Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quick trip to Atlanta

To complete all the necessary details to head to India, a quick trip to Atlanta was in order.

Atlanta is around a 5-6 hour drive from my adopted dad's home plus you lose an hour. I drove down on Tuesday, but forgot about the hour difference so was an hour late to the Tuesday night contra dance. I'd expected a good gathering since Atlanta has a couple big contra dance weekends, but it was a puny little group. The band far outnumbered the dancers.



Even so, I had a good time and danced my heart away.

Then it was on to meet my couch surfing host. Boy, do I get lucky with couch surfers and hosts. My host was so kind, thoughtful, and helpful. Meeting my new friend was the highlight of my trip.

The following day I drove up to Walmart for a quick turn-around passport photo since they like current ones and the last one I'd had taken was a year ago and it wasn't one I wanted to see on my passport for the next 10 years. I had called ahead and the store said the photo department opened at 9, so I walked it at 9:05 only to be told the machine had just been turned on and it would be a half hour for it to warm up before they could print my pictures. That threw off my timing, so instead of being able to park cheaply near my host's home in Midtown and walk downtown, I waited for the pictures and then hurriedly drove downtown, parked at an overrated lot and made it to my appointment only a few minutes late.

Not having made an appointment to renew my passport before I didn't know the details. Had I known, I would have not bothered rushing. After walking through security, I gave the person at the first set of windows my paperwork and then sat and waited for 45 minutes until my number was called. It was only then that I was told the agency was only for expedited passport renewal. The lady I'd spoken with on the phone hadn't mentioned that when I said I only needed a regular renewal speed. So I'd just wasted money on parking and time sitting. Arg.

Oh well, it was a nice day so I walked back outside and ate a quick lunch so I could have 20 minutes to nap in the car before walking to my next appointment. That all went smoothly and I returned to my car to drive home. Since I had extra time I was able to find FREE parking!!!  And still more time enabled me to get an Insanity workout in before my final appointment of the day.

Then it was back to my host's home where I spoke the honest truth that I'm a terrible cook and that if there was to be any edible food tonight, it would not be made by me. So I serenaded my host on my violin while supper was prepared. I think it was a good trade off :)

The next day was all about the music. I woke up and prepared to have a long day of rehearsal and recording. Unfortunately my accompanist wasn't prepared and so after a few hours of practice we discussed options and went our separate ways. After a leisurely tour through a nice store, Health Unlimited, where I found this card that I now need to print up and put in my violin case so I see it every day,



I returned home to meet my host, walk to Piedmont Park (where I played Death and the Maiden on my phone and zoned out figuring my next plan of attack), grab some tasty Mexican food, and do my Insanity workout. Wasn't the day I had planned but the Duck Pond 2012 Pinot Noir was quite tasty that night!

The next day's plans were to return to Nashville in the evening and since my morning/early afternoon was now free I hopped onto the Meetup website to see if there were any good sports groups I could join for a fun time. Turns out there was a beach volleyball meetup happening at the same park I'd walked to the night before (which is a fabulous park by the way). It was nearby and proper level of play for me. I was thrilled. After saying goodbye and thank you to my host I left for the park. When I arrived (10 minutes late because I couldn't find my contacts), no one was there. So I sat down on a park bench and checked on my phone to see if I was in the right place only to discover that the meetup had been canceled. Boy, my luck this trip wasn't so hot.

So instead of a romping and vigorous game of 2 on 2 beach volleyball, I walked around the park, headed back home to shower and return to Nashville.

A bright sunny day in the active oval at Piedmont Park.

Nibbling away but watching me none the less :)

Not a soul in sight, but some high rise buildings.

Beautiful green lawn as far as the eye can see.

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Walking along 10th St. next to Piedmont Park, the streets are lined with flowers and unique houses.

I loved the artsy blue door!

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This is one way to never have to mow your lawn...just use ground cover.
It was a rather frustrating trip in many ways, but I now have questions answered and curiosities assuaged. It's time to move forward and focus on what's next: hopefully India, hopefully a couple of symphony concerts, and the day to day improvements of mind, body and soul.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ohio Light Opera 2014

What a summer it's been! What a FUN summer it's been! What an EDUCATIONAL summer it's been! What a PRODUCTIVE summer it's been! What an AMAZING summer it's been!!!

Trying to take advantage of every opportunity, every relationship, every hour and every day can sometimes be overwhelming; especially when so much is packed into so little.



This was my schedule for the summer. Two services a day is quite exhausting when done on a regular basis. Add to that: personal practice both morning and/or night, Insanity workouts, random sport activities, regular late night gatherings, and it turns into a whirlwind of nights and days and days and nights boosted by caffeine, cat naps against the scroll of my violin in the pit during dialogue, and a steady stream of danceish movement and energy to propel you forward and infuse the music with sparkle (a reference to the seemingly only adjective known by the recording director)!

I LOVED IT ALL! Truly I did. There were ups and downs. In exchange for the days and nights of blissful happiness were the days and nights of tears in the pillow and loneliness quote surfing.



Personal growth, personal enlightenment and any kind of change never gets easier no matter how much you want it and do it. But the results are always worthwhile and I'm happy now that I'm stepped back from the picture that was the Ohio Light Opera and see the changes; physical, mental, and emotional that I achieved, began and continued. It's so hard sometimes to see the bigger picture when you're placed in such a small environment.



That little blue dot was where I lived for a while. Everyday I'd walk to either the music building or the Theater or both to practice and rehearse. It wasn't the best of situations since there was no kitchen(ette) but there was a micro fridge that I commandeered for myself and a small microwave and I had a juicer with me so it was manageable for a few months. Unfortunately, what wasn't manageable was the "maintenance". There's a few pictures below of the walls that were removed and the ceiling being torn down. The men working said it was going to get even worse. I simply can't imagine it and I never went back to see.









I won't include the videos that made it impossible to exist due to the extremely loud noise factor. No one besides those being paid to work there should be required to hear that!

They did move all the residents of this dorm to another newer and much nicer dorm for the last two weeks of the summer. I was very grateful for everyone who helped make it possible. It truly was in their self interest to help me maintain my sanity because I'm already crazy, who would dare survive if I was insane?!, outside of during my Insanity workouts of course :)

This summer I enjoyed my hand at T25 for the first time. After sitting still for three weeks, watching far too many documentaries on any number of random topics to occupy my time and let my sprained finger heal enough to continue with semi normal daily life, I joined the kind cast members at the gym who let me start mid way through the summer. Since I hadn't done any activity for a while it wasn't fun breaking back into the workout routine but after a week my body started to respond again and soon T25 became, dare I say, boring? I continued it but when we moved into the new dorm there was a nice facility with air conditioning and a big projector screen and a sticky vs. slippery floor and I didn't have to ask anyone to unlock it or not workout on the weekend because the gym was closed so I followed my addicted heart and body back to Insanity. I was very fortunate to have two wonderful people join me every day and we had a great time digging deeper and screaming and shouting and huffing and puffing and sweating everywhere together. I will sincerely miss my Insanity workout partners :(

A random interesting Wooster fact: there is an unhealthy saturation of skunks. I saw them everywhere, nearly walked on one as I cut through some brush one night (I have quite the long jump when necessary I discovered), sadly shut my window one day while one was nesting just underneath it not 2 feet below, crossed the street to avoid one strolling down the sidewalk one evening, and grew accustomed to the smell as a random odor that was just a part of my daily life.

That's as close as my phone's zoom goes and I wasn't getting any closer in person!
The friendships I made this summer have been such a blessing in more ways than I'm sure any of them know. I've adopted two little sisters, begun a very open and honest friendship with someone that I would never had expected, had some really clarifying and serious talks with another friend whom helped me self inspect without even realizing it, formed a fast and surprisingly close bond with a ray of sunshine that always brightened my day and I only hope that I brightened their's as much. I met a wonderful friend who inspired me that there is a possibility to continue pursuing your passions and dreams and love what you do. I know I follow that path but sometimes it feels like I'm trapped in a dark room with no doors or windows from which to escape. This friend told me stories and taught me lessons about maneuvering through life's changes and curveballs. I hope to keep in touch and learn so much more! In some way, each and every person in my life this summer taught me something: taught me things about myself, things I like, things I don't like, reminded me of old times and introduced me to new ones, and reminded me once again how fleeting life is and how each individual is unique in their own right. I wish I could have spent more time getting to know more of the people this summer, but with schedules, housing arrangements, and personal time, the minutes danced by and I couldn't keep up. I did work hard this summer trying to learn everyone's name, where they are from and who they are. I didn't get to every body but I did get to know many on many different levels and I'm so grateful to each and every one that spent their precious time with me. As I travel, grow older, and learn more of life, I increasingly have become aware of time and it's invaluableness.

Still, there were so many great times playing Cards Against Humanity, watching Whose Line is it Anyway, drinking wine out of boxes in plastic cups, winning beer pong (with the help of my fabulous doubles partner) so not drinking near enough beer, sitting on wooden chairs or sweaty couches and chatting with any and every one about any and every thing; learning, absorbing, sharing, teaching.

Here are a few pictures with just a few people from this summer. Smiles abound and for that, I am one happy girl!  :-D

One of the only pictures from the numerous parties. This was the rep open party, meaning no more rehearsals! Just play away :)

The two bow tie sporting champs for the Fourth of July concert! Don't we look smashing?!?! 

On one of the few days off, a few of us managed to hit the road and attend a free festival in Columbus. It was so much fun and even included 45 minutes of contra dancing!!! WOOT!!!  Nothing better than fun in the sun :)

Enjoying a local favorite at the Wooster Brewery with a couple of the non Pirates of Penzance folk.

Occasionally we had the energy to sneak in a fast dinner between shows and one of my favorite restaurants is/was TJ's. They had quite a variety of vegetarian options that made me a very happy diner...the company wasn't bad either :)




 
Oh, the fun to be had toward the end of the season when you get a free evening. Splitting the second best barley wine I've had with a friend at my other favorite haunt in Wooster, The Spoon! Yes, they did pour the barley wine into tasters...legal issues regarding bathroom quantities was the explanation I received...
I also did some fun mountain biking at a good single track called Vulture's Knob just a few miles west of Wooster. One would never guess such a trail existed in close vicinity to the tiny town. But I was thrilled and rode it several times. Here are a few pictures and one video that doesn't capture the 12 foot rutted drop into a 90 degree turn but until I can get a GoPro it's the best I have.







After our last romp in the woods, jk, but my mountain biking buddy was a great gift to have this summer!

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The one thing I missed the most this summer was dancing. Prior to arriving in Wooster, I had written in all the dances for the summer and emailed myself dance websites. What I'd failed to see was that all the dances were cancelled during the summer months, even in the bigger cities like Cleveland. I was crushed and tried to learn to lead ballroom so as to dance with one of the orchestra girls a bit and that worked somewhat, but I'm just not a good ballroom lead yet. I did get one night of blues dancing at a dorm party where I requested blues music and then wrangled others into dancing blues with me :)  But no contra was had. I hope to remedy this very soon in Atlanta! My soul needs some good contra dancing. Really, the world does revolve around it if you didn't know. And if there was a job as a professional contra dancer...but being a dance gypsy is the next best thing.

Supporting my dancing friends from afar in their Guinness record breaking attempt.
So until I save enough money to join my dance gypsies friends around the country and sometimes parts of the world, I'll have to settle for the next best thing ;-)  Keep reading to find out what that might be and look for another post in the next few weeks with more details!

I didn't travel much around Ohio while I was here, but I did make it up to Cleveland for one overnight when I had the next afternoon off. It was a wonderful time seeing the nightlife of Cleveland a little bit and then walking around downtown the following morning.

A fun night and a beautiful day celebrating my upcoming gig in Cleveland. Somehow I found myself walking down the street, basking in the sunlight singing, It's a Lovely Day Today...not sure how that happened :-p

The last happy Ronda face is to celebrate not just a wonderful summer but a wonderful future for the next six months at least.

I'm celebrating a new job that will not only take me and my violin to India, but also Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand! Six months of travel and performance in Asia!! I can't wait. Here's to more fun stories, more fun pictures, more fun friends :)

I will post another entry with more information of India and my upcoming job. This post was to reminisce of the recent summer and I hope you enjoyed reading about my memories as much as I enjoyed remembering them.