The Ghost of Christmas Present(s)

I'm well aware that Christmas is about so much more than getting presents. There's the whole Peace on Earth thing, spending time with family, decorating the tree, gaining 5 pounds, and the birth of that little guy with all the radical ideas. Here in Oregon, Christmas was about winter weather this year. It snowed all day, letting up just in time for us to go to the movies (Juno—go see it immediately). It was also about whole wheat popovers for breakfast (a family tradition, tweaked to accommodate Mama Bossy's diet), tea, German Christmas goodies, lazing, reading, and laughing about teen pregnancy (at the movies—duh).

But still... look what I got!!

Thanks, Grandma Bossy!

Thanks, Mama Bossy! (girl not included)

Thanks, Mama and Papa Bossy!
(160GB, in case you're wondering, exactly 8 times the size of my previous iPod)

It was a good Christmas, for all the reasons stated (and pictured) above. I hope you all had the best of holidays. Now I'm headed back to Houston, where I'm going to stay put for at least 6 weeks. I'll be back to work tomorrow (Magic Flute).

Happy Boxing Day, everyone.

Tradition, tra-di-tion!

Little Ms. Bossy is an only child. You know the type: the spoiled, overprotected, bratty, spotlight-hogging, I want a pony and I want it now, doted upon, unable to share, doesn't play well with others, overindulged, bossy (hmm), self-centered, self-involved, selfish, for god's sake give her what she wants before she throws a tantrum only child. Yep, that's me.

Please, people, it's Christmas Eve. The least you could do is look mildly surprised. I'm not asking for a loud gasp of shock or anything, but throw me a bone here.

Now that I'm (arguably) grown up and have outgrown the "I want a pony" phase (although I want a baby blue Vespa and I want it now), most of the time being an only child doesn't affect me much. I have friends that are as close as siblings, and I live far enough away from my parents that the excessive doting has decreased by necessity. I even like to think that I've escaped some of my innate only child tendencies. Not bossiness, obvs, but some of the others. Maybe.

At Christmas time, however, the only child reigns supreme, and I am no exception. Elaborate wish lists are created, not so subtle hints are dropped, far too many presents are received, and childhood traditions are kept alive long after childhood is over. I haven't been at my parents' house for Christmas since 2003, but we're falling right into our old holiday routine, starting today.

On Christmas Eve, Papa Bossy makes a nice dinner and then I open two presents: a Christmas movie on DVD, and new pajamas. Then I put on my pajamas and the three of us watch the movie together. This is a tradition.

On Christmas morning, I get up freakishly early (my parents are thankful that the definition of early has changed some over the years), get my stocking, and go through it on my parents' bed. This is a tradition.

It always takes a while to drag my grumbling parents out of bed and get them to come to the Christmas tree. Then I have to wait while they make tea and make their way to the couch, all of which takes much longer than I want it to. This is a tradition.

I pick the presents and the order in which they are opened, usually alternating one of my parents and then me. Anything to wear is immediately tried on, and each present is discussed briefly before moving on. This is a tradition.

Once all the presents are opened, Papa Bossy makes breakfast and we laze around most of the day reading our new books and playing with our new toys. This is a tradition.

It's been a difficult year in the life of Little Ms. Bossy, and Christmas is going squarely in the Making me happy category. Maybe I'm too old to still be a kid on Christmas, but when I go to sleep tonight it's still quite possible that visions of sugarplums will be dancing in my head.

Here's to tradition.

Adventures in air travel and karmic retribution

Airport security lines bring out the worst in people. You would think that the lengthy security ordeal would be a great equalizer, since everyone has to go through it (except in those lame airports where 1st Class passengers have a shorter line, that is—although maybe I would feel differently about that if I ever flew 1st Class). However, that was certainly not my experience in Düsseldorf this morning.

I was standing in the slowest security line in the history of all slow lines. At this time of year, international terminals are filled with people lugging impossibly sized suitcases that seem to be designed for the express purpose of smuggling people across borders (though I am not one to talk, as I had to cough up 50 euros today due to the excessive weight of my own suitcase), wrangling multiple screaming children, and sporting outfits for every possible climate. I didn’t mind waiting, since I was filled with a lot of mixed feelings about my trip coming to an end. People around me, on the other hand, were less patient. Also less knowledgeable about security regulations, apparently, as numerous people kept coming back through the line to dispose of giant jars of Nutella, bottles of Fanta, and Nivea hand cream.

I had been in line for about 35 minutes, slowly creeping toward the conveyor belt, when a huge group of guys pushed their way past the 40 or so people in line behind me, claiming that their flight to a place I’d never heard of (Girba? Chyrva?) was just about to leave. Unfortunately, many of the people they had cut in front of were on that same flight to Kryba, and there was a certain amount of…consternation that these other guys didn’t have to wait. Various airport employees were dispatched to ineffectually handle the situation, as people behind me kept yelling at the line-cutters, some of whom studiously ignored them and others of whom had far less self-control. It was a mess, but I willed myself not to get annoyed. In fact, I gave a friendly smile to the interloper who almost knocked me out with his enormous backpack as he crowded ahead of me in line, and I was rewarded with an apologetic look and a certain amount of shamed shuffling.

Luckily, a higher power must have also been giving out rewards for patience and friendly smiles. On my 8 1/2-hour flight to Detroit, I ended up with 3 seats in an exit row all to myself, and then I managed to talk my way onto an earlier flight to Houston. Take that, obstreperous travelers to Glyba!

Oh, and by the way, I’m home, and those mixed feelings are clearing up some. In German, the word fertig can mean either ready or done.

Ich bin fertig.

The resocialization of Little Ms. Bossy

I don't know if I've made it clear quite how much alone time I've had during my month in Europe. Let me clarify. I've had a lot. Tom Hanks on an island Jodie Foster in the forest alone time. In Vienna I had 3 hours guaranteed social time during German class, but since then whole days have gone by in which the only interaction I've had consists of me saying, "I'll have a Fanta and a piece of cake, please. With whipped cream." (In German, of course. Give me a little credit.) There were days that I longed for a volleyball to talk to. You think I'm joking.

My real life (because what is a month-long sojourn in Europe if not a fantasy?) is filled with social interaction: meetings at work, lunches with colleagues, drinks with friends, movies, parties, etc. Put into a single sentence it sounds much more glamorous than it actually is, of course, but suffice it to say that when I'm lonely I can do something about it. Not so much in Europe. Oh, there were brief shining moments with The Soprano from Wisconsin and the Bossy cousin in Munich, but I became quite accustomed to spending most of my time alone.

Until a week ago, that is, when the resocialization process began. An incredible two-day stay in Holland with the Army Brat and her boyfriend was just what I needed to transition back to the real world. We had long conversations about everything: politics, books, relationships, religion... Everything. We slept late, ate well, and took an incredibly muddy walk to keep us from getting too lazy. It was great.

Next to my family in Braunschweig (with a quick 1-day stop one the way to see some truly ghastly opera), where I was pampered and coddled by my aunts. After 3 weeks of solo travel it was quite a shock to have people so interested in whether I had eaten enough, whether my feet were cold, and whether I could really ride the streetcar by myself after the opera (yes. no. yes.). There was delicious food, and presents. I do like presents. Plus, I got to find out whether I can actually speak German, since English wasn't an option. Turns out, I can. Yay!

I'm spending my last couple days in Düsseldorf staying with family friends who are an opera composer and a set/costume designer, respectively. I saw a fantastic production of Il Turco in Italia last night, and today I'm visiting museums and seeing Hedda Gabler tonight.

And tomorrow? Home to Houston to complete the process. I'm looking forward to: being able to use my iPhone, eating something that isn't meat and potatoes, speaking English, and reconnecting with friends.

I can't wait.

A purely hypothetical exercise

So, say you’re a stage director (work with me here), and you’re hired to direct a new production of an opera we’ll call…um…Carigodelio for the purposes of this exercise. Your interpretation of the opera is that none of the characters know how to communicate with each other. They never listen, they’re all in their own worlds, and they don’t really see each other. Wouldn’t it be cool, you think, if you somehow manifested that theatrically? You could have the singers never look at each other, delivering all their lines straight out to the audience instead. Perfect. So now you have a concept, but what about the setting? There’s no chance that you’ll leave it in the time and place indicated in the libretto; how boring would that be? No, instead you decide to place it in a non-specific post-apocalyptic world, ensuring that you can a) use modern clothing in as many shades of gray as possible; b) leave the stage completely bare, save a few random pieces of large machinery; and c) instruct the principals, chorus, and supers to keep a deadpan look of shock on their faces at all times. Awesome.

Sure, the singers may argue with you for a moment about your concept, but not for long. This is Germany, after all. Opening night rolls around, and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. That moment of silence at the end of Act I? That must have been because the audience was stunned by your creativity. Your eyes pan through the house. Wait a minute. A familiar face jumps out at you. Oh, it’s Little Ms. Bossy! She doesn’t seem to be enjoying herself. She’s checked her watch three times in the past four minutes, she has apparently developed a raging case of Restless Leg Syndrome, and if you listen closely you might hear her sigh under her breath. She’s disappointed. She’s feeling as if her time is being wasted, and thanking God that at least she didn’t pay for the ticket.

It’s not that I’m a purist. Far from it. I strongly believe that the only way to keep our art form alive and vital is to re-imagine the classics while developing a new canon of repertoire. Honestly, I don’t even really care if updating a piece makes sense all the way through. When I start directing my own productions, I imagine I’ll be a stickler for those details, but as an audience member, I’m not too precious about them. I’ll forgive a lot if the singing is exciting and the characters and relationships are alive.

What I’m not interested in seeing is cold opera. I consider myself a rational, somewhat intellectual person, but when I go to the opera I don’t want to see some academic exercise. I want to be drawn in, not held at arm’s length. I want to feel joy in the comedies and heartbreak in the tragedies, and most of all I want to leave the theater somehow different than I was before the lights went down. I’m always a critic—I think that’s inherent in any director—but it’s rare that I see a production that doesn’t delight me in some way, even if it’s not particularly my aesthetic.

So when you get that contract, please let the singers relate to each other in a real way. Go ahead and put a wrecking ball on the stage, knock yourself out, but don’t leave it at that. Don’t expect us to care about the characters when you clearly don’t.

And please, please, don’t stop the music in the middle of your (Italian) opera, pipe in street noise through the speakers, and have the mezzo read passages from the Bible out loud in German while the set is being changed behind her.

In your purely hypothetical production of Carigodelio, I mean. Ahem.

No reservations

Today I reached a new level of spontaneity: weekend train travel without a seat reservation. This came as a result of being unable to make an internet reservation rather than from any strong desire for fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants adventures. On the train I took from Hamburg to Köln (that’s Cologne for you non-German speakers), there was some kind of glitch in their reservation system, the exact nature of which I couldn’t quite decipher from the German coming over the loudspeaker, which resulted in every seat being marked “Reserved,” without any indication as to where the seatholder might be getting on or off the train.

Finding and keeping a seat is really more a game of chance than of skill. You find a seat without a jacket or other placeholder marking it, first furtively glancing around to make sure nobody with a ticket in hand is looking meaningfully toward your chosen spot. At every station (and there were 8 between Hamburg and Köln), your heart beats a little faster as you watch people board the train looking for their reserved seats. Polite words are exchanged: “Excuse me, but I believe you’re in my seat.” “Oh, am I? So sorry, I’ll get right of your way.”

Today I was lucky; I only had to move twice, and one of those times was not so much because I was in someone else’s seat as it was because of the overwhelming smell of vinegar coming off the man next to me. At each station, as I watched the routine play out between my fellow passengers, I sat smugly in my seat as if I belonged there.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for beating the system, sticking it to the man, etc., until I heard the train attendant talking to the guy in front of me. He was headed to Paris, but not only was he traveling without a reservation, he was also without a ticket or any money with which to buy one. And he had the audacity to try out this maneuver in First Class.

Now that’s spontaneity.

That famous German efficiency

In Houston when the curtain comes down on a performance, the audience members leap to their feet... and run for the aisles. It's not that they don't want to show their appreciation for the singers; they just know that the parking garage will be a madhouse, and it's either stay and clap and wait for 30 minutes to get out of the garage, or jet out early and be home and in bed by the time the poor saps yelling "Bravo" make it onto the street. We're always trying to make the curtain call as short as possible, tightening up the cues and debating whether or not the chorus and supers take a bow, all to avoid that sickening feeling when the audience stops clapping before the singers stop bowing.

Not so in Hamburg, where I've spent the past 2 evenings enraptured at the opera. This audience is willing to stay until the bitter end. And we're not talking short and sweet bows. Everyone has to bow individually, then the company bows. Then everyone files off the stage, and they do it all over again. Twice. On top of that, the audience enthusiastically applauds and bravos through extensive solo and company bows after each act (and there are 3 in Tannhäuser). Nobody rushes out to beat the line for the ladies' room. It's amazing.

And long. Tonight's performance started at 6:00, and the bows ended at 10:22. Those Hamburgers sure know how to show their singers some love.

In Houston we don't have nearly so many topless women, men in thongs, and anatomically correct blow-up dolls, either.

And we don't sell pretzels at intermission.

Other than that, opera is pretty much the same in H-burg as it is in H-town.

Bye-bye, Berchtesgaden

Folks, I've had a fling. When I left Berchtesgaden this morning, I felt like I was in one of those movies where a great love affair ends with one person leaving on an epic train journey. That person was me. I was pressing my face against the glass of the window, trying to catch one last glimpse of my love, willing myself not to cry.

Only in my case, nobody was running along the platform as the train gained speed, blowing kisses and shouting promises. There will be no love letters, no sweet whispered phone calls. That's because my new love, the one I can't get out of my head, isn't a person at all. It's an adorable little Alpine town, whose downtown Rick Steves incorrectly refers to as "a touristy mess." Ah, Berchtesgaden, how I will miss you.

I planned to stay 2 nights, and I ended up staying 4. I didn't do a whole lot while I was there. I skipped all the Nazi sightseeing opportunities. I didn't go skiing. I didn't even tour the salt mines wearing one of those cool flashlight hats. What did I do for 4 days? I went on long walks on snowy footpaths. I sat in cafés eating cake and drinking hot chocolate. I went swimming. I pet the cat who lived in my hotel. I read. I stared at the mountains out my window. I thought about buying a dirndl. It wasn't much, but it was perfect.

What's next for Little Ms. Bossy? 2 days in Munich with one of the Bossy cousins, then a nerdy opera weekend in Hamburg, where I'll see Elektra and Tannhäuser and sit in on some rehearsals. After that, a much-anticipated reunion with the Army Brat, in which I will venture into the land of the thumb-suckers once again.

I'm leaving you with the view from my hotel window. See what I mean?

Alpsolutely fabulous

On a Saturday morning in December, every 5 minutes or so a bus arrives in Salzburg and unloads a large group of middle-aged Germans, the men wearing traditional Tyrolean hats, the women with hair in shades of blonde and red not found in nature. They swarm through the streets of the old city, buying up as much Mozart-themed candy as they can carry. Should you be foolish enough to try and meander through the cobblestone streets, you will find yourself inching along in a clutch of Bavarians, unable to speed up or stop, following a large woman holding up an umbrella.

It's unpleasant. So unpleasant, in fact, that when I got to Salzburg on Saturday I almost turned right around and went back to the train station. I stuck it out, though, and I'm glad I did. If you can get past the theme park aspect of Salzburg (I'm not sure if it's more dedicated to Mozart or to Mozartkugeln), there is a lot that is good about the city. I spent a couple hours at the Mozart museum, which is housed in an apartment the Mozart family lived in. The museum was actually quite good, and the audioguide played lots of his music to accompany the trip through the museum, which I liked very much. In the gift shop I bought opening night presents for Magic Flute (my next project). "La ci darem la mano" with a disco beat was playing on the stereo. Ah yes, the home of Mozart.

The best part of the day by far was the trip (via elevator) up to the top of the Mönchberg, a mountain that stands on the edge of the old city and offers magnificent views. (If I were on my own computer instead of the hotel's, with its bizarro German keyboard, I would upload pics and show them to you.) Oddly enough, the only way to get away from the tourists in Salzburg seems to be to go the actual tourist destinations. The museum was almost empty, and I was able to roam freely around the Mönchberg.

Now, I'm in Berchtesgaden, and I'm loving it so much that I'm having trouble leaving. I was supposed to be gone by now, but I extended my stay an extra night, and I think I might stay one more. I don't have to be anywhere until Wednesday, when I'm meeting my cousin Ulrike in Munich. I don't know if it's the fresh air, the stunning mountain view off my balcony, or the food of the gods I discovered at the restaurant next door, but whatever it is, Berchtesgaden agrees with me.

It's December now, and given the complete and utter failure of my 30-day project last month, I'm not starting one this month. Instead, dear readers, I've come up with some projects (homework) for you!

1. Download Ingrid Michaelson's music and listen to it. You'll be glad you did, I promise. I highly recommend both her albums, but if you must choose one, buy Girls and Boys.

2. Eat some Tex-Mex for me. I have such a craving, and strangely enough, it's not so easy to find in the Alps. Bonus points if you have a margarita.

3. Superbad comes out on DVD tomorrow. Buy it, rent it, Netflix it, whatever you have to do. I plan on buying it immediately when I get back on December 17, and I'm going to expect all my friends to be able to quote it on command.

4. Tell me who you are! I would love to know who is reading this thing. If you're too shy to comment, send an email to littlemsbossyblog at gmail. And if you have a blog, send me the link!

Aufwiedersehen, Wien

Tonight's my last night in Vienna, and tomorrow morning I start the second half of my European adventures, the part I like to call "Where the hell am I going?" Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants spontaneity was incredibly attractive to me a month ago when I was planning (or not planning, in this case) my trip, but at the moment it's causing me a certain amount of panic. As of this morning, I didn't know where I was going to be for the night tomorrow (which town, I mean, let alone a hotel). As of now, however, my trains and hotels are booked through Monday night! (Yes, I realize that's only 3 days from now, thank you.)

Tomorrow I'm heading to Salzburg for the day, where I will traipse around following in the footsteps of those wacky Von Trapps (oh, and Mozart). From there I'll go to Berchtesgaden, a small town in the mountains best known as Hitler's playground, but which for me seems like the perfect place to relax, soak at a spa, and visit an old salt mine (why not?). I'm looking forward to getting away from city life for a couple days.

So, on to the Vienna recap.

My Favorites:
  • Exploring, walking all over every inch of the old city (at least that's how it felt to me).
  • Christmas markets.
  • Speaking German. Or something approximating German.
  • Standing room at the Staatsoper.
  • Self-reflection time. Lots of it. A blessing and a curse.
  • Cake, chocolate, sausage, cheese, Fanta.
  • Taking pictures.
  • The day it snowed and I was so excited and everyone else was talking about what horrible weather we were having.
  • Bonding with The Soprano from Wisconsin.
  • Doing whatever I wanted, without having to check with anybody else.

What I Learned:
  • That it's not really okay to simply guess what gender German nouns are.
  • That there are people who think that in America school shootings are commonplace, everyone eats Cheez Wiz, and we all love Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • That I am highly unfashionable because I do not tuck my pants into my boots. Unfortunately, when I do I look like this.
  • Many ways to say "I'm drunk" in German.
  • That going to a movie in English is a powerful cure for homesickness.
  • That iChat is an even more powerful one.
  • How to dial international phone numbers. To be honest, I'm still figuring this one out.
  • That an iSight camera is very useful for doing your makeup in the mornings if you happen to break the mirror in your room.
  • That Pandora doesn't work in Europe. Bummer.
  • That the time difference means I always have email in the morning when I wake up. I love that.

Goodbye, Vienna. Thanks for the memories. Until we meet again...

Welcome Me

So, I'm not usually a huge fan of memes, which seem like a blogging cop-out (not that that's stopped me before), but I was inspired by one of my new faves, Hope dies last. I even followed the rules.... mostly.

MEME Rules:

1. Put your iTunes/ music player on Shuffle
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

1. If someone says ‘Is this OK?’ you say?
"Must be Dreaming" Frou Frou

Euphoria I can't take any more of
Yeah, I'm losing it

2. What would best describe your personality?
"The Kite" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

Little less talk, little more skill,
Little less luck, little more will

3. What do you like in a guy?
"Vicious World" Rufus Wainwright

(I like Rufus Wainwright. He's a guy.)

4. How do you feel today?
"Smile" Lily Allen

I was so lost back then,
But with a little help from my friends,
I found the light in the tunnel at the end.

5. What is your life’s purpose?
"L'ennemi s'avance" from La Fille du Régiment

(Umm... opera? Yeah, I can't really make this one work for me.)

6. What is your motto?
"Easy" Lauren Kennedy

Life is easy, but seldom fair.

7. What do your friends think of you?
"Blue Eyes" Cary Brothers

Blue Eyes, you are all that I need,
Blue Eyes, you're the sweet to my mean

(Haha, all my friends are rolling their eyes.)

8. What do you think of your parents?
"Jingle Bells" Diana Krall

(Classic, Christmassy thoughts.)

9. What do you think about very often?
"Did You Get My Message?" Jason Mraz

Why not try this for a fact,
Should you ever come back
I'd relax and be relieved of all my panic attacks

10. What is 2+2=
"Hold On" Sarah McLachlan

(Hold on while I do that math.)

11. What do you think of your best friend?
"Green Eggs & Ham" from Suessical: the Musical


12. What do you think of the person you like?
"I'll Be There" Jackson 5

Just call my name and I'll be there.

13. What is your life story?
"Maison des Lunes" from Beauty & the Beast

(Ah, yes, a song about an insane asylum. Perfect. Thanks, iPod.)

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
"Quant au douaniers c'est notre affaire" from Carmen

(A gypsy. Pretty please.)

15. What do you think when you see the person you like?
"Failsafe" The New Pornographers

We both had a hand in it.
You and me both cared.

16. What do your parents think of you?
"Give Judy My Notice" Ben Folds

(Apparently my parents "don't want to be my bitch anymore." Hmm.)

17. What will you dance to at your wedding?
"Many the Miles" Sara Bareilles

Send me the miles and I'll be happy
To follow my love

18. What will they play at your funeral?
"Secrets and Lies" Jonatha Brooke


19. What is your hobby/interest?
"Dancing Virginia" Jump, Little Children

The grey elephant folds of adventure,
The blue oasis of meditation

20. What is your biggest secret?
"Suicide Blonde" The Weepies

(Oh, yeah, my hair isn't naturally red, did you know?)

21. What do you think of your friends?
"The Minnow and the Trout" A Fine Frenzy

We are tied in history
Connected like a family

22. What should you post this as?
"Welcome Me" Indigo Girls

How still my heart, how high the moon

Tonight I chased the moon. I took my camera on a date, with my tripod along as a somewhat clumsy third wheel (although he did keep the conversation flowing quite well). It was a beautiful clear night, and the three of us wandered through the old city for two and a half hours taking pictures. I was walking through one of Vienna's many Christmas markets, this one in the Museumsquartier, when I looked up and saw a stunning moon and several stars in the distance. And so... I decided to follow the moon.

I felt like a child looking for the end of the rainbow, although in this case the pot of gold I was looking for was a perfect photo op with the moon and some fabulous Viennese architecture. It's almost impossible to get lost in the middle of Vienna, because you will undoubtedly run into a building you recognize or a subway station, and if not, there are always taxis at the ready, so I had no fear in following the moon instead of my map. But the moon was always just out of reach of my camera, just beyond the next building. It took me on a lovely journey, past the National Library, a fantastic view of the Rathaus, the Hofburg Palace, and several pretty churches. Of course, I had to stop to photograph each sight, and somehow, in all the chasing and photographing stopping, the moon escaped. Before I knew it, I was in front of the Stephansdom and the sly moon was nowhere to be seen.

So you won't be seeing any pictures of the moon above the Viennese buildings on my Flickr page. I'm not too disappointed, though. It was the perfect night in Vienna, an imperial city brimming with life and poetry both. What better way to enjoy it than by wandering the streets chasing after the moon?

Well, the weather outside is frightful

It's snowing here (yes, SNOWING!). I am indoors, sadly not in front of a delightful fire, but feeling quite happy nonetheless, largely due to the incredible cookie that I am eating (gingerbread filled with marzipan, covered in chocolate, and dusted with chopped pistachios). It's a good day.

I've been extremely neglectful of the blog, and while I'd love to say that it's because I'm soooo busy that I just haven't had a moment to sit down and write, it would be more accurate to say that I've been a bit out of sorts and haven't really been in the mood to blog. But, have no fear, all is right with the world now that there is snow! and heat! and the cookie!

Here's a bit of what I've been up to the past few days:

Today after class I went to the Hofburg Palace, former home of the Hapsburgs, those infamous imperial inbreeders. My visit served two purposes: to solidify my great desire for my own fainting couch, and to remind me that British tourists are just as annoying as American ones. I was stuck behind a large amorphous group of elderly Brits taking a guided tour, and there was absolutely no getting past them, so I was forced to listen to various snippets of their conversations:
"Oh my, quite interesting, that, isn't it?"
"Yes, isn't it? Seeing all those dishes makes me fancy a cup of tea."
"Oh, yes. I wouldn't say no to a biscuit or a finger sandwich, either."
"Jolly good. Let's sit down for a cuppa and a bit of a nibble when we're done here."
Etc., etc. All very charming in a Maggie Smith film, I'm sure, but irritating to those of us in the museum who were not interested in a) the guided tour, which contained such fascinating tidbits as the fact that Empress Elizabeth never slept with a pillow for fear of getting wrinkles; b) how tired certain older gentlemen were from all the walking; or c) whether or not to tip the housekeeping staff in the hotel.

Sunday morning I went to mass (try to wipe the shock off your face) at the Stephansdom, where there was a performance of Haydn's St. Cecilia Mass. The music was lovely, and felt almost otherworldly in a space like the cathedral, although I think it was colder inside than out. Much of the afternoon was spent in a café, reading an amazing book and eating cake. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon? I think not.

Saturday I climbed the 343 steps up a narrow spiral staircase to the top of the Stephansdom (in preparation for all the cake-eating the next day, perhaps), took a look around, and then climbed 343 steps back down to the bottom. Despite some clouds, the view was totally worth 3 euros (and all the pain and heart palpitations, of course). After I recovered I went to see The Last 5 Years at the Wiener Kammeroper. It's one of my favorite musicals, although I had never actually seen it, and I loved (LOVED!) the production. The actor playing Jamie was especially good, and the production itself was perfection. I tried not to be distracted by the German supertitles, which translated the meaning of almost everything but not its poetry. Not the jokes, either; I was often the only one in my section laughing. Is that how Italians feel when they watch Figaro in America?

This morning it was back to class, but with new teachers and several new students. I am no longer the oldest person in the class (did I tell you that everyone else was in the 19-21 age range?) because a 57-year-old Czech man is now in my class. Also, my new conversation teacher is hilarious and I now know about 10 German words for "drunk." That's bound to come in handy on my travels.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

You can't always get what you want

So, I was walking along the street today when a dress in a store window caught my eye. It was gorgeous, all fitted bodice, full skirt, gorgeous unforgettable floral fabric. I pressed my nose up against the glass and imagined myself snapping it up, wearing it on opening nights, people telling me I looked just like Grace Kelley, and me laughing slightly and saying, "Oh, this? Yes, I bought it in Vienna."

Then I noticed what store I was peering into.

It was Prada.


Happy Turkey Schnitzel Day!

The day is just ending for me, and at home everyone I know is gathering with their families, stuffing their faces with turkey, and falling into tryptophan-induced comas. I haven't felt homesick yet, not quite, but tonight I'm feeling the distance acutely. It sounds ridiculous, I know, since I've been gone less than a week, but it seems much longer to me. I've already settled into a routine here: class in the morning, lunch at home with my flatmate BritBoy, study, afternoon nap, go into town to take pictures or go to the opera. Vienna certainly doesn't feel like home, but it does feel homey.

I've always liked Thanksgiving, if you ignore the whole Pilgrim-Indian thing (oh, and the presidential pardons for turkeys—what's that all about?). Spending time with loved ones and giving thanks is a lovely reason for a holiday. So, although I can't do the former, I'll certainly try my hand at the latter.

I'm thankful for my family, both the one I was born into and the family of friends with whom I surround myself. I know you always have to remind me that I can lean on you, but believe me, I'm listening, and your support means the world to me.

I'm thankful for a life in which I spend the vast majority of my time doing things I love to do, whether it be my amazing job, travel, spending time with the people I care about, or taking time for myself. I know how rare that is.

I'm thankful that I haven't finished growing up, that I still have time to become the person I want to be. Every day I make new discoveries of what I want and what I'm capable of.

I'm thankful for a future with no concrete plans. There are days where this seems like a negative, but it's incredibly freeing to be able to say that I have no idea where I will be in 5 years, in 10 years.

I'm thankful to be in this amazing city, with so much history, where I was able to visit the graves of Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Brahms, and Johann Strauss today. I feel a connection to the music that is my life in a whole new way.

And tonight, I'm thankful to the Staatsoper for answering my prayer with its Eurotrash edgy production of Roméo et Juliette. It didn't have any nudity, but what it did have was leather pants, bizarre choreography, and a Juliette who was than I've seen her played before. The lighting was incredible, with onstage towers holding dozens of moving lights used to great effect, pyrotechnics, and some gorgeous silhouette action for the last scene. Too bad the singing wasn't better.

I am not thankful that I left my hat in the streetcar today. But I am thankful to have a reason to go shopping.

Glühwein and donuts and wurst, oh my

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year (besides my birthday, of course, and that hasn't caught on as a national holiday yet). I love the decorations, the music, shopping for the perfect gifts, wrapping paper, the whole bit. (As you may have surmised, I don't really "put the Christ in Christmas," if you know what I mean.) Despite my love of the holiday, I am always among those who complain when the decorations go up before Halloween (especially those silly palm trees strung with Christmas lights in Houston) and the radio stations switch to playing nothing but Christmas carols.

But you don't hear me complaining this year. Vienna, she wears Christmas well. First of all, it's cold! And when I arrived here there was snow! falling from the sky! All making it feel very Christmassy. Also, the decorations, while not all tasteful, definitely tend toward the classier side. And then, there's the Weihnachtsmarkt (that's Christmas Market to you). At this time of year, the plaza in front of the Rathaus is filled with stalls selling ornaments, decorations, various beeswax products, and lots of stuffed animals. There is glühwein (so much a part of life here that the German Embassy in the USA has a recipe on their website) and other Christmas punch, chocolates and sweets galore, and savory snacks like baked potatoes and wurst. This is not your typical fair food (no chili dogs to be found).

I spent the evening yesterday wandering through the market. It was cold, but it wasn't that cold (or maybe that's just the glühwein talking). My camera is an excellent travel companion. She keeps me company so that I don't feel awkward walking around by myself, goes wherever I want to go, and often has an eye for things I don't notice right away. Here's some of what we did together last night. More, as always, can be found on my Flickr page.


Rathaus as advent calendar

Mmm... donuts

Konjunktion Junktion, was ist dein Funktion?

There was a time when I couldn't imagine not being a student. Two and a half years ago, master's degree in hand, I entered the workforce fully intending to go back to school for my MFA in Directing within the next two to three years. Clearly, plans change. I like being a working girl. It suits me. And being a director satisfies both my nerdy academic side (I heart research) and the side of me that really wants, you know, a paycheck.

And yet here I am in Vienna, back in class, and I'm finding the transition a bit rocky. I go to German class every morning from 9:00 to 12:15. The first 90 minutes focus on grammar, then we take a 15-minute break and do conversation for the last 90 minutes. The grammar comes easily to me, and most of it seems like review, but the conversation is something else entirely. I'm trying not to beat myself up over it, but honestly, I don't know if I could speak German well if my life depended on it. Every time it comes time for me to speak, I become a stuttering, stammering mess with the vocabulary of a 4-year-old. In town I do fine, and I've already spoken German successfully to the housekeeper at my apartment on several occasions (including today when I broke a large mirror in my room—oops). I'm not sure why I have such a problem in class.

Today I had to speak quite a bit because we were talking about American politics. I'm the only American in a class with 1 Hungarian, 4 Czechs, 1 Belgian, and 1 Dutch. Yesterday we talked a lot about occupations, and we focused on typical jobs for men and typical jobs for women (a subject I find somewhat bizarre—what year is this?) We discussed how many women were in politics in Austria and in each of our home countries. Today the teacher brought in an article about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Most of the class had never heard either of those names, so it was on me to explain who they were, and what public sentiment about them was, and why, and what they stood for. REALLY? I think I would have a hard time answering those questions articulately in English, and I certainly have not learned to bulls*** auf Deutsch yet. I also had to explain that not everyone in the USA has health insurance, a fact that completely stunned my classmates.

So, basically, I'm just a typical American who can't speak any language besides English, doesn't know about what's happening in her own country, and spreads the news about our terrible health care system.

At least my camera doesn't have a neck strap.

Hallo. Ich heisse Louisa. Ich komme aus Amerika.

Everybody warned me that things would seem expensive here, what with the dollar being at an all-time low and the euro doing pretty damn awesome, and sure enough, things do seem expensive, with two exceptions. One is public transportation; for my week's pass I paid less than I did in New York, and even the taxi I took to my apartment yesterday seemed cheap. And the other thing that costs less here? Opera tickets! At the Met I paid $20 for standing room tickets, and for tonight's performance of Ballo? €3,50 (about $5)!! And those were the nicest standing room tickets; you can actually pay €2 if you don't care about actually seeing the opera. Now, €3,50 buys you standing room that's a little less luxe than it is at the Met (yes, that is possible), but you certainly can't beat the price.

I think I met end up at the opera more evenings than not, although if you're looking for an edgy, Eurotrash production of your favorite opera, the Staatsoper is not the place to go. Nobody in Ballo rode a motorcycle, broke the fourth wall, or mimed lewd sexual acts. Nobody was naked at all, actually. Disappointing. It was an old-fashioned production whose set consisted mainly of drops, and the staging was very standard "park and bark." The few times the singers attempted to do some actual staging, it was so clumsily done that it elicited snickers from the audience (at least the hoi polloi in standing room, that is). My favorite part: Hui He, the incredible Amelia. My least favorite part: there was a definite line where the lighting stopped about 3 feet upstage of the plaster line, and yet the singers insisted on constantly singing downstage of that line (possibly to be closer to the prompter box).

Here are some facts and figures about my first day in Vienna (hey, I was a math major for about 5 minutes in college, you know).

5 Number of successful conversations I held in German outside of class

0 Number of successful conversations I held in German in class

2 Number of inches my jaw dropped when the teacher said the class might be too easy for me

3 Number of hours I napped this afternoon

3 Number of male flatmates I have

0 Number of female flatmates I have

75 Approximate number of people the standing room area will comfortably (ish) hold

852 Approximate number of people crammed into standing room at the beginning of the opera

50 Percent of people still left in standing room after the first intermission

30 Percent of people still left in standing room after the second intermission

2 Number of people speaking German in standing room

6 Number of people who listened as I explained the plot in English during the first intermission

4 Number of times I took public transportation today

0 Number of times someone checked to see if I had a ticket to ride

4 Number of men who asked for my phone number

0 Number of Austrian men who asked for my phone number

12 Number of minutes I had to wait for my tram while a man from West Africa told me about his favorite nightclubs

Time to do my homework (wow, it's been a long time since I've had to say that) and then go to bed.

Gute nacht!

The girl in seat 38-J

I'm doing my best not to openly stare, but I can't look away. The Dutch girl next to me is sucking her thumb. With abandon. And I'm using the term "girl" loosely here, as she must be about my age, if not a little older. She's got the whole thumb in her mouth, past the second knuckle, index finger resting against her nose, other fingers clenched in a tight fist, jaw working. She's mainly sticking to the left thumb, which leaves her right arm conveniently free to elbow me every time she turns the page of her Cosmo.

Now, if I were at home, I might be tempted to judge this girl grown woman, but I'm en route to Amsterdam, first stop on my European travel adventures. Far be it for me to impugn her due to my ignorance of her culture. I haven't spent any time in the Netherlands since I was a lot closer to the appropriate age for thumbsucking (by my prudish American standards, that is). Is it possible that I'm on way to the land of tulips, wooden shoes, windmills, marijuana for all, hookers in windows, and... adult thumbsucking? You would think Rick Steves might have mentioned that.

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go

The challenges of packing light for a wintry month in Europe put up a good fight, but I am happy to say that I beat them into submission (see above). Impressed?

Today's the big day. My flight leaves at 3:50 pm. The past day and a half have seemed like a never-ending checklist.
  • Passport with my name on it? Check.
  • Copies of all relevant info for flights and language school? Check.
  • Notified banks that I am leaving the country so that they don't freeze my accounts? Check.
  • Read far too many iPhone forums to see how to use my phone overseas only to decide that I will leave it off for the duration of my stay? Check.
  • Loaded up the iPod with podcasts, new music (Thanks, New Oregonian and CameraMan!), and language lessons? Check.
  • Packed my toiletries case so full that the zipper broke and I had to buy a new one? Check.
  • Stocked up on trashy magazines to read on the plane? Check.
  • Petted my kitten and told her not to forget me while I'm gone? Check.
  • Juiced up the iPhone, iPod, camera batteries, and laptop? Check.
  • Got pulled over and cited for having a headlight out, expired state inspection, and expired proof of insurance? Check. Check. Check.

While I'm gone, I will be blogging and posting pictures as often as I can. If you miss me, you can email me at my new account: littlemsbossyblog at gmail.

Every place I go, I'll think of you,
Every song I sing, I'll sing for you.

If I lived in New York...

  • ...I would have amazing legs. Despite my erratic gym and ballet class tendencies, the amount of walking I would do would undoubtedly give me strong, gorgeous gams. In fact, after only 4 days of NYC trekking, I think I can see some new muscle definition in my legs. Although I might not be totally reliable on the subject, since I usually think I have a tan after an hour in the sun, and anyone who knows me can tell you that's not true (even if they weren't there).

  • ...I would need to wear very small miniskirts at all times in hopes that my shapely legs would distract from how unkempt the rest of me was. The combination of wind, rain, and long stretches of walking in both are hell on the hair and makeup. Those Manhattan girls who look perfect all the time? They must be cabbing it all over town. Which doesn't explain why their legs are so good. Hmmm.

  •  ...I would lead an extremely glamorous life, what with all the operas, concerts, movies, openings, and restaurants to go to. More glamorous than my life in Houston? Hard to imagine, I know.

  • ...I would have friends outside of work. Just this week I met up with people from high school, college, grad school, and Wolf Trap, all of whom now live in New York. The variety of friends would contribute to aforementioned glamorous life, too.

  • ...I would have NO money! And I would notice it more, too. (Put this in the con list.)

  • ...I would take lots more pictures than I did this week, but here are some of my favorites (there are more on my Flickr page):

Foliage in Central Park

Takes one to know one

The view from La Québécoise's window

Taken from Top o' the Rock

Cars on the Brooklyn Bridge

Intermission at the Met

We were standing in the lobby people-watching when he approached us.

"Excuse me," he said. "Do I recognize you from your blog?"

Movie stars, they like to go to New York to get away from the prying L.A. paparazzi, but for us celebrity bloggers, I guess there's nowhere to hide. Except maybe Nebraska, one of 7 states that still haven't succumbed to Little Ms. Bossy's charms.

Oh, oh, those summer nights

I was only 18, but that didn't stop me. Nobody had carded me all summer. I'd ordered pitchers at dark dive bars, cocktails in swanky spots, and been given port on the house by the manager of a hip midtown restaurant. It didn't seem to matter what I wore or who I was with or what day of the week it was. Half the time my hair was in pigtail braids, making me look like a somewhat precocious 15-year-old. I didn't have a fake ID, but I didn't need one, because no one ever asked.

It was Sarah's 22nd birthday, and we were celebrating at a bar in the Village. I had gone home to primp a bit after work, and I was just heading out to catch the subway when Dan called to tell me that the bouncer was carding everybody who walked through the door, including Dan, who was 30 but looked older due to a swiftly receding hairline. As I started to panic that I would have to miss the party, Dan told me his crazyy plan. There are times when I wish I knew some people who weren't neurotic extroverted creative types, but this was not one of those times.

My heart was racing as I walked into the bar, but I masked my trepidation with the bitchiest expression I could muster. "Can I see your ID?" the bouncer asked, but I didn't even glance at him. Dan had been sitting near the door, and as he got to his feet, we started yelling at each other.

"Where were you?"
"Where was I? Where were you? I've been waiting for 30 minutes!"
"I've been at home! You said you would meet me there after work."
"I specifically said we would meet here. Why would I have gone home? It's totally out of my way!"
"I don't know why! I just know what you told me!"

And so on and so forth. The bar was small enough that nobody there was missing our display. The bouncer was studiously not looking in our direction, but the other patrons didn't have that kind of self-control. Finally, Dan said,

"Look, if you're going to be like this all night, maybe we should just leave."
"No, I'll be fine. Just get me a beer, and I'll get over it."

I sat down and Dan did as he was told while the entire bar breathed a collective sigh of relief. When he came back with my Corona, the bouncer looked over at him, being sure not to make any direct eye contact with me.

"She's 21, right?"
"Dude, she's my girlfriend. She's 25." (Neither of these statements was in any way true.)

God, I love this city.

Just play it cool, real cool

You get there early, of course, because you've built in such a large buffer that even if you took the express train uptown by mistake, waited in vain for a downtown train, and wound up in the middle of Harlem looking for a cab, only to discover that all the taxis in Harlem are unmarked black towncars remarkably similar to the ones driven by kidnappers/pimps/drug dealers, so you had to walk all the way back downtown until you saw a yellow cab, you would still arrive on time (hypothetically speaking, you know). You walk into Barnes & Noble across the street and pretend to look around, but all you're really looking at is your watch. Every 23 seconds or so. Finally, when the time is right, and you're early enough to look responsible, but not so early that you look desperate, you make your way there.

There's a lot of construction, so you're not sure you're in the right place until you see a mixture of women glammed to the nines and burly men in IATSE jackets. They're all going in the same direction, and you know you're in the right place. You check in with the security guard and sit down to wait. While you're there, you see a lighting designer, a choreographer, and a coach that you know slightly, do a bit of celebrity gawking, and have a happy reunion with two singer friends, one of whom introduces you to this guy. Of course.

Ever since you found about it, you've been trying to convince yourself and everyone else that it doesn't matter. "The great thing about it," you brag, "is that I really don't care. I'm going in with a great attitude, and I can take it or leave it." Inside, though, you're hoping that being there will be just as exciting as you thought it would be when you were 12. And sitting there, waiting for somebody to come take you upstairs, watching all the people greet each other, swipe their coveted ID cards, and go to rehearsal, you realize that in fact you do care. You care quite a bit. And it's right then that you get nervous.

You get taken upstairs and you sit in another room to wait. This one doesn't have live entertainment, but it does have a TV with stage feed, so you squint your eyes to watch bits of a tech rehearsal of a new production. You've brought your résumé in a little green folder, but as soon as you get there you realize it's wrong, because of course he has your résumé, and you didn't plan ahead enough so it's not even on special paper, so you hide it under your coat and leave it on the chair next to you. You sit up very straight in your chair, just in case anyone happens to be looking at you, and you do your best to compose your face to look smart and interesting. Then you realize you're trying way too hard, especially considering that you're sitting all by yourself watching TV, so you try to relax and tell yourself to play it cool.

And then, before you know it, you're in the next room, and the Interview that Never Was... is.

It's a helluva town

This post comes to you from the lovely apartment of La Québécoise, a pianist friend of mine from Wolf Trap. From the couch where I am writing, I have an amazing view of the city out of her 19th floor window, and her adorable dog Lulu is keeping me company. LQ is quite the hostess with the mostest, so I have already eaten a balanced breakfast of grapefruit and oatmeal and showered with yummy Origins products. Hurray for New York!

Little Ms. Bossy's been MIA for a while, but not without reason. Last week I closed Daughter; rehearsed, opened, and closed The Refuge; packed for my many trips; and logged 65 hours on my timesheet. So, no blogging for me. And as for my 30-day project? Don't make me laugh. There is lots to be said about The Refuge, which was a big success and a life-changing experience for all involved, but I'm still processing it.

You certainly couldn't expect me to blog last week when I didn't even have the time to plan my trip to New York. I arrived here Sunday with very few arrangements, so few that I didn't even know where I was going to be staying, but, of course, everything has worked out for the best. My first day here overlapped with the tail end of CameraMan's trip (he's traveling on the Wolf Trap audition tour). He had the whole day off, so we spent most of it being tourists. It was gorgeous weather, so we walked and walked all over town. We went to the top of the Rockefeller Center and took pictures of the amazing view, briefly looked at Ground Zero, walked over the Brooklyn Bridge (most of the way), ate dinner in Little Italy (where the food was just like something you might find in Big Italy, according to CameraMan), went out for drinks on the Upper West Side, and ate cannoli late at night. Touristy, maybe, but all in all a perfect New York day. Not only that, but I was able to crash on the couch in his palatial Upper West Side hotel suite (never thought I would write that phrase).

Yesterday was wonderful, too. One of the best things about coming to New York is catching up with old friends. After breakfast with CameraMan, he was off to the airport, and I walked to the MoMA to meet The Banker, my one friend from high school with whom I keep in touch. After the museum, it was off to an extremely early dinner with My Gay Husband, followed by dessert at Rockefeller Center. Then I met OperaDaddy and the talented Ms. Wilson for a movie in Times Square. We had fun, although the movie was so terrible and so disappointing and so not worth the Manhattan ticket prices. (Seriously, people, do NOT see this movie. Not even at Christmas time.) Then it was back to the UWS to settle in at LQ's place and have some girl talk.

And today? The rescheduled Interview that Never Was, more catch-up time with friends, and a piano recital at Carnegie Hall with My Gay Husband. Maybe some photography time thrown in there as well, although today the weather is a bit bleak.

Start spreading the news. Indeed.

You have stolen my heart

The internet is a strange and wondrous place. It's a place where you can find your match based on 29 dimensions of compatibility. A place where you can make your own Bollywood movie. A place where you can order little blue pills without a prescription at drastically reduced prices, or so my emails tell me (disappointed there's no link for this one?).

And it's apparently a place where you can come to my blog, copy my posts, run them through a German translator program, and post them on your own blog.

Yes, dear readers, Little Ms. Bossy is now being read in two languages. There are posts of mine on 3 separate sites (each of which consists of nothing but other people's blogs translated into almost-German). I'm listed variously as Kleine Frau Herrisch, Kleines Ms Bossy, and Kleine Frau Bossy. Not much care is being put into the translation unless the goal is to make Germans laugh uproariously, like Papa Bossy did when I sent him the links. Kleine Frau Herrisch is a quirky girl with strange, idiosyncratic German. The phrase "6000 terra cotta soldiers?" Translated as "der Terra von 6000 Baumwollensoldaten." Oops. Terra cotta and cotton, very difficult to keep straight. She also got confused by the phrase "I.D.s" and wrote "ich. D.s." She referred to The New Oregonian as my "datum," which is definitely the wrong kind of date. I could go on and on.

So, the question has to be, WHY?!? What is the point? I guess I should be upset about it, but I'm too busy laughing my a** off.

Oh, and I don't know if you noticed, but I went 2 full days without blogging, and I did not enjoy it ONE BIT! Did you miss me? *batting eyelashes*

A fine and fancy ramble to the zoo

I spent about an hour this afternoon at Bad Boy Baritone's place photographing his brood of exotic pets, which now includes Rambo the Hedgehog (pictured above) and Rocky and Adrian the Sugar Gliders, all living in cages in his walk-in closet. Taking photos of the animals was no simple feat. Hedgehogs and sugar gliders are not like dogs, who generally jump around going, "Take my picture! Take my picture! Look how pretty I am!" or cats, who will pose for the camera but only after reminding you that they're only letting you take their picture because they want to, not because you want them to. Nope, BBB's exotic pets are much more difficult to photograph, mostly because they're constantly moving, so lots of my pictures turned out somewhat blurry (again, see above). Rambo takes little tiny steps, turning around, all while making this adorable muted squeaking noise. His back feels like a bristly hairbrush if you pet it back and something a lot less pleasant if you pet it forward.

The sugar gliders are cuddlier than the hedgehog; in fact, they're the softest things I've ever felt, so soft that if they were the size of rabbits and didn't have a habit of, you know, gliding from place to place, there would probably be sugar glider farms raising them for sugar glider coats. They have these long ridiculous soft tails that you can't see in the picture, teeny tiny whiskers, and enormous eyes. When BBB gets them out of the little bag where they sleep in their cage (nocturnal marsupials, you know), they make this hilarious noise that sounds exactly like an electric pencil sharpener. Once they emerge, it takes them a while to get used to being out, but then they're all over BBB, jumping and climbing and gliding around his room, and finding places to burrow. I can't imagine being anything other than a cat person, but these little ladies were incredibly cute, especially Adrian, the one who doesn't bite.

Tonight I'll be at a different kind of zoo, watching the last performance of Ballo.

Eye of the tiger

I meant to post a picture of me in my half-a**ed tiger costume yesterday, but I forgot. I chose this one because it shows my tail (go ahead, insert winks, nudges, and "That's what she saids" here if you must). Pictured here with Bad Boy Baritone, who's dressed as whatshisname from Miami Vice.

You keep me coming back for more

Here it is, November 1st, and you'd think I'd be all, "October is soo over, and so is my October project, so I don't have to blog every day anymore! I'm taking a long vacation from Little Ms. Bossy, gonna kick back, put my iBook to sleep, and turn on some bad TV. Take that, suckers!"

Only, I'm not, am I? 'Cause here I am. Again. Happy?

The beginning of the month also means finding a new 30-day project (I can call it that this month, because November actually does have just 30 days). I didn't decide on something until this morning, so technically I'm not actually starting until tomorrow, but I think that's okay. Enough friends whom I trust have recommended this book that I finally went out and bought it today, and am making it my 30-day project. If you really do it, it's a 12-week program, but I'm going to try it for 4 weeks and see how I like it. The cornerstones of the program are morning pages, where you write anything you want, enough to fill 3 longhand pages, every morning; and artist dates, where you take the time to do something by yourself to nurture your "inner artist," whether it be going to a museum, taking pictures in the park, or spending more time writing just for fun. Each week, you have a chapter to read, and then you're given tasks (on top of the morning pages and artist date) to complete. At the end of the week, there are several "check-in" questions to answer. The goal of the project is to be more in touch with your creative self, and I'm hoping it will help me to become generally more self-aware and grounded. I'll be sure to post updates throughout the month. CameraMan and I are also doing weekly photography assignments. More on that at the end of the first week!

And, in case you're wondering, here's what some of the other characters in Little Ms. Bossy Land (aka my friends) are up to these days:
  • The New Oregonian is busy staging and preparing The Refuge. I don't go on contract until next week, but I watched a work-through of the whole piece today, and I think it's going to be incredibly powerful. Even just in the rehearsal room, there were more than a few times I had to fight back tears. Come see it if you're in Houston!
  • BrandNewMiniCooperGirl finally got her designed-just-for-her Mini Cooper, only to discover on its arrival that she had ordered a stick shift by mistake. She has embraced it as a happy accident, and is already driving all around town in it (and even starting on hills).
  • CameraMan is off on the Wolf Trap audition tour, hearing far too many renditions of "Quando men vo," I'm sure, and taking lots of gorgeous pictures.
  • Fuzzball has started up her blog after a long absence. Check it out!
  • Little Miss Hardcore recently pulled up to a stop light next to a guy who opened his car door, set an empty soda cup on the ground, and closed his door again. She tried yelling at him to pick up his trash, but he ignored her, so she got out of her car and picked it up for him. To add insult to injury? The cup was from Sam's Club.
  • My Best Friend is happy to have developed a thick skin, and is rediscovering the joys of having gay male friends.

And my kitten? She's doing well, thanks for asking, just being her usual adorable self. In fact, I should go snuggle her right now.

A graveyard smash

Halloween is not my holiday. Oh, as a kid, I loved it, and I was lucky enough to have a creative/crafty mom, so I've had some pretty rockin' costumes over the years, including:
  • Pink Bunny: Pretty self-explanatory. There was also a mask with pipe cleaners for whiskers.
  • Pippi Longstocking: My mom made me a jumper out of a skirt we found at the thrift shop and a garter belt out of an old bra. Combined with my own shoes and my dad's shoes over them, drawn-on freckles, and spray painted red braids with pipe cleaners in them to make them stick out.
  • Ballerina Pig: The pig costume was stuffed within an inch of its life, with a sparkly tutu and ballet slippers laced up the legs. The pig costume got recycled the next year as an Aristocrat Pig, with Grandma Bossy's fur stole and clip-on earrings in the pig ears. The third year, I wasn't creative or amenable to being stuffed, so I was just a Skinny Pig.

As an adult (ish), I have one costume I've used for the past 5 years or so. I call it my half-a**ed tiger costume, which consists of Tigger ears from Disneyland, a tiger tail my mom made me, and these little tiger cuffs she made to match. Combine that with black pants and a black shirt, and I'm good to go. Some years when I'm feeling ambitious (and this year I am not) I draw whiskers and a nose on my face in black eyeliner. Most of the time I try to avoid Halloween altogether with the exception of increased candy consumption, but this year, no such luck. I've been invited out with one group and to a party with another, so I'm actually party-hopping tonight.

Bah humbug Rawr.

Call me irresponsible

I totally bought it in ivory.

Sorry, Mama Bossy.

I got big plans

I'm a planner. I can occasionally be mistaken for spontaneous, but generally I like to figure things out in advance. I have an Excel spreadsheet for my Europe trip, listing Things to Do, Things to Buy, and Things to Pack. When I complete a task, I cross it off right away.

Yes sir, I'm a planner.

That is, up until the point when I buy a plane ticket to Europe under my married name, forgetting that I never changed the name on either of my passports.


The U.S. has a strange policy that you can only renew your passport in person if you're traveling within the next 14 days, so I have a few more days to wait. This morning, however, I decided to tackle the German passport renewal process. I arrived at the German Consulate armed with a completed passport application, photos, my marriage certificate, my expired German passport, and a cheery smile. But Germany, oh she was playing hard to get. First of all, in order for Germany to recognize my name change, I have to bring my husband with me to the Consulate (the marriage certificate isn't enough; they need to see him in the flesh to believe that we're married), fill out a bunch of paperwork, and then wait 2 months for it to be processed. Second of all, my German passport is not proof enough that I am German. After all, it was issued in San Francisco, not in Houston, so how can they tell whether or not it's real? No, I have to have my birth certificate, despite the fact that I was born in the U.S. Needless to say, I will not be traveling on my German passport any time soon. Oh, Germany, you may be a lot of things, but easy you are not. Cross your fingers that the U.S. bureaucracy is a little more forgiving.

So, on to things I can control. Like buying a new coat that will actually keep me warm. I've picked out this one, but I'm having trouble choosing a color. Please, give me your advice! I tried on the ivory at the store, and it was gorgeous and I loved it, but have you met me? It would stay ivory for about 5 minutes. I wish they had it in a pretty kelly green, but alas.

Back to planning. If you need me, I'll be cuddling up with Rick Steves' Austria and Germany 2007.

So just call on me, brother

Time spent laughing with friends is like chicken soup for the soul in a funk (No, I haven't trademarked that yet, so if it speaks to you, feel free to make it the title of your next inspirational self-help book). Generally I like to spend my friend time one-on-one instead of in a crowd, but in the past week I have had a blast hanging out in groups.

Thursday night I had plans to see a movie with The Wise Soprano and the fabulous Ms. Wilson, but they got invited to an informal dinner party and invited me to crash and then see a late movie. It ended up being so much fun that we never even made it to the movie. There was yummy home-cooked food and conversations ranging from blidgets (don't ask) to the Red Sox to Stephen Colbert's presidential campaign. It was loud and hilarious, and I was completely out of my element, but I had an amazing time, and I have 3 new Facebook friends as a result (you know you've made a real connection with someone when they're willing to declare your friendship on Facebook).

Last night the Wolf Trap crew was in town hearing auditions, and we Houston Wolf Trap alums went to the original Ninfa's for dinner. It might have been a random Sunday night, but Ninfa's was hopping, so after spending 30 minutes waiting in line we ended up at the ersatz Ninfa's on Kirby and Richmond instead. We settled at a long table in the middle of the almost empty restaurant. Usually I hate long tables because you never get to chat with the people at the other end of the table, but there was a fair amount of mingling that went on, so I got plenty of face time with everyone. One WTOS alum from this summer was in town, and as a result of reading the blog, he requested the goat face. One strong margarita later, I didn't need any convincing. The best part of the night, though, was when Halloween costumes got brought up. Halloween is not my favorite holiday, so I rolled my eyes and sighed, "Oh, Jesus," to which CameraMan replied, "Jesus? Is that what you're dressing up as, with your red hair and your whore boots?" It was completely random, but I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard.

Tonight was another great night out with friends, this time my tech/stage management friends. We went to my favorite sushi place, then to my favorite ice cream place, and then we played like kids in a candy store... in a candy store. Highlights of the evening include the time I said "boner" instead of "banner" by mistake (I know, we're 12-year-olds) and the sticker that got put on my shoulder that said "I cackle and my eyes light up." Indeed.

So thanks, friends, for the good times. If you want to hang out again, I'll be there... with my red hair and my whore boots.

Dites-moi, pourquoi

I can't believe I'm on Day 28 of my month-long "Blog Every Day Even If It Kills Me Slowly And Painfully" project. What on earth will you do when you can't depend on reading Little Ms. Bossy every single day? Have no fear, the project has had exactly the effect I was hoping for (but didn't believe would actually happen), and writing has become a habit for me. I will probably continue to blog most days, especially when I'm off having fantastic European adventures.

Despite how much I enjoy writing, there are days when I have difficulty getting inspired to blog. You can recognize those days, I'm sure. Often they turn into List Days or descriptions of my mundane activities for the day. Sometimes it helps me to read others' writing, though. Today I was inspired by reading Yankeediva, who asked her readers why/how music touches them, and Grecchinois, who tackled the question of why he has made a career as a singer. It seemed like a sign that I should perhaps address the question of why I have chosen to be a director. The question always comes up in interviews, so over the years I've developed a pat explanation of sorts, but it's a question that deserves more than a simple answer.

I think I could write a dissertation on why I love directing, even though it's almost too nebulous a thing to pin down. I feel more vital and alive when I am directing than I do at any other time. I love that it comes naturally to me, while still challenging me in every rehearsal. The collaborative aspect of directing is exciting for me as well. Besides the obvious collaboration between directors and designers (of which I've had only limited experience), the relationship between directors and singers is complex and satisfying when it is truly a collaboration. The life of a director may be a solitary one, but it's not a career for the socially inept. A good director has to be able to really see her singers, in order to help them be the best they can possibly be onstage. You get to know people in a whole new way (for better or for worse) when you direct them, and I think when it goes right you can create deep connections. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but even as an assistant, there is rarely anywhere I would rather be than in rehearsal. I can be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but after a 3-hour rehearsal I am energized and inspired more often than not.

I've known for most of my life that I needed to make a career in the performing arts. Unfortunately (or fortunately, I suppose, depending on how you look at it), when I see an opera or a play, I find it impossible to shut off the critical director's voice in my head, so I'm constantly evaluating and judging production values and performances. I can't help it. There are moments onstage, though, and sometimes even whole productions, that move me and inspire me and make me want to be not just a better director, but a better person. No matter how many times it happens, it surprises me every time how much art can change us. My life has been shaped immeasurably by nights at the theatre, and to have the privilege to shape others' lives in that way is so great that I'm always amazed by people who don't want to make a life in the arts.

I better sign off before this actually does become dissertation-length. Turns out it wasn't so hard to think of something to blog about after all. Tonight I'm off to dinner with the Wolf Trappers, including two fellow bloggers, who already joined me today in the viewing booth for Act II of Daughter (happy family reunions onstage and off).

Oh, what a night

As you probably know, it's bad luck to say "Good luck" to theatre people before a show. Instead, you say "Break a leg." In opera, we always have to do things our own way, so we have a whole set of sayings to choose from on opening night. "Toi toi toi" is a popular one, and I've heard it explained both as deriving from the German word for devil and from the sound of spitting over your shoulder. I'm personally partial to the latter explanation. We also say "In bocca al lupo" (literally "in the mouth of the wolf" in Italian). The correct response is "Crepi il lupo" (which can sort of be translated "The wolf will die"). In France (and in ballet companies everywhere), you say "Merde" (you can look up the translation for that one—Little Ms. Bossy doesn't have a potty mouth).

Apparently all the right things were said last night, because it was a spectacular opening! Everything went according to plan and the audience loved the show. Afterwards, we went to the cast party, hosted at an unbelievable penthouse apartment near Memorial Park. I tried to take pictures of the glorious view from the enormous balcony to show you, but I clearly still have a thing or two to learn about my camera. I mingled and schmoozed, as well as spending lots of time talking to my friends. The food was yummy (especially the dessert tray), and as we were leaving we even got party favors. Thank you, host, for your business card made of chocolate. If I ever have any wealth that needs managing, you will be the first person I call.

It was truly a great night. The director called me "Notre fille" all evening, the lighting designer pulled me aside to tell me how fabulous I was (go on, go on), and there was this chocolate truffle filled with peanut butter that was a little piece of heaven. My friend Fuzzball came, adored the show, and was just as excited as I was to see my name in the program. I took many pictures, so here's this week's installment of Little Ms. Bossy, Page Six. Unfortunately, none of the pictures show the best part of my dress, the fringe of feathers on the bottom, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Stage Management Angels

Our own King o' the High C's

Fuzzball & Me

Boys Boys Boys

The New Oregonian, my lovely date

Another op'nin', another show

It's opening night for Daughter, and I'm so excited! We got a little preview on Wednesday night at our Final Dress, which had a medium-sized invited audience. I felt like we were exactly where we should be preparation-wise, and what we really needed to bring the show to the next level was an audience. Comedies, even more than other shows, can only blossom and transform with people watching, and this show was no exception. Our production is updated from the original setting to the end of World War II. Tonio is in the French Resistance and Marie is the "daughter" of a regiment of American soldiers. There are lots of campy touches that bring to mind old movies about what fun it was to be in the army. There are moments in the show (particularly any time Ms. Ewa Podles is onstage) that make me giggle every single time I see them, but there are far more that I haven't laughed at in weeks. After seeing the show so many times, I really couldn't tell you whether it's funny or not. Until I'm surrounded by people who are seeing it for the first time, that is. How heartening it is to hear people roaring with laughter in all the right places. We're going into this opening night with complete confidence that people will love it!

During performances I don't get to sit in the audience. There is a viewing booth at the back of the first floor of the audience where I sit. I'm on headset with stage management in case there are any problems. More often than not there aren't any major issues that need my help, but occasionally I'm thankful to be able to communicate to backstage, like when a prop breaks, or when someone falls down, or, you know, when the tenor needs to be replaced at intermission because he's ill. No worries about that last one for this production; our singers are all healthy, except for a small epidemic of knee injuries earlier in the rehearsal process. The viewing booth where I sit is also where audience members who come late have to sit until intermission. They're always annoyed to be in there, especially because the supertitles can't be seen from the booth, and I'm used to getting dirty looks if I have to talk on headset.

Another opening night means another schmancy party! I'm recycling a dress, but the lovely ladies of the costume shop are making some alterations to it to make it all new (I felt like Cinderella when they were helping me). Today I went out and bought new jewelry and a wrap (have I mentioned that it's fall here?!?). Browns, golds, and greens to match the season and complement my red hair.

It's the day of the show, y'all!

Oh happy day

It's no big secret that I adore my job. I love walking into the opera house, I get starstruck around the opera greats who sing with us, and I take great pride in being good at what I do.

That being said, sometimes there is nothing better than a free day. Today's our day off for the week (because we open tomorrow!), and I am enjoying the time. Here are some highlights from my day:
  • Watched Six Feet Under on the couch in my pajamas with my kitten.
  • Ate chips and guacamole outside for lunch.
  • Bought opening night gifts for the stage management team. Can't tell you what they are, but I will say that the best opening night presents are either a) edible, or b) displayable on your desk. My gifts cover both a and b.
  • Wore a mini-dress with tights. Said tights kept falling down, so I bought new tights. My height and weight combo did not appear on the size chart, so I guessed at what size I should buy. Got home and found out I guessed wrong. Had to go out again and buy more new tights.
  • Caught up on the phone with Mama Bossy and the Best Friend.
  • Discovered a fantastic shop dedicated to all things British, where I bought the Little Miss Bossy book whose name inspired this blog.
  • Boring things like cleaning, German verb drills, and lots of internet time.
  • Admired the fantastic weather.

Still to come? Dinner party and a late movie. Hurray for free days!

And in case you were wondering, our final dress rehearsal last night totally rocked. More on that tomorrow.

Leavin' on a jet plane

The nature of my job is a little strange because I'm contracted on a show-by-show basis. Those of you die-hard readers who have been with Little Ms. Bossy from the beginning may remember that I started off this blog with a month of unemployment. Well, I have 6 weeks off between productions coming up, so it's always a question of what I should do with the time. My first year at HGO I temped in my off-contract time, but after spending weeks doing what I love, I find it far too depressing to work for people who are amazed that I can type faster than 40 wpm, show up to work on time, and don't need copious smoke breaks. Besides, I can make almost as much money from unemployment, and then I'm free to do whatever I want with my time.

Which brings me to today's excitement. After much contemplation and brainstorming, I figured out what I want to do with my time, and today I bought plane tickets, so it's real. The day after my contract ends, I'm going to New York, where I will catch up with friends, see ACB in Figaro at the Met, and maybe (just maybe) do some career advancement-type activities as well. I haven't been to NYC since January, and that's much too long.

I will then fly back to Houston for a couple days, before going to Europe for a month!! I'm starting off in Vienna (my favorite place I've ever been, but ask me again after I go there in the winter) for at least 2 weeks where I'll study German and see lots of opera (yes, I'm a nerd, I know). I'm leaving the following 2 weeks open. Maybe I'll stay in Vienna longer, but I'll probably go up to Germany and travel around. In case you didn't know, Little Ms. Bossy has a German passport, because Papa Bossy is a bona fide German. I have lots of family and family friends in Germany, and I will most likely be crashing on various couches during my time there. I've never traveled internationally by myself, and I'm looking forward to having lots of adventures, auf Deutsch of course. I'll be taking pictures and blogging from the road. And if you thought there were too many stories on the blog involving beer, you might not want to read while I'm in the land of Bier. Oh, and the best thing of all is that my ticket was bought entirely with frequent flier miles. My nomadic existence finally pays off.

After a few days resetting my internal clock back in Houston, I'll be off to Oregon to visit Mama and Papa Bossy for Christmas. I'm hoping for a relaxing time that will also include a fair amount of Magic Flute review, because I start prepping the show December 27.

Today was a good day. I know you haven't heard that much from me lately, but I'm hoping all my jet-setting will bring me back to Houston with a whole new attitude.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...