Thursday, March 31, 2011

Swear Jar

I think I've sworn more in the past nine months than I have in the five years preceding our move the PA. There are a lot of reasons, but they can all be linked back to some form of stress. Relocating can be difficult, but that's not really a good excuse for self-debasement.

That is why I (tentatively) propose starting a swear jar to facilitate a decrease in swearing inside and outside the home. This isn't solely out of some puritanical sense of propriety, either. "Sentence enhancers" are linguistic crutches. Not only do they offend some people, I think they also make me sound dumb.

If I did this, I would need some kind of incentive for good behavior. I can see one of two options. The money could be used for something we probably need, like a parking ticket payment fund, or it could go toward something I find distasteful, like, say Sarah Palin's PAC, the Alliance Defense Fund, or the NRA.

I think I could agree to never swear again if it meant the latter option.

***Update: Never mind. Apparently swearing is good for your health :)***

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Adulthood Rant

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I were better at making decisions. Perhaps I would have a career, or at least the hope of one in the foreseeable future. Perhaps, I would I have some semblance of financial stability. Perhaps I'd cease to feel like I'm waiting for something that may never come. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...

The other day, I saw a teenager sauntering down the street near Forbes and Murray Ave. By the way he walked, you could tell he was in no hurry to get where he was going. He seemed calm and carefree. I found myself resenting him the more I watched him. Who the @#$%! did this kid think he was? Didn't he know that life was awful? Why wasn't he trying to get a @#$%-ing job? And so forth.

It hit me that my resentment of this adolescent said a lot more about me and my perception of my own situation than anything else. Adulthood is a trade off, and through the lens of youth, a pretty good one. On the one hand, it means greater autonomy to think and act as you please. Your decisions, as well as their consequences, are yours and yours alone. This is also what I believe to be the worst part of adulthood, especially when you believe those decisions are often ill-conceived.

Depending on how far I choose to look back, I can think of any number of things I would probably do differently. Attending better schools, getting better internships, and studying a more "useful" discipline all come to mind. I could easily list others, but you get the idea. These were all decisions that I made, but for whatever reason, opportunity for progress continues to elude me.

As an adult, I've come to learn there are no "right" decisions, just ones that best suit your goals. Sometimes these decisions pan out, and sometimes they don't. I'd like to think that even in the face of failure or stagnation, freedom to make my own decisions is far better than living eternally as a clueless 16-year-old.

Was it a good idea to move to Pittsburgh? Should I have gone to grad school? How the hell should I know? I can only judge decisions based on their outcomes, and I think nine months is a little early to say one way or the other. I could weigh the pros and cons I've observed so far, but that would be another post.

Regardless of whether my decisions are ultimately helpful, harmful, or somewhere in between, perhaps I can take comfort in the fact that failure can often be beneficial. Discontent can be an excellent motivator, perhaps even stronger that pure ambition. I sure hope that's true, because I certainly have a lot more of the former.

(Note: The above was written by Andy. Despite what you all may think, I've been responsible for about 20% of the content of this blog)

Friday, March 25, 2011


It's been a while, my dear readers. And while I can tell by the flood of comments (i.e., NOTHING since mid-February) that you're just dying to know the details of our lives, it's been busy. So, we'll play a little ketchup. Errr, catch up. [NOTE: the ketchup had to be Heinz. I'm a Pittsburgher now, and as I'm sure you alllllll know, Heinz ketchup hails from the 'Burgh.]

I spent most of last week in the pit for the Undercroft Opera, a volunteer ensemble in the city. I took the audition on a whim, after having been tipped off to the group by two of my friends (a singer and a violist), both of whom perform with the ensemble. As luck would have it, my bow was broken and in the shop until two days before the scheduled audition, and as I haven't been practicing very much at all these days, I basically played it totally cold (fortunately, they stopped me after the first page of the Prokofiev, before things would have probably gone south). In any case, they invited me to join the ensemble.

At the first rehearsal, I was shocked at how out of shape I was. It seemed everything was going by too fast for my brain--switching from pizz to arco, changing time signatures and key signatures and all sorts of other surprises. Thankfully, I remembered after a while. I had forgotten, though, what it feels like to play in the pit for the run of the show. Perhaps I never really knew. At BYU, we had rotating seating for opera, so you didn't have to be there every night. (Also, there were treats to be enjoyed during your rests.) For this, we had evening dress rehearsals and performances 6 nights in a week. Pretty exhausting.

I can't say, at least on the part of the orchestra, that the performances were stellar. Our intonation was pretty wretched (I was relieved when I realized that most of the time, it was not me who played out of tune), our ensemble was sketchy, our dynamics were nonexistent, and our musical expression was very two-dimensional. Even so, though, I started to remember.

I remembered how it feels to craft a phrase, to play a certain nuance because there is no other way that it has any meaning. I remembered experiencing emotions in my music so intense I'd never felt them in my own life. There was an exhilaration that came with music, an energy I felt after a performance. That's what made it all worthwhile.

Since I stopped playing so much, I've cried a lot less. I've probably been a lot kinder to myself, not constantly berating myself for not being good enough. There has been a definite leveling out, which I used to think was a good thing. Now I'm not so sure.

I'm like an addict. The lows are pretty damn low, but the highs make it all worth it.

Now, to find an outlet . . .

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Friday Night @ The Phipps

We checked out the Phipps Conservatory for the first time last night. I don't know why it's taken us so long go, but I'm sure glad we did.

"Sunburst" by Dale Chihuly (located at the building entrance)

We mainly went to check out the orchid exhibit.


"Longfellows" by Hans Frabel

Bonsai tree from "The Snake Room"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Minimalist Staycation

Spring break started on a good note, dreary weather notwithstanding.

We kicked things off with a trip to Pamela's Diner (See pics below).

If that wasn't enough, a couple of our awesome Pittsburgh friends stopped by bearing pizza ingredients, games, and their adorable baby.

It was no trip to Cancun, but I (we) still had a lot of fun. When you have good food and good company, does it really matter where you are? I think not.