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ah… I love my fellow orchestra colleagues…

Our guy to German hotel staff lady: “Hey, check my iphone out”

She: “Oh that’s nice.”

He: “Isn’t it cool?”

She: “Ja, cool.”

He: “Do you guys have these over here?”

She: “Um…ja.”

He: “Really? You’ve seen it before?”

She: “Ja, actually you moron, we can get ours for 99Euro and not change service plans.”

Ok so I might have embellished that last line a bit. But you get the jist of it.

Sally: What’s the matter with me?
Harry: Nothing.
Sally: I’m difficult.
Harry: You’re challenging.
Sally: I’m too structured. I’m completely closed off.
Harry: But in a good way.
Sally: No no no. And I’m going to be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.

Our girls night out last evening reminded me of this scene from my favorite movie. Not really the turning the big 4-0 part or being completely closed off, but the fact that when we go out, en masse, we are a bit difficult to please. We met at a new tapas joint hungry and ready for a good time. To be honest, I didn’t think it was asking too much for good service to accompany such an appealing menu. I of course was thrilled to see a cheese plate in Cincinnati, aged manchego along with some Spanish goat brie and other delights. There wasn’t one catastrophic event to make me think I’m too structured in my dining expectations – but the little things do add up. For instance, if a question is posed as to what an ingredient is in a certain dish, you can’t use that word to define – and that’s what I learned in elementary school. Saying ‘apple chlorophyll’ is an apple type chlorophyll is really not helpful. Also, if you are going to go to the trouble of clearing the table of bread crumbs, please at least wait to bring us the check after we’ve finished. The ironic part is that the name of the restaurant, Seny (silent y), translate to ‘common sense;’ odd since our waiter had none.

In retrospect, perhaps this isn’t the best quote to describe the night, but it is a great movie.

I learned today that no matter how many team building workshops or candid conversations I have, communication at work will always be a challenge, and especially with the summer opera.  I think that I’ve made leaps and bounds working with the opera staff to be more inclusive in decisions and discussion, and have tried really hard to speak and learn their language so that we are all on the same page, except for when that language is German and everyone is confused.

The rumor that prompted a lengthy Abbott & Costello routine was about banda inserts.  Now for those of you unfamiliar, to either what they are or why they are the bane of my existence, let me explain.  Banda (in opera) is a very vague term describing any group of instruments not playing in the pit, ie onstage or offstage.  It’s usually to heighten the drama, or add another dimension and make the production seem more realistic.  I know whenever I entertain in my parlor, I always have a military band playing just audibly out of sight.  When the opera company is ‘strapped for cash’ often times the banda parts will be played my members of the orchestra already performing in the pit.  This is highly problematic for a number of reasons – sometimes the musician is already playing, or isn’t playing in the same key, or the score doesn’t specify what instruments – the list goes on.  I disagree with it for two reasons, one of course compromising the artistic integrity of the production, and the other because it is complicated, often messy, and a lot of work for me.  Usually any questions to the omniscient maestro is met with a dismissive wave of the hand and the common ‘I don’t know.  Just fix it.’ 

Until today.

I’ve learned that for one of the more complicated less frequently performed French opera, Lucie de Lammermoor, the conductor will be supplying me with the banda parts for the musicians.  (collective gasp)  Now normally I’d be cringing, thinking that this will undoubtedly create more problems rather then help me, because it is my job to know what music is needed for a successful show, and often conductors are shall we say out of touch with that.  But I have worked with Maestro Zeitouni before when he delivered me beautiful orchestral parts several summers ago, and along with being many impressive things, Jean-Marie has some sort of French-Canadian degree in Music Theory (I say French-Canadian because that’s what he is, and I don’t know where or what kind of degree it is but that seems like a pretty good guess) which eases my music academic librarian mind.

So I will amend my 7 steps to success with women, and I suppose specifically with me. Valentine’s Day came a little early this year, and even in the event that this could be a fabrication resulting from poor communication skills, I hope I don’t find out for a few days – and I’m keeping it in my vii.             

vii.  Flowers will fix just about anything, and correct banda inserts will melt my heart.  

If you take a poll of 12 year olds and ask what super power they would want, I’m sure along with the ability to fly, travel back in time, many would say to be invisible. Some how, in life, I’ve managed to get this gift. I can’t count how many times I’ve been sitting quietly or photocopying, all librarianesque, and musicians come in and decide to talk about very personal issues or have a mental breakdown in my workspace. Besides the fact that they are probably messing with the chi in the room, it’s almost as if I’m not even there, or that I’m deaf.

The above doesn’t bother me nearly as much as when I’m transporting a huge stack of music, either folders from the stage or parts from the treacherous pit – and no matter how laden I am, there is always someone standing in the way. It’s amazing, really, especially after clearing the stage after a performance, the hall with people milling about – even when they see me coming, they still don’t move until I’ve almost knocked them over and say as firmly as a librarian can, “excuse me!”  I’ve come to think my concert dress makes me invisible to the outside world.

A friend of mine was trying to woo a fellow music librarian, so he of course turned to me for advice. The one thing that I told him would melt my heart, is any man that offered to carry the music for me. I’ve always been astonished by the onlookers and stage hands that watch me teeter up the the stairs of the pit in heels without the obligatory can I give you a hand with that. I don’t know if I’d necessarily always accept the offer since I do take my job very seriously and am more stubborn than just about anyone, but next time you see me coming towards you with a stack of music so big you can’t see my face, either offer to help or kindly move.

It seems to me that the grocery store is the last institution that willingly accepts checks. I can’t ever recall a time that I opted to pay anything by check with the invention of the debit card. Credit issues and identity theft aside, I really don’t know why you wouldn’t chose to use it.

In some last minute Superbowl party shopping, a man in front us purchased a few items and paid by check. My first problem is that he was in the 10 items or less aisle. He had more than 10, and he was paying by check, which completely wasted about 5 extra minutes of him writing it out, signing it, and balancing his checkbook in line. Secondly, he was a man. I say this because it’s not like he’s carrying around a giant purse that he can easily fit his checkbook into – dude keeps it in his back pocket. I rarely carry mine for that very reason, it takes up valuable real estate in my bag.

The 10 items or less aisle is designed to be considerate of those buying a few items. The point is to be considerate of the time of others, and balancing a checkbook isn’t the way. I also have to question why someone with a valid bank account wouldn’t use a debit card since they function the same way – typically the debit card is granted with a valid checking account, and stores usually don’t accept checks from new bank accounts.

If stores are still going to accept checks, of which I’m not completely in favor, I think at the very least appropriate signage is necessary – either ’10 items or less and no checks’, or a simple, ‘please be considerate of people around you. It is rude to balance your checkbook when there are 4 other people in line.’

The Conclusion.

To a fault, I like keeping options and reserves – I hate feeling like I’ve used all of something, like erasers or favors, and am left with nothing. But I think I should finish this.

VII. Flowers will fix just about anything.

Very 1950s, I’m aware. But any woman who gets flowers, even if she is allergic, can’t help but be swayed. I don’t know if it’s the smell, color, or appreciating that they are beautiful, frivolous and exist mostly to make you smile. I’m partial to peonies and renunculas, but really, anything would do. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve received flowers – actually it was just once so it’s pretty easy – and I think that’s a bit sad. Must be a big learning curve with age.

*I would count someone lucky if they knew 7 steps or things that were the way to their heart or what made them happy. I think my resistance to picking step 7 is that I don’t really know, I just hope I know it when I see it, and do what I can to keep it.

**I reserve the right to change any of the 7 steps.

Back by popular demand. I know everyone is waiting to see what the next one will be…

v. Act modern and still traditional at the same time.

So this one I stole for the original 7 steps, and with good reason, I quite like it. It is a bit vague, I know, but it really does make a lot of sense. I interpret this as the difference between chivalry and chauvinism. This might mean that I might not take your last name if we were to marry and there probably isn’t going to be any dowry involved (although I wouldn’t be too surprised if my mom threw in a toaster oven just as a bonus). I will bake, iron shirts, expect you to walk on the outside of me, and move heavy things – and this isn’t just because it’s the nice thing to do, it is how each person is built. If I wasn’t 5’3 with little girl-like hands and was a mechanic by trade, I’d reconsider my stance. Let’s use a little common sense and lesson in respecting people’s strengths.

Also, having a baby isn’t entirely negotiable. If I have to carry it inside of me, ultimately I have the final say.

I do so love my gmail, yes I do. Probably because I no longer get close to 100 bits of spam, but it’s also all the little stuff. I love the gchat, where I can harass my brother at work, get the details of the haps in the ‘ville, but most importantly, catch up on life with the JP in Germany. Jennifer Porto continues to impress audiences and academia in Leipzig and Berlin, care of the Fulbrights. Sadly for me, with the time change, pace of life, and banning all chat programs at work I miss this staple in my life. Then came gchat.

Last night in the midst of an insomnia fit in which I was watching a show about some genetic syndrome on Discovery Health that I’ve now convinced myself I have, my little pop-up window from JP appeared. Even though she contacted me, a message appeared: Jennifer is busy. You may be interrupting her.

At first, I found it amusing that gmail cared that much about my relationship that they would warn me. Then I thought, hey, she sent me the message! Maybe I’m busy! Maybe she’s interrupting me! I should at the very least be asleep, if nothing else. How dare gmail try to police my chats! They don’t know me. After I moved past my initial irrational thought process, I warmed to idea that gmail is teaching manners, and reminded people that interrupting is rude. Where else would someone say it? I can definitely get on board with that.

Continuing with the 7 Steps to Success with Women…

III.  Don’t be embarrassed by me.

Most things I do aren’t too terribly embarrassing, honest, mostly because I have a low threshold in general.  But still, pretend like it doesn’t bother you that I spit when I run, can’t remember what stories I’ve told which people, and that I know nothing about cars and meats and intend to keep it that way.

Continuing on the 7 Steps to Success with Women…

II. Don’t embarrass me in public.

Really, who wants to be embarrassed? Not me. Don’t dress inappropriately, don’t chew with your mouth open, or say things like Chinese are violent and confuse Hong Kong and Taiwan. This might mean you’ll have to wear a suit with appropriate fit including trouser length, know what fork is for what dish, or have seen a globe.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy a good sarcastic comment, or seem overly critical, but I feel this isn’t asking too much.

Oh, and a hint, if I say, don’t ever do that again, don’t.

February 2020
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