People I Hate At the Airport

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People I Hate At the Airport

A friend of mine just gently reminded me that I have a blog and should perhaps post stuff every now and again (Hi Abby!), so here’s a little something I was thinking about while traveling across country a week or so ago.

Flying can be exciting. You climb into a giant metal tube with wings that doesn’t seem like it should be able to get 3 feet off the ground let alone 33,000 feet, cram yourself into a tiny seat surrounded by hundreds of strangers and soar off to destinations as exotic as the far east, or as mundane as the Atlanta airport (through which all travels, no matter what the ultimate destination, seem to be routed). It’s sorta thrilling when you think about it. You can travel thousands of miles in just a couple of hours, and go just about anywhere on the globe in a plane.

But mostly air travel is a long stretch of boredom punctuated by panicked running from gate to gate. You wait in line a lot, first to check in, then at security, then to board. You may sit around at a gate for hours between flights, or you might have to sprint from one side of an airport to the other to catch a connection–only to arrive and find that you are just in time to wait in  line some more. I generally don’t mind air travel, but there are certain kinds of people who can make your trip more stressful and irritating than it needs to be.

  1. People who stand on the moving walkway. Look. I know, it’s fun to stand on the moving walkway…it’s like a big horizontal escalator. Whee! ou don’t have anywhere to be any time soon, since your connecting flight doesn’t board for 6 hours, or you’ve shown up for your flight 4 hours ahead of time. Why not just stand there and be swept gently along, save your energy, watch the world go by…But some of us have places we’re trying to go, and go QUICKLY. That’s what the moving walkway is for. It’s not so you can be extra lazy and avoid walking for 50 feet. It’s so that those of us with tight timetables can move a little faster without having to run through a crowd of people. If you MUST stand, please follow the posted instructions to stay to the right. That means don’t stand there with your rolly bag blocking the whole walkway, leaning absently to one side and texting on your phone. Don’t make me kill you.
  2. People who can’t stop making out with their SO. We all get it. You’re deeply in love, or lust or whatever. You like each other’s faces so much that you want to eat them. You must be cuddling, rubbing, stroking, touching at all times. If you don’t, you will DIE. Or so it seems, since you can’t leave off your PDA for a couple of hours. You might have noticed that there are about 20 people belted into seats crammed into the 10 feet of space right around you, and we can’t escape your love-fest, as much as we might want to. It’s nauseating. Stop it.
  3. The Jersey Shore takes to the air. Some folks still get dressed up to travel. And that’s cool! Apparently looking snazzy and put together can score you an upgrade at the gate sometimes, and everyone likes to feel pretty. But you, girl in jeans so tight they look to be painted on, sparkly halter top, 3 lbs of makeup and the tallest heels I’ve ever seen not on a stripper…you should maybe rethink your strategy. You do not look hot as you awkwardly toddle along the concourse with your zebra-print bag bumping along after you. You look like you’re trying not to fall over.
  4. Angry guy in line to board. I know, it’s ridiculous that they’ve just gotten through the Zone 2 passengers, and they’re already out of overhead space. This is what happens when airlines charge $25 to check a bag, and everyone flying decides to pack as much as possible into a slightly-too-large carry-on roller bag. You seem to have done the same thing as the rest of us, I see by your stuffed expandable briefcase and carry on bag. They are willing to gate-check the excess! We’ve gotten around that $25 expense! Woo! Now stop grousing, and huffing, and heaving sighs as though begin separated from your luggage for 2 hours is a great injustice. You’re only making this process more unpleasant for everyone. Get a grip.
  5. Opinionated guy talking politics (et al) in-flight. Much like the couple across the isle trying to inhale each other’s faces, you are just too close for everyone’s comfort. You seem to be unaware that you are surrounded by people on every side, or that your voice carries easily the length of the plane. There’s a good chance that your abrasive, intense assessment of American politics is going to piss off about half of those people, excite about half, and annoy anyone left over. Everyone ends up riled up, trapped in close proximity to dozens of strangers, feeling uncomfortable and irritated by the whole experience. Ditto for discussions about divisive religious issues, overly-detailed personal stories, medical/physical details about you or anyone you know, and awkwardly doomed-to-fail pickup attempts on the person sitting next to you. Hush.

I’m sure I’ve left some people out of this list. Feel free to chime in with your own in the comments!

Next time, a much more positive, less angry-sounding post, promise. 🙂 Perhaps I’ll tell you about my 30th Birthday in California, or my summer musical plans!

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A Day in Monterey

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Today Abby, baby Genesis and I headed down the coast a bit to Monterey. The drive down was gorgeous, and it was amazing to watch the landscape change from mountains to redwoods to dunes and farmland…there is a lot going on in this state, for sure. We arrived around lunch time and were starving, so we quickly parked by the beach and took a stroll down the fisherman’s warf.

The place is lined with restaurants (didn’t think to get a picture of this–you’ll just have to believe me that it’s intense), all basically with the same menu at the same price point, all offering the same view off the two sides of the pier. In our first few steps, we were stopped by a girl standing outside one of these restaurants, offering clam chowder samples out of a vat in a cart. A little surprised, we happily accepted, and sipped our little plastic cups (it really was delicious) while she told us all about how stroller friendly they were, about the beautiful ocean-view table she had for us, and gave us a card for a free calamari appetizer. We decided to walk all the way down the strip before deciding.

As soon as we turned away from her, though, we realized that her tactic was not at all unique. Outside of every restaurant was a man or woman offering samples of THEIR chowder and talking up THEIR eateries. Since we were still holding our little sample cups, we were immediate targets for the “Come on over here and compare” pitch. One could easily, we soon realized, eat a whole meals’ worth of chowder in samples just walking down the pier. It was a bit intimidating, but sorta hilarious too.

We avoided getting another chowder sample and walked to the end of the pier, where I got to meet my first seals and sea lions outside of a zoo. They were really fun to watch for a few minutes. Most were lounging in the sun on a wooden platform, but others had formed a sort of…seal clump in the water, and were just floating on their backs with flippers sticking up out of the water. A boat came through, and had to come to a full stop and drive around them.

After seal-gawking for a few minutes, we chose the path of least resistance and returned to that first restaurant for lunch (much to the delight of the chowder-hawker out front). This turned out to be a fantastic idea; the food was delicious. The free calamari did not suck (I was a bit surprised by this) and our blackened fish sandwiches were wonderful. We chatted, watched a seagull hang out on the window next to us, and enjoyed a nice leisurely lunch while Genesis continued napping.

Eventually, though, she did wake up, and we headed on over to the Monterey Aquarium, which is awesome. I especially enjoyed the jellyfish exhibit, and the huge tank with sturgeon, seven-gilled sharks and lots of other fishies. So cool. There were a lot of beautiful tanks there, and we had a great time. Sadly, due to dogged interference by a small boy intent on violently splashing, I didn’t get to pet a ray, which was a drag. But, I DID get to pet a sea cucumber, which was…sorta gross actually. Not slimy, just squishy feeling.

After the aquarium we made a brief stop at The Twisted Stitch so I could get my yarn fix (you didn’t really think I’d be able to come home without finding a yarn shop, did you?). I had a lovely chat with the proprietor, Dawn, about the rationalization of vacation yarn as souvenir rather than stash, and she helped me pick out an appropriately California yarn. We did, however, find perfectly good reasons for me to buy yarns from Europe (she’s from Whales, and Europe is right next to Whales, so it’s basically all the same thing), from Australia (she has an accent, so an argument could be made, since they also have accents), or from Lorna’s Laces, because they started out in California. Smart woman, Dawn. I did manage to limit myself to one skein, but only by exercising self control.

It has really been a lovely day. But I’m being called to the table, where Abby’s brother has crafted a home-made BBQ sauce for grilled chicken, and then we’re going for FroYo. Yup, life is hard out here. 🙂

Californication

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Good morning from Los Angeles! I’m sitting in Terminal A three hours early for my flight out to San Jose, sipping a giant earl grey (yay!) and reluctantly munching on a really bad bagel (boo). It’s been an eventful couple of days out here on the west coast!

Until this weekend I’d never been further west than Oklahoma City, unless you count South Korea, which is, of course, considered the far east. So this week, I decided to combine a competition in southern California, a visit to see my friend Abby and meet this beautiful baby:

and another competition in North Carolina into one airport-heavy vacation week.

My adventure started with a 4 am drive to the Philadelphia airport, which I have to thank my husband for. He’s a champ. The flight out was uneventful, but seemed very long. I’ve been on a number of double digit-hour international flights, and, while they are always long, this one seemed to drag on more than those. I can partially blame this on the lack of in flight food and entertainment to distract me. Delta apparently doesn’t offer its passengers with food beyond the obligatory bag of peanuts or cookies and half a can of soda. You can buy things like Pringles, or sandwiches or little cheese and fruit platters for an exorbitant amount, of course. Just as you can pay $6 to watch a movie in-flight. I opted to play on my phone and knit instead.
That, and an ongoing game of “your neighbor’s thigh/shoulder/arm are hot lava” with the dude sitting next to me, which got old pretty fast. At first, this stranger seemed like an eye-candy gift from the airplane gods, but his manner, the fact that he wore sunglasses the entire flight (even while watching movies) and that he spent a goodly amount of time digging in his ears and flipping the resulting ick to the floor did a lot to take the shine off his looks.

I will admit to being That Tourist, taking pictures out the airplane window as we flew. But honestly, Iowa from the air is so damned surreal that I just couldn’t help myself. An endless, perfect grid of farm lands as far as the eye could see, interrupted only by the meandering of rivers, and little snarls of town. Bless you, Iowans. Your state looks hypnotically boring.

I had also never really seen deserts in person before (and I guess I still haven’t, really) so the sight of all that orangey red dryness was amazing.

I really didn’t expect to like L.A. In fact, I thought I’d probably hate it. But when I imagined the city, I had always left out the mountains. They provide this sense of scale and beauty to the city. Honestly, even though it’s enormous, and crowded, and the traffic is horrible and the smog oppressive… Los Angeles really is a beautiful place. I can see why people gravitate here. I would never want to live in this city, but it’s  place that I would love to come back and really explore.

I made the drive out to San Bernardino, where I had Pricelined myself a hotel…and was a bit bemused to find that it was in the sketchiest part of town, and seemed to be home to a large transient population. On the way in, I witnessed a colorful altercation in the parking lot, and a dude staggering in to his room clutching a 40 in a paper bag, plus the belongings of some local homeless person stuffed behind a bush by the front door. Good times. I didn’t feel unsafe, though, and having lived in Old Louisville for awhile, this kind of population was not a strange sight to me.

After wandering forth to find my first meal of the day (it was 4:30 EST, and I was about to starve to death or fall asleep or both), I headed to Redlands to rehearse with my pianist. The campus is beautiful and tiny. My pianist was friendly and patient with my exhaustion-addled brain. After a fruitful rehearsal, I went back to the hotel and slept for 12 hours straight.


Since my body, though confused, was still basically on EST, I got up early Sunday morning, and, since I didn’t sing till 3:45, I decided to go on an adventure up into the mountains. I drove up a somewhat terrifying, though incredibly beautiful highway called the “Rim of the World.” I stopped on the way up, climbed a hill and took these pictures of the valley:


This is the kind of road they use in sports car commercials–curvy, narrow and clinging to the edge of a mountain. There had been a snow storm up there the night before, and the trees were still snowy and glorious. It was interesting to start out the morning among palm trees, and within 20 minutes be amid snow-covered pines. Lucy, my rented Nissan Versa, was a champ, and we got to the top without incident.

My destination was Arrowhead Lake Village, an extremely touristy little lakeside town that seemed to be mostly rental cabins and a very nice shopping plaza. It was basically deserted, though, on a Sunday morning between ski season and the summer boating folks. I had breakfast at a waffle place on the boardwalk, and enjoyed the view.


I tried to stop and get some good photos of the snowcaps on the way down, but since it was a little later in the morning, more folks were out and there were 4X4 trucks impatiently riding my tailpipe the whole way down. I got a few pictures, but none of the massive snowy mountains off to the sides.


I went back to the hotel, did my hair and makeup, then headed to campus to walk around and explore some more before my performance time. The campus is very sweet, with lots of big trees (palm and not) and big green lawns. I ran across a sizable
orange orchard next to the tennis courts…because of course. The smell was amazing, since most of the trees were still in bloom. The bees thought so, too, so I kept a respectful distance.

I performed pretty well, despite having some ensemble issues in my Bellini aria. There was a red-headed baritone from CCM who sang right before me, and who offered that damned Figaro aria. He sang it very well, and since its hart to beat something so familiar and humorous, I wasn’t sure I’d make the final round.

While waiting for the results, I went out for frozen yogurt–and shattered my phone when it fell from a bathroom sink. Blast. Amazingly, the touch screen still works, so I went and bought a roll of packing tape, and taped over the shattered glass. It only has to last till later today when I can get to an Apple store in San Jose. Bummer, but I’m lucky that it didn’t die completely, since I’ve been using it not only to keep in touch, but as a map to get around.

I bought some microwavable stuff for dinner, and headed back to the hotel, not expecting to make finals. To my happy surprise, I did, and my dinner was abandoned while I went back out to sing again. I had not been totally happy with my afternoon performance, so I was happy to get a second shot. I killed it the second time around, though I got cut off by the timer just as the story in the aria was getting really good. The red-headed baritone from CCM also made the finals, and sang extremely well, so I wasn’t sure which of us would prevail.

Fun fact about competitions with pianists: they all play the same damned piece. Sure, it’s by different composers, and different musical periods and all that, but every single one of them will play something bombastic with a million runs and acrobatic dexterity. Its amazing, sure, to hear all those very talented musicians at the top of their game. But look…9 people is a lot to hear the same kind of piece over and over again. Naturally, the ones the audience seemed to respond to best were those that chose something a little off the beaten path–the teenager who played Ginastera’s Cajun Dances, for instance, or the one who just went for the direct approach and played Debussy’s Fireworks. At any rate, it was midnight EST by the time everyone had performed, and I was sleepy enough to not care much who won. I just wanted to go back to bed.

I made friends with a pianist from Loma Linda at the reception waiting for results, and was dismayed to note that none of the vocalists seemed willing to speak to each other. C’mon people. I know that it’s not unusual for singers to act like this at competitions or at auditions, but an air of aloof superiority really isn’t very attractive. The results came in, finally, and I was thrilled to find that they had chosen two winners from the vocal category instead of one! Both the CCM baritone and I will be returning this summer for the festival concert. My pianist friend won too, and rushed over to share a big congratulatory hug. 🙂

So I’ll be spending my 30th birthday back out here in California at the 61st annual Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival! I can’t wait. 🙂

Now, this blog entry is going to be quite long enough, and though I still have an hour and a half before my flight, I’m going to sign off here and go start the book I bought, Fenny on the Couch. More updates to come from San Jose/San Fransisco, and then from the Long Leaf Opera competition in NC!

But hey, at least I’m getting stuff done

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When one is coming out of a weeks-long major depressive episode, productivity returns gradually. It’s a bit like sleeping on your arm funny and waking up to find it all numb and useless. You can’t then immediately go play a piano concerto, or knit something, or type or do anything else particularly dextrous with your blood-deprived limb. It takes a little while for movement to come back. Its the same thing with the will to Do Things in a that post-depression numbness.

So productivity reappears in fits and starts. I make myself a list of things to do at the beginning of the day, then do maybe one of them before returning to an hour-long couch-stupor. (Sometimes, truth be told, making the list is exhausting enough to leave me feeling ready for a nap.) So my day runs about like this:

Get up. Consider working out before breakfast. Sometimes do. More often, eat a bagel instead.

Check email, Facebook, read blogs, check on applications…acknowledge that what I need to do is SEND emails, FILL OUT applications etc. Realize that it is 9:00 and I’m already failing at my day. Languish in my failure for a bit, while looking at Pinterest.

Rouse myself from this distraction and Make a List. Making a list is good! It shows intent, and thoughtfulness, and requires me to actually address the things that need doing! Yay!

Realize that my list is reeeaaally long, and will require me to either a: talk to people or b: put on clothes and leave the house and THEN talk to people. This sounds really cruddy. Sit for awhile and contemplate this hardship. Check Facebook again.

Realize that it’s now lunchtime. Regret the wasting of half my day–feel like a failure some more. Reevaluate my list and strike things that I have now waited to long to do. Do one very simple list item. Make lunch. Eat sullenly.

Energized by my meal, I decide to practice for awhile. This has to happen soon, before people start getting home from school/work and the volume of my singing causes some kind of torch-bearing mob to descend on my apartment. Woo! I’m so productive and motivated!

Finish practicing. Mark it off the list (it’s always on the list). Realize how much of the list remains. Check Facebook again.

After a couple of hours of knitting and watching reruns on Netflix, I am suddenly moved to start dinner. Make a nutritious and delicious meal for my husband and myself. Or, (more likely) throw together something fairly painless that requires no trips to the store.

Gripped by an inexplicable urge to Accomplish Things, I strike off several more list items. Woo! Check me out!

Decide to make a cheesecake. At 10:00 pm. Of course.

Stay up too late. Feel bad about waking husband on the way to bed.

So it’s not that I don’t Do Things. Hey, I just did at least three things in the last 20 minutes!  (Pay rent? Check! Call to replace that debit card I lost in the house sometime in October? Check! Blog post? Check! I’m on FIRE!) I just don’t FEEL like I accomplish things, since those little victories are so unpredictably spaced throughout the day. This is the mental version of pins-and-needles, my brain coming back to life. Ow.

*I swear I’m going to start posting more normal, happy things soon. Like stories about my husband cooking! And maybe that cheesecake recipe i just tried! Or something funny about my cats! I have no idea! Exclamation Points! Eee!

Under the Influence

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Depression affects people differently. For some people, depression can become a rad fear-proof exoskeleton. For others, it becomes inspiration for amazing, hilarious writing. Not me. I get this instead:

(A text conversation between me and my husband earlier today)

Me: I’m…in a trance today. Was angry earlier. Now I’m just…floaty?

And slow.

And a bit dumb, but still floaty so I don’t care that I’m dumb?

J: And all of the sudden I learn that you’re drunk and floaty.

Me: Dude, I DO feel drunk. I’m drunk on depression! Not as cool as drunk on power, or drunk on love…

J: 🙂

 

Whatever. I’ll take it.

The edging always takes longer than I think

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I mentioned awhile (as in a few months…) back that I was making a blanket for my friend’s baby. Since that blanket is now done and safely wrapped around it’s new owner in California, I’m free to tell y’all the details.

After much deliberation (read: waaaay too much time spent on Ravelry), I chose “Hansel,” which is a version of the traditional Shetland shawl called “Hap” (meaning a warm covering – to wrap warmly). It’s simple, with a diagonal garter square in the middle, but has a lovely feather and fan lace border, with knitted on lace edging. Durable, but delicate enough for a pretty baby thing, especially when worked in a nice easy-care yarn like Knit Picks Swish DK. And it easily allows for the incorporation of more than one color, which is a big plus for me. The traditional all white/pink/powder blue baby blanket is nice enough, but I’d much rather use some color. This pattern can be as simple or as brilliant as you want. Lovely.

It is now my go-to baby blanket, at least for girls. I’ll have to take a poll among parents of baby boys to see if it’s too “frilly.” Some won’t care a bit, but some will, and if I spend a zillion hours and a pretty big chunk of $$ on something hand-knitted, I’d just as soon it be something that they’ll like and use. I could probably dial back the femininity using different colors and by leaving off the triangular lace border.

This is how it turned out:

 

I am really happy with the results, though I think I might do the next one in a tighter gauge, since it grew A LOT in blocking, and the resulting fabric feels a little more delicate than I was initially after. I suspect it’ll shrink in a bit when machine washed and dried. That, by the way, is one of my prerequisites for choosing yarn for baby projects. If you can’t machine wash it, and hopefully machine dry as well, chances are you will be hesitant to use it; this yarn is great for that very reason. I machine washed it (always a moment of panic when I drop a newly-done project into the wash), and pinned it out on our full sized guest bed.

 

It at LEAST doubled in size. Surprise! Also, things that I hate--the uneven YO's at the corner facing the camera. I always manage to find the most flawed part of a project when photographing. They behaved better after blocking.

It took much longer than I had planned, first due to a yarn problem, then because I had a completely unrealistic idea of how long that edging was going to take.

I had initially planned to use some white in there as well for the skinny stripes, but Knit Picks really didn’t cooperate. Who knew “white” was such a difficult color to keep in stock? In the end, I’m grateful, since I think the grey works better than the white would have. It also turned out to be a a serious yarn hog, and I had to order more twice before I got to the end.

As for the edging…well its a mystery really. This isn’t my first rodeo, and I know better than to think I can whip something like that out in an evening. And yet, I was absolutely convinced that this was true when I sat down to begin. I got halfway around over the course of several evenings, only to run out of yarn. Reality bites. I know Genesis doesn’t mind that it was late–heck her mom ended up being pregnant a bit longer than she had planned, I can deal with my project taking longer than I had planned.

 

Excuses

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I’m tired. I don’t want to go practice.

Work sucked, and now I just want to go home and sit down and rest for awhile.

My feet hurt. So does my back. Singing will make my back hurt more.

I don’t think I have enough quarters to park off campus.

I don’t think I should park in the lot at the music building. I’m not supposed to park there till after six, or I could get a ticket.

I don’t think I have the right binder with me. I have the book, but I think my markings are in my binder. If I go home for my binder, I probably won’t go back out. I should just go home.

Did I do laundry last night? I really need to do laundry. If I don’t start it now, it won’t be dry by the time I go to bed. I should just go home.

My throat feels tight. I think I slept with my mouth open a little last night, and work always makes my sinuses go nuts. I probably shouldn’t try to sing. I’m trying to unlearn habits, and that’s hard when I’m not 100%.

There will probably be a million students there, and I won’t be able to get a room.

Did I pay the electric bill? I really need to pay the bills this afternoon. I should just go on home and do that.

The weather’s been so wacky lately, my whole head is so messed up. I’ll probably just sound like crap today and get frustrated and tired really fast. I probably won’t get anything done.

I’m hungry. I should go get something to eat. But I can’t eat and then sing right after.

Someone is going to stop me and tell me I can’t be here, since I’m not a student. I’m sure that guy I passed in the stairs is on to me. The campus cop will probably be here any second to escort me out.

I’m tired.

I have no idea what arias I should be working on anyway. I don’t like my arias. I should go home and listen to some stuff and order scores and pick out new rep. Then I can sit on the couch and relax.

The damned lights are all red anyway.

I can’t get in without a card key.

This was a waste of time.

I can’t possibly ask someone in another room to let me in. They’re probably not supposed to. They’ll look at me like I’m crazy when I ask and it’ll be awkward for both of us.

I’m tired.

I suck at singing anyway. If I was going to make it, I would have by now. I’m too old and have too many faults. I should just go home and start looking for other things to do with my life.

I picked the smallest practice room ever. I’ll sound like crap in here, and it’ll be hard to sing in. I can’t go ask that girl for another room.

 

Sometimes it’s not worth trying to shut up the little voices in your head. It’s easier to just ignore them and forge ahead.