Thursday, February 27, 2014

all the diseases are created with computer

meanwhile I bob in heavy seas...this reminds me of a really bad patch that occurred in 1996/97 - I remember working the early shift on xmas day, then coming home to spend the day doing nothing. The only time the phone rang that whole day was when someone I didn't know called from jail (a wrong or random number) , collect.


  • ran for an hour yesterday and 80 minutes today, mostly easy interspersed with comfortably hard
  • got interested enough in something at work to make a little headway, and make time go by
  • string-orchestra rehearsal last night went ok. We seemed more able than usual to understand and do what the conductor wanted from us. My stand partner showed up. I really thought I would play horribly (see "practiced with my cellist friend..." below), but I didn't, or at least nobody noticed. I worry all the time I will be kicked out of that orchestra, but it hasn't happened yet.
  • back to unmusical drills for the morning "practice" - long bows, bow circles, vibrato. Tried not to think in terms of "good," "bad," or "progress." Just do it; don't think. Do it long enough and it will help. If it doesn't help, you haven't done it long enough.

  • food holds no appeal, and as a result my blood sugar gets out of whack.
  • I had to present my "findings" (see "got interested enough in something at work..." above) at a meeting and I was all but incoherent. I suck at public speaking, even when I know what I'm talking about. I can't make my thoughts clear to save my life.
  • practiced with my cellist friend, a piece we are supposed to play at her teacher's studio recital. I sounded awful.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

let's not repeat this

I am so glad to see the end of this day.

I have let things get the better of me. I can sit around staring at the internet, and I can run for short periods, but I can't eat, can't think (rather, think too much), can't focus, only perseverate.

Music practice had been so organized - not that it did much good, but it kept me focused. Every night before bed I would write down what I intended to do the next day. The past several days, though, seem devoid of hope. I can't concentrate. Since I am so unmusical lately, I thought I would leave the rigid drills alone and play pieces instead. But the pieces sound so bad. Even the baby recital piece (Weber, "Country Dance" from suzuki book 5, if you must know) sounds like 3 minutes of little baby squeak. Telemann is totally out of the question now. I will be lucky to make it through rehearsal tomorrow night, if I go. I haven't missed a rehearsal in I don't know how long - years, certainly. But the thought of several hours of playing badly in public makes my heart sink.

more little things

I have not yet turned into a 14-year-old girl, though it might be said that I have the figure of a 14-year-old boy. Depression affects people in different ways, and I have little interest in food unless my blood sugar is low.

Yesterday I made a point of using vibrato all the damn time, but it just sounded silly and affected to me. At Sunday's lesson I botched the Telemann so badly that my teacher pretty much gave it the thumbs-down as a recital piece, and assigned an atrocious cutesy baby piece instead. But, he said, give the Telemann one more week before we throw it in the trash and deem it impossible. So last night I tried working on it, but I'm afraid it's ruined for me, for now anyway - I kept remembering how badly I played it in the lesson, when I would add more mistakes while trying to fix mistakes. At one point (in the lesson) I had managed to turn one mistake into 3 or 4, and as I was struggling with all of those my teacher remarked "can't you put any curve at all into that thumb?" And I just thought, "no, no I can't put any curve at all into that thumb when there are a million other things going wrong." Anyway, all this replayed in my head last night as I was trying to save the Telemann from the trash can (or the top shelf, if you want to look at it that way).

Someone jumped off the skyway yesterday, and the newspaper reported it. Why? It just provides an opportunity for people to talk, to make bad jokes or comments about stuff they know nothing about. When people jump off the skyway, I am always reminded of my greatest friend Mike O'Neill, who jumped off the skyway almost 8 years ago. He was sick, he was manic-depressive, he thought he knew what life held in store for him and he didn't like what he saw. Actually, it's not just when people jump off the skyway that I am reminded of this. I think about it every day.

Only mid-morning, but I can tell it's going to be a long, long day...running did seem to help, though it stopped helping after I stopped running. Since I am not running competitively anymore, the only real reason I run is to avoid the early death that my father had (fatal heart attack at 51). So running for me is no longer about goals or achievements, no better/faster/stronger or you-don't-measure-up/you're-a-failure. It's just running, just pushing myself until the exertion takes up all the available consciousness and there is no room for the big bad stuff, for a little while. I never thought I could enjoy running at all without there being some kind of goal-oriented aspect to it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

it's the little things

I work so damn hard at learning to play viola. And all it takes is my teacher comparing my weakling efforts to those of a fabulous 14-year-old student who's only been playing a year (and is going to perform pieces I could never hope to play, and have long since given up on) to make me want to throw my way-too-expensive viola against the wall and just quit forever. I mean, what is the intention there? It's not like there's any hope of motivating me to go back and become a 14-year-old.

Friday, February 21, 2014

if a = b and c = b, does a = c?

I can't accurately describe the past week and a half except to say it was one big downer, personally, professionally, and otherwise. But I did keep up with music practice and running, for better or for worse. Actually, the running was better than it has been in months. I don't know where it came from, but I'm happy about it. I'm still not running very much, maybe 30-40mpw, but more will come.

All the drama made it difficult to stay focused at times, but I have kept up with practicing, or rather with putting in the time anyway. Some things seem to be getting better, but I know I could be more efficient. This week I've had a lot to work on for the next lesson, and none of it is up to snuff.

Monday, February 10, 2014

clown time is over

Here is a secret: I have been severely depressed for most of the past two years. 

I have written it off as "moodiness", likely chemical in nature, transient, uncalled-for, inexplicable-so-it-doesn't really-exist. But it does exist.

This depression is really a problem, undeniably.

Sometimes I feel as though I'm treading water, which no one can do forever and which only prolongs the inevitable. I hate that I'm depressed so much of the time. I hate that I deal with it by drinking - it doesn't even matter whether I drink "too much" or not; the fact that I drink (any amount) to deal with depression is a bad thing. I hate that I see little but a bleak landscape ahead of me. Something becomes visible in the distance - a concert, a week at music camp, an afternoon with my cellist friend, the day I can run 10 miles continuously again - and I attach way too much importance to it. It can't save me, I am the only one who can save me, but I can't even hold it together for an entire day. I don't know what to do. This can't go on.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

the more you know

In keeping with the garbage practice week, was a garbage lesson today. Not that the lesson itself was garbage, I was just really down on my playing. My teacher found so many things to pick apart, and they were all valid. Over the past year - and especially the past few months - I feel I've learned so much. I have more control over what kind of sound I make; I'm more comfortable out of first position; I read a lot better; I use the bow better; I have some vibrato; blah blah blah. And yet, my intonation is off, my wrist is too stiff, I can't play fast. I'm stuck in adult-learner land, plodding away, maybe stuck in the same spot, playing baby pieces forever.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

garbage week

This work week was so lousy that my practicing suffered. By the time I got home I was so tired, distracted and frustrated  that I couldn't focus well, or focussed on the wrong things. Yesterday I got home at a reasonable hour, in a reasonable state of mental health, and picked up the viola I'd waited all day to play, and...garbage, still garbage. I have a lot of stuff on my plate - music for both orchestras, plus lesson stuff and a recital piece, so I pushed through a lot of stuff anyway. But it sounded terrible, and I eventually called it a night.

Today's practice started out not much better, but I kept at it (basically all day) and made some progress, I think. Some things that seem to help:

1) doing tone-production exercises with my eyes closed, just listening for the tone I want and then thinking about what it feels like to get that tone.

2) playing passages very slowly, placing each finger carefully

3) playing passages on all soundpoints, no matter whether the piece is supposed to be that way or not.

4) a mid-afternoon espresso

5) a sip of something alcoholic

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

head and shoulders, knees and toes

Orchestra rehearsal was much better tonight than last week. My stand partner was there. We acquired a new cellist, who is really good. There was more ensemble playing to complement the work the sections did separately. Even the violists got to go over a few things as a section. Of course, I played out of tune and with all the feeling of a stump, but I will work on that.

On the down side, I've been getting charley-horse type cramps in the evenings, always around the same time of night, not sure why. Two nights ago, a foot cramp spread to my hamstring, hip flexor, and then the other side of my body, all within a few minutes. I've started taking magnesium, and making a point of drinking a lot of water. maybe it will help.