Busy, Busy, Busy

September 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm (Music, School) (, , )

School has been driving me nuts. It’s only week, what? Three? And I’ve been running around like a decapitated chicken. I’m up to six songs for my voice lessons this semester – minimum requirement for a second semester student: six. I am working on memorizing the four-song cycle Blue Mountain Ballads by Paul Bowles, I have the de Luca song in Italian down pat and am struggling through the two Handel as per usual.

Baroque music is hard, in case you didn’t know. For a look at the second song I am working on, look here:

The soprano doing it is fantastic and I’m a little jealous. Ah well, someday!

As she ought to, Dr. D’s coming down hard on my bad habits. I have several years of bad singing habits deeply ingrained into both brain and muscle memory, cemented by two voice teachers. I was taught by a tenor for a while, which apparently was the worst idea ever because the way their voices and bodies work to produce sound are so vastly different from all voice types that having them teach is just bad all around. A lot of it is breath management and breathing, with which I can legitimately argue that it’s not going to improve until I move somewhere where I won’t be exposed to allergens 100% of the time. More importantly, though, is convincing my brain that no, I am not, in fact, a heavy voice type, therefore I have absolutely no reason to be pushing as hard as I do.

Out, not in.  And turning off my brain for half of what I am doing would also be brilliant because I tend to overthink what I do. As Dr. D says, I work too hard and being a lyric soprano I should not be working hard at all because it’s equivalent to erecting giant barriers to work around. It can also damage the vocal cords in the long run; I’ve had a few close calls before and have no interest in repeating that experience or winding up like either Karita Mattila or Natalie Dessay, who both required surgery to reverse the damage done.

I’m also struggling a lot with piano; I am simply not very good at it and I’m absolutely terrified I won’t do well in this class, thereby ruining my GPA and dashing all hopes of transferring wherever I want to. I haven’t had the chance to talk to Dr. D about transferring and recommendations and such yet because she’s been just as ridiculously busy as ever, but I have an appointment with a guidance counselor for next Tuesday. Here’s hoping it’ll go well.

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So-so

September 1, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

Another successful day. I was at the college at an exceptionally early hour, but that turned out to be okay. One of the guys came over to talk to me because he was just as early as I was. Polishing up my social skills: success! I picked up both the recordings of the pieces we will be singing in chorus this year and the soprano part, so I should be alright. I also signed up for a practice room. I only filled out one time slot, on Tuesday, but I might check back for a second because I just don’t know how much I will have to practice just yet.

After my last class, I headed over to the student services building where I picked up the form I’ll need to fill out in order to get a confirmation letter from the college that I am enrolled in the fall semester. For what I need it, I do not know, but my father requested it and so I hopped to it. It’ll cost me five bucks. I can deal with that, even though it’s like, uh, I’ll be picking it up, so it’s not like you guys are paying postage. Seriously?

I am still a little jet-lagged, but what else will you expect? I made it until 09.30pm yesterday and then collapsed into bed. I felt a little ill, so I couldn’t sleep at first. Downed a phenergan. Sleep was imminent. I have found that packing my stuff the night before allows me to sleep a little longer if I want to. I might even start laying out my clothes like an elementary schooler again if it saves me time and stress in the morning. Getting to school early saves me a lot of money because I only have to pay for the bus fare in one direction. I am also still waiting for the books I ordered to arrive. I need my schoolbooks, Amazon. I can only deal with irritated professors for so long. On the other hand, I don’t feel as though they have any right to be snappy – schoolbooks cost a fortune. Even with the discounts and the books being used, it still made me cringe; it’s no wonder everyone is heavily in debt. Jesus.

I have also started keeping a hand-written journal again. I figure it is a quaint, if slightly anachronistic, thing and that such written forms keep for a while. Who knows? Maybe my future self may need it or find it good for a laugh. If nothing else, if anything happens to me, there will be something in paper for people to hold on to. I would know that feels; Lena’s box has been in my bed ever since I picked it up from the vet because it helps me sleep better. It makes her memory feel a little more tangible, even as I hurt inside.

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Beginnings

August 31, 2009 at 4:58 pm (Life, School) (, , , , , )

The first day of the new semester has come and gone. I’m not sure I feel any better or wiser; I just feel like I’ve progressed further down the line of education. I suppose that’s part of the deal, eh? My schedule’s going to be pretty full with all the practicing and registering with the DMV for my learner’s permit and God knows what else I can come up with.

I’ve been going to bed at nine. I think I might try and push that up to ten, just so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night because my bladder is so ridiculously full. That’s one nightly ritual I can live without. However, ten is the latest simply because I’ll probably be getting up between 7.00 and 7.30 for the rest of the semester. This allows me to hitch a ride to school with C. Yeah, it gets me there an hour earlier than I have to be, but I figure I can take a book along, listen to music or actually socialize with people for a change. I managed to avoid that for much of the last semester. I’m making an active effort to no longer do that.

So I arrived in the music building a full hour earlier than I had to and immediately proceeded to fall back into old habits, which includes sitting quietly and not interacting with whoever may be in the hall with me. At some point, one guy looked at me as I dropped my iPod back into my bag and said, “Did you dye your hair?”

“Yeah, I did. And cut it, too.”

“OH MAN! I’m sorry! You’ve been chilling there the whole time and I didn’t even recognize you. It looks great. How was your summer?”

I was a little stunned because I end up considering myself fairly mousy for most part. I know I’m not, but I can fade into the background pretty well if I want to. I didn’t feel super confident my first semester. As I’ve stated here before, I’m getting over that phase. I need to be more outgoing, talk to people and just be myself. I’m just surprised this guy had noticed my existence the semester before at all. I got up and chatted with him for a bit, then more people drifted in, all of whom also recognized me. I talked to them until they had to go to class, at which point I sat back down and watched some more of Pushing Daisies on my iPod.

Someone sat next to me and I tried not to listen in on their conversation on the phone. I’d thought the voice sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure. Turned out it was T, one of the girls who’d been in my class during the first summer session. She signed off the phone and we talked for about half an hour; turns out we have some classes together. I should be okay.

My music theory class is small, which is fantastic. Same prof as last semester, as I’d requested. Thank God it went through. Not that I have anything against the other guy who teaches it, but Prof. S has a different understanding of teaching that meshes well with my personality and way of learning. Once I find something I work well with, I try not to change it. My lab class also runs at the same time it did last year. I felt a little uncertain during the half-hour break between Chorus and Lab, but some new girl broke the ice by telling me she thought I was really pretty and it went from there.

All in all, I’d say it’s been a pretty good day. I finished a book I’d been postponing reading for quite some time due to the fact it was my dad who handed it to me. My father and I don’t usually agree on what either of us consider a great read. This book, Eine exklusive Liebe is not something I’d consider a FANTASTIC read, but it was a good book. It was written by a woman a little older than my sister in an attempt to reconcile and explore her grandparents’ double suicide and how that tied into her understanding of herself and her family, and to rediscover some of the history lost in the concept of “We don’t talk about that.” I’d say pick it up if you understand German; it’s not a must read, but I wouldn’t consider it a waste of paper and time, either.

It was just a little ironic how the book closed with naming the locksmith’s fee. My dog’s life had basically been reduced to a hospital bill and an euthanasia fee. I wonder if it is part of human nature to grasp at numbers in an attempt to understand something, even as it constitutes a cruel twist because there is simply no way of attaching monetary value to a life.

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Chugging On

August 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve been saved from spending my whole life brooding only because my mother took us to Montreal and then San Francisco. WorldCon was pretty fabulous – I got to see a bunch of friends I hadn’t seen in AGES and that makes me happy. I did not get to talk to Neil Gaiman but I walked within a few feet of him. That will have to suffice. I don’t want to be that dick fangirl who ruins it for everyone else.

Right around that time, I had a pretty enlightening conversation with my friend Alex who has moved to D.C. She’s a year younger than myself and we’d lost touch a bit in between when we met each other and WorldCon, but we were both pleasantly surprised to discover we still got along famously. My mother had talked to someone and mentioned she had a daughter (yours truly) running around con, and the response of said stranger was, “OH! The hot chick!” Alex mentioned that the second she had started acknowledging that she was, in fact, not ugly but actually attractive, people started looking at her differently. There was a lot of negative feedback.

I’ve decided to do the same. After that conversation, I have decided that yes, I am attractive. Yes, I have my share of talents. No, it’s not going to be easy convincing my subconscious that I am deserving of love, respect and, yes, maybe even admiration for being pretty, but that’s not the main point. The fact is that I can’t spend my whole life hiding and being ashamed of who I am, what I look like. I had a friend who loved me unconditionally and the best thing I can do to honor her is to try and transfer her unconditional adoration into something productive, empowering. (Or maybe just a little silly.)

san fran

In San Francisco, I spent some “quality” time with my kid sister and looked at houses with my parents, who are 99% sure they want to retire to San Francisco. There is a house on Euclid in Berkeley that looked extremely promising. It was built in 1992 on an “earthquake proof” foundation, is a mile away from the UC Berkeley campus (where I had an interview, hence the formalish dress), is sound-proof and wonderfully located. The feel is similar to our current house in Heidelberg; my parents love it. It had only been on the market for three days when we went to view it. We’re hoping the offer will go through.

I got my hair cut in San Francisco because I decided it was time for a change. I decided this an hour before we went off in search for a stylist with free time on their hands. And then, the same night, I colored it and purchased a supervillain t-shirt the next day while exploring San Francisco and its crappy Museum of Modern Art with my long-time friend Jerri.

Photo 98

I met Meg and her friend Summer, who took me down to San Francisco’s Pier 39 to see sea lions. I love sea lions. I love anything that is basically the nautical equivalent of the retriever brand of dog. They are total hams, very vocal and pretty damn smelly, but extremely adorable. We tried on a bunch of silly hats while I pretended to look serious and classy in mine. I garnered a bunch of compliments for said hat and am sad that I did not purchase that $25 Kentucky Derby style hat that looked absolutely smashing on me. I am making due with my cloche, though.

Photo 103

We arrived back in England around noon today and I finally, FINALLY have a dental appointment for tomorrow morning. With the guy who dismissed my complaints about my tooth, which resulted in me living off painkillers for about two weeks. My tooth, by the way, is still not better. I am going to murder him if he gives me the holier-than-thou shit again. Oh, and my mom will be in the room with me. I think she can hurt him a great deal more than I ever could.

I might try and come up with a more comprehensive summary of my last two weeks, but my mind is blurry with lack of sleep. I decided you guys looking at pictures would be a lot more interesting.

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One of THESE Again

May 28, 2009 at 7:48 pm (Fun, Life) (, , , , , , , )

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Rushed Update

May 15, 2009 at 1:31 pm (Life) (, , , , , )

I wanted to post this on Tuesday, but then YouTube was doing site maintenance.

Wednesday, I met up with CollegeBookworm and we walked around downtown DC for a while. We’d actually planned on visiting the National Portrait Gallery, but then opted to walk around. We ate at Chipotle, had Starbucks, hung out at the Navy Memorial, chatted for hours. Then I went back home.

Thursday: Math final in the morning, followed by the English final. English grade is up (A) and so is Chorus (A), Math is not up yet, nor is Psychology or Music Theory or Lab or my Jury grade. Started packing for trip home.

I am leaving for Germany, so I’m sorry about whacky time zones and my correspondences potentially being out of the loop. I might do a jet-lagged Vlog with my kid sister tomorrow.

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The Final Countdown

May 10, 2009 at 5:25 pm (School) (, , , )

Photo 76

I have jury tomorrow. That just about sums up how I feel about this.

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SUCCESS!

May 5, 2009 at 10:53 pm (Art, Life, Music, School) (, , , )

I would not say it went perfectly, but overall, the concert was fabulous. I invited my cousin – who, as I found out, lives and works in D.C. and has done so for the last five years – to come out and listen. He seemed impressed. It turns out I had a nice little support group, but I feel it’s weird to receive compliments for the performance. I feel like I was only a tiny, tiny cog in the machine that made this happened and can’t accept praise for the entity as a whole.

I am a little sad we did not get to hear the piano concerto; it appears that, too, went well. Instead, I sat in the rehearsal hall with about fifty other people and chatted for a bit until we were allowed to wander to the Performing Arts Center. I am still trying to figure out which YouTube Channel this whole thing is on because they will apparently be put up at some point.

More importantly, it turns out we – my aunt and I – know the production manager, which means I may be able to get a DVD out of the whole business. My family will certainly be pleased with this news. There will be no pictures of tired Dani in choral garb, as I am now off to bed because I have voice lessons at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.

Good night!

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Honors

April 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm (Life, Music, School) (, , , , )

My aunt and I went to the Honors’ Recital at my school’s music department on Friday. It kind of raises the question – what qualifies you as an honors’ student? Being at the school for a certain amount of time? All I know is that I was pretty disappointed in a few people who did perform. The instrumentalists did fine, but the three singers were kind of . . . meh.

The sad thing is that I knew two of them were much better than they presented themselves as on Friday. I’ve heard them practice. They were much better in the practice room than they were on stage. I realize nervousness plays a large role in performance, but seriously? It was lackluster.

Sigh.

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An Attempt At Vlogging

April 22, 2009 at 10:46 pm (Life, Music, School) (, , , , , , , , )

Because I am too lazy to type.

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