listening to: the octopus project – the adjustor
The past year has been…uh…it’s been something, alright. And since it is almost the new year, I think a long, reminiscent and self-analyzing post that nobody but myself will read is in order. Here you go.
I got a new cello. 3 weeks old exactly when it was shipped to us, so I was probably the first one to seriously try it. And then I came to realize that I had somehow stumbled onto the finest piece of lumber to exist for under $50,000, ever, and felt very lucky to have found this instrument. I let go of the old one without even batting an eye. We’d been together for eleven years. Wasn’t that enough? Sometimes I do stop and think “aaw. I played so much crap with that cello. I went to Mexico with that cello. I played my college auditions with that…cello…and…wait, all my college auditions were JOKES! Nevermind. BYE, cello. Have a nice life in the Southwest. Hope they fix your bridge. BYEEE.”
I somehow managed to end up as principal cello. That still makes me go “what the hell” when I think about it. But it was good, and it signals how much I have improved as a player in the last year. Looking back, I realize that before this last year or so, I really had no idea what I was doing in terms of playing the cello or leading a section. Because…it’s different than it was in high school. When you have to make decisions for so many people, and when some of those people may be older than you or want you to be struck by lightning because not only would that get rid of you but be kind of exciting to watch. But I think I overcame that, by having some amazingly supportive teachers and colleagues (and tuba studios more than willing to beat people up). But also by getting over some of my serious social anxiety and just…getting in there and doing it. I feel like a reasonably (stress on the word “reasonably”) competent leader and decision-maker at this point, whereas earlier in the year I just wanted to hide from everyone. There are some parts of leading that will always be difficult. Being in a room with 10 others, basically telling them how to play and not feeling like I am completely full of crap, for instance, will always be difficult if not impossible. Jeezy Creezy.
Something else vaguely mentioned between the lines of the above, I learned how to identify the difference between an awkward social situation and a completely unacceptable one. That was tough for me. Especially because I have this tendancy to be terminally self-depricating and assume that everything bad happening is my fault. So when at some point I realized that I was not only feeling uncomfortable, but persecuted and harassed, the ONLY thing to do was stand up for myself and make something happen. And when I did that, part of me went “WHOA! You’re not all doubting yourself and stuff!!”
I stopped caring. About a lot that I took too seriously before. About people. About what people think about me. And whether or not my existence matters to other people. This somehow improved my own self image. Which somehow made it easier for me to co-exist with other people, and work with them in classes, and rehearse with them, etc. I think some of this new-found peace with myself might be from…I don’t know. Over-looking the things about other people that bother me. It’s true that I’m still pretty damn anti-social, but not to the point where it makes me uncomfortable in daily interactions with people at school. I also made friends with a lot of people. People who I genuinely really like. And I think that’s a cool thing.
I learned how to survive on something like four hours of sleep within 3 days. I discovered that, after having flown from Germany to Illinois, this is actually possible if it occurs before jet-lag has a chance to register. However, the after-effects of no-sleep-following-travel include tendancies of narcolepsy, inability to comprehend weird and unexpected situations, and a general over-eating of comfort food.
Speaking of jet-lag, I also traveled a little. To Northern Wisconsin and back, with a little bit of “getting lost in Madison” on the side. To Iowa City for a few days. To Germany. And to Upstate, NY.
In conclusion, I’m a better musician. I’ve grown something of a back-bone. I got over myself. I’m a little more sociable and non-caring than I have been. I don’t sleep like a normal person anymore. I traveled. Final words on 2005: Crazy but very good.
And now I feel boring. But I’m totally okay with that, especially because I just used one of my Christmas gift-certificates to pick up the MST3k Collection Volume 5 for effing 65% off at Amazon. Already next year is looking good.