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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Of Budgets and Earthquakes

As Central City Opera's Festival Production Manager, I spend each year getting ready for our season, managing our current Festival, closing it down and getting ready for the next one. Now that our 2011 Festival has finished and all my production staff and interns have scattered to the four winds, this is my time to start closing down the details of my 9th season with Central City Opera.
Festival Production Manager Karen Federing and the 2011 Festival Staffers
First comes my drive home; I head back to the East Coast where I've lived much of my life - most of it in New York City. Then I take a few days to unpack, regroup and readjust to sea level and the summer coastal humidity that I've avoided by spending my summers in the foothills of the Rockies.

So Tuesday at about 1:52pm ET, I was working in my home office in Maryland (just 30 minutes northwest of Washington, DC). I was making budget entries for my weekly expense report of remaining Festival expenses and looking over photos of our sets this season so I can use them to advertise potential rentals to other opera companies. And then the floor started to shake. And then the ceiling - which was really strange. I thought it was neighbor kids running around outside at first. And then I did what no intelligent Californian would do - I ran outside. No kids anywhere. The stairwell was shaking like mad as I went down the stairs and kept shaking as I watched. It took a few minutes to register that I was experiencing my 1st earthquake. All I can say is that it was a pretty unnerving experience - especially the feeling that my office ceiling was going to fall in, which is really what made me want to leave my office. When I went back inside, framed photos and knick-knacks had been knocked from shelves and framed art was hanging lopsided - proof of a 5.8 quake, to be sure.

I went back to my computer (where I'd been in mid-e-mail conversation with staff in our Denver office), told them what had happened, and went back to work. But I also spent much of the day checking with family and friends here and up in New York, and fielding text messages from all over the place, sharing experiences and a sense of wonder.

It's pretty impressive to think we can stay this connected under duress. I was still living in New York City when September 11 happened, and I will say Tuesday brought me back to that day just a little - especially the desire to reach family and share that we were all ok. But on that day, I could only reach my family right there in New York, not reaching my family in DC until much later in the day, which was quite terrifying. At least Tuesday, technology brought us all together.

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