2.28.2006

A Dream

Okay, I just remembered the dream I had last night...

So I was in church setting up the soundboard for rehearsal when someone came up to me and told me that rehearsal had been cancelled because there was going to be a concert instead. And then I found out that it was going a Peter Gabriel concert. Next thing I knew the church was packed and Peter Gabriel and his band were starting to play. The only problem was his sound guy didnt show up. So they asked me to do it instead. I had no clue how to handle all of their equipment but I tried my best. Things didnt sound great, but everyone figured I was better than no one, so they let me continue. Then came an intermission (which I realize rock concerts dont have). And during the intermission someone told Peter Gabriel that I played piano, so he came up to me and was like "hey why dont you play during the intermission." To which I immediately responded "oh I dont have any of my books and I dont have anything memorized because I havent been playing much lately." And then he asked me why and I told him that I was having problems with my shoulder. But he was like "oh that doesnt matter just play." And I was totally freaked out, but I headed towards the piano anyway. And when I got to it, I turned and looked at the audience, and it was filled with everyone I knew (which made me even more nervous).

And that's all I remember.

2.27.2006

Grad School Anticipation

I'm really excited about going back to school. I am probably without a doubt one of those people who would be a professional student (if such a profession existed). I mean, I absolutely loved college. Yes, at times things were stressful, and it's not like I enjoyed every moment, but over all, I really miss it. I was so happy when I was a student. Actually the main thing I disliked about school (and this may seem odd especially since i was a music major), were my piano lessons.

Pre-college piano lessons were one of the highlights of my week. I absorbed as much as possible and always came away from them feeling awesome, almost like a natural high. Now I'm not the greatest piano player, I had to practice very hard no matter what I was playing (which is still true today). But i also think that's what makes me such an effective teacher... when I was learning piano, it was tough for me, most of the time people want you to just keep repeating passages until by some miracle you play it right. That may work for some people, but it certainly didnt work for me. So I'd create all these "alternate" ways to learn and for the most part they worked really well. For instance... if there was a passage where I consistently made the same mistake instead of just playing it over and over again wishing that I'd get it right eventually, I'd play it wrong on purpose. I'd intentionally hit the wrong note or rhythm or fingering or whatever, but while doing this I would be thinking something along the line of "okay jessica, you are never going to play this wrong note again, get a good feel for it, because this is the last time it will ever happen." And then immediately after that I'd concentrate very intenesly on playing the same passage very slowly but correctly, 3 times in a row (or 10 times in a row depending on how old I was... the older I got, the more repititions were necessary). And usually after that I was cured! I use this technique with nearly all of my students, and it works great. Though I usually get a weird look the first time I ask them to play something wrong on purpose. One of my other favorite tricks is to play an entire piece staccato. This is great for making sure your hands are working together perfectly. If they are out of synch just a little bit it will definitely show (and is easily corrected). But anyway, I have tons of little tricks that I've developed over time. But to get back on track, I loved my lessons pre-college.

Then came college... and that was very different. Perhaps the difference was that piano changed from a fun hobby to a serious career, perhaps it was the fact that I had more performances than I was used to (or wanted), perhaps it was because I now had the pressure of being graded on it or perhaps it was the fact that practice had to consume nearly every minute of my free time (which required me to sacrifice nearly all of my other interests). Whatever it was, I grew to hate playing piano in college. My piano teacher was great. She is a very accomplished soloist and chamber musician, and I really think that there isnt a song on earth that she cant play (or even sight read her way through). And I did learn a lot from her (especially that it is FAR easier to play when all your muscles are relaxed, than it is to play tense), but she totally sucked the joy out of it. In fact, sometimes I think she had a goal of trying to make her students break down during the lesson (as a way of showing them how much harder they needed to work... not the most effective technique to use on me). Anyway, needless to say, when I graduated I honestly considered never playing again. That's how much I hated it. And I took some time off (which was also due to an overuse injury I was trying to heal... and still am). But after a few weeks I noticed that I missed playing. So I picked up some old music that I hadnt gone over in years and played it. And just like that, I found my love for piano again. (just for clarification, I ABSOLUTELY loved the "academic"--as in non-playing-- music classes)

So now I'm going back to school. And this time I wont have the performance pressure i had in my undergrad experience. So I'm interested to see how I'll feel this time around. Though I have to admit, I'm not quite sure what to expect out of library school. I mean, when I look at the courses I have to choose from, most of them are things like "Information Organization" "Information Access", "Knowledge Management" and other ambiguous titles, and I really cant even begin to guess what they actually mean. But despite that, I'm excited, and I'm really looking forward to starting classes. In fact, i wish I could start immediately... but I still have a few months before that happens.

2.26.2006

Eight Below versus Rent

My husband and I watched 2 movies this weekend. On Friday night we headed to the old, small theater a couple blocks away and saw Eight Below, and then on Sunday we curled up on the couch and watched Rent while each working on our own projects (him- computer stuff, me- photo album). Here are my thoughts on each movie...

(SPOILER WARNING: I may reveal information in this entry that could possibly spoil some of these movies if you havent seen them... in the case of Rent, I'm probably doing you a favor)

Eight Below. This was the first time seeing a movie in the theater since... since... hmm... I cant even remember when. I mean it wasnt that long ago, we just dont bother to see movies in the theater anymore. So it takes something special to actually make us go see it in the theater. And what's so special about Eight Below (especially for a couple of non-seven year olds)? Well it's about huskies, and we have a husky. That's what's special. Overall I thought it was a decent movie, not the greatest movie I've ever seen, but entertaining and touching. Though I have to admit that if I didnt have a dog, I probably wouldnt have cared as much. But I enjoyed seeing these dogs interacting with each other and the climate they were in. What shocked me was how long they were left to survive on their own in Antartica (I lost track after 170 days). I mean, I saw the March of the Penguins, and those birds were freezing to death... I was surprised that the cold didnt seem to be much of a factor to the dogs (who slept seperately buried in a blanket of snow--even before they were left behind... I at least thought they would have bundled together for warmth.) But the dogs mannerisms were very similiar to my own dogs, and that made the movie cute to me. One of my favorite scenes was when the dogs were attempting to attack the flock of birds, and as they got near, the birds of course flew away so the dogs had to pick them off in the air... my dog's done that. And the ending was touching. One thing I took away from the movie: Knowing that huskies can survive on there own for over 170 days in Antartica makes me feel much better about leaving Eve alone in a nice warm home with plenty of food for a few hours. She is so spoiled.

Rent. Umm... i dont think there's any other way to put this... Rent sucked. And this is coming from someone who grew up on musicals and therefore sees nothing wrong when people in movies break into song and dance every time anything significant or insignificant happens. I thought the music was horrible, beyond awful. I mean, the singers were talented, but the songs were just BEYOND LAME. And what's up with these people complaining about being kicked out of their apartments when they havent paid over a year's rent? Seriously? Anyway, it just wasnt good. Of course it probably doesnt help that I knew it was based on La Boheme (which is my favorite opera) and was continuously comparing it to that (which by the way, there is no comparison... La Boheme is infinitely better, even if you dont like operas). It did follow the story line and feel of the opera pretty well (bohemian artists struggling to make a living, never having any money or heat, and always being sick), and even included a few "musical quotes" from La Boheme, but then came the ending... Mimi dies and then out of nowhere comes back to life????? what the crap? Mimi is just supposed to die, and it's supposed to be tragic. There's no need for a sugar-coated ending or "psyche, just kidding" moment. Anyway, when I think about it, it's actually pretty appropriate... a crappy ending to a crappy broadway show that was made into a crappy movie. If you were thinking about seeing Rent--dont. Go see La Boheme instead.

So there are my reviews. I think it's pretty obvious who wins this contest.

2.16.2006

TV

List of favorite shows (even though some of them are old, and only on in syndication).

1- Friends. Probably my all time favorite show. Matt and I have all the DVDs, so I know I've seen every episode at least once. We have incorporated a lot of "Friends" into our normal lives. For instance... my sister's birthday happened to fall on the day of the series finale, so we had a whole Friends themed birthday party for her. Complete with Pheobe style cups and ice, a Lusts of the Flesh sign, and other nerdy fan-type things. Also when I got married, it was excepted that I woke up and said "I'm getting married today" and then trip and practically break a rib a-la Monica. And Matt's birthday this year wasnt complete without watching the episode which showed all of the Friend's birthdays. Anyway, it's a good fun show... and somewhat addicting.

2- 24. yay yay yay! I love this show. As much as I hate the fact that it's only on once a week and has all these commercials throughout the show (I know, just like any other show... but I have such little patience for these things), I think they are absolutely necessary for this show, otherwise the all the nonstop intense action and suspense would probably give me an ulcer or something. This season has been pretty good so far, though I definitely miss my favorite characters (Michelle and Palmer). My predictions for future episodes this season: all the other 19 canisters are set off causing a national catastrophe, Kim comes back and does something stupid that causes unnecessary drama that no one is really interested in (like she breaks a nail, and then as she bravely attempts have the manicurist repair it, it turns out the manicurist is a serial killer who just recently escaped from jail and is looking for his next target), Jack and Audrey get back together, Tony comes out of critical condition and saves the day without showing any signs of nearly dying earlier, we find out that Hector is the mastermind behind everything bad going on, Chloe continues to scrunch up her face and huff off everytime someone else talks to her, and then in the very last 5 minutes, Jack dies... again.

3- Project Runway. I've been rooting for Chloe all the way. She's by far my favorite. But I have a feeling that Daniel V. will win. As far as Santino goes.... I want to make a dish called Santino Rice... it will consist of basic white rice, with little bits of anything I can find in my house thrown in so that it's not boring, plain, or unoriginal. Also, I've decided that one day, when I am pregnant, I'm going to call Heidi Klum and ask her if I can borrow her maternity clothes (as I have a feeling she will no longer need them) because they are the cutest clothes ever.

4- My Wife and Kids. We've been watching this in syndication non stop over the past couple months. It's so good. Though I have to admit, the original Claire was a little annoying. But I enjoy the humor in this show.

5- How I Met Your Mother. So funny... The Lemon Law... I love it, and I've had a few situations arise where I wish I could have used it (I think it definitely can apply to more than just dating).

6- The Office. While I prefer the British version in nearly every single way...I think I kind of like the American Dwight, over the British Garreth. I was pretty skeptical about watching the american version because I just couldnt imagine that they could do it justice... but they really have. It's so painful, it's hysterical.

7- Earl. I think the cast is crucial in pulling this one off. And they do a great job.

8- Okay, I'm semi-embarressed to admit this... but General Hospital. It's the only soap I ever watch. but I've been watching it for soooo long. Almost longer than I can remember. I think it's almost a family tradition (going back as far as my great-grandmother if I'm not mistaken). But soaps are definitely "special." Seriously, the plots are so far fetched I just cant even imagine how someone thinks them up... but they do a good job of keeping you watching until certain conflicts are solved. for instance, my primary hook at the moment is that I really want Nikolas and Emily to get back together, and also for Lucky to get rescued from the evil pharmecutical company. but by the time any of that happens (or officially doesnt), there will be some other story line I'm interested in. It never ends. Oh and no one ever really dies either... everyone you think died, will one day return... it's guarenteed. Anyway, enough about that.

So those are some of my favorites. Time for me to get back to work.

2.15.2006

Valentines

Happy One Day Past Valentine's Day to everyone.

Actually matt and I dont really do anything to celebrate valentines day. He doesnt like the obligation associated with the day, and I really dont care too much about it either. But since it happened to fall on a Tuesday, and we go out to dinner every Tuesday, we went out. Every Tuesdsay we go to this little Chinese place in Leesburg when I finish teaching. Partly because I work the latest on Tuesday, and when I'm done the last thing I want to do is make dinner, partly because Tuesday also happens to include my most stress-producing students so it lets me unwind, and partly because it lets matt and I spend some nice time alone together. And usually by the time we get to the restaurant, it's empty. All the staff pretty much know us by now and do a good job of make us feel very welcome every week. So yesterday we just kept up our weekly "date night" tradition. With one exception.

Matt recently started working with a girl who is moving to california on tomorrow. I first met her (and her boyfriend) on our trip to San Fransisco (at the company party) and the 4 of us hit it off pretty well. Since then, we've gone out with them one other time, and I think we all had a lot of fun. It's so unfortunate that we didnt meet sooner, I think we all could have become pretty good friends. But anyway, we invited her out with us last night... her boyfriend is currently driving the car across country, and we figured it would probably suck to be alone on valentines day, especially in an empty house, 2 days before you move to the other side of the country. So she came along, and we all had a great time.

So that was my day. Two interesting evenings in a row, wahoo.

2.14.2006

Free Night

So yesterday all of my piano students cancelled. I kinda expected one of them to cancel because Loudoun county Schools were closed because of Saturday's snow. (even though the roads were beyond fine). But actually they were cancelled because they all had the flu. This is something that has drastically affected my income for the past 2 months. I think nearly all of my students have had the flu at some point. However, I've managed not to get it... yet.

But this left me with a free evening. So matt and I went down to the Apple store in Tysons because his iPod has been broken. We signed up for the genius bar, and found out we had about an hour and a half wait before someone could help us. Somehow we managed to spend the entire time in the Apple store. Mostly because they had a "Getting Started" class that we sat through for an hour. It was actually pretty awesome to see some of the basic things Macs can do (Windows doesnt even compare). Anyway, the coolest thing I saw was the "Widget" feature that is new to OS 10.4, now I cant wait to get my Mac. But if anyone has been thinking about switching to a Mac... I totally recommend it, they are just better all around.

So we finally had our turn at the Genius Bar, it took about a whopping 30 secs to fix the problem. After that we ate dinner at the new Brewery place in the mall (I think it's called Gordon Biersch). I love this place. They have awesome garlic fries (though last night they were WAY too garlicy... normally they arent so overpowering) and pretty decent burgers. Plus they sat us in a booth which allowed both matt and I to easily watch the UConn-Villanova game. We left before it was over, but UConn seemed to be doing much better than Villanova. However, as we walked back through the mall towards our car, we saw the game in another store, and somehow Villanova was ahead. So, Matt thinking that this was his fault (you know, by getting up and not watching the end of the game, he affected the outcome) we stopped and watched for a few minutes until UConn regained the lead. Then we went home. When we got home, we found out that UConn lost... it was probably all matt's fault :) (Oh yeah, I should probably mention that matt went to UConn.)

And then we came home and watched 24 (thanks to the DVR). Anyway, it was a really nice night, and definitely helps me look forward to times when I wont have to work every single evening and I'll be able to do things like that more often. Not that I dont enjoy teaching... but I really hate the hours. I'd much rather work during the day so I can enjoy spending the evening with matt and my friends. But anyway, I'm definitely making a change in that direction.

2.13.2006

Snowy Weekend

Yay!! It finally snowed!! Of course it would happen the one weekend we were out of town. We went down to Harrisonburg for a parish retreat on Friday. It started off a little rough; especially when matt found out there were no TVs in the room, and there ended up being a big youth meeting in the room immediately below us that night (tons of kids screaming and running around all night long). But I think we got some good stuff out of it... we had some good converstaions with people we hadnt talked with before, and with people we hadnt been able to talk with in a while. And we got to talk to each other a lot about our future plans.

Saturday it started to snow! Yay. We had been waiting for a good snowstorm for a long time. The majority of the day was spent listening to talks. Then we had some free time in the afternoon. I took a little while to try to learn how to crochet. I decided about a week ago that I wanted a new hobby, that would be pretty easy to learn, but that would actually produce something when you were done. So I bought a crochet kit the day before we left. I think I've mastered the starting row, but after that, I have no clue what I'm doing. i think I'm following the directions perfectly, but every row gets shorter and short and shorter, and eventually I'm left with one big knot. So I know something isnt going the way it's supposed to. I think I might try to get thicker yarn and a bigger needle to see if larger proportions will make it easier to see what I am doing. I dont want to become a professional knitter or anything, i just want to learn how to make scarves, and maybe blankets, but nothing really too intricate. Just something to keep my hands busy when I'm bored, or watching TV.

Eventually we decided to come home early. The snow wasnt really letting up, and we wanted to beat the Sunday "I'm going home from vacation" traffic. I HATE driving in snow, but matt grew up in new england and upstate new york, so it really wasnt a big deal for him. So we headed home Saturday night. It wasnt the best of conditions, but the few cars that were on the road drove pretty slowly. We only saw 2 accidents and they were on the other side of the road. Matt didnt even slip at all until we were all the way back in leesburg and he hit a little ice patch.

The next morning we went and picked up our dog from the kennel (another perk of coming home early, we saved 1 day of fees at the kennel, which is pretty significant since we make sure they spoil her). She was SO happy to see us. Usually she's in such a hurry to get out of there that she doesnt even pay attention to who is picking her up, she just heads straight for the exit. But she actually jumped up on me and Matt when she saw us. It was cute. But the cutest thing is when we got home and let her out in the backyard to run around in the 12 inches of snow. She absolutely loves the snow. She has these 2 "snow moves" she does whenever it snows, one is... she attacks the snow. She'll crouch down and then for what seems like no reason, she'll just pounce onto a patch of snow and eat some of it. The other move is she'll flip on her back and squirm around in the snow for a little while. Anyway, whenever either of these moves is over, she stands back up with the happiest face ever. But I think this snow was actually too deep for her. She couldnt even really walk in it very well, instead she had to kind of hop-run. This was pretty entertaining, but it must have been tiring for her (along with having been in a noisy kennel for the past 2 nights) because when she came back in, she fell asleep immediately.

So we spent most of yesterday alternating between tv, computers, crocheting, and taking the dog out in short spurts to play in the snow. I think that snow puts all of us in an automatic good mood, so even though it doesnt sound like anything too exciting, it was a pretty good day... and overall a pretty good weekend.

2.08.2006

Kings Cake Mishap

This is funny...

Recently matt tried some King Cake at his work (for some lunch thing). Anyway, he thought it was really good, so we looked it up online so I could see how you make it. Here's the site we found:
http://www.holidays.net/mardigras/cake.htm

So we read about the cake:

The Mardi Gras season begins on January 6 and continues until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. During this time of year, one of the most beloved traditions in New Orleans is that of the King Cake.
On the Christian calendar, the twelfth day after Christmas is known as "Epiphany", "Twelfth Night", or "Kings Day." It is the day the gift-bearing Magi visited the baby Jesus, and is celebrated with its own unique rituals.
The New Orleans tradition, begun in the 1870s, borrows heavily from European customs. As part of the celebration of Mardi Gras, it is traditional to bake an oval cake in honor of the three kings - the King Cake. The shape of a King Cake symbolizes the unity of faiths. Each cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors: purple represents justice, green represents faith and gold represents power. A small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is baked into each cake.
In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season. In offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and enjoyed by all. Like the biblical story, the "search for the baby" adds excitement, as each person waits to see in whose slice of cake the baby will be discovered. While custom holds that the person who finds the baby in their slice will be rewarded with good luck, that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.
The traditional King Cake is made from twisted strands of cinnamon dough, topped with icing, and sprinkled with purple, green, and gold colored sugar. Today, many additional varieties of King Cake are also available, with fillings such as cream cheese, strawberry, apple, and lemon

Did you notice the part where you are supposed to bake a BABY into the cake? I know the author meant to say that it's a plastic toy baby, but unfortunately I think they left those crucial words out. Anyway, it made me laugh.

Zaaza

If you are looking for a good place for lunch, dinner, drinks definitely check this place out... it's awesome, both for food and atmosphere.

A friend of mine owns it, and I've eaten there a few times (it just recently opened) and everything is great. They have sandwiches, crepes, pizza, all that good stuff. Anyway, it's worth trying.

2.03.2006

2.02.2006

Memories

I just spent the last hour or so cleaning out my closet (non clothes items), mostly my jewelry (what little I have) and a few shoe boxes of old memories. I love going through all my old memories. Mainly I save things like letters (back when people wrote letters) and other small things like tickets to places I've been, postcards, and a few other very small trinkets.

Anyway, i definitely took a trip down memory lane today. It actually felt pretty good. My favorite box contained pretty much all my letters and notes from middle school and high school. I only re-read a few, otherwise I would have been there for hours, but it was enough to make me smile and bring back things I had forgotten. Anyway, it was just nice for once to look back to my high school days with joy instead of anger. I moved to va in 10th grade, and it was definitely not a good move for me. Jumping into the middle of high school didnt make it easy to connect with people. Not to mention the fact that it was the first non-DoDDs school I had been to since, I think, 2nd grade. Which I didnt think would be a big deal, but what I found out was this. Kids are clique-y. I just hadnt experienced that a whole lot. I mean, I was used to an environment in which every year about half (if not more) of the school was brand new. Everyone had to make friends fast, and for the most part, you werent picky or exclusive. People were friends on some level with almost everyone. For instance, when I was in 9th grade and living in Germany (my first and only year in Heidelberg), I got to know tons of people. And when people got together to hang out, it was pretty much an open invitation, we'd walk around town and jsut gather up whoever was around. Now maybe the fact that everyone lived literally on-top of everyone else (in apartments), which put us all in close proximity to each other had a lot to do with it. But still, even when we got to school, things didnt change. You ate lunch with whoever you wanted, at whatever table you wanted... no big deal. But then came herndon. And people had their friends, and apparently werent all that interested in making new ones. I mean, most people were nice to me in class, but no one ever thought to include me in anything outside of school. The year I got there, I was one of about 8 new people in the ENTIRE school. (not to mention that this school was bigger than all three of the previous high schools I had been to put together). Anyway, it was tough, but I managed to get through it. And I did end up make a few friends along the way, mostly from work (starbucks was good for something), but it certainly wasnt easy. And I think ever since then I've had a pretty tough time when it comes to making connections with people I meet. But after I graduated I basically deleted high school from my memory as much as possible, I now consider most of it to have been one long, bad dream. So it was nice today to find some positive memories.

It's a good thing I dont throw out absolutely everything.