Category Archives: Hope

Unseasonably warm and support the Arts

It feels like spring is already here. I suspect (hope) it isn’t, for no other reason than I worry the mosquitoes will be unbearable this summer. I don’t know if that’s scientific or rational, but it feels right, and that’s the only thing that matters, right?

The spring semester is in full swing. I’m 5 weeks into my college teaching (out of 14 total weeks), I’m near spring break, I’m overwhelmed and stressed yet this week I’ve found more time than I really needed to get things done, which is great. I haven’t done as much exercising as I would like as the time has been awkward and perhaps, just perhaps, the lack of planning and wanting to get up earlier falls on me. I must do better!

I’ve got some fun performances coming up: Carmen with Winter Opera, and then the Ravel String Quartet. Solo wise I’m playing a piece or two on a recital at the end of April (Prokofiev Sonata, I believe, and maybe one short piece too, I’m only one performer on the concert.) And I’m learning Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons to play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis in the fall, and I’m totally psyched and excited (and honored!). It’s going to be a blast.

I find myself fretting quite a bit over the news. I wrote a half dozen postcards yesterday and mailed them (the ones listed on this activism checklist) and I’ve been writing and faxing letters to my congresspersons. The news is stressful and worrisome, and while I’d love to hide my head in the sand and hope for the best, the fact is: I can’t afford to do that because others can’t afford to do that. I must stand up for those who cannot, and for those who need me to.  You may disagree, but that’s your right. My right is to call, write, protest, fax, and blog Smile

All the while playing music. Come see Carmen! Go see your local symphony or opera company. Support local artists: don’t JUST go to the big symphony or big opera company, go see a small group, a chamber group, a start-up troupe. Just like going to a mom and pop owned restaurant puts more money directly into their pocket, going to a concert by a small organization supports them more than going to the concert by the well established organization does! Don’t assume you won’t like it as much. Of course, I also attend the symphony here and go to Jazz at the Bistro, but I also try to see smaller groups (well, when my friends play, and when I’m not playing!) as those are important too. Don’t just attend Opera Theatre St Louis, go to Winter Opera and Union Avenue and more. Don’t just see the St Louis Symphony, go to the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis, the Arianna String Quartet, the Perseid (hah, that’s me). Go see local productions of musicals. Support artists, and support your heart and soul.

There’s my sales pitch. Maybe the federal government sees no need for the arts, but I think they are incredibly important on so many levels, ranging from emotional levels to economic levels. The arts boost the economy.

Oh, and I mention classical music mostly, but pick what you love best: visual art, musicals, plays, etc. It’s all great!

Apologies for the random post. I had a lot of ideas and typed them quickly. Publish now and off I go!

It was a good day for a March

If I were a superstitious person, I’d say it was a sign that yesterday was raining, but today was bright, sunny, and warm. As much as I enjoy sleeping in on a day off, I got up early and went downtown to march. Today was the Women’s March. To me the March was about equal rights for everybody and solidarity, for starters.

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I didn’t make a sign. Maybe next time. I must admit, I have been upset, but I haven’t called my representatives. That will change. I get phone shy sometimes, but that’s no excuse. People were complaining that the March won’t change anything, that people can’t just march and expect change, that women wearing pink hats represents everything that is wrong with women, and that calling it a Women’s March excludes men. I think all of those things are wrong-in fact, the only complaint I heard that I might agree with is that more people of color weren’t represented. I wish I’d seen more people of color at the March, but I think we start here, and we hopefully get better. If women want to wear pink hats, they can. I was surprised by how many of my friends can knit! Louie wanted to go to the Women’s March, and if more women insisted on dating men who were strong enough to handle being around strong women, if more women and men raised men who were strong enough to handle being around strong women, well, then perhaps we wouldn’t be arguing that women’s rights ARE human rights. And I don’t know what will bring about change, but I am pretty sure sitting back and complaining about everything won’t. Plenty of us have already tried that, and look where we are. I think it’s time to try something new.

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We marched up Market street for about a mile to near the Arch. Soon the construction will be done and we can march all the way to the Arch. It was a non-violent march, and the police were helpful with directing traffic, leading, and bringing up the rear. People had lots of great signs, and it was just great. I felt lifted up by all the positivity and hopefulness around me, and when the crowd started chanting “Yes, we can” I felt very emotional. Our current leadership won’t stop our message of hope. I know we will have some difficult times ahead, and that we have been through difficult times, and that many people have it much worse and much harder than I do, and part of my job is to help when and how I can. I felt that marching today was the least I could do. We saw one of our senators, Senator Claire McCaskill, marching too. It was a good day for St Louis.

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This is where I live. Let’s keep working to make it better. I need to do more. I will do more. Will you join me? Who marched today?

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!

Auntie Hannah

Over the weekend my sister Leslie and my niece Athena visited. We did all kinds of  fun stuff including the Zoo and Grant’s Farm. I took so many pictures because Athena is adorable. I felt a little overwhelmed thinking about writing about the visit, but then I realized, whatever, 1) nobody reads here anyway and 2) I can write just a little bit and that’s okay.

It was a fun weekend, though not without stresses. The dog, Mackenzie, had another allergic reaction so we had to take her on an emergency run to the vet. The good news is that she has been diagnosed with Follicular Mucinosis, which is why she’s been losing hair. As far as her red skin/itchiness, that’s mostly because of her allergies. Also she definitely has a thyroid problem, which we are treating. Since she’s gotten the diagnosis, there is also a treatment plan, which we are starting tomorrow. So hopefully she will improve and grow her hair back and be more comfortable. But we were dealing with some of that during the visit! It was also REALLY hot outside, which meant that doing outdoor activities was harder than it needed to be.

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At the airport.

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Going for a walk. I’m not sure if I was walking funny on purpose or if that’s just how I walk?

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I had to go to a meeting one morning so Leslie took Athena to a nearby park. We have one park about 2 blocks away, but this one with the giant lady bug was a little further.

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I tried to teach her the violin. As one does.

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She was giving me a little side eye. Probably because I was singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star while holding her arms.

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She quickly learned that dogs will follow your directions more if you are holding part of a granola bar.

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Athena really loved the dogs (except for the short period of time Mackenzie was wearing a cone. It was a dark time and luckily it quickly passed. Not quick enough, probably, but the vet had been worried she’d rip her stitches—from the biopsy, from which the vet diagnosed her disease. Sigh.)

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This fountain was a lot of fun too.

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I love elephants! More of them kept coming over to hang out. IMG_5657

At Grant’s Farm you can buy bottles of goat’s milk to feed the goats. They love it!

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And there are camels.

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And you can feed the parakeets too.

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Unlike in May, this time Athena loved the carousel and requested to go twice.

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Some of enjoyed free beers while others looked at pictures on their phone.

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It was wonderful to have Leslie and Athena visit. Tomorrow I’m off to my workshop at Indiana University about violin pedagogy. Before that, 3 more students, then basically a week off. Except for all the classes every day!

Polar Vortex

Today was supposed to be my second day back at teaching, but we’ve gotten a bit of snow…so so far I haven’t taught anyone yet. I’ve got a few who are still thinking about coming later today, so maybe I’ll have to work…and maybe I won’t. It’s kind of nice delaying the inevitable, though bills must be paid and getting back to teaching would be helpful!

I didn’t do any New Year’s Resolution posts, or year in review, or any of that jazz. And I’m fine with that. I’m hoping that 2014 will be a better year than 2013, but I’d hate to throw out the baby with the bathwater and discount the good stuff that happened in 2013…meanwhile, the older I get, the more I realize a new year is just another year, and the best thing to do is to focus on the positive, and realize that negative stuff will happen, and it’s all about your approach to it.

I have a few New Year’s Resolutions, of course, but they are pretty generic and the same everybody has. I want to get back into shape, I’m running the Go St Louis Half in April and training officially starts next week. I want to get back into weight lifting as I’ve been on hiatus, but I’m definitely working on my fitness at home—I have decided I really want to get better at pushups…I’m so awful at them (and I’m talking from my knees) and I think with some actual dedication I could really improve.

Beyond fitness, my resolutions involve stuff like, trying to be a better friend to my friends. This past year I learned a lot about myself, and I also learned that I am a very lucky person with wonderful friends that I don’t feel I deserve. This year I want to feel like I deserve them, and I also want to pay it forward and be that sort of friend to them. Heavy stuff, eh?

Otherwise, I’m just trucking along. Trying to make more money doing this whole music thing, and also trying to find satisfaction from my career and from my life. You know, the usual stuff everybody wants.

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Meeting family at the airport on the way home for Christmas.

My parents on their 45th wedding anniversary. We went out for lunch and a movie.

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A beautiful wedding ceremony on Saturday for a friend and colleague.

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Lots of this guy, who I fear is gaining the weight back to my guilt feeding for being out of town and gone so much.

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There are usually stairs in front there. But doesn’t snow make everything more beautiful?!

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I will say I have greatly enjoyed my winter break, but I’m ready to get back to work. And I’m REALLY ready for warm weather and spring to be here. I fear we have a few more cold months ahead of us though…that’s what fuzzy fleece blankets and warm cats are for I suppose.

The opposite of nostalgia

As you all know, I’ve been doing a lot of playing (violin) lately.  Wednesday night before the opera started I realized that there was something wrong with my right shoulder…kind of the same wrong that there was approximately a year ago.  By Thursday morning I knew it was the same thing, so unlike last year, when I ignored it for awhile until it got REALLY bad, I decided to go ahead and start with the rest and ice.  Of course, I’ve got to finish this opera and today I have a lot of weddings, but other than that (ha!) I’m not making the exact same mistakes. 

I still haven’t gone to the doctor.  I know some people will recommend that, but I have the exact same hesitations as before.  You know, stubborn and convinced I know what is best for me, plus cheap, and presuming aside from surgery there is nothing that can really be done beyond rest and ice.  And as Mike put in, as much ibuprofen as I can stomach.  (He qualified that statement by saying, I’m not a doctor so don’t necessarily take my advice.)

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But I’m not letting it get me down. I’ve been down enough since mid-to-late-February, and a little forced respite isn’t going to bother me. There’s some other big news that’s happening (I am going to be one of those annoying bloggers who hints at things they can’t say, but I can’t say right now, not for a month) that will mean some changes (job-wise, no, I’m not pregnant, because I re-read and saw that if you were obsessed with whether or not I were having a baby you would assume I meant that).  It’s the fun of being a freelancer!  Every once in awhile you get to reinvent yourself.  Downside: every once in awhile you HAVE to reinvent yourself.

I still love my Grand Adventure post from two years ago. I wrote that right after we were really really hopeful about a job opportunity for Chris, and it just didn’t happen the way we wanted. We’re still alive, and doors keep opening and shutting in front of us. Opening just enough for us to see through, and then shutting as soon as we are about to go through them…

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