2.28.09 Running to Stand Still

Oh, Bono, you unknowingly have summed up my entire February.

I've been late on a number of deadlines. (I think the Finance Department at work might revoke my "Plays-well-with-others" card. ) I've been making endless lists that just keep carrying forward. I'm running to work, and running away as soon as possible. My files are a total wreck. As is my home. And my car.

And, even though nothing's been accomplished - or perhaps due to the vast amounts of un-accomplishment - I'm tense. Sore shoulders, neck, and balancing on the cusp of getting sick/not getting sick.

And while today I'd love nothing more than to stay grubby and just clean/tidy/organize, I have a handful of lessons to teach mid-afternoon. On one hand, it's a bummer, because it splits my day up into 2 chunks and I don't have the time I need to really accomplish the things I'd like to. But, on the other hand, it's a welcome change of pace, and it's a fine measure to ensure that I finish the things that are really important before I head over to teach. Gym, chores, teach, loaf...actually, not a bad Saturday!

SO, in the next 3 hours I need to:
  • strip the bed
  • start laundry
  • vacuum up a small percentage of the pervasive black animal hair swirling around my house
  • make a grocery list - actually look in the cupboards & fridge to see what we actually need
  • put away the clean laundry from last week (oops...)
  • clean myself up
Putting the computer away, setting the kitchen timer for 2 hours, and getting as much done as possible. Wish me luck!

My five:
  1. Extra Strawberry-Banana Gum. Sickly-sweet and wonderful.
  2. New blowdryer than blows warm air! Amazing!
  3. The end of February.
  4. A possible impending snow day? Fingers crossed!
  5. Daydreaming.


2.26.09 Waiting for the third...

I walk the dog every morning. No news, that. It usually helps me wake up, and puts me in a good frame of mind.

The last few mornings it's been cold. Not Wisconsin or Chicago cold, or even Pittsburgh cold, but cold enough for me to dread the morning walk. I've been rushing the little man through his paces, and our route has been steadily shrinking. There are more cars driving too quickly on our neighborhood roads, and we've gone to great lengths to avoid other dogs, rather than dealing with the freakshow that is Boo greeting a new friend.

But this morning it's a little warmer. And we set out a little before 7am, the sky grey but light enough to be seen in my cat burglar regalia.

As the pup stopped to sniff, a school bus drove by. And a little girl in glasses made eye contact with me. And smiled.


We continued on. My internal walkman turned to this song, and we bopped down the street. A burly man in a striped hat and scarf was riding a bike down a busy street, opposite traffic. As the cars drove past he headed toward us. (I swear he had a vodka bottle in his water holder, but it could've been an energy drink in a glass bottle. I guess.) He stopped and told me about his childhood dog, a big lab named Bear. He loved Boo up a little bit, and Boo was so happy that he crashed full force into the guy and wiggled around, a big smile on his doggie face. The guy absorbed the puppy love without losing his balance one bit, and wished us a good day.


And I'm struck by the unconscious smile on my face after two short encounters with strangers.


My five:
  1. Boo.
  2. Positive encounters with strangers.
  3. Cooking.
  4. Hot showers.
  5. Flowers.



It's Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Or something like that...

After a late, carb-laden dinner last night, I kinda feel like the good times have already, well, rolled. And I'm totally ok with it... my "good time" this evening will involve some chocolate, a good book, an early bedtime, and perhaps a bath in between... how's that for a ca-RAZY night?!

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the start of Lent. I traditionally dig Lent...it's a time to turn inward, to reflect and contemplate, to do without, to sacrifice. I usually try to give something up, do something constructive, and find time to reflect & meditate... just giving up something seems less fulfilling, without giving back somehow. It's also a time of year that I usually get back to church, at least for a little bit... in years past, I've been grabbed by a reading, hymn or homily that has resonated with me, giving me something to meditate on. This year, I've not found that kind of comfort in any number of churches. And I find myself casting about for a bit of a rudder, with which to navigate these suddenly unfamiliar seas.

There are many areas in my life that I feel like I could improve in...work, marriage, friendships. There are plenty of things that I could forego that would make me healthier or richer...chocolate, gadgets, butter, booze. So, do I pick some rituals, and hope that the spirituality follows? Do I force myself to keep trying churches? Do I investigate an alternate religion, learn about another faith tradition?

I'm not sure. I think I'm making good strides toward the reflection part, anyway.

My five:
  1. Mail-order catalogs.
  2. Sesame seeds.
  3. Hats.
  4. Baths.
  5. Clean slates.


2.22.09 busy bee

The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind, in the best sense of the word.
  • On Thursday I made a mid-week trek to Pittsburgh for a kidnap. Met KL, DH, SH, and AF in the old neighborhood, and stayed at a hotel that was within walking distance of my old apartment. (It was freezing, so there was actually very little walking done!) Had coffee with my fav teaching friend SS, and marveled at her once-feral-now-polished son, who talked about making pillows and video games. Went to the greek restaurant near my old house and ordered Surley Temples. (like Shirley Temples, but definitely for adults) Had a great Italian dinner. Went to the old dive bar, and stuck out like waspy, middle-aged thumbs. Ow. Add some late night pizza to the mix, and you have a night that was both rejuvenating and exhausting, filled with laughter and memories...enough to sustain us all a little while.
  • Friday started slowly (see last bullet point), with breakfast at my favorite diner. I'll post pictures of the food, because you'll not only be jealous of my breakfast, but you'll be ashamed at how little of it I was able to eat. Or maybe I'll be the ashamed one and you'll just be wishing for my leftovers...Anyway, from there I drove north to Mom's house, and was immediately molested by her 3 large dogs. After some puppy love and a much-needed nap, I made dinner for my Mom, Brother, Niece and Nephew. It was a great evening - lots of laughter, silly jokes, hugs. It still feels weird that Dad's not there, but it was really comforting to cook in "his" kitchen.
  • Saturday morning I drove back to DC, as Pittsburgh was supposed to get snow. (I wonder if they actually did...must check weather report. Or call Mom.) Got back just in time to teach some voice lessons, and then headed home for some puppy love of a homegrown sort! Later that evening, we headed to the club near the house and took in a concert. I've heard this singer at a few songwriter roundtables, and like his stuff...universal themes, accessible melodies...great stuff. Plus the club is owned by him and his siblings, so his brother was bartending, dad was bussing tables. I'm a big fan of family businesses, and I adore that this is a great example of one - a comfortable place, open to all ages (i saw the coolest 9 or 10 year old, rocking a skeleton t-shirt and drinking a root-beer float. she's my idol.) with a real sense of community. I can't say enough good things about the singer or the club!
  • And today...since I haven't been to the gym for what seems like years and have had more to eat and drink over the last few days than I have for eons, I'm meeting my trainer at noon for a workout. And, because of that, I'm doing laundry so I don't have to work out naked. (Ew.) I've been stiff and sore, and my body is obviously craving some serious motion - which is good progress! When I started trying to be more conscientious with working out and eating well, I knew it would be a process...while this week has been a bit of a setback, I'm anxious to get back to it. It's still all about baby steps...the scale isn't really budging, and I'm not denying myself too much, but it feels good to want to be good. And I can't tell you how helpful it is to have someone to be accountable to: my trainer LG is gentle, positive, non-judgmental, and inspiring. And just meeting with someone to talk about health, having a resource for questions and who creates challenging workouts is fabulous.
Ok, laundry to do, a dog to walk... gotta get moving - have a great week!

My five:
  1. Singing in the car.
  2. Seeing old friends.
  3. Live music.
  4. Puppies. (Should I get another one? I'm tempted...)
  5. Family.



Oh, my couch... how I've missed you!

It was a busy, fun weekend. Work is always much more fun when we have singers and musicians and creative-types around, and it was lovely to have those luxuries in the dead of winter. The weather was mild enough on Saturday to walk Boo over to work for some playtime with MC, the librettist of An Inspector from Rome, and LB, a singer that I met waaaay back in my Pittsburgh days. And yesterday we had a little performance for some good friends and our commission partners that was oodles of fun! Add of top of that a site visit from some visiting designers, a room teardown and reset, a rough anniversary, a romantic holiday and a trip to Balitmore and, well, you have a jam-packed weekend.

And now I'm tired. I have a filthy house, a fat ass and a headache, and am not terribly excited about confronting any of the items on my to-do list. Maybe by nursing this last cup of coffee, googling crock-pot recipes and pulling on my gym clothes I'll at least start the ball rolling.

Here's hoping!

My five:
  1. Comfy shoes
  2. Pasta...mmmm
  3. February being more than halfway over - wheeee!
  4. Silly books
  5. A late-week kidnap!


2.14.09 love songs

Friends of SingleGirl are getting hitched, and are trying to find "their song." When you don't have a couple-y song, it can be pretty intimidating to find one that not only fits both of you, but that you'd be OK with your grandma dancing to. (For example, maybe Baby Got Back isn't a great choice...but maybe it is!) I started scrolling down my iTunes library to find my favorite love songs, and here's a selection of them. (In no particular order, except the rough alphabetizing from iTunes.)

  1. Shawn Colvin's cover of the Talking Heads This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
  2. Alice Peacock - You're my Northern Star
  3. Ani DiFranco - As Is
  4. The Blue Nile - Tomorrow Morning
  5. BT - Simply Being Loved
  6. David Gray - Sail Away
  7. Dido - Thank You
  8. Ella Fitzgerald -I'm Just a Lucky So-And-So
  9. Elliot Smith - Say Yes
  10. Feist - Brandy Alexander
  11. Jason Mraz - I'm Yours
  12. Jonatha Brooke - If I Told You
  13. Nick Cave - Into My Arms
  14. Once Blue - Amateur
  15. Patty Griffin - One Big Love
  16. Peter Mulvey's cover of The Waterboys The Whole of the Moon
  17. Pink Martini - Let's Never Stop Falling In Love
  18. REM - You Are The Everything
  19. Regina Spektor - Fidelity
  20. Stevie Wonder - Don't You Worry 'bout A Thing
  21. The Sundays' cover of the Rolling Stones Wild Horses
  22. Suzanne Vega - World Before Columbus
  23. Teddy Thompson - Brink of Love
  24. Toad the Wet Sprocket - I Will Not Take These Things For Granted
  25. The Weepies - Somebody Loved
My five:
  1. Martinis with friends.
  2. Coffee.
  3. The gym, and the trainer who pushes my baby steps.
  4. Hubby
  5. Memories of Dad.



When I was a little girl, I would sit next to my dad onthe couch, and he'd hold his hand up to me, parallel to the floor, palm towards the ceiling. I would tickle his palm and he'd try to catch my hand.

I knew that I was heading towards grown-up-land when I could evade his grasp. When I was faster, trickier than he was. I was proud of it, that I had grown so fast, so smart.

A few days after I returned to work, after his death, I signed up for a chair massage with Francoise. I signed up for a double session, and several minutes into the massage was finally feeling some of the tension release.

Towards the end of the massage she rubbed my hands. My palms.

And all of the memories, the emotions, came rushing back.

I wept. Kinda like I am now.

If I knew then what I know now, I would've let him catch my hand every single time.

There are wonderful things going on at my job, with my hubby and with my friends and with my pets. Bear with me -the updates will be forthcoming, I promise. It'll just take a few days to get there. -Rahree


2.10.09 Playing hooky/kidnap

I swear that I worked from 9-5 today.

I was in the office checking email and quaffing a cup of blueberry tea at 9am...went to a meeting, met with a colleague about a proposal, drove to Union Station and back, grabbed lunch, let the dog out, listened to a little bit of rehearsal, returned some phone calls and emails, and BOOM! It was 5:00. Close down the computer, turn the desk lamp off, wonder what I did all day...

I know that I moved a few things closer to their goals. But most of the things I did are not things I can cross off a to-do list, but rather advancing summer projects. It's not terribly gratifying, I have to admit. I like to cross items off my list.

But tomorrow I'm playing hooky! Since the weekend will likely be quite busy with rehearsals and meetings and comings and goings, and will include at least one trip to Baltimore, I'm out of the office tomorrow...aaahhh...

Having a mid-week day off is a bit of a double-edged sword though. Sure, it's great for getting things done around the house - it's made for laundry and cleaning and bad daytime tv! It's stolen time - the rest of the world is going to the office, but me? I'm in my PJs!

But what if I'm feeling sociable? Boo, while a lovely guy, isn't a fabulous conversationalist. My buddy KML and I used to play "kidnap." When one of us was sad or having a hard time or even just had some free time, they could call the other and say "Kidnap!" The caller had to give a time frame (afternoon, drinks, evening), and had to specify a pickup time. The Kidnap-ee was at the Kidnap-er's whim...could be a liquid lunch at the local dive bar, mani-pedis, movies, shopping at the mall or in the Strip District...

I want a kidnap!

My five:
  1. "Shoes" Omigod, shoes.
  2. Dinner omelets courtesy of hubby - Yay to having a wife once in a while!
  3. The Dog Show. Labradors and finals tonight.
  4. Chocolate with cardamom or garam masala...mmmmm.
  5. Non-bill mail. Catalogs and coffee and magazines and books. Yay!


2.8.09 lalalalaLAAAAA!

I started this blog when I left my teaching job to work in the opera biz. It was the right choice for me, and after almost three (!) years, I'm still loving what I'm doing.

But that's not to say that I don't miss teaching. As a singer who thrives on rehearsal rather than performance, I love the nuts-and-bolts. Really getting into a song, taking baby steps to reform a bad habit, I love losing minutes in pursuit of a beautiful tone, an inspired reading. I taught a few students when we first established the private lesson program at work, and while I enjoyed the students they were very young, and I was still a little burned out after almost 10 years of teaching. Add into the mix the rigors of learning a new job and, well, it wasn't a great fit. The switch from left-brain to right-brain was a little more than my peanut could handle!

So, if I wanted to make music I could start singing again, right? Except I'm not so much wanting to sing for other people anymore. In my car? Fine. Shower? Excellent. In my office when I'm there after hours? Totally. While walking the dog is a constant...the WiseSoprano facebooked me the Italian lyrics to "I like to move it move it" ("Mi piace se ti muove" if you're interested. Thank you, RC and Italian MTV), so now I sing to the dog in Italian as we walk. He's fairly nonplussed about the whole thing, really.

When the voice teacher at work couldn't take all of the students that had registered, they asked me to teach a few lessons. Saturday afternoons, just a little chunk of time...perfect! And after two short weeks, I'm back in the zone...one singer looking at classical rep, one at jazz, both with lovely natural instruments and a real willingness to work. I'm hooked. Again.

And singing, again. And it feels good. I'm waaaay past the point of wanting to make a career from making noise, but I still enjoy it. And it's nice to know that all the pieces still work!

My five:
  1. Wet walnuts. Walnuts in sugar syrup. I bought them on a whim, because my dad loved them and I'm missing him a lot recently. Good call, dad.
  2. Laughing with hubby over nothing at all. Good times!
  3. Wearing the dog out. He was asleep by 8pm. My job here is done. :)
  4. My new favorite scent. I totally heart this.
  5. Silly kitties...here's this week's fav

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals


2.7.09 workin' on the weekend!

Ah, Loverboy... thanks for the earworm!

It's a lovely Saturday morning, with lots of high wispy clouds in the sky and a projected high temperature of 50 (50!) degrees. But there's work to do today...lessons to teach, and some rehearsals to crash. (Are you jealous? You should be!) So my normal, slothful weekend routine needs to be reworked a little.

Here's what I've accomplished:
  • sipped two cups of coffee
  • ate breakfast
  • read the Washington Post Sunday Magazine...I love that it arrives a day early!
...aaaand that's it. Here's what I'm hoping to get done before 2pm:
  • shower
  • loooooong walk with the pup
  • gym
  • unload dishwasher
  • clip some grocery coupons and make a list
  • grocery store
  • laundry
  • organize closet
  • get the oil changed in the car
  • vacuum up at least some of the dog hair
Yep. Dreaming big, I am. I tend on days like this to fritter away most of the morning, and maybe get one or two things done before heading to work. It's easier to get motivated when I get moving early, out of the house and active. But I'm enjoying the slow pace, having time to browse, play with the dog, reflect. So I may not get to everything - or anything - on the list, but today it's all OK.

My five:
  1. Light schedules.
  2. Warmer weather.
  3. Fiction.
  4. New music.
  5. Doodling.


2.5.09 Brrrr!

It's officially a three-hat day in the DC area. Hoo-BOY is it cold!
(Hear that? That's the sound of Pennsylvanians mocking me for going soft.)

From the bottom:
Hiking shoes, from our 08-09 New Years Trip to San Fran. There are little cleat-y things that help me dig in when Boo decides to veer off course.

Socks. At least ankle-high, preferably knee socks. I heart knee socks.

Running tights. Mmmm..toasty. I totally forgot that they were in my closet, so today was the first wearing. It will not be the last!

Velour pants. Because no one really needs to see me wearing running tights. Imagine Mary Lou Retton without the muscle tone. Ew.

Long-Sleeve T shirt.

Wool sweater. It's a long burgundy crewneck from the sale rack at Banana Republic, and I practically live in it.

Polarfleece hoodie.

Northface jacket, pockets stocked with gloves, dog treats and poop bags.

Compression cap. It leaves seam lines on my puffy, sleepy forehead and squishes my bedhead into total sumbmission. But it's just about impervious to wind.

Polarfleece cap. For toastiness, and also so I don't look like such a pinhead from the compression cap.

With the hoodie over the top.

And it was STILL cold! For me...pup wasn't bothered by it at all...go figure. I always feel a little bit like Randy from The Christmas Story ("...I can't put my arms down!!"), but boy, am I happy to have all those clothes on once the wind starts blowing!

If you're going outside today, dress warmly! And if you don't have to, don't...it might be a perfect day to call in Cold to work, grab a book, a blanket and a cup of cocoa, and work on the dent in your couch. Seriously. I will be at my desk, but with a heating pad on my lap, slippers on my feet, and a large mug of something warm at my desk. Guaranteed.

My five:
  1. Layers, baby....layers!
  2. Mashed potatoes with cheddar cheese...the breakfast of CHAMPIONS.
  3. Purple. Pretty.
  4. Blueberry tea.
  5. Atomic fire balls.


2.4.09 Bleah.

It's 11pm.

Finally home from work, and it wasn't even a performance day. Bleah.

Walking back to my office from the ladies' room I gimped my neck. I have no idea how or why, but here I am struggling to see over my right shoulder. Bleah.

The day ended with a big meeting, and more than a little projecting on my part. Note to self: your dead father is OK with you being in management....lighten the heck up.

The dog is wishing I'd go to bed, the cat is putting on his best "Scary Kitty Show." (Imagine a cat tearing across the room, stopping to look at you as assume the classic Halloween black cat pose before running full tilt to another part of the house. Yep - you've got it. It's pretty impressive, really!) Hubby cleaned the house, took care of the hound, AND left me stew in the crockpot for dinner. He's pretty cool.

I'm posting a double list of the Five Things I'm Thankful For this evening, because I only have brains cells left for that much.

  1. I am grateful for those who know more and have more experience than I...and can speak more clearly under pressure.
  2. I am thankful for comfort, but hope that I learn to take fewer things for granted.
  3. I am a BIG fan of bleu cheese, and am kinda patting myself on the back for having some of the good stuff in the house. Mmmmm...
  4. I am so thankful for my pets...boy, can they make me laugh! (And weep...I loved those leopard-print stilettos...)
  5. I'm thankful that I've never had to call a combative place home.
But wait! There's more!
  1. I'm grateful for the chance to see old friends.
  2. I'm thankful for the new music that'll take over the building tomorrow.
  3. I'm happy to have great comrades.
  4. I'm glad that my body is starting to realize that it needs to work out every few days...now if my brain would get with the program...
  5. I'm loving the breeze...not being out in it, as it's waaaaaay too freezy tonight, but it's ringing my wind chimes on the porch, reminding me of summer.
Hey friendies - Wednesday's just about over! And we're thiiiis close to the weekend. AND it's supposed to hit mid-50s in the DC area! Huzzah!



I went to bed early last night. Actually? Unreasonably early. Like 8:30pm early.

The dog totally beat me to it. Was lying crosswise across the whole bed. (He always hogs the bed.) I sat up and read just until the cat hopped up and curled up on my chest, and then page-turning logistics got a little too difficult to deal with.

And I slept. Really slept. All night, with a few momentary wake-ups. Woke up at 6 - normal time - feeling refreshed, but a little out of sorts.

Because I dreamed. And in my dreams I was in a strange circumstance. Meeting friends that I no longer speak with, due to distance or falling-out. In a strange house, a strange school that were both somehow familiar.

And for some reason, it's sticking with me a little bit, that wonky feeling. It's not a feeling of dread or of excitement...it's hard to characterize, but it's put me a little left of center this morning. And it's okay. It's been awhile since I've felt unsettled...I'm going to try to just live with it, see what happens.

To start? Large cup of coffee (praise the Java Gods that my little espresso maker is back! Oh, how I lurve thee!!), and once it's light enough, a spin around town with the pup in the snow! And, if I play my cards right, I'll have time to get some stew in the crockpot before heading to work.

And here's a question: What songs have been stuck in your head lately? I've been rocking back and forth between "I like to move it move it", Jason Mraz's "I'm yours", to which I most certainly don't know all or even most of the words, the "Miles" cadenza from Turn of the Screw, and about 5 others. Put me out of my misery...let me know that I'm not alone, and give me a new tune to put on constant mental repeat. New earworm, please.

My five:
  1. Being off balance.
  2. Steeler victories. Why, yes, I'm from Sixburgh!!
  3. Having a hubby who always wakes up in a good mood. He's a sunny guy.
  4. Fresh snowfall.
  5. Healthy routines.


2.1.09 an auspicious start to February?

The only good thing about February? It's short.

It's cold. The weather is usually Pittsburghian in its greyness. Cold rain seems to be the norm. Office work is usually all about numbers: contracts, spreadsheets, budgets. Bleah. Oh, and the kicker is the anniversary of my Dad's passing. Icing on the cake. Good. Times.

But today is beautiful. Sunny, forecasted high in the 50s. Nice enough to take a little run around the neighborhood.

And we'll have singers at work this week! We're workshopping a new opera, so there will be rehearsals and music making at work, in the middle of this deep dark winter. Happiness!

And it's Superbowl Sunday! So I'll be making kielbasa and pierogi in honor of the Steelers, and hoping that they cream the Cardinals. Regardless of who wins, it'll be an exciting game.

So maybe this February will be a little different...maybe February 2009 will be uplifting, rather than a big, cosmic smackdown.

Here's hoping!

My five:
  1. hope.
  2. goals.
  3. cooking - boy, do i love to make a mess in the kitchen!
  4. home improvement tv on Sunday mornings.
  5. watching the cat chase the dog around the house. :)