Friday, February 26, 2010

A few things I CAN tell you.

1. I've made my interstate trip 8 times now (if you count each way, which I do), and I would swear that I have seen the same Amish guy twice, and no, I don't think they all look alike.

My drive encompasses a good deal of Amish byway. I always wonder what the horses are thinking when the cars go screaming by them.

2. I had three encounters with the parking gods on Friday that made me think I better not tempt fate for awhile. For various stupid reasons I was parked at three different metered spots throughout the day and TWICE I came running out to the car to drive away from the spot and found a meter man giving my car the stink-eye and pushing buttons on his hand-held ticket printer. Both of them let me off with a warning, probably because it was Friday and sunny. I have never, ever tried to plead with a parking cop before, so when I saw the second cop in one day standing by my car, I just started to laugh.

The other encounter was with a juiced-up meter downtown RIGHT next to the place where I was belatedly meeting friends for lunch. I had said to myself "I need a spot next to the restaurant that still has time on the meter," and then I drove right into one. What I should have said next is "I need a million dollars," but my brain doesn't work that way.

3. There was a moment last week when I was walking the halls of the music building where I'm teaching and I could hear choirs rehearsal behind me, then a violin lesson next to me, a trombone ahead, voice faculty practicing, and piano all around. The soundproofing in that building is for shit, but I was glad because it meant that I could hear the full scope of music going on around me, and I felt lucky to be there: lucky to be surrounded by music and learning, lucky to be teaching. And that was just a moment out of my day when I was walking from the bathroom to my office.

4. I'm going to do Pierrot Lunaire next year. Please google this if you don't know what I'm talking about because it is BANANAS.

Okay fine, here are excerpts from a staged version. I'm guessing we'll be doing this more concert style, but who knows. It'll be wayyyy out of my comfort zone either way, which is why I said yes to it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Everybody's doing it. All your friends are doing it.

I just opened a formspring account, which seems like a really good way to generate some writing topics for meself, since I have all these self-imposed restrictions on what I blog about these days. So: ask me anything at

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Are you tired of cute names for all the ding-dang blizzards yet? I'm trying to muster the enthusiasm for some SERIOUSLY NECESSARY exercise out there, but it's snowing again. And that means that all the ice is coated with snow, and I will probably bust my shit while I'm out walking. The other day I laughed aloud at my desk when I randomly remembered college lingo for falling: we would say "I bought it on the way to the library today," which evolved into "I totally made a purchase on the path to your dorm dude." Thinking about "making a purchase" was what cracked me up. "Taking a digger" was also popular. So far I've only fallen once this winter, and you best believe I am now knocking wood.

Sooooo. Hi internet, how are you? I've been around, just a little quiet over here. This new life schedule is a bit ass-kicking, for one thing, and for another, I find that I'm very much aware of how easily findable I am on this blog, and how easily the details of my life (however sketchily or obliquely reported) might get back to my students or people with whom I have a professional-not-personal relationship--and that doesn't leave me with very much I can comfortably say. Which is too bad, because blogging about teaching would probably be good fun. I'm just having that thing that people have when they start out blogging anonymously to a small crew and end up blogging with a barely-veiled identity to people who probably know them in real life.

I can tell you this: however much I may bitch aloud or quail privately about the prospect of planning classes or dealing all day long with various large personalities seriously up in my grill, I love teaching. I am so much more interesting and invigorated when I'm doing something I love. Which might sound like a big "duh" but when you become accustomed to leading a sort of mediocre professional life--by which I mean whatever it is you do to make money to live on--you forget how different it is to be doing something that feels important.

The schedule is a bit hardcore, I admit. Normally you'd see 20 students and teach your class over the course of a week, but in order to maintain my desk job and keep some semblance of a home life, I'm packing all of that into three days. I've managed all right these last two weeks, but when I get home on Thursday night I crash hard. And this was only the second week, and so far I've not had to do any of my usual Sunday morning gigging (though I have had other weekend singing both weeks). I can just see that by spring break I am going to need to sleep for three days.

One good thing about this schedule is that it's imposing some discipline that I generally lack. I already talked about the outfit planning and its impact on my packing (it's already done for the week. I might have to institute this system permanently). I also have to do meal planning that I don't usually do, and sit down on Sundays and write a lecture or two for the coming week. I'm generally a last-minute kind of operator, so it feels highly unusual (and also nice) to be sitting here at 5 PM on Sunday having finished the lecture/lesson plan that I'm going to do on Tuesday. But I have to do it that way, because on Monday I work all day and then drive all evening and cannot be pulling late nights doing class prep or I will lose my shit.

Also, I'm sleeping like crap during the middle of the week. It's partly because I'm in a low-rent hotel room, but I think I also need to get some hard, exhausting exercise, and so far I haven't figured out how to get that into my schedule apart from jumping around while I'm watching LOST. And now I have come full circle in this post, and need to stand up, and shovel a path to the street. Hi-ya!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

On second thought...

...I would like my teaching uniform to be this:

But then it's not so different from the samurai-poet outfit below, is it?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Killing time.

How long can I avoid writing a syllabus? It turns out I can avoid it for ages, even when the semester is starting tomorrow. Deep down inside I know that it won't be a big hairy deal to write it, and so I find ways to do anything and everything else: some sudoku, some brewing tea, some navigating allllll of the stinkin' google and other apps that this school uses (necessary, actually), some contemplating whether I should make another snack run before the LOST premiere tonight. This is the first season I'll be watching it in real time, so it remains to be seen whether I can handle the commercials and endless cliffhangers week to week, but one thing is for sure: I will need snacks.

I'm holed up in the Super 8 near the school where I'm teaching until mid-May. The accommodation situation, it turns out, is going to be pretty ridiculous for me. There's a campus guest house, but it's unavailable about half the time I'm going to be here, which means I'm going to be cruising around between the hotel and the guest house and my own home sweet home for 4 months. I'm adjusting my expectations. You forget that while you have been plotting how things are going to go down, there's an entire administrative world that is only minimally concerned about you, in the grand scheme, because schedules are being arranged for 20 other people. I got spoiled at my last sabbatical job, where they just handed me an apartment and said mazel tov.

On the upside, this town has an amazing food coop. Which is good, because I will not have any way to cook apart from scamming the hotel lobby microwave and the faculty toaster oven. I busted out some unused organizational skills and froze dinners for myself last week and the week before, and packed them in my trunk. I'm thawing smoky split peas and barley on the heat register even now.

And speaking of organizational skills, I'm also going to spend the next few months picking out my outfits in advance, three teaching outfits per week, so that I can pack them up and move out of my home sweet home on Monday nights. Does this not seem like a big deal to anyone else? Maybe you style all your outfits for the week on Sunday nights, but I don't. I'm now seriously considering a voice teacher uniform. Some options:

Pick one.

The best part about this one is that it's made of "tender fleece and cotton." I have been wanting clothing that is more tender.

Might get a little hot/cumbersome in the studio.

Okay seriously.

Also, I just finished season one of Battlestar Galactica, and Tricia Helfer's character annoys the crap out of me and her speaking mannerisms drive me up the wallllll. But my uniform google search took me circuitously to her website, where I discovered that she is a crazy cat lady who raises funds for kitten rescue, and my hate has abated.