Thursday, March 30, 2006

denton is growing on me

Today in my Intro to Research class my professor's wife (who was subbing for him while he is in Rome...shucks!) told me that in October, Denton gives away trees. For free. Two per car.

Next weekend is the Redbud Festival. Denton is apparently the Redbud capital of America! I've seen these trees blooming around and they are quite beautiful. I'll get a picture this weekend. Anyway, at the festival you can buy trees and planting materials, etc...just in time for spring.

New to Denton is a Household Hazardous Waste collection program, which is definitely overdue but good to see it coming to town. If you scroll down you'll see that including in this is the establishment of a ReUse Store- basically, instead of buying a new chemical or can of paint, you can go here and get it! I don't know yet if it's free or not- probably not knowing Texas, but it was in Madison. When SAI painting practice rooms, that's where we got all our paint.

So, these are exciting things, no? Texas needs more trees and it definitely needs less hazardous waste. So three cheers for this quirky little town!

My pet peeve of late: overuse of plastic grocery bags. Take your old ones to the store or get a canvas one, and ask your stores to provide you with other options like paper or give you an incentive for reuse!

Partly for Chuck, and anyone else thinking of being a veggie like me: an article on eating sustainably. I save an acre of trees per year! Good stuff on shopping for fish that's humane and green as well.

Wow, my very own carnival of the green. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

can anyone assist?

Chuck and I like to say, "Less babies, more trees!" which is technically grammatically incorrect, but it's catchier that way (and sometimes I disagree because babies are way tastier than trees, but I can stand by an ethical statement in lieu of my own personal satisfaction). This weekend we are going to do our part to practice what we preach by putting some trees in the Skelton House backyard!

Which is where you come in, if you can help. We need people with larger cars (larger than Pepito the Scion, anyway), or trucks even, to help us move the trees from the nursery to our house. They are not large trees (yet) and should fit in an SUV or hatchback. I'll probably be able to get the smaller ones in my car but we are buying an older magnolia tree too.

And we'd love your help in diggin' some holes! Beer and perhaps brats and v. burgers will be provided, if we can also get our hands on a grill.

The forecast for Saturday and Sunday says rain- so if that looks to be the case we will move it to next weekend. So, if you can help, please leave a comment and we'll keep you posted!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


So I send out email to the parents of my private students telling them when they owe what, etc., and I was doing so yesterday in a fairly standard manner. The only difference is I was a little confused on my records post-spring break- having been removed from it for a while and not entirely clear on the details. So I sent off an email to a parent believing they owed me $15 when in fact they don't owe me anything. Normally most people let this clear up very easily, but I always get the feeling these particular parents think I'm trying to screw them out of money or something. Which is most definitely not true, although I am pretty hardcore these days about making people pay me for every cent of my valuable, I-sat-in-traffic-for-an-hour-and-a-half-to-teach-your-sorry-ass time.

Anyway, I screwed up, I thought I was right and defended myself, and then realized I was completely wrong and now have to grovel to make up for it. arrrgh. I really like teaching this student, so let's hope they understand.

Crap! I know it's not a big deal, but oh hell.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

some sort of revelation?
changes in the air

I think I came back from Chicago a different person. Well- not really different, but adjusted, I guess. I didn't realize this until I rolled back into Denton, saw my house sitting in the sun, my kitties running up to see me, and a smile from Chuck. I went to lab band and felt relieved and happy to be there. I played with more enthusiasm. I felt comfortable.

It's not that I didn't have a good time in the midwest, or that I wasn't happy to see old friends (Bethany, and Mike! And randomly Miah!), but that I realized I can finally close a few chapters in my life without looking back too regretfully. Yes, I still miss the good times had in Madison, and I miss the people. But when I decided to stop resisting and play the game here at UNT, I also found the niche I needed to be happy. I'm not saying that I'm submitting- hell, it's still Texas- but I guess I am tired of being unsatisfied with my surroundings- and the stress that creates for me.

And things can be better here- so I want to help change them. Still, I'm proud of this place and how I've made it my own, and I'm proud to be at UNT. I'm studying with the teacher I've always needed to have, and I'm making great leaps forward toward my goals. I have amazing friends, great roommates, and someone who cares about me. I'm paying my own way and still getting by. I'm succeeding in my ventures and making a name for myself.

I won't be here forever. Texas is still not the place that I can completely call home- there's too many battles to fight and I just don't love it enough to care. But UNT is something else entirely, I think. It's quirky and a beaucratic nightmare, but it's not hopeless. And most of what I need to remember is that when I move again- for my doctorate, or for a job- it will be hard at first, and I imagine I'll miss Denton. But it'll come full circle again, like it did here, like it did in Madison, like it did even in that brief year in San Diego (however annoying it was that just as I started to make friends and have fun, I moved to Texas and was miserable).

Yeah, life is what you make of it. I know the cheese and the corn is dripping from your screen, but I had to share. I think things will be good, and I'm glad I stopped fighting long enough to see that things really are going well. And all of this came from my relief to be back home from Chicago- to see the people I spend each day with and appreciate their company and private jokes and the understanding we have of each other's silliness.

That, and it's always nice to sleep in your own bed again.

Monday, March 20, 2006

omg teh most amazing story EVAR (especially if you like mahler)

Chicago, March 18th, 2006. Concert program for the CSO that weekend: Mahler's 2nd Symphony.

First off, Bethany and I were supposed to go on Friday night, but apparently they decided to have that concert at 1:30 pm instead of at night. So Saturday night, Bethany having returned to Racine (birthplace of me!), I ventured off to Symphony Center on my own.

Not surprisingly, the show was sold out- except for a few insanely expensive seats. Some people were selling in the lobby, but I had no cash. So I decided to stay in the lobby for a bit into the first movement, just to get a taste.

I realized about four bars in that this was something I desperately, anxiously needed to hear all the way through, but listening in the lobby? Not so hot. Tears came to my eyes- should you desire to see a Mahler symphony, see Chicago.

An usher came up to me and asked if I was waiting for someone. I explained that no, I was just listening, I had no ticket, and if he wanted me to leave I'd be happy to stop taking up space.

"No, no. Nononono no. That's not necessary, don't leave!" he exclamed (although under his breath- this is a concert you know!). "I have the perfect place for you to listen. Follow me!"

He led me back around to the rotunda- a public space in Symphony Center- and seated me on a bench. Meanwhile the orchestra is playing anguish and despair inside the hall, and my tears are following faster. The kindly usher hands me a program and pats my back. "Enjoy- and that'll be $80!" We laugh and he heads off.

About five minutes later, another usher in charge of the doors near where I am seated approaches me. "Do you really want to see this concert?" she asks. I nod. "Of course I do." She nods and motions that she'll just be a second, and disappears into the hall.

A minute later, she emerges. "I told the lady inside that you were sitting up top, and were made sick by the height," she said, motioning toward the topmost balcony- nosebleed seats to the T. "So, we'll seat you in an open seat after the first movement."

My thanks flowing freely, she shushes me and shoos me inside the door to wait for the end of the movement. Inside, another usher whispers that she'll seat me whereever she can.

The first movement comes to its abrupt end- the final chord to soft to hear even as close as I am now to the inside of the hall. The doors are opened swiftly and latecomers seated. I am whisked back to another door, it is opened and I am shoved out into the hall- and I freeze.

I've entered on the balcony behind the stage, where the chorus sits, and the first thing I see is Michael Tilson Thomas smiling patiently in my direction. The next thing I see, immediately to my left, is the entirety of the Chicago Symphony Chorus looking at me, eyebrows raised. And I look up again and realize that the entire population of Symphony Center is looking at me- in my red coat and astonished expression, and I can't move. Charlie Vernon is staring at me from the stage. MTT is still looking in my direction, albeit less patiently. Behind me the usher whispers "Sit! SIT!" and I realize I must sit, me- just ME- and then the symphony can continue.

I sit.

The second movement starts, and I'm giddy- this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. And heard? Oh, it was amazing. Do you know? It was astounding.

And then? Well, aside from this surprise: waving at me from my right after I sit is an old friend. Ten seats away. Miah Cawley! Can you believe it! And he's motioning, why are you here? And late?!? and I could only laugh.

Each movement of the symphony got better and better. By the time the orchestra wailed its way into the fifth movement, I was in a permanent state of chills. The trombones sounded fabulous, of course (And me, I thought- you are all getting old! I want your job!). MTT conducts beautifully. The music is still running in my head and I can't shake the feeling of something greater- this is art and humanity and life.

All good things, as they must, come to an end, and so too did Mahler's 2nd Symphony. I chatted with Miah for a long time, and went back to the hotel to bubble exuberantly at my hotel mates. And what can you do after that?

Go to an irish pub and drink beer!

(pictures to follow SOON...first, much catching up of work and practicing to do)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

that's the last straw

I must get me to a chiropractor. After weeks and weeks of a stressed-out back and tense shoulders, I woke up this morning with the most painful crick in my neck I have ever had. I'm sorry to say I get those fairly frequently (every other month or so), so it's time. I looked up chiropractors covered by my health insurance, and will be making an appointment with one for after spring break.

Speaking of spring break, if you are one of those people I plan to see (Bethany, Davis, Katie, Sheena, and anyone else) I will be in touch very soon. I am sorry for the delay. Grad school is a pain in the neck (literally) sometimes.

John Fedchock just played in our trombone departmental. It was very good, but I spent the whole time trying to figure out what Star Wars character he reminds me of. Chuck says Boba Fett. I'm not convinced, yet. Your thoughts?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

i was so mad!

Today is a very misanthropic day for me, I'm afraid. Or perhaps it's the catalyst for something greater, who knows? My inner activist is ready to burst, if:

1. One more person makes a sexist comment, whether intentionally or not, or tells a sexist story and expects me to find it funny. ESPECIALLY in light of the abortion ban in South Dakota.
2. I see someone THROW AWAY paper or soda cans or anything else that is recyclable, whether out of ignorance or laziness.
3. People continue to complain about how busy/tired/stressed they are, wasting MY class time.
4. I find someone who still trusts the Bush administration.
5. People continue to think of their lives in terms of limitations, ie I could never do that, it's too hard! or I'm glad that's not line of work, geez! Because, people? You could do it if you tried. You could do it well. The difference is, you don't want to, but that doesn't mean you can place a wall between yourselves and those that do.

And don't even get me started on the uber-religious, entitlement issues crowd.

It's a good day for Ani Difranco piping through my stereo.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

this must be thursday

What an ass-kicking day! As in, this day is kicking my ass.

Today I:
-took a brass pedagogy test that was really very easy but was long long long.
-turned in a paper on Monteverdi's fourth book of madrigals that I may have done some lazy research on, but oh well.
-sucked a lot at my sightsinging test. I have no idea why. It was super easy: scale patterns. I just couldn't keep my mind on it. This was very discouraging as Jan keeps telling me I have very good ears and I've been practicing and practicing for months learning how to "hear" music as I read it, but...argh.

For later:
-A lesson, which should be okay but requires more mental energy than I have.
-Lab band, followed by sectional, ditto to above.
-A recital to attend
-A late night dress rehearsal for Ross and Chris's conducting recital. Which will be awesome, and you should come (Sunday Recital Hall, 5 pm).

And tomorrow:
-Teaching. Because I love it so.
-Trombone choirs collective concert. 8 pm Concert hall.

And Saturday:

I think I should go abroad for my doctorate. Everywhere is so much cooler than the States. Suggestions?