Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Very Vegas Adventure

One of the things that I was most looking forward to during Christmas break was our family vacation to Las Vegas.  Mom had been planning it for weeks and weeks, and neither Stacey nor I had been there before.  At first, we weren't excited to have our first trips to Vegas with our parents, because one can't get quite as crazy with the parents around, but as the trip got closer and closer and the details became more clear, we got more excited.

It was our first family vacation in years.

We were scheduled to leave on January 1st from Fargo, arriving in Vegas in the late evening, then returning to the Northland on the 4th.  The flight to Vegas was one of the most amusing (and annoying) parts of the trip.  The kids next to us were from Canada, and were headed to Vegas to have a good time.  If their attitude on the plane was any indication of the rest of their trip, they would succeed.  During they flight, they drank a lot, and were fortunate enough to win a little lottery during the flight.  Their excitement, unfortunately, was a little annoying to us mellow people, but it was fine.

We landed, were shuttled to the hotel, and were met by interesting hotel issues.  They hadn't cleaned our rooms yet (yes, at 10:00 pm), due to New Year's Eve being the night before.  Because of their error we got 2 queen-sized rooms on like the 35th floor.  It was the older part of the hotel, where the famous people used to stay before they added the new wing.  The paint was fantastic, the bathrooms were amazing, and the beds were beyond great.  The only bad part was the lack of a view, but we survived.

We were all hungry and itching to gamble, so after settling into our rooms without a view, we grabbed a late, late dinner and set out on the playing floor for a bit.  We were all exhausted.  Stacey and I managed to get to bed before Mom and Dad, but not long after they went to bed, we received sad news.  I don't want to go into details here, because there may be a blog on this topic later, if I can write it.  

The news that my Grandpa had died, although not a surprise, was still difficult, and issues surrounding his death had us changing our vacation plans.  We would have to leave Vegas earlier than intended, but did our best to enjoy ourselves while we were there.

That day, we walked a lot, and even ran into those kids who sat beside us on the plane.  We saw the fountains at the Bellagio and gambled and gambled and watched people take pictures with homeless people (probably the true low point of the trip).  If there could be a high point, it was definitely this:

 A lifelong Gwinner-ite had moved to Vegas, but was at home in Gwinner for a large bit of time around Christmas.  He had been raving about this place called "Bill's," which served really cheap steak and eggs or something after midnight, and Mom was determined that we go there.  So before we headed to the Venetian for the Blue Man Group, we sought out to find Bill's.  Finding Bill's was not hard, nor was finding a restaurant in Bill's.  

We walked up to the first restaurant we saw, and had enough time to literally glance at the menu on the wall before a hostess came out and said, "Four?"  Now, please let me say that our first hint that this was not the place that we wanted to be was the fact that she was wearing a red dress with tassels, a la the Old West.  We didn't take the hint, though.  

We were escorted into the place, and knew immediately that this was not the place for us.  The waiters were all in full-length coats, the walls were all covered in mirrors and red velvet, and the chairs (which were pulled out and pushed back in for us as we sat) were all high-backed and upholstered.  The table was set for a fine meal, with 3 forks, several glasses, and fabric napkins, which were laid upon our laps for us.  

We felt a little awkward in our jeans, casual shirts, and fall jackets.

As the waiter took our drink orders, we slowly took in our surroundings and the menu.  Mom and Dad each ordered a whiskey drink, and the waiter ran off to get them.  When we looked at the menu and saw that the least expensive item, a plate of pasta, was $20, we debated whether to stay or to go.  And if we decided to go, how does one leave such a place tactfully?  

We decided there was no tactful way, but that we had to leave in order to save our sanity and a little money.  Small-town folk really don't belong in a place like that.  Our waiter was taking a while to get our drinks, so we told the man who was filling our glasses with water that we were leaving.  He gave us the evil eye, and told our waiter, who came.  My mom's words to him were, "I'm sorry, but we've made a mistake."  Mistake.  Yeah, a big mistake.

He begrudgingly brought our ticket, the one with 2 whiskey drinks on it.  Our total was near $20.  Not kidding.  For 2 drinks.  We left money for him and escaped out the front door, leaving our dignity behind us.  

Never before I have I been so embarrassed, yet so entertained.  Ever.  

We walked around a corner to the place with the cheap steak and eggs, and enjoyed meals of chicken strips and kung pao chicken, then headed to see Blue Man Group, which was entertaining, but not as entertaining as our adventure in Bill's.

When we returned to the hotel, we stayed awake as long as possible, until we had to be at the airport at 5:00.  We headed home a day early, but enjoyed our time nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Car Woes... Big City Initiation

Well, I've been very fortunate thus far in my adventures in CO, and haven't had any major run-ins with law enforcement or other scary folks like that.

Until last week.

And last week was a doozy.

I commute (and hate it).  This is no secret.  Every day, I leave an hour before my first class in order to brave traffic, find a parking spot, and walk the quarter mile or so to get to class on time.  Every day, I park on 18th street, and every day I have no problems.  

I did the usual last Wednesday, but when I went to my car in the afternoon, it wasn't there.  I was on the phone with my mom, and was secretly freaking out, but didn't want her to know, just in case I was freaking out for no reason.  

I wasn't freaking out for no reason.  After some research involving several phone calls and internet searches, I found my car at a local towing place  I had (apparently) parked right in front of someone's driveway.  Now, why or how I could possibly have done that, I don't know.  But there are apparently pictures to prove it.  I don't know if I turned my brain off completely, or if I just am dumb, or what happened, but it happened.  

After locating my car, I had to go to the Boulder PD to get a release.  From there, I had to go to the place to get my car.  $108 later, I was driving away, (un)happy as a clam.

Then, to top things off, on Saturday night, I drove to Boulder for my friend Jackie's senior recital.  It was snowy and I was running a little late, so I was in a hurry.  After arriving in Boulder, I came across a stoplight.  It turned yellow, and I tried to slow down, but failed miserably on the snow-packed, icy roads.  When I finally stopped, I was over halfway through the intersection and the light turned red.  Then, I saw the camera on the stoplight take a picture of my car.

Needless to say, I was not pleased.  It was most definitely not my fault.  At all.  I don't know how exactly they'll get my ticket to me, but I plan to be preemptive and head over to the PD this week to see the process and defend my case.

All of this sucks.  A lot.  I'm trying to view it as a way of welcoming tme to city life.  

I'd rather not have been initiated.

Monday, February 22, 2010


This happens to me all of the time: Something will happen, or be mentioned, or will come up once, and suddenly, it pervades my life.  Does this happen to everyone else or am I crazy?

That's happening with me lately.  With two things: curling and emoting.

Yes, curling.  Admittedly, this is silly.  But true.  Obviously, it's because of the Olympics that it's all anyone is talking about.  Especially the fact that a woman who is pregnant is competing in the sport.  I try to defend it, saying it's SO fun, but alas, no one believes me.  And there is no curling rink anywhere near to prove it to them.

In all seriousness, though, the other frequently-occurring theme in my life is the idea of emoting while singing.  Sounds easy, right?  Just act in accordance with what you're singing, right?  Maybe for some it's easy, but I'm struggling lately, and I don't think I'm the only one.  

The more I think about it, the more ashamed I am that I'm having problems in this area.  I started acting when I was in elementary school, and won awards all the way through high school for roles in one-act plays.  I was in 3 musicals at Jamestown and was cast in a 2 one-act plays while there, too.  I obviously am physically capable of acting. 

But what's preventing me now?  I have some ideas, which may be important, but I'm going to choose not to include them here.  The fact of the matter is that it's just not happening, and it's quite frustrating.  In the past few weeks, I can't even count how many times this subject has come up for me and others, which makes it stand out even more in my mind.  I've seen it in other people's lessons, movies, and am taking a class in which we have focused on the subject for literally a month now.  Maybe more than a month.

The point of this is that I'm working on it.  Hopefully, the next time you all see me perform (which I hope will be sooner rather than later), I will have improved.  Let's hope.

Monday, February 15, 2010


On occasion, I have been known to be a little thick-headed.  In fact, one of my closest friends in high school used to say, "You're the stupidest smart person I know." 

Now, not to say that I really am stupid, but I recently became aware that I wasn't aware of what some people might be thinking of my blog...  But I might be wrong.

A friend of mine (who is a loyal reader of the blog) lives in Denver and came up to Boulder on Thursday to see me sing in the Anderson competition.  After the competition was over, we went to Old Chicago to have a drink to celebrate my having won one of the scholarships.  While there, he made a comment that I think was meant as a joke, but I interpreted it as one of those jokes with an ounce (or more) of truth.

Basically, he implied that the blog was a source for me to brag about my accomplishments.  I only had to think about it for 2 seconds before I realized that anyone who reads my blog could definitely get that impression, and I didn't even realize it or think about it that way.

Let me put it this way, kids.  I've been amazingly fortunate since having come to CO.  Things have been working out for me in ways that are way better than I ever could have expected, and I love sharing the news.  I've been lucky not to have many bad occurrences to relate to you, and really hope that that stays the same.

But in the future, I'll watch my tongue! :)


Thursday, February 11, 2010


I know that it seems like a random name for a blog, but really it isn't.

I don't know who the Andersons are (were?), or what they do (did?), or what their connection to the music school is (was?), but they donated a lot of money to the College of Music.  There are a lot of Anderson scholarships given out every year.  A lot.  I don't know how many.  

Okay, I'm basically uninformed, in case you didn't notice.  But not completely.  Let me tell you what I do know.  

The non-voice departments give out their Anderson scholarships in some way that doesn't involve a competition (which I don't know).  The voice department, though, gives out their three $2,000 scholarships by means of a competition.  

Last Thursday, 15 or so of us competed in the preliminary round, which was judged by CU Voice faculty.  Seven of us, including me and Kenny, were selected to continue on to the Finals, which are tonight, judged by people from the outside.  And 3 of us will walk out with $2000 in scholarship money.

I'm pretty excited to have been chosen for the finals.  The only bad part of the whole deal is that it's formal.  Very formal.  For the participants, that is.  It left me a week to buy a dress, find jewelry, shoes, hairstylist, etc.  Yeah, I didn't go through all of that, actually.  

I feel like a bride.  You know: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue?  Well, I did buy a dress (thank goodness for credit cards and having multiple occasions to wear it), I'm wearing an oldish pair of shoes that I own, I borrowed some pretty spectacular earrings, and... well, I don't have anything blue.  And I'm doing my own hair.

In any case, I'm performing first, singing the same Schubert that I sang for my studio placement audition, as well as a piece by Amy Beach, which I sang for opera auditions.  Kenny's performing second.  

I'll let you know how it goes.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tian Hao Jiang

I know what you're thinking. 

No, I do not have a new Chinese boyfriend.


This blog, however, is about a Chinese man. 

I already tried to write this blog once, but couldn't make it sound as amazing as it was.

Know this: I cried throughout the whole performance and was very strongly influenced by this Chinese man's story and show.

There is nothing else to say.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Okay, really no time to write a real blog here, but I thought you all might enjoy this.  

If you watched American Idol tonight, you would have seen this guy.  He's famous around CU, not necessarily all for good.  I think he deserves a little more credit than he gets sometimes, but not all the time!

Please keep in mind that he isn't a true representative of music at CU, and this isn't what all of my friends are like.

Please ignore the fact that this is poorly formatted.