2005 - A year to remember

>> Saturday, December 31, 2005

The year 2005 began with great promise and has ended in the same manner in which it began. In December of 2004, Steph's mother died and only a week later, Larry Weinstein and Thomas Wallner flew to Oklahoma from Canada to interview us concerning the film they were going to make for the 2006 Mozart 250th birthday year. By the end of the year we were gearing up for a trip to Vienna sometime in 2005.

The first few months of 2005 were fraught with anxiety and anticipation, waiting to get word from Larry about when we would be making the trip. And somewhere in the midst of it all, it looked like I wouldn't get to go because of a number of different reasons and complications. But in the end it all worked out, and by mid July we had dates for the shoots, as well as plane tickets to Vienna.

2005 has been a musical year for me. I've had the opportunity to solo in two separate performances of Handel's Messiah with the Stillwater Chamber Singers, one in the spring, in which I sang the alto aria, "He was despised" and the second performance, only a couple of weeks ago, in which I sang one of my favorite arias, "O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion". Another exciting musical experience came when I was asked to sing Mozart's lied, "Abendempfindung" for the film. I was filmed singing it in the majestic theater of the Masonic Temple in Guthrie, Oklahoma in mid August. Temperatures were in the 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and with no air conditioning in the theater plus my wearing a heavy black satin gown, the shoot was sweltering and exhausting. My scene didn't make the film, however, because of time constraints, but will be in the "deleted scenes" feature of the DVD version.

On Monday, August 29th, 2005, Steph and I were en route to Vienna, Austria for the on location shoots of the film now entitled, Mozartballs. On the morning of our departure, hurricane Katrina was making land along the Gulf Coast regions of Louisiana and Mississippi. The pilot of our KLM flight from Detroit to Amsterdam got on the speakers and told us that the clouds just to the south of us were the edges of Katrina. We had no idea of the damages sustained by the city of New Orleans until the following Friday, when we arrived in Salzburg and turned our hotel room television on to CNN International.

The last three days of August and the first few days of September, 2005 were spent in Vienna and Salzburg Austria, filming. Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable times of my entire life! More than the tremendous experience of being in a film, Steph and I realized a long-held dream of traveling to these places together. For us it was a vision quest--a spiritual experience wrought with laughter, tears, and memories both joyous and and painful. It was a grueling time of bustling airports, lots of walking, sore, bruised toes and feet, blisters, mosquitoes, sweltering heat, sweat, jet lag, and fatigue. It was filled with jets, taxi cabs, chauffeured limos, and trains. There were strange sights, strange sounds, a strange language, strange customs, strange currency, and strange food. It was an incredible time spent with incredibly talented people--Larry, Thomas, Jessica, John, Sanjay, Scott, Gerhardt, Nicholas, and Mozie. By the end of the trip we felt as if they were our family. All of us wept when it was time for us to separate and return to our homes--theirs being Toronto and ours being Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Steph described the return home and subsequent "down time" as feeling as if we'd been dropped from a plane. We both went through a period of depression when it was all over.
When we returned home we were met with life as usual. There were three active teens and all the activities and hustle-bustle that come with teenagers. There was work, bills, laundry, fish tanks that needed cleaning, and rent to pay. I felt like that woman in the Carnival Cruise commercial when she described how she had been treated like a queen but was now lamenting the return to the daily grind. She said she considered it a "temporary exile". Steph and I also declared ours a temporary exile, by deciding that we will move to Vienna when all of the kids have graduated from high school, in 2010.

Now we wait in anticipation of 2006. The film is finished and copies are being sent to the various European broadcasters as I type this. It is due to air on most European stations between the 22nd and 29th of January. Steph and I have no idea what will come of it, but we anticipate that much will come of it. Our hopes are that a publisher will pick up on Steph's book, Night Music, and that there might even be a screenplay in the works. That would be tremendous. There may very well be numerous speaking engagements, as well as book signing tours. Who knows? We just sense that our lives are about to change and that the lull we now experience will be very short-lived.

In closing, I wish to thank all of my readers for wading through all of this, and for your readership and comments. It has been a joy to create a window into my life via this medium, and I hope that you will continue to return to my blog throughout the coming year. Happy 2006 to you all!

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The unveiling

>> Wednesday, December 28, 2005

We have awaited this moment with great anticipation, and nervousness for three years now. The moment of which I speak is the moment when we would receive our copy of the film in which both Steph and I were featured subjects.

It arrived yesterday afternoon while I was at work. The moment I pulled the car into the garage, Steph opened the door to the kitchen and peered out, saying, "If you've got to pee, go now and then get upstairs!" I knew that meant our DVD copy of Mozartballs had arrived. I anxiously quizzed Steph, "It came? Have you watched it already? Did you like it?" I didn't even bother to change out of my work clothes but bounded up the stairs to the family room where Steph had everything ready. I parked myself in the swivel chair and watched.

In a word, it's beautiful. Not quite what I had expected, but I really wasn't sure what to expect, to be quite honest. It was very surprising in places. There were scenes in there that I didn't even know had been shot. Larry and John certainly captured Steph and me, both as individuals and as a couple. It really was a window into us and into our relationship, who we are, and what we're about. And the other stories melded so beautifully with ours that in the end it was impossible to miss the point and message of the film of how Mozart has touched us all, and for some of us, literally changed our lives profoundly.

My thanks goes to Larry, Thomas, John, and everyone at Rhombus who have been a part of this project. I know that there were times when you thought it wouldn't come off, and times when it very nearly didn't. Your hard work, tenacity, dedication, and artistry are very evident in the final product. We will never forget you and will always be grateful to you for telling our story in such a sensitive and beautiful manner. Thank-you, all.

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The aroma of the holidays

>> Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some of my very favorite memories of the holidays are of the scents and aromas that came wafting from my mother's kitchen! Mother loved to bake and at Christmas time you could find her in the kitchen a great majority of the time. The wonderful aromas of cookies, cakes, pies, and breads literally permeated the house!

Tonight Steph and Nathan are baking cookies and the whole house smells of almonds, vanilla, and sugar cookies! It's incredible!

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Another busy week

>> Monday, December 19, 2005

I'm sure that I'm not the only one sweating over whether or not we're going to get it all done before Christmas. I know we will, but it seems like there is more to do than there is time.

This last weekend was the Chamber Singers performance of Messiah. The choir and soloists sang very well. The orchestra...well, let's put it this way, it left a lot to be desired. It seems that because we put our grant request in late, we got the bottom of the barrel when it came to our choices. Still, these were supposed to be professional musicians. They were union for Christ's sake! They should have been much better. It's a shame that we had to pay them for such a shoddy performance. We could have gotten the high school orchestra for free and I daresay they would have been better!
Heather's Chorale concert is tonight, and I'm really looking forward to it! I heard them perform one piece a few weeks ago and they're fantastic. This should be a great concert this evening.

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Loving my life

>> Friday, December 16, 2005

The past couple of weeks have been a bit stressful what with this performance of Messiah coming up, (tomorrow evening), all the stress over a couple of web stalkers who have been plaguing us, worries over finances at Christmas, and the whir of activity that seems to come naturally in a household full of teenagers. However, in spite of it all, I've found myself loving life. I'm not quite sure how or why this is, but I think that it has something to do with the fact that when everything boils down to basics, I have every reason to love my life. I have a beautiful, warm, loving home, three wonderful kids, and the love of my life to share it all with. On top of all of that, I'm staring major success right in the face. The end of January, a documentary will be aired on televisions all over Europe, Canada, the UK, Australia, and other places remote, in which Steph and I will be featured subjects. This past year has been the beginning of dreams fulfilled, and the incredible thing about it is that this is only the beginning.

I can't close this without mentioning one of the greatest blessings I have received over the past year--the blessing of new friendships. Steph and I have both written about how our experience with the making of this film created an atmosphere that required complete honesty, trust, and openness with our film director and crew. The nature of our story required it. In that process we made some life-long friends, people whom we will never forget and will always love--wonderful, talented, warm people like Larry, Thomas, John, Sanjay, Scott, Jessica, Gerhardt, and Nicholas. How I miss you all, and thank you for coming into my life and being such an important part of it and for giving me yet another reason to love it.

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

>> Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Today it was finally warm enough for Sparky, (Steph), to get outside and put up the outdoor Christmas lights. It didn't seem to take too long and once they were up, the house looked very warm and inviting. We decorated the inside the weekend after Thanksgiving so now the whole house is done. Our home is especially beautiful at Christmas!

I'm still recovering after the hell weekend. I don't know when I've been so tired! (Well perhaps after we got home from Vienna--I was really tired then!) But I was really glad that I had the time with my girls...

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No such luck

>> Friday, December 9, 2005

I really was hoping that I wouldn't have to drive out of town this weekend to judge this speech tournament, but no such luck. Although the temperatures have not dropped much, and there is still snow on the ground, the roads have cleared enough that it's safe to drive. Ah, well.
I had a rehearsal with Mark, (Chamber Singers conductor), for my recitative and aria in Messiah yesterday afternoon, and it went very well. He seemed pleased--said I sang it beautifully. Next week I have rehearsals with the orchestra, and then the performance is Saturday evening. I'm really looking forward to this performance. Yesterday Mark told me that this group could record Messiah because we sing it so well! Afterwards we had a great time just talking and getting to know one another better. He's really a nice man, and a very talented and able choral technician. It's a joy to sing under his direction.

Sunday evening, Lauren's French club is coming to our home for their Christmas dinner. I'm spending Sunday helping her to get ready for it. They're planning on 15 people which means that we will have to move some furniture in the living room to make way for a table. Lauren's really excited because our home is decorated so beautifully for Christmas and she loves having friends over during the holidays.

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It's frickin' cold out there, Mr. Bigglesworth!

>> Wednesday, December 7, 2005

It's really cold! We awakened this morning to temperatures in the low teens and wind chills below zero! All day I felt as if my butt was going to freeze off! Then at about 2:30 this afternoon the snow began to fall. It's a cold, dry, powdery snow that doesn't accumulate much, but certainly plays havoc with the roads. The kids are praying for a snow day tomorrow. I'm praying that it will last through the weekend so I don't have to drive to Sand Springs to judge in a high school speech tournament. But it's Oklahoma--no telling what the weather will do.

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Early birthday wishes

>> Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Tomorrow, (December 7th), is my sister, Karla's, 34th birthday. I know she comes to my blog frequently so I decided to leave her a little surprise.

I remember the day she was born very well. I was in the 6th grade. When my mother went to the hospital, my brother Monte, and I went across the street to stay with our neighbors, the Carriers. The next morning, I got up only to learn that the baby hadn't been born yet, so I had to go to school, anxious and full of anticipation. Shortly before noon, Mrs. Carrier showed up at school with the message that I had a baby sister, Karla Elizabeth, 7 pounds and 11 ounces. I was so excited that it was all I could think about the rest of the day.

The day I started college, Karla started the first grade. I loved college. She hated first grade. After my freshman year I transferred to a university outside of Stillwater, and I thought my baby sister was going to curl up and die when I left home. She survived.

She lives in Texas with her husband, Matt and has a daughter of her own. That makes me feel old. I remember changing her diapers. (She'll probably kill me for saying that.)

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The beginning of hell month

>> Monday, December 5, 2005

I've really not looked forward to this week, for this is the week that begins the deluge of activities and crowded weekends that won't end until after New Year's. It seems the older my kids get, the more active they become, and whenever they commit themselves to an activity, I'm committed to it as well. Such is the life of a mother of teens.

The 5th of December is traditionally a strange one around here. We always seem to be a little melancholy on this day because it is the anniversary of Mozart's death in 1791. Today is also the first anniversary of Steph's mother's death, and in a week it will have been a year since we first met Larry Weinstein and Thomas Wallner. So much has transpired in a year, to think about it makes my head spin. Lauren went to France in June and in August we began shoots for the film, (now titled Mozartballs). Two weeks after the shoots in Oklahoma, we were on a flight to Vienna for ten days of filming there and in Salzburg. It's really hard to believe that only a year ago we were wondering if it would ever transpire.

It seems that December 5th is destined to be an important day for us for many reasons. Today we got word from Steph's very elderly, very wealthy uncle, that he is giving Steph some stock. He said in his note that he hopes that "you will keep them and receive the income monthly through the coming years". We have no idea how much it is, but it is probably sizable. Merry Christmas! It couldn't have come at a better time.

Well, I had probably better be closing this down. I have to get ready for Chamber Singers. We have a couple more rehearsals before the Messiah performance on the 17th. I'm really looking forward to it!

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A lazy Sunday

>> Sunday, December 4, 2005

Today has been a lazy day. It's been one of those days that Steph and I describe as our "being cats" days where we lounge around on our bed and watch movies. AMC played some great old movies--Indiscreet, with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, with Jean Tierney and Rex Harrison, and An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

I love our "cat" days when we lay around and don't get dressed until late in the afternoon. We cuddle up next to one another and nap while we watch movies. We giggle and laugh, and enjoy being alone with each other. This evening we decided to order pizza from Domino's, which made everyone happy.

Whenever I get the tinge of the guilts for being so lazy, I remind myself that this is the last cat day that we're going to get until after Christmas. From this point on, our schedules are full with all manner of holiday activities.

Tonight we're going to watch the History Channel special on Leonardo DaVinci.

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Committed to our life together

>> Thursday, December 1, 2005

When Steph and I decided that we wanted to commit to one another, we knew it wouldn't be easy. We were well aware of the opposition and roadblocks before us. But I was willing to take on the challenge because I love this person more than life itself, and I was willing to commit to making a life for us, together. Deep inside of me I knew, and still know, that I have been called to the very special task of loving this person and helping her to accomplish that which she came here to accomplish.

Over the last six years we have carved out a life together that has been full of high peaks and many deep valleys. We have made some mistakes, and we have achieved great success. We have worked hard and are still awaiting, albeit impatiently, the fruits of our blood, sweat, and tears. We have put our reputations and our lives on the line in order to accomplish what we were sent here to accomplish and nothing will deter us now.

I love you, Liebchen, and I'm in this with you for the long haul!

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Elitism and age discrimination

>> Sunday, November 20, 2005

Yesterday I spent the afternoon watching the re-run marathon of Bravo's reality series Project Runway. I'm not much into reality television, but last season this one captured me and I got hooked. I was particularly interested because one of the contestants, Wendy Pepper, was a 40 year-old homemaker/mother from Virginia with no formal training or experience in fashion design. She was clearly the underdog, and from the beginning, it was clear that she was looked down upon and bullied by the younger contestants who, by virtue of their youth, believed that they were more "hip", and therefore more talented. Wendy knew that she was going to have to work hard to stay in the competition, and that in order for her to do so, she was going to have to have a plan to win. I'm not sure what that "plan" was, but the younger ones seemed to think that it involved cheating and back-stabbing because in their estimations, Wendy was obviously not talented enough to make it on her own merits. I never was quite clear over what they were calling "cheating" or "back-stabbing", but whatever it was, they did a great job of convincing themselves and everyone else that Wendy was engaging in it. Wendy made it all the way through the competition, becoming one of the final three competitors, winning the opportunity to design a line of clothing to be featured in the big New York Fashion Week.

In the end she didn't win the big prize, but she did get the opportunity to design and show what I believed to be a stunning line of clothing for New York's Fashion Week. Throughout the series the younger competitors kept using the term "washed-up" in regards to Wendy. It was obvious that they truly believed that because she was 40 years old and a mother that she had no talent in fashion design. Even Michael Kors, leading New York fashion designer, delivered the final elitist blow to Wendy, (rather coldly, I might add), in his final assessment of her work by telling her that she was a fine "tailor" and that she knew how to cut a dress to fit a woman's body but that she had no talent as a designer. Then he proceeded to rip her apart because she dared to include a sheer dress in her line that exposed the model's "boobies". (OH MY GOD, MICHAEL! Were you really offended by the sight of boobs, or were you jealous because you don't have boobies?)

It seemed that no matter how hard she worked, no matter what she came up with, she was destined to lose. Because she had no talent? No. It was because she was up against an elitist, youth-worshiping, superficial, petty, culture that didn't want her to win. No, strike that. They were AFRAID for her to win. Why? Because if she did, it might just expose them for what they really are--shallow, superficial, and banal. It might reveal that just because one is young, it does not mean that one is the best. It might expose them for all their youthful prejudices and insecurities and perhaps even their lack of talent. In the end, even Kara Saun, Wendy's harshest critic, the one whom everyone thought was "perfect", and the one who snubbed Wendy to the very end, refusing even to acknowledge her presence, was told that her line was too "costumey" and too "Gucci-esque".

Kara Saun and Wendy both lost to Jay, who in my opinion was the least talented of them all! But what do I know? I'm just a 45-year-old, washed-up, talentless, mother-of-three, living in Oklahoma. Well Wendy, here's an offer for you. When Mozart Lives! (the film in which I was a featured main character) goes to the Oscars in the "Best Feature Length Documentary" category, I want to be there. And when I go, I want to be wearing one of YOUR designs. We middle-aged, washed-up, talentless, low-life, housewife/mothers gotta stick together, you know.

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Missing my mother

>> Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Last night, as I sat on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by pins, needles, thread, and a sundry of other sewing notions, I was terrified at the prospects of having to cut off and hem the skirt to my new Chamber Singers gown. I wished that I had time to call Judith, (the talented lady who made my 18th century gown), but alas, my dress just arrived this last Wednesday and our first concert is this coming Sunday! I said to Steph, who was dinking around on the computer as I sat carefully hand rolling and pinning the difficult chiffon over-skirt, "If my mother were still alive I'd be over at her house right now! Together we'd have this done in no time! She even had a little foot on her sewing machine that rolled hems like this."

Mother died a few years ago after a long bout with cancer. I think of her often and miss her constantly and I wonder how different things might be if she were still here. Being the consummate homemaker and loving to entertain, Mother loved the holiday season. She could cook and bake like no one else I ever knew and she could set an elegant and lovely table. The only thing of hers that I desired when she died was her Lennox bone china. To me, that china was the epitome of her. I proudly display it in my china hutch, and every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I set the table with it and believe that when I do, Mother is there watching. I like to think that she would be happy knowing that her grandchildren continue to remember her fondly and look forward to eating off of "Grandma's" china during the holidays.

I remember the countless Thanksgiving Days in our home when the entire Erwin clan would come to our house, as well as my Grandpa and Grandma Goss. There were years when we would have as many as 35 people there! I'd awaken in the morning to the delicious aroma of a turkey already roasting in the oven, home-baked bread, pies galore, and a sundry of other culinary delights, all prepared from scratch by my mother. As I grew older, she taught me how to cook and by the time I was twelve, I was usually up early with her, helping her prepare the turkey dressing, making the cream cheese, whipped cream, and powdered sugar layer that went on the bottom of our favorite chocolate refrigerator pie, and helping her set the many tables that were scattered throughout our large living room and in the kitchen. Every year, after Dad would get home from feeding the animals in the kennels of his veterinary clinic in the early a.m., he would come into the kitchen to get a taste of the dressing which mother was preparing to put into the oven. She would always ask him if it needed anything else and he would always reply, "It could use a little more sage."

The holiday traditions in my home are very different from the ones with which I grew up. We don't have large amounts of family and our religious beliefs, which were central to everything that my family of origin was, are very non-traditional. We're an "alternative", blended family, but we are no less a family than the family from which I came. We still celebrate the holidays in the traditional ways and I have passed some of the traditions from my family of origin on to my current family. When Mother died, it seemed that much died with her, including most, if not all of our family traditions. After her passing it became very clear that Mother was the glue that held our family together. I think of Mother and miss her the most at this time of year and I wish that there was some way that I could recapture that closeness that my mother, father, brother, sister and I had during the holidays. But with my divorce and my subsequent partnership with Steph, soon followed by my mother's passing, that closeness between us died and was buried with her. However, every Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I get out her Lennox china and lovingly set my family's holiday table in the way she so carefully taught me how, I remember my mother and the way she had of making things so warm and special at this time of year.

Thank you, Mother...and I miss you.

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Values I want to install in my children

>> Friday, November 4, 2005

I grew up in a home where it was deemed more important to instill beliefs rather than values, which to my way of thinking is like putting the cart before the horse. Beliefs cannot be instilled, rather, they are developed out of a healthy set of moral values. A child must develop their own beliefs out of the values with which they have been raised. Therefore, if a child is raised with healthy values, they will develop the beliefs which best serve and demonstrate those values. Here is a list of values I wish to instill in my children.

  • Compassion
  • Tolerance
  • Loyalty
  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Gratitude
  • Determination
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Courage

There are probably a whole lot more, but I think if I'm successful at these, then the others will come along with them.

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Pleasure Meme

>> Saturday, October 29, 2005

The following is a list of things that bring me pleasure:

  1. The sound of Steph's laughter
  2. A plateful of Alaskan King Crab legs and a shell cracker
  3. Walking hand-in-hand down the Kartnerstrasse with Steph
  4. Sitting in Cafe Diglas sipping vanilla tea and eating chocolate torte
  5. Listening to my favorite recording of the Mozart "Great C minor Mass" through the headphones
  6. Standing on stage, singing
  7. The smell of stage make-up, perspiration, sawdust, and fabric all melded together
  8. Wearing Channel No. 5 perfume
  9. When my 13 year-old son still wants to cuddle up next to me
  10. Chocolate
  11. A soothing bath in the whirlpool tub with lavender oil, candles, and Mozart playing on the stereo
  12. Cuddling next to Steph in bed
  13. A lazy Sunday spent in bed watching Lifetime movies on television with Steph
  14. Wearing my favorite "little black dress" and pearls
  15. The sound of my daughter, Heather's singing
  16. My daughter, Lauren's beautiful smile
  17. Setting the dinner table with my mother's china for a special occasion
  18. The sound of Steph sitting at the piano, composing something
  19. Having a little money to spend on myself, on whatever I want
  20. Our house decorated for Christmas
  21. Holding a kitten
  22. Watching our fish
  23. Looking in the mirror and seeing that I look nice
  24. Dressing up for a special occasion and looking gorgeous
  25. Being 45 and looking 30

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Only let them see what they want to see

>> Thursday, October 13, 2005

I learned very early in life that honesty was not the best policy--at least where my deepest thoughts, questions, and emotions were concerned. I learned early that if I was honest about how I really felt, what I really thought, and my questions about life, that I was met with rejection and emotional abandonment. So I learned to be a pleaser. I learned how to make my mother and father smile and how to make them proud of their little girl, all the while tamping down my questions, feelings, and emotions to the point that by the time I was an adult I was a ticking time bomb, ready to explode. My aunt warned my father that one day at least one of us, (my brother, sister, or I), was going to rebel due to the stifling, restrictive, controlling, and dictatorial atmosphere in our home. She was right.

I mastered the art of playing emotional and mental hide-and-seek by the time I was five years old and learned very quickly what I could and couldn't share with my parents. I pretended to be the sweet, compliant, and agreeable child that they wanted me to be because I knew that only then did I gain the love and acceptance from them that I so desperately needed. So when my devoutly Christian parents would talk to me of God's unconditional love, I really had no foundations for understanding what that meant. Unconditional love was not liberally demonstrated in our home so I didn't have much of an example, only words. Like a pet parrot, I would listen to their words and ideas and I quickly learned how to regurgitate those words and ideas back to them. That always got positive results. But whenever I had an original thought, idea, or question that didn't fit into their black-and-white-Pleasantville world, I was scolded and put down as if I were a terrible person to even entertain such ideas or thoughts.

I grew up hearing my mother sing, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so", and I always wanted to ask her what made the Bible so special? Why was it better or more divine than for instance, the Koran? How did she KNOW that the Bible was God's word? Did God tell her that personally? Or was that something that she was taught growing up and just accepted as the truth because everyone told her it was the truth? And what about the things in our lives--thoughts, feelings, ideas, that didn't agree with the Bible? Where did they come from? What about, for instance, the very real sense that I had all through my life that I had been here on this planet before--that I had lived in a different time and place? What about the pictures that I had in my head since I was a small child of events, people, and places in the past, some so vivid and detailed that they seemed that they had taken place yesterday?

I didn't know how to define what I experienced or what name to give it. I thought of reincarnation as something that only Hindus and Buddhists believed. I never took it seriously because it wasn't something that was a part of the belief system in which I was raised. And because I didn't feel safe to ask questions, I tamped these very real experiences down inside of me along with my unexpressed emotions, thoughts, and questions. When my parents would praise me for being such a good girl, I would think to myself, "But I'm NOT good! I'm very bad! If you only KNEW what I really think, and how I REALLY feel, you wouldn't love me!"

"Only let them see what they want to see" was my life's motto, "for only then will you be acceptable to them." So I grew up believing that if I was going to find love, acceptance, and happiness, that I had to be whatever it was that people wanted me to be. I had to make everyone else happy, even if it meant sacrificing my own desires, my own happiness, even if it meant adhering to and confessing to a religion, a belief system, and way of life that grew increasingly more confining and uncomfortable for me. And deep down inside of me I cried out for release! I knew that there was more...that there was someone. There was someone out there searching for me as fervently as I was searching for them. In the midst of a crisis point in my life, during my junior year in college, I ran out into an empty field which was right next door to my on-campus apartment, and threw my arms up towards the sky. I cried out, "Where are you? Why can't I find you? I know you're out there! Please find me!", and I fell into a bawling heap on the ground. After about half-an-hour I walked back to my apartment, and one of my roommates, who was a piano major, was sitting on the couch listening to the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20, in D minor on the stereo. She was going to play it for a competition. I sat by her on the couch and the tears returned. When she asked me why I was crying, I told her that I had this overwhelming sense of loss that I couldn't explain as if there was someone out there who I had to find, and who, in turn, was trying to find me. She hugged me and let me cry.

I couldn't tell her that the someone was Mozart.

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Ich liebe dich, Herr Mozart

>> Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Shortly after Christmas of 1997 I talked my husband into getting a computer. My mother had one for a year or so and talked constantly of how great it was being able to keep in contact with my brother, (who was a missionary in Latvia at the time), via email. Besides, I knew that as the kids got further along in school, they would need to have one. I couldn't wait to get on line and almost as soon as we got it home, my brother-in-law came over and got us all set up. (Matt's the computer whiz in the family.)

The internet opened up the entire world to me. I could sit in the comfort of my home and search for and research any topic that I wished. And of course, one of the first internet searches that I conducted was on, you guessed it, Mozart. I found several good Mozart websites, but the one that towered above the rest was one called, "The Mozart Project". It had a wealth of information, plus links to other Mozart and Mozart related sites. I always checked the new links out, whenever I found a new one. It was about nine months after our last move in May of 1999; I had just returned from taking the kids to school and gotten myself a cup of tea when I decided to sit down at my computer and check to see if there were any new links on the Mozart Project site. When I clicked on the page I noticed that he had added several new links since I had been there last, but the one that jumped out at me was one that said, "Mozart's Own Website", and was advertised as a site owned and operated by the Maestro himself! I thought it sounded like fun and decided to check it out.

When I clicked on the link it took me to a scrumptiously gorgeous website, done in hues of royal blue, a very 18th century-looking font and a distinctly Rococo graphic design. Contained within were a wealth of pictures and information, all told in first person, in the voice of Mozart. It was, indeed, "Mozart's" website. I combed through the pages, taking in every word and picture, feeling myself drawn in to the fantasy of believing that Mozart was actually the one who designed and put it all together. I read all of the biographies and looked at all the pictures, and then I found the link to the guest book and clicked on it. I decided to leave Herr Mozart as short, simple message. I signed the guestbook as guest number nine, and simply said, "Ich liebe dich, Herr Mozart." Not expecting that anything would come of it, but enjoying the fantasy of telling Mozart that I loved him in German, I clicked the button and posted my message.

The next morning when I went to check my e-mail, in it was a message from none other than W A Mozart. I clicked on it eagerly and read the very simple message contained within, "Und ich liebe dich, meine gnaedige Frau." (And I love YOU, my gracious Lady.) I was quite frankly surprised and tickled to have heard back from him, so I decided to take it a step further and grace him with a letter. In the letter I told him about myself and where I was from--how I have always been a lover of his music since I was a small child, the fact that I was a wife and mother of three children bound for graduate school in the fall. I told him that I had sung the roles of Zerlina and Despina and that I fancied myself a "Mozart" soprano, and how I was thrilled to have found that he was "alive" and well in the late 20th century. That very evening I received a reply from him, a very lengthy and gracious letter describing his delight at my correspondence and his hopes that we might continue to converse with one another via this new and modern contraption called the "computer". His "voice" was astounding--it was entirely authentic as if Mozart really was the one who had written this letter. I was immediately sucked into the fantasy and excitement and had to keep reminding myself that I wasn't really talking to Mozart, but to someone who was playing Mozart. I quickly typed another letter to him and pressed the send button.

Thus launched an online relationship between "Mozart" and myself that within a week seemed like we had been corresponding with one another for months, perhaps years. Mozart and I developed a fast, close, and growing friendship through our correspondence. He confessed to me that he had never allowed a "fan" in, as he had me, and that he felt as if he had known me all of his life. I too, felt the same about him. I "knew" things about him, things that the average student of Mozart wouldn't know. The relationship grew very personal and very intimate very quickly, so quickly that it frightened both of us. What had started out as fantasy and a bit of fun, had escalated into something very deep and meaningful to both of us, and even though I tried to tell myself over and over again that I was simply conversing with someone who was portraying Mozart, albeit very authentically and convincingly, deep in my heart I knew that there was something going on that I couldn't explain. It was something bigger than myself and within a few weeks, it was quite clear that "Mozart" felt every bit as overwhelmed and awed by our relationship as I. Several times I tried to cut it off, believing that it was going too far, and that I needed to end it, but I couldn't end it. (Later I learned that he felt the very same way as I.) I would lay awake at night, trying to make sense of what was happening. Then one night I remembered the story that my mother told me about when I was a small child, of how I had pointed at the stereo and told her that I had to find Mozart.

"Could it be?" I wondered. I frightened myself with my own thoughts. "This is crazy!" I thought, trying to put myself off as someone who was simply too caught up in the fantasy of it all. But in my heart I knew. I knew that what I was dealing with was beyond fantasy--this was real. I sensed that I was talking to the Maestro himself, and that something much larger than me was in control of this whole thing. I cringed at what it would mean for me, for my way of life, for my beliefs--my faith, my values, for my children, and for my family. I rolled over and tried not to think of it any further and resolved that I had to cut it off.

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The winter of my discontent

>> Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Although the children and I were very happy living in Montana, my husband never seemed to be able to find contentment anywhere we lived. I was never sure why he was so restless and discontented, but it was beginning to wear on me. I grew weary with moving, especially since we had finally moved to a place where I could see myself settling down. I wasn't at all opposed to leaving Florida, as I never grew to like it, but leaving Montana was an entirely different matter altogether. I was making friends and becoming well-known in the community. I had a studio full of piano and voice students, and I had a good reputation as a music teacher. I loved the climate, despite the harsh and difficult winters, and I absolutely loved living close to the Rocky Mountains. He tried several times to move us from Billings, but I dug my heels in and refused.

Finally an opportunity opened up in a church in a small town just 15 minutes from where we went to college, in Oklahoma, and it was only and hour from my hometown and where my parents still lived. I agreed to look into it, although reluctantly despite all of the perks. Two things finally persuaded me to leave the home in Montana that I loved so much--April 19th, 1995, the day of the dreadful bombing attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and the fact that my mother was in the midst of chemotherapy and radiation treatments for breast cancer and I wanted to be near her. I also felt that it was important that the children have time to be with her. Since they were born we had always lived over a thousand miles from my parents, and they needed to be nearer to their grandparents.

So we moved again. This time I swore it would be the last move for a very long time. By the time we had been married 14 years, we had already moved ten times. Almost from the first day we arrived in McLoud, Oklahoma I knew I was going to hate it. Once again, I didn't fit. I never fit into the small, rural setting. I was a classical musician who sang opera and loved Mozart. I had absolutely nothing in common with the people in our congregations and I never made friends easily because of it. I tried to fit in, but it was like putting a square peg in a round hole. I was also growing increasingly impatient with the state of my marriage. I tried to express to my husband how unhappy I was, but he never seemed to get it.

After we had been in McLoud for about a year, our church called a new minister of music. He was the new voice faculty member at Oklahoma Baptist University and he and his wife (I will call them "S" and "L"), were my kind of people! He had a beautiful voice and had been on the opera and oratorio circuit. His wife was an intelligent, educated, classy, and artistic woman and we had so much in common that we became fast friends. Their friendship was for me like an oasis in the desert. It wasn't long before "S" began to recognize that I had talents that were going unused and he told me that I really needed to consider studying voice again. He asked if I would like to study privately with him. Of course I jumped at the opportunity! My first few lessons were extremely frustrating as it had been so long since I had sung seriously. And of course I started with some very difficult Mozart arias. After a few weeks of lessons I had made enough progress that he entered me in a district NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) competition, in the adult category. Although I didn't make the finals, I did very well and I went away from the competition feeling very good about my progress. Interesting too, that the aria I sang in the competition was Susanna's aria from Act IV of Le Nozze di Figaro, Deh vieni non tardar. One of the judges stopped me in the hallway later that day and told me that it was one of the sweetest performances of that aria that he'd ever heard. He added that I sang it as if Mozart had composed it for me.

We were in McLoud for three years when my husband received an opportunity to pastor a larger, more prestigious church in the southwestern part of Oklahoma. By this time he was being groomed by the state convention leaders for state leadership and this was an opportunity for him to move up. His salary was considerably higher and he had better benefits. Although I loved "S" and "L" and hated moving away from them, I relished the opportunity to get out of McLoud. I decided to continue with my voice lessons as it was only about an hour's drive from where we moved. "L" also got me a job as an exhibitor with the Oklahoma Arts Institute and I spent several weekends a month traveling around the state exhibiting and assisting in auditions for the Summer Arts Institute at the Quartz Mountain resort. Before long "S" suggested that I think about going back to school to get my master's degree. It had always been my desire to go to graduate school. I had put my husband through his master's degree and most of his doctorate, and my youngest child, Nathan, was about to enter the first grade. It seemed to me like the perfect opportunity and time to do it. However, when I discussed it with my husband, he was very reluctant. I explained to him that it would only be for two years and then perhaps I could get a job teaching in Oklahoma City or at the nearby college in Chickasha. I would have to commute to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater because they were the only ones who offered a degree in vocal performance and pedagogy, and it was the pedagogy part in which I was most interested. I was nearing forty and was too old to have a career in performance, but I could still teach. It would also mean that I would have to give up some of my responsibilities in the church for a couple of years. I would no longer be able to direct the children's choir, teach Sunday School, or sing in the choir--but only for two years, I reminded him. Finally he agreed and I was accepted into the graduate program at OSU to start in the fall of 1999.

For the first time since my youth I began to feel vital again. I was singing well and my music was returning to me stronger than it had ever been. I also felt that something really "big" was about to happen. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I had this sense that my life was about to change and that I was about to enter into a new adventure. It was beyond going back to school. There was a restlessness, an urgency, a feeling that I was about to walk off of a cliff. Little did I know that I was about to meet someone who would change the course of my life forever. Winter was almost over.

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20 thing you do that make me smile

>> Monday, October 10, 2005

  1. When you curl up next to me at night in bed.
  2. When you burp out loud and then look to see if anyone heard it.
  3. The little skip in your step when you're happy or excited.
  4. The way you hold your hands behind your back when you walk, or when you're standing to observe something.
  5. The twinkle you get in your eye when you laugh.
  6. When you hug one of the kids.
  7. When you call me "Wanze."
  8. When you tell me that you love me, just out of the blue.
  9. When you kiss me.
  10. When you tell me I have cute knees.
  11. When you shiver, sigh, and close your eyes whenever I start to scratch or rub your back.
  12. The way you nudge me when I stop rubbing or scratching your back, as if to say, "Don't stop!"
  13. When you're sitting at your computer working on something intently.
  14. When you pat me on the butt as you follow me up the stairs.
  15. When you find your "nose warmer".
  16. When you yell "Fart-knockin' piece-a-Dad" at your computer.
  17. When you peer up at me over your reading glasses.
  18. When you wear your penguin pajama pants.
  19. When you give me the brownie out of your HungryMan fried chicken dinner.
  20. When you sing "Fake Mammeries" with Ville.

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The wilderness

>> Saturday, October 8, 2005

The ten years between 1988 and 1998, I have come to term as my "wilderness" years. These were the years where I slowly began to give up on life's offering me anything but the ordinary. My marriage wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either. Life became the same old drudgery day in and day out.

1988 was a good year. After three years of struggle and riding the emotional roller coaster with infertility treatments, our daughter, Lauren was conceived in January and born in late September. She was the bright spot, and for a few months it seemed that perhaps our marriage was going to improve because of the advent of this little person in our lives. Our relationship, however, didn't improve. We turned our attentions entirely on our child and lavished all of the attention that should have otherwise been lavished upon our marriage, upon her. Before long another child arrived--Heather, in July of 1990 and yet another, Nathan, in February of 1992. I poured myself into my children and I neglected myself. I gained weight. My music faded to the point that it was almost non-existent. In those years, my husband and I attempted to get our marriage on track--we saw a marriage counselor, but when things really started to focus on the lack of intimacy in our relationship, he bailed out. When Nathan was about six weeks old, I nearly left my husband. It was shortly after our 10th wedding anniversary and I told him that if things didn't improve dramatically, that I would take our three children and move back to Oklahoma, (We were living in St. Petersburg, Florida by this time). This sent him into a panic and in typical fashion for him, he met with the challenge by running away from it. His answer to everything was to relocate. By this point I was too tired and too bogged down in my maternal responsibilities to fight him. He obtained a pastorate in another mission area, this time in Montana. We moved our young family from sunny, hot Florida to the frigid plains of Montana in the fall of 1992.

Our first 18 months in Montana were difficult and tumultuous. We moved there in the year that Montana experienced the coldest winter on record in nearly 40 years. Temperatures dipped to thirty-five degrees below zero and my little Florida-born babies didn't take to it well. Lauren, who was all ready plagued with allergies and chronic ear infections, stayed sick the entire winter, and Nathan wasn't much better. I wasn't well either. It seemed that every flu bug that came through, I caught it. I spent more time nursing sick children and being sick myself to do much of anything else. To make matters worse, we experienced conflict with our new congregation right from the start. Conflicts escalated so quickly that by Christmas of 1993, my husband was forced to resign his pastorate and accept a new position in Billings, which was about 100 miles west of where we were. Billings was a small city, about 100,000, but the largest city in a 600 mile radius. To the north were plains and then Canada. To the south was Wyoming and the beautiful Beartooth Mountain range (part of the Rockies). To the west was Boseman, and more mountains, Big Sky, and several other ski resorts. Billings was a lovely city, full of culture, wooded parks, and tree-lined streets.

Billings was a very musical city and it was here that I found opportunities to recapture some of my music. I taught piano and voice lessons and I had so many students that I had a waiting list. I also played in a semi-professional bell choir called Bellissimo!, which I loved. I began to make friends and to gain a reputation as an excellent musician and teacher. We had a lovely old home on a beautiful, historic street. It had an expansive yard with several trees and a lush crab apple tree right in the center of the front yard. I worked hard painting and re-papering the master bedroom, kitchen, both bathrooms, and dinning room/living areas of our house and it turned out to be one of the loveliest homes we had ever lived in.

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Searching for the missing piece of my heart

>> Thursday, October 6, 2005

When we moved from Kentucky to Florida I tried to be excited, but in reality I was sad leaving my musical/theatrical world and friends in Maysville and Cincinnati. Where we were moving to in Florida offered nothing like what I had in Kentucky. We were moving to a retirement community on the outskirts of Vero Beach so that my husband could pastor a mission church, which turned out to be yet another church made up of retirees. Almost from the beginning I hated Florida. It was hot, humid, scrubby, ugly, and expensive. I soon learned that the only people who loved Florida were the retirees and tourists who had enough money to love it. After only a couple of months after we moved there it became quite apparent that we weren't going to make it on the meager salary that my husband was offered, so I bought a paper and started to look for a job. In no time I was hired as a floor clerk and window dresser in a very exclusive dress shop on the beach in Vero. It was about a twenty-five minute commute, but I didn't mind it so much. It paid well, and I worked in fashion retail and got nice discounts on some really nice clothes. It was a good job. After about six months in the job, my manager sent me to a modeling school (paid for it too), and I was trained to become an in-house model. I did tea room modeling and some runway shows. Mostly I modeled business and formal wear and I really loved it. It was sort of like being on stage, only I was showing off the clothes rather than my voice. In other words, I was a pretty hanger.

As far as my music was concerned, there really wasn't much for me. I played the piano at the mission and sang solos. We tried to get a choir started, but that fell through. It seemed as if my music died, and with it died my soul. I desperately tried to fill the hole with other things--my job, work at the church, etc., but nothing seemed to fill it. At the same time, my relationship with my husband was going nowhere, and I was literally in a panic over that. I couldn't understand why we didn't seem to have the closeness that we were supposed to have. All we ever talked about was the church, or religion, or politics and religion, or church work, etc. We didn't have much else in common. And as far as our sex life was concerned, well that was flat-lined almost from day one of our marriage, which REALLY confused me. Here I was, this curvy, sexy, fashion model, and my husband wasn't interested, so I made the mistake of thinking that if we had a baby that all of our problems would melt away as soon as we held that cute little bundle of joy. "Maybe he'll love me if I give him a child," I thought to myself.

The problem was that for me, giving my husband a child wasn't going to be easy. I had problems that would require that I see a specialist. I soon found a specialist in Orlando, and within a few weeks after my first appointment I began a course of treatment that took us on a three-year roller coaster ride and put my body through hormonal hell. I soon became obsessed with having a child and I didn't care what it cost financially, or what it cost me physically and emotionally. What I didn't understand was that I was looking for that missing piece of my heart. I couldn't find it in my marriage. I couldn't find it in my music. I couldn't find it in church, or religion, or even in my "personal relationship with Jesus". I couldn't find it in my job. Perhaps I would find it in a child...

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I know you...

>> Tuesday, October 4, 2005

In the spring of 1985 I was living in a small town in Kentucky, just across the river from Cincinnati and about 35 miles northwest of Maysville, where I taught music in a Catholic School. My husband pastored a small church in Powersville, Kentucky and commuted to seminary in Louisville. I became quite involved in the Maysville community theater and sang in the Maysville Community Choir. It was through my involvement with the theater that I landed the music teaching job at the school, and I met several people in the community who got me involved with the music and theatrical life in Maysville and the surrounding areas.

One of the classes that I taught at the Catholic School was 9th grade music appreciation. It was actually my favorite class to teach and I loved to find creative and fun ways to get the students interested in learning about classical music and composers. When I learned that the Milos Forman film, "Amadeus" was showing in a theater in Cincinnati, I decided to take my 9th grade music appreciation class on a field trip to see it. I had never seen the film myself–only read the play–and I thought it might be a fun outing for the entire class. I got some parents together to go as sponsors and we decided that after the movie we would take the kids out to a local pizza place.

On the day before we went to see the film, I explained to the class that it wasn't historically accurate, but that it was a story about jealousy and rivalry, told in the context of Mozart and Salieri. I asked the kids to watch for the things that weren't accurate and we'd discuss them the following Monday in class. I went armed with pencil and notebook so that I could write everything that I found to be historically inaccurate down, so that I wouldn't forget anything over the weekend.

As we were seated, I opened my notebook and laid it on my lap, readying myself to spend a lot of time writing. I found the film to be mesmerizing despite the obvious inaccuracies. The costumes and settings were gorgeous and the characters as well as the storyline were extremely engaging. I got so lost in my enjoyment of the film, that I forgot all about my notebook. And then it happened–the scene where Mozart (Tom Hulce) was rehearsing the opening scene of Figaro with the singers who played Susanna and Figaro. He sat at a fortepiano and played and conducted their entrances, and as I watched, I began to hear myself think, " I know you.. We're in love but we can't tell anyone. We have to keep it quiet. You can't let anyone know that you love me." And then when I saw the face of the actress who played Nancy Storace, without any hesitation I thought to myself, "That girl doesn't look like me at all! They didn't do a very good job of casting her!" The thoughts were so instantaneous and so automatic that they left me stunned. I couldn't believe what had just run through my head. I tried to dismiss them as random silliness, but the thoughts wouldn't leave. Near the end of the movie, during the scene where Mozart lay in bed dying, I thought to myself, "Someone needs to brush his hair! He loves having his hair brushed! It's comforting to him!" Hot tears welled up in my eyes and I found myself angry because Constanze wasn't there to comfort him–she wasn't there to brush his hair for him! My emotions were powerful and very real, and again, I tried to dismiss them but the more I tried to dismiss them the stronger they became.

When we left the theater, I could hardly speak. One of the parents who came as a sponsor approached me and said that I appeared pale and asked if I felt all right. I told her that I was fine, that I was just a little tired and tried to assure her that I would be okay. Later that night, as I slipped into bed next to my husband, who lay sleeping, I thought to myself, "I should have waited. I made a mistake. The one I'm supposed to be with is still out there. I'm not with the right one," and I buried my face in my pillow and wept silently.

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Our story

>> Monday, October 3, 2005

This weekend I was inspired. I've been told by a number of people that Steph's and my story is too compelling not to be told, but I never really took the idea seriously until Larry, (the director of "Mozart Lives!"), told us the same thing on a number of occasions. It suddenly dawned on me yesterday that this last weekend was the anniversary of when we met face-to-face and I began to reminisce with my daughter, Lauren, about one of the events that led up to our meeting. I pulled out a letter that Steph wrote to me, (an email actually), just two weeks prior to my coming to California to meet her. I had never told Lauren the story behind the letter, nor had I shared the letter with her until now, because I didn't believe she was mature enough to understand it before now. When Lauren read it, she looked up at me and said, "Oh Mom! This is incredible! What woman wouldn't want to be loved like this? You two have such a beautiful story!" Later I discussed it with Steph and we both agreed that it was time for our story to be told, and that I was the one who should do it. So now I've decided that I will use my blog as the journal/outline sketches and eventually I will use these sketches to write a book.

Our story begins long before we met. In fact, as many of you have probably gathered, our story began long before either of us were born, but I'm not going to take you back that far! Suffice it to say that Steph and I have known one another from the dawn of time, and from the moment our souls were created we have loved one another. We are what some describe/term as "twin souls". The term denotes exactly what it says. Our souls are like fraternal twins–both coming from the same "egg" and then at a moment in time, splitting off to form two separate entities. Since that moment we have been working to get back to one another, for when we split, neither one could be or feel complete without the other. Before I met Steph, from as far back as I can remember, even as a small child, I felt alone and out of place. I felt like a twin who had been separated from the other twin. In fact, I asked my mother several times if I hadn't been a twin and even if perhaps I wasn't separated at birth from my twin and adopted by she and Dad.

One of Larry's favorite stories of mine is of a memory I have of when I was a very small child, about three. I was sitting on the floor of our house in my footie pajamas listening to some music on the stereo. My parents, although not professional musicians, were great appreciators of music and there was music in our house constantly. I grew up listening to classical music–Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, Brahms. etc. On this day, it so-happened that mother had put on a recording that had a movement of one of Mozart's piano concertos on it, and as I sat in the floor listening to it, I began to cry. When Mother saw that I was crying she inquired as to why and I pointed towards the stereo and said, "I have to find him!"

"Find who?" she asked, "Mozart?"
I nodded my head affirmatively, "Yes, I have to find that Mozzart man!"

How I knew at such a young age that I was listening to a composition by Mozart, I'll never know. I don't think my mother grasped the significance of this little event. She told me the story a number of years later, when I was a young woman and then kind of smiled and said, "Funny thing that Mozart has always been your favorite composer."

It's getting close to time for me to leave for work. I'll have to continue this in a separate entry a little later on...

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An anniversary of sorts

>> Saturday, October 1, 2005

his weekend, Steph and I are celebrating another anniversary. This is the 6th anniversary of our meeting face-to-face. Six years ago on the 30th, I flew out to California and then on Saturday the 1st, Steph hosted an 18th century soiree where I sang a mini-recital dressed as Anna Storace. Steph was dressed as Mozart with other guests dressed as various famous "dead people", and literary characters. It was on this weekend that I met Steph's friend, Karma, (who I now consider a dear friend as well), and several other people who have come to play an important role in my life. This was really one of the first in a series of events that have been played out throughout and have defined our relationship. However, this particular event was, for me, the point of no return. I knew that my life was about to take an exciting and tumultuous turn and that there was nothing I could do to change it. It was also then that Steph kissed me in the hallway just in front of the bedroom--a very similar kiss to the one that I received only recently in what was the bedroom of Constanze and Wolfgang Mozart in the Figarohaus in Vienna. It's hard to believe that was only six years ago--so much has happened since then!

On the Monday following the weekend, Steph took off of work in order that we might have some time alone together. (Steph was partnered at the time, but the relationship was in trouble–actually it always had been in trouble–just wasn't a good match.) I have very pleasant memories of our day together. We had lunch in an outdoor cafe, (Lisa, Steph's partner, joined us, uninvited), and Steph and I ended up having to sit across from one another at the the table. Later, Steph confessed to me that behind her mirrored sunglasses, when Lisa couldn't see, she would stare at me. She stared at my mouth and had fantasies about kissing me. After lunch we dropped Lisa off at the penthouse, (she quit her job that day–for what reason Steph never understood), and Steph, bound and determined that we would have some time alone together, took me downtown. We walked through the downtown shops, antique stores, and thrift stores that lined the quaint and artistic streets of this eccentric, coastal Southern California town. At one point Steph stopped and looking into my eyes said, "You're such pleasant company! Will you go steady with me?" I don't remember my response. I probably blushed. My whole being urged for her to take me into her arms and kiss me right then and there.

The next day, I flew home to Oklahoma. On the airplane I held the queue ribbon that Steph had sprayed with the cologne that he wore when he dressed as Mozart at the soiree, tightly in my hand. As I stared blankly out the window of the airplane, tears started to stream from my eyes. I held the ribbon up to my nose, taking in his essence and trying to relive that moment in the hallway when he took my face in his hands, drew my mouth towards his face and kissed me and then very flirtatiously poked the black satin ribbon into my exposed cleavage. I began to weep. I wept for the years that I had wasted with the wrong person. I wept for my children. I wept for my husband. I wept for my marriage. I wept for myself. I wept for the love that I thought I could never have. I wept at the thought of leaving the only one I had ever really loved behind, once again. My heart was breaking and I couldn't stop it from breaking. "What am I going to do? Where do we go from here? We can't just be friends now," I thought to myself.

Little did I know that I was about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life...

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The significance of the insignificant

>> Friday, September 30, 2005

One of the very first past life memories that Steph and I experienced together involved a little field daisy. Steph had memories of our lounging on the ground with his head in my lap and me making daisy chains out of little miniature daisies and placing them on his head as crowns. It seemed like such an insignificant thing, but it was a very prominent memory that we both had. The strange thing about it is that neither of us had ever even seen this type of field daisy growing where we lived. It was during our trip to Laxenburg that we discovered the Palais garden lawns literally covered in these little, white, field daisies. We were blown away.

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Vienna

After this trip, I found that, like Steph already had, I had fallen in love with the city of Vienna. I've never been in a place where I felt so at home, nor so celebrated. As soon as people found out that I was a musician, I was treated as if I were royalty–nothing like here in the U.S. where you're looked down upon and treated like some kind of a deadbeat who needs to get a "real" job.

Steph found a website called ZoomVienna, full of the most beautiful photos of Vienna that I've ever seen. This young U.S. ex-patriot from Boston has captured the color, whimsy, and imagination of this incredible city through his outstanding, creative, and imaginative photos. It has become one of my favorite sites on the web.

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What is True Love?

>> Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The following is an answer that Steph gave to the question on a friend's blog, "Is true love when you pray for someone else more than you pray for yourself?" I felt Steph's answer was so outstanding that it bore repeating.

I don't think that love has anything to do with prayer at all. True love is hard to define, hard to recognize, and hard to maintain, and yet it's the easiest thing in the world–despite all this–when it's right. When you love, the other person's needs–both big and small, important and trivial–mean as much to you as your own, even when that's not easy. It is friendship first and foremost, shared goals secondly, romance thirdly, and sexual lastly.

Love is paradoxical: as the physical passions mellow, the spiritual/emotional/intellectual passions grow hot. Love is evolution, love is constant change, love is constant redefining, love is constant re-invention. If you want a blissful life with no challenges, no trials, and no sacrifice–especially on the deepest personal level of self-definition and personal self-awareness, then run away, because love is a furnace that fires your darkest, stoniest coals down to pure diamonds. And as I've learned personally, Great Love exacts a great price; it is not free and it is not a gift, it is something that is earned both by the individuals and by the couple.

Sound trite or cliche? Take it from someone who made a lot of mistakes looking for love, but was finally found by it at the age of 48. If you're impatient, you will make impatient choices.

One last cliche: you cannot look for love outside of yourself. You must find it within and then wait for your readied soul to draw the right person to you. The hunger for love should not be confused with the desire for marriage or for having children; it must exist in and of itself, and when you are ready for them, your soul mate will appear. No sooner and no later.

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Changes from within

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Something has happened to me. Something deep inside of me has changed, and I can't explain it. Since my return from Austria I have continued to experience a sense of calm and release. Gone are the feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, anger, depression, and all of the accompanying behaviors. There is a new sense of calm that I can't explain. I suppose I could chalk it up to a number of things, not the least being the fact that my body is finally starting to balance out chemically, but it goes deeper than that.

Something happened to me in Vienna, something that permeated my entire being and unlocked the prison door for me. Earlier, I wrote that after the experience I had at the Karinthian Gate in Vienna, my weight started to drop dramatically. I wish I had pictures of me now–just a little over two weeks since we have returned and I'm still dropping weight. The changes are so dramatic that now even my children are noticing. (It's the ultimate compliment when your 13 year-old son exclaims, "Wow Mom! Look at you! You're hot!") What has happened on the inside is manifesting on the outside.

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Hope for the future

>> Monday, September 26, 2005

Yesterday afternoon around 15 teenagers descended upon our home and invaded our living room for nearly five hours. It wasn't a party of any kind, it was a meeting of GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance). The amazing thing about these kids was the fact that every last one of them was polite, well-behaved, intelligent, articulate, and concerned about the future of their fledgling club, designed to give support to Stillwater High School's gay students, and students with gay parents/relatives. It was touching and inspiring to listen to these kids–the vast majority of them being straight–voice their concerns to their faculty sponsor (Mrs. Hendricks–speech and drama) over the opposition they have already received from some local ministers.

Then after their meeting was done, they headed for the kitchen counter and helped themselves to the variety of snacks that they brought and proceeded to sit in the living room floor and make friendship bracelets to sell at Western Day, the proceeds going to benefit hurricane relief in Louisiana. These kids took five hours out of their Sunday afternoon to discuss their concerns for the future of their club and make bracelets to help people in need. When they finished, each and every one of them helped Lauren and Heather clean up our living room and then as they filed out, they each thanked me for opening up our home to them and told me what a lovely home we had. I was truly impressed.

All I can say is, Wow! Kids like these really do give me hope for the future of this country.

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Life's hard lessons

>> Friday, September 23, 2005

My daughter, Lauren, has been working along with one of her openly gay friends at school for some time now in getting a Gay-Straight Alliance club started in their high school. This has been a dream of Zack's for over a year, and last year, Lauren joined him in his efforts towards gaining faculty support and sponsorship. They were overwhelmed at the number of faculty who actually supported it, and when they went to their principal to speak to him, they were blown away at how easily he approved it.

At their first meeting they had 25 students show up and they were overwhelmed. Lauren was riding on a high and rightfully so. However, I warned her that when word got out to the parents and community of this, they would be flooded with opposition and that they would be in for a fight. Sure enough, it came. Not two days after their first meeting two local pastors called the school with their "concerns" and within 24 hours had an audience with the school principal. Today, Lauren and Zack have been called in to meet again with the principal concerning GSA, for what they have yet to learn. I suspect that he will be sharing some of the "concerns" that were voiced to him by the local pastors. I also suspect that our high school chapter of GSA is in for a real fight for survival. In fact, I won't be at all surprised if the ACLU has to get in on this one.

I'm not going to protect Lauren from this one. She is going to see some real opposition and she is probably going to witness some folks getting very ugly. It's character-building time and personally, I think Lauren is up for the challenge! Lauren, as well as my other two children, Heather and Nathan have learned a lot about love in the last several years. And one of the most important lessons that they have learned is that love is not exclusive to the heterosexual community. They have observed the love that Steph and I demonstrate towards one another as well as towards them and for over a year now, they have basked in that love and have been nurtured by it. It has been amazing to watch these three kids blossom. Now Lauren has the opportunity to share the strength and courage of that love with her peers and in the end, love will win out.

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Moving on with life

>> Thursday, September 15, 2005

We've been home for a week now, and life is starting to return to some sense of normalcy. (Or is it?) I'm taxi-cabbing once again. Between Lauren and band and Nathan with football, that keeps me busy driving. I don't even want to think about it once Lauren starts back to work. Heather is still pretty much of a homebody so the only thing I have to do with her is roust her away from the computer so that I can check my mail and make my blog entries. Can life be normal with three teenagers?

Work has been good. I've found that I actually missed it, and I certainly missed the people. I love the people with whom I work. They're like family to me. And they were all very excited to get the reports and see the pictures of our trip. I keep trying to remind them, however, that this wasn't a vacation. This really was a working trip, so we didn't get as many pictures as we might have if we were there on a vacation. It's kind of difficult to take pictures while you're being filmed!

We came home only to find our country in tremendous turmoil what with hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast, the death of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renquist, the resignation of the director of FEMA, and gas prices soaring out the roof. It seems like things have literally been falling apart at the seams. It was difficult to stay abreast of everything while we were gone. We did catch a little of CNN International and got the terrible news concerning New Orleans but quite after-the-fact. (Every cab driver who figured out that we were Americans and who could speak English took the opportunity to express their extreme shock at this sort of thing happening in America. And, of course, every one of them said that Bush was an idiot.) All of this only served to make us want to hasten our permanent return to Vienna.

So here we are...patiently waiting as the film goes through the editing process. Our jobs are finished. Now we wait. It's due out around the end of December. I wonder how normal life will be after that?

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What does it all mean?

>> Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It is hard to believe that it has now been a week since we arrived home from Austria. In fact, our airplane was touching down on the runway in Oklahoma City about now. Steph and I have both run through the gamut of emotions since then, ranging from sheer fatigue driven depression, to euphoria and wonder. I have to admit that it is difficult leaving Austria and all the experiences there behind. I've said many times to several people that I found my soul in Vienna. Again, I can't go into the details here, but suffice it to say that there was one, singular moment where things began to change for me. From that point on, I would never be the same. Interesting too, that the photographs of me after that point reveal that my weight started to drop dramatically. It was as if my body realized that I no longer needed the extra padding for protection and what had taken place on the spiritual level began to manifest itself on the physical level. As Steph has said many times, "As above, so below." The physical body is only a reflection of the soul. (The difference was so dramatic, that when I returned to work my boss could hardly believe her eyes! In fact, a week later she's still talking about how much weight I lost and bragging about it to everyone she sees. She even had Liz take a new picture of me for the clinic website!)

I've yet to sort it all out, and perhaps I never will completely. But one thing I do know is that I'll never be the same. I can sense it deep down–there's a peace and tranquility that I've never experienced before. No more feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or anxiety. It was really interesting that this last Monday we had our first meeting of the season for Chamber Singers. Because we have a new conductor we were all required to re-audition, with no promises that the old people would be accepted back in. Everyone was pretty nervous about it. I have to admit that it was a bit unnerving as I've always hated auditions–especially those in which I'm required to sight sing. This was one of the toughest auditions I've ever been through, but to my amazement, I remained calm and I did VERY well. In fact, I would dare say it was probably the best audition I've ever given.

I'm not sure what life has for me down the road, but one thing I know for sure–nothing bad is still happening.

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Salzburg

>> Sunday, September 11, 2005

The greatest bulk of the shoots for me happened in Vienna. In fact, according to the plot of the film, I'm not even supposed to be in Salzburg as Steph is supposed to be traveling there alone to wrestle with some ghosts. I am supposed to have stayed behind in Vienna to reflect on the experiences that we had there. (I learned just today that Larry really did intend to leave me behind in Vienna and take only Steph to Salzburg, but Steph told him several weeks before we left on the trip, "That isn't going to happen! I need her there with me." So I guess that little declaration changed things and I went.)

Larry decided to film an interview with me set up like I was in a cafe in Vienna, missing Steph and concerned about what was happening in Salzburg. It turned out to be, according to Larry, one of my finest moments. He later said to Steph, "You will be proud of your girl". I felt very confident during that interview and was pleased with it myself. I had already had so many life-changing experiences in Vienna that I think it was already beginning to show in my demeanor and in my confidence. My cathartic moment came at the Karinthian Gate, just off the Kartnerstrasse in Vienna on Thursday evening. I can't really go into it here, as it is a very dramatic and emotional point in the film and I don't want to give it away, but I can tell you that for me, it was a life-changing experience and I walked away from there a different woman--at peace with myself, my life, and the world around me. I told Steph, as we walked from there to the Volksgarten that I felt as if a ton of weight had been lifted from my shoulders and that lifetimes of guilt and bottled up emotion had all melted away.

I found Salzburg to be a lovely town, but much more bustling and busy than I had expected. Our hotel was probably on the busiest street corner in the entire city, and we had a corner room so you could hear every vehicle that drove by. One of my favorite moments came when I called my kids on Saturday. It was about two p.m. for us, but for them it was only about 7:00 a.m. When I called, Lauren answered and I could tell that I had awakened her. Her voice was sleepy, "Hello..." she answered. "Lauren...?" Again she replied sleepily, "Yeah..."
"It's Mom, Lauren."
"MOM!!! Oh Wow! Aren't you in Salzburg?"
I replied, "We sure are!" and as I did so I stuck the phone out the open window so that she could hear all the pealing church bells. "Hear the bells!?"

Once we crossed the river into the old city, things changed. The modern world was left behind and what lay before us was not just the Salzburg of Mozart, but an ancient city full of history and stories far beyond and further back even than Mozart. As we walked (sometimes climbed) the cobblestone streets I got the sense that there were many ghosts in this town and not just the ones with which Steph needed to wrestle. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to actually explore Salzburg or get a feel for what this city is really about. We were here because of the film and that's what we focused on. Steph and I have determined, however, that we will return to Salzburg, hopefully very soon, and give this beautiful city the time it is due and most certainly deserves, from us.

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A moment of sweet revenge

>> Saturday, September 10, 2005

As I've already stated in earlier posts, the Figarohaus was under complete renovation when we were there filming. Because of this, none of the rooms contained furnishings and the walls were bare, awaiting a fresh, new coat of paint. During a break in the filming, Steph called me into the room which had served as the bedroom to Mozart and his wife, Constanze, and directed me to stand in the corner of the room where the bed was. She then walked over and took my face into her hands and leaned over and gave me a very passionate, lingering, dizzying kiss (it reminded me of the kiss she had given me in the hallway of her penthouse in Ventura, years ago, during the soiree she gave when I came out there to meet her). But before the moment was finished, we heard Larry call from another room, "Okay Wolfi! We're ready to go!" Steph looked up and snarled in the direction of Larry's voice and called out, "Just a moment! I'm in here being unfaithful to my wife!"

Needless to say, it feels good to be riding in the front seat now.

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Diana's Temple

>> Friday, September 9, 2005

It looks like a setting from out of a romance novel, this large, ornate, Baroque pavilion in the middle of a vast clearing in the wooded gardens of Palais Laxenburg. Built in the early 18th century, it served as the summer get-away palace for Maria Theresa and her court, and in Mozart's day for Emperor Joseph II and his court. Michael Kelly describes in his memoirs the summer of 1786 that the Emperor and his entire court, including the court opera company, of whom Nancy Storace was prima buffa, spent there. A performance of Le Nozze di Figaro was given there as well as various other operas and individual concerts and entertainments.

The pavilion called the "Lusthaus", (House of Love), or more commonly known as "Diana's Temple" is the setting for the scene in Steph's book, Night Music, where Mozart confesses to Nancy that despite the fact that everything within him cries out that it is wrong, he can no longer deny that he is in love with her. It is one of the most tender and moving scenes in the book and this setting provides the perfect backdrop. My heart leapt as I was driven to the edge of the grounds which had been freshly mown for us that morning in preparation for the shoots.

As I stepped out of the car and made my way towards it, I could barely breathe. I kept repeating under my breath, "This is it!" Steph was driven up in a separate car and the moment she stepped out, she called to me, "Can you believe it? It's just as we described it!" Neither of us had ever been there before and had only very recently (just a couple of weeks before the shoot) seen pictures of it on the web and yet, in Steph's book we had given an eerily accurate description of it with it's intricate lattice work, Corinthian columns, and domed, frescoed ceiling.

The camera crew scurried around to film us in our initial reactions. They too, seemed to be awestruck not only by it's beauty, but it's significance to us and our reactions to it. This was just one of the many moving, emotional, and memorable moments during our on location shoots.


Perhaps I had a wicked childhood,
Perhaps I had a miserable youth;
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past,
There must have been a moment of truth.

For here you are, standing there, loving me,
Whether or not you should;
So somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.

Nothing comes from nothing,
Nothing ever could;
So somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.

(Something Good from "The Sound of Music" by Rogers and Hammerstein)

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New friends, wonderful memories

>> Thursday, September 8, 2005

On our last evening in Salzburg we met up with some British friends, Liz (who I met in an online Mozart forum), and her husband Nigel. Words can't express what a jovial and enjoyable evening we had together! There was not one tense or uncomfortable moment the entire evening. It was difficult to believe that we had never met these people before, we got along so famously--just like old friends. We have come to the conclusion that we really must be old friends. Liz and Nigel are two of the most interesting, intelligent, amiable, and warm people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. It was an evening I will not forget.

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The moment

>> Sunday, August 21, 2005

Thursday was sweltering with temperatures in the low 100's as Steph and I spent the majority of the day in our heavy, binding, and hot eighteenth-century clothes and wigs. My corset was laced so tightly that for two days afterwards, my ribs were sore. We spent the entire of Thursday in these clothes as we were filming in the Guthrie Library and in and around Guthrie.

After the library presentation, we changed into our clothing for the shoot in the Masonic Temple theater. This particular shoot was mostly of me singing Abendempfindung, so I changed into my heavy black satin gown with ivory lace at the sleeves and after Steph changed clothes too, we headed off to the Masonic temple where Larry and the rest of the crew were still waiting for Sanjay's sound equipment to arrive. We arrived at the Temple theater at around 4:30 and they decided that since the sound equipment was not yet there, (they were using some that they rented in Oklahoma City, but they didn't want to shoot the scenes with me singing until Sanjay's equipment arrived--Jessica had it confirmed that it was on it's way from the Oklahoma City airport), that they would shoot some scenes with Steph inside of the theater. Finally, at about 6:30 the sound equipment arrived and in about 15 minutes, after they got it set up, we began to shoot my scenes.

Because they were recording sound in this one, they couldn't run the fans in the theater and I stood in the hot lights wearing that heavy gown and literally roasted, perspiration running down my face, down my neck and into my cleavage. My costume mistress, (Kelly), came up between each take and dabbed my forehead, face, neck and chest with a cloth, re-applied my lipstick and dabbed my face with a generous amount of powder, and then we would shoot again. I don't know how many takes we made nor how many times I sang the piece, (which by the way, is five minutes long and every bit as demanding and difficult as any of Mozart's arias), but after an hour-and-a-half of shooting, I was starting to show signs of fatigue. Larry noticed and asked how I was doing. I replied that I was hot, tired, and hungry, (I hadn't eaten since 8:30 that morning). So while Jessica went out to scout out some food for all of us, Larry decided to give Chris, (my accompanist), and me a break and film some scenes with just Steph as if she were sitting in the theater listening to me sing. He directed her to sit in the second row near the left end of the middle section. She was to act as if she were listening to me sing this Lied, as if I were singing it directly to her. Since I was taking a break, there was no one up there really singing and Steph found it difficult to react to someone who really wasn't there, (the grip man, Scott, tried to stand in, but that really didn't work too well, LOL!).

I then decided to ask Larry if it wouldn't be better for me to stand in place and sing the song quietly, a cappella, so that it would be easier for Steph to find some motivation for the scene. He thought that was a great idea, so I got into place and we began the take. At first I only marked, (sang half-voice), as my voice was tired after all the singing I had already done, but after a few bars I found myself locked in on Steph and I began to sing to her, full voice with all of the expression, tenderness and emotion that I could muster. We locked in on one another and I was transported to another place. I forgot how tired I was, how hot it was, how much my feet hurt, how sore my ribs were. I sang to Steph, ...schenk auch du ein Trenchen mir, und pfluke mir ein Veilchen auf mein Grab..., I sang with my entire soul. I sang like it was the last time I would ever sing again. I forgot the cameras, the lights, the crew--it was only Steph and me, alone in that theater. After I finished singing the entire song there was dead silence--none of the usual stirring after a take where Larry would discuss the angles, lighting, etc. with the camera man--just still, dead, silence for at least ten seconds. Then Larry looked up from the camera monitor and simply whispered, "Wow, that was perfect". I walked down from my position on the stage, towards Steph sitting in the second row and I found her there, her chin resting on the backs of her hands, tears pooling in her eyes. She looked up at me and simply whispered, "I adore you, Wanze."

Larry and the rest of the crew quietly backed away and allowed us to have the rest of our moment alone. Later that evening he told us that perhaps, if one is lucky, a director will have the opportunity to shoot a moment like that once, maybe twice. He then looked at both of us and thanked us for allowing him to be there to record our moment and for giving him a glimpse into the deep and marvelous love that we share for one another. As for me, this is one of those memories that I will keep locked in my treasure chest of memories, never to forget. But what is so wonderful about this particular memory is that it is captured on film for everyone to see for all of time, never to be forgotten.

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There's No Business Like Show Business

>> Thursday, August 18, 2005

The crew from Rhombus arrived last night–weary and frustrated because the Chicago airport security is holding Sanjay's sound equipment, throwing our shoot schedule for today all off. Poor Jessica is pulling her hair out trying to speak with someone at any of the airport security offices to find out if and when the equipment is going to arrive. All she gets is the run around. (Yet another reason to hate this effing war!) I seriously doubt that she got any sleep last night. While all of that drama was going on, Larry and John were wandering all over the house looking for places to shoot interviews and scenes and choosing the clothing that Steph and I would wear in the scenes.

Our home was instantly, in one fell swoop, transformed into a sound stage. All three of the kids just sat back and watched in amazement as this strange group of people prowled and poked through the house looking at lighting, angles, colors, furniture, depth, etc. After about an hour, I drove with Jessica and Scott to the hotel, The Atherton at OSU, to help them find it. As Jessica was checking in, the girl at the front desk, (who knew they were a film company), asked what kind of a film they were shooting in Stillwater. When Jessica replied that it was a documentary about Mozart, the girl looked very puzzled, and questioned, "In STILLWATER?" I laughed out loud and told her that Steph and I have been asking ourselves that same question for several months now! LOL! Today promises to be an eventful one to say the least, and most assuredly an experience that I will not soon forget!

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It has begun!

>> Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's finally here–the week that the film crew arrives and we begin the first shoots for the film. Yesterday was filled with shopping, laying out clothing, mending and repairs on our 18th century costumes, voice lessons, and final touches on the house decor. In the midst of it all, the kids start school tomorrow so this evening I must make sure that all of the necessary forms and permission slips are filled out, take Lauren to and from her afternoon band rehearsal, go shopping for school supplies, take Heather to get her hair cut, put highlights in the girls' hair, make sure Steph cuts Nathan's bangs, and help Steph with the last minute housework. In the midst of all of that I still have to go to work.

Tomorrow the film crew arrives in the P.M. to get the layout of the house, do sound checks, confirm shooting schedules, and whatever else they do. We will meet the rest of the members of the crew including Jessica, who is the producer. Thursday we travel to Guthrie where I will be filmed in the Masonic Temple theater singing, Abendempfindung, one of Mozart's most beautiful and lyrical Lieder. Then they will tape Steph in the Masonic temple and then we will change into our 18th century clothing for the presentation for school children at the Guthrie Public Library.

Friday will consist of individual interviews as well as a party in the P.M. where our friends, co-workers, and colleagues will join us along with the film crew to celebrate Mozart! As this will be a very busy and hectic next three days, this will probably be my last blog entry until Saturday or Sunday.

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