Monthly Archives: November 2002

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The Blog That Came in from the Cold

Good morning. I’m blogging again, and happy to be back. For the last month or so, it’s been too cold in my apartment to type much. I’m not talking ‘freezing to death’; more like ‘wear a turtleneck, a sweatshirt on top of that, a couple more layers on top of that, and wear a hat to bed’. This is conducive to answering the odd email, but not to writing. (Whenever I paused to ponder, my primary thought was, “Dang! I’m cold!”) But it’s finally gotten cold enough outside that the building thermostat seems to be working again (my apartment was not 65 degrees, whatever its thermostat said). It feels positively balmy this morning.

Now if I could just write (or finish) any story, I’d be happy.

Career Day

I’m starting to think seriously about becoming a teacher. I’m a reading tutor at the local elementary school at lunchtime. It hasn’t escaped my attention that I enjoy this half hour more than my real job. Back in the dark ages, I remember how much I got absorbed in teaching boating skills and safety when I was working one of the county’s day camp programs. There’s a real fascination to the way kids’ minds work, and a lot of satisfaction to helping those minds grow.

This still strikes me as odd, because I’ve never really thought of myself as a people person. I got teased and hit too much at school to believe that. But in adult life, I’ve never really had any problems dealing with either adults or children, and I’ve slowly come to understand that I’m not really an introvert by nature. Basically I’m a performer, outgoing, and very interested in other people. I just got harassed enough to beat that out of me — for a while.

Also, since my parents are teachers, they went to great lengths to let us know that being a teacher was not exactly financially rewarding. Eating all those cheese sandwiches and wearing hand-me-downs as a kid sorta hinted at that, yes. ;)

The other problem is that I’ll have to go back to college for at least a year to get certified. From what I’ve heard about education classes, this could be…interesting. *Makes a face* But I can nod politely and jump the hoops as well as anyone, and it’s only a year. The real trick will be getting admitted. I seem to have the gift of _not_ getting into grad school, despite my good grades and test scores. But there are a lot more spots available in grad programs not being used by the universities as sources of indentured servants to keep overhead low. Instead, I just have to go play unpaid apprentice as a student teacher.

I don’t know how I’ll live, though. I don’t have a lot of savings. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take all my classes at night school or on weekends (somehow I doubt it). Certainly I’ll have to quit my job to do student teaching, which means I’ll have to get some kind of night job that pays enough. God knows how I’ll even get there, since I can’t drive and the buses stop running here at midnight or earlier.

Still, I have the prospect of making at least ten thousand dollars more, starting out as a teacher, than I’ve ever made at my current job. Of course, I’m also not in debt currently, while I’m sure I’ll have plenty of student loans to pay off when I find employment as a teacher. If I do.

OTOH, I think I’d be good at the job and enjoy it. I’m willing to work hard. I can’t possibly be worse than the worst teachers I’ve had. Also, my eclectic assortment of knowledge will actually come in handy. Also, it’s pretty obvious that linguistics and neuropsych have education applications.

I really should take a day off soon and go talk to the admissions people over at Wright State.

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Big G-Man Is Watching You

You know, I like law and order. I like anti-terrorism. Personally, I would prefer not to be blown up or shot at random intervals. But puh-lease. bugging the library computers?

It’s not fair. It’s not right. It’s not American. And it’s even less American to be secretive about it. Would it kill the FBI to say, “Oh, by the way, from now on we’ll be monitoring X, Y, and Z”? Only if they’re afraid of public notice — and public outrage.

If I were a terrorist, I wouldn’t be logging on at the public library for anything serious, anyway. I’d be having fun with anonymizers and all the other high-tech privacy stuff instead, in the privacy of my own home.

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“It Does the Same Thing for Their Soul”

I recently saw a review of the new Tom Petty album. Apparently there’s a line in the last song about how rock does the same thing for some people’s souls as loving Jesus does for others. I can see where he could write that; there are certainly a lot of similarities between ecstatic music and ecstatic prayer. God speaks through the mathematics and emotion of music as surely as He does through the Word.

The biggest difference for me is that prayer and sacred music is turned inward…er, not exactly. Hm. Well, prayer is intimate, usually. It’s just you and God. When you are performing church music — even when you are drawing in the congregation with you — the music is not being performed for the congregation, but for God. God is the audience. God is also working within you and communicating with you through the music, which makes for a pretty tight circle. You may be swept out of yourself, but your self is still very close.

Performance for a more mortal audience is considerably different, because your attention is wholly outward. This is very odd for someone who’s always done church music. ;) You do more memorization of the music; the audience attention is wholly on you (or it better be); and you have to use your whole body to act with as well as to produce sound. Practice is very important, because once you get out on stage you can’t really think about the lyrics and music. Either they come out on automatic or you’re not doing it right,
because you need to be in a whole other brain mode to perform. Weirdest of all, you can hardly remember what went on once you get offstage. (Until the next time you go onstage, of course.) The whole different brain mode thing happens when I’m writing, too. But Writing Mode and Stage Mode are very different kinds of software.

The one thing that both kinds of music performance have in common is that you can never really tell how you’ve done. Not really. For one thing, you can never really hear your own singing the way your audience does, thanks to the resonance of your own skull. Recordings are imperfect, so you can’t trust them. You certainly can’t sit inside people’s brains and look at their reactions. Sometimes you feel that you’ve done well but get no audience reaction. Often you don’t feel any particular magic in your own work, while the audience is openly thrilled by what you’ve done. All you can do is do your best and hope for the best, as the old saying goes.

I guess that goes for prayer, too.

All this was brought on by my stint as StuntTalis and StuntKathyMar for the Ohio Valley Filk Festival’s prestigious (well, in filk circles) Pegasus Awards. To ensure that voters know all the songs they’re picking from, there are Pegasus Nominee concerts at filk conventions around the world (at least, all the ones from May till October). The last nominee concert is at OVFF itself. Talis Kimberley is English and doesn’t usually make it to Columbus for OVFF, so her songs are usually performed by Kathy Mar. But since Kathy couldn’t make it, I got asked to step in, with Steve Macdonald as accompanist since I don’t play guitar.

I practiced a good amount, since Talis’ songs are a bit tricky to keep in my range (She’s a real soprano and I’m a mezzo.) without getting screechy or squeaky (same problem as above). She also tends to have some funky little accents or syncopation that you need to get right or ruin the scansion. But practicing and studying songs you like is not exactly doing hard time. The real problem was that I got sick on Monday when I had to sing on Friday. Thank God for modern antibiotics and the power of prayer, is all I can say.

So apparently, I did really well. I seem to remember thinking I was in decent voice, and I also remember enjoying singing, especially with Steve’s playing. But I really can’t remember much about the whole performance. I was pretty surprised when people clapped as much as they did. This is disconcerting, as I used to be morbidly sensitive to every note I sang (especially the wrong ones) and every bit of audience reaction. It’s not as nervewracking, but it’s certainly odd.

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Back from the Sickbed

I apologize for my recent silence. I’ve been sick.
(Well, I’ve always been sick, but not in a physical way.) I will try to blog more regularly this week.

If you’re a US citizen eligible to vote and you haven’t voted, go vote. It’s your civic duty. (If you vote conservative Republican, that’s a bonus.)

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