Hey 2012, what’s up?

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(Source: Nerd Boyfriend)

So. Do I have your attention now?

No? How about now??

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(Source: Who Is Matt Smith? )

Well, now that sexy men have gotten your attention, Dear Internet, I’ll get to my post. Which doesn’t actually have a whole lot to do with those images. Sexy as they are. . . Though, to be fair, I should probably even things out with some sexy woman action too. Just to be fair.

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(Source: Karen Gillan’s InStyle photoshoot

It’s a new year, and everyone’s getting all revved up about making resolutions and turning over a new leaf. Cause, you know, an arbitrary date management cycle has recommenced? Usually my resolution is that I won’t make any resolutions, cause it’s kind of a sham and hooey and they never get kept cause nobody ever makes really realistic goals for themselves. And then there are the tears and recriminations and apathy, and why start that vicious cycle when I only just jumped off the last one? Not that I’m a cynic or anything. But this year, something’s different. I’m at the cusp of making some changes in my life, and it just so happens that I want to start these changes now, at the turn of a new year. New Year’s Resolutions Bandwagon, you are being jumped upon by me, finally.

Grouped into a few areas, here are my goals for this new year:
1) Manage Money Like an Adult, dumbface
– don’t use the credit card as a crutch, if you can’t afford it, don’t go for it
– pay off the little bit of debt I’ve accumulated
– start actually saving money
– develop a proper budget

I’m planning on finally moving out sometime this year, so I really think I should buckle down and become an adult about money. Like now.

2) Get Healthy.
– start the process to diagnose a potential health issue I’ve been dealing with for the past six months
– develop a regular exercise schedule
– plan on changing some food habits, develop a healthy diet plan (where “diet” = the food I eat, not fad self-denial/starvation plan. Cause that shit won’t work for me)
– hike more. Lots more. And try to be more active in general

As I say above, I’ve been having some minor health issues since I finally got a job last spring. I guess the release of all the pent up stress of the two years previous messed up my system even more than I’d thought. And, having spoken with my doctor briefly about what’s going on, she agreed that we should definitely do some (wheeee. . .) testing and get to the bottom of things. And part of the treatment for the condition I might have developed include diet changes and increased activity. Which I wanted to do anyway. So. Win-win?

Now, what does this mean about my baking obsession?? Well, I’ll probably not change a whole lot, cause the things I bake, I bake them for other people. I’ll just have to pretty much not eat most things. And, I’ll probably start playing with new recipes, to test substitution options, and test the Healthy Baking Waters. But let me reassure you all now, there will still be pounds of butter. Cause, sorry margarine enthusiasts, it’s just better.

3) Make Decisions About Things That Have Been Pissing Me Off (finally)
– specifically, decide what I’m going to do about my choir issues. So there will be much research on choirs going on in the next few months
– find a decent paying Sunday choir gig, if possible. Cause I’m sick and tired of feeling like my opinion is invalid because I’m just-a-volunteer
– think about singing lessons, when I have more money at my disposal

4) Plan the Next Step, Career-wise
– start résumé revisions, cover letter writing, etc. well ahead of my contract ending
– start trolling job listings and job boards soonish
– think about where I really want to end up, and how each job I do apply to will help me achieve my goals in my career

5) Take the Time to Art
– use some of my cherished me-time to go back to sketching and painting
– play with new media, and mixing medias
– work on getting my technique back up to snuff, cause I’m feeling a bit rusty
– think about art classes, when I have some income to burn
– play with my craft obsessions and see how far I can push them into my art. Specifically, work on developing my own knitting patterns

During my vacation after Christmas, I worked on my first actual art project in YEARS. A friend of mine, with whom I have been lamenting letting our passion for our arts go in the name of practicality, challenged me to make something for her for Christmas. Well, being one effing-super-busy lady, I couldn’t do it in time for Christmas, so it became a post-Christmas project. And it felt good to be painting again. No, let me rephrase: it felt GREAT!! I’m about half done, so there’s more to do, but I’ve been putting off working on it a little because I don’t want it to be over. I guess I’m starting to realize just how big a whole I’d dug out of my heart when I decided to give all this up. So it’s time to start patching up that gaping hole, I guess.

I wish I could say I know it’ll all work out great. But I’m a confirmed pessimist and I’m not naive. But I can say right now that I am going to put everything into this, which is something I’ve avoided almost my whole life, and that’s both daunting and exhilarating. There are things at stake now!! I guess this is what it feels like to not be depressed? If so, I think I like it!!

I just read a great article about the physiological issues that might be at play in problems with maintaining weight loss. A lot of which makes good sense to me, especially since I watched my mom go through the whole crash-diet-massive-weight-loss-then-incremental-weight-gain thing my whole life. And I guess I could be discouraged since I’m likely to have to work hard at maintaining any weight loss I do accomplish, but it’s really nice to know that at least part of my overweight-ness can potentially be attributable to forces not entirely under my control. It’s kind of freeing, really. I’m also looking at the Mediterranean diet as inspiration for my new food resolutions.

Well. Anyroad, I think I’ve yammered long enough about this. Time to get back to work, Dear Internet!!

Any new resolutions this year for you, Dear Internet??

The posts that never come. . .

Okay. . . So much for resolutions like “I _will_ write at least one blog post a week!!” or “I need to finish talking about my bleep-ing Newfoundland trip!” or “I should sleep more!!!”

This “gainful employment” thing kinda sucks, aside from the money, the doing something awesome with my days instead of being eff-ing bored All. The. Time., the meeting new and awesome people, the money, and gaining useful experience for my CV. Did I mention the money? Cause two years of almost total unemployment paired with me still wanting some kind of life left me with one sad credit card statement. So money coming in is both very confusing and awesome. Confusing since it’s weird to see the bank statement increase bi-weekly. Though that does get sucked into the credit card pretty quickly.

And Christmas is coming.

Which leads me to a raft of excuses for why I’ll probably be AWOL for most of the rest of the year. See, I’m going to try to actually _do_ stuff in the next couple of months, along with working 5 days a week, singing Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, knitting a stupid number of X-mas presents, going to the gym 4-5 times a week, and baking the usual ridiculous number of cookies. Plus several birthday treats for the several birthdays coming up, and finally making good on a couple of presents the boyfriend and I gave a couple of years ago. Heh, you heard right – a _couple_ of years ago. . .

We’re so awesome. . .

And, oh yes, I almost forgot Hallowe’en. Because 1. I’m actually trying to make a costume for the first time in years (I don’t know if you remember how old I am, but it’s pretty ridiculous, since I’m not 7 anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with other people who dress up who aren’t 7, _I_ just feel ridiculous), 2. It’s my Mom’s birthday and I have a new recipe I want to make for her (it involves potatoes. My mom _loves_ potatoes in an unholy way), 3. I have to carve a ridiculous pumpkin (I might not _have_ to, technically. But this is me, and if I can be truly ridiculous, I can’t help but be even more ridiculous than that), and 4. There’s not enough time this weekend to come close to finishing everything I need to do. . . Unless I don’t sleep of course. . .

If only that were a feasible option.

In addition to making myself waaaaaayyyyyy too busy, I’m also in a kind of not awesome place, emotionally. Which is part of why I’m filling my days too full, so I don’t have time to think about things. I’ve talked about the problems I’ve been having with my choir before, so I won’t belabor that point. But it’s getting to the point where sometime in the near future I’m going to have to make a decision. And I don’t want to. I don’t want to have to leave a choir I’ve been a part of since I was 6. I don’t want to have to be the one to tell my church’s priest exactly what’s wrong and why I’m leaving the Sunday choir. I don’t want to be the one to tell my choir director why the choir isn’t as good as it could, no _should_ be (i.e. Her. . .). I’ve been talking about this off and on for the last few years, enough so that the boyfriend is probably a little fed up with me. But there’s a reason I’ve put off looking for another choir, that I’ve put off telling the people who need to know what they need to know, that I’ve remained (increasingly) frustrated about the situation I find myself in. One reason is the convenience of it – the church is literally 2 minutes away from my parents’ house. Which won’t always be the case, if I can keep up this fully employed thing and move out next year. But more problematic is the emotional attachment. I’ve sung at this place for more than two decades, my grandparents are buried in the cemetery on the church grounds, I know and care for a lot of people in the parish, it’s my Dad’s church, I’m friends with a significant number of members of the choir. And this is all tangled up together in a big jumble of emotion that pretty much paralyses me. I’m in a kind of straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back kind of situation, and yet I can’t let myself do anything about it. Why should it be me that leaves? Why does it have to be me??

And after some gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair I came to a realization: for now, the good outweighs the bad. Just barely, but still. I’ve always been one to put friendship above my own needs, and why should I change that now? There are plenty of points at which I can reevaluate the situation, other times I can think about this.

In the meantime, I’m going to be looking at possible options. . .

Back to work! Any tough decisions on your plate, Dear Internet?

T-7 days left and counting. . .

So, Dear Internet, I’m on my way to spin class for the first time in a couple of weeks. Boy am I going to be smarting tomorrow. . . But that will be balanced out with a lovely cake-filled baby shower for a friend of mine. And strangely enough, I won’t be providing any baked goods. Oddly enough. Kind feel bereft about it. Huh, maybe there’s a patch to deal with the withdrawal symptoms. But I do have to put together a present package and make a cute card (I have a stamp set that’s perfect for my needs. You can imagine I’m fiendishly rubbing my hands together while grinning maniacally, if you like. It’s a fairly accurate image. . . Well, except I’m actually on a train and writing this on my iPhone, so it’s more what I’m doing in my head that in actuality. Not to burst your bubble there). But I think cake will be a nice panacea for my sore muscles, plus hangings out with peoples what are awesome = double plus good!

But today I’ve been kind of having an existential crisis. I know, right? Who has those anymore, Dear Internet?!

It’s my second last week of actual employment, and though I’ve been assiduously applying to boatloads o jobs all fricking summer, no bites. Not a call, nothing. It’s looking more and more that this was an anomaly instead of, as I had hoped, a sign that I might in fact soon find myself fully and gainfully employed.

Luckily I have PEI to look forward to, otherwise I might get depressed or something. No idea what I’m going to do after PEI, aside from look forward to the next wedding on the docket (and maybe even the making of my pretty dress). And, duh, more job hunting. The benefit to everyone using the Internet for job applications is that if you have access to the Internet you can easily apply to as many jobs as you can make cover letters for. The downsides are that you feel like you’ve thrown your application into a deep ocean crevasse instead of worked to secure your future, and that the hundreds of millions of other people who have access to the interwebs have done the exact same thing. And nobody ever bothers to let you know if your even being considered as a candidate. So you’re left to assume you’re not and forget what you’ve applied for. Cause if you care about the opportunity, it actively hurts each day that you don’t get a phone call.

Of course, by the time someone does call you for an interview, you’ve then completely forgotten everything about the job and then sound pretty silly asking “What job is it I’m interviewing for again?” Also, if you do have the honour to get an interview (yes, it’s an _honour_ Bulldunkle.), the odds anyone ever gets back to you with feedback afterwards (even if they promised to do so) is next to nil. Of the 20-odd interviews I had in the last couple of years, THREE got back to me after the interview, one of which was for the job I ended up getting. A good six-ten others _said_ they’d get back to me.

And my experience so far is that you have to have 20+ interviews, at the very least, before you’re likely to actually ever get a job offer. For example, after graduating from a Masters degree, I spent two years futilely applying to countless jobs only to end up with a temporary, crappily paid summer student gig with terrible prospects cause they just cut 1900 jobs. . .

Oh how I love this state of being.

So I think I should, instead of dwelling on it (and thanks for letting me rant it out, Dear Internet), I should try to live each day as it comes. Look forward to the things to look forward to, and madly apply to job after job after job after job (and go quietly mad from the boredom) and get more into my hobbies. Maybe even start an etsy store or something to fill my time. So I can potentially offload the massive amounts of crafty I’ll probably end up producing. . .

Cause one thing I know for sure is that job hunting, it is one of the most boringest activities known to man.

At least I have a roof over my head, food in my tummy, and supportive and awesome peoples standing by and being all supportive. Maybe I won’t have to wait another two years for the next crappy short-term job. Always positive, that’s me. Well, I said I should try to look forward to the good things and live each day for itself, not get a personality transplant. When I get chipper, that’s when you know I’ve succumbed to the drugs.

Anything getting you down, Dear Internet?

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Heh. Just saw this sitting on the shelf near me in the bookstore (waiting to go to my spin class, where else would I hang out? Do you know me at all?). Though, sadly, too true. . .

MUSIC!!

Ok, The Internet, I know this blog has been rather more heavily slanted toward the food end of the blogging spectrum that I originally proposed.And this post won’t fully rectify that discrepancy, but I’d like to actually start talking about the music in my life. Shock!


Last night A couple nights ago (ooops. . . forgot to finish this post yesterday. . .), I went over to a friend’s house for a Settlers of Catan games night (awesome game, by the way – if you at all like board games, check it out!). There was too much food, too much alcohol (if that’s even possible), and some lovely music. Which reminded me that I’ve been super derelict in my duty to make this a blog about music, as well as baking. Though, I should take a moment to tell you that part of that too much food I just mentioned was a cake that I baked, from the archives of the lovely Smitten Kitchen. Which everyone enjoyed (yay!) and there will be a new blog post on the making-of that delightful confection to come in the near future. Keep your eyes peeled for that one!!


But back to music – after the game (where the person who’d never played or seen the game before was the winner. . . we were soft on him. That’s right we let him win to make him like the game more. Next time it’ll be different), we all congregated in the living room and listened to a recording of the piece of music our fearless leader wanted to look at. (This of course is for the quintet I sing with, not the Sunday choir.)

We might have finished singing for the season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start preparing for the next one. We’ve been having soprano issues for a while now – our first (and the closest to our hearts) ended up not being able to sing on Wednesdays (the day we sing) because of work (and then eventually ended up moving back east to be closer to her family this past December.) Then was the month of trying to figure out not having a soprano (while awesome, four (or more)-part harmony is the best so we ran through a few until we found a great singer with whom we had a really good blend (and, incidentally, helped me to become more confident in my own voice, which also helped the blend). But her work was making it harder and harder to justify taking a whole evening out of her schedule, and at the end of the year she decided that, though she’ll help out when we need her, she can’t come back full-time in the fall. Our fearless leader has gotten in touch with one of the sopranos we’ve had sing with us as a sub before, but she’s not sure yet if she can do it. She has a sister who might be able to, and another sub we’ve had might work out. But it’s all up in the air right now. Sigh 😦

That’s a really long-winded way of saying “We practiced a piece for 4-part lower voices” – specifically, Vicotria’s Duo Seraphim, arranged for TTBB, in case we need to have a few weeks of soprano-free services. Luckily I am an alto with a pretty decent three-octave range, and the first tenor part doesn’t really challenge the lower end at all. And after listening to the piece, we actually ran through it (sight-singing 101) a couple of times. And I felt like I had finally come home. It’s only been a few weekes since singing wrapped up for the season, so I hadn’t realized how much I really missed it.

We weren’t perfect, and I don’t think the large amount of alcohol I consumed was too helpful here either. . . But it was still heavenly. I’ll have to start carving out a chunk of time each week to keep in practice, as well as to learn some new music we’ll be adding to our repertoire in the fall.

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I hope you’ll bear with me for a moment, but I have something I need to get off my chest about the singing I do. As I said in one of my first posts, I have been singing since I was 6 or so. Somehow I ended up in the junior choir at my church – my Dad’s been big into music his whole life and his parents before him, so it’s not too surprising I ended up singing. So I grew up in a choir, and absorbed a love of choral music by osmosis. I might not have had any classical training, but “singing my whole life, pretty much” is nothing to sneeze at in terms of experience.

That being said, we have a choir master/organist (CM/O) who doesn’t trust us. Over the last few years, I have begun to really notice this problem, especially since I also now sing in a very small group where we literally have to trust each other or it’ll just fall to little bitty pieces. We also sing everything a capella, so we occasionally go flat or sharp – but we go flat or sharp together because we’re actually blending with the voices we’re singing with. On Sundays, our CM/O plays the organ (unfortunately very loudly) while we sing (even ahem especially for pieces that are supposed to be a capella), and plays the piano very loudly during rehearsals. We can’t hear each other, how can we blend? If we go flat (which we occasionally do, cause hey! we’re actually human. Surprise surprise), the sections of the choir can’t hear each other, can’t blend with each other, so we end up singing in different keys (on the most spectacular failures). And then CM/O gets frustrated with us and plays the right chord at us really loudly right after we’re finished singing. Might as well just scream “Hey!! You guys sound like shit!” And the more she plays loudly with us, the less confident we are in our blend, and more problems crop up. . . It’s been really hard to go from one group that sings with trust and challenges us to try new (and sometimes scary hard) music, to one where our CM/O will tell us how rests work. . . I know you want consistency, but thanks so much for the patronizing, it really makes me feel great.

Another issue is the kind of voices she prefers: Operatic voices. And this is a choir, apparently. So, having a nice little choral voice in this choir has given me a really big problem of trusting my own voice – for a long time I thought my voice was crap, because of this CM/O. Insecurity issues. But, do you know how hard it is to sing, and sing your best, in a choir where you know your sklls aren’t really appreciated? If I hadn’t started singing on Wednesdays, I’d still be under the impression that I was a useless member of the choir. In addition to giving me an inferiority complex, the kind of singers our CM/O prefers make it really hard to have a choir that blends – operatic singers don’t blend (some just can’t), and in many cases they have voices that are massively huge, which is another barrier to good blending.

And I like our CM/O – she’s quite a good keyboardist and composer. She’s a really interesting person to talk to. I’m just getting to the point where I don’t know if I can actually stay in this choir for much longer. I’ve been saying this for a while now (and the boyfriend will just sigh and shake his head since he’s heard it a bunch of times before), but I might soon be leaving the choir I’ve been singing with for the past 22-or-so years. And that’s really very scary – what if I can’t find a new choir with people I like as much (especially since I have such a hard time warming to people anyway) and who sing as much great music (even if we do fairly often sing the same things over and over again)?

What if I can’t find a choir that would like to have me??

I have the summer to think about these things, and maybe look into finding a voice teacher (if I have a reliable source of income at some point) to help me potentially get into a more professional choir. I don’t know what I’ll do, but I’m already sad at the idea that maybe this is the end of something that’s been such a huge part of my life.

Any thoughts, Dear Internet?