Monthly Archives: February 2013

Just Say No To Laundry

It’s Monday night, it’s a little after 10:30, and I am not doing the laundry.

Before you start in with #firstworldproblems, let me explain.  Mondays are my laundry day.  Mondays are also a work day and cello lesson day and Cub Scout night, but it’s one of the only consistent days where I’m home with the kids, due to a really whacky custody schedule.  (It works well, except for minor details like finishing projects around the house and remembering which house I’m in when I wake up in the morning.)  It’s tempting to just do it every other Saturday when I’m home, but we’d run out of clean jeans and underpants.  Also, my son’s dirty socks would probably achieve sentience and take over the neighborhood if I left them alone that long.

So, Mondays it is.  But not this Monday.  I’m just as tired as I am on most Monday nights – VERY tired, since they tend to run for about 18 hours with only a few minutes’ break here and there, with at least one meal a day eaten while I’m working or standing up.  I’m just as busy.  The clothes are just as dirty.  But tonight I am putting my weary bare foot down and saying no to the laundry.

The next five weeks will be [insert bad word here].  I made a quick estimate of the number of lessons, rehearsals and performances I’ll be involved in over the next five weeks, and it’s around 120.  Some are half an hour long, some will approach five hours.  Nearly 100 of those will be in the next 19 days, building up to a hellacious three-day period with two major evening performances and a day-long student competition.  It’s not my favorite part of the year, but it’s a crucial part of making enough money to survive the summer.

I’ve decided to do a few things every day of the next five weeks, in order to keep my sanity.  They’re everyday, obvious things – drink water, sleep, take a walk, spend 15 minutes reading something non-work-related, that kind of thing.  But these are things I will forget to do this month, if I don’t remind myself.

I blush to admit it, but I made a rewards chart.  It has little squares for star stickers.  (I paperclipped the stickers to the chart so I wouldn’t lose them.)  Today I got five stars out of the seven.  The sixth one (quiet meditation on Scripture) I can do right before bed.  The seventh one involves sleep.

And that means going to bed.

Now.

Even if the laundry isn’t sorted.

This shouldn’t feel like an epiphany, but it does.  I am so accustomed to doing one more thing, sorting one more basket, stuffing one more thing into an already too-full day.  I’m trying to make tomorrow easier, but the truth is that tomorrow is going to be a lot like today no matter what I do tonight – I’ll just be groggy from lack of sleep if I try to get too far ahead of myself.  This seems painfully obvious, now that I think about it.

The small, homely epiphanies are the ones that most thoroughly surprise me.

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God Between the Notes

One of my favorite things about the Quaker tradition is the high value it places on silence.  Active silence, waiting silence, not just a passive stillness, is a recurring theme in Quaker writings and meetings.  “Be still and know” is one way of putting it.  I also like the more direct version:  “Shut up and listen.”

This evening I went to hear two of my musical colleagues in concert, a tenor and a pianist who are both unbelievably good at what they do.  The music, as expected, was stunning.  What surprised me tonight, though, was the quiet moments between all the sturm und drang of the poetry and wild Late Romantic harmonies flying through the air.

My friend, the tenor, has a lovely soaring voice that can carry with apparent ease over an orchestra.  My former teacher, the pianist, is barely taller than I am, but he can wrestle huge and powerful sounds out of the marvelous Steinway in the university’s main performance hall.  All of that big and wonderful sound was in evidence tonight, but there were also many instances of quietness and stillness that were somehow even more compelling.

Listening to that astounding voice fading into near-silence, but still floating high above the barely-there tones of the piano, the divine seems not so far away.  People often use terms like “magical” to describe this kind of music, but tonight it occurred to me that “holy” is at least as true.  I sat there, barely breathing, as the pianist’s hands hovered over the keys, reaching down to delicately draw each note from the instrument and drop it into the echoing silence.

I think God lives in those echoes.  We make our human noise, and we make it as best we can, and then in that silent, listening stillness, we hear our voices and the work of our hands come back to us, both less and more than they were when we sent them out.

The musical term for a silence within the music is a “rest”.  God lives in the rests, as much as in the music, if I can just hold still long enough to hear him.

And Now For Something Completely Different!

*Note to any reader – if you can tell me how to convince WordPress that I REALLY TRULY want paragraph breaks, and to please stop taking them away every time I put them in, I would be truly grateful.  I spent longer trying to get WP to recognize my line breaks in this blog post than I did actually writing the post, and I’ve given up for tonight.

I have been slammed with a head cold for the past few days, and it has not put me in a blogging frame of mind.  My thought processes have been moving very slowly, and my energy levels have been sufficient only for the bare minimum – shower, dress, eat, opera rehearsal, that kind of thing.

Over the weekend I roused myself long enough to take my daughter to a local production of the ballet Swan Lake.  I was startled to realize that the only ballets I’ve ever been to were The Nutcracker, The Nutcracker, and The Nutcracker.  I think of myself as being more cultured than that, but apparently not when it comes to ballet.

Now, I know that if you want a complex and thought-provoking plot, you go to a play or a movie (or read a book), and if you want a beautiful spectacle, you go to an opera or the ballet.  But if you’re not all that into people leaping about in tights, I now present (because I have nothing deeper to say at the moment) …

The Plot of Swan Lake

Act I:  Bad Sorceror steals princess.  Turns princess into Swan Queen.

Act II:  The prince is a man now!  Party!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  Dancing!  He must choose a wife.

Act III:  Look! Swans!  And Bad Sorceror who is now a black swan or hawk or something.  Look! Swans!  (repeat for approximately six hours)
The prince is here.  “She has the most glitter – therefore it is True Love.”

Act IV:  The prince must choose a wife.  Here are some options.  A girl!  Another girl!  Another girl!  Another girl!  Another girl!  Another girl!  Another girl!  Lots of girls!
He chooses … the Bad Sorceror’s daughter!  She is the swan princess, right?  No?  Crap!  Red lighting, thunder, badness.  Run away, run away!
Act V:  Back to the pond.  Look!  Swans!  (repeat for three hours)
It’s you, my glittery love!  Oh no.  Bad sorceror.  Badness, badness.  But he dies, yay!  Swan Queen is a girl now!  Kiss kiss.
(Alternate ending:  Everyone dies!  Sadness.  Curtain.)
End:  Bow.  Bow again.  Bow again.  Bow again.  Bow again.  Bow again.
You’re welcome.