Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An idea whose time has come.

Handy cards, at Earmark's Etsy shop, also home of some excellent Keep Calm and Carry On parodies.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Report from the interior.

I typed that title and then I remembered where I snagged the phrase: in Mating (one of my favorite books as I may have mentioned once or eleventy times), it's a fart euphemism, or more accurately, a fart response. As in "Ah, a report from the interior." This post may prove to be the internet equivalent of flatulence, but that's not really what I had in mind when I typed the phrase.

Mostly I wanted to provide an update on my weekend activities. I didn't get the thesis done. I did hack away at it, including deleting a bunch of beloved paragraphs that ultimately had nothing to do with anything, which is always important and difficult. And I wrote some new stuff. But it became apparent on my first read-through that this wasn't a one-weekend project. I need to keep working on it, and I will, now that my two-year stint of not working on it has ended. Can you believe that? The last save date on the file was in the spring of 2008. Actual years ago.

I'm getting a Doctor of Musical Arts, not a PhD, so the requirements for the paper are nowhere near what they are for a more academic dissertation. If you're getting a degree in music performance, performance is necessarily the bulk of your graduation requirement. So you do five recitals or their equivalent, and write a paper for which there seem to be no documented rules: it could be 30 pages or 100, scholarly or speculative, predicated on a faulty translation (this has happened), etc. This makes it all the more ridic that I'm not finished with the thing, especially since I never seriously entertained the illusion that my paper needs to contribute something to a body of scholarship.

Anyhoo. Since you asked, the paper is about a piece that was commissioned for me and which I performed SEVEN years ago. About half the paper is about Amy Lowell (the subject of the piece) and her poetry, and the other half is about our piece--the process and musical language. Whee!

I also did this over the weekend:

Red fringe.

This was a planned endeavor, not thesis avoidance, so just put that idea out of your head. It's how I kicked off the weekend. I can see how people who start dyeing their hair or getting tattoos or whatever have a hard time stopping. The second my hair was dry I was like "MORE." This happened in the middle of the process, after I rinsed the bleach out:


Since I had to rinse in the sink or tub, I thought it would be a good idea to don some eye protection. I do work in health and safety, after all. Fortunately my swim goggles were close at hand.

I have been in a major frump slump lately (which the dye job was intended to partly address). I'm not sure what's triggering it, but I'm sure I haven't been getting enough exercise, so I started walking in the mornings before work. Y'all exercisers know that this does wonders for the disposition, but what you don't know if you don't live in the frozen north is that intentionally doing stuff outside helps you deal with being in the frozen north. Plus, you get to see your fellow hardy humans doing the same thing, and lots of dogs romping in the snow, which invariably cracks me up. I should probably have a video of dogs romping in snow that I can watch for daily pick-me-up purposes.

Also, it's pretty:

n.b.: this is a sunset, not a sunrise

Or I mean it can be, sometimes. This morning it was so gray-white that everything was the same color, and then the ice pellets came. But I went anyway. I mean, we live by a damn lake. It's a privilege to be five minutes from a shoreline with a walking path, especially one that is not overrun by ultra-fit hipsters in tech gear.

I have another post brewing about Friday Night Lights, but it'll have to wait.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Come on baby, finish what you started.

Oh HELLO, internets. I was looking at the calendar this morning and realized that I am staring down the barrel of an unexpected 4 days off! in a row! And because these 4 days coincide with the absence of my husboyf, who is at trade shows in La La Land for the next week plus, it seems like I should get a bunch of stuff done, right? I mean the kinds of things you don't normally get done when there is another cozy person there who is sitting on the couch, as are you. Technically, I don't have Tuesday off, since that is my usual non-office-job day and as such it is already larded with other obligations. But still, think of what could happen in my three solo days (with Ace) before then? I'm thinking there are two major options:

  1. Finally and fully get into Battlestar Galactica, since a huge cross section of people whose taste lines up with mine finds it crucial entertainment, or
  2. Finish my doctoral thesis.

Remember that thesis? Yeah, me neither. This probably isn't the first time I've announced a plan to finish it to the internet and then quietly gone about my usual shirking, but seriously, at this point everyone else has finished theirs. Maybe it's a good sign that ever since I had this brainwave, I've been wanting to leave work to get started.

Except that I always, always want to leave work. There aren't even any cookies here today to keep me occupied and I could really use a cookie.

I honestly can't say why the thesis has just been floating around in limbo for so long. It's a combination of facing some Kafka-esque red tape in order to push it through, not having a deadline, not having a job that demands that I have an honest-to-goodness DMA instead of just-about-done one, and just plain forgetting that it's even waiting in the wings while I go about my stage business. I dunno. I'm disciplined about some things and not others, especially not this.

Anyway, if you're looking for me this weekend I'll be holed up with some library books that I've had checked out for actual years.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A couple weeks ago at my old lady yoga class (not billed as such, but it's community ed and definitely attracts clientele of a Certain Age), the teacher was leading us through a chakra meditation. This particular teacher, by the way, excels in the guided meditation bit of the class. I was totally surprised by this, based on her goofy, somewhat unfocused teaching style, but it was a good lesson in giving people a nice long stretch in which to make their first impression.

Anyway, so there I was, lying on the heated floor (yessss) of this rec center with the frozen lake the same pale color as the sky right outside, turning my attention to these chakras that I can barely grasp or visualize, and when we got to the heart chakra my body tweaked out. It was completely involuntary, but my breathing got fast and shallow, and I was about to cry. Something was lurching up inside me. It felt like a slap upside the head.

So naturally I haven't been back to the class since then. What, it's a busy time of year.

Around the same time, I did a fundraising concert in Wisco with a couple of friends with whom it's easy to get into discussions about personal philosophy, and Buddhism came up just as it did the last time we were all together doing a fundraising concert (or more precisely, carpooling to or from a distant fundraising concert). Please bear in mind that I wouldn't say that I have even a dilettante's understanding of Buddhism--despite having an actual Buddhist preschool in the family--so I will quickly get into Modern Jackass territory if I try to summarize anything about Buddhism. What I can say with authority is that the notion of freeing myself from desire has never, in the past, seemed interesting or practical to me. It always seemed like a cop-out, a way to relinquish responsibility or to refuse to strive for anything important.

But a little something clicked in my brain on this recent car ride, and I grokked that my own grasping or craving is what ends up disquieting me most in life. And that contrary to what I thought before, detaching myself from this grasping would be along the lines of taking radical responsibility for myself rather than renouncing responsibility altogether. And also, that it might be a relief.

As with most of my mini-epiphanies, its strength has faded a bit since I had it. I'm not saying I'm any better at freeing myself from desire than I was a couple of weeks ago, but it has certainly given me something to think about, on this day that we tend to look both backward and forward.

The resolutions this year will be miniature as usual, since I think I can attribute my success of the past two years to Aiming Low. In 2009 I didn't eat a single potato chip and I also became a habitual flosser (as in, I actually feel weird if I don't floss. This is major). Most of the time (but not every night), I cleaned the dishes in the sink before I went to bed, and I'm okay with that success level. So here's the deal for 2010:
  • I'm going to buy far fewer canned goods. We have bulk bins galore in this town and I have a perfectly good freezer in which to store overabundant cooked beans. Tomatoes will be the most difficult thing. I didn't can any in 2009, though I did freeze some; I use a lot of canned tomatoes in cooking, so:
  • Another resolution, though I won't be able to test it out for like 8 or 9 months, is to can tomatoes this year.
  • And I'm going to make yogurt, since we go through a lot of it. I'm tired of containers. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of recycling we still have to undertake even after eliminating a lot of packaging from our lives. The little bits of plastic that I see everywhere, that we cannot seem to avoid, make me sick and sad, particularly when I think about animals with their guts full of plastic bits that they mistook for food.
I still haven't decided if I'm going to eliminate another pernicious snack food this year, but I'll keep you posted on that and my Eightfold Path, should I end up following it (though I don't really know how anyone could argue with it).

Also, if you would like a 3 CD mix of volume-corrected, BPM-matched boogie down tunes, please email mavenhaven on ye olde gmail. I made a pretty damn good playlist for my sister for Christmas; it seems a shame not to disseminate it.