Saturday, February 28, 2015

this has got to stop

Last night I dreamed I was running, in my racing flats, and I felt light and strong and nothing hurt. I kept marveling how my feet felt ok even in flats.

Ran six whole miles this morning (not in flats), calf tightened a little at 4 miles but eased up. Saw lots of dogs, wanted to hug them all. Mostly held it together until I got home and speedo was not there, of course. Now I need to clean the wall where I leaned against it, sweating and crying.

I am not actively thinking of speedo all the time. It's worse when I do. But even when I don't, it's still bad, like being in a hole I can't climb out of. The only things that get me away from it are work (constructive, maybe) and self-medication (definitely not).

 I wish that throwing myself into viola practice would help as much as throwing myself into work, but there is too much emotional trash there. It would be nice to say fuck it, I'm going to practice every minute anyway, and it will sound terrible, but maybe by the time this depression lifts (whenever that is) something good might have come from it. Yes, that would be nice. But not possible at the moment.

Friday, February 27, 2015


ok at work, but then home is a different story. My husband and I are both small people, and we live in a small house, and speedo (at the end) was not a huge dog, but the house seems gigantic, and chilly, and empty. I take xanax (speedo's xanax!) and have a tiny glass of rye and the world goes away for a while. Unfortunately, I don't much feel like playing viola, or even standing up. I drag myself out of the chair to the music stand, cringe at every mistake, stop and put the viola away before I fall asleep standing up. Wait for the world to go away again.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

there is so little to say

Anyone who has lost a child, or who dislikes pets will think I'm an idiot, but losing this dog, or rather letting her go, is so hard.

Monday, February 23, 2015

winners, losers

After 2 days tamoxifen-free, I feel 99% better. The only part of me that hurts is where I had a tetanus shot last Friday.

I started yet another job today, yes, I am a loser. This is a contract job, working for the former CIO of Company H (see some blog post from October if this confuses you), as well as a former colleague from Company H, and together we will work in the same commonality of spirit we had at Company H to fix all the many things that are wrong with the databases at this company, which I'll call Company P. At least I am being asked to do things that make use of my years of banging my head against the wall, rather than just clicking buttons and watching little boxes turn green.

Tomorrow is Speedo's Day, and I have really been holding it together pretty well but when I got home from work today she seemed so glad to see us both there...even laying on her side, not moving much, she was basking in all the attention. She made as if to play her fake-biting game and I just lost it, and begged my husband to let her stay around a little longer. He just held me and let me cry, and said nothing.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


After just 16 days, I have decided to stop taking tamoxifen. My joints - especially fingers/hips/shoulders/wrists, all the important ones - hurt all the time, my stomach is messed up, something is definitely askew in the cognitive department. I asked the doctor about these side effects and she said they would probably go away "in time", and she urged me to try to stay on the medicine at least 3 months. At first I said I would, but I've changed my mind, and I'm going to stop taking it, at least for a little while, to see if these side effects go away. The story I got from the radiation doc was that I had at most a 6% chance of recurrence, and tamoxifen might cut that down to 3%. I will gladly trade that 3% for 5 years of being able to function.


Speedo's time has come. My husband I and both noticed she's declined even further; she still loves food and treats, but she can barely walk. When we're home we carry her where she wants to go, but we can't be home all the time. We often come home from work to find her stuck on her bad side, unable to get up and lying in a puddle of pee. She is not really happy even when she gets to do what she wants (lie down in the yard all day). She will never get any better, and she seems to know this. My husband wants to be the one to take care of all this; he took next Tuesday off work (a day I cannot), and has made the appointment with the vet. This weekend has been very strange; we treat Speedo as usual, talk to her, give her food and treats, try (unsuccessfully) to get her to play, pretend she is talking to us (this is a running joke in our house), and yet we both know that in 3 days, 2 days, a day, she won't be with us anymore. Sometimes this makes us cry. I will leave for work Tuesday morning and when I get home she won't be there.

My beautiful, sweet girl.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

happy in a land of oz

Last night I dreamed that my house grew much bigger and turned into a party. The dream house had more rooms than my real house (though it was shaped pretty much the same), and it filled with people, different people from different times of my life, all of them musicians, all playing or enjoying music. There were people from Interlochen in one room playing together - people I hung out with while I was there, and people I wanted to get to know but never managed to. There were people from the college-music "scene" (how I hate that word, but it has its uses) I was part of, and they were now folkies playing their artisanal instruments in another room. The back room had swelled into a mini-amphitheater, and a sound guy was setting up some kind of laser light show for a bunch of people I liked despite the fact that they liked music that I hated (like the kind of music that begs for a laser light show). At one point the lights went out because the sound guy's equipment had tripped a breaker, but before I could find the breaker box, someone had fixed it. I didn't plan the party or invite anyone; they just appeared. All were there, all were welcome, everyone was having a good time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

oh, the chemicals

Tamoxifen is doing something weird to my joints, so I take advil. Just started on buspar for anxiety; it is rumored to make you dizzy but it hasn't yet. I rub anti-inflammatory cream onto my muscles because running jacks them up (or maybe they were jacked up to begin with). Rub anti-rosacea gel onto my face. Take fosamax once a week, and calcium, glucosamine, and black cohosh every day. At the pharmacy, they know my dog (she has a prescription for human medicine) and call me "mother of Speedo", and ask after her. Today I showed around a photo of speedo I had on my phone.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


...and contrary to every one of my expectations, today was a good lesson, with the teacher asking some questions to get me to think about what I was doing (as opposed to just telling me to do something), some insight that was really helpful, and even a "bravo, brava" (first time I ever heard that). 

The insight:I was trying to play a long slur of 16th notes, and kept losing tone and running out of bow, and my teacher said "you start at the wrong soundpoint, don't like your sound, move the bow faster (to run away from the sound you don't like), and then run out of bow." Yes. That is exactly what I do, and I never realized it until he said it. I started making a conscious effort to start the run closer to the bridge so I could save bow without sacrificing tone, and it was like oh wow, this works, and look how much bow I have left to really zing that last note if I wanted to.

We did not get to the Bach I so dreaded "performing", but maybe I can use some of this bowing stuff we talked about to make the Bach sound better before I actually do try to play it at a lesson.

I hate being judged solely on technique (especially because my technique is so iffy), but I do see technique as a means to an end; the more things I am able to do, the more expressive I will sound. It's like having a bunch of different tools instead of the one hammer you try to staple papers together with, because that's all you have.

For so long I played too close to the bridge almost all the time - maybe it started because I was playing an instrument that was too big for me, but it became a habit - and then this past summer I learned to play closer to the fingerboard. All the time. I am just beginning to be able to make some changes on the fly. It would be great to get really good at that, and not have to make conscious decisions about it, but I will settle for having to think it through a lot, as long as I can do it.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

time has come today

Practicing all evening, like I do every evening...tonight I am practicing for a lesson tomorrow, and it makes me sad. I love playing viola, and I put a lot of time and work into it, and these lessons are just not fun. It's hard to say something like that, because the obvious question to that answer is "who said it was supposed to be fun?" But even the rigor that I loved so much in lessons is beginning to look not like a means to an end (do this every day and in 50 years it will pay off) but rather the end, the way my teacher can just keep feeding me busywork and not have to teach me, or think of anything for me to do to address my many, many weaknesses. Like Dounis' Daily Dozen, only that's all there is - Kwo's Kountless Kranks, which only wind me up. No context, no application, no connection to music at all. There are no goals, no suggestions on how to improve, only critique, or in this case Kritique: that's not an E, that's not a note, that's not a tone, that's not a sound. Make it sing, no I can't tell you how, you're an adult, I can't teach adults, just do it, even though you're an adult and will never be able to do it. Do you have questions about how to apply any of this to pieces you're playing in orchestra or whatever? Sorry, you are SOL, figure it out yourself, like the kids do, they just "get it", they're brilliant. You, however, well...

At the last lesson, he agreed (it took some convincing) to let me try again with a piece he deemed unplayable (by me) last spring but which I worked on all summer with Mr Summer Teacher. All week, and especially tonight, I have cringed every time I tried to play it, imagining all the faults my teacher would find with it, and the not-so-nice way he has of expressing them. And what then? Will I cry, will I lose my temper and say something I'll regret? It finally dawned on me that while I really love playing the viola, these lessons suck every last bit of fun from it. Yeah, only for an hour a week, can't I handle that? But no, it's not just for an hour a week, it's every hour I spend practicing what he assigns, every hour I spend dreading the next beatdown  lesson, every hour I spend rehashing all the Kriticisms from each lesson. 

I spend a good bit of time every week absolutely hating myself, wondering what I did to earn this. Viola is the thing I love, and these lessons make me so unhappy.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

dare I say

This morning the withdrawal seemed much worse - nearly-constant brain shivers and addled thinking and high anxiety. By afternoon I felt a little better mentally but nausea stealthily settled in. Now, near bedtime, the brain stuff is much better and the nausea is manageable. So what if I don't eat much for a few days? At least I can drive (I think), and concentrate (a bit better), and play viola. Maybe the worst of it is over.