Monday, April 30, 2007

My Happy Place

Yesterday was the Pi Beta Phi Founders' Day luncheon for the Tucson club. I was one of the organizers for this event and, as the resident geek, one of my tasks was to print the programs. I went to Office Whatever on Saturday evening and got nice marble-printed paper that I thought would look nice. I got up at 5:30 on Sunday morning to start the print job. The first side (150 copies) printed perfectly, but when I flipped the stack of sheets over to print the reverse, the printer jammed with each sheet. After an hour of trying, I gave up, got dressed, and headed to Kinko's. I walked in, saying I had a crisis, and 15 minutes walked out with 150 perfectly printed and folder programs.

Then I headed for Starbucks to get my Sunday morning smiles.

I was wearing my newest creation, a coral shibori-dyed, sashiko-quilted jacket embellished with silk-screening outside and in. I have somewhere between 40 and 80 hours of work in this jacket and I absolutely love it. As I approached the door of Starbucks, a diminutive (read: cute and petite) woman was talking on her phone and held the door for me. She stopped her conversation to say, "great jacket." I replied, "thanks, I made it." I placed my mocha and scone order and was standing in line waiting for the mocha to be prepared. The woman, now finished with her conversation, came over and asked me to tell her more about the jacket. She is also a fiber person, but not as avid as I. She described the ways she improved her wedding gown ten years ago, how she removed the paste pearls and embellished with freshwater pearls, and so on. After she got her coffee, she came and sat with me and we talked for another half an hour.

She is an R.N. but getting very active in the holistic community in Tucson. She's involved in publishing a directory of holistic activities and practitioners in Tucson, and she's an absolutely fascinating woman.

So this week my happy place gave me not only smiles but a new friend.

Oh, and the luncheon? It went off without a hitch. We had about 100 of the Arizona Alpha actives (members of the collegiate chapter) in attendance — the largest number of actives who have attended this event in my seven years in Tucson. We recognized five women who have reached 50 years of Pi Phi membership this year. The only sadness of the day was that one of the five, my friend Pat Davis, couldn't attend, as she is in hospice with ovarian cancer, not expected to last out the week. My heart goes out to her sister, Ginny Wolfe, and her husband, Baird Davis.

I live for the day we find a cure for cancer.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mourning the Loss of a Musical Giant

I was deeply saddened this week to hear of the death of Mstislav Rostropovich, our beloved Slava. Anyone who ever performed under his baton knew him as Slava. The delight in his eyes when we sang particularly well or provided phrasing just as he wanted gave those of us in the chorus such joy.

What I loved the most was seeing the hugs and kisses he gave to the soloists and to Bob Shafer, when Bob came out to be acknowledged for his preparation of the chorus. To describe Slava as effusive is understating the enthusiasm and absolute bone-deep love he brought to his music-making.

What fun to read his daughter's statement:

"He is a passionate man and he has a real lust for life, and his
marriage is stronger because of it," his daughter Olga said when
asked by the Internet Cello Society in 2003 about his love for the
five Fs - "fiddles, food, females, friends and fodka."

I'll share with you three articles, if you're interested in reading more about this genius of a musician.
ABC News International
Lambert Orkis's memories
Transcript of Tim Page's online chat, "Rostropovich Remembered"

Spring in Tucson

I believe spring in Tucson means it still drops below 70 degrees at night, even though it rises into the 90s during the day.

I've seen this greenery outside my back door ever since I moved in and always wondered what it was. Now I know — it's an amaryllis. I just noticed the bloom yesterday, and send my thanks to Eileen and Jacki or whatever previous owner planted it. It's gorgeous!

I wish I could send you the fragrance of the star jasmine in the background. When I was growing up in Florida, these were called Confederate jasmine and I've always loved them. Maybe in Web 4.0 I'll be able to send you fragrances.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Timely E-mails

I received an e-mail from Williams-Sonoma today suggesting I enroll in a class at the local W-S store:

Knife Skills
Kitchen cutlery is redefined by each generation of cooks. Knowing which knife to use, how to hold it, and the proper way to slice, dice and chop are some of the basics this class will cover.

How did they know I needed this class?

Doctor, Plumber, Indian Chief

I cut my thumb yesterday. I was cutting my post-lunch apple, and got a little too enthusiastic with the knife. Now I have a ½" slit in my thumb and Steri-Strips holding it together for a few days until it stays together on its own.

I sat holding it through our weekly team meeting until about an hour-and-a-half had passed from the stabbing and it was still bleeding. Then I pinged my boss and e-mailed my team to tell them I was leaving to go to Urgent Care. In my e-mail to the team, I said, "Stop laughing - I am NOT a cook. I do many things well, but food-related things are not included in that list!"

So I got to Urgent Care and sat for over an hour before the doctor came in. Never mind that there was only one other patient in the whole facility. Thank God for iPods and newly downloaded SciFi novels.

When the doctor came in, he looked, evaluated, and then reached up into the cupboard to get the supplies he needed. Watch out! His too-short, untucked polo shirt rose up and his sagging pants were revealed, hanging way too low on his butt. Honey, I don't even want to see cracks like that on my plumber, much less on my doctor!

One thing about my daddy, the doctor. Boy, did he dress. It was even mentioned at his memorial service — what a fabulous wardrobe he had and how well he wore those fine threads. He would never have gone into the office without a tie, much less in an untucked polo shirt. Hmmm, did he even own a polo shirt? I don't think so. I think he wore freshly laundered and pressed button-down collar shirts when he went fishing. And the now-common practice of doctors wearing scrubs in the office? Never! The only time Daddy wore scrubs was when he actually scrubbed in to surgery and wore hospital-provided scrubs. He did not own a pair of scrubs. (The more I read and reread this post as I'm editing it, I cannot remember ever seeing Daddy in a t-shirt. I only ever saw him in cotton shirts that buttoned down the front. Freshly-pressed cotton shirts.)

He and Mother built a new house shortly after they got me and moved in at the end of 1951, when I was 18 months old. The house was on two acres on the shore of Lake Maitland. My brothers shared a bedroom that was big enough for two double beds and lots of space besides. Picture a hotel room with two doubles, then increase that size by 50% — that was the size of my brothers' room. Both my brothers' room and my parents' room had walk-in closets, a concept I believe was fairly new in that era. At one end of Mother and Daddy's closet were built-in drawers, 30" or 36" wide, for Daddy's underwear, topped by about six shallow drawers for all Daddy's ties. When he first put on a tie at 6:00 a.m., he would fastidiously tie it in a Windsor or half-Windsor or whatever. Then when he would get home at 11:00 that night, he would loosen the tie and place it in the drawer still tied. The next time he chose to wear that tie, his morning routine went a little faster. He would only untie his ties when he sent them to the cleaner. Lazy? Nah. Expeditious.

Maybe this is a standard guy-thing to do, but I've had four husbands and seen the way a few other guys live, and I've never observed this practice elsewhere.

Back to scrubs and surgery. Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University), where I spent my first miserable year of college, had a nursing program. The student nurses pursuing a B.S. degree would spend their junior year in Orlando at Florida Hospital. I had friends who went through the program and would tell me stories about my daddy. In fact, my high school boyfriend, Jim Seeley, now a doctor in Tennesee, got mad at me once because my daddy had told an off-color joke in the operating room when his sister was doing her rotation there.

<Sidebar On>
The sort of "off-color" joke that Daddy would tell while in surgery:
A guy's cat had three kittens. He named one Fluffy 'cause he was the fluffiest. He named the next one Sleepy 'cause he was the sleepiest. He named the last one Liberace 'cause he was the peeing-est (er, pianist — get it?).
Okay, in 1966 as a fledgling pianist, I thought the joke was great.
<Sidebar Off>

One other story about Daddy and his surgery routines. I think this story comes courtesy of my best friend Gail. When Daddy changed into his scrubs, he would put on the pair of shoes he had worn in medical school the first time he performed surgery. He would wear these as he scrubbed and walked into the operating room. Then he would walk up to the operating table, where a warm blanket had been placed on the floor. He would step out of his ancient shoes, and stand on the warm blanket while he worked. Some people may have thought that rather wierd. I find it charming.

Back to my thumb — here's the good news. I've realized today that one can type without using the left thumb. Woo hoo!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Go Figure!

When Mr. Match and I were seriously involved, about the July-September time frame last year, I became pixel pals with his daughter. Jennifer is 25 and pursuing a second bachelor's degree, this time at University of Georgia in Athens. Her first degree is from Univ. of Central Florida - yet another small coincidence in these interconnected lives.

She and I became cyberfriends as we share a lot of interests in common, primarily fabric dyeing. She said to me several times that she and her mom hoped Mr. Match would grow up with the dissolution of his last relationship. Jenn has let her dad know how much she likes me, over all the other women in his life.

She had e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to let me know she'll be visiting Tucson in mid-May to see her dad and run up to visit the architecture school at ASU. She asked if we could have lunch or coffee or something and I quickly responded in the affirmative. She will bring a friend with her, as Jenn has vision problems and cannot drive. The friend will drive to Tempe for the school visit and for whatever sightseeing they do in Tucson.

When Mr. Match was over the other night, he expressed concern over hosting two grad students in his one-bedroom, one-bath apartment. He's not crazy about sharing his bathroom with anyone. He also said his ex-fiancé had offered to host them, but he was reticent about that and didn't know how comfortable Jenn would be in that situation. So I told him I have a guest room with two twin beds and they would be welcome to stay with me and have their own bath. He expressed interest and I told him I'd make the offer to Jenn. So the next morning I sent a quick Facebook message off to her, and within minutes heard back that they'd love to stay with me.

I just find this all very interesting, all the old concerned-parties who are surfacing.

The other fun, strange thing was what he called me when he was over the other night. He called me "Crewser." He's never done that before. How did he intuit that my closest friends in high school called me Crewser, and three weeks ago at the reunion it resurfaced. I've never told him that!

Odd. My life is odd.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wait! Let me get you a broom.

Well, I was shocked to receive a phone call on my way home last night. My phone doesn't ring these days. I use it to call my mother every morning and the babies every Sunday. Anyway, Mr. Match called. We chatted for a moment while I was driving and he said he'd call later. I didn't hold my breath. He called later! Asked my schedule for the next week or so, then suggested he come over for a drink after he ran a load of laundry. Oh, and apologized for standing me up a month ago. Yes, he could have made that phone call a month ago, but it is what it is.

He came over, I shook a martini, and it was a wonderful, old-shoe-comfortable evening, as it always is with him. As he left, he said he wants to see more of me.

I'll welcome it if it happens, but I'm not holding my breath.

(Do ya get the broom reference? He sweeps me off my feet!)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Nice Words

Saturday night was the Tucson Chamber Artists' donor reception for which the board has spent the past two months preparing. It went beautifully. We had about 75 guests, plus 16 singers and 8 board members. The weather cooperated, and Darlene Espinosa and I enjoyed watching the shadows on Pusch Ridge as we tended bar.

A lovely lady came up to me after I was introduced and mentioned how she had told Eric (our music director and conductor) that she wanted to meet me after reading the last e-newsletter that I wrote. She had been a writer in New Jersey, and had worked with youth orchestras there. She said my writing was "lyrical" and that she respected all the research I did to pull together the program notes for the newsletter.

She was so very kind and I really appreciated that acknowledgement of my writing ability.

Made my night!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Gun Control

I'm fairly apolitical. I don't like to discuss politics; I don't like to argue - about anything, politics or religion or anything else. But I am so troubled by the massacre in Blacksburg.

Tyler says "gun control" to me. But I used to be married to a hunter and I've heard all the arguments about needing to thin out the deer population.

How do you reconcile all that? What guns go and what guns stay? What about the police? What about the military? What happens to handguns when they wear out? Is there a big incinerator they go into so they aren't rebuilt and fall into the wrong hands?

What do the Europeans do about this? The Asians?

I visited Singapore with Steve in January of 2001. It's one of my favorite cities in the world, partially for the glorious flora and fauna, partially for the fact that I was able to pick up a $150 Donna Karan top for $20, but primarily because I felt so safe. I rode the bus all over that city and never feared for my safety, never felt like I had to strap my purse to my body to avoid having it stolen. I am hesitant to ride the bus in strange cities, and I especially don't travel "all over the city". But in Singapore, the penalties are swift and sure and known. A 'bad actor' in Singapore knows before he ever performs the bad act exactly what the penalty will be and that there's no getting around it.

How can we save the U.S. from all the handgun crime — the armed robberies, the mass shootings, the domestic crime? I have no answers. But I'm questioning, and I'd love to hear logical answers.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Things I Learn About Myself

I was so overwhelmingly annoyed last night. When the event was over and I was attempting to leave by the stage door, as I had entered, I was told no one could leave that way, that everyone had to go out through the lobby. WTF? I kept telling the stagehands "I'm not a guest. I'm staff." But they were inflexible and immovable. When I was having this disagreement, I was 20 feet away from the door, could actually see the door, and the door was 50 feet away from my car. But I had to walk a couple hundred yards out through the front of house, then around the side of the hall and back down to the parking lot.

First off, why did they prevent me, a backstage kinda gal, from just calmly walking to my car.

Secondly, why did that tick me off so royally?

Ahhh, another topic for therapy!

There Is a God!

When I got home yesterday, I turned on my desktop and it came right up and whirred like a top! Whew. One less thing to worry about.

It Takes All Kinds

(and I usually follow that statement by jokingly saying "and I've been married to one of each.)

Last night I was honored to be able to play background piano in the dessert/silent auction room for the UAPresents UNGala and then to listen to a performance of the new-to-me fabulous band Pink Martini.

Jill mentioned to me beforehand that one gentleman had requested that he and his wife be seated as far from the stage as possible. I believe Jill quoted him as saying his wife didn't like music. What? I don't think I have ever in my life met a person who didn't like music. I don't love country. I don't even categorize rap as music. But to not like music?!

The event last night was fabulous. I believe there were 300 guests, each having paid $250 to attend. There were round tables set on the stage, replete with linen tablecloths, each table lit from above with a red spotlight. Backstage right were buffet tables from four of the Tucson Originals (local to Tucson) restaurants. Cuvée had an incredible portabella mushroom slice topped with risotto and spinach and a cheese. I could have eaten a plateful of those! Backstage left in the Green Room was a small silent auction with some truly lovely pieces, a dessert table by Kingfisher/Blue Fin, the bar, and me. In the middle of the tables on stage was another grand piano with a pianist. There was not one element that Jill and the other staff members hadn't thought of and planned for. It was a truly elegant evening.

Upstage was a raised stage and this is where Pink Martini performed. The cleared area in the center of the stage became a dance floor. And boy, were there some fabulous dancers there. Oh, how I wish I could dance like that. I absolutely love watching dancers who make it look so fluid.

I learned something about myself last night. The piano in the Green Room was situated with the "nose" in the corner, next to the bar, so that my back was to the room. Every so often I would crane my neck to look around, but for the most part I was completely alone with my thoughts. For the first hour, no one spoke to me. It was as if I was playing simply for myself.

I didn't like that. I got bored and had a hard time staying engaged. I realized that what I liked about playing at Nordstrom was that I could watch everyone, make eye contact, smile, and that people would walk up and speak to me. In the final half hour last night, about six people came up and spoke to me and that felt wonderful after the enforced silence. Next time I'll know to suggest the piano be turned around.

Note to self: pay more attention to the back when styling your hair!

Note to Jill: Kudos! You did a fabulous job. I know how hard you worked on this event, and it paid off handsomely. Thanks for giving me this opportunity.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hi-tech; Slo-mo

I may have mentioned that my laptop was ailing. The touchpad is no longer touchable, so I'm having to use an external mouse. I sit in bed with my laptop and try to find suitable flat surfaces to run the mouse across. I am not frequently successful. It doesn't like my bedside glass-topped table. It doesn't like the space to the right of the touchpad. It doesn't like any of a number of books I place on the bed beside me to act as a mouse pad. I bought a wireless mouse to use, thinking that would work better, but I can't get the darned thing to work. Reading through my mail and surfing the 'Net is taking two to three times longer than usual.

Then, to add insult to injury, when I got home last night I didn't hear the distinctive whirring of the very loud fan on my desktop. Uh oh. Powered down. Powered up. Several times. No joy. I think the power supply is dead. If there's a god (Tyler! Hush!), I will get good help when I take the system unit into the computer shop this weekend. Cross your fingers. I've got tons o' stuff on that hard drive and, like anybody else in this reading audience, insufficient backups.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Worst Nightmare

I dreamed I went up to see Boston and Riah, and Boston didn't recognize me. Please, God, say it won't be so two weeks from today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


The stories that are coming out of Blacksburg are so disturbing.

I spend a little time here with the Pi Beta Phi actives, and I am always so impressed by them. I love their zest for living. I love their vivacious spirits. We have a Pi Phi chapter at VPI, and this morning I was wondering if any of the girls who died yesterday were Pi Phis.

That took me back to FSU in May of 1970 when I was a pledge to Alpha Xi Delta. When the Kent State shootings occurred, we quickly learned that the girls were members of Alpha Xi. The Alpha Xi chapter at FSU quickly got black ribbons which we all, pledges and actives, wore under our sorority pins for the next week or so.

My heart goes out to the families of those killed in Blacksburg, especially the parents of the students. A parent should never have to bury a child.

Fly Paper

Mary Ann Something.or.other, who shared a secretarial bay with me at IBM in Irving, TX, in 1981, referred to me as fly paper for men. Either she didn't approve of the sort of man who was attracted to me, or she was jealous.

Sunday morning I went to Beyond Bread for breakfast, hoping some nice-looking and interesting man might notice me. I was noticed. But the man who noticed me was sitting with his wife, who was totally engrossed in the Sunday newspaper. He glanced at me, then looked at me, then stared at me. (If I were his wife, I would have smacked him!) I glanced at him, then ignored him, then glanced again, ignored again, and so on.

The last time I glanced at him, he was flossing. FLOSSING HIS TEETH. IN A PUBLIC PLACE. IN A RESTAURANT! I didn't bother glancing any more.

Truly a fly!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Another Season Drawn to a Close

Our third performance was today. The Green Room was buzzing with criticisms of Cathy Burch's review. Bruce said "it's just birdcage lining." He said she is not trained in music. (She is, in fact, a food reviewer who has been given the music beat.) He said the horrible, ludicrous reviews are not Cathy's fault. He said the administration of the Arizona Daily Star bears the responsibility for giving her that job. Bruce said we should just let it go. If we poo-poo her criticisms, then we must also poo-poo her praise. He finished by saying we shouldn't try to take on Cathy, because we'd lose.

Several of George's tempi today were novel. The I-am-so-vast passage in the Paulus that I wrote about this morning — well, that tempo was pulled right out of his a**, er, thin air. Unbelieveable. We totally blew those three measures, with all thanks to George. There was one place in the Orff where he miscued the women and brought us in two beats too early. Salute to Homero on tympani, who realized what was happening and jumped ahead to join us. Gail mentioned that George also miscued the men at one point, but they followed Bruce's admonition to stay the course and just ignore George.

I have two favorite quotes from Bruce that I will share with the musicians in this audience. The first, with a salute to mixolydian mode, is when he tells us that a particular thing we have just sung was in the hypomixocrappian. The other thing he said today that brought a laugh was that one phrase was a messescendo.

So that's it. Our fourth season is now history and we're on break until September 10th.

This is a very welcome break!

Courage, Part Two

(Prepare to hear my children cheering across the miles.)

Anyone who knows me well knows I am one of the most non-confrontational people in the universe. I shy away from the risk of hurting someone's feelings, of offending anyone, of making someone uncomfortable. My stomach ties in knots at the very thought of my words or actions resulting in someone else's displeasure. I would rather I be displaced or discomfited than anyone else be put out of their comfort zone.

In the third movement of Carmina burana, the strings play G-A, and then the altos and basses enter on that A, singing a unison A-minor ascending triad to begin the passage. Thursday night, as the strings played the A, someone behind me hummed, rather loudly, a C. Somewhat disconcerting? Yes. But I ignored it and went on. The next time the strings entered, I heard the C again. And the next time. And the next time. Each of the six times this passage occurs in the movement, the same person hummed the same C. Why exactly? We come in on the A. We're given the A by the strings. No need to be hummin' anything!

I thought about it throughout the day on Friday. When I got to my seat in the Green Room on Friday night, I turned around to my friend, Laurel, who sits over my right shoulder. I asked if she had hummed a C, and she said, no it was someone else and she heard it too. Then the woman who sits over my left shoulder came in, and I turned to ask her. She shook her head, and pointed to the seat between her and Laurel. Then we started warming up, so I had no further chance to pursue it until two minutes before we were to go on. I turned around again and realized it was Lucik who was doing the humming. (At least I knew her name. Whew. That would make it easier.) I said, "Are you humming a C? Did Dr. Chamberlain ask you to hum that C?" She replied, "I'm just making sure we get the minor third." I said, "You shouldn't need to do that. You're surrounded by professionals." She replied, "there was a problem and someone asked me to hum it." I said, "It's very loud, and we're miked, and we're being recorded. It would be better if you didn't do it." She nodded and said she wouldn't.

As I was in the crowd funneling through the door to leave the Green Room, another woman, in her 60s, sidled up to me and said, "Thanks for saying that. I could never have done that."

Me! Approaching someone to fix something! And admired by someone else for having done it! Yea!!!


When I got my first divorce, several new friends at IBM told me how courageous I was to walk out of a miserable marriage. I didn't feel I was courageous. I felt the truly hard thing to do would have been to stay with that marriage and somehow make it habitable, make that man start treating me with respect. I didn't want anyone in a shaky marriage to look at me and say, "Jan did it. I can, too.", and therein find the impetus to just give up on the marriage.

I tend to think of myself as plain and ordinary, forgettable, a simple person. Maybe that's an outgrowth of the conservative, Bible-thumping upbringing. Maybe it's an outgrowth of being raised by a mother who grabbed every opportunity to cut me down. At this point in my life, I do know that I'm a really loyal friend, highly honorable, possessor of a strong work ethic, and someone who doesn't give up easily. (I stayed in that marriage ten miserable years before getting up the guts — er, courage? — to leave. I truly tried to make it work, but it takes two . . . .)

So now I have a chance to reinvent myself. I've made some gutsy résumé moves lately — I've applied to positions at Second Life (, Google, and Harpo Productions. There's an IRS position in Cincinnati I'm going to apply to. There are no limits. I know I really want to be nearer the babies, but I also know I'm not ready to retire. If I'm going to start over in another city, I need to be connected in some manner in order to make friends. Without that social interaction, I will just shrivel up and wilt. So I look at jobs all over the nation, then I look at airline schedules from that city's airport to the Pittsburgh airport.

And suddenly yesterday it dawned on me. What I'm doing is very courageous. I imagine most 56yo single women in my position (decent job, nice house, lots of friends and community connectedness) would just stay where they are and say, "that's life" if their beloved children moved away.

But what is this for me? This is an opportunity for growth, a much-needed chance to stand back and look at myself more realistically, not through the don't-think-too-highly-of-yourself filter of my childhood. Truly, the world is my oyster!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Concert review

Neither Tyler nor I have the highest of opinions of Cathy Burch, but I'll share her review of Thursday night's concert with you anyway.

Thanks, I Needed That

I woke up at 6:30 this morning and got up for an hour or so. Ate some breakfast and watched "The Beautiful World of Ugly Betty" that I had TiVo'd on Thursday night. What fun to see my dear friend Jill Becker's gorgeous and fabulously talented daughter, Veronica, on national television. Veronica is one of the writers on Ugly Betty, and we-the-friends-of-Jill are enjoying every moment of her success and rise to fame.

Then I went back to bed and slept until a little after 10:00. 10:00 o'clock! I never sleep until ten, or even nine, very rarely eight. Boy, I guess I needed that.

When I go back to sleep like that, I always have fantastical dreams. First I dreamed I installed a fountain in back of the house. Then a woman sitting next to me in the chorus told me Hector Berlioz would be at our next performance. Here's the thing. Berlioz died in 1869. I don't think he'll be at the matinee tomorrow.

The performance last night went well. Not fabulous, but well. George tends to dig deep inside himself at the beginning of each movement and see if he can find a tempo he's never used before for that movement, and then spring it on us. He pulled that stunt a couple of times last night, to less than stellar results.

There's one passage in the Paulus that gives us a bit of a problem. (There's more than one passage that gives us problems, but I digress.) This particular passage is three measures: the first two measures are 3/2, and the third measure is 3/4. The men sing half notes in the two identical 3/2 measures (A-Bflat-C "I am so") then the same notes and words in the third measure, only quarter notes. The women have a little quarter and half note thing going on an octave above the men, then join them in the 3/4 measure. Well, one with any musical training would think the quarter notes would be twice as fast as the half notes — that we could simply subdivide the half notes and determine the speed of the quarter notes. Right? Wrong! George, of his own volition (okay, he's the boss), picks a random speed for the quarter note measure that is unrelated to the half notes. Only once — in Thursday night's performance — did he conduct the quarter note measure in a tempo that was related to the half note measures.

We'll see what surprise he springs on us tomorrow.

And here's a funny music-is-a-small-world anecdote. Parking at the music hall is horrible this week, so people are arriving very early for concerts just to be able to find a parking place within walking distance of the hall. When I walked into the green room last night at 6:30 for a 7:30 call, there was a man playing the piano. One other person, Lois Manowitz, who sits next to me, was in the room, sitting and enjoying some fabulous Chopin or Beethoven or something this man was playing. (I ran out to dish with my friend Terry; I didn't pay attention to the piece or the composer, just noticed that it was very skillfully and musically played.)

When I came back into the room at 7:20, the man was still playing and the room was filled with chorus members. A moment later the piece ended and the chorus applauded him. A couple of us called out "Who are you?" He said, "I'm with Doc." Well, our director is Dr. Bruce Chamberlain and many of the students in the chorus call Bruce "Doc." That wasn't what this man meant. He meant Doc Severinsen, who is performing with the Symphony tonight in the Pops Special. But Lois wouldn't let it go at that. She said, "But what's your name?" The guy turned and looked at her, wondering what her deal was. He replied, "I'm Bif [something]. I just came over to warm up a little. I didn't know anyone would be in this room." Lois responded, "Did you go to such-and-such high school in East Plainfield, New Jersey?" And he just stared at her. She continued, "What's your real name? Tom, right?"

What a hoot. Lois and this guy had gone to high school together, she had known his brothers, they had lived a couple of blocks apart on the same street in New Jersey. Lois moved out here a year ago and is CEO of Jewish Family & Children's Service of Southern Arizona. She sat watching this guy play and thought he looked very familiar.

Isn't music a wonderful, magical, small world?

Friday, April 13, 2007


I've mentioned a man in northwestern Pennsylvania who has become a pixel pal (modern day equivalent of a pen pal). I e-mailed him the other day to ask if he wanted to meet midway between his home and Youngstown for lunch while I'm there - a 45-minute drive. His response: "I'm not really a 'do lunch' kinda guy."

Alrighty then. But don't be thinking I'm going to ask again!

What Day Is It?

When I have busy-busy weeks like this, I wake up in a fog. It takes me a few moments to figure out what day it is. Alas, it's not Saturday. It's only Friday, and I must hurry out of bed to go to the accountant's office to sign my tax return on my way to the office. I placed a wager last year on my former house selling after I bought my little 1951 charmer. I lost the wager. The IRS won. Oh well, it's only money, right?

The concert last night was good. Not fabulous, but very good. What to me was the funniest part was the fact that the house was only about 2/3 full at the beginning, but after the intermission, the house was full. Do you think they read Cathy Burch's preview in the Star and decided to skip the first half? If so, they missed some lush bits of music. But they did seem to enjoy the Orff.

There were some fabulous instrumental performances in both halves of the program. The brass section blew their little hearts out and all deserved individual bows, but the level of applause didn't afford George that opportunity. Also the principal flute, who just yesterday won her position permanently, deserved a bow. And the percussion section — wow! I think percussionists must live for the rare opportunity to perform Carmina — such fun for them. And both pianists — an orchestral opportunity for a pianist to shine.

I love the moments when we're not singing, when I can just notice what the individual orchestra players are doing.

Oh, and the Tucson Boys Chorus. Wow. Not only are they darling in their long red robes, but they sing like angels.

I'll try to get through today without falling asleep. And we'll do it again tonight.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I love Carmina burana. I have never performed the work prior to this set of concerts, but know it note-for-note, intimately.

But enough is enough. I think a year will pass before I'll want to hear this work again.


My mantra of late is "the right [job, man, hometown, ... fill in the blank] is just around the corner. That means I keep putting one foot mirthlessly in front of the other, looking for sunny spots here and there, and trying to be patient.

So you can understand why I enjoyed the thought for the day and felt it necessary to share it with you.

April 12, 2007
Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
— Anne Lamott

An aside: Today would have been my parents' 71st wedding anniversary. Not that that fact has anything at all to do with hope. I always hoped they'd get a divorce and he'd get custody and I could be away from her hypercriticism and megadisapproval. Oh well.

Everpresent Lyrics

You know how that annoying song on the radio sticks in your mind for hours? The Stephen Paulus "Voices of Light" that we're performing beginning this evening is that kind of work. Paulus uses some very tricky rhythms, lots of meter changes, a measure of 3 followed by a measure of 2 followed by two measures of 5. The musicians reading here get the idea.

In one of the five movements, there are two measures the women sing that are a formula for disaster. It's written in 5/8 meter, eighth-note, eighth-note, eighth-rest, eighth-rest, eighth-note, followed by a 2/4 measure (I think) followed by the same 5/8 measure. HATE IT. HATE IT. George is pretty good about indicating where the ultimate eighth-note is, but I go into instant stress when I realize that passage is just ahead.

Because the Tucson Boys Chorus is singing with us on the Orff, we have to rehearse the Orff first in every rehearsal to let these little sweeties get home to bed. That means that we rehearse the Paulus after the break. So the last notes and rhythms in my head before I walk out of the Tucson Music Hall are "All things are too small to hold me." It's a very distinctive note pattern and rhythmic pattern. And it stays in my head *All * Night * Long*. I woke up this morning and went to fix my oatmeal and the tunes was still ricocheting inside my skull. Enough! I live for 5:00 Sunday afternoon when we'll be done with this set and Gail and I can go have dinner and a very large glass of wine (or even two) at Rio Café.

And just to give you your morning culture, here are the lyrics to that movement:

All things
are too small
to hold me,
I am so vast

In the Infinite
I reach
for the Uncreated

I have
touched it,
it undoes me
wider than wide

Everything else
is too narrow

You know this well,
you who are also there

P.S. I really do enjoy this piece. And it's fun having the composer in the audience for dress rehearsal, calling out, "you can have a bigger crescendo in those two measures." And he's got a couple of a capella passages that are very Gene Puerling (Singers Unlimited - a capella group from the 80s that I love). And it is only 25 minutes long. And Sunday's comin'. :-)


No, I am not talking about the birdies that sing in the trees, but I do love looking out my window every morning when I awake to see the Harris hawk sitting on top of the utility pole at the back corner of my property.

I was driving home yesterday. Let me interject here that I'm a good driver. I'm listening to Carmina burana as I'm driving, so my mind is on those tricky rhythms and mouth-twisting words. I came to a stoplight and left a small gap between my car and the car ahead. A [male] driver behind me wanted to get into the turn lane. (Never mind that the light was red and he could do nothing but race to the intersection and then jam on his brakes.) I did not notice him behind me, but in a moment snuggled up a little closer to the car ahead. That allowed this [male] driver to pull up on my right, angrily and with much irate body language shake his middle finger at me, and then race to the aforementioned intersection.

Did he feel better after doing that? I can't imagine that he felt anything but more anger. Did I feel good? No, it was very upsetting to me. I'm a nice person. I try to live my life in a manner that will make other people's lives easier. It hurts me when someone perceives that I'm behaving in an insensitive manner.

Am I reading too much into this? Was the guy just a Big Jerk? Probably and probably. Frank has stated on several occasions, "you smart girls always overthink everything."

And while we're on the topic of Frank: one time, before he got the sports car, we were riding in the open Jeep and another driver piffed him off. He yelled and flipped a bird. For a moment I was afraid he was going to stop the car and "take it outside." His actions were unnecessary. They accomplished nothing. What is the point?!

New resolution: I don't want in my life a man who feels he can right the wrongs of the world by flipping people off.

Why, oh why, do these lessons take so many years to learn?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Pursuit of Happiness

You know why I like going to my local Starbucks (Speedway & Country Club) on my way to work? Because everyone's so happy. It's not necessarily the coffee. It's not necessarily the yummy pastries. It's just the atmosphere.

I step up to the counter and order my I love that the "partner" at the counter instantly deciphers my words. It's like a secret code between us. I love that the people in front of me are hanging over the end of the counter delightedly anticipating their beverage. I love that the people behind me are anxiously awaiting their turn to say "no foam" or "extra shot" or "scone". I always feel like the partners at Starbucks are happy to see me, and I don't feel like it's tied to their income. They all seem to love working there and creating a wonderful atmosphere for those of us who walk through their door and purchase their wares.

This morning I noticed the young woman in front of me. She looked fabulous! She had on menswear tropical weight wool cuffed slacks in a butterscotch, tan and spring green plaid, a white cami, a spring green sweater, and a fabulous pair of butterscotch pointy-toe heels with matching bag. As I was waiting for my mocha, I stepped up and told her she looked fabulous today. She looked down at her outfit, smiled, then looked at me and said "Ann Taylor Loft."

I like that my words to her might give her a needed pick-me-up later in the day. I like how I felt about myself on paying her that small compliment. This morning, mocha in hand, I feel happy.

Hey, if that's all it takes, maybe I should buy Starbucks stock and stop in there every day!

<Counter On>
Twenty-one days until I go see my babies.
<Counter Off>

Hell Week

I'm not ignoring you. I'm just in Carmina Burana Hell Week and very busy days at work. Neither Carmina nor Voices of Light are going swimmingly. Tomorrow night we have a photo shoot, so must wear concert attire to rehearsal. Stephen Paulus, the Voices of Light composer, will be in attendance at rehearsal.

Oh, and by the way, for those of you who are unschooled in the logistics of a symphonic chorus such as those I sing in, let me clue you in: there's no pay for all this work. It's performed for the sheer love of music.

Good night. I'm going to go collapse onto my bed.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

True Confessions

If Cadbury Mini Eggs were sold year around, I'd weight 365 pounds!

This morning I worked in the yard on a gorgeous sunny morning, then went to Starbucks for mocha and coffee cake, then to Home Depot to pick up some annuals to replant my containers. Ran into Frank, accompanied by Susan, the woman he broke up with me for back in December and then lost interest in. Stopped by Walgreen's on the way home to grab a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs before they were sold out.

I have spoken to Frank once since I returned from Florida — I called him — and it hurt to see him with her. I had gotten used to being his friend rather than his girlfriend, but not hearing from him for a week just hurts.

Oh well. I think I'll go eat a few more Cadbury Mini Eggs!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

My New Hat

I'm wearing a hat all the time nowadays, but it's similar to the emperor's new clothes. You can't see it. I can't even see it, but I can feel it. Constantly.

It's sadness. My sadness hugs my head like a cloche. I'm feeling so alone and missing the babies. Phone calls and cards aren't enough.

I had a delightful visit last Sunday with my dear friend Judy, who was my closest friend in D.C. There is a gift of music between us that's rare and wonderful. She is encouraging me to move to Sarasota, and I'm tempted. United flies direct from Tampa to Pittsburgh, and for a reasonable price(!). I love Sarasota, having spent two years there when the boys were two and four. But I really wouldn't be in any different position that I am here. I would have friends, I would have a job, I would have a home. But I wouldn't have family. (But I could get to my family easily. Is that enough of a change to make the move worthwhile?)

I came away from the weekend in Orlando just thinking and feeling that I want to be in Youngstown.

My boss told me this week that she has something up her sleeve for me. She knows of a job that's open and she's recommending me for that position. I would be her peer - a web strategist. I would still be a contractor, but I'd be working for a woman in Los Angeles, so it wouldn't matter where I lived. I could live in Tucson until I sell the houses, then I could live wherever I want. This is very intriguing, and something over which I have no control, so I must just keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing a good job to gain more accolades.

Tomorrow, Easter, I will take off my sadness hat and put on a sunny Easter hat. And a great big Easter basket of thanks to my friend Gail Remaly who has invited me to join her family for Easter dinner.

If there's still snow on the ground where you're reading this, I send you a virtual bouquet of daffodils!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Kindness to the Uncool

I mentioned our Web Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. One of the women on our team is totally uncool. She's 65 and gives new meaning to the epithet "Dumb Blonde." It's unclear how this woman has kept a career going in the IBM of today, where people and groups are laid off routinely, with concern primarily for the bottom line.

The Tucson part of the team is fortunate that this woman works in Raleigh rather than Tucson. I have to bite my tongue constantly when dealing with her. The other challenge in dealing with her is that she's the type of old IBMer who would escalate if she feels you're treating her badly. We contractors watch what we say, because we know we could be out the door very quickly if she got piffed off at us.

So as I sat in this all-day meeting across the table from this woman, aghast and filled with disdain for the drivel that spilled from her mouth, I was struck by my own hypocrisy.

How can I say I should have been nicer to the uncool kids in high school and then not attempt to be nicer to this woman? So I tried. I was successful (I think) in making her feel welcomed and valued, even if I wasn't able to change my mindset toward her.

There is goodness about her: she doesn't smell. The Indian guy (not that there's anything wrong with that) on the team doesn't shower and can clear out a room by raising his arm. The lesbian (not that there's anything wrong with that) on the team never washes her clothes and promotes working through SameTime (instant messaging) because her office smells so bad.

So is it all about looking for the good in a person? Then I was successful — I found the good in her. She doesn't smell.

(Alright, tell me I'm shallow. It's okay.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Affirmation by One's Peers

Yesterday and today I'm involved in all-day meetings, a "Web Summit" to discuss where we go for the next twelve months with

My buddy Ed and I were responsible for a half-hour presentation on innovations, what we can do new and different to lift us above the web sites of HP and Dell and EMC and Sun. When Ed presented our material yesterday, he talked about content for the Web site. He said our team was lucky to have me on the team. Where other Web teams within IBM have to pull teeth to get content, Ed said "Jan can take anything and make it great."

I was so honored for him to say this. And it makes it all the more interesting that the manager is willing to let me quit rather than let me telecommute (which half the team does on a regular basis).

There's something better ahead. I have to believe that.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

She's Baaaaack!

I have returned from my 40th high school reunion. I expected the girls to look much better than the guys, but the guys all looked pretty darned good, too.

I had been having a conversation, both e-mail and phone, with one classmate (male) to whom I had felt a very strong connection for 40+ years. I expected this weekend to include some heart-to-heart talks, but we really only spoke for about five minutes at the Saturday night dinner. He is at the point of changing his life completely, and that new life clearly doesn't have a niche where I would fit in. That was surprising, but not really disappointing. You've heard me say before, "I don't want anybody who doesn't want me."

I did some taking care of myself this weekend. The hotel I had booked was an absolute dive - the worst hotel I've ever set foot in, bar none. I didn't even spend one night there. I showered and changed and raced to the Friday night function (delayed flight + lots of traffic = arriving 15 minutes late to the event). When I got back to the hotel around 10:30, I couldn't even stand the thought of taking off my clothes to crawl into that bed. So I threw everything in the suitcase, called a Quality Inn down the road, and checked out of the Remington Inn, throwing away $50. I was mentally patting myself on the back.

The Saturday morning event went on about an hour longer than it should have. Representatives of all the honor classes spoke and, just like the Academy Awards, told anecdotes that lasted beyond their allotted time. Then we had class pictures. Then several of us went out to lunch with my brother, Jerry.

The class gathered at one girl's house for the afternoon and it was a very nice, relaxed time. The evening dinner was fun but the restaurant was noisy (the band started at 8:30 or so in the main dining room and we could hardly hear ourselves talk).

Overall, it was nice to see these people. I had breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning with a guy I hadn't really known and when we parted I told him I was sorry I hadn't taken the time to get to know him when we were in high school.

On Saturday I was able to right a wrong that's been bothering me since 1984. Beverly and Barbara Schmidt (whatever their married names are) sang at Daddy's memorial service, and they were listed in the program as "The Schmidt Twins". How depersonalizing! I was horrified at the time it happened, and have felt bad about it everytime I've looked through my memorabilia of Daddy. I saw them on Saturday as we were leaving for lunch and told them I was sorry that had happened. They, of course, didn't remember it at all. But I've now done what, for me, was the right thing.

A friend of mine from Washington, Evonne, was at the reunion. She is married to one of my classmates and she and I met in Washington and became friends. She is a violinist and I accompanied several of her students in violin competitions. She told me that my great love, Emil, finally married two years ago. His Japanese first wife had died in childbirth with their second child, a daughter. The daughter was five when he and I met. Everyone fell in love with everyone - he and I, his daughter and I. The only one who didn't fall in love was his mother, who was his primary child care provider. She started telling him lies about me and he couldn't stand up to her for fear of losing her as the caregiver. His daughter was a senior in high school and his son was in college when he finally remarried. His new wife is African-American. When I told my friend, Judy, about this at lunch in Tampa on Sunday, she said he must have had to get someone who was the polar opposite of his late wife to be able to move forward with his life.

The great wish I had at the close of the reunion was that I had been less self-centered in high school, that I had devoted more energy to the uncool kids, the shy kids, the kids who needed friends, instead of only wanting to be around the kids I felt the most in common with.

Other fun or meaningful things I did in Orlando: drove by the house my parents lived in when Terry and I were married; drove by the house Terry and I lived in when both TJ and Tyler were born; drive out to Clermont and had lunch with my college suitemate, Cindy, and drove past the Citrus Tower. (There's a blast from the past!) Went to Winter Park and walked a few blocks on Park Avenue.

There are very few places in Orlando where you can see the sleepy southern town that it was in the 50s and 60s. The Mouse has totally changed that city. But what fun to drive through and see those old neighborhoods, with the stucco houses and Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks. The charm still exists — you just have to know where to find it.

I'll share more about the trip as the days pass, but for now I'm exhausted and going to sleep.