Friday, March 30, 2007

Improvathon 2007

Matt and I will be headed north tonight for Improvathon 2007 (Some details here) at SUNY Fredonia.

Our lovely friend, Jane of The Unexpected Guests gave me the heads-up earlier in the week that five improv comedy groups from around Western New York would be there with a massive Improv Mixer the last hour of the marathon.

It's free and goes from 5-11pm in the Williams Center. If you bring a canned or non-perishable food item, you get tickets for prizes.

All proceeds benefit Rural Ministries of Dunkirk.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is the cover to the final book in the Harry Potter series. Mary GrandPre' has been known to put clues to the plot on the cover. There's enough hinted about on this cover to set imaginations on fire.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Lost Art of Conversation

I spend most of my day typing snappy retorts over instant messenger, or thumbing in quick text replies on my cell phone. On those rare occasions that I send email, I'll spend a good hour writing it and editing it so it's something akin to a literary masterpiece. For email, at any rate. This usually means it's longer than most of the emails I'll ever receive.

But for all my long-winded electronic replies, quick remarks about everything under the sun in meebo.com, I find myself smiling and blushing as I try to carry on a regular conversation with friends in person. All my wit flees and I dangerously tread on foot-in-mouth territory.

I know there's a few people who would beg to disagree. And yes, I'm quite capable of intelligent and even interesting conversation, but that usually happens because I'm comfortable with the person I'm talking to. If I haven't seen a friend in awhile, or if it's someone I'm used to chatting online with then the cross-over to in person conversation seems to be a struggle. That stresses me out of course because I want to take advantage of every moment I have with my friends.

I know there have been studies about this and the Luddites have loudly proclaimed that the Internet would be the downfall of civilized conversation/letter writing/and traditional means of communication.

I'll continue to ponder that whilst I punch out another carefully worded text on my cell.

Addendum:
I think I have figured it out.

I'm an introvert.

When I get together with other introverts, I'm a regular Chatty Cathy.

When I get together with extroverts who hate any kind of silence, I give them the upper-hand in conversations because it's usually too hard to get a word in edgewise anyway.

I am my best with extroverts who know how to respect an introvert's space, and give me the 5 seconds I need to think and then spit out the brilliant thought that came to mind.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

A friend of mine has the lead role in this play. From what he's been saying, it's going to be a good, thought provoking show. For more information, visit The Scharmann Theatre website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Growing Leaders

A few weeks ago I embarked on a year long course with the Chautauqua Leadership Network (CLN). "What is this?" you ask. The cop-out answer is, "Here, read their mission statement":
"The mission of the Chautauqua Leadership Network is to identify and nurture regional leaders, providing a framework for an emerging network of skilled civic trustees helping our communities to meet the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow."
See if you can pick out which Julia is me in the class pic and where I am on page 8: CLN Newsletter-March 2007

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Warren Civic Orchestra Concert - March 18th

The Warren Civic Orchestra will be performing a Memorial/Tribute Concert to the late Dr. Jaropolk Lassowsky at 4 PM, Sunday, March 18th at the Struther's Library Theatre in Warren, PA.

The concert will feature pieces arranged by Dr. Lassowsky including a suite by Debussy, Variations on La Folia, and a Flute Quartet. Also featured will be the first and fourth movements of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

Admission is free and a reception will be held at the theatre at the conclusion of the performance.

****

I approach every concert with some trepidation. As stated many times, I'm not overly comfortable performing, even with a group. Practicing generally doesn't ease my worries. Invariably, I will take my seat on stage in my concert dress and I find that my fingers have turned to ice, accompanied by sweaty-palm syndrome. My throat dries up and my jaw clenches with concentration. Fortunately, I have found one thing that manages to relax me some, but doesn't look so great to the audience. Chewing gum. A year ago, or more, I found that chewing gum helps my jaw relax and allows me focus better on the music in front of me. This goes for rehearsals too. I prefer Orbit because the pieces are not so small that they evaporate in my mouth, and not so large that it seems like I'm gnawing away on my cud.

****
This concert is a week later than originally scheduled. It would have been today, but due to several rehearsals being canceled due to our glorious winter weather, it had to be moved up a week. Assuming there are no further plans for ice, snow, and winter malaise this coming weekend, my parents are coming down to hear me play and bringing two Great-Aunts. Due to the distance of Warren from Rochester, NY; they've never heard the Warren Orchestra. I'm guessing they will be delighted. I also have a couple friends in Warren that are hoping to come as well. It's always nice to have familiar faces in the audience and it's also nice to have newcomers there as well. I invite you to join the crowd for this free event!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Riding My Chariot

Gravel and dirty snow rumbled under the wheels of my car as I drove to work. Two morning doves waited at the side of the road until my car approached. They took flight, hovering in front of my car. Imaginary harnesses grew behind them and attached to my red chariot, pulling me into the air. I bid adieu to pot holes as we glided over tree tops and punched our way through the cloud puffing from the smokestack at the power plant until my car thumped to the ground at the garage entrance for work.



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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cold Warming

Everything I see, hear, and smell while walking around downtown Jamestown gives me the sense of being in 15 million different worlds all at once. I waited for the light to change at the corner of Third and Main Streets while cold air threatened to freeze any open passage-way into my lungs. I crossed the street as a red light and "walk" sign turned in my favor. Sunlight moved across my face as I passed from the shadow of the buildings lining the street.

NorthernExposureCalvin&HobbesHotCoffeeAlbanySpringtimeSkiing

My mind floated above me, touching the branches of the trees in the walkway. The snow squeaked beneath my feet.

Caffeine Sabbatical















I've been drinking a fair amount of caffeine-fueled products over the past couple of months. The last two weeks I've noticed that my increased intake hasn't necessarily resulted in that buzz or energy boost that I'm accustomed to getting. And then I read a a post by Gen X at 40 that may explain why.

As discouraging as the news may be, I think I might be able to pare down my intake of teas/coffee enough so that I make my body think it's getting something new and exciting in its system when I do have a treasured cuppa. The trick is cutting back. March has been quite frigid and I love my hot mug of tea during cold spells like this.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Twitterings

My hands are bouncing up and down lightly on the keyboard to the music on the jazz channel. Sometimes they press the keys, sometimes they just move in time with the snare drum.

***

I wear a red hat that I found at an import store in the mall. Friends and people around downtown recognize me by the hat, even if they can't see the rest of my face. The fuzzy angora catches snowflakes as I walk briskly down the sidewalk to deposit loan checks at the bank.

"I love your hat!" people exclaim.

I smile, "Thank you!"

Todd will tell me, "Lana said she saw you Saturday night. I told her she couldn't be sure it was you until she interrupted me, 'The girl was wearing that red hat that Julia wears. It had to be her!'"

I enjoy the eyes the follow me down the street from someone looking for a parking spot.

***

Like my grandmother did when she was sick, I often lay in bed and think about all my plans for our house. Ceilings are restored, crawl spaces cleared out and insulated; wallpaper gives way to rich color, and small nooks transform into libraries or office space.

The furniture moves around and unused pieces trudge up the stairs leg by leg to find refuge in the attic. New pieces are welcomed by books and decorative bits that arrange themselves on the shelves.

Even our yard joins in the effort with grass sprouting up from hard ground. Bushes stubbornly resist uprooting, but even they cannot hold back the shovels attacking the earth around their base. Raised flower beds and a fence spring to the surface allowing our dogs find new and exciting things to sniff without being constrained by leashes or tie-outs.

***

I carry a cup of coffee away from Timothy's Cafe. Grey slush splooshes underneath my boots, but I don't notice its cold wetness. The aroma of cinnamon, nuts, and cream waft toward my nose. I inhale deeply from the opening in the lid of my paper coffee cup. I'm no longer walking to work in my mind. Instead I'm listening to a live jazz quartet noodling along some line they seemed to have surprised upon. My paper cup is a sturdy, white mug of coffee warming my hands and filling my mouth with spice and lively bitterness.

Instant Karma Coffee House

The first time I ever was on the radio was in December 1994. Ryan Casilio was my trainer on WIRQ and was pretty cool about letting me pick out some music to play during his show. In between stumbling over public service announcements and announcing a request for the one friend who was listening, I found this gem of a tune by Loud Sugar (a commercial precedes the video):

Away, Away

We're on a mini-vaca in an area where they're experiencing forest fires (thanks asshole arsonist). It's an area that makes Clift...