¿Por qué no los dos?

We met a lovely and true-to-form German man at the opera the other night.  He was so practical, 6’7″, very kind, and totally straightforward.  He was very docile and calm, but he was definitely German to the core, and in the most delightful of ways for us – it felt like interacting with family, despite the obvious distance between us.

He asked me at one point what I had studied while in Europe – my mom had mentioned my having studied in Wien and Germany.  I replied, “Language and Culture.”

He considered it, gave a small smile, and replied, “Language and culture… It sounds like everything and nothing.”

I considered his words, and chuckled heartily.  It was, indeed, true.

Conversation went to a bit of something else, and then returned to my studies and what “language and culture” meant.  “Grammar, history, arts, religion, social change, music, poetry, writing, dialects, politics…,” I listed easily, trailing off slightly by the end, all of us understanding that there obviously were many more I could list.

“So, it sounds like you are qualified for just about everything, then,” declared honestly the German.

I smiled.  “Everything and nothing…”  And we all smiled, gave a bit of a chuckle, and felt the irony of it together, to varying degrees.

I understood the turn of phrase best of all, having experienced most acutely the struggles of the truth of this joint statement of ours… I am qualified for just about everything, then,… everything and nothing…

Thus, the question remains: What, of all of that everything and nothing, do I choose to pursue right now, for now?

I think my recent thoughts have been accurate: I need some more art in my life – self-made art.  🙂

So, let’s art… for now… and let’s be comfortable and secure in the fact that it is okay to have this be for now, and to have something else, something presently unknown, be the what’s next…  Yes, indeed.

Everything and nothing, my dear… you can do it, Banana.  🙂

Post-a-day 2020

Singing, high and low

At the opera tonight, I found myself thinking once again about the the sound of the origination of different vocal ranges within people’s bodies in opera.

This is not at all from where the sounds actually come, but merely a feeling I always get when I hear certain ranges – like when you hear something that clearly came from around the corner to your right… that’s the kind of feeling I mean…

Divide the body two ways: front-center-back and left-middle-right.

When the first prominent bassist was singing in his deep, deep range, it felt like the sound was coming from deep within him…. center of the body’s depth, middle of the left-middle-right spectrum, and at the level just below the groin…

It made me laugh a little, actually, because it occurred to me that this tied in somewhat to the concept of boys having their organs drop, and thereby having their voices deepen… so, perhaps the bassist really do have further-dropped organs than other men… 😛

And, whenever they sing higher in their range, bassists seem to be originating their sound from middle center stomach, the lower belly level…

Moving on…

Sopranos always show up to me, when at the very top of their range, to be originating in the back middle of their throats and mouths, and even down just a bit in their throats, about where am Adam’s apple would be.

(In the middle of their range, they seem to be in the front of the throat, and even more toward the lips, the lower they go, to the point at which they seem to be singing from their front teeth in their lower range of soprano.)

For tenors, they seem to be coming from middle front and middle center at the level of the very bottom of their rib cages, and just above and behind the navel.

Baritones, I haven’t figured out yet, as I didn’t listen for it consciously tonight during the short time that we had a baritone singing solo in the show… – yes, he came back from his early death, but his ghost didn’t stick around for very long whenever it finally made its inevitable appearance… they might be at the back middle, far behind the navel, at the back of the bottom of the rib cage…., but I’m not sure.

And altos…., well, they are chorus…, so not much solo sounds there either tonight…

And countertenors, I’m pretty sure, show up as a floating bubble of air just in front of their mouths… (If you don’t know what a countertenor is, definitely look that one up – it is with knowing.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts that arose tonight again… kind of odd, huh?

It sort of makes sense, but also sort of totally doesn’t, right?

Meh… 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Opera, Veterans, and Travel

I have two things on my mind right now: opera and emotions.

Tonight, due to the gracious encouragement of a new acquaintance, I found myself attending a unique performance, called “Glory Denied” and put on by Houston Grand Opera and HGOco.  The main character is a man in the Vietnam War, who becomes a prisoner of war for nine years, and then eventually returns to the USA.  The story, essentially, is how his life falls apart throughout it all.  It is sad and tragic, and the music only makes it more so.  The setting of the performance being an old airplane hangar that has turned into a museum added to the show itself.  The comedic and especially unique bit of the night was the fact that directions to the bathrooms included going “around the helicopter tail.”

Now, this opera was sad.  Period.  And I knew it was sad beforehand, so I made an effort to stay detached from it.  I have a history of becoming too engulfed by something to be able to separate myself from it fully.  When I read books, it is so easy for me to fall into the narrator’s experiences, that I find myself being agitated in life, if the narrator was agitated wherever I left off in my reading, or giddy and joyful, if that was his/her mood.  I even take on phrases and mannerisms of the characters, and ask myself questions that I am accustomed to reading (or hearing, if it is an audiobook) from them.  I’m not sure that I’ve been ever as on-edge, frown-y, tense, and distrusting as I was while listening to the Hunger Games audiobooks.  Life was intense during that one.  That is why I wanted to keep my distance tonight, because I know people have very intense experiences when it comes to war.

As I watched the opera, I found myself wondering if these people, the performers, ever have to deal with such a thing as I do.  Do they have repercussions in their daily lives, due to the effect playing that particular character had on their mental state?  Do they find themselves questioning their sanity, when they have been playing a character whose scale leans too far toward the insane?  I wonder.

And I almost succeeded in staying separate from the emotions of the characters.  I made it through most of the show safely, but then a surprising part hit me hard.  As the main character begins pouring out the shattering sorrows of adjusting to a changed world, back in the USA after nine years of imprisonment, I was dragged into his experience.  Tears rolled slowly down my face, unbidden.  No, I have never been a POW nor even been in a war, but I have been in my own version of that same homecoming.  No parades, no parties, no photos nor celebrations.  Life around me is unchanged by my silent arrival to the country I call home.  Did they even notice my return?  The characters sang of the expectations a returning veteran might have of his family and friends, – that they be as loving and excited about him as they were when he left, and that they were missing and thinking of him as much as he was of them during his absence – and of the unstable feeling of returning to a physical world – one in which he had always felt stability – that has altered dramatically, and even unrecognizably in places.

I know this experience.  Again, not the whole war and POW stuff.  Certainly not that.  Living abroad several times, I have been in my own version of this veteran’s experience after the war.  I have learned and improved each time, and I have done my best in more recent years to prepare myself for how people will have changed by the time I return to Houston.  No matter what I do, though, there is always a sort of anticipation, a hopeful expectation of how they will be.  They will be the best versions of themselves with me, and their love will fill me constantly.  They will be patient with me, and gentle.  They will be interested in my experience since I have been gone.  All of this, because they have missed me and thought longingly of me as I have of them, throughout all of my new struggles in this new life I was living temporarily.  And then, when I arrive, finding that this is not the case, they are not as I had unconsciously expected, it is confusing.  I recognize the place and the people, but they are both different from what I left, and I cannot quite see how or why.  They have not been through what I have.  They have not had my struggles.  So why do they not comfort me and love me as I have so needed during my absence, as I so need now?  They are different from how I remember them, from how they have existed in my mind while we have been apart.  But so am I, and I see that they have mistaken who I am now, for an image they have built of me inside their own minds.  They can see that I have changed, and I can see that they have changed, but we don’t understand one another’s change, and it is difficult to cope, to fathom, even.  And there is always that extra edge of my experiences having been good reason for me to have changed, but theirs were not.

I have not been in the military nor in a war, but I know this small, unsettling, and somewhat worldview-shattering experience of coming home to a now-foreign home.  As the lead character raged about his home being so not like the home he once knew, I was dragged into the pain, feeling my own current struggles of readjustment coming forth from deep inside.  I am still living in his pain today, though I have been back for a few months.  And it hurt even more still, as I saw that my own experience of struggle has lasted so long, although I was only gone for a year this time.  How terribly long this period of struggle must have been for this man, must still be for veterans returning today.  I went from peaceful times to peaceful times, and my pain still lingers.  They likely did not and still do not have such peace on both ends.

I am forever grateful that veterans have made that sacrifice of ease, in order to do what they believed best to help the world at large.  I am concerned that we do not do enough to help them with the latter end of their tours, with their returns and readjustments.  It is difficult enough altering a regular lifestyle in one culture to a regular one in another culture, like what I have done so often.  It is practically unfathomable to go from comfort to a war zone lifestyle, and then back to a house in a safe, city life lifestyle – is the brain ever ready to cope with a change so drastic and so quick?  I found myself wanting to hug and hold the characters in the show all tightly to my chest, and to fill them all with love and acceptance of whoever they are and in whatever place they are mentally/emotionally/psychologically.  ‘You are safe here, you are important here, and you are perfect as you are.’  I know it was only a show, but it exists only because the story itself is real, and all too common, I believe.

Post-a-day 2017

 

 

La Traviata and the World Series

Tonight, I celebrated the Astros’ World Series win with a small group of people that included, but was not limited to, doctors, homosexuals, teachers, Romanians, and a temporary Houstonian, who is a godsend in the opera.  I didn’t really know any of them – we all just love music, and opera specifically.  At each intermission at the opera tonight, the screen typically reserved for the supertitles and announcements about Houston Grand Opera, displayed the score of the Astros-Dodgers game.  During the curtain call, one of the leads showed the latest score on his hands, to relieve us all the worry.  And, when a small group of us gathered for a ‘behind the music’ miniature interview with one of the performers, the game was discussed.  The performer has only been in Houston a couple months, but he was as excited about the game as anyone else.  And, when the official interview had ended, and we were all chatting, and the game ended, we all celebrated together like friends.  And, in Houston, that is normal enough.  And, I found the company to be so truly a representation of our town, that it made the win that much better.  In Houston, just about anyone can talk to just about anyone.  You look at groups of kids, and even people my age and up, and they’re often from all over the world, either directly so or by heritage.  In Houston, we are diverse and we are loving.  (This is person-to-person, not car-to-car, you see – people tend to forget that a car contains a person, so cars get treated way differently than people who are face-to-face.)

Anyway, I began to wonder if any of the players on the Astros team were actually from Houston.  I’m not so sure any of them are from Houston. And, while that is a bit odd, seeing as Houston is celebrating their victory, it also is rather fitting.  Houston is packed with people who are originally from it.  People regularly come to Texas, and find themselves never wanting to leave (though, I know that this is my always the case).  We are the most diverse city in the USA, and that can be observed not just walking the streets, but in looking at our baseball team.  Those guys are from all over, just like the population of our city.  I find it kind of cool, really.

Anyway, yay, Astros, and yay, for the fabulous operatic baritone that is George Petean!

Post-a-day 2017