Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And another thing...

It used not to be an accomplishment simply to gather all the excerpts for an audition.

Packing the metronome/tuner/MD recorder/special practicing pencil were once habit as well.

Ah, well. If I win this one maybe I'll stop with the auditioning for a while. (If I don't, also.)


We are going away for the long weekend. I leave tomorrow wayyyyy too early. It's a silly hour, really, when no one should be up not even jet pilots.

We'll be back on Tuesday. In the meantime, here's a frog that visited my mom's cool metal dragonfly made from a garage door spring. We have them all over our back porch, and they are tiiiiny, less than an inch.

We'll miss you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

9 1/2 weeks

We had an appointment and I am at 9 1/2 weeks.

It's better than, like, 8. But not nearly as cool as, say, 14.

Not that I'm complaining. On my blog.

I'll see if I can upload the little ultrasound pic. But you can visualize it this way: Jonathan likes a lot of syrup on his pancakes.

After he eats them, the plate is all smushy with syrup, in a vaguely circular shape.

Now imagine he has crumpled a napkin in the bottom crook of the syrup orb.

That's about what this just over one inch long kid looks like right now. Except we could see the little heart pitter patting, and napkins don't generally make me feel nasty.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I roast my own.

One of the best things about living in Portland is Anne the pianist in my little world-domination duo, and another is coffee. Today we had the pleasure of combining both.

Anne's guy Howard had a photography show opening at Dancing Beans Coffee so we went over and played a little set. We did our Lyle Lovett cover, some Carmen, of course bits of Bartok and Chopin, Cole Porter, Clarke and Debussy. I want to find a wider mix, but the legal aspects of adapting folks' tunes to our needs can be tricky. Too bad it's not like the visual arts where you are allowed to appropriate and recreate and such. Sigh.

Anyway, last night I had a dream about this gig. Wait! Don't gag yet- it's not one of those blog posts, I promise. In my dream, Karlos Calmar was the only guest at the coffee shop. He's the conductor of the Oregon Symphony and if he did walk in it would be awkward and audition-y, I just know it. It was kind of a nightmare. I remember him smiling thinly over a very small espresso.

Today he did not show up. However, the guy who played concertmaster of the symphony for, like, a gazillion years did. He seemed nice and claims to have liked my playing, so, phew. I was oddly unnervous, because what's the point of getting nervous in the middle of a set?

I did commit a felony bit of stupidity when he asked what instrument I play. Please remember I'm pregnant. I said mostly viola, but I teach violin too. He was kind enough to laugh and clarify that he meant, OF COURSE, which maker. Ha. Haha.

Well, I play tweedle dee some days and tweedle dum t'others. Violists.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How was your day?

Toby just left for two fabulous days at Chez Grandparents. I will miss him, though I have to admit I had his toys and clothes packed up and waiting to go- most of them stacked on our front walk while we waited for his favorite people to arrive.

When he was all ready and strapped in, I asked for and recieved a kiss. This new skill of his is the most excellent so far. He's not a sloppy toddler kisser, and keeps his lips closed because he prefers when it makes that little pop. He's working on achieving actual contact with the kissee- his timing tends to run a bit early so he does one of those European air kisses. Could be he's just becoming extremely sophisticated.

This morning, though, he got it perfect right on the smacker. He left ten minutes ago, and already I'm getting all sentimental.

It's hard to describe where all my time goes every day. Most of it involves catering to and playing with Toby, but to be honest he's becoming more self-sufficient by the day and I can no longer blame the disappearance of my time on him.

I have always been a list person, but since getting pregnant I don't even start one because it always ends badly. It starts with making & feeding & cleaning up from breakfast which isn't even on the list, but it tires me out and I lay on the couch for a few minutes, tickling and singing to the kiddo to mediate my guilt. Then it's time for Toby's nap and I nap with him. I call a few people or empty the dishwasher and Wham it's 4:30pm. By then, I'm thinking I should come up with something for dinner. After pondering this and getting ice for Toby (he's a little obsessed with ice and grapes) it's suddenly 6:30pm. I call J to see if he'll ever be able to come home from work or if I should just plan to start sending him care packages by courier, maybe tie a yellow ribbon to our tree.

At 7:45pm we leave to pick up Daddy and I still haven't made anything for dinner. And I'm feeling gross, so the idea of touching food or even opening the refrigerator because it might smell like food is depressing. I haven't practiced or cleaned or gone for a walk. Between 8 and 9pm I feel crummy and lazy but Toby's in his hyper pre-bed giggle phase so that's nicely distracting. We eat something I half-heartedly make or we pick up something not too greasy or expensive.

Once Toby's in bed, I sit with J while he does more work and watch tv because that's his version of a bubble bath and candles. I don't begrudge him some tiny amount of time to relax, and this way at least we're in the same room. (Pray for a new job, 'kay?) Sometimes I surf adoption websites on the laptop for a while before I can't stand feeling so crummy and might as well go to sleep. I make all sorts of plans for tomorrow, including practice and getting Toby to the park. When I wake up I'm already tired and can't decide if food sounds nasty or if I'm starving.

It's getting better, but I really hope having a few days to myself to clean out the house will help me hit some kind of reset button on this pattern. Especially the self-pity part. I am starting to feel more like myself and I love Toby's personality right now so it's not like it's all drudgery. J's interviewed with some places and lots of things in our lives are very good. I just feel half-asleep, mentally. Groggy. Hopefully when I reach the magical done-being-gross week of pregnancy things will brighten a bit.

I think I'll go take a nap...

Monday, August 20, 2007

You might be surprised how happy you'd be....

I didn't play the audition Saturday. It was for a very small chamber orchestra, and the only reason I wanted to play it was to get to know the concertmaster. He's the prof at a small liberal arts college with a beautiful campus, a college where I would dig teaching. It occurred to me I should just send him my resume and maybe offer some free coaching to his kids, since playing an audition when it's pretty much impossible to make any of the concerts is not the way to endear yourself to anyone in an organization.

There's also that whole mysterious phenomenon where the true outsider sometimes is given more credit than somebody who has been willing to serve in a group even though it may not be their dream job, artistically. The new guy- the unknown rockstar with a fancy resume- is more likely to be given respect than whatever mortal folks shared a stand with all year who is secretly overqualified. Nepotism is a tricky game, and I'm trying to learn that whole "the gigs you accept define your level" thing.

I'm still planning to do the audition in the middle of next month because it's for a principal position. It's two hours from home, but my parents live halfway there so it's doable.

I once got really pissed off at a conductor I knew who tried to convince me that a large regional orchestra (B-level, per service but decent pay type of gig) is often a very happy career choice.

I remember being insulted because A) this guy was truly born free of tact and could have made you mad while giving you a publisher's clearing house check and B) because I was in the middle of my masters degree at a conservatory with the goal of getting a job in an A-level symphony, with a salary and benefits and hoards of adoring fans; did he mean to say he thought I'd better lower my hopes, and fast? The nerve!

So auditioning for this, and wanting this job sort of chafes, y'know? I haven't given up on an A-level job, but there is exactly one orchestra I can go for now and still be where I want to live. They don't even have an opening this year, and I've very reluctantly had to take work that will interfere with subbing much. The average orchestral musician spends 3-5 years bopping all over the country to every audition before landing their first job. I am narrowing those odds further by wanting just ONE job. And having kids and not being under regular tutelage makes it even less likely to go my way. It's kind of ridiculous, really.

In the Portland area, there really are not so many opportunities for teaching or playing chamber music. I'm on the faculty at one college, but am not sure what direction to go in next. What happened to the classical music scene here? Perhaps it just never really coalesced in the first place, maybe Portlanders are so socialist as to associate great arts with elitism, I don't know. There is no great music school here to teach in (apparently PSU has had potential at times but suffers poor funding), and once talented kids hit college they flee in exactly the same way people ran from my tiny hometown in the frozen north. It's a shame- Portland is definitely big enough to have some great students and institutions beyond the Youth Symphony.

It's not that I'm unhappy, it's just that I'm being made happy by things I never would have anticipated. It makes me wonder exactly who I'll be five, ten years out.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dee Nai Yull

So I just signed up for some auditions. Maybe three.

I have done more not-practicing this summer than ever in my life as a violist. It feels gross, and I hated that last week my fingernails were long enough to have a white edge to them and the only reason I had to cut them was because it felt yucky. Not because it was interfering with any not playing I was doing.

There may be three (3!) children in my care by the end of next year. Will there be any time at all for me to do anything not related to them?

I am flooded with overwhelmed-ness and uncertainty even more this time around. I know some of that is the adoption possibility, but a lot belongs to the familiar wierdness of my pregnant body.

The spectre of labor is kind of scary. I really hated it last time, though (ready for something you've NEVER heard before from second-timers?) this time I will be requesting the Epidural early and often. Maybe that will help. And I'm going to be that demanding lady, asking for them to DO something about whatever's bothering me much much sooner.

So, I guess I better go play that viola thing a bit. One of the auditions is Saturday. It's like a reality tv experiment: Can this musician remember how to not suck after being isolated from her instrument for... a long time? We'll find out next week, so stay tuned. (Tuned. GAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhh. C'mon, I'm impared and barfy, don't leave. Please. Wait- it will get better.)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Man of Action

Toby likes to substitute actions for words. He's got words- believe me, when he's chatty it seems like he's going to break into some Kanye (clean version) or Rilke any second. (Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?)

But the action words are my favorite. He's yet to say "flower" but will sniff vigorously whenever he sees one. He doesn't say cat but can meow with the best of them, and "firetruck" brings on a very serious siren. "Rabbit" is a wrinkly nose, and he's yet to say "milk" but has the sign language down pat. (That cow-milking gesture is so flattering to breastfeeders, don't you think? Then again, what's the alternative- a frat-boy radio dial type move?)

For music, which we almost always have playing (shocking, I know), if something catches his fancy he does this thing that looks like a cross between the Cleveland Indians chop and a conductor giving limp ictus-less downbeats. (Is he mocking Teri Murai? Man, I like to hope so.)

Yesterday I prompted him to dance for about the millionth time and he started doing these odd little half-squats. Through all of these he's a straight faced boy, with the occassional bottom lip protruding in concentration.

Maybe he's the prototype for the dance man, my favorite short movie put together by one of the contestants in On the Lot.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007



I couldn't think of anything interesting to say for my 500th post.
We thought and thought,
What to do... what to do...
finally we figured it out.

... I'm pregnant!