House of Cards

I’ve just finished the second season of House of Cards. I know, I’m living in the past. And don’t hate me when I say I only watched about two episodes of the first season. Louie had already seen it and didn’t want to watch again, and finally we decided to just go ahead and he could just fill me in on things that didn’t make sense.

I didn’t like House of Cards at first because of Kevin Spacey’s horrible accent. He’s supposedly from Gaffney, South Carolina, which isn’t too far from where I grew up (Clinton). His accent doesn’t match, and it bothers me that actors think all southern accents are the same. I would rather him just talk in his normal voice honestly. The other thing I hate about the show are when he talks directly into the camera. I cringe every time. But otherwise it’s a very enjoyable show and I’m eager to find out what horrible thing the characters will do next.

The weekend was pretty busy. Yesterday I had the first spring recital for my students (everybody played quite well, and they were mostly happy!). I have some ideas on general things we all need to work on, but I was pleased overall. I think it’s great for the students to have an opportunity to play for everybody, and that they really grow while preparing for a performance. I also had an orchestra concert last night with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis that was quite fun to play. The day before we’d had rehearsal with the Illumine Ensemble for Friday’s “Play with your food” concert, Metropolitan Orchestra rehearsal, and I taught a makeup lesson. I feel like I definitely spent the weekend running around, but what’s new, right?

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(I am slouching a bit too much, aren’t I?)

One of my favorite things is going to Louie’s mom’s house for brunch on the weekends. We don’t go that often, but it’s always delicious. His brother makes vegan waffles, and we usually have bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon, all in large quantities. I’m salivating just thinking about it again. We went yesterday morning before my work day started, and had a nice time eating and talking about plans for Italy. We are spending 5-6 days in Italy, then going to Orvieto for a day/night. We made a list of tentative plans, which include the Vatican Museum, the Appian Way, and more! We’ve all been to Rome before (which sounds ridiculous in and of itself) so we are open to trying new and more unusual things. Did I mention I can’t wait?

Other random thoughts:

I’ve been running quite a bit lately. Well, three times last week. The weather has been glorious.

I’m getting used to giving shots to the cat. It was a quick learning curve, but it’s still A THING that must be done. Twice a day. Poor kitty.

Ever since our “vegetarian challenge” the other month, we’ve been eating much less meat. I haven’t cooked meat at home since before that, with the exception of salmon. I’ve definitely been more of a pescatarian, but I have ordered meat a few times out at restaurants, but I’ve still mostly chosen fish or vegetarian options. I think less meat is a good answer for me, both ethically AND with my diet, as I find I’ve been better able to control my appetite and feel good.

And that’s enough for now! Better get to practicing before I have to teach.

Is it Monday already?

The weekend was stressful and busy but fun. Saturday was needlessly stressful due to some weddings and things, but the evening was super fun, and Sunday’s quartet concert was fun too. Friday night we went to the symphony with my friend Jen and her husband Chuck and went to Small Batch afterwards for drinks and a snack.

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We had awkwardly close seats as usual. I wasn’t super impressed by the Rachmoninoff (Piano Concerto no. 3) balance wise, but I blamed where I was sitting, but our friends had better seats and they said the pianist was hard to hear as well. I find so many times I’ve been to symphony concerts (not just in St Louis) and don’t hear enough of the soloist. I don’t recall that from ushering back in the day in Cleveland, but it’s possible my standards are higher these days, who knows!

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Saturday night at the Tavern of Fine Arts with my Irish group. We had a good time. Olivia, the flute player, is moving away in a few months so we won’t be able to reprise, but it was a lot of fun and I’m glad we were able to play the show again.

Sunday afternoon the quartet (Perseid Quartet) played in Edwardsville at the First Presyterian Church. It was a small crowd, but a good one, and I was tired but had a wonderful time performing. Two of my students attended, and I have to say: I LOVE when students come to my performances. It really makes me feel honored and appreciated, and I also hope that I inspire them!

I didn’t take any photos but I stole this one from our quartet facebook page. Most of my “in performance” photos are from my good friend April who is never shy about taking photos during a performance.

This time of year is just busy, isn’t it? I do feel like this was a particularly stressful weekend to “cross off” and the next two are not as bad. We’ve finished all of our scheduled quartet performances so now we are back to brainstorming and planning (if you would like to offer us a spot on your concert series or a place to perform we would definitely consider it!) and that’s always fun. Planning means new possibilities, and that’s one of my favorite things. And honestly I think until fall, things truly have settled down a bit. (Famous last words, I’m sure, and I shouldn’t forget about July’s piano-violin recital, but there’s nothing to MEMORIZE on there at least.)

Speaking of planning. Italy. I’m just so excited, though it doesn’t seem real! I’ve got the Rick Steves book on Rome, since he was my lifesaver in Paris, but I have barely looked at it yet. (Plus most of the planning isn’t really up to me, and that’s fun too, but we do have some decisions to make). I have 3 more concerts left, a gig, and a student recital in addition to my regularly scheduled activities (teaching mostly). It’s been a wild ride this spring, but as I was driving to a 9 am rehearsal in Edwardsville I was thinking, yes, I’m a little tired, but I’m managing, I’m having enough time to exercise, eat well, and occasionally see friends, and more importantly, I’m having a blast performing! It took me a long time to get to this point in St Louis, and I’m pretty happy about it. And what’s funny is that I’d LOVE to play even more, and I still try to figure out how to squeeze more into my life, even as I come here to the blog and complain about my lack of balance and how busy I am. I might be crazy?

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We decided to go out for Vietnamese food last night. We tried a new-to-us place called Linh Mi Gia and were NOT disappointed. The food you see pictured was delicious (I have such a weakness for the broken rice/pork type dishes). This is one of my new favorite restaurants for Vietnamese, and I definitely will go back and try a few other things.

I can’t come up with a title tonight

I’m having a hard time with titles lately. I suppose it’s best to write first and come up with a title later, but if you do that the box for title just yells “ENTER A POST TITLE” the entire time I’m writing. I’ll come up with something soon after I realize what I wrote about! (edited to add, I finished writing and have nothing. )

I’m stressed yet looking forward to the weekend. I realized that I used to book and play weddings all the time but lately booking them has been truly stressing me out. I don’t know why, but I feel like it’s just this huge weight, to put the music together, to make sure all the other players are going to be there, to write the checks and collect the money, it’s just causing me stress. I have TWO on Saturday, and I will be super relieved when they are over. Which is just ridiculous. I used to do this all the time!

Like I said, I’m looking forward to my two performances this weekend though, plus tomorrow night we are going to the symphony. I need to just focus on what brings me joy (I’m thinking of that book I haven’t read but everybody was talking about where you get rid of the things in your life that don’t bring you joy) : performing on my own terms, teaching mostly, reading books, eating good food, traveling, being outside in lovely weather, petting cats…and I get to do all of those things in the next few weeks if not tomorrow, so really, life is grand!

And it was brought to my attention that work-life balance is an illusion.  I haven’t read much Kierkegaard (that is to say, none) but found this quoted paragraph quite interesting:

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

I’ve prided myself on not having too many regrets in my life, but I recently read a quote that said basically, if you don’t have regrets you haven’t properly lived. Or perhaps you were just a bit unbalanced in your life in the pursuit of many wonderful things, and those wonderful things you were trying to do got in the way of other things, and you regretted later that you weren’t able to do it all. Or maybe it’s much darker stuff than that, but I like to tell myself that all my choices and directions my life has taken over the years have truly been leading me here and that HERE is a good place to be, and therefore I shouldn’t regret things that could have gone differently in the past. This all works well if we are in agreement that here is indeed a good place to be. If I didn’t agree with that, then I might have regrets. Though even so, perhaps I’d be heading somewhere else, that would be good when I got there. Maybe I am truly just an optimistic person, not even a cynical optimist.

Or I’m not making any sense at all and I’m just typing a bunch of gibberish. Or I’m just navel-gazing and patting myself on the back…what really is the difference between than and being introspective? And why write a blog if I can’t have some self-indulgent navel gazing once in awhile, right? Or all the time, or at least several times a week. Other people post articles about how introverted people run the world, or about how successfully married people do this or that better than you, or the best way to save money in jars. I sit down at the end of a long day (yes, musicians have those, even though we don’t have real jobs) and type my feelings out. So here we are.

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(my new haircut)

I’m exhausted and just remembered a few things I need to take care of! I promise I’ll be back soon with a mundane post about kitties, but until then :)

Local readers, come check out my performances this weekend, Saturday night 8 pm, Irish Quartet at the Tavern of Fine Arts, and Sunday at 3 pm, Perseid Quartet at the First Presbyterian Church in Edwardsville. Follow those links for more information!

Work-life balance?

I feel like this year has been the busiest ever. That’s probably not true, but it’s certainly been a busier year than most in St Louis. Possibly all. I moved here in 2008 and since I’m a freelancer, it does take time to build up work and connections. I’m finally feeling like I’m at a great point here (means it’s probably time to move, hahahaha!) where the phone keeps ringing (email really, please email as it’s just so much easier to respond and give information for anything!) for students, gigs keep coming, and great chamber music opportunities abound. And I don’t like to say no, especially when money or potential musical satisfaction are at stake, so that means, busy, busy!

Right now I’m preparing for another performance of the Irish Quartet on Saturday (after two weddings I booked), the Perseid Quartet concert this Sunday, a concert with the Metropolitan Orchestra (a new-to-me group that I considered linking to but has an auto-play website and I just couldn’t…) on the following Sunday, and a neat set of concerts with the Illumine Ensemble called “Play with your food.” I have a couple other random things and one of my two student recitals…before we go to Italy. I think it’s safe to say that the time will fly by?

People often talk about a work-life balance. Often it’s in regards to women with children (I guess men don’t care, or at least that’s the impression I get from most media) but I think it definitely fits for people without children too. We have to balance work with our relationships—friends, family, partners. It can be tough. I haven’t had real issues with the partner side, and my family lives far away and I do visit some (I should do better), but the friends can be tough! I always wish I saw my friends more often, but it’s hard to do it with work—both theirs and mine.  And it’s always easy to think, oh, after this activity, or that activity is done, I’ll have more time. Occasionally that’s true (giant exam, huge project, audition, solo recital), but other times after a time-sucking activity is done another pops up to take its place. Fellow freelance musicians (or other adults!), how do you balance work and play? Aside from the obvious, work with your friends, which I also do.

Well, I’m off to practice. I was just typing this while drinking coffee. I’d thought to myself, I used to blog a lot more, and that was fun. Why not two days in a row? Why not indeed? And now practicing, a run (weather permitting) and teaching await, with possibly Mexican-themed celebrations at the end of the evening since Louie has a big test.

Good Things Happening

The big news: I am going with Louie’s family on a trip to Italy in May. I am so excited! We will be going to Rome for sure and the rest is TBD. I’m so thrilled to be going to Europe again and feel so lucky!

Until then, life is crazy as usual. Thursday my quartet played a concert at the Kemper Art Museum at Washington University. I had been really stressed out about it because we were playing about 7 pieces by student composers and they ranged from difficult to exceedingly difficult. We also played Shostakovich’s String Quartet no. 8 (again) after all of that. The concert ended up feeling like it went really well, and the crowd was appreciative.

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As you can see it was a really neat space to play in, and we had a full house.

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The less good thing happening is that our white cat, Chloe, has been diagnosed with diabetes. Poor kitty. She has to have twice daily insulin injections, which has been a challenge. I’m sure it will become part of the regular routine (wake up, get attacked by loads of overly hungry animals who were sure they were going to die, feed animals, give Chloe a shot?) but it’s been one more added stress. She doesn’t seem to mind the shots other than an initial discomfort, and I’m sure that she must be feeling better than ever with the medicine!

So I’ve been doing an instagram challenge, taking/posting one photo a day. I’d read that it makes people become better photographers, or that it will change your life. Well, I’ve definitely become a worse photographer, because sometimes I’m at the end of the day and realize, oh no, I didn’t take a picture yet! Plus the added stress…did I get a picture today? Does stealing one from somebody’s facebook count? I guess I’m learning something about myself (that I mostly like to take pictures of my food and cats) (or that I’m pretty boring) and it’s a good challenge. I imagine I’ll look back on the year and feel super accomplished.

I did finally recover from my cold (look at me, following up on things) though I have had low-grade congestion all week. I’m thinking that it is allergies at this point: I feel mostly good, except a little tired still, but that gets better each day. This weekend I was able to do a fair amount of relaxing and sleep in one day. I’ve got some really fun performances coming up and so much to do before Italy, but I’m walking around in disbelief (something awesome happening to me!) and with lists in my head—I have been trying to stay on top of things by using my to-do list on my phone a lot, plus I totally made a packing list for Italy. I want to fit everything in my smaller suitcase and not overpack for once in my life, but I also don’t want to miss anything. And generally I don’t mind overpacking—for instance, if I’m flying to a destination where I will be picked up from the airport in a car, and then spend the whole time somewhere, I’d actually rather have brought too many clothes than not enough. I’ve often been in Phoenix and regretted not bringing more clothes or shoes. But this is different because it’s international travel, it’s possibly five people squeezing into a car with five suitcases, and that means to pack as light as possible.

Did I mention Rome?

I was there in the summer of 2001 for a couple of days. It was on a tour of Italy with the Erie Youth Symphony (speaking of lucky and amazing things happening to me—I just got asked to go along to fill out the section!). I just found these photos online at Snapfish and wondered at first why my albums only had 24 pictures in them…haha! That was back when photos cost money to see. I’m lucky I have them online! I remember trying to figure out how many rolls of film to bring along. What a wonderful trip though. I wish I’d been a blogger then or kept a better journal so I could reminisce more…well, things have changed now! You know you’ll be hearing all about Italy after it happens!

Happy Easter!

Since I’m just lounging on the couch, I thought I’d look through some of the old photos my mom put online a few years ago and find something good from Easter. I think this fits the bill!

That’s me and my brother Jesse. I recognize the blue bunny in the bucket—I had that well into adolescence! Don’t ask why I’m squatting, I don’t want to know either. Yes, we used to be blonde, and yes, my brother looks like a child model in this picture.

Here’s another good one. Me, Leslie, Jesse, and my Grandma on my Mom’s side. I’m clearly over the picture taking, Leslie looks possessed, Jesse is trying to steal that fish thing (which I recall had money in it to give to the hungry) from Grandma, and it features our fantastic knee socks and hand woven baskets. My basket looks pretty bad too—I was never good at DIY.

Here’s another from seems to be that same day. Leslie seems to have been exorcised, and we also include my mom and my grandpa. I guess my dad was the photo taker!

I can’t say for sure but I wouldn’t be surprised if this were from Easter another year. Usually pictures were from some holiday! Ah, the days when it cost money to take pictures…

The past few days have been a blur of nothingness. I’ve done a few gigs/rehearsals, but mostly just been a blob on the couch. I hate it, but I just don’t have the energy for anything else! The best part is that I KNOW this is just a bad cold and it’ll pass and then I’ll get back to regular life. I’ve also read a few books which has been nice, but this wasn’t how I planned to spend my weekend. I planned to do a lot of practicing, some work, some fun stuff—relaxing AND socializing. I had to cancel an Easter Potluck I was invited to because I’m just too gross and miserable :( I’m really just whining. I’ll be just fine.

I haven’t had any Easter Candy this year though. My favorite are the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. I did get some candy at Trader Joe’s the other day: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles. I had one last night: the verdict is GOOD but a bit of too many flavors all together. That’s what I get for being greedy. Don’t worry, I will manage to finish the bag eventually…it’ll be a bit of a hardship but I can do it ;)

What’s your favorite Easter Candy? Do you have any pictures of your pets dressed up in funny seasonal costumes? (This isn’t something I have, but I certainly wish I did—photoshop perhaps?)

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.