Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday always comes!

So yesterday after work, I took advantage of the warmer weather, got my leggings and my tennies on and went out for my usual Monday night long walk, sadly without Mr. S, who was otherwise engaged last night.  However, it was really fabulous to put on my earbuds and listen to my voice lesson again from Saturday.

First of all, I have one of those teachers whose analogies are wildly off-the-cuff and usually hilarious, so I got another good laugh out of it last night, in addition to the vocal pearls of wisdom.

It felt so good to be outside, and maybe I was just in a good mood or something, but as I listened to myself sing, I noticed that I have truly improved.  I wasn't cringing to listen to myself, and I noticed many good things instead of hating what I heard.  Which, to be honest, is surprising, based on the experience I had ten days ago, and the darkish place to which it plunged me.

I wore myself out with that walk, and came home and heated some up of my delicious freezer food (Mac and cheese muffins...hey...I earned it) for dinner and drank some wine, and worked on my latest sewing project.  I'm working on refashioning some inexpensive pants I bought on Ebay-- a totally therapeutic and super fun endeavor.

Here's to a great Tuesday.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Inspired by:

1. This blog post: Discomfort Zone: How to master the universe

3.  This blog post: The IT Factor: "The absolute concentration of the positive on the now." WOW.

4.  All of the hard-workers in my life.  Your motivation and drive has kept me inspired this week despite my own issues.  

5.  Margaritas (Stu, this one is for you.)

6.  All of the singers.  :)  
I cleaned up after dinner last night and spent the rest of the evening just watching youtube videos of iconic singers-- Leontyne, Martina Arroyo (damn, she is fabulous), Jessye Norman, Kiri (her rehearsals to prepare the Vier Letzte Lieder with Solti are so cool). 

7.  White Chocolate Coconut Oatmeal Cookies: Click here for the recipe!  

Happy weekend!  And thanks for sticking with me this week. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Note from the Universe

Often, Jessica, simply showing up is enough. 


Hello!  I haven't been feeling very well, so I've been a bit incommunicado, but I'm back on the horse.  Last night I sang through some Violetta and it felt wonderful, so I suppose whatever is wrong with me is not affecting my voice!  I can't use that for an excuse. :)

It has been so wonderful having Joe back and I enjoy the dumbest little things like going grocery shopping last night together.

I'm in NYC again this weekend, so hopefully I can get my mojo back before then!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I took some very good advice and stepped away for about a day and a half. 

Okay, not all the way.  I still tried to practice yesterday on my lunch, but it wasn’t really working, so I stopped.

Since Monday nights have become my traditional long-walk with Stu night, and it was FREEZING, we opted to age ourselves by thirty years and become mall-walkers for an evening.   We still got our allotted exercise, and were able to eat guacamole at Chili’s and see a silly movie afterwards.  So it was a fun time, and I got some good sleep last night, and I’m starting to feel better.

I practiced on my lunch break, and things seem kind of back to normal.

I still wonder, though, why?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Later that day

Days like today remind me of how far I still have to go, how much I really don't have anything to say that can help anyone, how much work still has to be done.  As much as I want to believe what Joe and my grandmother and Beyonce say, that everything happens for a reason, I'm starting to notice that they only say it when something bad happens.  And the reason it happened seems to remain the same every time: horrifying sitautions and events happen to remind the people that live through them that you can still wake up the next morning and go on doing things, that life goes on, and you're probably stronger than you think, in at least a few ways.

I had been feeling pretty powerful after losing 25 pounds and affecting some positive change in other ways, but maybe I needed to be taken down a notch!  It's okay, universe, I understand.

In art, music, love...everything important, really, we could begin to see life as one long string of being torn down and built back up, as that Venetian theatre, La Fenice, burned three times and rebuilt like the phoenix she was so prophetically named for. And it will continue to happen for me, I am sure, until I am so strong that I can smell the smoke and see fire when it starts for what it is-- just another thing for me to overcome.  Appreciating these things in the moment is impossible now, but maybe when I am wiser I'll be able to overlook the pain and go straight to the teachable moment.

But that sounds more like Buddha than Jessica.  And Jessica still likes a great pair of shoes and steak and the occasional vodka soda too.  Actually, I could probably use one of each right now.

See you tomorrow when everything will be brighter.

Last night.

I barely slept.  It was bad.  And his morning I am in the green room at my church job typing away because if I don't I will explode.

Somehow all of you out there are just anonymous enough that I feel semi sort of okay telling you how disappointed in myself I was yesterday.  There is something going on with my body, I think, my vocal cords are swollen and I feel like I sang terribly last night.  Or maybe I can't blame it on that.  Maybe there is just a lot more work I need to do.  Usually I am a bit better at forgiving myself and letting it go, but this morning I am a mess.  And I have to sing a Handel aria in about 15 minutes.

I just keep telling myself what Joyce DiDonato said in the Juilliard master class.  "I'm not a machine, I'm not a computer, I'm a singer and I'm human."

Oh and by the way, isn't she just wonderful?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I told you it would be loud...

And a bit wrinkled from sitting at my desk...but here it is!  The V-Day ridiculousness!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In preparation for V-Day, I offer this:

There's a couple things you could do to celebrate love tomorrow.  And you should, because single, or coupled, there's a lot of love to be celebrated.

1. Sing.
Spend time doing the thing you love most in the world.  I know I will.  Love is about so much more than romance.

2. Hang out with a little kid.
Remind yourself how much fun life can be, and don't forget to be totally silly.  One of my favorite kids actually has his birthday on Valentine's Day!  I am sad I'll miss it this year!

3. Plan your outfit accordingly.  I know I will be wearing pink and red tomorrow and everyone is going to throw up in their mouths a little, but I don't care, the bright colors give me joy.  Maybe black gives you joy-- and if so, you should totally wear it.  Spruce yourself up and get your fabulous on, however that manifests itself for you.

4. Nothing gives more pleasure than eating a really great meal.  Whether you cook it (sometimes this is just really satisfying) or whether you go out.  But make sure you have something great to eat.

5. Read this fabulous blog post: 14 Ways to Enjoy Valentine's Day: Single or Coupled

6. Don't allow cynicism to take over, whatever happens.  Plan ahead today to make sure that tomorrow is a happy, love-filled day for yourself!  Take the opportunity to reward yourself for your hard work and put some love out there for the fabulous folks in your life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Things I love this Shrove Tuesday

So thankful for:

1. My bed! Oh it is sooo comfortable!  I didn't always have one this great, so I can really appreciate it.
Yep, and now I sound old. :)

2. The burgers at Hamilton Tavern, what a delicious discovery-- a rare and oniony experience. (and Z and A, or course!)

3. Monday night walks with Stu, made very necessary by the burgers at Hamilton Tavern!

4. My new rep.  Oh boy is it fun.  I am looking forward to all the chances I will have to sing it.

5. Pinterest hairstyle tutorials.  You girls out there...these updo tutorials are amazing!  I am rocking one today, and it makes me feel so good.  It is one of those rare days when you look in the mirror and say, YES!  That hair is fab!

6. The spring fashion issues I have been receiving in my mailbox.  So combine these with the comfy bed, and wow.  Life just got about 30-60% better.

7. J Crew pants for $11.00 on Ebay.  Yes, you heard that right.

8. Weddings.  So many people are getting married this year and it is a delight.  There's nothing I love better.

9. In the dead of winter, isn't it fabulous to look forward to a couple of weeks at the beach?  I am already planning my tannness.

10. By the power invested in me by Bach, I will now start working on another daunting piece of oratorio repertoire (I believe I am the only soprano who has never sung it).  I will not tell you what it is yet, but its a fun one! and full of fioratura flava.

Now go party.  It's fat Tuesday.  Or, big-boned Tuesday, as a politically-correct friend of mine tweeted earlier today.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday finally!

I have a temple gig tomorrow, but besides that and my church job, it will be a real weekend.  I am looking forward to being at home most of Saturday and Sunday.   It really does just sound heavenly.

I wasn't as resilient this week as I would have liked.  Although I am relieved to report it never happened in front of the wrong people, I had a couple of break downs.  Which is two too many in my opinion.  I really have nothing to complain about-- I'm healthy, well-fed, and have a wonderful husband and spectacular friends.  I am trying to cultivate unflagging positivity, and I think I'm making real strides.  But I heard a quote once-- I should look up who said it-- "Never apologize for showing emotion.  It is true and honest."

The low point was definitely my father's text asking me what year I was born.  Oh man.  I guess being a person's first child and the only one who will still speaks to that person, does not necessarily mean you remember when I was born.  I definitely remember when he was born.  But that is neither here nor there.  Clearly there are some wounds of mine that have never totally healed.

The high point of this week has certainly been my time with friends and Joe's homecoming, as well as the amazing Ravens Superbowl win.  It has been so great for Baltimore!

The stressors of this week luckily have had nothing to do with singing.  Singing is the wonderful escape from the drama!  I have some fun competitions and auditions and a concert coming up that give me lots to work for.

Goals for this weekend include wine.  Wine.  Maybe a little more wine.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Psalm 91

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


Lately, the only time I've had to sit and think has been either one of two places: during the readings at my church job each Sunday, or while I'm on the bus to New York, like right now.

While getting up at the crack of dawn to get on a bus can be less than glamorous, I love it too, because it means I am carrying out what I want for myself, and if this is the most adversity I'll face to live my dream, then, hey. I can handle it.  Since what keeps me going with this whole singing thing could really boil down to this: the pursuit of the moment that the music and who you are, your soul, really, collides so suddenly and perfectly that it becomes almost a living thing, a feeling that you never forget, ever. 

Those moments have happened at both very unexpected times, and times you would expect them to happen.  

It is disappointing to say that they rarely happen at a church job, but in fact it is true.  Mostly because of the lack of money to go around, church choirs are under-rehearsed, and we are always working hard during services to get the notes and rhythms right.  But I was very lucky in to be in a choir right after grad school at a church with a choirmaster who was just the right kind of church musician-- expects a lot from the singers, but picks fabulous, rewarding rep.  There was one Sunday with him that one of those moments happened. Tears actually come to my eyes when I think about it, and the crazy thing is that I think I'm the only one who felt it.  It was a very simple anthem with the most poignant text by Christina Rossetti, called Consider by a living composer named Roland E. Martin.  
I've tried to find a recording of it, but I don't think there is one.  It's okay though, I'm keeping it inside my head forever. 

I think my first solo Bach experience was another one.  Bach may actually be the first guy I ever fell in love with, and breaking through the belief that I couldn't sing it was powerful.  I'll never forget how amazing it was to sit there with the orchestra and chorus kind of just surrounding me with musical love in the form of a big chorale, as I got ready to sing my aria.  

One was in a coaching.  Once in a while you get to sing an aria with a pianist who plays the music and not the notes.  And when that happens at the same time that you may in fact be having a huge vocal breakthrough, it's all you can do not to just cry.  The last note happens, you look over at him and you both have tears in your eyes.  What just happened, I asked myself as I walked outside afterward, in a daze.  I know, I just remembered why I love doing this again. 

There are more and I hope you wont mind if I write them here, because maybe when an aspect of the process starts to feel like a drag, you can try to recall your own moments.  It really helps.

And what is so cool about life is that I know many more will happen. I wonder when the next one will be?