Thursday, February 11, 2010
I’ve been talking about going back to school for the last two years – almost since I moved, really. It just hasn’t happened for one reason or another. This term, it finally has.
I’ve started classes at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) for fifteen credit hours this term. I’m taking Survey of World Music, Survey of European Classical Music, US History since 1877, History of Theater and Drama I and a half-semester of College Composition II which starts early next month. All of them are only online, which leaves me a lot of freedom in completing the assignments. I do the majority of my homework while I’m at work. It’s been working pretty well when I’m able to focus. (Sometimes these music books just cannot hold my attention no matter how hard I try!)
So far I feel really good about my classes. I’m maintaining good marks on pretty much everything, and I know that I can’t be doing too poorly if I’m agonizing about a couple of points here or there. We even had a good discussion in my theater class this last week about Medea. The previous ones were forced at best, but it seems like people are reading a little more deeply into the plays and I enjoyed the discussion that resulted. This week we’re reading Lysistrata and next week, The Twin Menaechmi. Coming off of several Greek tragedies in a row, I’m looking forward to a little comedy! My music classes involve listening to a lot of music and analyzing it, which apparently I’m pretty good at. My history class discussions have left much to be desired so far, but I feel like I’m still doing fairly well in the class. We have our first exam in that class this week, and I’m done with my first of two essays. The question-and-answer part gets posted tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be all done with that class for the week soon.
Sometimes I feel like I must be out of my mind to even consider taking classes full time as well as working full time, but it seems to be alright so far. It’s overwhelmed me a few times, but I just try to take it one day and one assignment at a time. If I can manage that through the end of the semester, then maybe I can repeat it in the summer semester and in the fall. If I can manage that, then I’ll be almost all the way, if not all the way, to an associate of arts by the end of the year! Once I have that, I’m not sure what I’ll do afterward. Ultimately, I’d like to get a bachelor’s degree in something related to music, something that will allow me to sing. I know it isn’t the most logical major, but it’s what I want, and I think it’s worth the risk.
I’m finally back in school. I’m really glad!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Another year is passing on, and I must say, it’s been a reasonably eventful one.
January and February were uneventful for me. I was working for the Evil Cable Empire, not really loving it but managing nevertheless. There was snow, it was cold, and generally the status quo stayed the same. Our year in snippets:
- We bought a new couch (which is pretty great).
- We saw Spring Awakening (which I loved).
- I joined my very first D&D campaign.
- We saw The Drowsy Chaperone again (to much less satisfaction than the first time).
- The Cleveland International Film Festival started again (and we loved it from start to finish).
- We saw Spamalot (and it was only okay).
- We saw The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee again (and it was exactly as expected).
- We went to Knoebel’s opening weekend.
- We saw Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin live in concert (it was pretty great).
- I lost my job at the Evil Cable Empire.
- I started knitting again.
- Johnathan started working for the hospital again.
- I finally got my wisdom teeth out.
- We went to Walt Disney World for two long, long weeks (it was really, really hot! but fun).
- We saw They Might Be Giants in concert (it was a Flood show – pretty fun!).
- We saw Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm in concert again (last year’s concert was better).
- I got the flu twice – the “regular” flu and H1N1. It was a “fun” month.
- I got a job at the hospital working at the new help desk.
- We saw Mamma Mia! (it was enjoyable).
- We saw Wicked (still a great show).
- We quit our D&D campaign.
- We visited Allison in Bloomington for a few days. (She visited us in Cleveland a few times, too.)
In other news, I watched 361 movies this year. It’s not quite one movie per day on average, but just about. I’ve seen a lot of good ones, a lot of bad ones, and a lot of mediocre, unmemorable movies this year. I really loved doing this, though. It was nice to have something to work toward this year, particularly after I became unexpectedly unemployed.
In addition to my 361 movies, I read 26 books. I seemed to let my “50 Book Challenge” fall by the wayside this year in favor of films, and that is okay with me. I completed 24 projects: 4 scarves (none for me), 10 hats (about half of them for me), 3 headbands, 2 coffee cozies, 1 pair of mittens, 2 market bag (very stretchy and wonderful), and 1 tank top (not my favorite project). I partially completed one set of fingerless gloves for myself, I made one flip-top mitten for Johnathan (the other is still in queue), one more market bag, two hats for me, half of a sock, part of a scarf for my brother (for which I have once again changed patterns), half of a second tank top (which I loved, but didn’t have the patience to finish), and another try at flip-top mittens for Johnathan which ended up not working as well as planned. Not to mention, one of those 10 hats had to be ripped out and started over again because I made it far too big for a normal-sized woman’s head.
As far as “big things” go, this year has been nothing compared to last year. I’m okay with that. A job loss was bad enough, I think!
2009 hasn’t been bad to us. I hope that 2010 will be better.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Blogs are pretty great. I seem to be addicted to them, since I’ve had at least five others in addition to this one at some point or another. I keep a livejournal, though I’ve gotten irregular at that. I have a Disney blog that I almost never post to (feelings that I’m a fraud and have no new insights or information to convey are fueling that one). I had a by-myself public blog that just lost steam because writing book reviews is boring, sharing recipes is boring (and I am far from being a true “foodie,” apparently, which made the whole thing discouraging), and various other attempts at having an active blog, well, just fizzled.
I do spend a lot of time on the internet. I like to browse. I don’t browse very far, though. I used to use stumbleupon which was a neat way of discovering things that I might otherwise never see, but after that very website led me to a site that compromised our laptop (which was running Windows at the time), I’ve given it up. (We now run Linux on all of our personal computers, but I still haven’t made it back to StumbleUpon). I generally now spend all of my time on a few websites or platforms. I hang out at HogwartsMOO, where I’ve had a character (or account, if you will) for going on eight years. I read threads on Ravelry and LibraryThing, though I very rarely post anything. I check in on DisBoards on occasion. I read my livejournal friends page and check up on Twitter constantly. That’s about it. There are a few others that I check in on occasionally, and I’ll get lost in Wikipedia or imdb sometimes, but I don’t generally do a wide variety of web browsing.
I think the main reason for this is that I like to see or experience certain things when I visit a website. Nearly all the websites I visit are blogs or at least have a blog now, and I like to read blogs. I love when people share their day-to-day with me, or offer insights into things that I might otherwise not have paid any attention to. Okay, to which I might otherwise have not paid any attention. Better? Okay.
When I do start reading a blog, I want certain things from it. I want a functional way to read old posts without having to go to a day or a month view. I want to read backwards, so there should be an “older posts” button. It drives me absolutely crazy when there isn’t one. It’s even worse when the number of entries on the main page is limited to a number less than ten. How will I find out if I like your blog if there are only three or four entries on the main page? That’s not giving me much of a chance to see the full scope of your blog. If none of the four visible entries look interesting to me, and I can’t read any others, I’m likely to just pass right on by without even giving a potentially interesting writer a chance. That’s sad.
Another blog-related gripe of mine relates to feeds. A good website with a blog should have a working feed that I can subscribe to via Google Reader (my reader of choice). I should be able to read the whole entry on the feed. I hate blogs that give me a teaser to a post but cut it off after a few sentences or even as much as half of the post. I’m likely not to subscribe to a blog that works its feed that way, or unsubscribe from it pretty quickly and then potentially forget to ever check the website again. Out of sight, out of mind, you know?
I guess what I’m really wishing for is a standard among blogs. Blog templates vary so wildly on wordpress alone, nevermind all the other blogging platforms out there. Perhaps I’m expecting too much, but I know if more people would declutter and employ usable themes and navigation links, would be far more likely to cultivate a circle of community, rather than sitting idly by most of the time and ignoring the other potentially interesting blogs around.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Johnathan and I love eating good food, this is something that we can both agree on. We even like cooking, sometimes. Unfortunately, our interest in cooking tends to have dropped significantly since we moved into this apartment. I blame most of it on the space: this kitchen is less than half the size of the kitchen at our old apartment. It’s a shame, too, because it’s one of the only things we really dislike about this place. Since we moved in last September, despite the good intentions to eat better and get back in shape, we’ve found ourselves eating out more than we should and spending a lot of money on overpriced food with too many fatty ingredients and far too much salt.
I was looking for some new recipes to make, some with less fat and more complex carbohydrates instead of simple ones. I ran across the idea in my searches for once a month cooking. It seemed like an intriguing idea to me. We already do our shopping twice a month, but what if we did it only once a month and froze a lot of things to thaw and eat later? Interesting concept! The idea was that we’d have something at home to eat, even when were decidedly uninterested in cooking. Well, I picked out some recipes – mostly healthy ones, and very few which said anything about the freezability of the recipe – and made up a grocery list. We went shopping on the thirteenth of July for all of the ingredients for about twenty recipes, and commenced with the cooking the following weekend. The cooking went fairly well. I discovered that cooking and freezing up a few recipes on my own is a tall order, particularly as it leaves me less time to clean up after myself unless I literally want to be in the kitchen all day. However, when Johnathan and I did a bunch of cooking together things ran smoothly. One of us could clean up or do prep work while the other checked on recipe instructions or tended to something that was already in progress. We managed to use up nearly everything in our freezer with the exception of the frozen vegetables and fill it until it was absolutely packed 100% full. There was no more room in that sucker when we were done!
Now that we’ve done it once and experienced what it was like to do the work and reap the benefits, we’re going to go again this month, this time with some new knowledge. Some things we learned:
- Stuffed peppers do not freeze very well.
- White lasagna that includes a pesto sauce is pretty good but the whole thing gets oily if not baked right away because the pesto separates.
- The only way this actually works is if someone actually remembers to get something out of the freezer. Trying to quickly thaw things is a pain.
- Chilis, soups and stews freeze very well!
- Recipes that include just regular ingredients are more likely to be pleasing than those that require ingredients that we don’t even know how to find. (In other words, keep it simple, stupid!)
Overall, we’re both really happy about the whole experience. We’ve got a list of recipes already picked out to make for next month, and I expect we’ll go shopping for that pretty soon and use our experiences to our advantage. We’re making a bigger variety of meals and recipes with simpler ingredients – ones we’ve purchased before and know how to locate in the various stores. I expect we’ll come in under budget this time around, and hopefully be able to pack up our freezer just as much as last time.
I’m so glad we thought to try this. It has saved us so much time and frustration, not to mention a ton of money that was previously spent on eating out becuase we were too lazy to cook!
Now, if only we could get our hands on a bigger freezer so that we could have more storage.
With little counter space, we got creative with where we, er, stored things.
A dozen cupcakes, some thawing chicken, and a card table that's only kind of holding up the microwave.
We mentioned there's not much counter space, right? This is where the laptop lived so that we could access online recipes.
Cookin' some chicken. I have no idea which recipe this was for.
Produce storage overflow. (Note the bottle of vodka: that was for after.)
It was a long weekend, but the payoff is obvious.
Packed full. There was quite literally no more room in there.
The fridge remained pretty full throughout.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Well, I’ve been without work for about a month now. In that time, I’ve made two scarves, two coffee cup cozies, a neck warmer and one mitten. I cast on for a beaded hat, only to realize that I lacked the right sized needles to continue past the cast on row. Whoops. I can see a few things about knitting already.
- It’s not as hard as I had it worked up to be in my head. I made a scarf to learn cables, and quickly learned to love them. I made a neck warmer to learn how to do herringbone stitch and did a practice swatch of what appears to be daisy stitch (according to some – elsewhere called a diagonal knot stitch). I’ve learned how to cast on in the middle of a project, create stitches where once there weren’t any, do a gusset for the thumb of a mitten… I know there are a lot of techniques that I have yet to explore, and I look forward to learning them as I go. No beginner projects for me – I’m learning new techniques by doing them.
- Hobbies can get expensive, and knitting is no exception. There are some really gorgeous colorways out there, some handspun, some themed to interesting things (like Harry Potter themed yarns among other things), and lots of them incredibly expensive. I’ve found a happy spot where I get good yardage for my dollar, but yarns that aren’t scratchy and inflexible (like the Red Heart Superwash tends to be in my still limited experience). I do have to keep reminding myself that while it’s nice that some knitters can afford to spend upwards of $50 on one hank of yarn, I just can’t do that and I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the point where I will.
- Elitism is everywhere. It’s there in all aspects of life and especially in each and every hobby or interest I’ve pursued. I haven’t found anything yet that was free of it. There are some knitters who refuse to use anything but natural fibers, or even better, handspun natural fibers (which can get very expensive) and are fairly vocal about those who use anything man-made. Others swing the other direction and are fairly judgmental of those who don’t use man-made fibers. It’s inevitable that this would happen. It’s not a very nice thing to witness, but I think I’m getting better at blocking out the elitism.
I’m really enjoying knitting things up. I stayed up late on Saturday night to finish the mitten, and it was absolutely amazing to see how it ended up shaped like a mitten, without any truly complicated techniques. As far as finished objects go, here’s what I have:
- Sharfik for Allison: Nine feet and one inch of scarf pre-fringe. -faint- It took me just under three weeks to actually finish the scarf, mostly because I think I was losing motivation for it. Scarves take a long time. There’s no real sense of reward when it’s done becasue it takes so darn long to finish. I still need to attach the fringe, but I was waiting for it to dry after washing it. I should do that soon since she’s visiting this weekend. [Pattern]
- Coffee Cozies  : Johnathan got coffee pretty much every day at his old job (he started his new (old?) one today, yay!), and I figured that since he wasn’t taking his own mug to get the coffee, it was ending up being pretty unfriendly to the environment. I had about half a skein (give or take) of yarn left over from the scarf that I made for his mom’s birthday, so I figured, why not make a coffee cozy? Can’t be hard, right? I made the first one in the same woven cable pattern that the scarf I made his mom used. I seamed it up very badly, and put a pretty button on it. Where the seam is, the cozy gets pretty bulky, so I’m a little disappointed with how it came out. The second one was much better. It was a herringbone stitch pattern (which I had just made a neckwarmer out of – more on that to come), and it knitted up just as quickly as the first one, but because the edges were more straight I had an easier time seaming it. I seamed it up while watching an episode of chopped, left off any buttons and called it done. It is less loose than the first one because I made it just a little bit undersized, to let it stretch. So, all in all, #2 was much better than #1. I still have probably a quarter or more of a skein of that blue yarn, so I figure I’ll make some more, unless I can figure out something else to make with it. Any ideas? It was nice making these, though, because I didn’t use any patterns for them, so I felt kind of original in doing it. (Even if both stitch patterns came from another pattern that I originally followed.)
- Herringbone Neckwarmer: I’ve had this pattern bookmarked for a long time. It was one of those “someday…” projects that I had no idea when I’d be able to actually make it. I bought yarn with my birthday money from Johnathan’s mom, and had no reason, at that point, not to make it. I started it on Tuesday night, and by Thursday night, it was totally finished, including buttons and buttonholes. The buttonholes were an interesting part for me. The pattern calls for binding off, then picking up and knitting fifteen stitches with doubled yarn. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make it work the way the pattern called for it to work, so ultimately I ignored the instructions. I looked up how to make a one-row buttonhole, and worked it into the pattern instead. It turned out pretty well! The buttonholes were a little bit big, so the buttons don’t like to stay put, but I figure I’d rather sew them smaller than have to un-knit and redo the buttonholes because the buttons won’t fit through. I really like how the neckwarmer turned out. Now I just have to wait four more months until it’s cool enough outside to actually require it! Aw, man… [Pattern]
- Mary Sue’s Bella’s Mittens: I am not a Twilight fan. I read the book last year and more than once wanted to throw the book through a window. It’s horrible. However, when I saw a picture of a pair of look-alike mittens that a friend on LJ made, I couldn’t help myself. I was in love! These mittens are great. They’re long, which I like, and have a neat horseshoe cable going up the top side. I started the first one on Friday night, after acquiring a longer cable needle so that I could do the magic loop to make the mitten. It took me a few hours on Friday night to make most of the cuff, then a few hours spent on Saturday got me the rest of the way finished with the mitten. Unfortunately, I stayed up until 3:30AM to finish it, because I just wanted to see it completed. As such, I didn’t get much sleep, so didn’t knit at all yesterday. As of this moment, I have exactly twenty of the requisite forty-three stitches cast on for the second mitten, so today’s looking like a knitting bust, too. Maybe this is second sock syndrom, but for mittens? I’m not sure. Either way, I’m really happy with how it turned out. I just need to finish the second one now. [Pattern]
Before I started my mitten, I also threaded beads for and cast on for an Odessa hat (another pattern I’ve had my eye on for quite a while), so that’s “in progress”as well. Coming up, I have plans to make a couple of pairs of socks (my first self-made socks!), a couple of things for my mom for Chirstmas, a couple of things for a friend who is moving to a colder climate at the end of the year, and a pair of Space Invaders socks for Johnathan (don’t worry, he already knows about them!). I should have plenty of projects to keep me busy until I find a new job. (Hopefully longer than that, too!)
My only real wish is that I could subsist on knitting commissions. I have exactly one so far, and that one won’t start until finances are in the right place for her, so I’m not sure when I’ll need to start on that. I’m excited to do it, though! So, uh, want something knitted? I’ll do it for you! If you pay me, of course.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
In late 2007, before I had found a job, Johnathan and I went to the West Side Market a few times to get our produce. We had some good experiences, but found that our produce was going bad woefully soon, despite it being the peak of harvest season for some of the vegetables that we brought home. After that, we stopped going, preferring instead to buy frozen veggies and whatever looked good at the grocery store that trip. I chalked it up to the season getting later, and perhaps that we bought too much and didn’t pick wisely. However, owing to how much we lost and the fact that in the spring, I got a job that meant working every Saturday, going to the market was out.
Since I now have Saturdays free, it meant we could go together to the market, and since it’s going on Summer, we figured it would be good to go back to the market to get some fresh vegetables and support local growers. This past Saturday, we headed out fairly early to get there before the place was absolutely packed with people. It was nice to walk from stand to stand and take in what each one had to offer. We tried to keep from buying too much from any one stand and we did our best to scope out the cheapest prices that were offered. In the end, we came away with four zucchini, four yellow squash, two limes, two lemons, two things of broccoli, two enormous vidalia onions, one very large red onion, an orange, about six peppers (at least four red, not sure why), two ham hocks and a loaf of bread. We spent about $30 total while we were there.
Incidentally, we loved doing our shopping on Saturday morning for a change instead of a weekday evening. People are so much friendlier! Both the customers and the cashiers at the stores were less pushy and stressed out. It was fantastic. It took us three hours from when we left for the market until we got home and finished putting all of the groceries away. I’d say that’s pretty good for three stops and a massive amount of groceries. (We needed to stock up on pretty much everything.)
I was feeling pretty good about our choice to buy our veggies at the market, until Tuesday morning, when I got up and wondered what the foul smell in the kitchen was. It took me a little while to figure out what it was, but I did eventually find the source. The first thing I found was that our orange was half molded over. Following that, I discovered that the foul smell actually originated from our zucchini and yellow squash. One zucchini was so rotted through it fell apart and was oozing in the bowl where I had put it. Another was almost at the same point, and a third had mold all down one side. One yellow squash had an enormous rot spot on one side. Four days after we purchased this produce, it was going bad. It doesn’t seem reasonable to me to lose so much produce in such a short span from purchase. All in all, we lost about $8 worth of produce. I was able to salvage the orange – thankfully the mold was only on the outside and I only needed its juice, but everything else was a total loss.
Needless to say, we weren’t very happy about how that turned out. We wanted our trip to the market to be a nice change to our usual shopping habits, and I really wanted to be able to support more local commerce than megamarts. I’m disappointed that we put so much faith in the people who put these stands together and that their produce ended up being sub-par. We will be going back to the market, but with this in mind, the way we shop will change:
- We won’t buy as much. Obviously this stuff is so close to being on its way out that it doesn’t last as long as expected, so we might as well go more often if we need to.
- We’ll keep track of which vendors have given us produce that’s gone south in a hurry, and which ones have given us quality produce. We might as well play favorites in this kind of scenario.
- We won’t let them pick for us from the back. With the squash and zucchini, we let them do this for us, and I think that may have been part of the cause – it was the older produce to begin with. (The orange we picked out ourselves. I have no idea what happened there.)
It’s not a lot of change, but it’s some. I’d hate to give up on the market completely so quickly after going back for the first time in a year and a half. We do want to shop at the market. We just don’t want to lose what we buy so soon after bringing it home.
If you’re in the Cleveland area, do check out the West Side Market! We’ve gotten some great bread there and the produce is really nice when it lasts a reasonable amount of time.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
When I started working at my first call center in late 2005, I found myself at a loss as to what to do with my hands and feet and my constant need to fidget. I came from retail and wasn’t used to sitting except on lunch and breaks, let alone for eight hours a day. I don’t remember what put it into my head, but I decided that it might be a good idea to learn to crochet. So, during training, when I finished my segments for the day before others did, I would experiment with crochet. It didn’t take me very long to realize that I was really, really bad at crocheting – not even in a beginner kind of way. I was just bad at it. I decided to try out knitting instead. I swiped a book kit from my mom and started teaching myself. I know learning to knit was partially motivated by my interest in making my own Hufflepuff scarf in the style of the scarves in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. With a little help from someone that I worked with, I caught on to the basic knit and purl fairly quickly.
Once I got down the basics of knitting, I decided to tackle knitting in the round. I couldn’t tell you why I decided to jump into that first. In the course of about a month, I knitted a whole scarf in Slytherin for my brother, just by knitting it while I was at work. I later ended up frogging it because it was far too wide and thick to be useable as anything, let alone a scarf. At some point after I finished it, I blindly quit that job with no immediate opportunities presenting themselves afterward, so I kind of lost sight of my knitting for a while. I didn’t do much by the way of productive knitting, as my brother’s scarf sat idle and the yarn that I had ordered for my own Hufflepuff scarf stayed in its packaging.
When I went on vacation in late August of 2006, I started on my Hufflepuff scarf for good, and got about a quarter of the way to finished, then laid it aside. I’ve since managed to get it to about 50% of the way completed, but again lost interest in it some time ago. It seems that working full time at a job where I can’t knit at work and knitting do not go well together!
Well, thanks to my recent change in employment status (something I haven’t told many people about yet, sorry – it’s not exactly something one shouts from the rooftops!), I found myself with more time on my hands. Since I’ve been used to doing things for nine hours straight five days a week, I didn’t really know what to do with myself at first. I pulled up Ravelry (friend me?) on a whim and was reminded of all of the patterns that I’d bookmarked and drooled over, but never gotten around to making. I started on the Matilda Scarf, just trying it out, on Monday, June 1, as something to do in between the chores around the apartment. On Tuesday, I tore it apart and started over again. I made such good progress on it that I decided that I would pursue it to completion. I hadn’t decided what to do with it, but it occurred to me that my mother-in-law’s birthday was coming up and neither Johnathan nor I had done anything for her by way of a gift. Aha! A purpose!
Well, I knitted like crazy through Wednesday and Thursday, trying to get it done as quickly as possible. I ran into a lot of issues – I’d drop a stitch and not notice right away, or cross my cables the wrong direction. There was a lot of swearing, a lot of grumbling and I’ll admit I thought about ripping the whole thing out more than once. By Saturday, I had about three feet knitted up, and instead of helping make pierogis (our reason for going over that day), I knitted some more.
It took me until about 10:30PM yesterday, but I finally did my very first bind-off on a knitted project. I did 7.5 feet of cables with 2.5 skeins of yarn (Caron Simply Soft Eco in Ocean – I really like it!) in one week. I can tell you I don’t think I’ll be tackling something like this again for a little while, simply because it is a lot of work to do so much cabling on one scarf, but I definitely want to do another one. Maybe even one for myself! The way it looks when finished is simply lovely, and I like the weight of it. It’s a fantastic scarf for a colder climate. And damn, isn’t it stunning!
I can tell this is the start of something good. I took today off of doing any knitting, but tomorrow I’m going to start on something else – another gift. It will be a little bit late, but I think it will be appreciated nevertheless. I’m exciting. I have something to do which gives me a sense of accomplishment. I am a maker. That works for me!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I grew up buying into the standard outlook on life. I assumed that I would marry my Prince Charming, get a job that would be my 9-5 career, buy a home, and have kids. You know, the typical suburban outlook on life. Even through high school, I assumed that’s what my life would eventually become. I even hoped for it, though not, apparently, as much as my peers. I’d never imagined out what my wedding would be like, nor did I do anything more than think up names for kids – something that I think had more to do with my interest in names than in the kids that they would belong to. (Some of the ideas have since been used for characters or relatives of characters at various RPGs, so it isn’t as if they’re going to waste.)
I have since come to terms with the fact that my life may not be the “standard edition,” and that it’s okay to differ from what we learn early on is “normal.” I married someone that I love, and while I didn’t have the elaborate white wedding that many dream of, I feel like we were true to ourselves in the way we did it. That put a different color on the beginning of our life to begin with.
As I continue to mature and “grow up,” I’m finding that my thoughts turn toward children. Do I want them? I know I have plenty of time to decide, but it’s something that weighs heavily on me. There are times when I think that I want kids, without question. Then I might meet up with a particularly vocal child whose parent looks harried and wonder why anyone would inflict such torture voluntarily on himself. It’s not a very nice way of looking at it to be sure, but it does help me realize that right now would be a bad time to have kids, even if I were decided on having them.
I guess what I’m grappling with is the idea that it might be okay if we were to go through our lives without reproducing. I feel the biological urge to reproduce, to have children of my own, but that conflicts with my hesitance to give myself over to another small human’s wants and needs entirely for a portion of my life. I don’t know if I can do it. Right now, I feel like I’m too selfish in terms of interests and how I want to allocate our money.
This last weekend, I was overwhelmed by the urge, both mentally and physically, to have children. I wanted one right now, even though I don’t feel like we’re in the right place in our lives and that I’ve got plenty of time for it down the line. I guess I’m getting there. At least I seem to have decided that I do want kids – eventually. What’s left is just to change my mind approximately 400 times between now and the eventuality when we may actually have some.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Recently, I was filling out a form which asked me about my musical experience. I did my best to fill it out as completely as possible, starting from the beginning. I realized as I detailed my musical exprience, which dates back to 1990 when I first began to play the flute, that I had almost non-stop involvement in music for sixteen years. I stopped taking lessons and being involved in the Portland Symphonic Choir in early 2006 when I got sick, and then I just didn’t go back to it.
I can’t say that I haven’t missed it since then. I have missed it terribly. It made it hurt a bit and helped me to miss it even more when I realized how present it had been during my formitive years, and how much of my identity was tied up in it.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been a particularly talented musician. I could hold my own in band on the flute, and by merit of a small section could also keep up when I played the oboe. Choir was my joy, though. I started that in high school because I needed an extra elective, not expecting that I would fall in love the way that I did. Dr. Dwight Uphaus was the teacher there at the time, and he was so goofy that he kept me entertained, so earnest that he kept me interested and so encouraging that he kept me involved. I went to solo contest that year as the only freshman who was in the competition itself – I was getting a real score. If I remember right, I got a II+, which wasn’t too shabby for a frosh who had never sung for a competition before. I remember being terrified. My throat dried up and I sang the entire song feeling like my mouth was stuffed with cotton. Somehow, though, “Christopher Robin Is Saying His Prayers” came off and I was charming enough that the judge gave me more than a nod and a smile afterward. She talked to me and gave me some pointers about what I could do better.
I remember moments like that, moments of triumph even as I feel like I’m on the verge of failure, and I feel a little wistful. It’s been three years since I felt the challenge of learning a new piece, of pushing my voice to what I think is its limit and then going just that little bit further and finding emotion where I thought none existed. It’s been three years since I felt the thrill of a tight harmony. I’ve missed it these three years, but one thing or another kept me from actually going back to it. First I was breaking up with a boyfriend, then I was moving, then I was settling in, then I was finding a new teacher, then I was struggling with mild depression, then I was starting a new job. After that… well, what has my excuse been this last year? I don’t have one now. I don’t think I ever really had one. I have a keyboard and a stack of music books at home. Why did’t I teach myself something?
I took steps recently to acquire a music teacher to get myself back to lessons. My voice is so out of shape now that I think I would only damage it if I tried to work myself the way that I’m used to doing. I found the Cleveland Institute of Music online and found that they had a “continuing education” section. Tuition seems reasonable (an 18-week session averages to about $25 per week, which seems good to me since it is a school, not a freelancing teacher). The summer session is shorter at only six weeks, which means it should run much shorter. I filled out an application form on the site and received an email back last week from the department chair clarifying some things and making preliminary plans for me to start up with lessons in the summer session, which starts on June 8.
It’s been three years since I got sick and had to leave the Portland Symphonic Choir, and three years since I stopped taking lessons. I’m glad to be getting back to music, even if it’s something so simple as starting to take voice lessons again. It feels like I’m getting some of myself back.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I always cringe when people try to categorize me into some semblance of personality “type.” There’s “Type A” versus “Type B,” the Meyers-Briggs categorization, and probably tons of others that I’ve never even heard of. Between personality typing and astrology, people seem to spend so much time evaluating that they can’t possibly have any more time to spend actually living as these supposed “types.”
One example that really sticks with me is an anecdote from a recent conversation at work. I was lamenting to my supervisor that some others don’t take any personal responsibility and that they seem to expect others to constantly feed them the information that they need to know, rather than being proactive and acquiring the information that they’re lacking. My boss just laughed at me and told me for what must be the fifth or sixth time now that I’m “such a Type A personality.” I’m sure she didn’t mean it in a negative way, but after searching the internet for the true meaning of “Type A,” out of sheer curiosity, I came across site after site of lists that were full of largely negative traits. (Or at least, traits that I would classify as negative.) For instance, Wikipedia says:
Symptoms of Type A Behavior
- An intrinsic insecurity or insufficient level of self-esteem, which is considered to be the root cause of the syndrome. This is believed to be covert and therefore less observable.
- Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation.
- Free floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents.
If you ask me, these don’t sound like positive things to be associated with. I’ll admit that it’s a different set of traits than I learned were associated with the personality type when I was in middle school (where it was simplified that type As were outgoing and proactive as well as incredibly organized), but even so, it’s a typing that frustrates me. It’s oversimplified, and sways to focus only on the negative. After all, I’m sure Type As have some positive traits with the negative, as Type Bs will have some negatives with the positive. It’s a very skewed way of looking at things.
The same can be said of astrological personality typing. While there doesn’t seem to be a marked focus on the negatives of personality traits, it’s another way of trying to fit people cleanly into boxes. Perhaps this is motivated by a need to identify as a certain something and share that identification with others. But how far should it be taken? Surely this shouldn’t be a way of cleanly categorizing people so that we can decide whether they’re worthy people to be doing X, Y or Z.
An inherent problem with the need to sort people into categories by personality is that it simplifies things to the point that it makes it okay to judge others. One day when I was working at one of the offices, we had a rather… exhuberant customer in who was trying to tell us what kind of personalities we had based on our astrological sign. He and the other girl I was working with had the same sign, so it was easy for him to extol all of the good traits that she supposedly had in common with him. He decided to describe me, and I played along. The second I told him that I was a “cancer,” he went off on me. He started telling me how evil, conniving, underhanded, moody and bitchy that I am. He told me that cancers are never to be trusted and that they’re the worst people to be friends with or associate with, ever.
Well, then. I don’t know if I’m evil and conniving – maybe I am; but how would he have known that? We hadn’t had any real interaction up to that point, and even if we had, I don’t think a five minute conversation is enough to guage how someone truly is as a person. Perhaps I’m moody, I could be bitchy and evil, but thanks to his view of the cancer sign, that’s all he’d see if we’d spent any amount of time together. He’d judged me as he thought I should be rather than as what I am.
I’m pretty sure that my supervisor didn’t mean anything bad by putting me into a category. She and I get along really well, and I think her point was just that I’m incredibly organized and proactive when I’m at work. It’s just how I need to be at work to feel like I’m doing my job to the best of my ability. I don’t think that means that my self-esteem is suffering, that I’m generally hostile or impatient.
I know that this is something that I’m just not going to be able to change, but that unfortunately doesn’t ease my frustration at the simplistic way of classification.