Part Two: Where My Life’s Work and Life’s Music Collide, Quarrel and (Finally) Duke It Out

by Megan M. on September 8, 2009 (Blog) |

If you’re looking for the beginning, it’s right here. ;}

And then…

I’ll tell you—this year, I thought competing was going to be an awful idea. I already had so much on my plate that I couldn’t imagine giving a competition the time and preparation it deserved. I didn’t want to do it halfway, especially since I was determined to beat my performance in Swansea the next time I had an opportunity to compete in the National. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it right.

Of course, this is what we tell ourselves when we put off anything. I am really, really good at it. I’ll tell myself for ages that I’m waiting to do it right, I’m waiting for the resources, I’m waiting for a sign. Sometimes this is true and good—but sometimes, I’m just waiting. Most of the time, I don’t need to wait—and you will find this is true for yourself as well. Most of the time, I already have everything I need. You see, I had already technically “put off” the North American Festival of Wales for two years after finishing the National in 2006—always something, always a little less money than I needed, always distracted by this or that or the other thing. Always waiting for my technique to be better, waiting to be certain I could win. And this year, I had heard rumors that the David G. Morris award might be discontinued after 2009. Did I really want to miss what might be my last opportunity to have the trip largely subsidized by people who loved and supported me, with money I didn’t have to raise from scratch? I had other ideas up my sleeve, but this competition was the thing that made the most sense, and winning it was the only scenario in which I knew I’d be accepted to compete in Wales. If I was going back to the old country anytime soon, I’d better at least give NAFOW another shot.

I sent in my application… and promptly became absolutely swamped with work.

I was terrified. Tim, you can poke me about positive language all you want and it’ll still be true. I was totally terrified. I “knew” I was in over my head (right, whatever), I “knew” this had all been a bad idea, I “knew” I was going to make a fool of myself. (And thanks to Tim, at a certain point I remembered his very helpful advice and started stripping such “certainties” from my repertory once more!) For a month or two, I stuck my head in a hole and did things I knew I did well. I built websites and idea plans and web businesses. I worked up marketing campaigns for Marty. I refined our workflow, our organizational systems, made new-and-improved spreadsheets to track our finances, logged consulting time with wonderful clients, answered questions, solved problems, made friends. Everything was getting better—and more challenging, if that’s possible. Any time I looked up from my keyboard and noticed how close we were getting to September, I felt a little queasy. I’ll never be able to do this, I thought. And I’d go back to work, and feel pretty much fine. BUSY. But fine.

This was not simply a matter of me being unwilling to look my commitment in the eye. This was a matter of just about every moment I had being necessarily focused on paying our rent, our electric, the ISP, and so on and so forth. With no competition looming in my immediate future, my workload and ongoing concentration would likely have been exactly the same. But I was also unwilling to look my commitment in the eye.

Scared people do goofy things, you know?

Fast forward to July, two months till curtain. I now have the music in my hands. I asked my mother to order it, sight unseen, with no sure idea of how well the pieces will go or if the keys will be quite right. David Williams wisely suggested that I might sing the two pieces I would sing (in some alternate universe) at the 2009 National Eisteddfod, where they give you a choice of two pieces, then a second required piece. In this case, the required piece was Min y mor, by Meuryn and Eric Jones. The choice was a hoppin’ Verdi or a glorious Mascagni. I chose the Mascagni because I was pretty sure I could do long lines and howling high notes justice, and the runs in the Verdi would take me ages to pin down (though I hate turning down Verdi). The aria in question was Mascagni’s Voi lo sapete. I made my decision by watching them on YouTube. (Yes. You heard me right. YouTube.)

I should mention, at this point, that without my mother and David Williams to be patient with me and help me fill in the pieces, I probably would never have made it to NAFOW this year. I had my hands so incredibly full keeping all the balls in the air, I would likely not have managed to set aside the resources needed to get this thing rolling. Without David’s suggestions and support, I might never have chosen my pieces—and without my mother’s constant questions and offering of assistance, I might not have gotten the music ordered, or the dress or makeup purchased, or the hotel booked, or the lessons scheduled. It’s because of them I got to Pittsburgh at all. I am appropriately grateful!

So in July, I was traveling. My father had surgery and I hopped a flight to Northeast Ohio to hang out around the house and keep an eye on him. When I returned, my voice teacher—John Van Cura, my wonderful cousin also of Welsh descent—was still out of town for another few days, but my delay in scheduling turned into two weeks as I plowed through paid projects to reach some financial equilibrium—and suddenly it was August.

Thirty Days and Counting

One month to get everything done—that was August.

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