Friday, 26 November 2010

Grad school and a Question Meme

Does it ever happen to some of you that you're working on a major project, and you're convinced you are completely organized and on schedule, and completely on top of things?  And then it comes down to the deadline and you realise you've missed something major?

Yeah.  That happened to me with grad school applications.  I started the online application part back in October, over fall break.  I asked professors if they'd be willing to write recommendation letters.  I put together my repertoire for audition CDs.  I even got my recordings done.

And then it got to Monday and I realised that, while I had asked all my professors, I hadn't actually given them the forms and instructions for the recommendations.  And oh, by the way, the deadline is NEXT Wednesday, not the one after that.  And oh yeah, Thanksgiving is this weekend and no one will be working.

I sort of panicked.  No, I completely panicked.  I also had my first major emotional meltdown of the semester (which is much better than some other semesters, but still, I was hoping to avoid it altogether!)  But I scrambled and I sent people forms, and I've done the best I can now.  Some of them may be late even so, but there's nothing I can do about that at this point, so I'm trying not to obsess over it or worry.  I planned badly, and maybe my foolishness will have unfortunate repercussions.  But it's in God's hands now.  I hope the lateness of these letters won't adversely affect my acceptance to the programs to which I've applied... but even if it does, I guess there's a lesson to be learned from that, too.  And hopefully the admissions people will look with grace on me.

And now, as a break from the seriousness of all that (and because I'm avoiding writing "personal statements": how is one supposed to explain, in 500 words or fewer, that one would be a good candidate for the master's program, and should be not only admitted but given lots of money?  I'm not good at writing about myself; I hate sounding boastful, but I can't think of any way to write this sort of thing without sounding conceited.) -- anyway, as a break from that, here's a "meme" from Jenny to help me procrastinate.  I hope you'll all join in :-)

1. What's your favorite Christmas song or hymn, and why?
My goodness.  I love too many to have a single favourite, but I do love "Of the Father's Love Begotten".

2. Which book heroine do you think is most like you?

Hmmm.  I'd like to think I'm like Harry in Robin McKinley's "The Blue Sword" - certainly we are alike in our towering height and our clumsiness! 

3. What's for Christmas dinner -- turkey, ham, pasta, or something else entirely?

When we are home, our traditional Christmas dinner is roast beef and Yorkshire puddings - with plenty of gravy, please!  However, these days we're often away, and so it usually ends up being ham.

4. What's one piece of parenting advice you wish you had BEFORE the baby was born? If you're not a parent yet, what part of parenting are you most curious about?

Well, I'm certainly not a parent, but even from babysitting I think the hardest part is discipline.  It's so difficult to punish a child, even when he richly deserves it!  How do you parents deal with this?

5. What is your guilty-pleasure food?

Oh, chocolate, definitely - and Hot-n-Spicy Cheese-its.  I could eat an entire box of those!

6. Santa: Yes or No?

No.  We hang stockings, but we kids have always known that Mummy and Daddy filled them, and we never put out cookies for him or anything.  I do like the stories of the original Saint Nicholas, though!

7. What is your most favorite part of the holiday season?

I assume we're talking Christmas holidays here... for me, I love Advent almost more than Christmas day itself.  I love the feeling of anticipation; the gradual addition of more decorations, the holiday baking, the rooms and drawers that no one may look in because they hold treasured surprises.  The nightly Advent readings, telling the Christmas story from creation to its fulfillment.  The weekly lighting of the Advent candles.  I always have a feeling of peace - anticipation, yes, but mostly of a contentment, a fullness, that I rarely sense any other time of the year.  That's definitely my favourite part!

Friday, 5 November 2010


I've been away again for a little while, and here's why:

All the choirs here have a uniform: the men in tuxedos, the women in black dresses and pearls.  I've always done a few alterations or hems, here and there, but this year apparently the music secretary started recommending me to the freshmen, so I had several requests for dress alterations.  I'm always happy to do it; it doesn't take me a lot of time, I can charge a modest fee which provides pocket money or (this year) spending money for choir tour to Italy, and it's so much less than a "professional" alterations shop would charge that the girls are always happy.

I also make the pearl necklaces.  This started back in my sophomore year when I had a jewelry business with two friends.  They have since moved on and we no longer have the business, but I still make the pearls.  This year, we needed 35... and my supplies didn't come in until last Friday afternoon, with the concert last night, and a major voice competition happening on the Saturday in between.

I have spent a LOT of time stringing pearl beads this week.  The upside is that it gave me a good excuse to watch a lot of movies; one can't read, write, or practise music whilst beading, and I had to keep my mind occupied some way.  The downside is that I got very little sleep and have neglected my class reading and study.  But I got all the pearls done in time.

And as a bonus, here's a selection from the concert!  This is Voices of Proclamation, the smallest, most select choir at Union.  The piece is called "The Pearl", which was arranged for us (and specifically for the soloist, Courtney Moore) by our choral director and head of the music department, Dr Chris Mathews.  There are so many parts going on that it's often one voice to a part - so the highest soprano part is me, mostly, all the way through the piece :-)  Oh, and isn't Courtney amazing?

(At the moment I can't figure out how to embed a video, so here is the youtube link:  The Pearl - Proclamation )