Monday, July 31, 2006

AAA Wall of Shame

I spent the better part of today waiting for AAA to come jump start my car. Rewind to Saturday night, Nick and I return from seeing "Scoop" (good movie, by the way), and I get ready to get in my car and go back to Evanston to sleep, since his back is still on the fritz, and I'm tired of sleeping on the air mattress (subject for another blog). Oddly, the car doesn't start. So, I trudge back up to Nick's apartment, blow up the air mattress, and call it a night. Next day (Sunday) I try calling AAA, but they say that it being Sunday and all, there is nowhere to tow the car if it won't start with a jump, so I should just call back Monday. So Monday comes, and I don't manage to wrench my body out of bed until 11:30, which means I'm late calling AAA, which means I have to wait until 1:40 for the guy to come with a jump.

So, by 2:00 he finally arrives, and I meet him at the car. He asks me to try to start it so he can see what it sounds like. As I turn the key in the ignition, I notice out of the corner of my eye the gas gauge: well below E. The AAA guy starts to smirk, and I know what's coming: "Uh, miss, check your gas gauge, because it sounds like you're just out of gas."

Yep, I ran out of gas. Apparently I parked the car in the nick of time. I'd like to think that the gas somehow evaporated due to the extreme temperatures (can this happen?), but in all likelihood, I just plain ran out of gas. Because it isn't the first time it's happened.

In my old Cavalier (God rest her soul) I ran out of gas not once, but twice. The first time was shortly after the car was given to me for my 21st birthday, and I swore that the gas gauge was screwed up and that it ran out when I thought that I had quarter of a tank left. Then it happened a second time, and still nobody believed me. THEN my father was driving my car, and HE ran out of gas...and then everybody believed me. The gas gauge really was messed up, and from then on out I filled up when the gauge read quarter full.

This time, however, I don't have any real excuse (unless the evaporation theory holds true). But I think I've learned my lesson. Upon returning from the gas station with a full gas can, the AAA guy goes, "Now I'm going to take your picture for the Wall of Shame". I'm pretty sure he was kidding, and I never saw any camera...but he could have snapped it when I wasn't looking, and now I might be the laughingstock of the AAA office. That's enough for me to remember to fill up my tank.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ok, so maybe I've gone a bit overboard on my first day back...

This is my eighty year old grandfather in his overgrown garden in Indiana. He claims he had no idea squash grew that high. I hope that when I'm eighty, I'm still growing things and drinking whiskey on the rocks, excuse me, "cough medicine", before bed.

I realize that I've done a lot of posting today...I guess I'm just giddy to be back. Also I'm a little tipsy from sangria consumed at the birthday party. And I don't have to work tomorrow.


Just to clarify, Sunday, July 30th, 2006 was not my 24th birthday. It was Friday, June 23, 2006. Sorry if the previous post caused some confusion on that matter. It was brought to my attention that this may have been confusing when one of my best friends (Robert) called to wish me a happy birthday while I was sweatily walking to someone's party whose birthday it actually was on July 30th. So anyways, you can all wish me a happy quarter-lifer birthday next year. On June 23rd.

24th birthday. Extremely happy, as I have just received what is now officially "The Best Present Ever Received from a Boyfriend", the highly coveted Coach bag.

Also, this new way of posting pics is SO much better than that old Picasa/Hello thing that is still fucking with my computer.

On Making a Career as a Singer

Nearly every time I am asked "what I do", my reply is met with the question "How did you know you wanted to make a career as an opera singer?" Excellent question, I say. I usually spout some inane answer along the lines of, "Well, I've been singing in choirs since I was a child, and then I sang in musicals when I was in high school, and one day one of my teachers said 'Emily, you should go to college and study classical voice' and I said 'Ok'." As a 17 year old who loved singing and being on stage and didn't so much excel at science or math, the thought of going to college and avoiding all things science and math sounded pretty good. Nobody in my family is a musician, nor did I really know any professional musicians at the time. Sure, I had some lofty dreams of Broadway, fame, glamour, and big cities, but mostly I couldn't think of anything I liked better and thought "Why not?" So my parents hired me the best voice teacher we could find in Fort Wayne, and several months later I found myself with a scholarship to study music at a small liberal arts college in Indiana.
When I got to school I realized that I didn't know a whole lot about the classical music world. But I was a quick study, a "big fish in a small pond", and was basically handed opera roles and solos with the symphony on a silver platter. It wasn't that I didn't work hard (ok so sometimes I didn't), but it seems in retrospect that I was extremely lucky.
The thing they don't tell you when you are an 18 year old freshman embarking on a career in classical singing, is that most people with Bachelors degrees in music don't end up making a career in music. Hell, many people with Masters degrees in music don't up making a career in music. Because it's just plain hard as hell. It doesn't pay the bills right away (if ever), which means day jobs, which means precious little time for anything else, let alone voice lessons, auditions, or making time for loved ones. It means eating canned tuna so you can afford an accompanist for your audition or a coaching. It means selling your body on the street so you can get headshots.
I wish someone had mentioned this to me at 18. At 24, I've developed an affinity for nice bedding and furniture, fancy food, good wine, expensive clothing, and travel (I blame this primarily on my paternal grandmother, who has shown me a life of luxury since birth. Also to the fancy private college I attended, where I was surrouded by young coeds from affluent backgrounds). Unfortunately for me, I've chosen a career that requires the same amount of years (and dollars) of training as a medical doctor, but rarely (if ever) provides the payoff of being a medical doctor. I wish someone had told me this when I was 18. I may have run screaming to the Economics department. Then again, maybe not, it's hard to say. As mentioned before, I've always been pretty bad at math.
Often I liken my chosen career to that game where people are given the opportunity to win a car by placing their hands on said car, and the last person with their hand left on the car (usually many, many hours later) wins the car. That's how it is to forge a career in classical voice. If you can hang on long enough, endure the canned tuna, cramped apartments, spending your dispoable income on audition fees instead of shoes and booze, you win. You win a career that requires 100% travel, little to no stability, and is perched on the fragility of two pieces of cartilige in your throat. On the other hand, you win the opportunity for artistic fulfillment, avoidance of cublicles and 9 to 5 jobs, opening night parties, and schmoozing.
I realize this post has been a little negative toward my profession, and I will try to devote some later posts to the benefits of making a career as a musician (because they DO exist, they really do). I'm just trying to be honest here and give you a good idea of what it's like. And the next time you meet a musician who has become a teacher or church choir director or gave it up altogether to become a pharmaceutical salesperson (my preferred alternate career at the moment), you can think about the car-winning metaphor...

They didn't fail at life. Their arms and legs just got tired, and they wanted to take a nap in some Egyptian cotton 1000 thread count sheets.

The Return of the Midwest Princess!

After a lengthy break, I've decided to bring the Midwest Princess back into existence. I've been inspired by long days in cubicles, reading other people's blogs, and long commutes, where I usually come up with lots of good ideas for postings. Truthfully, I miss the gratification that came along with thinking that people were entertained by what I wrote. Because honestly, why else do we write blogs? Most of the bloggers I know are pretty self-agrandizing, attention seeking people (myself included). And there's nothing wrong with that.

So here it is, the Midwest Princess part deux. Hold on to your butts.