Friday, December 31, 2010


I know that people usually end the year with a "Whew, so happy that's over," or a "God, I hope next year sucks a lot less," but I gotta say, I'm going to miss you, 2010.

If I think about where I was at this time a year ago (pining over a selfish ex who was so not worth the emotion, panicking about my upcoming Capstone, booking a train ticket to Boston to visit a friend because I was lonely and miserable, watching my bank account dwindle from said ticket, hating my job), compared to where I am now, 2010 has carried me a long way. My university let me graduate, wonder of wonders, magna cum laude, even! I have my own lease on a wonderful apartment, a beautifully crazy roommate with an equally crazy cat, a steady job (actual opinions about it aside, it pays OK), a crappy GRE score behind me and a better one to come (let's hope), and a fantastic, loving, amazing boyfriend (gush gush gush) that I've managed to hang onto for almost a year. Not to mention the ever-present backdrop of family (in Arizona) and friend who keep me anchored to the ground.

In spite of the amount of bitching I do, life is good. Blessed, even. I have no clue what next year is going to blow in my direction, but I look forward to finding out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

With apologies to any singers, violinists, or fundamentalist Christians (though not really to you) out there

Warning: I am guilty of BUI (blogging under the influence) here, and I'm sure that if anyone actually bothers to read this, they will either be extraordinarily pissed off or think I am a blathering moron. Or both.

When I was in middle school (Hail, Tamanend, with your flag of blue and gold), music basically ate up my life. I had been playing piano since the age of 8, so by the time I was in 7th grade, I basically thought I was a prodigy (NB: I was not) based on the way people (read: everyone who was new to this stuff) treated me. We had two big Christmas concerts each year, and by the time 9th grade rolled around, I was in every single act on stage (except for 8th grade band), and I spent those evenings running back and forth from the bleachers to the stage to the piano--I believe my parents deemed one concert "The *insert my name here* Show."

Which wasn't true, of course, but it may have had something to do with why many of my peers hated me. Or it could have something to do with the fact that I was a stuck-up prig with a stick up her ass who was delusional about her own talent. But whatever. When you play the piano, the violin, eventually the viola, and you have a deep, manly, on-pitch voice that can carry the entire 8th grade alto section, public school music teachers are going to capture you, use you, and eventually suck the life blood out of you. That's just how it goes.

So when high school came, I didn't know what else to do with myself. I joined the choir, I bellowed in the alto section, and I accompanied on piano. Mr. T, my first choir teacher, was wise enough to not let me into the select ensembles, but when I switched schools, Cynthia, hellfire demon though she turned out to be, did let me in. Eventually, I was accompanying the choir on piano, I was the Alto II section leader, and I became the choir president. My best friends were all in choir, I was in District Choir, I was in Regional Choir (2 spots away from All-State!), my boyfriend was the lead Tenor I...I basically lived and breathed singing.

And when you've been so absolutely marinated in choir Kool-Aid for 5 years of your life, it's a rude awakening when you realize something...that you fucking. hate. choir. It's occurred to me that the only teachers I have ever truly disliked were my choir teachers--Lisbeth and Cynthia, to not use last names. I shared a mutual loathing with both of them by the time I graduated from my respective middle school and high school, and to this day, I have not forgiven either one of them for what they did to me or to my peers (though, at the age of 22, I should probably let it go).

So...I ask myself why...why is it, that when I attend a Christmas concert with the Washington Choral Society, I delight in hopping up for the singalong songs, I tap my feet, I sway back and forth, I love the whole atmosphere, and I love to sing?

I have come to two conclusions. 1) Choirs are fraught...FRAUGHT...with massive egos. The director, yes, that's a given, but also the singers. Especially the soprano section. Music is produced by people, and people (read: musicians) like to think that they're awesome and important, and for some reason, singers (read: sopranos) are the absolute worst of the lot. This is not as much of a problem with other groups. The orchestras I've joined have always been much calmer and less cutthroat--though, as a member of the viola section, I guess that's only fitting. Violins can be pretty awful, too. It's just something about singers. They (read: SOPRANOS) like to compete and out-wail one another, and it's just really annoying. The road to good music is not paved with egos.

2) To me, organized singing is much like organized religion. Just because you like to sing doesn't mean you need to join a choir. Just because you love God doesn't mean you need to join a church. Both environments tend to devolve into pissing contests where youeither sing better/love God more than the next person. And you're going to sing/shout Hallelujahs to prove it, dammit. Interesting parallel, actually, as I'm rather embittered towards the folks at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Mechanicsville, PA (did that show up on Google? Should I type it again?) for many of the same reasons that I'm embittered towards choir. (Not all Christian churches fall under this criticism. Just the ones who peddle a "loving" Jesus but think that homosexuality is abnormal and actively try to suppress it within themselves and other people, who think people who have sex before marriage are evil and who believe that non-Christians are going to Hell and who go on missions trips to convert the heathens, however passive aggressive they might be about any of these things).

So. That all being said....I thought about auditioning for the choral society. Frankly, though, I don't think I can handle it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Civil War statues tours if I could write them my way:

Although most historical records suggest that Meade was, in fact, a bit of a priggish asshat, he did win the Battle of Gettysburg. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, forever laboring under the delusion that it is more awesome than it really is, decided that DC needed a big, stupid statue of Meade. So they handed over money that could have been spent feeding the poor to hire someone to carve a statue. But nothing happened for 12 years because the people running our country are also priggish asshats who don't like to actually do anything.

Eventually they hired someone, who carved a big stupid statue of Meade. Flanking Meade are lots of statues reflecting arbitrary qualities he probably didn't have. Behind Meade is a statue of War with an indescribably huge and phallic sword. It seems that the sculptor was suggesting that Meade's skill in battle was really just compensation for something else. The statue has been moved three times because it is big and stupid.