1. It seems that you know that you frequently can't let things go and that this sometimes causes problems for you. Is this something that you want to change about yourself? Do you think you can?
Hmmm... I'm not aware of an inability to let things go. I can be quite stubborn at times, but I don't think that's what you mean. Stubbornness is a short-term phenomenon, whereas letting things go often encompasses a wider time frame.
I'm curious whether your observation is first-hand or anecdotal. There are times when I choose not to let something go because of its importance to me. From my perspective, this is the exception, not the rule. But from someone else's perspective, someone who might be directly involved in a specific situation with me, it may seem like a persistent trait.
I can always choose to let something go if I wish, but if I value it, why would I want to let it go? For example, as you are no doubt aware, I am currently being shunned by a friend, without any explanation as to why. I could simply accept the fact that she no longer wishes my friendship and let it go. But this friendship means too much to me to simply accept that. I am not going to let go until I receive some satisfactory explanation of what I may have done wrong to provoke this attitude. I don't think I am being overly possessive to want to know why a close friend suddenly regards me as someone to be avoided. On the flip side, there are many more examples where people have wondered into and out of my life (friends, lovers, associates) and I haven't batted an eye when they left; i.e., I had no problem "letting go" of them.
You may have become aware of my thoughts about an ex-lover of mine and an unwillingness to let go of something there. Only a very small handful of people know about that, so if you heard about that, then someone's not respecting my confidence. But, again, in that situation, my unwillingness to let go was very much a choice, not an inability, and now that I have learned the crucial piece of information I was seeking, I promptly "let go" and haven't given it any further thought.
Perhaps, by "letting go," you mean my inability to move on with my career, the inertia that keeps me at a job I dislike in a city that is not helping me further my career goals. This has been a problem. I didn't used to be like this. I used to be able to recognize a dead-end situation, recognize the need to do something, and then move on. I did it growing up in Panamá, when I left California for college in the East, again when I left home immediately after college and returned to Massachusetts, when I decided to cut ties with everything in Western Mass and moved to Boston. But now I can't seem to propell myself out of this rut, and it is causing me problems: I'm probably less fun to hang around because of my increasing bitterness towards the state of things here, and my growth as a professional-calibre singer has been slowed. I think that maybe there I am being held back by fears...fear that I'll lose touch with good friends I've come to know here, fear that I won't have some of the comforts I have now, fear that I'll be all alone, fear that I'll never develop into what I envision, and so on. I've got to kick that fear, and yes, if I could change this about me I definitely would. I've got to keep working at it, but I think I can overcome this.
Finally, maybe by "letting go" you are referring to my tendency to be a pack rat. Yes, I feel weighed down by my possessions. I have too many clothes I will never wear, too many unopened pieces of mail I will never read, too many books, too many gadgets and trinkets I hold on to because "you never know when you'll need this." All this clutter complicates my life. I remember when I spent a religious retreat volunteering at a homeless shelter, and the week was spent in the barest of rooms. I was so at peace then and functioned so well. I need that sort of simplicity -- to have nothing but the barest essentials; but instead I continue to accumulate and cling to what I have, thus complicating my life unnecessarily. I read on some website about a year ago that some psychologists believe this to be a form of mental disorder, perhaps a form of obsessive compulsiveness. I sometimes suspect that I have a mild form of OCD, but I don't know. I do want to simplify my life and let go of all this clutter, because I feel I would live life more fully if I weren't constantly held back by all of that; if it is a form of psychological disorder, though, I'm not sure that I can without help.
2. I know that you have family in Panama and have lived there. Were you born there? When did you live there? What's your citizenship status?
I was born in Gorgas Army Hospital in the town of Ancon in the Panama Canal Zone in 1974. At the time the Canal Zone was a U.S. territory. My father is an American citizen. (My mom is, too, now, but wasn't at the time.) Because I was born in a U.S. Army Hospital, in a U.S. territory, and to a U.S. citizen, I was automatically born a U.S. citizen. However, Panamá considers that I was born in the Republic of Panamá, and therefore I also am recognized as a Panamanian citizen. (I have also applied for and received Italian citizenship. Italy has a law, known as jus sanguini, that entitles an individual to citizenship if one can demonstrate (s)he is 1/16th Italian. My grandfather is from Cosenza in Calabria, Italy, so I qualify.)
I lived in Panamá from January 1974 to August 1989. I attended American Department of Defense schools and most of my friends were American, but my mom's family is all Panamanian and I was very close to them and all their friends. The environment I grew up in was very much multi-lingual (I spoke Spanish first and began learning English in preschool) and multi-cultural.
3. How did your interest in singing develop? What made you decide to pursue it professionally?
When I was in the fifth grade, my school decided to form a glee club. My friends kept asking if I planned to audition. My stock answer was, "Naa, singing is for girls!" But the day of the auditions, no one was around after classes. I wandered the hallways looking for friends to play with, but nary a soul was visible. So, lonely and bored, I reluctantly dragged my ass up to the room where the auditions were being held. I was accepted into the glee club and have been singing ever since.
I am pursuing it professionally for a couple of reasons. One, I have innate talent. I don't have the prettiest voice in the world, but I have a naturally big and resonant sound and can carry a tune with it. If I didn't have baseline talent, I would have been steered away from this career a long time ago. Two, music challenges me in ways other things don't. I firmly believe I can accomplish just about anything I set my mind to, outside of athletic endeavors. But I eventually get bored with everything else. I have demonstrated (mostly at a younger age) tremendous aptitude with mathematics, science, literature, languages, etc. I never found it tremendously challenging, and after a certain point I would lose interest. I have never reached that point with singing. Opera encompasses so many disciplines, styles -- it incorporates physics and physiology, movement and dance, acting, languages, poetry, history, sociology, and yes, of course, singing. And the literature is so vast. Add to that the fact that I don't have world-class talent -- I have enough talent to make it, but not enough that it will ever come easy to me. Singing well should always be a challenge to me, and it is a challenge I would like to pursue for a living.
4. Piggybacking on a question you asked me. Do you maintain generally maintain friendships with exes? Why or why not?
I try. I consider a girlfriend a very close friend with some additional physical intimacy and romance. When the desire for physical intimacy or romance is gone, generally the same qualities that made me want to befriend her are still there. I can't imagine wanting to be so close to someone, working so hard at a relationship, and then abandoning it cold turkey (unless there was some sort of abuse or irreconcilable change in personality). I've really only had three serious girlfriends. Emily 1 and I exchange e-mails maybe once or twice a year. I tried to maintain contact with Emily 2 (and we succeeded for a while), but she doesn't seem to want me in her life at all now, especially after she married, and I can respect that. I consider myself extremely fortunate that Keya and I have remained such close friends after we broke up. I still love her dearly, but I didn't feel things would work out in the long run. I would have been devastated completely if we had not been able to maintain a friendship after having been so close for so long.
I've also tried to remain friends with flings. The problem with that is that the attraction to a fling is generally entirely physical and sexual. The close emotional bond isn't there, and once the physical closeness is gone, there really is nothing much left to hold on to. In the case of ME, my most recent fling, when we tried the "friends" thing, I found her so completely devoid of personality, intellectual appeal, or anything we might have in common other than attraction to each other that friendship simply did not work.
5. You recently talked about what you don't like about the Boston area. What are five things that you like about Boston?
(1) When we have a beautiful day here -- clear blue skies, sunny, temperature anywhere from 50 to 80 -- I can't imagine a better place to be. Those days are truly precious!
(2) I like the cultural diversity. I like the fact that I can walk down a city block and hear people speaking English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Chinese, German. I like that I can eat Thai, Indian, Afghani, Italian, Cambodian, or Ethiopian all in the same general vicinity.
(3) I like the proximity to minor league baseball. Sadly, I haven't taken advantage of this as much as I'd like, but I like that I can drive west to Pittsfield, north to Lowell, or South to Providence and catch a fun game in a good atmosphere.
(4) I like having a world-class symphony orchestra with a good guest artist series in town. I've only seen a handful of concerts, but it's a great experience each time. I also like the other music performances at the amateur or university level. This may not be a good town for opera, but it's a great town for classical music performance.
(5) The fact that there are so many top colleges in this area means that there is a good intellectual life. Despite some of the attitudes I've talked about, I know that there are many intelligent, well-educated, and interesting people around. I am amazed by some of the topics of conversation at parties I go to and feel pleasantly out of my league often enough. It makes nerds like me feel more at home.