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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Break & Eating Your (metaphorical) Vegetables

So, during the summer of 2012 I did this program with Desiree Rumbaugh and Cate Stillman called the Eat Green Challenge. The Challenge was essentially 30 days on a low-fat (almost non-fat) vegan diet, but the purpose was really to stuff as many fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible. During those 30 days I learned three very important things:

1) Fruit and leafy greens are REALLY expensive. My grocery bill doubled at least...plus it didn't help that I became pretty addicted to cherries during this time. Those babies are not cheap.

2) ...I would not make it on a raw vegan low fat diet. I was hungry ALL THE TIME. I ate so many bananas, and still I was hungry. So, so many bananas.

3) But - and this is probably the most important piece - I learned that we really do not need all the things we think we need. I love fruits and vegetables...they taste great, and they make me feel great. I also love junk food, but sometimes junk food does not make me feel great. What I found was that, when I made a concerted effort to eat a certain number of fruit and veggie servings in a day, I just had less room for the other stuff. It's not that I don't like cheeseburgers or M&M's, but when you prioritize the things you really need, there's just less space left for the things you don't.

I've decided to take a similar sort of approach to the rest of my life. I'm just going to keep piling on the greenery - things I love, that are good for my soul - and eventually I'll either go completely insane, or I'll run out of room and something will have to go. And whatever goes, that's the thing I know I do not really need.

Ben and I will probably be living in a box in the woods in two months.

Not really.

Moving on...

In related news I am finally doing my damn yoga teacher training. Long story short (long story forthcoming in a separate post probably) I'm flying to LA on Thursday night for our first training module and I have soooo much work to do to get ready for this thing. So much. Endless pose scripts and shape studies, and somehow I need to get my hands on a copy of the Mahabarata. I don't know.  BUT. I am so excited.... like, way more excited than I've been for anything in a long time. It's going to be great.

Oh hey, also I was in Florida this last week, and while I was there Minneapolis received 12 inches of snow. Here are some photos of not snow.

Blue on blue


I live for this view
...and some from my instagram that I'm too lazy to upload.






Anyway, I will try to post before I leave on Thursday but given my schedule this week it seems unlikely. I can see this going one of two ways:

1) I hunker down like a responsible human and get all of my work done (work-wise and yoga-wise) while still maintaining a somewhat reasonable sleep schedule. In this case, you definitely won't hear from me.

2) I end up doing so much work that it cuts into my already reduced sleep schedule, at which point I'll just say fuck it it and not go to bed ever. In this case, I will be blogging at 2am while making a seven layer cake and/or scrubbing the shower because at this point, why not.

Talk to you soon provided we all survive Monday.
Yes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The haps

Well, I'm sick as a dog. Big shocker, after attempting to be in 3 choirs, sub for Laura's yoga class, keep my own yoga practice up, and plan MBE's April fundraising parties during one of our busiest times at work. And I definitely haven't been getting enough sleep. I should have known this nonsense would eventually come back to bite me in the ass, buuuut somehow I still managed to get caught off guard. No worries though. I'm working from home and am fully stocked with tea and mac & cheese, so all is right in the world. 

So since I know you are all dying to hear about my super exciting life, here are a few things I've done in the last couple of weeks:

  • Took a nice 9-hour drive to...Madison, Wisconsin. For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the midwestern United States, the trip from Minneapolis to Madison normally takes about four hours. Lucky for us, we decided to hit the road right around the time a semi jackknifed on I-94, shutting down the entire eastbound lane (thankfully, no one was hurt in the accident that I'm aware of). Anyway, all traffic was diverted onto a 2-lane highway through Menominee. It started snowing buckets, and long story short we finally rolled into our B&B at 11:45, having left home at 3pm. GOOD JOB.  On the plus side, we had a great time. The main purpose of our adventure was to see my favorite band, Cloud Cult, at the Barrymore. I'm going to miss their St Paul shows in April and hadn't yet gotten a chance to catch their acoustic set so we planned a special road trip to Madison. It was well worth it - probably the best show I have ever been to. I was on the verge of tears (in a good way) from the second they started playing. We made some lovely concert friends, AND we ran into a friend of Ben's from his hometown! Such a crazy random happenstance.

Ben and Meredith, reunited!

Just really pumped for Cloud Cult

Amazing, multitalented musicians

Craig Minowa

CC artwork 

  • Last friday I went to a delightful hips & hamstrings class co-taught my by dear friends Shannon and Becka at CPY downtown. After class I went to Target to buy socks. I left Target with nail polish, earrings, a DVD, a new yoga strap, easter candy, and a tank top with a dinosaur on it. And no socks. 
typical


  • In other news, I just discovered the #booksinyourpants hashtag. Endless entertainment.
last nights winner, after careful consideration and 2 glasses of wine

Time to drink some tea and watch New Girl. And do my yoga homework...sooo much yoga homework. So much.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Minnesota Opera's "The Dream of Valentino" - magical press and social media night!

Last Thursday, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Minnesota Opera's social media/press night for Dominick Argento's "The Dream of Valentino." Argento's hilarious "Casanova's Homecoming" remains one of my favorite operatic comedies, and I've sung many of his choral pieces over the years so as a fan of both Argento and opera (and of Argento's operas), I've been looking forward to this production for a while.


"Valentino" is the story of a man with a lofty dream, who loses both his way and his sense of self during his meteoric rise to fame. Valentino arrives in New York, an Italian immigrant "fresh off the boat" with big dreams of becoming a famous actor - a true artist. In the opening scene, we see Valentino trying to make ends meet as a "dance hall pimp," essentially a glorified male escort whose job it is to dance with women at the dance hall. Despite the somewhat degrading role, Valentino wants to dance with elegance and class. When one of the dance hall's female patrons tries to dance with him in a way he sees as lewd, he staunchly refuses explaining that he is an artist - "I will not dance like that with you."


Symbolically, the singer (Victoria Vargas) who plays the woman in the dance hall also sings the part of Natcha Rambova, one of the filmmakers who later lures Valentino away from his artistic vision and ultimately towards his downfall. The dancehall scene presents us with a microcosm of the entertainment industry Valentino is heading towards - one where he will be pulled and persuaded to give up his dream by those who have something else in mind for him.

Valentino's talent and natural charisma on screen, along with his dark and mysterious good looks, begin to garner attention and soon everyone wants a piece of his success. The actor finds himself pulled further and further away from his dream, starring in trashy films and wondering what has become of his dream - and his identity.

As usual, the Minnesota Opera blew me away with its visual presentation. The use of film effects, old photos and newspapers, and the slightly muted color scheme set the scene brilliantly, and along with the fantastic costumes helped to recall the era of silent film. But the lessons of "Valentino" are clearly not the lessons of the past - the story of a star built up by the media, only to be torn down as soon as it's convenient for those who effectively 'made' him in the first place, resonates perhaps even more strongly today.







Even more relevant than the familiar 'downfall of a celebrity' trajectory is the opera's exploration of identity and legacy. Clearly, Valentino presents a dark vision of human nature - nearly everyone in Valentino's world is using him to further their own ends. Even his mentor June Mathis (beautifully sung by my idol Brenda Harris) unintentionally hands him over to the wolves in a misguided attempt to help him stay true to his vision. Valentino underscores the importance of staying true to oneself, and of following your vision despite what everyone else thinks is best.


But 'Valentino' doesn't really give us an answer. How do we, in fact, maintain our integrity in a subversive and manipulative world? Is giving up our happiness worth the opportunity to attain immortality?

All the singers were wonderful, but Brenda Harris (June Mathis), Alan Held (the Mogul), were the evening's true standouts. Harris is always wonderful to watch, but Held's smarmy yet disturbingly visionary Mogul made for an excellent villan. Argento's through-composed score flows beautifully, and makes creative use of a variety of musical forms and instrumental accompaniments.

Ultimately though, I wished there had been more material here. While 'Valentino' raises a number of interesting questions, its under-two-hour running time barely provides enough time to scratch their surface. The characters could have been more fully fleshed out, the issues more deeply delved into. Evidently Argento's original score was much longer and I'm now extremely curious to hear the material that was cut. Overall this was a very well-executed production of an opera which, while very good, doesn't quite live up to its potential.

I'm seeing 'Valentino' again on Saturday with Ben, and am definitely excited to see it again from a different audience vantage point (and with an actual audience this time!). I did really enjoy the press screening - special shout-out to Tessa RJ for the invitation! I'm hoping to sign up for a few more of these evenings in the future, it's fun to get a behind-the-scenes look at the show prior to opening night.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Book of the Week ~ The Inner Sky: poems, notes, dreams by Rainer Maria Rilke


Solang du Selbstgeworfnes fängst, ist alles
Geschicklichkeit und lässlicher Gewinn -;
erst wenn du plötzlich Fänger wirst des Balles,
den eine ewige Mit-Spielerin
dir zuwarf, deiner Mitte, in genau
gekonntem Schwung, in einem jener Bögen
aus Gottes grossen Brücken-Bau:
erst dann ist Fangen-Können ein Vermögen, -
nicht deines, einer Welt. Und wenn du gar
zurückzuwerfen Kraft und Mut besäßest,
nein, wunderbarer: Mut und Kraft vergäßest
und schon geworfen hättest ...(wie das Jahr
die Voegel wirft, die Wandervogelschwärme,
die eine ältere einer jungen Wärme
hinüberschleudert über Meere - ) erst
in diesem Wagnis spielst du gültig mit.
Erleichterst dir den Wurf nicht mehr; erschwerst
dir ihn nicht mehr. Aus deinen Händen tritt
das Meteor und rast in seine Räume...


As long as you catch what you've thrown yourself, it's all  
just clever agility and venial gain;   
 but when you suddenly come to catch a ball  
an eternal playmate has thrown 
at you, at your center, has exactly set 
in mastered motion, in an arc 
out of God's great bridge-building -  
then that you catch is real power: 
not yours, the world's. And when you even 
have the strength to throw it back, 
no, better yet: have forgotten courage and strength 
and thrown it back already...(the way the year
throws birds, the flocks of migrating birds 
hurled over the ocean from an old to a new 
warmth - ) then, that gamble, is the first moment 
you too can be said to play. You 
unburden yourself of the throw no longer; you burden 
yourself with the throw no longer. Out of your hands steps 
the meteor and it races into its skies...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BIRTHDAY!

I had such an amazing Birthday weekend last week! My beautiful friend Lindsey was in town from California...arriving just in time for a heavy dumping of snow (sorry Linz!). Luckily she missed the really terrible weather of this past weekend....in case you don't live in MN here's essentially what happened: it snowed a crap ton, and while it was snowing the weather was relatively warm so it was that delightful wet snow that packs down really easily (as in, when cars drive over it...or people walk on it...etc). Then the temps plummeted again, which meant that now all of the roads that had been covered in wet, packed snow (even highways) were now basically a skating rink. No kidding, I have never seen the roads this bad - the highways were literally coated in 1-2 inches of ice for several days...scariest driving I have probably ever experienced.

Annnnyway.........birthday!

Here are some photos from my birthday weekend :) Linz, Ben, Chris and I made cupcakes at our place, then met a bunch of friends for dinner and margaritas at La Cucaracha, and then back to our place for scotch, cupcakes and Cards Against Humanity.

Ben found this pirate hat in the kitchen and then requested that I wear it while baking.
OK. If you insist.

Then we started our own pirate band and kidnapped the Clark

Probably the most stylish I have looked while baking, ever


Linz selfies are my favorite selfies


It was time for a wardrobe change


Post-dinner game time


Yes


Face time with J :)


Whisky + CAH = yes


Friends


More selfies


More friends


When you've known each other for 13 years....


Yes


at the end of the night, the cat sweater comes out


OOOoooook. Well, time to get some SLEEP. Things are about to get very interesting over here...it's gonna be a long next few months haha. I'll fill you in shortly, all good things but man. This year is going to be insane.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

You are here for life

So I've been keeping myself fairly busy lately...all good things, but things that take up a lot of my time. Work obviously, and yoga, choir and running, so the usual. Plus I'm joining The Singers Anniversary Chorus for Mozart's Coronation Mass on 2/22, the winter session of Asana Junkies is in full swing, my dear friend Lindsey is coming to town this weekend for my birthday, I'll be spending the following weekend in a workshop with Noah Maze (and that's the weekend of the Singers concert), and the weekend after that, Ben and I are road-tripping to Madison. And I'm subbing for Laura the first two Wednesdays in March. Oh and I'm also legit working part-time(ish) for Minnesota Bach Ensemble now, doing marketing/website/event planning shtuff. So you know... in case I didn't have enough going on already.

It does feel like a lot, but it's also helping me to compartmentalize my life more. When I get home from work, I have to TURN OFF work...and turn on whatever else I'm doing (MBE, yoga, choir, what have you). I know I have a tendency to take on too much (as my friends are constantly reminding me), but this time I'm approaching it as a conscious choice. I'm tired of living out of fear - avoiding taking on things I really want because I tell myself I can't or I don't have time. Bullshit. I will make time. You only get one life, and if you don't fill it with the things you love then what is the damn point.
End rant.
I guess this is my version of leaning in.
And I honestly think what will happen is, my vision of where my life is going and what I want to fill that space with will become clearer and eventually some things will start to fall off. It's already started, at least mentally.

Oh hey, also it is really cold here in Minnesota. My dad keeps saying it's "just like the olden days of winter, back when men were men and we walked to school both ways through 80 feet of snow bla bla bla"...ok so obviously those were not his exact words, but you get the general point. That statement is in fact FALSE. This is officially the coldest winter we've had in something like 30 years, so no, every winter did not used to be like this. Turn off your selective memory.

In a related story, here is the view out the window of my office building...delightful:

Welcome to MN, where the people are tall and...
the snowdrifts are even taller

Continuing on with random photos of my life...Ben and I went to Macbeth at MN Opera a couple of weeks ago!

excitement for the scottish...italian...play...opera? thing.

Also, this was in Rice Park. Worth posting, I thought.

And here is me, working from home. These are the days...when anything goes.

Someday, I will forget how to dress professionally and will wear holey jeans into the office..
I've been doing some quality reading lately, as well - John Eliot Gardiner's biography of Bach, and the third installment of The Lunar Chronicles. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite young adult series - basically, it's fairy tales set in the future, in space. Each book adds a new major character, and manages to cleverly re-tell the fairy tale for that character (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel...and the final volume is Snow White), while still keeping the overarching story rolling and looping the new characters into the existing main cast. Plus, the female protagonists are quite bad-ass: Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who ends up basically leading a revolution, Scarlet is a pilot and Cress is a technology prodigy. Yes, I realize you probably had trouble taking this recommendation seriously after the words "Cinderella is a cyborg mechanic"...or possibly "fairy tales set in the future in space" and yes it sounds totally weird, but I am really loving this series.

(sidebar - one of my yoga friends joined goodreads recently, and after looking at my shelves is accused me of never reading anything light. Clearly he has not seen my extensive shelf of childrens and YA lit.)

Bach was one sassy cantor

Sometimes...you just need this in your life. YA lit FTW.

Also last weekend, I went to Wits for the first time! I sort of describe Wits as...Prairie Home Companion for a younger audience. I've listened to it a bunch on the radio but had never been to a live show before. This installment featured Andy Richter, with musical guest Neko Case. There was a recurring bit with Abe Lincoln's Ghost, Tom Waits and Morrissey doing commercials and it made me legit laugh out loud. Multiple times. Highly recommend.
AND Theoroi got to go backstage! So fun.

Had to take this photo - brick at Wits signed by one of Ben and my favorite bands (Storyhill)
Hmmm OK. Well, I have a 7am call tomorrow so I should probably get some sleep.  Hope you are having a lovely week!!

we are all connected

"In daily life, we are often lost in thought. We get lost in regrets about the past and fears about the future. We get lost in our plans, our anger, and our anxiety. At such moments, we cannot really be here for ourselves. We are not really here for life." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
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