Monday, April 29, 2013

Labor Pains

We're in class doing favorite song presentations. One of my students presents a song about a person who is isolated. 

Me: I think there is no pain greater than loneliness.  In the song, he talks about how no one is listening but he doesn't care. I don't believe him. I think he does care.  I think everyone cares.

Male Student:What about giving birth on the sun?

Me: [Blankly staring at the student.] What?

Male Student: Giving birth on the sun. That would be way more painful.

Me: I just was not expecting that.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Big 3-0

So my thirtieth birthday is less than five months away.  In anticipation of this blessed event, I have commenced work on a project that I've been wanting to complete for a very long time.  It's something I've started countless times but I have never been able to finish.

I can't tell you what it is.  (Because what if I don't actually do it and this was all big talk?)

You may be wondering how this time will be different than any other time I've tried the same thing and not been successful.

Well, I'll tell you.

It's because I'm turning thirty and I am out to prove to myself that thirty will be the best year of my life.  I don't want to be afraid of it anymore.

I want to embrace it.

On the tenth of September, 2013, I will unveil the finished product. 

(Okay, this all seems slightly over dramatic.  But that's how I've always been...ask my Mom.  Why stop now?)

Friday, April 19, 2013

2 Vignettes: "The Eternal Pessimist" and "Roses are Red, Songs about them Bring Doom..."

I have a student who is a born pessimist.  I laugh at things he says all the time.  The funniest part is that he truly doesn't mean to be that way the majority of the time.  He says a lot of things without realizing how negative they come across.

Case in point:

Today in class, we were discussing our recent choir festival. Knowing how unforgiving high school students can be of their own mistakes and the mistakes of others, I prefaced the conversation like this: "Please be positive.  It's okay to critique things about the festival, but let's do it in a positive way." 

At one point during the conversation, this student raised his hand and said, "I would like to know how we really sound.  Because we think we sound good, but we really have no idea.  We could be just as [name of another choir at the festival]!"

I just about died laughing on the spot.  I thought it was hilarious that his way of turning "bad" in to a positive critique was by saying"un-good" instead.  What makes it even funnier is that he was truly making a sincere effort to turn his comment into something constructive, especially since his reputation as a pessimist is widely known among my students!

Same choir class, different sequence of events:

We went to a choral workshop in NYC and sang one of our pieces, "Dirait-on."  The professional who was working with us asked if we knew the translation of each and every word.  I realized that while we had talked about the overall meaning, we hadn't memorized the meaning of each word. I came back with a firm resolve to work on the translation with me students.

We started with reading the translation (written in the front cover of the music) of the first line:

Abandon surrounding abandon
Tenderness touching tenderness...

The whole song is about a rose, so I drew a picture of the circular nature of the rose and how the petals tenderly touch one another. My students were being rowdy as usual, so I firmly said something about how they needed to settle down and really listen and internalize the meaning of the words. Without reading ahead, I continued where I left off:

Your oneness endlessly
caresses itself, so they say;

self caressing
through its own clear reflection.

YOU try getting room full of juniors to "really internalize" those words and see how much decorum you can keep in the classroom.  It was truly disastrous. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Stand as Witnesses

For the first time in a very, very long time, I recited the Young Women's theme on Sunday.

I have always wanted to serve in the young women's organization. I am so excited to be in a family ward where that is now possible for me!

It's not exactly what I pictured when I thought about serving there. I had a vision of lots of young women surrounding me in folding chairs while I spout off words of wisdom, garnered from my vast array of life experiences.

These are the actual sequence of events from my first young women's meeting as a leader:

  • Our cute young woman played the opening hymn on the piano.  The YW president and I sang.  
  • I said the opening prayer.  The YW president led the theme.  
  • The second counselor got there in time for the lesson to start (she was helping in primary for her last day).  Our young woman gave the lesson on the Book of Mormon.  She was well prepared with many scripture references and opportunities for us to participate in the lesson. The presidency and I sat and learned at her feet.  The three of us were busily searching our scriptures for answers she asked us to find.  I joked that we NEVER had to work that hard in relief society! I felt like I was back in seminary again.  She read us her sweet testimony of the first time she read the Book of Mormon.  I was in awe.
  • The second counselor gave the closing prayer.
  • Our president and young woman told us about 5 less active girls we hope to invite to YW.
  • We made plans to have a presidency meeting during the Sunday YW meeting next week since our young woman will be out of town.

Imagine that...I live in Utah!  But what an amazing opportunity for growth and learning.   Even though it wasn't what I imagined, there is no place I'd rather be.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Letter, Part 3

Dear the Future,

I need a friend. I don't know my way around there yet, and I'd love to have someone on my side in case I get lost.  Will you be my friend? Thank you.  I feel better knowing that at least one of the two of us knows how to get where we need to go. 

Can I ask you a question? Is it cold where you are? I'm trying to decide what to bring in order to stay warm when I come.  It feels like I've been packing for years.  There were a few things I put in my suitcase that I had to take out because they wouldn't fit.  I tried everything I could think of to get them in. I rolled them, then tried folding them, then scrunched them up in to a ball, and finally sat on my suitcase to see if it would shut.

It wouldn't. And there was nothing more I could do.
So, against my will, I took them out.

Have you ever felt like you were forgetting something? I can't help but feel that way constantly.  But you know how it is.  It isn't until you get there that you realize what you forgot to bring.  And then you cross your fingers and hope you'll be able to find something like it again. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New York State of Mind

I just finished my first out of state choir tour as a director rather than a choir member.  It was an amazing trip and I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. The kids had a blast! Since it's my policy not to post pics of students, a lot of what you'll see from our trip just includes me.  But I promise they were there, too!


We arrived on a red eye flight around 6:00 in the morning. We dropped off our luggage and took our first subway ride of the week.  It was really fun to see my kids experience the subway for the first time.  Some of my students had never even flown before, let alone been to NYC.

This is Bob, our travel agent. He was AMAZING and a joy to work with.
We walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and caught a few of the Manhattan Bridge across the way.

We walked on the infamous Wall Street and saw where Washington was sworn in as president. 

We walked through a beautiful little chapel.
My favorite part was this enormous real flower arrangement for Easter.  I had never seen one so big in my life. It smelled incredible!
We visited the beautiful World Trade Center memorial.  It has another waterfall just like the one above marking the place of the other tower. It's hard to see in this picture, but the waterfall goes down deep in to the ground.  I think the symbolism is beautiful.   
The names of the 3,000 people who were killed surround both memorials.  I learned that 7 towers were in fact destroyed after the attack, not just the two that were struck.

One thing I was fascinated by on the trip were my students' shoes.  It's amazing how footwear evolves and changes and comes back in style.  Army boots are really in (see above).  I was telling my students on the subway what was "in" when I was in high school.  I told them lots of boys wore those fat, puffy skater shoes and girls wore the platform sandals.  Converse shoes were exclusively worn by the theater kids, which is certainly not the case anymore.

In the evening, we had a pizza party (I refrained from the glutenous pizza on the first day but wasn't so strong by the end of the week....hopefully I don't pay for it too much later! But it's NY pizza...come on!) followed by a brief rehearsal for our Central Park performance.


On Thursday, we headed to a workshop followed by a performance in Central Park.  That evening, we caught "Spiderman" on Broadway. Spiderman had astounding special effects, including actors who flew through theater and an actual battle between the green goblin and spiderman above many of the audience members' heads.  What a fun day!

It's funny because in NYC, you can walk right by the temple and not even realize it. All the buildings are tall and close together, so the temple doesn't stand out like it does in other cities.  Seeing it still feels like home!

Phaidra and her husband and I found this lovely little cafe for breakfast that we came back to every morning.  Notice our choir T-shirts that I'm wearing.

Our workshop was not quite what we expected.  I thought it was going to be a formal choral rehearsal and clinic, but it ended up being run by professional Broadway actors.  I was a little skeptical, but my kids ended up LOVING it.  They were so full of energy and helped the kids come out of their shells. They taught them that they could change their entire performance just by standing taller and more confidently and showing expression on their faces.
This is a picture of Bandshell Plaza where our students performed in Central Park.  We had lots of people stop by to watch and some even sang along to some of our songs like, "New York, New York."  It was a really cool experience!

I wish I'd gotten pictures of all the kids in their Broadway best. It was so cute to see them get dressed up for the shows each night!

Friday started off with a little boat cruise.  It was so relaxing for Phaidra and me. We didn't even really pay attention to any of the sights or what the tour guide was saying. We just sat and enjoyed the calm ride.  We then visited a performing arts high school and finished the evening with another Broadway show. What an amazing way to spend spring break!

And here is Lady Liberty (we had moved inside by this point because it was very chilly, thus the reflection).  It's not possible to actually go and visit the Statue right now because of damage done by Hurricane Sandy.

This is the high school where the movie "Fame" was filmed.  Alicia Keys also graduated from here.  It's a public school exclusively for people living in the city.  It requires an audition and only one in every twenty applicants is accepted.
We split in to groups according to our discipline.  The theater and dance kids got to do some warm-ups with some of the actors and had a question and answer exchange with each other.  The madrigals and I sat in on a choir rehearsal.  The kids were incredibly talented and VERY energetic (aka super rowdy...made me appreciate my kids more!).  We had the chance to sing a song for them which was really cool.  We performed "Oh My Luve is like a Red, Red Rose" which is our favorite song right now.  They were very gracious and I think sincerely appreciated what we had to offer as a smaller group.  My other choir students got to learn a piece with some of the musical theater kids and watched a tap dance rehearsal for Thoroughly Modern Millie. They loved it!

The infamous Time Square! My students told me today that the confetti they throw out on New Years in Time Square are actually wishes written down by people throughout the year. Some of my kids got a chance to write down their wishes. 
Our evening show was "Nice Work if you Can Get it" starring Matthew Broderick and featuring Gwenyth Paltrow's mother, Blythe Danner.  This was more of the typical Broadway experience and the kids loved it, even more than they enjoyed Spiderman.  The music was all Gershwin. My favorite song performed was "Someone to Watch Over Me." I didn't realize I had an audience watching me as I watched the show...there was a particularly uncomfortable scene where I had my head in my hands and was really students STILL aren't letting me hear the end of it! Every student near me was watching my reaction.

Phaidra let me borrow her jewelry. I felt so glam!
I got a quick shot of Blythe...I felt like a total paparazzi but oh well.  They're used to that! Matthew Broderick came out later and signed autographs for some of the students and parents who waited around after. They were stoked!  On a side note, some of my other students scored autographs from Tom Hanks who is doing a show on Broadway right now as well. 
Our principal, Paul, had a former student in the show.  The dancing was INCREDIBLE!
A famous Times Square entertainer is "the naked cowboy."  This guy isn't the original, but he knows a good idea when he sees it.  Phaidra said the original guy probably makes triple digits.  He isn't actually naked (he has on underwear), but this whole concept is hard to appreciate without knowing how incredibly cold it was when we were there.

I found the McDonalds where Ronald must live!


 On Saturday morning, we headed to the Gershwin Theater for a backstage tour of the musical "Wicked," which I've seen in L.A., NY, and London.  Needless to say, I loved learning more about what happens behind the scenes! We then had free time for most of the day.  Phaidra and I spent it doing...what else...? Seeing shows!

Waiting to go "Over the Rainbow"

This is one of Glinda's dresses.  We learned that costumes are custom made to the actors' bodies and can be anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 dollars!
I thought this miniature of the set was brilliant.
We got to go in the theater and watch a little movie about all the parts and pieces that work together to make the show the phenomenon that it is.  One thing they told us is that all the clothes in "Oz" are asymmetrical.  It made me want to see the show again to watch for those details!
After the backstage tour, we rushed to get tickets for the shows we wanted to see. I debated a lot about whether or not to see "Once." I heard the music was incredible but there were language issues.  I read one review that put it at about the PG-13 level so I decided to take a chance and see it.  There were quite a few 'F' words, all of which were completely unnecessary (it's set in Ireland where they use that word a lot more commonly than we do), but that was the only uncomfortable thing about the entire show. It was not violent or immoral (in fact, I was more uncomfortable watching "Nice Work if You can Get it!).  The music was fantastic.  All of the actors were musicians.  There was no orchestra; instead, all of the characters sat on the stage and were both actors and musicians throughout the entire show. The music was all traditional Irish music.  The choreography they did was abstract and incredibly moving.  "Falling Slowly," one of the songs from the original movie, won an Oscar. It was hands down the most amazing part of the show for me.
At 6:00 p.m. after the matinee shows were over, Phaidra had some Broadway friends come talk to us.  Erin, on the left, has done a lot of modeling and commercials and has also been in films.  The man in the middle (Dave I think?) played the Beast on the national tour of Beauty and the Beast and has also done shows on Broadway.  The girl on the right works in casting.  The kids had a chance to hear two of them sing and to ask lots of questions.  It was cool to hear about the real life of NY actors.  They emphasized over and over again how important it is to be nice in the industry. We liked hearing that as teachers!

My main goal the whole trip was to get a shishkabob from a vendor.  Meat on a stick. A gluten free dream.  I finally got one on Saturday night before our last Broadway show.
This show was the highlight of the entire trip for me.  We had to pay cash for our tickets because there just happened to be three given up by someone. The rest of the show was sold out.  It is actually still in preview and hasn't opened officially yet.  Our seats were literally on the VERY front row.  I have never done that before! I laughed so hard throughout the entire musical.  The several 6-year-old children in the show (especially Matilda) were MIND BLOWING in their acting, dancing, and singing.  They all had to perform in a cockney accent.  The choreography was extremely creative.  The sets and special effects were SO cool.    The man (yes, it was a man) who played Ms. Trunchbull was HYSTERICAL and Phaidra said she wouldn't be surprised if he got nominated for a Tony next year.  Matilda's parents were also really funny.  I wish I could describe how brilliant it was.  I absolutely loved every minute of it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Congratulations to...

1) My mother for being the first to challenge my April Fool's Day post with the following email last night:

"April Fool!  There is no way you could fool ME on this one.  A large stretch of land where you can breed dogs?  Ha!  You would rather clean toilets for a career!"

2) My little sister, Anna, with whom I had this text conversation early this morning:

Anna: What is with the puppy post?!? Did Jer do that? Or was it April Fools?
Katie: Why is it so hard to believe that I love puppies? I'm a loving individual.
Anna: You hate animals.
Katie: Oh my gosh!
Anna: Well! We had just talked about this!
Katie: Hate is such an ugly word.
Anna: Indifferent perhaps.

3) Holly, who was the first to leave a comment (and, might I add, first non-family member to catch the bluff):

"Okay, this is April Fools, right? Right?"

4) And Beamer, who didn't even have to ask:

"You jokester."

It is clear who knows me the best in this world.  For the record, puppies ARE cute.  I am simply the (only) one in my family who fails to view them as one and the same with infant children.  I know, there is something wrong with me. I just don't have that innate connection that many have.  It makes me feel like a horrible individual, but there it is. 

So happy April Fool's Day everyone.  I can't let it go by without at least giving it a shot every year.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Did you know...

It's time I revealed the truth.

I LOVE puppies.  

 I could just hug them and kiss them all day long.

Look at their sweet little faces!


It's my dream to one day own a huge stretch of land so I can breed dogs.

You know what they say...

A dog is a woman's best friend.

Now who can argue with that?