Thursday, January 31, 2013

Domesticity

When my former co-worker came to work one day with a new shirt his wife bought him, and a homemade lunch his wife made him, I naturally thought...man, I need a wife.

I think I secretly want a wife from the 50's who will cook my meals, clean my house, and clean my clothes for me.  No, that's not true.  That's only when I'm feeling tired and overworked or sick.  When you're sick, all you really want is your mommy making you food and bring it to your bed on a tray.

Today, I finally had a day of domesticity myself.  Something about a washer and dryer being more than 10 feet away (and $4 per load) makes me a laundry lazy person.  Yes, I own about 50 pairs of socks.  I don't think jeans get dirty.  It's ironic, because I used to do laundry every week out of a different kind of laziness.

What can I say?  I'm super hard working and diligent when it comes to actual work, but when it comes to housework...I want a 50's housewife.

Something about having a freshly laundered bed, with pillows all fluffed up, comforter straightened and not half falling on the floor...it's relaxing.  It gives me a weird sense of peace.  I also cleaned off my coffee table and orange oiled it (I LOVE orange oil), washed some clothes, washed my towels finally, and made pot roast.

I don't think I will eat my pot roast today, however.  But now my apartment smells like delicious yumminess.  My slow cooker is bubbling away with a mischievous gurgle.  I have to admit, I am tempted to tear that meat apart and gorge myself on chunks of beef, but alas..I extended my fast for another day.  I woke up feeling cheerful and not hungry, so I figured I might as well continue it.  I also had a dream I was eating chocolate chips from the freezer, which satiated my uncharacteristic chocolate craving.


Writing it out...

When I was in 6th grade, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.  Every week, my teacher had us write short stories to turn in, and every week I'd...wait until the last minute and pump out an A story.  It was my process.  Wait for the creativity to hit.  I wrote a small book (30 or 40 pages?) on my own time and showed it to her.

In high school, I...hated school.  It was boring.  Everything took too long.  My junior year, I decided to write while I was not learning anything or doing anything.  In a couple months, I had an almost 200 page book.  My friends loved it, if nothing else.

At UCLA, while I was admitted as a music major, my plan was to switch over to English.  My cello was really, at the time, just a ploy to get into college.  That ended up being ironic, since I had to first pass the academic requirements of the colleges and THEN pass the music requirements.  Oh well.

Since a scholarship was involved, I decided to try for a double major, instead.  I took 2 extra quarters of language (Japanese, since I knew...none), started working on the extra GEs, and started taking my English classes.  That's when things went awry.  It was my essay on Beowulf that really did it for me. I got a C on this paper, which normally would have been...okay...had the reason been poor writing or grammatical errors or structure issues.  But I got a C because my paper was "too creative".  What?  I was told that my paper took a view that nobody else's in the whole class (a class of 100s) had taken, and because of that the teacher didn't know how to grade me.  He told me he wasn't sure if he should give me an A or an F, so he gave me something in between.

-_-

That kind of describes...my life in a nutshell.

When being myself, and being what I consider completely logical, I'm actually being out-of-the-box.  One thing I've learned is...people either embrace that type of thinking, or they think you're weird and look at you funny.  That's literally the only two reactions to me I have ever gotten.  "You're weird...I like you!" or "You're weird...ew, get away from me."

To be fair, the people who say "ew" are usually very...closed minded and unpleasant, and thoroughly threatened by change and innovation.  But still.  Come on, I don't have cooties.

But going through that, time and time again, kind of...ruined writing for me.  While I still wrote short stories on my own for my own enjoyment, I never really pursued it after that.  I found other outlets.  I've also been blogging since then; a pastime I enjoy enormously.  If nothings else, it's a snapshot of who I was at one point in time.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Update

Well, I am officially sleeping and night and am awake during the day!

I've gone full circle and am now attempting to hold onto that schedule...though I'm slowly but surely inching forward little by little.  But it's great to be sleeping at night.  Instead of having a tv schedule that includes Frasier and Full House, I have now transitioned to daytime talk shows as I go about my morning business.  I watch The Chew now.  It's strangely entertaining...

But I miss watching Conan.  I'm going to sleep too early for Conan now.  I wish SF did the weird Orange County TV schedule where Conan would air at 9:00...and then 11:00...and then 1:00.  I could always get at least the Conan monologue in, which was really what I was watching for.

I also submitted an application to Google and proceeded to have teaching nightmares for the next 4 nights.  This would result in me waking up stressed and depressed, and strangely inspired me to try a juice fast.  I didn't really want to eat, so I figured it would be a good time to try that out.  But then my dreams stopped, I perked up....and now I'm in my 2nd day of my 2 day juice fast.

I do not feel well.  I'm not fasting properly, I don't think, as I don't have a juicer or a SUPER awesome blender.  So I have a headache and feel kind of weak and pitiful.  Tomorrow I will make pot roast in my slow cooker.  And roasted mashed cauliflower.  And maybe some chocolates.  I've been craving those Lindor truffles that explode chocolate goodness in your mouth...

My "fasting" was actually an attempt to jump start my desire to eat.  When working, I would put my food in tupperware and kind of eat without thinking.  I made sure my food was healthy and nutritious, but because there was so little time to actually eat it didn't really matter what I was eating.  I ate for fuel, not enjoyment.  So many years of that has taken away..then enjoyment of eating.

I'm enjoying the last few days of January.  I've told myself I will truly start looking for a job during February, March, and April.  Those are the months I can afford to be a little particular.  The 3 months after that become more desperate :)

I hope I can find something that's the right fit.  That's my main concern.  I want to work with good people, in the end.  Surrounded by goodness.  That sounds nice, right?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration - Obama - Part Deux

I remember Obama's first inauguration.

We sat at school, and opened the MPR doors so band and orchestra could watch it together.  The whole school was watching it, either on their tvs or on their projection screens.  We had no tv, and in a room full of over 100 middle school kids, we attempted to deal with the horrible delays of watching it on CNN.

And then...I remembered...I have a laptop, and I have a slingbox.  So I put my 17 inch laptop in front of 100 kids, and we all watched it as I streamed my slingbox image from my home television.  I connected my laptop to the piano amplifier so everybody could hear.  We kept the images streaming on the big screen but the lagging was so bad, most of the kids just crowded around my laptop.

The best moment, for me, was a total music dork moment.  I had not read up the event, so I had no idea who was going to be there.  So when they announced Yo-Yo Ma, I lit up with delight, and all the kids in my class got very excited and cheered.  Band side asked, "Who is Yo-Yo Ma?" to which the orchestra kids scoffed at their ignorance.

Never had I been so proud to have raised snobs.  =)

At my afternoon school, they had done the same thing in the morning, with all the kids watching in class.  The orchestra kids, NOT sitting together but in fact all apart in different classes, completely outed themselves by dorking out over Yo-Yo Ma, too.  A viola player of mine later said he got excited, cheered, and then got in trouble for getting too excited.

Best reason to get in trouble EVER.

Seeing as I woke up at 5:00 in the afternoon yesterday and am still awake, I think I will stay up to watch the inauguration.  I didn't realize it started so early in the morning...even though it completely makes sense that it would start so early, and last time my memories are of 1st period.  Yeah.  Way to go, memory.

I know I've said it before, but I just love hearing Obama speak.  He's so eloquent.  George W. Bush just...stressed me out.  Clearly, his speech writers had to simplify his speeches so he could get through them, but even so he struggled.  I would watch his speeches going, "Come on!  You can do it!" and wincing in pain when he kept mispronouncing the same word.  (If you know you're screwing up the word, and you realize you can't say it...WHY would you say it over and over again???)

UPDATE: I forgot the first hour was people just arriving.  I fell asleep waiting for Obama to arrive (I remember him getting in the car at the White House).  I woke up, started to watch a little bit, and fell back asleep.  Woke up, someone else was talking, fell back asleep.

Oops.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Les Miserables

I finally saw it.

With intentions of seeing it since it first came out, I finally went to see Les Miserable tonight.  It was also my first movie in San Francisco, so yay!

I first saw Les Mis when I was maybe 11?  My dad took me to see it when it came to Fresno.  I loved it, and when we returned home I went to the piano to play the songs (which made my dad thing I was a musical genius).  Then, last year, I played in the "pit" for this musical at a high school production.  It was me and a poor 15 year old girl...so really it was just me playing the cello part.  And the cello plays the WHOLE time.  It is a physically exhausting production for everybody.  I have memories of having to use a nail file to file down the skin of my fingers because my calluses were getting out of control.  I also had to play with a little rubber thing on my finger so I could turn the pages fast enough.

You would think I would have an in depth understanding of this show then, right?  Apparently not.  As an 11 year old, I missed the whole prostitution aspect, having no idea what prostitution was, I guess.  I didn't know what the French Revolution was, either.

I laughed when the soldier said, "Who's there?" and Enjolras says, "French Revolution."

I like that they filmed the singing live, with a pianist feeding them music, but the whole time I thought...wow, how did they do that?  The poor conductor had to then fit the music into the singing?  And the opening scene has water splashing down on everybody, and I wondered how many people choked on the water.  I also imagined the actors doing take after take of some of those very intense solos.

I loved Anne Hathaway.  She's wonderful.  I've loved her since Princess Diaries.  She can SING and she can act.  I was really impressed by both her and Hugh Jackman.  The casting for the Thenardiers were so delightfully spot on, though I was secretly wondering if Sacha Baron Cohen messed with Russell Crowe on set.

Speaking of which...when you have an entire cast of people who can act and sing REALLY well, if you are not super amazing...you suck.  And....poor Russell Crowe.  If he just stood there not saying or singing, it would have made more sense to me.  He has a surprisingly sweet singing voice, but...I didn't find that satisfying for Javert.  He could not project; the sound of his voice probably died 6 inches from his mouth.  His face also doesn't ever move or show expression.  When you watch Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, their facial expressions just break your heart...and....Russell Crowe just gave the same blank look the whole movie.  He wasn't very scary, which is surprising since he's Russell Crowe.

My favorite part of Master of the House wasn't in the movie!  The funny saxophone riffs.  They were gone :(  Something else was gone too....oh, when Gavroche identifies Javert, there was something missing!  (G...A C) in the pizzicato and...I want to say English horn?

Amanda Seyfried, you hit some really HIGH notes, and the fact you hit them live is extra impressed.  They were very pretty :)

It bothered me that some of the songs were in a different key than the original.  Yes, I could tell.

Hugh Jackman doesn't know how to use a head voice.  While he has a very powerful voice, I was disappointed by his rendition of Bring Him Home.  I LOVE the scoop...and the scoop wasn't there.  It's like the force of his voice jerked his whole body back.  His prayer comes off very aggressive =)

I liked that the cellos got a little extra love than the actual musical.  They had more moments.  (although we play the whole musical, we get a lot of really boring parts)

Not having to sing in a musical theater voice all the time really makes the acting shine through.  I wonder how many people who have done the show watched the performance and thought, "Man, why didn't I deliver it like that?"  Of course, they were probably a lot of critical people, too.

Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway really did deserve to win their respective Golden Globes.  To give that kind of acting performance alone could do it, but they did it while singing!  Singing while having tears running down your face...it reminded me of that show...Killer Karaoke =)  I don't think I've ever seen Hugh Jackman in anything besides the Wolverine role, so it was refreshing to see him in another light.  It shows that he really was underutilized as Wolverine, as his acting skills are so much more than that role  (unlike Russell Crowe)

Eponine HAD to have been wearing a corset.  How did she sing?

Okay, that's it.  Sorry this wasn't very organized...just got home and I'm cold and hungry and slightly distracted.

What did YOU think of the movie?  Share!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Golden Globes - Play By Play

I forgot the Golden Globes were on tonight.

I was out running errands and came back as Salma Hayek and Paul Rudd stood on stage.  I watched the Homeland guy win an award and then a long awkward pause.  I love that Paul Rudd, realizing there was a long awkward pause, just looked at the camera, smiled, and said, "Hello."

1.) I really like Paul Rudd.  I bet he's fun to hang out with.

2.) Watching John Goodman and the guy he was with, and then Jennifer Lopez trying to read off the teleprompter makes me think that either reading off a teleprompter is really hard, or actors are really bad at reading.

3.) Adele is lovely.  She was so genuinely excited.

4.) Until Kevin Costner won and they announced his former award for Dances With Wolves...I forgot he was a good actor.

5.) Wow, a lot of actors are super low energy and just bring the mood down.  Jessica Alba, I'm looking at you.

6.) Bill Clinton, what are you doing at the Golden Globes?  Clinton in a room full of actors...the actors just woke up.  And Clinton is much better at reading off the teleprompter.  Not surprising, but I'm relieved.  Spielberg looks excited.  Amy Poelher, "That was Hilary Clinton's husband!!"

7.) Will Ferrel is SO good at looking innocent and wondrous.

8.) Yeah, they should DEFINITELY have more comedians as presenters.  Kristen Wigg and Will Ferrel...everybody looks totally amused except Tommy Lee.

9.) "I beat Meryl!"  And now everybody hates Jennifer Lawrence :)

10.) John Krasinski!  Yay!  And he can read!  Double yay!  The more I see of this guy, the more I like him.

11.) Jonah Hill and Megan Fox?  Awesome pairing.  Jonah looks SO happy.

12.) Yay Anne Hathaway!  I love her, too.  And the fact she brought up Princess Diaries makes her more awesome.  Saying she would use her Golden Globe, a blunt object, as a weapon against self doubt...I love her.

13.) Wow, Jeremy Irons should do voice over work for dramatic movie trailers.

14.) I want to see Schwarzenegger get up and say, "I'm sorry for what I did to California."  It blows my mind that he was making ridiculous action movies, then became governor, and then...went back to making ridiculous action movies.  The halfhearted applause for him...was funny.  And the fact that a lot of people didn't clap at all is telling.

15.) Amy Poehler with George Clooney =)

16.) Man, I need to go see Les Mis.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Miss America

I hate pageants.  I think it's a terrible thing to put anybody through, and trying to pass off Miss America as a "scholarship program" reminds me of Miss Congeniality.  It's also saying the only way you're going to be able to pay for college is by being pretty.

My hostility aside, I AM watching it.  Because it's funny.

1.) Their intros for their states are just awful.  Miss Wisconsin actually said, "Where I'm from, cutting the cheese is a big deal."

2.) I can't believe I'm 10 years (or more) older than these girls.  Tons of makeup and big hair makes you look old, I guess...

3.) All the girls look the same to me.

4.) Miss Iowa's name is Mariah Cary.  That...is so awesome.  I hope her talent is singing.  And I hope she's AWFUL at it.  That would be...way too funny.  (I posted this on my facebooks, too, because I couldn't stop laughing)

5.) I bet the girls who didn't get called into the final bunch are already eating pizza.

6.) Is there a Mr. America pageant?

7.) I wish someone's talent would be...doing calculus.  Or dissecting a frog.

8.) Since it's a "scholarship program", they should make the girls do something on stage that's academic.  Finish an analogy.  Execute the quadratic formula.  Name 5 elements.  Name 2 superior court justices.  Locate her fibula.  (I don't know what being in a bikini has to do with a scholarship)

9.) No matter how good you are are baton twirling, I will not be impressed.

10.) I wish Simon Cowell was a judge.  And I wish the judges could make comments.

11.) Miss Wyoming, I was really excited to see a piano on stage.  But when you then played your own composition and it's something I could have played when I was literally 7....I was very disappointed.  All that tells me is you are not good enough to play Rachmaninoff.  

It was better than the girl who played Jackson 5, whose backtrack was obviously doing the playing for her.  Well, obvious to me, a person who knows how to play piano.  That was the fakest performance ever.

12.) Why did you do that to "I dreamed a dream"?  Your excessive vibrato and faces of pain did not fool me.  You lacked breath support and....you sang flat almost the whole time.

13.) Almost all of the contestants had footage shown of them competing in pageants when they were like 4.  That's....sad.

14.) Noooooo.....Mariah Cary didn't sing.  I'm so disappointed.  I look at the 3 tap dancers and wonder if their tap dancing is as unimpressive to real dancers as the piano playing was to me.  The first tap dancing girl seemed good.

15.) Okay, I'm watching the interview questions (20 whole seconds).  I'd love to hear someone give a non-PC answer.  Of course, it would be nice if someone actually answered the question, too....

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ow, my back

The first time I threw out my back, I was 20.  I was jumping into bed, literally, and I landed funny.  My mom gave me this Japanese sticker to put on my back (kind of like Icy Hot) and I went to a party and rested on a couch.

It was a strange fluke, as all my accidents tend to be.  My back was fine after that.

Until tonight.

I was reaching for cheese in my refrigerator when something...hurt.  This time it was my lower back, and my legs and feet went tingly and slightly numb.  It was like my back had had a heart attack.  GREAT.  Fortunately for me, I didn't fully throw it out, and I am still able to walk around.  But bending hurts.  Sitting kind of hurts.

Oh well.

In the meantime, I've been watching Once Upon A Time on Netflix, and have now graduated (in 3 days) to my computer to watch Season 2 online.  I may start The Office, because after watching the bloopers on youtube...I kind of want to watch the actual episodes, now.  John Krasinski's laugh makes me laugh.  It's a high pitched girly giggle, which is ALWAYS the best.  Grown men giggling or screaming like little girls brings me much joy.

I can't tell you how many times I've watched the episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe surprise Ross in his apartment, thus ruining his unagi.  Ah, salmon skin roll.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Story of George (When George met Naoko)

My cello is named George.  He was made in 1809, and today is our 7 year anniversary.  I used to say this was his birthday, since I had no idea when his actual birthday day was....

I actually met George a little more than 7 years ago, when I went up to Ifshin Violins to go bow shopping.  I found a bow I LOVED, though it was $11,000....but it sounded so good.  My cello at the time, Andie (female) loved this bow, but I wasn't sure if I could justify spending that amount of money on a bow.  I used to always joke that I'd never be a home owner because I'd always put my money toward a new cello or a new bow...and that would always deplete my savings time and time again.

My family had driven up to the Bay Area from Fresno, and my dad suggested I try cellos since we had come all this way.  I didn't particularly want to; I was perfectly happy with Andie, and she was serving me well.  I also was in my...2nd year of teaching, I think, and had assumed my cello playing growth was basically over since I was dedicating all my time to teaching.

But, being the easily persuaded person I am, I figured....why not.  I tried some cellos.  I think I tried one that was $80,000 and remember thinking...it doesn't seem that great.  And then I tried this old cello that looked kind of beaten up.  It was smaller than the other cellos, and right away was easier to play.  (I have really small hands, and that has always been a bit of challenge)  The sound was just...better.  There was a depth of sound that I just...loved.

I think that's when all 3 of us, my mom, my dad, and I all went...uh-oh.  I knew, pretty much immediately, that I had to have this cello.  We connected.  The cello was about $15,000 more than my current cello, however...it didn't belong to Ifshin, it was being soled on consignment, which meant I couldn't trade in my current cello for that one.

I had to leave without it, not having that much money...and I was heartbroken.  When I was back in Fresno, I couldn't stop thinking about this cello and I was determined to find a way to get it.

And that is when I remembered...I started a mutual fund when I was 17.  What kind of 17 year old starts a mutual fund?!  Why me, of course.  I ended up cashing out almost all of my fund, we secured the cello, drove back up a few days later, I bought the cello and put my old cello up for sale at a higher price than I had bought it.

George is from London, England (specifically the Top of Brick Lane).  I have named all but my first cello (Jackie, (Con)Tessa, Rupert, Andie) and I ended up picking "George" because I wanted an English name to suit his heritage...and I was really into Grey's Anatomy at the time and really liked the character "George".  Lame, I know.

The funniest/saddest part was when I came back to school, took out my cello, and all my students went, "Andie!"  I then had to explain this was George, and I was...selling Andie to pay for George.  It sounds a lot more sinister when you use names.  Some kind of cello slavery or something.

Andie eventually contributed to the down payment of my house.  And George and I have spent 7 lovely years together.




On another note, I went to Alta Plaza Park today.  Here are some pictures.










Friday, January 4, 2013

Monterey

I spent the New Year in Monterey.  My mom wanted to flee from the Central Valley this year, and I haven't been to Monterey in a long time!

Can you hear the soothing ocean noises?




My cousin has a membership to the Aquarium, so we all went.  I haven't been in about 3 years, I think?  Almost 3 years.  My friend, a fellow teacher, and I went to the Aquarium coming back from our friend's wedding.  I only had 2 pictures, however, because my camera almost immediately went dead, and my cell quickly followed.  I was glad to have the opportunity to get some more shots in this time!

The funny thing is, when last we went to the aquarium, she and I were eating lunch at the cafe when suddenly there was a figure standing by our table.  "Hi," he said.  It was our student!  We thought it must've been really strange for HIM to look up and see TWO of his teachers eating lunch together hundreds of miles away from home.

True to form, this time, on my way out, I ran into 3 former students.  I think it was a bit surreal for all of us, and it's the first time I've run into anybody since moving.

Below, are some fish.  And...penguins.










Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hello 2013

Happy 2013 everybody!

It's the year of the Snake, if you want to be Chinese about it.  My mom is excited because it's HER year.

After being out of town for a fairly long time (with a little less than 24 hours in SF during the middle of that), I'm glad to be back.  Walking around town feels kind of weird again, much like when I first moved here.

So do you have any New Years resolutions?  I like to make one every year, though I always end up making several since I make a New Years resolution, and then I set goals for myself at the beginning of a school year.  I guess that's kind of moot now, though.  My most successful resolution has been to have breakfast every day.  That was after YEARS of not having breakfast because I valued that extra 20 minutes of sleep too much.  I also make the resolution of, "Have a resolution next year" when I can't think of anything.  I've had the resolution to be more courageous.  Eat more apples.  Start eating vegetables besides potatoes.  

This year, my resolution is to be as kind to myself as I am to other people.

That's...going to be difficult, actually, because I think I'm pretty nice to other people, and I'm pretty mean to myself.  I don't sleep enough, I don't eat enough, I work too hard for too long, I give up time and effort for people who don't want my help or don't appreciate it or expect me to do so and feel entitled to it, I worry about people and try to help them when they don't want my help, I exhaust myself trying to do my best, I sacrifice myself for others...the list goes on and on.

So this year, I am making the conscious effort to be kinder to myself.  Someone has to be, right?  And while that may be relatively easy now, I know as soon as I start working again I'm going to have to resist the temptation of getting overly...everything.  Giving too much.

That sounds ridiculous.  But it's true.

Do you have a resolution?