Archive | August, 2010

Oh-La-La

31 Aug

In the spirit of constantly learning/trying new things, I had my first guitar class yesterday.

I’ve been feeling anxious about this whole no-return to school or teaching thing for awhile now. And not being in band this year is making my little heart ache for music enrichment. So after reading and getting first hand rave reviews for the Old Town School of Folk Music’s guitar courses, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

Frankly, purchasing my first guitar was a leap in itself. I’ve always wanted to learn but my brother and sister wouldn’t let me practice on theirs. When I got to college and started working with a teacher that exclusively used a guitar to teach her general music course, I thought that I should go the same way. One Spring Break, I sat at King Music searching for the perfect guitar for what could have been a good two hours when finally, my eyes became completely fixated on this twitter blue Fender. While not traditional in any sense and about two guitar sizes too big for me, it was exactly who I wanted to be when I played: cool, confident, unique.


I tried to learn how to play by myself. I spent many a vacation and break from school in front of a guitar tabs site struggling to understand how to strum. I consulted youtube videos and online tutorials to no avail. I even went commercial and bought books made for beginning adults and children. Nothing stuck.

It’s certainly frustrating to own a guitar that every one of your friends can play. I’d say the last three or four guys I dated were guitar friendly. And I was more than envious of their rock star like abilities. Oh, and singing in a band would have been infinitely easier if I could have played my own instrument.

So, after three years of sitting in my various rooms, only to be played by boyfriends and dates of past, I finally got my baby blue out of the corner and in to a classroom.


Old Town, first of all, is a hippy’s paradise. Music hits you as soon as you walk in the door and sweaty bohemian girls are dancing up in down the hallway, practicing their East Asian dance class routines. There are white haired men carrying around banjos and autoharps and a sweet, braided haired woman playing the dulcimer in the corner. Even the director told us that by the end of our courses, we’d be drinking the sweet kool-aid of Old Town.

My adult guitar I class is made up of around 12 people. There were 2 college girls, obviously best friends, who giggled as they messed up the chords. And then there were the really serious, mid 30s guys who owned guitars that sat in attics. One wanted to learn guitar for his new born son. The other was obviously there to hit on younger girls.

Another guy was about my age, a recent college graduate who inherited his guitar from a family member. We both cheered when we learned our first song would be “Oh-La-La” by The Faces. He wasn’t afraid to sing it out of tune with the teacher and neither was the oldest guy who later joined us in our discussion on Wes Anderson greatness. Sitting next to me was polar opposites- a girl in a business suit who took notes at every new lesson and a hipster banjo player who walked in 30 minutes late and with a broken guitar. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty cool mix.

Our teacher is basically me in 20 years- mellow and with awesome taste in music. She handed us out a huge packet of songs we were going to learn. It’s humor filled (“Achy Breaky Heart”) but contains songs that my music loving heart leaped at. The best was “California Stars,” which we learn in week 5, and “Sons and Daughters,” which is covered in week 6.

After the group lesson, every class (goes up to 4) communes in the auditorium for an all-sing. Basically, the instructors of all the courses and the students get together to pick out songs from the folk song book to sing and play. There was anti-war tunes from the 60s, a folk song from the Appalachians, a little modern country, and of course, some Dylan.

Overall, I’m thrilled. I can already confidently play the D, A, and Em7 chords pretty comfortably. And I cannot wait until my next class, especially if kool aid and Billy Ray Cyrus are involved.

What I Will Say At My First Therapy Meeting

24 Aug

Dear Therapist To Be,

This isn’t my first time. I’ve seen one of you. Well, 3 of you. There was a god-fearing portly woman during junior high, a lady with a smoke machine in high school, and one of the most articulate Italian ladies ever during undergrad. All were smiley, almost too much so, and one even gave me hugs after every session. I’d leave feeling satisfied and placated. I’d come back feeling worse.

So, please excuse me if I’m skeptical at first.

I tried not to contact you for your service. I’ve gone four years without really needing you. I got in to yoga, found an amazing job that fulfilled my soul, and even dated around just to play- just like the three of the past suggested. And it worked, to my surprise.

For four years, I wasn’t anxious about impending car accidents or various fatal injuries. I didn’t dwell on my regrets as much as I tended to, and I certainly didn’t re-visit details of my parent’s divorce like they were a well-read magazine. I even felt ok enough to let go of a person who meant that absolute world to me just because he wasn’t the one anymore. Oh, and I stopped being so dependent on comfort food, ambien, and late night tv to put me to sleep. For four years, I was happy.


And to an extent, I still am. Frankly, I’m not sure if I should even be here, sitting on your couch, fighting for an excuse on why I need to shell out my hard earned money just to talk. I’ve still have a great job- even if it is not that dream job I worked so hard for. I have a just perfectly swell boyfriend who holds my hand at night. And I finally feel stable in the realm of finances and living quarters.

Over the last few months, things have changed. I’m more agitated and frightened, and I cant even muster up the courage to sit at the front of the bus. I cry over the silliest or mundane things- youtube videos, inspirational sports wins, abandoned or missing children news stories, and even episodes of “What Would You Do?” My fear of abandonment makes it even more difficult to let myself go around people. My even larger fear of not being liked makes every friend de-quest seem like a shot to the heart. And nights alone are dark and void of thoughts.

When I talk to you, I will be defensive, even over people I dont want to defend. I will make excuses for them and then for why I am making excuses for. I wont do your exercises that will force me to confront someone. And I certainly wont be making phone calls or composing emails that apologize for my actions.


For awhile, I will agree that I am a child of divorce and all my abandonment issues and occasional codependency come from the fear of losing my family. But then I will grow tired of talking about my parents and will want to focus on me. This will be my breakthrough. I wont mention the person I’ve been dating or my ex. I wont cry over the loss of a particular friend. Heck, I wont even mention a certain person’s suicide as much as I did at the start. It will be all me speaking- working through my issues.

And when I come to the realization that all I need is to stop blaming past events and others for my depression (because that’s what it is)’s current state, then I will be ready to let you go. It could take four sessions. It could take four months worth. But I’ll let you know.

Now, when do you start evaluating me?

You Got a Degree In Music Education, But You Do What Now?!?

23 Aug

Oh, the disappointments of life… they are bitches.

Becoming a music teacher has been my dream job since sophomore year of high school. But to be quite honest, I did it out of vengeance. See, unlike most of my music major friends, my high school band director wasn’t remotely inspiring, nurturing, or particularly talented. In fact, he was a downright grumpy little, bald headed, hobbit of a man/trumpet player that continually pushed my buttons.

After telling him I wanted to be a music teacher during a trying lesson, he continually used the fact against me. But the tipping point was when I was late and unprepared to a lesson my junior year (that I wasn’t even supposed to be at because of a field trip). When I told him that my clarinet was in my locker upstairs, he freaked out on me and began to use the “How could you ever think of becoming a music teacher if you are constantly under prepared… etc.” I, being 16 and still holding out hope that he’d be my mentor in the end, cried and then I did the boldest thing I had ever done up until that point (yes, I was that lame in school)…

I shouted back, “Well, one day I am going to become a music teacher, a fucking great one, and you’ll see. YOU’LL SEE!”

Oddly enough, I didn’t get detention or a referal… just two years straight of constant underhanded teacher revenge and more seething, “How could you be a music teacher if…” comments.

Two years later, I was in college, making my dream come true. I pushed through a lot, most which my regular facebook directed readers will understand. Music history papers, theory exams, conducting with Sue, ALL of K-hell… being a music major is tough stuff. It constantly tries your talent (lessons with Gail) and will power (life lessons with Gail). And the disappointments are aplenty. But I made it. I had two wonderful student teaching placements and then I was out in the field within the next year.

However, some life choices (aka a boy) played a role in taking a job in the suburbs that paid significantly less or a job down south that paid enough to be comparable. When I decided to stay for the boy, I took the job that I would constantly struggle to “make it with.” And while I loved my years a grade-middle school general music teacher, I couldn’t afford to do it anymore. That’s the complete truth. Life happened and the money didn’t follow. I had to go elsewhere.

I did try to find other teaching jobs. I even had a couple of fruitful interviews. But in the end, I looked elsewhere.

And that’s when I found my current job. I’m a program assistant. It’s a fancy way of saying that I do pretty much everything in my department. From secretarial duties, planning events, holding the student’s hands as they register for classes, and assisting in marketing and strategy planning.. I have a job that could totally open other doors for me if I continue on in higher education. Plus, the benefits are insane, the pay up to par, and I get to live in the city that I love.

Do I miss teaching? Of course. Almost every day. Now that most of my friends have graduated and most have landed teaching jobs, it hurts even more so.

But this post isn’t to those lucky few. Nope this is to the ones who have graduated, but are still looking or those who went a year or two and decided to go elsewhere… What I am trying to say is that there is life outside the classroom. And it’s certainly ok that we tried, even if what we have to show for it is nill to little. In the end, we will always be music teachers because it is in our blood. We spent four years learning how to tighten strings, composing a 10 bar Bach piece, and struggling over fake lesson plans. We spent a semester student teaching in a foreign classroom after 150 hours of just watching. And we all had to deal with our fair share of prejudiced and just plan terrible music teachers.

Oh, and some of us had to play La Fiesta Mexicana, patriotic music, and Sleigh Ride at least 4 times.

That, my friend, should be enough.

Minimalist Challenge: The Argyle Closet Monster

16 Aug

I have way too much clothes.

There, I admitted it. Isn’t that the first step?

Frankly, I know that I dont have as much as some of my friends do, and I rarely shop compared to girls I know. My clothing overload comes from hoarding.

Call up TLC and A&E cause this girl has an issue of letting go for the sake of letting go.

Seriously, I look at a fairly worn work shirt and reflect on the 3 months of wear time it most likely got. It has memory, attachment, and symbolism to it. This particular shirt was bought before I started student teaching and placed in the category of: Teacher Clothes. It had a title- a purpose. And, for the most part, it fit that role …

… Until it shrunk. Now I cant lift my arms without it exposing my belly. I haven’t worn it since I finished student teaching (about a year and a half ago), and it has been moved around from three closets till it met it’s final resting place.

Now, instead of being a trendy, versatile piece of highly sought after fashion, it has become a symbol of my biggest fear: letting go. Cue internal argument:

“It’s teacher clothing, so maybe, whenever/if I get back to teaching, I could try it out again. Maybe if I lost weight it would fit better. Or, I could always wear an undershirt under it. OR I might need it one day. Seriously… the argyle sweater look is always in fashion!

Kanye gets it!

Ugh.

I need help, so I of course turn to the Gods of the Closet, the ones every 22-30 year old girl looks up to:


Comfortable is a four letter word.

Yep, this is a WWC&SD situation (What Would Clinton and Stacey Do?).

According to their book, building a minimalist, standards-based closet requires these items:

Suits
Black pantsuit
Softer neutral suit with pants or skirt (gray, brown, khaki, or navy)

Dresses

Black dress

Solid color dress

Print or embellished dress

Tops 3 cotton button-front shirts
3 blouses
2 sparkly tops

6 sweaters (3 neutral, 3 color, and vary necklines: crew, V-neck, cardigan)
3 blazers (1 summer weight, 1 three-season weight, 1 winter weight)

Bottoms 3 pairs of neutral trousers
3 winter-weight skirts (1 should be a tweed)
3 summer-weight skirts (1 should be a tweed)
3 pairs of jeans (all hemmed to different lengths, for flats, heels, and sandals)

Outerwear Leather jacket
Denim jacket

Trench coat
¾ length wool coat

Accessory
Watch with two bands (leather and link)

Bags
Black bag
Brown bag
Color or print bag

Footwear
Black heels

Brown heels

Color or print embellished heels

Black boots
Brown boots

To be fair, I have about 80% of that and more. But heels and me dont go far. I also need to ask why so much tweed and sparkly tops? Whatever, I dont question WNTW style.

In order to stick to my minimalist reordering of my life, I’ve started to clear out my closet by using this list. Before I moved, I got rid of 3 garbage bags full of clothing alone, yet, I still have those argyle print stragglers.

Now that I am buying clothing that is more appropriate to my current work situation, I have decided to follow one simple rule: For each item of clothing I buy, I must give away one of equal value to a charity or drive. This rule does not include under garments.

So, when I finally got the nerve to try on a pair of skinny jeans from NY&Co, it was with the thought that I would finally be saying goodbye to that argyle monstrosity. And then, because it was a two for one pant deal at the store, I picked out a pair of work appropriate, flair jeans, so gone goes another similar fated sweater top I purchased in high school.

Maybe this anti-hoarding thing wont be so hard after all… if it means Stacey and Clinton shopping time.

What articles of clothing have you kept around past it’s prime? Do you donate? What about the WNTW essentials list, do you see anything I shouldn’t purchase?

Minimalist Challenge

10 Aug

Lately, I’ve felt pretty selfish. I evaluate my life and think that I have way too much stuff. It’s hard to imagine life without most of this junk, but I think it is time to learn to let go.

It’s actually a challenge I’ve been working on for awhile. When I planned out my latest move, I decided to get rid of over 3 bags of clothing and bedding to goodwill. I also gave away a box of books I haven’t read in over a year, and threw away countless amounts of pictures of people I couldn’t name. I proudly sold a clarinet and organized my sheet music down to the essentials. It felt great. Today, if I buy something, I must donate a previously owned item of equal value. It cuts my spending by making me reconsider the overall purpose of the item and I feel great donating something rarely used. But, I could do more.

Out of boredom and curiosity, I’ve been reading about the 100 Thing Challenge. Basically, the author of the blog and book cut down his possessed items down to a mere 100. He personalized the challenge to fit is lifestyle. For instance, underwear and socks were in one category instead of having to limit himself to a disgustingly small amount of skivvies. He also didn’t count items that he didn’t own or were shared in his household. Oh, and groceries and purposed goods didn’t count either. Just clutter got the axe.

While I dont think I could get down to 100, and I certainly dont feel too much of a frivilous spender, I could limit what I own and donate the rest. Hence, the challenge of it all. What can I live with? And what can I look at and depreciate based on my current lifestyle. Hopefully, as I sort through it all, I can let go of my attachment with stuff. And my ownership could be more based on contentment rather than pride.

I’m going to start with a list of expendable essentials, or things I need to function daily but could part with if you paid me a gazillion dollars.

First things that come to my mind as absolutely essential are my laptop and cellphone. Like most 23 year olds, I live and die by those two gadgets. I freak out if my cell dies mid day (i.e. see Monday afternoon) and my computer brings me countless of internet memes to laugh and snark at. Plus, with the help of today’s interwebz, I learned how many calories were in a krispy creame cheeseburger! I teared up from a news article on a fatal shooting. Oh, and I bought Chicago Fire tickets for the Ginger and me without having to pay for a convienance fee.

Conde and McBride say, “suck it Ticketmaster!”

More importantly, I couldn’t write this post without a computer or the interwebz. And I certainly couldn’t write so candidly if I relegated myself to a shared public library.

Plus, have you seen what people do on shared library computers…

As for my cell, well this is more sentimental. Yesterday, I had yet another “quiet day,” meaning that I had no calls, few texts, and little interaction with my coworker (who works three feet away from me). My family calls maybe once, sometimes twice, a week and our conversations never last more than two minutes. Living alone makes this “silence” last a longer and sting a bit more.

It’s needy, I know, but the internet, application, and cheap(ish) phone options make it almost a drug to be connected. Just as I cant cut my power cords and phone charger lines just yet.

Banned Equality

6 Aug

I, like many of my friends were saddened by the passing of Prop 8. I remember being at Obama’s nomination win in Grant Park and some man sadly delivering the news. It did take away some of the thunder from our liberal storm. But we knew that there would be an appeal. Mormons aren’t allowed to win.

So, here I am two-ish years later, receiving the news of Prop 8 being overturned. Of course, I was excited. And the many gay couples that ride my shuttle bus to and from work were overjoyed. I swear I saw a double rainbow that day.

The next day, I spent over two hours reading through Judge Walker’s amazingly poignant and straight forward ruling. If you haven’t yet found it, check it out. He lays out, word for word, what equality is all about. And he chastises those who would only want to disregard marriage because of religious or moral doctrine. Even those trailer park boys with a 3rd grade reading level (that I went to high school with) could understand it.

But then I come home and read an article about the banning of a book for teenagers called “Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology.” Apparently, the book was first banned in a local high school by a member of the 9.12 group, an ultra conservative, “pro-family” outfit. One complaint to a public library later, it was removed from shelves. But it wasn’t just removed… it was asked to “disappear.” It wouldn’t even get the dignity of a book fair or a give away bin.

Why? Well, the first woman/overly concerned/brainwashed mother who got it banned cited a 9.12 blogger by calling it “pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate” and the head of the librarian who asked to Harry Potter it away cited “child pornography.” The mother then stated that the book was banned “for the children.”

What children is helped with the banning of this book? Of course there will be curious eyes who will get a little giggle out of it, but that’s middle school for you. What banning this book does is hurt the children that are questioning their sexuality, that have no one to turn to but a book, those who are ashamed to ask their mothers directly, or those who are frightened to go on the internet and research a bit for fear they will be caught.

By banning this book, we are ostracizing those who need us most. We are not even giving a child a chance to read and discover for himself.

I remember being 14, in the midst of an extremely awkward puberty, and turning to a book called “Deal With It!” It was bright pink and featured a cartoon girl flashing the reader when you opened the book flap. Inside, it talked about everything a teenage girl goes through… from self discovery, to sexual encounters, and even questioning religion. It featured real teenage girls speaking about how they knew they were lesbians or how they dealt with embarrassing hairs done there. And while I got a good, immature laugh out of it, I also turned to that book when I needed it the most.


And with that book, I realized that it was ok to be me – that it was normal to question who I am and the irrational to rational feelings I may feel. It also told me that it was alright to deal with the hard questions and that I was never alone in my struggles.

I guess I am more upset that teenagers who need this book the most will not have access to it. They wont get to feel what a connection to the outside world is. They wont get additional help or another citation in their senior research paper on Prop 8.

It’s all one foot forward and two giant leaps back.

Optimism v. The World

4 Aug
A few days ago I had a revelation. I’m happy. It’s taken a lot since I’ve graduated college to move from part A of my life to part B. And the road hasn’t been a smooth crossing either. But now, I’m doing just fine. Financially I am stable and emotionally, I am above average. There’s even a new addition to my immediate family that I got to meet this weekend.
However, I had a set back yesterday. While it isn’t definite and it could mean nothing in the long run, it put me on edge. Extreme edge. If it comes to fruition, my current lifestyle would almost dissolve if I did not find a quick fix.
In my most heated moments of worry and doubt, I kept flashing back to major rejections in my life. From depressing moments where I messed up a line in a play to another where I was turned away from a party by a group of grade A college douches.
The problem is that I always do this. It’s like my brain takes note of the moment and then places that note in the file entitled: Disappointments. Because I’m curious and bored, I have to go through each one of the memory notes starting with a 1st grade teacher telling me that my hair was too messy… all the way through to my last time a guy ignored my phone call. It’s exhausting in its own right.
I’m sure I am not the only one who does this or has a problem dwelling on the past. It’s just that I cant stand how alone it makes you feel and how empty your heart becomes. It only emphasizes your pain and complicates your worries. In the case of last night, it turned an issue that should have been a second thought in to a full frontal issue.
I dont have a solution or advice for similar sufferers. I just wanted to put this out there and see who else becomes Egger like in self-pitty and loathing.
But to those who just want baby porn, here you go: