I've been a little blog-blocked lately, hence the lack of entries. As you might have gleaned from one of my recent posts, some of my attempts at humor made some of the people at Opera de Colombia feel bad, and when I found that out, I felt horrible. The reason I started writing my blog was actually to make people laugh and smile, so discovering that the opposite occurred gave me a very bad case of writer's block. But I really don't want to give up on the blog because it brings me a lot of satisfaction to be able to share my adventures and mishaps with others, so I am actually forcing myself to write this entry in order to overcome this newfound trepidation. (And if you plan to go back through my blog and reread the entries on Colombia to see what I'm talking about, don't bother, because I deleted anything that I thought in hindsight might have been offensive to anybody, out of respect for all the people there).
I learned something important from this experience; Be careful not to shit where you eat (excuse my french). Even though I by no means meant to say anything negative about the opera company, my attempts at humor and sarcasm were read by some as criticisms and humor at the expense of others. In my experience, every single opera rehearsal situation presents challenges and unusual situations, and I like to report on and comment on those unusual and sometimes funny happenings. But I realized that if you a) don't know me and my sense of humor well and b) don't know the complete context of the situation I'm in, what I'm saying can come across in an entirely different way from how I intend it. I always think everyone is going to know that I'm nice and have good intentions, but time and time again I realize that what I feel inside my head and the way people perceive me are actually often completely different. This used to happen to me a lot in life - I would sit in rehearsal totally focused on what was going on, but people would think I was scowling or looking mad, when I was just concentrating. Then they would say to themselves (they would later report to me when we became friends) that they thought I must be either really unhappy or a real bitch, neither of which was the case. "But that's just my face!!" I would cry. (In Cincinnati a couple of summers ago they all teased me about it and called it "The Rivera Face". Somebody even took a picture of it when I wasn't paying attention.)
But my not feeling mad didn't change how they perceived my expression, and the opinions they initially formed about me based on this unconscious behavior. I have gotten to the point now where I'm so much more aware of how the things I say and do are being perceived, and yet somehow it never occurred to me to think about this in regard to my blog. So I fell into the perception/reality discrepancy again, and it left me feeling deflated, like - "when am I gonna learn??"
But, after thinking about it a lot, I have decided to keep writing my blog. I got worried for a minute that I should stop because I might accidentally write something at some point that would cause someone not to hire me, or not to like me, or not to want to work with me. But then I decided that if I know I have good intentions, and I pay a little more attention to the tone of what I write, I should still be able to make people laugh and share my thoughts and feelings as I have so enjoyed thus far. I believe in the end that good intentions win out over incorrect perceptions, and I'm almost always able to win people over once they actually know me. This should be true with the blog too - the more I write, the more people will know me, and hopefully the more they will understand me and maybe even like me. And if not, well, that's life, and I just have to accept that too. But in the meantime, I'm leaving for Southern California in a week to sing another Barber of Seville, and if living 5 minutes from the beach in 78 degree weather doesn't make you hate me, maybe I can find something really nasty to say about Californians and offend even myself (since I am one.) Here's hoping :)!