Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gratitude - Day 119

Gratitude - Day 119
I'm grateful for a huge pan of Korean Barbeque'd Legumes!

We had the most delightful dinner out with friends on a tiny square in the Marais and ate ourselves silly. My dish: Broccoli, Carrots, Peppers, Lentils, Peas, Corn, Tomatoes, Cabbage, and probably a few more things thrown in for good measure.

I'm also grateful for the lovely company, to be sure!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gratitude - Day 118

Gratitude - Day 118
I'm grateful for experiencing 3 wildly intensive, fulfilling, inspiring hours.

Last night I found myself armed with an unknown address, a bottle of water, and 3 pages of music I had never sung before, written by a composer whose music I had never performed, ready to rehearse for an hour before returning tomorrow to record this particular selection. (Sorry, not at liberty to divulge any details just yet - but when I can, you know I will...) I had heard for years from numerous colleagues that I should work with this conductor, but of course, there are only so many hours in a day, days in a week, etc. But finally, courtesy of brilliant minds and a great project, I found myself on the way to work with this Maestro for the first time, contributing one little piece of the larger puzzle.

As the taxi abandoned me at the given address, I looked up and a sense of dread hit me: "Great. That's just GREAT. I got the address wrong. I'm stranded. And me, with no cell phone - good one, Joyce!" I was smack dab in the middle of the courtyard of a local hospital, WAY on the left bank, which is definitely a part of Paris I do not know at all. Luckily, just as I was about to turn around and - well, honestly, I had no idea what to do next except perhaps panic - I heard my name, and a lovely French lady came to pick me up. Sure enough, we were set to rehearse in the hospital's tiny chapel, which ended up being the perfect backdrop to what would follow.

Thinking this was just a "first meeting", and knowing that this genre of music was quite new to me (completely new, actually!), I was ready *just* to rehearse. The conductor arrives and declares that "If we CAN, we'd love to *record* this tonight." And my gut reaction was, "Are you insane? I don't have a clue what I'm doing on this! I don't know how we'll work together! No WAY I can record it tonight!"

"Let's just see how it goes."

"OK. We'll just pressure, right?"


Well, "the rehearsal" consisted of nearly 30 minutes of discussion of the text. Just the text. Well, the text in the context of the entire piece in conjunction with all the other roles and the character's particular blood line and personal history and the historical impact of the piece, etc, etc, etc. It was riveting. After such in-depth, psychological probing, we said, "well, let's just run it and see what happens." We hadn't made one note of music together at that point - we had only spoken of emotional tapestries and things like honor, loss, acceptance, love - in fact, of life.

What followed was the coming together of 7 total and complete strangers, meeting somewhere in the musical sphere, leaving all ego outside the door of this damp little chapel, allowing all to be free to create something living out of those tiny black dots on the page scribbled centuries ago by another stranger to us, finding a common language together, a common vision of this character's loss.

Before I knew it, the producer was pronouncing, "That's it, we've got it!"

This was the kind of work that inspires me beyond words - it is CREATIVE and INTENSE with the highest standards of musical values - not simply to dazzle or impress - but instead calling on all these qualities to work together to build up something honest and living that may just have the chance to touch people. It's the kind of work that fills me with joy and inspiration.

That's the good news. The bad news is that I didn't eat beforehand, thinking I would be home by a decent hour and could then join my wonderful husband for an intimate dinner for two overlooking the rooftops of the Marais from our apartment, right? Well, when you enter "the zone", time flies, and when the work is as good as this, you are completely unaware of the minutes (hours) whizzing by. My stomach, however, began to protest in earnest, and when my keys unlocked my apartment door at just after midnight, I was ravenous. A simple pasta of cherry tomatoes, green olives, capers, olive oil and a touch of parmesan was heaven on earth, and the perfect finish to such an uplifting night!

And to finish with more good news, I think I can go out on a limb and say that for most of you reading this, you can most likely count on this little project to be a great idea for a beautiful, touching Christmas gift later in the year for fellow opera lovers. (I know, that's terribly cheeky of me, but you'll understand in due time!)

And now? A day off and back to my beloved Romeo tomorrow night! Seriously, someone pinch me...

Monday, May 26, 2008


I remember one of many long, deep conversations with my Dad that started out, most likely, with how the Royal's pitching staff was doing, and wound its way through religion, faith, life, and the desire to always stay young at heart. This particular conversation found us debating the difference between "happiness" and "contentment", and how well I remember his saying that the former would come and go at its own pace and in its own time, but the latter was a state of being that could accompany you no matter what the present circumstances - for it implies a deeper, immovable force within you.

Well, personally I'm happy with both states of being, and I'll gladly take both - I'm greedy, I suppose! But from a professional standpoint, I can say there is a difference between the two: I can be "happy" that I got a contract, that I received a good review, or that the powers that be were pleased with my performance; however, I feel a profound sense of contentment when I know I've given everything I have in a particular performance, and that my preparation paved the way for me to be free and express all that I desired for that moment. Sadness can crush at will the sense of happiness, however, when the contract is given to someone else, the review is not exactly glowing, or someone "in authority" expresses indifference to my interpretation. But if I am truly content with myself, truly settled in what I gave, nothing can move me from that place. Perhaps that's what my Dad was speaking of?

I debuted the role of Roméo in "I Capuleti e i Montecchi" Saturday evening for the Paris Opéra, and I'm happy to say that I left the theater deeply contented. (I was also very happy, but that may have been directly tied to the champagne!)

Now that the premiere is behind me, I'll be completely forthcoming: I completely and totally underestimated this role. HOW that happened, I'm not sure - but I think one of the reasons is that of my inner circle of "advisors", for lack of a better word - they're not official, just my go-to folks - but surprisingly not one of them really knew this opera. (I know - how can I ever again refer to them as my trusted "Opera Queens"?!?!) But somehow, this opera just fell through the cracks, and no one leading up to this event was pumping me up with "You're going to LOVE this role - but watch out, it's a really tough one, it's going to take a lot of work", as they did non-stop with my first Octavian. Also, in my flipping through the score months ago to gauge how much blood, sweat and tears I would have to invest into these notes and words, I stupidly and naively looked at the "simple" (HA!) Bellini lines and thought, "Oh, this is a snap - a few low notes, lots of high notes, but all manageable, simple melodies, I'm good to go!", and out of necessity, immediately turned my focus to things like my recital repertoire and my first Handel recording - "the really hard stuff". Before I knew it, Handel was 1,000 light years behind me, and I was unpacking my luggage in Paris marching to the first day of rehearsal with a cavernous sense of "I'm going to be fired, because I am woefully under-prepared for this role. WHAT WAS I THINKING?"

That was the bad news. The good news was that I am known in this theater, so perhaps they hesitated a bit in actually asking me to "please quickly leave the premises", and I also knew the conductor and likewise, he knew my normal work ethic. After pleading for patience I threw myself heart and soul into finding this character, and didn't stop until I was in his skin. Yes, it's "an easy learn" - because it's Italian (which thankfully now comes more easily to me) and no, it's not complicated musically to pick up. But as they say, the devil is in the details, and that is what I relished about diving into this score - the tenuto, the accent, the stretch, the pull, the rests, the silence, the LEGATO - and always always always these tiny markings creating the heartbeat, the pulse, the tears, the desperation, the pleas of this character, Roméo. Even though I never would recommend preparing a role this way, I have to say that perhaps this full-on immersion was exactly the adrenalin and intensity I needed to find his passion and tenacity.

I'm just sorry that I didn't have a better cast to perform this role with. (Insert sarcastic icon here) I don't normally like to write too much about my colleagues here - so much can be misconstrued or misinterpreted, and I try to be very respectful of people's privacy - but I'll suspend that rule for the moment: Matthew Polenzani sang a beautiful Tebaldo (his role debut, as well) and brought his supreme musicality and rich integrity to the role. As the 2008 recipient of the "Beverly Sills Award" and also a fellow "Tucker Award" winner, I went to him after the curtain call and said, "You know, Matthew, I sure hope that Richard and Beverly are popping open a big bottle of Champagne and toasting us tonight - I think they would be very proud of us down here", and we both drank in the enormity of how those two American singers helped pave the way for the two of us to stand on that stage in that moment, and how, as winners of the prizes that celebrate their immense contributions, it felt quite magnificent to be "making good" on those votes of confidence given to the two of us over the past few years.

And of course, Anna Netrebko was making her Paris Opéra debut in this role, and she was a dream to share the stage with - from her beautiful singing, to her completely involved performance, to the hidden squeeze of my hand as I sang my final aria to her. She is a most generous colleague who enters onto the stage to tell the story holding nothing back, and I do believe it is one of the reasons she is an anointed star in this opera world - I think the audience feels and responds to her generosity and knowing that she is enjoying every note she sings.

As for me, even though it was a fast and furious journey, and even though I essentially had only one complete run of the role before the opening curtain, I felt ready, I was excited, and I held nothing back. I have never had a role ask so much of me in terms of the vocal range (as this one begs for a lot of "heroic" singing in the middle and low part of the voice), and I think it has been a wonderful thing for me to stretch into. I welcome the chance to find the balance between "experiencing" the emotion myself, and "giving" the emotion to the audience - ah yes, that's a terribly tricky line to walk in a part like this, but the reward is great. And I cannot wait to sing this part 7 more times. I will be very sad to say goodbye to him for the time being, however, I trust this feeling of contentment will last a very long time.

Photo Credits: C. Leiber/Opéra National de Paris

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gratitude - Day 117

Gratitude - Day 117
I'm grateful for support.

Yesterday was a big debut for me at the Paris Opera as I was singing the role of "Romeo" for the first time - a rather daunting undertaking, as it's truly "big girl singing" ... despite the fact that, yes, it's a "male" role - and the amount of support I felt around me was quite overwhelming and MOST welcome. I received the most beautiful flowers I've probably ever received (thank you, "Operafan"!) and my record company, EMI, which won, HANDS DOWN, the award for the most unbelievably enormous (and I do mean E-NOR-MOUS - as in "barely fit in the taxicab" enormous) beautiful bouquet full of roses, gladiolas, hyacinths and these gorgeous, stunning peonies - perhaps my new favorite flower!!!

I was extremely touched by the generosity, not only of the flower-givers, but of the chorus, the orchestra, the cast, the crew - it was one of those evenings where you felt everyone was WILLING it to be a special, beautiful, meaningful show - and by the audience's reaction, I take it that the mission was, in fact, "accomplished". Merçi beaucoup, a tous - including the wonderful comments here from you all - it's terribly thoughtful of you! More soon ...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Gratitude - Day 116

Gratitude - Day 116
I'm grateful for literature that brought us such a wonderful character, wound into such a beautiful story, told across the centuries, never losing its power to move and teach.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wherefore art thou?

Were this particular production of I Capuleti e i Montecchi an updated, modern production, I could imagine Romeo making his first entrance on this little gem parked below our window tonight:

However, it is NOT an updated production so Romeo saunters on to meet the imposing legion of Capulets on his own two feet in period costume, puffy pants and all.

Last night we gave our final rehearsal to a packed house at the Paris Opéra. It's a strange thing that happens in every theater now - we have one last rehearsal to get everything lined up and ready for the opening night, but we have to do it in front of a full house, so essentially it is our "opening night". It can feel a bit strange knowing that we are giving "a performance" for free, and while singers fall onto different sides of the debate about whether that is fair or not, I for one usually welcome the chance to feel out a role (especially a new one!) in front of a crowd, for as I've written before, performing in front of people changes every dynamic of the evening: adrenalin flows in a different ratio, energy is bounced around and traded over the footlights, and the real risk taking begins! For me, it's a good thing to test out those added elements before the "real" prima - not to mention, most of the folks attending are donors (thank you!), friends of the opera, families of the orchestra and crew, and the lucky few who "know someone".

Last night I sensed immediately that it would be an exciting night, and by all accounts that made their way to me, it most definitely was. I think it was the case of bel canto music really weaving it's magic on the performers (allowing us to trust the simplicity of the lines and emotion), and on the audience - for the cavernous Bastille was pin-drop-quiet all night. EXCEPT, ah yes, except for what I took to be gentleman who found perhaps, the all-time worst time to let loose on a resounding sneeze-type explosion that rang through the would-be rafters: in the most hushed tones, Roméo and Giulietta say their final, eternal goodbyes, and there is a most precious rest in the music before Giuletta QUIETLY declares that Roméo has died ...

"Ei muore...."


"Aaah-$%&*$%^#(@*#$%" Only it wasn't really a sneeze - it was one of those shattering sort of shout-sneezes. The kind that makes you feel someone has just suffered the fright of their life and may not survive to tell about it.

God bless him, I'm sure he couldn't help it - but wow, the timing was deftly cinematic!

Giuletta promptly followed that with her own shattering "O Dio", and followed Roméo to his eternal fate.

In what I took to be a testament to the impact of the moment, oddly, it wasn't that disrupting all things considered.

So it was my very first complete run of the role - without stopping, in costume, and in front of an enthusiastic public. I'm completely head over heels in love with this guy - for his youth, his exuberance, his passion, his failed but heartfelt attempts to bridge the enormous gulf of warring factions, his pleas, his heartbreak, his loyalty, his PURE LOVE for Giuletta, and finally, for his tragic, inevitable fate.

I feel as if I'm stepping into big shoes with this role, but the sense of honor and privilege that accompanies those shoes fills me with TREMENDOUS excitement and prompts me to give it all that I have - and I simply cannot wait. I also couldn't think of a better cast, crew, or theater in which to debut this role - this is one of those shows where all the elements are working in the best manner to produce a REAL SHOW: no extraneous nonsense or egos or distractions - and in a very relaxed and positive atmosphere so we can just enjoy bringing this all to life. It's beautiful.

Although, I have to say, I wouldn't HATE having to drive that Vespa...

Gratitude - Day 115

Gratitude - Day 115
I'm grateful for a beautiful view. One of my MOST favorite things about Paris in the springtime is how light it stays into the evening. Right now, the last blue fades from the sky around 10:00, but by the summer solstice, it will stay light until 10:30 or later - and it carries with it youthful joy and a feeling of possibility! I love it. And to see the pink and yellow tint fall onto the rooftops of this beautiful city NEVER grows old!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gratitude - Day 114

Gli Angeli
Picking back up where I left off - I'm grateful for a charming place to experience a wonderful meal. David Zobel, the brilliant pianist and dear friend introduced me to this place last year, and it has since become a favorite "evening out" place in Paris. Nothing fancy, but just great food. Of course, it's Paris - so I could take a photo of most any place and call it great, but what's nice about spending time in a city is finding the places you like to return to, which go far in making it feel a bit more like home.

I'm game!

So it seems the venerable and original "Desperate Operawife" has tagged me in a "meme". Let's have at it:


The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
Each player answers the questions about himself or herself.
At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Ten years ago:

Exactly 10 years ago I had just graduated from the Houston Opera Studio but still had no artistic management - having been politely but soundly rejected by 7 of NY's bigwigs, I had jobs lined up for the following season in Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona, I had badly misjudged short hair, and was busy living a life according to how I thought other people expected me to live.

Five things on today's "to do" list:

* Wake up next to my husband for the first time in nearly 6 weeks
* Buy fresh baguette from the downstairs bakery to accompany the peanut butter my husband brought me from home
* Review recits in Capuleti so I can FINALLY get all the text correct in today's dress rehearsal
* Tell my co-star what a blast it is to perform with her
* Take my husband to my favorite Italian place for the most amazing pasta in the world (we can have French food another day!)

(OK - for those near Paris, it's "Gli Angeli" on Rue St Giles in the Marais, and they have the most ridiculously delicious pasta!)

Things I'd do if I was a Billionaire:

* A lot of charity - mostly Children's charities. Children and music - yes, a lot of that!
*Take a safari every year.
* Fund research

Three Bad Habits:

* Not hanging up my clothes at the end of the day
* French fries
* Swearing. Often quite loudly. Often in multiple languages.

Five places I've lived:

Permanent residences: Prairie Village, KS, Wichita, KS, Philadelphia, PA, Houston, TX and Kansas City, MO.
Temporary residences: the rest of the world.

Five jobs I've had:

In order: Church secretary, Waitress, SINGING waitress, Church choir director/organist, Opera Singer

Five People I'm Tagging:

Little Miss Bossy

It's probably more information than you ever wanted to know!

And for more pressing business, one more rehearsal left - which is really, essentially a performance since the theater will be packed with donors and friends of the opera, and other lucky folks who scored tickets. We're all very excited about the show - everyone sounds wonderful, the chorus is on top form, lights still need to be tweeked, and we need this last run to be 100% ready for the opening, but this mezzo can hardly wait - it's such an honor to sing this role. I still have to figure out how to make it through the last scene without crying.

Time to run - that pasta is calling my name!


THE pasta:

Heaven on a plate
Paglia e Fieno: Fettucine giallo & verde con Prosciutto Crudo di San Daniele con crema di TARTUFO!!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Love is in the air....

Love: Parisian Style
So I know I have been absent here for a bit - my apologies - but duty was calling! We don't have the longest rehearsal period for this particular revival (this is, I believe, the 4th time putting Robert Carsen's brilliant staging up), and considering it is my first stab at the role (sorry for the pun), I've just had all of my mind, energy, and attention pouring into it - and I think it may just be worth it. I think I perhaps underestimated the scope, intensity and density of this role - it's an easy mistake: you look at the notes Bellini jotted down onto the page, and they look oh-so-simple. "It's a few chord changes, a simple melody, the odd chromatic leading tone to bend the phrase - seriously, how entailed can it be?", she foolishly thought!

Well, as I posted earlier, I'm in love. I quite simply LOVE this role, and am pinching myself in each rehearsal that I have been entrusted to sing it. Are you kidding me? It's bliss. We're having a wonderful time, our first orchestral rehearsals have gone extremely well, everyone is excited and positive, there is a great rapport between cast, chorus, orchestra - and hopefully the audience will catch the fire, as well!

However, my work is not done, so I will write more once my "day job" is settled. We have a big week ahead, building to an exciting opening night on Saturday, so I'll be back. The brilliant part of having some time off this weekend was spent with my camera in a blissful day in Paris, thunderstorms and all, enjoying nooks and crannies, and a delightful, full-fledged Parisian dinner party: the writer, the singer, the painter, the banker, lots of talk of literature and cinema and laughs - not to mention aromatic wine and a GREAT Camembert - is there anything better?

In the meantime, because I am in a "Romeo Mood", I seem to be catching lovers everywhere, as in the pigeons above, and of course, to put a smile on your face, I introduce you to Odie, the pug:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gratitude - Day 113

Gratitude - Day 113
(So, I think this catches me up on my postings...)

I'm grateful for falling in love.

It doesn't always happen to me. Sometimes I want it to happen, but the chemistry just isn't there. Sometimes I am sure it won't happen, and it sneaks up on me out of nowhere. Sometimes I know it will happen, but when it actually does remains unknown.

Today it snuck up on me, and I fell in love with my newest role. I knew I would fall for this Capulet sooner or later - it's Bellini, it's Italian, it's ROMEO - what's not to love? But I know I can't ever force the issue with new roles, or music in general - it will only ever happen when it happens, not a moment sooner.

Today I sang through the final scene for the very first time with the conductor. I'm hooked. I'm done. There is no turning back. I'm a goner. He has my complete and total devotion, this one. I mean are you KIDDING me with this music? Are you kidding me that I get to SING this? Yes - I'm completely done for!

Gratitude - Day 112

I'm grateful for SUNNY DAYS!!! Oh, am I grateful for that! The weather here in Paris has been UNBELIEVABLE and while it pains me to be indoors all day working, it lifts me up to WALK to work in it!! (and the lovely thing of Paris is that it stays light so late in the day, that I still get the benefits of the blazing glory!)

This is one of my very favorite spots on the planet, let alone in Paris - the Places des Voges, and I get to walk through it every day. Paradise!

Gratitude - Day 111

I'm grateful to be back in Paris. (And grateful that I can actually say to "BE BACK" here, because to even get ONE shot at this amazing city is a gift in itself!) As I struggled to keep my bleary, blood-shot eyes open on my taxi ride from the airport (not, sadly, from the gourmet dinner and wine - but from no sleep thanks to having just done a gala concert in Montreal hours earlier - but more on that at some other point in time...), I was really overcome with memories and a strange sense of perspective.

I haven't done the math, but I've probably sung more performances in this city than any other (not counting studio performances in Houston) and that means a lot of memories, and a lot of time under the bridge - I guess, in this case, that would mean down the Seine. About 9 years ago, it was the first city at the end of a 13-city audition tour to actually give me a contract, and has felt like my European home ever since. But when that tour happened, I was in a very different place in my life, and over these swiftly flying years, I have experienced much, grieved much, celebrated much and learned so very much. I'm not one to live too much in the past (not at all, if I can help it!), but it is fascinating to me to be given the chance to take stock of things, so to speak, and to have the chance to feel the growth around you. Paris is that for me - and I pinch myself that I can actually say that. I mean, PARIS!!!

The other thing that boggles my mind is that when I first worked here (Barbiere in 2002, if anyone is keeping track), I knew not a soul here, and felt like a complete outsider in the customs, the food, the language, the atmosphere - in every single way imaginable. I literally stepped outside of my apartment door upon arrival, bleary eyes and all, and ran into a friend of mine on the street. I went to eat at a cafe near the opera, and as I walked in the door the owner gave me a hug saying "welcome back!" Again, I had to pinch myself. I may still feel like the obvious American girl here, but I can tell I'm MUCH more French because now? I couldn't care less what anyone may think of me!!! I've learned very well here!!!

Gratitude - Day 110

Gratitude - Day 110
I'm grateful for patience. While perhaps feeling a *tiny* bit demoralized for not celebrating the finish of my recording in Brussels, that oversight was quickly compensated for at "TOQUÉ!" in Montreal. I had two of my very favorite people with whom to share an incredible gourmet tasting meal of seven heart-stopping courses, one mouth-watering bite after the next, four hours of delightful, often deep conversation, three big celebratory toasts, and countless full-throttle laughs. If you're patient, it all comes around! (PS - if ever in Montreal, save up and splurge on an incredible meal there!!)

Gratitude - Day 109

Gratitude - Day 109
Playing 'catch-up' here:

I'm grateful for FLOWERS! I had a most beautiful welcome in Montreal with this beautiful arrangement (including a beautiful hyacinth!) and it made my hotel room light up. It was repeated upon my arrival in Paris (Merçi, Audrey!) making my apartment feel just a bit more like home!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Exclusive backstage recording footage

Not of me, mind you, but a real glimpse into the "inner workings" of a recording session. More or less. Done by the BRILLIANT French & Saunders, brought to my attention by the even more brilliant DS - thank you, sir!


Friday, May 2, 2008

Gratitude - Day 108

I'm grateful for my laptop computer. I'm grateful that it enables me to stay in touch with family and friends, that it houses old letters, keeps my life organized, keeps my heart pumping with the fabulous music it carries, and is generally a good companion.

Gratitude - Day 108
I'm even MORE grateful for the people who converged together with the universe to return it to me safely yesterday. The saga goes a little something like this:

So I hardly slept two nights ago, regardless of the fact that I had all day to pack up my worldly possessions, the procrastinator in me seems to stubbornly refuse to start the ritual at a sane hour - I'm pretty sure it's something to do with avoiding my nagging luggage knowing that it means the security lines are only hours away. But I did it. (They're not even too overweight this time!) I shut my glorious book at 4:30 am and perhaps I fell asleep soon after? The annoying, antagonistic alarm performs its dastardly duty at 7:30 am, right on time: GREAT! GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE!!! It's TRAVEL DAY!

I make it out the door, reveling in the short passport control line, board the plane and upon sitting in my seat, I actually feel kind of awake; so I take the opportunity to pull out my computer to work, putting it in the pouch in front of me, and, knowing it would be a few minutes before I could turn it on, lay my head back "just for a minute" and am out COLD! GONE! DONE! Finito! Before I know it - we're landing. "That was fast," I think to myself.

I get off the plane in London - Heathrow, mind you, with it's maze of 1,459 terminals, and began sniffing out my next step. Sure enough - I'm parked in Terminal 1 and need to catch the bus to escort me to Terminal 3. Of course, with a new terminal brings MORE security! GIO-O-O-O-IR!!! One nice surprise presents itself: apparently in London the need to take your laptop OUT of the bag and to take your shoes off are no longer necessary! I'm secretly jumping for joy in the knowledge that FINALLY airport security big-wigs have begun to see the complete waste of time and energy that rigmarole was! I'm a happy traveller! "Isn't this nice? It speeds things along, makes everything go more smoothly - this is turning out to be a very easy, stress-free trip! Beautiful!

Passing through security, loving the easy flow of traffic, I think, "How wonderful I don't have to lug my Hmm. Wait. My lap....tooooo...OH NO!!! OH (insert curse words of every romantic language here________that's right, even the ones that talk about your mother!) OK. Wait. Stop. Think.

Right. OK. My laptop is still sleeping soundly in its cozy little pouch on BMI Flight #146, Seat 3A. Right. OK.

What occurs next happens in that funny existential plane of running while FEELING as if you and everything around you is moving only in sloooo-moooootion - all the thinking, all the moves, you name it:

*SOMEONE HELP ME!!!! WHAT THE (again, insert the words of your choice here, I sure did!) _____ do I do? There is NO way that laptop is still on that plane, OR if it IS, then that plane is surely on its way to Istanbul....

*Joyce - stay calm, panicking will only make matters worse!

*Find an information booth.

*"Must go back to terminal one...lost computer..."
(Smiling, "poor thing" looks come over the helpless information booth workers.)
"Yes, must go back...HOW?"

*Back on the bus to Terminal 1. I am the only one on the bus, and we sit for TEN minutes (again, in slo-motion, this feels like the Bush presidency - NEVER ending!)

*Mental slideshow begins without ability to pause it: husband's LETTERS...surely they're ALL gone. (and yes, I do back up my files, but I'm not thinking that rationally here!)

*OK: time to think positive!

*Terminal 1

*BACK through security (apparently in the last 15 minutes at this airport they've discovered something about terrorism, because in THIS terminal, it IS mandatory to take shoes off - I shove to the back burner the logic arguments here.

*Trying not to scream to the security guard, "WHEEEEEERE'S THE BMI DESSSSSSSK???"
"Over there"
"Wish me luuuuuuck - I have to find my laaaaaap - tooooooppppp!!!"
"Good luck...." (I smile thinking that she really was sincere! Lovely!

*BMi Desk. (PLEASE be nice, please be nice and EFFICIENT! Work a miracle here, guy!)
Voila - a very nice guy - and he smiles at me.
"Please be my angel today!!! blah blah blah...."

"Give me 5 minutes"

*He's back in 3.

*It's BACK!! It's BEAUTIFUL! It WORKS!!! See? There ARE wonderful good people in the world who do all the right things. They didn't STEAL it! I am a very happy person.

*Back on the train, back through security: this time, there are two lines - one of the line's leaders is yelling to TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES", the other line - no shoes off required. Please allow me to just vent for one moment and laugh (cry?) at the ridiculousness of that. I know the security people are just doing their job, but it is ALL so COSMETIC, and that is a most disheartening thing. These lines were LITERALLY 10 feet apart adhering to completely different 'safety measures'. I've always felt these 'measures' were, essentially, simply for show, but this was just a gross demonstration of that. But, hey, there were, thankfully, no incidences that day, so I suppose it all went according to plan!

*Anyway, on the way back, I see almost all the same people I saw on the way and scream, "I GOT IT BACK!!!" It was like a scene from a movie - like I was running through the corridor waving at everyone, music blaring, all of them breaking into applause and screaming "GO JOYCE, GOOOOO!!" Ok, it wasn't quite that way, it was a series of events that showed the human race at its finest - all except for the stupid (ok, let's say TIRED!) person who failed to "check their area for personal belongings before leaving the aircraft."

So in the end, I'm grateful I can post this to my blog via my AMAZING MacBOOK LAPTOP courtesy of the AMAZING PEOPLE at BMI Airlines!!! As he said upon returning this hunk of metal to me: "I'm just doing my job." Well, I'm damn happy he was so good at his job!