Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Maelstrom. It conjurs a mental image of chaotic swirls of color in never ceasing motion. a maelstrom of thought. I know that I'm not doing what I should be doing right now. I know that I need to bring my thoughts into focus. Have I become mentally stagnant? Is it possible that this maelstrom is swirling constantly and going nowhere? Have I lost my sharpness, my insight, my words? Have I ever had anything to say or share?

Who am I now? Who I was yesterday doesn't matter anymore. Who am I today? Who will I be tomorrow? Is there any hope that I will be sharper, brighter, stronger tomorrow?

I practice. I write. I run my six miles. I teach. I work. I make breakfast, lunch, dinner. I do laundry and clean house. And the day is over. What have I done to become sharper, brighter, stronger? What am I doing?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

When it rains...

My world seems to always move in fits and starts, somehow. Take, for example, my Petite Pianists class. Last year, when I was pushing hard to fill this class for another teacher, I was lucky to find three kids to make the class work. I enrolled three-year-olds, which is really too young, just to get my numbers up. Two out of three semesters, we canceled the class. This fall, I had a full class, without even pulling many teeth. This spring, I was amazed to have a full beginners class and a full "advanced" class. I didn't have high hopes for summer, because enrollment for a weekly class tends to be really low. How, then, did my beginners class fill before I even mailed brochures? I opened up another class, which filled in less than a week. I also have a full advanced class, and student interest in a "post-advanced" class. When did I get this popular?

Most of this year, my teaching schedule has been full to bursting -- with new students, old students, and "rescues" from other teachers. How do I only have four students for the summer? Why am I fighting the feelings of depression and betrayal that always come when I lose a student? I'm not inept; from eavesdropping at last week's recital, I'm apparently wildly popular with my students and families! So.... where are they?

There are days when I go stir-crazy sitting in this office, waiting for things to do. I always have a few big projects, but I often don't have the time to do them. And then there are days such as the past two, where I spend hours on the phone and e-mail. I become a regular whirlwind, and I actually have energy left over.

I spent the weekend in the sunshine with my G, driving and talking and walking and wandering, playing and working with boundless energy ... and today working from home, with phone and computer in the bed beside me, because it was stormy and grey and I hadn't the oomph to face the office.

Sometimes I think it would be nifty to try a tidy, consistent job and a tidy, consistent lifestyle. And then I realize: (1) such a thing does not seem to be forthcoming; (2) such a thing does not seem to fit my personality; and (3) wouldn't I miss the swirls of energy and excitement? Yeah, I guess I'll stick with my fits and starts. So long as they keep heading in the same direction!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Lapsed Blogger

Oh, my -- I used to try to post a blog twice a month or so, and here it's been five weeks! It's not that I've dropped off the face of the earth, that I haven't anything to say, or even that I've been too overwhelmed with life in general to put coherent words together. One of the unexpected side effects of being a fiancee is that I have somebody to share everything with. We talk more often and more deeply than I'm accustomed to in my little hermit life, so I don't have as many thoughts and ideas churning inside, waiting for the outlet of a blog. Instead, I share them during the evening chat, and they stop churning. The result is a deep, close relationship with my intended -- and a sad lack of blogging.

I've also determined that I will not gush in a blog, unless it's absolutely necessary. I don't want to subject the masses to the sort of saccharine goo that I hate to read myself, and I don't want to look back on my blog with disgust five years down the road.

Well, on with the blog. Another school year is racing to its close, and it has been a good one. I've been challenged, but not overwhelmed unduly. I've learned so much, and I feel that I am a better and more complete musician. On the advice of friends, relatives, and professors, I have changed my degree program to musicology, which will be exciting. I won't stop playing -- I'm hoping to finish preparation of my current repertoire for a recital sometime in 2009. My marvelous piano teacher of this year won't have room for me in his schedule next fall, which is rather heart-breaking, but I'll manage. He has done wonderful work with me, and I think I'll be able to continue, with the support of my other half. I'll miss working with him awfully, though.

In the past year, my playing has reflected my life. I suppose that's the way it ought to be, to some extent. Unfortunately, there was a long stretch of time when I was unsure if I would ever be able to play again. It took a lot of work, certainly, and a lot of personal growth, for lack of a better word. I got back on the horse again and again, with devastating results more often than not. It wasn't until I began playing in the midst of love that I had substantial success. Of course, my fiance was part of that, but it was more than him -- it was family and friends and students and coworkers. Playing for my great-uncle's memorial was the first time this year that I felt I could really make music. And I think you would have to know my family to understand. There is a depth of loving and giving that it would be hard to rival, and it was the most natural thing in the world to give of myself at the piano in that situation. And I think that was what had been missing -- I had gone through a season of fear and terror, and I had learned to wall myself off from the music I played. The music couldn't get hurt, but I could. At the service, I was finally able to break down that wall. I'm able to be a musician again.

There's more to tell, of course -- I've just begun a new music therapy program, and I'm planning curricula for a day-camp this summer. I'm also looking at some continuing education options during the summer, and I'm hoping to drop into the world of Renaissance Faire at some point, though it will probably be brief. But for now, I think this is long enough. I'm more than content with my present, and enthusiastic about my future. How different this spring is than the last!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"The strongest and sweetest songs..."

"...yet remain to be sung." ~Walt Whitman

Why does this quote matter to me today? Because it’s on my ring. The one I’m wearing. On my left hand.

I’m engaged to be married!

I’m waiting for it to seem real... this could take some time. Meanwhile, I’m swept up in this beautiful unreality. I never imagined... or maybe I did, but it was in that "wouldn’t space travel be nice?" sort of imagination.

I’m engaged to be married!

I’m going to get married!

I’m ... speechless.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"Papa, am I odd?"

Yeah, okay, I know I’m not like "normal" people. I know I’m ... unusual. But it would be nice to be a little more predictable! I suppose my greatest predictability is my lack of predictability, but I find that I sometimes long for greater consistency in my life. Part of me knows that I would hate to live without having each day be a new and changeable adventure, but part of me would really like to try it. Just for a little while!

About a week ago, I succesfully pulled off The Great Studio Renovation of 2008! And let it be known that I am, in fact, A Beast. One of my college buddies used to call me that, because I was always toting sound equipment and whatnot. He should have seen me with this wooden cabinet that I moved into my teaching studio. I felt alternately like a puppy who wouldn’t let go of a stick that is twice its size and Laurel and Hardy waiting for a piano to fall on their heads. I’m sporting some impressive bruises, but my studio is back in business. The gaping holes in the wall are patched, the walls are a pleasant shade of blue, the books are organized, the curtains are up -- it’s a very low-stress place to teach. I needed that. And I have a lovely feeling of success, ’cause I did it myself. Come on, doesn’t everyone have a touch of that toddler independence?

Over the weekend, I read the most inspiring and helpful book on piano practicing. Really great concrete stuff. Can’t wait to use it. Ummm... except that I’ve been dead-dog tired all week, and I can barely drag myself out of bed. Even the past two days, which have been sunny and gorgeous, haven’t brought me springing from the covers. So, getting any work done at all has been a challenge. And incredible challenge. An almost insurmountable challenge!

Are other folks like this? Either all energy or none? Either flashing bright success or buried in a comfy cave? If so, I don’t see how anything gets done in this world! I hate it when I don’t want to do anything -- I feel like a worthless lump. The good thing is, I know a burst of energy is right around the corner. Maybe, now that I’m well-rested...

And, after all, the Ides of March approacheth!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Weddings, Funerals, and What Love Looks Like

I've had all sorts of inspiring blogs churning around in my head lately, with no time in which to write them. This will be kind of a combination of a lot of things that all relate somehow in my head -- forgive me if they don't relate so well on the page!

My Christmas trip home was filled with rest, friends, and family, just as it ought to be. It was extended a bit by the passing of my great-uncle, and the accompanying familial events. Some of you had the opportunity to meet my great-uncle; I wish those of you who have not could have done so. He was among the world's most loving men. I remember being very young and rather overwhelmed at large family gatherings, and how he would reach out to me, making me feel special and safe. He first began working in the ministry in the early forties, and he performed his last service in 2001. Sixty years of ministry; can you imagine? My mother, aunt, and I spent some time perusing his record book of weddings, baptisms, and funerals; what an amazing life of service he led. His passing was expected and timely, but he will be dearly missed, nonetheless. The last recital I gave was for him and my great-aunt (who became my adopted grandparents through a mistake in publicity); I was glad to be able to offer what I could at the service. My father and I played together; nothing really extraordinary, but it was a gift I knew he and my great-aunt both appreciated.

My best friend's father was re-married last weekend. This is another incredible pastor, who knows how to love with his life as well as his heart. It was difficult to see a new woman in his arms; I dearly loved his late wife, and it was not an easy thing to imagine a new life partner for him. I played for this service, as well, so I was able to sit on the side of the sanctuary, where I could see his face. The poignancy of loss was overwhelmed by his joy. His face captured the thought from a song I've been listening to lately : "What a beautiful face I have found in this place that is circling all round the sun..." In other words, "Look what I've found! Can I keep her? Really? Is she mine?" A love that pure and tangible has something irresistable about it.

Speaking of which, I'm far gone from resisting it, myself. Some of you have seen me since December; for those of you who have not, I'm absolutely swept off my feet. This has never happened to me, honestly. I've liked fellows, I've been liked, I've gone out with them, but I've never been in this impossible, indefinable, incomprehensible state before. They all say, "You'll know it when you feel it"; they all say, "Trust me, you'll find the time somehow." I don't generally put a good deal of credence in what they all say, but this time, they were right. He and I come from two impossibly different universes, and we're so different in so many ways. Some are important, some are not. It doesn't seem to matter, though. The similarities, the differences, the details, all seem so irrelevant. Maybe they should seem more important; maybe they will later. Frankly, I don't really care at this point. I am impossibly happy and complete in a way I couldn't have imagined.

What does love look like? It looks like Friar Jim on his wedding day. It looks like my aunt, treasuring a lifetime of memories without bitterness. It looks like two nutty fools driving hundreds of miles each week just to spend a few hours locked in each other's gaze. Could it be more amazing and beautiful?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Wilberforce, Luther, and "The Art of the Possible"

Perhaps it's simply part of who I am; I'm never ignited by the issues. It has always seemed that the workings of governmental principalities and powers is a life-span away from me. My mother is a newspaper reader; she knows who is running for what, where they stand on the important things, and by whom they are endorsed. She believes vehemently in some political stands, and speaks out against others with equal fervor. My sister is a public defender, with the mission of fighting for the rights and proper treatment of the proverbial "little guy." She becomes irate about the way the system treats the people under her care.

And I? I am a musician. I'm a teacher and a music therapist. I spend my days pouring everything I have into the people around me, hoping to touch their lives somehow. Am I hoping to have the next Van Cliburn in my piano studio? Or do I want to be the facilitator of an amazing recovery? Not particularly. I just do what I do, and then I see what results there are to see. Sometimes really neat, sometimes crushing, and most often miniscule bits of personal growth. I spend my time watering plants, I suppose.

I've been watching biographical movies lately: St. Paul, Martin Luther, and most recently William Wilberforce. This isn't a movie review; maybe I'll do that later. The thing that strikes me is that each of these men was fighting for something, both personally and politically. They believed so fervently in an issue that they were willing to desert everything, sacrifice anything, to see that the right (as in that which is good and just, not the opposite of left) won out. I admire these men. I would like to make a difference, just as they did. Theirs are inspiring stories, and they inspired me.

But I haven't an issue.

Sure, I see right and wrong. I care about which is which. I won't vote unless I know that I am voting for the right (see above). But these issues, some of them heartbreaking or vitally important, fail to inspire me to incredible action. Is this a personal failing? One of my excuses is that I can't stomach the vile game of politics. I'm sure there are good folk out there; I haven't sifted through the slime to identify them. Is this gutless?

Perhaps I should make the effort to add the cares of the outer world to the cares of my little one. Still, even at my most inspired, I quail from it. Is it right to hold my life separate? Or must I hold my nose and dive into the muck?