Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Worst Part

End of March...that lovely time of year where the flowers begin to grow and the weather turns simply divine. It's perfect for a game of ultimate frisbee, a picnic, a bike ride, [insert amazingly fun outdoor activity.]

End of March...that lovely time of year where finals are looming and research projects/thesis papers are threatening to demolish all that a student has worked so hard for this year. It's perfect for banging one’s head against the computer/practice room door. What better time of year to live out of a vending machine and poison your body with processed foods galore?

The worst part? Gazing at the mountains. No joke. I mean, doesn’t this picture just SCREAM “hike me”? It’s not fair, really, that they make BYU campus so gorgeous this time of year, only to taunt a slave driven student from the library windows.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Washington DC--pinch me!

The second part of my weekend journey was to Washington DC to visit my aunts Esther and Sabrina and their amazing families. My dad and I got back from the Broadway show pretty late (after sampling one of the hot dogs at a hot dog stands…I thought it was nasty, but at least we know what they taste like) and so we got about 3 hours of sleep before we had to wake up, get out of the hotel, and get our booties to the bus stop in NY. Our hotel was in Newark, NJ, which is only about a 30 minute shuttle ride from NYC, or a 1 ½ hour journey through the metro/train/air rails. It was about a $30 difference for each of us so we decided to take it the hard way. We’re warriors!

When we finally got into NYC, we were once again surprised to encounter so many kind individuals who were more than happy to help us get to where we needed to go. I don’t care what they say about New York people…they are really nice!

After a 4 hour bus ride of trying to sleep but not really succeeding, we finally arrived in Bethesda. My aunt Esther and her family picked us up there and we went straight to the Smithsonian. I didn’t realize there were so many museums in “The Smithsonian.” There are like, 10 different buildings all surrounding this huge park. The park provided for some good views of monuments, although there were so many people that it was difficult to catch everything into a picture.

My dad has a theory that you can only experience the true taste of a city when you try the food from hole-in-the-wall joints or hot dog stands. The real citizens of the city who are trying to make a buck to live to the next day—that’s what is real; none of that chain restaurant veneer. Nasty? Slightly unsanitary? Maybe. Authentic? Definitely! Here is a video of my dad experiencing the “true taste of Washington DC.”

Since we only had about 3 hours, we spent our time in the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Natural History, and the Holocaust Museum. As we entered each building, there were different modes of security. The Holocaust Museum, however, had the most intense security out of all of them. If you had a bottle of water in your purse, they made you drink out of it in front of them. 

Esther's little girls

One really cool thing about the Holocaust Museum is that they gave you individual passport IDs of someone who lived during the Holocaust and you got to follow their story throughout your venture. What a good way to keep people involved!

We weren’t supposed to take pictures of what we saw, and maybe that was a good thing. Seeing the videos and reading the stories…that was really hard. I was in a funk for a good while afterwards. It’s amazing what a corrupted leader can do to destroy the world. To be honest, I usually get bored with museums after the first hour. But I could have stayed in there all day if they hadn’t closed—exhaustion and all. I’m going to Germany on part of my European tour with the Wind Symphony in a few weeks. Re-connecting with the history of the country will be good for my experience there I think.

It was so good to catch up with my amazing aunts. They have both been my dear friends all my life, but especially through my early college years when I really needed it. Love you Esther and Sabrina! I’m upset that I didn’t get any pictures with them though. I think it might have been because I was intimidated by Esther’s mad photography skills. Check out her website  to see what I mean. She’s amazing!

This has definitely been a trip that I'll remember forever. Thank you Dad for coming with me!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Three Bucks, Two Bags, One Me

I’ve been dying to blog about this trip forever! Sadly, graduate school has me by the throat and I’ve got my paper in a headlock so there’s a little bit of hustle and bustle. 

I went to NYC to take a flute lesson with Carol Wincenc, flute professor at Juilliard! I’m still kicking myself for not getting a picture with her, but I still think that would have been a little weird to ask. Her personality was such, however, that I think she would have totally been cool with it. Oh well.

My daddy came with me on the trip, since Matt and I couldn’t afford two plane tickets for both of us to go. It was good to spend some daddy daughter time though! He sure made it a fun trip. You see, my dad has a way with people that melts their hearts. I don’t think there are many people in the world that don’t adore this man.

He was a small town chap in a city about 5 sizes too big for him. (I could definitely say the same thing about myself.) Any time we turned a corner, it felt like we were lost, though we were equipped with about 3 different maps, and NY is a grid system just like Utah. Regardless, my dad seemed to find comfort in inquiring upon every passerby we came in contact with if we were going the right way. Most of the people, if not all, thought he was so cute. They were ever so helpful, which is NOT what I expected. He would start out, “Hi. We’re new here, and we’re trying to get to Juilliard. Could you please help us?” How could you say no to that? Southern manners really do conquer all, y’all. Just sayin’.

On our walk around New York, we saw some pretty interesting things...

And people.

We had to get a few tourist shots…luckily we weren’t the only ones with honking big cameras, so we felt a little more adventurous with taking pictures.

It was only embarrassing about 40% of the time. 
The lesson with Carol Wincenc was the most amazing lesson I think I’ve ever had. She sure gave me a workout! (It was a good thing, because I paid a pretty penny for it…SO worth it though.) I played the Foss Renaissance Concerto for her, a piece that she premiered back in the 80s. She seemed pretty impressed with what she’s seen from Utah musicians so far, so I was glad to help with the reputation the best I could. I must say, it’s not every day that I see that kind of energy coming from someone who’s been in the industry that long! It was truly inspiring.

I will also say that I think I like the BYU practice rooms a little bit better, but that’s New York for you: charming as all get out, but really, really old.
After the flute lesson, my dad and I went to see a show on Broadway. The caliber of performers in New York is like none other. The MDT men were all super buff (which surprised me), and everybody could sing, dance, and act wonderfully. I’m so glad we went!

I officially love New York. I can see why there are so many songs written about the city, and no, I don’t think it’s overrated in any way. 

What is your favorite city?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dopps Props

So, I’m confused. Is Doppelganger week something that happens every year? Or was it just something that happened a few years ago that everybody and their chihuahua participated in a few years back?

Anyway, I’m beginning to see a resurge of Doppelganger, and to enlighten all ye folk who are convinced that I do not have one, think again.

Cullens, watch your back. And tell all your vampire associates to stop seducing girls who are way too young for them. It wouldn’t be bad advice for you either.

I’m dying to know, who is your Doppelganger? I actually do research these things…

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Springtime Motivations

OMG I had so much fun the other day! A really close friend of the family, Tiffany, told me about a jean sale she was hosting at her house. When I got the text I thought, "I never go to any of these things anymore. It's time for a change." So I went. And I'm so glad I did!

These are LA Idol shorts (I think...I don't care what brand they are...I just thought they were cute!) and I got some capris just like them! The buttons have massive rhinestones on them, which I LOVE.While I was trying them on at Tiffany's house, I took off my wedding ring so it wouldn't get chafed on the rhinestones as I was putting the jeans on. I left it there, but didn't realize it until right before orchestra rehearsal when I was in the restroom. I thought I had flushed it down the toilet! Thank goodness Tiffany found it for me (cue: swallow heart), and we had an excuse to go back later that night to pick it up and hang out for a while. They are such fun people! My "Gaston" was able to do his Beauty and the Beast impression and I think it was a hit! (Like always.) I love having a theatrical husband. :)

Another bonus--I was finally motivated to buy some new shoes (due to the jean sale and this gorgeous weather.)

Yes, I'm pasty. Maybe this will be a chain reaction for me to spend some time outside gettin' me some gooooood vitamin D.

The shoes and the shorts are a little teeny-bopper, I know, but I guess that's sort of my style. Maybe I'll grow up one day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Grocery Store Therapy

I don’t know what it is about grocery stores, but consistently they fill me with such peace. Sometimes I go to grocery stores just to meditate. I feel domestic, in a good way. It brings me back to when I was a young child, and my mom would take me with her to “run on the arronds” and I would examine all of the beautiful colors of the fresh produce, smell the delectable scents from the bakery, and usually get a gumball if I behaved.

Sometimes, when I’m on an aisle where nobody is looking, I’ll run with my cart and ride it for a while. Deep down I know that there are security cameras watching everything I’m doing, but I don’t care. I’m a child again. All of my worries and responsibilities are gone. I get to focus on nothing else besides the delicious meal that I’m about to make.

I don’t know how much fun grocery shopping will be when I have screaming babies hanging on me for dear life. Maybe I’ll bribe them with gumballs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

That Girl

Sometimes I really wish I could bring my camera into the gym with me and not look like a creeper.

All too often I see “that girl.” You know, the one who is going to meet her prince charming at the gym. She struts into the gym with all kinds of swagger wearing her hot pink sports bra and playboy spandex, appears almost char-coaled from tanning, and is wearing…hoop earrings? Wait…wouldn’t that hurt if you were going to exercise? Little do I know, she apparently doesn’t plan on exercising.

I decide to stretch a little longer by the yoga balls to see what she does next. Every time, without fail, “that girl” gets on a treadmill or some other cardio device, lightly jogs for about 8 minutes, stretches for about 5 minutes, looks around for someone to approach her, and then leaves. I guess today just wasn’t her day.

I’m all for looking great when you exercise. After all, it can motivate you to work harder. But come to the gym to work out, people! 

In my observations, “that girl” never finds what she’s looking for.

Gym people are so entertaining sometimes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pocket Classics

For those of you who have not heard of this incredible literary tool, now is the time! My husband, who is very proud of his complete 72-book-set, has opened my eyes to a busy woman’s solution to becoming more informed of classic books’ story lines. 

Like many of you, one of the many reasons I don’t read more is because I don’t have make enough time. Another reason is that these sometimes humungous books they call the “classics” are somewhat intimidating and scream “COMMITMENT!”

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she was reading a book about how you don’t have to necessarily commit to finish every book that you pick up and start reading. There is no law against deciding that you don’t want to finish a book. Who would have thought? You can decide whether or not the book is worth finishing. It kind of goes against the idealistic view of “finishing what you start,” and I am not dogging on the merit of that statement! I just choose to look at this as granting yourself with more agency over your time. That way, you can look at a book and not be afraid of what you might be sacrificing by picking it up. You might be more inclined to read more! (Other ideas on how to make reading more efficient are mentioned in another friend’s blog, The Story Girl. You should check it out!)

Another solution instead of simply putting a book down forever is the Pocket Classic solution. These are short, 50 page little comic books that tell the story line of major books (which are often asked for on summer reading lists for high schoolers) in a fun, easy to read way. They can literally fit in your pocket (if you squish them a little…) You can skim through one of these in like 45 minutes, decide if you like it or not, and invest in reading the thorough version later if you want! If nothing else, you won’t feel like an idiot at the next dinner party when literary people are discussing esoteric book language. You’ll most likely be able to at least keep up. Spark notes were always a godsend, but these are so much more cute and entertaining! Not to mention, they’re great for kids!

I don’t think these books are in print any more, but we were able to find a lot of them on Craigslist and eBay. Enjoy!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Do What You Love

This is a phrase I have heard time and time again. “Do what you love.” Up until now, though, I don’t think I have fully internalized what this means.

Part of the reason it has been hard for me to blog as consistently as I used to is because I don’t know how personal I should be about my life on the internet. I’m still figuring that out, but here is a little piece of me that I don’t usually share with people unless I am face-to-face with them.

When I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to become great at the flute. So, that’s what college was going to be about for me—becoming great at the flute. Needless to say, it has been so much more than that, for which I am grateful. What kept me going through all the hard times was that I was “doing what I loved.” No matter how tired I was or how much I was sacrificing my health to be the best I could be, I was doing it because I loved it…right?

One thing that I have come to understand (through experience, mind you…I wouldn’t listen to people when they didn’t tell me what was fun to hear) is that what you become great at, what you do all day every day, what you career is—that’s work. Sure, it can definitely be enjoyable and can fill you with inspiration, but to become great at something, you have to pay the price. Once you decide to pay that price, it stops being your hobby. It’s hard work. There’s no way around it.

When I was a TA for physical science, my boss would tell me (in my moments of frustration with my major…she was a great psychologist) is that in order for me to stay motivated in music while working this hard is to do something that I really enjoy doing, just for the sake of loving life. It seems counter-intuitive, really, to sacrifice valuable practice hours to take time and smell the roses for a bit every day (or every week…whatever you can manage) to actually become better at what you do. It didn’t make sense to me. However, I have come to realize that when I maintain a hobby outside of my specialty, I am much happier with myself.

Do what you love. Don’t turn what you love into a job, unless you want it to be your job. Then find something else that you love and do it often.

I want to apologize for being so negative about my graduate school experience so far. After thinking this over, I see that in order to savor these moments, I have to make sure that I am doing what I love, at least some of the time. Don’t get me wrong—I love the flute. It’s just important to have an out.

Do what you love!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blue Pens

I’m sure every one of you out there has some little quirk about yourselves that if you actually took the time to think about it, you would think you’re pretty weird. 

One said quirk came out when I was teaching one of my flute students (which is unfortunately, no rare occurrence) and I was trying to write a change of schedule down in my planner. I had about 2 pencils in front of me, and I dug around in my purse to try and find a pen. I found one, but it was a black pen. I was well equipped in that moment to make my written memo. For some reason, however, I really really wanted to find my blue pen. As I kept digging, I became more and more anxious. No blue pen….no blue pen…eek! My posture turned primal and I delved into my purse like a ravenous cheetah. Luckily, the blue pen eventually turned up and my heart rate returned to normal. Code red…off.

After taking a look at my somewhat confused student, I realized how absurd that must have looked. Thinking about the situation, I now realize that I have always had a fixation for blue pens as opposed to black ones. Don’t ask me why.

Cheers to blue inked pens!