Wednesday, February 27, 2008

le sigh

where i am...

where i want to be...

Seriously...I CAN'T TAKE ANY MORE SNOW. It's beginning to take a toll on my mental health. And just when I had finally weaned myself from my therapist in a attempt to remedy my financial situation. But according to Tom Skilling, Chicago's favorite weather man, that whole global warming thing is about to turn in our favor. And I quote: "seventy degree days are not far in our future." !!!!!!!

In other news, I am exhausted. I taught for nine and a half hours yesterday between my job at the store in Palatine and my work at the public school for Music of the Baroque. I'm not going to be able to do too many more of those days -- it's a bit dangerous to put that many miles on my voice, plus it renders me completely unable to practice because I have to spend my non-working hours being silent. The good news is twofold: I made a LOT of money yesterday, and I can pretty much make my own schedule with the MOB job (haha, that rhymes) and rest my voice when it needs it. The work at the public school is so gratifying though. Most of these kids need a good mentor and are so darn excited to have a private lesson that it's infectious -- I went home absolutely beaming yesterday.

I've started to panic a bit about the summer, however. My church job takes a hiatus during the summer, and no church money = no loan payment money. Lots of students "take a break" from lessons for the summer, so I'm not sure I can count on the lesson money I've been making. And so far, no gigs to report. Unfortunately, I was sick for the Grant Park Chorus auditions, which was basically my last ditch hope of making any money singing this summer. So...I'm not sure what's going to happen. On the one hand, I'm looking forward to a relaxing summer of attending lots of weddings, spending time with friends and Nick, and enjoying myself; but on the other hand, I am highly anxious about being poor and not advancing my career. Plus, I'll need to coach and take lessons this summer in preparation for Audition Season 2008: Please Hire Me or I Might Do Something Rash. Any ideas, anyone? I really can't see myself going back to temping for thirteen bucks an hour, it would be too awful. My fleeting thought at the moment is to try to capitalize on wedding gigs. I have a friend who is a wedding planner and I've been pumping her for ages to hook me up. You might say, "why not try to save money for the leaner months?", and to that I give a resounding "HA!". I've already given up my therapist, manis and pedis, lattes, lunches out, and clothes shoppping -- and I'm still not doing so well. I blame it primarily on the loan payments and the ridiculous price of gas. Freakin' Northwestern and the economy.

Sorry if that last paragraph bored you to tears. My finances are so exciting, I know. They basically consume my thoughts for much of the day, so...I can't help but blog about it.

So, Nick is leaving for Greece next Thursday (the 6th) through the 23rd. I've never spent a night alone in our gigantic apartment, and the thought of it makes me a little nervous. Our apartment is completely gated and safe, but I'm thinking it will take a little getting used to for the first few nights. Attention all of my friends who think I've dropped off the planet: I will be calling you soon. Yes, it's lame that I am calling you when my boyfriend goes out of town, but honestly I haven't spent much time with him either these days. And the month of April will be completely consumed with OFY tour (three weeks in a row, whoaaaa) so I've got the month of March to be a good friend. And sing the St. Matthew Passion, which might be the hardest thing ever, which reminds me I need to download a recording so that I don't make such a poor showing of sight reading it as I did the other night at rehearsal. Happy Hump, kids!

Monday, February 25, 2008


It was a lovely weekend, and now it's dreary Monday with a winter storm warning on the horizon. Sigh. We just can't win the battle against winter, can we? Of course, the storm is predicted to hit just as I need to make my 45 mile commute to my teaching job in the suburbs. My poor car is starting to see the effects of this miserable winter -- on Saturday I had to have my two front tires replaced. I had been driving around on a flat tire for who knows how long. Thank goodness for boyfriends who pay attention to these things, else I would probably have ended up stranded on the side I-90 somewhere, or worse.

Back to the lovely weekend. Friday night we headed to a dental convention party -- yes I said, dental convention party -- at Excalibur nightclub downtown. Nick spent Thursday and Friday at the McCormick Center at the annual dental convention and was subsequently invited to the after-party hosted by one of the dental supply companies. Two of his bosses were there and several people from one of the offices where he works. It was quite the party -- three floors, dancing, plenty o'booze, and plenty of dentists getting down and dirty (and drunk). Quite hilarious. We stayed for a couple of drinks, then went for some Thai food with his bosses. We stayed out much later than we are used to these days, so we basically collapsed into bed and slept late. Well, I did -- Nick is an early riser no matter what time he goes to bed.

Most of Saturday was taken up by the aforementioned tire replacement, but we were able to go have a meal at a greasy spoon around the corner while we waited for the car to be finished. We took the car to Sears auto, so after brunch we wandered around Sears and looked at appliances. Yes, I am officially old, I salivate over front loading washers and dryers and stainless steel refrigerators and oven ranges. Saturday was actually quite a lovely, sunny day and a balmy 40 degrees, so after the car was finished we continued wandering around our neighborhood and checking out some of the local home furnishing/antique stores. Again, I am old. Saturday night we had a delicious meal with our friends Ryan and Julia at a fairly new Indian place called Marigold that had gotten really good reviews. Ryan and Julia are our foodie friends, so we always have a lot to talk about with them -- newest restaurants tried, recipes, etc. Marigold was fantastic -- fun and innovative Indian inspired cocktails and delish favorite Indian dishes with a twist.

Sunday was extra long church, since I had to stay for a rehearsal for the Bach cantata we're doing in a couple of weeks: Christ lay in death's dark prison. Gotta love cheery Lenten music! After church we did our grocery shopping and I made a beef roast for dinner with a tomato Madeira confit. If blogger weren't being such a little bitch right now I would totes post some pics and the recipe, but I'm sick of dealing with it. I'll try to post it tomorrow. Now I must be off! Have a good week everybody!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

v-day recap

With all of my obnoxious complaining yesterday (I was just pissed about not having a paid day off for President's day, mmmkay?), I forgot to mention what a wonderful Valentine's weekend I had. Nick brought me a dozen roses when he got home from work on Thursday, and then we went to a fondue restaurant near our apartment. Now, some of you may think that fondue is outdated and annoying, and in several ways it is exactly that. Who wants to cook their own meat in a pot of oil? But I find it slightly amusing and the giant pots of cheese and chocolate that begin and end the meal are enough to cinch the deal for me. We had passed this place while driving several times, and since we love the fondue at Geja's, decided that we should try it.

It was a slight disappointment, I will say. The decor was what we expected...a little cheap and seedy looking. And a warning: the pictures on the walls are not well-secured, a man in front of us knocked one down with a slight sweep of his arm and sent glass flying everywhere. Yikes. It was totally packed for the holiday, and the service was terribly slow. We like a slow dinner, but this pushed the limits a bit. I mean, they aren't cooking anything back there, so we didn't understand what took so long to put some raw stuff on a plate. The cheese fondue was delicious though, so creamy and tangy and melt in your mouth. The dinner was a little pricey for what it was, and the drinks were preposterously expensive. Fondue is kind of a once a year type meal, and in the future we will definitely choose Geja's over Fondue Stube in a hearbeat. But the evening was fun, and we laughed a lot despite the sub-par dinner.
Fondue Stube was only the warm up for our Valentine's weekend -- Friday evening we saw Falstaff at Lyric. It's not my favorite opera by far, but it is very funny and entertaining, and the music is beautiful, especially Fenton and Nanetta's stuff. It was a lovely production, but I wasn't overly impressed with the Alice Ford. Since I had to come straight from work in Palatine with hardly a minute to spare (seriously, we ran in one minute before curtain), I ate a McDonald's cheeseburger for dinner at intermission that Nick had smuggled in for me in his coat pocket. Cheeseburger and a glass of champagne, what a delicious combination! After the opera, we headed back to our 'hood for a beer and some appetizers at Charlie's Ale House, our favorite local pub.
Saturday night was the fancy dinner night, and we had a fantastic meal at Cafe des Architectes. It was a very reasonably priced dinner for being in a fancy hotel on Oak Street. For appetizers, I had scallops and Nick had lobster bisque. Both were excellent. For entrees, Nick had beef tenderloin, which was very high quality and perfectly cooked, and I had duck breast. It was a little fattier than I prefer, but came with a declious butternut squash puree. For desserts we had a scrumptious flourless chocolate concoction and a banana torte. Top it off with a bottle of good merlot and you're got one fantastic meal! The weekend o' love was great -- I feel so lucky to be having my third Valentine's with Nick.
The rest of the week is busy with teaching and rehearsals. Gotta make the donuts. What's exciting about this week is that I finally get my driver's license back! I will no longer have to carry around my passport as my form of ID. I have been able to legally drive with the ticket they gave me serving as temporary license, but it has been rather annoying. Other than that, I'm doing what every other Chicagoan is doing right now...praying for spring to come quickly, and the ice on my street (and in my heart) to melt. Kidding. Not about the street though, that crap is dangerous.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Why is the grass always greener? Last August, when I quit temping, I was the happiest girl on the planet. And I must admit, it was a very good fall/holiday season, and despite money woes, I was pretty happy with the direction my career was headed. I'm still happy, opportunities are still popping up, but I've just been wishing it were... a little different. I drive WAY too much. I work weird hours. I don't like dealing with the parents of some of my students. And the money situation has not been improving as much as I'd hoped. I keep reminding myself that I'm singing and teaching singing for a living, which is basically my dream career, but sometimes I still wonder if I'm cut out for this lifestyle. I'm a homebody at heart, and I like being at home in the evenings with Nick, something that my current jobs don't allow. I like seeing my friends, something that never happens these days. I, like most humans, like comfort and security, something that my jobs don't really offer. I'd really really love a couple of paid vacation or sick days--unheard of! My recent trip to Wisconsin with OFY basically counted as a "vacation" as far as my other jobs are concerned, even though I was working my ass off the entire week. I'd give anything to be able to go with Nick to Greece in a few weeks, but I just don't think it's in the cards, unless I want to get fired and lose students.

Anyway, that's on my mind today. I know some of you singer friends will be annoyed but I beg you to consider the pros of your current situation. Lord knows I'm trying to focus on mine. And maybe someday I'll find that dream job that allows me to teach during the day and be home in the evenings save for when I'm rehearsing for some gig or other (can you say, Adjunct Professor of Voice at some small college near a large metropolis? Now that is my real dream job!) I've also been seriously considering going back to school for a Speech Pathology Masters and getting a job with an ENT who specializes in voice care. Ever since my voice issues in 2005, I've been really interested in helping people with voice problems, especially singers. And I think I could provide a really valuable psychological element -- because that's the hardest part for most singers recovering from an injury. Just thoughts at this point, but I could see myself being happy doing that. And sometimes I think I'd be happy living in Greece and having some babies and not really doing anything! It makes me feel good to look at all the options laid out before me -- they're endless, really.

Ah, Monday. You are a cruel mistress.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

i heart valentine's day

Happy Valentine's Day, readers! It's been a good day for me so far, and I hope you are all having fun with your lovahs or your awesome single selves. I woke up to a card on my desk from my honey -- and much to my delight, it was one of those cards that plays music! It made me laugh. We have a whole fun weekend of festivities ahead of us: tonight we're having dinner at a fondue restaurant near our apartment, tomorrow night we are seeing Falstaff at the Lyric, and Saturday night we are having dinner at this fabulous place. Now that I am feeling better and the voice is somewhat back to normal, I can look forward to all the fun Valentine's festivities.

And I had a good "business meeting" today with the Music of the Baroque chorus director and the music teacher at a high school right near my apartment. MOB asked me to join their outreach program, teaching private voice and aiding the choral director at a Chicago public school, and I am really excited about it! It's literally a ten minute drive from my apartment, it's daytime hours, the pay is pretty good, and the high school choral director is very cool. I sat in on her advanced chorus today and they were sounding fantastic. It will only be about four to eight hours a week, but it's going to be nice to have something to do during the day for a change, and hopefully it will mean I can have one weeknight off to spend at home with Nick. So I'm feeling good about that.

So go eat some chocolate, watch a sappy movie, wear red and pink, and draw hearts on your hand in pen. The Midwest Princess loves you, baby!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Turns out, being a singer and voice teacher doesn't work too well when you don't have a voice! So I am a bum, out-of-work, singer/voice teacher this week. I wish I could say I was enjoying it, but I've pretty much been panicking non-stop since Monday night. I did accomplish one thing today: I drove to Kenosha to meet with my new accountant. He came highly recommended from another musician colleague, and I think it's going to be very worth the long drive. He hardly charges anything ($200!) and he said I was going to get about an $1100 return! That makes me very happy. Plus, he is teaching me about all the musician deduction thingies and how to organize my finances. Good things.

On the way home from Kenosha, I did a very Emily thing and tried to make a U turn on a deserted country road and got stuck in a snow drift. I was not sure where I was or how I was going to get out of the predicament (what did people DO before cell phones, seriously?), when God himself showed up in a giant white truck with a shovel on the front and a tow. For one moment, I guess God decided that he'd given me a little more than I could handle for the day and sent a messenger via man in giant white truck. So I was saved from my little mishap in a matter of minutes. I am now safely back in my apartment. Thank you, man in giant white truck.

Having no voice has left me lots of time for surfing the net, television watching, and reading my new book: The Other Boleyn Girl. It is a really fantastic book that I've just learned has been made into a movie starring Scarlett Johanssen and Natalie Portman! It's a very trashy book filled with sex, but in a sixteenth century way and mixed with historical facts, so it feels like you are being very intellectual as you read it. And now I'm watching Ina Garten -- if only I could just own a cheese shop in the Hamptons. Or maybe in France. I've been fantasizing about non-singing careers lately. And careers where you work normal daytime hours. And careers where you get paid to cook and travel.

February is the pits. And I'm being totally rambly. I think I'll go read about some sixteenth century sex now. And hope that my voice comes back really soon. I'm nothing without it, really.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Sorry for the non-posting, kids. Remember that little nagging cough I mentioned in my last post? Well, it turned into full-blown illness. Fever, bad cough, nasal was not pretty. Somehow, SOMEHOW (I still don't know how), I managed to perform two shows on both Thursday and Friday (Wednesday's shows were cancelled due to weather). I sounded pretty decent, too. But getting sick on the road is just about the worst place imaginable, and I was pretty miserable. Thankfully, the week came to an end, I came home and didn't leave the house all weekend. Nick cooked homemade chicken soup (he's such a dear) and we spent the entire weekend watching movies and television and me trying to get well. I am feeling better, but my cough is still pretty nasty, and now my voice is starting to go. I'm steaming and tea-ing and resting and trying not to freak out, but we singers have a tendency to freak out when our voices are not right.

So I'm going to go spend some more time steaming. I'll try to get some pics up from tour week soon. In the meantime, it may be pretty quiet on this end. Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

10:46 pm Exhaustion.

Well, we had a full day of performing today! Hooray! But it looks like we're getting a whole crapload of snow tonight, so we'll see about tomorrow. The performances went splendidly, and it was SO much fun working with the kids. I loved every minute. But I must get to bed now -- oddly, today I developed a strange cough that I thought was dryness but seems to be moving into my chest. Great timing. But before I leave you, funny story of today:

We were all headed out to dinner and walking through the lobby of the Super 8, trying to be inconspicuous as there was a child's birthday party going on. I guess the Super 8 must have the only indoor pool in the area. So, we're walking by, and suddenly we hear, "it's those opera people!". A little girl comes running at me, screaming, "Emily!!!!!" (granted, her name was Emily too, so I'm sure that's why she remembered mine and not everyone else's). Apparently these kids had been at our show today. The mom said, "can you sing happy birthday for us?", so we launched into a very operatic, harmonized, dramatic rendition of happy birthday. It was adorable.

Yeah. Rock stars.

Monday, February 04, 2008

6:46 am We learn that school is closed where we are supposed to perform.

Up at 5:00 am due to excitement, anticipation, nerves, and a not-so-comfortable hotel bed, I was raring and ready to go by 6:45 am for show #1 in Westby, WI. Due to oncoming sleet and snow, the school had closed for the day. So no show. We were told this often happens during the early weeks of tour, and of course we aren't paid if we don't perform since the show must be rescheduled. We were all dressed, made up, and packed to check out of the hotel, so we sighed loudly, found the Starbucks, then went out for some eggs. While we were enjoying our eggs, it began to snow...and snow. Fed, caffeinated, and happy, we began the fifty mile or so journey to our next hotel in Reedsburg, WI. Following the google map directions provided by our operations director, we took a crazy backroads journey through the hills (yes, there are hills here), passing several horse drawn buggies and Amish folk hanging their laundry out to dry (in a snow storm and 30 degrees-?) Approximately three hours later, we arrived in Reedsburg. Later, we discovered that for a mere fifteen or so additional miles, we could have taken the freeway and probably arrived a lot sooner (and saner). But we checked into the Super 8 in Reedsburg, where we would be staying for the next two nights. It was noon. We had the whole day in front of us.

We started by resting in our rooms for awhile. It had been a long morning, and we were all exhausted. A bit later, Kristin (our Queen of the Night for this week) and I decided to head across the street to the Pamida, a sort-of Walmart/Kmart type store, where our goal was to purchase a cheap bathing suit so we could go in the indoor pool and hot tub. It was between a Nike one piece for $35.99 or a black cami/boy short set that was technically in the lingerie section, but at $10 was much more the price range we desired. With black cami/boy short sets in tow, we headed back to the hotel, making a stop at the McDonald's next to the hotel for some Chicken Selects for lunch. After a short Mickey D's induced nap, we met up with Mark and David (our Tamino and Papageno, respectively), and had some swimming/whirpool time. I was whisked back to past family vacations when my sister and brother and I would get so excited to use the hotel pool (think, Anderson Holidome, Elaine!). Our family often stayed in very similar hotels, clean but no frills, and something about this Super 8 takes me straight back to those days. Later on, we all hopped into the van and headed to the only restaurant in town, Longeley's, a sort-of Applebee's crossed with a diner, crossed with a seedy bar. We all had decent burgers, beers, and salad bar, then came back to the hotel to rest up for what will hopefully be a busy day of performing tomorrow. I'm trying not to catastrophize (is that a word), but I'm envisioning us going home not having performed a single show this week due to school cancellations. Thank goodness the rest of my tour weeks are in April.

So here I am, 10:29 pm in the Super 8, watching reruns and blogging. I'll be popping half an Ambien and hitting the sack very soon. We're up early again tomorrow, hopefully to do a show and not just to eat eggs and drink Starbucks. I'll keep you posted.

Signing off.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

10:02 pm Arrival at Excel Inn; La Crosse, WI

Eight hour journey from Chicago comes to an end. Four singers, one pianist, one SUV, one transfer from said SUV to tour van, three hundred stops to pee, one dinner at Olive Garden, three stops for gas, one wrong turn and twenty miles driven in the wrong direction, one talk-thru the show, and finally, blissfully...arrival at hotel and bed. Unfortunately I forgot the camera cord, so no pics 'til I get home. But they will be excellent.

Must go to sleep, as must get up at 6:00 am in order to leave at 7:00 am to arrive at first school by 8:00 am for 9:30 am show. Then it's back on the road.

Tour life. Brought to you live and uncensored. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

l'il update

So, I didn't totally blow it at the audition. The cadenza was shaky but I sang a great high C to end it. And I acted the hell out of it, so here's hoping. The most notable part of the audition was that I forgot my heels. My friend Mark picked me up, and I just ran out of the house without them, wearing my clunky snow boots. The hilarious part is that I did the exact same thing for the exact same audition last year. And the even more hilarious part is that I saw the same girl at the audition who loaned me her shoes last year. Gah. I've been doing this too long already. This year, unfortunately, she was wearing some crazy green shoes, which would totes not have gone with my dress, so I had to find another poor girl to give me her shoes. Luckily my friend Linden from undergrad was there (I had a feeling she might be) and loaned me her black heels. Lordy lordy. You'd think forgetting my shoes one time would lead me to never forget again, and yet, one year later here I am. Full circle.

WIDE NET 2008.


I'm leaving in about twenty minutes for my audition for a summer festival production of Die Fledermaus. I learned Adele's Laughing Song in English during the last two days (the production is being sung in English) and have never coached it or taken it to my teacher, so...yeah. The last cadenza will be interesting. And there's no way in hell I can get a D out today (or ever?), so I'm thinking my chances of getting this part are slim. But I sang for them last year and got called back for the lead, so maybe. Stranger things have happened. Like when I coughed in the middle of my aria for the OFY audition and then got the gig. WIDE NET 2008 -- I'm giving it a shot.

In other news, we got about half a foot of snow on Thursday night. Wee! Many of my students cancelled and our choir director cancelled rehearsal, so I had the night off to chill at home with Nick. It was much needed, and wonderful. Weekday evenings spent together are few and far between, since I don't usually get home before 9:30 pm, so we cooked a great dinner and just enjoyed each other's company. We needed it. Friday morning Nick decided to stay home rather than battle the ridiculous commute, so we went out to breakfast and snuggled at home until I had to go teach. Because of course I still had to go teach in Palatine; those people would not close that place unless it was Armageddon. And maybe not even then. But I took the train, so it wasn't that bad.

Today I'm auditioning and preparing to leave for tour tomorrow. Yay! I'm really excited. Now I must go drill some more Adele before this audition. WIDE NET 2008.