Most of you know me well enough to understand how big a deal this is. This will be the first time in probably 10 years or so I haven't gone to Panamá for Christmas. I simply can't afford to go. Neither of my grandmothers is alive anymore, and they were such a big reason for my slightly-more-than-annual visits. My aunt can't take much time off during this time of year, so I would be going to read, relax, and ... hang out with the housekeeper?
I may not go anywhere for the holidays. I've already ruled out going to San Diego for Thanksgiving. If I go to San Diego at all, it will be for Christmas, but I doubt I'll be able to afford that.
The trip to Panamá for my grandmother's funeral, Keya and Dan's wedding, my last holiday trip to Panamá, and the two opera workshops have put me in a real bind financially, and this year I haven't landed as many web design jobs as I would have liked. Those freelance web jobs are what pay for my trips, and I've only had one so far this year.
I had originally hoped to see three Chargers games this year: at Houston, at Atlanta, and at Carolina. I committed to the Houston trip, second weekend of September, before I truly appreciated my current situation. I can't back out of Houston, but there's no way Atlanta and Carolina are happening.
I am getting very anxious about September. I fear that I will overdraw myself. In addition to the Houston trip, I am going to Portland, Maine, for Scotty's brother's wedding on Labor Day weekend, am going to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods for JC's 30th birthday bash the third weekend of September, and am going to NYC this weekend to celebrate Tommy K's engagement. I tried backing out of the wedding, but Scotty wouldn't let me. Apparently, the best man (Scotty) and the groom want me there badly enough that they are letting me crash in their suite for up to two nights, no charge. The only real expense will be gas (Scotty offered to pay half, but I'm not going to let him) and maybe a meal or two. And JC is paying for the hotel rooms at both casinos for his birthday; his guests simply have to pay for meals, drinks, any gambling they do (which I plan to avoid, since I am not a fan of casino gambling), and transportation. As for this weekend, JC is driving, so I only have to help him out with the gas; but hotels in NYC aren't cheap, and I am paying for my ticket to the Mets game as well as a third of Tommy's ticket, plus any meals. Scotty suggested I only pay $20 towards the $139 + tax hotel room, but I'm not sure JC will be too keen on that, and I really hate feeling like I'm taking advantage of other people's generosity. All in all, September won't be as expensive as it could be, but expensive enough that I am still sweating it.
Despite all that, I now feel like I should take a week or two in October or November to go to London. This would not be a pleasure trip. As most of you know, I am in the process of investigating and auditioning for graduate voice programs. This will involve lots of application fees and travel to auditions this fall and winter. My mom has graciously offered to pay my application fees, but I imagine I have to figure the transportation issues myself.
There may be a way around that, though. Tonight I coached with the singer I posted about last week. Despite my criticisms of her performance, she is sought out professionally throughout Europe and the United States, and hers is an unbiased opinion with a fresh perspective. She worked me pretty strenuously on some basic technique things, such as opening up the throat and mouth, relaxing the tongue, not driving the breath but letting the tone float on the breath, etc. And we talked about my goals; I wanted an honest assessment by a professional, and I got it. She thinks I have a lot of potential. She loves the size and agility of my voice. She likes that I have a big physique and that my voice and body are healthy. She likes the quality of the sound. She is impressed with my linguistic facility, my fluency in English and Spanish and my knowledge and good pronunciation of French, German, and Italian. But she hates my technique. Or, to put it in her words, I have no technique. She thinks the "technique" I've developed is getting in my voice's way and not allowing that big sound to live. ("You don't know how to sing," she said, "you know more than the casual person on the street, of course, but that is not good enough.") She's concerned that if I don't fix my technique issues and continue to sing as I do now, that I will end up doing irreparable damage to the voice. She thinks that I can definitely succeed in opera, but because I am 30 years old the clock is ticking big time. She thinks I should study with David Pollard at Guildhall School of Music in London.
David Pollard is one of the most sought after voice teacher's in Europe. He has a long list of students singing with the world's prestigious opera companies, including La Scala, the Met, Covent Garden, etc. Carole knows him and thinks he would be interested in working with me. She told me flat out that I am not ready for Guildhall or any top music school, European or American, but that with a year of training with a top teacher I could be ready by next fall. She gave me a lot to think about. She told me to contact Pollard right away and says she will call him as soon as she returns to Paris (Aug. 21). She told me I should either consider moving to London or travelling there every 2-3 months for lessons. The latter is unfeasible, but I would strongly consider the former.
If I were to pursue this course, there would be no need to spend all that money on application fees or travel to auditions.
I can't do this blindly, though. For one, there's no guarantee that Pollard will be as interested in or impressed by me as Carole suggests, so he might not agree to teach me. And there's no guarantee I would click with him. Hence, my interest in going to London. I would spend a week or two there, having several lessons during that span. It would be a working trip, not a sightseeing trip. But London is a bloody expensive city, or so I've been told. Can I afford to go? Yet can I afford to let financial problems sidetrack my career any longer?
I may have to ask my parents or my aunt to help me out here. I know they'd do what they could to help, I just hate having to ask. It has been my goal ever since I went to college to be as financially independent from them as possible. It bothers me tremendously that I would have to ask for their help. But I probably can't do it without help. We're talking airfare (probably around $600), lodging, meals, and lessons (which are likely to be in the vicinity of $100-$150 per session). I don't think there's anyway I can afford that, even forgoing trips to Panamá, San Diego, Atlanta, and Carolina.
<sigh> Anybody want to throw some web design or web/database server business my way? Or buy a mola? Or know of a wedding/funeral they want me to sing at? You'd think by now I'd be in a better place financially....