21 May 2008

Mental To-Do List

A funny thing about me: I have the ability to keep an almost infinite to-do list in my head. I can remember things on my to-do list from way, way back up until the present moment.
I can't remember to get eggs when they are plainly on the top of the grocery list.
However, I can remember that I owe Mr. Koch, my 9th grade basketball coach, $12.00 for a white/red practice jersey. This was back in 1992. I hated basketball, so I don't totally feel awful about this. But, truthfully, I still feel guilty I never paid him back, and sometimes I think about sending him a check except for the fact that 1) he probably doesn't remember the debt and 2) he will probably find me to be completely insane.
I can remember sections of books I was supposed to read for classes and never did.
In fact, I can remember that in fifth grade I meant to finish reading the entire Black Beauty series but never quite got there (I think I read six or seven).
I have an entire bookcase of books on my to-read list.
And I have about sixteen pertinent houseprojects, with detailed outlines, stored in my brain somewhere.
And tonight, I crossed one very, very old item off of my mental to-do list. I made a recipe that I've been meaning to make since 1993. It was for home-made, lowfat macaroni and cheese. I got it off of my favorite cooking show from the time, The Frugal Gourmet (which was anything but frugal and not really practical shopping-list wise for a small town grocery store in the middle of nowhere). The show taught me there was more to cooking than the Betty Crocker Cookbook, though I still maintain BC to be the best cookbook money can buy. At least for the basic to late intermediate stuff.
At any rate, I have had this recipe in the back of my head for this long, and I have finally made it. Or rather, I am making it currently for myself and the husband who is actually home this evening. We are doing things that normal couples do together like grocery shop and eat supper together--something that never, ever happens.
And as I am sitting here, I am struck even further by the complete oppositeness of my husband and myself, for he is reading "The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future" by Randal O'Toole. Meanwhile, I am reading "My First Five Husbands...And the Ones Who Got Away" by none other than Rue McClanahan (who played Blanche on "Golden Girls").
Yes, that was one of the books on my to-do list as well.
It feels good to check the older items off. Especially when they involve cooking and eating.
Here's a link to Frugal Gourmet episodes.

19 May 2008

Blog Posts, blog posts, whereforeart thou, blog posts?!

People ask me every now and then, "Why don't you ever post on your blog anymore?"
Well, there is no simple answer to this question.
I see that I last posted in July of last year. Since then, the following things have happened.
1) We painted our house. Thiswas a process lasting several weeks, imposing on more than a few friends, and permanently ruined my knee joints. The house is painted. Whee! I bloody hate painting. It is the worst project we have done to this house. And not a lot of fun to talk about. It mostly consisted of Kiersten and I maniacly clawing paint off the side of the house, and then putting paint back on the house, in the scorching heat (which I don't mind). In short, it sucked, and I hope never to do it again.
2) I went back to grad school immediately after the painting project. That is, because, instead of taking the week-long vacation we had planned to the Grand Tetons (ps--teton means boob in French), I found out that the graduate school at my university had failed to communicate to me that they would require my services for this very week. This resulted in a very disappointed family and a very angry me.
3) Oh, yeah, I went back to grad school. Note: HUGE ADJUSTMENT. I quit my job at the bank (phew!) and then attempted to be conversant in information that had not crossed my mind in the past five years. I realized I had forgotten everything I had ever learned, panicked, and proceeded to kick the studying into high gear. The result: a 4.0 (which I am still maintaining, I might add). Pretty darn good for having totally given up on my music a year prior to this.
4) I started singing again (as a part of school). If you don't think it's weird to have total recall on forgotten information being expected of you every day, how about using muscles in highly specialized ways in which you have not used them for years and which you had never perfected in the first place. Thank God, I have a blessed voice teacher who is really helping me *and* she is not weird, *and* she is not manipulative, *and* she has actually had a career and actually knows what she is doing.
Conclusion: It was obviously the right time to go back to school.
I've gotten to do some amazing things this past school year. Things I never thought I would do. Things I never thought I could do. Here is a list, just because it is kind of fun to see on paper.
1) I stage managed and assistant directed the student opera Dido and Aenaeus last fall.
2) I sang in a master class for Cynthia Lawrence, world class soprano, this spring.
3) I had a lead role in one of the student operas this spring as Zerbina in La Serva Padrona. And, as part of this adventure, I got to have a lap dog, a real, live, lap dog, with me on stage. Fun!
4) I wrote scholarly papers that professors have suggested be submitted for possible publication. Writing scholarly works is much, much harder work than I thought. It has been a huge learning experience and enormous challenge, but has taught me that I can do more than I think I can.
5) I started teaching voice students again. Fun!
I know there is more than this, but I can't think of it all right now. Again, I am not writing any of this to impress anyone or make my own head bigger. I write it down just to show what a huge change has happened in my life from "Before" (when I thought I was stuck in the bank job forever and my music and my voice was utterly and forever doomed to failure) and "After" (when God stepped in, slapped my hysterical face, and got me back in line). I also think it shows what is possible to be accomplished in the right circumstances with a lot of hard work. In short, it has been an amazing school year, and I am just amazed that I have ended up in my current situation given the head space I have been occupying for the past few years.
The most amazing thing: to know every day that when I wake up, I do not have to go to a bank or work in a job that I do not enjoy in an environment I do not enjoy. I get to learn and do things that are interesting to me and that I feel have lasting impact. And I think that's an amazing place to be.
So, I guess I do not write in my blog as much anymore because a big part of this blog in the past has been venting--especially venting about my job, or certain perky people, or my commute. But now, my commute is on my bike, my job is beautiful, and the people are generally very enriching to my life. So, frankly, I just don't have a lot to complain about, and instead, I have a lot to be thankful for. But I think thankfulness takes a lot more pondering to figure out how and why a person is thankful and for what. And it takes the foresight to remember to be thankful, something I am not very good at.
The other reason I do not write in this blog as much anymore is because I spend so much time writing other things. For instance, today I wrote a presentation on the Geisslerlieder--songs written by people in the 13th century who practices self-flaggelation. I am not telling this to you to impress you--I didn't even think of the topic. The point: topics like this, because I do not have a lot of background with them, take an enormous amount of time and energy in research, and then an awful lot of time distilling the information into hopefully comprehendable thoughts, which hopefully then transfer to the page. There just isn't a lot of me left for anything else, i.e. friends, cleaning my house, keeping up with mail and bills, talking to my husband, knitting, baking, whatever else I like to do, and blogging.
Now that I have a year of masters school behind me, I am hoping to be able to find more balance with this, since I am guessing the shock of the initial adjustment is pretty much over. And, isn't this part of the quest that we are all on--find balance in our lives. Finding moderation with food, with money, between interovertedness and extrovertedness, between spending and saving, between frivolity and seriousness, between self-improvement and help of others.