Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lock 'er down!!! (or something...)

At North Sargent High School in Gwinner, North Dakota, the high school hallway is lined with bright red, floor-to-ceiling lockers.  Every student in grades 7-12 is assigned one.  An outsider can tell the age of a student based on where his/her locker is, because locker location is determined by class year.  It's kind of ironic that as kids get closer to graduation, their lockers are closer to the high school exit doors...  

Now, way back when I was in high school, the cool kids jammed their lockers so that they wouldn't have to put in their combination every time they wanted to open their lockers.  Although it was really to save time, it wasn't really necessary. With 4 minutes between classes and the farthest class being 10 feet away, time really wasn't an issue.  Even with lockers jammed, it was rare that something was stolen.  I kept mine locked, anyway.

At Jamestown College, there were no lockers.  I didn't even consider it as an option, actually.  Campus is really small, and something like 85% of students live on campus, so it's not a necessity.  I always carried all of my books around in my backpack, and never considered it strange.

Something that really surprised me when I came to CU was that The College of Music offers lockers to students.  It makes sense, really, because people don't want to lug around a huge double bass or guitars everywhere they go.  When I was given the option to get one, though, I never even considered it.  It seemed weird to me that students would keep their books in their lockers.  Or their coats, or what have you.  Plus, I lived on campus, so it was easy for me to go back and forth.

Now, I live in Broomfield, and the number of bags that I was carrying with me to and from school every day was ranging from 2-3.  My back was wanting to kill me.  However, due to some unforeseen circumstances, I have a locker now.  And it rocks.  No more carrying 50000 pounds on my back all day, every day!  And I have a place to store my coat.  And... it's just unbelievable convenient.

Yay for reversion to high school!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


When I was in junior high and high school, if you would have asked any of my friends or acquaintances to pick one word to describe me, I can almost guarantee you that one of the words that they wouldn't have picked would be "confident."  In the very least, I know that it wouldn't be one of the words that I would have used to describe myself.

That began to change in college, as I slowly came out of the woodwork. My freshman year, I was quiet and shy, especially around people who I didn't know.  As I joined more and more organizations and met more people, though, I slowly became more sure of myself.  By my senior year I was a member of many, many organizations, and within many of those I was elected by my peers into leadership positions where confidence was a must.  At that point in my life, I maybe would have called myself confident.  Or at least a little confident.

When I moved to Colorado, I took the attitude of "the new girl."  I'm not sure where I read about it, but the concept made perfect sense to me.  A lot of people are nervous, and therefore reserved when they are in new situations.  That would totally have been me if I wouldn't have made the conscious decision to do exactly the opposite.  As the new girl, I never said no to an invitation, unless I absolutely had to.  I did my best to put on a smiling face and to show a likable personality.  I didn't want to put out an air of being closed off or stuck-up.  Basically, I wanted to be liked.

I know how this will sound, but I don't mean it in an egotistical way.  My strategies worked.  It took little time for me to make a little group of friends.  If you'll recall, on our first night out, Kenny called me a "fag hag" because I had a big personality and appeared confident.  One of my friends is continually telling me about how he finds how "popular" I am to be amazing, considering how new that I am.  A guy who I hardly know came up to me one day and told me that he had been observing me and noticed that people "flock" to me when I'm hanging around.  However, the most obvious showing of my confidence happened last week, when I entered the world of a 20th century woman and asked a boy on a date!  It's been very exciting, and shocking, actually. 

While all of this has obviously been happening, I haven't really been aware of it.  Aside from my conscious efforts at making friends, I didn't know that I was gaining confidence.  It took people pointing it out to me for me to fully recognize it.  I still don't feel like I outwardly act different, but maybe I do...

In any case, the idea of me being confident was questioned during my auditions last week (the ones I told you about here).  A few days before the auditions, we had mock auditions in Opera Theatre class.  They were intended to be a leg-up for those taking the class (obviously, they didn't help me).  Following the mock audition, Dr. Holman sat each of us down for feedback.

Among the things that she told me that were very useful, things like wearing a dress in a solid color, using stage-ish make-up, and choosing heels, her words to me were along these lines: "I feel like your MO in life is to come into a room with what appears to be a lack of confidence, and then to the heck out of everyone with your voice."

Needless to say, with my newly-realized confidence, I was surprised at these comments.  I assured her that I wasn't aware of her perception of my level of confidence because I really wasn't confident in my early years, and that me being confident was something new to me and had changed recently.  I also told her that I feared coming off as overly-confident (and unwarrantedly so), but that I would work on it.

So, kids.  What do you think?  Am I confident enough?  Do I need to work on it?  What's the deal here?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Remember This?

Okay, in case you doubted when I said it before (in this blog), you cannot doubt anymore.  It's a statistical FACT.  North Dakotans are nice.

During my 14-hour trip back to CO from ND, a few important things happened to me.  Not life-altering, but important.
  • I had a lot of time to think.
  • I was carrying 60 pounds of beef in my trunk.
The first one is obvious, right?  I mean, 14 hours, in a car, by myself, in the middle of nowhere.  What else is there to do, aside from lots of texting, phone calls to people one hasn't talked to in a long time, and jamming out to any radio station one can possibly find (because there aren't many out there).

I had a lot to think about.  As you probably read here, I had a lot going on over Christmas break, and was so torn over how to write blogs about my experiences that I even considered not writing the blog anymore at all.  I kept trying to come up with topics to write about and how to phrase them, but no matter what I thought, nothing sounded appropriate. 

Then, I had to stop near Fort Collins to drop off 30 pounds of beef to someone I'd never even met.

Now, you're all asking yourselves, "What in the world?  Why is 60 pounds of beef important?"  My first reply would be, "Well, everyone needs to eat to survive."  My second reply would be, "Because it allowed me to have a very interesting conversation with a man who, like me, values the niceties of North Dakotans.

The man who received half of the beef in my trunk is the nephew of my next-door neighbor.  He grew up in ND and stayed there until he was in his mid-20's.  We had a short discussion (over beef) concerning living in ND vs. CO, and swapped stories of nice North Dakotans and mean Coloradans.  I shouldn't say mean, but let's face it: they aren't as friendly as us North Dakotans.

The conversation was significant enough at the time that I planned on writing a whole blog strictly about it.  I didn't have time, and have lost a lot of the details since, so nothing came of it, obviously.  But that conversation was a topic I could finally find the words for, and it helped me to keep writing.

Then, nearly a week later, a Coloradan surprised me in the simplest manner.  He made my day, actually.  I was walking from my car to campus (I still park off-campus to save money), and passed a construction site.  As I passed this random construction man on the sidewalk, he said good morning.  I returned the greeting and haven't seen him since.

Anyway...  I tell you all that in order to get back to the point of the blog.  If you had doubts about my gross generalization about the character of North Dakotans before, you can't anymore, for this reason: On my way to school this morning, I was listening to a radio station that I don't typically listen to.  One of the female broadcasters had just come back from a cruise to Jamaica.  She said something with what is stereotypically called a "North Dakotan accent."  Her fellow broadcasters made fun of her incessantly for it, and they were making jokes about Fargo.  You know, the usual... 

Then, the lady said something like this, "Well, you know there is something else that makes the Jamaicans and North Dakotans similar."  Her coworkers said, "Oh, yeah?  What's that?"  She replied, "Well, they're just so darn friendly."

So there you have it, folks.  Undeniable proof that North Dakotans are friendly.  In case you didn't already know.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Last fall, when CU was auditioning for chorus members for "La Traviata," I chose not to audition.  My name was on the audition list, I had a piece prepared to sing, and I had no doubt in my mind that I would be in the show.

Then I changed my mind.  At that point in my life, I had never once seen a live opera, and really wanted to see one before performing in one.  I crossed my name off the audition list, and never thought anything of it.

In the meantime, many of my newly-made friends auditioned and received chorus member parts.  Rehearsals were Mondays and Thursdays, and many of them would go out to eat in Boulder those nights, between school and rehearsal.  I took advantage of the invitation to go and went out with them, although I think I only actually ate with them once.  The rest of the time, I just enjoyed the company. It was a good time, and a good way for me to meet people, and it got me into the CU opera scene without being in the opera.  I didn't envy their weekly rehearsals or having to experience what is pleasantly termed "hell week."

What I did enjoy, though, was seeing my first ever opera.  I saw it on opening night with Jettie and Austin (read about Jettie's trip here and here), and adored every minute of it.  A lot of my enjoyment came from actually knowing the people on stage, but it really was an amazing show.  Having hung out with all of the opera kids allowed me to go to the cast party, and I met a lot of other people, and I never regretted not being in the opera chorus.  Not even for one minute.

Until this week.

Auditions were held for the two spring operas, "Don Giovanni," by Mozart and "Our Town," composed by Ned Rorem last Thursday. They ran auditions for the chorus of Don G. and principals and chorus of Our Town at the same time, and auditionees (?) just had to indicate for which roles they were auditioning.  I didn't prepare an aria from the show and didn't put any more effort into it than I have for any other audition since I've come to Boulder. 

I auditioned for all three possible roles.  To be honest, I simply assumed that I would get into at least the Don G. or Our Town chorus, although I knew I wouldn't obtain a lead in OT.  What I didn't know was that the chorus parts for both shows are relatively small.

I can say that I was very disappointed to see the cast list for Don G. without my name on it.  That was on Wednesday, and the list for OT was to come out on Thursday.  When that was posted and my name was also not on the list, I cried.  Literally.  Kenny tried to comfort me in many ways (mostly unsuccessfully), but here's what I've learned (in the short-term) from this experience.
  • I can't rely only on my voice for forever.  I also need to rely on preparation and presentation. 
  • I need to be prepared for competition.  And lots of it.  There are approximately 87 million sopranos (I made that up) in the world today, all vying for a small number of roles. I can't just expect to get one.  That's foolish.  And dumb.  And foolish.
  • In that vein, I need to get used to this feeling of not getting roles.  It's going to happen a million times in my life.  It's part of what I've gotten myself into.
  • Despite all of those things, I need to have confidence (you'll see a blog on that topic very soon).
In short, my plans for this semester have changed drastically, knowing that I won't be involved in any shows, which are more time-consuming than you can possibly imagine.  I can only hope that I will take what I've learned from this disappointment into the future...

But hopefully it doesn't always happen this way...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Long Commute

For my seventh birthday, my parents bought me the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series.  I don't know what possessed them to do such a thing, but I could never put them down.  I can't even count how many times I read them when I was young.  I was so obsessed that I made my family go to their homestead museum in De Smet, SD during a family vacation.  They hated every minute.  I loved it.

After Thanksgiving, I was talking with my pianist, and she had said that she had read one, "The Long Winter," while she was home during Thanksgiving break.  I thought to myself, "What a fantastic idea," and decided to read the series while I was home for Christmas.  Between drinking, knitting, drinking, puzzles, drinking, and drinking, I didn't really have time to read a whole lot.  However, I brought the books that I didn't finish with me to CO so that I would have some entertaining reading for my life.

I just finished "The Long Winter."
That story has absolutely nothing to do with this blog topic, other than that I stole the name of the book for my blog title.  Ha!  I make myself laugh sometimes...

Some know and some don't that I was kicked out of my apartment in Boulder at the end of December.  They didn't really have any good reason for kicking me out other than that they didn't want me there, but I left without a fight.  Luckily, at about the time I was getting kicked out, Kenny's ex-boyfriend was moving out of their condo in Broomfield.  Broomfield is a suburb of Denver, approximately 15 miles from Boulder.

Fifteen miles is not that far.  At least, not by ND standards, where cruising speed is 68 on a 65, and highways are void of things like traffic, potholes, car accidents, and stoplights.  Yes, stoplights.  I'm not kidding you when I say that highways here in CO have stoplights in the middle of nowhere.  There is nothing more annoying.

The road that I take to Boulder doesn't have stoplights, but it does have traffic.  Let me tell you: it has traffic.  Sometimes it takes me 45 minutes to go those 15 miles.  And that's on a clear day.  I haven't experienced snow/ice yet, but Kenny tells me it's even worse on those days.  Ew.  Now, I could take the bus, but I can't park for free at the park and ride because I have ND plates, and it takes even longer to get to Boulder by bus.

Because it now takes me more than 7 minutes to walk to class every morning, I have to get up that much earlier in order to get to class on time.  I have class at 8:00 am twice a week and at 9:00 am twice a week.  That equals getting up at 6:00 and 7:00 at the latest.  If you know me, you know that mornings and I are not friends.  Not even close to friends, so that is less than ideal. 

After fighting traffic to arrive in Boulder, I have to find parking.  Because I have class so early, it's generally not too difficult for me to find free, off-campus parking, but it's not too convenient, either.  It's just a hassle.

Let's not even talk about how stinky it is not to be able to go home in the middle of the day to take a shower, or a nap, or to eat dinner.  Most days, I bring lunch and supper with me. There hasn't been a day yet that I haven't spent more than 12 hours in Boulder.  But it's not worth coming home in the middle of the day, and especially not during rush hour traffic.

The current condo is cheaper than the old one per month, but we have to pay utilities and I have to pay for gas for commuting.  Blech. 

Now, there are positives to the new place.  My room is much bigger, I have a bathroom all to myself, there's a piano at home.  Oh, and of course, I have a fantastic roommate who entertains me daily.  Next year, we'll be living the high life in Boulder.

No, not that high life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dear Friends, It's Been a While

If you're a regular reader of my blog (and I know that some of you are still checking on a daily basis...), then you know that it's been nearly a month since I've written here. 

Please forgive me.

Going without the blog has been as bad for me as it has been for you, trust me.

While I was in Gwinner during Christmas break, there were times when my life attitude was horrible.  I would consider writing a blog, but chose not to, because that type of negative writing would not have been good for my morale or yours.  In addition, although there were blog-worthy things happening, not many were blog-appropriate.  I'm going to choose not to explain to you what that means, so again, you have to trust me.

When people ask me how my Christmas break was, I have to stop and think how to answer.  That has never happened to me before.  So much happened on different ends of the good/bad spectrum that it's a really difficult question to answer.  Christmas break was hard on me for more than one reason, some of which may be discussed here in the coming weeks.  But it may not be... 

I'm giving you the wrong impression.  No, my Christmas break was not entirely awful, although there were occasions when it was really awful.  There were also moments when it was good.  And overall, looking back, despite all of the bad things that happened during Christmas break, I have an overall really good feeling about it, again for reasons that I may discuss or may not.

I'm being cryptic and heavy.  Again, I apologize, but it's still hard for me to even think about how to begin writing about being home for Christmas.  When I consider how to write some of the things I want to write, nothing  seems to turn out in a way that will make people want to read it.  Therefore, I'm choosing to pass on writing about them for a while.  As the weeks go by, you may get snippets.  Or a really long post about everything.  But you may get nothing.

Again, I apologize, and I really don't want you all to get the wrong opinion about this post or my Christmas break.  I'm happy to be writing again, and wanted to demonstrate that I am actually still going to write the blog, and to thank you for continuing to check for posts, even though I hadn't written in such a long time.

For a very short update that will be expanded upon later: I'm almost completely settled in my new place in Broomfield.  Classes are almost the same as last semester.  Commuting is lame.

Look for another post soooooon!