Category Archives: Random thoughts

Good Friday

This month is flying by. So is life! I realized I haven’t blogged in quite awhile. This is due to being busy, which is a good thing.

I was talking with a fellow freelancer about the concept of “busy-ness.” You’ve read various articles about how being “busy” is the new response everybody gives and how being busy shouldn’t be the goal, and all of this negative press about being busy. The thing about being a freelancer is, being busy means we are working. To me, though busy can be exhausting and overwhelming, busy means I’m paying my bills, I’m saving, I’m going to hopefully retire someday. Busy is good. I enjoy nights off. I enjoy having days off, on those rare occasions in the spring. (Saturday!). But I also enjoy working, I value it, and I’m sorry that I’m so busy I can’t do it all. I also hate turning down work, because every call for a new gig is a possibility for something amazing to happen, and having to say no means I’m saying no to that possibility. Sigh.

So I’m busy. What have I done since we last “spoke”? One thing is that my parents stopped by for a quick visit. We had a nice lunch, walked around Forest Park on an absolutely beautiful day, and then they were able to come see me play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis. Unfortunately Louie came down with a nasty stomach bug (he actually went to the doctor, which means something…neither of us are “go to the doctor” people) and couldn’t enjoy it with us, but it was a short and sweet visit. Then I hit the ground running (as always, it seems, even though I worry, I worry about work a lot) in preparation for all of the extra Palm Sunday/Holy Week concerts.

Dad had an unusual looking lunch.

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Mackenzie and I at Forest Park.

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Very large, old tree.IMG_7200

I guess nobody took pictures except Mom, since there aren’t any of her Sad smile

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The orchestra concert.

Looking back through my pictures, since then, I voted (again! If democracy is important to you, you need to vote in all the elections. Call your reps, show up, VOTE.)

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And I’ve been practicing, reading, dog-walking, running, doing it all.  Except hanging out with friends hasn’t really been happening. It turns out you can’t do it all. One day though, I shall be retired and have time for everything. Except work Winking smile

My parents were visiting after a bit of a camping vacation. I feel like Louie and I have a lot of interesting stories after our camping trips, but my folks really have more (except no bears, that they have been luckier/smarter). I suppose if you camp and travel enough, the stories start to add up. I made a new life goal after chatting with them. For instance, they had a story about having to pack up their tent in the middle of night due to bad weather, and drive away. And most recently, waking up and realizing the rain had turned to snow, and going to Denny’s for breakfast hoping it would melt by the time they returned. Maybe some people don’t like these sorts of adventures, but they do keep life interesting!

I’m finding it hard to be motivated to practice when the weather is so nice. The other day I was thinking to myself, did I have anything pressing to practice and decided, no, so I read a book instead. Later that night I realized I had completely forgotten the quartet concert tonight! (We are playing Haydn’s Quartet arrangement of 7 Last Words). I don’t know if that’s a sign growing old (as Louie suggested) or just being tired? Speaking of tired, I woke up an hour before my alarm today. I was dreaming of a day to sleep in, but then when I woke up, I couldn’t sleep anymore. I remember days I could sleep and sleep forever, but currently that is not in my cards. At least I can go to sleep pretty decently at night, and I’m just a little tired. Sigh.

On the bright side, there’s a great article in the New York Times (fake news!) about how 1 hour of running can add 7 hours to your life. Or it just feels like it Winking smile Read it! And then put on your running shoes and go for a run. If I weren’t about to go play a concert, I’d join you!

Is it the weekend yet?

Ah, Mondays. It’s especially hard to get up when it’s raining outside. Luckily my schedule is easier on Monday mornings. I wake up, have a panic of dread thinking about the state of the union and my to-do list, and then calm myself down Winking smile 

I did a good thing last night actually, and put a bunch of tasks on my to-do list. I just keep a running list on my phone and then occasionally add a date/time specific one if needed. I am often torn between making a more detailed and time sensitive list, but my method works mostly pretty well. I’m thinking of how to work on some longer term goals and if I need to revamp my routine, and I’ll ponder that some more. I’m not entirely sure of my long term goals, and I was thinking lately that maybe I should come up with some, since that’s what they say successful people do. At least some specific ones!

This week is sort of like the calm before the storm. I’m fortunate in that I have a ton of extra gigs over Holy Week, but I am considering that “the storm”. And it really starts this weekend with the Festival…so maybe it’s not so calm, but it feels it. I only have 4 students playing this weekend so it’s easier than last year. I do hope to convince more to do it next year…maybe I’ll try for a group photo and put it in the newsletter or something (also, must get back to doing newsletters!)

So there you have it, on this rainy day. I have no long-term goals and my to –do list is a mess, but I still manage Smile (I do have vague long term goals, like “retire” and “stay healthy” and “play more chamber music”)

Other randomness. We did Blue Apron last week (got a free week from Leslie) and it was pretty neat. Like Hello Fresh (which had terrible customer service) they send you a box of ingredients for three meals, along with a card for each meal telling you exactly how to prepare it. Unlike a meal where you have to figure out how the various parts fit together (what to start first, for instance) this is all done for you, which makes the meal easier. Also most stuff is already measured out, though there’s still lots of chopping and salting and peppering.

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I loved this catfish!

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The salad with tangelos and oranges was delicious.

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The last meal I was underwhelmed by but Louie really liked it.

Anyway, we might do Blue Apron again, though it’s hard to beat the price of “free.” We are lucky to have nice friends!

Yesterday we took a short hike in Babler State Park. I didn’t take any pictures because I forgot and really it was just trees and hills and mud Winking smile Typical Missouri spring hiking, but we had a nice time. Babler has a campground and we were thinking it might be nice for a short getaway (35 minutes drive) if I ever have the time for that. (Ha!) There’s a long hike there that we want to do another time (8.5 miles), but we hiked the Dogwood Trail which was about 2 miles.

Alright! I’d better get to it. Practice, teach, teach, teach, and then maybe dinner at Lulu’s on South Grand.

Never enough

(Note to readers, I started this on Wednesday, finishing it today!)

I find myself doing what I can when I can and constantly worrying it’s not enough. Plans are made, most are followed through on, and those that aren’t I feel guilty about. I can’t change the world single-handedly, though I’ll try.

Last night I joined the Lindenwood Orchestra for their concert. On viola. It was interesting. I am glad to have something new to work on and focus a bit—I’ve been seeing vast improvements on the viola every time I pick it up, which obviously isn’t the case on violin. For violin, I had a rehearsal Monday night, went home, got my violin and music out of the backseat to bring inside and realized I didn’t have my music. I had fears of having left it in the parking lot, but I am told it is safe and will be there for me at the next rehearsal. Am I losing my mind?

The weather is getting nicer. I enjoyed the rest of my “spring break.” I read a bunch and relaxed, and it already feels far behind me. This week started with a BANG, a 13 hour day followed by an 11 hour day, but today is easier, and I get Sunday off! (If you are new, I don’t get weekends off, I’m a musician. When I refer to a day off, I mean that otherwise I work all those other days!) My arms and joints feel sore today so I’m taking a “zero day” on practice—people tell us to act like we are athletes, and athletes do rest occasionally. No practice means a little extra time (sort of, because my practice isn’t as regular as it could be, so it often means that time turns into doing all the other things on my to-do list I’ve been putting off) and maybe I’ll do a little reading. I’m rereading the Cormoran Strike books (by Robert Galbraith, who is actually JK Rowling) and I’m on the third one. It’s been long enough I forget all the details. I love rereading good books!

So life is pretty good right now. I’ve finalized reservations for our August trip and I’m working on a trip to Phoenix in May.

I haven’t been as much of an activist this month. I’ve still been making calls, faxes (resistbot, text resist to 50409) and emails, signing petitions, all that, but I haven’t shown up as much. It’s hard to do it all! I hope to do more, but I must also focus on me. I don’t want to look back and wish I’d done more, but I also feel myself getting so tired and burned out. Balance is a tough one! I was planning a thing today and then like I said, got caught up here, waiting to do something online and figuring out my grades and computer stuff. I got a run in this morning too, which was lovely. I’ve been feeling quite flabby lately, but I figure spring is a great time to turn it around and I want to be in good shape for hiking and biking! This Sunday we are thinking of taking the bikes out (I should check the weather) on the Katy Trail and enjoying a day. It’s not supposed to snow or something is it?

Friday thoughts: The week has been good, gone by fast. This Sunday it’s maybe going to rain so we will play it by ear as far as bike-riding. If Congress wants to take everybody’s health care away I’ve done my part in dissuading them…today the weather is absolutely gorgeous.

I’m happy and sad for my friend April: she is moving to Atlanta in May for a great job! I’m happy for her and sad that she is leaving. We’ve been through a lot and had a lot of fun together over the past few years! It won’t be the same without her in St Louis, but I know she will be GREAT in her new position and that she will make a difference in the world.

Tired

Ooh boy, this has been a week. Winter Opera is in full swing with Carmen (rehearsals are finally DONE) and I’ll tell, opera is physically taxing. I find I am unable to do any other real practicing during opera weeks, so that I’m both busier and oddly less busy.

The weather got chilly again, even though today it is quite clear and sunny. Very nice day for a run! I don’t know how to feel about the weather. The warmer winter has been really nice, but then I worry about what it means for the world, and I also worry about the summer and the bugs. Sigh. No way to win, right?

New thing for me: I went with a group to meet with a member of my Senator’s staff yesterday to express our concerns about various things. It was really interesting. I didn’t feel I had a whole lot to offer, but I felt I learned quite a bit, both about how the Senator’s office works, but also just generally about how meetings work and how other people do things. Music can be such a lonely and insulating world and it’s good to get out of it sometimes and see how other people function. That’s an obvious statement, I think, but it’s important. Very often musicians want to live in their own world and pretend that how things are done there is how everything is done, and the fact is: sometimes it’s nice to not worry about music or who’s hiring who or who’s got what thing going on, and worry about the state of our democracy and meet some other people who are also worried. So it’s really all the same, but it’s different.

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That probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense…but I don’t know how to clarify! Just that basically, I’m glad I’m doing what I’m doing, both with music and with being politically active.  And that those worlds are separate, but I guess people are all the same.

There’s a lot going on this month. There aren’t too many performances after the opera, but April is FULL of stuff and that means this is the month to learn and rehearse. I’ve got several quartet performances, ranging from a Good Friday service to a day working with student composers…a solo performance to prepare for, several other Holy Week performances, Metro Orchestra of St Louis concert and Music Club Federation Festival (same weekend!)…there’s a lot going on. I’m taking a short spring break for myself—Louie and I talked about traveling, but it worked out that he is going to visit his day on his own because I didn’t want to miss too much teaching. Basically between now and mid-May, things are in full swing other than that short break, and so far it’s all under control. I need to get a bow rehair and change my strings after this weekend though!

So there you have it, a very boring blog entry.

I’m daydreaming about more fun activities…do you ever feel like work just overshadows everything else? Sure, I love playing the violin but doing it for a living is a lot of work! Yes, I do work. It’s work, even when I enjoy it Smile

Saturday

Ah…a day off! To be fair, I’ve had at least two other days off this month, so it’s not so super rare. But it’s still nice. I am not even getting paid to protest Winking smile 

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I could have done things today, but I’m doing my part, and I must rest. Today I went for a run, I did call my congresspersons (left messages, if you are phone shy, leave messages out of office hours!), and now I’m about to make lunch and then practice. I have a lot to practice and this week I didn’t do as much as I should have.

I tell my students not to say “should” in regards to practicing, that you must do what you can, and generally every week will be full of thing to do and practicing is one of them, and that there isn’t going to be a time that you have all this free time. At least I tell my older (high school/college) students that. As blog readers know, my schedule fluctuates from having just enough time left over to feel like I should be doing more, to being slightly overwhelmed…to having so much going on life is just a blind panic. Luckily that third one is just at the ends of semesters and near Christmas, mostly!

My point here is that when I say should, I really mean…didn’t. I could have practiced more during the week but I chose to spend the time on other activities. Which means that I have some work to do, but that’s okay. The truth is, nobody really notices how well I play Winking smile

(Except me. And probably a few.)

Last night I did one of those unpaid violin teacher things and went to see some of my students perform at their school concert. It was a lot of fun! I had three playing for the annual Solo and Ensemble concert at Grand Center Arts Academy, and really enjoyed seeing them perform. I learned a little bit more about HOW they perform and got to experience it without the stress of being in charge. (Spoiler alert, they were super stressed and nervous but did well anyway). And I was very proud, and very glad I went. I don’t often get the opportunity to see my students outside of studio events simply because my schedule doesn’t allow it, but I know those sorts of things are good to do when possible.

So there’s a few random Saturday thoughts from me. Here’s an interesting article about end-of-life pet care. We aren’t there right now but I feel like all my friends have had a pet die in the last year. I’m sure that’s not actually true but since I’ve had two die, I notice these things more.

Leftovers or soup? Or both? Lunch time for me!

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!