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One of the things that I do to while away the hours (instead of conferring with the flowers and consulting with the rain *whistles*) is read other people’s blogs. I have a pretty solid list now, mostly food and fashion. A few of them are friends (Linoleum Blownapart, Jordan in Ecuador, City of Annie, Reading Rambo), but most of them are established bloggers, like David Lebovitz, Smitten Kitchen, and The Sartorialist. I especially love Garance Doré, who is the Sartorialist’s girlfriend, a Frenchwoman, and incredibly chic.

A couple of days ago, she wrote a post about Eres, a bathing suit company based in Paris. I went to their website. I shouldn’t have. I’ve fallen in love with a bathing suit–and I never thought I would say that, ever. Observe.

*swoons* The colors! The band at my natural waist! An endorsement from the one and only Garance Doré!

My problem, blogosphere, is whether or not to go try it on, despite the truly shocking pricetag. I think bathing suit shopping is one of the highest forms of torture, but I just have a feeling about this one (or maybe about a similar one with straps). Which is probably why I shouldn’t go try it on, because if it looks the way I think it might, it will be tough for me not to buy it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the longer I live in my adult body, the more I’m able to look at an article of clothing and know if it will look good on me. (Not always, but a lot of the time!) I’m really starting to know which fashion elements work for my body and which ones just don’t. So not only do I avoid buying too many things that look great, but I also spare myself the pain of trying on things that don’t work. Usually.

And here’s where I’m going to go ahead and connect bathing suit shopping to singing. You didn’t think I’d be able to do it, did you? But here’s the thing–I had a repertoire epiphany yesterday, and the first thing I thought was, it’s like shopping!

(Laura Claycomb is actually perfect. I think she blogs too, actually, so maybe she’ll google herself one of these days and this post will come up…a girl can dream!)

Anyway. This is “No word from Tom” from The Rake’s Progress by Stravinsky, an 8-minute monster of an aria/scena that is the bane of every audition pianist’s existence. I think before I had even heard it for the first time, I was hearing ABOUT it–Stravinsky’s send-up of grand opera, tricky intervals, high C at the end, don’t bring it into an audition unless you’re sure the pianist can play it, et cetera. And then a few years back I heard somebody sing it in Vocal Solo Class and I thought, gosh, that is so not for me. Too hard, too high, too long, too fiddly. No, no, no.

A few days ago I found that Laura Claycomb video, and suddenly instead of hearing all of the reasons not to sing it, all I could hear was that it would suit my voice perfectly. All of the things that I consider my strengths as a vocalist–shimmery top, agility, better-than-average English diction, strong middle and lower registers–are the bread-and-butter of this aria. So I went to the Médiathèque Musicale de Paris (which is, as I think I point out every time I mention it, IN THE MALL) and checked out the score of The Rake’s Progress. When I got home, I sat down at the piano and starting learning it.

I almost wasn’t surprised when it came naturally. The tricky intervals will need polishing, obviously, but they made sense to my brain and to my voice; I’ll work on the high notes with my teacher, but they’re there and functioning. The recitative sings like a dream, the low notes almost feel like a luxury, and I get to really let loose on the cabaletta. Basically, this aria is my voice, wrapped up into eight minutes.

What’s interesting is that it occurs to me that I’ve really only been working with the voice I’ve got for about three years–maybe not even, since it took ages for my vocal folds to recover from being lasered. And this year I’ve made such an immense amount of technical progress that it’s almost a different instrument, with different strengths and weaknesses (well, no, the weaknesses are pretty much the same) than before I came to Paris. But the more I use this new voice, the better I know it, and the better I know what it can and can’t do. I can hear a piece of music and without looking at a score, know how it will feel and behave in my body.

See? It’s totally like clothes shopping, and definitely less painful than bathing suit shopping. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the “how do you know” questioning from my last entry–because I don’t know. It’s just intuition–I can feel it in my whole body when a piece is going to be right, but intellectually I’m still going, are you crazy? That’s so hard!

The bathing suit obsession is a phase. If the sun would just come out, I wouldn’t be fantasizing about buying bathing suits and sandals. Although come to think of it, there is always that tax refund…