Nineteen months after the fact
goddamn— if this isn’t true, I don’t know what is.
I won’t ever say it out loud, but I miss singing your music.
This is just to say: I showed “Cherries” to Dawn; she liked it.
This is mostly for posterity.
goddamn— if this isn’t true, I don’t know what is.
I won’t ever say it out loud, but I miss singing your music.
This is just to say: I showed “Cherries” to Dawn; she liked it.
This is mostly for posterity.
I was updating my résumé and this photo was in my folder of production photos. It very well may be the last bit of tangible evidence of Sam in my life; I’ve gotten rid of everything else: “Cherries,” “Elegy,” “Sonnet,” “if strangers meet,” the e-mails, the earrings, the crêpe pan, the greeting cards, the postcards from New York, the photographs from Italy, the books he gave me one year for Christmas.
I remember that moment so clearly: we were in Berlin trying to find the radio tower and I wanted to kiss him in the platz. So, I did. And took a picture of it. He was in the middle of arguing with Owen at that moment. I remember being really, really happy— and so freely, capaciously in love (because you can be that way the first time you really fall in love).
It seems so ludicrous to me now that I truly believed I could pretend everything never happened. I laugh at myself when I think of how passionately and ardently I tried to remove you from my memory. And just when I thought I had blurred you into indifference, I closed my eyes and conjured up the sight of your green, green eyes and the way they used to look at me. And I think of what a fool I am, what a fool I was, what a fool I will always be.
I don’t remember when you studied this lied, but I do remember sitting on your left on the piano bench while you sang Brahms’s “Sonntag” to me. It must’ve been the spring of 2010 - we were both still happy. You don’t have a beautiful voice, but that matters so little - you sang to me with your whole heart that day before Singers rehearsal, and that was special.
It’s hard for me to look at audience members whenever I sing, especially those audience members who have something to do with whatever I’m performing, but I did it twice for you: once on April 11th in 2010 in Schumann’s “Du Ring, an meinem Finger” and exactly one year later in Poulenc’s “Fleurs”.
You were terrible at talking about feelings and I was terrible at it, too, but I heard every word you couldn’t speak in the music you wrote. Every thought, every feeling, every mood and inclination - I felt and understood them, and a small part of me hopes you know that.
I dislike that I am still broken up about this guy. I do not like myself right now. A respectable amount of time for self-indulgent wallowing passed weeks ago and I am still wallowing. I detest that I am one of those girls.
I would like to wake up tomorrow and realize that Reid was a dream. That Sam was a dream. That the immense pain that went along with those romantic misadventures was also a dream. It would be nice if I could pretend it never happened. Could I ever really delude myself into thinking such a thing?, I wonder. I’m not that out of touch with reality.
There is all of this emotional refuse piled up in my brain and I have no idea what to do with it. I feel like they should feel guilty, but that doesn’t make sense. I feel like they should miss me somewhat, but that’s a really fucked-up altruistic kind of thought, isn’t it? I feel like they should be as unhappy and dysfunctional as I am but, even if they were, it doesn’t make a difference in my life. So what do I do with these thoughts, aside from let them circle through my brain countless times every day? I end up having these things, chiding myself for having them, feeling guilty for having them, and then having them again. Très productive, non?
Here’s what’s probably happening:
Sam is in Texas. He is in a committed relationship, and I’m sure he’s doing just fine. Given, a Master’s from UofH isn’t terribly impressive, but he’s doing something with his life and that is, I think, what he was after in any case. Oh, curly-haired, waif-like, bespectacled Samuel… so philanthropic, so full of hope, so pathetically defunct when it comes to dealing with real life.
Reid is teaching Spanish and maintaining his current level of fitness — all from the safe, nonthreatening bed in his room in his parents’ house. Ugh, and he went to community college before undergrad. He’s definitely a good-looking guy with a lot to offer, but I get this feeling that he does not like his life as it is right now. Yikes.
What am I doing? Well. I’m writing. I’m singing. I’m babysitting. I’m knitting things for my friends. I’m going to bed early and getting up early. I’m meeting guys, panicking, and then totally disappearing. (Lovely.) But, mostly, I’m thinking. I wish I could say I’m totally kicking ass and taking names these days when it comes to my personal life; however, I’m simply coasting. Singing notwithstanding, I haven’t been taking any risks, I seem to have lost my unquenchable thirst for novelty and challenging myself, and I am just so generally bored with the way things are. The horrible part is that I don’t really have the wherewithal to actually change these boring circumstances.
The only times I don’t feel this way are when I’m singing or when I’m around children. Good God, I feel like an entirely different person when I sing - it is like breaking the surface of the water after you thought you might drown and getting two lungfuls of air all at once. When I’m around children… They’re smart and their eyes are shining and they are just so enthralled by the prospect of living that it’s hard to feel dim and directionless around them.
I’m not really sure where to go from here. I’d like to go backwards or maybe forwards into a daydream, but those aren’t really viable options. I feel like I’m standing in one spot and something has to just push me forward every once in a while. I just need to find this impetus in myself again - I don’t like the person I’ve become over the past month.
I thought I was over my relationship with Sam, but I was sorely mistaken. While I am indeed over Sam the person, I am woefully not over the relationship or its aftermath and I hate that I’m just now figuring this out. This nonsense in my head was catalyzed by all that happened one year ago with Sam, and I need to figure out a way to get on with my fucking life.
Had I known in the fall of 2008 that relationships would make me feel this way (even if I knew how wonderful they could be in their best, shiniest moments), I would have refrained from such rubbish without a second thought.
Turns out I forgot about how my phone stores backups of every text message I send and receive (no idea why - I just noticed it one day) in an SMS folder in my Gmail e-mail client. Which I came across today as I was cleaning out all of my e-mail folders.
Which is great because I got to run across texts from Sam and Reid.
And you know I read them. All of them. Of course I did. Why would I do that? Because I am a masochist. Because I enjoy reliving the shame and regret and utter humiliation of getting rejected.
The following analysis is how I have picked apart the characters in my songs and arias for the past few months. Why shouldn’t I be able to also do it on myself? I want to remember how this feels. Right now, though, I’m wrapping these thoughts up in butcher paper and sticking them in the refrigerator of my mind until I can deal with them.
Ultimate Communion: Having to share a bed with my sister when my parents were painting my room when I was eight; falling asleep next to Sam on the futon; sitting at the top of Paris Mountain with Thomas and Drew; that one night with Reid
Self-Event: I want to feel like everything is my fault.
Men Event: Men have the power in a relationship, and they will eventually reject you.
Women Event: Every woman has more to offer than I do when it comes to the men who have rejected me.
People Event: I never know where I stand with other people.
Shame Event: John in March.
Sex Event: See Shame Event. Also - Sex is something that, for a variety of reasons, I am unable to fully and totally enjoy.
Life Event: Life is unpredictable. I am fated. My interpersonal relationships are wayyyy out of my control.
Ghouls and Ghosts: I can’t sustain a healthy, adult relationship. I can’t be desirable to a man. I can’t communicate effectively in the confines of an exclusive relationship.
Auto-Directives: I must not be emotionally vulnerable with a man. I must never be unhappy with my physical appearance. I must always compromise.
Adjusters: You’ll always be alone. You are not worthy of a relationship because you are not attractive enough. You would have messed things up down the road anyhow. He only stayed with you out of pity. He was too good for you.
Mental Statements: You can’t trust anyone outside of your family. If you work hard at something, you will eventually get what you set out to obtain. Never sleep with a man until you’re married because he will leave you otherwise.
Short-Term Goal: Either find someone to fit into this Reid-shaped void or obliterate the void entirely.
Medium-Term Goal: Self-actualize. Yeah.
Long-Term Goal: Find a stable, loving partner.
Purpose: Find true, passionate, committed love. That forever kind of love.
Super-Purpose: Happiness. Peace of mind. Feeling secure and loved, and providing love and security to others.
Germ: I am strong - mentally, physically, emotionally, all of it. I can endure, I can adapt, I can find a place for myself no matter the circumstances.
you just need to spend the morning in bed. And by “bed” I mean “blanketed nest of wallowing.”
Just about two days until Monday is over. Once I clear Monday, I’m really going to need to stop this thinking-about-my-failed-romantic-endeavors nonsense.
I see a psychologist a few times every month, and she asked me if I could be happy when I’m not in a relationship - and I had to think for a second because it’s a serious question. I think the feeling of truly being in love with someone is completely addictive - once you feel it for the first time, you just feel compelled to find it again. That’s how I feel, at least. Isn’t being in love grand, though? Sure, relationships are difficult - I’m totally not going to downplay how hellacious they can be sometimes.
There are moments these days where I can now accept that these failed romantic endeavors (as I’ve so lovingly and thoughtfully dubbed them) didn’t fail because of anything I did or didn’t do - or anything the person I was with did or didn’t do. I haven’t quite figured out why they didn’t work out (and maybe I never will - what a dim prospect, to be sure), but maybe - just maybe - it wasn’t my fault. And that makes me feel a tiny bit better.
Ah, but how exquisite it is to just be able to trust another person implicitly with everything you are? To give yourself and of yourself freely and feel fulfilled by these (self-less, by definition) actions? It’s a beautiful thing and I miss it, goddamnit.
I do sing better when I’m not in a relationship, though: more time to practice (and I don’t have to feel guilty about disappearing for a few hours every day), I can take more gigs, and - because being with another persons makes me feel totally rock-solid and stable - the instability and absentmindedness to which I’m prone allow me to be really creative. That’s not to say I don’t get inspired by love - I just think I’m a more adventurous artist without it.
My roommate and I were talking about our futures the other day. She wants a life of performing, of traveling, of fame. “What do you want for yourself?” she asked me. A teaching career that allows me to support myself and my family, a loving, compassionate partner who is my intellectual equal, a dog, and time to do the things I like to do. Performing every once in a while would be nice, but I don’t need to sing at the Met to be happy. I want to be able to travel with my husband in the summer and walk my dog on Sunday mornings. I can’t stand the last-minute calls, the rushing around trying to catch a plane, the frenzied and thrown-together rehearsals. I need some sort of stability in my life to be happy, and I know I can’t have that if I perform. And I realize that some nameless, faceless guy is the lynchpin in my plan for happiness - I get that. But, seriously - who wants to be alone?
Also, Craig’s name is Reid. There’s no need to attempt to preserve the relative anonymity I assigned him because, while I don’t really have a way of knowing for certain, I don’t think this blog gets very much traffic. And even if he somehow came across this virtual word salad I’m passing off as quasi-organized portfolio of writings and reflections, I don’t imagine it’d really be a big deal. While he meant more to me than I think he realized, I’m not sure that I played a significant enough role in his life to warrant contemplation some weeks after he texted me and went back to business as usual.
(I realize it’s completely insensitive of me to assume that I know what he’s thinking. But, I’m not being hateful — and, in this particular context, these reactions and emotions I have don’t really have consequences. I’m just getting to feel these things in a vacuum, and it’ll be interesting to go back and read these entries over Christmas break.)
BB Squat: 1X10 #95; 6X5 #135
Smith Machine Lunges: 1X6 #50; 3X10 #70, 1X12 #70
Abductors: 3X12 #170; 1X12 #180
Adductors: 4X15 #110
Cable Kickbacks: 1X10 #40; 4X12 #50; 1X12 #60
Leg Press: 6X12 #200
60 minutes Stairmaster
Italics indicates a PR.
This day absolutely sucked mainly because I dealt with a lot of unfinished thinking from the past few years, but I tried to get as many of those emotional ghouls and ghosts as possible out of my system by lifting more weight than I normally would. (The actual weightlifting part of my workout took fifty-five minutes including breaks. I was an animal.) Eventually, the massive discomfort and difficulty of this workout made me think less about my Forever Alone love life - and that was good enough for today. I’ll take it.
People tell me that the one thing it takes to make your life better is for a person to simply decide that life is going to be better. I get the logic behind that, but I’m also kind of insulted by that advice: do these people seriously think I enjoy wallowing around in neglected love and failed romantic endeavors of Challenger proportions? Okay, so I’m exaggerating, but you know what I mean. Does anyone seriously think I would choose to do this to myself? That I would want to remember how green your eyes are or how the prickliness of your facial hair feels or what your laugh sounds like when you genuinely find something to be hilarious?
And yet part of me does not want to forget those kinds of things. It’s this horrible ambivalence that makes me take this romance bullshit and shove it down down down down inside of myself in a place where I can’t accidentally think about it. It’s shame-motivated but it’s a self-preservation thing, too. If we all thought about these “shame events” or “unfinished thoughts,” we would all go crazy. We’d just lose our minds. If we were forced to confront the things about our past that we never, ever, ever want to revisit… can you imagine how horrifying that would be?
It’s late and I’m saying things. It’s time for me to double my dosage and get some sleep.
It’s Sam’s birthday. In other news, a week from today will be one year since we broke up.
Cue unresolved issues.
For those of you who don’t actually know me beyond this blog, my first real relationship ended almost a year ago. Almost exactly a year ago, now that I think about it. After over two years of being with someone and having it end so suddenly and unexpectedly, I was devastated. But, emotional wreckage aside, the absolute worst part of it was that I could not sing. It’s because stuff like that just goes straight to the throat and stays there until you deal with it. For two long months, I sputtered through songs in practice rooms, at home, in lessons, in coachings. I eventually got over the spontaneous fits of weeping, but it was more out of necessity than anything else: I had four grad school auditions and something inside of me just compartmentalized all of the shit I was dealing with. I’m convinced it was a survival tactic that my mind launched at just the right moment.
I had two perfect opportunities to use that break-up for my work: Barber’s Despite and Still and Poulenc’s Fiançailles Pour Rire. The Barber… I couldn’t even touch the first song until about six weeks before my recital, I learned, memorized and physicalized the last song way before Sam and I parted ways, and the remaining three were either thematically unrelated to what I was dealing with or too musically difficult for me to properly handle dramatically. I had one bright, shiny moment with the Poulenc: during my recital, I saw Sam hiding in the back of the hall and I sang “Un cœur enrubanée de plaîntes/Brûle avec ses images saintes” right to him. And I know he understood the gesture. However, I was, for the most part, unable to separate everything I felt from what I was trying to communicate in my work, and that’s such a fatal flaw for an artist.
You can’t just get up on stage and think, “Okay, this song is about heartbreak. Go-go-gadget-break-up!” You have to systematically plan these things out, feel them all over again in the practice room, do your crying there, become the character who has those shared experiences, and get over yourself long enough to give what you’re singing some meaning. And you have to be so careful when you’re choosing memories and feelings and people to populate your characters’ psyches and lives - if it’s too fresh, you’ll end up choking back tears when you’re supposed to be singing a high A.
This brings us to the present. Today, I sang “La lune blanche” (Fauré, La bonne chanson) in seminar. I had no idea what the poem meant one week ago, so I sang about trees and the reflective pond and the weeping willow when I was in the practice room. And it sounded nice, I think. But as I worked through this text on Monday, the poem finally yielded to me - or, rather, I yielded to it. Verlaine didn’t care about trees in the arbor or the wind or whatever the fuck he wrote about in that poem - the entire song is about the ultimate communion between two lovers who are in their own world that they created. It’s the spiritual intermingled with the sexual. Powerful stuff, and I’m not doing it justice. It’s one of those things where you’re trying to explain a profound experience but all you can come up with are pictures of the things that were nearby or the color of so-and-so’s shirt - because if you really tried to string together something coherent to explain the meaning of that moment, you’d probably just fall over and die right afterward.
I might have been singing about a landscape today in seminar (and who knows what the audience was thinking about after taking in my interpretation), but the only thing I was thinking about was the two of us laying in my bed facing each other at 1AM while you gently and tenderly caressed my arm, my waist, my neck, my chin with the fingertips of your left hand. Whether or not you felt some sort of connection to me in that moment isn’t something I can ever really say and, as far as my life experience goes, it’s irrelevant; what’s important is that I felt in communion with you - with another human being - in that moment. It was a place of complete familiarity, an idealized impression of total safety… the kind of feeling you only get when you think about the safest you ever felt as a child. That. That was what I felt.
And I used it. I was able to reappropriate all of the nostalgia, shame, regret, and disappointment I felt from the way things ended between us into something beautiful and expressive. I couldn’t do that a year ago, but I did it today.
Of course, I excused myself to the ladies’ restroom directly thereafter and bawled for, oh, about ten minutes or so. My initial reaction to your rejection was… well, nothing, really. Oh, I could tell I felt hurt and I didn’t care to continue talking to you, but I didn’t cry or scream or use profanity - which is very unlike me, I should add. I’ve been a complete Stoic these past few days, but singing “C’est l’heure exquise!” just uncorked this latent passion I didn’t know was there. It’s just regrettable that it all happened against the back wall of the women’s restroom in Olin Auditorium - my very real expression of emotion nearly made one Bard student drop all of her rolling papers on the floor.
Do you regret anything? I don’t think you do. Would I have done anything differently? Not really. Am I making this out to be a bigger deal than it actually was? I think some people would say so, but there are legitimate reasons why I felt the way I did. But, this is why I love art: you take the awful, uncomfortable, shameful, “unfinished thinking” things about life and you have the means to say something about all of that stuff (and more) in the most beautiful way.
I love my job. I’ve just gotta stop getting myself into situations where I find myself sobbing in public bathrooms; at this point, it’s turning into an occupational hazard.
except for when I miss you:
when I think about Psalm 121
or take naps on Friday afternoons
or think about the daisies (my favorite) that you picked for me all those months ago
I can’t help but sit here
and sift through the dregs of our failed love
and wonder how neither of us noticed
(and, when we did notice it, we didn’t have the courage to admit to the other)
that whatever we had was broken.
And I don’t love you anymore;
I can say that now and I know it’s true.
Distance and time have done most of the work in that regard.
But there hasn’t been a day since That Day
that I don’t wake up wishing I could trip over your goddamn Birkenstocks
one last time.