Tag Archives: Travel

When opportunity knocks


This Spring, I was invited to participate in a summer program. It’s a good program, run by great people in a beautiful place. But, despite being offered a truly amazing deal, I couldn’t afford to do it. And that was a bit of a heartbreak, since it was something I wanted to do very much.

So, when I got offered a spot in another summer program for a similar amount of money, I turned it down easily. Not because I didn’t want to do it, or because it wouldn’t be a great opportunity–but if I couldn’t come up with the money fast to do a program I loved, I couldn’t justify coming up with it more slowly for a program I liked. I shut the door, and started looking ahead to the next round of auditions in the fall.

Imagine my surprise when this second program continued to pursue me, not once but three times. Opportunity wasn’t just knocking, it was fairly banging down my door, significant scholarships in hand. Trying hard to not be a total idiot, I finally accepted the insistent push of the universe, and decided to make it work.* And that was all at once terrifying, gratifying, and exciting.

So for the last couple of weeks I’ve been rapidly shoving Mozart recits, arias, quintets etc into my head in preparation to perform Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro. This is not a role that has ever been on my radar, but now that I’m getting to know her, I think Marcellina and I will get along famously. There have been a few shenanigans along the way to make me question whether this was actually a great choice for me…but I have to keep reminding myself of some simple, inescapable facts:

1. It’s not like I have a whole lot else going on right now, professionally. I’ve been teaching, and I did a production of The Mikado this Spring, but other than that, my stage time and professional development have been at a near standstill. I’ve been working in a vacuum, and that’s not a great way to grow as a singer.

2. This will go on my resume, not only as a Summer program, but as a performance of a role with a company. That’s good stuff, and my resume can’t take a year’s worth of nothing after grad school.

3. I get to work up some new arias in preparation for the fall audition season–which, by the way, has already gotten underway. Not a moment too soon. I needed some fresh blood on my Top 5 (the five arias that I will consistently offer at auditions this year) to make me competitive.

4. While this is still going to cost me some money (y u so e’spensive, plane tickets?), it is money being well spent on my craft.

5. It’s going to be seriously scary and new for me, process-wise. This is going to be the shortest turn-around I’ve ever had for a show that isn’t a musical. I’ll be performing with people who are legit working professionals, singing at major houses all over the world. And I have to not only keep up, but prove that I deserve to be there. Nothing motivates quite like fear of failure, and this is good for me.

6. Thinking is fine, but over-thinking/worrying about crap that doesn’t matter in the long run will make you crazy. So don’t do it.

Right now my Figaro experience is mostly one of barely-contained terror as I learn this role (and it’s not a big one, so it’s going pretty fast) in a very short period of time. Italian does not come naturally to me, and it is some serious work getting it to stick in my head. I couldn’t ask for a better way to improve my skills than this.

Meanwhile, Husband’s job ends at the end of August, his dissertation is still 4 guys short of a full data set and we have no good job prospects on the horizon for a briefly ABD psychologist. Whee! Upheaval and change! This seems to be the name of the game for 2012. I’m slowly learning not to fight the uncertainty, but, instead, to ride the current and see where it takes me.


*If anybody would like to make a donation towards my living expenses during this 20 day program, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down.


People I Hate At the Airport

People I Hate At the Airport

A friend of mine just gently reminded me that I have a blog and should perhaps post stuff every now and again (Hi Abby!), so here’s a little something I was thinking about while traveling across country a week or so ago.

Flying can be exciting. You climb into a giant metal tube with wings that doesn’t seem like it should be able to get 3 feet off the ground let alone 33,000 feet, cram yourself into a tiny seat surrounded by hundreds of strangers and soar off to destinations as exotic as the far east, or as mundane as the Atlanta airport (through which all travels, no matter what the ultimate destination, seem to be routed). It’s sorta thrilling when you think about it. You can travel thousands of miles in just a couple of hours, and go just about anywhere on the globe in a plane.

But mostly air travel is a long stretch of boredom punctuated by panicked running from gate to gate. You wait in line a lot, first to check in, then at security, then to board. You may sit around at a gate for hours between flights, or you might have to sprint from one side of an airport to the other to catch a connection–only to arrive and find that you are just in time to wait in  line some more. I generally don’t mind air travel, but there are certain kinds of people who can make your trip more stressful and irritating than it needs to be.

  1. People who stand on the moving walkway. Look. I know, it’s fun to stand on the moving walkway…it’s like a big horizontal escalator. Whee! ou don’t have anywhere to be any time soon, since your connecting flight doesn’t board for 6 hours, or you’ve shown up for your flight 4 hours ahead of time. Why not just stand there and be swept gently along, save your energy, watch the world go by…But some of us have places we’re trying to go, and go QUICKLY. That’s what the moving walkway is for. It’s not so you can be extra lazy and avoid walking for 50 feet. It’s so that those of us with tight timetables can move a little faster without having to run through a crowd of people. If you MUST stand, please follow the posted instructions to stay to the right. That means don’t stand there with your rolly bag blocking the whole walkway, leaning absently to one side and texting on your phone. Don’t make me kill you.
  2. People who can’t stop making out with their SO. We all get it. You’re deeply in love, or lust or whatever. You like each other’s faces so much that you want to eat them. You must be cuddling, rubbing, stroking, touching at all times. If you don’t, you will DIE. Or so it seems, since you can’t leave off your PDA for a couple of hours. You might have noticed that there are about 20 people belted into seats crammed into the 10 feet of space right around you, and we can’t escape your love-fest, as much as we might want to. It’s nauseating. Stop it.
  3. The Jersey Shore takes to the air. Some folks still get dressed up to travel. And that’s cool! Apparently looking snazzy and put together can score you an upgrade at the gate sometimes, and everyone likes to feel pretty. But you, girl in jeans so tight they look to be painted on, sparkly halter top, 3 lbs of makeup and the tallest heels I’ve ever seen not on a stripper…you should maybe rethink your strategy. You do not look hot as you awkwardly toddle along the concourse with your zebra-print bag bumping along after you. You look like you’re trying not to fall over.
  4. Angry guy in line to board. I know, it’s ridiculous that they’ve just gotten through the Zone 2 passengers, and they’re already out of overhead space. This is what happens when airlines charge $25 to check a bag, and everyone flying decides to pack as much as possible into a slightly-too-large carry-on roller bag. You seem to have done the same thing as the rest of us, I see by your stuffed expandable briefcase and carry on bag. They are willing to gate-check the excess! We’ve gotten around that $25 expense! Woo! Now stop grousing, and huffing, and heaving sighs as though begin separated from your luggage for 2 hours is a great injustice. You’re only making this process more unpleasant for everyone. Get a grip.
  5. Opinionated guy talking politics (et al) in-flight. Much like the couple across the isle trying to inhale each other’s faces, you are just too close for everyone’s comfort. You seem to be unaware that you are surrounded by people on every side, or that your voice carries easily the length of the plane. There’s a good chance that your abrasive, intense assessment of American politics is going to piss off about half of those people, excite about half, and annoy anyone left over. Everyone ends up riled up, trapped in close proximity to dozens of strangers, feeling uncomfortable and irritated by the whole experience. Ditto for discussions about divisive religious issues, overly-detailed personal stories, medical/physical details about you or anyone you know, and awkwardly doomed-to-fail pickup attempts on the person sitting next to you. Hush.

I’m sure I’ve left some people out of this list. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments!

Next time, a much more positive, less angry-sounding post, promise. 🙂 Perhaps I’ll tell you about my 30th Birthday in California, or my summer musical plans!

Expert Traveler


There are three lines at the airport security checkpoint: Family, Casual Traveler and Expert Traveler.

Nice equine themed security lanes, Louisville.

          After some consideration, Joann and I chose the Casual traveler lane, though, we decided, we were surely being modest. Surely we, experienced globe-trotting Masters degree-having sophisticated singer folks, are Expert Travelers. We had our shoes off and ready to go as we approached the scanners, our computers out, jewelry off. We were ready.

We sailed right through the scanner, and smugly collected our things…but the security dude was holding Joann’s carryon. He politely explained that she had forgotten to remove her liquids. How embarrassing, for Expert Travelers such as ourselves, but certainly no big deal. I assumed that she would fish out her 1 qt. bag of toiletries in 3 oz. containers, they’d send the whole thing back through and we’d be on our way. Instead he pulled out a Walmart bag with two huge bottles of shampoo, a huge bottle of lotion and a bottle of mouthwash. Oops. Into the trash they went, and the bag went back through the scanner. By his facial expression as grimly opened the bag a second time searching for contraband, the security officer had obviously judged us as not just as the opposite of Expert Travelers, but also possibly dangerously clueless. He swabbed the inside of her bag for explosives and sent us on our way with a stern look.

One short, uneventful flight later, and we were ready to check in to our flight from Philadelphia to Munich. As we stood in line, a friendly German lady standing next to me pointed out that I could have checked in much earlier, being seated in Zone 3, not Zone 5, as Jo’s ticket declared her to be. We were, understandably, upset by the prospect of sitting so far apart for a 7 hour flight. International flights are trying enough without sitting next to a total stranger. When we reached the desk, I handed over my boarding pass, and asked if we could be moved so that we would sit next to each other, to no avail. Bummed but stalwart, we boarded the flight and went to our respective sections.

I found my seat–right next to the kindly German woman I had spoken to minutes before. I was supposed to be in 12A, the window seat, but she had scooted over instead of letting me in, so I graciously sat on the isle rather than causing a scene. It’s the kind of small sacrifice that Expert Travelers make for the comfort of their fellow passengers. Suddenly there was a young man standing in front of me looking confused, and holding out his ticket. 12B. “Oh! Yes, I have 12A,” I said, confident that the mistake could not be mine. The German woman looked confused and pointed to the next section of seats across the isle”12C, D, A” she said, pointing. No no, not “Eh” (the German letter E) but rather “Ah” (the German A). She looked more confused and held up her ticket. 12A. Now, that’s just no good at all….

After a few moments of fumbling around in confusion the answer came to me. The boarding pass I was holding, the one that I had been inexplicably scanned in under to get onto this flight to Munich was the pass from Louisville to Philadelphia. I fished out the other pass, and saw, to my chagrin that my seat was right where it was supposed to be, next to Joann. Fantastic. She about peed herself laughing at me as I fished my bag out of the overhead and walked back to row 19, where I was supposed to be.

Expert Travelers indeed.

Tomorrow we take the train to Graz. Hopefully we’ll have worked off some of that Travel Karma by then…