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

We’re Still Fighting

I know some people think that people should keep their political thoughts out of the public sphere.

Especially someone like me. I’m self-employed. I should keep my thoughts to myself. But I believe that part of my job as a musician is to make the world a better place. My biggest hope for all of my students is that through their violin lessons, they become more compassionate people, better able to communicate their thoughts and feelings, better able to accept their failures and successes, and better able to work with other people to achieve a goal. I have always wanted to make the world a better place through music.

Through my life as an artist, I have been fortunate to travel the world. I have been fortunate to meet people from all walks of life.

I do live in a bubble here, I live in a city, I mostly hang out with other similarly educated people, because most of my friends I have met through work. I have many gay friends, but less non-white friends than I should. I live next door to a family of immigrants and I don’t know them very well and I should. I don’t speak up enough against injustice, but I am now. I haven’t done enough in the past, but I want to change that.

I know many people say we should wait and see, that we shouldn’t worry, than this isn’t the end of the world. I agree that they have the right to say that. But we are in unprecedented times, and whether or not you agree with me on that, I hope you understand where I am coming from.

I will protest. I will call my representatives to complain. I will do what I can.

The other day I posted on facebook after calling my Senators and two of my friends commented that I inspired them to all. Me! That’s all I really want, to encourage others to do what is good, what is right. I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be. But if we all work together, in our imperfections, doing our best, we can make our nation, our world, into a better place for everyone.

I’m not afraid. I am, of course, but not of immigrants. I’m not afraid of terrorists, or refugees, or people who are different than me. I’m afraid of losing our right to free speech and free press, of losing our autonomy as women, of losing the fight against climate change, of losing our nation to people who want to close our borders and only let white people, mostly men, be in charge.

I will never understand, and I won’t accept it. I know we lost the election, but we didn’t lose our country. We didn’t lose our values forever.

Maybe this is part of why I’m here, maybe this is one of my purposes.

Let’s work together to truly make the world better. I don’t know exactly how, but if we all take small steps we will. This is not a time to hide our heads under the sand. We have been for too long.

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 649 in my edition:

Luna said, encouragingly…“That’s right, Harry…come on, think of something happy…”

“Something happy?” he said, his voice cracked.

We’re all still here,” she whispered, “we’re still fighting.”

That’s one of my favorite Harry Potter quotes. It gets me through rough times. And of course, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

House of Cards

No, not the show. The show that we now look at and say, gosh, I wish Frank Underwood were our president.

But the schedule. OH the lesson schedule! It’s a delicate house of cards, and then just when you figure it out, someone says, but wait, can I move to such and such day and time since this other activity changed…and first you think “NO YOU CAN’T” but then you think about how much you like that student and then you say, sure, let me email 17 other students and see if anybody can switch. And then you wait.

I woke up feeling really stressed. Some of that, but that’s not a big deal. Worst case, I can’t fix it, I lose that student, I gain another. I’ve lost a few students in the last few weeks and when that happens I tend to 1) panic 2) post on facebook that I have a few openings 3) start thinking about ways to advertise 4) get a lot of potential new students before I do much else.  Career wise things are just fine.

It’s all this country stuff. I’m worried, I’m scared, I am terrified for our future. I worry about everything—I started to make a list, but it was too long. Basically I can’t believe that our country is now headed in the direction it is headed. I work with immigrants EVERY DAY and my life is considerably richer because of it.

I will march again. I called my senators yesterday and I will keep doing so. I will write them. I will call. I will keep donating money to causes that are important to me. You should too.

And now I will retreat. I will practice. I will read a mystery novel. I will teach my students (and wait for emails). I will play an opera tonight. I will come home and relax. I will make the best of life while I can, while it is still here for us to enjoy. You should too.

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?

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!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.