Monday, October 30, 2006

mental health day

After a bit of a crazy weekend, I declared today a mental health holiday for myself. There wasn't much going on for me school-wise, so I decided it was a good day to focus on me and my well-being. I did a hard run on the treadmill, which felt great (God bless my building management for putting those treadmills in the laundry room). I am (perhaps psychotically) thinking of training for the marathon next year. I've always enjoyed running, especially the endorphins, which was the goal of my run for today -- to achieve that euphoric, post-workout state that feels so damn good. Sooo, I'm trying to get my weekly mileage up and keep it steady, which can be difficult, because I am easily distracted from my workouts. I know that I will hear some protests from various members of my family, most notably my grandmother, who once told me that running too much would mess up my "lady parts". But I think I'd really enjoy training and the sense of accomplishment that comes along with achieving such a lofty goal. At this point it seems likelier that I could run a marathon than get into a young artist maybe I'm projecting my need to achieve one of my goals onto running. Psycho babble!!!
Anyways, I'm getting off track. After my run, I made an appointment for a manicure and pedicure at my MOST favorite salon in the whole city of Chicago, T.G. Nails on Southport. It's reasonably priced, and they give you the most amazing massage along with the mani/pedi. So after making some lunch, I drove up to my old 'hood to get my nails done. I think I'll always have a soft spot for 3251 N. Southport, since it was my first apartment and reminds me of a very special time in my life. The neighborhood is so quaint and gorgeous in the fall. After my relaxing pampering session, I headed back up north for a session with my therapist. Those who know me well know that I talk about my therapist a lot. Truth is, she's been a big part of my life for the past 9 months, and she's helped me make some really positive changes. I no longer believe that only crazy people have shrinks. I feel really lucky that I found someone who understands me and who has been able to help me with some important self-discovery.
So, it was a good day for me. Everyone should declare mental health holiday every once in awhile!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'm ready for my close-up

This movie is coming out in a couple of weeks:

starring yours truly as a woman in a black pants suit and black pumps who walks in front of a guitar store that Will Ferrell is inside. Ok, you're probably confused right now and wondering why I haven't mentioned before that I'm a famous movie star....well, it's probably because I'm not. Let me take you back to June 2005. Andrea and I had just spent the previous year whoring ourselves out for any possible chance of getting paid to be on stage, sing, act, or dance (in my case "dance"). One evening while perusing Performink, we saw a call for submissions to be an extra in a movie being shot downtown. Oddly, the address for the submissions was just a few blocks down from our apartment. So, one day while I was temping, Andrea walked our submissions down the street (and stalked the building a little bit).

Fast forward to a few weeks later. Andrea and I both get called to be extras! We were elated. The only downside was that we were not called on the same day. We were both instructed to bring five different outfits of varying styles and to show up at 6:30 (ugh) am. We were not told how long the day would be, but our compensation was roughly $10/hr. Worth it, we thought, for a chance to be an extra in a movie with big names.

Boy were we wrong. I showed up at the prescribed hour of 6:30 am (on a Saturday, nonetheless) and waited in a dingy room with the other extras for a couple of hours. There were donuts and muffins, which I guess was cool. I wasn't too hungry since it was so early, so I didn't each much, which would soon prove to be a fatal mistake. We were then instructed to show our "wardrobe" choices to the costume people, who would then decide which "costume" we would be wearing for the shoot. Of course, they chose the most uncomfortable outfit I brought, my black pants suit that was purchased post break-up when I was in a freakishly skinny state but that I still somehow managed to squeeze into, a white blouse, and black pumps. Then we waited some more.

Finally, we were taken out to the "set", where we waited some more. It was a fairly warm June day, not exceedingly hot, but warm. Too warm for a black pants suit. By this time, it was about 11:00 am, and my stomach was starting to rumble. After some more waiting, we were placed into positions for the shot. Basically, we were spaced out evenly on the sidewalk, given shopping bags or purses, and told to walk straight ahead. We would do this for a few minutes, and then they would yell "CUT", and we would go back to our positions and do it over. And over. And over. Often with long periods of standing and waiting between the shots. By this time, my feet hurt, and I was starving and sweaty. It went on like this until about 2:30 pm, when we they finally decided to feed us.

The lunch was the high point of the day. "For the Stars" catering put out a fabulous buffet of gourmet food, and we extras snarfed it up like we hadn't seen food in ages. Then it was back out to the set. For more walking. And waiting. Around 6:30 pm they told us we could leave, and I hobbled home and swore never to be an extra again.

In short, the day was not too enjoyable. I did get to glimpse Will Ferrell through a glass window, but that was about it. On the upside, I met some interesting people, scored a free gourmet lunch, and made $80. And I got off much easier than Andrea: her day took place in a dingy hospital on the south side and didn't finish until 3 am. But she got to meet Queen Latifah and Emma Thompson, so I think that redeemed the experience for her.

The moral of the story: being an extra is not glamorous. If I actually make it on screen, that will be another story. I will milk that for all it's worth -- so go see Stranger than Fiction and look for a tall brunette in a black pants suit looking grumpy, sweaty, and hungry. That's me.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


At the risk of this blog becoming one of those sites devoted to the ogling of adorable animal photos, I bring to you more photos of pups in costume. Forgive me, but I just lose it everytime I see a dog dressed up for Halloween. Few things can make me laugh like a little pug on a motorcycle:

or a pup in a weiner suit:

Ok, there are a few other things that make me laugh that hard, namely fart jokes and bathroom humor (re: South Park), my sister, and Will Ferrell to name a few. But pups in costume is on the top of the list these days.

This picture is my favorite though. His face is priceless.

I promise that's it on the puppy pics. I'm thinking of taking my inspiration for a Halloween costume from the pups this year...and going as a giant hot dog in a bun. But a sexy hot dog in a bun of course, because we all know what Halloween is really about: girls dressing up in "costumes" that closely resemble street walkers. If only I could find a giant spandex crocidile suit....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

sending a shout out over the ocean...

My sweetie is flying over the ocean right now. We got some bad news this weekend; his uncle in Greece passed, and he had to leave immediately. The poor one is now on a fifteen hour flight -- luckily he secured an aisle seat -- with his height, being cramped on an airplane is no fun at all. He took plenty of movies and video games, so I imagine now he's immersed in a sci-fi movie or a Star Trek game. I'm not sure when you'll get internet, Nick, but this side of the world misses you already!

A Review of All Things Pumpkin - Part III

I know it's been awhile since I've reviewed a pumpkin treat, but don't worry....I've been eating a lot of pumpkin lately, and I'm ready to share. Today's treat on a pedestal is......


Now, I am not a huge donut eater. I have maybe two or three a year -- I'm no health nut, but I usually stick to the high fiber cereals for breakfast. But Friday morning my sweetie brought me something sweet for breakfast, and oh was it glorious. This particular donut came from Bennison's Bakery in Evanston, but I'm told they can be found in most bakeries and grocery stores at this time of year (apparently Krispy Kreme makes one). It was delicious: moist, sweet, with just the right amount of spiced pumpkin flavor. The frosting was the perfect accompaniment; I believe it was a simple buttercream. This one gets five stars from me -- definitely my favorite pumpkin treat thus far.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Acts of God

Yesterday, I received a contract for my building's new wireless internet service -- whoopee! No more stealing from Anita. Anita, if you're out there, thanks for the two months of free wireless service. You rock girlfriend. For once, I acutally took the time to read through the contract, and I found an extremely interesting clause:

12. Lessor shall not be liable for any delay or failure in conformance of any part of this Agreement to the extent such delay or failure is caused by flood, explosion, accident, war, strike, embargo, governmental requirement, civil or military authority, Acts of God, inability to secure materials, labor or transportation, acts or omissions of common carrier, or any other causes beyond their reasonable control.

I laughed out loud when I read this part. In my head, I conjured a picture of my innocent little apartment building being taken over by military force or infested by a plague of locusts (assuredly an Act of God). OF COURSE the first thing I would do is call up the management company and bitch about the internet!

I guess it's good to know that I'm leasing this apartment from some God-fearing individuals.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

pups, age factor, opera, pups

I've been a busy, busy bee lately, which explains why my last two posts consisted of cute animal photos. Ok ,Ok, I'll admit, it's really because I've been going ga-ga for dogs lately. I don't know if it's my maternal instinct kicking in, but I've been yearning for a little furry canine to love and care for and spoil. I don't think my schedule (or my studio apartment or budget) is ready for a dog yet, but perhaps this summer....also must convince Nick, but I think I'm wearing him down.

Soooo, the weekend was super busy and I really haven't had much time to relax since Friday. With my cold in full effect, I drugged up on Saturday (Sudafed + Mucinex = singer's miracule cure for excess phlegm) and sang well for the Bel Canto contest. They asked for a second aria, which was a good sign, but I don't think I advanced, since most of the people competing seemed to be quite a lot older. Age is such a funny thing in the classical singing world. At my age, it seems that I'm consistently getting beaten out by people two and three years older than I am, yet if you get too old (the age seems to be 30 these days) without having a break through in your career, people consider you washed up. I guess it's a little scary, since it seems that my lucrative years are quickly approaching, and I need to be up to par. Nevertheless, the contest was a nice confidence-booster, and I felt great afterward.

Saturday evening we had tickets to the opera, Gluck's Iphegenie en Tauride starring Susan Graham. I absolutely love going to the opera. The Lyric Opera house is so amazing and beautiful, and it always feels like such a special, grand event when I get to experience an opera there (and $20 student tickets make it possible!). We had a lovely dinner beforehand at 312 Chicago and then ran into many of my classmates at the opera house. The opera itself was interesting...I had seen Gluck's Orfeo in March, whose stage director was also directing this production, so I knew what to expect. The set, staging, and costumes were very dark and minimalist, with the main characters and dancers in all black and the set without color. The singing was brilliant, of course, but the plot bored me a bit. I have to say that Gluck's Orfeo is a much better opera than this one. Regardless, it was a great time, and afterward we went out with a bunch of my classmates to Frontera Grill (quite possibly one of the best restaurants in Chicago) for drinks and desserts.

Sunday was another singy singy day, since I had committed to doing a Bach duet at my church job. I was freaking out, per usual when I have to sing something difficult, but it went really well. I think the congregation was uber bored though, especially when we repeated the A section. How in the world do you prevent people from yawning when you sing Bach?! It doesn't matter how beautifully you sing it, I still see the eyes glaze over. Hmph. After church I had brunch avec ma cousine Megan, who goes to school in San Antonio. She's a dear. It made me miss my family, whom I don't get to see nearly often enough.

As usual, it's always rough to return to the grind after a fun weekend. So I think I'll go look at some pictures of puppies to cheer me up. Check out!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"get me out of this thing..."

Happy Thursday! Almost the weekend, kids!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I want one. Now.

A Review of All Things Pumpkin - Part II

Although I am suffering the beginnings of a cold (which I am stopping in its tracks with Zicam right now), I bring to you the second in a series of reviews of pumpkin goodies. Today's item is unfortunately only available to my readers in the Chicago/Evanston area, as it comes from a delectable little tea shop that has several cafes in the area. And today's item is...

Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte from Argo Tea

Regretably, I burned my tongue on the first sip of the piping hot tea. Not making my beverage to immediate perfect consumption temperature = loss of points for Argo Tea. My advice: Send some minions out to Starbucks and find out how they acheive this quality. Though I dislike SB thoroughly, they have hot beverages down to a science. After the burning sensation subsided and I was able to taste again, I discovered a delightful treat. I chose to have my beverage made with skim milk, and there was a lovely thin layer of frothy foam coating the top of the liquid. Previously, I've not seen pumpkin chai advertised in any of the usual suspect coffee shops, though I'm sure they could make it upon request (the pumpkin, after all, is just a syrup). Argo Tea has taken two flavors, chai and pumpkin, each delicious in its own right, and mixed them, and I couldn't be more pleased. The spicy, vanilla-y, (I've noticed that I create adjectives by putting -y on the end of everything. Going to need to work on that if I want a career in food criticism) flavor of the chai mixes extremely well with the pumpkin flavor. I dig it. Oops, I think I forgot to get it decaf...does chai have caffeine? Yikes, that and the non-drowsy sudafed I've been popping could have me up all night. Regardless...

Rating: *** and a half (1.5 stars deducted for tongue-burning)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Review of All Things Pumpkin - Part I

'Tis the season for pumkin treats! Since I have a bit of an obsession with these seasonal treats, I've decided to do a series of reviews about the various delectable food items that are made with pumpkin and can be found during this time of year only. Reviews will be based on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, 1 being the least desireable, 5 being the most desireable. And I'd like to welcome any reader input on the items as well! And the first item is.......

"Pumpkin Pie in the Sky" Ice Cream Creation from Coldstone Creamery.

Before today, I had never tried this Coldstone creation, but Nick has been pretty excited about it and has been checking in at Coldstone from time to time to see if this seasonal speciality has made its appearance. So this afternoon we ventured over to the local Coldstone to taste their version of pumpkin pie: pumpkin ice cream mixed with crumbled graham crackers, caramel, and whipped topping. We got one small bowl to share, which was more than enough for the both of us. The pumpkin ice cream was quite delicious - pumpkin-y enough, but not overly, in-your-face, faux pumpkin flavor. It tasted genuinely nutmeg-y and fresh and delicious. I could have done without the caramel syrup, which I thought distracted from the flavor of the pumpkin, but the graham cracker crumbles and whipped topping were a perfect accompaniment. Quite tasty, extremely rich, the perfect treat for a warm fall day like today.

Rating: * * * *

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Today, I fell in love with music all over again, thanks to a man named Hugo Wolf (don't worry Nick, he's an Austrian composer who went crazy and died long ago. Interesting the amount of composers who went crazy and died....hmph). I've been trying to plan my masters recital (!), so I went to the library to do some listening. I want to do a big German set, since I speak the language fairly well. It's also close to my heart, as my time in Vienna and Graz were some of the greatest times of my life. German lieder is so beautiful, and I'm always amazed by the hordes of lieder that I don't know or haven't heard. The German lied composers were just so damn prolific! I flipped through some scores and decided to listen to his Morike lieder (songs set to poems by the German poet Morike). And that was it. I'm in love. I've sung some of his music before, but one particular piece, Verborgenheit (which means secrecy), tore me up inside. I sat in the little study carrell at the library, tears rolling down my cheeks, while I listened to this gorgeous song. It's moments like these that I know deep in my heart, I'm meant to be a musician. When I first sang through Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 in Vergene's studio at DePauw, I bawled like a baby. The other day in my therapists waiting area, NPR was playing a particularly beautiful Mozart sonata, and I felt my stomach tighten and my adrenaline rush. I can deny it all I want to and say that I'd be happy doing something else, that this profession is too much of a sacrifice, but it wouldn't be true. After I heard Verborgenheit, I rushed to a practice room to sing through it. I had to. It's been a damn long time since I've felt compelled to sing a piece of music, felt that the world might stop turning unless I sang this piece of music RIGHT NOW. For the past year, I've been forcing myself to sing. I haven't really wanted to, but I do it because I'm supposed to and because it's what I've always done. Today I sang because after hearing Verborgenheit, there was nothing else on earth I could do but go and sing it.

Today, I had to sing. And it felt so good.

Monday, October 02, 2006

no time! there's never any time!

NO time to post today until now! Gah! The weekend was fun - a little too fun, perhaps - and today I was completely crazed with school. But I sang a bang-up Marzelline's aria from Fidelio in solo class, and had a terrific first coaching with the one and only Maestro Milnes, so it was a pretty darn good day. I'm feeling on top of my game again in the singing department, and I'm feeling more and more ready to go out and kick some ass at auditions this fall. Woo hoo!
Now, back to the weekend. Friday night's events went a little something like this:

6:30 pm - Arrive at Tango Sur, a fantastic BYOB Argentinian steak restaurant in my old 'hood where Nick's brother is celebrating his birthday. Really great food and a fabulous environment, I highly recommend. Many, many bottles of wine are consumed.

9:00 pm - Head to Schoolyard Tavern, the bar directly across the street from my old apartment on Southport (Ah, memories). Pretty drunk by this point, but still manage to throw back some gin and tonics and become BFF with Nick's brother's fianccee (who I LOVE and who reads this blog hiiiiieeeeee!).

10:45 pm - Depart bar and hail cab to go to party hosted by some of my classmates for the new masters students. Pretty much hammered by this point, and Nick tells the cabbie to stop way too early, like a mile shy of where we wanted to go. Hail cab #2 and go to Dominicks and (drunkenly) purchase beer for party.

11:00 pm - Arrive at party. Create somewhat of a scene with our extreme drunkenness, though the other party guests are fairly drunk themselves. Become BFF with all the new masters students. (Nothing like alcohol to help you gain 12 new BFFs!) Find Rice Krispie bars at party and consume many of them.

1:30 am - Depart for home. Nick has left quite awhile before me due to his extreme drunkenness. Manage to get to Nick's in one piece, but have to call him repeatedly (4x) to get him to wake up from his drunken stupor to let me in.

2:00 am - Pass out.

Saturday went pretty much like this:

11:00 am - Lift head from pillow. Put head back on pillow immediately.

12:00 pm - Transfer gingerly from bed to couch. Take Tylonel and eat some cookies that Nick so lovingly bought at the store for hangover food.

3:00 pm - Try to watch Batman Begins, but end up napping through the whole thing.

6:00 pm - Go to Evanston. Feel barfy in the car. Feel like death. Nick brings me chicken soup and 7up.

9:00 pm - Realize that I left entire bag of makeup at Nick's. Must choose to a) drive all the way back to Nick's to retrieve it, or b) go to Walgreens and get the bare necessities so that I don't look like a troll at church. Choose option b).

10:00 pm - Sleep.

Though Friday's events were extremely fun, Saturday's events were not so enjoyable, which tells me three things:
1. I can't drink like I used to.
2. I'm getting old.
3. Friday's was a drunkenness usually reserved for weddings and open bar events.

All in all, good weekend. Fall is a great time in Chicago (except tonight because it's hailing) and I'm looking forward to what the rest of this season has to offer!