Sunday, July 26, 2009

If you can't say anything nice...

Yeah, I know I haven't really updated lately. And it's not because I don't have anything nice to say, its just that the nice things I do have to say are all related to my efforts to move forward, and since none of them have really come together yet, I didn't have anything nice that I could say. Plus, I have been putting a whole lot of time and effort into the plan, and that limits what I can devote to blog posting as well as what I can devote to having something worth posting.

Am I rambling yet? Are you keeping up?

I hope so, because here in the middle of the muddled mess is where I may reveal more about my plans. So here i am going to throw together some random events over the last few days. Make of it all what you will. I still haven't made sense of all of it.

My poor Mathilda overheated on the freeway on Friday. She had smoke coming out of her hood and had to be towed to a shop where she sits forlornly in the parking lot, waiting for them to have a look at her on Monday. The thing is, radiator issues combined with the 100+ heat at noon on Friday make me worry that the engine has seized. I am trying to plan for worst case scenario.

While walking to the grocery store last night, I saw a semi make a U-turn in the middle of my tiny residential street. It was fascinating. I kid you not, I stopped and watched. They did it in about 90 seconds, stopping to back up once in the entire turn. My car doesn't even turn that well. (And she didn't before she died on the freeway either)

At work they are re-arranging classroom assignments for the fall and my boss needs to know what my plans are so she will know where she can place me in a classroom. Since my plan at that point was extremely unstable, she simply placed me in a "classroom float" position, meaning I will not have my own class, but will go from room to room offering prep time and lunch breaks to people. One hour in each classroom every day, a nomad. I hated when I did it before, but right now I am so burnt out from lesson plans and portfolios that I am actually looking forward to it.

The float position has the option of going part time. Which would greatly ease my schedule in order to return to school.

I also have job interviews lined up at the local community college. Where I will be attending in the fall. Of course, if those come together, then I get to quit my current job.

While Mathilda is in the shop, my friend Greg has offered me the use of his car. (He currently isn't allowed to drive due to some, uhhhh... legal issues.) It's not the most reliable car, seeing as its a few years old. Well more than a few years. It's a '62 corvair. That's right. Classic. And oh so cute. So what if it doesn't start all the time?

The kids in my class are starting to leave for kindergarten. Their fancy private schools start a bit earlier and some of them are going on one last trip to Hawaii before the school year starts. (Is it fair that 4 year olds have seen more of the world than me? No, I don't think so) Anyways, some of my favorites are already leaving, and its just a little heartbreaking. Of course, some of the most frustrating children will be here up until the very last day possible, but if all goes according to plan, I won't be there, so I'm not going to complain about that too much.

There you have it. Did you catch the tidbits? Was it too tid-bitty?

Well then here it is in its whole. I am returning to school in the fall as a full time student. I am currently registered for 20 credit hours (with the flexibility to pare it down to 16) and will be working part time as well. And I plan to continue with the Utah Opera. I will have to if I am going to pay rent. I am going to Salt Lake Community College in order to take the pre-requisites I need in order to get into a Master's Program. I am going to become a full time student again, and will remain that way for 3 years (if all goes according to plan). I have done the math, and I won't be able to afford food or clothes for the next 3 years, but should manage to make rent and utilities just fine. And if my car is really dead, then I will have to do it car-less. And if my car isn't dead, I will probably do it mostly car-less anyways, since gas money usually comes out of the food budget. (Those plans are still hanging in the balance, although Ann Marie and I do have a sort of a plan...) I am not going into a music program, and won't actually divulge program information until I am accepted into one. Not because I feel like stubbornly holding out on information, but because I hate telling people when I have failed at something, and so I still prefer to pretend as if nothing happened until success has happened. And by the way, if you compare my class schedule to the list of classes I want to take someday, you will find that not a single one of them is on the list. Sad. But somehow I am still excited about it.

I assure you, this all makes sense in my mind, even i it doesn't make sense when I write it down or explain it to people. Which is the opposite of how I usually function.

And while I apologize for the boring quality of this post, I don't apologize for its disorganized state. Because without all the pieces, it's just not going to fit together yet, but that won't stop me from moving forward, since the only other option is to stay put and stay miserable. There is no gain without risk, and there is no joy in mediocrity.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This is random:

But I really like my camera... This cute little escargot was at Red Butte Gardens when I took my class there for a field trip. I got this picture before a 5 year old girl snatched him up and shoved him in the boys faces, causing them to run away 'cause she was grossing them out. (I love that the girls in my class are the ones unafraid of worms and slime and creepy things. The boys had an extensive discussion at breakfast the next morning about how girls like gross things that boys thought were too icky.)
I was curious as to whether my camera would actually capture the bumble bee.... happy day I got bee and flower. I wish I didn't have to crop out the sweet little girl that was standing next to it smelling it in the picture, because it turned out really cute, but privacy issuues, you know.

The weeds in my backyard have grown to be over 8 feet high. We keep our lawn mowed but the garden behind our lawn area is unmaintained and jungle like. (Seriously, ask Ally, she saw them last week, and Orrin said something about needing a machete to navigate the garden) I would love to actually plant a garden, given time. But in the meanwhile. the flowers that grow on 6 foot thistle plants are actually quite pretty. (I'm thinking at this point it would be fun to actually cultivate them into trees, bonsai style)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

True Story...

So let's say a Psychiatrist and a Pharmacist have a child, let's call her "Princess". (That sounds like the beginning of a joke, doesn't it? come up with a punch line...) And she is loved and spoiled and a fairly well-adjusted child, but she really doesn't handle pain very well. Not emotional or physical. In fact, while she is never at the center of any of the social posturing or cliquish nastiness that goes on, she feels all of the emotion of it pretty deeply, and has been known to sob uncontrollably when one of her friends gets their feelings hurt. So imagine how much worse it is if she gets her feelings hurt. And even worse than that, imagine when she actually feels physical pain! And its possible that right now she is, as many children her age do, going through a growth spurt. One of those that makes your bones ache a little because your body can hardly keep up with the growing it is doing. (Do you remember those? They may have been years ago, but there was some ache that came with growing) And that sweet sensitive princess can hardly stand it when there is a little ache here or perhaps a twitch there. And she does tend to feel things more with her sweet heart than any child I have ever known. So when her bones start to ache a little I have learned as many teachers and parents do that a bandaid, despite the absence of an abrasion, will cure many ills. And when Daddy came to collect his Princess, she proudly showed him the bandaid that cured her growing pains, and the teacher sheepishly stood aside and made a joke about the placebo affect, hoping that Dr Parents wouldn't be entirely offended by such ingenuity. And Daddy said oh so sincerely "Yes, we'll have to take some medicine for that tonight. Princess has a prescription for obecalp at home, don't you Princess?"

"Yes, it's yummy! It looks like water and it tastes like water, so its not yucky like some medicine. But it makes me feel better!"

And they left. And teacher laughed and laughed and laughed. Because I do know what obecalp is (spelled backwards) and it's nice to know that even smart doctor-y type people with healthy normal well-adjusted children use the same tricks of the trade. Sometimes I worry about the kids in this classroom. But this one, I'm sure she will be just fine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It has been requested....

...that I regale you all with an update of my life. There are still many things in motion that have not quite solidified enough for me to want to share details. But I can tell you about the conclusions I have come to!

You may have heard it said that insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. I am no longer going to participate in the insanity.

I took an "assesment" test this evening. It was one of those computerized tests that gives you questions in increasing difficulty according to your answer to the previous question. It is supposed to assess college level skills. I aced the reading comprehension. 100%. I aced the writing portion. 100%. I aced the math skills section. 100%. I remembered how to factor polynomials in the basic algebra section. Not 100%, but decent enough. Then I started this section called "college algebra". Eeep. There were these symbols that reminded me vaguely of something I saw in a textbook a lifetime ago. Seriously, I took college algebra in 1994. People are taking college algebra now who weren't even conceived in 1994. There was a time in my life when I knew how to identify the function of f. There was a time in my life when I knew how to calculate sin and cosin, and I at least knew what tangent meant. Of course, the only reason I could figure out the hypotenus was because of that joke my dad used to tell.

See, there was this Indian Chief, and he had 3 squaws in his tribe that were all going to have babies. He went hunting to find hides as gifts for each squaw. The first squaw had a beautiful baby boy, and he presented her with the hide of a bear. The second squaw had a beautiful baby boy, and he presented her with the hide of a deer. The third squaw had twins, two boys, and the chief presented her with the most rare hide he could find. The hide of a hippopotamus. And so you see, the sons of the squaws of the other two hides were equal to the sons of the squaw of the hippopotamus.

And with that, I really hope I don't have to retake college algebra.

That's all the info you get for now, let it stew for a while, and by the time you figure things out, I will figure things out too.

J... M : My own tribute to a dead musician.

The press has been a-buzz with stories of a musician who somehow impacted the world enough to justify his story overshadowing things like North Korea launching missiles and supreme court justice selection. Blog entries have been written, facebook status' have been declarative, and I have hesitated to say anything because frankly, anything I could come up with to say about the current event would be insesitive. Perhaps now enough time has passed, the event is no longer current, I have properly mourned and will move forward appropriately honoring a musician who impacted me.

He was born into a family of musicians, and considered a child prodigy. His siblings were all proficient as well, and the family moved around a bit in order to accomodate their musical lifestyle. They were wealthy, not like many tortured and struggling musicians, and saw success early on as musicians in spite of living in a society that was rampant with racism against them. He was instrumental (excuse the pun, it is most reverently intended) in helping his sister to become a legitimate artist as well, even publishing her works in his name since women were not considered legitimate composers in the 1800s

And while he has been dead for 112 years, he was born 200 years ago February, yet no one seems to be celebrating him the way we have celebrated other musicians that impact our lives. Beethoven got all sorts of parties and concerts. Mozart got a movie. I've even heard a few "Elegies to Elgar" (musician joke, couldn't resist, but trust me, its funny.)

Of course, most people are only aware of his first given name, Felix, but Mendelssohn changed his name to Jakob Ludvig Bartholdy when his family converted from Judaism to Christianity. He still signed everything as Mendessohn though. I have always wondered, in fact about that proclaimed conversion, since he refused to publish with the name his father chose as their family's Christian name, and his famous Oratorio is centered around a prophet much more revered by Judaism than Christianity. Some scholars claim that the conversion was merely a publicity stunt, in order to garner more support from an anti-semitic society, but I believe his conversion was honest, he simply recognized the significance of his own heritage within that conversion. I really want to ask him about all that someday.

So here's my tribute to a great musician, the king of the song form, the genius behind the most moving violin concerto ever written, the mind behind the wedding march, and the musician who speaks most to my heart. Jakob Ludvig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, there aren't that many musicians that inspire me to learn a new instrument and spend hours practicing just for the sake of spending more time with them and the things of their heart. Your songs gave me a reason to learn the piano, and I am better for it. I love you man.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Waltzing Mathilda: Reprise

I consider myself a not so dumb girl. When it comes to cars, I can usually manage and logic through things. I mean, I'm no "Handsome Tom", but I can change my own oil, tell you how a transmission works (automatic vs manual) describe what an alternator does, and diagnose a few ailments based on past experience and basic physics. My dad made sure his daughters were at least competent in maintenance practices. That is to say, he taught us to recognize brake squeaks and where to pour the various fluids when things were running low. If we acted interested or in need, he even showed us how to replace brake pads and discs and how to put water in the battery. I may be the only one of his daughters that took him up on that extra stuff, but it's good stuff to know for a couple of reasons. First, there is actually less panic when something goes wrong with your car and you have an inkling of what it might be. Second, it's easier to look smart in front of mechanics who like to take advantage of dumb girls. Third, it's easier to flirt and keep up with the boys in a car conversation. Most of all, I like to think it helped build at least a little of a relationship with my dad.

So the current radiator issues shouldn't be a super big deal, right? I mean, first of all, I know its the radiator without having to ask a soul. Second, I know how to fill the reservoir so that I can keep driving safely without destroying my engine while I save up for the $600 repair that it will probably be. (I'm thinking its the pump, but there is a slow leak somewhere in the system that only leaks when I drive) I know that I'm not destroying the engine because I recently replaced the thermostat and its in good working condition, allowing me to monitor engine heat and blah blah blah car crap talk.

Of course, Independant Nancy (one of my many personalities) won't ask anyone for help or even an opinion on it until she is good and ready to, and since I don't currently have any questions that I can't answer myself, I don't have any plans to ask for help.

Today, among my many "Day Off" tasks was to purchase more radiator fluid and do some maintenance and investigation. I filled the reservoir, I ran the car for a few minutes, then I let it sit for a while, in order to investigate if the leak was happening while parked. Nope. So my next task was to drive for a block or two in order to check just how much it was leaking while driving. I waited until dinner time and made a run to the Wendy's on the corner for some 99cent chicken nuggets. I returned home and popped the hood to check out the levels of fluid. Seriously, two blocks, and I could see nothing in the reservoir. Perhaps time to panic?

Who takes over in Nancy's brain at a moment like this? Does Independant Nancy team up with a voice of reason and pause to consider things? Does Sane Nancy meet up with cynic in order to formulate how much repairs will cost? Does Spiritual Nancy say a prayer while SuzyUtah calls her home teachers to ask them to come bless the car? Nope.

From nowhere, Dumb Girl pops her head out, reaches out her hand and takes the radiator cap off.


It was my Fourth of July Fireworks in flourescent orange liquid, all over my driveway. Because two blocks of driving in 85 degree heat is in fact enough to make your car's radiator fluid boil. Which is also why I couldn't see any in the reservoir. Because it was boiling. And then it was spewing out all over. And the neighbor guys across the street were, I'm sure thoroughly enjoying my dumb girl moment.

Whatever. All I could think at this point was if there is that much stuff still in there, then the leak can't be too bad!

And instead of being mortified by my moment of stupidity, I was relieved. Now haven't I grown as a person?

PS. Jessica, Tom is absolutely not allowed to read this post.

PPS. Contributions to the "Fix Mathilda's Radiator" fund should be made out to Nancy.

PPPS. I don't think dad should be allowed to read this one either, but I feel safe that he won't.

PPPPS. So maybe I am a little mortified.

PPPPPS. I just wanted to see how many Post Post Scripts I could add.

Waltzing Mathilda

(That's my car. Her name is Mathilda because she is crazy smart- think Roald Dahl- and because of my driving)

Those of you who have met my car may know a few shameful facts about me. First is that my driving skills are... questionable. I do a pretty decent job, but I get anxious if someone is hanging out in my blind spot (seriously, why do people do that?) and I panic if I have to drive too close to any barriers (slabs of cement capable of scraping me and my car to bits) and I tend to have a bit of a lead foot. Also, I get emotionally involved with other cars on the road. I wonder who they are and how they are doing and where they are going and when they are being stupid I get upset with them and sometimes set them up for failure (like purposefully making them slow down to a frustrating pace, tapping my brakes at people that tailgate, and then letting them zoom past me as soon as I spot a cop, so they get a ticket while I glide past). And also, because Minnesota and Utah driving skills are possibly the two most incompatible collection of lousy driving habits, I have multiple driving personality disorder. Sometimes I change lanes like a Utahan, abruptly and authoritatively taking command of where I want to be with little regard for any other cars on the road, and sometimes my lane changes take on a rural Minnesotan flavor, lazily wandering across the lane for a few minutes, as if indecisive of where I am going to or coming from, finally ending up casually landing in one lane again with little regard for the needs of anyone else on the road. This is a particularly dangerous habit if I forget I am on I-15.

Along with the driving skills gained from taking drivers ed and the test with a drunken instructor in rural Northern Minnesota, I have a few other car habits that I am working on improving. One of them is born purely of the hectic life I tend to lead. I take on more projects than a schedule can reasonable allow, and my car collects the evidence. It reflects my lifestyle and state of mind at the same time. For example, it may be filled with costumes and books while I am running from work to rehearsal. It may be filled with shoes if I am feeling frumpy and in need of frequent comfort-shoe days. It may be filled with paperwork and unopened mail if I am trying to sort out some new project. For a while in Minnesota it had a box of children's books in need of repair and countless Seminary visual aids and lesson plans. For another while it was filled with clothing changes and music books. I was frantically auditioning for every show I could find. For a few weeks here, it simply had lamps and candles and dishes. I was helping Maurine move and she tended to hand off all the stuff that her new place couldn't take.

You see, I only get opportunity plus energy to deal with my car every so often. I work all day every day and by the time the weekend rolls around, I have grocery shopping and house cleaning and laundry and only a small window for time with friends. Keeping my backseat clean takes a backseat to important things. Until I actually get a day off.

Like today. I get Friday off and pretend it is a Saturday, so that on Saturday I can actually play, guilt free, all day long! Who is so excited for that?! I got up extra early and did my laundry and my grocery shopping and various and sundry errands and cleaned the bathroom and tidied the living room and scrubbed the kitchen and then came Mathilda.

It didn't take very long, and I am not going to list all the things I took out of the car. That would reflect my state of mind for the past 6 months. Instead I am going to list for you the things that are still in my car, because it should reflect my current state of mind.

  • the Scrabble Game from Grandpa's house is still in my backseat. I don't play it at home, and its too important to have it on hand in case anyone does want to play.
  • 3 spoons, ready for the next ice cream craving
  • 4 window scrapers, in the trunk, all various size and usefulness. Some work better for snow, some work better for ice.
  • Bag with Organ books and shoes. (I don't have an organ at home, why would I take them in?)
  • box of candy canes. (what the heck am I supposed to do with candy canes in July?)
  • Box of cassette tapes. (mostly recorded from the radio in the early 90's)
  • 3 hairbrushes. (I also have 3 in my bathroom. It's important to have them on hand)
  • Lotion (witch hazel based, from france)
  • 8 walnuts and a pingpong ball. Also from Grandpa. Can't really explain why I would rather they just stay put.
  • 4 unopened cds of christmas music (mindless orchestrations from generic ensembles and composers) also because I'm not sure what else to do with them
  • a "Greatest hits of Madonna" cd, on which I don't recognize a single song.
  • The David Hasselhoff album. Jealous?
  • Grandma's cookie jar, that she kept the scrabble tiles in
  • a red heart from a student that says "you are my sweetheart" in 4-year old scrawl
  • A cat in the hat doll and a purple bird girl necklace.
  • a refrigerator magnet with "Spike" on it.
  • Wrapping paper and scotch tape. (these things come in more useful than you could possibly imagine)
  • Two empty water bottles and a half a gallon of radiator fluid (I need to save up for this next repair)
  • Dental Floss (Also more useful than you might imagine)
  • 4 decks of playing cards and two poker chips
  • tweezers and nailclippers
  • Box of Kleenex
  • Straw Hat for hiking and sunny days
  • A map of Kirtland Ohio, Palmyra New York, Niagara Falls, and a generic Atlas of the US
  • Eyeshadow, Mascara, and a shade of lipstick called "Demure"
  • Two pairs of shoes (one black, one brown, just in case)
  • Zupas frequent buyer card
  • Cafe Rio frequent buyer card
  • Vase
  • Puzzle of a picture of the world (24 piece, need to bring it to school)
  • Music Notebook
  • Dressmaker forms
  • Christmas tin
  • Two sets of old lisence plates, one set Minnesota, one set Utah

I'm not really sure what all this means, why this is the particular set of odds and ends I feel the need to tote around with me. Draw your own conclusions, and let me know if you come up with a better explanation than this: I'm not sure what life is about to hand me, but whatever it is, I will be ready for it.

Shouldn't there be some sort of a reality TV show where people have to perform ridiculous tasks using only the items in their car? Mathilda and I could so win that...