Monday, November 23, 2009

Anatomy of a Day in the Life of a Lady of Leisure

I'm currently entering my third week of non-day-employment, and am finally settling into a groove. I keep remarking to myself how uncanny it is the amount of things I can get accomplished when my mornings and afternoons aren't spent parked behind a desk. Slowly but surely, my body, house, personal relationships, and music career are getting the attention they deserve. My dry-cleaning lady and I are on a first-name basis and I can finally walk in my bedroom without stumping my toes on some sort of clutter. I have, by no means, gotten everything done, but I finally feel like items get crossed off my to-do list instead of staying parked there for weeks at a time finally to be addressed in haphazard fashion. I'm enjoying what others think may be mundane because I finally have the leisure to get those types of things done. I'm also getting a taste of what domestic life feels like. Rather than just taking care of myself, I'm practicing taking care of a household (which my darling mother keeps reminding me I'm not quite equipped to do right this second).

So what does a typical day look like in my life of leisure? It's not all track suits and soap operas, I assure you. I'm getting my condo ready to put on the market, planning the wedding of the century, and soliciting work so that I don't... you know... starve.

The biggest difference is my waking time. My internal body clock has still been waking me up at 7 am, but now I get to stay in bed and watch West Wing re-runs on Bravo. I get up when I feel prepared to get out of bed rather than over-sleeping and rushing to get into the office on time. I try to do something around the house whether it's purging junk from the loft or scrubbing down the balcony, cleaning out my closet or meeting with a contractor. I go to coffee with a girlfriend or drive down to Chevy Chase and take an aerobics class in the afternoon. I run errands like grocery shopping or picking up dry cleaning or getting my oil changed. When evening falls, it's time to go to work, and I make sure that I'm doing something music-related even if I'm not teaching or leading a rehearsal. If class or a lesson is cancelled or I don't have a scheduled rehearsal, I go to a quiet place and spend time preparing scores or planning a rehearsal. And once all of that is done and the Maestro is finished with his rehearsal, we spend some time with one another so that we don't forget what the other looks like.

My work may be evenings and weekends, but above all, I finally feel rested and un-rushed. I've become a priority in my life again, and the change of pace is a breath of fresh air. I surely don't expect it to last forever, or even for much longer, but for now, my life of leisure is a fantastic shift in pace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to be a (non-starving) artist

Part of my new full-time job is convincing my mother that I won't starve from being a professional musician before I become Mrs. Maestro next October. I admit the thought of it is a little daunting, but possible nonetheless. The most notable change will be in the way I get paid. About the only thing that I'll miss about former-hateful-day-job-that-shall-remain-nameless is the income direct-deposited into my checking account every other Friday. Instead, I'll get paid in large chunks by contract for each gig I complete. I'll get some mad money to supplement that income from teaching private voice, and hopefully that will amount to about half of the green that I use to... you know... not starve. I just have to practice pacing my spending so that I can make those large chunks of cash last until the next one appears. And to survive, I just have to close a show every 4-6 weeks and teach between 20 and 30 hours a month.

So how close am I to making that happen?

Well, I already had existing contracts for gigs ending in December and January, so I have no worries until then. I've booked contracts for gigs ending in March, May, June, and July, so I'm out of the woods for 6 out of the 11 months before the Maestro makes an honest woman out of me. I'm working on a contract for a gig I really want for February and haven't quite figured April out yet. I'm continuing to hustle, and am about halfway there to not allowing my mother's worst fears come to life.

I'll keep you updated on how it goes.

Until then, I'll leave you with a video that reflects my daily sentiments...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hello? ::pats microphone:: Is this thing on?

I know, I know... it's been a long time. I'm not even sure if anyone's still subscribed to this bad boy of a blog I started eight thousand years ago. It wasn't my intent to drop off the face of the planet, but life ran away with me. I was working 70 hour weeks and had all sorts of other crazy things going on. And while my life isn't so much slowing down but taking a new direction, I feel myself having "unfrivolous" and interesting things to share and actually having the time to share them.

So without further ado, I'm going to give you the quickest update of my life since February 1st, 2009*:
-I started teaching children and liked it! It's the perfect balance of instructing the youth of America and not-being-in-a-classroom to suit my delicate proclivities. I've music directed The Wiz, Godspell, and now Fame with this awesome group of advanced teenagers and love it more than I ever thought possible.
-I also music directed The Full Monty with an awesome group of guys in Baltimore and the Maryland/DC non-union premiere of RENT.
-I worked my last day at hateful day job this past Friday and have never felt happier in my life. I'm slightly afraid that I might starve, but I'm trying to make a go of music directing theatre and teaching voice full time.

...and... finally, the cream of the crop of updates...

-I'm engaged! The Maestro asked me to marry him in August and we're in the process of planning our big Baltimore wedding for next fall.

So what do I have to say? Why'd I come back to this wild and crazy blogging world, you may ask?

Since I'm finally living the life that is in line with my creative objective for this corner of the 'net, I'm running with it. I want to document my time attempting to make a go of being a professional musician in Charm City and provide insight to anyone else who might be trying to do the same. Also, in the process of planning our upcoming nuptials, I've been stalking bridal blogs along with all of yours, so I want to have an opportunity to share pretty things with you guys. I don't think I'll be attempting to be a bridal blogger. I think that there are plenty of people who already have that job on lockdown, but I'd love to share pretty things that I come across never-the-less.

Also, I never stopped trying out new libations, so I'll also be resuming Wino Wednesdays

So there you go, folks. What has everyone been up to since I've been on blogger sabbatical?

*The deplorably long-ago last time that I stopped past this little corner of the Internet.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I'm starting to sound like a broken record, I'm aware. I really wanted to give you all a thorough recap of the inaugural ball, but it just seems almost like a moot point at this juncture. It was almost two weeks ago, and I don't want to say "I'm over it," because it's certainly an experience that I will keep with me forever, but the thought of going into detail just exhausts me. So, forgive me, but you guys are getting a pictorial summary.

If you want more detail, I live-blogged the entire day for B, the site. You can read more posts than you ever wanted about my inauguration day festivities in the following series of posts:
-Live Inauguration Journey Blogging
-[Downbeat]'s Inauguration Journey Blog
-More here
-In-the-office Inauguration Watching
-[Downbeat]'s Inauguration musical inspiration/speech reaction
-[Downbeats] plans her D.C. departure
-Maybe meeting the President? [Downbeats] gets her nails done
-Watching the parade, ready to hit the road
-[Downbeats] arrives in D.C. in record time
-From [Downbeats], Mom's tips for going to an inaugural ball
-Standing in the cold before the ball
-Manolos, Frisking, and Stevie Wonder
-Annie Liebowitz, stranded in D.C.? and more
-And the best post title ever. Wait for it. Liquid Pleasure, too many balls

As I mentioned in my postings for B, the Maestro was deathly ill. He made a noble attempt to put a smile on my face and get to the ball. He wore his tails, made it all the way to the Metro platform, and it was clear that he just couldn't make it, so he stayed back at O's place in Chevy Chase and watched the festivities on CNN.

I do think that him not being there actually made me a better blogger/reporter. It gave me purpose for being there even though I didn't have a date. I was more intentional about meeting people and finding out their stories so that I could relay them to the people at home reading.

I met two ladies who had been best friends for 35 years. One of them was a TV reporter from Seattle and was doing a little bit of coverage for her station back at home while there. The other was a PR specialist here in Maryland. They were kind and let me tag along with them for the night. Liquid Pleasure opened up the evening. There was plenty of room to dance, and so that's what we did.

I really wasn't expecting much from them when they marched out on stage in those red sequined tuxedos, but these guys were showmen. They played Motown covers, funk, and R&B. They kept us quite entertained for a good hour or so.

James Taylor came on finally a little after 11 and was all we thought he was going to be and more.

People were so high on Obama positive vibes that night. A man seriously stopped me in my tracks to tell me that I was beautiful and that he wanted me to take my picture for me so that I could "see what [he] saw." He wasn't trying to mack on me. His wife was was within an arm's length. I don't think he was drunk either. He was just so happy that Obama was President. Here was the result:

I tried to stay until My President got there, but word was that he and Michelle weren't showing up until 2 or 2:30. By midnight, I felt like I was going to die, so I headed home after I got separated from my newfound friends for the second time that evening. Once sitting on the Metro, it was clear that lots of business and organizations in D.C. were happy that the Obamas had come to town, too. Check out the ads that were immediately around me:

The Maestro was there at the Bethesda Metro station to pick me up when I got off the train. We went back to O's and holed up on the couch. He looked like this

I couldn't even think of being upset for him not going. Look at that punim.

Anyway, two weeks late, I hope you all had a happy inauguration, too.


...was not my first love.

...took me awhile to "get."

...has followed my personal taste and musical proclivities through more than half of my life. something my mother and I share other than DNA.

...made me a better musician.

...makes me prouder to be an American than I would be otherwise.

...has seen me through breakups, make-ups, and the deaths of my father and great-grandmother.

...took me to France and Switzerland as a performer.

Jazz might not be my first love, but it definitely has proven to be one of my most profound. I consider myself beyond lucky to be able to spend a weekend surrounded by some of the best jazz artists in this country-- watching my heart grow larger by the minute for an art form I haven't yet lived enough life to fully grasp.

These people allowed me into their lives this past weekend:

--Bonnie Brammlett

--Kevin Mahogany

--Cyrus Chestnut

--Al Jarreau

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Already checked out

In about 24 hours, I'll be pulling up to a little patch of heaven on Earth that looks like this:

I will be serenaded by this man:

Perhaps I will indulge in one of these:

I will more than certainly indulge in a lot of this, however:

Forgive me if despite the fact that I have yet to check into our resort, I'm already checked out of Charm City.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wino Wednesday

Wherein I pretend to know something about wine to justify my affinity for all things alcoholic

I have a confession to make: the Maestro, Troy and I have developed an addiction Port wine. I know it's supposed to be served in small portions as a dessert wine, but we like imbibe Port in larger portions before, during, and after dinner. In fact, we don't even need to have a meal to have a big glass of the stuff. I guess you could say we're not as refined as I we like to pretend we are. In fact, we love Port so much that it was a no-brainer that Troy's Christmas present was going to include a bottle.

One of my favorites when I'm out and about is W. & J. Graham's Six Grapes. It's full of flavor, sweet and smooth, but not as thick and syrupy as lots of other Ports can be. It's the kind of wine you can drink in jeans and a t-shirt and feel at home. Out and about at dinner, a glass of the stuff is also way more affordable than other Ports as well. A healthy pour of Graham's Six Grapes at some of my favorite haunts will only set you back between $6 and $8 a glass which is nothing for an after-dinner drink. Seeing that it's won so many awards, that's a down-right bargain!

I would also be remiss without mentioning that because it's so potent (20% alcohol by volume), one shouldn't consume more than a glass when out and about if you're planning on driving home. This is a great wine to curl up by the fireplace with your lady or gentleman of choice and a blanket to wash the aches and pains of the day away.

For more information about all of W. & J. Graham's ports, visit their corner of cyberspace here.