Monday, September 17, 2007


Roughly 116.5 hours to go till the wedding service and all is well. Btw, that's less than five days. So excited!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Believable? Perhaps

I've been really, really busy! Ah, but you already knew that. Must keep blog fresh. So I'll stick to updates.

Monday: Was going along okay, had Agape, then some students, then I went to the Plex to try to get some computer-related thing to work so I could print out a list of people so I could start the seating chart, and it just. Wouldn't. Work. And then I had a voice mail from someone who was at Bethany while I was at a student's house wondering why I wasn't there because she thought we had a lesson. I listened to this twenty minutes before I had to be back to Bethany for an actual scheduled lesson. But said lesson did not take place because I indulged myself in a bit of a meltdown. I saw no other choice than to give into my desire to sob uncontrollably: Erich was gone for another week, the wedding was in less than two weeks, and I had to make good use of every free hour. And that wasn't happening. I looked forward and saw the possibility of doom, and it was very scary. Luckily, the student's mom was very understanding and rescheduled for the next day (I'm sure I sounded very meltdown-y on the phone). Then I needed Erich to help me out of my pit of despair and remind me that the wedding would not be a disaster. He was excellent and put off dinner to get my computer problem to work (why can't a simple mail merge be simple? Whyyyyyy?), though he did sound a bit frightened of me. Can't blame him.

And Monday's story ends happily, because with my mom's help and then Erich's over the phone, I finished the seating chart! (Of course, some of it now has to be redone because to some people "The favor of a reply is requested by August 23" means nothing. But that's okay because there is still enough time.) So, hooray.

Tuesday: After a stupid morning where I got the feeling both my mother and I were trying to walk through two feet of slime, we finally made it out of the house with my reception dress and undergarments and drove to Oak Park, where sister Anne's mother-in-law, Jan, was at Anne and Jed's place with her new puppy and... end of sentence. Okay, that got too long. Point=Jan is making a few slight but necessary alterations to my dress. She rocks. The four of us went out to lunch, which was very nice. Then my mom and I went back to Naperville (with my veil, which Anne made pretty) in time for me to go teach for three and a half hours, followed by the most boring (but quick) church voters meeting I've ever been too. And believe me, when it comes to church meetings, boring means good because contention amongst a church body depresses one as nothing else can. Tuesday night, Erich and I hammered out the little details of the reception, which felt really good to get done.

Wednesday: Played for school chapel, met with Phil re: October and stuff, did some work for Agape then taught, then I vegged at the Plex for a while before going shopping with my mom at Carson's which is having a Goodwill Sale right now, which is really great because I got one item 20% off which would never go on sale, and a few other things I needed such as sunglasses, because, hellooo, I'm going to Hawaii. And then I got to hang out with Erin and Alayna, which is always super fun. (Her new thing: "Look! A nano [piano]!" or "Oh, look! A puzzle!" for example. Very cute, as always.) Wednesday was a good day.

Today: More shopping! First we (Mom and I) went to the new Ulta in downtown Naperville. I love this Ulta because in the regular cosmetics (like Revlon, L'Oreal, Maybelline, etc.), the items are displayed according to type, not brand. So I merely had to look in the mascara section for waterproof mascara (guess what for) instead of trudging between the different brands to compare. So I filled all of my cosmetic needs, and then we went to Target and got fun things like snacks for the limo ride, and goodies for the welcome bags for people who are staying at the Hilton.

Then I taught. And today is Thursday, which means I was in people's homes. And I am overjoyed to report that my new streamlined Thursdays (without SORM) are so much easier now! And the best part was when I went to the second house, of little adorable five-year-old Grace, and there was a wedding gift on the coffee table! They were so kind and thoughtful to get me and Erich an egg cooker and some cutting boards we registered for. And Grace wrote the card. It's times like these I feel so blessed to have these relationships with genuinely kind people. :)

Then was choir rehearsal. I love singing. And the choir is going to sound so good on the wedding day! Yay.

Tomorrow: I'm going to order my bridesmaid dress for Sarah's wedding. (I really am, Sarah, I have an appointment and everything!) And then I have my practice hair style for the wedding in the afternoon! I'm so pleased that my mom and I have gotten so much shopping done already this week and we don't have to squeeze it all in tomorrow. Erich's finally coming home tomorrow! :) And his plane lands at 10:45pm. :( But, contrary to Monday afternoon's forecast, the wedding will not be a disaster! :) In fact, I think it will be pretty darn fantastic!

I originally meant for this to be a short post reporting how many hours remained until the ceremony. But then I just kept typing. And then I realized that my math is bad (hence, the whole music teacher thing) and the number of hours I was going to report was wrong. But now I've checked myself and now, at 12:38am on September 14, I am getting married in 215 hours and 22 minutes.

P.S.: The first time I referred to the wedding day as "a week from Saturday" was a bit freaky, truth be told.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A Trek

Blog posts are more interesting when they have pictures. It's pretty much a scientific fact that word+pictures=way more interesting than words alone. And I want to have interesting blog posts! So here you go:

So after Girls Choir rehearsal at Bethany and after stopping by Sleight St. to pick up some things I forgot and mail that has come for me, I headed back to the Plex (that's the new name for Erich's and my place, short for "duplex") to make Erich dinner (whole wheat angel hair topped with a jar of mushroom and olive red sauce marked "Best by 08/2007," in case you were wondering) so he could have a decent meal before going to a brass rehearsal at church. Our very nice landlord and -lady came over to measure for a new fridge, as the current one doesn't work properly and it's very old. All this needless background information is for the purpose of inserting this very unexpected and surprising twist: I decided I really wanted to have The Office: Season Three DVD set that came out yesterday. Here's what it looks like:

I love, love, love this show. Everyone should watch it. It comes on when Erich and I are at choir rehearsal, but his computer automagically records it for us, which is so, so cool.

Anyway, I think to myself, this just came out yesterday, so I'll definitely be able to buy it, it's just a matter of whose "special edition" I want. Best Buy had a gift set with a mini Dundie and mini Dwight bobblehead

and that sounded very fun, so I decided to go to Best Buy. I drove about 10-15 minutes to the Best Buy in Aurora and found a nearly destroyed displayer with only a few DVDs, and none of them the special gift set. As they were priced at $39.99, I thought it would be better to swing by Target

and buy it there, where I knew them to be less expensive, even with the extra "Nifty Gifties," which weren't as exciting as the toys at Best Buy but still cool. Well, the Super Target on Rt. 59 was COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. What the heck. Slightly disheartened, I chose to go to another Super Target

on Diehl in Warrenville. THEY WERE SOLD OUT TOO. What really irked me was that on the shelves in these two Targets, I only saw space for about 10 DVD sets on their shelves. Um, helloooo, The Office is really popular, Target. You may want to order up more than 10 copies for the big release.

Somewhat out of ideas since I had decided to swing back north, I continued much farther on my journey than I thought I'd go to check the Butterfield Road/Downers Grove options. The first store I saw there was a Best Buy, so I went in and--you guessed it--they were sold out as well. By this point I was practically in tears after driving and walking in and out of stores for almost an hour, but I stubbornly refused to return to the Best Buy in Aurora. Besides, with my luck, they'd probably be sold out of the last five copies they had by the time I got there.

So onward I went to my last hope: Bolingbrook. I hopped onto I-355 and headed south, exiting at Boughton Road. I didn't see any Best Buys but continued westward to the last Target I would be willing to try near Weber Road. I went in, totally without hope, but knowing my journey would not end until I had that DVD set in my hot little hands. This Target in Bolingbrook is not "Super," so I had to gather my bearings to find the DVD section, but once I remembered where I could find it, I started off post haste. And there, in all their glory, were three shining copies! Hooray! They were sold out of the non-special version, but I got the whole thing plus Nifty Gifties (an extra disc and a copy of the script from the first episode of the season) for only $37.99. Granted, I probably wasted more than two dollars worth of gas in all my gallivanting about the western suburbs, but at least I eventually accomplished my goal. Oh, and I also felt I deserved some microwave popcorn,

so I got some of that too and headed home. I arrived back at the Plex exactly two hours after my departure. D'oh!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Piano Schedule Headaches

About 9 or 10 months ago, I was somehow duped into going into people's homes to teach piano lessons. I had been warned against such propositions, but I was virtually guaranteed a lot of business in a short span of time for a higher fee than I was getting by teaching at home and at church. So I gave in.

The lady who convinced me to do this in the first place figures into this whole saga, and for the purposes of relative anonymity I shall call her "Stressed-Out Realtor Mom," or SORM for short. She wanted lessons for her fifth-grade daughter, who had been taking lessons for several years, and possibly her third-grade daughter if she could convince her. [This is problem "A." She had trouble convincing her 8-year-old daughter to take piano lessons. When and why was it even a question? When I want my children to take piano lessons, I'm pretty sure they will whether they express enthusiasm or not.] She complained (a lot--Problem "B") that life was too hectic and she no longer was willing to drive the older daughter to piano any more (a big, fat, Problem "C"). After several months, I eventually had five students in the same neighborhood and charged too little, as I later discovered. The trouble of going to homes is not just the travel in between, before, and after lessons; it's the absolute scheduling nightmare presented whenever small changes are needed. The first such nightmare-situation occurred at the beginning of the summer, when some people wanted to take lessons earlier, but others couldn't. There was eventually an easy fix that kept people happy: I simply made my last lesson first and kept everyone else the same. But I hate having to contact several people whenever one person cancels just so I don't have to sit in my car for half an hour, and too many times--only two or three, but that's still too many--someone would cancel at the last minute and I'd be screwed. I'm pretty lenient on other days but on Thursdays, I keep your money if you make me sit in my car with nothing to do.

And speaking of Thursdays, that's the day the church choir, Proclaim, rehearses at 7:15, so I absolutely insist on being done teaching at 6:15. And people continue to badger me to change every other factor of my life so I can be at their beck and call! "Can't you come on another day?" No, I am limiting this insanity to one day a week, thank you. "Couldn't you come later?" No, I like to have enough time to eat at least five bites of dinner per day. And this is the main problem with in-home piano lessons: people who have a teacher come to their home and are unwilling to drive their children to piano lessons both have an entitlement "thing" and don't value piano lessons very highly. (They don't expect the t-ball team to practice in their back yard, but the piano teacher should cart her studio around for their convenience, apparently.) Plus, this is a typical Naperville neighborhood of houses built in the last 5-10 years. The homes are large, everyone has a piano (but ironically most of the pianos are no better than your average piece of furniture), and the pervading thought seems to be, "Aww, wouldn't it be great if my kid knew how to play that thing..." They have no real understanding of what I do, and why should they? I magically appear at their doorstep once a week to listen to their kids' lame excuses as to why they haven't practiced.

But it's not as if I don't enjoy it, and I want to stress that not all of them are bad. Actually, some of my Thursday students are my very favorite and have supportive and understanding parents. As far as the actual teaching goes, it is as fulfilling as any other situation. But I'm in a bad place mentally when I'm in a new setting every 30 minutes not knowing whether to expect peace and quiet or, more likely, ringing phones, blaring TVs and screaming siblings. I've become more aware lately that the trouble I go through for this one day is not quite worth the fee I collect; therefore new students are paying more and continuing students will get the new rate at the first of the year. And no one has said a peep because the increase is a lot less than the cost of their daily latte. So there.

So about a month ago, SORM calls me in a breathless hurry. It was the last day to sign up for tennis lessons, "and tennis is really, really important, like, equally important to piano lessons," and the only time she could possibly make tennis lessons fit into her CRAZY AND HECTIC schedule was to have them from 3:30 to 4:30 on Thursdays. Her daughters' piano lessons are 4-5. She makes me afraid of realtors, because she laid on the pressure and needed an answer IMMEDIATELY because she was BACKED INTO A CORNER and this was THE ONLY THING THAT COULD REMOTELY WORK. I was a bit aghast, but I thought, well, tennis lessons are obviously more important than piano if it takes precedence on the family schedule. So I told her we'd have to figure it out. Go ahead and sign up for tennis lessons, and we'll see what happens.

And gosh darn it if I didn't try my best for this woman. My rationale for putting forth such a huge effort was that I didn't want to lose two students. Plus, she sold half her neighbors their homes; I didn't want there to be any bad blood. Option #1 was to move my last student to another day and move everyone else up. I would be done teaching at 6:25 or so, and it would just barely work. Last lesson folks couldn't possibly change, and I couldn't possibly make them--there's no sense in punishing someone for being satisfied. I told as much to SORM and told her I was out of ideas. She came back to say she had spoken with her next-door neighbor, my 5:00 and they said they could do 4:00. But I found this to be extremely suspicious as the 5:00 people were the ones that always begged me to come later because both parents work and it's difficult enough to get their daughter home from day care for a 5:00 lesson. From emailing the 5:00 people I learned that 4:00 would work only some of the time and not as a permanent solution; they really just wanted to stay at 5:00. So I told that to SORM and she panicked. The next Thursday after her daughters' lessons she cornered me and wanted to know my entire teaching schedule and what else could possibly work.

Then she forgot everything I told her, even though she had written it down, and called me the next day, August 24, the day before Erich and I moved. (I remind you that Erich had been gone the past four weeks, the school year had started two days before, and we were both packing like crazy and stressed out.) I was busy when she called but called back as I left my flat and drove to the apartment in Addison. The drive takes 25 minutes; I hung up with her just as I took Erich's exit, two minutes from his old building. She had complained and made excuses and pleaded with me for nearly half an hour when there really were no additional solutions. Her powers were such that I told her I would think about going to her house on Mondays but I would have to get back to her. That was a moment of weakness. (She really wore me down, see.) Luckily, however, I stayed strong and emailed her the following Tuesday: I'm sorry, it just won't work. Victory!

There are numerous other little scheduling difficulties that I could do without, especially given everything else that's going on, and especially given that I'm going to miss three Thursdays in a row due to wedding and honeymoon very soon. It seems like everyone new should just start when I'm back and ready. But at least now my Thursdays are streamlined; I'm down to 4 students, two are favorites, one is enjoyable, and the other one just started. I was going to add another, a close friend of SORM, but it looks like that won't work out with her schedule, and I'm frankly not going to change everything yet again. I'd be happy to let them drop off one by one, or I'll default to a clause I put in my updated policy sheet:

"NOTE – At any time in the future, it may become unfeasible for me to continue in-home lessons. I will give at least two month’s notice should this happen and will offer all in-home students a chance to continue with me in my home."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Haha, oops

So, this is sorta funny: I started this new blog which was linked to the gmail account I was already using, and it's all about my life changes, and it's just so great.

And then I realized one of the things that's going to change is my email address.... HA! So, I'm like, oh man, do I have to start a new blog after how much I've posted in this one and tricked it out to my liking?

But luckily, blogspot is pretty awesome, and I just went ahead and added my future self as a contributor to this blog. So there are two Susans posting to this blog now. (I can hear the voice of my 23-month-old niece saying, "TWO! SUSANS! Two, fee [three]!" She can pretty much count. She's a genius, but that's for another post on another day.)

And a quick note for tonight: I'm officially moved out of my old flat! Yay! I live in only two places now!