Rainy Day

Happy Birthday to my sister Carrie today! She is the “baby” of the family and lives in booming NYC. Where it is hard to get Amazon deliveries properly, apparently, as both my sister Leslie and I have had issues. I thought they were using drones these days?

I keep getting reminded that most of adulthood is dealing with small issues that arise that mostly aren’t your fault. I’ve dealt with car problems, computer issues, customer service issues, and more over the past two weeks. Every time I think I am getting organized and have things together something else goes wrong that I have to tackle. And you know what, that’s life. I tend to initially want to take things personally but I don’t actually believe that things happen for a reason (unless that reason is randomness) and so why should I assume that a company is out to get me or that the IT dept at a school is trying to make my life harder? Everybody is trying to do their best (well, let’s say 80 percent) and I can’t take it personally.

Life has been ticking along. January is always a little slow performance wise, but there’s been plenty to do with practice and student organization. Next week I start with all my college students (at two colleges!) in addition to my private students AND Winter Opera rehearsals, so…it’ll be busy!

I got off the phone with Carrie who is planning a cross country camping trip with her boyfriend. I’m so excited for her! I realized I never finished blogging about my last summer trip (well, I didn’t just realize this, it’s an off and on feeling of, hmm, can I still adequately write about it?) and I should, because I think journaling is such a valuable resource. She’s looking at Colorado, Utah, Sequoia, perhaps, and it just sounds so wonderful and fun! Of course, we could do something like that, but I think this summer we might take a different vacation approach. I still want to get some good camping in…there’s something about the feeling of being on the road, living out of the car, cooking over a little stove and relaxing at night outside in front of the campfire. Plus the beautiful scenery! As much as I do love playing the violin and seeing my students and everything, oh man, being on vacation permanently sure would be nice. I hope to retire someday while I’m still active and healthy enough to enjoy it (my parents are an excellent example).

Sometimes I think about my life goals. I often feel they are much as odds with the people profiled in the newspaper these days. I want to leave the world a better place than it was before me, I want to make a difference to people, to be a person who makes their lives richer and fuller (these seem like selfish goals, but that’s okay), I want to travel, I want to read a lot, I want to be healthy, I want to be able to retire, and I want to have more cats Smile I want to be a good friend and family member, and I want to be content with my partner. Those aren’t even in any particular order, but those are my general goals. Maybe they are the same as many people, but sometimes it feels like I want different things. I’ve always known I was different than many people, but the past few months have really made me feel it. Then again, I also feel a great sense of community with others, so I guess the country is just more obviously divided. I spent a lot of my childhood feeling alienated from my classmates so it shouldn’t surprise me that I have different life goals than they do.

And now! I must practice! I have a performance tomorrow morning that I’m filling in for at the last minute (well, I had yesterday to prepare) so I’d better get to it. I only have 3 or 4 students today, and it’s easy to feel like you have so much time, and no matter what, time ticks by and the day disappears.

New Year, Same Me

I find I tend to alternate between feeling like things are under control to feeling cranky and overwhelmed and stressed out. Possibly that’s just adult life…I am a major planner and when things go wrong, as they invariably do, my first impulse is to get annoyed and blame myself for failing to plan something properly rather than say, hey, you know what, things don’t always go according to plan.

This is where “same me” comes in. It’s not like this is new. I mean, really, I’m not getting younger, and my habits are becoming more and more set. It doesn’t mean I can’t change, and honestly, aren’t we supposed to be mellowing as we get older? One of my colleagues today told me one of her “secrets of adulthood” (Gretchen Rubin’s phrase, not my colleague’s) was to not stress out or worry about things that she can’t do anything about. I was worrying about scheduling some things and how I wasn’t hearing back from people I needed to hear back from…and right. It wasn’t my fault. I took some deep breaths, wrote a few kindly worded emails, and then I went ahead and made some scheduling decisions. Things will either work out or they won’t, and when they don’t work out, that’s certainly not the end of the world.

To be fair though, I don’t want to be one of those “oh, it’ll all work out” type of people, because my observation is that those people are the ones the rest of us are waiting on! And then yeah, it does work out, because the rest of us did all the hard work and scheduling. But there’s no reason to be constantly stressed out. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. The fact is that we are not talking about life and death here, only violin lessons.

Otherwise, life is good! We had a lovely weekend: breakfast at IKEA followed by shopping. I have many ideas for the house, if we decided to remodel. Bad ideas, but ideas nonetheless. I don’t have that “eye” for redecorating and am just really good at making do and having stacks of books and music. Then Saturday night we saw the Bad Plus at Jazz at the Bistro and it was a very fun show. I think I’ve seen that group for 4 years straight now and each show I enjoy more.

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We sort of jumped on the bandwagon of prepared meals. My friends gave me a free week to Hello Fresh and we got three meals on Thursday. The meals ranged from ok to very good, but what they all shared was that they were quick enough and easy, and you didn’t have to shop and plan, which is fun sometimes but other times…so exhausting! I certainly would never plan for three new meals in a week! The portions were quite big and the meals seemed quite healthy and well balanced. We tried the vegetarian box, 3 meals for 2 people, and there wasn’t any choice, you just took what there was for the week. I thought there could have been more proteins (legumes, tofu, etc) but that was my only real complaint. I do think there was a lot of packaging, comparing to buying similar things at the grocery store though, but it wasn’t overwhelming. If you are interested I have a coupon code for $40 off one week so you’d get the week for about $20. It’s pretty easy to cancel, though I haven’t…I’ve only “paused”. But you can cancel your account online too.

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Two of the meals. I’m quite the food photographer, I know. I loved that last one, with pumpkin seeds on it.

I’m dog-sitting for my friend April. Her dog, Olive is a total cutie. (So is Mackenzie of course, of course!)

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Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my cat Oistrakh’s death. I still miss her, and sometimes I’ll see something out of the corner of my eye (a sweater on a bed for instance) and think it’s her. She was the best kitty!

Anyway, I better get a few more things checked off the ol’ to-do list before I teach. Hope your week is going well!

I did not leave my heart in San Francisco, but I did enjoy it

And Happy New Year!! I am belated in my wishes, but they are sincere!

Where does the time go? Is this just a natural part of aging, that time flies by and you don’t know how to stop it?

I read something that said, don’t say you don’t have time for something, say you aren’t making it a priority. I guess I haven’t been making blogging a priority, which is okay, but I always enjoy writing.

My Christmas vacation was nice. We flew to San Francisco, rented an SUV, drove a few hours (longer due to the California traffic) to a small town called Angel’s Camp, spent the night there. The next day we loaded up and headed to a remote cabin near the town of Bear Valley and Lake Alpine and spent 4 nights there. Then 3 nights in San Francisco, 1 in Berkeley, and then home. My travel blogging has been terrible, but I wanted to just share a few pictures for now. I’ll say: it wasn’t the easiest of trips, because the cabin was perhaps a bit more remote and colder than I realized, but it was nice to get away and spend time with friends (Louie and I traveled with another couple), it was great to see San Francisco, and it was really nice to meet some of Louie’s family in Berkeley.

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There was no shortage of snow!IMG_6716

I managed to bake two Sour Cream Apple Pies on this antique stove. And the stove below tried to provide heat for the entire house. It was nice and toasty by the fire, and I would be happy to spend a few more days there, reading.

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A flat roof would be a bad idea for this cabin! I don’t really have a good idea of how it looks because there was so much snow.

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And then to San Francisco. I met this handsome fellow at the Yerba Gardens near the Museum of Modern Art.

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A fed coyote is a dead coyote. Truer words never spoken.

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We walked along the bay and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset. If Louie or I had started a software company and sold it for billions, maybe we would have a boat here.

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These steps (Filbert Steps) are technically a street—but it’s too steep for a street so there are only steps. And people live there, in houses that are only accessible for steps. Sounds like a great opportunity for Amazon Drones! In any case I’m glad we went DOWN them.

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We had a lovely lunch at a restaurant by the Marina called Greens. Other notable restaurants we ate at include Burma Love and Mochica.

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And then we walked to and on the Golden Gate Bridge. Louie and I did insane amounts of walking for two days!IMG_6835

And now I am nearly back to work. I start teaching tomorrow and today I am continuing to catch up on emails and other correspondence, trying to get back into shape on the violin, and planning and preparing for the upcoming semester. It’s a rainy, gloomy day, here and definitely feels like January except that it’s not super cold. This is not a complaint!

Lots of folks spend time writing about their goals for the year. I have some things I have been working towards that I want to keep doing—I’ve put a lot of specific efforts into my career over the past couple of years and plan to continue doing that. Personally I want to be more sociable and friendly, as I feel I’ve been focusing on work and Louie to the detriment of my friends. I also want to manage stress better, as the upcoming year will likely be full of various stressors, but I don’t have to overreact to all of them! And I want to continue to travel and see concerts and shows, maybe even more, maybe the same, and to (always) make a positive impact on the world.

Winter Travels

Today is my last day before vacation (for two weeks, mostly…one gig)!! I’m thrilled.

Christmas has snuck up on me this year. I think this year has been a tough one, as I’ve said, and honestly, I won’t be sorry to see it gone. Not that years matter because a calendar year is an artificial construct. But I’m ready to get away for a few days and hopefully get to relax a bit and then to come home and start up again fresh.

It’s never really fresh—the house needs a lot of work and is constantly a mess and it really starts to bother me. I can’t do enough about it though to get to where I want it to be. Sometimes I feel very helpless in life!

This time last year we were struggling with a large variety of pet health issues. Now we are single pet owners and while the medicine schedule is crazy sometimes, Mackenzie’s illness is well under control and it’s a wonderful thing. Her fur is thick and she has been shedding her normal, fairly obscene, amounts all over the house.

I haven’t done any baking this year. Really I haven’t baked much in awhile. Part of it is my current kitchen situation: it isn’t as conducive to wanting to bake! Another part is how busy I’ve been, and when I’m not working I’ve wanted to just read or sleep, or lie very very still. But yeah, the kitchen is in the basement, and it’s not my favorite place. I got ingredients for pumpkin bread and jam-filled butter cookies but never made them! The ingredients will keep though (maybe not the eggs, but otherwise) and maybe when I get back I’ll make a few things. I am planning a sour cream apple pie for Christmas dinner though Smile

I feel like I’ve been posting when I’m overwhelmed and stressed and not enough other times. I’ve been thinking about goals for the new year and one is to write more. It helps me think through everything and helps me keep track of where I am.

So, did I tell you? We are going to California: to San Francisco, Berkeley, and the Sierra Nevadas (near Bear Valley). The good thing about Bear Valley is that it is winter so there shouldn’t be any bears. Though I remember learning from an old computer game that bears don’t hibernate, they actually just sleep, so they COULD get up and walk around in the winter.  (I tried to find what the name of the computer game was and couldn’t but then fell down the hole and am reminiscing about the game “Lemonade Stand” that we used to play a ton until we figured out how to beat it and then it wasn’t quite as fun. Does anybody know this trivia game? I recall we played until we memorized all the answers…)

I hope you have a great rest of the year. I’d say Happy Holidays but I hear that now we are required to wish everybody a Merry Christmas because it’s in the Bible and there is a War on Christmas (very evident as when I go to stores there is not sign of the holiday!).

Happy New Year too. Am I allowed to say that? Smile

Ice Daze

Last night didn’t turn out as planned. Louie and I were planning to go to the benefit concert after he finished at work. It was freezing raining a bit (freeze-raining, freezing rain?) and the traffic was bad…we got in the car and headed out and the roads were bad. After it took us 15 minutes to go one block, and then Louie had to brake to let a car back up, and we slid slowly for a long time and only by sheer luck and excellent, gutsy driving into the center lane did we avoid yet another $500 deductible on the car this year…we decided to give up and go home. Another few blocks, some sliding, and home safe.

I feel like St Louis wants to pretend the city doesn’t need to shut down due to inclement weather but doesn’t want to put in the street treating required. I know some people said the ice was a surprise but I had heard it as the forecast in the morning. Sigh. I sound grumpy, don’t I? It was an abrupt end to my year of performances, and while I’m not on vacation yet, I’m on a practicing vacation until after the holidays! I hope things don’t get too bad overnight because I have a wedding gig in the morning (I know, weird) and then a reception and then an evening concert, so it’s a full day of doing stuff…either way it’ll be really cold. Today I’m just at home—I had two parties to go to, and even got an amazing “ugly sweater” for the second one, but I am calling it, and staying in, in the warmth and safety. Our front steps iced over by 3 pm and as much as I love seeing friends (I swear I do) I don’t want to risk the auto damage.

So here we are. Blogging again.

Honest question: do you think I worry and/or stress out too much? Sometimes I feel like I’m very high-strung. Other times I feel it’s the nature of this profession, and yet other times I feel like I’m too laid back and need to be more organized and procrastinate less. Perhaps the fact that I’m asking this question gives me the answer.

I have to say: I’m really looking forward to vacation. But I’m also really looking forward to next semester. It should be slightly less intense than this fall was, but still lots of fun and challenging.

I’m thinking about this year in review. I suppose it’s time to really evaluate the good and the bad. It’s been quite a ride, and overall a really difficult year. But that’s life: it goes on, things are hard, you have moments of clarity and wonder.

Time to veg, watch some Man in the High Castle, and who knows what else. How is your weekend on this, the last weekend before Christmas?

Holidaze

As you’ve no doubt noticed (well, there’s a doubt) I haven’t found the time to blog lately! Or made the time…time is what you make of it, right? That’s why I’ve decided that each day will henceforth have 27 hours rather than 24 to fit more things in, including sleep.

But seriously, I haven’t blogged all December. So much has been going on! We had our last Perseid Quartet concert of the year, at the Danforth University Center on the campus of Washington University (Wash U, as we call it) and it was a great success—full house, plus talked to some great people and might have gotten another interesting opportunity from it. The next week I played a concert with my newly formed piano trio in Illinois. It was a cold night, but we had a few in attendance and had a nice time sharing our program. It was a little stressful as rehearsals had been harder to schedule than we’d hoped but we pulled it off.

Through it all you know how December can be for musicians, lots and lots of extra concerts. Remind me next year not to commit myself to any serious performances in December that require practice…for instance, tonight I’m playing a solo performance to benefit some of my students, but AH I’ve had to keep up on practicing while going crazy. At least I’m done for the semester at Wash U now, grades are submitted…oh, and I got another adjunct position, at Lindenwood University, so that’ll be another thing to add to my schedule. Louie joked that I’m taking all the jobs, singlehandedly, and there aren’t any left for anybody else, but the truth is, to make this whole freelance thing work financially you have to work a ton. I’m having a good time with it though, and I honestly feel like this has been the best year, career-wise, in a long time. And the other truth is that I have hectic crazy weeks but I have time, it’s there, it just needs organizing. And I love doing all this. I thrive on being overworked.

It’s been a terrible year otherwise, and I’ve also been grabbing as much work as possible to try to save money for fear of what is going to happen over the next few years. Luckily I am now going on Louie’s health insurance rather than staying with the marketplace because that’s just a mess. I don’t know how our insurance will be impacted if and when the idiots in government repeal the ACA (without replacing, because they are the party of “NO” without any ideas of their own) but I know whatever happens will be better through his employer than through the marketplace. I am angry and bitter that I have to, that I cannot make this work in this country without a partner. But he is a good partner at least and is somebody worth depending on Smile

I think I’m going to try to get a quick nap in before the day gets away from me (I was up really early and didn’t get enough sleep due to a late rehearsal) and I need the energy to perform tonight. I’m playing Prokofiev’s Solo Sonata—I’ve performed the first movement several times over the past 15 years, but never all three movements! Wish me luck!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.