I have learned many things today on my long, long journey...
1. Being a soprano really, really, really sucks. At any given audition, one can assume about 75% of the auditionees are sopranos. The odds, my friends, are not in my favor.
2. Cincinnati is a silly, silly town. There is a giant river running through it with highways and interstates looping and twisting all over the top of the river. Ever heard of a simple bridge, people?
3. Books on tape are brilliant for long car trips.
4. Some chick lit is very, very dirty. I haven't read much chick lit, just a few here and there when I need something mindless, and none of the books I read were too racy. The book I rented for my drive today may as well have been soft core porn...it was read by a British woman, and every time she said "fuck" or "cock" I lost it.
5. Driving by yourself to cities where you have no friends and staying overnight sucks. I am eating pizza that I had delivered to the hotel room so as not to deal with the loopy, twisty interstates again; blogging; and watching TV. I may as well be at home.
Channeling a 1950's housewife in velcro rollers and my Gram's apron, mashing the sweet potatoes:
notice my Grams in the background talking on the phone...the woman never stops talking, God love her:
My beautiful sister and I -- getting started on the wine:
The "kids' table" -- (clockwise starting with me: myself, the boyfriend, cousin Nick, sister Elaine, her fiancee Jerod, brother Tommy) my brother and sister, as usual, are acting completely immature for the picture:
The traditional Thanksgiving nap, with aunt's rambunctious dog Bailey looking on (thanks for taking this one Mom):
aaaaand finally, my gorgeous pumpkin cake with whipped cream and pecan praline topping:
It was a good Thanksgiving, albeit a bit shorter than we'd expected. Nick received a call Tuesday that his father wasn't doing so well, and it was imperative that he get to Greece as soon as possible, so we cut our little trip short so that he could catch a flight Saturday. We still had a great time visiting with my relatives and eating delicious food.
The next few weeks will be hard with Nick being away, but I will be meeting him in Greece in a mere three weeks, and I've got a very busy schedule between now and then what with finishing the quarter, holiday gigs, auditions, and visiting family.
Although life has been a bit trying lately, I have much to be thankful for this year. I'm thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, my caring family, the strides I've been making in my career and on a personal level, good health, good friends near and far, and a long sought after feeling of well-being and happiness.
Famed director Robert Altman passed away Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital. In 2004, Mr. Altman singlehandedly changed my life when he chose me out of a lineup of thirty women to play a maid in the world premeire opera "A Wedding" at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The opera is based off of his 1978 movie of the same name and composed by William Bolcom. Not only was I able to quit my heinous day job, I got to experience first-hand the innerworkings of one of the world's greatest opera houses, plus meet lots of amazing people. And get paid for it. Here is a pic from back in the day:
Although I don't think he ever remembered my name after the first rehearsal, I did receive from Mr. Altman, along with the rest of the cast, a lovely scarf and signed card to commemorate the world premiere cast of the opera.
So thank you, Robert Altman, for choosing me for your opera, probably because I was the tallest girl at the audition. Thank you for your strange but amusing movies. May you rest in peace.
Prosciutto, Garlic Herb and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Tarragon Pan Sauce (sauce not pictured) Roasted Red Potatoes with Onions Caesar Salad
Chicken recipe (courtesy of Rachael Ray's book 365: No Repeats):
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts large plastic food storage bags or wax paper 4 slices prosciutto 4 ounces (1/2 cup) garlic and herb cheese, such as Boursin toothpicks 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons all purpose flour 1/2 cup white wine 1 cup chicken stock or broth 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon (about 3 stems, stipped and chopped)
Place a chicken breast in the center of a plastic food storage bag or 2 large sheets of wax paper. Pound out the chicken from the center of the bag outward using a heavy-bottomed skillet or mallet. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. Place one slice of prosciutto on top of each pounded chicken breast. Place a quarter of the garlic and herb cheese on top of each proscuitto slice. Wrap and roll the chicken over the stuffing. Secure the meat with toothpicks. Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with the extra-virin olive oil. Season the stuffed chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add the breasts to the pan and brown on all sides, cooking for 10-12 minutes. Remove the breasts and set aside. Add the butter to the pan, then the flour. Cook for a minute, whisk in the wine, and reduce for another minute. Whisk in the stock and tarragon and return the chicken to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer until ready to serve. Remove the toothpicks.
My boyfriend was a big fan, and I'm sure you will be too! Enjoy!
SHOUT OUT to Allison L. for winning the grand prize in the "finish the lyrics to this song" game. Oddly, that song popped into my head the other day, and I couldn't get it out. Allison L., if you are ever in Chicago in the near future, message me and I will buy you one delicious martini! Kudos to readers Elaine and the other Allison as well...who knew the answer but were not lucky enough to get here first. This will teach you to check my blog every hour, on the hour! Just kidding. I'm about to head to a big rehearsal for my gig on Sunday singing a gigantic Mendelssohn cantata for soprano, choir, and organ. It's a great piece and should be a lot of fun. If any of you sinners want to save your souls on Sunday, feel free to do so at the 10:30 am service at Trinity United Methodist in Wilmette. I'll be in the front wearing a hideous blue choir robe, so you can't miss me.
The holidays are upon us, or rather, the holidays have sneakily crept up behind us and...WHAM!...Starbucks suddenly has Christmas cups and has replaced the pumpkin spice latte with the gingerbread latte and peppermint mocha. Nothing like Starbucks to help remind one of the changing of seasons and holidays. And so sets into motion a dizzyingly busy time of year. For musicians, the holidays are a time to make an extra buck here and there, and for young singers, the weeks leading up to Christmas are chock full of auditions. Add in the family events, parties, and if you're me, finishing up the quarter at school, and you've got one hell of a crazy couple of months. Next week Nick and I will be traveling to Indianapolis for Thanksgiving with the fam. I'm really looking forward to it, since I haven't seen my immediate family members for a few months or my extended family members for nearly half a year. Thanksgiving with my family is always a good time...plenty of overeating, adult beverages, card games, and general merrymaking. I'm in charge of sweet potatoes and one dessert this year. I'm planning a ridiculously rich layered pumpkin cake with pecan praline frosting. YUM! After returning from Indianapolis, I will be heading to Cincinnatti for my Pittsburgh Opera Center audition, then heading back home to finish off the quarter at NU. Another audition for Utah Opera (this time in Chicago, thank God), a gig singing Gretel with the Glen Ellyn Children's Chorus, and some church gigs...and then I'm off to Greece for Christmas!!!! That's right, I'll be spending the Christmas and New Year's holidays with my boyfriend in his Heimatland. I'm so excited, a little nervous, and feeling a wee bit odd that I won't be spending Christmas with my family for the first time in 24 years. But as my mom said, "Christmas can be anytime, anyplace." She also reminded me that things are changing in our family; I will have a new brother-in-law soon and will have to share my sister with another family. That aside...I'm absolutely elated to experience a new country and see where Nick was born and spent half his life. I've got some Greek tapes and a workbook, so I'm slowly making my way through that crazy script they've got. Athens seems like an extremely cool city, and I'm already overwheliming myself with all the things I want to do and see while we're there. So, expect blogs to be sparse for the next couple of weeks, but look forward to some photo documentaries: amazing Greece pictures, and possibly some less exciting pictures of Midwestern cities and my relatives.
(Contest: whomever can finish the sentence that is the title of this post, which is a children's song, wins....A shout out in my next blog. And maybe a drink if I go out to bars with you.)
I've hopped on another bandwagon and joined Yelp. I found the site through a Myspace acquaintance, and I've been addicted for a full day now. Simply put, it's a site chock full of reviews of anything and everything. I was most excited about the restaurant reviews, since I am always on the lookout for an interesting restaurant to try. Also, it will be an excellent means of cataloging the restaurants I've visited and the food I've had at each place. Check out my profile!
beginning of evening, mixing daquiris at my place:
a "black-eyed pea", a pirate, a geisha, Babs Bush (complete with "my son is an idiot" button") and a gypsy:
doing my geisha-dance:
dancing to "Private Dancer" at my place with Cleopatra and a pirate:
at the party, with a naughty French maid and a sexy St. Pauli Girl
more party (aaaaand my inebriation is beginning to show):
cackling on the couch (somebody cut her off for pete's sake!):
final stages of evening, post tripping on kimono and spilling beer on my face:
All in all it was a good night of spooky fun...did it remind me of undergrad days? Yes. Did the bruise on my knee the next morning remind me of when I fell off the porch at Robert's and bruised my bum? A little. Was it fun? Oh hell yes.
Nick arrived home safe and sound yesterday from Greece. And he didn't come back empty handed!!!! Along with about 10 lbs of sweets from Greece and Madrid (his connection was in Spain) he brought me this beauuuutiful necklace: Doesn't he have FABULOUS taste? I tortured the poor thing by making him come to my choir concert in the evening (heinous...I'm a couple of weeks away from being done with choir for the rest of this degree, thank heavens), then we went out for a simple dinner at Pasta Bowl down the street. We returned to our usual Sunday routine today: I get up (whine-ily) for church, Nick stays home in pjs until I return, we go to brunch in the neighborhood, do our weekly grocery shopping, then watch Sunday night television. And sometimes I do a stitch of homework. But usually not.
In other news, I scored student tickets to Salome at Lyric, so tomorrow evening we will be heading down to the opera to see Debbie Voight take it all off. Wooooooo! No, in all seriousness, I've heard it's a fabulous production, and I'm really excited to hear her sing live. I saw the opera in Vienna over three years ago, and it was mesmerizing. It will be well-worth the "B" I will probably get in choir this quarter for skipping rehearsal. Who cares about grades at this point anyway? These days, I don't think anyone considering me for a job would care if I could read or correctly punctuate sentences. There is probably a direct correlation between the quality of my high notes and my IQ. The better the high C, the lower the IQ...
Hope everyone had as wonderful a weekend as I did!
I feel like a child waiting for my birthday party to start. You know that feeling you used to get when you were a kid and you just couldn't WAIT for a certain event to happen and hours felt like years? Well, that is how I feel today. Doesn't help that I didn't have much to do today...had a coaching, attended an hour-long class, went to lunch with the first-years...sat on my ass and watched TV for like 5 hours. Now I'm finally getting ready to go out for sushi with my girl Jia-Yee, but really I'm just giddy and counting the hours until I get to pick up Nick! Inevitably, I will wake up at 5 am and not be able to get back to sleep due to excitement. Good thing I'm a grown-up, and I have Xanax now. :) This must be love...childlike giddiness at the thought of seeing my guy after two weeks of separation.
T-minus 2 days until my sweetie comes home!!!! While I'm sure he's not ready to come back to the freezing temperatures we've been experienceing here in Chi-town, I am SERIOUSLY ready to have him home. It must be true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Two weeks is a bit too long for me though...my brain and body are starting to subconsciously say "where IS he?" Cheesy as it may sound, I feel like a small part of me is missing; something inside me feels a little empty. Not that I've been sitting around pining for him or anything...since he's been gone I've done the following:
1) attended one (1) ridiculous Hallowe'en party dressed as a geisha (pictures forthcoming). got a weeee bit too drunk, tripped on my kimono, and now have a giant bruise on my knee.
2) sang two (2) concerts: graduate opera scenes performance as Susanna in Figaro, where I was felt up by Eric, Andrew, and Alejandra. (yes!), and a concert at my church last night with two other women which went splendidly and was really a lot of fun.
3) suffered two (2) small mental breakdowns, one due to the head cold I'd been warding off for a couple weeks now moving onto my vocal cords, causing me to wake up Monday morning unable to phonate. luckily it moved into my chest by Wednesday, so I coughed it out and went on with the show.
4) got an audition for Utah Opera apprentice program! YAY! and sent my materials to Pittsburgh
I've been a busy girl. But now I'm ready to have my boyfriend back on this continent where he belongs: trying to get me to watch sci-fi with him, hogging the covers, whipping me up a batch of rice krispie bars. 2 more days!!!!!