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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/tuozzo
Rated: 18+ · Book · Personal · #1411600
The Good Life.
I am a professional musician  , worship leader  , small business owner  , songwriter  , aspiring author   and freelance nonfiction writer   with a chemical engineering degree  .

But that's just my resume.

My profile of qualifications is only one of the ways in which I am unique. Here I chronicle my personal and professional goals and my efforts to achieve them. Occasionally I fail. Mostly, I take daily baby steps toward all my long-term goals. Much like the stories I pen, the songs I compose, and the businesses I run, I am always a work in progress.

Merit Badge in Music
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  To a dear friend whose talent for writing music is sensational. May you have a fabulous New Year, (((Brandi)))!!! *^*Kiss*^*

Big hugs,
Sherri *^*Heart*^*  Merit Badge in Organization
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I don't know how you do it, but I assume there's magic involved *^*Bigsmile*^*  I have really enjoyed this month of planning and preparation for NaNoWriMo and I love how organized it all is.  Thank you for hosting a great challenge and for your dedication to helping so many of us prepare with confidence and trepidation for National Novel Writing Month (known to sane folks as 'November' *^*Laugh*^*) at your  [Link To Item #1474311] Merit Badge in Leadership
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For your hard work, commitment, talent and innovation in running the October NaNoWriMo Preparation each year, which helps many of us get our scattered thoughts together for November's novel-writing. And also because this badge has ducks on it.
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November 8, 2023 at 5:33am
November 8, 2023 at 5:33am
As as musician, one of my biggest struggles due to Parkinson's Disease is the ability to play or sing quickly - aka, vocal or instrumental agility. After tremor, this was one of the earliest symptoms I noticed: I could no longer strum fast-paced rhythm guitar patterns at full tempo for more than a couple measures before my battery ran out.

The summer of 2021, I helped lead outdoor worship in the wake of COVID, and on a few occasions, my guitar was the only instrument. I recall trying to strum a quick rhythm guitar pattern on an up-tempo song I've played for years and giving Aaron, the music director, an exasperated look before dropping the rhythm to a half-tempo pattern.

Levodopa has restored much of the mobility PD stole, but musical agility is still holding out on me.

Don't get me wrong; I'm grateful for the medication. I can practice any instrument at slower tempos for hours and make good progress. Since all songs, even (especially) quick-paced pieces, should be practiced slowly before gradually speeding up, I've been able to practice a lot in the last year and a half since diagnosis and treatment, and that's encouraging. My soul is getting fed again by the music I love so much, and I'll take it.

But at some point, I need to kick things up a notch if I want to regain the agility to play fast.

So a few days ago, Sunday evening, I tried speeding up a few short Bergmüller pieces to allegro. I played for maybe ten or twenty minutes, then crashed. I couldn't do anything. I hopped on the exercise bike because that often helps - apparently, it triggers dopamine production - but I could NOT rotate my feet faster than they wanted to rotate, period. So I just sat there biking at a super slow speed for an hour in front of the TV until bedtime.

At the time, I thought maybe I was experiencing a bad off episode due to my weekend getaway trip with the girls, or the time change, or both. But Monday morning I tried again, and that was worse. I lasted maybe five minutes. So, probably not the road trip. I just have a time limit on agile playing.

Note to self: musical agility requires more dopamine.

Yesterday was Tuesday, and I'm a glutton for punishment, so I gave it another go, and this time, I documented the whole session by video. My phone camera kept timing out, so I started and stopped before and after each run of an individual piece or passage.

And that's how I happened to catch on video the exact moment my battery ran out. After the bradykinesia kicked in, I took a brief, difficult shower, then I lay down on the bed with the doggies and read clickbait articles on my phone until I could move again at 1:30ish.

8:00 am - morning Levodopa*
10:00ish am - 60 min on stationary bike
11:30 am - late morning Levodopa*
11:33 am - started practicing piano
12:08 pm - video 1 of 2 (the bottom one below)
12:11 pm - video 2 of 2 (the top one below)

*carbidopa/levodopa 25/100 x 2 both times

For comparison, I played it like this three minutes earlier:

October 27, 2023 at 2:22pm
October 27, 2023 at 2:22pm
2021 was a difficult year. It was the year before my Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and Parkinson's Disease (PD) were properly diagnosed and treated. I lost 75 pounds without trying and spent most of the year binging on Netflix shows. I couldn't even play games. I just stared at the TV. All. Year. Don't get me wrong; I got shit done that needed to be done, but it was the bare minimum.

That's the year I lost my voice.

I lost the other instruments, too: piano, guitar, violin, drums. But I could still play slow songs, and piano was decent since the PD only affected my right side at first. My left hand picked up the burden. But I couldn't sing.

I have a great support network, so I didn't wallow in depression. But now that I'm medicated for both diseases and have regained maybe 90% of the mobility I lost in '21, I'm working hard to get all the instruments back, including my beloved voice, which I didn't realize was such a dear friend. Frankly, I'm pissed at PD for taking it away from me.

Quick side note: the doctors and all the literature blame the PD, and it's well established that PD impacts the voice. But it was the T1D that stole my energy: my cells weren't getting any fuel. That surely contributed to barely using my voice for a year.

Either way, the ENT shoved a camera up my nose and proclaimed: vocal fold atrophy.

So I saw a speech therapist for about six weeks, and I've been working hard to get my voice back. It's so slow going that I decided to document the journey, maybe just to convince myself the progress is worth it. I took some earlier videos, but I need to dig through them to build the history. For now, this was yesterday: Oct. 26, 2023.

For any Preppers concerned that I threw in the towel on my own prep, this is one of the things I'm prioritizing over creating a new novel project I don't currently have time to write. My music, my school, and my family are much more important.


September 1, 2023 at 9:31pm
September 1, 2023 at 9:31pm
I turned my keys over to the landlord in Polaris today.

I am officially a one-location operation again.

August 29, 2023 at 2:53pm
August 29, 2023 at 2:53pm
It's piano moving day.

A week has passed since I last blogged, and the only reason I'm blogging now is because it's 5am, I've been awake since 2am due to whole-body pain and scrolling mental checklists, and I thought maybe a data dump might do me good.

A couple weeks ago, I asked my dad to help me narrow down a five-page list of contractors so I could get quotes for my Gahanna music school renovation project (dividing a larger classroom into two smaller lesson rooms,) and when I gushed about how helpful he'd been, he offered to drag his recently retired butt from Maryland to Ohio to help me close my Polaris music school. Dad arrived Sunday afternoon, just in the nick of time. The Polaris lease expires 8/31 aka Thursday aka two days from now, and my husband, Keith, is working all week.

I've moved SO MUCH STUFF from Polaris to Gahanna over the last few weeks, and most of it has been piling up in my soon-to-be new office/lesson room (half of the aforementioned larger classroom.) But today, I need to move six pianos from Polaris to Gahanna, and two of them are going into that space, so I've been singularly focused on redistributing The Stuff to either its interim or (ideally) permanent new home.

Here's what's happened since last Tuesday:

Tuesday, the newly hired theory teacher showed up for his orientation, and we love him (Daniel.) I trained him all night.

Wednesday, I secured a sub for my own Polaris students so I could teach in the Gahanna music lab. Daniel will be the Wednesday lab teacher starting this week.

I took a carload (SUVload) from Polaris with me on Thursday and Friday after teaching lessons and dropped each off in Gahanna. Some items went straight to their new (permanent) homes, like the music lab laptops and chargers, a second teacher desk for the lab, the last of the instruments, and a few small bookshelves (rehomed in various lesson rooms.) Everything else landed in "Michelle's office" (the future Room 8.)

Over the weekend, Keith took down about fifty guitar and violin wall hangers in Polaris and hung them in every room in Gahanna, roughly tripling our capacity for (permanently) wall-hung instruments.

Sunday morning, I left the house at 5:30, headed up to Polaris, loaded up the car again, them dragged almost everything that was left up to the Polaris lobby, where it was sorted into three areas: (1) keep/take to Gahanna, (2) post "free to a good home"/(donate), and (3) "throw that shit straight in the dumpster." I took photos of a few giveaway items and issued on socials. Then I headed to Gahanna and unloaded, mostly to make room for groceries. Keith and I have been living off of fast food and too many restaurant dinners because the one time we were able to squeeze in a Clicklist order two weeks ago, they cancelled it due to being short-staffed. With my dad coming to visit and Keith and I suffering severe malnutrition and (and possibly a broken bank), I had to squeeze in the time. So after unloading in Gahanna, I hit the grocery store for my pickup (which was NOT cancelled, *whew*) and then headed home to unload the groceries, throw together some food, and go straight back to Gahanna (with Keith in tow the second time) to start organizing and distributing The Stuff in Future Room 8.

Sunday evening, Keith picked up dad at the airport while I continued sorting and redistributing. They returned and finally got the book display rack from Polaris installed in the Gahanna lobby, which provided a (permanent) home for piles of music books. Mounting the rack was a tricksy project due to the heavily-drywalled concrete walls, for which neither traditional drywall-and-stud nor plain-concrete hanging fasteners were wholly appropriate.

Yesterday morning, I followed up with a contractor (my favorite, SB, is waiting to hear back from my electrician, who apparently thought SB was spam 🤦‍♀️.) Then Dad and I stopped by the Budget truck rental place to arrange his travel home; he took a one-way flight to Ohio so he could haul home the kayaks we've been trying to get my parents to take for a year now. Plus the box truck will be handy for bring about thirty chairs from Polaris.

Then we went to Gahanna to work all day. Dad completed the following projects (I kept adding items to the list as I encountered the need; classroom dry erase boards are very handy and fun to scratch off in varying colors):

- installed wall-mounted shelving units in the staff restroom (doubles as storage for cleaning supplies, etc.) and the reception area (which gained a second large-screen monitor, and subsequently lost some desk space.)

- installed a Nest camera in the music lab for security

- installed cubicle wall hooks for lab bulletin board

- moved the lab dry erase board

- hung mirrors in a couple lesson rooms

- dismantled the electronic drums in Room 6 to make room for a Polaris piano.

- and, finally, moved a bunch more stuff up to the newly-floored storage loft over the restrooms, including wayyy too many music stands.

Then we rested while staff and kids and parents started arriving, because I had a few lessons to teach, and I was Dad's ride. Keith could have brought him home after work (he was there anyway, dropping off a load from Polaris he'd grabbed on his way home,) but Dad wanted a lesson with my most advanced drum instructor, and we'd booked him later that night. So we just chilled. Sort of. He chilled, but I was in Gahanna on a Monday. Literally every teacher and receptionist was like, hey! You're here! That's convenient, because I need something from you. 🤣 All joking aside, I loved being accessible. I'm going to love it even more when I'm not exhausted.

Now let's get some pianos relocated!

August 22, 2023 at 9:13am
August 22, 2023 at 9:13am
Last night, I caught myself singing under my breath, "It's the laaaaaast Monday..." to the tune of "Last Midnight" from Sondheim's Into the Woods.

We will never teach another Polaris Monday night lesson again.

"It's the final countdown..." (In case musical theatre references are lost on you.)

Four more nights of lessons in the Polaris location of my music school (Michelle Tuesday Music School, or just MTMS) before we shut our doors forever, and I am ridiculously excited about it. By cutting my locations in half, I'm cutting the workload in half, and even better, keeping the best of all the stuff from both locations and getting rid of the junk. Every week, during the week, I've been loading up my SUV and moving chairs, furniture, instruments, supplies, shelves and other storage units, art and other wall hangings, tech devices, etc. etc. from Polaris to my other school in Gahanna (or Goodwill.) Every weekend, hubby and I have been making improvements to Gahanna.

This past weekend, we installed a large, heavy duty shelving unit (new from Lowes) and two 12' closetmaid shelves (relocated from Polaris) in the music lab for instrument storage. That way, teachers can access the instruments (which were previously stored in the classroom) without interrupting any lessons.

Instrument storage in the music lab
Instrument storage in the music lab
(sideways bc I don't know how to prevent that in WDC; it's automatic)

The aforementioned classroom is slated for a renovation. We're dividing the large classroom into two smaller rooms: (1) an extra-large lesson room for drum lessons and rock band classes, and (2) a new lesson room / office. This project will not only provide me with my own dedicated space for teaching and administration, but it also increases our capacity for private lessons.

I have received 2 out of 4 bids for the renovation project. The first first one (NS) is higher than I expected, but I can swing it. The second one (BH) is ridiculous, but at least I now know that NS wasn't out of line. I'm waiting for the third (RU) and fourth (SB) bids before I contract NS, because I'm hoping SB comes in with the lowest bid, or at least close enough to the lowest bid to get them to price match. They know everyone in the city's building department, and they ran to city hall after walking through my space and taking measurements and talked them into agreeing to a "simple permit" for my project. Instead of two permits (alteration and electrical), there would only be one permit, which means half the cost and half the inspections. And SB was super knowledgeable about what the city will and won't allow (all the local municipalities have their own rules.) And finally, they're a family owned (dad + two sons) local small business, as local as it gets - their filed business address is in the unincorporated town where my husband and I live, and the son who will be in charge of my project lives in Gahanna, the city where my business resides. Dad started contracting in the 70's, so they have a lot of experience. I just like everything about them.

On the hiring front: I *think* I hired a theory teacher for my music lab, finally. I say "think" because I *thought* I hired a guy named Kyle a week and a half ago. He accepted my offer in writing (by responding to my email) and agreed to an orientation date, but on the day he was scheduled to start work, he apologized and rescinded his acceptance because he couldn't work out the transportation. So here's hoping this guy shows up for his orientation today.

We also interviewed two reception candidates and adored one of them, but she declined our offer. The reason was, we asked her in the interview about her recent moves (she's changed employers - with relocations - roughly once a year since COVID.) She gave us an adequate explanation in the interview, enough that we extended an offer, but when she declined it was on the grounds that she was afraid she would let us down, because if the right opportunity presented itself, she might take it and leave again. Disappointing, but I appreciate not wasting my time on training a flight risk. Now we're back to square one on reception hiring.

This time next week, I'll be in Polaris, supervising the piano movers as they load up six Polaris pianos to relocate to Gahanna. And there will be no more Polaris lessons.

"It's the laaaaaast Tuesday..."
August 19, 2023 at 10:18am
August 19, 2023 at 10:18am
If you're just joining us, August 2023 has me fully occupied with the closing of my second music school location ("Polaris"). I'm moving students, staff, instruments, furniture, wall hangings, even some doors from Polaris to my first (and soon-to-be only) school in Gahanna.

The sign company who moved my exterior Polaris signage to my Gahanna lobby finished the wiring yesterday, so now it's illuminated:

Polaris exterior signage in Gahanna lobby

It's gonna look even better on 8/29 when the piano movers put a white baby grand under it.

Four contractors are officially bidding my Gahanna renovation project (to increase capacity, aka make more room for not only Polaris staff and students, but also future growth of the location, which I anticipate due to my undivided attention on a single location.) We have a favorite of the four but that may change when actual numbers come in.

Only one more week of lessons in Polaris! Last day is Friday, 8/25, which gives us a week to get all the stuff out that I can't move while lessons are still happening (pianos, chairs, music lab desks and computers, shelves the teachers need, music stands...)

Next weekend and the following week will be busy. Keith (hubby) will be at work Monday 8/28 through Thursday 8/31 (when, I assume, I'll have to hand keys over to the landlord... I should really get ahold of them and figure that out, actually, since I'd like to get my security deposit back.) My very awesome and recently retired dad volunteered to come help that week.

Everything is on track regarding the closing of Polaris. Now I just need to address my hiring crisis in Gahanna...

More on that later. It deserves its own blog post titled, "How NOT to get hired."

August 16, 2023 at 5:54pm
August 16, 2023 at 5:54pm
I survived Monday, August 14, 2023.

I'm starting to actually hear back from some contractors on the interior renovation I want to do in my Gahanna music school location (split a large classroom into two smaller private lesson rooms.) So, yay. But it's expensive. Because permits. And contractor profit margins.

The sign company took our exterior signage from my Polaris location (which is closing) and installed it in the lobby of my Gahanna location (the one I'm keeping open.) The wiring won't be finished until Friday, so it's not illuminated yet, but here it is:

Exterior Polaris signage, which we hung in the Gahanna music school lobby.

Every time I go to my Polaris location, I load up my car and haul stuff to Gahanna.

Moving out a little every week.

I had an orientation scheduled with a new hire on Monday, but he bailed because "transportation." I mean, bailed, like on the whole job, with sincerest apologies and ownership of the problem and the fact that he obviously let me down. Because now I have no lab coverage next week again. So I get to be in two places at once again next Monday and Tuesday. And maybe tomorrow. I think tomorrow.

My brain is seriously fried.

I got out of teaching in Polaris tonight, for a sec. Yesterday morning, a teacher said he could sub for my kiddos. He said he was interested in as long a shift as possible, so I gave him my lineup of students *and* I loaded him up with makeups. Then last night at 9pm he texted, apologizing, saying he forgot he had an event tonight. So now *I* get teach all those makeups in addition to the student lineup I was already trying to get out of because *Sleeping*.

The electrician came today to address the fire marshal's concerns, install a receptacle in the new storage loft over the Gahanna school's restrooms, and change some light bulbs.

Plus student schedules, and processing withdrawals and location changes and format changes (from in-person to virtual) and makeups, makeups, makeups out the wazoo.

Remind me never to do this again.
August 14, 2023 at 6:44am
August 14, 2023 at 6:44am
Day 13 lived up to its number and its "-mageddon" name.

If you're catching up:
Friday, August 25 will be the last day of music lessons taught in my music school's 2nd location (Polaris) before we close those doors forever on August 31. I'm downsizing so I can focus my attention on my more successful, more profitable, closer-to-home, flagship location in Gahanna, Ohio. Since my Parkinson's diagnosis, I've been having trouble keeping up with two locations.

We got the Gahanna storage loft flooring done, at least, and hauled an entire storage room's worth of seasonal supplies from Polaris (which had plenty of storage space due to lower student volumes) to Gahanna (which is booked solid, hence the loft installation and renovations to increase capacity.) We still need a better way to get the big storage totes up to the loft and down again during the respective seasons; it turns out a lady with PD is not the best candidate for hauling fully loaded 30-gallon storage totes up 10-foot ladders by herself. But once the totes and I get up there, we can safely move around. So that's good.

It was pretty much downhill from there.

We tried to mount the heavy wooden book display rack on what turned out to be a solid concrete wall, and we didn't have the supplies for concrete.

We tried to assemble a 4'x2'x5' freestanding steel shelf for instrument storage, but the parts were less-then-precision engineered and would not latch into each other the way they were designed, despite swapping out parts for duplicates to see if maybe we had one or two bad parts. I tried unsuccessfully to assemble the unit myself; then Keith tried as well, and we both got stumped at the same step in the instructions (attaching Part A to Part B, lol), so we've ruled out user error. I'm not sure how this stupid thing   has 4+ stars by 4500+ people. Don't believe it.

Since we couldn't assemble the shelving unit, we also couldn't install the 12-foot lengths of closetmaid shelving on the wall, because those tie into the shelving unit and the exact placement of the wall-mounted shelves rely on the width of the freestanding unit we land on.

......aaaaaand Kroger cancelled our click list order because they were understaffed. And they couldn't put the order back into our cart; we have to generate it again from scratch.

Luckily I have plenty of time to go grocery shopping today, Monday, August 14th, because I'm only booked solid from 7am-8pm today with a sign installation; candidate interview; new employee orientation; four hours worth of back-to-back lessons; officially withdrawing whichever Polaris holdouts haven't decided yet whether they want to withdraw, switch to virtual, or commute to Gahanna so they don't get invoiced tomorrow the 15th; and taking the dog to the groomer.
August 13, 2023 at 10:16am
August 13, 2023 at 10:16am
It's kind of a whirlwind.

I dragged my physical person to the City of Gahanna Building Department counter again and rang the bell. It worked. The lady who hasn't responded to me in a week is apparently not tech savvy and couldn't figure out how to print me a list of contractors until she asked a more tech savvy colleague for help. I walked out with a five-page list and promptly delegated the task of weeding out pool, roofing, and other non-interior-renovation contractors to my recently-retired-and-bored father in Maryland. He's not having a lot of luck so far.

My Monday music lab candidate accepted my offer and confirmed orientation Monday. I also have an interview with another candidate Monday; I'm subbing for an absent teacher on top of my own students all night, and I have to be in Gahanna at 7am to let the sign contractor in. August 14 is going to be a very busy day.

Yesterday we hauled a large wall mounted book display (for music books for sale) from Polaris to Gahanna and would have mounted it but we need concrete screws so it's on today's agenda. We did, however, prep the target wall by taking down wall hangings and touching up the paint, and we secured the flooring in the loft (yay!!), though there are still a couple spots that need specially cut pieces off plywood. We also brought closet maid shelving from P to G, installation of that is also on today's agenda.

It's getting harder to do the physical labor every weekend, all weekend. We're tapping out earlier and deciding the next thing can wait.
August 9, 2023 at 9:28am
August 9, 2023 at 9:28am
Sunday we fixed the broken ceiling, installed the piano mural in the Gahanna music lab (relocated from the Polaris lobby), and prepped, cut and laid more flooring in the loft. None of the boards are secured yet but it's already much easier and safer getting around up there. This weekend, hubby and I will finish that so I can bring seasonal storage (holiday decorations, recital and party supplies, etc.) from Polaris and store those tubs above the Gahanna restrooms. I still have to get big plastic totes up a ladder so it's not perfect. We're looking for suspended platform freight lift options (maybe something like this?  )

CEILING FIASCO (sorry it's sideways; WDC is forcing that.)
Don't try walking across a drop ceiling.

Keith & Bob install the piano mural in the music lab.

Monday morning I reassembled the music lab (which had to be moved out of the way for the piano mural install Sunday.) Since I had the whole room apart anyway, I went ahead and ran a couple new Ethernet cables, moved the teacher's desk to the middle of the room, and set up the 10th and final student desk. My lab capacity is now officially increased from 6-8 stations (6 desks w/laptops + beanbag chair and armchair for tablet games) to 10-12 stations (once I bring the Polaris laptops and run a few more cables; currently, four stations are just empty desks.) Polaris still needs the laptops through 8/25, so I'll set up the four new stations in Gahanna that weekend. I'm also considering buying a few new laptops to replace the oldest ones still in use, since we have to set up the Polaris laptops anyway.

Monday afternoon I interviewed a music lab candidate (we like him), and Monday night I taught back-to-back lessons in two locations (going back and forth, not at the same time lol) until 8:40 PM because one of my teachers called out sick. *Left* This is one of the reasons I'm closing my second location! I'll never have to be in two locations at once again. *Bigsmile*

Yesterday was a much shorter day. I confirmed the sign company for removal in Polaris tomorrow (Thu 8/10) and installation in the Gahanna lobby Monday (8/14, OMG WE ARE SO EXCITED.)

Exterior signage at the music school's Polaris location.
Polaris signage at night.

Destination for Polaris signage.

Yesterday, I also interviewed another music lab candidate in the afternoon (we weren't a fan.) And finally, our piano tuner came to both locations and evaluated all the pianos to determine which we should keep and which we should scrap (even after we build two new lesson rooms and I take my favorite piano home, we have two too many.)

Things are moving along nicely EXCEPT for my renovation. I have one quote (received Monday, but it's missing a light switch in the new room, so I asked if that was included and haven't heard back), and I'm still looking for contractors to get two more competitive quotes. The first quote was higher than I expected (doable, budget-wise, but I don't want to overpay.) A week or two ago I posted a description of my project on Angi; only one contractor contacted me, and I think they're either a scam or just one dude and one lady trying to kick off a business that doesn't actually exist yet (no thank you.) I stopped by Gahanna City Hall last week (Wed? I think) and requested a list of contractors registered with the city who have filed permits in the last year, thinking at least then I know they have experience working with Gahanna. The dude at the Building Department counter was working by himself that day and took my info, and also gave me his biz card and a card for another lady who would apparently be the right person to get that info for me. Last Fri I emailed the lady and still have not heard back. I may have to drag my physical person to the counter again. They have a bell. I can ring it and annoy the shit out of them until they get me some names.

While all this is going on, my staff and I are swamped with processing withdrawals and schedule changes for an entire school's worth of students; setting up and advertising a free music book fair that's running through the month of August in Gahanna; re-enrolling and/or adjusting Gahanna students for the upcoming fall schedules; scheduling the electrician to replace batteries and bulbs in exit signage and emergency lights per the instructions of the fire marshal at his recent fire inspection; and teaching all my normally scheduled lessons.

Is it September yet? *Sleeping*
August 6, 2023 at 10:10am
August 6, 2023 at 10:10am
I might sleep through the entire month is September.

All the furniture I posted free on social media was gone or spoken for within two days. In fact, it went a little too well, and I needed to move a table back from Gahanna so my Polaris customers have a place to sit the next three weeks.

Keith and I started laying flooring over the bathrooms so I can use the space for storage. Unfortunately, he accidentally put his foot through the hallway ceiling (he thought it he was stepping on a beam, but it was just acoustic tile framing) so now we have a new project today, in addition to the item already on the agenda, which was to relocate the piano mural to Gahanna.

Almost all Polaris students have given us their preferred path forward (withdraw, switch to virtual, or switch to Gahanna.) It looks like we're keeping about 20-25% of the students. I honestly expected fewer than 10% so I'm super happy. But all the changes and withdrawals need to be processed, and reception is crazy busy so I'm helping with that. Meanwhile, I have a music lab coverage crisis for the second half of August. So that's fun.

I'm off to fix a ceiling.

August 3, 2023 at 1:09pm
August 3, 2023 at 1:09pm
Yesterday, I:

- posted some photos furniture on FB labeled "free to a good home" and got interested parties on everything I had to post (leather furniture, book case, collapsible tables, baby changing tables.) I still have more stuff to post.

- met with the sign company who sent me a quote today, which I approved.

- processed more Open Tasks and generated a bunch of new ones by getting answers from all but two Wednesday families

- taught three hours of lessons

- took the last slate table from Polaris to Gahanna

- loaded up a desk for the finance manager and took it to her house

Two of my lab attendants notified me that they're giving up shifts, so hiring is becoming a priority. I read through some applications and have a few maybes. Now I need to reach out and schedule interviews.


August 2, 2023 at 5:52am
August 2, 2023 at 5:52am
Yesterday, I:

- met with a contractor who looked at my Gahanna project and is currently working on a quote. He also answered questions and gave some suggestions about how to find and install a storage lift system.

- finally spoke with the sign company guy and scheduled a meeting for today on site in Gahanna about installing my Polaris exterior neon signage in the lobby of my Gahanna location. Him: "Do you want it illuminated or not illuminated." Me: ***Um, duh.***

- ran the reception desk in Polaris all night and got answers from literally every present Tuesday student to the question: Are you stopping, switching to virtual, or switching to Gahanna. I got all three answers from the population.

- processed "paperwork" (what my reception staff still calls electronic task checklists) for all the aforementioned withdrawals and changes of lesson format and/or location.

- scheduled about ten thousand makeup lessons.

- loaded up an office chair from Polaris to deliver to my finance manager's house today because it wouldn't fit in her car to take it home herself.

Also, I did NOT get enough sleep. *Sleeping*

August 1, 2023 at 6:45am
August 1, 2023 at 6:45am
It looks like I last blogged in 2018, which means guitar student Emma is now 16. 😲

And the music school location where she prepared for a jazz band audition is now closing after ten years in business.

I wish I had started this sooner, but I'm using this blog to document the process of closing a business location and cutting my operation (and hopefully my workload) in half.

I've known for at least a year that I planned to close my Lewis Center location, MTMS Polaris. I signed a 10-year lease in 2013, which seemed like a good idea at the time because it locked my pricing, but then two major competitors moved into the area. And then COVID happened. And diabetes happened. And then Parkinson's Disease happened, and that was the last straw. I can't keep up with two locations anymore.

My mom, my husband, and three trusted employees knew in advance to help with logistics. I stopped hiring and advertising in Polaris, and I gradually began moving items to our other location in Gahanna. Then on July 10, I announced the upcoming closure to clients and staff. Our last Polaris lessons will be Friday, August 25. Yesterday I scheduled the piano movers for August 29, and our lease expires August 31.

I'm taking this opportunity to renovate our Gahanna location to increase capacity. Over the weekend, Keith and I dismantled the piano mural and book display rack in Polaris (to be installed in Gahanna); took Polaris lobby tables I want to keep to Gahanna and Gahanna tables I want to re-home or discard to Polaris; moved the newer, bigger staff fridge from Polaris to Gahanna; redesigned the music lab to increase its capacity; and took measurements over the restrooms so we can lay flooring and install a storage area. Yesterday, I stopped by Gahanna City Hall to talk about the planned renovation and request a list of contractors (he took my contact info and promised to get it to me); scheduled a meeting with another contractor I found a few days ago via Google search; played phone tag with the sign company to arrange taking my Polaris exterior neon signage and install it in the interior of my Gahanna location (it's going to be SO COOL); scheduled piano movers; and taught lessons.

Meanwhile, my student load has increased significantly because I stopped hiring. I figured it was temporary since they're at a location that's closing, but many of my students are switching to virtual or trying the commute to Gahanna. I'm also sitting at the reception desk half the time because I lost one of my receptionists to college and I'm obviously not backfilling her, either. And I'm still not sure who's covering my Gahanna music lab the second half of August, but that's two whole weeks away. 🤣 Low on the priority list.

And while all this biz stuff is happening, I've been seeing a speech therapist about my singing, which has been affected by Parkinson's (and possibly the first stages of menopause?) She told me I inspire her because I'm such a hard worker, so you can imagine the hours I've been dedicating to that while everything else is happening.

I'm probably forgetting a lot, but I'm glad to get this down, at least. I'll try to keep up with documentation, but for now I have to go run payroll and meet a general contractor.
October 4, 2018 at 11:10am
October 4, 2018 at 11:10am
OMG I just got the best news.

Emma is 11, a guitar student, and pretty good. Mom said over the summer she wanted to try out for jazz band, so we made plans to move her to a jazz guitar teacher, who subsequently resigned amid my rash of Jul/Aug teacher resignations. The teacher she landed with is a great teacher (Carrie, on Mondays) but not a jazz guitarist. I've heard nothing since, then on Fri 9/21 Emma's mom schedules a makeup with me to go over her jazz audition piece, which she had just received from the band director. She shows up, hands me music, and it's hard. It's in Bb (literally the worst key for guitar) and has a mix of melodic riffs well outside of 1st position and crazy tricky jazz chords that require insane hand acrobatics. I asked when the audition would be. "Next Friday." As in 9/28. !!! My heart sinks but I hide it on my face. I do manage to suggest they should schedule as many makeups as possible between 9/21 and 9/28. I take a photo of the music, then we spend the lesson learning what feels like a ton but is only a tiny percentage of the piece. On their way out, mom schedules another makeup w/me Wed 9/26. (Carrie only teaches on Mondays.)

Sat 9/22, Walt (another jazz guitar teacher, but Emma's schedule didn't work) has a gap because his student called out. I bombard him, shove music in his face and say, I need chord fingerings for an 11-year-old, easy versions, as simple as possible. Go. He spends 18 of his 20 min gap writing chord voicings furiously while muttering things like, we can leave out the root, need the 3rd and 6th, she can play three strings here... then in the last two min I record his hands while he plays the fingerings he wrote. After, I texted the photo of the audition piece, the photo of Walt's chord fingerings, and a link to the video of Walt's hands that I'd uploaded to Drive all to Carrie, Emma's regular teacher. We text back and forth for awhile because she's panicking a little, too. We both spend our weekends playing the piece and figuring out what to show Emma.

Mon 9/24, Emma has her regular weekly guitar lesson with Carrie, who also shares Walt's fingerings and video w/Emma and mom. They get through most of the song, in rough-draft-ish format.

Wed 9/26, Emma has another makeup with me. Mom comments that she told her friends we have a "whole army of grownups helping my kid get into jazz band." Emma is young but very mature and articulates well what she's struggling with. I'd continued to play the song myself Mon and Tue and had determined a few ways to simplify even more than Walt had, so I show her. Overall, I'm amazed at how much she's accomplished in four or five days, but I'm still nervous. I'd changed a few things and she needed to practice them, so I want to circle back before the audition. I asked what time the audition would be on Fri. Mom says they have to turn in a video, and she'd check with the director to see if they could submit it Friday evening (and therefore have one last lesson with me... and RECORD the video at the lesson.) The plan is approved by jazz band director, and mom schedules one last lesson with me.

Fri 9/28, Mom says Emma is considering not participating even if she makes it because it's so hard. I tell Emma, "Don't you dare!" and give her a huge pep talk about how she has more grit than most adults I know, and that she deserves to be in jazz band, and if she doesn't make it, it's not because she's not old enough (most of the other kids are 12 and 13) or not good enough, it's just that we could have used more time. I don't know if the teacher handed them music one week before the audition because she's a slacker or was testing the kids to see how quickly they could learn the piece, but if the quick turnaround was part of the test, Emma did the best she could and worked harder than any 11-year-old I've ever seen. I tell her if she doesn't make it, we'll try again next year. She rubs her sore, aching fingertips on the rough, bumpy surface of her chair and smiles. We run the new stuff and she nails it. We start recording, but she makes a mistake and we scrap the take. The second take is pretty much as perfect as it was going to get in the time we'd had, and mom submits it.

Thu 10/4: Mom just emailed to inform me that Emma was selected for jazz band, and I could dance, scream and cry all at the same time to express how happy I am for her. *Heart*
September 30, 2018 at 8:00am
September 30, 2018 at 8:00am
Don't get excited. I just needed a valid entry number so I could test the spreadsheet.

It's PREP TIME, y'all.

October Novel Prep Challenge  (13+)
2023 Sign-ups are CLOSED. A month-long novel-planning challenge with prizes galore.
#1474311 by Brandiwyn🎶
October 3, 2017 at 9:16am
October 3, 2017 at 9:16am
Stepson takes his grandma to the store. He buys Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness smoothies. She thinks that looks good and picks three Strawberry Breakfast Smoothies. At home, unloading, grandma tells me, "Blaine brought these downstairs, but they're his." I bring them upstairs. Blaine says, "No, grandma picked those." I take them back down. "No, those are Blaine's." Blaine: "I don't like strawberry." Guess what's in my fridge now?

I forgot to log the meltdown over Lynn Strayer, but I don't have time now, so I'll try to get to it later. Some of these are cute and funny. Some are sad and frustrating. *Frown*
July 14, 2017 at 7:47am
July 14, 2017 at 7:47am
On "Prime Day," I had my eye on a 15-inch Chromebook, reduced from $250 to $200. From the same computer , with two different credit cards , I purchased one Chromebook using my household's Prime account, and I purchased one using my company's Prime account.

Then on Wednesday, after the Prime Day sale had ended , Amazon canceled the order I placed with my household account. The following email thread commenced, which culminated in the cancellation of my Prime subscription and an order from Walmart.com.

I have loved Amazon for years and bragged about their amazing service. I would have never shopped around before this happened, but Amazon's service officially sucks now.

Also, to explain my first reply, I didn't read carefully and missed the "Customers are not allowed to use multiple accounts to bypass these limits" line. Otherwise, I would have started with my second reply.


We cancelled your order 112-3211905-9522658 because it exceeds the quantity limit for that item. Quantity limits are displayed during the ordering process.

We limit the number of orders customers can place for certain promotional or popular items. Customers are not allowed to use multiple accounts to bypass these limits.

To learn more about quantity limits, search for “About the Shopping Cart” in Amazon.com Help.

To help us understand why your order exceeds the quantity limit, please reply to this email with the following information:

-- Reasons why you ordered more products than are allowed
-- Feedback to help us improve our service

We look forward to hearing from you.


Account Specialist


I don't understand why this order was canceled. I ordered one unit. What is the quantity limit, zero?? Regards,
Michelle Johns



Thank you for writing to us.

I understand your concern regarding cancellation of your Amazon.com order.

We found that you used more than one account to place orders that exceed the quantity limit restrictions found on some items. This is a misuse of our services, which is against our Conditions of Use and Sale.

As a result, the Order ID: 112-3211905-9522658 has been cancelled.

To learn more about quantity limits, search for “About the Shopping Cart” in Amazon.com Help.

The maximum quantity can be purchased once in any 7-day period. For pre-orders, the maximum quantity can be purchased once within the pre-order period.

A quantity limit is the maximum number of any item that can be purchased. Items with quantity restrictions have very low prices and/or a limited supply, and we want to ensure that many customers are able to order them. As our prices and product supply change, these limits may change too.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please reply to this email.

Your understanding is appreciated.

Account Specialist


I am affiliated with two accounts. One is a personal account for my family, and one is a business account with its own employer identification number and 50 employees. I purchased this item for myself. My BUSINESS purchased one for my reception department to use.
Please review the order histories of both accounts and note that both myself and my business do a lot of business with Amazon.com, and then reinstate this order that you canceled. If your $50 discount is still more important to you than my business, then please cancel the auto-renewal on the Prime account connected with this email address. Regards,



Thank you for letting us know about the situation.

We've noticed you have used more than one customer account to place orders that exceed the quantity limit restrictions found on some items. This activity violates the Amazon.com Conditions of Use. You may find the Conditions of Use on this page:


Please be informed that once order is cancelled it cannot be reinstated.

Items with quantity restrictions have very low prices and/or a limited supply, and we want to ensure that many customers are able to order them. As our prices and product supply change, these limits may change too.

The maximum quantity can be purchased once in any 7-day period. For pre-orders, the maximum quantity can be purchased once within the pre-order period.

To learn more about quantity limits, search for “About the Shopping Cart” in Amazon.com Help.

I'm so sorry, but we can't offer any additional insight or action on this matter.

Please contact the customer service regarding any other issues.They'll be happy to help you.

Your understanding is appreciated.


I'm very disappointed. I have always spoken very highly of Amazon's customer service. You are sending me form letters and not reading and responding to my words. Your form letters are making me angry, which is not consistent with the service I have come to expect from Amazon.com.
Please confirm that my account associated with <this email address> will not auto-renew Prime. I'll take my business to Walmart. Regards,



Thanks for writing back.

Regarding the prime auto renewal, please contact our customer service as they will be able to assist you.

Please click Contact Us on any Amazon.com Help page to reach our Customer Service team (http://www.amazon.com/contact-us).

Account specialist


Thank you. I canceled my Prime. Also, I found the exact same laptop you're refusing to sell me, for the exact same ("Prime Day") price, with free 2-day shipping (no annual subscriptions required), at Walmart.com. See the link below.

I would have never even thought to shop around if your customer service policies didn't suck. If anyone at Amazon cares about customer feedback, here are my complaints:

1. If my household and my company both pay for Prime subscriptions, they should both be eligible for Prime Day discounts.

2. If you're going to refuse to accommodate complaint #1, make that policy clear (not buried in an agreement somewhere) instead of making people feel like criminals after the fact. Why would I ever think that my household and my company, which both pay for separate Prime subscriptions, would not both be eligible for the same Prime discounts?

3. Don't use form letters to respond to upset customers.

4. Sign your replies with a person's name instead of hiding behind a generic "Account specialist" signature.

Here's the Walmart link:


October 6, 2016 at 8:50am
October 6, 2016 at 8:50am
Traditional outlining involves organizing your plot information by act, chapter and scene and using indenting and numbering/lettering conventions to reflect levels.

Formal traditional outlining (not necessarily as it is applied to fiction outlining) uses the following conventions:

I. Roman numerals for the highest levels.
         A. Capital letters for the second level.
                   1. Numbers for the third level.
                             a. Lowercase letters for the fourth level.

The conventions are arbitrary, and you might do just as well with "Act 1" instead of I, "Chapter 1" instead of A, and "Scene 1" instead of 1. The point is to be consistent so that, at a glance, you can easily identify which level you're seeing.

In the context of a story, an outline might look something like this:

Act 1 or Book 1: Title or description (if applicable.)
         Chapter 1: Title or brief summary.
                   Scene 1: Description

You might also want to add another layer to include information like the characters who appear in the scene.

Act 1 or Book 1: Title or description (if applicable.)
         Chapter 1: Title or brief summary.
                   Scene 1: Description
                             Character 1: Name

Personally, I use a spreadsheet and don't bother with numbers or letters. I indent by one cell, and I can clearly see levels based on spreadsheet columns (which is basically the equivalent of indents.) Not numbering also allows me to easily insert rows or grab scenes and drag them around without renumbering my scenes every time I change the order.

But that's me. *Laugh* I'm a spreadsheet junkie. Word processing applications have built-in outlining features, and novel software like Scrivener and YWriter format outlines automatically.

Here's an example without numbering:

Act 1: The Journey
         Sally gets the bad news and must quickly move away
                   Robert calls Sally
                             Character: Robert
                             Character: Sally
                   Sally quits her job
                             Character: Sally
                             Character: Mr. Boss

Scenes in this format can be easily shuffled around using cut-and-paste or just highlight-and-drag.

Happy outlining!
September 5, 2016 at 7:47am
September 5, 2016 at 7:47am
I'm obsessing...

First, motorcycles are dangerous.

Keith and I were on his Harley, and our brother-in-law Scott was behind us on his. We were headed down a back road approaching town when we came upon a backlog of traffic, with half a dozen cars skewed at weird angles. Keith saw the problem before I did: two crotch-rocket motorcycles on their sides in the middle of the road, missing large chunks of body, with a trail of debris behind them, and no riders.

After a minute, my eyes found one of the riders, quite a ways away from the bikes, on his back in the middle of the road, with maybe two or three people leaning over him. I got off the bike called 911, but I wasn't the first caller. They already knew and were on the way.

Then I ran over to the man in the road, and as I approached, my eyes found the other rider: off the side of the road, in the grass, with a small crowd leaning over him, as well. I never got to see the other driver close up because I stayed with the guy in the road until the ambulance arrived. If you've never been in that situation, the ambulance takes FOREVER.

His buddy knelt behind his head, talking to him, and his girlfriend paced, texting and wiping tears from her eyes. I held the victim's hand and talked to him. For a minute, I held the girlfriend's hand, too. The scene was pretty bloody, but not as bad as it could have been, considering. His face was beat up, his lips and eyes swelling up as I watched, and he had a giant cut - a hole, almost - above his right eye, which, along with the hole in the back of his head that I learned about later, probably contributed to the puddle of blood at my feet, about a foot away from his head.

Two women who had been eating at the McDonald's a couple hundred yards away were off-duty EMT's and responded to the scene before the ambulance did. One gave instructions to the buddy, who told her the victim's name was Eric. She told the buddy to hold his head still by placing his hands over his ears. The buddy took off his shirt and the EMT helped ball it up like a pillow under the victim's head. Eric was squirming and asking the same questions over and over: Where am I? What happened? How did it happen. The buddy gave the same answers: On route 40. You and Travis crashed. I don't know; I think you hit each other. Occasionally, Eric called out for his buddy and his girlfriend, and they reassured him that they were right there.

The EMT asked Eric how old he was. He thought about it a moment then said, I had a birthday. I was born in '89. She asked if he knew who was president, and he didn't. He couldn't remember his birthday. He started complaining that his face hurt, and his buddy, the EMT, another woman, and I kept telling him he had a fat lip and a "little" cut over his eye, but reassured him that it was fine, not a big cut. (Bald-face lies.)

The ambulance eventually did arrive, and they got both men on stretchers. I asked the other EMT how the other guy was, and she shook her head with a grave look and said, "He has an open skull fracture." Since they were loading up the ambulances, I got out of the way, talked to the police, etc. The police spray-painted the locations of the debris and victims and dumped sand over puddles of blood and spilled oil and fuel. A helicopter arrived, and they loaded up Eric, but not the other guy, and that worried me - a LOT. As the emergency vehicles started driving away, Keith, Scott and I got back on the bikes and headed off.

I'd heard Eric's last name, and I was able to find him on social media. Eric's sister and I share a mutual friend (things like that surprise me less and less), so I texted the mutual friend and asked her to message the sister and make sure the family knew they were on the way to the hospital. She did already know but said she appreciated the message.

One of Eric's brothers posted on social media last night, which is how I found out about the cut on the back of his head:

"Update on Eric:

Hes doing as well as we can ask considering the situation. Major cut above his right eye and cut on the back of his head. Both required staples. Minor fracture of his right eye socket that needed no medical attention. Broken left wrist and in alot of pain throughout his body (dr informed us there was nothing else wrong, just roughed up). Continued positive thoughts for a speedy recovery. "

After feeling gratitude that he sounded like he was going to be okay, my next thought was to think, oh, no, I was holding his hand, and he had a broken wrist! Then I remembered it was the right hand, not the left, and felt better.

But I'm still creeping on this family, because I can't figure out who the other victim was or if he's okay, and it has me worried sick. No news outlets responded to the scene, and so far, Google searches have produced nothing. The brother's post about Eric's condition is the only thing I've seen about the accident online, except for Eric's mom posting to ask if anyone would take her work shift today (the commenters all clearly knew why), and I wouldn't have found either of those things if I hadn't known his last name and been able to identify his photo.

Keith was obsessing over it last night, too. He doesn't wear a helmet because he doesn't want to, and I don't because the one we got for me is too tight and gives me a headache, and we haven't gotten out to buy me a new one. But beyond saying we're going to wear helmets from now on, Keith was even talking last night about getting rid of the motorcycle... that he just bought this spring. Don't get me wrong; we ride at slow speeds, on back roads, with caution and close attention to our surroundings, whereas these two kids were riding crotch rockets and, judging by the length of the debris trail, were going way too fast. Still, the whole thing scared the shit out of both of us. These guys had literal holes in their heads.

I just wish I could find some news on the other guy. I lost sleep over it.

Motorcycles are dangerous.

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