Friday, September 30, 2005

Shostakovich Memoir

Here's me in my first year of my doctorate. The quartet got to go to Norway and play for an alumni thing. Fjords ho, ho.

Tonight the Pro Arte quartet played Shostakovich's third quartet, which we had also played that year in a concert in Stoughton's Opera House and a few other places. It brought back memories- funny how they've been cleansed of 90% of the not-so-stellar moments. It must be like that with childbirth for most folks too- and pregnancy- otherwise how would we end up with folks signing up for a second tour of duty? Lets not forget the folks who insist they loved every second of being pregnant.

Although... I did have a moment of that tonight. We arrived late (shocker, I know) to the concert and stood at the back of the hall. I was standing there, belly sticking out in a new sparkly particularly pregnant shirt with the passenger pummelling away and for all I know rearranging the furniture in there during the third movement; guess he likes Shostakovich, too. And suddenly I realized that I wanted every person in that hall to know that I am growing a KID in there (and they most likely did).

The Shostakovich was the best part of the recital last night. One of my students- a high school boy from my hometown- said he just sat there with his eyes closed. It's that kind of piece. Almost all of his stuff is like that. I wonder what he would have been like to know- maybe like most traumatized sorts he would have been miserable. It's funny to say that one person's music is more personal or revealing than another's, but it is, and I would have so valued a conversation with him.

Ralph my luthier (Man, I love that word- he's my dealer. Y'know. Violas and other hardcore stuff.) told me today that he met Fjodor Druzhinin, the man Shostakovich wrote the sonata for, and he was "very dapper" and talkative. Hope he was a true friend.

He passed away in his sleep, having asked the nurses to wake him for a soccer match. Hope his team won.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Some lasts are better than others.

I played in studio class today... I know I've complained about this before, but this was the last time, so here it goes again.

It has been an interesting relationship between me and class in the last couple of years. I have never (NOT ONCE) felt like I really performed in class. My last big hurdle in my playing (for now) is what goes on in my head while I play. Thing pop in and out, like what people are thinking, what goofy thing I just did, how much better it could have been- and do the people listening know that?, etc.

It makes sense I suppose that playing in class for violists- who notice what fingering I choose, and have suggestions for me with my bow, have played these same pieces- brings out the critical in me.

If the room had one or two others in it, anyone... just some one I don't know- and who may not know the pieces inside and out- then I can forget about all of them as specific people. It's easier for me to just try to communicate as directly as possible, without filtering for who's listening.

Anyway... the Shostakovich is such a great piece. It's really fun to perform- which may sound strange if you know its darknesses. The Arpeggione is also a masterpiece- so many perfectly coifed phrases and neatly polished little twists and turns.



Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Flight Plan

Jodi Foster can hold tears in her eyes, on the brink of spilling down her perfect little bony cheeks for longer than should be humanly possible. I love her.

The movie itself has a great premise but it seemed as if the writers ran out of time or lost the love in the second half a bit. The first half is suspenseful in the old hitchcockian style, the second seems to have standard modern thriller written right in. Still watchable, though.

J's pilot friends were in town this weekend. They fly a jet owned by some guy who happened to have business in Madison. In retrospect, it made sense that they shied away from a movie about planes- if you have to get in one every day and you have to be the guy who knows everything that goes wrong, no sense in watching some one else's nightmare.

If you are looking for a movie to rent, see Crash. (The one made recently, I think there's an older unrelated one.) It is an excellent outworking of multiple creative plot ideas on race and culture in LA. I want to own it, and loan it to all my friends, like a good book.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Plea for the End of Spurs to Violence.

Financial Aid Office, and School of Music.
Hear me.

I will not take to the bell tower with ammunition. I will not hire graffiti artists to redecorate the pathetic recital hall. I won't even take a "trophy" music stand from your fine institution.

Just please, SOMEBODY decide which department will approve my loan and GIVE IT TO ME. I did not plan time for this part time job, this "application process". I am not flattered and impressed that in a school this size the people at the financial aid desk know my name, and who I will be wanting to see as I walk up. It is no consolation that you hope to "streamline the process" for future applicants.

The matter is in your hands now. I have filled every line, gotten each signature and donated blood. Please...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Google monster- Updated!

I just googled one of our favorite name choices for the gentleman currently kicking at my spine with the occasional nod to my bladder region. I found a candidate for senate in South Carolina, the head of drug enforcement in Belize, several CEOs, an architect and some scholarly types. There were also a few lawyers, but you can't have it all.

Naming things- first job we were given, right?

It's funny the reactions we get from folks to the names we like. I have to say, most people like them, at least to our faces. I like them a lot, though I feel more interested than usual in what other people think. This despite telling J we should just name him Starbuck if that's what we like and to hell with practicality. (And, hey, Dad would HAVE to like that one.)

I was talking with the ladies today about how name preferences seem to be highly generational. Not just what people name their kids, but what they like for others.

There are the funny regional things, too. I liked Dexter, maybe, and threw it out in a list of possibles at my parents. Turns out, on the west coast, Dex is a phone book- complete with funny ads about "let's ask Dex" with a guy dressed like a yellow book. But then again, if we had really liked it, who cares? Maybe that company would have died by the time he's 6 and no one would have remembered beyond that. Barring names that double as male body parts, I think they should all be fair game.

I found another hit on his name: A nobel peace laureate, lawyer AND doctor, he was behind the start-up of the Hague. Unfortunately, his last name was Asser. Be happy we aren't working with that one, eh.

Recital 9/29

Betsy, Tiffany and Chloe just came over. I already miss Tiffany, since she's got that whole career thing started and doesn't actually live in Wisconsin and such. And Chloe- what a gorgeous rockstar she is, just like her mama. She charms everyone within reach of her glorious hair. Except for that rude thing the linoleum floor did to her forehead, I think a good time was had by all.

My last recital for this degree (except this wierd one where you give a lecture-recital and only invite your committee because... did I mention? Lecture.) will be Thursday at 8:30pm in Morphy Hall in the Humanities Building. I'm playing the Schubert Arpeggione and the Shostakovich Sonata and probably something else if my teacher Sally tells me to in my lesson today.

I had myself a serious freak-out yesterday when I first started really looking at the music. Now I've had a little more time and a rehearsal with Ilia, my new pianist, and I'm thinking maybe the audience won't feel too bad for me. I may be able to look Sally in the eye today in my lesson. I might even get by without tearing up like a freshman. (Unlike half of my lessons last year. Poor Sally.)

Things are finishing up. The kid, he's kicking more and more and reminding me that recitals, house selling and boxing every single thing I own are just the incidentals: the filler pieces on a program that's already nicely full.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Sell This House" Madison Edition

Have you seen the cable show where people walk through a house and comment to hidden cameras on what they really think is good/bad/ugly, the owners then do a little work on the place with the help of professionals, and the same folks walk through again? I wish we could do that.

We had a family stop by today and they seemed to really like it, even though we were just starting to clean and it was a wreck. The tub had a smudgie looking floor, there was all sorts of pillows, laptops and detritus all over the living room, my STILL unpacked luggage was in the bedroom and the kitchen was a mess of cook-out leftovers from this afternoon. But their 5th-grade boy loved Simon (one situation where having your dog around isn't bad for a walk-through) and the mom said her bedroom is the exact shade I painted ours. Wild. Or lies, who knows.

Did they get in the car and say, "Who are they KIDding?" Or are they actually going to consult their realtor/advisor?? Real life could use more hidden cameras and long distance mics.

Tires for Tots

Did you know that 70% of new car smell is in the tires? I didn't either, until we replaced ours this weekend. Yummy, and hey- the things that the whole car sits on actually do seem to make a difference in the ride.

We saw an ad for a beautiful apartment complex just west of downtown portland. It looks like a craftsman home and actually has a Max metro station entrance INSIDE the building. Even with the poshness we could save up for a house with a little bit of land, as soon as we're done mooching off the impending grandparents. Hope our house here sells and we can live somewhere like that for a bit. We saw it in one of them free apartment finder books. By the way, does anyone know what the heck a "Tot Lot" is? Daycare? Lockers with little pastel straight-jackets, juicy juice and legos inside? A free tater-tot stash? I like that option best, gosh.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Psalm 4

Here's how my friend Kent Duit lived his life:


Even in the midst of great pain, Lord,
I praise you for that which is.
I will not refuse this grief
or close myself to this anguish.
Let shallow men pray for ease:
“Comfort us; shield us from sorrow.”
I pray for whatever you send me,
and I ask to receive it as your gift.
You have put a joy in my heart
greater than all the world’s riches.
I lie down trusting the darkness,
for I know that even now you are here.

He passed away Tuesday night and I'm heading back to Madison tomorrow to play at the funeral Saturday. I wish everyone could have met Kent and his wife Carol. They make everyone feel like family.

It's hard to describe a person. But I remember one of my first conversations with him was about marriage. He said, You're going to love it. I mean, I'm not sure how my wife might feel (twinkle in his eye)- but it has been amazing. That's so neat that you met here in Madison. You're going to just love it. People say the transition is tough but we really didn't have that at all. It's been incredible, and yours will be too.

Pretty much any time he talked about Carol was like that. And she's the kind of person who would be with Kent in the hospital for 12 hours and then come play piano for a picnic that night. I talked to her on the phone yesterday and she seemed so calm. And I will miss his funny comments at Stephen Ministry- he always cut in with something when it was getting too self-serious there. You could tell where he sat by the perimeter of giggling.

I'm awestruck by them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Comin' right at me!

Yesterday mom and I were walking back home after having a drink with Molly and Gary down the street and there was a fawn in the road. He just stood there for a bit, flicking his impossibly big ears, then headed into mom and dad's yard. He was in fact headed right for me (south park fans?...) even though I was talking to him and calling him a dummy the whole time. He stopped about 15 feet from me and finally turned back to where he'd come from- probably his ma was somewhere over that way. Mom gave him a hard time for eating all her tomatoes and he slunk off in shame.

We went to the gym last night and I swam laps for the first time in 97 years. Molly's daughter gave me a maternity suit which looked too cutesy (it's white & blue tiny squares with a little row of daisies sewn where cleavage would normally go) but didn't look half bad once I was actually wearing it.

There was a little Chinese (Hmong maybe? Definitely Mandarin speaking) boy in the hot tub quietly scooping up bubbles with his hands. I hope we get one like that. His brother was running around the pool, striking weightlifter poses and yelling for his mom to watch. I suppose that'd be alright, too- though like J says, a Kenny-G loving, raging progressive school hater would be poetic justice for us. I do notice more kids now- as I'm told I'm destined as a pregnant human- but a lot of the time it's not necessarily in a wistfull, awwwww kind of way. It's more like Man, I hope ours doesn't talk to us like that obnoxious brat over there.

But then, J and I were always such angels- surely this one will follow in our perfectly behaved, quietly endearing footsteps. Surely.

Monday, September 12, 2005

This place is idyllic.

I love my parent's place- I'm typing by the window that looks over their field (no cows just now) and past that to a stand of black oaks below. The way this little draw is shaped the silver morning clouds gather at the bottom and sift through the trees. Very Oregon.

In the afternoon the sun covers the whole view with shapes of clouds and shadows of bigger birds floating by every now and then. Nothing better than sitting out back with a tall glass of well-water after a nice long jaunt.

We went to church on Sunday (another Lyle Lovett song jumps to mind...) and I love their pastor John Moody & his wife Gail. Dad runs with him and we get to hang out on non-church stuff pretty often. We will have to visit their church every once in a while. We'll probably find another place to call our own, just because of... well... the music (think hymn-style piano and the occassional soprano sax). But it's a sweet church, and John & Gail are the type you'd want to have live next door, have over for a beer and grill up a little bit of the cows.

Hey- a stellar jay just landed outside. If I was back in the land of real internet (there is only dial-up in the paradise-boondocks) I'd find you a picture and put it here. They are cool birds.

Well, missing all of Madison already. I'm soldiering on, though- got to get ready for the next audition and also make time for napping and mom's oatmeal raisin cookies. I went for a little walk with some running thrown in yesterday and it weren't too bad a'tall. We're about to go for a swim- it's so nice to be pregnant in a swimsuit several state lines from anyone I know.

The gory audition details. Zzzzzzzz.

Here it is, it's boring:

The audition went well. I think it was the calmest, most accurate audition I have played to date. The first round was fine, except a small glitch in the Shostakovich and I was happy to be asked to play that again. I used to always ask the moderator if I could repeat stuff (it's behind a screen so you can't talk or see the actual committee) but have learned that it's not the best plan. Half the time they didn't hear the original error and it just annoys them to listen twice. But this conductor asked for exactly what I wanted to re-do anyway and I made it to the finals.

The finals were fun. There were only 3 of us- the chick who had been doing the job- I'll call her K, and the chick who had been sitting second chair- S who was very sweet and will also be at the audition on Sunday. The finals are not screened, so when I went out on the same stage I could now see the whole audience. There were at least 20 folks out there. You could tell the brass players by the way they were sitting on the backs of chairs or draping their arms over chairs next to them. When I first looked out it was like I had interrupted a wine tasting or something.

The finals went well, and then came what's always the worst part- having to wait for the results. So many backstages look the same- cement floors, drop ceiling. K played and then S and then they seemed to deliberate for what seemed like hours. In the meantime S told me that the audition was pretty much a formality- which I suspected. When the manager finally came down, he took K back to her dressing room to talk with her for a bit. Then he came out and told S they were offering her the chair she already had- 2nd, and that K had won the position she had already played last year.

He turned to me then, with the most apologetic look, and introduced himself. He said I played well but, "sometimes this is the way they have to do things." That is pretty much the most validation I've ever recieved from an audition that I haven't won, so I'll take it. They'll put me on the sub list. So, no tears, no cringing disappointment or lapses of concentration- just a straight-ahead audition. Here's hoping they go that way forever more.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

20 weeks, 6 days.

What a day. The ultrasound technician, she should get a medal and a lollipop.

She was in all black scrubs, which if I were forced to wear those things is what I'd like. Looked classy instead of ineffectually juvenile. She was on time, too- a treasured and rare trait at Dean Health, Madison.

After dimming the lights and getting me ready (blessings on the inventor of the gel-warming machine) she took lots of looks at our kid. Started with placenta, cervix, then out of the schmudgie grey a big black pool emerged with feet in it! Feet! and legs! and a penis! A BOY!

We got to see all sorts of parts- heart parts, spine sections, brain globs. When she focused on the upper lip for a while (checking for cleft palate) he put his hand near his mouth and sucked on the index finger. Show off.

Once when he was moving a leg on the screen I could feel one of those little vague poking sensations that have happily come more and more often lately.

Dude, a boy! I need more books.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to work he goes....

We were on the internet lounging around pretty much in jammies all day yesterday. Normally that would have driven me nuts by then end of the day and I would have been blowing fire out my nostrils at J for no reason, but yesterday it seemed to make sense. We did go for a nice long walk in the evening.

Which reminds me, what is with my bladder? It was shrieking the whole time we were out there, then I get home and it's like, "oh- nevermind. Pass the ice cream." (bladder, stomach, whatever) Preparing me for a toddler already?
Finishing novels is always a little sad, like waking up from a pleasant dream. I recommend the Time Traveler's Wife as a sweetly romantic book with just enough grit and pain to keep it grounded. I hope Audrey Niffenegger writes more soon. What a last name, eh?
Today I'm mostly just waiting for tomorrow. We have an ultrasound at 1:30 and plan to discern the baby's sex. How nice to stop using the word "it".
I went to school and rounded up info on testing and dissertating and every professor I spoke with was kind and accomodating. For all the complaining I do and indignation I feel toward the administration at this school, the professors have been nothing but inspiring. Hope I grow up to be like them.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Another surprisingly pretty spider.

Here's a new friend I made while harvesting one million hundred thousand cherry tomatoes in our backyard garden. It's the biggest spider I've seen in Wisconsin.

The bottom picture of the spider's underside was taken by the man who knows his cameras.

JMW adds: For anyone curious, it's a yellow and black garden spider (seriously, that's what it's called), a type of orb weaver. And no, it's not poisonous.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Change: Rilke's "Will Transformation"

Will transformation.
Oh, be inspired for the flame.
In which a thing disappears
and bursts into something else.
The spirit of re-creation
which masters this earthly form
Loves most the pivoting point
where you are no longer yourself.

What tightens into survival
is already inert;
How safe is it really in its inconspicuous gray?


There's more, but I like that bit. I love Rilke. Transforming's going on: Moving, Babing, Gradu(maybe)ating... also, I cut my hair.

Here's my 8 week picture, taken in June.

And here's my 20 week, taken last night.
The pants are buttoned with the assistance of a rubberband. The shoes killed, and I was sucking it in for all I'm worth- maybe that's why I forgot to smile.

Need some gas?

The recent unfortunate events have caused a slight increase in gas prices:

Now, is that per gallon, or for a full tank?