Traveling

I haven’t been a world traveler as much as other people I know…no summers in Europe traipsing about, but I do like to travel, and I especially hate staying in one place for too long.

That’s a metaphor too. And a joke, of course, but whatever. Most of what I write is at least 72 percent facetious.

It’s tricky, getting divorced. Are you allowed to talk about it with people? Are you allowed to look back on things you did together and think fondly on them? Do you just throw away everything that happened in your life beforehand and start over? I think different people do it differently, of course.

For instance, while I was married we took a wonderful trip to Paris. Since my marriage ended does that mean I can’t look back fondly on Paris? I’d say heck, no, because the end of my marriage brought me enough pain, let’s not also sear out all the good things that happened!

If I were a real blogger I’d do a post looking for page views, entitled something like “5 can’t miss things to do in Paris” or “How to find a good hotel in Paris” or “How to dress in all black like we are told the Parisians do” but I’m not doing that. (Or I will say that you can get a hotel here or read about Paris fashion here.) I’m just sitting here on my couch after spending a day in Warrenton with the band and another day in St Peters and wishing I could go somewhere other than Missouri or Illinois (which is right across the river from St Louis, in case you weren’t aware, which I wasn’t until I moved here…)…and that naturally makes me think of Paris. Since that was my most recent, and most substantial adult trip abroad. And I loved every second of it and I want to go back someday.

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That’s me in front of the Eiffel Tower, in case you weren’t sure.

Things to love about Paris: cheese, wine, the metro, people watching, and loads of history around every corner. It’s an amazing city and I’m sure spending years there wouldn’t be enough. But I’ll settle for another week or less someday.

Things to love about having been married: being able to kill a conversation by mentioning your divorce, occasionally remembering the good times and that you did, once, love that person enough to get married to them, and then, well, if you did anything super awesome, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Life is long, life goes on, and sometimes memories are what get you through a long week.

Finding your joy

The holiday season is upon on us, and if retailers and the media are to be believed we need to go and show our love for our friends and family by buying them tons of stuff! And also buying stuff for ourselves, because surely we don’t have enough!

But I live in a house full of stuff. Too much stuff, in fact, that I can’t figure out where to put it…stuff to give away, stuff to use, stuff that I want to hang onto “just in case”…I don’t need more stuff. And I realized the other day I’m in a (I guess!) “lucky” situation in that I don’t have to buy stuff for anybody else either! I mean, sure, I’d like to get some gifts for my parents and boyfriend just because I don’t want them to think I don’t care, but I don’t have a long list of people I “need” to buy for, because the people I spend time with and care the most about don’t care about stuff either. Or we DO but we buy what we need when we need it, or when we can afford it, and manage to do without the rest. It’s kind of nice, and refreshing, and makes me feel good. I won’t deny that I love a random surprise gift, to know that somebody thought of me (I love gifts from students!) but it isn’t that important. Or maybe we are all in the same boat? I doubt it, because I don’t care about the new iPhone, or getting a new car, or what brand of anything I’m wearing or carrying, or really what people think of me if most of my wardrobe is cheap clothes from Target, and my impression is certainly that a whole lot of people care about those things!

But I digress.

The holiday season is a busy time. Especially for we musicians, who tend to work our butts off providing all kinds of holiday cheer for you fine people. You’re welcome. It’s fun though. I don’t want a Christmas without cheesy Christmas music, do you? (Don’t answer that.) This season for me is dedicated to the show I’m doing on electric violin—we were, in fact, on TV Friday morning. There’s video, and here’s the link. Check it out! Don’t laugh ;)

I think, for a classically trained Suzuki kid who really can’t dance, I do pretty okay rocking out, playing by ear, by memory, and with others. I don’t know what the next step with my electric violin will be, if anything, but it’s been an adventure. A tiring adventure to be sure, but it’s been different.

Sometimes I get crabby. I know last week I put up a few posts that made people think I was feeling down. I don’t know—maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. A friend in the band suggested that we need to take what makes us happy and focus on that, to “find your joy” in your life and daily activities.

Today my joy is a bunch of things. Watching my cat play with a stuffed shrimp toy (omg, this sort of thing truly cracks me up!). Going for a run in the fairly mild weather we’re having. Wearing a bright red sweater. Texting with Leslie. Trying to decide what adorable thing to buy my niece for Christmas (not out of obligation but because I want to!) Planning some Christmas baking (cinnamon rolls, shortbread cookies). Looking forward to cuddling on the couch later and watching Dr Who (I have become absolutely obsessed with the show…). It’s easy to get overwhelmed with life and focus on negative things (student loans! tiny retirement accounts! too much junk/the house is dirty! too busy!) and harder to focus on positive things, but it’s important to keep working on my mindset.

In the meantime, here are some photos that my friend April took at our performance on Friday night. It was a fun show! And as a side note, I think it’s okay to be crabby occasionally :)

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This is one of those weeks where I look at the calendar and think I must be crazy. April and I are throwing a “cookie exchange party” Friday and I’m planning my part of it. That includes baking cookies at some point, though I have a good recipe picked out! And making a cheese ball, and something else too probably. My quartet is playing for a composition class tomorrow, I’m getting my CD’s on Wednesday from Jen (woo hoo!) and the band has three shows this week. There’s only about two more weeks of teaching though (really, two weeks and part of a day) though those are five day weeks. Louie finishes up in two weeks too, and we’ve both been really busy and stressed out, and I’m SO looking forward to him being done with the semester so he can relax too.

One last thing, in this random post of everything…really a brain dump I guess…does anybody have any good book recommendations? I’m in the middle of a few non fiction right now but would love to find a great fiction book (or series.) Nothing too sci-fi or dystopian please.

Holidays

So I realized after getting a few comments on my post yesterday that I might have come across a little bit sadder than I actually felt. But I SO appreciate it. It’s easy to forget that everybody goes through the same things! And part of trying to improve as a teacher, musician, and person is recognizing weaknesses…if we all thought we were perfect already we’d just get lazy, right?

I’m enjoying listening to some music lately. My quartet is learning Borodin’s Quartet no. 2 and I’m working on the Ravel and Franck Violin Sonatas with Jen and I’m really taking this morning to listen (and last night after I blogged) and learn from greater musicians than myself. I love how much music there is out there in the world, and that as I grow older I continue to learn new things. I started thinking about how much more of a performing life I have ahead of me (hopefully!) and how much more great music I hope to learn and perform.

Oh! So my band might be on Fox 2 news this Friday morning. It’s not completed confirmed yet but looks promising. I’ll probably tweet about it… (@hannahviolin) but you should check it out! I’d say set your VCR’s…

And this Friday we are playing in St Peter’s—not too far from home.

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Speaking of! Do you young people know that people used to record shows on VCR? I was reading another blog recently that was about how Gilmore Girls is now available on Netflix, and how she was so excited because she hadn’t been able to watch them all because when you used to miss an episode, you couldn’t go online to watch it. Why no, you couldn’t, but if you were a true fan of a show you’d program your VCR to watch it. I used to live with my sister Leslie and we got really quite good about setting things up. It was especially entertaining with the antenna—you had to make sure the antenna was tuned to get good reception from the channel you wanted to record. It was harder if there were two shows on different channels and then you’d have to pick a way to set the antenna to get both channels decently. Life was hard back then! I realize there was also a time before programmable VCR’s but then you just had to rearrange your schedule around television shows or hope for reruns (which happened, and helped one out. It also helped that most shows you could miss one or two and be just fine…you didn’t-and still don’t!—have to watch them all in a row.)

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(gratuitous kitty picture)

But honestly guys. Thanks for your kind comments on my feelings post. I didn’t even know people were still reading :)

Feelings

Long time blog readers know that I am a stressed out bundle of nerves sometimes and other times I feel really great about myself. Often it’s one wrapped in the other. Occasionally it’s wrapped in bacon. Or prosciutto.

For instance, I feel like I’m a pretty great violin teacher. Except when I’m worried that I’m too easy on my students, or too hard on them, or when I’m worried that my house is a mess and all the parents are looking down on me for that, or that everybody has noticed that I gained and lost a large amount of weight over the past few years…or that my pets are too hairy, or maybe the place smells funny, or that each student is judging the one beforehand and finding them (and therefore me) lacking.

Violin playing is another thing. Some days I feel fantastic, like I can play anything. Other days I feel utterly terrible about my playing, and feel like a giant loser compared to all of the truly successful people I went to college with. Today I feel out of shape so at least I have a valid excuse, but generally I feel like I don’t work hard enough and that I am not good enough. Except when I feel like I sound pretty darn good and that thing come entirely too easy for me. It’s a toss up. A lot of the time I remind myself that I’ve made sacrifices in my career for my ex, and those were my choices at the time. And honestly, I love many of the musical activities I’m doing now, and I wouldn’t be here without a series of choices. I shouldn’t judge my own career based on how much money I make or someone’s narrow-minded view of what a musician does.

Or being a friend. I often feel like a terrible friend. I talk too much about myself and don’t ask enough questions. Or I don’t participate in the conversations enough. Or I’m not around enough or ask people to do stuff because I’m too busy…then again, they could ask me…then again how many friends does a girl need? I “lost” a lot of “friends” in my divorce, but then again, I’m using the quotes because obviously those people weren’t my real friends anyway. (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it still burns occasionally).  Divorce is hard. Harder still is having to make all new friends. I’m sometimes surprised I’m still standing!

I probably sound a little sad or something, but honestly, I just felt like I hadn’t poured much truthiness into my blog lately, so I’m writing about something that occurred to me after I finished teaching today. So I thought I’d give you a nice dose of feelings so we can bond.

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PSA: Check your dryer for cats before starting it.

Ice Day

I hear there is freezing rain outside. I’m warm inside, doing laundry, but really just drinking coffee and debating how bad my lower back feels/icy sidewalks/should I go for a run today or postpone until tomorrow.

Oh, and violin practice. I miss playing the violin! That is, classically. I didn’t bring it with me last week to Philly (taking running shoes I didn’t use wasted enough space) so it’s been quite awhile since I played other than the band stuff on Saturday, which isn’t quite the same (and isn’t as challenging as anything else I’m working on.) Louie’s dad (also a musician) was asking me Friday if I’d be practicing when I got home (I think Louie gives him the idea that I am a serious musician)…I guess Monday is close enough, right?

Oh, and there isn’t a way to “drive on ice” unless you mean slowly and allowing a ton of time to slow down. I saw somebody posting on facebook how nobody knows how to drive on ice. I don’t want to have to get on a soap box here, but during the many years I lived in Cleveland I learned the best way to drive in inclement weather is slowly and allowing room between you and the next car so that when you inevitably hit a patch of ice, maybe you won’t hit them. But here it seems people get upset if traffic slows down for bad weather, so I’m totally confused, and I’m sure that folks here know better ;) I’m also sure that mostly what one reads on facebook is simply the opinion of the loudest people, not the majority opinion. I have to assume that at least.

Let’s see. No post is complete without a cat picture…or at least I get angry comments when I leave them out. And in my last post, yes, I meant I hadn’t seen the movie Rocky.

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Happy Belated Thanksgiving

Dear Readers. Dear dear readers.

I am so behind on wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! So Happy Thanksgiving and all that. I hope you had a wonderful day. I had a great trip to Philadelphia to visit my boyfriend’s family. My mom grew up within a few hours of Philadelphia so I’d been there a few times before but not in a long time.

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The view from the hotel room. The old home of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

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The end of the Thanksgiving day parade. We popped over to see it and caught a few floats, a band, and Santa.

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Saw the liberty bell. Mostly this seemed like a photo op :)

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Louie and his brother at the Rocky statue outside of the Art Museum. Evidently the steps in front were used in the movie. I haven’t seen it, nor did I run up the steps.

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Awkward city selfie.

It was a fun trip and I’m glad we went. We saw a play (QED at the Lantern Theater), had Chinese food in Chinatown for Thanksgiving, saw a movie (Rosewater), and tons of sightseeing—the liberty bell, various neighborhoods, Reading Terminal Market, the Macy’s with the giant organ. The Art Museum was really neat even though we only had about 1 1/2 hours there. Hopefully I’ll be back!

Then it was home and off to St Joseph, Missouri for a band show. This was our farthest show and I’m glad of that.

I stole a few of those photos from my friend and band mate Anna’s facebook page. How beautiful is that theater on the outside?

I’m spending today being a bit lazy even though I have quite a bit to catch up on. I am feeling like drinking a ton of coffee and just being generally lazy…reading…even though the house is a huge mess and I probably ought to practice. I feel like I started the semester so behind and now I’m just trying to tread water and waiting for the Christmas break in order to catch and make actual progress in my life. That’s the story you’ve been hearing for months at least, right? I really do think after Christmas things will be better. I’m working on saying no more and learning what projects I want to take on.

One “little” thing I haven’t mentioned. I’m in St Louis right now. I have a lot of thoughts about all that is happening, here in St Louis, and in the nation. I think we can all benefit by trying to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. There isn’t enough empathy in the world, and not enough people try to imagine the world that people other than themselves live in. I think we all need to do better, going forward. I know I will try. I hope you all do too.

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.