The sunlight was streaming into the bedroom this morning, and I woke up in a cranky mood. Usually, beautiful sunlight like that in the morning makes me extremely cheerful.
Reading Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett at breakfast briefly cheered me up, but I was back to being grumpy pretty quickly.
I finally realized that it was because of a schedule conflict that I couldn't work out. I have a voice lesson every other week on Wednesday from 5 to 5:50. Lately, I've missed a few because either I was sick or my teacher was. I only have four more lessons until the auditions for the summer musical (two months from yesterday), if neither of us gets sick. We haven't even looked for an audition song yet.
However, we found out on Sunday that the Ash Wednesday service has been moved up to 6 pm this year, rather than 7 pm, which means that the choir has to get there at 5:15. We need to run through a lovely piece for viola, organ, and choir, and we haven't had everyone together yet.
My voice teacher teaches on her afternoon off from her full-time job, and she doesn't have any other open spots this week or next week.
From a choir perspective, I should cancel the lesson and get there on time, but I need to start working on an audition piece. From an audition perspective, I should skip the service, which I won't do because I really like the piece we're doing, and because the number of sopranos has been variable lately. Oh, and also because it's Ash Wednesday.
I decided to split the difference. I'm going to half a lesson, and, hopefully, I'll get to choir in time to run through the piece once. If not, I've been working on it a lot this week, and I've had it constantly running through my head.
This solution, of course, isn't ideal. I know I won't be ready to leave my lesson early. When I get to choir, I'll regret not having gotten there earlier.
Can I have a time turner for just one hour?!
Really, that was just supposed to be an introduction to the songs I'm considering for my audition. From the songs that really stuck out when I went through my Broadway/jazz books, I appear to be in a mellow, jazzy mood!
I could have done an all-Ella-Fitzgerald post because she's got wonderful versions of them.
Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me: Diana Krall's version is the one I get in my head:
How High the Moon: Diane Schuur's version is the one I know best, but that's not on YouTube. Here, Ella Fitzgerald sings it with the Manhattan Transfer:
Beginning to See the Light: Claudia Schmidt's version of this is one of my all-time favorite performances, but it's not on YouTube. Fortunately, it's on her MySpace page, and it's embeddable. I love the Dixieland jazz feel, and I really love the syncopated part!
Skylark: The version that I get in my head is done by Cleo Laine and James Galway. They're both favorites of mine so this is a wonderful album for me.
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered: This is the one I'm leaning towards right now. My favorite version is Ella Fitzgerald's:
I'm only going to sing a bit of it so I don't have to decide which version to sing. There's this original version ("I'll sing to him/Each spring to him/And worship the trousers that cling to him"), and there's the the more innocent version ("I'll sing to him/Each spring to him/And long for the day when I cling to him," and they just drop the line, "Horizontally speaking, he's at his very best.")?
In order to shorten things at my lesson, I'm going to e-mail my teacher the songs and the ranges. Last year, I (barely) sang No Way to Stop It (from 0:58 to 1:29) from The Sound of Music for my audition. I was barely singing again from having the flu that winter. I was going to go to the auditions the second day in order to give my voice another day of healing, but I woke up the first day with a sore throat. I knew that I wouldn't be able to sing at all by the next day so I rushed over that afternoon to audition. I could barely squeak out the higher notes, but I got through it. This year, I'm going to try to stick to songs that don't go above a D - just in case I have voice problems at that point.
[This post brought to you by Dragonbreath: The Lair of the Bat Monster. Younger son fell asleep while reading it last night, and he went right back to reading it this morning when he woke up. He didn't come down for breakfast until after 10 so I wrote this post.
A love of reading is one of the main things I've wanted my kids to get as a result of the way we homeschool.]
We've had a very warm winter this year. Usually, in mid-February, we've only got the very earliest daffodils and crocuses, and short and sparse pansies. This year, we've already had vasefuls of daffodils to bring in the house, and the pansies are lush.
Pansies in the front bed
This scilla is a very small flower, and it surprises me every year.
There aren't many daffodils in the garden right now. We had a cold snap last weekend so we cut most of the daffodils and brought them in the house.
The only crocus currently blooming. We had more, but somebody dug them up - probably squirrels.
[Long, and I'm really just thinking out loud on paper here on the computer]
3 1/2 years ago, when I injured my knee and had to stop teaching aerobics, my blood pressure, which had always been fine, skyrocketed. Three months after my injury, I tried a blood pressure drug (HCTZ - I'm not going to type it out). It made me really loopy and changed my personality. Bizarre things would pop into my head and they came straight out of my mouth. If you know me in person, you know that's not me. Older son and dear husband thought it was funny, but it scared younger son. He avoided me.
I got off the drug.
I've had bad reactions to every drug I've been put on in the last ten years so I've worked really hard the last few years to try to get my blood pressure down naturally. Our grocery bill has gone up because of all of those fruits and vegetables. I had two knee surgeries and I'm doing Zumba or walking an hour every day. On nice days, I do both, or, in the summer, I walk early in the morning and swim in the afternoon. I've tried yoga DVDs, but I'm cautious about going to a class because, between my knee and my occasional carpal tunnel problems, there are lots of moves that I can't do.
I almost got the BP down where it should be last spring, but the summer was crazy, and it went back up. I've gotten it partway down again,* but it's not going down as far as it needs to. I finally went back to my doctor last week to talk about BP drugs. She's really busy with a new position so it took two months to get an appointment with her. I have to admit, I slacked off on the salads during that time. Why bother eating right when I have to take a drug anyway?
I'm back to salads again.
We started out my appointment discussing all the natural things. We don't eat many processed foods, I don't add salt, I exercise every day, eat fruits & vegetables, etc. I'd even lost weight over the holidays because of all the Zumba daughter and I did. Less stress would help bring the BP down, but I can't control stress, and I internalize it all. I think that's actually the root of my blood pressure problem. It's not stress as in being busy - although that probably adds to it. It's stress as in putting up with everyone, always trying to be patient, never answer back, never tell anyone to mind their own business, etc. - all those unsaid things that I just stuff down. I can feel my chest muscles tighten when I do it.
BTW, this is not a problem with dear husband and my kids. Yes, I try to be patient, etc., if necessary, but it's not necessary that often.
I would say that trying to be a Christian is raising my blood pressure, but I would be this way even if I were an atheist. I don't like hurting people's feelings.
That's why teaching aerobics was so good for me. It wasn't just the exercise. It was something that I could fully throw myself into, without having to hold back, which is what I do all the time. It was also a way to get rid of all the negative emotion built up over countless interactions. Zumba can occasionally do this - but only the most challenging classes.
After going through all the things I've tried and changed, my doctor looked me straight in the eye and said that I shouldn't feel like I failed, and that some people, for some genetic or other reason, need to take drugs.
That's why I'll wait for two months to see her. She really understands me, and that doesn't happen very often.
I was so angry the weekend before my appointment. Lots of things dear husband said irritated me, and I felt horrible about that because he'd been out of town all week. Usually I'm ecstatic that he's home. In general, my cynicism was high, even for me.
For the last few weeks, my voice practice had been going really well. I could sing higher than at any point since over a year ago. All the illnesses I had last winter really did a job on my voice. Strangely, on Sunday, I couldn't sing well.
I didn't realize until my voice lesson last Wednesday that my anger at having failed to reduce my BP had caused me to constrict my throat on Sunday. I could barely sing through it. During my lesson, I loosened up with the exercises, and I actually got up to Gs in the choir rehearsal that evening! I haven't gotten up there in choir for a long time.
I tried another drug, Cozaar, last Monday. My doctor said that it usually had the fewest side effects, and she gave me the kind of dose she would give to someone with fragile kidneys. Most people would be fine.
It was nasty.
I was as exhausted as if I was in the middle of the flu. It sucked all the joy out of everything. I didn't care about anything. I was easily irritated, and my mental soundtrack sounded like that scene in The King's Speech - you know, the one that got the movie the R rating?! I had a potty brain. I was able to keep that from coming out of my mouth because I didn't want my kids to have that memory of me. Everything was boring. Homeschooling math was boring - and I love math. There was no choreography in my head. I didn't enjoy any music. I couldn't make up stories. Insomnia is another side effect, and I had that along with fatigue. I would just lie there in bed, totally bored, without a thought. The house got really cluttered because I didn't care about anything. I didn't even enjoy Zumba - when I recovered enough to even be able to drive. Younger son missed one of his homeschooling classes because I was too shaky to drive. There were other very curious side effects I won't discuss online.
I took one dose on Monday, and I didn't feel normal again until Saturday. It took away my focus, my self-discipline, and my creativity. There's not much left with all that gone.
The second medicine was so much worse than the first that I'm going to go back and try the first one again in about an hour. Younger son is a teenager now so he won't be as bothered. I hope that my reaction this time isn't worse than last time.
Oh, dear husband is deliberately not traveling these two weeks so that he can be here while I'm trying the medicines. I've had bizarre responses to drugs, and I don't want older and younger sons to be the only ones around to have to deal with whatever is happening to me.
How much wine does it take you to get tipsy or to make you fall asleep? I get relaxed on a small shot glass of wine (about 3 tablespoons) and I'm asleep on a large shot glass (about 5 tablespoons). I fall asleep on a 2 year old's dose of Benadryl.
Imagine having to explain this to every doctor you see. They don't believe it until they prescribe a drug and something bizzare happens. My regular doctur understands, which is worth so much.
I'm sitting here with my "comfort music" on - Indigo Girls, Lucy Kaplansky, jazz standards, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Tony Rice singing Gordon Lightfoot songs. I'm soaking it all in before tonight's medicine robs me of me again.
I wrote that on Monday. The drug made me loopy, but it seemed okay. After a few hours, though, I started to have asthma problems. I went to bed with my epi-pen on the nightstand, not because I felt that bad, but just as a precaution. I didn't need it, but the asthma continued to get worse in the morning. My lungs felt like someone had sandpapered them. Benadyl helped, which means that it probably was an allergic reaction. I called the nurse-line at the doctor to ask if the asthma lessened as one gets used to the drug.
After she talked to one of the doctors (mine wasn't there), she called back to tell me to ABSOLUTELY NOT take any more of the drug. This surprised me because it was far from the worst asthma attack I've ever had. I didn't even have to sleep sitting up. As far as drug reactions go, it was really a rather tolerable one.
I have another appointment with my doctor on Monday.
* I don't generally discuss BP numbers any more than I discuss my actual weight.
Sigh. North Carolina has beautiful (and cold, this past weekend) mountains, a lovely coast, and the in-between is pretty nice too. We have the NC symphony (and lots of local ones), numerous science museums, a great state art museum (and lots of local ones), the largest private residence in the world (where there were daffodils blooming by a stream, even on this cold weekend), etc. I've loved living here for over thirty years, and I get very grumpy about stereotypes regarding the "backwardness" of North Carolina.
At least the second article didn't deserve a Darwin Award because the floor mat got tangled up in the pedals.
I had to wonder about the first one, though. What kind of an idiot goes around shooting a computer? Not only did I not have time to read the article, I also didn't want to read another article that would give people the impression that North Carolinians are backwards and thoughtless.
I had a wonderful weekend (more on that in another post) spent wandering around Asheville, eating in good (and warm!) restaurants, having long conversations, sitting with dear husband at the hot tub in the hotel (no, not that romantic - there were four active elementary school age girls playing Marco Polo in the larger pool at the time), going to Mass at daughter's church, and, most of all, enjoying having my family together. I didn't think about the news at all.
Imagine my surprise when, getting home happy, but tired, I got online to wind down just to find that this person had made a video of himself, and it had gone viral. Facebook friends were mentioning it all over the place.
For those of you who haven't read about it, you can go do something else and remain blissfully unaware what happened is this: The daughter posted a rant about her parents to her Facebook friends. She doesn't want to do chores, she wants to be paid, and she likes to swear.
I bet you've never heard of a teen like that before.
I hope the sarcasm is obvious.
The father posted a video of his response, including reading her post, refuting it, and shooting her computer.
A few points:
Her post was meant to be private for only her friends. The post was not available to the general public, and he only read it because he was updating her computer. He says that, because of what has happened in the past, she should have expected him to be reading her Facebook posts.
However, he does not say that he ever told her that the punishment for her private Facebook posts would be to have them read, quite publicly, on YouTube.
He shows a printout of her post, which is quite long for a Facebook post. Given that many people don't like to read more than a few paragraphs on the internet, few of her friends probably finished reading it. Far more people have encountered it on his video.
The chores that he says she does are not unusual. Our older kids had more chores when they were her age (15 yo). Have they always enjoyed doing chores? Of course not. I don't either. I even might complain about my chores occasionally.
There's a balance there, however. My kids know that I won't put up with much whining. In fact, we often quote a line from a Maura O'Connell concert when she mentions that she can't stand whining. I try not to complain too much. However, you need to vent occasionally.
Was her complaint bratty and potty-mouthed. Yes. Might she be embarrassed about it in a few years? Hopefully.
Is she complaining about things which seem trivial given his experiences and responsibilities? Yes. That's part of being a parent. You understand things about the seriousness of life that your kids HOPEFULLY don't understand yet.
She was quite a drama queen about her complaints, which isn't genetically surprising given his reaction. Shooting a computer (with expensive bullets!) and posting it on YouTube is definitely a drama king reaction. It sounds like something out of The Onion (a satirical news site).
For the rest of his life, when this IT professional applies for a job, companies will Google him and find this. Even if he takes the video down, the news articles and blog posts will remain. If you had to choose between applicants for an IT job, which would you choose - someone who has a very innocuous public profile, or someone who embarrasses himself and his daughter, quite publicly on the Internet, and demonstrates his self control by shooting a laptop?
We often spend Super Bowl Sunday out hiking because the woods are so peaceful and deserted. This year, we spent it at my mother's house having a wonderful time celebrating older son's birthday. I totally forgot that the Super Bowl was going on.
However, when people started debating Madonna's performance in long conversations yesterday on Facebook, I knew I had to go check it out.
I've been a longtime Madonna fan and also a longtime not Madonna fan. I enjoy her catchy pop tunes, and we have her Immaculate Collection CD. However, as a performer, she seems very cold, even in her sexy performances, so I'm never really drawn into them. I wasn't predisposed to either like or dislike her Super Bowl performance.
After reading all the comments yesterday, I went to look up the YouTube video today.
Verdict: It was a very enjoyable spectacle. She had a good selection of songs,** good guest artists, fantastic dancers, and she still holds the stage as commandingly as ever. As usual, I found her very distancing, but she's performing in front of millions of people, in person and offline, so I certainly wouldn't expect her to be more personal!
Really, the first time I got emotionally connected to the performance was when the LMFAO*** guys appeared. I've found their videos very funny and over the top (possible future Friday Fun Songs) so I giggled when they came on. Okay, and when the gospel choir started singing, I got chills up and down my spine because I love gospel singers - so, for me, it was a better Madonna performance than usual. She really seemed to be enjoying herself singing Like a Prayer - more than in the rest of the performance.
Responses to specific criticisms I've read:
She's too old to keep doing this. I actually watched the video with this in mind. She's three years older than I am, and I certainly wouldn't do that kind of a show (of course, I wouldn't have in my 20's either). If you didn't know she was 53, and you just watched her performance, how old would you say she is? You can use this photo for reference. Was she too saggy? Certainly didn't show in that outfit - and it would have. Her face doesn't show many lines. The only criticism that makes any sense is that her dancing isn't as sharp as it used to be. Her dancing isn't the main point of the spectacle, though, so that's not so important. There were plenty of good dancers in the spectacle. Which leads to...
She couldn't do everything the younger dancers could. No, she can't. That's why they're there, and they were wonderful. They can't be Madonna either, which is why they aren't headlining a Super Bowl performance.
She lip synced. So does everyone in the Macy's Day parade. Maybe Sir Paul McCartney didn't lip synch his Super Bowl performance, but did he do cartwheels (assisted or not?). Madonna's act is not one designed around singing, it's designed around motion and spectacle. As fit as she is, very few singers can move that much and sing their best at the same time.
[By the way, spectacle and distancing don't have to be mutually exclusive. Bette Midler can put on quite the spectacle, but she still seems personal.]
She should have ended with a dance floor classic for an upbeat finale rather than Like a Prayer. I As much as I enjoyed that section, I thought it was surprising to finish with that. The more I watch it, though, the more that turns out to be my favorite part.
Predictable, boring and narcissistic. Predictable? You expected the Roman theme? Boring. No, there was too much going on. Narcissistic? She's a pop star. Isn't narcissism part of the job description?
She was wobbly in the four inch heels. She had a hamstring injury from a recent rehearsal. Short of redoing the choreography and costume in the last few days before the Super Bowl, they just had to deal with it.
I don't want to see someone my mother's age flashing their panties! Sigh. I didn't notice the panty flash until the third time I watched it. I guess I was too busy watching other things. People disapproved of Madonna's conical bras and sexuality in the 80's. They disapproved of her book, Sex, in the 90's. Why would she stop being controversial now? She paved the way, pop music-wise, for the display of sexuality from current singers. When Lady Gaga flashes her panties in a performance in 2039, it will be because Madonna did it first.
For my voice lessons, I've been working on O Rest in the Lord from Felix Mendelssohn's oratorio, Elijah. It's a high alto piece, which makes it a different kind of challenge than the soprano pieces I've worked on before. Since last fall, we've been working more on the lower part of my range. Of the pieces we've done in my lessons over the last two years, it's one of my favorites because... and that's where I fall into trouble writing about music. My appreciation goes non-verbal, and I can't come up with words that fully describe what I see and feel. I like the melody of this, and the harmony, the way the melody floats up to "desires" (hopefully), and the noodly way the melody goes in the middle section at 0:56 and at 1:15... and I don't feel like I'm getting it across. I admire writers who wite about music more than just about any other writers because I understand the music, but I can't express it.
Actually, listening to this recording, I really love the way the voice and flute interact from 1:48 on. I'd love to be able to play the flute part and sing at the same time!
Here is Christina Wilcox, mezzo soprano, singing Mendhelssohn's O Rest in the Lord:
I don't usually post the same song twice in one year, but both videos are well animated and very different. Last February 15, I posted Thought of You, a beautiful, animated, dance video set to the Weepies song, World Spins Madly On.
Recently, daughter posted the official video for the song on my Facebook wall. It's sweet: