So last week I did something fun I hadn’t done in awhile. I took an honest to goodness vacation! The boy and I decided to take a road trip from St Louis, and we had in mind to go to Tennessee, specifically—Nashville, Chattanooga, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and hoped to get as far as Asheville. We didn’t make it that far because we kept staying at each place longer than we’d thought we might, but it was a great trip and it was so much fun to get out of town and explore!

Highlights from the first few days:

Lunch in Paducah, Kentucky

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Why yes, that’s “tamales” and chili. An odd choice perhaps but it seemed to be what the restaurant specialized in. Note to travelers, Paducah is a cute place, but there is very little open on Sunday afternoon.

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Grabbing the bull by the horns, of course.

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We walked down to see the Tennessee River up close.

As we left, knowing we wanted to get to Nashville before too late, I remarked that we surely could have spent another hour walking around to see more of the sights.

Note to travelers: The Priceline app is pretty good, and unlike online where (at least in the past) you couldn’t bid again without changing something other than the price (i.e. geographical location or star rating) you could just start low and keep bidding. We got a “downtown” hotel for a decent price, and ended up staying at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel. Which isn’t downtown, but had a shuttle that would drop you off there. It was a nice hotel though.

We braved our fear of honky tonk and country music and visited a few places in the “District” which was full of tourists, which we figured included us. The musicians were all fantastic—that’s the thing about Nashville, all the musicians are great, even if you don’t like their style of music.

The other thing about Nashville is that there is a lot more to see than we thought! We wandered around the farmer’s market (open everyday) and downtown, looking at various sites. The Bicentennial Mall was really cool and there was a ton of steps up to the Capitol Building, which of course I wanted to climb since I’m such a tremendous athlete.

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(Outside of the farmer’s market)

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The original site of the Maxwell House Hotel. We learned over the course of our days there that the coffee is named after the hotel.

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We had dinner at Sunset Grill and lucked into “Restaurant Week” so we got a better deal than we might ordinarily have. Delicious Shrimp and Grits.

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Louie did some Karaoke. I figured I perform music enough that I didn’t feel the need. (Also, I don’t know any songs.) (Why yes, I do have video.)

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We also visited Centennial Park, where the World’s Fair was held in 1897. They decided to build a replica of the Parthenon for the event, and after the fact couldn’t bear to tear it down. Since it was made of temporary materials it did start to crumble and they decided to rebuild it. That’s what you see up above. And then they made a replica of the giant Athena statue. It was odd, surreal, strange, but pretty cool.

Our last night in Nashville we had to relocate hotels since the rate on ours skyrocketed or wasn’t even available (not entirely sure)…it turns out that there was a “New Direction” concert and all the downtown hotels were either booked up or ridiculously expensive. We moved to an amazing (by that I mean, cheap, kinda awful, but not as bad as it could have been) Rodeway Motel a few miles north of the city. We decided to get a REALLY nice meal at a wonderful place called the Silly Goose, and it didn’t disappoint. I don’t seem to have taken pictures, but the food was amazing.

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Afterwards we listened to more live music and just wandered around enjoying the nice (fairly cool) weather and all the people watching.

Next: onto Chattanooga. (Traveling is fun. I missed it.)

I have been lucky to have supportive parents and family throughout my life, parents who are always there when I need them, who care about whether or not I succeed and how I’m doing. Not everybody has that. Not everybody has a lot of things that I was fortunate enough to grow up with. I never worried about food. I never worried about my personal safety. I always had a bed to sleep in (unless we were camping, ha!). I always had parents at home to take care of me, parents at school events, parents at PTA conferences, parents at concerts I was performing in. I always knew that I would be graduating from high school and going to college.  One of the most difficult things I remember learning as a kid is that not every person has had the advantages that I had. I remember learning that there were people in my hometown who didn’t have enough food, or a place to live. I felt awful about that. It’s funny how as you get older you feel less awful…I guess you can’t care about everything all the time though, or you’ll just go crazy.

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I think our world would be better if we all tried to imagine how people different than ourselves view the world and are viewed by the world, rather than only caring about ourselves. I know I’m as guilty of this as other people, but it’s something I want to challenge myself to improve on. Rather than judging someone, we should try to walk around in their shoes.

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There’s been a lot of civil unrest in St Louis over the past few days. I hope that we as a community can come together and heal, and get some answers to our problems, and work together. I am always hopeful that the future will be better than the past and that people are generally good people and want the best for their communities and the world around them. I don’t presume to know what the answers are though.

I have so much to tell you guys! If you are still reading…I know my posting has been sporadic, but life has just been absolutely crazy, and is finally (famous last words…) settling down a bit. This has been a ridiculous summer. I’ve been waiting since June for things to settle down and they just haven’t. Part of that is me saying yes to possibly too many things, but honestly, it’s been a fun time, and I’ve worked a bunch and done so many interesting projects! In between all of that, I moved…again…which meant packing and packing, actually moving, and now unpacking and working on some house projects. It’s been a really fun summer, but I’m exhausted and looking forward to the next few weeks: just a bit of teaching, a week of vacation, and then back to regular teaching schedule WHICH after the weeks I’ve had will be a relief.

Note to everybody: moving is harder than it seems. Try to avoid scheduling as many things as possible during the time leading up to, during, and immediately thereafter a move. Unless those are awesome things like quartet concerts, recording sessions, opera, family visiting, etc, and then you just have to do it, and hopefully come out stronger on the other end. I learned that I can do it all, but that I can’t do it all as well as I’d like.

I can’t possibly fill you in on everything I’ve been up to since I last visited this space, so I’m just going to dive right in.

Last night my boyfriend Louie (yes, I have a boyfriend now, that I’m mentioning on this here blog, which is possibly big news for you all, and possibly you’d already picked up on that…) and I rode our bikes in the Moonlight Ramble. The Moonlight Ramble is a ride, not a race, so there’s no timing. It is evidently the oldest nighttime bike ride and this was the 51st time it was held. The ride started at midnight, with two options, a short (9 miles) and long (19 miles) course. We definitely wanted to do the long course, even though I was pretty nervous as that was longer than I’d ever biked before! An additional challenge for me was that the ride was right after my last performance with Union Avenue Opera (in the pit, of course!) playing “A Streetcar Named Desire” so I had to go directly from a three hour opera to a two hour bike ride. The advantage was that I didn’t have to wait up for the ride since I was working!

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There we are getting ready to go. We ran into our friend Matthias as we were figuring out where to go (tried to post a picture with him but it was upside down and I can’t fix that for whatever reason) and then ended up waiting until around 12:30 to finally get going on the ride. It was a tough ride (for me at least!) with lots of rolling hills, but the weather was amazing—cool and clear—and the ride was well marked, busy enough throughout, and so much fun! I finished and felt really accomplished and proud of myself.

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I miss blogging regularly, and I hope to be back to it. I feel like if I stop writing now, I’ll have more to say soon! That is, I have so much to say, and so much that I’ve been doing and plan to do, that it’s hard to sit down and write about it. But I love having this little space of me on the internet and I love sharing my life (to an extent) with you all, and I love keeping a journal, so here’s hoping I’m back to it!

Oh and:

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In case you were wondering.

I’ve just been busy doing other stuff, and not being at home enough to feel like blogging when I am. I wouldn’t even be doing it now as I SHOULD be practicing but my thumb feels funny and I thought an evening off would be wise. Lots of time tomorrow for that, and catching up on other stuff. (Nervous laughter).

It’s hard to know where to start, so I’m just going to caption some photos and then you’ll feel all caught up, right? Apologies to those who follow me on instagram for some repeats, but I’ll tell you more here. Probably. Maybe. Maybe not.

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Cake at Citygarden. Was downtown having lunch with a friend who was doing his civic duty sitting around for two days waiting fruitlessly to be called for a jury.  That was a hot day.

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I took my car in for a repair and had the brilliant idea to bike there and pick it up. My brilliant idea involved having a bigger car or knowing how to take my bike apart. At some point I must have wiped my face. Ultimately I was able to get the front wheel off and the bike in the back seat, but it was touch and go for a few minutes.

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April and I at a fundraiser for Safe Connections. They had a photo booth.

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Kitty!

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Pondering my beer at my friend’s Fourth of July BBQ. It was actually on the 5th of July and the weather was phenomenal. This summer has had some hot days, but overall it’s been amazing and I just can’t complain. I’ve been getting back to running 3 times a week, and it’s been pretty easy with this weather.

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Leslie sent me this picture. I can’t imagine why this product is on sale.IMG_9696

I went to see Union Avenue Opera play La Traviata. I rarely go to the opera—I play a lot of them, but I don’t attend much. My main thought had to do with how silly the plot was and how so many problems could be avoided if the characters communicated better.

This past weekend was spent in “tech rehearsals” for my band. Our Chicago trip is this weekend.

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I probably should not ALWAYS be bending backwards.

I will likely be on STL TV tomorrow promoting my upcoming Perseid String Quartet concert. I’ll share the link with you later if it’s not too embarrassing! (Ha!)

How is it Friday again? I have been keeping busy and not in the mood to write…today I have a day off so I thought I had NO excuse not to blog a bit.

It’s been a good week. I played at a retirement home on Tuesday night with my good friend and wonderful pianist Jennifer, and we had a blast. We’d been working on some music for awhile for a concert in October (it would have been earlier, but Jen got diagnosed with cancer this year and she’s been busy dealing with that. Things are going great now and we are all looking to a wonderful future!) and this was our first “concert” putting a few things together. Brahms and Prokofiev Sonatas might not be the most excellent choice for a retirement home, but we figured there wasn’t any reason NOT to play them, and hopefully people would enjoy it. I think I heard one person say, during the Prokofiev Sonata, “This isn’t music!” but it IS and it’s a delightful piece to play. We did the whole “talk about the music” before you play it that is the norm these days. I think it’s important to give the audience some background on the composer, the piece, and sometimes a bit of personal information about why you chose the piece and what you love about it. People like to moan and groan about how classical music is dying, but if you look back, people have been moaning and groaning about that for nearly 100 years or more, and we’re still here. If classical music is so dead, why are there so many people pursuing careers in it? I say it is alive and well and we just need to expand our audience by getting other people to love music as much as we do!

As much as I hate when people tell me I am so lucky to have such a “talent”, I do feel lucky that I get to make money doing fun stuff like playing sonatas with a friend, and bringing joy to other people. I don’t feel as lucky when I look at all the (unpaid) hours and years of hard work I have done and have yet to do. It’s a mixed bag sometimes, but Tuesday was fun, last week’s quartet concert was fun, and I’m looking forward to many more performances in the future. In between there is a lot of work and rehearsals!

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I played at a student’s wedding the other week. We even played a short piece together, which was kind of awesome. (This was an adult student, not a child.)Jerry & Rick's Wedding 104_fhdr

I have to figure out what to do differently with my teaching next summer. Keeping track of my schedule has been a very time consuming challenge. During the year I have a very regular schedule with teaching, each student has a time on a day each week, but in the summer I’ve needed to be more flexible, but this has led to a few double booking problems, people forgetting, and generally spending way too much time emailing, calling, or texting in order to make sure the week is in order. I don’t know quite how to fix it—teachers, what do you do in the summer? Is there a way to make this easier yet still continue to teach, or should I just take a month off each year? Suggestions are more than welcome.

There’s been plenty of time for fun though. And plenty more cakes being found and still more yet to come.IMG_9636 IMG_9635 IMG_9616

That last picture was actually for a gig, not “fun” but whatever. I go all over the place playing weddings, and more often than not there’s a cake at the location, ha!

What’s on the docket for the weekend? Work tomorrow of course, but Sunday is a DAY OFF. I guess it’s possible that my busiest time of year is finally over and July will be a bit more relaxed, at least as far as working goes. I’ll have plenty to do, don’t worry, and my band is going to be playing in Chicago in July…and a quartet concert in August, and opera coming up too…so wait, maybe I should just appreciate today and Sunday and really try to catch up on my inbox, my voicemail, and cleaning. And practicing.

I’m doing something a little crazy and thinking about playing a Bach Solo Sonata on a recital in October which means I’m working on that…nothing scares me more than the word “fugue” and I thought that was a good reason to do it! We’ll see if I change my mind as it gets closer, but for now it’s a great challenge. I spent many years only playing orchestra music and I have to say, I’m enjoying playing chamber music and solo works for awhile now. Of course I miss orchestra, but if the symphony isn’t going to be calling (evidently they won’t be, rumor has it, even though they deigned to put me on the sub list based on audition…)I’m not going to just sit around. I feel like I have a lot to offer the world with my playing and my teaching, and I’m tired of sitting around feeling like a loser because I don’t play precisely in the manner that a committee would like me to. If I sound bitter, you’re obviously an orchestral musician ;) If I sound determined and hopeful, that’s what I’m going for.

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I leave you with this cat in a sink. It’s Leslie’s cat—they have been having major plumbing repairs. Evidently it doesn’t matter WHERE the sink is, a cat will still sit in it.

You guys. I’ve been busy and haven’t gotten to tell you anything that  I’ve been up to since my birthday!

Highlights (since I’m in a hurry still today but I wanted to share!):

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Finished a 5k. Actually finished 2 and I will tell you more. One went well, one went less well, but both were fun.

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Played a concert with my quartet. I meant to blog about it more  beforehand but I forgot. Sometimes I even forgot I had a blog.

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I went biking on Grant’s Trail today. I wore the wrong sort of shots for biking, but it was fun anyway. I am getting LESS excited about seeing cakes everywhere, but it is still pretty fun.

Had a bon voyage party for my friend April who is going to Africa for two weeks. Missing her but wishing her well!

I’m off to practice and play a wedding. Hope you are having a wonderful summer so far! I promise I’ll check back in soon as I know you are all SOOOO worried and curious about what I’ve been doing.