Writer, Christian, bibliophile, musician, generalist.
1. I am feeling quite behind on a lot of things. And yet, I am also feeling unmotivated to do productive things. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t have a pretty stressful weekend, but still. I feel like I should be doing more. I’m leading a discussion tomorrow, and I need to do laundry/clean my apartment, not to mention my reading.
I need to cut myself some slack, though. However, I worry that I’m not keeping track of the slack I cut myself.
2. Fried foods are always a bad idea. I don’t know why I forget that, but I do. It’s awful. I feel like crap.
3. I had a really amazing workout this morning. I ran 5 miles at a faster pace than I’ve been used to, and then lifted weights for a while. After I was finished, I felt so strong and energized; what a great feeling. Plus, I looked in the mirror and really liked what I saw. I weighed myself to back that up as well.
I never thought I’d be anything near a gym rat, but I am loving this.
4. I have been feeling really blessed lately, and I think that’s worth affirming.
1. Sometimes, the jobs I do are far more complicated than they should have to be.
Take my job as worship leader. You’d think planning a service, rehearsing, and then playing would be complicated enough, but then throw in nearly being assaulted by a disgruntled congregant and it’s rather nightmarish. I did my best to handle the situation cooly, but I very nearly lost that cool. She kept trying to get chest to chest with me, but I fortunately managed to repeatedly edge around her. I thought she was going to hit me.
The funny part was when she accused me of not listening to her because I “don’t want to have to listen to a woman.” Egalitarian Derek Boemler? I actually laughed at her. Straw Man fallacy much?
The things I put up with.
2. We’re losing an hour tonight, springing forward. That would be a lot easier to handle, had we not also gotten snow this morning.
3. I was hungry pretty well all day today, and for no real reason. I hate when that happens.
1. There is a haze over Chicago.
And I need to be up in 6 hours.
It was very nearly 50 degrees today, which melted a good deal of the snow we’ve been inundated with over these past couple of months. It’s been a rough winter, but spring is on the way.
2. I couldn’t ask for a more ideal night tonight. Hopleaf with my sweetheart, Netflix, and conversation.
3. Except for my 5:00 lesson, I taught everyone in these past two days. It’s about time!
4. Speaking of things being about time, I meditated today, and it made a world of difference in my mood and outlook on life. This needs to happen more.
1. Today was the first Thursday all term I taught all of my scheduled students. It was a small triumph. Trying to get everyone healthy has proven a hard time this winter.
I feel particularly blessed with a good immune system. I realize not everyone is so fortunate. But sometimes I wonder who is sick and who is “sick”.
Discernment is key.
2. Sometimes I can’t English well when I speak. I trip over words and offer really vague ideas of what I actually mean.
But I felt today that even though I stumbled and rambled a bit at times, I was more mindful of what I was saying and how I was saying it.
I tend to get caught in this strange web of wanting to analyze how I was speaking at a given moment, so I keep talking to see how I was doing or how I can fix it. But then I end up either repeating myself a bunch or else saying things that don’t make sense.
I need to keep working on this speaking thing. I’m pretty decent at talking, but speaking is a different matter.
3. Cotton mouth. All day. For no reason. Awful.
1. I really love leading worship as of late. I kind of go on autopilot to a certain extent; and even playing having previously me only one other person in a quartet, I really enjoy the communication that happens between members of a group.
Ash Wednesday worship at Redeemer in Swift Hall was fantastic.
2. There is a group of older people who frequent the Growling Rabbit nearly every day who I find very interesting. They always have great conversation. It’s a very cultured group,; a bit outdated, sure, but cultured nonetheless.
There are at least two people in the group who are opera buffs, and at least one who plays piano to some proficiency. I keep hearing their conversations about opera and I have to really resist the urge to butt in. I have a couple of times to help with a pronunciation discussion, but I really like these people I don’t know.
One guy, Dan, was talking to me about wanting to go down to Dallas to see Die Tote Stadt, an obscure Korngold opera that happens to be one of my favorites.
Another guy won’t even consider any opera that’s not Baroque. He’s going to spend 7 weeks in Europe over the next two months, and Baroque opera is the only thing he’ll pay money for. I mean, he’s going to se Jarrouski sing Vivaldi, but still; there’s a lot of great opera out there produced after 1750. Yikes.
3. My RSS feed is out of control. I’ve been busy these last two days. It’s been very rare that there’s ever a balance on my Feedly account, but it hasn’t been at 0 for over three days.
1. I have been doing an ever-consistent job writing on Tumblr, but I am doing a horrible job of keeping up with my reading on Tumblr.
Reddit has taken over.
2. I went to the Bastian Voice Institute today for a stroboscopy and to talk to someone about learning to speak better. I’m often fatigued beyond retrieval, a problem which is plaguing me both in teaching and in performance.
I think the answer, in the end, is going to be mindfulness. When I’m mindful of my speech, I support my voice, and also use a healthy kind of core. When I’m not mindful, I tend to fry and my voice cracks as a result of poor support.
I need to start meditating again. It really aligns me and gets my priorities in line. But it never seems like I have time for it, even just 20 minutes. The ironic thing? Meditating always seems to create time for me, rather than wasting it. I always come out of meditation knowing exactly what I should do next. I think this needs to happen.
3. I have missed frozen custard, and it was about time I had some tonight.
1. I am in need of a better to-do list/email organizer/life planner. I’d been using a great app for iOS called Clear, but they don’t make an Android version. And I find AnyDo to be oppressive; or maybe I need to figure out how to use it better.
My gmail and Evernote accounts become cluttered before I even have a chance to organize them. They’re like a sort of symbolic microcosm for my room. Not to mention the awful Novell service NCC uses for its web services. I’m not sure who built it, but it seems likely to me that they either had some connection to the college, or they featured prominently at some ITS convention that convinced our IT people to use it. They were wrong, in any case. I’m sure I can somehow forward all of my NCC email to my Gmail account, but it’s more complicated than it’s worth.
Ah, just found out it was built on Linux. That explains a lot.
In any case, there are a lot of things that make me say, “Dang, I should do that.” Only to have myself forget what I’d intended, or else try and keep multiple lists in my head. I could use memory techniques to recall that information, but it seems a far better idea to outsource that task.
2. I’ve been finding that my memory takes a minute to jog up to speed. I love discussing the books I’ve read in-depth, as I’ve almost always formed opinions, but as soon as I try, I’m blank. But then once the conversation gets rolling, I find I can recall a lot more.
I was discussing the first 104 pages of Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea (which I started today) and realized I couldn’t recall what I’d wanted to say about it. But then I remembered exactly what it was and exactly how I wanted to say it.
If only that could happen more quickly.
3. My mind is going a thousand directions right now. I need to settle this out.
Actually I need to go to bed.
1. I’ve been having a cough on days where I run, which makes it seem like I’m getting sick when I’m not. And that’s annoying.
I very rarely get sick, which I’m thankful for. But sometimes I wish my body would just get sick so I could get it over with.
But you know what they say: be careful what you wish for.
2. I’m glad that I have as much time to read as I do. I know that won’t always be the case, but it’s really nice while it lasts.
I’m 2 books into March, meaning 17 for the year so far.
I can’t be stopped.
3. Today was an awesome day. I met my girlfriend’s mom, read a bunch, and ran 4 miles.
Actually, this was a fantastic weekend in general. I don’t think I’d do a single thing differently.
1. I have been feeling more and more like a night person recently. Maybe it’s a seasonal thing or something. But tonight at around 10:30, I got a strong urge to clean up my apartment a bit. So I did.
I’m also feeling really creative about now. I want to do art things.
But I should probably go to bed soon, too.
Where does all the time go?
2. We have gotten another 4 inches of snow today, with promise of 2-4 more. What is this winter going to take to end?
This is some awful stuff.
3. I ran 5 miles today. I’m thinking that instead of giving something up for Lent, I’m going to commit to running 100 miles over the course of it. I think that would probably be a good endeavor.
I mean, I guess I like not running more than I love running, but I love the feeling after I run more than either of those two things.
Which is paying off.
I now weigh 11 pounds less than the weight I lied about on my driver’s license. I thought that was hilarious.
1. I went and saw Northwestern’s production of Little Women tonight and was really impressed. I thought there was some mighty fine singing there across the board.
I really enjoyed seeing everyone I knew, as well. It had been a long time since I’d seen much of my graduating class, and I was long overdue for it. I love spending time around opera people and it’s a shame I don’t get to more often. It seems we’re all at a point in our lives where we keep our collective heads down and work. Or at least I am.
Even greater was talking to my teacher, Steve. I ran into him downstairs and he stayed back for a couple of minutes and talked to me about how my teaching was going, genuinely invested in how I was doing. He also had some great words of encouragement that in the beginning, students suck the energy right out of you and it leaves you physically and mentally exhausted. But then after a while, they start giving energy back to you. That was exactly the sort of thing I needed to hear right now. I felt exactly what he’s talking about. Even now, there are some students who seem like they are doing everything they can do to drag their feet. And then others constantly have great response to what we’re doing. I don’t think it’s so much a teaching style thing as an attitude thing.
I’m writing this down here, because I know I’ll need it later, too.
2. My voice gets so tired. I need to learn to speak better.
3. I am tired, and yet I don’t want to sleep. What’s with that?
1. I am through with winter.
It has been colder than I had ever imagined it being for longer than I thought possible. This winter has stretched on and on. It was in the [very] low 30s last week, but now were back to single digits.
The skies were deceptively clear every morning this week, too. You look outside and it looks like it would be about 70°. But then you step outside.
I need to buy a parka.
Immer Winter, nimmer Weihnachten.
2. I need to sing more. More in general, and more for people. it’s been too long.
3. Sometimes I miss writing a letter to end these.
4. I had 3 hour-long lessons cancel today, meaning I only taught for 4 hours.
I need to figure something out with my syllabus.
1. So remember when I said I was likely going to finish The Goldfinch last night?
I did. If I wasn’t about to fall asleep, I’d write more on it. I think that will have to wait a couple of days. Profoundly beautiful book. Highly recommended. It’s early in the year, but it will likely be near the top of the list of my favorite books this year. It’s up for the Man Booker, and although I don’t necessarily know exactly what it’s up against, I’d be shocked if it wasn’t a major contender.
2. Additionally, remember when I said I was going to finish this month behind my goal pace?
Not a chance. I just finished C.S. Lewis’ first book in his Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew. I realized recently that I hadn’t read these books since 7th grade— over 12 years ago. I’m due for a reread.
Like many great childhood classics, these have aged well. The references Lewis makes (I wouldn’t go so far as to call it allegory) are still spot-on and wonderfully written. I’m looking forward to reading more of the series.
3. Book series coming down the pipe:
If anyone has any recommendations, I am wide open to them.
I also need to reread East of Eden. It’s been almost 4 years since I read it. Time to go on that journey again.
4. I am running out of places to put books. I need to find another bookshelf, stat.
5. The first four thoughts have all been about books. And now this one, too. I love reading.
But it wasn’t until my girlfriend texted me and told me to look at the sunset that I actually did. I’d had my back to the full view of it in Skokie, nose shoved in a book.
And beautiful it was. I’m glad I didn’t actually miss it. But that serves as a reminder that there are things other than books out there.
6. I should really get a job at a bookstore. I think I’d be perfect for that.
1. It is often really difficult to stop myself from reading. I’m about 130 pages from the end of The Goldfinch after having read ~130 today. I might finish it before I go to bed. Not sure if I’ll be able help it.
But, on that same front, I think I’m going to finish the month behind my goal pace for the first time in over a year. Which sounds bad, but I think it’s good for me.
I’m enjoying this book, and stopping to smell the roses is important to me right now.
2. Singing has become difficult for me lately. After the audition thing a couple of weeks ago, my confidence in my voice is about shot. My low range has faltered even more because of it. And not only that, but my high range feels really tight as well.
I carry so much tension when I sing, and I have no ideas on how to get rid of it. I’d love a voice lesson, but it’s so hard/expensive to get in with my teacher, I can hardly do it. And it’s only classical singing that tenses me up like that. I can do any other style- jazz, folk, pop— and be fine. But the moment I launch into an aria, the back of my neck goes rigid and the tension spreads throughout my upper body. I do all I can to release it, but I just get more and more tense.
And worse yet, I feel like there’s no one I can really talk to about this. Singing, at least for me, is a very hidden thing. Admitting weakness is a faux-pas. I really need to start coaching, but I’ve really got nothing to prepare for.
Maybe I just need to find something to prepare for then. I’d planned on doing a recital that’s not going to happen in April. But maybe it can still happen in May or June. I need some singing to look forward to.
3. In related news, I need to keep rereading this article, "How to Stop Giving a F*ck What People Think".
4. Someone just walked by my window and sang a single line from “Heat of the Moment”. Okay.
1. So a couple of weeks ago, I started moving to Wordpress. Has that happened yet? Nope. It will eventually, though.
2. I decided to go down to the Art Institute for a while today, seeing as how I hadn’t been since last year. I have a deep appreciation for visual art, since it’s something I’m not particularly talented at.
I found myself particularly struck by Monet’s work today. I had what you could call an aha! moment over a couple of his paintings that took me somewhat off-guard. I had this clarifying realization that he could almost be considered one of the first realists. Monet is essentially the Impressionism movement in one painter. But at the same time, there’s a slow sort of realism to what he did. The colors aren’t true to life, but you can tell he painted exactly what he saw. His brush was in no way in debt to his imagination. The hay stacks especially were beautiful upon this realization; I could tell at exactly what time of day each was inspired. It gave me a touch of Wanderlust for Europe.
I also had a realization that next time, I should start with the modern wing. I always start in the basement with photography, go through the non-Western traditions, into Classicism, Romanticism, Modernism, and then finally American Romanticism. But by the time I get to even the moderns, I already have a headache due to the dry environment and constant walking. And Modernism takes a bit more thought than your average mythological scene; at least in my book. And when I finally get to the Americans, I wander through rather quickly thinking to myself, “Wow, we have that painting in Chicago?”
I wish I had more of an appreciation for the Dutch masters, but I don’t know how to change that. I’m not really sure why they don’t speak to me, but I always just want to pass them by.
3. These days are passing me by. I need even more variation so they don’t all slip away.
4. I am really happy to be in love with the woman I am in love with. I feel a lot like Petrarch when I think of transcribing how I feel about her; the words are not enough.
So suffice it to say, great things are happening.
1. I have been staying up much later than I had been. This is the second night in a row I’m going to bed after 1:00.
Who am I? I used to stay up past 2 every night. Strange.
Hopefully my body keeps up.
2. Real talk is good talk. Even if it makes you want to be sick.
3. Today was a really good day, in a very general sense. I’m thankful for that.