Saturday, December 29, 2012

An Abortion, I Believe

Yes, it's about abortion.  Yes, again!  Be comforted that this particular aspect is very narrow and easy to understand.  See you after the break.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A few Hours in Another Life

Last weekend, I went on vacation.  That's pretty much a big deal for me, because I traditionally haven't had the sort of job that allows "vacations" -- they tend to be "a gaping hiatus that doesn't pay anything".  But this time, I had paid time off and everything!

I went to visit friends who live in Florida and generally had a enormously satisfying time doing all the things I love: talking, eating, and laughing.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Follow-up

I went back to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and had another amusing mix up.  I was sitting there quietly, and a nurse called my name.  "Andrew?"  As I put my phone in my pocket and made to stand up, someone else got up and followed the nurse out of the room. 

Oh!  Two Andrews.  Well, if they have the wrong one, they'll figure it out lickety-split.  Another five minutes or so, and another call for "Andrew?" is made.  I get up and follow this nurse, remarking that there were two Andrews.  Hope you got the right one!

Walking down the hallway a pace in front of me, she called nonchalantly over her shoulder, "Andrew Jasic?" 

I respond, nonplussed.  "Nope."

She checks in mid-stride.  "No?"

"No."

She looks at her chart again.  "Well, just take a seat in this examining room anyway, and we'll sort this out."

Turns out that there was another Andrew at the same time.  AND!  The confusion from the first appointment is because they have another Andrew Schwartz.  He's even an "Andrew J Schwartz"; what are the odds!

So now I have to be sure to identify myself as Andrew Schwartz and followed up by my birthday.

A small inconvenience to escape the glaucoma surgery that the other Andrew was having.  Yikes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Doctor Andy Doctored

Today, I went to the doctor for a check-up since... I don't even know when.  Over the years, I have visited the doctor, but it's mostly been for a purpose: my ear hurts, this cough won't go away, should this thing really be this color?  This was largely a "well visit", though I did have lingering scab on my ear and my family has been after me forever to start moving towards testing for sleep disturbance.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Non-Mutual Opinion of Lego

This morning, I was browsing the shopping ads when I came across a big Star Wars/Lego piece for sale.  I was sorely tempted, but $50 for even a very nerdy Lego set is hard to justify until I win the lottery.  What I didn't imagine was that the whole thought exercise would remind me of a story from some years ago, also regarding Lego and my girlfriend at the time.

It was her birthday, and I got her two or three things.  One of which was a little Lego playset of the scene from "Return of the Jedi" in the Emperor's throne room.  There was a little window, a throne for a Lego Emperor, and Lego Luke and Vader with lightsabers. There may have even been a little figure of one of those red-robed guards.

I thought this was cute and fun, so I wrapped it up and added it to the small pile.  Not as a gift that signfied the depths of our relationship, but as a gift that said "Hey, we both like Star Wars".  That part I was sure of, because we'd watched them and she'd told me how much she liked Star Wars.  We saw one in the theater at her insistence, so I felt I was on safe ground.

But it did not go well.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Enough is Enough

I do not propose to wade into the debate on the spiritual consequences or atavistic morality of abortion, but I cannot stand the promulgation of ignorance, EVEN in the form of a pithy text-covered image on the Internet.  Everyone should recollect from high school science that there is indeed a live single cell inside a female uterus.  In fact, several!  ...Hundred million. The cells in a woman's uterus are "life" and considered alive whether or not she is pregnant.

And rest assured, the discovery of a single cell on some interstellar planet is far more likely to be concomitant contamination than diligent discovery. 

If one is going to be precise about pro-life at the cellular level, at least be reasoned enough to call for mass murder penalties befitting the casual death reflexes of men and women.  How can the world stand by with hands in pockets at the shocking killing crimes of so many theoretical humans and cancerous cysts? 

It's disgraceful! and all sensible and patriotic Pre-Life Americans will agree.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Sacrifice of Love, or...

Original image credit to BeckermanPhoto.com
It has been a very long week for me.

Last night marked the end of the week spent with the brass band, recording our Christmas album.  A tiring process, made more difficult to bear because of working a full-time job in addition.  Five straight days of 9 to 6 to 6 to 10 have worn me thin, like silk scraped three times too many.

It meant that I went largely without seeing the company of friends or loved ones, except those present at either my place of business or located with me on the stage floor amongst the microphones.  That, too, rubs a man ragged.  I was fortunately consoled by the known tenure of my labors and the virtual certainty of a memorable and valuable artifact in the offing -- even if only to me.

We tend to labor without consideration of payment for the things we really love.  Friends in the band announced their expected children with resigned and nonchalant ease, but the journey is one that costs them sleep, attention, pursuit of other goals, and the worries of ten thousand and one ways for things to go wrong before breakfast. 

But they love each other, so the weight is less when divided.

Allow me to present two vignettes of love in the abstract.  It is a shallow way of showing inclusion in a club to which I cannot truly claim membership.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Uncommentable Things

Some things that I feel the societal pressure NOT to comment upon.

1) People who don't like how they look AND have children.

     It annoys me that people will continually post pictures of their children and not themselves.  I have Facebook friends whom I have not seen in years, but I continue to "not see them" because they have no pictures of themselves online.  Just pictures of their children.  And by the by, a significant portion of children look a lot alike when depicted in a 100x100 pixel photo as a profile shot, especially before the age of 6 months or so. 

2) Posed professional pictures of newborns on flowers or bookshelves or draped on depictions of the word "LOVE".

     In my opinion, creepy.  When I see a sleeping newborn who has been carefully posed (or "folded") into a sitting position and given a jaunty hat, I think less of the parents.  I don't know if there is a name for these type of pictures, but I loathe them all.

A friend assured me that I will "think different" when I have a child of my own.  That may well be, but I find that old saw to be less than meaningful.  It has as much weight as "you just haven't met the right person", which I've heard my entire adult life, with similar impact.  Also it's an unarguable point.  Yes, I may think different, but I won't know until then.  Yes, I may not have met the right person, but I could go on not meeting her.

Plus, the babies in these photos look like they've died and are being made into taxidermy in honor of themselves.  Doesn't help that the babies are usually asleep, eyes closed.

3)  Thou shalt not give the bride a hard time at the wedding.

     I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.  Nobody should be giving the bride grief about the wedding, but it becomes un-commentable when it's the parents.  When they say that they're paying for the reception, so the bride only gets to make "suggestions", that deserves a big fat elopement.  Send a postcard from Scotland and say, "Wish you were here, not making decisions."

I sat down to chat with a good friend who's getting married soon.  She was unpacking how her wedding of 40 people has turned into 120.  People she doesn't know and has never heard of are coming, because they're clients of someone or other.  Wasn't it in Medieval times when weddings were used primarily as business and mergers?  Good thing we're liberated now.

4)  Hyper-patriotism and jingoism

     Both my grandfathers fought in Europe in World War II, and I can't recall either one of them making a big deal out of what America was, other than "home".  Today's braggadocio sticks in my craw.

5)  Old people who are bigoted and mean are unpleasant people

     Standing in line at the post office, a grandmotherly woman entered and took up a place behind me.  After five minutes had elapsed, she started to comment under her breath about what the clerks were doing, questioning the capability of the clerk with a hearing aid.  She also disliked all the "Mexicans" in Olathe, by which I assume she was referring to the Sikh man buying stamps ahead of us.

6)  I wonder why all the McDonald's's's in the area always have their TVs tuned to FoxNews.  I wonder why nobody is ever watching. 


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

One of those moments

The ears appeared at about 5pm.
It is unfortunate I haven't had much time to write.  Summer is the busy period at work, and I have been kept hopping.  But the key to writing is just to do it, so I laid fingers to keyboard tonight.  If this one actually gets published, you won't notice the difference.  I, however, will wonder at what made this entry different. 

Before this one sees life, I have 26 partially started entries between my last and this one.  Some of them consist of only a title or intro sentence, trying to spark myself to wit.  Others lie in a completed state, monuments to a pile of time and purpose.  Sometimes I pull them because too much time has elapsed, but as often as not I hold off on publishing them because I've had a chance to think about whatever I say.  With that pondering, I often change opinions, or realize that I've been harsh to someone who didn't deserve it.  I held off on one of the most recent because in my rush to defend someone and speak down to their accuser, I had become patronizing and head-patting.  Deplorable.

So there's this entry.

It's about some hugs.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Raven and the Mistrusting Bride

This entry is melancholy.  Do not proceed if you are easily swayed by such emotions.  Or if you'll call and ask if I'm all right.  I'm fine!  It's merely been a reflective day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

News Worthy

This entry is going to be about politics.  Fair warning.

Today, I ate lunch at about 3:30.  As usual, I pulled out my phone and started scrolling through news.  Going in reverse chronology, a friend at the top of the list said "I <heart> Obama!"  I pursed my lips and metaphorically clucked my tongue.  You just don't see that kind of unvarnished opinion -- not without someone taking them to task or at least commenting ironically.

But a sudden hunch made me skip the gradual progression backwards and just fiercely scroll back.  Story after story appeared about President Obama's announcement regarding support for gay marriage. 

"Well," I thought, "that's something."

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Removal of an Old Standby

One of my favorite targets for humor is myself.  A large portion of humor comes at the expense of someone else -- it can be explicit like poking fun at someone, or more subtle in passing judgments on someone's intelligence (whether or not they "get" a joke).  But one of the softest varieties is making fun of me.

For one thing, it allows me to set up more complicated and rewarding bits of humor.  Since so much of humor is about timing, relying on someone else to unintentionally say a trigger phrase can be hit or miss (other people are notoriously bad at grasping my intent telepathically and enabling it).  Though riffing off what another person has said has a potentially greater reward in the synchronicity, sometimes doing things oneself is the proper route.

When making fun of myself, I tend towards ironic statements which are voicing opinions comically opposed to mine.  I've always enjoyed phrases like "...and that's what comes from men and women dancing!" and making comments about how the "experiment" with women's suffrage is clearly getting out of hand.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Sushi me

While I was buying dinner tonight, I noticed that my local grocery store (Hen House!) has finally started a sushi club.  There was already a bread club (10th loaf free), a pie club (12th pie free), a salad club (7th salad free), and a club I've never paid attention to (I don't even know what it is, because my count is still zero).  The store helpfully prints a summary of each club on every receipt -- which is why all my receipts are as long as my forearm. 

Tonight I noticed they started a sushi club.  I think it's 14th package free.  I'm on number 7!  Number seven was purchased by me tonight, on what the store calls "Sushi Wednesday".  It discounts sushi two or three dollars on Wednesday.  Most likely, this is because fresh ingredients arrive on Thursday. 

My point for all this sushi talk is that it would have been unthinkable for me to say anything like the first two paragraphs at any time in my life before.  Even as late as a year ago, I had only had sushi once or twice in my life.  But I made promises to myself to branch out eating, and the sushi is a delicious part of that.  Hurray for culinary exploration!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Addendum: Nixon in China video

For anyone who's interested, the whole of "Nixon in China" is available on YouTube in 17 parts.  It's the Houston Grand Opera production from 1987, with an introduction by Walter Cronkite.  I only found it this evening -- I would like to have seen it during rehearsal!

Symphonic Metamorphosis, movement three

Pre-Opera Projection
Earlier this afternoon was the final performance of the "Nixon in China" run.  To keep all the different concerts and series straight, the symphony identifies everything by a simple code in ascending order.  This was called Opera 3 and the fancy concert this coming weekend with newly-minted Grammy-winner Joyce DiDonato is called Classical Series 9.  In a few weeks, they'll have Opera 4, and so forth.

This is a critical method for keeping people from getting confused, especially in a season where there can be rehearsals and performances for two or three things simultaneously.  It is vital to not be confused.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Symphonic Metamorphosis, Movement two

The first performance of the Kansas City Lyric Opera's production of "Nixon in China" by John Adams was Saturday night.

Here's the two reviews I could find:

Kansas City Star, "Epic meets intimate: Lyric Opera's "Nixon" is a stunner"

KCMetropolis.org, "Opera in the age of the sound bite"

*Disclaimer*
The KCMetropolis review was written by a friend of mine. He's not the sort of person to take it easy on one of the highest-profile performing ensembles because I'm playing in the back row, but the connection does exist.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Isn't nostalgia strange?

I'm sitting in a restaurant that didn't exist when I first started my tenure at UMKC.  Well, the name and brand existed, but the old building that it inhabited was torn down years ago.  Now it's in a deserted firehouse which DID exist then, but had a fire department in it.  

Are you following me so far?

I'm also bogging, which I didn't do when I first came here.  And even weirder, I'm doing that on my phone.  Mostly as an experiment -- it isn't a satisfactory typing experience and it makes me long for a keyboard.  

I would be at the university, where I have access to chairs and computers, but they're notoriously stingy with the parking.  That is a perennial that has only gotten worse with the destruction of one of the main garages.

It is nice to sit here and enjoy a day: I get so little opportunity to do that nowadays. It's brought to me by the symphony having a strange split rehearsal across the afternoon and into the evening.  

So I'm betting on a 10:00 supper tonight.  10:30 if there is overtime.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Symphonic Metamorphosis, movement one

Pit view for "Nixon in China"
As I posted earlier, I am currently rehearsing with the Kansas City Symphony again.  Over the last few months, I've been called a few times to help them out.  The months-long experience has been nothing but positive.  The fellow instrumentalists think I look familiar and start to remember my name.  People I've only watched from afar now smile and nod, as if to say "hi, we're here to do the same thing". 

And that's so amazing I can barely speak.

Heard the old woman cry out and I did nothing

I heard the woman approaching before I ever saw her.

<scrape>
"Ohhh..."
<scrape>
"Arggg..."
<scrape>
 "Oooo..."

She was making a whole host of aggrieved noises, so I looked up.  Unlike what I assumed, she was not being mugged or otherwise molested.  She was simply walking -- achingly slow -- down the hallway, using her cane.  Every step brought some sort of vocalization, none of them pleasant or muted.  She was using the sort of voice one uses to make a lover guilty while sitting six seats down the bar from them ("oh, you're a DOCTOR.  WELL, isn't that AWESOME!")

Who Spells the Spellers?

 I posted something on Twitter earlier today that used the word "surreptitiously".  I typed it out the first time with an erroneous third "u" where the "e" is.  The spell check didn't catch it, but it still looked a bit odd.  So I went to one of my most visited sites: dictionary.com (which is actually dictionary.reference.com, and has been for years.  Luckily the simple way works.)  I've used this for years for everything from academic papers and resumes to the aforementioned Twitter and blog posts.

The site helped correct the spelling for surreptitious and it also listed a definition I didn't understand. 
3. obtained by subreption; subreptitious.


The Deaf and Copland

Two weeks ago, I performed with the Kansas City Symphony for their series of Kinder Konzert.  It was about the science of sound, featuring a curator from the Science City center in Union Station.  Over four days, there were 8 brief concerts and an attendance of over 12,000 students.  That's an unbelievable number to be involved with.

I still remember going to Powell Hall in St. Louis when I was young and seeing the symphony.  I don't remember anything about the concert or what we saw, but I remember going at some point.  Hopefully these kids do, too. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Andrew in Nixon in China

No, the title isn't a dirty joke.

It's a reference me being called yesterday to play with the Kansas City Symphony / Lyric Opera of Kansas City's production of "Nixon in China", on assorted dates in March. 

A quick sequence that makes up the life of a music student.  When I was an undergrad, I saw a clip from a "Nixon in China" production.  Later, I studied the opera briefly in my modern music class.  A few years ago, I had the chance to see a production in St. Louis as part of the Opera Theater there.

And now I'm going to be playing it.  This is what happens if you're very lucky as a musician -- you move from wondering what something is, to studying it, to appreciating it, to playing it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Not Thick-Skinned Enough to be a Woman

Strip #642 from xkcd.com
Recently, I went to the solo recital of a fellow musician and friend.  Coming straight from work and halfway across the city, I was the first person to sit in a pew.  Over the next half-hour, thirty-or-so people filtered in and sat in vaguely definable groups.  Near me sat a quartet of college undergrads.  The last of the four to arrive reminded me of flashbacks to my undergrad: flannel shirt, mussed hair and unkempt beard, loping walk, and a Pearl Jam t-shirt.  Are you the 90's considered vintage now, like the 70s were in my day?  Cool.  Err, I mean "radical"!

Anyway, my friend was shuffling music and straightening stands on stage.  The latecomer to the quartet noticed her, stared for ten seconds and then said to the others, "She looks HOT!"  The other three turned simultaneously to look at him.  He reiterated, "What?  She totally does."

The Other Me Seeks to Woo

"Why doesn't she have any posters?"

That's the strange peculating thought I have when I look in her office.  She sits at the computer, intently typing and shuffling papers.  About her, the office is bland: the walls bare, the desk spartan, the photos nonexistent.  I follow the curve of her arm, but the keyboard and mouse are the only accessories.  Not even a chosen mouse pad bespeaks the tastes or opinions behind her dark eyes.

"She's kind of tall!"

My next thought.  Dressed as she is in her work uniform, it's difficult to tell her height.  Her head-height speaks to being above-average for a woman.  Her posture while sitting almost suggests she's stretching upwards.  Her chin probes outwards, not down towards her torso reflexively. 

I make up my mind that I'm going to ask her out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Big Boy Clothes

Jacketed me (in my mind)
I got to go clothes shopping last weekend.  Not just any kind of clothes, either!  Fancy clothes.  In preparation for my upcoming symphony work, I needed new fancy raiment.  I browsed a bit online to find local tailors and clothiers, and settled on an establishment that is practically across the street.  Because of the area I live in, I seldom go a-walking when shopping, because I'm not really "equipped" to purchase from my local merchants. 

By which I mean that asiago-and-port-wine bedroom slippers aren't really in my price range.

Fulfilling a Dream; Living a Nightmare

I got yelled at yesterday.  For the better part of an hour, a customer berated and finger-pointed.  It was not -- as they say -- fun.  I maintained my cool, in the sense that I did not punch the person between the eyes.  I did, however, bristle and give increasingly curt and non-acquiescent responses.  I failed Customer Service 201 while trying to preserve Customer Service 101.

And then, after having all of this piled upon me, I went somewhere and did something that took the pain away.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Un coeur en dehors de l'hiver

I want some snow.

Various friends would have me whipped and placed in the stockade for saying so, but I think it's starting to wear on me.  The weather projection for this week is highs about 50, lows about thirty.  Every. Day.

We had rain tonight, which -- for a very short while and likely due to a computer error -- was listed as snow.  I'm not going to say that I sat by the windows watching, but I did pull the blinds up and read at the nearest armchair. 

I think I need the cold and the snow to balance me out.  The official total for Kansas City this winter is 0.4" -- not even enough to declare a winner in the "when does KC get its first snow?" contest on the local weather.

My friend who grew up in Florida loves it.  My friend who grew up in Alabama sings the praises.  I think that it isn't the end of the world to be stuck in Eternal Autumn, but it sure is grating on my nerves.

I need the snow.  I need it to freeze the world.   A certain kind of beauty is only unmasked when the bright eyes wink in the wind, and while the hair framing those eyes is caught up in drafts bearing frozen crystals.  The muted crunch of footsteps soothes the heated anguish in my mind. The silence that fresh-fallen snow enforces: it calls out to the frantic parts of my brain in softly tufted storms. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Wide Peace Beyond the Pain

The trouble with attempting to parse who among your friends is most like you is that you may not be able to stop.  I'm on my third pick.  What's worse is that the three aren't very much like each other, or indeed, me.  Usually a particular event or conversation will lead to me identifying one or another as the prime of the moment, but further reflection tosses the fish back into the barrel.

The true answer is that none of them are me.  No matter how familiar their choices, how sympathetic their circumstances, eventually there is a divergence.  A moment that makes me say, "That's not how I would have done that!"

I think about this not because I'm measuring my friends to my own stick -- everyone knows I'm not so crashingly enamored of my life to thing it a good candidate for inflicting on others.  Not to say I don't like my life, on balance: just that I'm not the sort of person to go shoving my gum into other people's faces and saying "Of course you like strawberry!"

With that established, let me tell you the tale of Jenna.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Message Received

This post was going to be about me watching a woman tie her hair up.

During the recent orchestra rehearsals I was involved in, I landed my eyes on the back of someone's head.  When you are a brass person, you tend to sit in the rearward of the ensemble -- as such, I see lots of head backs.  This particular woman took a moment during the space after tuning to spin her hair into a ... do they call them "buns" if it's just scrunched up like a gift-wrapped pony tail?