a little something extra

Monday, February 20, 2006

musical misplacement

The Pacific Chorale rehearses on Monday nights. Due to a series of work and travel conflicts, I've attended only about half of the rehearsals since New Year's.

When I sang with PC last fall, I was unexpectedly placed in the lowest women's voice part. So when I came back this winter after the break, I rejoined at the same place.


Tonight I finally got a look at the seating chart for the alto section. It lists not only who should stand where, but who should sing what part when the music becomes more and more complex. This document was dated a month ago.

Well. Apparently now I am supposed to be singing the highest alto voice part. So I've been rehearsing the wrong parts for a month, including singing in the entire wrong choir on some double-choir stuff.

Oy. The higher placement is more in keeping with my musical history, though I didn't mind singing the lowest parts either. It's just a bit of a pain in the butt that I've wasted some valuable rehearsal time singing the wrong lines, and that nobody brought this fact to my attention.


In other news, I'm back from Utah. Which was beautiful, but snowy and tiring. Having today off from work was a Very Good Thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

of muffins, valentines, karma, and travels

A smorgasbord update tonight.

First, my sister Erin sent me a batch of muffins last week. Never have muffins traveled so far in such good condition with so much good will behind them. She made them in the D.C. area and mailed them to me here in southern CA as a gesture of comfort over my recent job disappointment. They arrived without a crumb out of place. Nine of them are still resting in my freezer. The other three were delicious. :-)

I'm not going to dwell long on Valentine's Day for the extremely single. I enjoyed happy e-valentines from my friend Tripp and my friend Sara, and while I ate dinner tonight I thought a bit about how maintaining the love in your life on a year-round basis takes the sting right out of Hallmark's favorite holiday, even when your most recent date has long since sailed into the distant beginning-to-be-forgotten past.

Dear Readers, please aim your good karma towards my brother Joe, who had what looks and smells like a potentially successful job interview this week. He should be told the results within the next couple of weeks. So that's one. Also please direct your immediate short-term karma towards my sister Shannon, who has a job interview this Thursday and another couple of possibilities in the works. Her delivering notice at her present job is a consummation devoutly to be wished. (I also devoutly wish I could remember where I picked that phrase up, its rhythm is so delicious.)

Finally, I'm headed out of town over the weekend to do my college theatre festival thing. It'll be cold, much colder than here, so send me warm thoughts.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's Connor's Birthday!

All hail, all hail! Connor is two years old today!

I'm not doing a "five fabulous things about Connor" entry because those really only pay off for people who can read.

But you should go forth to Connor's blog (graciously kept up by his mama until such time as he gets going on the reading/writing thing) and leave a Happy Birthday message.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

a farewell to coffee

Two strong indicators suggest I have to drag my bones back onto the decaf wagon.

On top of my bad news this weekend, I had a whopping two-day headache. It was aiming for three but fell a bit short. Those headaches have tended to hit on weekends over the past few months. I don't tend to make coffee on weekends. Oops. Oh, no.

And in a phone conversation with my mother about the day I described as like being nibbled to death by ferocious ants, I mentioned that I have days like that about once or twice a week -- days when I am so irritated with the world in general that I just about lose my mind. She said, "That's far too often." And I remembered how my doctor in Austin practically begged me to cut out coffee, and when I did, not only did some little physical problems disappear, but my emotional life got unexpectedly better. I had thought it was just that life was hard -- turned out that all the caffeine was artificially inflating my anxiety level.

Now this fall, after years of verrrrry limited caffeine consumption, I had started drinking a single travel mug of coffee each morning to stave off drowsiness during my Monumentally Boring Highway Commute. (Ask Erin, she can confirm how Monumentally Boring it is.) Apparently even that much caffeine is no good for me. Brings on the ferocious ants.

So. Back on the wagon I go. I bought a pound of decaffeinated beans when I did my grocery shopping this weekend. I've mixed in what was left of my leaded beans, and will taper down with that until I'm drinking decaf only.

Coffee, I hardly knew ye.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

when the going gets tough, the tough make peanut butter cookies

The going got tough this weekend, when I received confirmation that I wouldn't get an interview for a job I'd really wanted. My coping techniques included logging many hours on the new cell phone, calling in sick to work on Monday, and making peanut butter cookies.

"Why peanut butter cookies?" you may ask. What mystical healing qualities lie in the humble crosshatched disks?

Well, first, cooking or cleaning or building something is good balm to the troubled soul. It's productive, orderly, and controllable. I have friends who scrub their bathtubs when they're angry, or who redecorate a room when a romance breaks up. I like cooking. I'm good at it, I can do it at home, and since I live alone I don't have to please anyone else with the results. There's an extra measure of satisfaction in these tasks for somebody like me, whose work is so ephemeral. When you scour a bathtub, it stays clean (for a while, anyway). When you redecorate a room, it stays redecorated. When you make cookies, they stay made (for a while).

And it so happens that peanut butter cookies are a favorite of my mom's. Her recipe for peanut butter cookies was one of the first ones I put in the green three-ring binder that houses all the recipes I've tried, liked, and want to make again, that are not contained in cookbooks.

So the association with mom and family is very comforting, and I capitalized on that this weekend. Though the recipe's very simple, making peanut butter cookies is a complete sensory experience. They look like no other cookie, with the crossed tines of a fork pressed into the top to start them flattening. The dough is uniquely sticky, and requires fingers to drop it and shape it. It's also sticky enough to produce the distinctive whining sound of my old handheld electric mixer screaming its last. (A friend in St. Louis has multiple spares and is sending one to me.) The aroma and flavor speak for themselves. Every sense was engaged with something that would remind me of home.

All that, and I wound up with a couple dozen cookies to enjoy over the next week or two. What could be better?

Monday, February 06, 2006

tagged by Tripp

Tripp tagged me with the following Meme of Fours.

4 jobs you have had in your life:

writing and editing copy for an advertising agency that specialized in the high-tech market
scheduling surgical procedures at a public hospital
running the artistic programming at a play development/playwright service organization
running the literary departments at this theatre and that

4 Movies You Could Watch Over and Over:

The Pirates of Penzance (shout out to Sarah!)
The Godfather I and II, but not III
I can't come up with four!

4 Places You Have Lived:

Atlanta, GA
Minneapolis, MN
Austin, TX
Dublin, Ireland

4 TV Shows You Love To Watch:

Northern Exposure (thanks to Netflix)
Firefly and Buffy, but not Angel
Good Eats
Divine Design

4 Places You Have Been On Vacation:

Cape May, NJ
Disney World in FL
San Francisco
New York, NY

4 Websites You Visit Daily:

Cafe Utne
the New York Times theatre coverage
the companion blog

4 Of Your Favorite Foods:

dark chocolate
red wine
sauteed greens
fresh bread

4 Places You Would Rather Be Right Now:

Atlanta, GA
Arlington and/or Fredericksburg, VA
Wilmington, DE
San Francisco

And the lost shall be found

My cell phone was in my bathrobe pocket. I almost never wear a bathrobe, so if I hadn't decided to put it on this morning to keep warm while making some phone calls, who knows how long it might have languished there?

I'll charge it up to rescue the phone numbers I've saved in the old phone. But I've used well more than 30 minutes of airtime on the new phone, thus rendering it unreturnable. So once I've programmed the numbers from the old phone into the new phone, I'll wipe the old phone's memory and donate it to one of those organizations that provides cell phones for people who need them (domestic violence survivors, etc.) Because I am my father's daughter, I have all the manuals and periphera that belong to the old phone, so they can all go with the donation.

Friday, February 03, 2006

mechanical updates

My heating system behaved itself last night -- turned on, turned off, otherwise didn't make a fuss, and it was in the right temperature zone when I got up this morning.

My new cell phone has arrived [thank you UPS], but will need to be charged for 24 hours before I ought to use it. So, I'm figuring I'll charge it overnight and tomorrow, then spend some quality time Sunday programming numbers into it.

Ben, I'm deeply amused that you called me on the very day my phone took off for parts unknown. :-) But I still got your message!

Ain' Got Time to Die

Music and lyrics by Hall Johnson. You can listen here to Marian Anderson singing a perky solo version (scroll down to track 27) or here to a choral version.

Lord I keep so busy praisin' my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin' my Jesus
Keep so busy praisin' my Jesus
Ain't got time to die

'Cause when I'm helpin' the sick (I'm praisin' my Jesus)
When I'm helpin' the sick (I'm praisin' my Jesus)
When I'm helpin' the sick (I'm praisin' my Jesus)
Ain't got time to die

'Cause it takes all of my time (It takes all of my time, it takes it all)
All of my time (to praise Him)
If I don't praise Him the rocks are gonna cry out
Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die

Lord I keep so busy workin' for the kingdom (workin' and I'm workin')
Keep so busy workin' for the kingdom (workin' and I'm workin')
Keep so busy workin' for the kingdom (workin' and I'm workin')
Ain't got time to die

'Cause when I'm feedin' the poor (I'm workin' for the kingdom)
When I'm feedin' the poor (I'm workin' for the kingdom)
When I'm feedin' the poor (I'm workin' for the kingdom)
Ain't got time to die

Repeat Chorus

Lord I keep so busy servin' my master (keep so busy)
Keep so busy servin' my master (I'm servin')
Keep so busy servin' my master
Ain't got time to die

'Cause when I'm givin' my all (I'm servin' my master)
When I'm givin' my all (I'm servin' my master)
When I'm givin' my all (I'm servin' my master)
Ain't got time to die

Repeat Chorus

Now won't you get out of my way (oh get out of my way)
Get out of my way (you better get out of my way)
Let me tell you if I don't praise Him the rocks are gonna cry out
Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die

Glory and honor, glory and honor
Ain't got time to die
Ain't got time to die

Thursday, February 02, 2006

attitude adjustment

This was not a day when I felt like my guts were being ripped out by the circling vultures a la Prometheus, but a day when I felt like I was being nibbled to death by an endless parade of tremendously irritating ants. Some of those ants included...
  • The customer service person working for my wireless provider. When I called this morning and said "I'd like to report a lost phone and see about ordering a replacement," the person replied, "Have you tried looking for it?"
  • All the various people who dropped into my assistant's office to shoot the breeze. Loudly. For a long time.
  • All the various people who chose the spot right outside my office to stand and talk. Loudly. For a long time.
  • The staff member who appeared unannounced in my office and shoved a finished marketing piece in front of my face, demanding to know what I saw, while I was literally in the middle of doing something else.
  • The person who emailed my theatre to complain about the representation of Jesus in a recent play, and the artistic director who delegated to me responsibility to compose a reply, which is not to include the phrase "withdraw the stick from your ass."
  • My missing cell phone.
  • The stomach-sickening feeling of discovering a friend has retreated into political conservatism and is unfortunately puffed-up about it.
  • Reminding myself by another go-round of the same icky experience, that I should not discuss reproductive rights with persons of the conservative persuasion.
  • Having to spend the money to replace my missing cell phone.
  • The note I found from the apartment maintenance staff when I arrived home, stating that he or she had "Adjusted the thermostat and set it to Heat and Auto." It was on Heat and Auto when I left.
  • Not hearing about something that's very much on my mind, and not knowing when I will hear. (Don't ask, I can't say more.)
So I was a profoundly cranky camper by 7 p.m. But the choir at the Church of What's Happenin' Now rehearses at 7:30 on Thursdays, and I am nothing if not responsible. I ate something quickly and off I went, and was reminded of all the many ways that singing is a healthy activity.
  • Anything that has you sit more or less still and breathe deeply for an hour is bound to be good for you.
  • Focused effort to be in harmony with other people has an effect on the mind that goes beyond the music of the moment.
  • The lyrics are cheering and uplifting all on their own (just try and be grumpy through three verses of e.e. cummings!)
  • The Church of What's Happenin' Now has a high proportion of loving people involved with its music program.
  • Several of those people are themselves going through much rougher times than I am, or are seeing people close to them through rougher times. Ah, perspective.
So I don't know what my furnace is going to do tonight, but I do know that I'll probably sleep better thanks to the attitude adjustment that was visited upon me.

'Night, y'all!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

bad day for mechanical things

The heat in my apartment is not working properly and my cell phone is missing.

Heat first. I've had the thermostat set at 68F since it became necessary to turn the heat on at all. (Yes, Virginia, you do have to heat your home in Southern California in wintertime.)

So this morning I woke up to the inside-the-apartment thermometer reading a balmy 80 degrees and the heat still running full blast. I turned the system off, then reset the thermostat for 68 before I left for work.

This evening the thermometer read 66 and the heat wasn't turning on. I put the system on On instead of Auto, and it's blowing something, but I'm not sure the air is warm.

So, then one would think, this is one of the advantages of apartment living -- you can just call the management office and they'll deal with it. Well, then we run into the missing phone.

Yesterday evening I made a couple of phone calls during my commute home. I stopped at the library long enough to pay a couple of overdue fines and renew the books, then headed home. This morning as I packed up to go to work, the phone was nowhere to be seen.

It has to be in one of three places: the car, the apartment or the library. I called the library from work, but nobody had turned a stray phone in. I've snooped around the apartment -- no dice.

I'll search the car tomorrow morning after I get back from the gym, when there's daylight to see by. But for now, let it be remembered: if it's important to you that a given higher machine or system work, don't let me near it.