Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Tall Blonde Lady in the Shiny Green Alligator Dress Sings!

Nate's first choir concert was last night!! (He's probably not in the picture to the right, which I found on the Lehigh website, which was probably from last year, so don't go blind trying to spot him.) He looked quite dashing in his tuxedo. I wanted to kiss him passionately for half an hour or so after he put it on, but oddly enough he said he had to go to this concert thing... yes, anyway, I went to the concert thing too, with my Fabulously Cheap Student Ticket, and had quite a marvelous time. My seat was on the third row, far left, and Nate's head was invisible part of the time through the harp!! :-( So at intermission I switched seats and sat on the very top row, in the center, which gave a much better view of everything. There was a perfumy old rich lady next to me and I kept explaining enthusiastically, My husband! He is in the Choir! :-) And I tried to point him out: He is the MOST HANDSOME ONE, there, in the upper right!! For some reason, she wasn't sure which one he was after that!! Can you imagine???!?!

Anyway the music was nice, and it was mostly in German and Latin and Russian and Italian. I don't know how Nate knows how to pronounce all those languages, but he does, somehow! Also he can sing notes printed on a page! My husband, he is amazing, yes?? Anyway, the words to the songs are printed in the program and my inner Obsessive-Compulsive likes to follow along in Russian or whatever as the people sing, but the problem is, you have to do that from the very beginning, because if you get lost, it's hard to find your place again in the printed words (considering that the printed words look like this: "Puskai pogibnu ya, no pryezhde... Ti v snovidyenyakh... uvi, zasluzhennim." What kind of a word is "v," anyway?) If you get lost, one trick is to find a word that looks like it will sound very distinctive (I picked "Voobrazi," although in my head I was pronouncing it with an Italian accent) that is definitely past the region where you think the singer might be, and wait till you hear that word, then you'll find your place again. I tried this and it didn't work. You might have better luck.

The choir conducter is this cute little short man in tails, maybe he's four feet tall or something? (I'm exaggerating) who has lots of degree from places like Harvard and Yale, etc. He stood on a very high podium but even so, when the Tall Blonde Lady in the Shiny Green Alligator Dress (TBLitSGAD) came onstage I think she was still taller than he, just about. There was an Incident in the first half: the TBLitSGAD came onstage at the wrong time!! One song too early!! She came out all swishy and shiny and big and tall and soprano-y and Beamy and everyone clapped and cheered, and then the short little choir director gave her this wide-eyed look and mouthed something like, NOT YET!! So she was all embarrassed and walked back offstage. And to fill in the amazing awkward silence the director said something semi-audible like, "Nice dress!" And those of us on the third row heard, and giggled. I asked Nate, how could she goof that up...? Didn't she have a program? And he said that a Backstage Knome probably sent her, as they have people to keep track of that kind of thing for the performers so that the performers can focus on just Performing. I would NOT like to be the backstage knome who messed up queing her entrance and caught the wrath of the TBLitSGAD!! Anyway, I felt bad for her because I think half the fun of a concert (when you're a TBL who sings) is the Revelation of the Dress, and that moment was spoilt just a bit, wasn't it? Kind of like the bride starting to come down the aisle too soon, or finding out who the murderer is in the first chapter of a mystery. It almost makes you want to go home right then and there. (Except of course, I was there to see The Most Handsome Baritone in the Choir, so it was okay.)

Anyway, the TBLitSGAD was all kissy-kissy with everyone all the time, every time she finished a song and bowed and went offstage and came back onstage, she kissed people and people kissed her- like, the short choir director kept kissing her, and she kissed the first chair violinist, and she kissed the girl who gave her flowers at the end, she probably kissed the terrified little seventh-grade boy who had a couple of solo lines... Thankfully she did not feel the need to ascend the risers (she would have tripped over the SGAD, anyway) and start kissing her way through the baritone section, 'cause if she would have reached The Most Handsome Baritone in the Choir there would have been a Scene with a certain audience member from the third row, and, let's just put it this way... she wouldn't have gone home with all those shiny alligator scales intact!

At intermission, they had a refreshments ("concessions"? I don't know if that word fits. "Concessions" is a little low-brow, isn't it? Like a baseball game or a county fair? Maybe I'm way off here. I don't go to enough high-brow stuff to know if they've adopted that word as their own.) stand, which had Chardonnay! Other alchohol! In addition to chocolate and Starbucks coffee. Of course I didn't consume anything, but it was nice that it was there. :-) Also there were perfumy old rich ladies in sparkling dresses wandering around. (I was, regretfully, in khaki pants.)

Did I mention how much I love student tickets? And how much I've missed going to concerts and things since leaving Wheaton? We went to cheap-ticket concerts at Wheaton all the time. It shall go on my Things-I-Love-About-Going-to-Lehigh list.

Afterwards I took The Most Handsome Baritone in the Choir home with me (ha ha! Take THAT, envious alto section!! HE'S ALL MINE!!) and we stopped at the grocery store for the traditional Victory Giant Muffins. All in all, a very pleasant evening.

Monday, October 24, 2005

3 hours sleep (!!!!) but at least I had the satisfaction of hearing...

"Yes, the homework was hard this time, wasn't it? It took me far too long to write the solution guide. Hours and hours."

-Professor Probability
PhD, Yale, 2004.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Book titling trends: An Observation

I am beginning to doubt that it is possible to publish a nonfiction book in this country whose title does not contain a colon. Hence, I am tempted to publish a book with a title such as "This Book Title Does Not Contain a Colon," or even more appropriately, "Colons: The Secret to Success in Publishing Your Non-fiction Book."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

This post was originally entitled, "A long idea, made short," because I thought I could keep it short. Ah ha ha ha ha!! I never shut up!!!!

People are amazing to me. That's why I like reading blogs. I like the fact that just when you think you have someone "pegged" as something, you find out something rather shocking about them. For example, take the folks who comprise what we would call "conservative evangelicals" or "the religious right." So many agree on so many issues. Opinions concerning gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, religious freedom in schools, patriotism, gambling, etc etc tend to line up right down the list. But then you realize, there are so many sub-categories within this "movement," so many variations on a theme. There is the subcategory of evangelicals whose response to certain cultural forces is to have lots of children, homeschool them, and (preferably) dress them in matching homemade jumpers. Please, please note, I am in no way making fun of these people, even though they tend to be easy targets for the numerous ways in which they stand out from the rest of the world. Minus the "homemade" part, this is more or less my own heritage, of which I am proud and fond. However, this group of evangelicals tends to be very anti-feminist in a way that I partially agree with and partially disagree with. (If you're curious, I agree with the part that observes, "God made men and women different in roles but equal in value." I disagree with the extreme that they take this to, namely, "there is usually no point in women pursuing higher education because women are meant to cook and sew and clean." I have never found a verse that says cooking and sewing and cleaning are more important requirements of Godly womanhood than university attendance.)

Then there are the evangelicals who would agree with the matching-jumpers group on just about every issue (including creationism) except the homeschooling part. These Christians support all the same conservative ideology and theology, but they feel that Christian kids belong in public schools to be a positive influence in that environment. Christians with this belief range in their opinions of homeschooling from openness to neutrality to downright disapproval. Although I don't personally agree with the decisions that these Christians make concerning the use of the public school system (Nate and I are planning to avoid it, if possible), I think that a lot of their reasoning and intentions are good and right and valid. Many of the ones who disapprove of homeschooling seem to base their opinions on individual cases they've seen which make homeschooling look bad, and although I know that can seem like good justification for their views, it always comes as a bit of a shock to me to hear someone whose worldview lines up so well with mine on so many other issues speak negatively about homeschooling. It always gives me just the tinist inkling of a feeling- "Well, whose side are you ON, anyway!?" Note that that is a *feeling*, not a rational thought; I think that those Christians are completely entitled to form their own opinions about homeschooling. It just feels a little weird.

Then there are the Christians who agree with the "standard" conservative Christian positions on all the items listed above, but have looser interpretations of Genesis than the typical 6-day view. Although the majority of my church seems to be quite strong in their belief of literal 6-day creationism, many Christians I know and have known (i.e. at Wheaton) allow less literal interpretations of Scripture and embrace [many of] the conclusions of modern science on the subject. This is a dividing point among many Christians who agree so wholeheartedly on so many other issues.

Going off track a bit (are you all out there desparately yawning over these aimless ramblings of mine?), there is another group of people I encounter a lot in the Blogosphere who I can only describe as "Hippies," although the term really doesn't suit them as they have nothing to do with free sex and drugs. I will define what I mean by a laundry list of their adgenda: organic food, Waldorf schools (or in some cases, homeschooling), homebirth, extended nursing, co-sleeping [that means your baby sleeps in bed with you, in case anyone reading this thought that sounded kind of sinister], homeopathy, herbs, green tea, acupuncture, enviromental awareness, tye-dye [or is some kind of "organic" clothing now the new tye-dye...?], co-ops, and meditation. (I am sure that is not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.) When I say that there is a "group" of people who embrace these concepts, what I mean is that people who like certain items on this list tend to like lots of the items on this list. (Someone out there with a decently sharp eye will point out that many of my items fall under the general category of "alternative medicine," so it's really no surprise that certain folks embrace "many" items on the list.) My first extensive encounter of the Hippie Worldview was serving as a nanny for some families whose kids were all in Waldorf school together, and noticing the similarities in parenting ideas and lifestyles. (The really committed familes didn't allow their kids to watch TV or play with regular toys. Their toys were all ordered from Waldorf-approved catalogues. The kids were all born at home, with interesting pictures in the family photo album to prove it. Kids with allergies went to the chiropracter to be treated with crystal therapy. On the other hand there were undercommitted families who still had a little TV time, some Mattel and Tonkas, non-organic meat, and pediatricians. [And the kids were born in hospitals, probably even with epidurals, which was forgivable because the family hadn't been "converted" to Waldorfianism at that point.])

Anyway, within THIS movement of people there is, too, a lot of diversity, spiritually and otherwise. There are conservative Christian homeschoolers who embrace a lot of these ideas, and non-Christian homeschoolers, and Christian non-homeschoolers.... well, you get the idea.

In conclusion, a tiny, tiny part of why I haven't yet changed my last name has something to do with that feeling of nonconformity that says, I line us with THIS (fill in blank) group of people so well that I must have SOMEthing to distinguish me, to set me a part from them, to preserve my sense of individualism. And honestly, I line up with the (homeschooling?) branch of the conservative evangelical movement so much, on so many issues, that maybe I need to have just one little thing that shocks people- that makes them do a double take when they hear my name and say, wait, "Your last name is... what?"

PS (Good news for my parents) I think I'm changing my name to Nancy Elizabeth Bush Wentzel soon. :-)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Desparate times call for desparate measures...

After eliminating everything that I can think of that could possibly host a thriving fruit fly community, I am now considering renting a large Costume, introducing myself as a "long-lost relative," and flagging down some of the Dear Flying Friends to ever-so-casually ask, "So, little one, where are YOU living these days...?"

They wouldn't catch on, would they...?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

One thing I will NOT miss about PA when we move... being greeted with a hearty, "YOUS HAVE A GOOD ONE!" when leaving the grocery store.

You know you've gotten a Cheap Haircut when...

1) You have to finish cutting your own bangs when you get home.
2) A 20% tip is less than $2.
3) There are no haircut styles books because they can't afford them.
4) They charge extra for a stylist who speaks English.
5) Parts of the shop (i.e., the bathroom) are sublet to help pay rent on the building.
6) Stylists must kick hair across the floor because they can't afford a broom.
7) They turn out the lights between haircuts to save electricity.
8) Stylists mention their spouses' "high-paying" jobs at McDonald's.
9) There is only one pair of scissors in the shop so that everyone must take turns.
And the number one way you know you've gotten a cheap haircut...
10) Friends avert their eyes and painfully ask, "Did you do it yourself...? You can borrow my mirror next time."

(PS In case you can't tell, only #1-3 are true, and I love my Cheap Haircut.) :-)

What I said

"We have sliced turkey. The world is now Safe for Democracy again."

The Refugees

Oh, I suppose I should point out right away, just in case anybody is reading this who doesn't know me personnally- my sister was totally fine during the hurricaine. She got about 1 1/2 inches of rain, in fact. :-D Thanks to everyone who prayed.

No, the title does not refer to storm refugees, but to the Other occupants of this apartment. The tiny short-lived ones with wings. That's right, folks, we are again (or would "still" be more accurate...?) Infested. I guess the most accurate statement would be that over the last few weeks (since the first post about this) we have occillated between Severe Infestation and Hardly Noticeable infestation, with much of the latter, and I think this is because they are quite content to live in our Trash Can, as long as our trash can is full. When Nate takes out the trash, we are suddenly confronted with the unhappy masses: Refugee families of fruit flies, displaced from their Homes, clutching babies and microscopic suitcases and looking desparately for new places to live. (Shall I construct a .00001 inch Statue of Liberty and afix it to the open window, showing them the way to Freedom...? It is worth serious consideration.)

(I wanted a picture to illustrate the above paragraph, but alas, google image search for Insect Refugee Family was rather... shall I say... Fruitless?)

Anyway, I'm hopeful that if we eliminate all unrefrigerated produce (done), clean out the trash can with bleach (again), and maintain the kitchen in an immaculate condition for a few days, they will surely die off...? [As the Gentle Reader begs, but isn't your kitchen meant to be immaculate all the time...? And I respond, by "immaculate" I mean nothing in the trash they can eat, no dirty dishes left in the sink, etc.] Also, per the advice of the Internets I have constructed a Trap for them:
I did not have cider vinegar, but I did have white vinegar and apple juice so I mixed the two. (white vinegar + apple juice = cider vinegar, yes? I thought so.) However, I think our particular population of fruit flies have read the same site: they are wise to my ways and have only curiously sniffed at the paper funnel without being tempted towards the deadly liquid inside. I can hear the self-appointed Ringleader laughing now: "Ha ha! Zee craazy Ameerican Voman! She ees trying zis treek weeth the zjar und zee vinegar, vrom zhat weebsite!! We weel not fall for her eevil plots!!"

Saturday, October 01, 2005


“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."

Jack Kerouac