Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Memorizing Latin and Ousting Demons...All In A Day's Work

Every once in a while, like anyone, I get a case of the Blahs and start to doubt myself. It started happening last night, as I sat at choir rehearsal sending our awesome conductor, Don, my particular brand of death-ray eyeballs. I was not pleased, you see, that he's making us memorize Festival Magnificat.

It was all I could do last year to memorize Personet Hodie, a Latin processional. The good news there was that we were singing in the dark, holding glow sticks, processing through the aisles of the theater towards the stage, so no one could see the short soprano matching vowels but almost ignoring the consonants because she couldn't recall half of the Latin words. The good news is, that for the return of that piece to this year's holiday performance, I have been able to memorize much more of it. This year, we added Betelehemu, a wonderful African song (obviously about Bethelehem and that one incident that happened there a couple thousand years ago). At first I thought I'd never memorize it but last night I found out I'm in really good shape with that, too.

But the Magnificat. Oy vey. The Magnificat.

For starters, it's a terrific piece--and it's brand-new. Our choir commissioned it to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our children's chorus, so the kids will be singing with us this beautiful, never-heard-before piece. It is joyous and full of crazy harmonies and rhythms (I love modern composers, they make everything so deliciously difficult for musicians). And it's in Latin.

And then Don told us to memorize it.

And I almost revolted.

You see, these Blahs had me believing last night that I simply could not memorize this piece. That Don was asking too much of me. They also extended to the upcoming winter performance that the students of Petite School will be putting on with me at the helm. Suddenly, I'm terrified that it won't be good enough, that everyone will regret hiring me, that the parents will riot in the streets because I'm teaching their kids sub-par songs or something.

Ridiculous? Totally. And yet, that's where my mind goes.

A lot of that goes back to the former boss, who criticized me at every turn. It angers me that I still sometimes let her words--a woman who left a principal job mid-contract to move in with her boyfriend and design cheerleader costumes--have any sort of effect on me. That I still sometimes, deep down, believe that I'm some kind of bad teacher because she said so.

She was wrong, damn it.

Every Friday, I watch my charges at Petite School learn more about music. They come to my class filled with excitement to be there, knowing they'll have fun. They love it! They listen! Sure, there are moments where they get a little silly and I have to stop and rein them in a bit--Old Principal would have told me this was bad classroom management. New Principal understands that this is how children are, and she likes that they are delighted enough by music class to get a little silly. And, of course, delighted that I can rein them in when they do.

So today, I decided to try a little exercise. It's time to exorcise the demon-voice of the ex-boss from my head once and for all. She has no place there, because she was so wrong. Years of good evaluations before she ever stepped into my classroom, glaring at me with her arms crossed, prove this. So I am going to type up a few of the nastier things she said, and some of the really stupid things she said (like the time she told the whole staff that our school would no longer let the kids play at the before-school recess. They could only stand on the playground and talk) and I'm going to burn that thing. Because the only value her words and opinions have in my life anymore are to allow me five minutes of being a silly pyro.

As for the Magnificat, well, I had a stern talking-to with myself this morning. Seems I have a music degree and years of experience memorizing choral music...so I'm pushing the negative thoughts aside and sitting down to do some serious memorization work on the piece. It's not a particularly long piece, and I know the rhythms and notes very well. I'm so-so on remembering dynamics and expressive devices, but Don is a fantastic conductor who gives them all to us so really, as soon as I memorize the Latin, I'm home free. That happens to be the hardest part to memorize, but some time spent this afternoon has been very beneficial in bringing me along.

If you'll excuse me, I have a burning ceremony to perform. Just don't expect me to utter any chants in Latin.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I witnessed one of those quiet moments in life today that shows just how much a long-term relationship based on love and, more importantly, friendship, can mean.

Mom had surgery this morning to repair some damage and arthritis in her shoulder. When Dad brought her home, she was in a crazy amount of pain--she couldn't take any pain medication until she got some food in her system. Dad hastened to make her a smoothie while I fluttered around trying to help her get comfortable in her recliner. I got her pillow, a blanket. Ice water. Asked what she needed. Finally, she was able to take those two much-needed pills.

She was uncomfortable in her button-down shirt, so she asked Dad to help her change--no easy task, considering the sling she must keep her arm in for the next six weeks. While I did some more helpless fluttering, I watched Dad calmly help Mom maneuver into a loose t-shirt. The pain made her cry, it was so bad.

The good news is, she's finally feeling a bit better, and she gets to take another pain pill soon. She's relaxing in her recliner, wrapped in a blanket and getting occasional visits from Bella and Duchess. Dad and I are both doing what we can to help her stay comfortable--getting ice for her, refilling her water glass, getting her a cup of hot coffee or a small snack. It's just what you do for someone you love.

She apologized a few minutes ago for making us "wait on" her. I just scoffed, because really, what else would I do for the woman who gave birth to me, raised me, and nursed me through my many childhood bumps and bruises? She's one of my best friends in this world, so fluttering around making sure she has enough ice water to sip doesn't really seem like a big sacrifice to me.

It's times like this I'm glad I'm living at home--the next six weeks it will fall on Dad and I to keep the house running and our patient cheerful. It's nice that Dad doesn't have to do it all by himself, and I certainly don't mind helping.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Skinny Bitch

I came across this cartoon on Facebook a few days ago. It was early in the day--I was still a bit groggy, perhaps, and my tea hadn't yet cooled enough for me to send a little caffeine jolt through my system. Maybe I was a little too defensive, but my hackles immediately went up.

There's this incredibly irresponsible stereotype that exists that if you're skinny enough to wear the teensy-weensy clothes at the store, you must be starving yourself, right? You must be a miserable, unhappy skinny bitch who hasn't had more than one nibble of chocolate in three years.

Cut it out, society! Seriously!

I used to wish I could fit in those cute, tiny fashions, and moaned that the clothes made for girls my size were "tents." I know how it feels to walk around a store wishing I could wear the clothes on the racks but knowing they wouldn't fit. And I know how it is to come out on the other side, wearing size small clothing, and I love the feeling of walking into a store and knowing that most of the clothes there will look good on me now. Of course there are certain styles I stay away from (long dresses make me look even shorter, for example), but these days, instead of long, agonizing hours in the fitting room looking for just one outfit that will work, puh-lease, Universe, I can eyeball things on the rack and know whether it will fit my shape and size.

And guess what?

I eat.

I eat a lot.

I eat eggs for breakfast, scrambled (yolks and all!) with beans and veggies, topped with goat cheese. I eat sandwiches on real bread and I eat lots of fruit (all summer it was endless strawberries and now I've moved on to mandarins), sugars and all. I eat a little chocolate here and there. I eat a few pumpkin snickerdoodles that I'm helping Mom make for a cookie exchange.

I. Eat.

And yet, I fit into those eensy-weensy little dresses, too, because in addition to eating without going totally overboard in my portion sizes, I also burn calories. I worked my ass off--literally--to get here, and I continue to work to keep in shape. I run, I lift weights, I cycle, I swim, I do Burpees (believe me, they're no picnic) and I sweat like a pig the whole time.

I wake up with sore muscles, and run when my muscles are being angsty. I relish the small discomforts of working out as hard as I do because the results are worth it. And--I'll just say it one more time--I eat.

Good food. Healthy, hearty, whole food. Sure, I avoid processed foods as much as possible, and look for ways to make favorite recipes a little bit healthier. But I certainly don't feel deprived, and I get a little bit pissy at cartoons like the one above that imply that it's just sooo easy to fit into a tiny dress by...*giggle* you're gonna love this punchline!...not eating.

Because it's not true, and it's so much harder than that. These cartoons only serve to promote an us-versus-them mentality when women look at their dress size and then try to guess the dress size of the woman next to them. It belittles the very real and very difficult journey I went on to yes, shrink my body size but more importantly, to make myself healthier.

So next time you see me, running around in my size 2 jeans or a dress from the juniors department, don't make the assumption that I'm starving myself to maintain this body. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My Week in Instagram Pictures #2

I had so much fun taking random Instagram pictures last week, that I did it again this week. Here they are, all posted together. Enjoy!


I attended the 50th Anniversary party for Petite School.

My choir performed. We used hand bells and tambourine
for one song.

While I was at the party, Mom and Dad went to the
Commissary and loaded up on food. I've been eating those
mandarins like a fool.

On Sunday night, Mom's Bella came into my room while I
read in bed and sniffed all around my bed. She rarely
does this.

Even more rare--after sniffing the whole bed, she sat down
near me for a few minutes. I'm convinced she was looking
for Harley. I gently told her, "he's gone, sweetie." I think
she understands now.


A lovely cheer-up surprise from Sarah the Duck Lady in
England. I have marvelous friends.

Mom, Dad and I put the Christmas tree up early. Mom is
having shoulder surgery on Monday and wanted a head
start on decorating.

Monday night choir rehearsal. Loads and loads of great
Christmas tunes, almost ready for our December 8th
"Home For the Holidays" concert!


A poinsettia in our tree.

No, I did not make this black-and-white. That's how things
looked from our back porch on Tuesday afternoon as the
clouds rolled in.

Meanwhile, in the cozy house...

Our front door.


Saw this at Kohl's and giggled.

Later, at the gym. The foam roller is my friend.

Got momentarily confused in the gym parking lot. Rosie
has a twin!

Fall colors

Sunset as I left my last lesson of the day.

New boots!


Yep, I run on holidays, too.

Bella and Duchess are thankful for warm sisters to cuddle

Millie is thankful for fleecy polka-dot blankets to nap on.

I wore a pretty dress and a favorite pair of heels to dinner.
We went to some family friends for Thanksgiving and had
a lovely time.

Cuddling in bed with my Millie-girl after a huge meal.

7:30 in the morning, near the bike trail along the American
River...ready to race.

"I totally belong in here with the bears. I'm soft and furry,
I caught Duchess sticking her tongue out at me.

Mom and I test-drove a recipe for pumpkin snicker doodle
cookies, and yes. Yes, they were incredible.

At the track for my weekly run club meeting.

Shadow of a runner.

Everyone else was active while I stood around playing
with Instagram. My legs were sore today, which is
actually completely normal after a race PR, according to
our coach.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Run, Turkey, Run!

This morning, I hauled my turkey-stuffed self out of bed at 5:30, made some breakfast, and then set off at about 6:50 to get to the American River Trail in time for a race.

Yes, I'm that person now. The obnoxious runner-type who signs up for races the day after Thanksgiving. While everyone else is in a food coma or out fighting the crowds for Black Friday (another post about that subject coming later, and I promise you, I'm very judgey), I was gearing up to run 3.1 miles as fast as I can.

Glutton for punishment? Maybe, maybe.

The race wasn't very big--only about 40-45 people total, and only three people running the 5K (everyone else was doing the half marathon or full marathon). I laughed silently, thinking, "Well, I'll finally place!" as I walked to the starting line.

I did quite well, trying to pace myself yet also push a little. I know my first mile must have been pretty quick because shortly after the halfway point, I started feeling a little queasy--a sure sign that I'm pushing the speed.

I walked for about one minute in the whole course, and I'm very proud of that--pretty much I ran the whole thing, except that one minute, which I needed because of the queasiness.

In the end, I came home in 31:37, a new personal best time and cause for me to celebrate. I've worked very hard at this running stuff, and I've seen a lot of improvements this year. I bragged to a friend via text message and said, "Next goal: under 30 5K!" His response was a simple, but heartfelt, "You've got it!"

Indeed, I do!

Very bad iPhone pic of a sweaty lady at her car.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful...Part 4

I saved the best for last in this little series of posts about being thankful.

I'm thankful for you. Yes, you!

You, the old friend from high school/college/music camp, who knew me as a teenager, remained my friend through the ups and downs of my 20s, and came out the other side still loving me. You, the duck lady or sassy friend who let me go on and on and on about the things in my life, who make me laugh and support me.You, the new friend who appreciates my wit or my quirkiness or my smile or whatever. You, the four people who helped me on my road to fitness and badassness (some more than others, but all of you are appreciated). I'm thankful for the people I've been lucky to meet from various parts of the world, through traveling and other various adventures.

I'm thankful for you, who have taught me more than I have taught you. You'll grow and forget solfege and which symphony it was that Beethoven composed after going deaf, but I won't forget the lessons I learned about being a teacher and a human being just from standing in front of a room and being the Adult In Charge. I'm thankful for you, the boss--the good bosses who gave constructive feedback and made teaching a satisfying career, and yeah, even for you, the bad bosses past, who taught me to have a stronger backbone, and that just because someone's in charge, does not mean they are right.

I'm thankful for you, the non-human best friends who have caught many a teardrop in their fur and put up with even more spontaneous cuddle-bombs and high-pitched vocalized nonsense.

I'm thankful for you, the parents who let me come home--again. And...again. Who love me even when I'm a cranky brat and when I forget to scoop the litter boxes on my day, or when I oversleep three days in a row and make you empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning. The people who, even though I'm 34, are still relieved when I poke my head in the bedroom door and stage-whisper, "I'm home!" after a night out.

And you--the silent reader of this blog who follows my ramblings and adventures. Even if you never comment, I am thankful for you, just for giving my humble Little Pink Blog some attention.

I am thankful for each and every one of you because without you, my life would be a little bit paler, a little less...everything.

Meg of the Little Pink Blog

Thankful...Part 3

You can tell a lot about a person by their space.

My space happens to be a tiny bedroom in my parents' house, for now. I don't mind too much; while sometimes I miss having my own space, there's also something nice about having people around after several years of it being me and the cat(s).

Anyway, I inhabit a tiny space, but I am thankful for that space. Today I cleaned it, and took some pictures of it. I call it my Batcave, and it is a somewhat cluttered, definitely colorful, space.

For starters, I sleep on a Murphy bed. I fold it up to clean.

The only stuff I keep under the bed--a storage box with bags and purses,
and my trusty foam roller.

At the foot of the bed, this wall full of stuff. My office.

The piano, a garbage bag hanging from the door, and a view to the living
room with a sweet little torbie wondering if I've finished vacuuming yet.

To the left of my bed (as I sleep in it): my DVDs and a
bunch of my books. Also: a llama (long story),
Harry Bear (from England) and my very old Snoopy that
has never been packed away or left behind.

The top of that cupboard--some favorite tea stuff, a mirror that Summer
gave me, and my motto.

It was Mom who suggested I use my file cabinet (goes
with the desk set) as a night stand.

Everything I need in one cramped space--computer (I have held off getting
a laptop all these years because I hate the flat keyboard), TV, DVD player,
etc. etc.

On the desk--a quote that never fails to inspire me.

Also, a note enclosed in the very first piece of mail Maayan ever sent me.
I taped it up there and never took it down.

The way everything is set up in our house, the "home
base" for our AT&T (TV and Internet) is in my room.
It's like a bloody Christmas tree at night, so...

...I use a sleep mask. Works a charm.

The view out my window--a tree and a fence. And a recycling bin.

A catch-all baker's rack for my printer and other stuff.
The shoebox is for stuff that needs to be shredded.

The piano, assorted Swimmy minions large and small, a mischievous cat,
and a flower pot full of cat toys.

A bunch of fun stuff people have given me over the
years, and two items autographed by members of Keane.

The other side of my bed: jewelry, lesson planning stuff,
cookbooks, crafting stuff, odds and ends.

The top of that cabinet. I just couldn't pack those three Snoopy pieces
away in my storage unit.

The closet. Clothes, shoes, scrapbooks.

Other side. The drawers are for underwear, pajamas,
jeans, and a TON of workout gear.

My running shoes get a place of honor.

Next to my door, a bulletin board crammed full of stuff--postcards from
friends, a medal from Petite School's 50th anniversary, a medal from my
first 5K, and a Drama Queen sign from Mom and Dad. Thanks, guys.
The large pic is the whole group--teachers and students--from my summer gig.

The bed is back down, the sheets washed and put back on. You can see
how crowded it is in here with a queen-sized bed.

Mom gave me this fleecy blanket a couple of Christmases ago, and it's a
favorite for snuggling up in on cold days. Also a favorite for cat naps.

Draped at the foot of the bed--Mom crocheted each little rainbow circle, then
surrounded them with white to make squares, then rows, etc. Took her
ages--but worth it.

I put out a few Christmas things in my room, including Santa Swimmy and
Rudy Swimmy.

In one cabinet--yes, I save my change. Every few days I empty all change
from my wallet and put it in the coin sorter. Right now I've got $12.50.

In this one, you can see where I hang my purse behind the door.
It's not fancy, but it's my space, and I am comfortable here. I am thankful that my parents let me crash here, and that I have a safe place to live while I continue searching for more full-time employment.