I've been AWOL for the last couple of weeks because life came raining down, hard. In the midst of some complicated scheduling (hubby going out of the country, me going to NY for some intensive coaching right before starting Faust rehearsals) we found out that my mom has breast cancer. Invasive lobular carcinoma, to be exact. If that doesn't sound scary, I don't know what does.
Without going into all the details, let's just say that the last few weeks have been a little stressful. I did go to New York, worrying the whole time; I did get back in time for rehearsals and be there for Mom's surgery (which went very well, thank you).I'm very grateful to Austin Lyric Opera for giving me a release so I could be with Mom during her surgery.
And I am so, so grateful that my schedule worked out so that I could be here. This is maybe one of the hardest things about a career that requires travel. You miss stuff. Big stuff, little stuff, stuff you really shouldn't miss except that you really need that paycheck and that resume credit. I was an apprentice in Chicago when my grandmother went into the hospital, and the doctors let it be known she wasn't coming out. I chose to miss a broadcast of Turandot in which I had a tiny solo part, and I don't regret it, though it seemed like a huge deal at the time. I was in California when 9/11 happened, a newlywed away from my husband for a lengthy period for the first time in our relationship, and I would have given anything to be able to get on a plane and get back to him. I've missed anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, and just being there when my sweetie had a bad day. That part of the career really, really sucks.
Between doctors' appointments, the surgery and recovery, and rehearsal, I've been away from home a lot, and have to face up to another source of stress: the dogs are mad at me. Well, Lila is. She's the princess. Sammy is my happy boy, and not much ruffles his fur. Lila is so mad at me for being gone so much that she revenge peed (twice), like a cat, and in extremely inconvenient places, at extremely inconvenient times. This may have resulted in some screaming and unladylike expressions on my part. Poor Sammy, caught between two angry bitches, did not know what to do with himself! (Don't worry, Lila has forgiven me, or at least we've more or less made up).
I am VERY happy to be working at home during this time, with extremely congenial colleagues, and in a comedic role --- Marthe Schwertlein in Faust, at Austin Lyric Opera. It's an updated production by Bernard Uzan, and my character, heroine Marguerite's good-hearted but rather flirtatious neighbor, gets to make a pass at the Devil. Now what's not to like about that? Here's another peculiarity of my business --- meeting a complete stranger and five minutes later, hanging all over him like a drunk hooker in a hotel bar at the KMart Executives Convention. Don't worry, it's not quite as glamourous as it sounds. Although the Devil is usually pretty cute. (And nice).
Just to end on a positive note, before I have to run off and manhandle the Devil some more, here's a nice story out of a nasty one. A few weeks ago, as people were rallying on the steps of SCOTUS in support of marriage equality, a New York coffee shop dared to put a red equality sign on their chalkboard (they'd had the traditional blue and yellow one on their door since they first opened). This enraged a conservative patron, who happens to be an operatic coach/pianist. Words were had, via Twitter and FaceBook. Reddit picked up the story and it went viral, at least in the opera community. A colleague of mine, tenor Rob McPherson, organized a sort of operatic drink-in to show that many in the opera community's support marriage equality (and The Chipped Cup). It's happening today, all day, but a group of singers will be there 5-8 p.m. and who knows ...they might even sing. ;) If you're in NYC, drop by!
I have to grope the Devil and pick up my husband at the airport today (ho-hum, another day in the life), so I can't show my support in person; however, I did phone in my order to be given to the next person who walks in the door. Cute story within a story: they forgot to ask for my zip code, so when the next singer --- soprano Othalie Graham --- called in her order, they asked if she knew me. She does! So, the opera grapevine went into action, she passed the message on and I was able to call back. Also, I posted a comment on the original thread on Slipped Disc, and it became a post!
So, deep breaths. I'm grateful for many things in life: wonderful colleagues, being able to make my passion my career, the recent progress towards full civil rights for all citizens, and last but certainly not least, my family --- especially Mom. Rainstorms pass, the sun comes out, the flowers bloom. Time to go smell the roses.