Achilles – no wonder

This Greek girl has succumbed to another Greek’s famous weakness. I’m thankful it didn’t detach, but wow I feel like a guinea pig at physical therapy each week.

Graston – check

If you’re wondering how buttered toast feels, this is the deep tissue massage for you. It makes the worst knots light up like red Christmas lights as they scrape your injured sections with butter knife / shoe horn-looking instruments.

Dry needling – check

This is a bit like a cross between acupuncture and poking someone and saying “does this hurt?” They find those reddest and most locked up parts lit up by the Graston and stick a needle into it. The muscle seizes around the needle and freaks out. Then when the needle is removed, the muscle loosens up more than it was before. Some days it feels great. Other days I walk in fine and leave limping.

Cupping – as of today, check

You know that feeling when you were a kid and you were messing with the soda bottle and get your tongue stuck inside the bottle for a bit? Amplify that. Take a bunch of vacuums and leave the ends stuck on you for 10 minutes. Hopefully you don’t turn black and blue. Too tight and the pinching is actually quite painful. Too loose and it really doesn’t force the locked up portions away from each other.

Professor Andreas Poulimenos, aka my dad

I like to think I had a conventional childhood, but sometimes when I say things like “yeah, I went to a German school for a year when my dad was singing in the opera house” or after a concert “their career isn’t going to last long if they don’t work on vocal technique to quit hurting themselves” that I get a few raised eyebrows.

Source: https://digital.library.wayne.edu/item/wayne:MOTA_PH_19881989_5t_002 Image from 1989 MOT production of The Marriage of Figaro. Performers : Poulimenos, Andreas (Singer) ; Valente, Benita (Singer)

My dad grew up in Boston, number 3 of 4 children living off a cobbler’s salary. Their shoes were always shined at church, but were often 1-2 sizes too small. He sang in the Greek Orthodox Church choir and eventually soloed as their cantor. He decided to study music professionally and become an opera singer. He worked as a short order cook to supplement his scholarship and eventually finished his Bachelors and Masters of Music at the Boston Conservatory of Music. Around that time he won the Metropolitan Opera auditions and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Rome, Italy.

When he returned he tried to finish his Doctorate at Michigan State University and taught as a masters grad there for 2 years, but a job opportunity opened up at Bowling Green State University and he decided to go there rather than finish. In retrospect, it was a very good decision. He never became “Doctor P”, but he never needed to.

When he was younger he was known for his Marcello and Scarpia.

Source: https://digital.library.wayne.edu/item/wayne:MOTA_PH_19801981_3t_010 Image from 1980 MOT production of Don Giovanni. Performers : Brown, Perry (Singer) ; Charbonneau, Pierre (Singer) ; Poulimenos, Andreas (Singer)

As he got older, he started to do more Sharpless in Madame Butterfly.

He stayed for 33 years at BGSU as the resident baritone, teaching voice to opera students and other music majors. He taught Italian diction for singers then, too, before retiring from BGSU and moving on to Indiana University Jacob’s School of Music. He’s now 17 years into his stay at IU and only just now, after 50+ years of teaching opera at the university level, retiring in June 2019.

He gave a performance this past weekend as part of a faculty recital, which was quite the feat getting up on stage after having hip surgery at the end of July and eye surgery a few weeks ago.

I am always amazed by the things his students are doing from both universities. They’re in opera houses around the world, teaching at esteemed universities themselves, releasing videos that go viral, winning awards, appearing on television and movies, and just making me proud I can say “My dad taught them.”

6 year anniversary of signing up on WordPress.com

My Automattic Journey

Recently someone asked colleagues, how did you find Automattic and apply?

I thought my story was worth sharing, because I found this awesome place via KARMA.

Flashback to 2012…I had been working at a software company in my hometown for a decade and learned I had to move to New York. I started applying places and did a few interviews, but nothing had the allure of my previous job.

I normally only connect with people on LinkedIn whom I have met in person and had a conversation with. One day this random guy with over 500 connections wanted to connect and I scoured his resume wondering how I knew him. It turns out I didn’t. He was looking for work and just connecting with everyone.

I said to myself “#yolo, what’s the worst that can happen?!”

The next day when I was looking for jobs for myself, I found the perfect job…. for him.

I sent him a message on LinkedIn and said:

In the interest of paying it forward, I saw this and thought of you while I was doing my own job hunt… [url]

He wrote me back:

Andrea,
Thank you so much for thinking of me with regard to this position. It seems like a great fit and I have applied for it. May the good Karma you generated by passing this along to me stand you in good stead in your own job search. Stay in touch and let me know how your search is going. Who knows, perhaps we will meet each other in a corporate boardroom someday!

A few hours later he posted this article on his LinkedIn feed:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443571904577631750172652114

The rest is history.

 

Love wins

When my brother was in junior high and high school, he had a major crush on this girl. He never told anyone.

She had a crush on him, and none of her friends, whom she told, told him. She sat by him in classes and conveniently used all her super cool high school moves to try to gain his attention. She doodled hearts around his head in the yearbook.

Nothing ever happened.

. . .

Here we are 20 years later, they met and fell head-over-heels in love. Both of them being divorced, they knew what to do differently to make this one work and what really matters in the long run.

When they started planning their wedding, she asked him “What day has meaning for you? When do you want to get married?”

To which he replied, April 20th. His own words from the wedding page:

I would also like to take the time to explain the significance of the date we chose for our wedding. On 4/20/2006, two of my friends were tragically killed in a plane crash. The day itself has always been filled with grief and sadness for me. I feared that this day would always remain one of sorrow if I did not change it for the better. With that an idea emerged. I want to honor my friends. I want to celebrate their lives and the influence they continue to have on me. I also want to further celebrate this day, by marrying a woman that I truly feel has saved my life. She has given me an endless amount of joy, hope, and love. I truly have never been happier.

With that being said, in lieu of gifts, we would like you to consider making a donation to the Robert C Samels and Christy B Carducci scholarship fund at Bowling Green State University. Thank you.

So that’s what I am doing next weekend. I’m celebrating and rewriting the day with my family to honor lost friends.

68 days into Sabbatical

I work for a pretty amazing company, automattic.com/work-with-us, that on your 5th anniversary you can take a 3 month paid sabbatical.

I have had some (I hesitate to call them epiphanies because they seem more like common sense that gets lost in the rhythm of a busy life)… moments where I realized what I needed to stop doing and what I needed to do more of.

1) Don’t worry about work – it goes on without you.

2) Life goes on without you too. There isn’t a magical Sabbatical switch that flips and everything turns into sunshine and daisies. If you want something to be different, you need to change it. If you want something to happen, you need to plan it out and do it.

3) Small, kind, daily gestures go a long way to feeding relationships that matter.

4) Time passes quickly when you’re wasting it.

5) Taking care of yourself should not be the last thing you do after everything and taking care of everyone else.

So after a month of winter cabin fever, taking care of sick kids and a dad with pneumonia (again), I realized I need to

  • Get out of the house every day
  • Exercise every day
  • Create music
  • Fuel my inner artist

What have I done with 2 months of sabbatical so far?

I have joined a welcoming, supportive Crossfit gym — walking distance from my house. Score!

Me doing a cheesy pose with a medicine ball after EMOM burpees

I’ve crocheted a hat for my son and started a chevron blanket using the techniques my grandmother taught me when I was little. I made some Christmas ornaments from scratch with the kids.

I am taking piano lessons once a week to work on my technique. (Don’t judge this Schumann yet – it’s a work in progress, with the tempo and repeated switching between 5 flats and 6 sharps standing between me and calling it done.)

I make a point of playing outside for an hour as often as possible with my kids right after school.

Kids sledding

We read knock-knock joke books together before bed, in addition to them reading me one story each, so we have some giggles to end the day.

I go for long walks just to see nature and get fresh air.

Someone's dog spooked the 3 deer, but they were chowing down on somebody's hedges earlier

It hasn’t been perfect, but I’ve had time to remember what’s important and bring it back into my regular routine. With one month to go, I’m going to enjoy the trips I have planned and start figuring out how to maintain that balance once I go back to work.

Schumann and Should Nots

I’ve always gravitated toward the piano. I play for me, not for concerts or recitals. I studied with my mom during elementary school (she was a music therapy major, sang in a band, played guitar and piano). When I played her last college piece and she wanted me to keep progressing, she arranged lessons with the wife of one the university professors my father worked with. After that another family friend, the summer musical rehearsal pianist, taught me. By then I was in college and started studying with 3 different professors there.

How is it I’m just now decades later learning technique? Hahaha. Was it passable before and no one harped on it? I set out to take lessons during my sabbatical with the explicit instructions for my teacher to help me play without hurting myself. So far I’ve learned to play some notes higher on the key to keeps gentler angle and to put my elbows in front of my body for difficult sections that would otherwise wrench my wrists.

Up next is this piece Romance in B Flat minor by Robert Schumann. I have the notes down but am working on the speed. There are parts I need to rework for positioning, when my right hand starts to hurt which I should not be doing to myself. Wish me luck!