Wednesday, July 30, 2014

beethoven, schubert, bowen, and many miles

or: struggling to overachieve...

The schedule says 7 miles so I get up extra-early and run 8.

I have a week to do 3 things at work, so I rush to get them done in 3 days. Tonight I had to work after hours, and I was tired and lacked patience, so I goofed off while practicing while waiting to do some work.

The camp website mentioned Haydn Op 17 string quartets so I made a point of reading through them. Now the website has switched things up to 1) a Beethoven quartet I have no hope in hell of playing, and 2) 5 early Schubert quartets (but not the one and only one I have ever played part of). So I read through the Schubert while waiting until it's safe to do my after-hours day-job work. I can only read so much, and then evertything shuts off.

The more familiar I get with the Bowen, the more shortcomings I discover. I'm sure that the other 3 are good enough to be pros, and will barely tolerate my bad playing. They all seem so eager to play this piece. I hope I don't ruin it.

In fact, I am getting prematurely intimidated by camp. I know some people whose outlook I admire; I know they would look on it as a great adventure. Even if they sucked, they would enjoy hearing all these others play. I keep trying to think like these people.

Friday, July 25, 2014

go speed racer

When I am tired I'm more susceptible to worrying about small things, and I suspect this will be the case as long as I am hurrying through my days. 

Today I focus on upcoming music camp, and whether I will relax enough (um), and that Bowen I volunteered for (well, uh), and how the people all seem to know each other and I am not outgoing enough to join in things un-awkwardly, and worrying about my playing and whether people will look down on me for it...someone recently said to me, "you might want to remind yourself that you chose to go to music camp, and you had your reasons (which included having a good time), and those reasons still stand, correct?" That person was absolutely right, a genius.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

every day I race the clock.

Run. play. work. play. sleep. in between, I pick up around the house here and there, and read the internet while eating or just before bed.

Am I getting faster? No, but I am consistently increasing miles and am squarely in the 50s per week.

Am I getting any better at viola? Some things are sounding better, some are coming along. But there is never enough time, and sometimes I waste the time I have. And then there are times when my brain just quits and I know I've had enough for a while.

Am I getting acclimated at work? Not yet. They are not a social bunch, at least not around newcomers. If I had days full of stuff to do that I know I can do, and if I knew what was expected of me and that I was capable of it, that would be fine. But that's not happening (yet), and I'm a little lost.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

pure and easy

My great friend killed himself 8 years ago today, jumping off the skyway bridge and putting an end to all his troubles, which must have seemed real and unendurable to him then. He was a huge fan of early Pete Townshend, and on one of the many mix-tapes he made for me he included the solo version of "Pure and Easy." I had never heard such a thing. It sounded like a demo; it meandered; the singing was dry and reedy, but it was a great song, and I was all the more prepared to love it because I was in love with my friend and he was, and will remain, the the main musical influence of my entire adult pop-music-loving life. In fact, if not for him I wouldn't be the person I am today, for better or worse. Every time I hear "Pure and Easy" I think of him, and every year around this time I find myself thinking of that song.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

what day is it

Must be Saturday.

I started a new job this week. Yes, the third job this year, and yes, I do feel a bit like a loser but some things just can't be helped. I left one job for another that turned out to be a big mistake, and I was lucky enough to have this job fall into my lap. May it be my last job for a long while, maybe forever. No point in obsessing over what it all could mean.

The new job has slightly different (i.e., earlier) hours and so I've been getting up earlier in my attempt to keep cramming everything into every day. This has me discombobulated and (mostly) too tired to write anything, hence the dearth of posts.

I think it will get better. I did run every single mile I'd planned, and I got a few long-overdue things done. And today, finally, I had a decent practice. Non-exhausted, non-impatient, non-let's-think-about-the-next-thing-I-have-to-do-or-the-thing-I-just-did. My ability to read, play expressively, stay in tune, vibrate, etc may come and go, but I noticed today that I can (and do) use a lot more bow than I used to, mainly because I'm no longer afraid of running out of bow. I used to get 4 or 5 inches from either end and just panic, and let the bow slow way down until the sound turned into a scratch. Seems to happen much less these days.

Friday, July 4, 2014


running: this week I will have 50 miles, but I can't say it's been enjoyable. I suspect that progesterone, and not the summer heat, is the cause. Mentally running is much easier to deal with (no racing, unpleasant depressed thoughts) but physically I feel like I'm huffing and puffing my way through 10-minute miles, and my legs feel like jello. I read tonight that progesterone can increase respiration during exercise, which could explain the winded feeling I get. Or not. I like some of the effects of this medicine - I sleep better, and seem to have fewer charley horses, and my ankles no longer look like balloons. But the jury is still out. I suppose it's not all that important if I never run fast again. Running is better than not running, and wanting to stay alive is better than not wanting to.

I'd planned to use this vacation week to gorge on practicing. Some things I have gorged on, and others just raise my gorge. I have gotten much more interested in non-piece stuff, probably because the lessons are all about pieces, and they are nerve-wracking to perform. This one piece seems to get worse and worse despite my efforts. My fingers get stuck. I have it memorized, but if I look at the music I screw up. On youtube there are versions of people playing this at 180 or so. One little 10yo plays it very nicely at 100. I am plodding along at 70, oh my, and for that I have to have the metronome clicking away softly so I don't have to think about rhythm - it's just there.