Thursday, October 29, 2009

Life's a Drag, but not for them!

Tonight was an interesting night for me: CU's Gay-Straight Alliance held its fourth annual drag show and I was there to take it all in.

Let me begin by saying that one of the many significant differences between CO and ND is that here, people are much more open-minded when it comes to sexual orientation.  One of the first people I met and made friends with when I moved to CO is gay.  We hang out all the time now.  In fact, many of my closest friends here in CO are gay.  According to these gay friends of mine, this makes me a "fag hag" (which I find to be rather negative), so I'll say "fruit fly." 

I'd never heard the term before, so I did what any good child of my generation does upon encountering something unfamiliar: I googled it.  What I found wasn't really all that suprising, I guess.  Basically, there are just some girls who, for a variety of reasons, get along well with gay men.  Some are proud to be called "fag hags," and they actively pursue gay friends.

That's not how it was with me.  One day, I had zero gay friends, and the next day, I was being told that gay guys would want to hang out with me because of my personality.  Then, without changing my behavior at all, I had lots of gay friends.  It wasn't one of my goals when I moved to CO by any means, but I enjoy it.  I hate to say it because it's so stereotypical of the relationship between straight women and gay guys, but it's safe, in more ways than one.

So when I saw in the student newsletter that there would a drag show tonight, and because I knew that at least one of my gay friends has at least had an inkling of a desire to be a drag queen, I suggested we go. 

The theme was "Drop Dead Gorgeous," and all I can say about it is: "Whoa."  Guys dressed as girls, girls dressed as guys, people dressed in such a way that we couldn't tell their gender, and random costumes filled the ballroom.  There were straight people, gay people, lesbians, bisexual people, androgynous people...  You name it, we were there. 

The entertainment featured Nsync, Michael Jackson, a French man (woman?), and too many others to be counted.  Props to those who performed, and thanks to those in the audience.  It was really an interesting night for me.

If you ever have the opportunity to take one of these in, do it.  It's worth your time, if for no other reason than the experience.  And go with your gay friends.  It's way better that way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quote of the Day: "Norwegian Stir Fry"

Lefse is a staple food of any good Norwegian.  And no good Norwegian can go a day without saying "Uffda!" at least once.  Those two elements come together annualy in Rutland, ND, during the town's Uffda Day Celebration.

Every year, small towns across America (or at least ND) throw bashes that are basically an excuse to drink lots of beer.  Gwinner has "Gwinner Fun Day," Lisbon has "Crazy Days," and Milnor has "June Jamboree."  Popular events include street dances, demolition derbies, and parades.  One of the most important elements of "Uffday Day" is the selling of lefse. 

If you've never eaten lefse, you're missing out.  In America, lefse is very similar to a Mexican tortilla, but is made with potatoes and is way thinner.  Where I come from, it's cooked on a griddle and served with butter and cinnamon-sugar.  It's delicious. 

Apparently, the hardest part of making lefse is the rolling.  It takes practice to make it thin enough and beautifully round.  And it's really fragile.  One must take caution when flipping it on the griddle, or it will break.

The Teller interviewed some of the ladies who made over 2500 pieces of lefse for this year's Uffda Day, and asked about the cooking process.  They confirmed what I've thought for my whole life: good things can come from mistakes made while cooking.  For example, if a server accidentally forgets to order a customer's Caesar Salad without the dressing on the side, she might get to eat the mistake.

In the case of lefse, broken pieces can't be sold.  When a piece is broken, the cookers "flip it on the grill and holler, 'Norwegian stir-fry!'" And eat their mistakes.  (Sometimes, they even have "accidental" mistakes.)

WARNING: Horrible, awful, disgusting cliche ahead:

In life, good things can come from mistakes.  Good things like lessons learned, the ability to give friends advice based on your mistake experience, and maybe even some great stories...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mmm...foot scum: (putting my foot in my mouth)

Snow on the tables: 16 inches or so, more on the way...

A few weeks ago, I made fun of ND for having snow already.  I'm sure that snow is long gone by now.

I may have made a mistake by writing that post.

The forecast for Boulder for tonight through Thursday involves 8 to 16 inches of snow and high temperatures in the 30.  They've already put plans in place to cancel classes on Wednesday night and maybe Thursday all day.  Plus, they sent out a campus-wide email explaining campus closure policies.

I should have walked the half mile to my car to get my snowboots.

This could get ugly.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Jettie Journal: Days 2, 3, and 4 (Because we were so busy I didn't have time to write while she was here)

I got absolutely nothing accomplished this weekend, which actually ended up to be fine, because I planned on that happening.  And Jettie and I had tons of fun.  I kept saying to her, "Jettie, you would have to spend 6 weeks here in order for us to do all that we want to do."  But we crammed as much into 4 days as we possibly could. 

Friday began with some shopping at the UMC and a mini-tour of campus, followed by Jettie sitting in on my intro to music history class.  Jettie is a teacher, and the stupid kids in that class made her mad with their constant texting and game-playing.  She was actually more angry with the teacher, though, for letting the students get away with what they did.

Next, we headed to Longmont for a job interview, some shopping, and lunch and drinks at Chili's.  We headed home to cook dinner for my friends who are in the opera.  Giuseppe Verdi's "La Traviata" opened on Friday, and I planned a dinner for 6 or so of my friends who were involved in the show.  I cooked some Italian food, and everyone hung out until they were called.  Then, Austin, Jettie, and I headed over to the beautiful Macky auditorium for the show.  It was amazing.  I laughed, I cried, I got the goosebumps.

After the show, we headed downtown for drinks and snacks.  Lots of people around, having a great evening.  Jettie and I asked for shots of Crown Royal and Peach Schnapps, but they forgot the schnapps, and we were pretty tipsy.  We went to the bar and lost our buzz, which was pretty sad, then went home and went to bed.

Saturday morning, we got up early to head to the great city of Denver.  We were there by 11:00, and found a parking garage.  We decided to walk to Coors Field, but weren't sure of the location.  We saw a large building in the distance and decided to walk in that direction.  We got about a quarter of the way there, after walking about two miles (I'm not exaggerating), then realized it was actually Invesco Field.  Oops.  We turned around and headed back to town.  We walked the 16th Street Mall for hours, and ate a delicious dinner of nachos and pretzels at the Rock Bottom Brewery.  I drank a WHOLE beer.  By myself!  Yay! 

Me and my whole beer!

 We walked more and more, then took a nap in my car with the radio on.  The battery died while we were sleeping, and we had to have it jumped.  Thank goodness they had a jump box in the parking garage.  We walked some more, and had drinks at the Rialto Cafe.  A nice old man sat beside us at the bar, and paid for our drinks before he left.

We hit up "Wicked," which was amazing.  No complaints.  We had good seats, it was great entertainment, and I loved it.  We went back to the Rialto Cafe to visit out new favorite bartender, Lucas, (Sorry Jamo and James!) and to eat supper at 11:00 pm.  We were exhausted after having walked ALL day, so we went to bed.

Sunday morning, we woke up early enough to head to the Original Pancake House, a Boulder staple, for breakfast.  We then sent Jettie on her way.

It was an amazing weekend, and it was so fun reminiscing and being crazy (although we never got as crazy as I hoped and expected).  Friends are always welcome here! :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Jettie Journal: Day One

Jettie arrived in Boulder today!

We started the night off at The Dark Horse, my favorite Boulder bar.  We had dinner there and ran into some of my Boulder friends.

Then, we went grocery shopping and to Target.

Next, we went to Half Fast Subs and each drank a long island tea.  A = one pitcher.  A 32 oz. one.  Yeah.  Then, we walked home.

More tomorrow.  Yay for Jettie!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quote of the Day: "Whoops"

Before I write this blog, I must tell you that it may offend some people.  It may even offend some of my close friends.  And I'm a bit hesitant to write about this subject, but it's something that I feel strongly about, am grateful for, and talk frequently about, so I think it's okay.  Please keep in mind that this is purely my opinion, and I may be completely wrong. 

I also must admit that the quote is taken out of context purely for my purposes.

And now,
The Quote of the Day:

"We had a couple of whoops."
-Sargent County Deputy Derek Toepke

Sargent County recently hired a new deputy.  Yay!!(?) I've never had any run-ins with a deputy in Sargent County, and don't even have any idea who the police-people are around there anymore, so really, it means little to nothing to me.  Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Toepke and their assortment of animals, which includes six rat terriers, are looking for a house in the country.  Makes sense, considering their brood also consists of horses and a goat. 

Yes, folks, that's right.  Six rat terriers.  Why six, you ask?  Because they "had a couple of whoops."  I would say "whoops" is an understatement.  I might even call it irresponsible (and this is where I'm going to get into trouble).  Had those been children, they would have been in some serious trouble.  But because dogs are like children, I can extrapolate to discuss people having babies.

I do not have children, and having children is not in my 5-, 10- or 100- year plans.  Everyone tells me that that will change, but I'm not so sure.  Don't get me wrong, because I think that kids are great, and I love playing with them, teaching them, laughing at and with them, and learning from them.  But living with them, changing their diapers, trying to put up with them when they make really stupid decisions, and listening to them whine and complain are things that I really don't want to have to deal with.  Ever.  Basically, I like kids when I can give them back to who they belong when they start doing things I don't like.  Maybe that makes me weak, or a chicken, or whatever.  I don't really care.  Like I said, this is about my opinion.

Putting my lack of desire to reproduce aside, there are other reasons why I should not have children right now.  First of all, I'm not married, which is an ideal requirement (in my opinion) for child-bearing, although there are non-married couples that may as well meet that requirement.  So let's suffice to say that I'm not in a serious relationship, and having kids outside of a serious relationship without commitment is a bad idea, no matter who you are.  Secondly, I can barely take care of myself financially , and kids are expensive.  Think of the medical bills, the diapers, the extra food, the crib, the clothes, etc., etc., etc.  Thirdly, I can hardly take care of myself in general, let alone take care of someone else.  I don't get enough sleep, I drink (sometimes too much) alcohol, I ate saltine crackers for lunch 4 days last week.  How could I take care of someone else, who has no choice but to rely on me?  I would fail. 

Please, don't take me as completely cold-hearted toward the idea of either myself or someone else having children.  But there is a right time to do it, and for me and many people who I know that have had children, this is not the right time.  Most are good parents, and having children has probably helped them grow as people, forced them to become adults, and taught them life lessons.  For some people, having children at a young age is an okay, maybe even a good thing.  But not for me.  Like I said earlier, I'm grateful for not having kids, because it means I can do as I please.

Maybe I'm just selfish, and would rather do what I want to do than have to worry about a small child, but I feel like that's the beauty of being at my age.  I don't really have anyone to answer to, and no one really relies on me in the way that children rely on their parents.  If I have a "whoops," it may not ruin some little dude's life. 

 In my opinion, my parents did an excellent job of raising me. (No, Mom and Dad, I'm not just writing that because you read this.)  I look at some of my peers and wonder, "What were their parents thinking?"  And I look at many parents today, and think to myself, "Holy shit.  Figure your life out, because you're ruining your child's life by not disciplining them.  Ever.  No, it is not okay for your child to _____, so don't let them do it."  There are exceptions, and I do know a few of them personally, but you all know what I mean.

If I ever do have children, my friends and I have decided that I will be the mean mom who everyone hates, because if my kid hits someone, I'll hit them back.  Harder.  And if they throw hissy fits, I won't coddle them until they stop.  I'll yell back at them.  Louder.  

All in all, the point is to be responsible.  Be smart, and if you aren't ready to have children, whether it's because you aren't financially stable, or you aren't in a committed relationship, or you want to do your own thing for a while, then don't put yourself in a situation that could result in a "whoops."  And if you just want kids, remember that sometimes what you want isn't what you need.  Think of the (potential) child first, and if you aren't ready, don't do it.  It's a long road.  We don't need any "whoops."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

(N.) Dakota's Got Talent

Yes, it's true.  People actually live in North Dakota, and some of them even have talents other than farming and drinking! 

This may be news to some of you out there who aren't from "The Great White North" (as Jedd, my roommate's boyfriend calls it), but it's true.  Two prime examples showed their stuff right here in Boulder on Friday night.

Ever since my arrival in Boulder, I've been attending the University Lutheran Chapel, which is a little church affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  It has great people, a great location, a great pastor, a great sanctuary... it's just great. The only bad thing about it is that it's dying.  It's basically just a matter of time before there is literally no money.  It's a difficult situation, but surrounding churches do a lot of stuff to help out, like serve meals after the service on Sunday evenings and host talent show/fundraisers for us.

One such fundraiser was held on Friday night at Mt. Hope Lutheran Church.  I briefly mentioned the show in my blog last week.  Mt. Hope offered to donate up to $500 to ULC, $100 for every performer that ULC would bring to a talent show, with some of the funds raised being matched by Thrivent.  With my friend Cody (although he's not technically a member of ULC), ULC took 6 participants to the show.

Let me tell you a bit about my friend Cody from the NoDak.  We were involved in a few mutual activities throughout our years at Jamestown College.  I was his VP when he was President of the Student Body and we were both in choir.  We even hung out on occasion.  Cody was studying science and accounting, and was also finding time to accompany for churches and for practically every soloist and group at JC.  After graduation, he chose to move to Denver to attend the University of Colorado at Denver School of Dental Medicine. But had he chosen to be a rocket scientist, or anthropologist, or zoologist, he could do that, too.  He could theoretically do whatever.  Because he rocks.  Anyway... (sorry, Cody...)

I hadn't even seen Cody since graduation, although we kept a semblance of touch during my music school decision process.  Then, on my trek to CO, I met my parents (and their carload of my stuff) in Belle Fouche, SD.  When I pulled to a pump to get gas, I thought that I heard someone say my name.  I turned around to see Cody in his car, also on his way back to CO for the year... random...  We made plans to hang out once we were settled and that was it. 

Upon arriving in CO, Cody and I would chat occasionally online.  During our more recent chats, Cody had been complaining about missing accompanying, so when the opportunity to sing for the talent show came I asked him to play for me, and he agreed... Yay! We still hadn't even seen each other since we ran into each other in The-Middle-of-Nowhere, SD, although we only live 35 minutes from one another.

After a bit of traveling confusion, Cody arrived at my house on Friday evening, and we headed to the talent show.  There was a gallery display before the show featuring crocheting, photography, fly-tying, and knitting.  Then, we headed to the sanctuary to take in the live performances. 

The emcee for the night was this hilarious retired pastor who must have googled "corny jokes" to come up with his material.  Loved it. The Mt. Hope handbell choir was awesome, a little dude played "The Entertainer," a former opera singer sang, there was an accordionist, a percussionist playing Bach on the marimba, a flutist, another pianist, etc., etc. etc.
Then, Cody played.  And those people loved him.  He played "Holy, Holy, Holy" arranged by Marilyn Hamm and rocked it.  I followed him, singing "Gretchen am Spinnrade" Franz Schubert.  It went well, except for when I sang a high note and the little boy in the front row plugged his ears... 

Yes, that's right: Talent from the NoDak, although Cody kept crediting the arranger instead of himself.  I saw his point when he said, "Well, I couldn't play it if she hadn't written it!"  But I still think that it's more about the playing.  Whateva.  We'll have to agree to disagree.

Let me just say that those people at Mt. Hope loved the talent from ULC.  It was awesome to see their appreciation for our talents, which is just something we enjoy doing...  Especially when we were really the ones who needed to appreciate them for funding our church.  
And in true ND form, the night ended in downtown Boulder with lots of friends and drinking and dancing, and people sleeping on couches in my apartment.

Thanks again, Cody!  Keep performing!  You rock!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random happenings...

Still no time to write a real blog.  Instead, you get snippets of what's new and exciting in my life these days:

I offically have a work schedule for my work study job at the Center of the American West as a Student Assistant.  Basically, I do whatever they want me to do: ship stuff, copy, database, answer phones, etc.  Definitely not hard.  I can only work 6-7 hours a week because of my work study status, but that's fine.  It's decent money, so I like it.

I've officially been job searching for another part-time job for a couple of weeks now with no luck.  Six hours a week just isn't going to cut it.  Wish me luck.

Today was Honors Convocation.  I got 2 little certificates explaining my scholarships.  Yay for scholarships, but boo to the Convocation that took way longer than it was supposed to.

Tomorrow night, I'm singing in a talent show for my church.  By singing, I raise $100!  Yay!  Cody Guy Garrison, who went to school with me in Jamestown and now is going to dental school in Denver, is coming up to accompany and then we're going out for a few drinks.  Yay!

Katie Ryan is in CO visiting her parents, and I get to see her on Saturday!  Yay!

Jettie Wold, a friend from Medora, is coming down next weekend during ND Teacher's Convention.  Yay!!!

All of my friends are really busy this week, getting ready for the opera performances next week.  Kind of sad...

Oh!  My piano teacher told me on Monday that I should have tried to test into a higher class.  I looked at her like she was crazy because I've never had a piano lesson in my life.  It was exciting. 

I think that's all of the random information I can cram into one blog.  Keep checking back for a "Quote of the Day," probably something about the talent show and Katie visiting, and information on Studio Classes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My musical autobiography

Ugh... So I really, really, really want to write a real blog about Thomas Hampson's concert and master class, but I'm getting sick.  Again.  So I'm going to go to bed instead.

In the meantime, here is "My Musical Autobiography."  I had to write it for a class, and I think it's a story worth sharing.  It made me really analyze my musical life.  At the end are my teacher's comments...

P.S.  It's really long.


Although I began singing at a young age, music has only really been a large part of my life for the last four years or so. When I was four years old, my best friend’s mother began teaching me how to sing. She lived three houses down, so it was convenient, and I was a natural. I practiced every day with my sister and Dolly’s daughter, and before long, Dolly had a group of us young singers performing at bridal showers all around town, That’s where it all began.

To understand more about my musical experiences in elementary and high school, one must know that I come from a town with a population of around 700. There wasn’t much musical competition, and standards for music were low. Throughout elementary school, I was the student chosen to sing solos, perform lead roles in musical theatre, be in high school band in fifth grade, and sing in the high school choir in seventh grade. My music teacher gave me opportunities not given to most students my age. Following my eighth grade year, though, he left, and my high school was stuck floundering for a music teacher. From the time I entered my freshman year of high school to when I graduated, the program suffered terribly. We went one whole year without a high school music program. During that time, my musicianship suffered. I had no musical leader, and without guidance, I stopped improving, although I did my best to stay active in the music program.

Following my sophomore year, the elementary music teacher recommended me for a trip to Europe with the Northern Ambassadors of Music choir, a group of high school students from North Dakota and Eastern Montana who would travel to seven countries in fourteen days. I was ecstatic to be given the opportunity to go, and had a marvelous time there, but didn’t see myself having a career in music. For me, it was just a pastime.

Upon being accepted at Jamestown College, I quickly chose psychology as my major field of study. However, I planned to be active in the music program and auditioned for the Jamestown College Concert Choir, which was well-known in the state for its choral program. I was let in, one of only a handful of freshman women allowed to be part of the choir. The choir infused me with energy and refreshed my passion for music. I had never been part of a group of superior musicians, and to be given the opportunity to sing with others who had talent was a new experience that made me love to make music even more. I threw myself into musical theatre productions, women’s choir, pep band, and orchestra. In fact, I was so involved in the music program that relatives assumed that I was a music major and were often shocked when I explained to them that I was only performing for fun and that my plans were to go on to graduate school in psychology.

Following my sophomore year, the choir traveled to Italy for two weeks, performing in amazing spaces like St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Paul’s in Rome. There is a surreal feeling that comes from singing in places that are older than the country that we live in, from singing music that has been sung there for hundreds of years. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

In my junior year, the college hired a new band instructor, and with him came his wife, Leanne Villareal, who was added as an adjunct faculty to give voice lessons to non-music majors. I jumped at the chance to take private lessons. Leanne helped me to find this voice inside of me that I didn’t even know that I had. My range soon increased into “the stratospheres,” as she would say. Leanne encouraged me to consider pursuing a career in music, but I wasn’t so sure. Her prodding caused me to have an identity crisis, and I suddenly wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a life as a psychologist. Following a conversation with my psychology mentor, I decided to switch my major to music. After talking to music faculty, however, I learned that switching at the point where I was in my education wouldn’t be smart, and they encouraged me to finish out psychology, but to continue taking voice lessons.

The decision of whether or not to study music was filled with doubts and questions. After all, I would already have a four-year degree going into music school. What a waste of four years! I would already be in debt, and most likely would have to take out lots of loans to cover more schooling. Even if I excelled at music, there was a huge chance that I wouldn’t be hired to perform following graduation. That’s when God stepped in.

In the spring of my senior year, Patrick Mason traveled to North Dakota to perform a concert at Jamestown College. The following day I was one of those who was fortunate enough to have a voice lesson with him. The lesson itself doesn’t stand out in my mind, but Professor Mason’s reaction to my singing does. At one point he asked me, “Will you be coming to CU – Boulder to do your graduate studies?” I laughed and said, “I’m a psychology major, so probably not.” His reaction was surprise, and Leanne just shook her head in agreement. Later that day, I ran into one of the music faculty, who took me aside and said something along the lines of, “Pat was really impressed with you today. He said that you have one of the most amazing voices he has heard in a long time.”

I was shocked. I am a talented singer, I always have been, but I did not expect to hear that from someone who has only heard me sing once. I left the music building in tears. I felt a huge sense of relief wash over me. I wasn’t ever really sure that it was a good idea to pursue music, even though I was talented. I always thought that maybe I was just good by North Dakota standards. What would happen if I went to school to study music? I’d never taken a music class, the competition at schools is fierce, and I was never really sure that I’d be able to keep up. Professor Mason’s statements boosted my confidence like nothing ever had before, and I realized that I had made the right decision to attend school for music following graduation.

By the time I had made my decision, the deadline to apply at all schools had passed. I had a year of freedom, and time to focus exclusively on the audition process. In the year’s time between when I graduated from Jamestown College and coming to Boulder, I worked two jobs, auditioned, and traveled a bit.

I came to Boulder on August 16th, and things didn’t go well to start off with. I was very seriously questioning my decision to come here. One of my loans hadn’t come through, and I couldn’t afford to be living here. I had heard some other people singing, and didn’t think that I was good enough in comparison. I was concerned about what would happen upon graduating with a degree in vocal performance. Nonetheless, I convinced myself to attend my studio placement audition, just to see, and then leave. I started packing my things.

The morning that I sang for the voice department, I was nervous. I had chosen to sing Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade,” and when I started to sing it, I wasn’t prepared for the reactions of those watching me. They began to sit up in their seats and look around at one another and nod. I could feel the energy in the room, and could tell from the expressions on people’s faces that they were impressed. The second I walked out the door, tears came to my eyes, and I called my mom and said, “Mom, I cannot leave. I am meant to be in Boulder.

Since I have arrived, I have had nothing but amazing support from my friends and family at home, and the faculty and students here. I do not go through a single day without questioning my decision to come here, because the music business is so difficult to really get into and make a steady income from, and I will have a lot of loans to pay off when I’m done with this schooling. My friends at home don’t understand my doubts. They call me brave, and many have commended me for really following my dreams, no matter how unconventional my manner of doing so. My parents told me not to expect them to come to too many performances because they dislike classical music and it's quite a drive, but I know that they are supporting me in other ways. Students here are always complimenting me, even though most of them are just as talented. Professor Mason recently informed me that a full-tuition scholarship will likely be included in my financial aid package next year, and he has been so encouraging about my future that it’s hard to know if he’s being serious. My month here has been amazing.

Despite all of that encouragement, I’m overly critical of myself. Too critical. But I use the criticism to improve. I appreciate suggestions and love hearing the opinions of my peers. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and want to absorb as much information as I can while I’m here. One of my favorite things to do is to watch and listen to my peers perform, because so much can be learned about repertoire, technique, and performing. I am always amazed at the level of talent of the people here, and I am thankful to be included in this group of excellent performers.
It’s been an adjustment, going from knowing nothing about music to trying to learn as much as I can in a short period of time. I oftentimes feel behind in my musical knowledge compared to my younger classmates, but I’m a good student and music is something that I’m passionate about, so it’s easy for me to put in the necessary effort. I find myself building chords in my head before I go to bed at night and analyzing intervals in music I hear on the radio, so I guess I am learning. Hope fully what I’m learning will help me to be successful in my career.

I’m taking this education one step at a time, with small goals along the way. I hope to be accepted into summer programs both here and abroad. Eventually, I hope to be accepted into a young artist program, like that at the San Francisco Opera, and then to be famous. Isn’t that what we all hope for?
And Professor Grape's comments:

"Raissa –

Thank you for sharing your story. There really is very little that is wasted in life. Your four years and your psychology degree may at some point come back to help you in ways you never imagined. Life is often like that. And if your experience now leads you to a brilliant singing career, that is great – and if it leads you somewhere else, that will be okay too. Enjoy the time you are here and the experiences you have here. Being at a university offers you so many fulfulling things, both as a performer and as an audience member. It sounds like you are off to a good start, and that it is no accident that you are here. I look forward to hearing you sing sometime in the near future."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Can I have your attention, please:

Headshots are done.  I can't say that I'm super pleased with the results, but what can I expect for $20 and a university photographer?  If nothing else, I have a lot to choose from, and can edit them at will.  Here are 2 that are better than the rest, though aren't spectacular.  They look like senior pictures... blech.

I wish I could write a real blog, because I still have tons to write about, but I'm going to write three-part counterpoint instead.  Lame.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Small-town Bars: Quote of the Week

I'm keeping this one short and sweet, because I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about the Thomas Hampson concert tomorrow night.

The Lariat Bar in Rutland, ND (population 195) is undergoing hefty construction, and The Sargent County Teller recently printed an article about its progress.  A local historian, Bill Anderson, describes the bar as "a primary community social center."  He goes on to give the best possible description of a small-town bar:

"The place where community issues were discussed, politcal views expounded, arguments argued, fights fought, scores settled, card games played, dice rolled, pool games shot, drinks mixed, beers poured, relationships formed and shattered, wars won, world problems sovled, and community events and happenings, including athletic events, dances, marriages ... and many others, were plotted, planned, and promoted."

Amen, Mr. Anderson, amen.

A very Denver adventure

Last week, I learned that Jen had friends coming from Connecticut.  The plan was to head to Denver on Friday night to party it up downtown.  No one said anything to me about the plan changing, so all week I assumed it was the same...

Then, on Thursday, I asked Christina what the plan was for Friday night, and she said, "Oh, well, I'm going to stay at Jedd's and go to his parents' house on Saturday, and Jake and Holly backed out, so I don't know what Jen and her friends are doing."  Basically, they decided not to go to Denver, but forgot to inform me.

Kenny and I had been looking forward to going to Denver all week, so we decided to go without them.  We invited a bunch of our friends from CO and just hoped someone would come with us.  But even if no one else wanted to come, we were still going to go.  

The afternoon began with us heading to the largest video rental place in Boulder called "The Video Store."  We have to watch five operas for our Italian diction class, so we rented two, and decided to buy a bottle of wine to get a start on drinking before we headed to the city.  We found a liquor store (where someone asked us if we were "together"...haha), hoping to buy some Asian plum wine that Kenny likes, but they didn't have it.  We settled on a red blend and some vodka, and hit the road.  

Neither of us had really eaten lunch, and we still aren't used to the eleveation, so starting to drink at 5:00 while I was making supper probably wasn't a great idea, but the idea of wine and "Tosca" just seemed too fun not to drink. 

I decided to make a dish my mom used to make sometimes, but hasn't in a while.  I had some stovetop stuffing and chicken breasts, so I thought I would bake them together to make a delicious supper.  Then, after reading the recipe, I realized I didn't have any cream of chicken soup.  I was really worried about the stuffing getting too dry in the oven without the soup, so I used the best substitute I could think of that I had on hand: ramen noodles.  (I may not have been sober at this point.)  So I added a batch of chicken-flavored ramen to the the stuffing and chicken and popped it in the oven.

In the meantime, Kenny and I were still lining up people to come on the trip, trying to find what buses to take, how to get to the bars we wanted to go to, etc.  And kind of watching opera.

Before we knew it, the whole bottle of wine was gone, and we were definitely not sober.  It was like 6:30.  Very easily the earliest I've ever been that drunk.  The chicken/stuffing/ramen went well with instant garlic mashed potatoes (or so I thought).

Finally, after me taking a shower that I've been told was the longest shower in the history of the world, which to me felt like the fastest shower I've taken since I moved here, Richard, Kenny, and I headed to the bus stop. 

The bus ride to Denver took about an hour, during which time we may have been those people, talking loudly and joking around a lot.  When we finally arrived at Union Station, and it was cold.  I mean cold cold.  With flurries.  Soooo windy.  Kenny, our navigator, led us down the street.  After about a block, he was like, "I think we have to go the other way, because I'm not sure we can cross the tracks here."  Okay, turn around.  We finally crossed the tracks and backtracked about a block.

We had distinctive plans to go to Sing Sing, an infamous dueling piano bar, and we knew it was on 19th street, just not exactly where on 19th.  So we got to 19th, and turned right.  And walked 3 blocks before Kenny knew that we had gone too far.  Thank goodness I keep my GPS in my purse.  We soon became those people on the street in Denver, not knowing where they were or how to get to where they needed to go and using Mr. TomTom for directions. 

Mr. TomTom told us that we had to go 3 blocks in the direction that we had come from.  Yes, that's right, we basically walked right past it.  So we had to turn around (again) and walk INTO the wind to get to Sing Sing.  It was F-ing freezing.  But it was warm in Sing Sing!!

After paying the $7 cover, we chose a table directly underneath a fan blowing cold air.  Not helpful.  So we moved again.  And again, we were right under the fan.  So we moved again.  And commenced drinking long island teas.  Again.  haha... 

Let me tell you more about Sing Sing, the dueling piano bar.  Tons of fun. Two pianists take requests (and tips) to play whatever song.  Usually, they have raunchy versions of the songs that have the whole crowd cracking up.  They invite people onstage for their birthdays, anniversaries, etc, and sing to them, make them do crazy things, etc.  Very funny.  Occasionally, the waitstaff jumps on stage (and onto the pianos... ack!) and dances to a choreographed song.  Hilarious.  And they have buzz buckets, which are exactly what they sound like.  I didn't get a picture of one, unfortunately, but I did get a picture of the boys drinking from one:

Richard, Dennis, and Kenny with their buzz bucket straws

Eventually, as you can see, Dennis joined us, and we took Jello shots from giant syringes.  Shortly after, Liz and Will joined us, and we became those people in the bar, who were singing really loudly and were the only ones standing up and dancing.  Thank goodness we were kind of in the corner.  In true Raissa fashion, I took my stupid heels off in the bar because my feet hurt.

At some point, my phone died, so I have no clue what time it was when all six of us climbed into Dennis's little car to go to Pete's Kitchen, an all-night diner on Colfax that's pretty popular with the bar crowd, I guess, considering the police were just hanging out there.  We ate some 4th meal, and Dennis agreed to drive us back so that we wouldn't have to take the bus back. 

A pretty fun night, considering it was planned on such short notice.  We plan on doing it again.  When it's not freezing cold.

I woke up at 1:00 this afternoon to see an inch of snow on the ground here.  Lame.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hampson Master Class Follow-Up

As many of you know, I auditioned to be let into Thomas Hampson's Master Class on Monday.  The results were posted Tuesday, and I was not let in.  By coincidence, only grad students were let in.  Sad, but I'm okay with it.  I will still attend and (hopefully) learn from this very famous man.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A weekend of suprises...

Should I be blogging now?  No.  But when it gets to the point that my own Mom asks me why I haven't been blogging, I take it as a sign that it's time.  I have SOOO many things to write about that I can't even remember them all when they pop into my head.  Seriously.  I'll do my best to catch you all up now that my week is a little less hectic.  Be warned, this is going to be a looooong blog.

It all starts this summer, in my favorite place in the world, Medora.  (Yes, I like it even more than Boulder.)  One of the kids who I met there is Keith.  Keith is from Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh to be exact, and his role in Medora this summer was not only pizza boy extraordinaire, but also a chaplain with the Christian Ministries in the National Park (CMNP). 

Keith and me in front of the Painted Canyon

At some point during the summer, one of the people in the national office for the CMNP came to Medora and met Keith.  As I understand it (though I could be wrong), he basically offered Keith a job with the national office as a recruiter beginning this fall.  The home office is in Denver, which most of you know, is only about 30 minutes from Boulder.

Keith and I have kept in pretty good touch, mainly via text, since I've been in Boulder, and he has been telling me about his upcoming interview in Denver for weeks. His interview was scheduled for the weekend of the 15th of October, and we planned on hanging out while he was here. (My good friend Katie Ryan is coming that weekend, too!  WOOOT!!!!)

I was planning to attend a conference at my church on Friday evening and Saturday day, and Keith had texted me to tell me that our friend James, who works in Medora in the summertime and in Arizona in the wintertime, was swinging through Boulder to visit his brother who lives here on his trek to his winter home.  I was pretty excited to see James, because he was one of my favorite bartenders this summer.  Later that afternoon, James texted to tell me that he would be arriving at about 9:30pm and mentioned drinks.  I was totally down, and the conference was scheduled to end at the same time, so it was perfect.

I went to the conference, and it started late, so it wouldn't end until about 10:00.  I was a little worried about keeping James waiting, until he texted and asked for my address, saying he wouldn't be arriving until 10:00.  Again, perfect.  I replied, telling him that I don't really have an address because I live in a dorm and heard nothing back from him.  So at 10:00, when the conference ended I called James, but he didn't answer.  I left a message with a description of where I lived along with the best way to get to my apartment, and asked him to call me.

I got home at about 10:15 and still hadn't heard anything.  I was just hanging out, waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  I even considered putting on my PJs.  Then, at about 10:45, he texted, asking me for my address. 

I thought to myself, "Seriously?  I've told you twice now that I don't have one, and have given you directions.  What more could you want?"  I replied, saying that I don't have an address, but gave him the street name that my apartment is on and asked how long it would be.  He said he was just going to plug my address into the GPS and would arrive momentarily.

So I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Finally, I got a text saying, "Meet me outside."  I thought that James was here here, so I quickly gathered my stuff and went outside to find James.  I didn't see his car anywhere, on any side of my building.  So I texted back, "Are you here?"  He said, "No, I'm still in the taxi."

Wait.  What?  Taxi?  Why?  James drives.  He has a car.  Confused, I asked, "Why are you in a taxi?"  I also texted Keith saying, "James is picking me up to go out in a taxi?"  Nothing was making sense at this point.  Keith must have agreed, because he called me and said, "What?  Why is James in a taxi?"  I suggested many potential reasons: he was drunk, high, tired, dead.  I don't know.  Keith was also a little confused by the situation and he asked if I was outside.  "Well, yes, I'm outside.  He told me to wait outside.  I've checked out every side of my building and can't find him." 

Keith said, "Well, maybe you should turn around."  I did.

And who was standing there, but Keith himself.  I shouted some expletives that won't be repeated here, because it was such a surprise to see him.  And because I was expecting James.

Keith explained that there wasn't anything going on in Medora, and James was migrating, so he called CMNP and asked if they could move up the interview.  They agreed, so he hatched this plan to surprise me.

He succeeded. 

So we went out on the town, to my favorite place (so far) in Boulder: The Dark Horse.  We had a few too many teas, called a taxi, and made plans to have breakfast or lunch the next day.  Unfortunately, Keith left earlier than planned, and we didn't get to dine on Saturday.  But he may be coming back if he gets the job, so we can do it then.

Yet another surprise:
In the past few weeks, Christina has been planning Jedd's 30th birthday party.  It was actually Tuesday, but they planned on celebrating the Saturday before.  Then, Christina's aunt died, and she headed home for a week, sincerely apologizing and telling Jedd that she wouldn't be able to be back for his birthday party on Saturday. 

She lied.

Her plan the whole time was to come back Saturday and surprise him.  So when she got back on Saturday, five of us headed down to Jedd's town to surprise him. 

And boy did she ever.  It was cute.  The night culminated in one too many long island teas (again) and dancing with one of Jedd's drunk friends.


That, kids, along with the two tests and papers I had due this week, is why I haven't blogged in a while.  More blogs to come.  Soon, I hope.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

(S)no, not here!

It snowed in parts of ND last night.


Wow, that was mean, but I love it.
Still no time to blog.  Look for one tomorrow.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

My apologies...

Dear Readers,

It's been like 4 days since I posted a blog, which I think is the longest period of time I've gone without posting. 

This is going to be a really busy week, and I hope to have time to blog tomorrow, but I may not. 

I have A LOT to tell you, so when I do write, be ready to spend some time reading.

I'm sorry for not being able to entertain you in a while.  The blogs I'm going to post will rock, though!


Friday, October 02, 2009


The high temperature today in Boulder was 55 degrees.  One of my professors called it "winter."

Two thoughts:
  • This is not winter.  Winter is -30.
  • If this is winter, I love Colorado.