Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Scoop Night, Miss USA, and Swine Flu

I bet you never thought those would fit together in a sentence. You are correct, they don't. That's just the title of this blog post which is in fact three short posts crammed together. None of them are really worth an entire entry in and of themselves, but put them together and you have a smorgasborg of fun. Or at least a ward pot luck of fun, which is not quite as fun or as trustworthy as a smorgasborg, but still amusing in and of itself. Provided you know the ward members well enough to trust their cooking. Which also applies here. Do you know me well enough to trust what my brain is cooking?


This is making me hungry, excuse me a moment while I go heat up last night's spaghetti.


OK. I'm back.

Although I am not sure why I should be hungry. Since tonight was Scoop Night at Baskin Robbins! Do you know what that is? I will tell you. It is when you are minding your own business, driving home from work, when you get a hankering for an ice cream cone, and you think to yourself Why would I stop for one when I have Ice Cream at home in the Freezer?

But then another part of your brain, a needy and demanding part of your brain, reminds you that the flavor of the month at the Baskin Robbins on the way home from work is Chocolate with M&Ms and cookie dough in it. Now if you could invent a flavor of Ice Cream that screams my name, what would it have in it? That's right. Chocolate with M&Ms and Cookie Dough. And maybe a blend of cake batter or amaretto, but I can't ask for everything at Baskin Robbins. Only at coldstone. At any rate, Needy Demanding Voice wins enough of the argument to get me to change lanes and peer longingly at the Baskin Robbins that I am about to drive past.

What does the sign say? Oh MY. I may have possibly almost caused a collision. Let's find out what Scoop Night means.

It means 31 cents for a scoop of Ice Cream. And not only that, the scoop doesn't just come handed to you in a bowl or on a napkin. Oh No. They give it to you in a cone. (Which I always try to do anyways, since it is more environmentally friendly to get a scoop of ice cream in a cone than in a waxy processed and possibly styrofoam cup. You understand it's about saving the earth, right?) AND it's not just any cone. No, its a sugar cone. Not one of those cheesy squarish cake cones. At Baskin Robbins, your two basic cone vareities are interchangeable. I can remember as a child longing for the picture perfect triangle shaped sugar cone, but alas it cost more, and so I had to settle for the cake cone. Now that I am grown, I take great pleasure in purchasing sugar cones whenever possible.

And that, my friends is Scoop Night. I hope it happens again. There is so much more hope in a world where Ice Cream cones cost 31 cents.

Next up: Miss USA. Yes, I recognize the ridiculousness of the pageantry. In fact, that's why I have to acknowledge it. And I acknowledge it with some risk. I love the movie Miss Congeniality. I also love most of my roomies that have participated in and won pageants. You might notice I said most. I struggle a little with the one that was runner up to Miss Teen USA (She was insufferable, and practically slept with that damned crown on, even if it was so many years earlier.) But the rest of them, that primarily competed in small town pageants that really did exist purely as scholarship programs, those roomies I love to bits. And I know that they recognize the ridiculousness of the pageantry as well. But all the uproar over Miss USA has me laughing a bit. Sure it was wrong that Miss CA lost simply for stating her opinion. And it becomes even more wrong if you happen to agree with her opinion. But there is something we are all forgetting here. You and I know that beauty queens aren't supposed to have opinions or thoughts of their own. The whole point is that they are a reflection of society's ideal. Or rather of what the media says that society's ideal should be. They are raised and trained to look like the media wants us to look, and to act the way the media wants us to act, and to think what the media tells us to think. She managed to be 6 feet tall, 98 pound, blond, and probably sang a country song or played a cliche classical piano piece quite nicely, she probably looked just curvy enough in her bikini since curves are coming back, she got those answers right. But in fact, she got the question portion wrong. If she wanted a scholarship for thinking, she should have chosen some other contest (They have those too you know). After all, the rest of the Miss USA contest makes no bones about superficiality. If they wanted her real opinion or thoughts on the issue, they would have had a "Celebrity Blogger" with a pseudonym that mocks the most worthless piece of white trash to hit the tabloids this century be the judge. If they wanted contestants to think for themselves, the judge's panel would have consisted of Harvard educated PhDs and Larry King or Brian Williams (Oh Brian Williams, so very handsome. I would enter a pageant if he was a judge, just so I could shake his hand, get my picture taken with him, and possibly even beg a kiss on the cheek.) Then again, the big news stories surrounding the candidates America does want to think for themselves still revolved around swimsuit photos (remember the president's abs?) and song and dance (around political issues) So I suppose it makes sense that people suddenly care what Miss USA thinks. After all, they care more about what Mel Gibson and George Clooney think than they do what the Surgeon General and their local auto mechanic think, and I can tell you who should matter more.

I guess I'm just saying, the first rule in entertainment is to know your audience. Go ahead and be outraged that she was slighted, but don't accuse the media conglomerate of dishonesty. You knew what they wanted, and so did she. Perhaps that is why she deserves accolades. Maybe she had just enough guts and brains to know exactly what she is doing, and maybe she said to herself "If lying about my personal belief system is what it takes, then it's not worth it." Which is far more honorable than gaining the crown.

:) just my opposing viewpoint. but I might also just be bitter that I'm not the 98 pound 6 ft blond that can play a classical piece on the piano and looks just curvy enough in a bikini.
If you are reading this and you feel inclined to try to argue with me about it, don't bother. I barely cared enough about Miss USA to write this much. (Actually what I really cared about what posting the opposing viewpoint to Jessica's Blog entry, purely for the sake of debate. Ha! Now you'll never know what I really think!)

Oh, Hang on, the garlic bread is finally warm....

Finally, about the swine flu. I don't have it. Yet. But last Thursday my roomie got back from Mexico, and then last Friday they started talking about it, and Last Saturday they quarrantined the cathedrals/schools/towns that she had been in, and last Sunday some of her fellow students that she traveled with started feeling feverish and nauseated. Well, wouldn't you have a bout of hypochondria if you just got back from ground zero of the world's first pandemic in 24 years?

Unfortunately, I have to admit to you, my audience, that I am a little disappointed that I haven't even suffered the slightest respiratory ailment. There would be so many advantages to being diagnosed with swine flu right now. Not the least of which is time off while I have several big projects I could work on at home. Actually the least of the advantages would be being able to brag about being Utah's patient number whatever. How cool is that! And somewhere in between least and greatest is the opportunity to meet new people and make friends with other patients in quarantine, not to mention the possibility of attractive single male doctors. Swine flu is sounding better and better. I am going to grab the straw from her soda last night in order to drink this water....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

I've come to a decision...

That white hair... I have decided that it is the same white hair every time. It just keeps growing back in, but it's definitely not a different white hair every time. Nope. It's the same white hair that just decides to pop up in different places every time. So really I have only found one. And the individual who welcomed me to the dawn of middle age yesterday can take the welcome back. I just poked my head in door for a visit, but I'm not staying. Perception is everything, reality is for people who can't imagine anything better, and age is irrelevant.

I'm not bothered by this. No not at all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Found: One More White Hair

And I do mean WHITE. Not grey, not silver, not light blond. White. Sticking out of the top of my head, glistening in the spring sun. It's not that I am suddenly deciding to philosophize on how short life is or wax poetic about mortality. I considered it, but I just don't have anything worthwhile to add to what the great poets have already said. It's just that my "Someday list" is still getting longer, not shorter. So why am I sitting here writing a blog post instead of accomplishing something from my list? I really couldn't tell you.

1. Song that always makes you sad? There are a couple from the realms of musical theatre, but I have no intention of divulging which ones specifically, because then the world would know far too much about me.
2. Last thing you bought? Gas for the lawnmower and a snickers bar (for the energy to mow the lawn of course!)
3. Last person you argued with? FSK over whether he was allowed to hit people with the shovel.
4. One of your stuffed animals' names as a kid? Oh let's see, I made up little birth certificates for all of them at one point. There was tommy and baby beans and bambi and eyeore and mousey and grandpa bear and red riding hood and I suppose I could go through my toy box that is sitting across from me right now, but really I was more of a blankie person. I was (read:am) extremely attached to Red Blankie and one doll.
5. Favorite Sundae topping? yes.
6. Did you take Piano lessons? This is a ridiculous question to ask any member of my family. Whether or not we actually ended up with any skill at the piano depended purely on our ability to fight for practice time.
7. Most frequent song played? Are we still talking about on the piano? Then I would have to say "I don't want to live on the moon" (You know, from sesame street, that ernie sings) or "I sat down with the dutchess at tea). Although if I have a choice then it's "Spring Song" from the Mendessohn Songs Without Words Collections. But then, if you mean on my ipod, it would be "Oh Light of Life" from the Wilberg requiem CD.
8. T.V. show you secretly enjoy? Buffy. The "Spike has a chip in his head" episodes.
9. Would you rather play basketball or hockey? No. And you would probably rather I didn't as well.
10. One place you could travel right now? Paris, always Paris. Although I wouldn't complain about Itay. Or Vienna.
11. Do you use umbrellas? Yes, frequently.
12. Do you know all the words to the Canadian national anthem? Not only do I know them, I have sung them for a professional hockey game. In fact, I may have learned them before I learned the American national anthem.
13. Do you prefer Blondes or Brunettes? Psh. Hair color is such a transitory thing. I really could care less. Its the eyes that have me.
14. Favorite fruit? Ryon
15. Wet the toothbrush or brush dry with the toothpaste? Um, wet. Does anyone like dry?
16. Pen or pencil? Depends on the project. I like pens that roll really smoothly just for writing lists and stuff, but I also keep charcoal pencils handy for doodling.
17. Do you scream on roller coasters? Roller coasters? what's there to scream about? I usually giggle insanely. and I don't scream when doing stunts in an airplane either, I just enjoy that pit of my stomach falling out my beely button feeling and try to keep my lunch down.
18. Where did you go on your first airplane ride? The first one I remember was either standing in the cockpit of one the viking planes "helping my dad to taxi it, or else I do have an odd memory of sitting next to Aaron clinging to Red Blankie and Baby Beans. I couldn't have been older than 4 in either memory. I highly doubt either was my first airplane ride though.
19. Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day? Cold Stone
20. Who's wedding were you in the first time you were a bridesmaid or a groomsmen? Probably Liz and Scott. If not her then Melanie. We were all roomies the same year, I don't remember which came first.
21. What is the first thing you do in the morning? Glasses, ponytail, Bathroom, Cereal, back into bed (That's usually 430 ish) I make it a point to not actually start the day until well after 530.
22. First celebrity crush? Kirk Cameron or Michael J Fox. Growing Pains or Family Ties. And Luke Skywalker.

Now wasn't that an effective waste of my apparently limited time? I'm hoping that by relaxing more with life I will slow the hair color issues. Especially since my colorist is too busy this week. Since she can fit me in next week, I should be able to stress more over important things.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Odds N' Ends

I have now received 6 compliments on the shoes from random strangers. One of them even introduced herself to me with an offer of friendship because she felt that I truly had class. And that's not including the number of people I actually know that have approved of them. Vain and frivolous, but money well spent.

Tonight at the grocery store some guy actually tried to pick me up. A grocery store pick up? really? Ok, so I'm not impressed with his skills, but I am a little proud of myself at least. It's a compliment. I'll take it.

Yes, I saw the Hannah Montana movie. And right now I am watching High School Musical 3. Go ahead, judge me. I also watched Marley & Me and bawled through the last 30 minutes of it. Proudly.

School and kids have been interesting lately. We've had conferences and changes in the class that affect our day to day ability to function. I am constantly astounded by the lies that some parents tell themselves and choose to believe about their children. I don't understand how they can believe that loving their child and being lazy about the way they raise said child fit into the same plan. At the same time, I can't tell them the truth because the business of education is still a business. I can however translate a few phrases for any inquiring parents.

If a teacher tells you your child is particularly energetic, you should probably have them checked for ADD. If they add the suggestion to work on "impulse control" you are looking at some severe ADHD (and possibly some deeper issues. Impulse control is the last thing you want to hear from a teacher). If you hear anything at all about "social exploration" then the teacher is frustrated with cliques and particularly your child's ability to manipulate other children. If a teacher is emphasizing that your child shows amazing development in one particular area but no interest in anything else whatsoever, you may want to look at some Autism Spectrum issues. And if a teacher tells you they are working on teaching your child how to empathize with other kids, watch out! Your child is the class bully. A teacher is in a difficult place. They see your child in more varied situations than most parents do, and they have more experience seeing alot of these issues than many that are qualified to diagnose. Yet they can not diagnose or even hint at any of the things that they see.

Wanna know what else I see every day?

There are 3 new boys in my class. They all turned 4 within a week of each other and have been in the same class since they were infants. They are best friends the way 4th grade girls are best friends. Their personalities are volatile. One of them will henceforth be referred to as "FSK" which stands for "Future Serial Killer". He is over-indulged and incredibly manipulative and I have watched him terrorize his fellow classmates with an extremely devious grin on his face. Today after stopped him from a number of other evil endeavors I saw him hide himself away in the corner of a playground where he slowly and methodically pulled apart a few earthworms into little tiny bits. When he had it in so many pieces that there was nothing left to hold onto, he wiped his hands on his jeans and ran off to steal chalk from the toddlers.

The next new boy shall be referred to as "FCM", or "Future Criminal Mastermind". He is actually more manipulative than FSK. He's quiet and smart and somehow I get the impression that he is behind every fiasco that his friends get into. He is always just the right distance away from whatever disaster ensues. I see the other kids look at him for referencing and a clue as to the next move. He has never spoken a word to a teacher in all of his four years (I checked with all of his past teachers), and I have only actually heard him speak at all when he thinks no grown up is listening. Only through this covert evesdropping have I managed to witness FCM actually instructing the two other boys how to not get caught committing some atrocity against the girls (ripping heads off of dolls or drawing on their pictures).

The third boy is possibly the most dangerous to himself and others. I call him "SMT" or "Small Minded Thug". He is the follower, the henchman, the thug that carries out his orders with no remorse and no thought of his own. Whenever he gets caught carrying out some crime he blames either the FSK, the FCM, or worst of all, the victim. He honestly believes that he is the last person who is responsible for his own actions and his parents support him in that belief.

These three boys have changed the play dynamic of the classroom of 19 other children. It's fascinating, and I am all about believing in the innocence of children. I just think that a distinction should be made. Children are not considered innocent because they don't commit offenses against people, not even because they are necesarily unaware of the offenses they commit. They are innocent becaue their parents are supposed to be teaching them the difference between right and wrong. It is quite literally a grace period. Of course, when parents are merely indulging the behavior, then you have a serious problem. This is why I hate conferences.

You'll have to forgive that brief soapbox. I am just going crazy trying to figure out how to teach these kids that they don't get to be the only people on the planet who always get exactly what they want, meanwhile their parents are actually teaching them that they always get exactly what they want. Spoiled Rotten doesn't even begin to describe it.

The first Opera I am in with the Utah Opera is MacBeth. Having spent a bit of time in the theatre, I am aware of the curse associated with the title of said opera. You are never supposed to say it in a theatre (or rehearsal hall, or while even rehearsing a show or really ever) as it will cause calamity to befall whatever production you are in. So what are you supposed to do when the production that you are performing is titled the name which cannot be named for fear of causing calamity? I actually haven't said that name (see above) or typed it (other than above) in years. Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble, what the heck am I supposed to do about that? Can you perform an entire show without ever saying the name of it? Not to mention the curses supposedly associated with actually performing the show...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One Crazy Weekend

Whew! What a weekend. I know, it's only Sunday morning, so technically the weekend is not over yet. But frankly, I won't be doing anything else this weekend because I am too beat. My Sunday will be less than blog worthy, so you can hear about my Friday and Saturday instead. But only if you want to. I am realizing that this post is going to be more "journal entry" than any other posts I have really done. But at the same time, it serves as yet another illustration of why I love my life here. Exhaustion and all included, this is a happy place for me.
Friday was actually a really nice day at work. It is spring break in the Salt Lake schools, and as a result many of my own students don't come. Added to that was the fact that we had some sort of a virus going through our class, and we sent a lot of kids home with high fevers throughout the week. That lowers numbers for me (one major difference between a teacher and a parent is that teachers are relieved when children are sick). So at faculty meeting Thursday night (an excercise in frustration and futility, but not part of the weekend) my boss tried to coherse me into taking Friday off. I had entirely too much to do at work on Friday, between parent conferences and upcoming kindergarten screenings, but I caved and took the morning off in order to get ready for other events this weekend. I also got off work early, so I really only had to work 5 hours, most of which were spent doing paperwork type things. I love working with kids, but every once in a while, a day without them is a relief and a blessing. When I finally clocked out, I wasn't the least bit stressed or irritated by them. I went straight over to Cafe Rio, to meet up with Lucie, of blueberry pie fame. She and her husband were in town, and we had arranged to meet up so I could meet their new little guy and we could catch up.

Isn't he just darling? Look at those round cheeks and his big brown eyes. I got a lot of smiles and hugs and took far too many pictures. After finishing our burritos and salads and whatnot, we headed over to temple square to be tourists and enjoy the grounds. It was the absolute perfect evening. We were there at sunset, it was a cool and partly cloudy evening and every flower you could possibly imagine was in bloom. I wish I could post the smells for you.

But you will have to be satisfied with a few pictures.

When I got home that night, I had the pleasant surprise of finding the already mentioned contract in the mail. Here's a little more background. When I audition for bigger productions and companies, I never quite know what they want or expect from me. This audition is for pretty much the biggest company in Utah, other than the Tab choir, which is in a different league entirely. At the audition, I knew that they were doing an aria or art song and then some sight-reading. (That's when they hand you some music that you have never seen before and you sing it by looking at it, un-aided by piano or accompaniment). I went in to sing, did my art song (Wie Melodien) and within the first few lines saw the judge circle something, write a few notes and then put her pen down and tap her fingers. That is extremely disconcerting to a singer. It means the decision was already made and I was forced to finish the last two verses of the song wondering what the heck had already been decided. After I finished my song, she didn't even ask me to read the sight singing part. She just thanked me and sent me away. So my assumption was that I was so terrible she didn't even want to have to endure the second half of the audition. I called a couple people for reassurance, but they just told me to quit being paranoid. So I put it out of my mind and began seeking other shows.

Now do you see why it was such a pleasant surprise to get that contract? I was entirely convinced I had flunked with flying colors. Apparently, quite the opposite was the case.

So, Friday night was not over yet, because I still had to turn this: Into This:
Which worked, as you can see. Or here's another angle:
I think it looks like a chocolate volcano spewing forth M&Ms. Joy.

On Saturday morning I was hosting a bridal shower. I tend to get really stressed about such things. Here's why: people make me nervous. Especially large crowds of people at my house. I become convinced that in order to gain their approval I have to do something fantastic. I fall back on my food skills and obsess over creating a gourmet spread. Because lets face it, a party can flop or succeed purely by its food. You can have no games and a whole crowd of people that have never met and even lousy music and not enough chairs, but if the food is good, people will chat and enjoy themselves and leave with that warm fuzzy filled feeling. Or you can have brilliant games and close friends and all the entertainment in the world, but if the food sucks, people will leave early and find a resaurant to hang out at.
Friday night I obsessed over the cake. Saturday morning found me at the grocery store by 6, picking up the ingredients for bruschetta and crepes and all of the appropriate fixin's. I wish I had taken a picture of the spread before it was entirely consumed by the 21 people who were wandering around my crammed living room. Here is one frustrating thing about Utah culture. It doesn't matter how convenient you make the RSVP process, people just show up. I had 8 people on the list of confirmed guests. Myself and the Bride included. So I suppose its a blessing that I obsess over the food. I planned for 20, served 21, and had leftovers for dinner. In fact, there is still a half a bowl of the best bruschetta I have ever made in my fridge. They cleaned me out of Nutella and there is one banana left, and I made 18 eggs worth of crepes and we went through two loaves of bread. And then I still have a huge amount of cake left. Please, feel free to drop by, I will feed you!
Saturday afternoon I was supposed to attend a dance call-back, but there was no way I could have functioned. With the headache I get from being social, I fully collapsed on my bed and had one of those great naps that means afternoon sunshine on your face and dreamless drool on your pillow.
I had intended to go to the Tab choir concert that night, but was still in a state of disarray as far as my house and my mind, so instead I turned on some mindless music (I love and I recovered most of my sanity. I would be lying if I didn't admit to there still being a few dishes in the sink. But I was too cheap to spring for plastic forks. By 8 pm I had resigned myself to visiting the redbox and finding a chick flick to keep me company for the evening. I even turned off my phone and ate more cake while I watched it. Mmm. Chocolate volcano cake.
I woke up pretty early this morning. I feel good. My day will consist of blogging, Music and the Spoken Word, church, and needlework. I'm not even sure that I have anything in my kitchen for dinner other than more leftover bruschetta and cake. Perhaps oatmeal. That works well enough for me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A moment of success

Here's just a quick post because I am so very thrilled with myself. After a day of planning things and enduring the mundane and spending time with people that I love and that I am thrilled to see happy and all sorts of other good things (pictures to come) I got home late at night and found waiting in my mailbox a contract to sing in the Utah Opera Chorus. I auditioned a while ago and then didn't hear anything and figured I flunked. It turns out they are just being as organized as musicians should be. It's not a huge thing, just another small success that helps me hope for good things to come. But it is a paid position and singing the way I love to and, oh yes, that first show is Verdi. I love Verdi. Granted, it's not Aida, but it's still Verdi. Who can complain?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter to me.

I realized something. You know how as a kid you always got a new outfit for easter? This was particularly significant in my childhood, when we would get a new church dress for easter, and we would get new school clothes (from the JC Penny catalogue) in the fall, and that was pretty much it for new clothes. Anything else that came out way was a hand-me-down. Go ahead and be shocked and appalled, but I am just old enough to remember a time when we didn't just up and buy stuff whenever we wanted to. And those wants for new clothes and new stuff (*Junk*) we viewed as needs as soon as we saw someone we admired wearing or using the coveted item. Some of you may remember a time like this as well. How quickly we forget (and how ironic that this is my opening idea for this post...). At any rate, I was a kid who got a new dress once a year and it was a big deal. I miss that new dress excitement.

And then there was Friday. Which really kind of beat me up. At the end of the day I was headed home in a bit of a funk. I wasn't doing the sleep-babble that I was doing on Thursday (You really should experience it, I start to babble and tell these stories and go off on these tangents and I only start to realize what is going on when I start to get weepy. If you ever see me get weepy, it's probably because I am exhausted, and you should make me go to bed immediately.) But that is beside the point, because this Friday Funk was an entirely different beast from the Thursday *insert clever alliterative descriptive term here*. My Friday Funk was more about not having weekend plans, not wanting weekend plans, and hoping that my body and my brain would agree on sleeping for a really long time. Of course they didn't. I got home and let my brain rest for a few minutes but then my body wanted movement and so I cleaned a few things. But by the time my body was running out of steam my brain was going full speed. The whole process took only about 20 minutes. Luckily, while I was cleaning, I found various stashes of cash that I hide from myself occasionally. I found my Christmas money from my grandparents. I found some $5 and $10 bills from a grocery shopping trip a few weeks ago. I guess long ago this stuff would have been referred to as "egg money". You know, just the change a housewife has lying aroung the house from having sold eggs that they save up for a rainy day. (This is an entirely different term than "Nest Egg"). But since I am not a housewife, and I do not have chickens from which I can gather eggs for selling, I just stick a few extra dollar bills in some obscure places and find them when I have something I really want.

I bet you can see where this is going.

But in case you can't, let me give you a clue.

Is that a shopping bag I see? Where is it from? Ooooooh. No you didn't.I might have. Peek-a boo!

(Do you love the photography? I tried to make it as if Mr Easter Bunny left nice presents in my back lawn.)And did I mention?

So here is the irony, or rather the hypocrisy, in my blog entries. When I made the purchase, the nice sales lady asked me if I needed a validation. And I was as honest as I could possibly be.

"The Shoes are my validation."

So much for anti-princess sentiment.

She refined her statement. "Uh, parking validation."

Oh, that, no. I don't ever pay for parking. I think its a ridiculous thing to pay for parking. But I will shell out for cute shoes. Let's face it. They are REALLY cute shoes.

Happy Easter to me.

Of course, now I need a dress ot match. And a pedicure. And there was this necklace that was gold with some beads and some roses that were the exact same shade of pink... Oh and the matching earrings. I could go on, but somewhere in the back of my head is the little girl's voice saying "Mommy, I won't be beautiful without my jewelry".

I know the shoes won't make me beautiful. But they might make me feel beautiful. Why do we crave that so much? Why do we crave spring flowers and new dresses and that one voice that tells us we look pretty? I think it's about renewal. It's about everything being fresh and clean and spotless. It's perhaps a prideful perversion of the whole day, but at the same time, there is symbolism in what we wear and how we show respect to honor the day. That's why we always got new easter dresses as kids. So maybe its merely a rationalization, but I think it justifies the shoes. Not a pedi or the jewelry or anything at all that is more than I can actually afford. But I can keep the shoes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The thing about Thursdays...

Thursday is my hardest day to get through. It shouldn't be, since the number one most difficult student in my classroom is consistantly absent on Thurday. But Thursday has always been hard for me. And this Thursday, I decided to do something about it. I decided to play hooky for the afternoon. I was hoping that playing hooky would make Thursday a more bearable thing. It turns out, Thursdays are still Thursdays and playing hooky doesn't change the nature of it any more than having that difficult student be reliably absent.

Part of the problem is that Thursday is too far into the week to have any energy left. On Monday, the kids are still cute. On Tuesday they are precious souls needing to be filled with knowledge and experience. On Weds they are brilliant and clever. On Thursday, their brilliance has turned to plotting and they cleverness has been put to use hiding things from me. You don't even want to experience the paranoia that seeps in on Friday. But today is Thursday. And it is also too far away from the weekend to really look forward to anyting except the realization that I have not made my weekend plans yet.

The morning started out well enough. I like to wake up to rain almost as much as I like falling asleep to it. Weather does not particularly depress me, unless it is weather that drops below zero and intends on staying there for more than a day. Rain simply reminds me of Paris. Plus it makes all the other colors more vibrant, so I can't really see why some people think it to be a depressing thing. I woke up early too, with enough time to really enjoy the morning and the rain and the cocoa krispies. I even chatted briefly with a friend before really rolling into the meat of the day. But leaving for work was when the Thursday-ness of today really kicked in. On Thursdays, my work schedule makes for a lousy drive. I leave just as the school bus goes through my neighborhood. I have tried timing it so many different ways, but no matter what there is always a school bus in my path. I drive past the elementary school just before they are turning off the 20 MPH signs, which means traffic is backed up. And then I usually drive past the middle school right as they are turning on the 20 MPH signs. I have tried leaving 5-10 minutes early, but it is one of those situations where I end up in the same crowd going the same direction and leaving earlier means a slower drive, therefore arriving at the same time. Of course, if I leave 15 minutes earlier, then I actually get to work about 25 minutes too soon. Timing. *Sigh* And also , I wonder how people who work up where I work all go in to work at 830-9am, but they all leave by 330-4pm. How come they get to work shorter days than me?

This morning's rain did not really affect my drive, it was just a cold rain. The kind that you know if you go a few feet up the mountain, it is snow. And when I turned to go up the mountain to work, sure enough, it turned to snow. Great. Just when I had started bragging to people about how at my job, I get to go out for recess every day.

My radio was already tuned to the classical music station. Lovely. It was a violin concerto. A violin concerto is my favorite form of music. And by form, I mean quite literally, "Form". As in, the soloist and response form, with the cadenzas and the movements and, well, insert music geek stuff here. (I knnow you thought it was the hymn, which is in fact my favorite kind of music. But the violin concerto also speaks to my soul in a different sort of way. I could go on for hours about the properties of either but...) Let's just say that the rain combined with some Perlman made it a little easier to get myself in to the office. Of course, when it violin concerto ended, I switched to NPR, in order to be appropriately informed about the issues or whatever it is that people listen to talk radio for.

I swung into the parking lot at precisely the right time, I know because Marketplace was on NPR and they were finishing up with an explanation of something that I will never completely understand, but I feel smarter for having heard about it.

I headed into work appropriately biased by the news media and thinking the thoughts that they told me to have. It's the American way.

Of course, as soon as I walked into my classroom I was greeted by the precise reason why I choose NPR for my drive into work: The children of wealthy people who are also indoctrinated by NPR and who are paying me to teach their children the same thought process. We are learning about outer space this week. Some of them have decided that they will be the first astronauts to walk on Mars. One of them is a very much too smart for my own health little girl. She announces at breakfast that not only will she be the first person to walk on Mars, she also doesn't like princesses very much.

And audible gasp is heard from the other little girls at the table, followed by fearful silence. Its as if we are in Orwell's 1984, and everyone is terrified that Big Brother heard her. Thay all look at me in silence. The one who, just the other day, told her mom she "won't be beautiful without her jewelry" has a look of confusion and terror on her face. I think she might cry. She is a paradox to me. Her parents are extremely liberal, priding themselves on political correctness and all things "free thinking" but they indulge her every plastic princess desire. Her world is crumbling at the very idea that a little girl might not like the lurid pink and gold glitter disney campaign currently ruling preschool social circles. I decide to break a little more off the foundation of her perceptions.

"I don't like all that princess stuff either. I bet you could go to Mars, and I think its a better thing to try to do than becoming a princess. Princesses set unreasonable expectations of physical appeal and high maintenance habits on us."

Well, most of the kids didn't understand the last part, but apparently astronaut girl did understand, because she responded with "Yeah, besides, all those girls want to be princesses, and all it takes is some toys. I am smart enough to do more than that."

Bravo child, bravo.

By the time recess rolled around, the snow had turned back into rain and we played outside in a cold drizzle. Well, they played. I stood under an umbrella and mediated fights over toys and personal space. I was counting down.

At lunchtime another heated discussion began, this one on the nature of marriage. In Minnesota I always kept my mouth shut for these discussions because the kids had great things to say about their perceptions. Here, the kid were actually debating whether or not boys could marry boys and so forth. The discussion got as heated as you would find in any protest rally or political platform. I was concerned. Another teacher stepped in and defended the boys right to marry other boys. The kids looked at me. I can't believe I am being forced to take a political stance in front of 4 yr olds. I am not going to teach them something that goes contrary to their parents values. That would irk me beyond all belief. I am also not going to assist in raising a generation of children who have no respect for gender or belief.

"Someday you are going to have to choose what you believe. Grown ups disagree on this all the time. Your job is to learn so that you can choose what to believe and then you have to find a way to have respect for all the people, whether you choose the same thing or not. I might disagree with Miss W, but we are still friends and so you guys can still be friends too. Now drink your milk."

Lovely. I resent Thursdays.

We are reading the book "Tale of Despereaux" at naptime. I read a chapter outloud to the kids, and we talk about the story. This is an incredible book and if you haven't read it than I order you to turn off your computer and read it before you go any further in life. Today we read the chapter about the rat that loved the light.

When I finally got out of work, I actually didn't have anything to do or anywhere to go. For the first time since last Thursday, I actually had an hour to myself. It was nice. I was going to meet up with a friend at the Clark Planetarium, and I took my sweet time doing so. When we met, we did as tradition dictated and watched the Hubble feed for an hour. Its a very peaceful thing actually, especially since we are both just nerdy enough to understand and enjoy and make jokes and ask questions and even sit in silence for a while. We learned about some of the stars and about the extra-solar planets that have been discovered in the last 15 years. We learned about how scientists measure gas in the atomospheres of other planets. We learned about the update that will be made to Hubble during 2009, including a maintenance mission to replace the batteries and the camera and stuff. We made some jokes about Pluto's demotion and we tried really hard to figure out where Kolob is. Then we went and got tickets to "Deep Sea 3D" as narrated by Jim Carrey. We got popcorn too. We learned about sharks and cuttlefish and the great barrier reef and we made jokes about being even bigger nerds with the glasses.

She had a rehearsal tonight, so we went our seperate ways, she towards greater musical aspirations and me towards frivolty. There is this pair of shoes I have been drooling over. However frivolous and girly it may be, when I find shoes I love, then I love them. I loved them before it became popular on that TV show, I love them because they fit. No matter what my body image may be, shoes fit. No matter what my frump level may descend, shoes describe. And this pair of shoes is an adorable peep toe heel that is an insane $160. No matter how much I love the shoes, I am not shelling out $160. So I watch for them to go on sale, with every hope in my heart.

Oh look. A shoe sale. My heart is beating faster. There they are. Half off. $80 is still alot for shoes. I turn away but my brain is going. I need shoes. (No I don't) but normally I would spend $20 on shoes. So I really just need an extra $60. I can skip going to Baja Sol tonight, and skip ice cream this weekend. That's already $20 saved. I'm halfway there. I won't be playing this weekend. I will be earning my new shoes by eating cold cereal and oatmeal and ramen and doing responsible and cost free things like, well, I don't know yet, but something brilliant. I hope I can have $80 by monday. I hope the shoes will still be there on Mon. Suddenly Monday seems like it will be a very good day.

And also, suddenly, I realize that at some time in the past few hours, the cold drizzle has stopped and the sun has come out and I am driving home with my car windows down. Thursday is nearly over. Friday is around the corner. I can deal with the Thurdaysness of the evening. I have a goal in sight. Oh it is a frivolous goal, but it has pulled me through Tursday. And that alone makes it a valuable goal.

I get home and settle into bed. It's as good as Friday now. Here's to hoping I dream of good things:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Cousin Conference Play by Play

*Names will be changed to protect the innocent from family gossip repercussions*

*This is a less than reverant approach, I recognize that. If you want my honest and spiritual opinio on things, you should either talk to me in person or steal my journal. I don't feel inclined to post that stuff here.

You have already had to suffer through my conference music notes once, I won't make you do it again. But I would love to share a little bit more of the conference experience with you all. I have the lucky advantage of being able to choose how I watch conference. I am not bound to "helping" children learn how to sit through it, so I get to pay attention the whole time (yes, I am counting my blessings) and here in UT, you can pretty much see it or hear it anywhere but a local chapel. There is a world of possibilities. Today I chose the cousin conference experience. I had to swing down to Salem this morning for a visit, and after that I headed up to watch conference in Provo. For the purpose of this blog, we shall call her Cousin P'Ally*. We have another cousin in town who, for the purpose of the blog, shall be called B'Kristen*. (It's easier to pronounce if you make the "K" silent). Pally is married to Porrin, and together they are very snuggley and talk in fun voices. I am not quite sure why I can handle it coming from them, but I can. It is in no way too cute or lovey for me, probably because they really do like each other and are pretty good at being funny. Pally is one of the classy cousins. Bristen is one of the pretty cousins. No that they aren't both classy and pretty (and smart like some of the other cousins, and spiritual like some of the other cousins) it's just important for everyone to know how my brain processes them. And my whole life I have been told about how Pally's family was ultra classy and Bristen's family was gorgeous. By the way, I am "Sweet Spirit Cousin", if that gives you any clue what my own standing is in the social hierarchy.

Where were we? Ah yes, having conference weekend....

I love conference weekend. I prepare for it with grocery trips and a new notebook and new fun pens and then I end up typing things anyways but it doesn't matter I still get the notebook and pens. And the grocery trip is for treats and in between session meals and filling for the crepes. Because part of conference is eating a ridiculous amount of really yummy things. I learned that when I turned 8 and Dad took me out for ice cream after the Saturday sessions because I was the only kid that went with him to it. A very important lesson learned, conference is for treats. This is in fact one concern I have about eventually singing with The Choir. If I am singing in the choir the whole weekend, how will I get to enjoy conference. Will they let me have treats? If I sneak them into conference, will they be confiscated? I probably should not be littering the floor with pistachio shell, so those will be out. Will M&Ms be too crunchy? wil 14 million people be distracted when I try to tear open a package of gummy bears and there is that plastic crinckly sound before the package bursts open, flinging red and green Haribos at the whole of church leadership? A girl could lose sleep over such things!

Not to worry yet. Today, it was just the cousins, so bear explosion concerns can wait for at least another 6 months.

I left Salem later than I expected to, so I was late to the cousin abode. I arrived just as the choir was singing Israel Israel God is Calling. I purposefully waited in my car through the first verse because I didn't want to miss the slow build to the key change in this arrangement. The men of the choir did a nice job with it. I ran as quick as I could, like a conference bunny, up to the door as soon as the verse was through, so I wouldn't miss any of the good stuff. At the cousin house, everyone was comfortable watching with their conference packet. Porrin had the bingo sheet, Pally had some markers and a CTR page, and Bristen was anxiously waiting to document the neckties of every authority. A sense of anticipation was hanging in the air. When Elder Hales got up to speak, his tie was a fantastic black tie with white polka dots that was strongly reminiscent of the ties worn at Pally and Porrin's wedding. A good omen. Bristen did a beautiful job illustrating it. Next up was a nice lady from the Primary Presidency. No necktie, just pearls. We expressed our dissappointment.

As the session went on, we notices a bit of a trend in the ties. There were maily checkered or polka dotted. Stripes were rare, red was common, and tiny patterns were preferred. I am noting this here for several purposes. First, because necktie discussion was part of the experience. Second, because I know of at least one man who copies the GAs on their choice of neckties. There must be more out there, and now they have the info recorded if they happen to need it.

Towards the end of the session, we were running low on gas. Pally had taken to tormenting Porrin who was drifting in and out of consciousness and saying amusing things and I had pulled some solitaire up on the computer and Bristen was still dutifully documenting ties and topics. She should be the spiritual one, perhaps. As soon as the session ended, we were stretching an collecting our wits about us in order to create food. Porrin left for a haircut while we began constructing crepes. Bristen did a fancy decorative cut on the avacados. It was lovely. I filled a crepe with Nutella and bananas. Other people ate some stuff. I filled a crepe with cheese and bacon and avacados. Porrin returned with a haircut, Pally filled some more crepes, everyone ate and was filled. With 10 minutes before the next session, construction began on a fort. You know, the kind you built as a child out of bedsheets and overturned furniture? Consider for a moment. Now that you are a grown up, you can still make them, but you are srtong enough to really move the furniture, and you can leave it up for as long as you want! Why are you still sitting here? Go build a fort!

The fort was still under construction as the session began. A random boy had shown up to help out. It was nearing completion during the opening song. We paused for the prayer while holding up various fort parts. It was completed by the time the sustainings began. We sat beneath it and got comfortable. Just as Elder Ballard was finishing his talk, Pally pointed out that in true for fashion, we needed to turn out the lights and light some candles. Soon we were sitting by the light of the TV and a red scented candle.

"We are warming ourselves by the light of the gospel" Said Pally. Perhaps she should be the spiritual one.

Meanwhile, Random Boy who was joining us for the second session had joined the bingo card contingent. For some reason, both he and Porrin seem to think that a mention of missionaries is the same thing as a mention of baptisms. They both served in South America. Random Boy also informed us that Bingo is WAAAAY, more fun if yo mix the letters up and call it "Boing".

Elder Cook finished speaking.

"Although I am feeling kind of cold" Pally was continuing her statement from earlier on.

"They all have red ties on today"

Intermediate hymn! Let us all press on. Random Boy is concerned about his Boing Board. He also make a really funny joke about communists. I had to control myself to keep from continuing the snicker.

We are starting into the seventh inning stretch. The 20 minutes after the intermediate hymn of the afternoon session. This is the hardest part of conference to get through. Just as we are asking each other who the guy is that is speaking, he says "Distraction and lack of focus are satan's most effective tools"

Oops. Re-focus.

Suddenly, in the middle of Elder Nelson's talk, we hear "I got one! It's my first Boing of the day!"

What a grand experience. I am learning very quickly that I don't feel like I have really had a weekend unless I have spent at least some of it with friends. And laughing. I can spend all day Saturday cleaning and grocery shopping and getting ready for another week, but if I don't laugh with friends for a good part of it, then I can never be ready for work on Monday.

Would you like to hear more? It will come... It will come.