Tuesday, August 23, 2005

it's official! i am on vacation!

now seemed like the just right moment to take advantage of a standing invitation to visit montreal, for three reasons:
  • my parents are going to be here for labor day weekend. my aunt is turning 90 and there's going to be a birthday dinner. (and there really should be. how often does one reach such a milestone?) even though they won't stay with me and i'll be glad to see them, it will be stressful in that "you've-lost-weight-what-are-you-doing-with-your-life" kind of way -- that special brand of giving me the "once-over" that destroyed me when i was in my 20's. and now i'm like, whatever. it's my life and whatever you think of it is none of my business. but it still winds me up a bit to have to even deal with any of that. actually, they've turned the crank way down lately because they like the biggish band cd so much. go figure.
  • my voice hasn't recovered completely. that bothers me. i don't want any vocal trauma. i want my voice to be fully healthy and as clear as a bell, like it always is. whatever i have to do to make that happen is worth it. the drugs kicked in right away but i need two weeks for everything to take effect. this is the second week. a self-imposed solitary confinement in canada seems appropriate. it is foreign, after all. i don't speak enough french to talk to anybody and by the time i catch up with my friends, i've spent most of the day by myself -- sleeping in, soaking in the tub, having a decent cup of tea in a cafe somewhere and taking random snapshots, which makes me blissfully happy.
  • i haven't had a vacation in years. hm. then again, i can't remember the last time i had a real vacation: no business to do, no family to visit, no real agenda. just me, going somewhere, goofing off and de-stressing. i manage to have vacation moments when i travel but to take a trip specifically for relaxation purposes only? yipes. has that ever happened?
as it turns out, i don't have acid reflux, also known as GERD. i have laryngeal reflux, also known as LARD (and yes, that cracked me up considerably). i know that all of this sounds harmless but it's no fun, whether you sing or not. (the larynx, as it turns out, is a special world in and of itself. who knew?) this is especially horrible because most people who have LARD don't have any symptoms at all. no pain, no heartburn, no nasty side effects. you just wake up and you have no voice at all. believe it or not, there are a lot of singers out there who suffer from this and they don't even know it. who has the money to go to a specialist and figure it out? they just stay slightly hoarse all the time. and over time, that can grow into something really bad. God help them.

all that, from something as innocuous and simple as what you eat and when you eat it.

i've cherry-picked my way through that whole "this-is-all-the-stuff-you-can't-eat" food list (what's good, what's bad) enough to know what i can get away with, so i'm not even worried about that. for me, it's not so much about what i eat but how much of it i eat and when i eat it. so. i won't eat anything until noon. i won't eat anything at least 4 hours before i have to go to bed. i won't recline right after i eat. i won't eat until i'm stuffed anymore. i won't sleep on my right side anymore. i won't eat mints anymore. and even though i know that i'm supposed to, i won't give up mexican hot chocolate. I. Just. Can't.

and there's no way that i can drink too much water.

i've made a few other changes as well. from now on, my cellphone is off and my answering machine is on until after 12pm. if i'm not asleep, i certainly won't be talking. (email will come in awfully handy right about then.) if whatever it is can't wait until after 12pm, someone else is going to have to figure it out. most opera singers i know have a specific day of the week where they don't speak at all, so they can have optimum vocal rest. i love that! anyone that's singing a lot should have a period of vocal rest for as long as they need to, no matter what the genre is. it's only common sense.

i should learn sign language.

as a vocalist, my physical body is my instrument. the better my body is doing in general, the better i'm doing vocally. i like to work out in the mornings, before everyone gets to the gym, even if i've had a late night. i'd like to pretend like i'm an early morning person or that i'm so efficient and together and stuff -- but really, i just want to get it overwith. that way, as the day crawls on and if don't get anything else done, at least i can say i had a good workout. and over time, i can look at my physical self and see results of some kind. that's way better than sitting around complaining about how awful my thighs look.

how long does it take to break a bad habit and create a good one? i'm hoping i can shift gears and implement all these things before the end of september. it's very important. this kind of vocal trauma hardly ever happens to me but when it does, good habits should be in place to help the healing process along -- not more bad habits to hinder it. and really, all of this came about because of a small slight summer cold that got way out of hand.

i have every intention of rewarding my good behavior from time to time. hm. a spa weekend getaway before the end of the year seems to be in order...

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