Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All I can say is -- thank God there are only four more days of January. This month has seemed interminably long and bleak, and I haven't been helping matters by reading possibly the most depressing book I've encountered yet, Revolutionary Road. I'm sure you've seen the previews. It's a beautiful book, but it's absolutely heart-breaking, and now I'm not sure I will be able to stand the ensuing heart-break of seeing the movie. I even tried to lighten my spirits last week by going to see a matinee of Bride Wars by myself, but that movie was just about as depressing as RR, if not more so, because it was just...ridiculous. And sad. *SPOILER ALERT* At this point in my life, I don't like seeing movies about failed marriages or engagements that break off. I think I'm going to have to brain-wash myself with some movie musicals or something.

Anyways. I'm currently under-employed, which is better than unemployed, I suppose. But with the current temps hovering around zero or less, it means I have spent inordinate amounts of time in our apartment, by myself. The place has never looked better, and I've made a lot of progress on wedding tasks (save-the-dates came in yesterday and they are GORGEOUS!), but more than once I've started to feel a like a crazed caged animal. Nick bought us a Wii this past weekend, which helps a bit, but I feel like a loser playing video games during the day. I need some self-betterment projects...learning Greek, maybe?

What am I doing about the under-employedness (not a word, I know)? Well, I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now. During the last few weeks, I have decided (just about definitely) to go back to school for a Masters in Speech and Language Pathology. I submitted my application for the Fall for post-baccalaureate work at Northern Illinois University, and I'm planning to enroll for some basic courses (Bio, Physics, Stats) at one of the local community colleges for the summer. Math and Science -- never my strong subjects, but I'm a pretty smart gal, so I think I can handle it. I've come to a point where I've realized teaching (especially teaching middle and high schoolers) is not for me. At least not as a primary career. I like teaching when the student is very engaged and talented, but those are pretty few and far between. I can see myself teaching a select number of students out of my home someday, but I can't imagine doing it full time or for the rest of my career.

I don't intend to stop singing, either. My one qualm about going into SLP is that I'll be taking myself out of the singing world. But I won't, really. I still intend to sing for MOB (hopefully more solos!), and I intend to keep auditioning as well. Singing is what I love, and if somehow I could do that and only that for a living and feel satisfied, I would. But the truth is, there isn't enough singing work to keep me busy enough to be happy, and I don't want to travel 24-7. I need something more.

So yeah. That's what's in my head right now. Nothing much else exciting to report -- except that we are planning a little five day getaway to le Mexico in early March!!!! Plans to go to Greece changed, so we decided a beach vacay was in order. We're thinking Cozumel, but any suggestions would be lovely! We're trying to stay away from the spring-break heavy places as well.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Crockpot as Relationship Savior

So, I got a Crockpot for Christmas. And it's basically the best (kitchen) thing that ever happened to me. And Nick. You see, many evenings of the week I am in rehearsals from early evening until 9 or later, and Nick generally gets home at 5 (we joke that we work in shifts), which creates a problem when it comes to dinner. I've tried several times to prepare casserole type things that Nick could just pop in the oven when he gets home, but it's not very convenient and usually requires many post-it instructions.

Enter the Crockpot.

My mother used to make pot roast in the Crockpot, but that's about the only thing I remember eating out of the Crock. I got a Crockpot cookbook for Christmas, but I was kind of disappointed with it -- all the recipes called for canned soup and other Sanra-Lee-esque pre-packaged crap.

Enter this blog.

My future sister-in-law emailed me a link to this site, and it is currently changing my life. So far I've made (all photos courtesy of 365 blog):

Crockpot Chicken Makhani (an amazing Indian dish with loads of flavor)

and this:

Crockpot Fajitas

Both recipes literally required about 10 minutes of prep time. Chop a bit, put it all in the pot, DONE. You don't even have to stir anything, which kind of made me uneasy at first, but I have learned that slow cooking makes everything meld together beautifully. The fajitas have been our fave so far. Both recipes made enough for at least two nights of dinner for both of us, plus a couple of lunches for me. The Indian Chicken was good, but I felt like it was missing something -- probably the cardamom pods, which I left out because I couldn't find them at our Greek grocery and didn't feel like trekking to Devon Ave. (Chicago's little India). Both recipes I will for sure make again.

My next Crockpot creation: SOUPS!--in an attempt for both of us to lose a few lbs before the wedding.

The Crockpot is literally making our relationship happier. I don't feel guilty for not preparing dinner, and we have delicious meals waiting for us when either of us gets home, which relieves the stress of throwing something together. It's also pretty darn economical.

Definitely check out A Year of Crockpotting. Stephanie is really witty and a great writer. She was even featured on the Rachael Ray show! I guarantee that the Crockpot can change your life for the better, whatever your situation.

Here's to my own year of Crockpotting!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


So, how is the love theme going, you ask? You're dying to know, right? Well, one week in, and things are pretty lovely. Here's a little update:

Career: Seriously looking into doing a Masters in Speech and Language Pathology. Shocking, I know! It's not such a huge career change as you think, and in fact, I've been considering it for quite some time. I haven't disclosed a lot on the blog about it, but I had some vocal health problems awhile back and worked with an awesome speech pathologist who is also a singer and voice teacher and works for my ENT. I became really inspired by her work, and thought that maybe I would someday be interested in doing something similar. Well, last week I did some serious looking into what it would require and contacted some professors, etc. It would be a lot of work, and I'm weighing the pros and cons, but I've been pretty unhappy with my life as a freelance musician and it may be time to move on. Not saying I'm going to give up singing entirely, I could never do that, but I may be finished chasing after the elusive young artist program dream.

Wedding plans: are coming along! We are meeting with the priest next week, my maid and matron of honor are ordering their dresses, which means I've chosen a color scheme for the wedding! Check out the dress here. The dress is the color that is pictured, Indigo, and the sash is Frappucino. So it's going to be a sort of "blue and brown" color scheme, which I love. I have also spent many hours finalizing the guest list and entering addresses and guest information. That was some heavy data entry, let me tell you. I told everyone - "I need a wedding intern to do all this busywork!" But who am I kidding, I have plenty of time for this crap, and I don't mind it that much. The guest list is currently at 88, which I think is rather perfect.

Nick was gone for an aesthetic dentistry class in Minneapolis from Thursday through Sunday this week, so I had some quality time to reconnect with myself and my friends. With several hours of rehearsal and church thrown in there. And, my cousin Megan was visiting from Denver! So it turned out to be an excellent weekend.

I've been spending the last few hours reconnecting with some old Ani DiFranco albums I never uploaded to iTunes, and therefore haven't listened to in ages. I've said it once and I'll say it again, the woman is the most brilliant lyricist. It's funny how many memories are contained in these albums. Just the first few bars of a song can take me back to sophomore year at DePauw, laying in my bunk at Alpha Phi, crying over the current devastation of the moment, and playing Ani over and over and over. Another song takes me back to my first year in Chicago, post-god-awful-break-up, angrily swearing off men and blasting Ani on the El on my way to a truly awful job. God, I'm glad those days are over. But remembering them makes me feel more like myself.

Aaaaand I've officially gotten weepy. Time to quit! Have a great week, y'all.

Monday, January 05, 2009

A 2009 Theme

This morning, while on the elliptical, while watching The Today Show, I saw a segment about New Years resolutions. And while I eschew once-a-year resolutions (it seems every Monday I resolve to do something), I liked one particular thing they discussed that my friend Allison also mentioned she's doing this year: finding a theme word for the year. Allison's word is purity. I thought and I thought, about what word I should choose. And cheesy as it may sound, the word I chose is LOVE. I mean, it's only fitting that the year I get married should be about love, right? But it's not just about being in love with Nick, it's about embracing and being thankful for all the love in my life, and it's especially about loving myself (not that way, dirty minds), with which I constantly struggle. It may not come as a surprise to you if you know me well, but I am usually brutally and cruelly hard on myself. It can be a great asset, as I move forward in my career and constantly strive to better myself, but most times, it's a hurtful voice inside telling me that I'm a failure. I've done a lot of work, with my therapist and on my own, to silence that voice, but this year I'm going to focus on it even more. I'm not sure what that requires, but I have some good tools for figuring it out.

One of the first things I'm doing to love myself more is focusing on my career: figuring out what I really want to be doing with my life, getting rid of the toxic parts of my job and people that upset me on a regular basis, and finding a more meaningful path in this difficult world of singing and music. It might mean taking a different path entirely, but in the past few years I've learned a lot about my passions for different aspects of the profession, and I've also learned a lot about what I dislike. Music is never far from my thoughts, and right now I'm so lucky to get to sing Mozart's beautiful Vesperae Solennes de Confessore with MOB, which is such a cool piece. It should be an interesting year for my career!

I'd also like to be more loving to the world around me. In 2008, I tried to be more "green", but I know I fell very short. It's also difficult to be a member of a community when that community is somewhat transient (the city), myself included. Hopefully in the not so distant future, Nick and I will settle somewhere permanently, and I can work on being an active and loving member of a community. It may not happen in 2009, but I've started to think about it quite a bit.

And of course, I will be planning my wedding for the better part of 2009, a day focused entirely on love. I'm sure not all of the planning process will be particularly loving, but I am so excited for that day to come and to become Nick's wife. So 2009 will also be about nurturing my relationship, and working toward the day when we vow before God to spend our lives together. Exciting stuff.

So those are my thoughts today. I was feeling so depressed last night -- all the fun of the holidays and Nick's birthday are over -- but this morning things are looking up. I've got a lot of work to do in 2009 -- not just the work I get paid to do, but work on my heart. LOVE...it's going to be a good year.