And, no, not in the traditional, had a few glasses of wine or a smoked a dubbie kind of way.
I am constantly searching for my Tadasana (mountain pose of strong standing stillness) amidst
my current situation which includes much movement and tumult: car problems, adjusting to singledom, my new move, new computer, an uncertain economy and last but not least, the health of my father.
So of course, I would chose this time to join a choir.
This is supposed to be 'fun', a way for me to disconnect from my daily obligations of work etc. and find a new community of people that like to get together and sing songs.
Back in August, a few weeks after the break-up, I met up with my ex, who still remains a bright light in my life.
We met at Starbucks on Montana and 7th.
He was late- very common for him.
I was early - very common for me.
So it worked out that I ordered my short skinny latte and sat down next to the Community bulletin board, tip tappin' away to some jazzy java tune, waiting in weird feelings for our first 'meeting'.
Up on the board was a flyer, recruiting members to audition for the Angel City Chorale.
Never heard of 'em.
I took the flyer down immediately. (There were others, I wasn't hoarding).
I'm going to do this.
I didn't think twice about it.
Most people cut their hair when dealing with a break-up.
Well, that actually did happen, but much later.
I need this.
I need something that is totally different and scares the shit out of me and has nothing to do with anything career related.
I filed the flyer away, met with Bryan for a lovely chat and didn't think about the flyer again for days.
I dug it out of my bag o' papers and to dos. I considered tossing it, but I couldn't.
I called my agent for vocal coach recommendations.
I was blessed to be led to an amazing coach; Bill Haller (www.billhaller.com) and we hustled through four sessions.
We discovered or shall I say, he encouraged me, that since my musical theatre days of Middle Soprano, that I am actually a first Soprano.
I can also sing super low. Alto.
So I guess that's a good range.
All that chanting and kirtan has paid off.
The last time I really sang was before 9/11, in NY when I was doing a musical theatre program at NYU.
Before that, I was in the chorus of school plays where they created roles for people just to cast us.
I was in all the classics, supporting the leads with real roles and songs.
Have you ever heard of the neighbor children in The Sound Of Music? I'm sure they had them in real life, but not in the play, not in the movie. But at Holy Family, I was one of them, singing in the background with my dress clothes-pinned shut and my parents snapping photos of me like I was a star.
The audition was one of the scariest things I've ever done.
I have, in fact, auditioned for Broadway and Off Broadway musicals when I was in my 20's and had bigger balls.
Now that my balls are sagging a little, it takes a little more oomph to get me to do something that scares the Kundalini out of me. Actually, that's not really true but it sounded funny. I do things that scare me all the time, but this, a choir, was totally out there for me. More so than living in China alone or jumping out of an airplane or running a marathon or losing 50 pounds. And, it was never really on my consciousness to consider.
And now, here it is, like auditioning for American Idol.
I need to do this.
And I got in!
I was so excited...
Until the terror set in.
Because of the above said distractions, I didn't join them during the holiday season, but I volunteered and listened the CD's they recorded and watched there concert and observed this large group of men and women sing there hearts out.
It gave me goose bumps.
You know what, I'll admit it, I was so moved, I even cried at one of the songs they performed at Christmas. It was actually a Jewish song with words I didn't understand, but it sounded so beautiful, I just freekin' wept.
How could I not want to be a part of this gorgeous creation?
Tonight, was our first rehearsal of the Spring Season.
New member orientation was a half hour before the three-hour rehearsal. People loaded in. New faces I have never seen before.
This large city with so much to do and all of these people were gathering together in this church in West LA to put together to sing and prepare for a show.
I have battled tremendous traffic this week. More than I think I have in my many years here. I logged almost 100 miles each day this week. I've actually gotten shorter from sitting so much and my road rage, which has remained dormant for years, has come out of me like hives from a peanut allergy. I eat, drive and talk on the phone all at once and think, I am quite a site. I am losing my presence in life and here I am adding more to my plate.
It took me 45 minutes to get the 5.6 miles (MapQuest’s measurements) to the rehearsal space.
I don't know if I can do this every week for 'fun'.
I want to be home.
I want to spend time in my expensive apartment that isn't really that expensive but much more expensive now that I am solo. I want to watch my expensive basic cable that I am never home to watch. I want to sleep more than five hours a night.
But, I am here.
The first few minutes of the orientation were like the first few minutes of homeroom freshman year. Awkward smiles and a few pleasantries were exchanged by the newbies. The old timers hugged and laughed and caught up on, "What did you do for Summer Vacation" type chatter.
I must admit I even looked around for potential cute crushes.
After a half an hour of talk on where to park and scheduling for the upcoming season, I was already hungry and my head was spinning.
We were hooked up with 'buddies' that signed us in, helped us pay our dues, get our sheet music, find our vocal section to sit in. My buddy never showed. I watched each new member find their buddy and I was left with a few other newbies, lost and buddy-less. I remembered junior high and picking teams for dodge or volley ball. I was always the last of a few, usually me and the other fat girl who smelled, waiting on the gym floor for the teacher to acknowledge that we needed to be placed, that we weren't chosen by the team captains to participate.
I know it isn't like that, but it felt like that for a fraction of a second...
That seemed to last a millennium.
I hated those days.
But, I'm here.
I was chosen to be here, with them.
And, I chose to be here.
And, I got here in one piece after hellish traffic.
I was given a great alternate buddy. He was lovely and guided me where to go. He'd say, everyone is overwhelmed the first rehearsal. It gets easier.
I heard what he was saying but I was also listening to everyone else, distracted as the room that didn't grow in size, grew in capacity.
Jeez Louise, all these people!
I found my section.
Then I found the kitchen with snacks.
If I didn't eat something immediately, I will implode, right here into an orchestra of nerves and body parts.
Nice meeting you all, BOOM!
I didn't give a rat's tail about calories, I opened a bag of chocolate covered macadamia nuts and dug my whole right hand in there. I grabbed as many as I could and shoved them into my big soprano throat.
My buddy looked at me and asked if I was ok.
I said, I frinkmndaringpluch. Then I swallowed. I'm in the wrong place! You picked the wrong person! I'm in the wrong section! First Soprano!?!? I'm lucky if I can speak.
Then I let the nuts and sugar fill my blood and everything was better.
Low blood sugar, I said.
I can't believe I'm a yoga teacher.
I can be peaceful, but that peace comes when I'm in my element.
Why do I keep choosing elements that make me feel like Woody Allen on his worst day?
Ready to bust a gut and sing.
Thankfully, it is a choir. There are solos, but I'm so far from considering that as an option. I'll be lucky if I can keep up.
Sue Fink directs the choir.
She gets up on stage and I can't take my eyes off of her.
Her energy and passion, knowledge and patience (it's only the first day), is staggering to take in.
I look at her and feel life.
I see her yoga and I can breathe again.
Then we have to sing.
This season's music, World music!!
Oh my goodness, my favorite!!
I'm so excited...
Until I see most of this 'World music' is in other languages.
Well, not a problem.
Music is written in a language I can't understand so why not throw 20 songs in foreign languages into my mix?
Is nothing easy in life? Even my fun?!
What the fu!!!??
I followed a long as much as I could. But, I forgot everything. Whatever I had learned in the past about notes and beats and quarters and thirds and 16ths and pints and staff infections, went out the cathedral ceiling.
I realized that if I just watched Sue and listened carefully while the other parts were singing, mouthing the words to get my mouth used to forming them, I did much better then when my head was low trying to follow when and where the Soprano part comes in with the Alto and Bass and whatever the hell else they call the other groups.
Fink separated the parts and trained each small section carefully. Just listening to the sounds, these men like creamy hot chocolate, the women like spicy curry, the men, like sweet wine, the women like crème fraiche.
I know, more food.
But seriously, I watched her with her fierce hands and steady voice, mix these people and ingredients in a way that in moments, sounded beautiful to me. Maybe not perfect to the most trained ear, but to me, it was magic.
I knew I wanted to get into the kitchen with this mad scientist/chef.
Well, not the real one with the macadamia nuts, but the musical kitchen, she was the head chef of.
When I lifted my head and heard this overwhelming group of 150 merge into powerful soulful voices, I was blown away.
The old timers just looked like they were doin' there job like they always do.
But me, I looked at everyone like they were toys at Christmas.
Does anyone else think this is the most awesome thing ever?
There was a second Soprano, also named Laurie, who sat next to me and shared notes and helpful hints. I was so thankful for that as well as all of the people that took the time to introduce themselves and save me from that effort.
It's daunting and after the first 2 hours, I had a headache through my entire body.
If I listened to the highest soprano, I could match that voice. If I listened to the middle soprano, I could match her voice. If I listened to the altos, I could match that voice.
Hey, I have a voice!!
It might be little now and a muffled in this sea, but I get to have a voice here.
I don't remember NYU and I don't remember musical theatre.
I saw people tapping and just looked down at my leg and saw it moving with their taps, like it was instinct.
I noticed on some songs that I would rock back and forth with a beat. Weird, yes, but it seemed to work.
I thought, maybe I can get this.
I looked at the sheet music, song after song, and language after language. I never got it at the first try, but after that, I was able to come in strong.
I know I didn't sing loudly. I took my time and let the others sing until I got my song legs.
I listened to the way Sue would tell us how to pronounce a note or draw it out. I looked down at the page and saw scoops of lines. I think I know what she means.
I know that there are others here in my position, but right now, I'm alone in my quest. I don't know the others yet.
I always give myself a hard time if I'm not perfect right away. I know there is no way for me to be close to good right away so I relaxed a little to let myself progress.
If I teach a class and watch a newer student force themselves into a pose, even if I tell them not to, it makes me sad that they can't allow themselves the ability to trust the process of progressing to strength, conquering the steps one at a time in patience.
So, why would I not allow myself that same permission in what one might also view as yoga? Singing for some might be like yoga to me. Many yoga poses are still quite challenging for me. I'm sure the same goes for singers and writers and actors and welders and accountants.
We all have paths colored with different levels of experiences. The path is the peace. You have to be gentle with yourself wherever you are on the path. If you are lucky to be further along than someone else, it is your gift to share that strength and knowledge to help guide someone else that's behind you.
To feel badly about where we are on a path will only create obstacles in helping you move forward in a smooth and fluid way towards a success colored with rewards that can only be seen and appreciated when from that place of peace.
After a while I actually found I got the hang of it...for the moment.
There is a lot of work ahead of me. I will have to work harder just to listen and observe and find my place since I cannot read music. I'm good at the listening and observing. And, I work really hard and learn swiftly.
The idea of working at my 'fun' isn't the most appealing to me, but perhaps that is just what fun is for me, work.
I like challenges and sinking my teeth into something that is not easy. If it was all easy, I guess I would stay home and watch my cable.
I'm not quite sure how much time this will take. I have a lot of 'work' to do in my everyday life and a lot of play and down time I really need to schedule for myself.
By the end of the night, every part of my body ached.
I thanked and goodbyed everyone I could but I really couldn't get out of there fast enough.
Because, I was buzzed. I knew there was a computer at home waiting for me to write it all down.
This is the thing that comes naturally to me.
Writing is my music. It's my yoga too.
I have a lot to do, but maybe it's not a bad thing that the thing I have to do is sing a lot. I can do it in traffic and I can do it in my expensive apartment alone, while doing laundry.
There is a community in music. There is a community in choir. This choir, the Angel City Chorale, seems really special.
The people are all ages and all so different and beautiful. But, what brings us together is one thing, the love of music, being in union. And that is yoga.
Some people, even in this big group, will shine brighter than others.
I'm OK as long as I can be one of the watts that make us brighter as a group.
This was day one and I was moved by the sound and the words I didn't understand and the characters and notes and lines that made no sense to me. But we made a sound, together.
And in this time for me, a time of much movement and tumult, it may as well have a great soundtrack.