Friday, December 17, 2010

first graduate final exam week

Lots of contradictions in that title, eh?

This is the end of my first semester as a graduate student, and I finished my last exam. Whew! It has been a whirlwind - 3 papers, 3 presentations, 2 juries to accompany, 0 juries for me to sing(!), and 1 exam. I have actually had time to clean my house and make cookies. Crazy. I have also had friends over three times this week!

In the middle of all of this, I have been struggling with depression. It's a side effect of the medicine I'm taking, and it's exacerbated near the end of the regimen. I've felt intensely lonely, cried over stupid things, and done ridiculous things to keep myself busy (read: shoveling my whole driveway, thus giving me a large blister on my hand).

It's also the time where I become intensely maternal - even though I know that a baby right now would be a bad idea. It's difficult for me to see friends having their first and even second child right now. There have been two births in the past week! My best friend's daughter is almost 6 months's hard for me to stay motivated to finish school, when I know that my heart longs to be a mommy so much more than to be just a music teacher.

But I will finish. I will earn this degree, because this is likely my only opportunity to study, at least, for a very long time. And it's a great privilege, I do have some talent, and I'm learning a lot of things that would have been difficult to learn on my own time. It has been an adjustment, but I'm doing alright.

And in better news, I just found out that I made an A and an A- on my last two papers of the semester! The first of those two papers was a rather practical assignment, which required me to design a choral conducting recital program, research it in depth, gathering a long list of sources, and then to present my findings in a paper. I decided to focus on settings of the Latin Mass, and especially on the Agnus Dei movement. I chose masses of composers from the 16th-20th centuries, including Lassus, Hassler, Charpentier, Mozart, and Stravinsky. The Stravinsky setting is quite unique - it calls for a double wind quintet for the accompaniment, and the entire Mass takes only 17 minutes to perform.

The second paper was a research project on BWV 147 "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben", a sacred cantata by J. S. Bach. I had chosen this piece for a few reasons, but primarily because I could use my research in a couple of my other classes and thereby save myself some time. I ended up loving the piece, but getting very tired of research! It's definitely not my cup of tea to pull a stack of books off the shelf and to dig through them for the words of other people. Once the paper writing actually began, things came together rather quickly. I enjoy writing - it's the research I don't care for!

Both of these papers were for my Research and Bibliography class, a course that's required of all entering graduate students. I'm pretty sure this is a similar case at most graduate schools. It was a grueling class, though I'm thankful for the information I now have at my fingertips. I was truly expecting to only get a B or a B- on my research, so these grades were a welcome surprise!

I had planned to have tea today with one of my good friends at school after I finished my exam today. Sadly, I realized that I had overbooked myself, and that if I went to tea, I would miss out on precious hours with my husband before he left town for the afternoon to visit my brother. I was disappointed to cancel with my friend, but glad to be able to snuggle with my hubby in daylight hours! This lovely friend also mentioned that she has a gift for me - what a nice surprise! This did leave me in a conundrum, though - I had to find a gift to give her! Why didn't I think of this before? Am I such a bad friend?

So I knit a snug mug sleeve! It's made of sport-weight acrylic yarn and a wooden button.

The idea of making a button tab was a new development for me. I've made these before, but I had always just squeezed the button in the middle and let the fabric squish under the handle. I think this is a better solution, but it still needs a bit of work. Maybe a loop instead?

Other lovely projects this week included putting some snowy glitter on pinecones and making glittery star ornaments for part of my mom's Christmas gift. (shhh!)

These ornaments are awaiting gold thread to hang them from...hoping to get to a craft store this weekend!

I also had time to make Ginger Cookies - this recipe came from my great grandmother, Isabel's Great Great Grandmother. My family is Swedish, and these are a traditional favorite for us. My dad requests these every year, and my father-in-law has begun to request them as well! It's a very stiff dough, made with molasses and ginger and other delicious spices. First, you roll the dough into little balls and coat them with sugar. (Favorite part!)

The cookies are baked for about 18 minutes, and the come out with perfectly cracked tops and crusted with sugar:

I multi-tasked big time last night to keep myself busy. I made oven-barbecued chicken, corn muffins, and these cookies all at the same time. Here's a picture of the corn muffins (with raisins! delicious).

And this busy little bee also studied for an exam. I'm pretty sure I did well! The transcript will tell...

Just 9 days until Christmas! Hooray!

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