Sunday, December 30, 2012

Intentions 2013

I did really well with my intentions for 2012, so I'm setting more for 2013. Like last year, I'll post them on the wall near my desk, where I can see them every day and be reminded of all the great things I want to do.

Intentions are not resolutions, and they're not really specific goals (though a couple of mine are). Instead of setting huge goals I have to accomplish, I like setting an intention to work at something a little bit every day, starting with my attitude.

1. Focus on forgiveness and non-judgement.

I'm pretty even-keeled, but I've noticed in the last few months that I'm letting a few people who have hurt me in the past still color my world view a little. And I get angry. So this year, I'm going to focus on forgiving these people--most notably a former boss and a former friend--so that I can move on with making positive things happen in my life and career.

I also want to focus on judging people less. It's something I've started working on--I've noticed I sometimes have a knee-jerk reaction when I see someone wearing clothing I consider unflattering, or a hairstyle I find odd. I think to myself, "Ugh, why?" or "Well, hell, I look better than, that..." I really want to work on eliminating those thoughts. Everyone has a style, and likes and dislikes, and I love how our differences are what make us special. Besides, while I'm wondering why that lady over there wants two-toned hair, she's probably staring at my all-natural mousy brown wondering why I don't spice things up a little.

2. Continue to progress as a runner, building speed and endurance.

This is where I set a couple of concrete goals, but they're completely doable. The first is a sub-30-minute 5K. I'm within a minute-and-a-half of this, so I know by the end of 2013, I can make it happen. The other goal is to run a 10K race by year's end. I can run 4-5 miles without stopping, if I have someone running with me. On my own, I get bored and go home after two-and-a-half or three miles.

I'd also love to see a sub-8-minute mile, if possible, but that's secondary to the first two goals.

P.S. I've set my triathlon goal to the side for now--I simply cannot afford a bike and all the associated gear just yet.

3. Open up new career options.

Not just in teaching, but in a new area. I want to get certified as a personal trainer, which would open up more opportunities for me, and help me also learn more about helping myself as well as other people. It could be that I find myself teaching part-time, training part-time, and honestly, I think I'd like it. Best of both worlds, getting paid to do two things I really love--music and fitness.

4. Be more social!!

I admit, with limited income and living a little bit on the outer edges of the massive Sacramento/Roseville urban area, I find it a bit too easy to stay home and not go out too often. Massive rain keeps me huddled inside. I love my parents and our home, but I also love my friends and going out from time to time. So it's time to make some things happen.

With that in mind, I'm starting a sort of Dinner Club for local friends. I'm thinking we could meet once a month, trying a new restaurant each time, and different types of cuisine. So far I've got a high school friend, Meghan, and a college friend, Sarah on board with the idea, and the whole point is for them to invite people I may not know, and to make the group diverse and interesting. 

I also want to host a "formal" tea some time this spring. Mom has already said I can use her stuff, and goodness knows, I love a tea party.

5. Read 25 books. Blog about each one.

Okay, another specific goal. My reading has slacked in the last year or so--most of my prime reading time is at night, just before bed, and these days, I fall into bed exhausted from all of my working out, or I drag my iPhone with me and play endless Angry Birds. That's changing this year. I am a fast reader when a book is holding my interest--it's easy enough for me to finish a light novel or a pithy romance in two or three days.

So this year, I want to read at least twenty-five books (two a month is beyond doable). To prove that I've read them, I'll review them on my blog. I've even made a document to hang on my wall to keep track.

6. Continue the path I've chosen towards health, fitness and strength.

This means continuing to make healthy choices--not just in eating and working out but in the little things, like flossing daily (believe it or not, it's only in the last couple of years that I've made a concerted effort to floss daily), and wearing sunscreen religiously. I want to bench-press more than just the 45-pound bar, get rid of some of the tummy flab I still have, and continue to tone and strengthen my body, while still maintaining the "shapely" silhouette I'm so proud of.

I also want to eliminate certain things from my overall diet: all fast food restaurants (though I'll keep Subway as an option in emergencies, and protein plates from Starbuck's don't count as fast food, so I can have those, too), and all soda. I've managed to kick my Dr. Pepper habit to the curb, and the few times I had it this year, it was just something to drink--not particularly satisfying. I'm better off sticking to water and tea. I am also looking to do 95% of my cooking and food prep from scratch, eliminating overly processed crap. I've done a really good job with this in the last couple of years, but now I want to finish it off and be better at putting good stuff in my body.

This does not mean a life without dessert. I won't give up chocolate! I've gotten really good at moderating how much I eat (December holiday season notwithstanding) and feel that as long as I'm within my calories for the day, and getting regular physical activity, I can enjoy some chocolate every couple of days.

So there you go. These are my intentions for 2013...what are yours?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Intentions 2012 -- How Did I Do?

Last year, instead of making New Year's Resolutions, I set intentions for 2012. I typed them up in a fancy font, printed them, mounted them on cute paper, and stuck them up on the wall near my desk.

So, how did I do? Let's have a look...

1. Continue to focus on good health and fitness habits.

Well, obviously, I did pretty well. I lost about 40 pounds, hit goal weight, and established some great habits as far as eating and working out go. I've learned how to make up workouts for myself, and these days, I don't even bug Mr. Reasonable to approve them, and I can adjust them as necessary when I figure out something is far too easy or still a bit too hard. So yes, I'd say I did very well with this intention.

2. Continue to grow as a runner.

Hands-down, this one is a winner.

I've completed four 5K races this year, taking my time down from 37:03 in the first to 31:37 in the most recent. I am staring down a sub-30-minute 5K, and that's the next goal on my list.

I've joined a running club, and I finally broke through that wall, where I don't actively loathe running. It doesn't always go my way out there, but it's a lot better than it was a year ago.

3. Find a new beginning in my career.

Yes!! Okay, I'm not working full-time yet. But I was hired to two different teaching positions this year--one temporary, one part-time. It's a definite start and one in which I hope to find opportunities to grow. Both jobs look great on my resume and open me up to making new connections.

So yes, I found a new beginning--perhaps not what I had hoped for (full-time with benefits), but definitely a step in the right direction. And there are options and plans in the works for 2013...

4. Pursue friendships, both old and new.

Yes, I've done this. I haven't spent nearly as much time with people like Meghan, Summer, and Chris as I'd like, but I did see all of them this year. I've kept up with my Duck Ladies and even grown closer to my Sassy friends, Shae, Shay and Nicki. I've done pretty well at keeping in touch via email, snail mail and Facebook with friends around the world that I care about and want to keep in contact with. As for new friends, I've met some great people through work, choir, and other activities, and I'm doing what I can to nurture those new relationships.

5. Eliminate the burden of debt.

This was my weakest showing--I've certainly done well in paying down some of my bills, but not as much as I wanted to. The good news is I no longer owe on the massive hospital bill I got in 2010, when bronchitis sent me, breathing with great difficulty, to the emergency room.

6. Believe in myself more. I am worthy of being hired, of being liked, and of being happy.

I did pretty well with this. Certainly some of my accomplishments--goal weight, two jobs, new piano students, and some new fledgling friendships, are proof of this. I'm very proud of my new-found confidence in getting out and flirting more, and slowly but surely, I'm realizing that people might actually want to meet me.
This one is a life-long process--not something you achieve in a year but rather something you work on every year, every month, every day. Still, I've come a long way this year, and have built my confidence in a lot of ways. I sometimes get scared that in a massive bout of failure I'll gain all the weight I've lost back...but then I remind myself that I'm stronger than that.

Not a bad year!

I really did some great things this year. There are areas I still want to work on, but I'm confident that 2013 will bring opportunities for more growth and awesomeness. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


So 2012 draws to a close, and I reflect on all of the moments in the year that made me laugh, made me cry, made me grow, made me strong. Moments that define one year in my life. Each accompanied by a picture.

A Silly Moment

In March, Summer and I had brunch at a fantastic deli in the bay area. I had a latke with my omelet, and had to take a picture of Cali Swimmy on said latke to share with my Jewish friend, Maayan. A lady at the table next to us did a bit of a double take when I whipped a small rubber duck out of my purse, set it on my plate, and snapped a picture. I'm used to this reaction.

"It's a long story," Summer helpfully explained, as a grin spread across my face.

"And a good one!" I added. "My duck has a duck friend in New York City, who happens to be Jewish." The lady smiled, and replied, "I've never seen anyone take a picture of a duck on a latke!"

A Proud Moment

When I finally hit goal weight in September, the first person I told was Matt. Of course he was the first person I told! For one thing, I was at the gym when I weighed in, and he works there...but also, he's the trainer who helped me get there, who patiently answered all of my questions and talked me down from freaking out about knee pain, running woes, back issues, you name it.

People tell me how awesome I am for losing ninety pounds, for making an athlete out of a person who formerly hated pretty much all physical activity. And it's true that I had to do the hard work, to keep moving, putting one foot in front of the other. But it must be pointed out that without Matt the Reasonable (and before him, Gershom the Meanie), I'd never have made it this far. When I skipped up to Matt's desk on that September day, shoving my iPhone in his face to show him a picture of the scale reading 130, you'd better believe it was every bit as much his proud moment as it was my own.

A Moment of Perfect Joy

In April, I embarked on a wild and hectic weekend of choir rehearsals, a job interview, and a lot of driving and clothes-changing (interview outfit to jeans to choir dress to jeans, etc). In this weekend, I would sing the epic "Belshazzer's Feast" by William Walton, an experience that is probably the top choral moment in my life so far. I would ace that job interview and later be offered the position, teaching a three-week summer program for Chinese exchange students. But before that weekend, there was an evening rehearsal at a local high school, on a rainy late afternoon. And there was a moment where the clouds parted, the sun peeked through, and a perfect, full-arc, double rainbow graced the world, reminding me that no matter how busy life gets, there are moments of perfect joy that surprise you and take your breath away.

A Moment of Profound Sadness

Life gives us joy, but it also gives us sorrow. In November, I lost my sweet Harley Dude unexpectedly. He was only four years old, and I never dreamed I'd get so little time with him. Harley was a "purrvert" and a twerp. He was far too curious and naughty for his own good...and he was a sweet, loving little dude who purred like the motorcycle I named him for. I miss him like crazy, and I'll never forget him.

A Moment of Hilarity

My friendship with Summer is not without its moments of laughter and craziness. After all, we survived Chico Music together. In the last few years, it's been harder to see as much of each other as we'd like, with work, living further apart, and all that other icky adult stuff. But when we do get some time together, it's always fun--good to catch up, good to talk, good to laugh.

In January, we had an overnight adventure in San Jose, visiting two California missions and the Winchester Mystery House. We did a little shopping, had frozen yogurt and Chinese food and listened to good music in the car. Then, on a run to CVS pharmacy for Summer to get a charger for her phone, we found the most ridiculous and awesome rubber duck ever. He was on clearance, only five bucks, and I had to have him. How we laughed at this marvelous, absurd duck.

Biggie Swimmy came home with Cali and I, and sits on my piano to this day.

A Moment of Clarity

In July, I spent three weeks teaching sixty exchange students from China some American songs to help them better learn and practice their English skills. I had certainly worked with children of Chinese heritage in my career, but never with students who were only visiting from the country, who had never experienced the United States in person before they came to us. It opened my eyes to the fact that I know very little about China or its people, how it works, how it runs, why it is the way it is. I've started reading up on it a little, and it's fascinating.

But what is really amazing is that teenagers are just teenagers, whether they are American or Chinese. Our American buddies bonded closely with their guests, and it was a joy to watch them blend together in a big, happy social group. Watching a large group of these American and Chinese kids playing cards in San Francisco's Union Square helped me realize that the kids are alright, and the world is going to be okay.

A Moment That Defies Explanation

In 2006, I rented "Chariots of Fire," the movie about British Olympic sprinters. I love British movies, and I enjoyed this one...even as I marveled at one runner in that infamous opening beach scene, who ran with a wide, happy smile on his face. How could anyone smile while running? I remember thinking he was insane.

See, in 2006, I was not a runner. I had tried once or twice in my life, but I was convinced that I couldn't do forward these six years and I had become a Reluctant Runner, the person who goes out there and gets the job done. But last Christmas, I somehow started to break through the wall, and running started getting better. Not easier, mind you--nothing about running is easy, there's always the risk of shin splints or knee pain or sore hamstrings or my glutes protesting with every step. But suddenly, it wasn't this huge, awful chore but something I simply did because I wanted to, because it's good for me, because it clears my head and organizes my thoughts and ramps up the endorphins. I started running 5Ks, seeing my times improve. I joined a running club.

And then, one cold, wintry morning of overcast skies, early in 2012, I went out for a run. I remember running the streets of my neighborhood, free from pain, gliding along, my ponytail flying behind me. Suddenly I realized I'd become that runner--the one with a huge smile spreading across my face.

A Really Great Moment
Barry, Vern, Claire, Mom, Dad

In the spring, my dad's long-time friend Barry came to California from Arizona to attend a funeral. The night before the funeral, he stopped by our house to catch up with Mom and Dad, and to have dinner with  them and another couple, Vern and Claire.

Dad, Barry and Vern go back over forty years, to training days at Mather Air Force Base here in the Sacramento area. They were all at each others' weddings, and they've kept in contact over the years. Vern and Claire live in the same neighborhood as Mom and Dad now, and they are all still close (in fact, we had Christmas dinner at their house this year).

I had heard a lot about Barry over the years, and I'd met him a few times, but it had been ages since I'd seen him and I was dying to sit him down and ask him what my dad was like in those early years (he was a "little shit," which I think I already knew!). It was fantastic to listen to my parents and their friends reminisce about all of the adventures they had as Air Force officers and officer's wives. For all of them, the military was not a job, it was a career, and a lifestyle. And the friendships the military formed in them are steadfast and life-long.

Jesse (hidden by an elbow), Tom, Tim, Richard
A Dorky Moment

"I'm LadyMeg on Twitter. I just wanted you to know that."

Oh, brother, way to stay cool and collected in front of your favorite rock band, Meg. It's all good, though, the guys of Keane are used to the "fangirls" and as these things go, I'm not that bad, really. I accidentally completely ignored Tim (I blame his so-called Laser Eyes of Doom) and finally got to meet Tom, the lead singer, and tell him I love his voice. But more than that, I got to enjoy two amazing concerts in one weekend. Frist, on Saturday night in Oakland, a full, proper concert with sound and lighting and a long set. The Keane boys were in top form, full of energy and giving us one fantastic song after another. Then on Sunday, they did a small acoustic gig at Amoeba Records in San Francisco's colorful Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.

"Somewhere Only We Know" was still absolutely magical, and it was great to hear the songs from their new album, Strangeland, live. They'll be back here in the Golden State in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait to see them again.

Small carpets, waiting for the small people who will sit on them.
A Moment Where Everything Was...Right

How I missed teaching! This year, I'm back--very part-time, only one day a week, but doing something I love. My Fridays are absolutely wild, and I hardly sit still from the moment I wake up at 5:15 to the moment I get home, just before 4:30 in the afternoon. I sing, I dance, I play recorders. I make silly voices, I praise, I scold, I sing some more.

And I love every minute of it.

On that first day at Petite School, I was excited and nervous. But as I looked down at all of those expectant faces and watched smiles light them up as I taught them the race car song, a sense of rightness settled in me. I was absolutely born to teach, and while I have growing and learning to do yet myself, I am absolutely right to pursue teaching (in classrooms, and possibly, as a personal trainer someday soon).

The ever-popular (and over-quoted, so forgive me for using it here) song, "Seasons of Love" reminds us that the measure of a year is 525,600 minutes. That's over half a million moments that make up one year in one life. Some are wasted on Facebook, others are used for sleep. It's the moments like the ones listed above that truly define a life. 2012 had some great moments, and some not-so-great moments. Here's hoping 2013 brings many more moments that take my breath away.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Rosie Pro and the Slip-and-Slide

After my busy, hectic week, imagine how relieved I've been to have an open, lazy weekend with nothing more pressing than one trip to the gym in it. Yesterday I got up early, determined that it was far too rainy and windy for meeting up with  my running club, and drove the 12 or so miles to my gym for a good workout. By 10:30 I was heading back up the freeway towards home, happy at the thought of having a hot shower, donning my pajamas, and spending the rest of the day in lazy solitude.

As I left the freeway on the familiar exit lane, I slowed considerably--it wasn't raining at that precise moment but the roads were wet and I know from previous experience that this turn-off can be a little slippery in wet weather. Sure enough, as I reached the end, to turn onto the road into my neighborhood, poor Rosie Pro fish-tailed a little. I wasn't even going fast, maybe 35 miles per hour (the exit sign suggests 40), it was just slippery, I was going into a turn, and...oh, crap!

I couldn't correct Rosie's course and I slid off the road into a grassy area...and I promptly got stuck.

Really stuck.

The guy behind me stopped to make sure I was okay, and other people slowed to check. I would give them a thumbs-up but there I was, stuck fast. Mortified and unsure of just how to get out of this predicament, I did what any self-respecting young feminist would do.

I called my dad.

Then, two angels in the form of a middle-aged man and his 20-something son/partner/I don't even know came along in a big ole pickup truck. Seeing my emergency flashers on, they stopped and said the most beautiful words: "I think I can pull you out!"

Within a few minutes, he'd hooked my car to the front of his truck and we were gently easing Rosie out of the mud. As Dad arrived, it was to find me happily backing back onto the road. We risked blocking traffic so all I could do was shout out my window, "Thank you so much! Merry Christmas!!!" as I rolled away. My two Good Samaritans smiled and waved, wished me a Merry Christmas, and we all hastened to get out of the way. Dad followed me home and let's just say that there's been no shortage of teasing aimed in my direction.

So it's all's well that ends well. Rosie doesn't seem to have any damage, though I'll have the dealership take a good look when I get my oil changed later this week. I was shaken (losing control of your car, even at a low speed, is not exactly fun, or good for the nervous system) but I'm uninjured.

Today I went to Safeway to get a few things and had no problems driving--I avoided the freeway, and even in the neighborhood, my intrepid little Protege was whipped around a little from the high winds this weekend's storm is giving us. After I returned home, Dad smirked at me.

"Did you stay out of the mud?"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Week In Instagram #6

I'm getting pretty good at this whole take-at-least-one-pic-a-day thing!


Saw "Lincoln" on Sunday afternoon...

That evening, I watched the Niner game, which was
briefly interrupted by Pres. Obama at the memorial for
the Newtown victims.


My music folder for the concert.

Sound board
All ready to go...

Concert program


Bangers and (curried) mash at Fox & Goose...staff
Christmas party.


Sarah (a duck lady) sent me this awesome Keane tea
towel. Rather than dirty it, I choose to display it.


Made cranberry sauce today. Yummy!

I made protein bars for M. the Reasonable for Christmas.

...and cookies for my colleagues.

I'll have a blue...cookie...without yooooou...


Glorious rainbow over Sacramento during my morning
commute (yes, I pulled over and stopped to take this).

Rolled up my jeans to show off my fabulous socks.

In addition to all the green, I clipped my hair back with
these awesomely ridiculous little Santa hat clips.

Green, green, green.

But a small sample of the gifts and cards I received.


A hawk in our back yard, with feathers in its mouth.

Evidence of the hawk's brutal attack on a pigeon. That's

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Full Heart

At the risk of sounding corny, my heart is very full tonight.

It has been a long, hectic week, filled with preparations, a concert, a lot of driving. I helped Mom do some Christmas shopping, drove some more, taught some lessons. I spent most of yesterday on my feet, baking dozens of cookies, two batches of protein bars, two quiches, and making some cranberry sauce.

And to top it all off, I had to go to work today.

So yes, I am weary. My muscles ache (I've also been working out as I find the time), my brain is fuzzy, and my eyes are drooping. But it's a good tired--the kind of tired that comes from a satisfying week filled with accomplishment, productivity, cookies, and feeling that life is, indeed, very good.

I woke up this morning, shortly after five, and hit the ground running. There was breakfast to be made, and a much-needed shower to wake up. I had carefully laid out a special outfit for today's "Wild & Crazy Dress" day at Petite School, choosing to go as the Jolly Green Meg. I wore black jeans and a black thermal top as a base, with a green t-shirt, green scarf, green gloves, green striped socks (I rolled up the jeans to show those off) and green Chucks. Yes, there are pictures, and they will be posted tomorrow.

There was a special errand to be run on my way to work--I popped off the freeway and stopped by the gym just before 7:00. I had a box of homemade protein bars and a few cookies for Matt (the Reasonable), who is recovering from shoulder surgery. I had intended to leave the box at the front desk for him, but as luck would have it, he was in the trainer area, and not with a client. I dashed over to his desk and slid the box onto the table. His eyebrows went up, even as he smiled at me in greeting.

"Protein bars!" I chirped. As explained in the card I gave him, I know he's probably having a hard time cooking right now, so I figured some protein bars would make for easy snacks he can grab and munch on when he needs a boost.

For my efforts I was given a huge grin and a one-armed hug (the other arm, of course, being strapped to his side by a sling). I had to dash back out to get to work, and I left the gym with a grin of my own--it's always nice to do something nice for a friend--even just a little something.

 The drive into Sacramento wasn't too bad--just before I hit the junction to leave Interstate 80 to merge onto Interstate 5, I noticed the early mist of rain just starting--the beginning of a storm that is supposed to move through Northern California this weekend. The sun was still showing faintly in the east, however, so as I came out of the junction onto I-5, I glanced to my right and...WOW. A full-arc rainbow, with the faintest of shadow rainbows above it, curved over Sacramento. Even the DJs on the local radio station I had on were talking about it.

That rainbow only lasted maybe 10 minutes, but between that and my early-morning errand at the gym, the tone for my day was set.

School today was wild, crazy, sugar-filled. I didn't expect to get much done, so I showed "The Nutcracker" and called it an easy day.

Here's the thing--throughout the day, students and visiting parents alike approached me with cards and gifts. Some parents got together with other parents in their child's class to get gifts for the teachers who work with their kids. I honestly did not expect presents, though in my teaching career it's not out of the question to get candy, cards, little trinkets.

Today, I received gift cards--Nordstrom, Safeway, iTunes, La Bou--a purse, and fancy chocolates. From one set of adorable sisters, a Super Lotto ticket, which made me smile. As generous and appreciated as these gifts are, the best gift I received was notes from various parents thanking me for bringing the joy of music to their children. One parent wrote of my "kindness and patience" with my students.

The truth is, I've been scared, since my very first day at Petite School, that everyone would find me lacking in some way--that they'd all measure me with the same yardstick that I was measured with at my last job...and while I'm certainly not perfect, and I know there may be times in future where parents disagree with what I'm teaching or how I run my classroom (it's just how it goes in teaching, and it does help teachers continue to learn and grow), I feel as though I'm making my mark on the school, and being welcomed with enthusiasm.

Today was filled with happy, hyper kids who are excited for Christmas, for Winter Break. Kids who still believe in magic--when "Santa" and my principal had a little conversation over the school intercom, my third-graders nearly stampeded out of the room in the hopes of seeing Santa leave (his sleigh was double-parked, apparently). I scrambled for an excuse to keep them in the classroom. "I think he'll probably leave by magic, guys, so no one sees him."

There were disappointed groans as my kids dramatically trudged back to watch the movie. "But I want to see him!" a few exclaimed. It was all I could do not to laugh. Isn't it delightful that third grade students still believe--maybe just a little bit--in Santa Claus? In sleighs and flying reindeer and magic? And isn't it even better that a school can get on board with that and milk that belief for all its worth, rather than suppressing it by not allowing for some fun every now and again? Goodness knows the children at Petite School are bright, and the curriculum rigorous...and because of this, these fun days, with wild and crazy outfits, teachers in green Chucks and building gingerbread houses in the classroom, our kids thrive.

So yes, my heart is full tonight. It was a very, very good day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Success Story

I reached goal weight in September, but Matt the Reasonable has had a backlog of before/after stories to do, and finally got around to putting them up on the wall recently. I was pleasantly surprised on Tuesday, as I walked to a treadmill, to see a familiar face--my own--on the wall.

I wrote the blurb myself, and chose the before picture. Matt chose the after pic from a few we took. He loves the image of me now with those old jeans, and so do I. It really drives home just how far I've come.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The last few days have been so bloomin' hectic, I'm not even sure I know right from left anymore.

And...because I'm exhausted, let me just lay out how my week has gone so far in the most boring blog post I've ever written.


I had the morning to "relax" and get a few computer-related bits of work done, but then, a little before noon, I was off and running. First I stopped at a sound equipment rental place in Sacramento to pick up all the equipment for the concert. Then it was to school to unload it all from my car (eighth graders come in handy for tasks like this) and set it up with only one near-breakdown. At 2:00, all the young'uns came in and we did a dress rehearsal. Then my orchestra and choir kids rehearsed. School let out at 3:20 and I found myself with some blessed quiet time. I went to the computer lab to input some grades, then back to the auditorium to play on my iPhone and eat the diner I'd brought with me. Finally, it was go time.

I got home at about 8:30, exhausted but euphoric.


Tuesday didn't go as I thought it would in many ways.

I had to leave at 9:30 to get back to Sacramento (30 miles) to return the sound equipment that was stored in Rosie Pro. The rental place opens at 10, leaving me just enough time to unload the car and get back on Interstate 80 to get back to Rocklin for a 10:50 dental appointment.


Imagine my dismay when the office was all locked up at 10:00 and no one was home. I was just leaving a semi-panicked voice mail (the equipment had to be returned by noon, so this was my only chance without getting charged for another day--on a school credit card, no less) when three employees came sauntering up at 10:15.


That done, I raced back to Rocklin and got there just in time for my appointment. Where I found out I need two fillings. Because while I have excellent dental hygiene (I floss every night and brush twice a day), the long period between professional cleanings allowed for some decay. Damn.

The cleaning was supposed to take 45 minutes but it went longer because I had some stubborn build-up around my retainer (little-known, random Meg fact #1,302: I have a permanent retainer glued on the inside of the front six teeth on the bottom of my mouth. It's been there for 20 years now). And the hygienist was a total sweetheart but also a TALKER. And she'd allow me to respond, which just wastes so much time.

Anyway, when I left, I went to the gym, which had been the plan all along, and the reason I did all this stuff in workout gear all morning. I didn't feel like going, but I did, and I'm glad because 1) I leg-pressed 130 pounds like the awesome person I am and 2) I saw M. the Reasonable for the first time in over a week and found out a recent surgery he had (basically the same thing Mom had recently--messed up rotator cuff) went well and we traded a few stories. Poor guy is in pain still, and it's not easy being one-armed.

I decided to stop at Barnes & Noble on the way home to use a gift card a colleague gave me, so by the time I got home, at about 3:30, I had enough time to (finally) shower and wash my hair, dry my hair, get dressed, put on some makeup, and then go BACK to Sacramento for the staff Christmas party at a great pub. I'll just mention here that with all of this busyness...and the hour-and-a-half I spent at the dentist's office with my mouth wide open, I didn't eat anything between the hours of 7:00 and 3:00. I actually forgot to eat. Needless to say, the Frappuccino I bought at B&N was not only necessary for my blood sugar levels, but also for the safety of the general public.

The party was a lot of fun but needless to say, I started today off exhausted.


Today I walked (those leg presses left my legs tight) and then picked Mom up at her physical therapy so we could do some Christmas shopping. Then it was back home to finally sit at  my computer and take care of some eBay stuff and school stuff and random stuff and more stuff, stuff, stuff, before heading out AGAIN to teach some piano lessons this afternoon/evening.

It is now 9:00 and I am so ready for bed. Tomorrow I have a whole day to myself, so I'll go to the gym, then come home and bake up a storm. Cookies for my colleagues, quiche for the parents and I, and I want to make some homemade cranberry sauce.

Friday I teach all day (but get out early) and then it's Winter Break. :)

But for now...sleep.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Concert

For the last few weeks, the Winter Concert has been before me, a date on the calendar that I was preparing for and...well, maybe kinda dreading. Here's my little secret: as a performer, I love concerts. As a teacher...I sorta don't love them. There's a lot of stress and organization and extra time spent worrying. I woke up Sunday morning after having a dream that my students forgot all the words to their songs.

And with this being my first performance as the music teacher at Petite School, I was particularly anxious.

My predecessor was big on performance pieces, but the approach to music at the school this year has been more theory-based. I've taught a lot of the concepts of music theory, and a great deal of music history, as my bosses (my principal and the school's two owners) asked me to when I was offered the job. That's actually how I prefer to teach music--an all-encompassing way that has the kids up and moving to music one minute, then sitting and listening to it the next. Singing, instruments, listening maps, games.

But I admit to worrying that this approach wouldn't make for a great concert. After all, my Fridays are spent doing songs that teach a specific musical idea, not practicing for performances. So a month ago, I started really thinking about what I could have the kids perform tonight, and after a few days of endless mind-changing and biting holes in my lip (nervous habit), I finally came up with what I thought were some great ideas.

For my five-year-olds, I chose "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," but with a twist. We demonstrated to the audience how the classes have learned to sing loud and soft, but also moving between these two volumes gradually, following a conductor. I took what was basically a fun game in music time and made a performance for it. Next, they sang "If You're Happy And You Know It" to a fantastic instrumental back-up, and we did an 8-bar "Happy Shuffle" in the middle that had the audience giggling in delight (I could hear them, even as I Happy Shuffled with my back to them).

For my first and second graders, I made up a song to the old tune of "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush" in which we demonstrated some of the musical terms they've learned. We sang the song slow, and fast. We did a crescendo and a diminuendo. We sang staccato and legato.

After that, we brought out the real winner of the night. Several weeks ago, I found a gorgeous book with the lyrics to "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and decided to share that song with my students. Turns out they know it and love it. So we memorized the words (and it's not a short song) and they performed it tonight with so much sweetness that all I could do was smile at them and nearly burst with pride.

My third and fourth grade students played some recorder songs (by memory!) and I was happy to report to their families that this lovely sound came after those initial weeks of endless squeaking. The recorder is not as easy as it looks!

My orchestra class--of two--performed a duet of "Aura Lee" for piano and guitar, and a couple of songs on hand bells. Then my choir sang four songs, a couple with choreography.

Everyone did a splendid job--the kids were so bloomin' cute up on stage and beautifully behaved in the audience. My rock star colleagues helped them get on and off stage and watched them throughout the performance so I could worry about music and helping those on stage get through their songs. My bosses were all very complimentary and many parents remarked that they really enjoyed the performances. One father made my night when he happily exclaimed, "You just made my whole day!"

I'm so glad it went well...and I'm so glad it's done! There was a minor glitch in setting up sound equipment this afternoon when I couldn't find where one thing was supposed to plug in, and then when I realized that the iPod adapter was NOT among the items. Eeek! Fortunately, the guy from the shop we rented it from came to the school to help me and everything was fine. I managed to pretty much set up and tear down a simple sound system (two mics, two speakers on stands, and a mixer, all with endless cables, oy vey) all on my own. I'll just point out here that sound systems are not my biggest area of expertise.

And, of course, there was that one kinder who got on stage, and, despite all the times I reminded that class not to wave at their families, spotted his mom in the audience, got a huge smile on his face, and waved as big as he could. I just laughed...because in the end, that's how it's supposed to be.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I've had a pretty lazy weekend, gearing up for the next couple of days. Tomorrow, you see, is my debut concert at Petite School, so of course, I'm quite nervous.

All of my students are performing; it should be quite sweet. My first and second graders are so happy when they practice "Puff, the Magic Dragon" and my choir is so energetic and cute. But still, a music teacher is always going to be nervous watching her young musicians get up on stage. I'll be glad when it's finished and I can stop waking up to dreams that the choir forgot all words to the songs!

One of my kinder classes gave me a $20 gift card to Barnes and Noble, so after the show, I might stop there on my way home to spend it. I need some good reads and I am wanting to get something about Abraham Lincoln, now that I finally (today) got around to seeing "Lincoln" in the theaters. Daniel Day-Lewis was phenomenal, and so was Sally Field. It was an excellent period piece and I admit to getting a little teary at the end (we all know what happened to Lincoln, so no spoilers here).

So tomorrow will be a busy day of running, setting up, dress rehearsal, concert, etc. I'll be a bundle of nervous energy all day. On Tuesday, I have to return the sound equipment we're renting, get my teeth cleaned (yay) and find time in there somewhere to go to the gym. That night, I have a fun Christmas party at a pub in Sacramento, and therefore, an excuse to dress up a little, shake my tail feathers at any cute guys that cross my path (I'm getting better at this).

But for now, it's bed time. A lady needs her beauty sleep if she's to make it through a hectic few days with grace and dignity.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Week in Instagram

Another week, more Instagram photos taken with my iPhone.


I'm back to watching the Niners every Sunday, and loving it.

My parents and I had dinner at a local Turkish restaurant
that we love on Sunday. Great food, great service.

Dad bought a keyboard so he can play carols at the wine
group party--one of the ladies sings. He's going to let me
have the keyboard for my teaching. : )


A centerpiece at choir's holiday potluck.

Christ-mice at the potluck.

Indeed, he does!


Mama's girl

Crescent rolls baked with apples, cinnamon, and cream
cheese. Yum!


Only got one pic on Wednesday, while sitting at a red light
on my way to teach a voice lesson.


A butterfly bench at The Fountains, a lovely shopping
center in Roseville.

Merry Christ-moose!

Mom and I went to a place called Charming Charlies. It's
mostly accessories but has some clothes. Mom bought
me this adorable dress and a necklace for about $40!

New favorite place. WAY better than Claire's.

My new necklace.

I bought this scarf. Wore it to work on Friday.

I wore my new scarf on Friday. It's love.

On Friday, one of our kinders was "Principal For the Day."
She visited every classroom and evaluated the teachers.
I think my evaluation was favorable.

Saturday has ended up being lazy (after my run and visit to the gym in the morning) so no pics...unless you really want a pic of me in my pajamas watching a BBC miniseries with Mom. I thought not.

Shut Up and Run

It is cold out, and far too early on a Saturday morning. I shift my legs from walking into a slow run. My knees creak a little, and my hamstrings whine. My brain dreams of all the things I could be doing, warm in my house, as I push off along a dreary college track with my running club.

I come into the first turn, slowly, gingerly. My legs protest with each step. Muscles are tight and unwilling to loosen without a fight. The cold air burns my lungs, and makes my fingers sting. "Just stop," whispers that one corner of my brain, as I round the curve in the track."It's been a few days, you're too tired for this."

I come so close to stopping, but as I finish the turn and come out on the back straight, I choose instead to keeping going.

"Shut up," I say out loud. No one is near enough to hear me. "Just shut up and do this."

My brain simmers down. My legs warm up. I get in a rhythm.

Two miles later, I stop.

Three years ago, I would have quit.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thirteen Years

Just now, I glanced to my right. On the edge of the mattress, never far away from me, is the curled-up body of a petite torbie named Millennium Joy. She's happily napping, her nose tucked into her tail. She is warm, safe, and the good life.

Thirteen years ago today, my parents drove up to Chico to visit me for a day. At the time, it didn't occur to me that this visit was out of the ordinary, but in retrospect it was. Most of their visits to Chico revolved around my musical performances (and there were many of those), and for Mom and Dad to randomly drive up to "take me to lunch" on a Saturday before Finals Week--especially seeing as how I'd be home in a week's time for Christmas--was not normal. But that didn't enter my mind. I was just excited to get a free lunch.

This was back before cell phones were as widely-used as they are now, so the deal was that Mom and Dad would call just before they left Folsom, letting me know they were on their way, so I could expect them in about two hours. So that Saturday, I was sitting on my sofa, watching out the front window of my tiny apartment for their van to pull in to the apartment complex.

When they arrived, I immediately knew something was up. I could see a cat carrier in the back seat--definitely not normal. I stepped out my front door as Dad got out of the driver's seat. He looked up at me, grinned and said, "Come on down, there's someone we want you to meet."

Never in a million years did I expect my parents to surprise me with a kitten that day. I had been living on my own for the first time ever--a small one-bedroom apartment--for about four months, and I loved having my own space, no roommates to trip over, no messes left by others to deal with. Sure, it got a little quiet sometimes, perhaps a little lonely, but after a few years of having one difficult roommate after another, I needed some time to live by myself. I wanted my own cat desperately, but they weren't allowed in my apartment complex, and I figured I couldn't afford one, anyway.

The rest is history. I skipped down the stairs and as I approached the car, Mom opened the back door to show me a small torbie in a cat carrier. She was meowing loudly and sticking a whole front leg through the wire door.

"The ladies at the shelter called her Punky Brewster," Mom said with a smile. "But you can call her whatever you like."

And so this feisty little ball of energy was christened Millennium--Millie for short. 1999 was coming to a close and the Y2K "crisis" was all over the news. Though the real start to the new millennium would be a year later, I loved the name. A few days later, I added Joy as a middle name, because she made me happy, and it was Christmas time.

The first week was rough--I had finals to study for, and a very energetic kitten keeping me awake at night. I remember one memorable moment, at about three in the morning, sitting in the living room with my wayward kitten on my lap, struggling to free herself for more playtime.

"That's it," I told her. "I can't live like this. I'm going to have to give you back." I promptly burst into tears at the thought--the truth is, she had me wrapped around her dainty white paw from that very first afternoon. There was no giving her back; Millie was here to stay.

And she has stayed. She forgave me for the year in England, and I've nursed her through pancreatitis. She brings huge comfort to me in the wake of losing Harley, and makes no secret that she adores me. The feeling is entirely mutual. She is one special cat.

Surprise! The first pic of Millie and her Meg.

"Where are you going! Take me with you!"

Home from a three-day stay in the hospital after
a bout of pancreatitis.

Millie and Maggie were troupers when we drove from Folsom, CA to
Bremerton, WA in one day.

The early years. Millie was (is) full of spunk and mischief.

"He's a twerp...but he's good for a cuddle, I guess."

While in Washington, Mom adopted Bella and Duchess. Millie got along
with them from the start.

Millie with the late Maggie, who was 18 in this picture. My family seems
to have a thing for tortoiseshell cats. They have "purrsonality," for sure.