Tuesday, July 24, 2007

That's not technically an omelette.

Just now I got a little motion sickness from scrolling and scanning webpages, and yesterday I got a little motion sickness from walking around quickly while also scanning shelves and rounders at Target and Goodwill. This does not bode well for my 8 hour flight, and also suggests that I am dehydrated or missing some essential vitamin, OR that I have been looking at too many things. I am definitely doing too many things. In the past two days I have had to discard many possible to-dos because there simply hasn't been time to do everything. I have not packed even one article. I don't actually know which bags I'm taking. I also still don't know what I'm wearing to the wedding.

So in the meantime here are a few more items for my midwestern magical realism novel:
1. Intrigued by the puffy sleeves on an off-white sweater at a thrift store, I check the tag AND IT ACTUALLY SAYS MY NAME ON IT. If you know my real name, which is unusual, you can appreciate how weird this is. Who knew I was already a brand? In the 80s, anyway. (I didn't buy it; it's 100 degrees today and the air is like paste. I can't believe I even touched angora.)
2. A squirrel with a hairless neck area runs out in front of my car (and crosses the street safely). Moments later, a small hawk flies across the street. It's weird, I think, to see hawks in neighborhoods.

I should've been writing things down. These days have been bursting with coincidence. I stopped by my parents' this evening to say goodbye--they'll be in MT when I return, sniff--and my mother gave me a speedo swimsuit, a vintage dress, a pair of ballet slippers, a wool felt Hanna Andersson sweater coat, and a jar of blueberry jam. You organize those items into a coherent narrative, and I will let you write my novel.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Son, you got a panty on your head.

Today I basically just ate granola all day. One of the things I truly enjoy about being a grownup is indulging my own dietary whims. Probably I talk about it too much (see previous post re: ice cream for dinner), but there are so many other things about being a grownup that I do not enjoy; I figure I'm entitled to a day's worth of granola and a few sentences of food commentary.

One fun thing I did this weekend is figure out my net worth, after hearing Boston Gal on Marketplace Money the other day. Do you know about this woman? She's an "open wallet," a personal finance blogger who charts her net worth monthly and shares it with the internets. I've been tracking my income for awhile as a matter of freelancey necessity, but have never baldly regarded my assets next to my liabilities. Thanks to my private college (that I will never ever regret attending), my liabilities still outweigh my assets, but not as much as I might have imagined. I mean, I'm currently worth more dead than alive, but still: there is something a little bit reassuring about seeing it all spreadsheeted up and thinking about how next month I will have chipped away at the debt a bit more. I recommend the exercise.

Of course, next month I will be experiencing the financial fallout of international travel, so maybe the spreadsheet will cease to reassure at that point. We leave for England on Wednesday evening. The Brit's sister is getting married, and and we are having a little vay-cay-cay. It will involve hiking and camping, and also swanky wedding accommodations and stays with the family, and hopefully some thrift-shopping (I am collecting recommendations). I'll be blogging at you from the UK, never you fear.

Opera camp wrapped up on Friday. It was fabulous. The kids did two performances of the scenes they'd been working on, and just tore it up. Watching them work was a slightly complicated source of joy--complicated only by my nostalgia for that type of innocent discovery. I don't mean innocent in the condescending or proto-sexual way; I mean like they don't have a clue what it takes to be a practitioner of this art form, but they are learning RIGHT THIS MINUTE and are choosing to do this thing, some even paying for it themselves. And you watch and listen and think about their broad uncharted futures and get sort of wistful, even if you yourself had a lot of great opportunities as a kid.

But then on the other hand you now get to spend your days eating nothing but granola if you wish, so really you should get over yourself.

That would be a great full-circle post-closing sentence, except that I forgot to report a few other things:
1. I watched RIZE and yes, it was amazing, and yes, Bring It On: All Or Nothing makes a mockery of krumping (but I knew this). I also enjoyed that it's possible to get "krumpness" or to be "krump," though I realize I will achieve/be neither.
2. I had my last hip-hop class and was significantly more coordinated than before. I also started demonstrating my moves to the opera camp crew. Holla!
3. My brother was in the hospital for three days with a skin infection. I think he's okay, but he was rather f-ed up, thanks to an ongoing resurgence of childhood eczema. When he was a baby, my mom made little paws to attach to his jammies, so he wouldn't scratch himself silly in his sleep. Maybe I should send him some paws. They would be the size of your head.
4. I saw a bald eagle flying over a mall parking lot.
5. I slipped in water, ran into a wall, and have fat mustardy bruises on my right arm. On the plus side, the ice pack they gave me at the opera felt like a weighty dong once it had warmed up, and the best part about it is that everyone I slapped with the ice pack instantly knew EXACTLY what I was trying to convey, which was: dong-slap.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm dynamite and I don't know why.

I may have made a thrifting miscalculation today when I bought vintage denim culottes, complete with mom-waist. I bought them to sell, but they fit perfectly, so now I feel all confused. I am in fact wearing them right now, as a sort of audition before I go to bed early. I cannot seem to get enough sleep these days.

Opera camp has been going splendidly, though it is weird not to have much time to myself. I am accustomed to having a lot of it. But I also know that I function much better when I have more on my plate, so I'm feeling good right now. Well maybe not right now, given that I am wearing the mom-culottes and am confused about them. But mostly, overall, I feel good. Like every gig, I will have the "what now" when it's over, but this time I get to go to England: my what-now period will be eaten up by travel preparation. Mostly, I need to shop for comfortable shoes. My feet are officially getting old and demanding comfort footwear on a more ongoing basis, yet I still have a lust for slightly ridiculous shoes. I know what you're thinking, and I'll answer you right now: yes it IS hard to be me.

Thanks to one of my pianist colleagues at the opera, I had a memory lane trip that I have just revised and expanded with the help of Google. See, for about a month in 1988, I was in an R & B band fronted by a driven young 13 year old who now has a crazy website. This is no joke. I am proud of her even though she is wearing buttfloss on her website, because she has all of the self-marketing mojo that I lack, and then some. And girl, I apologize for blowing your age cover by revealing that we were 13 in 1988.

I do believe our band was called "Ice."

Anyway, what brought this all crashing back today was my pianist colleague--the same guy who suggested that my "first day of opera camp" outfit was great because it looked like a 70s detergent box--singing a little Janet Jackson, specifically "When I Think of You," which was and is a great song. It has come up more than once in the last week, in fact. We were actually discussing The Jacksons today, and how Jermaine has a son called "Jermajesty," which is funny every single time I think about it. "I like to think about Tito," my friend said. "Like what is he doing right now?"

"Eating a McRib sandwich," I posited.

But back to Janet. My short-lived stint as an R & B keyboardist was based on the totally false premise that I was a good piano player. I had taken 5 years of piano at that point, and this remains the sum total of my piano instruction. I had also been roped into improvising an accompaniment to my junior high choir rendition of "Lean On Me," the Club Nouveau version. I am sure that I sucked, but this solidified my reputation as a pianist.

So the singer convinced me to come to a practice in her basement, where the gear was all set up, her dad was playing the bass, and I was given the music for "When I Think of You." For the keyboard player, this involves like three chords, which I immediately memorized, creating a further false impression that I was some sort of genius. I was also allowed to sing a verse, which I am certain I did with my burgeoning whitegirl vibrato.

Later, the singer's mom quizzed me on what whitefolks eat for dinner and found that tacos are pretty universal. This detail was, I think, my pianist friend's favorite part of the story.

I have removed the culottes and now I am going to bed.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Do right woman, do right man.

Morality might be hard-wired into the brain, like language. So say the cognitive neuroscientists investigating the neural basis of moral cognition. I couldn't find a link to the actual study for your reading pleasure, but another study by the same neuroscientists, Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafman, shows that making charitable donations activates the brain's reward system in the same way that receiving monetary rewards does.

I don't know about you, but I love finding out there's a physiological basis for stuff like moral behavior. This is why I'm a fan of the enteric nervous system, which is responsible for your gut feelings.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Just this, from birth to death.

I'm not jaded about where I live, and never have been. It is true that Midwesterners in general have a massive front of niceness that is really not at all false--it's a cultural imperative--but it's sort of like they're wearing a porch on the house of their actual emotions, and it may take some time before you feel like you really know them. Oh yes, won't you sit down and have some lemonade, but I think we'll just stay out here because the front door sticks a little bit. But the niceness is real, as far as I'm concerned--it doesn't strike a false note.

My drive home from opera camp winds all the way down the river road and it occurred to me today, not for the first time (or the last), that it is rather magnificent to live along one of the world's great rivers and to walk along it and cross it as casually as other folks walk down the street. I took a long walk during our break yesterday to find some lunch and to take some pictures--nothing special, just a tuna melt and some old bricks and peeling paint. At Lund's, the (female) cashier called me "baby" and seized my wrist to examine my bracelets. (Maybe she didn't grow up in the Twin Cities.) A dumpy young hipster in mismatched browns nearly passed me, and then suddenly asked if my dress was vintage. "It's really cool," he said. I was filled with fellow-feeling, and my lunch was delicious.

On the way home, I pass historic mills and drive beneath the shadow of the Guthrie's jutting promenade. At Lake Street, the bridge over the river into St Paul was crowded with peace demonstrators today. You can see some of them most Wednesdays during rush hour, but for some reason they took my breath away today. Their homemade signs said honk for peace, no blind loyalty to bad policy, end torture, Presbyterians (and all kinds of other religions) for peace. I honked and threw peace signs. Fellow-feeling is easy to come by in the summertime.

During post-game wrapup today at opera camp, someone suggested that the choreographic approach to one of the chorus scenes should involve krumping. I will be laughing about this for the rest of the day. If you would like to see a really embarrassing demonstration of krumping, please go to this clip from Bring It On: All or Nothing. I would really like to skip the hip-hop class tonight, but how can I after re-watching the krumpin?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

They stand in the way of love and we will smoke them all.

June kind of bit me in the ass, my friends. I spent way too much of it thinking about or dealing with my various pee issues and now I have, like, a mini-cold. I am grateful that it is mini, but still, the sinus pressure has been enough that I have needed constant naps the past few days. Really really ridiculous. Shall I tell you about my kidney infection? I think I won't, except to say that kidney pain ain't no joke, and surprisingly I have not missed coffee during this toxic time in my life.

Other odds and ends:

I bought this on etsy:


I have been digging the following blogs:
Poppytalk, a Canadian design blog.
Shelterrific, a home blog.

I'm teaching, or wrangling, at an opera camp for the next two weeks, which should be good times. I keep thinking about the things I usually get done during the day, though, and it's confusing me that I'm going to be employed in a more standard way instead.

I have not practiced the dance combo from my sister's hip-hop class in 1.5 weeks. I am going to be tragic in this week's class.