opera

This is how I handle stress

 

 

That is all. Except I happen to avoid suffocation approximately 5-15 times a day. #scurvy

All while listening to La Traviata as loud as possible. Because what are my struggles when compared to true love, social ostracism, tuberculosis, and terrible communication skills?

Lyrics of that excerpt:

Farewell, happy dreams of the past,
The rosiness in my cheeks has already gone pale;
The love of Alfredo I will miss,
Comfort, support my tired soul
Ah, the misguided desire to smile;
God pardon and accept me,
All is finished.

The joys, the sorrows soon will end,
The tomb confines all mortals!
Do not cry or place flowers at my grave,
Do not place a cross with my name to cover these bones!
Ah, the misguided desire to smile;
God pardon and accept me,
All is finished.

If that doesn’t give one perspective, what can?! “All is finished”… yup. Sounds ’bout right to me. If you want an even bigger punch to the gut, watch this. Woman is reunited with her lover, all is forgiven, they pledge to live happily ever after, and then after two 3 minute arias, she keels over and dies. #bleak #nowthatssomeheavydutyadulting

#nomorebangingbod #definitelynotaskinnybitch #pleasantlyplump #ineedavacationandabottleofwine #lovemyjobiswear #notadramaqueennoway

Advertisements

Bougiest of birthday presents to myself

In a few days I will be turning 30 for the 3rd time. Clearly, a milestone anniversary, that deserves to be celebrated in style.

As luck would have it, my work is flying me to France for a 3 day conference in the countryside, 1 hour away from Paris, next week. Since the plane was already covered, I extended my trip by an extra 5 days. I’ll be in France for my bday. #fancy

  • 2.5 days in Strasbourg
  • 1.5 day in Reims (champagne country!)
  • 1.5 day in Paris

While in Paris, I’m treating myself to a good seat at the opera, to see Verdi’s Aida, because nothing says birthday bash than listening to a warbly love triangle that ends with the hero & heroine being buried alive. #mykindofdatingstory #keepingitreal #ratchetbeforeratchetwasinstyle  My goal in life is to see a ballet and an opera in all the major companies in the world. So far, I’ve only done that in NYC. Soon Paris will be checked off too, and I’ll have no choice but to explore other cultural hubs like London, Milan or St-Petersburg… #mydreamrequiresAeroplan

So yeah. I’m going to celebrate another year of not having my shit together by going all-out bougie. Hopefully this time I won’t break my nose. But it’s worth the risk. Champagne, ridiculously yummy food, sexy accents, quaint scenery… And opera. Best of all? I’ll be alone.

I think I might be getting old.

#hbdtome

#idyemyhair

#atruecatladyatheart

Vanillability = Vanilla + Vulnerability

A reader of my blog told me recently that he hoped I never met anyone and fell in love, because if I did, that would be the end of my blog – seeing as my blog was essentially an online journal of my trainwreck dating life. He liked my blog, he didn’t want it to end.

Ummm, thanks?

A few months ago, somebody suggesting that I was on the brink of finding happiness would have been laughable. I was a devoted cat-less cat-lady with a pronounced appreciation for stuffed animals. Happiness was not in my future.


From 2010 to 2014, I had 3 major depressive episodes, one of which lasted over a year.

As my third depression hit me in August 2014, I sought help. My therapist asked me if I’d seen Brené Brown’s Ted Talk about the power of vulnerability. I had, but I couldn’t be vulnerable, it was impossible. I listed endless reasons, anecdotes and stories that supported that my world-view that if anyone truly saw me for who I am, they’d be disappointed. That prospect was intolerably painful. My shame dictated that I must hide my true self from everyone; the alternative was unbearable. He smiled, and told me to buckle up, because we were going to work at embracing vulnerability. It was going to suck, and take a long time, but we’d get there.

Everyone should watch Brené Brown’s Ted Talk, the long 20-minute length notwithstanding. She is a funny, talented speaker, and the content of this video changed my life.

For all of you too lazy to watch it, here is the transcript. Just read it. Or better yet, watch it. DO IT.


I started this blog in July 2014, just 3 weeks before that last depression hit. My early posts are polished stories of funny, embarrassing things I’d done. I remember how scary I found writing those, and how important it was to be perceived as funny, while I was so unhappy. My therapist approved of my writing: he thought putting myself “out there” was a habit that I should develop. If I was comfortable sharing the carefully packaged stories, I’d grow comfortable sharing more of myself. The important thing was that I shared anything, rather than lock myself away.

15 months later, this blog has allowed me to peel away some protective armour, and voice my raw emotions and flaws. The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. People can relate to my trainwreck dating stories, insecurities and anxiety. Friends, family and strangers have all reached out to me to say “YES. I’ve felt this way too.” The me that I used to keep hidden away, for fear of being seen, truly seen and found inadequate is the same me that people respond and relate to.

In my “real” life, I’ve noticed a shift too. I’m grounded by connections with coworkers, friends, teammates: my life is a rich tapestry of people I’ve shared an emotion with. I’ve shown my failings to these people, and they love/like/tolerate me anyhow. Or they don’t, and I am ok with that. It isn’t an automatic reflection on my self. Similarly, their flaws are no longer something to be judged: rather, something deserving sympathy. We all have our crosses to bear – we are all in this struggle together.


When I was starting out in boxing 3 years ago, my coach took me aside and asked me why I was so afraid. When I answered that getting punched in the head was scary, he brushed that aside. He wanted to know my everyday body language was one of someone scared of getting hurt: my shoulders bowed, hesitation in my movements, easily startled, anxiety in my forehead. He said my demeanour only got worse when I stepped into the ring, and I was a danger to myself because I wasn’t paying attention to my opponent, as I was too busy fighting my internal demons.

I started to cry, then. Despite my best efforts to keep my insecurities private, here was a man who had seen past my persona. It was only a matter of time before he saw me for the broken failure that I was.

I contrast that with my posts from this summer:


So here I am. I’m happy. Maybe, just maybe, vulnerability ain’t so bad – look at all I have lived through in the past 6 months. I’m no longer ashamed: I am who I am, and I can’t wait to see where life takes me.

Coach calls this being an Amazon. Brené Brown calls it self-worthiness. Therapist calls it compassion for oneself and acceptance. I call it being alive.

It feels so good to alive again.

When opera leads to supper

Oh, how my friends laughed at the Opera and (no) chill story! “Poor guy. You’re evil, Vanilla!” No, no I am not. I am sometimes trapped by my insecurities, especially when I care about the outcome.

I sent Beaut the link to that post. He loved it. And then he was silent. I was miserable: I’d put it all out there. This was completely outside of my comfort zone: asking a guy out, writing about him, acknowledging that I’d wanted more that a simple kiss on the cheek and that I needed more time before letting my guard down. If he didn’t follow up, I couldn’t possibly continue pursuing him. I was exhausted.

Luckily for me, 24 hours later Beaut invited me over for supper. Chez lui. He would cook for me. If that isn’t charming, I don’t know what is.

Yesterday was the day. I was nervous. I was extremely nervous. I hadn’t heard from him all day – why was he being quiet? Maybe Beaut had changed his mind. Maybe he was going to cancel on me. Maybe he had found somebody better. Maybe he was a player, and he’d decided I was simply too vanilla. I couldn’t concentrate. Vulnerability was overrated. Here I was, facing disappointment, an evening alone, and risking starvation. I was done. No more dating for me: I was ready to embrace my life as a cat-less cat-lady.

As I was about to take a vow of chastity, Beaut messaged me to let me know that he was about to go grocery shopping for our dinner. He was looking forward to it. He also admitted that being a total bachelor, living alone, he’d never bothered investing in a kitchen table. Solemnly, he listed our alternatives: picnic on the bed, picnic on the floor, eating at his work desk.

You guys. Cute. Inviting someone over for dinner with no table is cute. It also struck me as something only a guy would do. In his shoes, I would have never invited anyone over. Ever. I would embrace a cat-lady lifestyle rather than allow anyone to witness my unorthodox interior design.

I was doubtful as to what supper would taste like. I correlated absent kitchen furniture with absent cooking skills. Very ironic, since I have a fully stocked kitchen, and I can’t cook to save my life. Well, I’d underestimated him. Beaut had planned a 3-course meal. A healthy delicious 3-course meal. I assumed those 2 adjectives were mutually exclusive. I was amazed; he was confused about my amazement – he was just cooking normal food. Wrong, sir. Wrong.

We ate picnic-style on his living room floor. The walls were covered in hand-written notes, organized in batches. He explained that, since the age of 16, he’s enjoyed drafting outlines for novels. This was his most recent attempt, organized by character groupings: each page was a character description, below an overall summary of their character arc. There was a camera tripod; Beaut takes an interest in photography. He likes to sew. He’s pursuing a university certificate in a field dramatically different from his current career because he “needed mental stimulation”. His dream is to one day open a restaurant.

As the conversation flowed, always funny, never boring, I realized that my frequent surprise at his stories and opinions was driven from a deep-seated conviction that a beautiful man such as Beaut must be a narrow-minded douchebag. Sure, I’d always been intrigued by his reserve, but then again, I’ve always made the mistake of assuming silence means substance. I’d agreed to his supper invite expecting him to confirm my bias at some point or the other. I’d been all wrong. Thank goodness I didn’t take that vow of chastity!

After 2 hours of good food, unexpected conversation, and respectful distances, I told him that if the night ended and he hadn’t even TRIED to kiss me, I’d be pissed.

Beaut happily obliged. 🙂

Boom. Opera and no chill: it is a thing.

Opera and chill

Once upon a time I noticed a be-au-ti-ful man at a boxing party at my gym. Over the months, I ran into him at various events: the Montreal boxing scene is a small one, even the friends of friends and groupies get to know one another. I never spoke to him, both because of a reluctance to pander to the (presumed) ego of beautiful men, and because my own deep-seated insecurities told me he was out of my league. (Off-topic: this blog has been extremely useful in identifying my unhelpful thought patterns. Case in point.)

At a boxing Halloween party last month, he spoke to me briefly. Well, actually, he tried to steal some of my candy, and I reflexively stiff-armed him out of the way. Beauty < candy, obvi. Realizing that I’d mildly overreacted, I chatted long enough to prove I was capable of normal social behaviour and then I ended the convo to continue my pursuit of alcohol and KitKats.

Feeling ballsy, I added him on Facebook and then forgot to stalk his profile. He messaged me a week later, much to my glee. (That isn’t an exaggeration. I was at a wedding, and I squealed loudly when I saw his name on my phone. Don’t judge me.) Over the next few days there was typical fun banter until the moment when, after discovering we live close to one another, and are approximately neighbours, he asked me if that was my slick way of inviting him over.

No. No, it wasn’t. I’m a classy lady, bro.

He replied that inviting someone over was not a matter of class. Conceding his point, I warned him that the whole “Netflix & chill” would never happen – but that if we upgraded it to “opera & chill” (the classier version), I’d consider it. I thought I was being hilarious. No man under the age of 50 in his right mind would willingly sit through 3 hours of opera, no matter what the incentive. Right?!  Wrong. Turns out Beaut enjoys trying new things, and expanding his horizons.

Ladies and gents, we went to see Verdi’s Il Trovatore broadcasted from New York City’s Met (check out details here, to find out if movie theatres near you are participating).

I was pretty amused by the unexpected turn of events. I couldn’t picture Beaut sitting through THREE HOURS of this:

My friends took bets. He’d last 15 minutes. He’d arrange for an emergency SOS call 35 mins into the performance. He’d have me arrested for cruel and unusual treatment.

My friends all lost their bets. Instead, Beaut watched the entire thing, and peppered the evening with his hilarious commentary:

This stuff is really dramatic, isn’t it. I mean, these people really go over the top with their emotions, it’s just too much! Out of the 4 main singers up on stage now, and all those backup singers, how is it that NOT ONE of them spoke up to say, “You guys. Stop it. Stop trying to kill each other. Let’s explore some other alternatives, ok?”

How come opera always involves a love triangle where one or more people die? Love is supposed to be beautiful. I mean, if I loved you, I wouldn’t try kill you, I’d suggest we have a baby.

This guy. How come he can’t accept that she’s just not into him?! Move on, bro! Enough singing about her, she ain’t gonna change her mind. Where is your pride? Never run after a woman. Especially not for 4 acts! If I wrote an opera, it would be 3 pages long. One page to introduce the characters and the setting. One page to explain who loves who. And no love triangle! My guy, when realizing that the woman isn’t into him, would say “Ok” and then go find himself a woman who liked him. The end.

Amazing.

Yet after all that, all three and a half hours of opera, Beaut did not get any chill. Paralyzed by sudden social anxiety (as tends to happen to me on dates – remember the garbage truck or the standup comic?), it took all my efforts to give him a chaste kiss on the cheek. Poor dear. I can’t even imagine what this story looks like from his end. It’s like he went to the opera with a female Mr. Bean.

I think it’s safe to say that last night was a series of surprises, for both of us.

#operaandchillisathing

#exceptwhenitsnot

The Nutcracker: bougie beauty

My mother loved opera, I like opera.  I love ballet, she liked ballet. Complementary tastes, with plenty of overlap.

In the last 5 years of her life, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City began its Met: Live in HD program, broadcasting operas, in real time, across select movie theaters across North America for prices ranging from $20-$40 – a steal! Since its inception, the Met: Live in HD program has been wildly popular, periodically selling out in participating movie theaters, with encore performances not uncommon.

For my mother, her failing health preventing her from travelling (she only ever took a plane once, to visit her brother in Boston), this was a true blessing as it gave her access to a breadth and quality of live opera performances she never would have experienced otherwise – the Met is one of the best opera companies in the world, light-years ahead of our local company in Montreal.

She frequently invited me to join her at these performances, hopeful for one of our rare girly excursions. I never once attended with her; I was always too busy, it never quite suited me, I was tired, it wasn’t my favorite piece… the list of excuses was endless. She would attend instead with some of her friends, or alone, or occasionally with my father, despite his not being overly keen on opera. The first time he did attend, he was the only male in the audience, and he wept from the sheer beauty of the music, and several old doddering ladies nodded approvingly at him and my mother. She never complained at my busy schedule, and until her unexpected end, she continued to invite me, despite my string of refusals.

Holidays: a bittersweet dynamic

That pretty much sums up how I feel about the holidays. Bittersweet, with a healthy dose of bitter, spiced with regrets. Holiday season is always a bewildering mix of joyful feelings that somehow squeeze your heart painfully and make you want to cry without always successfully pinpointing the exact cause.

That is why Tchaikovsky’s score for the Nutcracker is the perfect musical fit for the Holiday season. The Nutcracker, a fairy tale about a fantastic dream in Wonderland that eventually comes to an end, has moments of breathtaking beauty that are tinged throughout with melancholy. I never understood why Tchaikovsky included sadness in the music for a kid’s fairy tale, until I realised that the story, stripped of its flashy choreography and distractions, is actually about a girl’s first crush coming to an end. By the end of the ballet, Clara is one step closer to adulthood, and with that step comes a loss of innocence – no matter how glorious her journey, that awakening from a childhood dream is a sad thing. Tchaikovsky is brilliant.

No Christmas season is complete unless I listen to the Nutcracker’s score ad-nauseum; its complex tapestry of emotion counteracts the glib joy of Christmas carols, and lends magnificence to the occasion.

From the comfort of your home: bougie ballet

I told Nene that I was attending today a live broadcast of the Bolshoi ballet performing the Nutcracker: similar concept to the Met: Live in HD, except with ballet, not opera, and not in HD. He told me that was a bougie activity, short for bourgeoisie (new gangsta word! My vocabulary keeps expanding, yippee!).

I have no counter-argument against Nene’s assertion of bougie ballet-love.

So instead, I leave you with a link to Baryshnikov’s version of the Nutcracker – a version I watched with my mother almost every Christmas, on the couch, eating chocolate chip cookies, waiting for Santa to drop by. Yes, the same Baryshnikov that was in the last season of Sex and the City. One of ballet’s greats. Just look at his jumps!!! He soars. Beautiful and athletically impressive. (Yes, yes, I realise that SATC is about as bougie as it gets.)

P.S. I just watched most of it, and I am pretty sure the part from 13:51 to 15:00 negates any possible “ballet is not bougie” arguments. Oye. That part is not ok!