Saturday, December 29, 2012

Change Is Always Possible

Huh.....I guess Christmas vacation means almost a blog a day.

This is a short one--but I need to express something.

I sometimes forget how capable we are of change, and how capable God is of changing us.

Then just today, I ran across something I wrote a few years ago, when my life was colder, loneliner, and I was so desperately trying to find my way.

I suddenly realized how amazingly content I am, how much I value peace--even if it's not perfect peace, even if it's not a fruition of my every talent, even if it's not the peak of some goal I imagined.

This week on TV I have seen two very touching moments (I'll admit, they're in sitcoms) where characters described what they thought they needed to be complete--as children, as adolescents.  That each of these characters thought they couldn't be who they were meant to be without some single thing--money?  success?  feeling like they themselves were "great" in some way?  But along the way they found themselves happy and whole.  They struggle to find this thing that they were so meant to be, or to have, but then one day look up and realize that life was something different than that.

I'll admit, reading through that "thing" I wrote a few years ago made me a little sick to my stomach.  I felt sorry for that girl--reaching out desperately for someone to say she was worth something.  I felt silly for being upset that my daughter came out of the bedroom for the 12th time to steal chocolate out of the cookie jar tonight.  I felt like I needed a lot more gratitude for this journey.

I remember the saying that change is the one thing we can really count on.  I mean, I believe in something a lot more than that--but I would say that it's true about who we are.  We try so hard to hold on to the dreams that took hold when we were 15--but we were meant to change even those and find the new places our heart could go.

I found this picture of my daughter today which I don't remember ever seeing, and I love it.  It made me remember a wonderful day (when I was probably depressed I hadn't sung professionally in a while, and sad about being fat), and wish I'd cherished more of it.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Swan Song


I am like everyone else that I look forward to vacations.  I am a few days into a vacation now, the classic "Christmas break" we've all had since we were 5.  I wish hubby were on it with me...he's working until the 31st, another fact of the job which I just hate.  I am pregnant and full of nightmares and headaches and all of those other wonderful things that make someone "glow" when pregnant.  Last night people I hadn't thought of made bizarre appearances in my dreams, as angels or monsters or, in one instance, as part of a production of "Winnie the Pooh" where I played Eeyore and the director screamed at me for not bringing joy to the role.
Yeah, I kind of hate dreaming right now.
 
Within a few days, however, i feel stir crazy.  I like purpose, I like business.  This is why I loved NYC, I think.  Never stopping means you get to keep your mind occupied from worries and craziness.
 
I am teaching two students today and cleaning.  I am alternating days with Baby S:  entertaining/boring/entertaining  etc.....I have no intention of driving anywhere today but the gym, so she's stuck inside with movies and chips for breakfast.  She seems to do find with that.  I love having the time with her, until she gets tired, cranky and unbearable--but we've got a good 5 hours until that happens.  I'm sure hubby would say that about me if he didn't fear what would happen if I heard it.
 
I am consistently worried that I'll never sing again--that I should have cherished my last two roles as my "swan song" because maybe they were.  I really, really want to sing.  I am starting to do little "vocal therapeutic" exercises in hopes of brining it back.  Sometimes I think it won't come back until after Baby X is born...I just don't know.  Either way, I'm nervous.   This is not who I am but it's a pretty big part of who I am.  I am never more myself than when I sing.  Never.
 
In other thoughts, I'm almost half way through, and really happy about that.  I do not mind this being my last time experiencing pregnancy...no nostalgia about that.  I look forward to change and new things, but I just think again how much I love my life now--my loving spouse, my funny and sweet daughter.  Baby S sings the song "Old MacDonald had a farm" as "Hell MacDonald had a farm".  I don't know when that happened....but now we all say it.  Sometimes, as a treat, I take Baby S for chicken nuggets at Hell MacDonald's.  I like it.  Without children you never get a Hell MacDonald.  I worry often if I'm doing everything possible to help her be a great person, but deep inside I just want her to be a loving person.
 
Christmas came and went, and she was a dream--gracious, filled with that "magic" that we all love at this age.  Every gift was met with ooos and ahhhs and she wanted to help me open mine.  We spaced out the sugar and she wasn't too crazy, and then in the afternoon took a blessed 4 hour nap.  It's not getting any better than that.
 
In a few days we drive to Michigan where I get a little break from constant Mommy calls....that will be nice.  Hubby and I are desperate for quality time together.  Basically right now we hug, kiss and argue.  That's what time apart seems to do.  He also got new video games for Christmas, so that makes us a little more distant too....
 
 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Covers All

I am inside as inches of snow pile over the city.  I decided to coin the analogy that snow is like one's menstrual period.  It is a total pain when it's here, but without it, things just don't seem normal.  I like the snow--I know it's insuring my tulips will come up, that the ground will be wet enough for farmers not to have another devastating year, and will probably mean a not-unbearable summer.

All of those things seem worth the shovelling.  I will, of course, change my tune if I end up trapped in the house with a 3 year old and no power.  Then I will not be so philosophical.  (You wouldn't know of course, as I couldn't blog either).

For now, the fire's going, the daughter's watching a bizarre wordless italian cartoon about cats, and I am blogging in my pajamas, praying for hubby to make it safely to work, which of course never lets him take a day off for weather.

Did you realize the people who report the weather are all driving in it?  It's not something one thinks about before being a news wife.

My 2nd cousin died yesterday.  Doesn't that sound distant?  My father's cousin, Tony, is more than 10 years younger than my father.  His mother, my favorite great aunt Helen, died years ago, afraid to see a doctor.  She was in her early 70s, not a spring chicken, but there's a sense in the family she could have lived longer had she sought a little more help from the folks at the doctor's office.  Because the family is close-knit, I don't feel distant from Tony Jr.  I grew up with stories of his miracle birth--yes, we have a real-life "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" story in my family, where my aunt Helen, who had "shrivelled ovaries" as she put it, was told it wouldn't happen.  In her mid 40s, she fell in the yard, playing with kids, and had to go to the doctor, where she realized she was late in a pregnancy with Tony.  She treated him as a prince, (he was to her after all).  He grew up successful, with his  own architetural firm and a vast collection of expensive cars.  He married later, to a woman that was also my cousin, but not his (confused yet?)  The wedding was huge, and catholic.

Tony was not the easiest socially.  He tended to be quiet, and very specific about what cars, what women, what food he liked.  He was very unlike my incredibly warm aunt Helen, who embraced us even if we were Jewish, and lived in Arizona, and didn't speak any Hungarian.  She found things between us that were common all the time.  Tony Jr. was more likely to take you for a fun ride in his fast car, and not say that much.  He was very adept with his hands, and drew beautiful pictures that were more representational than artistic.  But he could make exactly what appeared in his head appear on paper.  One of his many impressive skills.

Tony married Doreen, warm like his mom, quirky, bordering on goofy, with her own set of specific unusual tendencies that seemed to make them a very odd fit.  But as a couple, even with a few public fights, they were at best very happy and at least quite functional.  THey enjoyed their two enormous boundary-less dogs together, even if no one else did.  Three years ago, they spent a lot of time and money on the project of their in-vitro baby, Alexandra, who is now a cute toddler. They were a family.

Last Sunday Tony Jr. chased the dogs.  THey got out, and it was probably the most he'd run in a year.  He didn't see doctors, and didn't eat with the idea of staying healthy.  He came back in, not looking good, and Doreen sent him upstairs to rest.  He collapsed, an embollism in his brain, a "stroke", as I know it.  And after a short time on life support was gone.  He was 52.

He died the same week as the Connecticut tragedy-- I wonder if we'll remember that in years to come.  THe worst thing about sad things at Christmas is the complete unavoidability of it.  Every year, the smells and sights and sounds will be the same as the week you lost your loved one.  I guess I'll hope anyone I love dies in September or August or something....one of those months that seems a little different every year, when no one expects you to be joyful.

I guess after all this, I am finally starting to feel the gratitude rather than just the pain.  I am so grateful for the presence of my hubby, for the pregnancy that seems to still be going strong, and the curly blonde 3 year old who drives me nuts.  I am grateful for my roof, and my last blood sugar read, under such tight control it's almost non-diabetic.  I am grateful to hold everyone close and see hubby when he walks in the door at the end of the day.  Here on earth, it's all a little fleeting.  I'll take it while I can get it.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Politics

Two nights ago I lost count and gave myself a little too much insulin.  I woke up with low blood sugar.  All day, I just took smaller doses than normal and ate more frequently.  I am attempting not to gain weight while being pregnant, so I tried to make those frequent eatings things like fruit, and low calorie yogurt.  I didn't do too badly.

But low blood sugar makes you shaky, sweaty, on edge.  You feel weirdly warm, and tired.  At least I do.  So I spent my last day teaching at the college before the break feeling like that.  Several students basically listened to me chatting rather than having a real last lesson.  They didn't seem to care.  And I wanted to go home.

Near the end of the day, I contacted hubby about something and he told me his whole day had been spent dealing with the Connecticut shooting.  Of course I did not know about this, I think a war could erupt in the US and I wouldn't know during a teaching day.  I  have few breaks and a nice little isolated room.  I just listen to the instruments next door.  It's not a bad way to spend the day, actually.

But unfortunately, news like yesterday's shooting, when you're pregnant and running low on blood sugar, seems to have no filter.  I spent hours crying.  I turned on Moody bible radio in the car and cried and cried as people prayed for everyone involved.  Callers called in to pray, and they allowed that, and I was so happy.....because listening to NPR rehash it, listening to the hopelessness of an event like that is too much.

I woke up in the hours before sun this morning.  I am in a stage of pregnancy where I can't sleep through long nights.  I'm not sure why--I literally passed out at 5pm with baby S playing nearby and woke up in a strange stupor, but I can't stay asleep.  I am awake enough to walk a mile right now.

I wonder how this will come across--but I am feeling so torn culturally.  I don't actually care how non-christians feel about a lot of stuff.  I don't want to hear politics from people who don't think the bible is the final answer, because it's too foreign. I don't want peace, or blessing as much as I want God himself to approve of my decisions.  That's the bottom, end line.

But here's the torn part.  When it comes to the culture of christianity in America--I just don't feel like I agree with anyone.  I don't understand fighting for the rights of people to own automatic weapons.  I mean--I understand the theories behind it.  What I don't understand is--why is "freedom" more important than the lives of these people that keep dying because of someone else's "freedom".  I think Marijuana and Guns are kind of ends of the same game--they are things that inherently are not bad, but used by people for bad things.  So let's restrict them all we can.  People are lazy.  THey will usually give up something they know is wrong if there's a few barriers.  Not EVERY time, sure, but....most of the time?

I don't know how I feel about abortion.  And there, I've said it.  I couldn't have one.  But I'm not sure I need to stop everyone else.  I am much more concerned with kids shot accidentally by guns that parents left unlocked in their homes accidentally (something I've heard about 3 times this month alone) than I am about unborn babies.

I don't think people should go without if someone has.  I don't think marriage should be owned by anyone but God.  I don't think I believe in gay marriage, I guess, not that I haven't cried over that issue.  But I don't think it matters!  Why am I telling people who are not generally following what I believe what to do ?  Marriage is his, not America's. And it seems stupid to discuss it between conflicting religions (or non-religions).  It's like asking the muslim world and the Jewish world to compromise. 

I don't think it was right for our country to talk about other things while my mom couldn't get healthcare, even when she was willing to pay for it.

I don't know where my people are.  The liberal camp is distasteful to me.  There are so many things about the "face" of that group that I don't like.  The conservative camp is scary.  I think their concept if my Lord is often really warped.  God doesn't help those who help themselves, people.  He never said that.  He also never said, "don't worry, I'm not challenging, I just approve of love".

And all I want at the end of the day is to live in God's country.   The bible says:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  But I feel like each party picks two or three of those and runs with them. 

I would pray that God come right here now, and tell me what to do, where to go, etc.  But I would rather He go to Connecticut and give them a miracle that brings their kids back.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

I am in between teaching right now, pondering life in a room that's the same temperature as the inside of my refrigerator.

My student who is a no-show this moment never missed a lesson last term.  She has now missed 3 out of 4 lessons.  I am not sure what to do about that.   SHe confirmed this one yesterday. *sigh*

After today I get a "break".  This means I won't go to Augustana, won't make the 3 hour drive (total per day) and won't have to spend money on gas.  It doesn't mean I won't be teaching though, I take few real breaks when it comes to that.  I don't mind it....a week when I am teaching 4 students total might as well be a vacation.  I love the teaching enough to enjoy that kind of week.  I just don't love it enough to not be excited at the idea of taking a break from these 23 college students for 3 weeks :)  Boy the construction of those sentences was awful.

Hubby has now found a new source for job searching, and this one feels like it will work.  If they get him the job he wants, he has to pay them a lot.  Nothing, however, if they don't.  Since this company has been doing business for a while--there's a pretty good chance they get people good jobs.  So now I'm terrified at what's to come next.  Where will we live?  What will I do?  We would stay local if we could right now, for the ease of it, but we're tired of the financial crunches, and I'm tired of the toll that this has taken on hubby--being at a job where no one ever appreciates what you do, which is about 50 hours a week, including long weekends, and pays about the smallest amount you CAN be paid for 50 hours a week, I'd say.  It's a lot more than many people make I realize, but I'm guessing they're not doing these hours or this level of stress....or this level of skill.

Ok, enough with that.  We have a family date tonight.  Chinese food and tree trimming (which sounds weird when the trees are plastic).  Hanukkah somewhere in there, and then wrestling the 3 year old into bed.  I'm looking forward to it.  We don't have a lot of family dates.

I believe the next step for me is to get a doctorate.  God himself has not told me this, so I can't tell you why I think its the next step for me....except there's no other way for me to continue what I'm doing and not feel like I want to cry at the end of every week from the insane hours.  I am also tired of depending on every 20 dollar check to sustain us for a day.  Home students should be more for "fun", I am feeling, and not out of a need to fill every financial crack.  Not in my 40s, if possible.

40s.  ouch.

This is one of my "rambling blogs".  I want prayer, if you do that.  I want prayer that I can have peace about hubby's possible jobs, my doctorate, the baby coming in the spring, who I really have to give up wanting to be a boy, and my cold fingers.   Amen.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

24 Students

Being almost 16 weeks pregnant I have been somehow inducted as a member of a facebook group of women who are due in May as well.

I have decided after some thinking that I hate all of these women.  I think to myself, can I hate them all?  And I've decided yes I can.  First of all, OFTEN they seem to post about how they haven't gained any weight.  Good for them.  Stop talking about it.

Some of them have an insane amount of children.  I don't understand that and I don't like it.  I don't need to judge anyone for that choice, but I don't like to be reminded of it.  Many of them seem to want to be stay-at-home moms. And although I massively respect the WORK it takes to take care of children (especially if you've chosen to have 6) the thought of this has no appeal to me.  I haven't been more depressed in my life, I think, than the 6 months or so when I stayed home with Baby S.  I don't like free time.  I like witty, adult conversations, I like going out, dressing up, intellectual challenges, live music, and occasionally a good rated R movie. 

I do.

And as I've said before, few things make me feel more alive than singing, teaching singing, and being surrounded by the fascinating and elusive work of music.  I really do get a lot from it, though I can never figure out why.

I teach 24 students at the college.  So here's a list of 24 things you find in 24 students:

1.  In 24 students, someone misses their lesson every week (not the same person--just someone).

2.  In 24 students, one person is a way better singer without any training than you were.

3.  In 24 students, someone's name is confusing and/or hard to pronounce.

4.  In 24 students, someone will cry this term in their lesson.

5.  In 24 students, someone will make you feel like you can't teach anything.

6.  In 24 students, one student will probably make you feel like a teaching goddess.

7.  In 24 students, someone will probably spend their whole lesson talking and chatting about fun stuff, and you'll want to just do that, but then you'll feel bad they paid you and you didn't teach them anything.

8.  In 24 students, one student will have pretty much no audible vocal problems.

9.  In 24 students, one student will have so many issues you have no idea where to start so you never feel like you get anywhere.  Eventually this student will probably tell you that you helped them immensely and you'll have no idea what they're taling about.

10.  In 24 students, someone's voice type will change.

11.  In 24 students, one student will have an EPIPHANY about practicing, go home and do it, and suddenly improve more than all of the other 23.

12.  In 24 students, at least one will show no improvement, and you'll know it's because they kind of chose not to improve.

13.  In 24 students, about 17 will manage to surprise you at some point.

14.  In 24 students, one student will get a boyfriend/girlfriend and lose interest in their lesson.

15.  In 24 sutdents, one student will probably get a medical issue tht seems to change their singing for a while.

16.  In 24 students, most will get As.  You'll feel bad about the lower grades.

17.  In 24 students, one will always smell VERY strongly of perfume and you'll sneeze in their lesson.

18.  In 24 students, you'll always like one enough that you think of them as a friend.

19.  In 24 students, you'll be relieved to see some leave.

20.  (whew, I should have picked a smaller number!)

21.  In 24 students, one will have an incredibly high or low range that will never cease to be a novelty to you.

22.  In 24 students, one will seem to understand and apply everything you say.

23.  In 24 students, one will not understand a damn thing you try to express and will look at you like you're insane.

24.  In 24 students, all will care more about how well they sang in a lesson than how you taught them.