Wednesday, July 14, 2010

7 year old Diva

I need to thank Rebecca’s very enthusiastic piano teacher for helping her to achieve new seven year old diva heights. I’m wondering if I can blame him for the fact that last week she said to me “You’re not the boss of me.” When at the end of the school year she started writing new endings for all of her pieces he suggested that they try a summer composition project. Her first assignment involved a piece about a pigeon. She has recently completed what she informed me is a “three movement work.” When saying these words she meticulously articulates every syllable in case I don’t know what she’s talking about. Her style seems to involve contrary motion, dramatic glissando’s, accidental pentatonic scales. She also quotes and transposes some phrases from her current favorite song “Legend of the Buffalo.” Dynamic contrast also features prominently. She has fully internalized an exoticism that in kiddie piano books comes out in songs with vaguely Native American titles that feature open fifths and a few accidentals. Dealing with a seven year old composer might be a musicians worst nightmare. Our conversations have gone along the lines of “no mommy that is NOT the sound I want.” (I’m totally sure I played exactly what she wrote) And “Well I wan to write a F# here and a Gb why calling the same note two things is more interesting” “Mommy how come when I play it, it sounds right and when you do it the dynamics are just wrong” “No I don’t need to have five beats in a 5/4 measure it sounds better this way.” I’d say her notation skills need some work.

The diva is also feeling smug because she earned herself six free tickets to a local production of Don Giovanni by modeling for a poster that seems never to have been put up. Note that I earned two free tickets—that’s four less-- for giving a pre concert lecture about Bellini’s La Sonnambula. (This was not a trivial undertaking since I had previously thought nothing at all about the Opera other than that it has some pretty tunes and that I could listen and look at Juan Diego Florez for a long time). In any case we fired her brother from going to the Opera when he failed to make it through even one act of the Sound of Music. We took her with our friends Ann and Gary on Saturday night. Rebecca loved the Opera and was completely mesmerized the whole time. She leaned over during batti batti and say quizzically “why is she saying that” I have to admit that my first paper in college was on representations of women in Don Giovanni and George Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell. I asked the same question and thought myself very profound. She got really obsessed about how they proved that Don Giovanni actually killed the Commandatore. We were worried that the final scene would frighten her. But she actually giggled. Her read on it was “why does he keep saying no? and it’s kind of funny to have a statue talk” It reminded her of the people in Rome who dress as statues whom she and Jonathan called “statues who move” She also found the drag to hell especially hilarious “he went to hell and took the table cloth with him. Why did he take the table cloth?”

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

If you give a musicologist an article to finish and If you give a toe a bowl of shrimp

I am planning an associate professor mother of three version of the children’s book If you give a moose a muffin. The upshot is that a boy gives a moose a muffin and the moose asks for various other intricate favors which involve painting the house, picking fluffing a pillow for a nap and finally gets around to asking for a muffin again. Yesterday’s version would start something like: if you give a musicologist an article to polish up she will open the document. First she will remember that she has a conference paper to give on the same topic. Then she will check the AMS program to see who else is on the panel. And then the AMS web page will probably tell her that her membership has expired. Then she will want to renew. When she attempts to fill in the blanks on the membership form she may type the credit card number incorrectly so she will probably look for her magnifier so that she can retype it correctly. Then she may notice that her credit card has been blocked. When she is finished cursing she may get carried away and decide to do a thorough check of her finances. She will then probably notice that during the recent thunderstorm something happened to the automated bank of American situation and no bills were paid she will most likely curse some more. Then she will need to pay her bills. This will probably cause her to remember that there is no summer salary and she will begin to think about other things to do in the summer like swim, plant tomatoes, and hike. Thinking about hiking will remind her that the credit card needs to be paid as even hiking costs money sometimes. And tomatoes will remind her that she is hungry. The thought of red tomatoes will also remind her of stained t-shirts in the laundry from her child’s brochette eating on July 4. She will do a load a load of laundry. On the way to the laundry she will encounter her three year old who will insist that only Mommy can apply sunblock. She will then trip on her sons outgrown sneakers. She will be tempted to go online and buy him new ones but avoid temptation by glancing at the credit card bill. She will then attempt to pay the bill again. On the way she will probably figure out that her online banking password is now due to be changed. She will change it. While thinking up a new secret codes she will then remember that she was supposed to be writing an article and open the document again.

The one for today would start more like… If you give a neurotic, recovering, from an injury runner a 100 degree day she will want to run at 7 in the morning. She will probably need to chug coffee first. She will then open the fridge for milk and notice that it is full of stuff and that there is no food in it. She will begin to organize then dump a frickin glass bowl of shrimp on her already gnarly looking running toes. Despite having balled out all of her friends for being late for running she will not actually meet them on Preston Ave. Her husband who sat around with a fractured hand for a week will scold and even bully her into getting the toe attended to. He will drive her to urgent care. Urgent care will have become an ER and they will threaten a giant co-pay. She will come home and call the doctor while sending husband to work to finish his grant. She will call friend and ask for ride to doctor with stop at coffee shop. The nurse will make her an appointment with Dr. Yuck who is on call. Dr. Yuck suggested that a relatively routine infection acquired during Yom Kippur services two years ago might be cancer and then prescribed anti-biotics that made her sick and did not cure the infection. Fortunately, after waiting at the doctors’ office for 45 minutes it will be determined that the idiot who makes appointments made it for the wrong day. She will see another zealous young doctor who, with a tuning fork, will determine that she has a fracture and that her toes need to be buddy taped. The fork was a C not an A which she is used to. He will get very distracted by her convoluted medical history and she will remind him that pregnancy is not an issue here. He will then attempt to prescribe her narcotic pain killers. But this will remind him that since she has had them prescribed four times this year he actually needs to ask her a series of questions about domestic violence and drug abuse. She will swear up and down that her husband did not in fact beat her toe with a glass bowl of shrimp and in the end say no to narcotics because she realizes she already has enough to keep the neighborhood high for months and what’s a bowl of shrimp compared to an SUV anyway. He will notice her cup from Shenandoah Joe’s and also tell her to drink water not coffee if she is going to run in the hot weather forgetting that only a few moments ago he had forbidden running for until the toe feels better. She will call her lovely husband who will then drive her home and she will sulk for a while about the sore toe while again sending him back to work. And again she will open the document.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Eli ate my word documents

I wrote a nice post yesterday about how my day had started by mediating a dispute between three seven year olds about what to feed imaginary dragons. At the end of it when I lost patience and explained that the dumb dragons were imaginary—not real- and thus their nourishment hardly warranted a dispute I was informed that “imaginary is different for different people” I just can’t discuss relativism with rising 2nd graders before a second cup of coffee. It also involved a describing my swim meet mommy dilemma in which Rebecca who had wanted to do the meet decided she couldn’t do it and cried in fear for 45 minutes. She’s been swimming laps just fine for a few weeks now so made her do it anyway, to the dismay of some onlookers. She did it and feels really proud of her ribbon. I’m still not sure it was the correct thing to do. But I do want her to know that she can do things that she’s scared of and I want her to feel strong. I can only hope one of the onlookers was the mom I heard in cville coffee say to her kid who was having a fit because he didn’t want cheddar bunnies, “we should be grateful for our cheddar bunnies, many children are starving and their tummies hurt and they would be grateful for the cheddar bunnies.” That comment so irritated me that it snapped me into a fit of writing fervor. I’m thinking of putting that lady on my ipod.

In any case the post didn’t make it because Eli had to check his email to find out “when is my next birfday….” He checks this frequently. While doing that bit of research he closed a bunch of documents without saving them. In addition to loosing what I thought was a nice blog post he deleted a Latin translation I’d made myself do of some totally crazy 17th century astrologer, a letter of recommendation, and a recipe for ginger pound cake. No more screen time for him. No more Microsoft for him until he is potty trained.

Meanwhile last night I took my twins, a ten year old set, and Eli to the downtown mall for dinner. I’m a sucker for the downtown mall on a gorgeous summer evening. Manuel was being charming to a potential tenant—I got the better deal. I thought we were getting pizza but the three princesses decided they wanted dumplings. So I sent them to the dumpling place with my credit card with instructions to buy nothing but dumplings—yup two ten year olds and a seven year old. It turned out the dumpling place doesn’t take credit cards so I next taught them to write a check. Amazingly they did it. And Ema even went back and asked to remake Rebecca’s dumplings without the sauce. We finished the evening with splendora and luckily by then Manuel was there to handle the finances and the children. All in all it was fun although each of my three did at some point melt down and I did drink half of a friend’s beer. I’m not sure why I didn’t just get my own…. One the way home when I told the two sets to wait for me at the corner to cross they all said “you’re the only one who has been hit by a car you should wait for us.” The same two sets also stumped me by asking for definitions of irony and sarcasm—and yes all four do know how to do both.