Monday, April 30, 2007

These Are the People in Your Neighborhood

There are times I wish I had a tiny, discreet video camera hidden in my shirt collar or wrist watch, something like James Bond might use, in order to immortalize the behavior of people I see when I'm out and about. Alas, I am not in possession of such a device, so I can use mere words to describe the totally bizarre workout routine of an unlikely pair I saw in the park today. Daniel was so rapt with watching them he wasn't even interested in going down the slide, usually a favorite activity.

There was a young man, probably mid-twenties, and a woman at least twenty years his senior. They were both dressed in workout clothes and tennis shoes, and they looked to be in very good shape, especially the guy, who was good-looking in a all-American-jock kind of way. They were each carrying a ball about the size of a basketball, only lighter and bouncier. They started the workout by lifting their balls high in the air and lowering them, not dropping or bouncing them, just going up and down, up and down. It was sort of like really awkward tai chi. With balls. Then they came over to the playground equipment, hung from the monkey bars, and did something like chin-ups only it looked much harder. It got even more bizarre. Before it was over, they were jumping on the picnic table, throwing the balls against a tree while doing push-ups, and doing more faux tai chi on the pavement.

It was clear that the guy was a trainer of some sort for the woman, though I can't imagine what they were actually training for. What kind of athletic event requires jumping on a picnic table in the middle of the day? (And y'all think I'm weird for wrapping knitted objects around the birch tree.)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Eye-candy Friday: swirls, squares and daffodils

Steph has been here all week. She's here to help out with Daniel, but we've also been knitting and cooking. Check these out; they're Lebanese tahini swirls from Home Baking. SO delicious.

We've made over a dozen green and blue squares for a knitted baby blanket for Afghans for Afghans. (Read her brief account of the project here.)

Lastly, it's so nice to see flowers blooming. Here's a happy little daffodil I took a picture of earlier this week:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Daniel likes to...

Play the piano...

...and help make bread.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

So Excited!

I got a call yesterday afternoon from the coordinator of the song festival I'm attending in June. They want me to premiere a piece by John Harbison! They really want me to do it. I'm so honored and thrilled and humbled to be asked. Apparently, it's quite difficult, and the singer is from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, so we'll only have about a day to rehearse, but I'm totally up for this challenge.

Some good things have been happening for me lately, music-wise. It's odd, because I figured once I had a kid, I would lose time and enthusiasm for things piano-related. Yet, the opposite seems to be the case. Having Daniel meant I commit to far, far fewer playing gigs, which allows me to focus. I imagine that has a lot to do with successful performances I've been able to give lately.

You've got to understand that while I've always worked hard, I haven't had exciting opportunities until recently. When I started the collaborative program, I was very much in the shadow of another pianist with far more experience than I, and he was constantly asked to play on faculty recitals and with visiting guest artists. He's a dear friend and I harbor absolutely no grudge against him; for one thing, he's a good 15 years older than I am and really, truly deserves all those opportunities. But while he was here, playing for everyone under the sun and being lavished with praise left and right, I was getting calls from high school students needing accompanists for concerto competitions (if I have to play the Mendelssohn violin concerto one more time I might scream) and beginning voice students (if I have to play "Caro Mio Ben" for one more freshman who can't count a dotted quarter note, I absolutely WILL scream). On one particularly memorable occasion, I received a message on my answering machine from someone who directs a group called the Very Special Choir, a group of mentally disabled adults who needed an accompanist. (As I recall, I wasn't available.)

It's not like I think I'm above playing for high school students or choirs made up of disabled adults. I'm absolutely not above that. I'm just glad that some more exciting opportunities are coming my way.

Friday, April 20, 2007


It's been an eventful week for me. There was the Virginia Tech massacre, which has been on my mind particularly because my brother is there. And there are other things I'm not ready to share with the world, at least, not yet. Nothing for you to worry about, just some stuff.

So anyway, I'm way too pre-occupied with this, that and the other to get anything done school-wise, and staying at home all day is giving me a minor case of the crazies. So this morning, seeing we finally have gorgeous weather outside, I had the great idea to take Daniel to a park. Not one close to our house where I'd see the same people as I usually do (because I'm not in the mood for chit-chat), but a different park, a park new to him. As we got in the car, it occurred to me that he still has no hat for the summer, something with a wide brim to protect his delicate features from the harsh UV rays of the sun. No problem, I thought. I'll just go to ShopKo and pick something up that's inexpensive. No go. They only had hats for girls, and most of those had the Nike swoop. I hate the Nike swoop. I won't dress my kid in anything with it unless it's a hand-me-down. So I go to Dick's Sporting Goods, since it was close by. The employees, while friendly, were clueless and sent me all over the store before I figured out they just don't sell hats for little kids. So I wandered into the mall and had to wait a few minutes for the rest of the stores to open. Malls make me twitchy. I don't like them. They're full of obnoxious people and, early-ish on a weekday morning, suburban moms with large strollers and kids who are a little too well-dressed. (Who, me? Judgmental? I'm working on it...) I finally found something suitable at Gymboree and high-tailed it out of which time Daniel had had enough of the whole outing and fell asleep in the car.

After lunch, still feeling like I didn't want to be stuck in the house, I decided to go across town to Lakeside Fibers. Petting yarn would soothe me, I thought, and there's a small park right around the corner where Daniel could play for a while. We were at that little park for about an hour. The weather was glorious, Daniel didn't try to take his hat off too many times, and we met a very sweet little girl and her mother and it was all nice and good.

Then I went into Lakeside. Now, I know taking a little kid into a yarn store isn't always the smartest thing, but Daniel behaves himself as well as any 14-month-old could. He stays away from the merchandise, for the most part. I always have a few books and toys for him to play with, should he choose to do so, because I'm not totally without a clue. He did pretty well for a few minutes before he found a large potted plant with lots and lots of dirt. Daniel loves dirt; check out this picture from last weekend:

He started removing dirt by small handfuls and dropping them carefully onto the floor. It was a little messy, but he wasn't wandering away from me and he wasn't messing up the yarn, so I let him. After a few minutes, I asked an employee if she would bring a broom out for me so I could clean it up. She looked really annoyed, but did it. I swept up the dirt and let Daniel hold the broom and everything was fine, until I decided to check out. I walked up to the counter with my two items to purchase. One lady jumped ahead of me in line and proceeded to have at least a 10-minute conversation with the ONE available employee about what needle size she should use for the yarn she was buying. By this time, it was obvious that Daniel was tired and more than ready to go. If the whining and squirming weren't enough, he kept heading for the door. Another employee came in, gave me and Daniel a look-over like she couldn't wait for us to leave, and then went to make a phone call behind the counter. I waited the 5 minutes (at least) it took for her to finish, and said as politely as I could, "Do you mind checking me out? I only have a couple things here and I've been waiting." So she did, but didn't look happy about it.

It irks me that they're so snooty. I've been to this yarn store enough that most of the employees recognize me. I'm a regular customer, for a yarn store anyway. If Daniel were to cause any actual damage or disruption, I simply wouldn't bring him along. He made a little mess; I cleaned it up. He didn't fuss or whine until the end of our time there when I was waiting and waiting on their employees. It's not like they have a toy area. A friend of mine told me that they used to have a play area with toys that they later removed because "some of the customers were complaining." It seems to me that customers would complain more about a child pulling yarn off the shelves (which Daniel doesn't do) than about a child playing with toys in a designated area. I'm about ready to quit going there altogether and write them a peevish letter explaining why I felt so unwelcome there and that I'd rather take my business somewhere else. Maybe if they had a kid-friendly area, mine wouldn't be playing in the freaking potted plant.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tragedy in Virginia

By now you've probably heard about the awful tragedy at Virginia Tech, where more than 30 people are dead after a shooter went on a rampage. My brother is a PhD student at V-Tech and works in a building very close to the one where the second shooting occurred. He lives less than a quarter mile away from where he works. Don't worry; he is fine, and got the email that the campus was shut down before he went to work this morning. Despite the tragic news coming out of places like Iraq on a nearly daily basis, it always makes me feel newly and rawly horrified to hear about such an incident on American soil. How could a person be so senseless, so brutal? Why were automatic weapons (the gunman had several) accessible to a person capable of such an act? So far, nothing is known about the man who committed this crime, as he is dead himself and carried no identification.

We mourn the loss of these people who did nothing more than show up to class or work on time. We mourn whatever it is in this young man's life and psyche that pushed him to turn a college campus into a war zone. We mourn a society and culture in which such a thing is possible.

Dear readers, when you pray or meditate or do whatever it is you do (if you do), please remember this day. Let us hope it never happens again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Oma, Anne Lamott, and Malibu

It's been an eventful week, at least by my standards.

My mom was here for a few days during her spring break! It was great. We discussed Pride and Prejudice ad nauseum, cooked, knitted, and all those things my mom and I like to do together. Daniel and Oma also got plenty of quality time together while I got some work done.
They played outside,

read books together,

and Daniel learned how to make cookies.

My mom had quite the adventure trying to get home, though. Word to the wise: if you ever fly into or out of Madison, avoid going through Chicago O'Hare if you possibly can. You're practically guaranteed to lose your luggage, have your flight canceled, or both. She was delayed an hour getting here, but that was small potatoes compared to the return trip. Here's what happened.
8:20a.m. - Daniel and I drop my mom off in front of the airport and head home.

9:15a.m. - Mom calls from the airport to tell me that an earlier flight to Chicago has been canceled, so everyone on that flight was put on her flight, so some people, including her, have been bumped to a later flight. She is certain she'll miss her connection in Chicago, and the only other flight from Chicago to her final destination in KY doesn't leave until the evening. The airline is asking people to volunteer to wait until the next day to leave. She ponders what to do.

9:30a.m. - After some deliberation and a consultation with my dad, mom calls again to say she has decided to stay an extra day. I'm secretly glad. She has booked a seat on the 8:15 flight the following morning.

10:00a.m. - Daniel and I once again are at the aiport, this time to take my mom home. We stop at a video store to rent Pride and Prejudice because, heck, we've been discussing it and re-enacting our favorite scenes, so we might as well watch it. I hand her my wallet so that I don't have to hold it in my lap as we drive. (This will be important later.)

The day passes without any other noteworthy incidents. Daniel naps, I teach a few piano lessons, we have dinner, finish watching the movie and stay up late talking.

Midnight - I finally go bed. These days, this is a very late bedtime for me.

Thursday (technically)
12:15a.m. - The phone rings. I panic. Mom answers. I hear bits of the conversation: "Oh, dear...Friday afternoon?...Do you have anything else?...Well, then I'll take the 6:20 flight." That's right. The 8:15 and the 9:20 flights have been canceled, and the next available seat is on Friday afternoon. Or six hours after the phone call has been made.

12:30a.m. - I ask Stuart to set the alarm for 4:45 and stumble into bed.

4:45a.m. - Mom and I get up, go to the airport in record time (no traffic issues at this hour), say good-bye, etc. It's still dark when I get home.

5:30a.m. - Stuart informs me that Daniel got up at 5:15 and we have a brief competition over who-got-less-sleep. I argue that I be the one to go back to bed because I actually had to get up and drive. I win, but feel slightly guilty about it.

9:00a.m. - Mom calls from the Chicago airport to tell me that she has my wallet in her bag. Remember when we rented the video and I handed my wallet to her? She put it in her bag and we both forgot it was there. Oops.

Fortunately, mom made it home without further incident and mailed my wallet here right away and everything's hunky-dory. I think for all that trouble, she got maybe a $250 voucher. I mean really. These airlines need to get their act together, don't you think?

Anne Lamott...
...was in Madison for talk/discussion and book-signing on Thursday night. The event was nearby my house, so I biked there (good thing, as parking was nil) and stood in the back of a room so packed I could barely see. She was completely political, very funny, inspiring and all the rest. I really can't tell you all the things she said because it wouldn't be nearly as interesting and engaging in my words as in hers, but I will tell you these three things: Her dredlocks are beautiful, her words give me hope, and I want to join her Revolution of Kindness. I also badly want to read her new book, but I have a feeling the waiting list at the library will take months and months.

I'll be there for a couple weeks in June for an intensive professional training program in song accompanying. The piano faculty include Martin Katz and, my personal hero of song accompanying, Graham Johnson. A friend and I dared each other to apply, so we did, and we both got in, though it turns out she's not going. I got a hefty scholarship for the tuition, though I still have to pay for housing. I couldn't be without my Danimal for that long, so he's coming with me, as well as a couple family members willing to babysit (three cheers for Oma and Uncle Joe!). Not that I had to twist their arms too much - the program is held at Pepperdine University, which is not a few blocks from the coast, not a mile from the coast, but ON the coast. What a hardship, eh?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

April (snow) Showers

We thought we were done with these a month ago.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Questions from Pam!

Can you stand another interview? I hope so!

1. What is the thing you find most annoying about singers?

You guys have to understand that Pam is not a typical singer, and this answer in no way reflects upon her personally.

I've worked with a lot of singers, and I find vocal repertoire to be the most fulfilling in a lot of ways. There's something so special and intimate about the human voice and the way words are wed to music in a good art song that just can't be duplicated in a piece for, say, violin. Or the tuba. But singers are an odd bunch. Many of them are vain and self-involved, and in a way, I kind of understand why. The human voice is the only musical instrument that is inside the body (unless you count those people who can fart on pitch, but I digress...). To sing in public is to make yourself very vulnerable to your audience. There's no instrument to hide behind. I mean, I get a whole piano - talk about a security blanket! In addition, the world of singing and opera, especially, is extremely competitive (because there are so many singers, just gobs of them), so how you look and who you know matters as much, if not more than, how well you sing. So the ones who make it have to be able to look good and promote themselves and cozy up to the right people and so some of those less desirable characteristics just come with the territory. Not all good singers are like this (some of my best friends in my musical life are singers, as I've mentioned before); in fact, not all successful singers are like this. But more often than not, that's what you get.

But that's not what annoys me. I've participated in, or at least listened to, many a conversation about Blondie's latest appointment with the photographer for headshots, and the color of Hypochondriac Soprano's phlegm over the course of a week, and Gay-But-Won't-Admit-It-To-His-Wife-Baritone's thorough analysis of various methods of snot removal (Neti Pot vs. Nasal Spray??), and Chesty-Mezzo's rendition of her favorite SNL sketch (singers watch a lot of TV), and Tenor McEgo's deliberation over which aria to sing for his next audition: the one with the high B or the high B-flat?, and while some of this talk may bore me, none of it particularly bothers me. No, if you want to annoy an accompanist, act thusly:

1. In a rehearsal, say "Could you play the melody through for me a couple times?"
2. Hand him or her a difficult aria, like something from The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky) and say "Do you mind sight-reading this? I don't think it's too hard. It's OK if you don't play all the notes."
3. Change your mind about your recital repertoire three times in the course of one week.
4. Try to put a vase of flowers on top of the piano for your recital. Just try.
5. Bow without acknowledging your pianist, then leave the stage.
6. Say, "Oh, I'm never sure where to come in there. But you can cover for me, right?"
7. Call your pianist your "accompany-ist."
8. When your pianist tells you he/she is raising his/her rates for the first time in four years, say "I was hoping I could get you for the old price!"
9. Sing something, anything, by Andrew Lloyd Weber.

2. What is your favorite restaurant in Madison? and what do you like to eat there?

I'm not sure I could pick just one! We eat breakfast at Lazy Jane's Café almost every weekend. Their best usual breakfast is a scramble with green onions and cream cheese with a side of fried potatoes, though every so often there are breakfast specials that include some manner of omelet with whole roasted garlic cloves. They also have the best scones in town.

For dinner, one place we've always liked, but don't go to very often as it's a wee bit pricey, is El Dorado Grill on Williamson Street. Best margarita I've ever had, and the food is like modern Tex-Mex cuisine. They've got really good black bean enchiladas.

Probably the best meal I've eaten out was at Harvest. It's one of those fine restaurants you go to for your anniversary, and not just any anniversary, but the last one you have before you become parents. Harvest buys lots of their ingredients from local growers and farmers, they cook seasonly, and it's gourmet cuisine, the kind you have to order three or four courses' worth to feel satisfied. They make something as simple as mashed potatoes exquisite. You blow a week's grocery money on one meal and it's worth it. And because it's in Madison, you can go there dressed to the nines or arrive on your bike in jeans (nice jeans, of course) and the service is the same. Obviously, we've only been once, but oh!

3. What do you miss most about the TAA? (seeing that you're not as involved anymore)?

I miss the special feeling of comradeship that comes with spending time with a bunch of other hell-raisers. For those that don't know me, or know me recently, I got involved with the TAA in the spring of 2004 when we went on a 2-day strike. I'll save the long story for another time, but briefly, that was the worst semester and the best semester for me, certainly the most interesting. I made some very good friends that I still have.

4. What do you like best about studying with Martha?
I could go on and on about this one, but this post is already getting long! Martha and I just click. I've studied with her long enough that she knows my playing in and out, and I know her teaching in and out, and I know what she's going to say almost before she says it. Our personalities are very different, but we actually have very similar issues musically. This means she's perfectly suited to help me with my weak points, because she understands where I'm coming from. Also, even though we have totally different body-types, our hands are exactly the same size with exactly the same finger-span. Isn't that cool?

5. What do you look forward to most upon waking in the morning?

My immediate answer is the excellent lattés Stuart makes us for breakfast every morning. I'm just finishing mine now!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wide Awake

I haven't had a good night's sleep in about a year and a half.

This morning at 3a.m. after getting Daniel back sleep, I found myself wide awake and alert. This happens on occasion, where I can't get to sleep for an hour or so after a middle-of-the-night waking. It reminds me of the insomnia I had in the last two months of pregnancy. I would lie in bed, counting backwards from 500, then 1000, trying to bore myself to sleep, but to no avail. By the last month before he was born, more nights than not, I would just give up and get out of bed. I washed dishes, knitted, read book reviews on Amazon until my eyes couldn't focus, and would finally collapse into bed, exhausted, about the time Stuart had to get up for work. If one more person had said to me, "Oh, it's just your body preparing for all the sleep deprivation you're about to have!!" I may have turned violent. After Daniel was born, I was relieved to be getting more sleep; that feeling lasted a good three months before I realized how sleep-deprived I actually was.

So anyway, I was lying there wide awake, thinking. I thought about knitting projects I want to start, as well as some I should finish. I thought about all the things I used to have/make time for that I miss. Like running, and reading, and yoga. I thought about my doctorate and how badly I want to finish, but at the same time the thought of writing one more paper fills me with dread.

I have mentioned (or rather, complained) that I have a lecture-recital to do this semester. For those that don't know, a lecture recital is required of all DMA students here. Basically, you talk about a piece for 20-30 minutes, take questions from the audience, and then perform the piece. I have no fear of public speaking. I have no worry that I won't be able to find enough to say; despite my topic being an obscure bassoon piece by a second-tier 19th-century composer, I know enough about music history and the importance of context that I am confident I will come up with 30 minutes' worth of coherent, interesting material. I'm just having motivation issues because I don't think I'll have anything truly important or lasting to say. I will be competent, but not profound.

It's hard when the demands and responsibilities of family and housework almost always trump school work. I have to pay a babysitter so I can go to the freaking library.

I worry that I'm becoming boring and shallow. I find myself thinking about unimportant things all the time. My mind is occupied with trivialities like what to fix for dinner, what to plant in the garden (if it ever warms up), when to do the laundry, what to knit next. It's been months since I've read a good book from start to finish. I've been a bookworm since I learned to read as a child. I'm the kind of person who devours books. I read fast, and until recently, prolifically. Even when I was a full-time student, I would snatch moments when I didn't have to read for class to read during lunch breaks, practice breaks, and before I went to bed. Fiction, non-fiction, as long as it's interesting and well-written, I'll read it. Or would have.

I know that instead of being all whiny and existential, I should just get some work done. At this moment, though, Daniel is sleeping (yay!) so I can't practice, and I can't do any more research and writing until the babysitter comes so I can go to the library.

I've decided that I need to give myself a kick in the pants. I've started re-reading Bird by Bird by the brilliant Anne Lamott (who, by the way, is doing a talk and book-signing here next week and you bet your sweet little tushies I'm going to be there). This book is ostensibly lessons on writing, but it's so much more. It's hilarious at times, and there are lessons on life in there, lessons about patience and hope and discipline. Before going to sleep, I read the introduction and first chapter, where she talks about making assignments for yourself. Sit down in front of the computer or typewriter or whatever you use at the same time every day and write about your first day of kindergarten or your favorite birthday party or whatever little nugget of memory you have that you want to describe. I'm not going to do that, exactly, because I'm not trying to be a professional writer (I know better than that), but the idea of small assignments to get through a big task is a good place to start. So today, I'm going to the library to find information on one specific area of my topic. I'm going to take notes. Tomorrow I will start an outline. And I'll go from there, step by step by step.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

(I'm running out of titles for these)

Mrs. Ann wants questions. I've been dying for her to ask to be interviewed. So we play on.

Oh, and for some reason, even though Becca was the first to answer my interview questions, I haven't linked her answers yet. Until just now, that is.

So, Ann, here's what I want to know!

1. When's the last time you laughed so hard you (almost) peed a little?
2. You've traveled to many exotic places around the world. Where's the best place you've been and why?
3. What's your favorite Bible verse?
4. If time and money were no object, what is one artistic talent or hobby you would like to cultivate?
5. If you had to do middle school band all over again, would you still play the tuba?

'Tis the week for Interviews!

Pam has answered my questions. Not sure how I missed that first time 'round. I love reading everyone's answers.

And now I have some questions from Steph to answer. Wh00t!

1. You are offered an all-expenses-paid trip to a Buffy convention. You are guaranteed complete anonymity; no one you know will find out, and you have a babysitter, guilt-free time off from school, and a great cover story. In order to cash in, however, you must at some point in the convention approach James Marsters for his autograph. When you receive it, you must say, “Thanks, Blondie Bear!”, wink, and make a wet kissing noise. Do you accept? Explain your reasoning.

Let me get this straight: a free ride to a Buffy convention, no Danimal responsibilities, no school guilt, complete anonymity and all I have to do is make an idiot of myself in front of James Marsters (something I'd be bound to do in some way or another anyway)? Dude, I'm in. Heck, I'd probably do it for the free babysitting alone and I would kiss his perfectly-sculpted cheekbone to boot, rather than just blowing a kiss. I truly have no shame. Sidenote: Stu has a co-worker who is a big Joss Whedon geek and - I hope you're sitting down - actually got to have dinner with James Marsters (I think she won a contest or something); she has a picture of him on her desk.

2. If you had to devote one year of your life to studying one of the world’s religions, which would you choose? Why?

Hmmmm, good question. I think Buddhism. It seems to have the whole respect for life thing down. It also seems to be the most accepting of other religions and not so much into promoting itself by way of violence. Not that the teachings of Jesus and Mohammed specifically condone violence, but you don't see anyone blowing themselves up or invading other countries in the name of Buddha, do you?

3. If both you and Stuart were offered your dream jobs in the proximity of Newton, Kansas, would you be willing to move there?

Mayyyyyyyybe. What do you mean by "proximity"? Like, Wichita (20 miles away)? Kansas city (170-ish miles away)? Hesson (15 minutes down the road)? Pros: we have family in central Kansas, family we'd like to see more often. Also, living expenses are considerably less in that part of the country than in Madison. And oh, I miss the Kansas sky. Cons: the schools are crap and I will never ever ever ever homeschool, the summers are unbearably hot and good beer is much harder to find and teaching evolution is barely legal.

I just don't know how to answer this one. Seeing as dream jobs for both of us don't exist in or near Newton, this question really is hypothetical right now. But it seems like once a week we have The Conversation about where we're going to end up when I finish this #&$* degree. Will we stay in Madison? Will I look for a job? Will I just stay home and have another kid? Will we try to move closer to family? Which family? They're spread out between the Midwest and the South.

4. You can ask one question, technical, mundane, or personal, of the late great knitting goddess Elizabeth Zimmerman. What do you ask?

Why do you hate seaming so much?

5. Colin Firth or Matthew MacFadyen—which Mr. Darcy will rule?

You're just trying to make my head explode, aren't you? Colin Firth has always been the epitome of Mr. Darcy for me. That pond scene...drool...But Matthew MacFadyen is really growing on me, plus he's in a far superior movie with the perfect Elizabeth (Keira Knightly), whereas Jennifer Ehle didn't quite cut it if you ask me. Deep in my heart I'm still conflicted.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Ich habe noch Antworten für Ihnen

I've got some questions to answer, but first, here are links to the interviews that are done so far, if you haven't already found them:

Next, I have questions to answer from Animal himself!

1) If money and space were no object, what brand and size of piano would you own?
A 7' Steinway baby grand. I'm no expert on pianos, truly, but I like the old Steinways that have been rebuilt. Some of them run into 6 figures (yikes!), so this question will always be hypothetical. Until I win the lottery, anyway.

2) How do you and Stu go about splitting household chores?

Well, now, that's a good question. Before Daniel came along, when Stu and I were both working/schooling full time, we split things more or less evenly. I've always done more of the cooking because I enjoy it and I'm better at it. Everything else, like cleaning and dishes and vaccuuming, we've did as needed, sometimes together, sometimes not. We never established rules, like "this week it's your turn to scrub the shower" (as if we scrub the shower as often as once a week) and the important stuff gets done. However. Now that Daniel's here and I stay at home basically full-time, much more of the housework falls to me. I am fine with this. Stuart goes to his job 8-9 hours a day where he works hard. I stay home, and I consider my work to be here. I do all of the laundry, nearly all of the cooking (Stu makes dinner the one night per week that I teach because I get home around 7:00), most of the dishes (oh, for a dishwasher!), and most of the cleaning, such as it is. That said, I'm not a great housekeeper. I wish I were more of a neat-freak, but I'm just not. In the continuum between "total slob" and "obsessively clean" I fall somewhere in the middle. In my defense, it's really hard to keep things ship-shape in a 900-square foot house with a Very Inquisitive and Exploratory Danimal about.

Oh, and Stuart cleans the bathroom. It's just habit.

3) What's your favorite thing about parenthood so far?

Oh, you know. All the reasons everyone else gives. It's pretty incredible watching your child grow and discover the world. Everything is new for him: climbing steps, watching water run from the faucet, pouring water on the floor (a new favorite), rolling a ball, clicking his tongue, the feeling of sand running through his get the idea. Right now he's still at that age where Stuart and I are his entire world (as Jenn pointed out to me once), and he adores us and loves us and is generally very sweet and cuddly. It's very affirming.

4) If neither age nor longevity were a factor, what other careers would you like to try?

I found out too late that I probably would have been a pretty good scientist. If I had to do it all over again, I might be in a lab instead of where I am now. As for other careers, as long as I didn't have to worry about being wildly successful, I'd like to try: travel writing, arts administration (I still may do this if I get sick of what I'm doing now), something knitting related like designing or editing a magazine or raising sheep and alpacas (but not running a yarn shop; I'm not business-oriented at all, nor do I care to be), designing children's clothes that don't suck, organic farming...but ask me tomorrow and who knows what I might say!

5) What's your favorite way to spend a Friday night?

I AM SO BORING. Right now, my ideal Friday night involves collapsing on the couch in front of a good movie. Before Daniel, a great Friday night might have entailed gathering with friends on the lakefront terrace for beers and staying until after sundown before biking home. Remember those days, Stu? Sigh.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday Funk

Stuart has spent a good chunk of the morning doing our taxes. While I've been classified as a "student" more or less all of my life (don't tell me how pathetic that is, I already know), 2006 was the first year I wasn't employed by any organization or institution. I've never earned more than a pittance. I've leaned on Stuart financially even when we were in graduate school together; he got 4 years into a PhD in biological neuroscience, a field with infinitely more available funds than music. When Daniel was born in February of last year, I took a semester off and was thus no longer qualified for an assistantship. I started up again last fall, but only part time. Hence, my only income has been what little I earn from teaching five piano students every week, and the occasional paid accompanying gig. The money I earned in 2006 was enough to cover about 70% of my tuition bill for two semesters. I know that my worth is not measured in the dollars I earn, but that's still depressing.

I mumbled something about this to Stuart, who is always reassuring in these matters, and he replied "But you're still a student! It's okay!" The problem is, I'm spectacularly UNmotivated to do any school work at this time. I've certainly had a busy semester up to this point, but none of my performances in the last two months were for credit. I need to do a lecture recital at some point before May 12. I have a topic (the Moscheles piece I played in that competition last month), I have a stack of books, some interlibrary loan requests, a few articles from JSTOR (GREAT online source of articles for folks in the Humanities), and absolutely no idea what to say or how to approach it. It doesn't help that the school of music has absolutely NO guidelines for DMA lecture recitals. I feel like I'm going into this blind. I have a musicology minor, which means that I know just enough about music history and historical research to feel absolutely unqualified to say anything with authority.

Trust me, I'm in no mood for any April Fool's jokes. I'm so gullible I fall for even the stupidest ones anyway. One year, NPR's All Things Considered did a whole story about how they were joining up with WWF (the wrestling people) in order to diversify their audience. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Geez.

I would like to end on a more positive note, though, so here are five questions for Pam:

1. What is one unusual thing about you?
2. Name 3 of your favorite places in Boston.
3. You have been given the opportunity to present a program of your choice for a friendly audience in a prestigous recital hall. You have at your disposal any instrumentalists you need to accompany you, including a conductor (should you need one). What would you sing?
4. What opera do you secretly hate?
5. If you could do it all over again, would you still study voice?