Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The curse of the first born. . .

So, two weeks ago I started this post. It was going to be high-minded, semi-whiny piece on being the first born which started writing itself in my head after I read this article on the firstborn having it tough (when I saw the article, "Duh!" was the only thing that came to mind). I am not going to lie, I agree. There are things my younger siblings got away with that my mother would have killed me for. Also, I feel like I had to work a lot more—around the house, at the family business, whatever.

I think it also set me on a sleep-deprived quest for Perfection—or whatever I thought it was supposed to be. Sadly, that quest ended in tears and suicide attempts and hatred of oneself, which lead, thankfully, to self-awakening, self-love, and forgiveness (and B's massive embarrassment at my being uniquely myself pretty much all the time). In this post, the blogger kind of describes how I felt in trying to achieve "greatness," but feeling like a failure time and again because of that elusive end goal. Many times, I wanted to unplug and run free. Then someone else was chosen to run free, and it hurt that it wasn't me. Down the road, it is bittersweet when birthdays pass by (Happy Birthday, Nate).

But being the eldest (not quite, but long story) has had it's perks, which is something I have realized from the last couple of posts by the Mormon Foodie. I have a few more pictures than the younger Roos. I was read to a lot more. I sang with Mom in the car (there weren't cars with TVs with VCR/DVDs back then) which maybe lead me to be a better singer. Mom had a little more time to play with my hair (a practice which still is the easiest way to relax me). And I learned to cook and love it—okay, to love food in general.

Maybe it was just making the mac & cheese (with hot dogs!) that a few babysitters thought was our only food source. Maybe it was inventing bologna boats with Nathan, and realizing if you used the right plate, the bologna (for 30 seconds - 1 minute in the microwave) would curl up into a bowl shape, perfect for cradling hot melted cheese. Or adding the bread underneath to soak up all the grease (I know—ew, but oh so good). Maybe it was Thursday nights having pancakes and eggs, our plates set on towels in front of the TV while Dad was at High Council (back then, having food in the family room was usually verboten). Or making fried jelly sandwiches in a cast iron skillet over a campfire at girls camp.

I envied Nate his hand for inventing perfect variations of quesedillas. I perfected an alfredo sauce that is still creamy and good cold from the fridge the next day. My spinach gnocchi is divine. Also, I am kind of proud of my "Chips!" especially after my version of the recipe was emailed out to an entire Brazilian family, informing them they have made chocolate chip cookies wrong their entire lives (not by me). I may have rubbed my love of food into my hair with my first spaghettios (one of my first solid foods).

As the youngest of our clan graduates at the end of next week, it is interesting to ponder the difference our birth order has made in our lives. I am kind of glad to be first, though I will agree with the msn article at the beginning, we firstborns did have it more rough, but it has made me tougher and more me. And who wouldn't want to be that?!?

See, much less whiny than the original post was going to be; also, anything that talks about food is pretty awesome!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Starting your own bluegrass band. . .

Tuesday, May 13, 9ish pm, American Idol Randomness in the background, Lounging on the couch—brain cells switched to the off position.

"So, um, are you going to that Battle of the Bands thing?"
"The one on Saturday?”
“Probably not. I wanted to get a band together, but. . . meh.”
“We totally should.”
“Oh, come on. I’ll bring my violin over on Thursday and we’ll work something out.”
“I think you overestimate my guitar skills—it has been a long time.”

Thursday, May 15th, 5:30ish, driving home from a long day at work. . .

“Hey, you don’t happen to want to give me guitar lessons so I can play on Saturday do you?” Please say no; Please say no. . .
“Sure. You would have to pick me up.”
“Um. . . I’ll see you in 10 minutes?”

Same day, 9ish

“I can’t really practice. They are going to call me into surgery shortly.”
“Saving a life is much more important. We so do not have to do this.”
“We are doing this.”

Friday, May 16th, 6ish

“I’m coming over.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“We are so doing this.”
“How was surgery?”

Saturday, May 17th, 11:30 pm

“Not quite sure how we did that.”
“I know!”
“I am kind of sad we didn’t get to play our third song.”

And so, Chicks with Strings was born. . . and have now changed their name to Suz Y Roos. Welcome to my crazy life.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Around the web in considerably less than 80 posts

Some of the fun blogs (blogosphere and bloggernacle) I have been perusing in the last couple days include:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

This May sweep you off your feet...

May sweeps is a time when advertisers look at ratings to decide where to advertise, and networks get to use those ratings to set advertising prices. In order to bolster their ratings, networks usually perform some kind of stunt (i.e. CSI and Two-and-a-half Men’s writers, neither of which I watch, switched places). This year, most people are happy just to have scripted shows back.

Side note: I followed the strike like the crazy TV junkie that I am. United Hollywood was my daily first stop. I was reading articles from both sides; but the studio honchos came off smug and money-hungry, while the writers came off as working people who were only asking for a fraction of what the studios already received. I had an ulterior motive, though—someday I want to be a screenwriter. In fact it is on my list of things to do in my next decade which will actually show up on my blog sometime around my birthday. I am giving myself six months to decide what I want to do with my next ten years.

As a self-proclaimed (diagnosed?) TV addict, it has surprised me that I have not been as excited by TV this spring. Sure, scripted shows are back, and I love The Office, Ugly Betty, Supernatural, Bones, Aliens in America (so sad it is going to be canceled), and the “fantastic” Doctor Who (Sorry, I am still working on catching up with Battlestar). I am looking forward to the return of Burn Notice, My Boys, Psych, and So You Think You Can Dance, but my heart longs for September when we finally get another Heroes, Chuck, and especially Pushing Daisies. Maybe the writers are having a slump. There are some good moments, but a lot of it is very “meh.”

Good TV is like the best books, it makes you delve into another world full of truth, pain, change, and good friends (I know, you think this is sounding a little familiar—I am addicted to good writing, sue me. That post is coming soon.). Literature has always been incredibly important to me—it can help shape the way we experience the world, experience it with us, or remind us that others have gone through it, too. TV has become like good literature. There are themes, mythologies, social commentary, and truth being packaged in with gorgeously sculpted characters—even wise-cracking, spunky, blond PIs—that I haven’t fully felt from many books in a while. Many of the books that have come out recently do not excite me like some of the TV I have been watching (which, just a few years ago, I personally would have taken as heresy). This is not to say that they are all succulently written, but like books, there is a spectrum, and a good portion of them are lovely.

The face of television is going to change in the next few years, and that may excite me more than anything else. Pilot season was ruined this year, and no one knows what will happen going forward—even the Upfronts are changing—but I think many sly, social commentators and brilliant, literary geniuses will, hopefully, create art in the realm of television. If we can keep the rising tide of reality drivel out of it (there is some place for a little reality—I adore Project Runway) and stop the cancellation of some very promising shows; we will discover some amazing pieces when all is said and done. We are experiencing something like the birth of the novel—a golden age of writing come to life. Enjoy May sweeps 2008, you may find inspiration where you least expect it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Music that reverberates

From middle school on, I had a close friend who was an amazing musician. When she was a child, her family lived in Germany, and a cache of instruments was found in the attic of a nearby high school. Before they disposed of them, they offered a few to her parents. They chose a violin and a cello, and their two children learned to play at an early age (As the daughters of two music professors in the woodwind family, strings were a little radical).

For years I sat second chair to her first (She went on to be a violin performance major at Oberlin). When we warmed up, I would loosen my fingers to the delightful strains of Vivaldi (concerto #1 in A minor—the allegro), and she would play the haunting melody that repeats throughout Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (Op. 35). For years, just hearing the opening notes to that symphony would make my entire body shudder in perfect, musical rhapsody.

It has been years since I have heard it (I cannot figure out why I do not own it). Yesterday, in the car, grumpy from having an abbreviated nap, I turned on the radio, and once again my heart was tuned to the rapture-inducing strains of that first violin solo. Time slowed down; everything around unfocused; any stress melted out of my cells. My arms jumped with goose bumps; and my synapses sparked with that violin. The exquisite beauty of that refrain always resonates to a point of near pain within me, and in that single moment it was just me and the music—nothing else existed. I sat in the parking lot, not wanting to lose that moment. Nearly sobbing, I felt a prayer of thanksgiving—no words were adequate enough, and let it go in order to go inside.

The definition of reverberate is “to continue in or as if in a series of echoes,” and the single memory of that moment continues to echo. Besides Christ, I don’t think there is a lot of perfection in this world, but the violin solo in Scheherazade comes close.

Friends who just happen to be books

Running my hands reverently over the well-loved covers of dusty books stored in my head, various friends smile, "This is your life," out from the shelves. I can hear the 4-year-old, slowly sounding-out the words of Danny and the Dinosaur cradled next to her mother (If she had taught me If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, which came out the year B was born, would I be more of a chef type? More of an animal lover?).

The six-year-old wanders into looming corridors and crawling rose gardens, snuggling into blankets as wind wuthers over lonely moors, looking for ghosts and a key. Potions glob and roil, while Gink companions along, diving in and out of scrapes on her broomstick. The wolves howl across frosty wastes and up to the ornate door, knocking with the tyrannical stranger, teaching her to cling to her cousin (or any loved one left) out of sheer stubbornness.

Nancy, Bess, and George get a fourth companion for their sleuthing. An invisible companion pulls Aerin out of the carnage and drags her broken body back home. The gallows swing behind Gwyn, but the wind pushes her out across the countryside for one more adventure. A less silly sister snickers with Lizzie and Jane and gossips about the occupants of Netherfield. Like Jack, I believe it, but I don't believe it.

Too often I think my life experiences were experienced in fiction first. Though I have been blessed with many wonderful friends throughout the years, my first true friends were the books I read. My brother Nathan used to tease me for reading too much and for knowing the librarians at school better than anyone else. But those librarians gave a lonely little girl a gaggle of friends who understood, and I am grateful to them for seeing that I needed those friends. As I add more friends at Goodreads, it makes me a little giddy to add both types of friends to the shelves in my heart, even if they are a little dusty.

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