Thursday, April 2, 2009

50 minutes to go

I haven't written in a few days, so I thought as an obligation I should. I only have 50 minutes before I need to leave to pick up my wife from subbing, so this may be long, depending on how fast I type, or short, depending on how slow I think.

We have a cat that lives in the apartment with us. Her name is Luna. We got that name because my wife wanted to name the cat something like Starshine or Sunkist. I don't know why, but I decided in my husbandly benevolance that Starshine sounded like the fish of a 13 year old girl named Brittany and I just couldn't have that. Then my wife threw out Moonshine. I think we can all see the problem with this. I'm not against embibing, I just don't think our pets name needs to reflect that. So, we took the "moon" that my wife wanted to name the cat and made it a little classier and now call her Luna.

Well, that's not completely true. Usually we just call her kitty. Or, in a moment of disgust or anger, "CAT!" with an extra sharp "t" at the end. We got this cat from a friend while we lived in our other apartment. We had the cat illegally since we didn't pay the deposit to keep her in the living quarters. We had to smuggle her out under the cover of late evening to make sure our landlady didn't see the cat.

She's a pretty smart cat. Luna knows when we are mad at her for, say...pulling the table cloth off of the table, or getting up on the counter at 2:00 in the morning and knocking cups off of the counter. She knows when we want her and click our tongues like some secret African language that we all speak. This clicking signifies that we want her to come to us, which she usually does.

Luna has a habit of sleeping on my wife's head at night. She curls up right on top of my wife's hair and goes right to sleep. This morning, my wife had left for work and the cat stayed on the pillow, in a shape that would be perfect for a head to be cradled.

The cat's nice to have around. She keeps me company on my day off, when I'm all alone in the apartment. Of course, I have to try extra hard not to get in her way, since that is HER domain during the day. I open the vertical blinds as soon as I get up so she can sun herself and bathe.

Recently, Luna has developed another habit: licking the sliding glass door. She didn't used to do this and it's only been happening since winter when the doors would freeze over so there would be a layer of ice. We figured that she was thirsty. After all, my wife sometimes forgets to give the cat some water. But now that the weather is warmer, she still goes to the same spot and lickes the glass. We've cleaned the glass with Windex. There shouldn't be anything tasty on it. I'm not sure why she does this.

Of course, the cat may think that we are weird and there are things she's not sure why we do them. We have to shower in the morning. The cat doesn't have to get a bath except once every 6 months. Of course, the cat also licks our legs when we get out of the shower. Maybe she's dehydrated and that's why she acts the way she does.

Luna stretches a lot. I've been told that this may be early signs of arthritis, but I'm just hoping that it is a sign that she's comfortable with us. That she just wants to relax and be in our apartment.

I think the cat can give us a lot of insight to how we deal with others. She goes and sleeps in the guest bedroom when she's mad at us and she hides under the bed when she's scared. I think we all do that: push those that care about us the most away when we are hurt. Why shouldn't it be the other way around? We should be closest to those who care about us when we are down and out. Why do we shut down? Maybe it's genetic.

We didn't know the cat's mother. Like I said, Luna was given to us, spayed and ready to go. Unfortunately, she wasn't declawed. She still isn't declawed and the free couch and chair that we got when my wife and I moved in together are looking a little sad.

We've looked at getting new furniture before, but then I think, "Well, the cat will just tear it up." Then I think, "Crap, now I sound like my dad." Not that that's a bad thing. But it's the prinicple of the matter.

I come from a long line of cat raisers. My parents have always had cats. My sister and her husband have cats. In fact, my parents just got a new cat to replace one that died. The cat they replaced was on her deathbed for years, I think. Her name was Mickey and Minnie. She was all black and squeaked instead of meowing. Her brains were sucked out when she was a kitten by a dog. Of course, you may be thinking...that's impossible. Of course it is! But that's what happened.

In all reality, I have no idea what happened to this cat, but she licked her tummy bare (and as a black cat, this was rather noticeable) and apparently had allergies. She was skitish and didn't like to be picked up. She wasn't the most cuddly cat. Her legs went stiff when you did pick her up, like she was a dog. But, to make a long story short, she was wierd and died.

I haven't met the new cat that my parents have, but apparently it's a black cat just like Minnie. Minnie was a black cat that replaced another black cat. Can we say that we don't like change? Yes, I believe we can.

Which is odd to say. I like change. But from the time I was in 6th grade on, my parents have had a black cat. I know we could say that they are the ones who don't like change, and believe me they don't, but I think that is ingrained in me too. Which, again, is odd to say.

If I had the money I wish I had then I would move all the time. I like the feeling of being anxious and nervous and then settling in to a new space. On a smaller scale, I like moving the furniture in our apartment. In the old apartment I moved it at least every other month. Unfortunately, in this apartment, the way the walls are shaped pretty much determines where everything goes. In one formation.

I like to cook, but I don't like to cook the same thing over and over again. But then again, I don't really like to try new things, yet another testament to not liking change. I remember a broccoli fiasco that still has me hesitant to eat little green trees. I've actually gotten out of the habit of cooking because I just don't want to cook the same stuff we've been eating. But when it comes to going to the store we buy the same foods and same packages.

I've changed a lot in my job. Physically I've changed my room. I had the walls painted and a new desk bought. I moved the layout around and cleaned the carpets, which are now a different color because of that cleaning (ew!) I've changed rehearsal techniques and times. I've tried to start new programs, which usually fail and that makes me think that the church doesn't like change either.

They were skeptical but okay with me painting the walls. I had the choir help do it, so that made it seem fun. But when it comes to doing something new, there is fear and trepidation. Why? Why do I fear change? I DON'T KNOW! That's the scary part. Maybe it's the opposite reason the cat gets excited every time she hears our door open. Somehow she always knows it's us walking in and runs into the entry way. She's excited to see something new. Like I said earlier, maybe we should emulate the cat more.

Well, I have 20 minutes to go, so obviously my typing has been quick. And, after sitting and pondering for a few minutes, I have nothing left to say for now!

Monday, March 30, 2009


It seems that I've been reading a lot. Of course, this can only be a good thing. I think it's been said somewhere that reading feeds the mind and as we all know, if you don't feed the mind it dies. So...I've been reading. No, I'm not saying that I feel like my brain is dying, I'm just trying to up my learning curve.

I never planned to go into church music, although there are those who will say that I have no say in "the plan," but I really don't believe that. I believe that life happens. This position became available and I took it. But I digress...this isn't theological today.

Since I wasn't planning on working in a church, I didn't study churches, church culture, or church music in college. It's not like I didn't have the opportunity. I went to a private Methodist college. And I was there a looooooong time. Opportunity and time were on my side. It wasn't something that particularly interested me.

Now, because of my position, I have to have an interest. Well, I don't have to, but I want to do well and have an excellent program, so I do have an interest. In this vein I've been reading a I mentioned, to up my learning curve.

Just last night I read "The No Complaining Rule" by Jon Gordon. GREAT book! I'm not a fast reader, unlike my sister and dad. They both seem to read millions of pages a week while I've had this book on my coffee table for nearly six months. I finally decided to pick up this book last night since there wasn't anything on the TV. Well, mainly "Brothers and Sisters" wasn't on...and if you haven't watched this show....WATCH IT! It's good!!

Anyway...I digress again. "The No Complaining Rule" is about exactly what it says: no complaining. Not cutting out complaining completely, but cutting out mindless, negative complaining and keeping useful, positive complaining that can help yield results and action.

I really liked this book. It wasn't very long and I finished it in 2 hours. A pretty big feat for me, since I prefer to read for comprehension instead of for speed or leisure. A big part of the book was laying out a plan to implement the No Complaining Rule and how to deal with complaints.

Even before reading this book I've tried to curtail complaining in my programs. For instance, in my biggest choir, we sometimes listen to our performance from the Sunday before. I ask people to think of how this could have been a better performance, but to also think of solutions and something positive. This usually weeds out the people in the group who are just looking for an outlet to complain about how flat we are, or how bad we sound (even when we don't sound bad at all!)

Unfortunately, I find personally I complain a lot. I complain to coworkers. I complain to family. I complain to my wife. If I were the other person, I would have already told myself to shut up. Or I would have just cut ties with myself. Either way, a negative outcome.

I try not to complain, but sometimes you just can't help it. At least that is what this book is saying. You CAN help it. You can still complain...rather I can still complain, but only if I accompany those complaints with positive action to get positive results. Complaints are a barometer (it's said thermometer - for you Seinfeld fans) and show that if something isn't working, then there is obviously something wrong. The pressure valve is complaints. That's when they can be used in a positive way.

This book recommends you try doing a "complaining fast" for one day, then a week, then a month, then forever. I think I'm going to try it. In fact, I would challenge anyone who reads this that you try it too. Write down all the complaints you have for a day and see how many you actually have. Then see which of those complaints you control and which you don't. The ones you don't control can just be "let go." The ones you do control...try to think of positive solutions to those complaints.

I know this seems silly, but perhaps no complaining is part of the answer to having success and happiness. I know I don't like to be around people who complain too much, so this is my positive spread the No Complaining Rule to all of you.

On a side note, another great Jon Gordon book to read is "Death By Meeting." This book goes through a plan to make meetings more successful and bearable. It has a lot more steps to it and is a lot more complicated, meaning you almost have to be in a leadership position to implement it, but it's still a great theory and well written book.