Unplugged and Happy to Be, Day 40
Last night before bed, I unplugged my cable from my television. Knowing of course the ease with which anyone could easily reattach it, I at least now have to physically make an effort and decision to numb myself with television – far more than when I would previously reach for the remote and suspend reality with the touch of a button. Despite some time spent in Times Square, watching Dr. Oz at the gym, and spending a little time on the computer at the end of the day, I enjoyed a day with only real life stimulation. As a result, I have to say I had quite the disjunct but amazing day.
Starting with a voice lesson with W. Stephen Smith, my teacher and accidental life guide, I spent today learning and interacting with some wonderful friends, strangers, and new acquaintances. Truthfully, I couldn’t possibly say enough about how much his grounded technique and approach to singing and life has changed mine. By having a solid technique by which to guide my practice and performance, any neuroses I once had about singing have faded by far. So many teachers tell their students not to listen to his or her sound because bone conduction changes one’s perception of it. True. Unfortunately, the teachers then spend every lesson troubleshooting problem areas by listening to the student, thus reinforcing the idea that vocal issues should be solved by listening; however, since the student can’t accurately hear herself, she then can only make progress when paying a “good” teacher over and over again to fix her. Blech. Sounds like bad medicine to me.
I thank God every day I study with my teacher or on my own with his incredibly solid technique of singing. Often, and today when I returned home to practice later in the evening, I sing through phrases and pieces with substantial headphones on to keep myself from listening too intently and instead focus on the proper sensations I can now produce. How wonderful to improve regularly with and without my teacher’s presence! After my lesson, I thought of the difference proper exercise techniques might make on my fitness goals, losing ten or so pounds and increasing my lung capacity. Thanks to Groupon and New York Sports Clubs, this month I have the opportunity to workout at a great gym on the 15th floor of the Times Square Crowne Plaza and benefit from three half-hour personal training sessions, all for only $29. Have I mentioned how much I love Groupon?
Meeting Nick, my new personal trainer to be (at least for the next 3 sessions) who hails from North Carolina, spent four years in the army in Afghanistan, and magically has no computer, I knew at the very least I will get my money’s worth in personality alone. Most amazingly, he actually completed part of his training toward his degree in Afghanistan, with their company’s doctor who enrolled in a program with the University of Maryland to teach while overseas. By far one of the best examples of humanity shown by my alma mater. I look forward to my first group class on Wednesday, An Intro to Boxing, and my first session with Nick next Tuesday.
Tonight at the NxNYC 2010 party at Professor Thom’s, my good friend Charlene invited me to join her and another friend at a belly dancing class. I believe I may have my fill of interesting fitness classes this week! Fortunately, I also had my fill of stimulating company and conversation at tonight’s social media event. From my boyfriend (looking fantastically handsome in his new suit) and his friends to so many new and interesting people, I may seriously need to invest in some brain exercise programs to keep everyone and all their stories straight. As if living life as an opera singer didn’t provide enough unique entertainment (not to mention, we met another fellow opera singer on the subway tonight), I met (among so many other interesting people) Herman, who works on a startup company designing organized apps for grocery shopping, Alex, who works for Facebook and runs for Live Earth, among other things, and Lara Ruth, an actually thin and talented food writer. I can’t imagine a more diverse and interesting group of people with whom to have spent my evening.
Walking home tonight from the less attractive 1 train 181st Street subway entrance, after such a beautiful day of education and conversation, I caught myself feeling unusually vulnerable. Usually in this part of the neighborhood and in general when walking alone at night in the city, I tend to walk fast, listen to my ipod, and shutout the world while keeping up my guard. Tonight, like the television, I left the ipod alone and left myself surprisingly open while returning to my apartment and buying a few groceries at the bodega. Nothing really happened, aside from noticing a Frenchman buying American Spirit cigarettes, which reminded me of my friend Guillaume in Paris. Of course, I also let the lyrics from Avenue Q into my head, “Life may be scary, but it’s only temporary.” I learned a great deal today, but especially I know that despite any silly fears I may have about opening up to even more new experiences each day, real people trump television a thousand fold, and life is short.
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