19 July 2013

Frivolous Fridays--Music

For this week's installment of Frivolous Friday, the theme is music (see what I did there?)...enjoy!

There's obviously a movement to improve operations.

The Facebook Fugue-It-All

Is it just me, or do the black keys suddenly look like shark fins?

So E-flat leaves and C and G have an open fifth between them.  After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and G is out flat.  F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes in and heads for the bathroom, saying "Excuse me.  I'll just be a second."  Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor.  Then the bartender notices B-Flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, "Get out!  You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight!"

E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit and nicely shined shoes.  The bartender says "You're looking sharp tonight.  Come on in, this could be a major development.  Sure enough, E-Flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, becoming au natural.

Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he's under a rest.  C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.

Celebrity national anthem singers clearly get paid by the note.

Bugs Bunny had nothing on this pugnacious actress.

Like you weren't thinking it.

This is not the arrangement you're looking for...

Gangsta Cello.

And one last note...always remember that the real problem with reality is a lack of background music.  I can't underscore this enough.

17 July 2013

Wedding Fever

This past Saturday I attended a friend's wedding, the second of three such weddings this summer.  While everyone knows that summer is prime wedding season, rarely do I find myself with multiple invitations in a single year.  I have to give my friends credit, though, because they've considerately spaced them out to one per month each for June, July, and August. They're so thoughtful that way.

The first wedding was in Florida in June and was between two dear friends who are pretty much the epitome of everyone's fantasy relationship. In fact, if they were anyone else, I'd probably want to hate them in much the same way that a woman often calls someone younger and prettier rude names just because she's secretly jealous. But you just can't be angry with a couple who is just so freakishly adorable together (and not in a saccharine, diabetic-coma-inducing sort of way) and so stunningly good at loving and supporting each other because they give the rest of us hope.  No doubt that is in part the result of all they had to overcome to be together; she is a native Floridian and he is from London.  As you might imagine, dating someone overseas is more than a little challenging in the best of circumstances, yet somehow these two amazing people made it work.  You couldn't help but root for them while watching their romance blossom and unfold.  Frankly, it was more than a little like "must-see TV" -- the very best kind of reality show.

Happily ever after.

After two long years or so of struggle, waiting, immeasurable heartache at saying goodbyes, waiting, joy, waiting, endless Skyping, and more waiting, these two finally saw their dreams come to fruition in front of a diminutive Catholic priest on a hot summer's day in the heart of Florida.  It was awesome.  And I was privileged not only to be a witness, but to become a participant when the couple asked me to sing during the service...I was deeply touched and honored by the request.

However, things did not quite go according to plan for me.  I met the accompanist at the rehearsal and ran through my hymn (to be sung during the lighting of the unity candle).  It went perfectly.  I went to the church early to warm up with him again on the morning of the wedding.  Again, the run-thru went smoothly.  I wish the same could be said of the actual service.  As I've gotten older, I've become more prone to allergies and react more frequently to certain smells, perfumes, plants, etc.  Every day that I was in Florida, I felt myself clog up just a little bit more, so clearly I was having a reaction to something in my environment, though I'm still not sure precisely what.  At any rate, in spite of sucking down water by the gallon for the several days I was there, when it came time for me to sing during the ceremony my throat decided that approximately 20 seconds before opening my mouth would be an excellent time to close up.  I was furious. I'm still not sure how I managed to get through the song but somehow I did, albeit with about 1/3 of my natural power and more than a little hoarseness and croakiness.  At one point I even signaled to the accompanist to pause briefly between verses, but was still unable to shift whatever the obstruction was.  When it was over, I was despondent because I so felt that I had let the couple down and more than a little livid with myself.  While I realize I'll never be a musical star, singing is one of the 3-4 things I am actually reasonably good at--so it was immensely frustrating to fall short of my capabilities, never mind on a day when I wanted to sing even better than usual for such lovely friends as opposed to having my voice crap out on me at the most inopportune time. Still, things happen, and technical difficulties are technical difficulties and beyond one's control.  Most of the attendees likely thought I was choked up with emotion (rather than with allergies) or perhaps they just thought I was that friend who thinks they can sing but really can't.  Either way, it doesn't really matter.  The bride gamely lied to me about how good it was, but I still spent the better part of the next two hours beating myself up over it.  I suppose I had it coming after bragging about what an "easy" song it was and how I didn't have to "work" to sing it since it was placed in my mid-range.  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson my now, but nooooo.  God always finds a way to smack down my hubris.

"Felines...whoa-o-o, felines..."

At the end of the day, though, this wedding was never about me, nor should it have been.  This beautiful wedding was about two amazing people who sacrificed so very much to be with each other and who stood together, glowing with love and joy, to celebrate the culmination of that accomplishment while surrounded by loved ones from two continents.  In fact, I heard it remarked upon many times that week about how extraordinary the extent of the love and happiness surrounding this couple was, which speaks to how much they are loved and to how many people have been rooting for their union.  No, this day wasn't about my drama or any other kind of drama, it was about celebrating the much-awaited union of two very special people and, in that respect, mission accomplished.  Besides, in my experience there is rarely a wedding that doesn't have either some sort of drama (usually relative-related) or something that goes wrong at the last minute, if not both.

Let's face it, for all the excitement and joy they bring, weddings tend to be fraught with stress, worry that everything will come off right, and unwilling compromises as we impossibly try to please everyone.  That's just the way it works.  In my own wedding, for example, I'm pretty sure I pissed off my future in-laws and extended family by refusing to have children involved.  There was only one likely candidate anyway, a 4-year-old cousin who would have been flower girl.  In retrospect, had I actually known the child, I would have been more than happy to acquiesce; at the time, she was quite a self-possessed little girl.  But I didn't know her, and I'd heard far too many horror stories about kids in weddings to want to risk it.  Nor were all my plans met with complete enthusiasm, though my mother-in-law was mostly supportive, at least when she wasn't gently trying to steer me to a more "appropriate" way of thinking.  Years later I discovered that several of them just tried to write it off as me being a "Yankee" and therefore "not knowing any better."  How dare I try to buck the Southern machine, after all--there was a system in place, by God, and my callow Yankee sensibilities had little place in it. In fairness, the relatives were all perfectly nice to me at the time (bless my heart), but there was no denying that my opinions and theirs didn't always match up.  But then that's pretty par for the course, isn't it?  Most families, particularly the mothers of the future bride and groom, seem to feel that their children have no clue about the planning of a wedding regardless of their ages, organizational abilities or educational achievements.  The moms know that the nuptials are really about the family, not about the participants in question...they get to have the marriage, dammit, but the wedding itself is the moms' reward for putting up with all our crap while we were growing up.  Or so they would have us believe.

So there's usually drama.  And there's usually some sort of crisis.  I saw a lot of these back when I used to alter wedding dresses.  Once I had to alter a dress overnight because the overly-helpful stepmom had taken the bride's dress to be cleaned by the cheapest dry cleaner she could find.  In the process, the dress was turned a lovely vanilla color (like the flavoring before being mixed into batter) and all the beads and sequins were melted.  Needless to say, the bride was so hysterical and panicked her mother took her out to buy a new wedding dress less than 24 hours before the wedding and brought it over to my house.  No pressure.  But I got it done, and she got married, which is all that mattered.

Looks about right.

For another wedding, I altered the bride's dress for free as a wedding present because she was the daughter of a friend. When I arrived at the church to attend the ceremony, I was immediately accosted by her father.  Turned out she'd accidentally dropped a mascara brush on the front of her dress and everyone was freaking out about how to remove or disguise the black streak.  I was pressed into service because of my intimate familiarity with her dress, in spite of the fact that I was not a dry cleaner and had absolutely no clue what to do.  We carefully blotted off the worst of the mascara with some water and a cloth, then I suggested that they use some of the bride's face powder to absorb the rest and to tone down the color.  After all, the entire point of make up is to cover blemishes and smooth surfaces, right?  It was an imperfect fix, but between the powder and a strategically-held bouquet, it got the job done and no one was the wiser.

At my own wedding things went relatively smoothly, at least until we tried to set my veil on fire.  After lighting the unity candle the minister had us kneel for a prayer.  The candle was on a stand very near my head, however, and under a heater vent blowing warm air.  Fortunately we made it through the prayer without having to hose me down with water from the baptismal font, but it was a near thing since the flame was blowing less than an inch from my veil.  To this day I'm convinced that not a single person heard the minister's prayer because on the video you can see everyone (notably my mother) staring intently at the candle and my head, poised to wrestle me to the floor and roll me around in the carpet to extinguish the flames if necessary.  So there's always something.  Someone tears the dress, someone pops a cummerbund, someone trips, someone forgets the programs, someone's flight gets delayed...something.  But you roll with it and carry on, because really, that's what a marriage is all about--supporting each other through whatever crises life brings.

That can't be good.

The wedding this past weekend was completely different than my friend's in Florida, but just as lovely and the happy couple ended up just as married.  The music was performed beautifully by a string quartet (as opposed to a squawky soloist), the dresses were lovely, and the service short and sweet.  The wedding party had to contend with rain (See? There's always something...), but the weather mostly held out for them.  No doubt there was some kind of drama somewhere behind the scenes, but since I was merely a guest and not involved in any way I didn't see it if there was. Sadly, I'll have to miss the third wedding because I'll be in New York helping my girlie move into her dorm, but I'm sure that bride will be just as beautiful as the other two and that her wedding will be just as uniquely her as theirs were (but I'll still keep my fingers crossed for a drama- and crisis-free day).

16 July 2013

Checkout of Shame

Like most people, I occasionally avail myself of the self-checkout lines at the grocery store.  Usually I do this because I have a small number of items to purchase or perhaps because the lines happen to be shorter that day.  Sometimes I even use them because I'm not wearing makeup and I let my vanity get the better of me, so I make a beeline to the self-checkout line rather than face some potentially judgey cashier.  I recognize in my head that most of them don't even notice, much less care, whether or not I've camouflaged my blemishes with my specially-tinted Spackle For Her™ (now in giant economy size!), but even the best of us have our insecure days and would rather be held accountable only by a computer screen.

More often than not, though, I frequent the self-checkout line because I don't want to have to explain the seeming eccentricities in my purchases.  For example, today I hit the self-checkout because I had five boxes of La Choy's fortune cookies and some 9-volt batteries.  That's it.  If I went through the regular lines, such a purchase would at the very least garner a raised eyebrow; more frequently it encourages an awkward conversation with my cashier who is busy trying to figure out why I would need two such disparate items at the same time.  Such purchases just never look good.  [For the record, I like fortune cookies and they happen to be low in fat--so they make a good, diet-friendly snack.  You get a little crunch and a little sweet...just enough to take the edge off of cravings.  And if you decide to go on a rampant binge and scarf down the contents of the entire box (not that I would ever do that), you're still gorging on less fat than in a king-size Snickers bar (13 cookies = 10 Weight Watcher points...you're welcome).  And the batteries were for my food scale...nothing kinky to see here...just keep moving.]

For some inexplicable reason, I seem to have a knack for timing my purchases for the most awkwardness possible, like the time I bought multiple packages of feminine hygiene products and a birthday card.  And no, I wasn't stocking up for my next trip to the Texas legislature, I just happen to like keeping a pack both upstairs and down for the utmost in convenience at a time which is normally anything but.  Still, had I gone to the cashier (who with my luck would almost certainly have been a dude) carrying multiple hygiene products and a birthday card, it would have looked distinctly like I was preparing to give a rather unprecedented birthday gift to someone apparently possessing serious gynecological issues. Needless to say, the electronic cashier is much more understanding about such unusual product juxtapositions.

I have raised any number of eyebrows and occasioned no small comment over the years with purchases like 3 bags of jelly beans and a hunk of cheese or a muffin (I'm auditioning for "Chopped"); a new pack of underwear, Post-It notes and pencils (which just looks like a kinky party game); a bakery mix and Sudafed (methamphetamine brownies, anyone?); a case of water, 3 boxes of cinnamon Crest toothpaste and matches (mission trip to Zimbabwe?  Practicing for Survivor in the wilds of Northern Georgia?  MacGyvering a bomb??); or double-stick tape and toilet paper (yeah, I got nothing).

Invariably my weird pairings are the result of having to shop at multiple stores to complete my grocery list since the local Publix never carries everything I want. As a result, I always seem to end up with a last couple of oddly unrelated items. Coincidental or not, it can still be rather difficult to explain oneself when presenting dubious (or suspicious) items like a new plunger and Preparation H to the average cashier.  I know if someone handed me a plunger, Preparation H and a crisp $20, I'd be hard-pressed not to make some injudicious or suitably snarky comment.  Who wouldn't?  No, on days like these, it's far safer and infinitely less embarrassing to bring my shopping of shame to the friendly, non-judgmental scanners at the self-checkout, where I pray enthusiastically that no ill-timed electronic glitches expose me to the supervising cashier on duty.

Really, it's only a matter of time before I get banned from one or another of these stores.

Please...like you've never made an awkward purchase before.  Now stop looking at me like that.

05 July 2013

Frivolous Fridays

Most mornings I take my time waking up because I usually stay up till 2 am or so.  I haven't been a "morning person" since college, most notably when I served as that annoyingly perky food service employee who wrote "amusing" quotes on the chalkboard and chatted chirpily with everyone while I  ran their ID cards through the reader.  Needless to say, the number of death glares I received from groggy, bloodshot co-eds festooned in fuzzy slippers, raggedy robes and bedraggled bedhead as they searched for their restorative coffee would have incinerated me several thousand times over.  Since then I find it takes me a little longer to become fully coherent in the mornings, which is no doubt my penance for pissing off all those zombified college students.  So it should come as no surprise that it took me longer than usual this morning to notice a small but disturbing problem.  In the process of undressing for my morning shower, I discovered a small lump on the side of my breast beneath the sports bra I happened to wear to bed the night before.  That's not something most people want to find themselves waking up to in the morning.

I would perhaps have been more concerned by this discovery if the hard little lump hadn't been shifting around under my sports bra, something I'm pretty sure that  the average malignant lump doesn't usually do.  Still, I was not exactly expecting to find a slightly squashed jelly bean, which had apparently hitched a lift down my cleavage at some point during the previous day and remained there all day and night, lodged beneath my bra.  Yup...I am just that talented.  (And yes, I did eat it...waste not, want not.)  Two words:  Epic Fail.

Anyway, in honor of the ludicrousness that is my life, I've decided to start a new feature on this blog called "Frivolous Friday."  If nothing else, it will give me a place to share all the silly memes and pictures I'm constantly pulling off the internet and using to clutter up my desktop.  Without further ado, welcome to the first installment of Frivolous Friday!

Fourth of July fallout.
There's a reason we call them "flip-flops" now.

They have a point.

I would totally do this.

That's A-Positive message.