Tag Archives: California

Facing Your Ghosts

28 Aug

I have a ghost in my head. I haven’t seen him in person in four years, but he lingers there, in the corner of my eye; a spectre, the mirror reflection I compare myself to, wondering if I’ll ever measure up.

mr. robb, in 2008, with more than 20 years of choral education under his belt, took the best of the best from all his years back to gilroy’s sister city in japan one last time. I was so blessed to be counted among his number.

This week threw me for a loop. I work for a private school, and I’m in charge of teaching all of my teachers in California how to teach my subject area of expertise. This week, my best teacher quit. And I was asked to fill in. In the classroom, all day, in my area of expertise.

I’ve never been more terrified in my life.

Not when I had to teach the same kids other subjects, not when I’ve had to teach my peers how to do what I do (have you ever had to teach adults? Nerve-wracking, let me tell you), never. If I could choose any subject to teach, music – my passion, my reason for living – would not be it. Totally counterintuitive, right? Unless you’re me, and have trained with some of the best vocal teachers in the world. When you have that background to live up to, no matter how good I am, so matter how gifted a teacher I am, a vocalist I am, I’m going to fail. Because I’ll never be as good as they are.

And yet…

They must have started where I am. They had to have had their first day of school, their first day of teaching, their first piece of music they weren’t quite sure how it went but had to teach anyway. They must have, because no one gets to where they are without taking that first step. I know this…I know this!!! And yet, I’m wracked with insecurity because I won’t be able to do with my kids what they did with me, 20 years into their careers.

I’m not Greg Fritsch. I’m not Mr. Robb.

I’m just little ol’ me.

Nobody. 28 years old without the degree I’d aspired to all these years. 28 years old, only halfway through my 30 before 30 list with little time left to go. 28 years old, filled with a 19-year-old’s zest for life but wanting to have accomplished so much more by now. I never aspired to be Mr. Robb, not without so much more schooling than I have to date. And I don’t have it. And yet today, I have to be him.

Or maybe I don’t.

He’s my ghost, the person I want to be when I stand before a choir of children, because i know how much he moulded me, shaped my life, by being my choir teacher. He’s been my dad, my mentor…but I don’t have to make him my idol. As much as he was the spectre of what I have to live up to as a vocal teacher, he was never part of my life to make me feel like I couldn’t measure up. If I’ve learned anything in the 11 years since I graduated high school, I’ve learned that he was there to inspire me, to help me realize the best parts of myself, like any educator worth their salt would. If he stood before me today, he would tell me I could do it. That I had to make my own way, one step at a time, and that I couldn’t compare myself to where he was 25 years into his career. I didn’t get married thinking I could have the house, the car, the career America sets us up tp expect, but I wanted to step into my career at the level it took him 25 years to achieve.

How arrogant am I?

Maybe I can’t be the next Phil Robb. Maybe one day I will be, I can only hope. But for now I’m going to be the best Mrs. A. there is. I’m scared to death, but any teacher worth their salt started where I am. And this is where I am. Starting at the beginning. Stuck in between the bottom of the barrel and the greatness I grew up with.

Here’s hoping for a successful tomorrow.

Misadventures in Marathon Training

30 Jul

plaza de cesar chavez. where we were SUPOSSED to end our saturday run.

Hello friends! A and I are two weeks into training for our half marathon and already we’re racking up stories. This weekend we were set to run 5 miles in downtown San Jose. I had the brilliant idea to run the first loop of the San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll course, as it’s about 5 miles. And there’s no better way to prepare for a race than run the course, right? As it turns out, not always.

The first mile was a non-starter. Literally. There’s a big difference between running a race in downtown with all the streets shut down and running on a Saturday morning with all the traffic lights fully functional. Our first mile looked like this: run a block, wait for the light. Run a block, wait for the light. Run a block…you get the idea. Things picked up once we got into the more residential areas and were able to run for longer stretches. Until our IT bands got simultaneously pissed off. But we pushed through, looking forward to a long stretch once we were done.

A, being a much stronger athlete than I, went ahead and flew down the course. I got a text from him around mile 3.5 saying he was almost done, and even through his texts I could hear that he was hungry. Sadly, A didn’t bring any cash, so right before I sailed into my big 5-mile finish I popped into a Starbucks to get him a bagel. Because I am such a good wife. I missed my last turn (really miss those well-marked Team in Training routes!), but knew where my end-point was, so adjusted and got back on course. I ran into Plaza de Cesar Chavez up to the Poo Statue just as my RunKeeper app announced that I’d hit five miles. Success!

see? it’s a coiled snake, but really it looks like coiled poo.

I looked around for A…no A.

*ring ring* “Honey? I’m at the poo statue. Where are you?”

“The poo statue? What? I’m at San Pedro Square.”

“…..Why are you in San Pedro Square? Our ending point was Plaza de Cesar Chavez.”

“You were supposed to run through here. I thought I’d come and meet you since I hit my five miles early.”

“I missed my turn after 2nd street, so I didn’t go through there. Ok, never mind. I’ll come find you.”

“No, don’t come here. Just meet me back at my office at the car, since we have to go there anyway.”

“Right….I totally know how to get back to your office from here.”

I didn’t.

I ended up wandering around downtown San Jose for another half hour. Which translated into another mile and a half of walking on a bum IT band. Boy, did we stretch afterwards!

The Good:

  • A and I hit our miles under less than ideal circumstances. There were a few moments there where I thought we were going to get into it and let our frustrations out on each other, but in the end love and patience won out and we built each other up instead.
  • I unintentionally did more than a 10k, waaaaaaay more miles than I’ve done since April, and more than a smart increase for distance training. Still, my body handled it, and I’m really feeling my strength training and yoga are paying off. Win!
  • A foam roller is the best purchase we’ve ever made. We rolled and rolled and rolled on our IT bands, and the next day we felt fully recovered. No kidding. I did not expect that, especially after my unintentional 10k. Stretching works, and we are rock stars!

The Bad:

  • Waaaay too many stop lights.
  • Jerk-ey guys hollering at me from their front porches. Haven’t had to deal with that in a while. So glad I’m an iHollaback girl!
  • Missed turns and detours cost us a lot of time out of our Saturday. Oh well, live and learn.

The Takeaway:

  • Unless it’s an out-and-back, we will not try to intersect the other person on the run and meet up at the end. Because sometimes people get lost. And hungry. And hangry. But no matter what, we’re dealing with it together. And that makes all the difference.

So that was our Saturday! How was yours?

Intentionally May

4 Jun

Happy June everyone! May was a pretty good month for A and I; I feel like I’m getting back into the swing of the spirit of my one little word for 2012: intentional, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

If you want to see how 2012 is going so far, January’s wrap-up is hereFebruary, March, and April.

Pursuing the Lord’s heart like I did when I first loved Him.

I think I’m happiest with my progress on this one this month. The more work on my relationship with God, the more I realize hom unquantifiable this goal is. With other intentional goals I san say, “Yes, I had three friends over for dinner, two friends without food dates, four…” You can’t really do that with something as intangible as growing close to the Lord. All I know is that I feel closer to Him, I’m more actively aware of His presence in my life, and I’m feeling the quiet security that comes from being in the word more often. Thank God that He is always there when we decide we want to come back to Him.

Moving into a season of greater spiritual and emotional intimacy with my husband.

We’ve done a devotional almost every night for the last month and a half. This obviously helps our spiritual intimacy, but it’s also slowly but surely building our emotional intimacy. We’ve been using Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott’s Just the Two of Us, a small book that my mom bought us for an engagement present (I think). It’s sweet. A little cheesy at times, which is par for the corse for the Parrotts, but great stories that make us think and are eminently applicable for our marriage.

We also celebrated our six-year anniversary on the 28th. Yay, us!

Making the most of the relationships I have, and taking time to nurture them.

I’ve had some great girlfriend time this month. Lunch dates with my bff, champagne evenings with a purpose, lunch dates with former high school students, grabbing Jamba Juice after a Saturday morning workout with the girls. It’s been a great month for relationships.

Tackling some of the harder things on The List, especially the ones that scare me.

I don’t know about scaring me, but accomplishing #16, planting my container garden, has definitely been a process. Now that they’re in the ground I’m scared…scared that all my plants are going to die without producing. Especially since some of my tomatoes are getting white spots on their leaves. 😦 A tomato-savvy friend told me yesterday to let my tomatoes dry out a bit and not over-water, and it’s raining today! What are the odds? Rain in June in northern California. Arrrrgggghhhh!

Having more people over for dinner, and not letting time/stress/money get in the way of my love of being a hostess.

My buddy Kedrick finally made it back over for dinner, and we had a couple over that we’ve grown to know and love as individuals and have decided we need to hang out more as couples. Considering that this month has been crazy for me, I think two hostess days is pretty good.

Buying locally as much as possible.

So much good produce out right now! It’s super easy to eat locally at this time of year in California. Done and done.

Reading challenging, empowering, quality books instead of solely feeding my brain a mental fast food diet of chick-lit.

I’ve read so many gardening books this month it’s not even funny. All of them are from You Grow Girl, and are wonderful.

Putting my health first and making the time to exercise

No problem. Even being crazy busy I made time for exercise. The only weeks I had trouble was when I was having another terrible bout of insomnia, and I had zero energy for two weeks. I still worked out, but not as much, and definitely not at my full potential.

After several months of trying I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t like step class. I’ve given it the old college try, and the only thing I really like about it is doing it with my girlfriends. All in all I’ve decided that I’d really rather spend the hour running. Speaking of which, this month I’m going to be trying to get back into running. I’ve worked on strength training for months, and have been LOVING it, but I miss running. And my stamina isn’t there anymore for running, so I’d like to see that come back up.

If you had a resolution or a word for 2012, how’s it going? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or link to a blog post you’ve written on this below.

How Tuesday – Summer Tastes Like Cherries

29 May

Hello friends! It’s been awhile. A and I had a lovely weekend celebrating our six-year anniversary (!!!), starting out with picking cherries with one of our bff couples, which ended up being the inspiration for this How Tuesday. I haven’t been berry picking since my family moved to Northern California when I was a kid. A was a trooper, getting up early, reaching through thorny brambles to reach the olallaberries hidden underneath. (Never had a olallaberry? They’re awesome. Tart, tasty, and juicy. Sadly for the rest of the world, they’re only found in California. That’s why we pay the big bucks to live here!) Climbing ladders to find the ruby-colored jewels peeking out from between the leaves.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and we had the best time. And we picked a little bit of fruit. Four and a half pounds of olallaberries, and ten pounds of cherries. Caleb and Elaine kicked our butts, though, hauling in over 14 pounds of cherries. They’re got years of experience on us, though, so I think we can take them next year.

When I got home I went a little cherry-crazy, and came up with a recipe that tasted so much like summer that it made me jump up and down and cry, “oh, the cleverness of me!” before taking a bowl out to relax in the atrium. How to make cherry lime granita, coming your way.

Granita is kind of like a shaved ice for grown-ups. It’s what people like me who are sadly without ice cream makers make to suspend the taste of juicy fruit before the bounty of summer is over. Sadly I don’t have step-by-step pictures of the process because I was doing about ten things at once while I made this (including crossing some things off of The List…stay tuned!) But trust me, it’s as easy as freezing  fruit. Because that’s basically all you do.

I made this recipe by ratios, so you can easily modify it to make as much or as little as you’d like. As I said, I went a little crazy and made a ton.

former gelato containers find a second life filled with juicy-goodness


  • 3 parts fresh cherries (I used six cups-worth)
  • 1 part simple syrup, recipe follows (since I used six cups of cherries, that means I used two cups of simple syrup. You can add more if you’re using sour cherries, or if you like your deserts super sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice per cup of fruit used (about 1/2 a lime per tablespoon)
  • 1.5 teaspoons of Sake per cup of fruit used (this can substituted or omitted entirely. Adding alcohol lowers the freezing point of the granita, resulting in a finer ice crystal, smoothing out the texture of the granita. I used Sake because that’s what I had, and it was a very delicate flavor, almost completely hidden by the big flavor of the cherries. I can see silver rum being really good in this, too.)
  • As much torn mint leaves as you like, to taste (I used a generous handful)
  • small pinch of salt

Make Simple Syrup

I saw simple syrup for sale at Trader Joes the other day, which completely flummoxed me. It’s not like it’s called hard-to-make syrup. It couldn’t be easier to whip some up. I try to keep some in my fridge at all times for iced tea or cocktails. Here’s how you make it, if you don’t know already:

Simple syrup is made by heating equal parts water and sugar on the stove until all the sugar is dissolved, about three minutes over medium heat. For two cups of syrup, I combined one cup of water and one cup of sugar in a pot on the stove. Allow to cool completely before use. Simple syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.

If you are making simple syrup fresh for the recipe instead of using some you have on hand, you can add the mint leaves to the syrup so the mint flavor steeps into the syrup. Or you could just toss the mint in with the rest of the ingredients, like I did. I really like the little flecks of green they left in the granita against the bright red of the cherry.

Make Granita

Remove stems and pits from cherries. You can use a small knife if you’re a masochist, or do what I did and buy one of these guys from Bed Bath & Beyond. Combine fruit, syrup, lime juice, Sake (if using), mint (if you didn’t steep it in your syrup), and salt in a blender and blend until liquified. Pour liquid into a shallow casserole dish and put it in the freezer. Set the timer for an hour. When an hour is up, scrape the freezing granita with a fork, breaking up all the ice crystals. Put the granita back in the freezer and set the timer for a half hour. Keep scraping the granita and breaking up the ice crystals every half hour until it’s got the texture of a finely shaved ice. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately.

Note: The more granita you make, the longer it will take to freeze. Mine took most of the afternoon. Once it’s made you can freeze it for two-ish weeks. The texture will be more icy and less fine the longer it’s kept, so I recommend eating it sooner rather than later. As if you’d be able to resist.

summer in a glass

We’re Back, and Better Than Ever!

23 Apr

Oh, and when I say we’re back, I do mean we. A’s officially done with tax season, and he’s promised me that he’ll be putting his foot down about working crazy hours on the projects he has coming up. He’s planning on being home at four all this week, and I couldn’t be happier. I always know that having him home will be a huge relief, but I forget the feeling of peace and all being right with the world until it happens.

Per usual we made our annual trek down to the ever-gorgeous Carmel-by-the-sea (it’s not a town, it’s a lifestyle), with one small change. Make that two small changes. We took our doggies with us! Something I’ve wanted since we got Logan almost three years ago. We had a great time, the four of us. We discovered that Martigan – the newest – likes to show bigger dogs that he can still act tough even though he’s on a leash (something to work on) and doesn’t like when I leave him. Not to the point of being annoying, but he would whine and do his ‘talking bark’ very softly whenever I walked away to get us coffees or go into a shop. A and I have never been out in public with him other than taking the dogs for a walk, so this attachment was a new revelation. I would be lying if I didn’t say it melted my heart a little bit.

I thought about doing another One Day picture story, and then thought “meh.” Why spend a perfectly lazy weekend with my man worrying about a photo per hour. So instead a took a picture when I thought about it. If it looks like we read a lot, ate a lot, and drank a lot, that’s because we did.

my handsome man, it's so good to have you back!

a great start to the day...at 11am.

my littlest dog learned the fine art of waiting under tables while his owners were being boring.

logan, our sunshine boy, found patches of light to lie in wherever possible.

trying wines at one of our favorite garden hangouts. the dogs weren't impressed with the vintages, but loved the all-natural seaweed treats their sweet staff offered them.

can you see the relief? the peace? yeah, we can too.

It’s good to be back, I’ve missed you all! How was your weekend?

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