Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Let's Blame It On The Heat And On The Wine

So here's the thing: we don't have a television. I could pretend to be all high and mighty and say we don't have one because we are far too cultured for the idiot box, but the truth is, I am a recovering addict. I love to while away the time, zapping through channels, watching trashy MTV shows, reality tv, animal documentaries. If we had a tv I would undoubtedly be doing this every night. The problem is, I always feel yucky afterwards, like I just ate my whole easter basket full of candy in one sitting and now have to face the consequences. No, it's better if I protect myself from what I want because, to be honest, I have very little self-control. No ice cream in the house and no television. I read more books; I write more; I'm happier. And if I want to watch a movie or a series I rent them at the video store around the corner and watch them on my computer.

I also like raising my children without a television, though I think we might have to get one eventually. There will come a time when all of Mia and Lilly's friends will be talking about such and such a cartoon character and, if they don't even really know who this character is, they may be seen as outsiders and I don't want this. But the television can wait.

One thing I have started to do is watch vintage Sesame Street with Mia on YouTube. Here are some of my absolute favorites.

I can remember all of these and being excited when they came on (and this is but a small number of the ones I recognize). I also remembered the names of the people; Bob, John John, Maria. Funny how that information is stored somewhere and, when accessed, is suddenly there again. Mia's absolute favorite is this one of Patti Labelle singing the
ABCs gospel style.

Today she begged me to play it ten times in a row, crying if I tried to play something else. The last few times we had an ecstatic, hand-clapping dance party together towards the end. Mia's love of this clip has been one of many clues that she may have inherited my (and my sister's) musical talent.

Music lies deep in my family, coming from the southernmost borders of Russia. My German-Russian grandmother had ten siblings, all of whom were in a family band. Both my sister and I are classical singers, she a lyric soprano, me a dramatic mezzo-soprano. I have a degree in music and studied quite seriously for several years with the opera singer Blanche Thebom. Also a dramatic mezzo, she believed in
my voice (a mezzo, especially a dramatic one, is a rare voice to have). She told me once if I didn't have a shot at a career, then she didn't know anything about the business. But I am not an opera singer. It is a hard life; competitive as hell, living over half the time out of a hotel room, that is, if you're lucky enough to be singing at all. But to say that I just didn't want it enough (which is true) only strikes the surface. The truth is music and performing, which have been important to me ever since I can remember, also touch upon some deep wound. They "hurt" in a way I can't describe.

I worked with a pianist here in Berlin for a while and it was wonderful and I will do it again when Lilly is a bit older. But the idea that Mia may have inherited something with music, that she may have a chance to hold and cultivate it without the wound both me and my sister have is truly inspiring.

Wow. This post has gotten rather personal, wouldn't you say. Let's blame it on the heat and on the wine....;)

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