Tuesday, December 19, 2006

From MA to CA

I have made it to California with two suitcases, a carry-on, my violin, and my wedding dress.

I try not to be the type of person who complains about constant "stress," but I have to say it:

That was the most stressful travel experience of my life.

And actually, I am absolutely stressed in general right now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Hi, Sweetie"

Yesterday I got to hear my Mom talk to me over the speakerphone on Dad's cell! The doctors put a cap on her trach tube, so finally her whispers became audible. I could hear her say, "Hi, sweetie." That pretty much made my day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006



... and then I'm getting married again nine days after that.

Let me clarify: TWO weddings; ONE marriage.

I have tried to avoid being giddy over this engagement and upcoming marriage. But at this point, it's so close I can hardly help myself anymore. How did the time pass so quickly? The countdown has changed from months to weeks to... days!

Friday, December 8, 2006

Wedding News

I'm counting down the days until I can see my Mommy again. She's talking now (through a valve on her trach tube), and I can hardly wait to talk to her and have her respond! I miss her so much. Several times a day I find myself thinking, "Mom would have good advice about this," or "Mom would know what to do about that," or "I wish I could tell Mom about this."

FavoriteBoy and I chose and purchased our wedding bands last weekend, and we went and picked them up today. They're beautiful.

A truly wonderful thing has happened with regards to our weddings (yes... plural!). Our pastor is going to be present at both ceremonies to marry us! We never imagined such generosity. We had arranged for him to officiate at our wedding in Pennsylvania, and all those plans had already been made, but then my Mom was hospitalized and we decided to be married in California where she is. We had been trying to figure out who could marry us out there. We both hoped to be married by someone we both know. Our pastor here is wonderful, and Nathan is on the church staff with him, and we've enjoyed getting to know him further through our premarital counseling sessions. We met with him this week, and before we even had a chance to speak with him about our wedding plans he offered to come to California to marry us there! He's not even letting us reimburse him for most of his expenses. We're amazed. It is really humbling to receive gifts that you can't possibly repay, and lately I've been learning a lot about that.

The not-so-good news is that I'm having a harder time holding things together with each passing day. This week we passed the four-week mark and the one-month mark since Mom's aneurysm, and it's been really hard. I think I naively hoped that Mom would be much better by now! And in a way, I think that things are only now beginning to really sink in. I keep realizing little things -- things I've known for several weeks but haven't really processed. Mom won't be in our PA wedding pictures. Mom won't hear our harpist or our choir or our other music. Dad probably won't be there to walk me down the aisle. I'll have to tell the florist to cancel one of the mothers' corsages. And while I think we have made a good decision concerning our wedding plans, I also think it is going to be really hard.

In the midst of the sadness, though, there is a lot of goodness. My Mom is alive, and her mind is clever and witty and intelligent. I get to see her in ten days. I get to have a wedding with my Mom there, my Dad there, and my sister and brothers there. My sister wasn't going to be at the PA wedding since she is expecting a baby shortly after our wedding date, so it's wonderful that she will be present at our marriage after all.

And then there's just the general goodness of getting married, too. It's all so good I feel guilty to be receiving so many blessings! A group of women from Nathan's church in PA had a shower for us when we were there for Thanksgiving, and we came back to Massachusetts with mixing bowls, a tea kettle, cutting boards, hand sewn Christmas stockings, wall clocks, kitchen gadgets, a waffle iron, a picnic hamper filled with picnicking things, and more! It seems too good to be true that we get to get married, and other people are so excited for us that they shower us with blessings!

Monday, December 4, 2006

A Wedding Decision

It's hard to know what to write about lately. Just one month ago, I had planned to write about FavoriteBoy's brilliant success in performing the Shostakovich Second Piano Concerto with the orchestra at school. The concert was on November 5, and he was a big hit. He received the most enthusiastic standing ovation I've seen in a long time! Our friend Michael conducted the performance and I know they enjoyed collaborating together.

I had planned to write about the speeding ticket I got but didn't deserve, and how I went to court twice and finally won and had the ticket revoked.

I planned to write about our pre-marital counseling, and how much we enjoy our sessions with our pastor. We have found the counseling to be very affirming of our relationship; our pastor even told us that we are uniquely mature in our preparation for marriage, and that we're unquestionably "good to go!"

All of that seems a very long time ago now.

I miss being able to talk to my Mom. Most days I am able to hold things together well, but sometimes the little things make me very sad. FavoriteBoy and I chose and bought our wedding bands on Saturday, and I wanted so much to be able to call Mom and tell her about them.

Last week in church an elderly man had some medical problems during the second service. A team of EMTs rushed in and took him out on a stretcher. And silly me, I burst into tears sitting in the front pew of church. I didn't even know the man, and of course it wasn't about that. And as it turned out, he was fine -- he was back in church yesterday. It just hit too close to home, seeing the team come in and take him out, and all I could think about was my Mom.

Well, Nathan and I have decided to go ahead with the wedding on January 6. Mom won't be there, of course, and I doubt that Dad will attend either given Mom's condition. It was very hard to make a decision, but we had to just do the best we could given the circumstances. Dad agrees that we are doing the right thing and shouldn't postpone things indefinitely, and knowing he thinks that helps me feel a lot better. In any case, I obviously can't get married without my parents present, so wonderful Nathan is coming out to California with his immediate family, and we will get married the weekend prior to our planned wedding date. We'll get married wherever Mom is -- in the hospital, in a rehab facility... we don't know yet! It will be unique and memorable. My family and Nathan's family will be there; that's what matters. Then we will fly out to PA and go through with the ceremony we had planned. It will be busy and crazy and I'm not sure yet how I will deal with everything, but we'll make it!

And there is so much to do between now and then!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm in PA now with FavoriteBoy. It's nice to be able to hug him. All that has happened in the past two weeks makes it feel almost as though it's been a year since we saw each other last.

He bought me "just because I love you" presents: a super deluxe wooden rotating Scrabble game, and a Scrabble Players Dictionary. It's so perfect.

While I was in CA, I had a good time hanging out with my brother Christopher. He is such an intelligent, kind, thoughtful guy. He must have missed the memo about teens being rebellious and belligerent! One funny memory:

Christopher picked up my folding hairbrush that fits into my purse and flipped it open. "Whoah. Cool! This is like a multi-tool for girls!"

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Usually right now Mom would be in the kitchen, basting the turkey and peeling potatoes. Since I usually can't fly all the way home for Thanksgiving, Mom calls me wherever I am to wish me a happy day, and we talk. So I miss her a lot today.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Yes Dad, It's Working

I'm going to see FavoriteBoy for Thanksgiving. I feel alternately ecstatic and concerned about this: ecstatic because he is my FavoriteBoy and I miss him very much and want to hug him, and concerned because I feel guilt (false or legitimate? I'm not sure) about leaving my Dad and my brother during this difficult time. I bought a one-way ticket to Pennsylvania, and I'm planning to drive back to Massachusetts with Nathan so he'll have company on the long drive. Originally I planned to fly from Boston back here to California, but then I started thinking that perhaps I ought to stay in Massachusetts for a few weeks at least; I should resume my teaching and try not to lose my students and my jobs and my life back there. I could come back in just two or three weeks, in plenty of time for Christmas and to help Dad and Christopher again. However, I see my Mom lying in the hospital bed and I know my Dad feels set adrift without her, and I feel guilty about leaving. Of course, my other siblings returned to their lives a week ago, and perhaps I ought to do the same.

I can't really do anything to help my Mom in the hospital, but I cook and clean and do laundry as much as I can here at the house, and I drive Christopher around to his classes and activities. I visit my grandparents and make sure they are doing okay, and I stop and see Mom a few times a day. I try to make sure Christopher stays on top of his school work.

People keep telling me that Mom was so proud of all I was doing as a musician and a teacher and that I ought to go on with things. They tell me she'd want me to go ahead with the wedding, too. But really, I don't know what Mom wants, and I can't ask her yet.

FavoriteBoy and I are thinking about tying the knot right here in California -- a small ceremony in my house, or even in the hospital if Mom is still there after Christmas. Then, we could turn the planned ceremony in Nathan's church into a blessing of the marriage instead of a regular wedding, and still have the reception as a party for our friends and his family's friends. But I don't know how I'd feel about having that ceremony and reception without my parents there.

The following conversation took place earlier this evening:

I told Dad, "I feel a bit guilty about thinking about going back to Massachusetts for a few weeks. I can't figure out if it's my conscience telling me to stay and be with you and Christopher, or if it's my strange and distorted psychological self giving me a false guilt-trip."

I paused, then grinned. "Or maybe it's my strange and distorted Dad giving me a real live guilt trip!"

Dad laughed. "Ahh, so it's working!"

Saturday, November 18, 2006

What Can I Say?

Okay, that last post was emotional.

I am trying not to be so emotional.

But my Mom is not doing so well...

and this is really hard.

I keep praying and praying, but I can't think of eloquent things.


"Please God, let Mom get better." "Please God, heal my Mom." "Please God, we all need Mom. Let her get well."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Waiting and Wishing

I'm still processing all that has happened in the last week. Back in Massachusetts, my apartment is frozen in time, displaying my life as it was barely over a week ago: wedding invitations lying in stacks on the living room table, envelopes and address books next to those, and a pile of stamps for the RSVP cards that I had purchased just the night before my mother's aneurysm occurred. My blog shows how suddenly my life turned upside-down, too: posts about the wedding and about teaching my music students, and suddenly... my Mom in a life-or-death situation.

My Dad and my siblings and I can't imagine Mom not bouncing back to her old self quickly. Call it faith, or call it denial; I'm still not sure which one it is. But of all the people I've known, my Mom always seemed the most invincible.

Right now, there's a lot of waiting. I'm waiting to see how Mom is doing each day, each hour. I'm waiting to know a more definite prognosis on her projected recovery. I'm waiting for her to be able to communicate with us more effectively about what she wants us all to do to help her. I'm waiting to see if I'll be able to see FavoriteBoy over Thanksgiving. I'm waiting to know if we'll still get married in January.

I don't like all this waiting.

I wonder if God thought I needed one last crash course in Selflessness before I get married. If so, I wish it could have been accomplished without my Mom being in critical condition. I wish it could have been accomplished without me being on the opposite coast of the country from FavoriteBoy.

I wish I could say that the difficulty of our family situation drew my siblings and me closer together instead of putting us all on edge with one another for a few days.

I wish I still had friends here in my hometown.

I wish people would stop acting awkward around me, as though because my Mom's in a hospital I've become a different person.

I wish people would stop telling me that I must be growing through this, or that God is working in my life. I hate cliches.

I wish people would stop getting emotional and telling me that this must be the hardest, most horrible thing imaginable.

I wish I could rewind life to eight days ago and have my Mom be okay again.

On a more shallow note, I wish I had known when I packed my tiny suitcase that I should plan on staying longer. I wish I had warm pajamas with me. I wish I had brought my cozy bathrobe. I wish I had brought another pair of pants, and another sweater or sweatshirt. I wish the security guards hadn't taken away my toothpaste, shampoo, and lotion.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sandy's Recovery

I've started a separate blog for updates about my Mom's recovery. You can read it at http://www.sandysrecovery.blogspot.com. This will let Mom's family and friends stay up-to-date with her progress without having to wade through, you know, me talking about my feelings and things like that. Please do visit Mom's blog and leave a comment, thought, or prayer for her. I'll be printing any comments and taking them to the hospital for her.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Update on Mom

Saturday was the first day the doctors began to let Mom awaken from her induced coma. They reduced the level of the medication that was keeping her asleep (propofol), and watched her vital signs to see how her body responded. Her blood pressure rose too high at that time, so the doctors waited until Sunday to try again. By the time we got to the hospital on Sunday morning, Mom was completely off the propofol, and was beginning to be responsive! By last night, she was opening her eyes slightly (she can open her right eye wider than her left right now), and moving her limbs a little! She moved her toes, and even slowly scooted her foot over to cross her legs at the ankle. We have been so relieved to see that she seems capable of motion on both sides of her body, and seems to hear us, too. The aneurysm occurred in or near the part of her brain that controls hearing, vision, and motor control... so we're understandably thrilled to see her opening her eyes, hearing, and moving! Last night, Mom was able to lift fingers when asked to by a doctor, and open her eyes on command as well. Mom seemed to respond best to Dad; when he talked to her she would turn slightly toward him, and try especially hard to open her eyes. One of the neatest things to see happened as we were getting ready to go home for the night. Dad told her it was time for us to go home and get some sleep. As he let go of her hand, Mom distinctly lifted her hand off the bed toward his. Of course, after seeing that, we stayed longer. :)

This morning, I asked Mom if she could lift her right index finger for me. I had been holding her hand, and I rubbed that finger a little. She lifted the finger on command! I wondered if I had imagined it, but when Dad and Jonathan came in to see her too, I asked her again and she repeated it. It's evening now, and Mom's already made a lot of improvement today. She's opening her eyes wider than before, and seems to be shaking her head "no" to yes or no questions. The doctor started this with her, by asking questions and seeing if she could respond. She really does seem to be communicating this way for now. While Emily, Christopher and I were in the room with Mom, I got concerned that maybe we were bothering her or keeping her from resting. I held her hand and asked if she'd like us to leave for a while and let her get some rest. She turned her head all the way to one side, and then all the way back to the other side. We were pretty happy that she wanted us to stay. She's been stretching her legs out, moving her arms a bit, and lifting her hands.

Mom is still on a respirator, which is obviously bothering her a lot. She's actually been initiating most of her own breaths since Friday or Saturday, and by Sunday she was initiating all her breaths. The respirator just helps her finish those breaths deeply enough. Today they tried to remove the tube from her throat, but they found that her trachea had become so swollen it was very difficult for her to breathe. Unfortunately, they had to re-insert the tube, which I know is really uncomfortable for Mom. They have restrained her hands so she can't reach up and grab it out of her mouth -- but she still keeps trying! She also resorts to trying to push it out of her mouth with her tongue. We sure hope the swelling will go down soon so they can get that painful tube out of her very soon. She has a bit of bronchitis right now, so we're praying for that to heal quickly too.

Emily (my sister), Jonathan (my nephew), and Aunt Susan (Mom's sister) are heading back down to Southern California tomorrow. Emily has an appointment with her midwife that she can't miss. Jonathan leaves to return to school in Texas on Wednesday. I'm sticking around to help in any way I can for as long as I'm needed. I'm glad my music students have been so flexible and understanding about my sudden departure and leave of absence. I'm hoping that I can keep teaching all my students whenever I return to Massachusetts, but I know it's possible that some of them will move on to other teachers. I'm going to try to arrange substitutes in the next week or so for students that want that. Right now, all of us in the family are kind of taking things a day at a time. We're glad to see her waking up slowly, and anxious for her to continue in her recovery. We sure miss having our wonderful Mom in her full and usual capacity - full of energy, loving us and talking to us, and living life to the fullest.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


On Tuesday, November 7, shortly after noon, my Mom suffered a burst brain aneurysm. The bleeding in her brain caused her to have a stroke. She temporarily lost most of her ability to speak, and began to lose use of her limbs. She was taken to the hospital, where she was shortly flown by helicoptor to a hospital in Roseville (about an hour and fifteen minutes from our home in Northern California). She has been in the Trauma Neuro Intensive Care Unit since Tuesday evening. She has undergone two surgeries - one to insert a temporary drain for the blood and fluid beneath her skull putting pressure on her brain, and another more extensive procedure to find and repair the burst vessel. She has been in a coma since Tuesday night. Today she is finally beginning to wake up, but it's a slow process.

When I heard my Dad's voice on my voicemail telling me briefly: "Mom's in the hospital, and she's going in for surgery," I could tell from his voice that it was very serious. I attempted to call him back immediately, but he wasn't picking up his cell phone. I tried calling my sister, but she wasn't home. Finally I reached my brother Jonathan, who was able to tell me the basic situation. Still unable to reach my Dad, I cried on the floor of my apartment. I was very worried, and not really knowing what was going on made it even harder. I looked up some information about brain aneurysms online, and I knew that my Mom's chances were less than 50%. Nathan, my fiance, came over quickly to be with me, which really helped. My friend Melissa came over too, and brought me a big teddy bear. They both stayed with me, praying lots and distracting me from the worry and the grim statistics, into the wee hours of the morning. I was waiting for Dad to give me permission to get on a plane and come home, as he had initially asked me to wait -- he was very shaken up, of course, and having a hard time making all the decisions he needed to make. When he called me at about 2:00 am EST, he asked me to come home. I packed my smallest suitcase and bought a one-way plane ticket online. Nathan sat with me while I slept for an hour or two, and then drove me to the airport to catch my flight to California. While I waited in the terminal, I made some phone calls to cancel the piano lessons and violin lessons I was supposed to teach in the next few days, as well as the babysitting jobs I had lined up. I spent six and a half hours on the first leg of my flight, unable to hear any new information by phone while I was in the air. After a layover in San Francisco, I arrived in Sacramento around 2:30. Melinda, a family friend, picked up Jonathan and me there and brought us to the hospital to see Mom. Dad was really glad to see us walk in. We got to see Mom right away. She's in the best hospital she could possibly be in, and her doctors and nurses are wonderful about letting us spend time with her, and answering all our questions. If we sanitize our hands and wear gloves, we can hold her hands and touch her to let her know we're with her.

Emily and her son Jonathan drove up from Southern California with my Aunt Susan, my Mom's sister. So, we're all here as a family, spending each day in the hospital lobby and taking turns seeing Mom.

Now, for the better news. Mom is doing really well, all things considered. A number of things contribute to her current condition being what it is, and we're really grateful for how God takes care of His children even when things are hard. First of all, my Dad had just returned from a business trip to Florida. We can't imagine much harder this would have been if Dad hadn't been here when this happened. As it was, Dad was able to be with Mom really soon after it happened, and sit with her in the hospital, which I'm sure provided her with a lot of comfort, as she was still conscious at that point. Secondly, Mom was already in town when the vessel burst. She was having lunch with a wonderful friend, who did all the right things. She got Mom to the car while she could still move, and drove her straight to the hospital. If Mom had been at our home with Christopher when this happened, it could have taken three to four times longer for her to get help -- we live quite a ways out of town, and Christopher doesn't drive yet. Then, while Mom was waiting for a bed to open up at one of the three hospitals that can deal with this kind of neuro trauma, the first hospital with an open bed was, we subsequently learned, the BEST place for Mom to be right now. Finally, Mom is a great candidate to make a full recovery from something like this. She is otherwise healthy and fit, very determined, and basically a tough nut to crack. We're all still in shock, because honestly, we kind of thought Mom was invincible.

Our family has been absolutely surrounded with the love and prayers of friends. It's been really amazing to see how much my Mom was loved. I always knew she was the best ever, but I didn't know that everyone else loved her, too! Our pastor and his wife have come to see us at the hospital, Lou and Melinda have been here, and Matt and Amber, along with Emma and Gregory, came up and spent a day here at the hospital with us. My Dad's general manager at his work happens to be an M.D., and he's been an invaluable resource to us for both information and encouragement. My Mom has given so much to so many in our community - particularly to the home schooling families in our county. All of these families are showing us such an outpouring of love and help. The phone calls, the offers to help, the meals... it's incredible. Most of all, we're grateful for the prayers.

Believe it or not, people have even offered us a HOUSE (and cleaned, furnished, and stocked it for us!), just about ten minutes away from the hospital. Using this house would let us be really near Mom while she needs us. The doctors are predicting a recovery that could take three to four more weeks in the hospital. Right now, we have to do a lot of waiting, which is really hard. We need to make decisions about our family, but it's hard to do that until we know more about Mom's projected recovery. Right now, it's looking like I will be staying in California indefinitely to help out with my Mom, my Dad, and my youngest brother. Mom is doing well, but recovery from this can take a long time.

That's all I can write right now, but I'll be checking in again with updates whenever I can. I'll be writing more soon. I may also start a separate blog to update her family and friends on her condition.

Prayers are appreciated, friends. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sarah Marie The Busy Bee: Time Flies

Time passes quickly, and I'm realizing how soon January 6 will be here -- whether I'm ready for it or not. Last week as I was driving home from Gloucester, I realized that almost all the trees have changed into beautiful autumnal colors, and I barely noticed it happening. Over the weekend, I took Cara to the mall to pick up a few things, and most of the stores are already decorated for Christmas. I love Christmas, and seeing the decorations everywhere made me sorely tempted to begin listening to Christmas music way ahead of schedule, but I'm disciplining myself to wait until December.

I feel the passing of time in my own life, and it feels both fast and slow at the same time. The wedding seems both near and far away at once. Life seems fast-paced because of how many different things I've done since graduation, how many changes I've made, and how many things and people have come and gone. I worked as an intern in the Admissions office through May and June, worked as a proofreader in Charlestown for July and August, started getting more and more violin and piano students, picked up two babysitting jobs to occupy my mornings, and began teaching after-school group violin lessons to 4th and 5th graders in Gloucester.

I've subsequently dropped one of the babysitting jobs -- after a month of spending 20 hours a week with 2-year-old Tegan, I knew that it wasn't a good fit for me. Suffice it to say that she was the worst behaved child I have ever encountered... or ever hope to encounter. I even caught some of her wretchedness on video with my digital camera. It's funny to watch the clips. Even the way she says my name belies her brattyness: "SaRAH? SARah! SARAH! Watch Barney NOW!" She was bossy, rude, and generally horrid. Everything was a demand, and nothing was a request. She was used to getting her own way, all the time. Cookies at 9 am? Sure, why not? Watching Barney videos all day? Of course. Smearing her food all over the house? Perfectly acceptable. She had truly never been taught to say "please" or "thank you" before I began sitting for her. When I asked her to say "please" after a request, she would shout it in a shrill, bossy voice: "PLEASE!" By the end of my time with her, I had taught her to "say please -- with a smile!" She was actually showing general improvement. However, I really couldn't work with her and combat all the lack of teaching her parents gave her. When I wasn't there, Tegan would draw on the carpet and walls. Her mother's response? "Good. I've been trying to make my husband buy me new carpet for years." At the end of a six-hour stint of attempting to teach Teagan to not throw toys, to help pick up messes, and to ask for things politely, her brother would come home from school and torment her, taking her toys and holding them just out of her reach. Tegan, of course, would scream, and I would calm her and assure her (with a glare at her brother) that he would return the toy to her as soon as she asked nicely. She would actually do so... but he wouldn't comply. Obviously, it was hard to reinforce good behavior without the help of her family!

Interestingly enough, Tegan's 10-year-old brother is just as horrid, bossy, and obnoxious as she is. Honestly, you'd think parents would learn. Their mother is completely out of control (she makes empty threats to attempt to get her children to behave, such as threatening to throw away all of her son's video games, etc.), and her children sense it and know that they can behave however they want.

So, a month of that was more than enough. I realized that I make enough money teaching, playing gigs, and taking a few more pleasant babysitting jobs to pay my bills and live comfortably, and I decided to stop making myself feel as if I weren't doing enough if I weren't working full-time. I'm very happy to have the extra hours in my week to devote to wedding things, home-improvement things, and practicing my violin again. I'm also a much happier person for FavoriteBoy to come have dinner with at the end of the day, and probably a much better teacher, too; I have more time to devote to planning each student's lesson and thinking about the kind of teacher I want to be. To sum up: I'm a much happier girl right now than I was two weeks ago!

Yesterday I bought ribbon to affix to our invitations, and subsequently spent a good portion of the day tying tiny bows. After more of the same this morning, the end is finally in sight! I should be done by tomorrow. Then, it's just attaching the bows and addressing the envelopes, and I'll have these things in the mail right on schedule!

FavoriteBoy is playing Shostakovich's 2nd piano concerto with the Gordon orchestra in just a few weeks, and last night was his first rehearsal with the orchestra. It was so exciting to listen to him play -- he's going to be fantastic! Cara's recital is this coming weekend, and next Monday I get to perform some duos with Melissa. I feel blessed to have so much music in my life. When you're in school, surrounded by it all the time, it's easy to take it for granted. Now, as a lot of my friends are in jobs they don't care for -- and I'm very aware that I only just escaped such a fate myself! -- I'm very grateful that I've been blessed with opportunities to teach and play music. I love my students, and they seem to like me. I still get giddy when I hear that the kids talk about me at school, and say they like me. I also get compliments from parents on what a good job I do, and that's so encouraging! Life is peachy.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh Yeah... Rings

Oh yeah, Cara is right: I guess getting rings belongs on the "to do" list. Kind of important.

Speaking of Cara, I get to go jam with her this evening as we prepare some sweet Vivaldi for her senior recital!

I love every opportunity I have to play my violin. Since graduating, I'm grateful for every chamber music experience (even wedding gigs, or Pachelbel Canon recording sessions!), I listen more attentively to Mr. B's every word in orchestra rehearsals, and... I miss playing my violin 5-6 hours a day. Never thought I'd be saying that!

Thursday, October 5, 2006

To-Do List


1. Church
2. Reception hall
3. Officiant
4. Bridal party
5. Invitations
6. Cake
7. Flowers
8. Photographer
9. Bridesmaids' dresses
10. My dress (insert sigh of relief and vast quantities of gratitude to my Mom)

Yet to be done (eek!):

1. Catering (insert scream of terror -- yes, there are only three short months left until the wedding!!!)
2. Music (it's all sort of worked out in our heads and unofficially arranged with friends, but we still need to nail down the specifics, FavoriteBoy still needs to arrange some of our pieces for the ensembles we'll have, and we still need to book a harpist. And figure out what to do for background music for part of the reception.)
3. Slide show? Or something like this to take up time at the reception and entertain guests? Or maybe a slide show is tacky. I can't decide. Eep. Help! (No, I take it back. DON'T help. I'm tired of hearing everyone's ideas, suggestions, and even demands. Whatever happened to "Aw, you're getting married. This is YOUR special day." Yeah, right.)
4. Decorations (Have many, many ideas, but haven't actually done any practice centerpieces yet, called about rental linens, etc.)
5. Tuxedo rentals for the dudes involved.
6. Accessories (shoes, earrings, Grandma's pearl necklace to be restrung, and a veil to be made by my incredible Mother!)
7. Transportation
8. I guess most people actually go somewhere after the wedding... yeah... we haven't really figured that out yet...
9. Accomodations for family and friends... reserve block of hotel rooms, and find free housing from church members for out of town friends if possible.
10. Marriage license!
11. Finalize liturgy/ceremony order
12. Make programs
13. Finish registering
14. Gifts for all involved in wedding
15. Rehearsal dinner


In order to be able to do all these things, I think I need to quit my babysitting job for the bratty two-year-old. But if I do that, I won't have as much money. And right now, I really need money. It's a catch-22.

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

High Praise from Fifth Graders

Some of the fifth graders at the elementary school are talking about their new private teacher. The word on the street is: "She rocks!"

Could a higher compliment exist? : )

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

No! More! Barney!

But I don't want to sing the Barney song again.

No, I don't want to make the little Critter do another somersault either.

And I really don't want to do the Barney boogie one more time. I don't even like Barney!

Sometimes I wish two-year-olds didn't know the words "again" or "more" yet.

I spend about 20-23 hours a week with Tegan. Sometimes I think I'm the only one who enforces rules and manners ("Your food can be in one of two places: on your plate, or in your mouth. Okay, or on its way to your mouth. It cannot be smeared on the table, smashed on your chair, mashed in your hair, or mushed on your pants."), but I try not to assume the worst about her parents. Maybe they try as hard as I do, and she's just not interested in compliance. But I can't help noticing that doing things she doesn't want to do or not doing things she does want to do both seem equally foreign to her.

I recently realized that it must be very disillusioning for a young child to learn to talk. Here is Tegan, thinking that as soon as she figures out this strange thing called the English language, she will finally be able to communicate to those around her exactly what she wants and when she wants it. She gets a surprisingly good handle on the whole talking thing by the young age of two, only to realize that just because she can say "No!" or "More! Now!" or "Stop!" doesn't mean she can have any of those things happen according to her whim. It must come as something of a shock.

Monday, October 2, 2006

Musical Enthusiasm

Sarah: "Okay, use my pencil for a minute. You get to trace these braces and bar lines on the grand staff!"

Jared (age 7): "Oh, baby!"

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

SarahMarie + FavoriteBoy: An Anniversary

Today makes two happy years of FavoriteBoy being, well, my FavoriteBoy. It also makes four happy months of FavoriteBoy being my fiance... although I still haven't gotten used to the word, and it still sounds strange. Two years is a long time, but it is also a short time. We're looking forward to many happy years to come.

In other news, I got internet access in my apartment, which is wonderful.

I love my violin students, and playing and teaching music is the only thing I can imagine myself truly enjoying as a career. Not that I'm in any position to be picky - I currently babysit four mornings a week to make ends meet - but while I find toddlers cute, six hours amusing a two-year-old is somewhat akin to running a marathon. It taxes my creativity and patience and energy, and I endure those hours for the teaching in the afternoons and the playing in the evenings.

Finally, I had mentioned FlyLady in my previous post. Well, don't subscribe to her emails. They are a big pain. She seems to exist primarily for people whose lives are constantly on the verge of utter chaos. My inbox is crammed with junk, junk, and more junk from her. I've tried unsubscribing THREE TIMES, and all to no avail. She tells me things like, "drink plenty of water today," and then sends a separate email to remind me to "clean the kitchen sink," followed by a third (fourth, fifth, etc.) ordering me to go through important papers regularly. On the bright side, it's encouraging to realize that Three-Years-Ago-Sarah might have actually not been able to stay on top of simple tasks like cleaning the kitchen sink or organizing piles of papers without such emails. Today-Sarah finds those emails annoying and superfluous. Why? Because Today-Sarah is totally in control of her life. Mm-hmm.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sarah Marie The Industrious Fix-It Woman

It looks as though progress is finally being made on the front of getting internet access in my apartment. In fact, by tomorrow evening, I should be all set. I can't wait.

I've observed that it's tricky to plan this wedding without internet access readily available to look up phone numbers, email a variety of people, stay in touch with bridesmaids, and search for the best prices on things.

I've been getting quite a few calls about violin lessons. I'm pretty thrilled about that. I've met several of my new students already, and I think I'm going to enjoy teaching them.

Work on the apartment continues. Sanding, painting, vacuuming, drilling, replacing doorknobs and faucets, scrubbing, mopping... it feels a little bit endless, but it's very rewarding. It was nice having my Mom out here to visit; she was so encouraging about the place. She really seemed to like it. I should post pictures sometime soon.

I just joined FlyLady.com, which I'm hoping will provide some useful (and free!) advice on getting things organized. From what I've read so far, it seems that a lot of her advice is pretty obvious; however, I also saw some suggestions I liked. A few years ago, I would have declared myself a hopelessly disorganized and cluttered person. Now, I'm surprised by how industrious I can be, how well I can plan ahead, and how organized I am getting. I suppose it's largely just growing up, but I also attribute it in part to my violin teacher, Mr. B. He had a way of whipping all aspects of my life - not just my violin playing - into shape. He is wonderful. I miss having lessons with him.

In other news, check out BluebirdBlogs. Some very nice designs, and this contest offering a free blog makeover to two lucky winners.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Job Search and More

My temp job ended the week before last, just before FavoriteBoy and I took our trip to Erie. Since the job ended, I have been busier than I was when I was working. I've gone to PA twice -- once with FavoriteBoy, and then again with my Mom while she was out here so she could see the church and reception hall and meet the future in-laws. I've found and ordered a wedding dress. (That was an ordeal!) I've interviewed for a temp agency that specializes in placing people in publishing jobs. I've made a million phone calls about insurance, wedding stuff, changing my mailing address, finding a job and/or finding more music students, and much more.

I seem to be making progress in the realm of finding a job that actually relates to my degree in music. If things go well, I'll be getting quite a few little violin students in the next few weeks! I'm excited about that.

Things in my apartment are constantly improving. It's getting cleaner, tidier, and more home-y each day! While Mom and I were in PA, FavoriteBoy stayed behind with a key to my apartment, and surprised me by doing some painting, cleaning, and organizing! He's the best. Right now I'm on campus at Gordon, listening to him practice the piano while I make use of the network connection. Orchestra is rehearsing over in the chapel, and I'm feeling kind of sad about being an alumna and missing my practicing, rehearsing, and learning as a student. Wow, how lame.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


My left eye is bright red. I can't wear my contact lenses, so I've been wearing my glasses -- which have a very old prescription. Consequently, I walked into a wall at a restaurant last night, and today I'm afraid to do any of the things on my to-do list: driving to the gym, going to the grocery store, going to Home Depot. Oh, bother.

My Mom arrives tonight!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sarah Marie The Über-Bride

As much as I, um, don't care for this wedding... I must admit - graciously, of course - that I am the über-bride. Why? Because FavoriteBoy and I spent two days in Erie, PA (where the wedding is taking place), and in those two little days, we picked all our flowers, selected our cake, and found the perfect photographer.

Thank you, thank you. Hold the applause.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Turning a Disaster Zone Into a Home

I started writing this post on the 17th, but didn't have time to finish it until now:

I don't have an internet connection at my apartment right now, so my lifestyle has taken a drastic change without fast network access to email and Blogger at any time. That's OK. I've been too busy cleaning. I moved into my new apartment on Cabot Street on Sunday morning, right after the early church service. My mattress was delivered by 11:30, by which time I had already disassembled the stove burners and scrubbed all components of the stove top. By 12:30, the counters had been scrubbed twice, and the stainless steel sink had been scoured until it really was stainless.

You see, I have a somewhat unconventional renting situation. The previous tenant, Allison, left that place in terrible condition. Dirt and grime everywhere, along with some "presents" for me - everything she didn't want to take with her. Dead house plants, about fifty beer bottles, and two large bags of trash - plus all the small items lying around that quickly joined those trash bags.

When I first walked into the apartment, the prevailing thought running through my mind was, "Don't. Touch. ANYTHING." Four days, six cleaning products, and nine sponges later, it's almost starting to feel like my very own place. With each passing squeeze and rinse of the sponge, it feels less like Allison's home and more like mine.

So now it's the 23rd, and I've found a chance to return and actually publish this post. The apartment is looking better all the time. FavoriteBoy has been indispensable! He is a hard worker, and very skilled at fixing things and improving things. We've found new faucets for the bathroom sinks (yes, I have two bathrooms in my place!) and new light fixtures for the living room, kitchen, entry area, and bathrooms at Home Depot. FavoriteBoy installs these things while I clean, find places for things, and scrub layers of grime off the walls, windowsills, and cupboard shelves. We're having a great time. I like the place a lot. I'd rather live in a place with character than a cookie-cutter apartment any day. Plus, it's a stand-alone building, so I don't have neighbors to worry about -- which means that I can play my violin, and even give lessons, right there in my apartment. Also, the rent is dirt cheap. I'm so lucky.

FavoriteBoy and I are leaving tonight for PA, where we will be meeting with the florist, the bakery, and the photographer. We return Saturday, and then my Mom is coming to visit on Wednesday for The Great Dress Shopping Expedition! So much to do, so little time... I still think elopement would be a good idea.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Almost Moved

Well, I've moved almost all of my things over to my new apartment, purchased a vacuum cleaner, mattress, and sheets, and packed the remaining items from the dorm room into my car. I'm about to tuck in for my last night on campus.

Why the sudden splurge of blog posts? I guess because I'm not sure what my internet access will be like for a while - I decided to make the most of the school network while I'm still here.

In other news, my old Wheaton buddy Ethan got married today!


It's Tax Free Weekend here in Massachusetts. I'm celebrating the wonder of this weekend coinciding with my move to my apartment by, well, buying stuff! I never knew that making a place into a home could be so overwhelming. It's the same thing Nathan and I have run into when we try to register for things - how can there be so many options, and how do we know which ones are best? What colors should we get? And now, I'm trying to figure out what to buy now, and what to go without and register for. (By the way, I feel like a beggar registering for gifts. It's weird.)

I just got back from Target, where I bought a laundry hamper, a kitchen trash bin, a set of 12 glasses ($9.00), a dish drying rack, a flatware organizing bin, a toilet brush, a scrub brush, a Brita water filtering system, a paring knife, two small "grab-its," and a can-opener. I also bought FavoriteBoy three big bins to facilitate his own moving process this weekend; he's moving from the summer housing dorm to his on-campus apartment for the fall semester. I brought the bins back to him so he can pack, and now I'm off to either Bed, Bath & Beyond or Linens 'N Things - haven't decided yet - to look for a few kitchen towels, pot holders, a few plates, and a small pot.

I am also anticipating that I will need some type of furniture in my bathrooms (yes, my apartment has two bathrooms!), but that can wait a bit. Along with an ironing board, a bedside lamp, curtains, a mirror cabinet to go above the bathroom sink, a vacuum, a microwave, a baking pan, and a futon or couch.

Mommy? Daddy? Send money now! :-)


Moving. Tomorrow. My very own apartment. Whoah.

Rent. Hmm.

Why is everything so expensive?

My car broke down and needed a new engine... that didn't help the financial situation.

And I really needed a new prescription and new contact lenses... okay, that's expensive, too.

Oh, and the bill arrived from the x-ray I had when I thought I had broken my knees. Now that I know they weren't broken, can I just retract that x-ray and disregard the bill, please?

And now that I've graduated and can't be covered on my parents' insurance, I should probably get some health insurance of my own, huh?

You know you're a grown up when all the bills start coming to you instead of to your parents.

(The truth is, I've been paying for my own car insurance, clothing, personal needs, books, music, school supplies, and more for many years. Things just suddenly seem more expensive now that it's all on me.)

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Communism in Massachusetts

In less than two weeks, I get to move into my new apartment. I'm really excited about it.

Unfortunately, this apartment just happens to be in The Worst State in the Union (sometimes referred to as Massachusetts). There are a number of reasons why living in Massachusetts is far from the optimal situation. One of those reasons had the opportunity to be rectified yesterday by our state legislators. Unfortunately, but not altogether surprisingly, the legislators decided to keep things just as wretched as they currently are, rather than effect change.

The unfortunate situation I'm talking about is the cost and type of car insurance in the state of Massachusetts. All insurance here is No Fault, which basically means I benefit not at all for having a clean driving record, and I am penalized for all the terrible drivers in Boston. I pay an exorbitantly high premium to compensate for the reckless drivers that surround me on my commute each day.

You see, Massachusetts is essentially a Communist state. Unlike the other 49 states in the Union, which thrive on a free market economy and encourage competition, in Massachusetts, our government officials will do anything they can to prevent these circumstances from being allowed. Car insurance rates are sky-high because regulations are such that no insurance company is permitted to offer competetive rates. Consequently, companies like Geico, State Farm, and many others don't even bother to operate here. In fact, while our neighboring states have hundreds of auto insurance companies from which to choose, here in Massachusetts we have about a dozen.

Yesterday, the legislature had the opportunity to rectify the dreadful insurance situation and make a lot of happy citizens, encourage a flourishing economy, and promote healthy competition. Instead, they decided to keep things exactly as they are. Very clever of them. I hate Massachusetts.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Strange Hormonal Time

You know you're experiencing a Strange Hormonal Time when you're flipping through television channels while babysitting, and suddenly all the commercial breaks just seem so positively moving that you choke back a sniffle while the woman advertising toothpaste talks. Or when you cry all the way home from work, explaining out loud to absolutely no one that you miss your family, and California, and also, you haven't had Chinese food in altogether too long, and you miss that, too.

When this kind of thing happens to me, I try to be grateful that even though I don't have a Y chromosome, I am blessed with a level-headed fellow who not only has one, but is also capable of being most understanding when I suddenly want to call off the wedding, run away to the Antarctic together, and... can we watch T.V. until that great toothpaste commercial comes back on?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Dress Shopping

Jean recently posted that she'd like to get a fake yet glamorous engagement ring, just so that she can go to a boutique and try on bridal gowns. I'm here to tell you all that the experience is probably not worth that sort of trouble.

Last weekend, Kate accompanied me on my first attempt at gown-shopping. The first place we checked out was very, very sketchy. I really hadn't known where to start, and had just written down names of places from the yellowpages.com -- that's my excuse for how we ended up at a nasty little "prom gown" store that claims they carry bridal gowns because they happen to have a few cheap-looking white dresses, covered in sequins, that have trains. The saleswoman at this place was really dreadful, and put me in a serious funk. As soon as we walked in the door and headed toward the bridal section of the store, she put her claws of death right into us, latching on firmly, and would not let go for the remainder of our time in the store. She asked what I was looking for. I replied that I'd like something without a lot of beading -- at which point she really ought to have admitted that they didn't have anything of the kind, and I would be better off to look elsewhere. Instead, she brought out dress after dress, each one (except for a few exceptions) more hideous than the last.

All of these dresses embodied everything I hate about most wedding dresses I've seen -- each one screamed in a shrill, high school voice, "I wore this to Junior Prom!" I tried to think of a means of escape, but couldn't seem to do so politely without first trying on two dresses. I vanished into the little room and managed to figure out how to deal with the volumes of cheap fabric well enough to actually step inside the dress. When I emerged, asking Kate to zip me up the rest of the way, the pushy saleswoman leapt between us, saying, "I'll do that." Katie saw my growing consternation (I can be really anti-social, and I hate salespeople who won't leave me alone when I want to be left alone) and attempted to remedy the situation, telling the woman, "We might be a while here; I'm sure you have other things you need to get done." Said saleswoman replied indignantly, "Honey, I can't leave you alone. We pride ourselves on our customer attention."

Well, she gave me attention all right. She gave me so much attention that by the time we left the store, I felt violated. She seemed incapable of zipping a dress back down just enough for me to grab my zipper on my own -- instead, she'd zip it all the way down past my underwear, leaving me standing in a large room in an open store, blushing to my roots and mad as a wet cat. She also managed to touch pretty much every part of my body during the course of our time there... and I only tried on two dresses!

Once that was over, we did have some good success with Kate trying on a few bridesmaid dresses, just to start getting some ideas of what might be nice. We found a few that we really liked, and since then, I've found another one that I might love, by looking at pictures online.

Well, we left the sketchy place, and the next place we tried was a big improvement. Once I started asking prices, I realized why the improvement was so noticeable. Hmm. Nevertheless, I tried on about a dozen gowns -- and almost all of them were pretty nice. I never like how I look in dresses, but none of these had me cringing at all. Amazing.

If you're interested, Kate has posted an account of our shopping trip as well. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sarah Marie as Picky Proofreader

My new job is decent. And, when I get such a hefty paycheck each week, I can't really complain. I am a proofreader at a financial typesetting company. I like looking for errors and demanding that they be fixed, so all in all it's a pretty good fit for me! (ha-ha.) Apparently I passed the initial proofreading test with flying colors, and the temp job is already showing promise of becoming a permanent position - if I want it to. Which, really, I don't. It's nice for the summer, though.

Most of my co-workers are really characters, to say the least. One of the proofreaders has declared that I look like Mandy Moore. He also calls me a "vivacious violin vixen." Yeah... he's quirky. Another co-worker has been in the career of proofreading for far too long, and daily reminds me, "Don't get trapped here. Don't stay here. You get back to doing music. You love it. That's what you should be doing. I don't want to see you stick around here too long." Another character in the story of my work life is the hispanic man who has been painting the hallways for the past two weeks. He asked one of my co-workers, in Spanish, "Who is the pretty muchacha?", and when I walk by, he puts down his paint brush and gazes at me quite openly, smiling widely. As awkward as it is, I can't help feeling a teeny bit flattered; I don't think I've ever been the object of such open admiration from a complete stranger before.

Something I don't like about my new job is the commute. My commute is titan -- I know this because one day I listened to Mahler's Titan Symphony, with the closing bars dying away just as I pulled into the parking lot. (That's a very long drive, for those of you who don't know Mahler!)

And now, with my new morning schedule of rising at 6:30 each day, it is well past my bedtime this evening. Goodnight, my friends.

Friday, July 7, 2006

T Minus Six Months

I'm getting married in less than six months! And while sometimes I think I'd rather just elope and avoid the hassle of planning a wedding, I must admit that this is a rather beautiful and awe-inspiring place in which to be married:

More FavoriteBoy and Nephew

More pictures of FavoriteBoy? Well, if you insist! After all, he is dashingly handsome...

More Pictures

A few more pictures from my time in California:

At the beach! The two Jonathan's together -- one of the brother variety, the other of the nephew variety. Then Nathan and Jonathan. Finally, Emily and Jonathan sharing an ice cream cone.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

FavoriteBoy and Nephew

Ooh, ooh, more pictures! Here are a few early-morning shots of FavoriteBoy and my adorable nephew Jonathan, taken while we were in California vistiing my sister.

Monday, July 3, 2006

Graduation Photos

My diploma arrived in the mail. That reminded me to post a few graduation pictures.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Out With the Old

Well, it's official. I handed in a letter of resignation. I have quit my horrible wretched awful job, and accepted a new job that was offered to me yesterday. I will be working as a proofreader at a company about 30 minutes away from here. I will be making almost 2.5x what I have been making so far this summer. I am pretty happy.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

That's Worth Stalling For

One of my little piano students, Annalise, loves to stall for time. The usual lead-in to an attempted stall goes something like this: "Um, ok, but first can I ask you a question?" This afternoon I didn't mind her stalling so much.

"Um, can I ask you a question?"
"Are you still in college?"
"Well, I was in college, but I just graduated."
"Oh, so are you going to another school now?"
"No, I'm all done with school for now."
"Oh. How old are you?"
"I'm 23."
"So, you're an adult?"
"Yes, I sure am."
"Wow, my piano teacher is an adult... but a FUN adult!"

Monday, June 26, 2006

There and Back Again

FavoriteBoy and I flew out to Pennsylvania this past Thursday, and returned Saturday evening -- in his beautiful new Honda! His family found the car for him at a wonderful price, and then we went out together to pick it up. He is so excited to have his own car... manual transmission, leather seats, sun roof, and more! He's begun to teach me to drive a stick, as well -- I drove 2.5 hours of the trip back.

While in PA, we began to work out a few valuable wedding details -- basically just enough to make me realize how overwhelming it is going to be to plan a wedding several states away from where Nathan and I both live! And my family is all the way in California! I keep asking Nathan if he'd rather elope, because well, I think I would! But his church is beautiful and I think we will be able to pull off a lovely wedding. His family has offered to help a lot, which is wonderful.

On the drive back, after many hours on the interstate, we took a scenic route for a while, which was really nice. I love how bright green the trees are at this time of year. Periodically we'd pass a pretty house, and either FavoriteBoy or I would exclaim, "There's our house!" And FavoriteBoy would promise to buy it for me. :) We're going to be so happy -- cute house or small apartment or whatever may come our way in life.

After we got back, we took Nate and Kate out to dinner at Salem Beer Works for Nate's birthday. Then we watched Fever Pitch, in honor of the fact that Kate was taking Nate to a Sox game the following day! Which was unfortunately rained out, so they are going today instead. Kate got a cute Sox hat, and now I think I need some Sox paraphernalia.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sarah Marie: Lowly Sidekick

Today I had a strange experience at work.

Each day I sit at the front desk for 30 minutes while Meghan takes her lunch break. Today, as I sat at the desk minding my own business, a wiry-haired, creepy-looking fellow approached me and began to engage me in conversation, despite my best efforts to the contrary.

"Hi there. You caught many prospective students today?"
"Um, no. I've only been sitting here for five minutes."
"Oh, well, hmm, what's your name?"
"I'm ____, from the Biology department."
"Uh. Nice to meet you."
"You a Gordon student?"
"Well, I just graduated."
"Ohhhh. Ahhh. You working in Admissions now?"
"No. Just for the summer. Actually, just until I find something else."
"What was your major?"
"Music performance."
"Mmm, hmm, mmmhmm. What do you play?"
"You any good?"
"Uh. Depends on your standard of comparison, I suppose."
"Well, compared to other Gordon students, then."
"Yah, I guess so."
"You gonna get a job in music?"
"Well, I'd like to. A degree in music doesn't exactly lead straight to a high-paying job, though. We'll see what works out."
"Hmm, well, I do a fair bit of music myself."
"Oh. That's nice."
"Mm hmm, yes, yes, it is. I sing in the ___ ___ ___ Men's Choir." (The most horrible choir imaginable, to whose singing I am occasionally subjected because the director attends my church.)
"Oh. Hmm. That's good. Maybe you know my fiance, Nathan ____. He accompanies the choir when they sing at our church."
"Oh wow, hmm, wow, yes, he is quite remarkable. He is amazing. He just blows me right away with his talent. What a talent. What a guy. Yeah, yeah, he'll have a career in music, you watch and see. What a talent. I see what you mean about standard of comparison -- I'm sure you're not as good as he is."
"Um, right. Well, he is very wonderful."
"Wow, yes, he's just incredible. To watch that fellow play is something else. And to see his mind work. He just improvises some things, adds things here and there, what a talent. What a musician."
"Yes, he's terrific."
"So, you're with him? Are you gonna marry him?"
*holds up left hand* "Think so."
"Oh, ah, I see. Well, lucky you. What a talent. You'll be his helper. That's just great."

Here we have it, ladies and gentlemen. A perfect stranger (albeit one with no social skills whatsoever) has confirmed my long-standing knowledge of my utter inferiority to FavoriteBoy, my worthlessness as a musician, and ultimately, the fact that I am just a lowly sidekick -- a supporting role in the drama that is the life of FavoriteBoy.

You know, I'm happy and proud of him being so amazing. I'm just not always sure how I feel about others treating me as his stage-hand.

This reminds me of the time when I went to speak with our esteemed chair of the music department about grad school options. I asked him if he was familiar with any good programs, how many Gordon grads went on to grad school in music, and how people handled financial aid, stipends, etc. with living expenses. His response was, "Oh, hey, go to the University of Michigan. Yes, that's the place for you. They have a terrific piano and organ department, and Nathan would do so well there."

How awkward. You'd think people could at least pretend not to notice how drastically inferior I am.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Some Good Preachin'

Sunday's sermon was amazing. I will post a link to the audio file once it is available. It was so good.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One Month of Misery

I began my summer job on the 13th of May, and it is now the 13th of June. Thus is seems an appropriate day to announce that I hate hate hate my job.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Happy Sappy Sarah Marie

Wow, where to begin?

Thank you for all the congratulations and well-wishes, everyone. How lovely to have so many comments!

So yes, I am engaged to be married to my best friend in all the world, and I'm trying very hard not to melt into a puddle of cliches and sappiness. All the things I swore I would never be I suddenly find that it's difficult not to be! Although I must say I've done quite well at being calm and low-key about the whole thing. We haven't even told most people; we've just waited to see if people notice this beautiful new piece of jewelry adorning my left hand. Which brings me to one of the cliches, you see... I can't stop looking at my hand. While I'm typing at work, I find that the ring distracts me. While I'm reading, I put the book down to gaze at my finger. Am I pathetic, or what? But it's just so pretty. By the way, in the picture I posted it looks sort of yellow-ish gold-ish, so just to clarify, it's actually platinum, and quite perfect and beautiful. FavoriteBoy picked it out himself, and yes, the proposal was a surprise -- although now I know that he had asked my father back in April when my family was out here for my senior recital!

In other news, not nearly so earth-shattering, I turned 23 years old on the 10th. I feel rather old -- I've realized that 21 was the last "young" milestone, in which a person is looking forward to some newfound freedom or other. After that, all the milestones are the "look-how-old-you're-getting" sort, which will be rather odd. But I realized that I am 23 now, and I will be married while I am 23, which makes it all feel very soon!

FavoriteBoy and I went out to Southern California for a few days, in which we attended his grandfather's memorial service, I met a million of his extended relatives, and he met my sister. I have some nice pictures. For tonight, I will post just one. More will follow later.

A funny-looking baby (NOT my adorable nephew!), of whom FavoriteBoy took a covert picture just so we could giggle over it:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Home Again

FavoriteBoy did arrive, and all is right with the world. He promptly took me to Panera for a quick dinner before church choir rehearsal. After waiting nearly 20 minutes for our to-go order, FavoriteBoy finally inquired after our food - his Asiago Roast Beef sandwich and my 'You Pick Two' order of half a Turkey Romesco and a cup of chicken noodle soup. Apparently, they had lost our order. The manager promptly handed us $20 worth of Panera dollars and told us to have free desserts on him. Our food was then ready in about three minutes. All in all, I consider that a win-win situation. And we even made it to choir on time.

So, it's nice to have Nathan back. He had a nice time in Italy - but I'm sure it wasn't that nice, since, after all, I wasn't there.

Ever since Meghan Cox Gurdon stopped writing regularly, I've had to attempt to fill the empty void she left in my life with Dooce. Dooce is basically a dirtier version of Meghan Cox Gurdon, a version who still tells interesting stories of being a mother, but intersperses those stories with bad words. She also writes less well, is slightly less clever, and has a child noticeably less precocious than Meghan's children. Nonetheless, she's a decent filler. Although, I'm still holding out for Meghan to return someday.

Elena is pretty good, too, and is made even more fascinating by the fact that I actually know her. I definitely recommend her blog for creative, clever posts on a myriad of topics.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Siblings, Siblings, Siblings!

Part of my summer job right now entails going through files of all the applicants from this past year and extracting the names of siblings. Part of the information I must enter in the computer, along with name, address, phone number, and year of high school graduation, is the gender. You wouldn't think this would be difficult.

Well, it is difficult. After all, I want to do this job well. I don't want to enter the wrong gender for a potential future applicant. I want to get these things right! But with the modern customs of naming being such as they are, things aren't so cut-and-dry anymore.

For example, there are certain long-established customs of naming, and one of them is this: Jessie is a girl, and Jesse is a boy. So when I come across someone named Jesse Ann, what am I supposed to assume - that his parents gave him a girl's middle name, or that her parents didn't know these basic rules of naming babies?

And what about those people who indicate names of siblings only by nicknames? "Kim" suddenly complicates my life, because gosh, should I put "Kimberly," or "Kimberlie," or "Kimberlee," or just "Kim" in the name field?

And then, of course, there's the matter of gender. Once upon a time, you could assume certain things. "John" is a boy. "Michael" is a boy. "Lauren" is a girl. "Ashley" is a girl. "Jeremy" is a boy.

My friends, this is no longer the case.

Which is worse: to leave the gender field blank in the system, or to mislabel a potential applicant?

Interestingly enough, this job is having a curious effect on me in terms of my understanding of family size. You see, I used to like big families. Then I got this job where I had to enter information about every applicant's siblings, and oh by the way, the computer system is so outdated that you must re-enter complete information like address and phone number for each entry.

These days, I exult when I see an application that says "only child." I don't pity the child. I bless them. And when I see "homeschooled" on an application, I turn the page with trepidation - yes, my fears are validated. Six siblings. Nine siblings. Eleven siblings. Worst of all, the applicant hasn't abided by the directions and entered the year of graduation -- just the age. "Lydia, 2 1/2." So I have to calculate these things, taking the matter of unknown birth date into consideration, taking a guess, and hoping I get it right.

And so, you see, if I never have any children, or maybe only one, I blame it on this job.

Meanwhile, my sister and some of her friends are all hoping to double the world's population single-handedly, and maybe even trying to beat one another to this wonderful calling, and inside my mind I am now screaming at them, "DON'T YOU REALIZE THAT IN TWENTY YEARS YOU WILL BE MAKING SOMEONE'S LIFE MORE DIFFICULT?!"

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Profundity From Dr. Roger Green

In the process of moving out of my old room and moving into my new room, I came across a little notebook with scribbled notes in it from my New Testament class during my first year at Gordon. Notes about the content, interpretation, and theology of the New Testament? Not so much - at least not in this notebook. Instead, here I had written down funny quotes my professor had said. By funny I don't mean funny-laughing-with-him, but rather funny-laughing-at-him.

Here are a few:

"The Word became flesh means God became flesh." (Profound.)

"I am convinced of the Virgin birth for two reasons. One is because otherwise the Bible would not be inerrant, and two is because it is one of the most important doctrines of the Christian faith." (Good reasons, buddy.)

In response to a student asking a question: "Some people do read the text that way. I do not read the text that way." (Brilliant answer.)

"Satan is not omnipresent, so Satan cannot be everywhere at once, so Satan can only be in one place at a time, because Satan is not omnipresent." (Well said! Haha!)

After stating that temptation always comes to us at our weakest point, a student remarked, "After 40 days fasting and spending time with His Father in the wilderness, wasn't Jesus at His strong point?" Dr. G replied, "It seems to me not, it does seem to me that He was tempted at His weakest point, because it seems to me that that is the nature of temptation."

In response to a question about the definition of deism: "Deism is the opposite of theism."

"In Judaism the law is good. So the law is not inherently bad. The law is inherently good." (Thank you for being so concise!)

Student: "You just said that faith is not quantitative. So what does Paul mean when he talks about a person's measure of faith?" Dr. G: "Does that sound quantitative to you? I don't think he means that, myself." (Such a helpful answer.)

"Salvation has not changed at all from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Both are by faith, so there is no difference." (Um, right.)

"Sometimes the word nomos is used to mean the Torah. So sometimes when you see the word law it refers to the Torah. So the context will tell you, and sometimes law means Torah." (Again, so concise. Always mincing words!)

In response to a student question: "'Lead us not into temptation' does not mean that God tempts anybody. It means that we're asking God to deliver us from evil." (Yes, please, avoid any complexity or confusion by giving completely unhelpful, ridiculous answers!)

"The Sanhedrin told the Christians they could not preach. So, they told the Christians not to preach. So, they said to them, 'Look, you can't preach.'" (Need I say it again? The man never uses two words where one could suffice! Oh wait.)

"God-fearers weren't Jews. They were Gentiles. Um, so, they weren't Jews." (I hope he never needs to send a telegram. Brevity may not be his strong point.)

"Antioch was a primarily Gentile community. So, it was not primarily Jewish. It was primarily Gentile."

"So the name Paul means little, and little means Paul, and that's what the name means, and that's the name his family gave to him, and it means little." (Whoah, this is the best one yet!)

"I know that it is difficult to focus on theology, but unfortunately, it's kind of need-to-know stuff." (Careful; your blatant enthusiasm for the topic might be contagious.)

"Holy. H-O-L-Y." (O-H M-Y G-O-S-H.)

"Compared with other schools, this place is liberal - you don't know how well-off you are! We take a nice, moderate stance. You've got it easy - this place is a cinch - a really great place!" (Right. Thanks for that opinion, pal.)

My friends, aren't those amazing? And no exaggerations - I promise. I wrote everything down word for word.

And yeah, I bet I was a real pill to have in class.

No, seriously, I was never rude to him, never laughed out loud, and... never read the assigned readings in the textbook. Er, scratch that last bit. I was a model student. Yeah.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Sarah Palmer, Magna Cum Laude"

Okay, so a lot of things have been happening. First of all, I stood in the Bennett Center as a candidate for a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance, was declared to have met the requirements, and moved my tassel from the right side to the left side. I walked across a make-shift stage set up in the gym, heard Professor Brooks announce "Sarah Palmer, Magna Cum Laude," shook President Jud Carlberg's hand, received an empty diploma holder, and returned to my seat as a real live college grad. So that was kind of momentous. I'll post some pictures sooner or later.

On graduation day, it was raining about 2 inches per hour. By the following day, which just so happened to be moving day from my residence hall into the dorm that is open for summer housing, I trudged and waded through puddles and pouring rain to transport all my things to my summer room. The campus lakes broke their boundaries and flooded across our roads here, and the whole parking lot behind the library was practically a lake. I thought it was all very exciting. The weather was warm enough to just roll up my jeans and put on flip flops and walk back and forth during the moving process, so I really can't complain. I enjoyed it.

I started my summer job last Monday.

Summer Roommate (Irene!) and I are having fun watching episodes of Gilmore Girls every night. I must say... after five years of college, and twelve years of school preceding that, adjusting to NOT being in school is a little weird! On evenings and weekends I find myself feeling vaguely stressed and worried, because in the back of my mind I'm so accustomed to having homework or practicing that must be accomplished by certain deadlines that I can't quite get used to having a work day end at 4:30 - and yes, that's really the end of the work for the day! It's nice, really. I've been running almost every day after work, which is also good.

Also, I made over a hundred dollars babysitting this past weekend.

And in other news, FavoriteBoy left for Italy last Monday.

Then, FavoriteBoy called me from Italy!

FavoriteBoy returns from Italy this Thursday!

Aaaand, for a graduation gift, FavoriteBoy bought me a plane ticket to SoCal to visit my sister/brother-in-law/nephew! He is coming as well; his grandfather passed away recently and the memorial service is being held near where my sister lives. So, the weekend of June 3, we will both be in SoCal together. I'm looking forward to it! The rest of my family was hoping to drive down from Northern CA that weekend as well, but unfortunately my grandmother in Texas is in very poor health, and is going in for surgery tomorrow. Mom will be going out to stay with her the following week to help out. It's a high-risk surgery, so we're all praying a lot at this point.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Not Again

Moving furniture and packing...

...all I want for graduation is to stay in one place for more than nine months at a time. Anyone want to buy me a house? Or, an apartment would more than suffice. Just no more moving for a very long time, please!


Tonight was Baccalaureate.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Graduating, Moving, and Reflecting

Tomorrow is Baccalaureate. Saturday is Graduation. Monday, I start my summer job in the admissions office. Meanwhile, I busy myself with packing up all my things. The trouble with packing while being contained in a small room is that you can only empty so many drawers and boxes at once. Once I've emptied a number of things and packed them afresh into boxes in the most organized way I can, I open the next box to re-pack, and find that half of its contents should have been packed into the box I packed 10 minutes ago, in order to achieve the utmost in orderliness. Oh well. Moving to Ferrin for on-campus summer housing isn't as big a move as whatever comes next will be -- yes, I still need to find an apartment for the coming year.

Last night Roommate and I listened to the recording from the chamber music concert last week, where we played the Mendelssohn Op. 13 quartet. It really wasn't half bad. I'm usually a pretty harsh critic of myself, but overall I was pleased. Sometimes we sounded like a "real" quartet! Some very nice things. Then, this morning, I finally got up the courage to listen to a bit of my recital. Roommate came out of the shower, and when I said, "I'm listening to my recital," she replied, "oh, wow, this sounds like a professional recording." So, I'm happy for the most part. I worked harder than I ever thought I could work in the past few years, and the results are... well, more progress than I would have thought I could make. I credit my teacher and his wife with being awesome, and if I think about it too much, I want to cry because I'm going to miss them so much.

In other news, FavoriteBoy fixed my car air conditioning. That's right - I don't date wussies. You might think a pianist/organist/music geek wouldn't be able to do handyman things, but he continually surprises me with being able to fix, create, organize, and explain a myriad of things in a variety of areas of life. For example, I'd like to know who elses' boyfriend has ever saved the day by changing a car tire ... all while wearing a suit, following a performance in a formal concert in which he performed on a harpsichord... which he repaired from non-working to working condition all by himself. Mmm hmm.

Having sung FavoriteBoy's praises, I must add his fatal flaw - he is leaving this coming Monday to travel to Italy with the College Choir. He'll be gone for ten days. I'm in the College Choir as well, but I can't afford to go. So, he's a big jerk. (Okay, so that's not really a flaw. And fine, it has everything to do with circumstances and nothing to do with character. Still, I'm jealous! Hehe.)

Finally, you must all see this.

Friday, May 5, 2006

It Is Finished


I'm done with college.

Also, practice cards are done and turned in, and I practiced 300 hours this semester.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Graduating and Growing Up

Well, I'm almost done. Tomorrow morning at 8 am I take my final exam in Latin, and that's that. Done with the undergraduate degree, except for the walk, shake hands, and smile bit that comes on May 13th.

I've played my senior recital, played the Haydn Creation with orchestra and combined choirs here (my last orchestra concert ever as an undergraduate), taken my organ final test with Dr. B, played Mendelssohn Quartet in a minor Op. 13 (ah-MAZ-ing piece) in the chamber music recital, and passed piano proficiency (I never bothered to take the test until today, so it's a good thing I passed on the first try!). A lot of 'lasts' have been taking place for me. It's weird. Kind of sad, actually. It's about time to start packing things up. Not that I'm going very far; I'm moving into another on-campus dorm for summer housing. I'm living with Irene, which I'm excited about.

I accepted a job as a summer intern with the Admissions department. It doesn't pay a lot, but I decided it was a better option than my other option. And once I decided, my parents said they thought I had made the right decision, which helped me feel better about taking the job, even though it pays half of what my other option would have paid. It should be mostly enjoyable, except that... I met the other girl who's working in the same position this summer, and she's basically that kid. "Oh, I'm a super-duper student, with tons of honors, and did I mention that I'm going to Duke for grad school in the fall? What are your plans for after this summer?"

I like to pretend to people that I'm taking time off from school and hanging around in the area doing nothing of value or worth for a while because that's what I want, instead of because I'm an insecure fool with either a) no talent or b) no direction or c) not enough confidence to believe that I might have talent and to actually take a step in some direction.

Anyway, really, I think that once school really finishes up and I get settled into my new groove, things won't be so bad. It'll be nice to have a break from school, after five years of college. It'll be nice to be in the area. I'm looking forward to the summer here on campus (most people gone = parking spaces!). And in the fall, hopefully I'll find an awesome job to replace my summer job. Maybe I'll work part-time at Starbucks to take advantage of their dental, health, and vision benefits while leaving myself enough free time to practice, teach, and gig. A few of my friends are applying at Starbucks. And okay, sure, I bet a lot of parents feel peeved: "I didn't pay all that money for my kid to end up working at Starbucks!" But I also hope that parents whose kids are crazy about music, theater, or philosophy can realize that those majors don't exactly lead directly into a high-paying job opportunity. What's so bad about Starbucks? These things are temporary... this is a season in my life. And it might turn out to be okay.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Post-Recital Funk

The trouble with not posting in a while is that the longer I wait, the more overwhelming the task of updating this thing becomes.

My recital is over, and it went fairly well. I played Prokofiev Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Mendelssohn Sonata in F Major, and Wieniawski Polonaise Brillant in A Major, Op. 21. My family came, and it was great to have them here. I survived the recital, and it was great to be done with it. Lots of people came, even though it was the day after Easter. People from church came, too. FavoriteBoy accompanied me. And that's about all I can think of to say about that. Oh, except that my teacher was very happy with the whole thing, and his wife (orchestra co-director, chamber music coach, etc.) was very happy too.

In other news, FavoriteBoy planned and executed wonderful music for the Easter service at his church job, and it was especially nice since my family was out here for the whole weekend. Also, FavoriteBoy got chosen for the Presser Scholarship, and received the award in the Honors Convocation Chapel (a.k.a. Most Depressing Chapel Of The Year). I was proud. Finally, I have been applying for various jobs. I've gotten one rejection (ouch), one acceptance, and several up-in-the-airs. I don't know what to do at this point.

I've been generally depressed and in a funk all week, and maybe even to some degree ever since my recital. Sometimes I just want to sit around feeling sorry for myself for having no life, no prospects of a shiningly wonderful future, and no idea what to do with myself for the present. The scary thing is, with many of my obligations finished for the year, I really can just sit here in my room in my depressed depressing depression. Wow.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Best Compliment I've Ever Received

"You have grown as much as a musician and as a person as any student I have ever taught."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Nasty Fall

Last night on my way to orchestra I took a nasty fall -- tripped by the token campus blind guy and his swinging stick of death. No, really; it was traumatic. You know how most blind people swing their cane in a small radius in front of themselves? This fellow swings a full 180 degrees around him, with his arm outstretched as well... and he is a tall, lanky guy. Basically all over campus people leap to the side and get run off of sidewalks to avoid him when we see him coming. Yesterday I wasn't so lucky. I was coming out of a door, and couldn't see him coming until it was almost too late. When I saw him, I did a little hop, skip, and jump to get out of the way. Just when I thought I was totally clear, somehow - it's all still a bit unclear in my mind - his flying stick of death and terror caught my shin on the backswing, and the combination of his force and my hop-skip-and-jump-momentum sent me crashing into the concrete, complete with my bookbag spilling its contents all over the sidewalk and my violin (in case, of course) taking a nasty fall as well (it's okay, though). My hands were skinned, my favorite jeans in the world (1969 brand from the GAP!) were ripped open at the knee, both my knees were bruised and bleeding, and the pizza I had just got in the cafeteria to carry to Nathan for his dinner was overturned about two yards from where I tripped. It was a very sad experience. My eyes welled up with tears because it was so surprising and painful all at once. The blind guy seemed confused. I can't remember if he said something or just went on, but the next thing I really remember is him being gone and me picking myself up and hobbling to orchestra to cry on FavoriteBoy's shoulder. By the end of the evening, I could see the humor in the situation. I even took photo documentation:

That's just one of 'em. The other knee is wounded as well; although it's less nasty to look at, it's actually more painfully bruised. Today I was sort of limping around, because both of my knees are so swollen and bruised. They feel hot and painful.

The moral is: avoid blind folks with their wildly swinging sticks of death.

In other news, this morning a small chamber orchestra from here at Gordon played three concerts at a nearby elementary school -- Carnival of the Animals, complete with engaging narration. The kids were smart and well-behaved and fun to play for. I met some of them, and it was a blast.

Then this evening I drove Cara, Michael, and myself to my own amazing violin teacher's amazing recital in Jordan Hall. He did five of the ten Beethoven sonatas, with the remaining five to follow in the Fall. He was wonderful. He's probably my favorite performer alive. A two hour and fifteen minute concert, and I was riveted the whole time. His sound is the most beautiful I've ever heard. Also, I got to see Adele, Brian, Julia, and others there. Whee.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Clever Sarah Marie

A real live legitimate company just called and asked me to come and interview for a real live legitimate job because I am damn clever and I have real live legitimate skills! So there!

(And no, it's not the 'damn clever' job. I didn't apply for that, of course!)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sarah Marie's Symphony Hall Debut

This is me when I played my violin with that chorus in Symphony Hall. It's hard to see me, but this is the photo, such as it is.

Also, my brother has a new blog! He's the best, so you should definitely read it.

For Kate

Kate: um, there are no pictures of ME on your blog

Kate: this is a serious omission [edited to remove spelling error on the part of the writer]

Kate: i would like to see pictures from all the events in which i was involved, by the way

Kate: you have been notified.

Kate is away at 6:05:24 PM.

These pictures were taken at Not Your Average Joe's. We had a good time.

This week Kate joined church choir. She sang with us for the first time this morning. It was great. Later we sat in a practice room and talked about church and God and praying and boys. Whee.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Pirastros, Evahs, and Jargars

All new strings: $66.50

Replacing my dead ones with plenty of time before my recital: Priceless.


I get to babysit for this cutie pie:

We went on an adventure through her home town of Manchester-By-The-Sea.