Thursday, November 29, 2007

flight delay

Oh, the joys of Chicago airports. I'm currently sitting in Midway airport, which is usually better than O'Hare, waiting for my flight, which was supposed to leave at 3:45 but is delayed until 5:00. Mrrrrrhhhhh. And I just realized I forgot my camera. Double Mrrrrrrhhhhhh. But on the upside, I had a lovely lunch at the Walnut Room at Marshall Fields (now Macy's, but we refuse to call it that) with Mom and Elaine, who are in Chi for the day on a shopping bus trip sponsored by my parents' country club. Then I got to spend a little time with my honey before hopping on the orange line to Midway. I'm going to miss him on this little trip, even though it's only three nights. We haven't been apart much since he returned from Greece, so we were acting like silly teenagers, making out in a coffee shop before I had to go.

Luckily, I have plenty to keep me busy. Not only have I found my way to the interwebs, where I can catch up with emailing and yaptracker and the like, I have a one minute monologue to memorize for my audition tomorrow. That's right kids, not only do I have to have five opera arias in four languages polished and ready to go, I have to perform a monologue. I haven't done a monologue since 2005 when I attempted a few music theater auditions. Of course, being the last minute person that I am, I realized yesterday that I needed to come up with this monologue. After searching my home library and consulting with Robert (who insisted I go with Libby Mae Brown's outttakes audition monologue), I found the Complete Plays of Gilbert and Sullivan in my collection and decided to select from there. I have no problem memorizing on short notice, it's just the "acting" part that gets me. I'm a decent actor, not brilliant, but I can say so much more with my singing than with words. But, since I have to jump through hoops of fire to get hired somewhere, this is what I'm doing. Literally, why don't they just put out hoops of fire and see who will jump through them? It's about as arbitrary as that, kids. Problem is we'd all do it. And figuratively, we are all doing it. But honestly, the fire thing might be easier. What's a little second degree burn for something you really really want?

And I really really want it. I realized last night at the Lyric, as I do many times when I go see performances: I can do this.. The soprano last night was great, but her voice wasn't ridiculously amazing. Her voice was good, but no better than mine will (hopefully) be in 5 or 6 years. And I can sing runs like a badass too. Plus I'm tall and slim and look great on stage. I'm just dying for someone to give me the chance. I'm super excited for Opera for the Young, where I'll be performing every day in front of audiences (children, mind you, but they can be the toughest audience sometimes). I know that there's a major luck factor involved, but I think that I have pretty good luck. Didn't Robert Altman once arbitrarily choose me out of thirty women to play a role in his opera? If that's not luck, I don't know what is.

So I'm waiting. Waiting for someone to notice me, for someone to take a chance on me and find out that I will work my ass off, put my heart and soul in it, and be a good colleague. As Nick always tells me, I just have to keep plugging away. I'm so lucky to have him as a supporter and number one fan. So I'm going to go in there and be the best damn Norina these peeps have every heard. And maybe I'll get lucky, and I'll jump through their hoop of fire and come out on the other side, unharmed.

NYC, here I come.

jet setting

Well kids, I'm getting ready to jet set my way to New York City for audition trip number two, or as I like to call it: "Hope and a Prayer NYC Weekend". Basically I'm just praying that these auditions go splendidly, and hoping that, by some act of God, I am the prototype of what the auditioners are looking for. I received my rejection email from Natchez yesterday, which I must admit, was quite a blow. Of all my auditions, I felt like that one had gone the very best, and I had gotten such a good vibe from the auditioners. Besides that, it's the smallest company I've auditioned for so far---most of the other ones, like Florida Grand and Seattle, I was just happy and amazed to have even gotten through the first screening and received an audition. So this weekend, I'm going to bring it. I just have to.

Luckily, after the aforementioned rejection letter was received, I had tickets to see Julio Cesare at Lyric, so my spirits were lifted by an extremely innovative, creative, and astoundingly well-sung production. I will explain it to you in one word: DANCE! And with this clip of the end of Cleopatra's aria "Da tempeste":

There were three, count them, THREE amazing countertenors in this production. The Ptolemy was extremely mean and scrappy, and in one scene he did a front flip! ACH! The Cleopatra, Danielle de Niese, was just awesome. Every one of her arias was choreographed, and she danced and flitted around the stage with such charisma. The whole production was totally delightful and it didn't seem like four and a half hours at all! The funny thing about when the operas are so long is that they sell "box dinners" during the intermissions. The lobby becomes complete mayhem as all the rich oldies camp out on the floor and the stairs, eating their box dinners and sipping champagne. Since Nick declined seeing a four and a half hour long opera (imagine that!), I took my friend Mark, and we lived it up, sitting on the floor of the Lyric Opera with our turkey sandwiches and glasses of champagne. Toward the end, I was getting a bit tired of the ABA format (do I really have to hear that A section again? I mean, let's just get on with it. We know you want vengence). It was a terrific time, and it reminded me of how much I love Baroque opera. I need to work on some Handel. I'd love to be a Handelian. Or a Mozartian. or an -ian anything, really.

I'm going to be off the radar for a couple of days but hopefully I will have some good stories and pictures when I return. I get to see Robert play young Scrooge this weekend, so I really can't think of a better way to spend the non ten minutes I'm auditioning. Hope and a Prayer NYC Weekend 2007. Keep me in your thoughts peeps.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Well readers, I've finally escaped from my turkey and cranberry sauce induced haze and am getting around to blogging. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving, my parents' house filled to the brim with family members, eating and drinking too much, watching football, playing cards, cooing over the baby (my cousin's four month old, the newest addition to the clan), and generally having a relaxing time. A few of us did venture out to the shops on Friday to score some good deals and to hit up Sonic. A little backstory -- Nick has been dying to go to Sonic for months now. We see constant commercials on television advertising Sonic, yet there is not a Sonic within a hundred miles of where we live. Nick's one chance to have it was to go when we were visiting Fort Wayne. During my sister's wedding, there wasn't time, and during our brief trip for Allison's wedding, there still wasn't time. This trip, Nick refused to leave Fort Wayne without having some Sonic. So Friday we made the twenty minute trek from my parents' house so that Nick could finally experience Sonic. I don't think he was disappointed...the Mac 'n Cheese bites were pretty delicious, as was the cranapple fizzy drink thingie. And now he has finally stopped whining about it every time a Sonic commercial comes on the television! Win-win situation for both of us.

And now I am back in Chi, thrown back into the crazy world of audition season and holiday gigs and teaching and holiday parties. I had an audition on Monday, and I'm flying to New York on Thursday for two more auditions over the weekend. And last night began rehearsals for the Christmas concert with Music of the Baroque. I'm always astounded by the musicianship of these people, and most of them have done this same concert many, many times, so I've got a little bit of catch-up to do. But I held my own with sight-reading, only making a few mistakes here and there. This month is sure to be nuts, but it won't kill me. And there will be plenty of fun holiday outings mixed in -- trips to the German Christmas market downtown, last minute shopping on a beautifully lit Michigan Avenue, and one fabulous Christmas party thrown by yours truly should make the season bright.

Speaking of the season, Nick and I decorated the apartment on Sunday night. We bought an inexpensive fake tree from Walmart, and I went a little crazy in Michael's buying craft supplies for my table scape and wreath. I'm still working on the wreath, but the tablescape looks divine. Check it out!

Happy Holiday season everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2007


I started writing a post last Thursday but never finished it, so I'm just going to start over today. My head has felt rather jumbled lately, so I'm not surprised that I completely forgot to finish and publish it. Ah, well. Here's what's going on: Saturday was mine and Nick's two year anniversary, which we celebrated with dinner at North Pond restaurant. We've been wanting to try this place for quite awhile, and we were not disappointed. We had the seasonal tasting menu, which was five courses of absolute bliss. Despite the fois gras ban in Chicago, they somehow managed to sneak it onto one of the plates, which pleased me to no end. The whole evening was wonderful, and North Pond really made us feel special by printing a special souvenir menu with "Happy Anniversary Emily and Nick" at the top, as well as writing it in chocolate on our dessert plate. I would definitely return, especially since the menu is constantly changing with the seasons.

In singing/career news, I've booked a second flight to NYC for the first weekend in December for my Seattle Opera and Chautauqua Opera auditions. My NYC friends are going to love me by the end of audition season, whatwith my constant crashing on their couches! I'm about to head out to a coaching with my favorite Scot, Alan D., whom I'm hoping will whip my ass into shape. I haven't been doing a very good job of pushing myself lately, and I need to work on that.

Tomorrow I am doing something I've wanted to do since I moved to Chicago...I'm going to see a taping of the Oprah show!!!! My friend Ashleigh got tickets for a few of us girls, so tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, I will be heading over to Harpo studios in the West Loop. I'm not sure what the show is about yet, but I'll post a full review of the experience tomorrow. It's sure to be interesting!

Wednesday we head to Indiana for a much anticipated four and a half day weekend. Wednesday evening we will be hitting the "Fort Wayne bar scene" (I write that in parentheses because I'm not sure that's what it should even be called) with my sister, her husband, my cousin, and her boyfriend. We're sure to run into some people we went to high school with, so I'd better be looking my best. I need to exude the "I live in Chicago and have a glamorous career and a much more exciting life than you!" confidence. If only to convince myself. Thursday will mean 20 people crammed into my parents' house, eating and watching football. Most of my family cares a great deal about football. I thank my lucky stars that Nick is not into sports, thereby exempting me from having to pretend to care. There will be much eating, drinking, sleeping, and rubbing of bellies. We're both looking forward to the break from work and have some real R&R. With 20 people in the house, we'll see how much R&R actually takes place.

I may post again before the holiday, but if not -- Hope you and yours have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

another one joins the fray

Well readers, the day has just gotten better (and it could only get better, trust me), because another of my nearest and dearest has joined the blogger kingdom. Head over to Sensitiva McFeelingsly's blog for a look at life through the eyes of a newlywed. As you might expect, she exudes blissful happiness on her blog, but it's not without a healthy dose of wit and humor. To honor the birth of her blog, I will continue her "Five Really Good Things", because frankly, I'm in dire need of remembering the good things in life today.

Five Really Good Things

1. Quiet evenings at home, snuggling with my sweetie -- a feeling of safety, warmth, and comfort.
2. Pedicures -- pampering at it's best.
3. A Heart-to-Heart with an old friend that you don't get to see often.
4. Christmas decorations -- festively lit streets and houses.
5. Coffee drunk out of a mug while relaxing -- not out of paper while on the train.

So those are my things...not one of them dealing with music or my career whatsoever. Because there is so much more to life than a career, and I have to keep reminding myself of that fact each day. I am blessed with an abundance of love and good friends, good health, a caring family, a great place to live, and many wonderful and supportive colleagues in my profession.

Now I really need to get to the gym, lest I sit around moping all morning. I'm back down to my desired weight, and I need to keep it that way!

Monday, November 12, 2007


I've been in a bit of a funk for the past couple of weeks. I'm frustrated with my teaching jobs and the amount of commuting I'm doing; basically, the music schools where I'm working are not filling up my schedule enough to make the commute worthwhile. I keep hearing promises that it will get better and then...nothing. With my private students, I have a little more control, and I'm planning to raise my rates after the New Year. I'm not being compensated for all the driving around's starting to drive me insane (pun intended). On the audition/singing front, I had a frustrating voice lesson on Friday, and I just haven't been myself singing-wise, so I'm going to try to step it up this week and do lots of practicing. I've got less than two months to memorize Pamina for Opera for the Young. I know the aria and one of the duets already, but it's a somewhat absurd translation, so I've got to get on that. AND I've got to get Rejoice Greatly up and running. I'm doing an audition this morning for another Messiah gig, and I'm afriad Rejoice is not quite up to par. Atleast it's a wakeup call that it's not something I can just pull out at the last minute and expect to be good. No, siree it is not.

I'm attending the dress rehearsal for Die Frau ohne Schatten at Lyric this afternoon, so hopefully I will be inspired. Sometimes when I go long periods without seeing a show, and my "performing life" consists of auditions and church, I tend to forget how wonderful live stage productions can be.

The weekend was fairly uneventful. Friday night we went out to Aurora to check out Allison and Ryan's new house, which is fabulous and gorgeous, and I ended up drinking waaaay too much, so most of Saturday was spent on the couch. Yesterday we got a little eager about Thanksgiving, so we went to Sam's (beverage outlet SUPERSTORE) to buy a few bottles to take to my parents' house for turkey day. Sam's overwhelms me, but it's always amusing to go with Nick because he is like a child in a toy store in that place. Nick loves his wines and is fairly educated about them, and when it comes time to decide which to purchase, he has a VERY difficult time deciding. It's funny and adorable. We made it out for under $50, which is a successful trip by our standards. Then we went to the Greek grocery store to buy some ingredients to make Nick's mother's Christmas dessert recipes. I can't read any of the recipes (they are in Greek), so I'm off the hook for most of the cooking. But I participate heartily in the eating!

It's time to go attempt Rejoice Greatly a few times before the audish. Let's hope this voice feels like moving today. Sometimes, I swear, my voice is like a bratty child. Good luck trying to convince it to do something it doesn't feel like doing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hiver est arrivee

Well kids, it's winter. I've officially broken out the winter coat (not the giant sub-zero temperatures winter coat, which will hopefully not make an appearance until late December/early January), and I'm seriously considering breaking out the hat and gloves. These days, I don't have to walk as much, since I drive to work, so I'm thinking that the bone chilling Chicago temps might not affect me as much as in years past. I remember in great detail the winter during which I was temping at the AMA and living in Evanston, which required a transfer from the red line to the purple line, often times necessitating a fifteen to twenty minute wait on the platform for the blessed purple express. One day, while shivering in my pea coat, I started to cry because I was so cold. I took matters in to my own hands, went out the next day and purchased the largest puffy down coat anyone has ever seen. I love it, ridiculous as it is. It needs its own chair at dinner.

Last November.

In audition news, Florida Grand on Monday was...fine. The room was pretty dead, which is always discouraging, as you push harder and harder to hear that familiar ring of your voice that is lost on carpeting and draperies. But I learned an important lesson, and that is: no matter how I feel on a given audition day, I have to go in there and sing and perform without that judgemental voice in the back of my head going "that high C sucked" or "that run went flat". When I sang for Natchez, I was totally on and just PERFORMING, not thinking about how my voice was sounding to the auditors. When I left the room after that audition my heart was pumping and my adrendaline was flowing. I need to recreate that feeling for my next audition, and now I know this. But, Florida wasn't a total bust, and they asked for Deh vieni for the second aria, which I sing very well. So, I pack up and move on to the next audition, Central City in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying some down time before the craziness of the holidays begins. This week is pretty quiet here at chez Nick et Emily. Nick is working long hours, I'm doing lots of teaching (and driving -- good heavens, I am in my car a lot) and we're both usually exhausted and in bed by 11:00 pm. Good times. Friday we've been invited to Allison and Ryan's (you'll remember them from the wedding photo in an earlier post) new home in Aurora for a little get together. I told Nick last night, I am a Chicago suburb whore. On a weekly basis, I am in no less than four to six 'burbs -- Palatine, Plainfield, Evanston, Winnetka, Wilmette...I need a car service. If I were rich, the first thing I'd do would be to hire a car service to take me around to all these places. With a driver named Rolph. A girl can dream.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sundee night musings

It's 9:49 on a Sunday night, and yet it feels like it must be midnight. Nick is snoring on the couch, and I'm trying to keep my eyes open until atleast 11:00 pm. Does the end of Daylight Savings Time get more difficult to deal with as you get older? Because I don't remember feeling this way in the past. I stayed up late last night watching Spider Man 3, so the extra hour this morning was very nice. I guess I am getting old...increasingly, my idea of a fun Saturday night includes some tempura and spider maki rolls from the local sushi joint, followed by a little cuddling and movie watching, followed by a shared ice cream sandwich with Nick in bed before nodding off. Yes, I do still like to go out, but my party self seems to emerge less and less these days. Could have something to do with the stress of auditioning.

Speaking of auditioning, I've got my Florida Grand audition tomorrow. I haven't done much singing since I got back from NYC last Tuesday, and my voice has actually been feeling kind of crappy, so I'm not really looking forward to it. I know I'll pump up tomorrow, but for some reason I've just felt lazy and unmotivated for the past several days. I scheduled a lesson for this week, so I'll be forced to step it up a little bit. And I need to get back to the gym. I think part of my malaise has been due to not enough cardiovascular exercise.

Things I have been motivated to do lately: redecorating our living room! On Saturday, I sold the futon that I purchased in a foggy, sleep deprived haze last March in an effort to combat insomnia. It's a nice futon, but seriously people, we've moved beyond the futon days of our lives in this house. A very nice, (tiny) Asian girl has found herself a new bed for her studio apartment. Today we purchased a new chair and a large rug for the room! Lucky for us, they had the rug in stock, so we got to bring it home! I don't want to post a picture until we get the chair, so you can see the full effect of the new room. It's very exciting to have furniture that all matches and is so pretty! And not from Ikea! Don't get me wrong, I love Ikea, but sometimes a girl needs something un-Swedish that doesn't require assembly.

I'm getting excited and slightly overwhelmed thinking about the upcoming holidays. I've got a lot of good stuff coming up, but it's just...ALOT. Music of the Baroque asked me to do their Christmas concerts, which is fantastic, and the extra money is a Godsend at a time of much need. Plus I loved singing with them and am so so SO flattered they asked me back. Then I'm doing Rejoice Greatly with chamber orchestra at my church, which I've done a hundred times but will still be stressful because that aria is a biaaaaatch. I always say I need someone behind me pinching my ass to get through that thing. Any volunteers for the position? Then there's getting my students ready for their holiday recitals and starting this new job in Plainfield on Mondays (I start tomorrow -- I'm driving an hour each way to teach for an hour--yes, ridiculous, I know, but I have to get started). And now I've signed on to do another holiday concert (solo gig!) with a suburban orchestra, which is very exciting and won't be too difficult as it will just be Hansel and Gretel stuff and O Holy Night. The problem is the juggling of schedules. Theoretically, I can do all of these things, but it requires some shifting of students and getting subs for Palatine, which can be a major pain in the ass. What irks me is that I generally have the hours between 9 am and 2 pm completely free. But can anyone schedule anything during those times? No. Everything must be crammed in the hours between 3 pm and 10 pm. So get ready...come December, I will be hard pressed to find time for anything. Unless of course you'd like to have a lunch date or a 9 am coffee. Because I'm always free for those!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

for Elaine

Alright, alright Elaine, I'll fill this out.

1. What kind of SOAP is in your bathtub right now?
Dove cool moisture bar, and some fancy French body wash that I hardly ever use

2. Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator?
no--it's not really in season right now

3. What would you change about your living room?
well, i just sold our futon today, so we are going looking for a nice comfortable chair to add to the living room! i'd also like a rug, and more things on the walls

4. Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty?
no dishwasher here. i dream of the day i have a dishwasher.

5. What is in your fridge?
lots of condiments, some phyllo dough, some beer, milk, pop, and some cheese...need to hit the grocery tomorrow.

6. White or wheat bread?
definitely 100% whole wheat

7. What is on top of your refrigerator?
a microwave, a basket of change

8. What color or design is on your shower curtain?
it is blue and green striped

9. How many plants are in your home?
none, but i'd really like some

10. Is your bed made right now?
yes. i had a guest today. :)

11. Comet or Soft Scrub?
hmmm soft scrub i guess.

12. Is your closet organized?
yes. it is very small, so in order for it to be workable, it must be organized.

13. Can you describe your flashlight?
whaaat? i don't even think i own a flashlight. if the power went out, it would have to be candles.

14. Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home?

15. Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now?
uh no. do i look like june cleaver to you?

16. If you have a garage, is it cluttered?
i do not have a garage. another item on the wishlist.

17. Curtains or blinds?
we have blinds, the very crappy kind with slats. we do not own them, they belong to the landlord.

18. How many pillows do you sleep with?

19. Do you sleep with any lights on at night?
no, i like it pitch dark. i wear an eye mask.

20. How often do you vacuum?
every other day or so. when i see dust bunnies or crumbs on the floor, i vaccuum them up.

21. Standard toothbrush or electric?
regular old toothbrush. my dentist says they are best :)

22. What color is your toothbrush?

23. Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch?
i don't have a front porch. i do have a front door mat though.

24. What is in your oven right now?

25. Is there anything under your bed?
yes. i live in an apartment, need all the storage i can get!

26. Chore you hate doing the most?
cleaning the bathroom and laundry

27. What retro items are in your home?
i'd say the entire kitchen is pretty retro. and not in a good way

28. Do you have a separate room that you use as an office?
yes, we have a guest bedroom/office/music room

29. How many mirrors are in your home?

30. Do you have any hidden emergency money around your home?
ha! no. if i did, it would have gotten used for bills and loan payments. every day is a financial emergency in my world.

31. What color are your walls?
living room is "sagey" (behr's name). it's a sage green. bedroom is a grey-blue. i love it. the rest of the apt is white.

32. Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home?
do knives count?

33. What does your home smell like right now?
nothing really. maybe a little like coffee.

34. Favorite candle scent?
i like pumpkin, or something fresh and clean smelling.

35. What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now?
no pickles in there. some pickle relish i think.

36. What color is your favorite Bible?
i don't really have a favorite bible. i own two of them. i haven't touched them in awhile.

37. Ever been on your roof?

38. Do you own a stereo?
yes, it's in the guest bedroom/office/music room.

39. How many TVs do you have?

40. How many house phones?

41. Do you have a housekeeper?
her name is Emily

42. What style do you decorate in?
i like classic styles mixed with unique pieces that have sentimental value, like things collected from travels, etc.

43. Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints?
mostly solids, but i'm not opposed to prints.

44. Is there a smoke detector in your home?
weelllll...the battery was dead, and we haven't replaced it for a month or so. bad bad, i know.

45. In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip?
nothing is really that important to me. my laptop i guess.

Ok, I did it! Back to my Saturday ritual of lazing.