30 September 2009

A ghost moon in early autumn

Lovely ghost moon out today.  It's more than three quarters full and middling large and has been hanging out since before 5.  I'm a sucker for a ghost moon, especially on a slightly too cold autumn day with abundant sunshine.

29 September 2009

Charity, love, beauty, music, joy!

I mentioned a song called "Caritas et Amor" in an earlier post, and one of our choir members found a good recording of it on youtube.  I wanted to share it since I doubt ours will be recorded. 

Can you guess where the sublime part I was talking about is?

28 September 2009

Failing with God

People at my church seem quite willing to talk about how you can't succeed without God.  They seem less willing to talk about what to do when you have God and are still failing miserably for no obvious spiritual reason.  I rely on God to get me through every minute of every day.  (It would be physically impossible for me to be functioning with my level of exhaustion without His support and unconditional love.)

Still I fail.  I cannot find any job, let alone the one I feel called to (teaching), and my debts are beyond catastrophic.  Without my parents, I would be bankrupt and financially ruined.  I am so grateful for my parents and for God for letting them be in a position to assist me, but they really shouldn't have to.

I think maybe I'm living part of a Psalm (I've been reading them lately).  Why are my enemies living in ease and comfort when they have committed injustices and laugh at my sorry condition, metaphorically?  Hold them accountable, Lord!  Rescue me, already!  Reward those who trust in You, Righteous One!

I've been puzzling about this language as I go through the Psalms this time.  Usually, the psalmist goes on to thank God for punishing the wicked and rewarding the faithful, and I guess I took that too literally, as something that had already happened in the story of the Psalm.  But what if it's at the end because it's a future aspect of the story?  Praise and thanks for what will most assuredly be because God has promised it will be so?

We, trapped in time, want this now.  How long, oh, Lord, do we have to wait for that now to happen?  Most likely we'll never see it on this side; we are sometimes so privileged here that we forget that, I guess.  Maybe I was so blessed I got spoiled?

The story will end happily.  Eventually.  I can't expect it to end happily now, or I'm setting myself up for more discouragement, and God knows I don't need to make things any harder for myself.

The Lord gives, the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord in both the now and the not-yet-that-will-be.

27 September 2009

TMIA's perfume advice/plea

I have allergies and asthma.  Some particularly poisonous perfumes give me instant asthma attacks.  Others just make it hard for me to breathe and leave a taste in my mouth that I might get from licking something metallic and corrosive.  Other people have asthma and allergies, too, and this happens to them.  On behalf of all of us, I beg you to consider the following advice.

Please don't bathe in your perfume. 

If it hangs around longer than you or follows you around in a nearly visible cloud and basically smells as strongly as if you had bathed in it, then this is basically the same thing.  In a society that encourages regular bathing, I thought perfume was supposed to be an accent mark, a light touch of individuality, not something that makes people around you gag and be physically ill. 

I wish I were exaggerating more than I am.  I have seen people walking in our store and can tell when they cut across a perfume trail because they get this horrible, disgusted, twisted up look on their face that tells me they are not enjoying themselves at all and could really use a mint.

I can't really smell most of the time because my allergies and about nine broken noses have resulted in my inability to appreciate many of the finer scents in life, so maybe these poison perfumes actually smell nice (even if they leave a nasty aftertaste in my mouth and lungs).  However, the above paragraph indicates that maybe they don't. 

This situation brings up the question: why do people wear perfume that smells nasty?  Do you have any ideas?

26 September 2009

The return of autumn

It's really fall now.  Sigh.

The sun is shining in abundance outside.  Oh, I thought, I should go out and bask in the last rays of summer while talking to my sister on the phone!  What joy! 

I checked the temperature, in case this great sunshine meant it was too warm to lay out (pretty much anything over 73).  It's not even 60.


25 September 2009

Not to be a lawyer

There was a time in sixth grade when I thought I might want to be a lawyer.  It made sense at the time.  I liked to argue, and I liked to win (by having the best argument).  I also ran headlong into some injustice issues with my child-hating teacher and school princi"pal" who was apparently not my pal but my secret arch-nemesis, only I never knew. 

Anyway, I stopped considering law as a profession when I realized that sometimes you have to defend scumbags or people who are guilty but saying they're innocent, but you have to do it to the best of your abilities because it's your job.  No thanks.  Also, truth and justice don't always prevail.  If I couldn't clearly be on the side of truth and justice, I didn't want to play the game.

I don't really know what got me remembering that, but I think it had something to do with my lawyer for my OWCP case not emailing me back like he said he would.  He doesn't usually get back to me clearly and directly because he's a lawyer, and he knows the import of words as proof committed to paper.  He'd rather leave me hanging.  I can't really hold it against him.  We know my case has no chance, truth be d----d, so I guess I forgive him for giving up. 

Some games you can't win, no matter how well you play, so why play?   What a thoroughly reprehensible, practical, adult thing to say.  "Give me back my youth!"

So, do you remember a certain thing you wanted to be when you grew up and when you decided to cross it off the list and why?  (Sometimes it's really weird things that seem unrelated, but those make great stories.  :)

24 September 2009

Memorial for a tree I loved from afar

A tree I love has died. 

It was kind of a tall, loner tree on the side of the highway, and I liked it.  Last year, it got hit by lightning, and it seemed totally dead.  I mourned for it then a little, thinking thoughts about Japanese wa and pegs that stick up too much getting hammered down (or attracting lightning or whatever).  We got some heavy snow over the winter that pulled one half of the tree down, adding insult to injury.

I was happily surprised when more than half of it came to life again this spring. 

However, the lightning strike pretty much split it in half, and too much of the trunk rotted, so even though the leaves lived furiously, the other half has fallen, too.  I don't think there's any hope for it now.

Have you ever lost any bits of your landscape?  Any pieces of nature that were special to you that aren't around any more?  What went through your mind when you found them missing?

23 September 2009

Why I don't go to the doctor when I get a certain kind of sick

I am tired of paying money to a doctor to have him or her say, "It's a virus.  Fluids and rest.  Have a nice day." 

I admit I prefer this to doctors who give you antibiotics every time you get sick, as research is showing how bad of an idea this is, but I still don't want to waste money to hear the same thing, which is, "I can't help you.  Leave."

Don't worry.  I may have half-flu symptoms and half-cold symptoms, but I don't have a fever.  I'm at my usual 98.1.  And money is really tight, so unless I spike a fever or have to miss work, I'm giving the doctor a pass and giving myself plenty of fluids and 12 hours of bed time.  I'm being good, see?

Do you frequently get cold/sinus viruses?  Frequently enough to be able to police yourself?  Anything you've found that really works for you?

22 September 2009

A Little Pre-Holiday Retail Rant

I really want a new job.  This is getting ridiculous.  You want to know why RetailEstablishment is failing?  It's because of corporate stupidity, inefficiency, and wasteful practices that were going on for years before the economy tanked. 

Corporate HQ's new policies explain that our poor sales have nothing to do with a slumped economy and ridiculous HQ policies but are a direct result of our (the sales peons') failings.  We're not pushy enough.  Also, sometimes customers see us drink water or coffee on the sales floor.  Obviously, these are huge problems that must be corrected before they further kill our sales!  The solution?  No water and no water breaks.  (Those of us with severe allergies and asthma are ignoring this dictum and hiding behind desks when we need a drink to keep ourselves from choking or having asthma attacks.)  Also an emphasis on pushiness and customer harassment to keep from getting written up for not "doing our jobs." 

And here I thought they would emphasize knowledge, training, efficiency, or anything else that makes a long-term difference and leads to satisfied, repeat customers.  I am so silly sometimes.  What a kidder I am.

I feel like I live in a cross between You've Got Mail and Nickel and Dimed.  Management does not care if you can help the customers find what they really want and get them to it quickly.  Management just wants obedient little brainless sales drones who know 15 ways to segue into a pushy sales tactic.  They also like uniforms, apparently.

I'm stuck in this non-living-wage full time job with no options because I'm a cripple abandoned by the government.  I am a little frustrated. 

Some new and particularly stupid policies are rolling out soon, and I foresee a return to that 90%+ turnover rate our store is famed for.  (Joy, right before Christmas madness begins!  That's the best way to have happy holiday customers: half-trained employees trying to push unwanted merchandise on customers and being utterly incapable of actually helping them get what they came for.) 

We usually have a lot of quitting over the holidays, especially once management starts enforcing two months of no time off.  Most people want to at least have a couple days in a row that they can spend with their families, and they know that being jobless for a while won't kill them, so they leave.

And why not?  These bright, young, non-crippled, healthy things have options!  Of course they should take them!  Why would I want them to continue being miserable, treated like interchangeable cogs in the retail wheel, their talents wasted because of corporate stupidity?  I wish them well as they leave me behind!  I really do. 

I just wish I could go with them.

P.S. Hey, RetailEstablishment, go read that Norm Feuti book Pretending You Care (and think about it really hard), listen to your field employees (not the managers, but the troops, especially the ones who have been around for more than 3 years), and wake up!  There are ways not to be this dumb and wasteful, and you should try them before you end up out of business.  You have so much talent available; why are you squandering it?

I'll leave you with a positive quote I just made up:

God never promised us a rose garden, but He still gives us roses along the way. 

And allergy medicine.

Thank you to all the co-workers who have helped make my time in the big house of RetailEstablishment slightly less hellish sometimes.  I'm always sad to see you go, but I know you're in a better place.  It would be difficult to be in a worse one.

21 September 2009

Layering a Life: Adjusting to a New Schedule

Did you ever go to the city pool in the summer?  Someone would drop you off, you would go change and then go out to the pool and be faced with the biggest dilemma of the day: how to get in the water.  There were two ways. 
  1. Go over toward the deep end and fling yourself into the pool, instantly getting wet and experiencing an excruciating moment of freezing cold.  
  2. Start at the shallowest part and ease your way into the pool, then walk slowly deeper, letting your body adjust slowly.
In college, I definitely went with option 1.  It exhausts me just thinking about it . . . 

After college, I got hurt.  Suddenly, I was losing energy.  The things I had to do (graduate school, work) took up more energy than I had.  I was losing concentration and mental capacity and memory.  I couldn't trust myself to commit to a whole lot outside of what was necessary.  I was treading water. 

Now that I have my graduate degree, I have that time and some of that energy available.  I'm using it for job hunting, writing, submitting writing for publication, conducting research, church involvement, alumni organizations, blogging, and other things.

To avoid overwhelming myself, I'm doing it in layers.  I try one thing; once I get that into my schedule, I try adding something else.  Eventually, I will run out of energy to spend, and then I will have to stop at that my level of involvement and maybe back off a bit.  (In fact, I think this little bout of the flu may be telling me I've already reached my limit.  Boo.)

However, there's one more layer I'm going to add: replying to comments on my blogs.  Once I show that I can maintain this post-a-day (or a-week) pace without exhausting myself, my time, and my ideas too much, I'm going to start figuring out how to improve the blog designs and quickly respond to comments. 

But first, more orange juice.  And maybe some chicken soup.  (Not because of health value, per se, but because liquid is good for sick singers.)

How did you get into the pool back in the day?  How do you approach new situations now?  (And how would you get into the pool now? :)

20 September 2009

Dependence and Dependents

I technically qualify for government-subsidized housing.  When I went to the office to get an application, I found out why they were so vague on their government website: they're backed up by about five years and don't even let people fill out applications anymore.  On one hand, I appreciate that they don't want to waste my time and get my hopes up.  On the other hand, it makes me sad to think that my situation isn't as unique as I thought it was. 

I was told that they often make exceptions for people who pay more than a certain percentage for rent, but I left that information and my contact information, and they never even called me back.  From what I could tell, they don't even work at the office they're supposed to work at any more because there's nothing they can actually do.  It's impressively bad.

I've been a drain on my parents' finances since I got hurt, and I was willing to go on government assistance to prevent them from having to help anymore, but that's apparently not an option.  I feel bad for my parents.
It's funny: my mom was always afraid I was going to become a starving artist, but it was the completely non-artistic, government job that's going to lead to me starving without their help.  It just seems wrong and ironic in bad and obvious and unsubtle ways.

I'm really blessed that they are able and willing to help me out so much; it's incredibly humbling how kind they are about it, but I really wish they didn't have to be. 

Things I wish:
  • that I wasn't crippled and basically unemployable.
  • that the government would take a bit of responsibility for this situation.
  • that I could find a good job with health insurance very, very soon.
  • that I can somehow pay them back.

They say I can just be the one who takes care of them when they get old, but I'm more decrepit than they are, so I don't think I'll really get the chance . . .

19 September 2009

not getting sick

The plan was to dictate a bunch of hand-written short pieces into the computer using the Dragon today, but I may have overdone it a little yesterday with my three shifts in a row and lack of an immune system . . .  I choose to believe that this is just sinus drainage, but I assault it with chicken soup and orange juice just the same.  I'm also trying to drown it with water.

What are your tried and true methods of fighting off incipient illness?

How to (try to) avoid car accidents

Long day today.  I started out by getting up on time, leaving early, and still being late to work because I stopped by Panera to grab something to go for breakfast since I am out of food.  I don't know why I do this every six months or so: I should remember that in the mornings, Panera employees are not quite phased into reality yet, so they move at an eighth of the speed of our reality, resulting in five minutes or more per customer.  A guy ordering a bagel and a coffee took seven minutes, and his friend was still waiting.  I left with no breakfast and was still late.

I was working a double shift (someone needed today off, so I worked his shift and then my own), and it was already going to be a long day since I didn't get much sleep last night and had not breakfast.  Then someone called out sick, and no one else could fill in, so I picked up that shift, too.  Yes, I left at 7:30 am and returned around 11pm.  I'm glad I could get those extra hours because I like being able to pay my rent, but the ride home was somewhat fraught with danger.

When I am wiped like that, I often have to pull myself into focus by singing the first two lines of the chorus from Steven Curtis Chapman's "We Are Not Home Yet" to remind myself that I am on the road driving and cannot get distracted by shiny things, shadows, other vehicles, people in other vehicles, birds, flickering lights, or anything else because I must get home in one piece with my little car.  This became my theme song after the last accident . . .

What do you do to keep yourself awake, focused, and more safe on the roads when you're wiped out?

17 September 2009

Geese are like . . .

The Canadian Geese have been back for weeks, but they haven't crossed me in the road yet until today.  One was standing in the particularly appropriately named suicide lane today, and I stared that sucker down, and he didn't move. 

When I looked at him, I was reminded, for some reason, of the aristocracy of Europe past.  Canadian Geese think they are so regal, but they are ridiculous at the same time.  They have that sense of self-importance and entitlement (they are the rulers of all they survey), and when threatened (even just in their minds), they immediately go to war even if the enemy is a huge Chevy van thousands of times heavier and more dangerous than they.  They're also snazzy dressers.  You can tell they think so.

I've been snickering about this thought all day.  Geese amuse me.  Any nature around you been cracking you up lately?  Do share.

16 September 2009

Beauty, harmony, longing

A journal I love has a slogan I think they borrowed from Flannery O'Connor: "Beauty will save the world."  I was thinking about that today after choir.

I have not yet discovered the term that describes the kind of harmony I talked about yesterday from "Caritas et Amor" that kind of makes me want to stop breathing and just listen, but I did think of another way to describe it for the non-musical.

Have you ever been outside on one of the last perfect days of summer when the sun is shining, and it's warm enough to be comfortable in shirtsleeves, and a very light breeze is barely shivering the leaves, and flowers are blooming, and you check ahead of you to be sure there are no bumps in the sidewalk, so you can close your eyes for a few steps and feel the perfection of that moment with every one of your other senses just in case it can be stored away and taken out and remembered four months into winter when you feel like summer was just a story someone told you once when you were young enough to believe it.

It's harmony kind of like that. 

Cookies, caritas, self-motivation for grown-ups


Actually, not really.  I wish I felt more jazzed after sending in that submission to The Other Journal, and I'm glad I pulled it together, but mostly I just feel a bit smooshed.  That sleepless night and the nauseating pain today kind of wiped me out more than "Caritas et Amor" and hitting a deadline can fix.

Stroope's arrangement of Caritas has this beautiful kind of harmony at the end of several lines that sort of transports me.  I wish I knew enough musical theory to explain it, but it's like the lines come towards each other and the resolve is not really a resolve, just a bit of closer dissonance.  Or something like that.  We read it in choir today, and I loved reading it because when we're just starting out reading a piece in our choir of really non-professionals, everyone is kind of quiet and gentle with things, and the sopranos voices just sort of hover lightly, not strained or harsh or loud, and everything mixes into something like what I honestly hope I will hear in heaven someday.

Anyway, because I ate my vegetables today (my 18+ hour day), tomorrow I shall feast on a DVD I've been withholding from myself.  It's the next bit of that baseball series, and I hope no one gets intentionally walked.  (That scene brought back some surprisingly bitter memories.  I HATED getting intentionally walked, especially at the tournaments when the bases were loaded or almost loaded.  It drove me NUTS!  GRAWR!)

I will also take a crack at submitting to the Mid-American Review, running a lot of errands, possibly finishing up an application for a teaching position at a really unique college, and maybe singing a new song in choir.  Hooray.  Now, to bed.  To sleep, perchance, etc.

What do you use to reward/motivate yourself?  I know for some people it's food, for others books or music or movies.  Some people even use spending time with their friends as a reward.  So what's your cookie?

14 September 2009

Another looooong night

I didn't get any sleep last night.  What a looooooong night that was.  Today, I checked out a book called No More Sleepless Nights.  I hope it helps.  At least it deals with chronic pain as a contributor and gives strategies for that situation.  We'll see how it goes.  At the very least, I should be able to get some good quotes out of it. 

Now, off to bed, where I hope to actually sleep some. 

If all goes well, Wednesday and Thursday should see some design and component changes on my blogs here, so be on the lookout by the end of the week.  If you have any suggestions, speak now!  (Should I mess with the moon picture, or do you like it as is?)

13 September 2009

Eating healthy for unofficial cripples

One of the things I learned about chronic pain is that if it leads to sleeplessness and goes on long enough, it messes up your brain chemistry, and your body can't process nutrients and vitamins and stuff the right way anymore, so it's really important for people who suffer from chronic pain and insomnia to eat healthy!

How, exactly do you suppose one does so when one is crippled and thus can't really cook?  I suppose if one were also rich, one could by fresh, ready made healthy food all the time.  Unfortunately, I am not rich because I'm stuck in a crummy retail job due to being crippled and unemployable even when the economy wasn't tanking.  So I can't afford to by fresh, prepared food, and I can't buy fresh, raw food and prepare it.

My current solution is V8 Fusion (a nectar of the gods that technically takes care of most of my fruit & veggie requirements) and decent fiber/whole grain consumption via cereal.  Now I'm hearing that gluten can actually contribute to chronic pain, and there's no way I can cook gluten-free or afford to eat gluten free and still get enough whole grains and fiber and stuff.  I already eat less than the government food pyramid says I should, but I still maintain my weight (i.e. can't really lose any).  I think it must be that inefficiency at processing nutrients . . .

So, any suggestions on how to eat healthier on a strict budget with an inability to cook?  Any great foods you've found that don't require prep but are full of good stuff?  Any that actually save you money?

12 September 2009

Bitter ex-Patriotism?

I was proud of myself yesterday at the concert.  I was kind of anticipating some kind of bitter meltdown amidst all the rah-rah patriotism.  It only happened once for a few seconds during a verse of "America the Beautiful," which we never practiced before the performance. 

"Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears!" was the line that led to my brief cynicism attack.  I think the original intent was that America was a paradise of freedom glowing bright to those who were coming from less fortunate circumstances and crying for joy at reaching it, etc. 

When I sang it last night, I teared up in frustration while my little voice o' cynicism snorted and said, "Yep, America the Bureaucracy don't give a darn about your tears. Tears don't affect it at all.  Tears mean nothing to it.  It doesn't care how many tears it causes you.  It just goes on gleaming smugly, knowing that the sheen of tears in your eyes gives it that extra little glow as you glare at it  . . .  Mutter mutter grumble growl."

Like I said, I was kind of proud of myself that it only reared its ugly head once. :-\

In fact, today the song I have been singing most from the concert was unexpectedly "Ah, My Homeland," which is the English translation of an Italian song from an opera, and I would tell you which one except that I can't remember, and I can't remember what I did with my program . . .  Anyway, it's a song the Israelites sing in exile, reminiscing about the land they loved that is possibly forever out of their grasp. 

I guess it reminds me of how much I really did love this country.  Maybe they're right that you can only get this bitter against something if you really loved it and it betrayed you.  Even if I know it only betrayed my too-high expectations, it still hurts.  I just wish I were a better person than this.  I don't have time or energy to waste on being bitter.  I'd rather spend it making a song ring with sadness and conviction, but maybe I couldn't make the music as convincing if I didn't have the experience of pain. 

"Oh, our spirits cry out to Jehovah, 'Hear our song! Hear our cry! Hear our prayer!'"

11 September 2009

some observations from an outdoor concert I sang in

rock man

While walking around a lake before the concert, I saw a man staring intently at two rocks. I was baffled and questioning his sanity until my return trip when I noticed several unnatural rock formations. 

The man was balancing rocks on top of other rocks in a way that looked like it defied physics and made me think of Zen gardens. I was kind of entranced and wanted to try it myself until I remembered that I couldn't because I can't use both hands like that anymore.

I wish I'd had a camera (and hands steady enough to take pictures).  It was beyond cool.

1812 Overture

Everyone who sings choral music should get a chance to sing this whole song in Slovanic with an orchestra on stage.

Singing that song--or any particularly loud, from the gut song--in a semi-enclosed space where you can feel the percussion and where you are doing your best to outsing an orchestra with more members than the choir is a huge natural high.  It doesn't make you as weak in the knees as the endorphins after an hour of playing racquetball, but it's not as much exercise either. I suppose everything is a trade-off. In the end, I'm also glad there were no cannons; being next to the kettle drums was plenty loud.

I'm not sure who planned the order of the concert, but having the hosts of the September 11 memorial event read the news reports that came in to their small station on the day of that tragedy directly before we had to sing a song that actually had "fff" marked in places with crescendos might not have been the best idea. It's hard to sing loud while wiping your nose.


Bugs sure do love outdoor concerts by lakes.  It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

pothole ice cream

This ice cream at the picnic had caffeine in it. My jaw is killing me.  I'm glad it didn't get bad until after the concert.

Fireworks over lake

= awesome.  Having to take an hour to find your way home when getting there only took 25 minutes = not really awesome at all.  (But at least I didn't accidentally run any red lights this time.)

The things we can't do anymore

I'm watching a baseball show, and I feel like I'm on a see-saw.  I love it.  They got so many little details right; you can tell they care about authenticity.  The sounds, the strategies, the mental game, the game itself: I love these things so much that it hurts to watch them because I can't (and probably never will be able to) do them anymore.  It hurts a lot because I didn't expect to feel this loss until I was old.  There's those expectations again; they smash us flat sometimes.

09 September 2009

Something funny I came across while researching something else

Just thought you'd appreciate a laugh. There's more.  It makes me a bit happy that there are other people out there who use stick people art.  I"m feeling somewhat inspired.

08 September 2009

Reasons (Not) to Lose Weight

Good reasons to lose weight:

  • So the next time I fall, there will be less to hit the ground.
  • So there will be less for my crumbling body to haul around all the time.
  • So I can spend less on food.

Good reasons not to lose weight:
  • It's nice to be warm sometimes (when I weighed less, I was cold most of the time).
  • It would be nice not to have to wear a belt (hard to put on and take off some days and annoying all the time).
  • It's not like I have money (or desire) to buy smaller clothes.


07 September 2009

A Moon in Summer

The moon tonight was utterly fantastic in that "only previously seen in a fantasy setting" way.  It was huge and close to the horizon.  A few days on the far side of full, it just looked all misshapen.  And the color: it was this fake-looking blood-and-water color that faded to a disturbing rusty penny shade as I drove. 

It should be illegal for the moon to be that fascinating when I have to drive.  I just wanted to pull over and stare at it.  I think everyone else on the road did, too, because for once, they were all under the speed limit.  It was dark, so I couldn't tell, but I think all the drivers were watching the moon with me heading east on 36.

06 September 2009

Being careful about what you pray for

I've said before that sometimes I think that all my struggles with pain and bureaucracy and all this are my fault because I prayed that God would bring me closer to Him.  He has.  It's been unpleasant in a lot of ways.  Today I randomly opened this book and found the following quote and thought that this man probably thinks I'm in the best place I could possibly be.  I wonder if I am.  It's humbling to think about.
"I don't want my life to be explainable without the Holy Spirit.  I want people to look at my life and know I couldn't be doing this by my own power.  I want to live in such a way that I am desperate for him to come through.  That if he doesn't come through, I'm screwed.  (I probably shouldn't write that word here, but it's how I truly feel about this.)"  - Forgotten God by Francis Chan (142)
It's true that being here is a little exhilarating, but it's also terrifying.  What if my idea of Him coming through isn't His idea of coming through? 

I guess we'll find out.  (Still I will praise Him.)

05 September 2009

I'll Give You My Tired

I just got back from a rehearsal for a 9/11 memorial service, and I wonder if I'm torturing myself on purpose.  I'm not much for rah-rah patriotism right now, and several of the songs we sing are high rah-rah-tolerance songs.  I got moved to the front row for no reason today (along with all the other Alto II singers), so I definitely can't start crying in frustration when we sing those songs. 

It might be tough; I'm feeling smashed pretty flat right now.  Still no teaching job (not really a surprise), but that doesn't make the debt I shouldn't have had to take on in the first place go away.  I wonder if 36 months of economic hardship deferment is going to be enough. 

I'm really hating government bureaucracy right now, and it's hard not to equate the bureaucracy with the government itself.  It's painful to sing "Give me your tired" (and a little funny because I'd love to give them my tired, all of it, all 6+ years of it, etc.), as it's abbreviated for our rehearsals.  The song is based on the poem on the Statue of Liberty ("The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, I think), and it's so open and inviting and gloriously full of hope and optimism, and I'm just . . . not. I think it helps that the song is sort of painfully dull and boring, although we seem to be doing best with dynamics on this one.  It needs all the help it can get.

We're also singing a Verdi piece (in clunky English) and the "1812 Overture" in Slovanic.  (Unexpected after we weren't allowed to sing in Italian.)  I love singing in Slovanic; we've sung several pieces recently for the college a cappella choir.  I love the way the altos just get to blast in Russian pieces; it's refreshing!  The rest of the volunteers for the choir are mostly just nice church choir members or friends of choir members who only sing church music translated into English, so this is a chore for them.  I think they're starting to get into it a little.  I wonder if there'll really be cannons . . .

04 September 2009

Me & Other Road Hazards

I should've known yesterday was going to be a bad day when I almost pulled the not-matching-shoes trick again (see July 27). Luckily, the second mismatching shoe I grabbed to put on was a second left shoe, so I couldn't fit it on my right foot, and I had to confront the fact that something was wrong, which led to the discovery that this second shoe was not, in fact, from the correct pair. (Last time, I put one shoe from each pair on correctly, so I didn't have to notice.)

Not much sleep, bad shoe day, 8-5 at work, and then a choir rehearsal.  If I had decided to go home between work and the rehearsal, I would've had to fight traffic for an extra 45 minutes or so and only had about 15 minutes at home, so I decided to eat dinner, do a little writing, and leave straight from the area near where I work. Not surprisingly, I got lost, but I knew enough to get there eventually (on time, even).

There is a lot of construction between where the choir rehearses and where I live.  Even on a Thursday night, traffic is bad. It changes from 2 to 3 lanes and back with little warning, and you have to pay attention because sometimes you need to go from 40 mph to a dead stop in a few yards.

Somehow I made it home after the last rehearsal, but this time I wasn't so lucky, and I got lost. Very lost. In a city I particularly hate to drive in because frequently streets are not marked by any kind of sign, and signs directing you to major highways are either nonexistent or so close to the turn-off as to be unhelpful on a road that has eight lanes.

If there are guardian angels, I think mine probably hates me because it has to work so hard all the time. While being particularly lost, I accidentally ran a red light. It's a good thing the other drivers were all paying attention because no one even came close to getting hit, and them blaring their horns reminded me once again that I need to pay exquisite attention while I'm driving because it's really not safe for me to be driving when I'm like this (which is most of the time).

I would get rid of the car, the car payments, and the (increasingly) expensive insurance if I could use the public transportation system, but I can't because where I live is so far from the metropolitan area that buses only come once an hour or so and only during part of the day. I can't afford to keep my car and insurance and use park & ride, so I'm stuck being a hazard to myself and other drivers. I hate this.

Just another thing to thank the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs for. Thanks, guys.

03 September 2009

Fair Food

I always feel a bit ill after going to the State Fair, but that's not because I eat a bunch of overpriced, greasy, fair food on a stick.  No, at the fair, I eat real food because the booth I volunteer at serves only real food and gives volunteers a free meal.  I think my body's just not used to real, fresh meat and vegetables.  That's kind of sad . . .

That said, my one vice at the fair is gelato.  I pretty much volunteer at this booth just so I can get my yearly gelato fix.  Tomorrow is my next shift!  Fruits of the Forest for sure!

02 September 2009


I volunteer at the State Fair every year; volunteers get a free ticket to the fair and a free meal. Our Dining Hall does not serve any "fair food."  There is nothing fried or on a stick.  We sell fruit, salads, and posh deserts like tiramisu and sometimes cheesecakes (and recently something chocolate and peanut butter that was out of this world).  We are famous for ham loaf, and our Swedish meatballs are deadly in a good way.  Pardon my drool. 

I have been volunteering at this booth for years, even after I left the organization that sponsors it, so I have tried nearly everything on the menu.  The one food I was never able to try was the baked chicken.  I can't cut meat off a bone anymore because of my disability, and my family lives a long way away, so they can't cut it for me. 

For some reason, I find it difficult to ask others to cut my food for me.  I can't imagine why it's embarrassing to have to do as a not-quite-30-year-old.  Long story short: it's easier to eat something else, so I usually do.

Today was my lucky day.  My partner at the cash registers (the only job someone as handicapped as me can do) teaches pre-school and has 7 grandchildren.  When I joked about wanting to try the chicken but being unable to eat it, she said, "Well, I'd be happy to cut it for you."

It was sooooo good.  It was worth the laughs I got from certain others.  Many thanks; I couldn't have done it without you, G!  You were an excellent meat cutter. 

Maybe that'll teach me to keep being a chicken.