Monday, September 29, 2008

maybe too busy

proof that I may in fact be too busy:
(photo forthcoming)

I baked challah for Rosh was a debacle.

Now Challah is one of those things that I happen to make extremely well consistently. But I was in a rush today.

I started it this afternoon, but had to leave it mid second rise to sing at Sinai.

I came home to a "saccharomice" monster. Oh! it had taken over the cookie sheet, and then when I egged the outside it totally deflated. So now it's baking, and I'm willing to bet that it will be all sorts of stuck to the cookie sheet. Sigh.

I should have put it in the fridge to slow the rise. It's so obvious from this side of the situation.

Anyhow, I have to be back at sinai in nine hours so as soon as this is done baking, this kid's going to bed.

I totally have to make another one to redeem myself :(

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The bail out

*sorry if this is a little difficult to understand or non linear, I'm really thinking "outloud" here.*

So like many (I think most) Americans, I'm reading and listening about the bailout, and this good or bad?

so I'm on a quest to understand what's happening, why it happened and what will happen. I have a friend who is a financial analyst who I'm sure understands this all so hopefully I'll get to ask him, in the meantime, the most illuminating explanation I've seen so far was Bill Clinton's on the Daily Show.

This is what I understand at this point, forgive any egregious errors and please feel free to correct them, I in no way stake any claim to any great understanding, and this is actually mostly gleaned from conversations that I've had and then my own logical pinning of things together, not research as such.

At the end of the economic boom of the 90's there was a surplus of cash in the economy and in order to create places to invest it the residential sector was expanded. To sell these homes more "unqualified buyers" were given loans at very high rates. These are high risk loans: the loanee's are less likely to pay them back (as per their history) but if they do pay them back the loaner stands to make a lot of money.

What happens next is that the banks sell their loans in bulk to other banks and investment companies. They sell the debt because it is better for them to have money in their pocket now, than to have potentially more money later, but the risk of having no money. Why would someone else buy high risk debt? This sounds really confusing but really we should look at it like any other investment: they pay x for the debt/investment and stand to make a great deal of interest if the loanee repays. The "if" has been turning out to be a bit of a problem. So what happens next is where things break down.

In mortgages there is a foreclosure clause, the collateral. This way the bank does not end up high and dry if their loan is not paid back, they repossess the house and the sell it themselves thus ideally making back the money that they have loaned. This is not ideal as they stand to make more money from the interest of being paid back, then from selling the house, but it's their security.

but now many people are not paying their loans back, does it pay to foreclose on all of these people? Well it seems like no, who's really in the market to buy a house these days? The cost of foreclosing on all of these people and then trying to sell all of these houses is too great for this I think. So what? all of these folks are defaulting on their loans, do we hit them up with higher interest rates thus making it harder for them to ever get out of debt, but increasing the investors chance of making their money back?

That's the whole thing with high risk investments, they're high risk for a reason, and these big investment companies stand to loose everything. A free market attitude would say, well they should lose everything. But looking at the bigger picture gets confusing.

The folks who bought up these loans are not necessarily the folks who own the debt. People who buy diversified funds (I think) own some of this debt, they trusted their investors/brokers to do this for them. They did not necessarily decide to buy these particular funds...I don't know.
It effects more people than made the decisions to buy up these loans.

The bailout:

We, the people of the United States of America lend the companies, and ultimately ourselves 700 billion dollars. LEND. I think that's the part that's evading some people. Ideally the treasury is not just giving banks et al 700 billion dollars, but making an investment. Hopefully an investment that will be paid back and ultimately cost the tax payers far less than 700 billion dollars. It sounds like if it's done wisely it will cost the tax payers about 100 billion dollars. That's still a lot of money. While I can conceive of a million dollars and what that means, it is difficult for me to conceive of a billion dollars and what that means, let alone 100 billion dollars.

(but it's a vicious circle yes? an investment on an investment, and a bad one at that)

So what happens if we do bail out? Foreclosures don't have to happen, eventually things are paid back, the government is re payed and there is greater oversight as to who is loaned what? It's not just a loan though, the government will take a greater interest in how the banks that they now "own" a part of operate.

If we don't bail out? There are lots of foreclosures, our money in the banks (over $100,000 the insuring policy changes but it can be more or less apparently? I actually have no idea) is not particularly safe. commodity prices continue to rise, salaries do not, (this can still happen with a bail out yes?)

Anyhow, there is clearly a place where I just stop understanding.

there are nagging questions though. Do the folks defaulting on their mortgages "deserve" to have their houses repossessed? Do the folks with their high risk investments "deserve" to loose all their money? All of this money that was invested...where is it now?

finally just a quick thought (Noel and I were talking about this) there is all this talk of the stock holder vs. the tax payer. Presumable all stock holders are tax payers, and some tax payers are stock holders, so these categories are not quite as mutually exclusive as debate makes them to be.

More hopefully when I get this explained to me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

answers to questions

I have a bunch of questions that I needed to answer for a program that I'm applying for this summer. Here's where I've gotten thus far:

1. What technical developments have you made in the last year and what do you hope to improve on in the next two years?
The last year has been for me one of great growth vocally. I have always had no trouble producing a bright forward wound vocally, but I was not using my full voice. I've really made great strides this year integrating my head voice into my middle register, singing pure resonant vowels that incorporate my entire voice, and singing with my larynx down. Discovering how to sing with my larynx down without feeling like I'm swallowing a tennis ball or creating an artificial hootie sound has made singing go from being work, to being natural again. In the next two years I hope to be more consistent with my ability to produce this quality, workout the kinks with my singing of F natural, which is my larynx's Achilles heel, and really master the nuance of singing a true pianissimo with the full color of my voice.

2.What pieces in your current repertoire showcase your voice its best? Explain.
Historically my favorite and more representative piece to perform has been the LAudamus Te from Mozart's c minor Mass. It shows a breadth of range and the vocal agility that has always come so easily to me. It still shows all this, but I now have developed a depth of sound, or fullness of color that is better represented by some newer repertoire. Oh Quante Volte from Bellini's I Montechi e Capuleti combines passages requiring vocal agility with a beautiful vocal line. Chi il Bel Sogno di Doretta really highlights my improvement in singing line, ans the richer color of sound that I have developed.

3. What are your study/career goals over the next 5 years? (I feel like the question will get quite similar answers from all applicants)
I am interested in pursuing my master's degree in Vocal Performance. Since my undergraduate degree was strictly in Musicology and Music Theory, I think that there is much to be gained by attending a masters program. I am very invested in studying French, since I did not have the change to study it in college. I hope to start learning and performing roles for smaller local companies so that I can continue my growth as a performer. I hope to be able to participate in a few Young Artist Programs across the country. In five years I will be 28, and I hope to be in a position to be considered to participate in some of the country's most prestigious Young Artist Programs.

4.In what areas do you feel you need additional support or training in order to achieve said goals?
I need the most support and training in my stagecraft. Pursuing a rigorous academic degree I simply did not have the time nor opportunity to portray roles on stage. My timing, use of the stage, and embodiment of character have all been improving, but I certainly need more experience and steady guidance in the matter. I would also love to have the ability to study in Germany and France to really immerse myself in the languages since I find my overall interpretation of a piece is vastly improved with my comfort in the language.

5. Please tell us about an instance in which you struggled in a lesson or performance and the end result.
I can not think of a time when I truly struggled in a lesson, worked very hard or gotten frustrated, but not struggled. A performance where I struggled was my last year of college. I had a solo singing one of Shostakovich's Hebrew folk song, the problems were several fold.
The piece was devilishly difficult and I hadn't adequately learned it, I could not get the Russian in my mouth, and I was exhausted from several other performances. In the end I did not sing out of time or key with the organist, and the piece did not fall apart. Additionally the acoustics were such that the audience could barely understand well enunciated English. My disappointment was that I felt like I was singing with half of my voice the whole way through to make way for my brain to keep track of everything else. I have since made a point to never be as unprepared or uncomfortable with a piece when performing. I have also improved my ability to pace myself through periods of many vocal commitments.

6. Is there any other information you'd like us to have?
I'm out of answers for now, will consider this one.

onions and bagels

two things:
firstly I found good Bagels in Chicago. It's not like I've been searching for them so there may be places with better, but the Potash Brother's Super Market has bagels that taste and feel like bagels. At least the one on State and Delaware does, I can't speak for the one on the 44th floor of the Hancock building or any of the others (if there are others).

Secondly I had a disastrous encounter with the onion that I was bent on turning into risotto. Oh man, I'm always sensitive to onions, but this was particularly bad. Even when I stepped outside it felt like my eyes were burning out of my head. I had to run my eye balls under the faucet. Bad news.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

the news

you know, there are some mornings when you really regret reading the news.
Oil back up $10
banks doing Really poorly
stock market down the fed. reserve bailing out market compromised? the reserve still has money? what about government bonds?
Hurricane destroyed (that freaks me out less because it's a natural disaster, there was nothing we could have done about that)
international news is not too much better. between Yemen and Georgia, Thailand is maybe getting better? ::sigh::
Honestly all of this makes me wish I lived in a smaller apartment, and that I didn't have to go places this year.
At least it's incredibly beautiful outside!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I got busy

I somehow got really busy, suddenly all sneaky like. I really should change the title of this post ::sigh::

What the! so busy. I was just going along and suddenly I realized that I have a ton of stuff on my plate. yikes yikes yikes!


Singing a publicity recital for Pirates tomorrow. The other Mabel was supposed to do it, but she has strep. Rehearsals for show and recital of composed work on Monday. Rehearsal for high holidays on Tuesday. Babysit Wednesday. I need to prepare a recording for summer program applications which start being due in about two weeks. I need to get recs for grad school. I need to decide where precisely I'm applying to grad school. Choose "my five" (I'm actually super excited about what I'm working on right now!)

I have the high holidays, the show, and a recital all in the same two weeks. Any bets on what illness I come down with after all that? I'll start a pot.

Also, need to stay on toes about competitions. Must. Not. Let. Any. Deadlines. Go. Unnoticed.

actually that's not so bad. Well if you take out the grad school part. The rest isn't so bad. Except I was just handed five pounds of music to learn for the high holidays. (you know things are bad when you're measuring things in pounds).

freak out done. Going to bed so can be fabulous for publicity thing tomorrow.

Friday, September 12, 2008


As some of you may be (painfully) aware, I have rather fantastic(in the traditional sense of the word) dreams. I have frequently been tempted to start a dream journal, but it would just be too complicated. What really makes my dreams are the image, for instance what really made my dream the other night was that while following someone though a garden in front of the library in my home town I saw these fantastic piture plants. They were giant and bright green like lily pads with a diameter of almost a foot, they looked like up-side-down bells but half full of water. Really I'd want to paint that to explain it. Or another part of that dream was the sensation of walking across a muddy shore (I find the closer to waking up I am, the harder it is to move in dreams, it's like my body realizes that it can't move in real life and translates that into my dream)

Last night, or this morning, I had a swashbuckling dream. Maiden falls in love with hero, but hero is a bit of an anti-hero. She loves him, and even has some ill advised moments with him behind a dresser, but is taken away from him by her fiercely ethnic family (Greek? Italian? Jewish? who knows!) Some shenanigans later she is going up an elevator, that is slightly reminiscent of the rickety elevator in National Treasure, so read a period elevator for the setting of the dream, which is....swashbuckling times. Her beloved rigs the elevator such that instead of dropping her off at the party she's going to it takes her to the top floor of the building, which is built around a court yard type open place in the middle (sort of like the open places in the Marshall Fields). The hero leaps and swings across knocking her in. She grabs at the edge and I pull her out (thought I was her didn't you!) she tries to make up with the hero but he is taken away, by pirates? (my brain was convinced that this was the plot of the Pirates of Penzance, so he was Frederic and she was Mabel)

cut to bread being spread with a thick goo, a bit like really soft lard, and one small part on top being covered in rhubarb jam. Camera zooms out. The "bread" is giant and our hero lies down on it like a bed. It is in a green house. Maiden, who I am now perceiving in first person, comes to the outside of the green house. She is equally confused as the reader is with the situation, until she realizes that this is the hero's punishment, he is being poisoned to death with this substance, which she now realizes is lye. She goes to the glass and begs him why! why did he put her in such peril. He confesses that he thought that she did not love him, which is now seen to be a great misunderstanding. They kiss through the glass, he lies down on his bed of lye, and she leaves weeping.

my thought waking up, sometimes the Pirates of Penzance can't end happily.

What I can't give you here, and why I usually don't write down my dreams, are the images. I have very visually complex dreams. There are dreamscapes that I never forget, and there are dream scapes that I sometimes return to in other dreams. That is always weird because I usually realize it at some point in the dream.

So I wish I was a painter, because I have no lack of places to paint. Or perhaps just a better story teller. That would do.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


has the amazing ability to make you feel nostalgic. We were listening to it as we drove up Halsted and there I was:

Oh Cake building, why isn't your cake lit up tonight? Is it because Sears Tower is shrouded by clouds? Ah Chicago, how magnificent you are! I live in such a great place, even in cloudy humidity you are a glorious city. Look at that architecture!

My! to be nostalgic for the place you are. I guess that's not terrible.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

some musings

I ride the CTA a lot, especially now that I have rehearsals in Evanston several times a week. This means I spend quite a bit of time sitting in uncomfortable chairs, with too much sound in my ears reading. Today however I did quite a bit of writing rather than reading. So I figured that I would share some of my musings with you, in no particular order, an incomplete in certain instances, for better or worse.

~Love: as I stated in rehearsal the other night turns you into a goon. There's really nothing to do about it. Love defies all reason and consequently renders those inhabited by it unreasonable.

~Sometimes I'm amazed that people can ever successfully fall in love with each other. There needs to be an awful lot of aligning of circumstances, both parties seem to need to be interested in the other at the same time. The chances of this happening seem obscenely low. Yet virtually everyone falls in love; were programmed for it. And things aren't as neat as I have outlined above. Frequently one falls in love with the other long before the other has any idea. People fall in and out of love, their paths cross, diverge, and intersect again. Love is a "many splendid thing" but it causes just as much strife as it causes pleasure. Though it is apparently all worth it.

~Love of God: another thing entirely, something that ought not even have the same name. Love is multifaceted. Love of family, friend, lover, child and God can not in anyway be claimed to be the same thing. The Greeks even had different words to delineate them all.

~We are taught that if we love God first and foremost, that our love for each other will be enriched, better than than we could possibly imagine it otherwise. I strikes me that loving God
is an ultimate act of faith, for it is most difficult to love something of which you have no proof and no necessary guarantee of reciprocation that you will be able to comprehend. Perhaps this is why loving God makes your love for others grater, because if you can love God, you can certainly love that which you can see and those to whom you can speak.

~The only direction we should face is forwards. That's where tomorrow is. That's where all the good things are. Nothing good lies behind us, not if we turn that way at least. If you face forwards supported by what's behind you, you'll go. You'll see from the top of that pile of yesterdays. But facing backwards you can't see anything. You'll just be blinded. Blinded as you fall into tomorrow not even realizing that you're there. And if you don't realize that you're there, no one else will either.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band

After making a resolution about a week ago to try to hang out with my girlfriends more often, Meg, Abby and I went to the House of Blues last night to see Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band. Meg had suggested it, she had seen them down in Santa Fe this summer and was super excited about it. I love bluegrass and certainly can't say no to Meg's enthusiasm, so it was on!

I was not prepared for the level of awesome that I was about to experience. Everything was about as I expected as we came in. The House of Blues is a pretty neat place, it somehow has more than one venue in the same building, which does make for some aural confusion, but not enough to make the experience any less that it should have been. The opening act was fairly typical to what you'd expect, perhaps not the most inspired, but a fun bluegrass band. Then after what I would call a pregnant pause between acts Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band came on stage.

The band itself comprises of the Rev. Peyton playing guitar, his wife playing the washboard and his brother on the drums. I would not be able to conceive of the washboard being played with such vigor and be such an amazing instrument or the guitar played so fast and emphatically that you could have in fact sworn that there was an other melodic instrument on stage.

But enough analysis, it was so fun! The music was great, the crowd was fun, it was loud and you wanted it to be. The only concern of the night was when the loud dance party upstairs got out of hand a few times; we could not only hear the floor above us creaking, but see it move up and down, significantly. But we're not on the news so all is well!

Friday, September 05, 2008


analysis of teh intarwebs as we know it.

a little frustrated

I'm sort of a ball of anxiety these past few days. Not in the productive way, no, no! The complete opposite. I've found it utterly impossible to get things done (though I did mail some claims to my insurance, and I'm basically memorized for the show, and I've started my list of places to apply this summer) but otherwise I've been knocking around, completely unproductively, and worrying about it.

For instance; I've spent quite a great deal of time fretting about the fact that I have not practiced in over a week, though I certainly could have used that time to practice. I am the queen of procrastination, that is for sure. I did make some delicious raw sauce this week, and last week I made hot and sour soup, hunan beef and a variety of vegetables; but that is the entire summation of the cooking I've done in the last few weeks. Don't ask me what I've been eating the other nights, I'm sure I don't know.

Today I couldn't find my camera before going to work, which is concerning as there are only a few places I put it, and the last time I saw it was last Friday at work, but it's not at work, I know because I'm here. But I'm not overly concerned because my living space is an utter disaster, so it's likely that it is there.

So there blawgity blawg blawg. I've been meaning to post about the way that I conceptualize music when I listen to it verses when I sing it with music, verses when I sing it memorized. So maybe I'll get around to that.