Music to Learn," "Career Goals," "Books to Read" and "Lists to Make." Yup. Disorder. But it's SOOOO fun!!!

"Places to Go"
Hawaii, Thailand, Italy: Rome Florence, Milan, Venice, Paris, England: London + Countryside, Chicago, South America: Argentina or Chile, Mexico, Hike Grand Canyon, Cruise: ISLANDS - Bahamas, Carribean, Germany + Austria: fluent German. (How does a language stipulation make it on the "Places to Go" list?!? Seriously...)

ACCOMPLISHED: Rather weak on this one, but made it to Italy, Paris, and England, though not the countryside and not Milano. Chicago, Germany, and Austria--check. Fluent German? Nein. Hawaii and Thailand are still near the top, just for the record.

"New Things to Try"
Salsa Dancing, Surfing, Kayaking + River Rafting, Yoga, Being Organized, Learn Italian, Horseback Riding, Parasailing, Financial Investments, Waitressing (Seriously SR?), Long Hair, Consistently Smooth Legs, Run a 1/2 marathon

YET TO TRY: Being Organized, Horseback Riding, Parasailing, Waitressing (This has not been ruled an impossibility, despite it's oddity on the "New Things to Try" list), Consistently Smooth Legs---no judgement allowed 'til you have a 36" inseam to deal with! That's a lot 'o lengthy limbs...Run a 1/2 marathon (I did train for this at one point but alas, knee injury. I did just find my new half marathon target this past week though!)

"What I Want to Be"
Stable, Consistent, Respected, Loved, Friend to All, Beautiful, Confident, Poised, Soft, Refined, Articulate, Gentle, Wise, Trustworthy, Well-Spoken, Organized, Spontaneous, Efficient, Successful, Focused, Physically fit, Happy, Educated, Virtuous, Motivated, Youthful, Healthy, Innocent, Experienced, Aware of Others, Polylingual, Comforting, Kind, A Confidant, Valued, Free, Thoughtful, Influential, Non-judgmental, Teacher, Teachable, Admired, Humble

No comment on a lifetime list. Except that it's longer now.

I'll spare you the rest, but needless to say "Career Goals" and "Professional Options" have experienced an entertaining amount of revision in 4 years.

How's that for effective cleaning??? If only you could see my room...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Introducing: The M&M Series

Dear Reader(s),

Let us pause for a moment and consider a topic which warrants far more attention than it frequently receives: alliteration. Your mind is probably instantaneously summoning up all the life lessons learned through this grammatical gift. Obviously mine is.

Rhodes' Rituals and Routines:
My dad would tuck me in every night growing up. Every night came the question "What was your best thing?" I wish I had record of some of my answers, as I imagine they'd provide a fair amount of laughter now. Life Lesson---Positivity. Unrelated to alliteration, I realize, so moving on. I'm not quite sure how Part 2 of our routine came into existence, but in a tender act of daddy-daughter bonding, we started a tradition of name-calling. But we wouldn't insult each other in just any fashion; we're all about class. A letter would be selected for the evening and all name-calling had to be done in alliterative form. "S" was always the best letter, in case you were wondering. Life Lesson(s)---Vocabulary is Vital. Optimism is not always Optimal. (Mom got upset that we were calling each other mean names, so we had to try the kindly route for a bit. FAIL!) And "S" rocks.

Alliteration has carried into my adulthood. I love M&M's. They're my favorite candy, and I'm not really a person of favorites. CLARIFICATION: PB M&M's are my favorite. Just in case the casual reader felt a confectionary contribution was in order. And I've been thinking a lot about M&M's recently, because there seems to be a series of alliterative M's coming up in my life:

Month in Moscow. Musician in Moscow. Moscow = Mistake. Misgivings about Moscow. Mental Meltdown over Moscow. This is seeming to be a negative spiral, but there are of course positives as well. Magical Moments in Moscow, Making Memories in Moscow, Meeting the Mafia in Moscow and so on. The negative just tend to have more dramatic flair. Which everyone knows is absolutely crucial.

COMMON THEME: MOSCOW. Just in case you missed it. 27 days to departure. That's not even enough time for a full shredding circuit. As it creeps closer, the to-do list seems to get magically longer. Item #1: Learn Russian.
This was my evening project:

I'm convinced my roommates will be prying my index cards from me soon enough, pleading with me to quit labeling everything in cyrillic. But I'll put up a good fight, fear not. I love those index cards. At this moment, I won't bore you by going through the rest of the to-do list. I do, however, intend to document my moments in Moscow (and pre-moments if you will) and will officially dub all future entries relating to my upcoming adventure as: The M&M Series. If my Russian rantings aren't your thing, be wary of this label. You have been warned. You sinister, sordid, slimy, scary, scandalous, sleazy, shocking, scornful, sly, snobby, superfluous, snotty, sap-sucking snake.

Now what was your best thing? Night!

Yours Truly.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Ever get songs stuck in your head? No? Well here's a little ditty for you.
"Love me, love me, say that you love me, fool me, fool me..."
Take that. Now you should remember what I'm talking about. (Thank you Jim.) WHAT IF you listened to "Lovefool"---yes that's the official title---3 times a day for two months??? It might start affecting you. It's just what music does.

I'm sure the music stuck in my head at the moment is equally recognizable. Those hit opera tunes "Grimes is at his exercise", "Him who despises us we'll destroy" and the ever popular "Old Joe has gone fishing." What? Never heard of them?!? Well, I highly suggest you give them a listen. Maybe some cosmic power can transfer them from my mind to yours so that I can sleep again. Lest you think I complain, let me be clear: insomnia is a small price to play for such a glorious score.

But I do have to redouble my efforts when it comes to making myself sleep after finishing a late night rehearsal. Tonight that involved watching UP and eating brownies while chatting on the phone. Multi-tasking. Cures everything right? Except that I'm still awake. UP is quite a lovely little film though, and there's one particular bit in which Russell reminisces about being home, sitting on the curb with his dad and counting cars that go by, so on and so forth. To which he says "That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is what I remember the most." Yes, I'm waxing slightly profound in a post that began with "Lovefool." Deal with it.


It made me think of all the boring stuff that's made me happy this week. Which I will now share with you.

1. Bringing The Office back into my life. I love the theme song so much that I once tried for hours to figure out how to make my own ringtone without buying it. I may have failed, but my roommate Kara managed to get it. And set it as my caller ID. Few things made my day like our Thursday night Office parties in Michigan. And yes, I tried to put a stapler in jello for the big season opener. I've now been rewatching Season 5 and 6 to develop more effective quotation skills.

Michael: "I would like your undivided attention please."
Dwight: "You couldn't handle my undivided attention."

2. I never paint my nails. Ever. Except maybe a coat of clear. And then I chip at it until it's off. I'm some type of crazy pianist that has always felt a bit disoriented when I see color flashing back at me from amidst the black and white. But don't worry, my boring bit of joy for the week has been painting my nails. It's been done twice already since I reach breaking point and have to take it off. Only to repeat the process. We'll see how long this one lasts...

3. Beginning my compilation of Houston's Top 10 Water Fixtures. Fixtures doesn't seem quite the right word, but it is 1:30 am.

4. HIGH HEELS!!! I go through phases, but at the moment these seem to be a daily necessity. Guess there's something to be said for being 6'2"+

5. In my attempt to be more budget conscious/domestic I have been cooking on occasion and packing my lunch. And I decided I might actually really enjoy packing my lunch. It's made me remember all the times growing up when I'd open my little brown paper bag with eager anticipation to see what Mom had packed. Except now I pack my own. But that's ALMOST equally enjoyable. I get to pick my own treat.

6. Last the best of all the "boring" game. Plane ticket purchases (albeit one pending) from IAH-->>SEA, IAH-->>SLC and PHX-->>HOU. I repeat, last the best: MOM'S COMING!!! A phone call, a few tears (contrived of COURSE) and she's on her way to take care of me. Proof, yet again, that I'm the favorite child.

So...Here's to the delightfully dull tidbits of the week, which have accompanied the "exciting" ones quite nicely. And here's to THE WEEKEND! Which, against my UP philosophy, I hope for all of us is anything but boring. Good night!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grief Counseling

It is often in the moments of great tragedy that we truly come to know ourselves. Loss leaves us slightly broken and left figuring out how to pick up the pieces. That process of recovery will be unique to every individual, and analyzing how we best cope with these times of hardship is crucial in understanding ourselves.

I experienced such tragedy this weekend. After being in a heart-breaking 3-year relationship, I started to hope again. All the broken promises, crushed hopes and disappointments began to vanish as promised change and altered behaviors became manifest. I finally felt like I was in a relationship of trust and understanding. One of open communication and commitment to excellence. Every relationship has its weaknesses, and I knew early on this was no exception. But faults and all, I found it in myself to hope again.

Meet the man primarily responsible for my newfound dreams---Denard Robinson. With a more experienced offensive line and a favored Heisman hopeful, how could I be anything but optimistic? This weekend, though, we hit our first truly low point. Moments which made me remember the years of hardship. Seeing the Paul Bunyan Trophy once again snatched from our grasp hurt. Badly.

While pangs of anguish tormented my soul for a time, I luckily have done a bit of soul searching in the past. And I immediately turned to Grief Counseling. Michael Scott can always relate.
I lost Ed Truck, and it feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears. And at the same time, somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch, with a frozen sledge hammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone, and I'm crying , and nobody can hear me, because I'm terribly terribly, terribly alone.

Knowing someone understands your feelings is crucial to recovery. Lest you think I've lost my optimism entirely, savor this next thought:
There's such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown.

I am confident this grief will ultimately be for my good. Good grief. I would never be one to up and end a relationship simply because we've happened across a rough patch. Those come to all alike, and I am confident that come Week 7, we'll see a resurgence of all the victorious traits previously extolled. And so I go forward. Hoping for healing, optimistic in my offense and daring to dream for the defense.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Circles of Life

There's a long tunnel that leads from the Theater District parking garage into the Wortham Center. And as strange as this may sound, it's one of my favorite places in the building---the passageway into a musical world that is flat-out magical. My daily walk through its tiled halls accounts for approximately half of my commute to work. And since it's empty 90% of the time I'm in it, it's a first-hand witness to my eccentricities. Skipping, running, singing bits of opera, talking to myself...maybe these are things best not confessed, but so it is. Through my comings and goings it's seen me in just about every mood: eager anticipation, nervous excitement, pure bliss, frustration and inadequacy, utter exhaustion, and so on. Basically, it's been watching me grow up.

Monday morning I entered that hallway and as I started my commute through the building, I laughed aloud. Yes, I was THAT excited to go to work. Crazy, right?!? Why? We started production on the project I've been looking forward to since spring, Peter Grimes. As an opera coach, so much of what we do is about preparation. First there are the hours of personal preparation: studying the orchestration, adjusting the piano reduction to be accurate and orchestral, learning to play it, translating the text (bless Grimes for only have bits of bizarre English), learning the vocal lines, and basically stamping your soul with the specific piece of music. And then there's the coaching and preparation that's done with the singers themselves.

Then production begins and preparation is put into practice.

On Day 1, I played for the first staging session we had and it was completely surreal. I sat at the piano in RR1 and played the Prologue for a conductor whose brilliance never ceases to amaze me and for a cast of world-renowned, talented singers. And it was all I could do to keep from grinning the entire time. Because almost two years ago I was in that exact room, sitting at a piano almost identically positioned and playing the Prologue to Peter Grimes while singing all the parts. Auditioning for the HGO Studio.

Needless to say, when I left Monday evening I was still completely ecstatic. Amazed at the talent that converges in a rehearsal room, awed by the genius of a masterful composer, and 100% overwhelmed because I'm blessed enough to be a part of it. And while I didn't laugh on my commute out, I walked through the tunnel that night profoundly satisfied and so happy I thought I might burst. At which point a quick skip seemed perfectly appropriate.

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