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Dec. 19th, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol Reprobate

Two weeks after my mother died, I found myself sitting in opera class, still feeling shell-shocked. It was a Friday, which meant that Buckman was teaching acting rather than our usual technique focused singing class. Buchmman had always treated me badly. He made it very clear that he didn't like me as an artist. He ripped me a new asshole every time I sang in his class, and it was usually unjustified. I made it a habit to make my encounters with him as few and far between as possible. In light of recent events, there was no way I was going to subject myself to him.

It was obvious from the way he spoke and the way he treated people that Buckman considered himself a god among men, an operatic superstar who could be anywhere, but chose to spend his time in our little conservatory, gracing students one at a time with his artistic genius. I saw right through this act. Just below the gleaming surface was a man who was unsure of himself. His career had never really gone anywhere, and he pretended to know more than he actually did. He had charisma, but not a lot of substance. Although I knew this, his dismissal bothered me. I saw him for what he was, but for some reason, it still got to me a little.

My game plan was to avoid direct contact. I was emotionally fragile and mentally drained, and I knew I couldn't handle his bullshit. I shifted in my seat in the back, trying to lose myself in the reading for another class that I had parked in my lap.

A friend of mine stepped up to sing. Wanting to support her, I pulled myself away from the essay. She presented Morgen, a Strauss song about an encounter with an elusive lover. She sang it well, but without a ton of presentation. This was what Buckman was there to help with.

"You need to feel this song," Buckman said, and then I swore he shot me a searing glance. I shook it off. What could this possibly have to do with me?

"Let's do some visualization. I want you to sing the song again, as though you were singing to your mother. She has just died, and you are singing it to her." This time, his eyes locked on mine. He positioned himself behind her. She began to sing, and he fed dialogue into her ear, his eyes burning into mine the entire time.

"Your mother is dead. You'll never see her again. She suffered for a long time, and now she's finally gone, but there's no relief for you. You remember the softness of her skin, her eyes as she took her last breath..."

I tried to play visualization games of my own, putting myself anywhere but there, but Buckman's stare was penetrating. Two of my friends shot me concerned glances. Buckman continued, and I bit the inside of my cheek, trying desperately to put myself anywhere but there. I couldn't, though. He was getting to me. His words, his charisma, and the story he was telling that was so obviously meant for me were slicing through my every effort. I felt tears welling. It was all too fresh, and I couldn't hold back, but I wouldn't give him what he wanted. I decided that I would stay until his little show was over, and that I wouldn't be dramatic about it and I wouldn't walk out. I knew exactly what he was doing. He was using my weakness to make himself look powerful. If I were to walk out, he would use the opportunity to tell the class how powerful art could be, when really, he was just exploiting my tragedy to make himself look good. I refused to give him that satisfaction. I would fight the tears, and I would fight the urge to remove myself.

Still, his eyes were locked on mine. It was making others in the class uncomfortable. My friend Lily passed me a note. I glanced at it. "He's so mean, ignore him!" That's exactly what it was. It was mean. Mean, and also idiotic. The song was written to emulate the build to an orgasm. How could this man possibly justify making it into a tragic story of mother loss? I bit my cheek harder and refused to look at him. Others in the class openly cried. I suppose they were thinking about the possibility of losing their own mothers. A few even later told me that they cried because they knew he was doing it for my benefit. Buckman's chest puffed with pride as he saw people react. He gave me a smirk as the welled tears finally fell down my cheek.

When class was finally over, I went to the bathroom and cried. I couldn't believe the heartlessness of this man, who took advantage of my grief to make himself feel big. Part of me hoped that my classmates understood what had just happened, but another part of me hoped that they had not noticed how easily I could be exploited. More than anything, I knew that I could never again feel safe in that school, around those people.

I took a few days to collect myself before I confronted Buckman about the incident. I asked to speak with him. In the teacher's lounge, alone, I refused to allow myself to be intimidated. He tried. Before I had a chance to speak, he expressed condolences on the loss of my mother.

"Bullshit," I said. "What you did in class the other day was inexcusable. Don't think for one minute that I don't know EXACTLY what that was about. It is a pathetic thing when you have to exploit my grief to make yourself look powerful."

"It wasn't what you think," he whined, his charisma nowhere to be found. "I can't hold back in class for any one student's benefit. If you can't handle my class, maybe you shouldn't be in it."

"Don't you dare pretend that I'm reading more into this than what is there. That song had nothing to do with the story you told. I will stay in your class, but I will never participate again. You are never to speak to me again. If you even so much as look at me funny, I'm going to take this to every level of administration that I can, and I will make sure that you no longer have a job."

Although he complied with my demands, I did make sure that the dean got wind of what happened. Nothing ever came of it, really, but Buckman never spoke another word to me. I still recognized little digs at me in class, but his vibrant personality never intimidated me again. I doubt he ever saw what he did as wrong, but at least, for once, he didn't get away with it. He moved on to other targets, but I think the fact that he got caught in the act unnerved him enough to censor his later efforts. He lost some confidence in our confrontation, and he lost his power over me. Some people are just not worth the tears we shed over them.



(Names have been changed. I don't want to flatter anyone by having them discover that they've been the subject of my writing.)

Dec. 11th, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol One Touch

It had been two years since I had sung in public, and I was on the verge of panic. The virus that had attacked and paralyzed my vocal cord in the middle of my sophomore year of music school still caused unpredictable cracking, but that wasn't the reason for my drained confidence.

The virus came on quickly and without warning, turning the entire middle of my voice into nothing but a growl. The single symptom did not get any worse and did not improve. For a year or so, I could not sing one note. My voice had simply left me. It was something that no doctor had seen before. Neither the teacher I was forced to work with at school nor the teacher I chose to work with outside of school had ever seen anything like it.

I confided heavily in my teacher-of-choice, Oscar. He listened with a sympathetic ear, brainstorming possible causes and solutions with me. He encouraged me to continue studying despite my inability to make anything resembling good sound, but the lessons were fruitless and frustrating, so I decided to take a break. I told him I'd keep him posted and call him if and when things improved. He told me that he'd be there to support me.

A few weeks later, a conversation with a friend and fellow student of Oscar's made my blood run cold. As I told her how supportive he'd been when I had talked to him about my vocal issues, Vanessa looked at me like I'd lost my mind.

"Well, he told me that he thinks you're making it all up."

I barely knew how to respond. He had seen medical documentation of the paralysis in my vocal cord, but even that shouldn't have been necessary. In the course of our working relationship, I had never given him even the slightest reason not to trust my word. I had confided in him, and he turned around and told my colleagues that I was a liar. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Having asked around, it came to my attention that he called me more than just a liar. According to my trusted teacher, I was crazy, narcissistic, and even a stingy Jew for not wanting to pay for more useless lessons while my voice was out of commission.

This was more than I could take. Having lost my livelihood was one thing, but to know that the person I had confided in had turned around and betrayed my trust hurt me deeply. I called Oscar and confronted him with what I had heard. He didn't deny anything. He even tried to explain to me why I was a stingy Jew. I hung up angry, hurt, and almost shell-shocked.

Almost a year later, I was about to go out and sing for a small concert, just to get my feet wet again. I knew that the chances were high that I would crack, and I knew I wouldn't sound anything like I once did. What I didn't know was that Oscar was in the audience. When my friend told me, I felt my knees go weak. I had only agreed to do this gig because it was supposed to be in front of a small, supportive audience of friends and little old ladies. The thought of putting myself out there in front of the man who had shattered my confidence made my my stomach turn. I didn't know if I could even do it.

It was too late to back out. I was singing last on the program. While all of my colleagues were singing big operatic arias, I had chosen a relatively easy and upbeat musical theatre song, and so I would be the final singer. The song was called Stranger Here Myself, from Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus. I felt like a stranger, not to love, but to this feeling of self-doubt. I had always had faith in my own abilities. It felt foreign not to trust myself to get the job done.

As I stepped forward and bowed, I felt like I couldn't breathe. After a brief piano introduction, I began. My voice cracked audibly, and my knees locked. I felt sick. My thoughts raced. Keep going. Just keep going. As I did, my voice settled down. I finished to decent applause. It wasn't my best performance by a long shot, but I got through it. Oscar gave me a "told you so" smile, as though my relative success at getting through the piece proved his point that my voice trouble was all in my head. I shot him a quick fuck-you glance and sat down.

When he came to greet me after the show, I could barely feign politeness. I gave an empty thank-you for his empty compliment and walked away. Even though it hadn't been a complete triumph, I did feel a twinge of pride that I even got through it. I realized that it wasn't worth losing confidence on account of a shitbag like Oscar. I had given him too much power over me, and I resolved to take it back.

Nov. 13th, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol Moments of Devastating Beauty

Her skin was colder than usual, but it was still just as soft. My mother had always had the softest skin. This was one of the only things about her body that hadn't changed in the past few months. Her once beautiful face had aged decades. Her body, of which I had always been envious, had wasted away. Every bone was now visible. The whites of her eyes had taken on a yellowish hue. One breast that had once nourished me was gone, replaced by a scar so deep that a portion refused to heal. Her hair, which had once framed her face in brown and then blonde, was now a soft gray down. If I hadn't known it was her, I would think it was someone else I was lying next to. Someone foreign, someone old. But this was my mother, who had raised me, who had loved me. I knew this, because even though her skin had turned yellow and paper-thin, it was still so soft.

I thought about the snowstorm in Boston on the weekend of my college audition. We had bundled up in enough clothes to keep us warm and braved a blizzard, walking in the middle of vacant streets as we tried to find a restaurant that remained open. It could have been a miserable experience, but my mom would never have that. We laughed and talked and savored what we knew would be one of the last experiences we'd have together before our relationship changed. I would soon be going off to school. For the first time, there was going to be distance between us. There wasn't any sadness about this, just a sort of knowing that these were special moments.

A gurgling sound brought me back to reality. Without letting go of her hand, I reached over my mother's chest and took a tiny bottle of drops off the nightstand. Two drops in her mouth might bring relief to her breathing as the fluids built up in her lungs. We would have to drain them soon, but maybe the atropine drops would stave off the inevitable a little longer. Or, perhaps she would just stop breathing. The thought caught in my throat like a sob. I swallowed it, instead allowing a stream of tears to roll down my cheek. Her breathing quieted. I watched her frail chest rise and fall. Her eyes flashed beneath her eyelids, and her hand clenched around mine. It would be nice to think she was squeezing my hand, but I knew that she was grappling at a dream instead. Her mouth moved as though she were talking, but no sound came out. The hospice nurse had told us that she might talk to people that weren't there. I found myself hoping against all my beliefs that there was someone there. Perhaps someone she loved in her past had come to hold her hand during her transition out of this life. Maybe it was time I let go of her hand so that this other person could take it.

I momentarily withdrew my hand from hers. I half expected her to draw her last breath, but her breathing continued. I stroked her arm instead. Should I be talking to her? "I'll be ok," I said quietly, hoping to ease the anxiety I had heard her talk about so often. "We'll be okay." The sound that came out of me said otherwise, though. Perhaps the silence was best. "I love you," I whispered, and then laid my head on the pillow next to hers. Her eyes fluttered again, but she was far away. I could distinctly feel that she was only half there, floating between two realities. I realized right there that my beliefs had to be reconfigured, and that things I once knew were no longer true, but those things could wait. Right now, I had my mom. Tomorrow, I would not.

My hand found its way to hers again. As I took it, my mind flashed to the chemo room, where surprisingly, we had shared countless of my favorite moments. Chemo was a party when my mom was there. There was always food, friends, and jokes. She would wear her "Chemo Sucks" hat and talk to everyone. Even the side effects were often funny. Once, her second toe had a spasm that caused it to point straight up in the air for ten straight minutes. I don't recall ever laughing so hard as we did then. I found myself smiling at the memory. Back then, we had imagined that things would be very different. Through every stage of diagnosis and treatment, my mother had the highest hopes that she would beat this disease. Just two weeks before, when they had told her that they were sending her home with hospice care, she had smiled. "That'll give me a chance to regain my strength so we can try something else," she had said. I know she was scared, but humor and hope always stuck with her.

She felt cold. Every instinct in my body told me to act, to do something to keep my mother warm, but it was futile. This was her body preparing to die. Her circulation was slowing. She had stopped eating many days before. We kept her mouth moist with wet sponges, but she drank little more than that. This was so very different from the movies, where the doomed heroine draws her family close and tells them the healing words that they'll need in order to carry on. Dignity when facing cancer death is merely a fantasy. The reality is ugly, sickening, and unfair.

As anger crept into my chest, I noticed my mother's eyes flutter open. I sat up, ready to tend to her needs, but she just looked at me. Our eyes connected. The sides of her mouth crept up into a tiny, almost imperceptible smile. She began to speak, but instead, closed her eyes again, drifting back to wherever she had just been. I relaxed too, knowing that she knew I was there. With her hand in mine, I let my breathing fall in rhythm with hers. Sleep would not come for me, but I rested. I allowed all the foreign ugliness to fall away, instead drinking in the familiar softness of my mother's hand.








The following isn't meant to be a part of my entry, but I thought I would include it as a tribute to my mom. I made it for her funeral.

Nov. 2nd, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol Smile

"SMILE!"

Perhaps it's the camera. Perhaps it's the pressure of knowing that the moment following will be preserved for all eternity. Perhaps it is the insincerity of capturing a staged moment instead of a real one. I am not sure what it is I'm doing wrong, but I photograph worse than a mugshot on Cops.

I don't think I'm that ugly. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds, and my gums show a little when I smile, but I'm not what most people would describe as hideous. However, something about a camera just turns me into a broke down, busted up, ugly-ass goon.

"SMILE!"

"Bright eyes!" I think to myself. I saw it on Oprah once, or somewhere. You're supposed to flirt with the camera, right? I bat my eyelashes a little. I think of my boyfriend on our first date. I look at the camera like I am staring into his eyes across the table. He fell for me that night, so I had to look all right, right? Slight smile - not too big! I don't want to show too much gum, but I don't want to look mean. I'm happy! I'm beautiful! This will finally be the one I can use as my Facebook photo!

*Click!*Flash!*

"Uh, I think your eyes were shut, and your cheeks look fat. Want to try it again?"

"Sure." I turn my shoulder toward the camera, and look over it. Oprah said it would make me look thinner. You're supposed to breathe in on three, right? Or was it out? I'll just hold my breath. I'll go less flirty, more sweet this time. Think natural!

*Click!*Flash!*

"Why were you standing like that? It looks weird. Take one more."

"Goddamnit."

"SMILE!"

"Flirtbrightsexysmilehappygumsnaturalprettyaljfa;ljdaflks," I think to myself. This will be it. Maybe I can even use it as a headshot. I feel good about this one. Really good.

*Click!*Flash!*

My sister looks at the screen on the camera. I know it's coming.

"Oh God," she blurts through hysterical laughter, "you should see your face in this one!"

Goddamnit!

Oct. 30th, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol Uphill, both ways, barefoot...

Bullies were born and bred to terrorize kids like me. When one thinks of a typical bully, they think of a snarling budnick of a boy, slamming the small kid up against the lockers. I would have loved it if that was the only kind of bully I had been forced to deal with. The worst torture didn't come from a big muscular boy, or any boy. It was the girls that did the most damage. I would have taken a boy's swirlie to a girl's eye roll any day of the week.

There was a group of girls that I desperately wanted to fit in with. Lindsay, Erin, and Courtney were pretty girls who knew how to dress, how to act, and what to say. They didn't need big ugly glasses. They were perfect as they were. Even though I was smarter than them, the teacher seemed to like them more. They knew what to say to get the boys to be nice to them, and they were nice to each other.

I tried hard to fit in with these girls. I wore a smile that was too big when I tried to talk to them. I copied their clothes, their mannerisms, and their words. The harder I tried, though, the meaner they were to me. They would confer with each other in a tight little circle while I struggled to hear what they were saying. When they had all agreed, they would approach me with their arms linked and yell their chosen words in my face in unison. "You're ugly," they would say, "and no cool person would EVER be your friend!" It would take everything I had not to let the tears well up in front of them. Sometimes I would hold them until I got home, but more often, I would slink away to the bathroom until the sobs subsided.

Since I didn't take up for myself, the problems continued to escalate. As I made my way up the aisle of the bus one morning, Courtney's foot shot out just as I passed. I landed flat on my face. I could barely bring myself to pick my head up as I heard the laughter and high fives around me.

There was a day that I had worn the new outfit that I had begged my mom to buy for me. I had it in my head that perhaps this would be the one that would make them realize that I, too, was cool. I was ecstatic when Lindsay exclaimed, "Nice shirt!" as she passed me on the way to the lunch line. I beamed as I ate my sandwich alone at that table. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Fab Three convening in their tight little circle. Perhaps they were deciding that they might like to sit with me! My anticipation was suddenly interrupted by the shock of cold liquid. Lindsay had snuck up behind me with her plastic bag of chocolate milk, squeezed it as hard as she could, and shot it all over my back. Squeals of laughter followed them as they sauntered away. This time, I couldn't hold back my tears. I put my head on the table and cried, the milk on my back burning my pride like acid.

It was much to my delight that a new girl entered the class about halfway through my fifth grade year. She was taller than me, lankier, with glasses. She, too, didn't seem to know what to wear or what to say to fit in. We became fast friends. We didn't have much in common besides our roles as targets, but that was enough. We spent every moment in school together.

Having Andrea around didn't calm my desire to fit in. I wanted it more every day, and she did, too. Even though we shared the rung, we were still at the very bottom of the ladder. It didn't hurt any less for Erin to scream, "Jen and Andrea are RETARDS!" than if it were just myself singled out. I begged my parents to move me to a new school, but never explained why. They saw it as adolescent angst, when really, the abuse was just impossible to take.

One day, Andrea didn't show up at school. It felt scary to be by myself again. I wandered the playground at recess alone, keeping an ever watchful eye on the Three. They were swinging in unison on the swing set, flipping their hair and chatting. I heard them talking about Andrea.

"I think she has a crush on Cole," Erin said, "but she's so ugly even BRANDON wouldn't go out with her!"

I don't know what made me do it. It happened before I even had a chance to think about it. "Actually," I chimed in, "Andrea has a crush on Nick, and she wrote his name in her notebook. Can you believe that?!"

To my surprise, their swings slowed down, and they came toward me. "Really?!" Lindsay asked. "Does she actually think he'll go out with her?"

"Yeah!" I said, a little too loud. "She wrote him a note to ask him out, but she hasn't given it to him yet."

Lindsay, Erin, and Courtney spent the rest of recess with me. I divulged all of Andrea's secrets. I told them how she thought Cole was hot, how she wore sweatshirts with bears on them on the weekends, and how she thought that she was so cool. We shared laughter at the expense of my only friend. I could barely believe that the Three were talking to me. It felt wonderful to be accepted. For that moment, I felt cool, and it didn't matter who I had betrayed to get there.

When the day ended and I got on the bus, I tried to sit with Erin. "Get the hell away from me, freak!" she yelled, her nose flying into the air. My heart clenched. How could they have been so nice to me, only to blow me off now?! I sat in my usual seat by myself and cried quietly. It was only then that I realized the extent of what I had done. I had betrayed my only friend in the world in exchange for a few moments of insincere acceptance. No apology would ever suffice. The moment tomorrow's insults were launched, Andrea would know what I had done. I had never felt worse about myself in my life. How would I ever face Andrea? I would be alone again, and this time, I deserved it.

Oct. 19th, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol Empty Gestures

My acceptance letter to New England Conservatory felt like the beginning of my dream. I had never wanted to be anything other than a singer, and NEC was supposedly one of the best schools in the country to learn how to do it right. I wanted to sing opera not so much because it was the music I loved the most, but because it was the hardest to achieve, and I felt like if I really wanted to be great, I should not take the easy road. I knew I had some talent and even more skill, but it was hard to gauge whether I really had what it took. My acceptance to NEC felt like the affirmation I needed.

A few weeks later, they offered me a $5000 talent scholarship. I was so proud. I could hardly wait to tell my voice teacher, my choir teacher, my family, and my friends. I figured this must mean that they really, truly wanted me.

When I arrived in Boston the following fall, I was surprised at how many singers there were. The choir room had people spilling into every corner. There were barely enough seats for everyone. As the weeks went by, I would hear people practicing in the practice rooms. I felt confused, because many of them could barely sing in tune. Wasn't this supposed to be one of the best conservatories in the world? What were these people doing here?

As I began to befriend people, I realized that we had all been offered the same talent scholarship. It was an empty gesture that made us all feel important and special, but in reality, it barely put a drop in the massive tuition bucket we were all left with.

Four weeks into my studies, my voice teacher had a massive stroke and was left unable to teach. Weeks turned into months and they still had not placed me into a new studio. I was paying thousands in tuition and not even receiving voice lessons. When I would ask, they promised they would make it up to me, but they didn't seem to have any clear answers. Finally, after two full months without lessons, I was called into the dean's office.

"We have hired a soprano from the Metropolitan Opera to be your teacher," we were told. We were handed a bio that told us that she had sung Queen of the Night at the Met, along with many other roles. Even some of the other NEC teachers had not had such success in their careers. The few of us in the office that day felt like NEC had finally gone to the lengths they had promised to find us a new teacher. I was so deeply grateful for this gesture, and to finally be learning again, that tears welled in my eyes.

My first lesson with this soprano was dismal. She sang for me, and the singing was good, but then she asked me to imitate her. If I could just imitate, wouldn't I be singing at the Met already? I asked questions to which she seemed to have no answers. I left feeling baffled and frustrated. I decided to do some of my own research. It turns out she had never sung Queen of the Night at the Met. She was a part of the Met's opera chorus, and had been Papagena's second cover. This prolific soprano they had promised was barely a step beyond where I was, career-wise. She had never taught before.

After two more terrible lessons, I went to the dean to ask for a studio change. He told me he was sorry I was unhappy, and that he would see what he could do. A week later, I visited his office again. When I asked him if any progress had been made in my studio change, he didn't know what I was talking about. I patiently repeated my situation, and again, he said he would make an effort place me in another studio. After a third visit, a less patient third explanation, and a virtual demand to remedy the situation, he finally arranged a meeting with him and the head of the voice department. The voice department head told me that he was sorry I was unhappy, but if I were harder working and making more progress, he would have an easier time getting me into another teacher's schedule. As it was, he said, nobody wanted me, and he would be forced to teach me himself. With annoyance behind his eyes, he reached out a hand to "welcome" me into his studio.

My new teacher did not show up to my first lesson, or the second. I finally sang for him at our third scheduled time. He asked me to sing one of the songs I had auditioned with. I gave it everything I had, determined to prove to him that I was worth his time. I was halfway through the piece when I looked over and saw him with his cell phone pressed to his ear. His other ear was covered with his hand to drown out the noise I was making so that he could have his conversation. I finished anyway, and as I was singing the last notes, he hung up. Thinking I hadn't noticed him talking on the phone, he said, "That was all right, but you really have not progressed since you came here. You need to work harder."

This is when I realized that my entire experience at New England Conservatory had been nothing but empty gestures, empty words, and empty promises. I had rippled the water, and therefore, I would never be allowed to thrive. I had caused a kink in their chain of submission, and as a result, I was viewed as difficult. I was not given the tools to become a better singer, and then I was reprimanded for not making progress. I was handed a useless scholarship, and then my tuition money was used to fund the orchestra program. This school, despite their reputation and their grand promises, had no interest in helping me to meet my goals.

I left NEC after that year. It was one of the darkest times of my life. It was my first taste of the nastier side of the music business. Their kind gestures were nothing more than a ploy to get my money and keep me submissive. Although I have moved on, and I finally got my degree in opera, that school and their empty gestures broke my spirit in a way that I have never quite recovered from.




Edit: I just replied to a bunch of comments from my personal journal, seasongs. I forgot to log out and log back in as meee_tooo. Sorry for the confusion - they're both me!

Oct. 8th, 2009

Charlie

therealljidol Introduction

It's pretty hard to sit down and tell you all who I am, because I find that I don't really know myself. Part of the reason I want to do LJ Idol is to try to figure out some direction. This feeling of not knowing where I'm headed is very new to me.

First, here are some basics. My name is Jen. I'm 24 and I've settled in south Florida. I was born in Virginia, grew up in Maine and Minnesota, went to college in Massachusetts for a while, and now I'm here. I don't know yet if I'm going to stay. I do love the beaches and warm weather, though! I have a beautiful, darling, naughty West Highland terrier named Charlie. I adore him more than is healthy. I also have a gorgeous, wonderful boyfriend named Andy. He's an electronics engineer. He is smart and he challenges me, and I love him more than I've ever loved anyone. We've been together for 3 1/2 years.

I recently graduated college with a bachelor's degree in voice performance. I'm a very good singer and I won't deny myself that. I've worked hard for it. However, I just don't love opera in the way that I need to in order to justify all of the sacrifices that an opera career entails. I want a family more than I want to travel and live in hotels. I would love to be a Jewish cantor, but they won't have me if I stay with Andy, because he isn't Jewish. I find that sort of inflexibility to be terribly behind the times. As much as I'd love it, that career isn't likely to work out for me. I also teach voice, which I am very good at, but it is a really inconsistent method of making a living. No matter what sort of policies you have for your private studio, you always have students not showing up and not paying for their lessons. Therefore, I'm left with a degree that is useless and no idea what else to do with myself. I've been a musician for so long that I can't imagine much else. I've been looking for a job since I graduated in June with very little success. I'm surviving on a few private students, a church choir job, and a substitute job as a cantorial soloist in a temple.

There is more to my decision not to sing for my supper anymore, but I will leave it, as I'm sure it will be something I'll write about during this competition.

The other major theme in my life over the past few years has been illness and loss. I lost my best friend to cystic fibrosis in 2003, and my mom died a year and a half ago of inflammatory breast cancer. These two events have shaped me in more ways than I can express.

Despite all of these heavy things, I'm pretty happy most of the time. I'm loved. I have a great family. Best of all, I'm in a position where it isn't absolutely vital that I figure out my next step immediately. I have the luxury of time to make an informed decision, and that's what I intend to do.

One last thing you should know about me (or perhaps that I should keep to myself) is that I love reality TV and crime dramas, in that order. I could watch Bravo for days, and then switch to a Law and Order SVU marathon and be happy for a week.

And that, I'm sure you'll agree, is quite enough. Here's to a great LJ Idol season!

Oct. 7th, 2009

Charlie

Welcome, new friends!

I just wanted to write a quick introduction post, since I've gained 40-some new friends in the last day or so. This journal is one I'll be using only for LJ-idol. If you ever feel the urge to read my day-to-day journal, it's over at seasongs.

I'm a 24-year-old recent college grad. My degree is in opera performance. I love music, but I have come to the conclusion that I don't love opera enough to pursue it any further. It's the kind of thing that you have to have a huge passion for in order to make it worth the time sacrifice and the lack of income generated from it. I have other interests, so I've decided to pursue a new path. Now, my task is to figure out what that path is.

I have a wonderful boyfriend of 3 1/2 years as well as a darling Westie. I live in south Florida. Before that, I lived in Virginia, Maine, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. I teach voice for a living, and am one of the many who are searching for full-time employment. Let me tell you, a music degree does not get you very far in the search for a practical job.

I really love writing, and have decided to do LJ Idol to force me to get back into it. Perhaps it will help me figure out my next step in life as well. I hope to make some good friends in the process.

Oct. 6th, 2009

Charlie

Well why not?!

This is my declaration of intention to participate in LJ Idol Season 6! This is all new to me, but I'm looking forward to finding some motivation to write. This is a journal created just for LJ Idol. If you'd like to find my personal journal, I'm over at seasongs. Feel free to drop me a friend request!