Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Return of the Barbizon Hotel

My dear friend Eleanor passed along this article earlier this week and it was so "familiar and comforting", to use the author's words, but such an interesting concept, and I felt compelled to share it.

Any group of female friends I've ever had has landed on the idea of living as a group—beyond the college dorm—naturally. Plans for a "commune" of close friends and their families have been a long-running dream. I guess these days, with increasingly broad technology, education and opportunity leading people to be spread far and wide away from their original homes, it's more of a Utopian idea than it was long ago, when people grew up and grew old in the same town alongside their lifelong friends and neighbors.

For some reason Anne Shirley of the Anne of Green Gables books comes to mind. As a female character at the turn of the century, she was among the first generation of women who began to leave their hometowns to go to school far away, and then marry and live even further from her original home and her closest friend. Our "modern day" ability to move freely about the world and make plans and achieve things independent of our families or others is freeing and empowering, but sometimes it's a little bit solitary in a lonesome sort of way too. It might be nice if we still lived in some modern iteration of a fancy girls boarding house.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to sound malcontent with independence, I quite like having my own space and my own things and my own cat. But it would be awfully nice to have all my friends on the other side of the wall.

Friday, November 4, 2011


This fall, I signed up to volunteer taking tickets and handing out programs for the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera. I've always liked going to the symphony, and I figured hey, serving the community AND going to concerts—perfect combo!

I've worked at a couple now, but last night was the first night I was able to stay for the concert following my program-distributing duties. The first piece they played was Bach ... and I have to say, I've concluded I'm just not a fan of the guy's music. It's always too frilly, it makes me think of French people who would have been friends with Marie Antoinette, wearing pastel colored silk suits and fluffy white wigs, frolicking around in the palace gardens. Last night that image was probably enhanced by the harpsichord, which was pretty cool to see despite let-them-eat-cake brain associations, but still, the Bach was not my favorite.

The main piece of the night was Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C-minor—you know, dut-dut-dut-DUHHH, a refrain which apparently Beethoven referred to as "the knocking of fate." That was pretty neat, as I've never seen this famous piece performed live, and the CSO (of course) did a terrific job.

I've left my favorite for last, even though it came second in the line-up. Mozart's Symphonia Concertante in E-flat Major, a piece whose attribution to Mozart is a bit dubious, according to the program, is perfect for fall. The second movement, the adagio, was the best part of the whole evening for me. If the Bach made me think of Versailles, this adagio made me think of a manor somewhere England. It sounded like being in a library at night, dark and warm, nestled into the corner of a big, green, velvet sofa, watching a fire crackle and drinking hot chocolate with some irish cream mixed in—i.e., exactly where I want to be.

The beginning of the third movement, which was more upbeat, for some reason made me think of "A Muppet's Christmas Carol" (always a plus), upping my already burgeoning excitement for this year's holiday season.

I really don't know much about classical music, but in high school I used to listen to Mozart while I studied because I read somewhere that it helped your brain focus better, and his music always seems to be my favorite of the classical variety. Mournful phrases appear throughout, but overall it's joyful and hopeful but substantial and warm. After the piece was over, I looked over the program notes, which said that the adagio gives a sense of "blessedness," and I think that's a perfect description.

If you're in town, they'll be playing it all weekend, and I recommend stopping by.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Space aliens, supercomputers, and work

At the moment I am eating vegetable soup and listening to a story from All Things Considered about the noises that come from outer space. The scientist they're interviewing managed to translate the magnetism of stars into sound waves. He says that the sound waves that come from the stars change frequencies, and the most far-fetched explanation for this is that alien life forms are trying to communicate with us from their stars - this is crazy. Right now it just sounds like a humming noise. Thanks for all the fish!

I assume many of you are slightly concerned, as am I, by the computer's success on Jeopardy last week. Now that computers can do pretty much what our brains can do, even considering nuance, how long before computers take over the world altogether? In most ways, this sounds awful, and makes me picture some kind of very bleak techno-world where we all wear silver clothes and download our orders for the day onto our brain-chips from our computer bosses. I prefer people, thank you. I think machines should remain tools, and not take charge, thanks. IBM seems to disagree with me, since they spent so much effort trying to build this computer that is so humanesque.

Maybe though, if computers could be put in charge of some things, like fixing Somalia or something, they would do a better job than humans. They could factor in all the information in the world, and like weigh similarities and differences between other situations and then come up with the best solution. Maybe Watson could start there.

This is my third week at work, and things are starting to move faster. I'm looking forward to beginning my managing editor training, which starts this afternoon. Right now I'm doing copywriting training just so I know what goes on in the copywriters process (and b/c I will sometimes write copy) and I'm trying not to get stressed out by all the stuff they have to do before I learn the stuff I'll really be doing!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Thing I Learned This Morning

Well, my new leaf reached an obstacle in its turning over today. I gave in to my sleepiness and did not make my morning trip to the gym.

One might think (I certainly thought, hence remaining in bed) that the extra rest would make me feel good when I got up, but the opposite turned out to be true!

Since this is the first time ever in my life I've even tried to do something like get up early every morning and exercise, it was surprising to me to find that the real result of skipping the workout was a feeling of disappointment.

I was bummed that I didn't make the effort, and missed out on the burning of calories the morning exercise affords. But even more surprising (to me) was that I was really disappointed that I missed the feeling of achievement that accompanies doing something challenging, and that I missed the early start to my day that has allowed me to take a few hours to gear up to going to work. When I get up to go to the gym, it guarantees me the right amount of time to get ready, so I'm not rushed, and I manage to get to work a little early each day. This is certainly not something that has ever occurred to me as pleasant before, but it turns out it is!

This is probably not news to most of you, Krisan, you're probably running a 10K on the treadmill while you read this, but it was news to me. I'll make up for my skip this morning after work, but I don't plan on making this same mistake again!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Oh, you know, good morning

Just going to pick up with this posting thing like it hasn't been almost a year.

So, I've got a new job!! New job, new outlook, renewed vigor, and thus, new blog title/look. The look might change more, but this is my starting point.

It is very exciting to have a new job. As of this past Monday, I am a managing editor at a custom publishing company here in Chattanooga, which is super for lots of reasons.
1) I have a job. This is a good contrast to not having a job.
2) Since this is a new job and a new company, I have a new BOSS, one who is really nice and encouraging and not a completely demoralizing and horrible person who causes me to struggle daily with the moral implications of sabotage or violence.
3) This job has a lot more import and responsibility, which means I will be productive and useful at work every day, very nice. Not that I am important, just that my job has real purpose and a little bit of authority.
4) The company and people I now work for/with are cool and laid back, and part of the company's mission is for work to be fun, and that is always a good sign.
5)My office is now in a cool building right in the middle of downtown, and super convenient to every where, which means more walking to lunch and such (when it is not frigid outside - go away, already, winter!)
6)I will no longer be a pauper and can now afford luxuries like having the internet at my house.

There are probably more reasons why it is awesome, but those are the ones that spring to mind immediately. In effort to keep myself invigorated, I have also been getting up prior to the crack of dawn and going to the gym before work each day. Many of you will recognize the miraculous nature of this development. So far it has been really nice, once I manage to drag myself out of bed. Plus it has the added advantage of getting me up early and thus eliminating rushing from my morning equation, which has made mornings much more pleasant. It has also enabled me to get to work early! Woah.

Anyhow, that's what's going on with me, and I am hoping that I will continue writing more frequently. We'll see.