Friday, December 31, 2010

2010, just as it was

I didn't have a very excellent Christmas Break.
I hate writing about illness, but sometimes it's the only thing in the storyline. That has certainly been the case for me. I got sick on the Friday of the last day of school and have been sick every second after that. This depressed me very much, which made the sickness worse and it's gotten to the point where I can't separate the stomach bug from the sadness.

It's New Years Eve and I'm thinking it's time to stop feeling sad for the lost two weeks. Time to just let it be what it was and move on.

Move on to 2011. I have seen several blogs where they have highlighted their year in blogging and although I hate to join and copy, I feel like it is necessary to resuscitate my spirit. So, here it is, 2010, as it was:

In January, I tried to teach Ramona to sleep through the night.

I got a baby ready for the day in February.

I broke down in March.

In April, I shelved some books.

On May 1, 2010 Ramona turned one and then she scared the hell out of me.

In June, I began to practice, for real.

I cleaned out a closet in July.

On August 17, I turned 30.

In September, I ate some soup.

In October, I learned to ride a bike.

I played the viola in November.

And a few days ago, in December, I remembered.

That was 2010. Now I'm going to leave you with my husband Brian's New Years Resolution:
"I'm just going to keep trying."

Well said, huh? Happy New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

a christmas memory

Last week, during a staff meeting, we were asked to tell a favorite holiday memory. A couple ideas occurred to me, the year I got Super Mario Bros. 3 was a good year, I liked going to the Nutcracker ballet with my mom....presents, lights, hams, fudge.......all fun....all good. But not really a memory.

This is mine. And I shouldn't tell it. It's one of my best stories.

In high school, my chamber music group played city hall during the month of December. We set up in a small out of the way alcove, to play to people doing business. Walking to lunch, moving the wheels of bureaucracy. We had plenty of time. Time to get bows ready, music straightened, strings tuned, and then we began the noisy buzz of string players with nothing to do but wait.

I sat and waited. Once I was tuned I was too self conscious to ever warm up. So I sat and enjoyed the city hall architecture, the red bows, the lit trees, and the swirling sound of a small orchestra off kilter.

And then, from behind, amidst all the noise, a song. My teacher, who was sitting among the group, was tuning his violin as well. The same warm up noise, double stops, adjusting, until notes began to piece themselves together from the fray. The notes became the smallest, saddest Christmas song in the holiday oeuvre. have yourself a merry little christmas. It sounded like a bird, a message that pushed against the noise, but did nothing to fight it. I listened, watching, seeing every sweet note travel to the impossibly high ceiling. Filling each corner. I was not listening to this from my seat. I was having an experience from far away, I was far more than a bystander, I was listening from another world.

This dark, but light sweet sadness was oppressive to me. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. Everything else is the exaggeration, this is the truth. This is my favorite of all memories. Listening to a sweet violin, from a great height, finding a treasure.

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight. they will be miles away.

the song ended. I sat in my seat, choked with beauty and love. A tearful acknowledgement of having actually noticed one of the moments of my life.
And then it was time to perform.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Christmas from ramona and her mother

We are 3 days from Winter Break! I am celebrating by sending out my Christmas Cards. By "Christmas Cards" I mean "this blog post".

This was Ramona and Santa last year:

This is Ramona and Santa this year:

If I were a meaner mom she would be on his lap, screaming. In this particular scene she is whimpering into my shoulder and clutching my arm tightly. She had some kind of Santa radar and would begin to tense up whenever she could sense his presence.
It's so weird to celebrate Christmas with such a little girl. It's like the lights are half on and some one's home part of the time. Last year we didn't bother. This year we are kind of bothering.

I made this video with Brian. I was originally going to play solo, but I sounded so bad I decided I really needed someone to smile at. I'm glad I invited him because we had such a happy fun time making bad music together.
To answer potential questions, yes, those are my pjamas and no, we don't live in a bunker.
We actually made this video for the Fifth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. I think this performance might even be cooler than the year we did the Christmas Recorder Duets (I wish I had filmed those).

Enjoy the sneak peek.

Happy Christmas! War is Over! If you want it!



Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Last week was the best week of my life. It really was, in all its ordinary glory. I got my worst teaching day out of the way on Monday and then just sailed into the week. I never had to be to work early, and every day I spent a nice morning with Ramona before starting my day. I was creating these little reasonable to do lists with just like 3 things on them. And getting them done, every day. I took care of stuff in the library that I've been dreading for months, worked on my paper, cleaned my house, took care of family and myself. Everything just felt so pleasant. Work was easy, family was easy. I bounced through the whole thing, smiling like an idiot and bragging to all about my Wonderful Week.

Not to sound like a mega pessimist, but I totally knew this week would be no good. However, I didn't know how hard it would be to come back to reality. I started the week with my hardest teaching day. Tuesday I went to the dentist first thing in the morning, so I felt off the whole day and had a miserable headache. Ramona has been throwing these truly amazing mega fits. I can't believe what a fuss she can make. I have to be at work an hour early tomorrow. I can't find red tights for Ramona's Christmas dress and she sees Santa on Saturday! Ack!

But I also feel like all my creative plans large and small are drifting away from me. I have lots of ideas, and then I go to bed. When I wake, I fret about what I want from it all. What do I want? What do I want?
The ecstasy. The agony. (on second thought, I take it all back. I'm having such a Dramatic Week! Everyone, I've been having such a Dramatic Week! Fun!)

Friday, December 3, 2010

every book in the world - book talk

I've done a pretty sad job of writing about the books I've read since the beginning of fall. I wrote about Eat, Pray, Love and I kind of emoted all over the place about The Hunger Games trilogy. But I never got into all of the middle grade award books I felt compelled to read at the beginning of the school year. The Mark Twain Award nominees weren't very special this year. I don't know, maybe I'm too hard on these little books, but there just wasn't a Paint the Wind among them. However, I do want to mention some here now just to clear the air on the unspoken 12 books.

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy: This was the weirdest damn book ever. It's about these kids that go to an elite academy where the school serves mind controlling drug brownies which causes the students to become amazing students and palatable human beings. And this is bad, so our main character kids vow to shut the operation down.
I thought this book was strangely subversive and made me a little nervous. I feel like singing "Another Brick In The Wall" every time a kid checks this one out.

Stolen Children: What children are ok with is amazing to me. This book is about two children who are kidnapped and taken to a remote cabin in the woods, where they execute an escape plan. As a parent, this book scared the hell out of me, but when I would talk about how frightening this book was the kids acted like I was mental. Stolen Children isn't scary, Mrs. Bradfield, Coraline is scary. (They are right about Coraline though, totally scary.)

I also read this cult favorite among my most favorite library girls, Warrior Cats. If any of your kids like this series, I feel for you. Yuck.

I'm a librarian, so I read. I read and I read. I have just put in a large book order and I'm truly excited to read some of my selections. But before I do that, I have to finish my holiday reading.
What is holiday reading, you ask? Well, it's when I read all the books I'm planning to give as gifts. I've got two really neat gifts in the works right now.

One is the crazy huge Mark Twain text book that is the Autobiography. I'm getting it for my dad, but it's such a huge piece of work I'm starting to chew through it, adding tabs in hopes of making his reading more enjoyable.

The other is The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a 14th-Century Chinese Hermit. I won't say who's getting it, because it's a secret. This came as a recommendation from Karen Maezen Miller. These poems were written in the early 1300, yet somehow they feel exactly as new as you have noticed the world to be, just now. Notice, notice, notice. These poems are about noticing. They reveal to me that noticing is my birthright. Merry Christmas, indeed.

Before I started on my holiday books, I was and am still reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, which I'm not going to lie, is messing me up. Hello, my name is Nova/Patty, nice to meet you. This is my husband Brian/Walter, we are trying to hold it together. Is marriage for real? I expect nothing less from Franzen.

As I continue to read, I will do a better job of blogging about the books, so that we don't get posts like this in the future. Clearly, this one was a real mess.