Wednesday, October 30, 2013

one time at rehearsal

Tonight, after we tried and failed for the 35th time to play some syncopated passage in my beloved Ives, the conductor had me put the bow down and just pizz. And it worked, and as an added bonus it was even perfectly in tune and I could do any dynamic (within reason; after all, it was pizz). By golly. It's the bow that trips me up. I should never have quit playing bass guitar.

Other than that, it was a pretty crap rehearsal. It should have been good. They all should be good. Regarding this study of viola, I often feel as though I do the same thing over and over and nothing changes. That's not how things should be. All lines should rise, and point to the right.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Joe says

I wonder if people from my parents' era would mourn the death of (a...a what? A nobody. A non-family member. A celebrity. A famous person. An entertainer. A musician. a what?) Lou Reed like I and many of my 40s/50s friends are doing today. One of my parents never even got far into his 50s, but even in their mid/late 30s, as I remember them best, I can't see them being affected at all. Even if music had been a large part of their younger lives, by their 30s they had outgrown all that, and would never feel "influenced" by any mere entertainer whose work they had enjoyed in college (they got married right out of college and headed straight to Familyville, so there was none of the post-collegiate "finding themselves" that we enjoyed). To be "influenced" by a musician, to listen to his music for years, to feel more than a fleeting sting at his death - that just wasn't done; you saved your sorrow for family, or statesmen, or friends or maybe a favorite teacher.

If my father were still alive, I wonder if he would find it strange that I could be sad about the death of someone not related to me.


Although my pulled hamstring healed enough to let me start running again, this past week I had another setback, from which I am now cautiously recovering (again). During my run this morning I thought about how I was lucky to be running at all, which led to other "I am lucky"-type musings:

I saw The Nose yesterday (in a movie theater, live-streamed from the Met) - hands-down the coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. I have seen the Chrysler Building. I have always been able to find work. I discovered Charles Ives :-) I have had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of some really great people. I know that the human race is capable of beautiful things.

Well, the coherence of this has just escaped me :-) Maybe I'll come back to this later.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


It may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but it's something I aspire to, something I chase after but am unable to catch. This week I have seen my running improve and then deteriorate, my viola playing go completely to hell, and my mood swing wildly from the love and awe of all things Charles Ives to the frustration of being an adult who understands the words "subtlety" and "delicacy" but knows she will never be able to achieve those things.

I want consistency, I want a consistent trajectory, I want the line to be straight and always rising.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

how not to be an IT recruiter

Even though I am not on the job market, I get a lot of unsolicited attention from recruiters, or people calling themselves recruiters. They always seem to have come across my resume in their database, yet ask me to send my resume if interested in the exciting opportunity they're about to describe. Today I received one that started out


My name is Shashi and I'm an Sr IT Recruiter at an IT consulting firm. I came across your resume and I'm currently sourcing people for the below opportunity. If this opportunity does not align with your ideal position, please give me a call t
o discuss other Exciting opportunities that we may have for you, at your earliest convenience.

Work Summary
Senior Database Analyst to support Application Development and Production using best practices and standards to enable our company to deliver quality technology solutions that are aligned with the business needs.

Primary responsibilities:
·Troubleshoot and remediate production/code failures

Love. It. Love it. The "Work Summary" is so vague as to be meaningless; it sounds like something a cheerleading squad might say. Then, the Number One Primary Responsibility is to troubleshoot and remediate failures. Failures! What failures could possibly exist in a company that delivers technology solutions that are aligned with the business needs?

Sorry, Shashi. This one's going in the trash. Best of luck and kindest regards,

Joe Positive

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

deus ex

Today I was having one of my occasional bad viola days - nothing sounded right, I couldn't play fast or slow, my brain refused to read music. So much despair! I slogged through all the scales and drills and studies and other tasks I'd laid out for myself, but no use. It was all so bad I started thinking about skipping rehearsal tomorrow night - the thought of two hours of public embarrassment, making stupid mistakes, and having to deal with my stand partner (more about that some other time) was too much to bear.

And then right at the end, pretty much by accident, something I've been working like a madwoman on (and not getting anywhere with) started sounding ok. Yay. Thank you, godz.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr Ives

Dear Charles Ives,

I am so happy you were born, that you lived, that you composed such cool music. Thank you so much.

Your happily obsessed pal,

Joe Positive

Friday, October 18, 2013

songs like beautiful humans

I have been playing and listening to music my entire life, but my relationship with music is complicated.

I actually hate current pop music, and I don't listen to music I liked (or played) 10, 20, 30 years ago, or even care what happened to whoever made that music or what they're doing now.

On the other hand, there are some pieces of music I'm obsessed with, that I fell in love with as though they were people. I can carry them around in my head for days at a time. The thought of them makes the hair on my arms stand on end, makes my blood run cold, makes me laugh or cry, or stop breathing.

Charles Ives: String Quartet No 1
Vladimir Martynov: Der Apscheid
Flamin' Groovies: Shake Some Action
Luigi Boccherini: String Quartet in D Minor, G.172
Joseph Haydn: String Quartet Op 33 No 2
Robyn Hitchcock: Autumn is Your Last Chance
Antonin Dvorak: String Quintet No 2, Op 77
George Gershwin: Lullaby
Johannes Brahms: Sextet No 2 in G Major
Nailbiters: Sky is Down
Tall Dwarfs: Think Small
Mozart Viola Quintet in G minor No 4, K. 516

Sunday, October 13, 2013

some good things today

  • ran 3 miles, just barely felt the hamstring at 2.9 miles
  • done with that B minor 3-octave scale, thank god, now maybe my arm/wrist/shoulder will uncurl finally
  • the next scale is D major, which is has an infinitely more civilized fingering for a 3-octave scale. This is how 3-octave scales should always be.
  • Once or twice today during the lesson, my teacher said it sounded good. Or so I thought he said. Actually I was so dumbfounded that I may have misunderstood. And when we were working on the 3rd movement of the Telemann, he said it was time to focus on the musical aspect and stop thinking about the technical stuff. Which could mean that the technical stuff in that piece is a) good enough to stop worrying about, or b) hopeless. For now I'll go with the more optimistic choice.

Friday, October 11, 2013

end of god-awful

It's been a really stressful work week - probably made worse because I haven't been able to run - but it's over. And this morning I jogged for a minute 3 times! And I have a massage tomorrow. And my viola suddenly decided to sound good, and while I was practicing tonight I let myself get lost in the way it sounded.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

heaven sends us habit in place of happiness

Sounds like the eternal plaint of the middle-aged, yes? Well, it's also a line from Eugene Onegin (the opera, not the poem, though I guess it may be in the poem too), which I saw tonight in one of those live-streaming-to-movie-theaters from the met. Wow. I'd never seen any opera before and never really wanted to, either. But I really enjoyed this.

Otherwise, it was a pretty crap day. At work I was so busy with the data-maintenance (see last post) that I couldn't do any of the other things I needed to do. Someone told me to do something and I did it, but it turned out that maybe it was an unwise thing to do and they shouldn't have told me to do it, but who knew? Not I. I may not have a job 24 hours from now.

And I still can't run. My hamstring was feeling much better, but 4 hours immobile in a movie-theater seat set it back a little.

And I only practiced for about 15 minutes today.

Tomorrow is another day.

Monday, October 7, 2013

made-a data

In general, I like my job. A lot. But we have this thing called data maintenance, which is code for "our apps don't quite work right and we won't fix them, so little elves have to go round behind and fix things like typos and oopsies and just plain invalid data." This is my week to be a little elf, which means I spend all day doing this and have little time for anything else. My co-workers and I consider the data-maintenance rotation to be a kind of purgatory, but I guess it could be worse - at least it takes place during normal working hours and not in the middle of the night.

Of course I did not run today, or even walk except where and when I had to, but my hamstring feels better than it did yesterday and I think maybe it isn't torn after all, or maybe not badly torn. I wonder if it will be ok to walk on within the next few days.

My viola sounded like utter crap today, and I played it like crap. Squeak, squawk, groan, whine. I'm working on one of the hardest and ugliest 3-octave scales there is, B minor. Oh, it goes up so high! And the notes are so close together - if I get any sound at all, it's often not the right one. After working on it for a while I realized that my entire upper body was tense and clenched, so I put the scale aside and went on to other things. All of which sounded equally bad :-) I don't know what's up, but it's like I lost everything I gained over the summer. My intonation is bad; my fingers aren't even close to light; my right hand is a claw, my thumb is inflexible, my vibrato is inconsistent, and my sightreading has gone completely to hell.

On the bright side: my husband mentioned that sometime recently he mistook my playing for a recording. That was such a nice thing to say.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

more on the non-running thing

This has not been a fun training. I started out in early July - horrible time for marathon training in Florida - coming back from the umpteenth injury, very slow, with no races under my belt. Also, no fulltime or sometime crew of fellow runners to help drag me along when motivation flagged.

Still, I trained and trained, and though it wasn't as fun as it had been in recent years, I kept waiting for the day it would be fun again. The weather finally began to turn and I began to enjoy running again, just a bit, but enough. I resigned myself to not running any kind of good time in Richmond, but just to go and see how much I could push myself, knowing that I'll likely never PR again.

I don't know how to end this blog post.

it can all change in an instant

This morning, about 3.5 miles into an 8-mile run, Friday's pulled hamstring became a torn hamstring. I had to stop running immediately. It hurt to walk home. It hurts to stand. It hurts to sit here with ice on it.

I am so disgusted, not just because I've been training for a marathon but also because I just this week registered for the damn thing, and paid for all the travel. Non-refundable, natch.

I have had it. All the work, the early mornings, the not enough sleep, the non social life, the fatigue, the sweat, the soreness, the constant open wounds from chafing - all for nothing, all to get injured time and time again. I'm done.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Everything is better when it's done

20 miles this morning. I'm still much slower than I was a year ago, but much faster than I was a month ago. This one had its moments; there's not much to do during long runs, and if you are prone to perseveration, god help you! My own company drives me crazy after three hours. Hell, after two hours. Anyway, it's done and now I can have a bite to eat and a nap, and then start the day over again.

Friday, October 4, 2013

ten-four good buddy

yeah, ten-four...the week has just flown by, and there's so much I haven't done. Didn't run all the miles, didn't run the workouts. Didn't practice enough, or maybe practiced the wrong things. I signed up for Richmond, made (and paid for) the travel arrangements, then pulled a hamstring on today's easy run. Had that impressive memory lapse at rehearsal the other night; I'm sure I remember it bigger and better than everyone else, but still...   The lesson stuff for this week, well, ugh. It starts out sounding terrible and babyish, and it takes a while for me to get going, and then I spend too much time on , say, one arpeggio and suddenly it's time to stop and go to bed so I can get up at 4-something the next morning to run. I make up a lot of nasty comments about my playing, perhaps to inoculate myself against all the stuff that my teacher (mostly) doesn't say, but very well could.

And my boss's boss's boss's boss has taken to calling me Susan, which is not my name.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

this was the one

Every semester there's one rehearsal that's really stinkin' bad. Last night's was the One. It had been a pretty ordinary day leading up to it, but the minute I got to the rehearsal room I was so tired I just wanted to go to sleep.

We started with a piece we hadn't played before, but definitely not difficult, and in a friendly key. To my amazement and dismay, I My brain just wouldn't process it. I'd get maybe one note per bar and the have to lay out for the rest. Now, two years ago I was a terrible sightreader and had many, many entire rehearsals like this, but that was then and now is now, and this was unexpected and unwelcome. And a little embarrassing, too - I felt like I was losing my mind in public. Having a stroke. Early-onset dementia. Flowers For Algernon where the guy suddenly loses all the intelligence he'd gained. HAL getting dismantled in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Happily, I didn't panic, but I realized that with a 2-viola section there was no hope of just slipping away unnoticed.

Once we moved on to familiar pieces I began to find my bearings again, but I never did get all the way to normal. I let my stand partner (who is less familiar with the music, but very loud and confident) lead everything even though I was sitting in the so-called principal's chair; as a result, we sounded pretty whack as I constantly adjusted to his intonation and his tendency to hold every end-note longer than everyone else, con molto vibrato. Wow, what a night. Just need to forget about it and move on, and hope everyone else didn't notice.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

not that it matters too much, but

The MySQL db at has been down for a few days and I can't post any of my music or running minutiae. I can't get hold of the people running the site (if anyone does run it anymore), so for the moment, the minutiae will reside here.

So, for starters: I finally registered for the race I've been training for the past 2 months. I also put the music-theory lessons (a sort of extracurricular "treat" I've been granting myself) on hold for a bit. I've got a lot going on at the moment, and I'm not doing much of  it very well.