Chilling Out

I’ve been under a lot of pressure the past few months. Granted, it’s all my own fault for accepting 8 million gigs, students, and taking on a ton of extra performances, and it’s been a whirlwind of work and fun, but MAN I could use a break.

I thought I’d take this post to just touch on a few things I haven’t talked about awhile.

1. I’ve been working on losing my “divorce weight” as I think of it. I moved and it took forever to unpack my scale, and when I finally did and finally found a place for it (which isn’t entirely true, there’s actually not really a place for it) the number is lovely. Not that a number matters, but one can’t help but be delighted that attempting to eat a regular diet of real food, eating in a rather intuitive manner, allowing myself to eat what I want without guilt or judgment BUT with keeping dietary guidelines in mind and considering what makes me feel good…all this to say, yes, eating normally pays off. And running and walking the dog. I am within 15 pounds of my so-called goal weight, which is where I was a few years ago when I thought I was doing really well, so I’d be more than thrilled to be back there. Incidentally I gave away most of my smaller clothes, SO that means I’ll need to do some shopping. And I fit into my purple pants that I loved so much a few years ago, which is a total shock, because I remember at that time I was keeping a very strict diet and beating myself up a lot then every time I ate something that wasn’t “clean”, and working out insane amounts, and here I am simply trying to be a normal person who cooks and eats good food and doesn’t hate herself for it. It’s delightful, and I plan to keep it up.

2. Cats. I now live with two cats and a dog. The fatness isn’t thrilled about it, but I think secretly she likes the attention. She is evidently the meanness cat ever. I never knew this about her! She is the SWEETEST cat to humans, and she just detests other animals. It’s hilarious in a way…

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How could this delightful creature hate the other so much?

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Thought that smug white face might be part of it…you can tell she is just sitting on me to make the other cat angry or jealous, right? Hmmm…

This cartoon makes me laugh, because I often feel this way:

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3. What else haven’t I mentioned in awhile? Besides perhaps, a social life? HAHAHAHA. MY VIOLIN IS MY ONLY FRIEND. Just kidding, I’m not actually having a mental breakdown…this weekend I am taking a much needed trip to visit my sister and her husband and their new baby, who they haven’t announced technically on social media so I don’t know that I should say much here, but she is a cutie with a full head of hair, and I can’t wait to hold her…she weighs LESS than my cat but is an actual human, how crazy is that? Then again…I probably weigh less than my cat. Let’s just say Fatness regained any weight she lost after I moved, and possibly her strategy for living with a dog is to try to be bigger than the dog. (The dog weighs 90 pounds so this is no small feat, but rest assured, my cat is trying.) But I digress. It’s funny being an aunt to somebody who lives very far away, because on the one hand, my life is changed forever, right? But on the other hand, it’s exactly the same. I think the trick is to bring gifts though, and later progress to cash?

And with that, it’s time to cook some carrots and heat up leftover pizza for lunch, before teaching and a concert tonight at the Tavern of Fine Arts.

A little bit overwhelmed and overscheduled

So far I’ve finished my recital with Jen and one quartet concert. We have two more quartet concerts, two performances with another group I play with, and then a bunch of band concerts. And then it’ll be Christmas!

The solo recital went quite well. Of course there were a few memory slips in the Bach but I think I recovered well and felt that overall I did well. I’m glad we did the program, and I’m equally glad it’s over. It made for a very stressful time.

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I’d already put my violin away by the time we thought of getting a picture, but I think we look very nice!

I feel like I am not a terribly interesting person lately because I mostly just work. It’s the way it has to be right now, and honestly, I’m having a great time with it (mostly)…and it’s not all work. But I feel like for the amount I work I should be incredibly wealthy, and (this may come as a shock) I’m NOT.

Friday my parents were driving through town on their way west. We went to lunch in the Central West End. We are all heading west in the next few weeks since my sister Leslie just had a baby. Yes, I’m an aunt! 

We did go see a concert on Saturday, the Philharmonic Quartett of Berlin. They played a concert at UMSL and it was very neat. I always feel incredibly inspired and like I’m not doing enough after seeing concerts…I wish I could devote MORE time to practicing and studying…I suppose if I were independently wealthy and didn’t have to teach to make ends meet, right? Of course I enjoy that too…but I am just often struck by how much more I could be doing with the violin. There is always more to practice, and I feel like I’m in a very artistically productive state of mind this year.

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Here’s a picture of me awkwardly crossing the finish line at the MO Cowbell Half Marathon the other week.

Is it just me or is this fall just crazy busy? I haven’t even finishing unpacking from my move yet! There just isn’t enough time in the day. I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t mildly stressed out…

I’m getting used to it. I feel productive and satisfied musically at least. I feel like I’m making progress in my life. I’m just…busy. In a slightly overwhelmed way. Did you already pick up on that? But really, I’m dealing okay with it. I’m just ready to NOT be stressed out for a bit. I think that will taper down a bit. I’m sitting here listening to Borodin’s String Quartet no. 2 and feeling quite lucky…I’ve said this before, but I’m often tickled by how my life is turning out, and a little bit of overscheduling isn’t going to make me feel bad :) Life has its ups and downs but for me lately it’s been mostly ups and I’m grateful for that.

How about you? How is your October going? Do you say yes to too many things because they all seem like great opportunities and experiences?

Running a Half Marathon with a Cold

I hate the common cold.

I haven’t had one in awhile though, so I suppose it’s inevitable that I get one. I think it’s been since last winter, maybe February, so I don’t feel like I can complain too much, but I will complain about feeling generally lousy.

I ran the Mo Cowbell Half Marathon on Sunday with the beginning of this cold, but it wasn’t too bad. YAY I finished, though my time was really slow, but my goal had been to keep run/walking in my intervals (I’m really into the timer telling me what to do, because generally I want to walk for longer than it wants me to and it makes me move it) all the way to the end, and I did that! Until towards the end when I ran a little more to finish. I finished strong and probably should have been trying to run faster, but my goal for this race and training period had been simply to get back to running, and what does it matter if people who walked the whole thing may have finished ahead of me? So I feel pretty good about that. In fact, I feel really good about it, and now my goal is to keep running and run a bit faster, since I know I can keep running.

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Happy and proud Hannah selfies!

I forgot how even when you train properly for a half marathon it still really hurts to walk afterwards…though by the second day (yesterday) I felt really good, just some thigh soreness and today I’m basically back to normal. It probably means I didn’t push myself enough, or perhaps means that I did well and trained well and did just fine. Either way I felt great! My throat hurt a lot afterwards and I thought I was dehydrated from the run but then I realized it was just my cold, and then I relaxed a bit about it.

Today has been interesting. I thought I was feeling better part way through the day, but then I changed my mind and canceled some students. I was regretting that decision until during my last student when I got snot on my bow and nearly had a few coughing fits and really basically was a terrible teacher and a gross human being, and now I’m in my pj’s on the couch with a large pile of tissues next to me and this is definitely where I should be!

I’m really looking forward to my recital on Sunday though! Jen and I have been working so hard getting ready and I’m just getting really pumped to play. If you are a local reader, I’d love it if you came to see us play! This link should go to the facebook event page, which SHOULD be public. If you can’t see it, comment below and I’ll do something different.

Oh, and this was my post race meal. It’s called a “slinger” and it was both amazing and disgusting. Hash browns, eggs, a burger patty, and chili.

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Where DO the weeks go?

I am quite certain yesterday was Tuesday, right? It can’t be Tuesday AGAIN??

As a violin teacher, I’m very aware of the days of the week, as each Tuesday has a similar schedule, as does each other day, other than weekends. I see the same folks every Tuesday, and honestly, this fall is just flying by! It might be that I’m busy practicing and teaching and trying to squeeze in all that fun stuff that makes life more special, but honestly the days are just whizzing by and I’m worried before long I’m going to be old and need to retire, and frankly, just won’t be ready for it :)

I went to Trader Joe’s for grocery shopping this morning. I’m mentioning this because the checkout person and bagger commented that I hadn’t bought anything pumpkin flavored, when the store was full of stuff. WHAT KIND OF BLOGGER AM I? I pointed out that really it was a kind of sham, that pumpkin doesn’t have much flavor at all. And I didn’t admit that I considered getting a pack of pumpkin sweet rolls that you pop out of the tube and bake, but decided I could wait on those, or maybe bake my own over Thanksgiving break or something.

This Sunday is the MO Cowbell Half Marathon. I’m looking forward to it, and I’ve already planned out my post race meal location, I think. I’m anticipating being very slow but finishing well. I’ve been training well enough to maintain a 4:30 run/1:30 walk for the whole thing (I hope!) which means it should take me about 14 hours to finish (slight exaggeration) but I should be able to finish well and walk properly the next day too. That’s the plan. I’m not concerned about time, but I’m hoping to feel good (well as good as one does during a long race) and like I said, finish strong. I’ve run the race before, (twice actually) in a different life, and had a great time.

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I’m working really hard practicing Bach’s Sonata no. 1 in G minor for Solo Violin for my concert with my friend Jen on October 12.

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(from our concert flyer!)

I haven’t performed such a substantial piece from memory since I was in school and I’m both kicking myself and patting myself on the back for undertaking the task. Memorizing is hard work, folks! I am better appreciating how my students feel and how terrifying it is. You take a piece that you know well and can play really well with the music and then there is this new dimension of well, failing at it. I find that it works best to push through. You have to try to play the piece from memory and MAKE mistakes, and find your way through. If you give up and continually check the music you will never gain that confidence and make the connections in your brain on how to make it through without the music. I’m finally at the point (well, I was yesterday) where I really do know it from memory, and I know the chords are there in my fingers and my brain, and I just have to be careful to not rush myself. I’m having a blast, honestly. I’m terrified and horribly stressed out, but I generally know how to manage those feelings and I’m also really proud of myself for pushing past my fears and doing this. In my mind I’m planning to perform all 6 of the Bach Solo Sonatas and Partitas over the next few years (probably 6 or more years) and I think it’ll be a wonderful project and challenge for me. One at a time, to be clear. Not all at once. I am hoping also that I am offering my audience a nice performance as well as a personal challenge. I like to think I have something to say on the violin and I hope that people will enjoy it!

I tried to get out and enjoy a few recreational activities over the weekend. I went on a hike with Louie and his brother. I recently got the book “60 hikes within 60 miles: St Louis” with the idea that getting out of the city and into the woods would be a good idea. We did the Al Foster Trail and the Stinging Nettle Trail loop that is #1 in the book and it was a nice walk. The drawback was that there were lots of bugs still and lots of bikers that we had to yield to, but it was shaded, fairly easy, and did have some nice views of the Meramac River.

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We hurried from our hike to a concert at the Tavern of Fine Arts. Two of my wedding colleagues were performing a cello duet concert and I made a goal to attend more of my colleague’s concerts when I can, and this fit the bit. I was eager to hear them play something other than Pachelbel’s Canon, and I was not disappointed. They put on a great show and really made the cello duets seem like a ton of fun! They were also hilarious and had great onstage banter. Louie and I sat at a table with a couple who had recently moved to St Louis from Portland and we had some nice conversations with them as well.

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Our view. Sadly not our bottle of wine—that was the table in front of me.

Saturday I played a few weddings, as usual, and then we went to the Symphony Concert. The comp tickets we got put us in the fifth row which was fairly nervewracking for me, since I presumed that the entire orchestra was staring at me and judging me (my ex is a member of the string section) but luckily I had a decently obstructed view. It was a great concert. I didn’t know the first two pieces at all (Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela and John Adams’s My Father Knew Charles Ives) so I enjoyed hearing them and should probably learn them more, and the second half was one of my favorite pieces, Prokofiev’s Symphony no. 5. Post concert we went with friends who are members of Blood and Sand and had a few cocktails there. Sunday was busy with running, rehearsing Schumann Piano Quintet, and finally relaxing after a nice dinner and catching up on some Mad Men.

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Please excuse the shoe. This is the best picture I found on my phone at this time. As you can see, my cat is doing well and is not too terribly stressed out.

Officially Fall

I think I’m nearly at the point of not accepting any more students. I have a few more I’m talking to that seem to fit into my schedule, but I think I’m almost at my breaking point. I wanted 20 hours and I think I might be past that, or not quite there, or perhaps I can’t do the advanced math required to figure out how many hours I’m teaching? I have over 30 students, that much I know.

I’m teaching out of a house for the first time in awhile and it’s wonderful. I like not worrying about bothering the neighbors and I like the big room I’m teaching in with big windows that make it feel like I’m a real person. For many years I have taught in small rooms with no windows and I’m never going back. And even though I’ve had good experiences at some of the schools I taught at in the past, I’m never going back to that either. Teaching privately at home is the best. I’m glad I was forced to take the plunge the other year. This is my second year of teaching only at my house and it’s working out better than I could have dreamed.

It’s a busy rehearsal time as well. I was thinking this morning how much fun I’m having with performances coming up. I’ve got 3 quartet concerts, a million band concerts (I will tell you more soon), a solo (well, with piano!) recital, and MORE. Basically, I’m busy but enjoying life, and feeling accomplished and like I’m really working on improving myself and going places, even if they are just small places!
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Wedding…

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Recording session

Oh, and jury duty was fine. It took longer than it should have and ended with a mistrial before the final jury was selected. Luckily I only missed part of a few days of teaching.

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I took this moments before my number was finally called to be on a panel.IMG_0436 

Flowers downtown at lunch break.

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Isn’t the arch lovely this time of year?

How are you doing this fall? Feeling overwhelmed, accomplished, or some combination of both?

Violins and Cats and Running

I got an email from a reader today. I love that! (I haven’t responded yet but I totally will soon!) She mentioned that she was a typical reader in that she was in her 30’s, a violinist, and a cat owner. Hmm. Are you all in that demographic? I suppose that makes sense. (P.S. I love emails and comments. Have I mentioned that before? Why would I do this if I didn’t want to hear from you!)

So I haven’t written about running in like, forever. But, I’ve been running! I’m training for the MO Cowbell Half Marathon in 3 weeks. And I’ve run other stuff that I don’t think I mentioned, so I’m going to do a short recap of my running this year.

As you know, my divorce was difficult (well, aren’t they all!) and I fell off the “fitness” bandwagon and instead decided I was tired of restricting and exercising, and had a few months of just doing whatever I wanted. After awhile I wanted to get back on the fitness bandwagon…and lo and behold! I realized I had become the world’s slowest runner. For instance, I ran the Go All American 5k in 38:18 (in June). And I RAN the whole time, I didn’t even take walk breaks. I kid you not. You can do the math on that. And I’m still that slow, except I’m able to run farther. Maybe I’m a tiny bit faster, but not really.

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(Slow but happy)

I forgot, in my post 5k haze, to put my chin down. CHIN DOWN IN PHOTOS.

And I never (at least I don’t think so) mentioned the 5k I ran on my birthday on June 7. I had received a free race entry to the Creve Coeur Heart to Heart so I ran it. It was fun, and I ran into a former colleague from the St Louis School of Music, who was doing her first race!

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Before…IMG_9537

After! Obviously feeling strong. Oh and my time was 40:05. That had a few walk breaks.

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The race was very nice (I never did write my recap, so here I am!) Small but very well run. Well marked course, went through some residential areas which was nice. It wasn’t too hot which is awesome for a summer race, though little did we know it would barely be hot this summer at all! Parking was easy, packet pick up was easy the morning of (gotta love small races!) and there was a 10k option which is pretty rare. Maybe by next year I’ll be a little faster?

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So speed, my speed, I’m slower than a turtle. But I’m running. I look down at my Garmin and wonder how it is truly that I’m running and the first number is  13…but I am still beating people on the couch (so they say, or as they say at least) and I’m getting a more intense workout than walking…even though it might be slower, and I’m having fun. I got new sneakers the other week!

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I’m running in Mizuno Wave Paradox shoes. They are pricey but I’m loving them. This is my second pair. Last year (2013) I only needed ONE pair of running shoes. I got another pair in January of 2014 and now my second pair. My hope is to wear them out sooner. (That means I’d be running more, not that I would be careless with my shoes.)

Anyway, if you are a reader and are running the Mo Cowbell, do let me know! I’ve run the race 2 out of the last 3 years and it’s one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to doing it again, and hoping to finish slow but strong.

I should say: my lack of speed may have bothered me a bit at first, but now I find it amusing. I’m just happy I’m feeling like running again, and doing something good for myself!

Oh, and for you who don’t care about running but love cats:

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I didn’t really say anything about violins. That will come another time, most likely.

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.