Monday, January 10, 2011

Happy New Year, Happy New York

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” –T.S. Eliot

I am on a plane back to NY.  I am no longer in California, not yet in New York.  I am geographically in limbo and mentally as well.  As soon as my plane touches down, I will have to return to auditioning, rehearsing, putting in hours at my day job, and wearing a winter coat.  When I'm in the routine, I feel great, but when I step away and think about it, I think, "Wow, this is a hard life."  When I'm in California, I move at a faster pace than those around me, but when I return to NY, I will have to run to keep up with the tempo of the city.  

I like to tell myself life is easier in Southern California, but the truth is, going home can be equally challenging.  Suddenly, I'm quoting the online video "you should take voice lessons" (, in complete truth, not in the satirical way it was intended.   Everyone I encounter asks, "So what are do you doing with your life in New York?"  And I can't give the standard answers people my age give, like, "buying my own place”, “earning a promotion," or "getting married."  In a way, I'm glad I have my story of getting hit by a car five months ago, because it provides a distraction and escape from the "well, I think I'm improving, but it takes, the pay isn't great, yada, yada, yada…" conversation.

Going home also means facing the life I willfully gave up to pursue my dream.  This year, I spent the first half of my winter break with my brother who, at one time, lived the New York performer life before he decided teaching, marriage, income, suburbs, and stability were more rewarding to him than the "starving artist" badge of honor.  He talks about the home he just bought, the new car he wants to buy, the pets, the wife, the retirement and health insurance benefits, and I have to pat myself on the back, saying, "you don't need that. You have your art!"  And just as I feel pangs in my gut when he discusses the things I worry I may never have, I know my tales of travel, training, and tenacity salt his wounds.  Two siblings who were so alike they're often mistaken for twins are now strangers.   I guess it's true, you can't go home again.

Actually, I will always be eager to go home.  Home is where the dog is. My German shepherd is not only a beautiful and loving beast, but he likes to sing duets with me and can almost match pitch with his lovely baritone howl.   If I don't make it using my own talents as a singer, maybe I can exploit his musical gift!  I could also try taking him to auditions to intimidate companies into hiring me. You don't want this coloratura?  Fine.  But you'll have to tell that to my agent here and his razor sharp teeth.  

Going home is also good for the occasional ego boost.  I sang Christmas Eve services at my little hometown church, and was very refreshing to sing for people who were happy to hear a joyful noise, rather than an audition panel who have endured hours of nervous noise.  It felt great contributing to the congregation’s good cheer, and I hope I can take their positive feedback and encouragement with me back to NY, where the occasional pep talk comes in very handy. 

I have to look forward to my return to NY not only for the auditioning, the day job, and the daily grind, but also because 2011 has a lot of artistic promise.  I can't wait to see Diana Damrau at the Met again after she left me in awe from her Fille du Régiment performance last year.  I am also looking forward to some exciting contemporary operas, like Nixon in China at the Met and Stephen Schwartz's opera, Séance on a West Afternoon at City Opera. Plus, I'll continue to sing, performing 3 more operas with Dicapo Opera Theatre, operas with a summer company (which I will discuss in a later post), and improvisational opera, impropera.  That's right, I plan to improvise.  Does that really surprise anyone?

Eat, Pray, Love?  That's been done.  I want 2011 to be the year I sing, play, live.  I will heart NY and heart me in it.  And when I venture back to San Diego at this time next year, I won't say, "I'm going back home to see my family," I will say, "I'm leaving my home to see my family."  I can't go home again, but I can embrace my newer one, and more importantly, embrace my place in it!