Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


Musings from a long commute

Snow on the roof.

Snow on the roof.

It’s still winter here.  You’ve probably heard that, and it’s probably still winter where you are too.  Snow, snow, snow.  And it’s cold.  After awhile it begins to wear a person down.  Add to that stress in the form of employment, or lack of employment, depending on your situation, and it’s hard to stay motivated.

I was on my slow snowy commute this morning and thinking about the other people in the cars surrounding me, all of us creeping on slick roads toward cubicles where we’ll do some sort of work for several hours and then creep home again.  It all seemed overwhelmingly sad.   Then I remembered  the Christmas concert CD I haven’t heard yet.  Yes I know, I’m a bit behind.  We played that concert the 16th of December and I’ve been too distracted since to listen to it.

Who says you can’t enjoy Christmas music in January?  Stuck in traffic I turned off the radio full of grim news, forecasts of frigid cold and more snow, long reports of traffic snarls, and began to hum along with holiday music.  I let it take me away, could see the music in my mind, felt my fingers playing a phantom clarinet.  And then there were tears sliding now my cheeks as the sweet gentle tones of “The Holly and the Ivy” filled the car.  I don’t know why.  If I had to guess I’d say it was the stress of work in combination with a grueling commute coming to a head.  The emotion caught me by surprise.  But shortly I had to smile, because right after “Holly” was “March of the Toys” which reminded me that life marches on.  So I wiped my face, grinned a bit, pulled into the parking lot and marched myself right into work.  And it turned out not to be such a bad day after all.

The commute home was worse than the one going in.  More snow.  Icy roads.  Slow.  Sometimes tense.  I was letting myself get stressed all over again.  Then a few miles from home I came up behind a jeep.  The license plate was GD2BME.   It got me smiling again, and realizing that it’s true for me and for most of us.  Even during a long winter filled with snow and traffic jams and below zero temperatures and long commutes and frustrating work.

Even with all that… it is GD2BME.   Hope it’s GD2BYOU too.


Scary concert

Practice practice practice!

Practice practice practice!

Tuesday night was the last rehearsal before our Halloween concert.  I need to practice every night.  Every. Night.  Last night I spent 30 minutes on a few measures of Damnation of Faust by Hector Berlioz.  It’s all pretty good except for some transition triplets that, counting in two, I can’t seem to get.  And it’s pretty much just us clarinets doing it…so at rehearsal it was mush.  Really bad mush.  I’ve written in the beats of each measure.  I’ve slowed it down.  I’ve counted it in four.  I’ve tongued the triplets to keep track even though it’s not written that way.  Sigh.  I need to figure this out.

We’re also playing Vesuvius by Frank Ticheli.  It’s supposed to represent a volcano.  We aren’t quite there.  I’ve been playing along with a recording of it for a few weeks.  That helps a lot, but still this is one you have to keep counting and not get caught up in listening to anyone else.  Take a moment and listen to it.  It’s a pretty cool piece.  If we had about 3 more weeks of practice it would work out.  But the concert is next Tuesday.

And yes we’re playing some other music that we can get through with less angst.  But I have to say, our concert’s title is apt.  “Things that scare us.”

Cause I’m feeling plenty scared.




Musings on a walk

It’s a very stressful week for me at work.  There are all sorts of opportunities to work early, late, and through lunch.  Today I put on my sneakers at 12:30 and walked out the door for a break even though there was much work still to be done.

I haven’t been on a walk at lunch for two weeks and my feet told me they had to readjust to the orthotics.  A familiar ache immediately set in along the arch of my right foot.  The breeze was cool and I wished I had brought my sweater so I picked up the pace.  The foot protested.

I went past the elementary school, the first time I’ve been by since the kids are back at school, and noticed the adult charged with watching the kids standing in the middle of a swirl of spinning, shrieking, running, twirling laughing children.   She was engrossed in her cell.  Texting I supposed, or checking emails.  It seemed early in the school year for her to be so bored with the children playing around her.

I moved on to the creek that dissects the neighborhood’s condo project.  I always stand on the little bridge there for awhile, watching the water flow  below me.  Today it was clear and swift, full of yesterday’s rain.  It’s just a little creek, but I’ve seen lots of people stop and stare down into it on their lunch walks.  I wondered why people are so drawn to water.

Onward I noticed that I was still walking fast, my shoulders up around my ears.  This was not turning into a restorative walk.  Years ago I used to go to a restorative yoga class on Sunday mornings even though it was a 45 minute drive each way.  At the end of the session, when we were all lying still, the music soft, the instructor’s voice asking us to relax each part of our bodies I used to cry.  Big slow tears would leak from my closed eyes and run into my ears.  I was so exhausted from the week and so grateful for the Sunday morning respite.    I haven’t been back in many years.  Today on my walk I consciously lowered my shoulders and took a deep breath.

At my normal busy day turn around point my body began to turn but my feet kept going.  They chose to take the long way back to the office.  I was a little late back from lunch.  So be it.

Back at work the phone was ringing and I had voice mail.  There were two instant messages waiting.  And the email problem I was in the middle of solving when I stood up and walked out was still there, along with several others.   Nothing was different.

Except me.

I took another deep breath and began again.


Unwinding rant

The latest ‘late winter storm’ is beginning today.  Sleet stung the windows of my office this afternoon and then it turned to snow right at 5 p.m.  Apparently everyone (including me) stood up and left our office and all the surrounding offices at the same time.  It took me over 10 minutes to leave the parking lot, and another 15 to make it the two blocks to the freeway.

Once there it wasn’t much better.  We cruised along at 15 mph – when we were moving.  But I’m OK with that; as long as everyone is moving at the same slow speed we’re all relatively safe.  So now I’m home and I’m going to unwind by talking to you.

Long commute

Long commute

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about.  It seems like many people at work are no longer focused on work.  When I was a kid and had appendicitis (though to be fair they didn’t know it was that) in junior high they wouldn’t call my dad at work after my mom didn’t answer the home phone, because I guess, it would not have occurred to us to bother someone at work.  Especially the dad. But these days I hear phone conversations all around me, people controlling from work every tiny aspect of their family’s lives.  From the grandmother that gets calls from her grown daughters every single morning and often later in the day to discuss the grandchildren’s activities, health, tempers and homework, to the woman on the other side of the wall who has just moved and apparently needs to instruct her husband (I assume a grown man) how to order cable and change the utility bills into their name,who provides detailed instructions to call the paint contractors, the carpet cleaners, the dumpster guy.

Roads get worse

Roads get worse

Is it just the age of cell phones that causes this?  Or is my generation full of helicopter parents who have turned into helicopter grandparents and helicopter spouses?  Is being in constant contact with everyone a good thing?  Or would we live just as productive and fulfilled lives if everyone didn’t feel it imperative to update us all on every single thing that occurs during an entire workday?  Would grown children grow up if they had to make a decision or two on their own?  Would their children be better off if they observed their parents making decisions without going to Grandma?   Or is it a good thing the parents have support at all times of the day and, I assume, the night?  And what about that spouse who apparently can’t do anything without specific instructions from his wife?  Did he manage to become an adult without making those kinds of decisions?  Would he really be unable to get cable connected without the wife giving him the phone number and the speech he should recite?

Almost home

Almost home

Come on people!  How about we focus on our jobs when we’re at work?  How about we let our families handle whatever is going on in their lives and learn their own lessons?  How about we let the person on the other side of the cubicle wall do her job in relative peace without informing her (ok, probably not deliberately) of all details of your totally not interesting life.

Ok.  I’m done now.  Thanks for listening.

Home again

Home again


Katie here

Hello everybody!

Hello everybody!

Hey you guys!  I bet you’ve been missing ME.  ME ME ME ME ME ME…oh wait. I get carried away sometimes but you know it’s all about me.  My Mama has been soooooo busy that I hardly ever see her.  And when she comes home from work she’s usually too tired to play.  But I make her play anyway.  She can’t ignore me….not me!  I don’t give up either.  I have an endless supply of toys to drop at her feet.  And while she’s at work I practice the BIG EYES and sharp whine so that I can make her crazy when she finally shows up.

Guess what?  It works!  And for the small fee of a few dog biscuits I can teach all of you doggies the skill set.  Oh wait.  You say you already  have that down?  Well!  Doggies rule!

So anyway….Mama and I are going to do a big dog show this weekend.  On Sunday we’re going to try to get our Advanced Rally title!  Mama says she’s stressed again.  Sigh.  I don’t know why she gets like this.  It’s just another day to spend watching people and doggies do stuff.  I like to go to these, and when we’re in the ring I watch my Mama very carefully.  If she can just read all those crazy signs correctly I promise to do what she asks.  So it’s all up to her.

Me?  I’m just having a good time with my Dad while my Mama is at work.  And I’ve been dreaming about Mama and me going camping next spring.  It’s almost spring, right?  Well it should be.  After all I’m the princess…and I decree it’s almost spring!

Cause it’s all about me.  Yes it is.


Happy New Year!

I just don’t feel any affinity for 2013.  The number itself seems awkward, unwieldy, just a bit off.  Where 2012 appeared to be a good, strong, well rounded and full number right from the start, 2013 seems rather empty and irregular.  Maybe the problem stems from the odd number itself or maybe I’m superstitious about the whole 13th of it all.  I don’t know.

I was unable to stay up to see 2012 out last night.  Part of that was my uncomfortable feeling about 2013 and part of it was that I was exhausted from crazy work.  Mostly I just wasn’t ready to let 2012 go.  I know there are many people – thousands of people – that are more than ready to move on.  People who survived Sandy, people who lost family members in any number of tragedies, people who are going to graduate in 2013, get married in 2013, have a child in 2013.  But me?  I don’t have a specific event planed for this new year; to me it appears as a long long beige tunnel the curves away into the future.  There’s no telling what’s out there waiting and it’s a bit unnerving.  It feels more comfortable to cling to the known, no matter how horrific some of it was, then move on into the beige.

I know, I know.  I’m responsible for colorizing my own beige world and 2013 will likely contain amazing and as yet unknown events.   And I also know that as I move into the year my feelings will settle down, my camera will be busy, my dog will sill make me laugh, work will be work, and my family will love me.

I was sound asleep when 2013 arrived, Katie and I snoring away when stupid neighbors began yelling and shooting off fireworks.  Katie barked and made all the crazy noise go away and we settled back to sleep.  I felt detached from the excitement, ambivalent about time marching on without me.  Mostly I felt annoyed.  But I’ll get over it.

I wish all of you a very very happy and healthy New Year.  Time to join all the thousands who are out walking and jogging and eating right because this is January 1.  I’ll go for a walk, track my points today.  Tomorrow?  Well tomorrow is January 2 and all bets are off.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Imported Photos 01164


Concert night

Tonight is our holiday concert.  We didn’t get to perform the Halloween concert last October due to the remnants of Hurricane Sandy taking out local power that night, so this will also be our season opener.  I’m sort of nervous which is silly.  It’s Christmas music for goodness sake.  But of course, not just any Christmas music;  some of it is challenging.

After an 11 hour work day yesterday I practiced for about 30 minutes last night.  The ‘few measures’ I had planned on working on morphed into almost all of the works.  And it wasn’t pretty.  I know, I know.  The worst dress rehearsal can sometimes mean the best concert.

Here’s hoping that holds true for me tonight.

Imported Photos 00026 (Small)



Imported Photos 01015It’s December.  Christmas is around the corner.  Everyone seems to be excited but I’ve been feeling disconnected from it all.  With no children and no special plans for the holiday, no shopping or cooking to do I haven’t felt empathetic while listening to the young mothers at work talk about sales and gifts and recipes and travel plans.

Today contained a bad commute to work in a downpour, a bad morning at work filled with big problems, a lunch hour spent with truck safety stuff and studying rally signs, a long afternoon trying and failing to get caught up, then a quick drive to band rehearsal where we started out playing terribly and irritating the director.   A typical and exhausting day.

But we’re practicing Christmas music for our concert next week.  And Christmas music is hard to resist.  As the rehearsal wore on we started to sound better.  People settled in.  The director smiled a little bit.  The muscles in my  neck relaxed.  No one minded going past 9 p.m. as we worked out a particularly difficult passage.  People stuck around afterward getting organized for the concert.

On the drive home I sang along with the radio – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”  and “Rudolph the Red Nosed Raindeer.”  I enjoyed the Christmas lights in the neighborhoods I drove through.  Coming down my street I saw that my husband had turned on our holiday lights for me.

I smiled as walked in the door; Katie was excited to see me and husband seemed happy too.  All in all it was a good day.  It’s December, Christmas is right around the corner and the magic of music connected me to the season. Finally.

So get out there an enjoy the season everyone.  And my best advice is to turn on the radio while you’re out.  I bet you find yourself singing along.

Happy Holidays everyone.  Happy Holidays.


It’s rally time

Katie here.  Mama says she’s too stressed to write tonight.  But I tried to make her feel better.  Really I did.  It’s not my fault she keeps signing us up for stuff and then gets all freaked out.  Not my fault at all.

I guess I should start at the beginning.  Mama, signed us up for our first leg of Advanced Rally.  Next Friday.  When she signed us up it seemed like a really far away date.  Lots of time to practice.  And stuff.  But now here it is.  And she just got the latest book with all the new signs and she’s freaking out!

But we went to the park today, my Mama and I.  She read the book and we heeled around and around.  I sat when she told me to sit.  I turned when she told me to turn.  I backed up when she told me back.  I did MY job. But it’s HER job to read the stupid signs.  And all those arrows and halt marks get her going good, that’s for sure.  She keeps telling me I need to learn to read real quick, so I can do it right even if she tells me wrong.  I think that’s a silly idea; how’s a dog supposed to read AND execute I ask you?

So we did a lot of signs out of the book.  I was off leash and everything.  I even ignored the chipmunk I heard off in the field.  I debated, but I ignored it.  I figured….Mama with CHEESE  or chipmunk…Mama with CHEESE or chipmunk.  Mama won.  She said I was a good girl and I got two pieces!

But after about 10 gazillion pages of signs I had enough and wanted to play!  After all we were at my park!  So Mama put the leash back on me and we went for a walk for awhile.  I got to sniff lots of stuff.

But pretty soon Mama wanted to finish the rest of the pages of signs.  I thought that was a good idea too, but I let her think it was her idea.  She’s so SLOW though, reading the signs, thinking about it.  I just want to go Go GO!

By the time she finally got to the last sign I was huffing at her.  Enough of all this sitting and downing and sitting and standing and heeling and turning and coming and stopping.  GEEZE Mama!  Can’t you see that I’m PERFECT?

She says we have to practice all the signs every night (except Tuesday when she’s practicing at band) the rest of the week so that we are all set for Friday.

It’s gonna be a long week.