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Jen Midkiff, professional educator!

And I have a license to prove it!  Finally completed all the paperwork (I'd done the coursework a year ago, but changes in IN certification law and the online-ization of the DOE database slowed things down.  But I have a shiny new "Professional Educator's License", valid until 11/17/2021.  Go me!  ;) 

Of course this license isn't TOTALLY truthful: it claims me as a teacher for "Music: Choral, General and Instrumental", grades K-12.  The K-12 part is right, but I did NOT do the instrumental-certification track in undergrad.  Indiana only has one license for music, though, so this is it.  I could technically apply for a band or orchestra job; I'd just be no good at it, unless the students already knew how to play their instruments.  Of course I can coach rhythm and dynamics and line and phrase, all the music theory and musicianship things; it's the nitty-gritty of how to play and maintain most instruments that I don't know.  Brass and woodwinds especially intimidate me; I'm apparently a touch asthmatic, which explains why after four months of flute study I was still getting light-headed within 5 minutes of practicing.

But all that aside, I'm thrilled.  A ten-year license instead of the standard five-year means I don't have to worry about taking classes again for a long, long time.  Not that I'm averse to learning; it's just EXPENSIVE, and right now the $ is going for things like violin lessons for Maddie (and in a year or so, cello & lessons for Katie). 

Next up, applying for a faculty scholarship to fund going to the Weston Noble Alumni Choir next July. Weston will be 90 years old in 2012, and he wanted to do a tour on top of the usual weeklong alumni choir thing.  I haven't gone to it since 2007, but it was WONDERFUL.  So for 2012 he wants to do the weeklong thing at a retreat center somewhere near Yosemite, and then take another week and tour down the California coast.  Can't afford it on my own, but I really want to go; I miss Nordic Choir more than I can properly express, LOVE singing for Weston, and who knows how much longer he'll do this?  For all I know this will be his last year: go out on the high note of one last tour.  I don't want to miss it.  If I don't get the scholarship, I'll probably try a Kickstarter or some other fundraising website.  Ideas, anyone?

useless day

Not really, but didn't accomplish any of the really time-sensitive stuff I needed to.  Stayed home sick with the girls, because Maddie'd been up at least 4 times during the night, and when the alarm went off at 5:45 am it was just too much.  Girls and I slept till after 8:30 (when your oldest is not yet 5, that's insanely late!), and didn't really do much but hang out in pajamas, having a desultory breakfast, till I called the vet to see if I could get Pixel in today.  He's had a weepy, squinty left eye for the last two days, and this is the third time that eye has appeared inflamed.  They could see him at 11:40, which provoked a quick burst of dressing people, finishing food, etc, then off to the vet.  $75 later, we came home with eye drops and antibiotic pills for the grumpy 15-yr-old cat. 

Rest of the day was kind of a blur; I guess I was more tired than I thought.  Didn't get any more sleep, but didn't get much done other than some laundry and dishes.  Oh, and in a tiny energy flare I cleaned the back glass sliding doors, because it was sunny out and I could see the full extent of the dirt.  Now running back to the only one of the many projects hanging fire that I can actually work on from home.  Eeeep. . .

What Black Friday?

Seriously.  Nobody in our family takes Christmas shopping THAT seriously; we'll find the things we really want to give people, and we're all on tight budgets these days, but none of us really needs more STUFF, either.  So we slept in, did laundry, dishes, & other household chores, ate both lunch and dinner together as a family (that hasn't happened in a pathetically long time, which is why I listed it), and I got 50 pages edited on the current manuscript for Loconeal Publishing.  (For my LJ-but-not-FB friends: I am now an editor for Loconeal Publishing--for real!  Got my first check today, for a book I did last month.  Woohoo!  Now copyediting a fantasy novel.)  A quiet day at home.  Even got to take time to just play with the dog.  (Oh, LJ friends, he's new too--just a few months ago, rescued by friends of SallyWINOLJ, adopted by us on her recommendation.  Mini schnauzer, just under 2 yrs old, sweet boy--named him Gimli.  It's the beard and the eyebrows that did it.)

Yesterday was a marathon gig, playing harp for a brunch at a fancy hotel downtown.  They booked me for 3 hours, kept me 2 more; that'll be a nice check, whenever it arrives!  :)  Then met up with the rest of the family at my in-laws' place for their potluck Thanksgiving.  Ate like a starving woman (well, after five hours of playing with nothing to eat since breakfast seven hours before, I WAS a starving woman!), then went nearly comatose from the full belly and adrenaline crash.  You see, the reason the hotel wanted me to stay the final hour was because they had VERY SPECIAL guests: a bunch of Indianapolis Symphony musicians!  EEEEEEP.  I peeked over the balcony at one point and Jack Everly, the conductor of the ISO Pops series, was down there!!!  And I'd already been playing my fingers sore for FOUR HOURS...so I turned up the volume a titch on the amp, so I wouldn't have to pull on the strings at ALL, and stuck with only stuff I knew my muscle memory could handle if my brain fried.  Better to play less-advanced stuff and play it WELL than try to impress someone with fancy music and screw it up. . .and I knew I was running on nothing but adrenaline and painkillers at that point.  Did I mention I'm having shoulder surgery in December for a SLAP tear (supra-labral anterior-posterior tear, that is)?  So yeah, not at my peak physical condition either.  :P  One of the ISO guys, though, made a point of stopping to tell me how much they'd all enjoyed the music, as I was packing up.  Decent of him.  Then again, maybe it's just a treat for a pro to hear music THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO MAKE.  ;)

Tomorrow will be another marathon day: Gimli has a 7 am grooming appointment (ergh; that's me leaving at 6:40 am to get him there), then an oil change for the van, then a quick shower and off we go to my parents' for a sort-of-Thanksgiving.  I don't know if they're doing turkey or not.  My mother cooks the whole thing.  She never asks anyone to bring anything, and she's an awesome cook.  I do know there will be pumpkin pie, which I'd avoided at the in-laws' because it was store-bought, not homemade.  After all that, Phil and the girls go home and I go play Elven Special Forces with textdeviant and others.  Sunday morning I sing a duet with a friend at both the 8 am and 10:45 am services.  And then things quiet down again.  I am grateful for today's peace and quiet at home (as I typed that, my grumpy-old-man-cat Pixel yowled from behind me--oh the irony), since it looks like most of the rest will be hectic.  Good, and fun, and occasionally productive, but...hectic. 
I am grateful for lots of things, some huge, some trivial.  Here are a bunch of them in stream-of-consciousness order: my beautiful and amazing daughters, my steadfast husband, my tried-and-true friends, great music to listen to, great music to sing and play, great people to make music with, amazing authors and their life-changing works of fiction/science fiction/fantasy, a stable job doing meaningful work, hot tea, chocolate, peppermint mocha, popcorn, dark beer, my goofy dog, my elderly and cantankerous cats, the roof over my head, my awesome personal laptop that never screws up (unlike my work one), the random skills that many generous people have taught me over the years (knitting, crocheting, harp, piano, voice, woodworking, proper English usage, etc), living in a country where my right to my own faith and my own opinions is defended (mostly)...in fact, when I really start listing all this stuff, the problems I have spent so much time obsessing over just don't seem as huge.  Potentially disastrous, yes; credit-score-damaging, yes; important in the Big Scheme Of Things...no.  :) 

Thank you, to all my online friends, for all the times you have offered a supportive comment or just a *hug*.  These things are intangible but real, and real-ly appreciated!  May the rest of your week be wonderful, whether you're celebrating Thanksgiving or (like some of my friends across the pond) just celebrating living through another week!  May your days be filled with moments that you can savor, no matter how small they seem: a hot cup of tea, five minutes to put your feet up, an email from a friend, a purring cat, a child's smile (even if it's not your child and they're not smiling at you--they're still so stinkin' CUTE!  Enjoy it!). 

Celebrate these moments, my friends.  Most days don't bring us big victories, but that doesn't mean ignoring the small ones.  In dark times, these little things can keep us going another hour, another day, another week. . .and the dark will eventually lessen, because all those little things are like little tiny lights, and they accumulate to become greater light.  If I didn't believe it, I wouldn't still be here today, and I wouldn't be looking at the future with hope, instead of despair. I have suffered depression. I am still here.  I have lost friends and family members I loved.  I am still here.  Sometimes the best moment of my day was the cat deigning to sit on my lap and purr, and that meant I had made his day better, regardless of what else I had or had not accomplished.  I am still here, and I am still hopeful, and I hope you all are too. 

"The holidays" are a stressful time, when we feel we have to project happiness, to everyone, all the time. Many of my online friends are introverts, and for us, it's hard to cope with the relentless "celebrate with endless groups of people" mentality of the next five weeks.   Remember the joy of solitude and quiet moments. It's okay to withdraw, to recharge, to need some time alone.  Just don't let the solitude = isolation, where you feel shut out from the groups.  Acknowledge both your need for solitude and your need for connection and meaningful relationships.  Hang in there, everyone, and be well and safe over the next few days!

Nov. 21st, 2011

Got to have lunch with my husband today, a rare occurrence since we work on different sides of Indy.  But I forgot my purse this morning, called him to ask him to bring it to his work & I'd pick it up, and he said he had a doctor's appointment anyway, for around lunchtime. . .so we met in the middle, I got my purse, we both ate lunch, then off he went to the doctor and I back to work.  So it was only Burger King and we went dutch--this is the first LUNCH with my husband, WITHOUT KIDS ALONG, since they were born, I think.  So that would be since 2007.  Eeep.  Where did the last almost-five years go?  Oh, right, I traded them for paychecks so we'd have somewhere to sleep.  :P

WindyCon 2012

Okay, folks, so next November, I know where I'll be: from the 9th to the 11th, I'll be at WindyCon!!  With Seanan McGuire as Author GoH and Amy McNally as Music GoH, I can't possibly miss this!  So here's my offer to anyone concertizing at Windy next year: I haz harp and bass guitar and harmony vocals--let me know and I'll happily make music with you.  Although I wouldn't say no to a solo set myself, I'd probably then invite friends to come play/sing with me on various things as well, because I absolutely love collaborating.  Amy and Seanan, I happily volunteer to be one of the musical forces you can summon at will for anything you'd like extra vocals/instruments on!

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equilibrium? not yet, but better. . .

Weird.  If I needed proof that depression doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the circumstances of your life, the last 24-48 would have provided it.  Nothing substantial has changed--not my job, not the debt looming overhead, not my "mom guilt" for not being around my girls enough--but yesterday I was ready to burst into tears and today I'm. . .not.  Wicked headache that's not responding to ibuprofen, yes.  Crushing despair, no.  Many of my friends have offered helpful theories as to the trigger, and I suspect it may be a combination of many things: low blood sugar, barometric pressure shift (big one here in the last 2 days), and daily stress that just, suddenly, accumulated to be more than I could face. 

I told wyld_dandelyon this in my comment back to her, but now I'll share it with all my LJ friends: Growing up, I would occasionally (never counted the cycle) lie awake and tell myself horrible stories: our house burned down, Mom or Dad disappeared, my brother died, etc. . .and would embellish these miserable fictional events until I had had a thorough cry.  The next day I always felt more clear-headed.  I don't do this anymore; first of all, I think I have quite enough stress in my life NOW without inventing any, and secondly, I don't sleep alone and our house is not big enough for me to go cry anywhere without disturbing someone.  But I think maybe yesterday was my body or my subconscious or whatever, telling me it was time to have that catharsis, and I spent the day telling it "I don't have time for this". 

Glee Club rehearsal, right after my despairing post, actually helped.  Students worked hard and we got to the point of adding choreography--I learned it from the choreographer along with the students--and dancing helped too.  (Also nice to NOT be in charge for a little while--not the teacher, not the parent, just someone learning a new dance step.)  Then, when I got home, my two girls entertained me for almost 30 minutes by jumping up and down on the sofa, putting on a "show" for me of whatever songs they could think of next.  Of course, Maddie was her usual Ms. Bossypants, determining what song would be next, and easygoing Katie followed her lead enthusiastically.  Noisy, silly, fun; I sat in the recliner and laughed and laughed and laughed.  Helped a LOT.

So thank you, all my LJ friends who saw yesterday's post and commented, because you helped a lot too.  Reminded me that I wasn't alone in feeling like this, that there can be biological causes and natural forces at work outside my conscious control, and that I shouldn't feel guilty about this if/when it happens again: it's not weakness, it's not insanity, but it is real and shouldn't be ignored, either.  Thank you so very much.  I am grateful to all of you!

instant depression?

Is there such a thing?  I ask because today I have wanted, repeatedly, to burst into tears, crawl into a hole, and pull it in after myself, and FOR NO REASON.  Nothing bad has happened to me today (although I have kept involuntarily imagining horrifying disasters befalling me and/or my loved ones), nothing bad is coming up, NOTHING.  Just. . .massively depressed.  Anybody else get this?  I mean, having a bad day I understand, but for me that doesn't usually come with RANDOM TEARS.  Off I go to Glee Club rehearsal.  Oh, the irony.

a long, long time ago. . .

in a galaxy far away, I used to use LJ a lot.  Then life got really crazy; I couldn't keep up with reading/posting on LJ and my actual, right-here-in-front-of-me life at the same time, so I dropped LJ and mostly just Facebooked.  Now the school where I work has blocked FB (although they say it's not blocked for teachers, but I get blocked every time I try to go to FB)...but LJ's not blocked.  :)  So I may be back here more often, and I will try to keep up better with my online friends. 

Many things have changed: I have two little girls, Maddie and Katie, and they are my wonder and joy and amazement in life.  Maddie takes violin lessons, and Katie wants to play cello just as soon as the Indianapolis Suzuki Academy will accept her for lessons (she's almost 2 1/2, but she needs to be 3 1/2 or 4 years old before they'll take her).  They both love to sing and dance, play princesses AND dinosaurs, and color and learn about science and play-fight with foam weapons.  I love them so incredibly much.  Maddie goes to preschool three days a week, and Katie will start preschool next fall.  Potty-training and alphabets and pets, oh my.  Also, we now have a rescued schnauzer mix named Gimli.  He's adorable and sweet and chews on everything he can get his teeth on, though he's not a puppy anymore.  At least he doesn't chase the cats...anymore.  Also doing some freelance editorial work, for Loconeal Publishing right now.  My practice with the Machete Squad for a certain award-winning author definitely helped me land that gig, and I'm thrilled and grateful for that.

Many things have stayed the same: I still teach at Brebeuf (this is my seventh year), I still play harp for all occasions, and we're still broke all the time.  We're staying in our house, at this point for the foreseeable future, so we fenced the back yard this summer, which was great.  At one point we were in pre-foreclosure, but that got settled, so we now have a more affordable mortgage payment.  Phil still works at Wiley.  Still playing in Wild Mercy, which most of you know :).

I'm looking forward to spending some time reading your most recent entries, but I know I won't be catching up all the way back to when I dropped out of the LJ-verse, so if there's something big in your life that you want me to know about, please message me or comment on this post.

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Also, the need to clone myself.

If the snow is too bad, they will call off the vocal/piano District division of ISSMA solo & ensemble contest. The rules say that it will then happen the following Saturday, which would be Feb. 13. Unfortunately, I'm supposed to be judging for the Catholic Youth Organization's version of solo & ensemble contest on Feb. 13.  I have to represent my school for my students to be able to compete in ISSMA, so I'd have to bail on judging for CYO, which I really don't want to do.  Plus, if it's that bad, Wild Mercy rehearsal will likely not happen either, because tollers would have such awful road conditions to try to get through (and we don't want her to have a wreck because of band practice!).

On the other hand, I love snow. Lots of snow. Snow, especially with my three-year-old around, means snowballs and snow angels and snowmen and snow forts. . .she just can't get enough, and we have to watch out, because she'd apparently rather lose fingers to frostbite than come in out of the snow. We have to lure her with promises of hot chocolate with whipped cream AND SPRINKLES to get her to come in! Plus, it'd be nice to have a day at home to prep for the Super Bowl party we're having on Sunday; we have major cleaning to do!

But I can't be in two places at once (unless cadhla  has a super-secret cloning lab I can use), so, regretfully, I have to hope we DON'T get tons of snow.  :(