Category Archives: Random thoughts

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!

Working too hard

Does anybody else feel like they work practically all the time? And then they keep finding new things that interest them and stuff to do and it all just starts cramming together into a blob of being busy all the time?

I know we need to find time to do things like get outside and run, but it’s either the only day in two weeks to relax, or there’s bad weather (not lately!) or there’s some pressing political rally to attend and I feel like I need to do that instead.

Life is mostly good though. I’m having a great time teaching college students in addition to my private students. I’m playing some fun music (today, Perseid Quartet concert!) and meeting new people all the time. I’m still getting better at the violin, even though I should have gotten a bow rehair and new strings for today’s concert. I’m taking strides to put myself first sometimes and other people first the rest of the time. And I realized the other day that I felt differently than I had in perhaps a decade, that I can do this, that I am in charge of my life, and that I feel more strong and confident than I have in a long time.

Honestly, moving to St Louis was one of the worst life moves I’ve made, but through it all I’ve made the best of it. I still feel sad occasionally about all the great opportunities I left behind in Cleveland, and then I get angry remembering how my ex used to disparage my career and life there. Good times! But now, I have a decently thriving private studio, two adjunct teaching positions, a somewhat successful string quartet (we have a GREAT time and that is probably what matters most, but we also do some good work), a few good friends…and a boyfriend who is supportive of my long hours and aspirations, and attends most performances too Smile So it’s all pretty good, and the other things I’m doing here is working hard to make my life the way I want. Sure, the house needs work (lots of work) and I don’t make as much money as I should for the hours, but I mostly work for myself and I’m in charge…mostly.

I’m rambling again. Well, as usual. It’s been a busy few weeks, and though I feel like I’ve spent most of it dealing with email issues and other computer issues creating by the very people I work for (unintentionally I’m sure) at least some of it has been fun, and some of it worthy. Or something.

I’ve spent several meals at restaurants run by immigrants. Since immigrants are on the attack here in our country, I feel one of the things I can do is support businesses run by immigrants. Luckily I live in a city where there is no shortage of these businesses, and I’ve done my best to support them. This is the least I can do, while getting delicious, usually fairly inexpensive meals. After all, ethnic foods are cheap until white people start making them fancy, right? (That’s a whole thing to think about…)

Yesterday morning we attended a march in support of Planned Parenthood. Evidently some protests against Planned Parenthood were planned and people wanted to counter protest. However, the folks at PP didn’t want counter protestors protesting on site because that would still upset the people coming for care, so the March met elsewhere and then marched BY Planned Parenthood. We were instructed to not speak while going past the clinic, and not to engage with the counter protestors. We started marching, and were chanting and stuff, and then once we passed by people with signs that said “silence” we all fell quiet. It got really emotional and intense as there were people holding anti-choice signs, signs with pictures of fetuses, and more. One man kept yelling “why do you hate babies” at us. There was a line of policeman on bikes in between us and the majority of protestors, and we kept marching. I cried.

There was an article from NPR that said there were 4000 of us and that we walked by the clinic for 30 minutes. I hope that was a powerful statement of support for women’s health.

I feel a little nervous writing about this, because I know people get so worked up and angry…But that’s okay. I can’t worry all the time. I’m a strong, confident, woman, who is standing up for people who need support. I will use facts and statistics.

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And then while walking the dog later…

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Last thought for today: I see the argument, well, if you care about <insert cause> why don’t you do something about it yourself? I give money to various organizations that support my causes. And like I’d said before, my music, my purpose in teaching violin, is to make the world better through music. Let’s keep at it!

Groundhog Day

I’ve probably written a million blog posts titled Groundhog Day. We all think of the Bill Murray movie today, don’t we?

It’s been a busy week. And sad. In addition to everything else going on in the world, one of my students lost his father suddenly. Life is so short and we just don’t know how long we have. I am so sad for him and his mom, and hope they can keep moving forward.

Not to sound cliché, but this is why we work to make the world better. More inclusive. I teach. I practice (not as much as I need to, but it’s hard after opera week). I protested outside of Senator Roy Blunt’s office, against the ban on people from 7 countries, primarily Muslim. No, the executive order doesn’t say “ban”, but trump did, and Giuliani did, and many others did. There is, as always, a lot of misinformation going around, and it’s important to check your sources, but the fact is, this ban disproportionately affects people who are more likely to be Muslim, and that is not okay. Next it’ll be somebody else, or it’s be the Muslims who are already here, and that is not okay. None of this is okay. I’m sorry to dwell on this, but it’s a real danger to our way of life. People want Facebook to be “fun” again…well, don’t we all. Too bad the US elected a fascist for president.

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If my schedule permits, I’ll be at another rally this Saturday.  We are the majority. I will hold out hope that we can make a bigger difference.

I’ll go a little more light-hearted. Tonight we are celebrating Taco Thursday at Seoul Taco. Saturday night I’m playing a concert at a retirement home with a flute/violin/piano trio. Sunday is brunch and who knows what else. I have several new students at the colleges and they are all really fun to teach. I suppose I missed my calling somewhere along the way Winking smile

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.