2.27.2013

all springtime in a day.

I tend to anthromorphize just about everything. I talk to birds, to my pets, to pieces of furniture that jump out and bite my legs when I cut corners too closely. Days of the week and seasons are not safe either, (In fact, I've broken up with Monday more times than I can count, and he keeps coming back for more, the persistent bastard.) and my facebook feed often has a bon mot for the current day and a warning/plea for the upcoming.

I wore all black to work on this late winter workday, as one is wont to do in winter when brain cells and clean laundry are both at a premium.

BUT, along with the black sweater, black tights, black pumps, I wore a bright, salmon-pink lace skirt. It's one of my springiest, girliest things, in fact it's 100% ridiculous in its girliness, and it seemed just the thing to tempt spring to come just a wee bit closer.

I wasn't alone - several girls in the office were wearing bright colored dresses to ward off the rainy greyness of this past Tuesday.

Here's the thing: somehow? IT WORKED.

The skies cleared this morning. There was new birdsong and some sense of possibility on the breeze.

The temperature warmed up into the 50's. (The sun didn't even set until 5:59pm!)

I spent the morning doing something that I usually abhor: getting organized. I chucked a drawer's worth of old paper, filed what I needed, and got ready for the summer. I wrote a bit.

I circumnavigated the Beltway (well, Chevy Chase...that counts, right? It's a whole other STATE!) and had lunch with a mentor whom I adore, who gave me the best, most inappropriate compliment a girl could ask for. (He used to aspire to be a dirty old man. He's fundamentally too sweet to succeed, but I do love the attempts.)

A little more work, which included great conversations with treasured colleagues. I'm reminded again and again how much I enjoy the people with whom I work, and how fortunate I am to have a work family, not just co-workers.

And then? I had my @ss handed to me handily at the gym. My new trainer is upbeat and giggly and fun, but the combination of her focus on form (when suddenly everything that used to be easy is actually really difficult because you've been doing it incorrectly for, oh, forever? HUMBLING. I've thankfully never had to really do PT, but I cannot imagine how difficult it must be. Dang, y'all.) and her love of grrrrr lifting (my term - when you start lifting at one weight, and a trainer surreptitiously ups the weight for the next two sets.) makes her a great fit for me. I'm loving the discipline, and I'm especially loving the mental training she's doing - she doesn't let me punk out when I think I'm going to die. She'll spot me, help me if it gets too heavy (which I HATE, but if I can't do it myself then fine...something to work towards), and is ok with me not liking her sometimes.

Add into the mix some fun emails and FB posts from writerly pals and long-lost buddies; a Pandora station that found a song called "Polish Girl" (WHAAA??); a full pot of coffee at the office; a chat with mom and a detour through wildest suburban Maryland.

It was a good day.

And now? I've made (and eaten) a reasonably healthy dinner. (You know the workout was rough when I can barely lift my glass of wine...WHERE IS MY STRAW??) On the docket for this evening? A dog walk. Some writing time. And maybe, just maybe? A bath. Aaahhhh...

Wednesdays are not usually my pals. But today? We're totally besties.

(Thursday? I'm putting the challenge out there - we don't traditionally get along, even though I was born on a Thursday. You might not be able to top today, but I'd LOVE for you to try. See you tomorrow morning?)

2.20.2013

Remember SNL's Short Attention Span Theater? (Or was it MADtv?)

Sometimes having a short-attention-span memory is a really good thing. Slights are quickly forgotten, grudges released, and negative vibes are easily dismissed.

I forget often about the downside of that short-attention-span memory, though. I think of myself as an administrator, someone who facilitates the art-making, the connections, but doesn't get too entrenched in the details. Which is ridiculous - I started as a performer and an educator - someone whose very professional existence was related to those crazy, messy details; people, situations, drama, music. I'm involved in all of them currently, but my job is to minimize the crazy and messy, and to maximize the people, situations, artistic values.

Tonight I spent just a few hours with high school students, working on their spring musical - a mammoth event that requires commitment, long hours and that also carries huge social implications for the performers. But here's the thing: those singers? easily jumped through the difficult hoops. Some of the easier tasks they struggled with, because they were tied to perception, to the medieval social morés of high school. (Don't laugh - we ALL remember them, to some degree.) But the soloists and chorus, all walked -willingly! - through the door and met my expectations and challenges.

Exhilarating stuff.

It's not something that a classroom teacher gets to see often, being so close to the action... but, as the visitor with little knowledge of backstories and such? Well, it was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

When I was a student, Janet Bookspan gave a series of master classes at my undergrad, and I remember marveling at her insight, her approachability, her knowledge and good humor. I remember wanting to BE her - not Janet the director, or the personality, but the Janet who came in, reiterated all of the things that the classroom teachers said (because, let's be honest, that wasn't the first time ANYONE had heard these things!), and shook things up enough that the students could actually take the advice. She stirred the pot, made things feel fresh, different, uncharted. It was scary, but taking responsibility for my artistic choices was ultimately so very empowering.

Every time I have these opportunities? I remember how magical my coachings with her seemed. And I count myself so very fortunate to have been extended the opportunity to pay back a little bit of what I was given.

Magic begets magic. Beauty begets beauty. Inspiration and incisiveness... well, you get the point.


(Thanks to ELF and her students for the lovely trip down memory lane.)

2.17.2013

Heinz 57

...get it? A ketchup (catch-up) post.

The long and short of it was that it was a big week.

Events:

  • Season launch last Sunday. All KINDS of operatic goodness on tap!
  • 1st training session with a new personal trainer on Tuesday. Ow.
  • Ash Wednesday and a big sad family anniversary on Wednesday, along with a master class at a college in Pennsylvania. (add in some fantasticdeep-dish pizza, a little too much caffeine late in the day, and a snowy drive through three states.)
  • Friday - workout #2 with new trainer (turns out? She was being nice on Tuesday. DANG.) and a concert at work in the evening, at which I had the pleasure of pushing the button on the onstage slide show. 
Other stuff:
  • Started a new eating/exercising plan (hence the trainer)...still working out the kinks, but I have big hopes.
  • I've been reading this and this. And I love them both. It's refreshing, flipping back and forth between the 1500s and modern day. 
  • I'm in the process of purging my closet. Nothing 'meh' shall remain.
  • I wrote for a whopping 60 minutes today. Harumph. Tomorrow I'm going to tackle the structural problems and put in at LEAST 3 hours. 
  • I love my Sunday evening yoga class, but I'm not a huge fan of pigeon pose (happy for the hip flexor stretch, but my knees and hips call me nasty names for hours after class is over.)...sad that we spent over 2 minutes on each side tonight. I'm a hobbling old woman. 
  • In honor of Fashion Week, I give you this. And also, this, because these are the ladies I'd like to be sitting next to at ALL THE SHOWS.
  • I've been a fan of Maggie for a long time - she parses the world in a way that I find entertaining and educational, without being too stuffy. Between the quote and the thought of a tattoo? Well, I've referred to this all too often in the last week or so.
  • Have you met ASynonymForLiving? I adore the girl (I should apologize to her, as she's forever frozen in my head and heart as a sensitive, precocious teen, even as I cherish her as an adult), her writing, and her aesthetic. She posted this poem, and I have also been going back to it often. (Not for reassurance...actually, I'm not sure why. But I have been visiting it.)
  • Agreed.
I've worked out hard for the last 3 days (it seems like such a small number! And still, I'm so amazingly tired!), so I'm spending the evening with the last glass of my dad's favorite cabernet, grazing the internet and contemplating a long soak in the tub. No work tomorrow (Hallelujah!), so this week should be infinitely more manageable than the last. 

(Here's hoping.)

My five:
  • Music shared with friends. I love having earfuls of tunes that are loved by my loved ones!
  • Challenges. Knowing that there's no way I can lift that heavy thing even one more time, but being asked to do so 5 times? And actually doing so? Well, it's a cool thing.
  • Orange nail polish. They may only see the light of day during yoga and the shower, but my toes are TOTALLY perky!
  • Writing snail-mail letters. With a fountain pen and good stationery. Suck it, technology.
  • Generosity. I've been the recipient of some really amazing, benevolent gestures recently, and am trying to both reciprocate and pass some forward. It's both heady and humbling stuff. (And, regardless of the news being full of gloom and doom, I'm inspired and heartened by the things I'm seeing personally. Wonderful, wonderful stuff!)
Two musical interludes for you this evening, both by REM, both a little innig. First one up was brought back to my attention by JHak, and the second was a natural follower.




2.12.2013

2.13.13

Tomorrow is a big day for Rahree!

-Ash Wednesday. I try to do 3 things every Lent: give something up, meditate/pray (in my book they're interchangeable), and do something/give back to the people I love and my community. (I'm still trying to make a plan. The suggestion box is open!)

-A trip to Gettysburg College to work with a group of singers. I'm excited about going, for both the road trip aspect of the day (and the get outta the office aspect, too) and to talk with folks about this crazy business.

-A sad 5-year anniversary. Can you believe that my poor dad keeled over 5 years ago? (He would NOT approve of "keeled over" but since he left the party early he's got no veto rights anymore!) But this year it doesn't feel quite so bad. I miss him. I get panicky when I feel like I'm forgetting him. For the first time since 2008 I feel like I can both get through the day AND spread some love and encouragement, the way he did so effortlessly. Wow, it's a nice place to be...I didn't think I'd ever get here.

A day of reflection, sure. Moreso, a day of gratitude, of encouragement...a day to make plans and celebrate small victories. A day of remembrance, a day of tribute, a day of joy.


Pete Pokego
1942-2008



2.05.2013

Trying something new.

So, there are certain truths from my childhood that are ironclad:

-Time playing outside is vastly superior to chores inside.

-Nothing makes time pass as quickly as a good story.

-Black raspberry soft serve is the Eighth Wonder of the World. Bonus points for sprinkles.

-Brussels sprouts are the culinary equivalent of licking someone else's burp.

That last truth? Shot all to hell this evening! Full disclosure - until I was well into my twenties, Brussels sprouts were a dish only 'enjoyed' at Thanksgiving, always steamed, eaten cold with a chaser of milk. (I can make myself gag just thinking about it.)

But in December, the lovely and talented KPW made a batch for a group dinner she hosted. And, not wanting to be rude, I plated exactly three of the bad boys and made sure my glass was full.

BUT!

They were DELICIOUS!

And I went back for seconds. (I may have also asked someone to take a picture to send to my skeptical mom...)

Tonight? I roasted a batch myself...and ate almost the whole dang thing.

Note to self: challenge assumptions.

(If you're interested, here's her recipe: halve the sprouts. marinate for 30 min in a solution - 2 parts olive oil, 1 part maple sugar. chop some bacon (raw) and sprinkle it on top. Roast in a 450-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. the marinade will burn if you pour it all onto the sheet, so it's worth it to drain 'em a bit.)

(I would've posted a picture, but I ate 'em all.) :)

2.04.2013

This post is not a flu post.


(Although there's a lot fo upset stomach in it...if the ol' norovirus has been near you recently? You may want to pass...)

It's been a busy weekend, chickadees. (Yes, I know it's Monday and therefore not technically still the weekend. Taking a little artistic license, there.)


  • We spilled the beans. All of 'em. Which means you can start getting your summer travel plans in order. (The first show opens on my big round birthday...which is also KPW's birthday. Consider yourself notified...we'll be collecting presents at the door.) (Not really.)
  • We celebrated hub's birthday belatedly with almost a dozen pals here. I ate more than I did at Thanksgiving, I swear. (Grits are my Achilles' heel, evidently...those and buttermilk biscuits with  sausage gravy. UNCLE.) I ate so very much that I didn't eat again all day, even after 30 minutes on the elliptical and a 75-minute power yoga class. The sheer amount of food I forced in? Well, my stomach was in revolt. My mouth, however, was joyous - that brunch is amazetastic!
  • Fast forward to this morning. I took a class at the gym called Shockwave. Awesome playlist (Poison, Jump Around, Sexyback...fun music!), on a circuit with rowing machines, kettlebells on stability platforms, viprs, all the fun toys. The length of the circuit is based on how fast the rowers can meet certain distances: 100 meters/200m/300m/200m/100m/200m/100m. If there's more than 1 of you rowing, you both have to row until you've both reached the distance. My partner was slower than I was (RAWR!) and then left halfway through class (whaaaa?) so I had to race the instructor. (He was a lovely gentleman, but he rowed the 100 in 22 seconds. 22 SECONDS. If I wasn't convinced of how amazingly out of shape I was before class started, I was fully in touch with it by the time class was over.) Boy, it's been awhile since the last time I seriously considered booting in a room full of strangers, but I almost got there. Dang.
  • I am tired of whining about writing and not doing it, so I'm using the pomodoro method. It's money so far, mostly in the fact that I limit my web surfing to the slender breaks. (Rather than limiting my writing to those slender 5-minute breaks...) Feeling good about some of the work I got done today, for the first time in weeks. 
  •  I defriended someone on the ol' FB. Someone who I don't know well made what was likely an innocuous comment, but it really made some folks - myself included, obvs - feel badly. So? Buh-bye. It drove home the fact that many of those folks are acquaintances, not friends, and I likely need to go in and manage my lists a bit. 
So! Busy!

But, lest my plans for world domination get buried (again) under a metric ton of the most delicious grits, here's my plan for the next month. Keep me honest. (Or call my brother and tell him I posted this - he is The Enforcer.)


  1. Classes/training sessions/jogs/yoga 4x weekly.
  2. Tracking every bite that goes into my mouth.
  3. Writing for an hour at least every other day - goal is 10,000 words/weekly for the first edit. 
  4. Holding down my job while doing numbers 1-3. (this might be the toughest item.)

2.02.2013

brief recap.

So, that week happened.

Bookended with opera, that week: starting last Saturday in Atlanta judging their 24-Hour Opera Project... and ending this afternoon with our season announcement. (Details on the web by Tuesday morning, I'm told.)

In between?

Trying to book a chamber music series. (For the record? If I ask you about one act and you try to sell me another - or five or ten others? That tells me that a.) you're not listening or b.) you're desperate. Neither instill confidence, or make sound business deals.)

Dealing with a broken heart...a pal is in bad straits, and I'm powerless. It's not a great feeling.

Rejoicing in the good news of family and friends! 2013 is starting in fantastic ways for some of my nearest and dearest, and that makes me SO happy!

Swimming upstream. Low energy, missed goals, lots of wondering where the time went. No doubt I(must be?)'m trying to figure things out, mostly the writing that I hope to get done before the season starts. Funny thing, the more I want to write, the less I actually do...

(Time to switch that out.)

So, in order to get re-energized, re-focused, re-inspired, I'm begging you for articles, artwork, music and words that hold special meaning to you. Help me de-funk-ify!