Sunday, November 21, 2010

kind of grateful

I've been feeling really ungrateful the past couple of days. Unlike last year, I didn't even think of a weekly gratitude blog post. (Even though I was grateful for kind of odd things, they did actually signify greater things.) And I'm taking a lot for granted this year that I didn't have last year -- I no longer have hot flashes, or a hole in my leg, or have to wear a wig. Not to mention the opportunities I have to serve in my singles ward. I mean, life is kind of a lot awesomer this year. And I haven't really appreciated it much.

Last week I had to give a talk on gratitude (also my mission, which I also don't express appropriate gratitude for), and my mother can attest that I was really ungrateful for the opportunity. Seriously, I don't know what's wrong with me and my ingratitude these days. It's simply shameful.

So, as it's now Thanksgiving Week, I'm going to try to be better about expressing my gratitude. I'm going to start with something that struck me when I was listening to Music and the Spoken Word this morning. Brother Newell (is that okay to call him?) mentioned an anecdote of someone giving a coworker the Heimlich maneuver, and how gratitude was felt by both parties -- by the one, for having his life saved, and by the other, for the knowledge he had and the wisdom to use it.

Today our ward choir sang in sacrament meeting. They did an awesome job, and I am so thankful for everyone that came![1] I overheard quite a few compliments about how nice they sounded. I was the pianist, and not only was I grateful that others came, I was really glad that I had the ability to really bring music out of the piano to accentuate the message. That's something I've always been grateful for, but sometimes I forget. Even my mediocre performance on the organ today was something to be grateful for -- at least I can play, and at least I have the opportunity to practice and sound better than I would've otherwise (no joke).

I'm also grateful that I can elucidate my ideas. I accomplished my goal of commenting in Sunday School (as a teacher, I now feel I have an obligation to participate) and was able to get my point across even when I was still working it out in my head. Brother Smith (haha, it's weird to call peers that) was grateful for my comment, and I was too. See how this is starting to work?

This strikes me as coming across just a little conceited (look at what I can do!), but that's not the point. The point is that I am grateful that I've been given these gifts, and the opportunities to use them to bless others. I hope to be able to recognize other things to be grateful for later this week and stop being such an ungrateful drag.

"The Last Snowfall"[2]

[1] Side note: in an odd reversal, we had for our performance today 7 guys and 4 girls.
[2] Coincidentally, yesterday and today mark the first real snowfall of winter. Not the last snowfall.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

two hands skimmin' over keys, that's fine

Last month when my home teachers came to visit, they asked if there was anything going on in my life besides online seminary. I said, "Nope, not a thing."

Well, I lied.

Not sure if the lie came because I was not wanting them to have to stay any longer than needful while I explained the other stuff I'm doing, or if I just didn't want to brag, but somehow I "forgot" something that's been a big part of my life for the last little while:

I am a professional accompanist.

A few months ago one of my piano teacher's students contacted me about an audition she wanted to do in October. She had 8 pieces she wanted me to learn, and they were pretty difficult. I actually practiced them (which is saying a lot). We rehearsed together several times. We sounded pretty good. Two weeks ago was the recording (and it was fine! I wish I'd had the energy to be more positive about it at the time, but it was like two and a half hours at a recording studio and I was drained). The end of that.

Then I had another chance to utilize my skills this past weekend, when the choir teacher called and asked if I could accompany his three choirs at a concert on Tuesday. I played the songs through a couple times. On all the hard ones I panicked and skipped and got lost, and we had to work to figure out where we were, which is always a fun thing to do in a concert. I regret now that I didn't take the time to practice them more, not only because I messed up and more familiarity would've prevented that, but because now I have nothing to do. The time I previously spent going "Oh, I should play through the pieces now" is now spent going "Well, I can see what's happened on Facebook in the last ten minutes."

I guess I do still have Concert choir (the children kind, not the university kind). But I don't have very much patience there because there are kids there that drive me absolutely bonkers. Plus the songs are so easy I can play them with my eyes closed, and I've not bothered to practice them.

The auditioning student has one more thing she wants to audition for next week, just one piece. After that, I don't know what I'll do.

Anyone want an accompanist?

"Boy at the Piano"

Monday, November 1, 2010

only I can trace all my books

There's been a blog post I've been meaning to write for a couple months. It's not very exciting but it would at least be an update. This is not it. This is my first-day-of-the-month book rally. Behold:

147. The Ghost at the Takaido Inn by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
148. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
149. Many Waters by Madeleine L'Engle
150. Living Hell by Catherine Jinks
151. I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
152. The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
153. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
154. Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards
155. Relative Chaos by Kay Finch
156. The Squire's Quest by Gerald Morris
157. The Legend of the King by Gerald Morris
158. Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
159. The Goblin Gate by Hilari Bell
160. The Fabled Fourth-Graders of Aesop Elementary by Candace Fleming
161. The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
162. No Such Thing As Dragons by Philip Reeve
163. The Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie
164. The Curse of Deadman's Forest by Victoria Laurie
165. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Check out all the Halloweeny titles! Totally not on purpose. It also wasn't on purpose that I read so much; halfway through the month I wasn't even done with Way of Kings (which is a monstrous book, in case you were wondering what its connection to Halloween is), but then the library saved the day again. Many of these books are really quite short. I mean, one of them has fourth graders in the title. How difficult a read can that be?

At any rate, I've already read two books in November, must remember to note them down as well!