Mount Chocula!

listening to: the pixies – trompe le monde

Today myself, Cory and Erik climbed this mountain, and it was completely fantastic!

Photos to follow.

Now, sharing of photos and ice-cream. Notice how today had nothing to do with practicing or cello or any of that stuff. I say that deserves one big “awesome.”

Unthinkable

listening to: nightingale – the black fly

I think my hair is over-conditioned. That and too much fiber in my diet are two things I never would have thought I’d be complaining about a year ago.

But yeah. I’ve been using this crazy 85% Aloe conditioner. And it’s nice. But maybe I should not condition my hair every couple days. Hmm.

Also, in case you’re wondering, my hair is still pretty damn stupid.

Today four of us are driving up to the White Mountains and are going to climb Mt. Chocorua. Terribly excited. Pictures later.

Lesson #2

BEST LESSON EVER.

Really. It was. I am so giddy at this moment in time, about people and cellos and music. And I am so auditioning at Peabody for grad school, I’ve decided. I can’t not. The things that I’ve discovered in my lessons and on my own in the past three days are too vast. Too important. It’s like…suddenly I’ve made sense of another physiological part of cello-playing that has been evading me since I started, and it’s this concept of bow-use. Just…RAAAAAH! BOW!

I mean, I still have so much to work on. This bow thing is not just going to make itself happen. But just having bumped into the knowledge of how to do it and what makes it work is…WAH.

Also, singing is getting better. I don’t know why I kept thinking I didn’t know how to phrase. I do! I love to sing! I sing everything I play, and I enjoy it. I was informed during my lesson today that the communications teacher said I sang wonderfully after my evaluation. Because I am apparently in need of some sort of ego boost. Not.

Okay. But I have specific lesson things to share. And then I am going to watch an episode of Doctor Who because I’m terrible and I’ve been up and playing since 7 this morning.

Things that are still deeply in need of fixing, or could use some good old commenting on:

1) My playing stance. I tilt to the right, still. Like I’m looking at someone in the audience who is towards stage-right. Bad bad bad. Also bad are feet. I move from the feet more than the hips, it seems. And according to Amit, sit with my feet like “Charlie Chaplan.” MAN WAS A CELLIST, BABY. Feet straight forward. Body straight forward. Looking up.

ANOTHER big concept in relation is weight in the lower back and stomach. I realize that I always play with my stomach clenched and outward, especially the higher I play. It should be the opposite. Eliminating the tension in my stomach makes playing out while higher up SO MUCH EASIER. It also loosens up basically everything from my head to my sitting-bone.

2) Bow hold. Sometimes I let my wrist cave in, but it should be suspended with fingers hanging downward, at all times.

3) Right arm use. The whole “above and below” the string. I am good at up-bows, and being “above” the string, but not so much down. I need to keep my right hand higher and suspended, and then the sound is better.

4) TUNING. My God. I need to tune notes so all overtones are ringing the other appropriate strings. And then add vibrato. Amit said my intonation with my vibrato was like a “cloud” but it should be very clear and direct. Apparently if you play with enough of this “extreme overtone” ringing stuff, your cello actually opens up and starts to crack because the sound-waves are too much for the wood.

That’s a GOOD thing.

Something about “pulling the finger back and locking the pitch” is necessary. I didn’t quite understand that concept. I might have to ask about that again, later.

5) Shifting. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I am going to teach everyone in the universe to shift this way. Shifting occurs in three parts

A) Think of the elbow having a pencil attached to it. As you leave the note you were on, the elbow leaves, drawing a circle with the pencil that starts below. Where the circle ends is where the new note begins. Professor Cologne was totally right about all of cello-playing working in circles, back in ’03 when I worked with him.
B) Finger preparation technique. You actually shift with the old finger, and move the old finger to where it would be in relation to the new finger. So if you’re shifting to an F from a B, going from first to second finger, you stay on first finger and think of going to the E.
C) New finger placement. Also known as the “cobra technique.” As the new finger approaches, it is prepared to strike, like a cobra. Damn, I wish I’d known this shifting analogy while I was still in String Pedagogy class and having to come up with 10 teaching analogies.

I am regaining some sort of cello-playing spark that I don’t think I’ve encountered for over a year now. Maybe closer to two years.

But it’s weird. It’s not like my lesson made me this happy because my playing was magnificent or because I permanently fixed anything. It was everything new I learned that I actually could UNDERSTAND immediately.

Knowledge makes me giddy.

Eureka!

Aaah! Aaah! Aaah! It’s arm weight!!! Arm weight!!! Arm weight!!!

Like, from the shoulder and elbow!! Not pressure!! Just dead weight!!! And it controls dynamic!!!! And nothing in the right arm should really be working!!!!!!

I get a cookie for getting that one on my own. I probably won’t actually get a cookie in my lesson in a half-hour. Rats.

Clearly Blogging And Not Accomplishing

listening to: nightingale – the black fly

Yesterday sucked! Wait. I mean, yesterday was awesome! Wait.

I am so weird about using names of people (like teacher’s) on my blog these days, but I will just say it: Richard Aaron came yesterday, and gave this two-hour class on his scale/practice/playing methods. And it was awesome. So much was covered and I really don’t believe how much I learned, even after having two lessons with the man last year and experiencing a lot of his technical ideas through my teacher. Just…HOO!!!

However, this created massive problems for me later on while trying to practice, because while a lot of the ideas had to do with things that I had extensively beaten my brains out in regards to in my lesson the day before, a lot of approaches were different. So when I tried to actually practice, my brain decided to play dead from “information overload,” and basically nothing was accomplished. I pretty much gave up in the middle of the second hour from hell.

Today things are better. I actually practiced scales and technical whatnot for a full hour without even playing a single fast note, or anything from the repertoire I’m playing. It’s a good feeling. My fingers are fairly pleased about this.

In less pleasant things, we had a fire-drill at 6:15am. And that in itself sucked, but what sucked more is that it took two people FIVE MINUTES to get out of our two-story HOUSE that holds about 15 people, and now we have to do another firedrill. ANOTHER ONE. DAMN PEOPLE. Next time I’m going to pound on people’s doors and pull them out of bed myself, if that’s what it takes.

I am good at residential fire-drills. Because I am the lightest sleeper EVER. And I am one of those people who puts their alarm-clocks on the other side of the room, so when something beeps or buzzes or bludgeons my ear-drums, I’m on my feet in like .5 seconds. Being jumpy comes in handy somewhere.

Also, sophomore year when I was living in Allen, the smoke-detectors went nuts on a weekly basis while they were cooking breakfast things, so we’d have one of those 6am-ish fire alarms fairly frequently.

Barf. I don’t believe I’m proud of my fire-drill skills. Is this what I’ve been reduced to after four years of college?

Anyway. I started watching Doctor Who last night. SOOOO GOOOOOOD. Asdf;lkjasf, Christopher Eccleston who was in 28 Days later AAAAND Heroes.

So what else can I say? Internet is great. As is tv-links.co.uk. My room-mate and I are apparently going to relive some early teen tv habits and watch The X-Files one of these nights.

Blah Blah Blah Cello

listening to: nightingale – the black fly

This is also the best song ever.

THERE IS TOO MUCH FIBER IN MY DIET.

There is also probably too much ice-cream in my diet.

Dang. The girl who practices below me is playing Prokofiev. Dang!

It’s easy, when you’re stuck in your own little midwestern crevice with the same old people, to become really comfortable with your own level of confidence. I think it’s good to be confident. Not arrogantly so, but just enough that you can walk into a room full of people and go “this is no problem” and play an audition. Confident enough that you know you can change something about your playing without breaking down and sobbing a lot. Confident enough that you play something and think “I sound not awful!”

But I believe it is equally as important to occasionally experience a beat-down. To be stripped of all your good points and told what’s what by somebody of authority or somebody who maybe scares you that you have some stuff to sit down and think about.

This is what I have experienced, the cello beat-down.

My ego isn’t really hurt. It’s more rubbing its head and going “right, I forgot what one of those felt like.” Unlike years ago when I first started doing the summer music stuff, I no longer feel this sense of hurt from fresh criticism. And while the parts of my body and brain that work more with the cello-playing specifically are kind of asking themselves why they’re so dumb, I feel really good. Not confident and recharged good, but “this stuff is going to be difficult and I look forward to seeing how I progress or get more confused or whatever happens!” good.

But then why am I not practicing so far this morning?

Oh right. Because we have a masterclass at 10 and even though we were all told to bring our cellos, only four assigned people are playing and I am not one of those people and I played a lot yesterday and I am lazy. And I have all afternoon. I need some time to ponder these new concepts, still. Spinning the string. Bwah!

Ramble blah blah cello.

Lesson #1

Cause of death: brain failure. Or maybe soulless-ness. I haven’t figured it out.

I had my first lesson this morning. It was simultaneously one of the most enlightening experiences of my life, and a fairly soul-deteriorating one.

I mean, but soul-deteriorating in a good way. How often is it that you let one person come in and tell you everything about your playing that could be improved? Not very often. I love Brandon quite a lot, and our specific manner of attacking repertoire and problems works for me. But it’s a different experience to have someone that open and willing to tell you everything without holding back.

It can also make you feel just a tiny bit soul-less if you’re not used to this sort of thing.

But anyway. I played Debussy, and then we got into all of the following:

– Tension in my shoulder, and how I bow my head. I should be able to sit one way, all the time when I play. As I go higher up the cello, I should let my lower back cushion, instead of be more rigid. Essentially, I should actually feel a little shorter the higher up I play.

– My arm is kind of short. My cello is kind of big. I have problems bowing at the tip because of this. I should consider raising the cello endpin a little bit, but also need to incorporate some help for bowing. Particularly moving the body to help out the bow, and not letting weird tension from getting in the way. One exercise to help this is

Bowing open strings and counting to four for each single bow going up or down. On downbow, body should shift to left for first two counts and then shift to right for last two. Bow moves outward maybe a centimeter for bowchange. For upbow, body moves slighty to right for first two counts, and then left for last two (so movements are slightly juxtaposed and delayed from bow). Next step is say “change” instead of “four.” To help the brain. Or something. Note to self: do this lots.

– There is tension everywhere. I need to remain completely static in face, shoulders, and neck when I play. ESPECIALLY face. No careening of head. No expressions. Just sheer sound production with same body stance on every string, no matter which part of bow, in every range.

– Crunching of bow. I may think my sound is okay, but in reality it is crunching. Though nobody said it quite this way to me, the way I take it to be is that I think of sound in terms of pressure on string, as opposed to speed. I need to think of playing around (above and below) the string as opposed to into it. I also can’t allow bow-changes to dominate sound. Forget bowings! Always ringing bell-quality. Never forced sound quality. It never would have occurred to me if someone hadn’t told me.

– Also, three parts of right arm. A) wrist B) forearm C) upper arm. Wrist should be natural and hanging. Forearm should be loose. Upper arm, who knows. But no tension. Feel like things are hanging from elbows. Like shoes. Seriously, tie shoes to elbows and play.

– Vibrato all the same. Change your damn vibrato. Bouncing vibrato, where hit and retract. Goes against EVERY cry of “over-articulation in left hand!” that I have heard in the last year, but I like the concept and am pretty sure that, dammit, left-hand articulation CAN be used for good and not only for evil! Also, Rostropovich technique for sound-change is: vibrato increases as bow speed and contact point changes. That shit is brilliant.

– Another exercise for constant sound production in high places:

Play easiest note to be play on cello, with bow speed and intense sound. Get comfortable there and then move to higher parts while replicating the same physical sensations and lack of tension.

– Mostly, play loud! Play near bridge! Don’t be so dainty and quiet! You’ve trained yourself into thinking that smaller sound is better, but if you’re going to try and play repertoire that soloists play, you can’t do that. For the next six weeks, you are a sound-producing nazi, except for the nazi part.

Brain hurts. Need nap. But want run. Doom.

I’m Sometimes A Whiner

listening to: fatboy slim – praise you

It’s hard not to want to nap for life after lunch.

Lunch was hilarious because there was this two-year-old girl of the singing instructor (person who teaches the communications class) sitting a table away from us, staring at us (among other people) and eating a cookie, and there are few times I point out how damn cute kids can be. Let this be one of those times.

It’s hard to want to practice. I have a lesson tomorrow. I should totally do more of that practicing thing.

I might have been complaining out of turn about stuff. But I did happen to get gypped out of being in a communications class with the 21+ kids. Even though I am definitely 21. Ah, to always be on the birthday cusp.

Regardless, I’m sure everything will be awesome, once I actually have a chance to take in communications and chamber music.

So what, if I decide to take a 15 minute nap?

Photopost

Because I can and I’ve already practiced for something like 2 hours this morning. Here is some good ‘ol Upstate NY.

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Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am

listening to: bjork – bachelorette (live with brodsky quartet)

So in case I’m not predictable enough and you didn’t kind of see it coming, the point at which I wrote the last entry was in fact my peak of extroversion for this particular “new place” situation. Everything went downhill from there.

When I said there weren’t huge cliques here, that was kind of an over-generalization. It’s worth mentioning that the 21+ year olds don’t live with the younger kids (or people, or whatever you call them), so that my frame of reference had pretty much been limited to that group of maybe 20-or-so mellow people.

I guess all I really need to say here is that we got our chamber music repertoire and group assignments today and HELLO ALIENATION. Also, FAREWELL LOW-MAINTENANCE REHEARSING OF CHAMBER MUSIC. Dammit.

I’ve been really lucky the past three years to be in a quartet of a) all boys and b) a quartet of all girls who could get nit-picky and hard-core, but for the most part were laid-back and on the same page.

It doesn’t help that some of my quiet chamber music hopes and dreams were dashed when everyone vetoed playing Ravel (our original assignment). I mean, it’s understandable since somebody had played it already. And Beethoven is all fine and dandy. Awesome, in fact. I think I lack appreciation for Beethoven quartets simply because I’m not familiar enough with them. But…Ravel was definitely on my list of “quartets I hope to play before I kick the bucket.” It’s an actual list.

But oh well.

So I lost my extroverted kick, today. I also know this because somebody told me I seemed quiet. That’s probably a bad sign. A sign that things will soon turn curmudgeonly.

When I get curmudgeonly and introverted, all I want to do is walk around with my iPod listening to things or write 800 pages per day in my blue book, and that kind of constant behavior is not conducive to upholding a social life in a new social setting, if you know what I mean. I’ve spent a lot of time being very talkative around new people, and sadly enough, that gets tiring. I feel cranky-some. I desire some solitary wandering, dammit.

Fortunately, though, I’ve actually found things that help the crankiness, such as chocolate cupcakes and our house’s amazing R.A., who actually told me I don’t seem like that weird a person (she’s from Oberlin, so keep in mind that bias).

But wandering. Wandering and calling my ma.

Told you I’d start blogging incessantly again.

A Social Comfort Or Three

listening to: deftones – shut up and drive

I’ve met a lot of very cool people here so far. You have no idea how much of a relief and a joy this is. For the past 12 months I have been very quietly convincing myself that musicians (well, not just musicians. everybody, in fact) are a self-interested bunch who only have time for their own groups and aren’t very much interested in opening up their groups and lives to new people. But I am starting to suspect that for the past twelve months, I have just been having one continuous bad people-experience.

Before reading on, please keep in mind that I am referring mostly to my experience was last summer, and definitely not specific people I went to school with last year. You guys are all cool.

Last summer at YOA, there were so many cliques and “school” groups, as in groups of four or more people who went to the same music school and basically had no need to make new friends because they were all close and super-comfortable with each others presences. And if you know me well enough, you basically know that I don’t work well with those social situations. It’s not even so much that I find them disgusting and annoying so much as it is that I simply cannot exist in them. I just can’t do it. I’m a social floater and that’s just how I always have been. I enjoy talking with a few people from various groups or no groups at all. When cliques come around, they make me so self-aware and uncomfortable that I usually stop trying altogether and become the official introvert “loner” type who is actually more lonely and isolated around all these other people because moving past the small-talk introduction phase is a very difficult thing to do when you’re the only one and everyone else is already so buddy-buddy around one another.

Those are just a few of many reasons that being the odd-one out sucks.

This teemed with a couple weird friend things in which people who I felt mattered a lot to me simply cut off contact left me feeling pretty pessimistic and self-doubtful as to my own character and ability to befriend people for…well, a while. It was kind of the thing I alluded to but never talked about here for a pretty long time.

But so far at this summer program, everyone I’ve met is friendly and open and if you say something they seem to listen instead of just looking at you. There are a good handful of other individuals besides me who are the only ones from their school, but through the wonders of the ridiculously small music world, we all know some of the same people. So it’s nice.

But to top that off, there are some ridiculously amazing players here who also seem to be ridiculously nice, and I hardly hear them talking stupid musician b.s. involving names and fingerings and editions and the crap that I have come to loathe so much in the last few years.

Don’t get me wrong, though. This is a six week camp. SIX WEEKS. And I don’t know everybody yet. Things always happen during these summer programs, with this many students. I know that after a while I am going to become curmudgeonly misanthropic. I know that soon some drama will break out among the students and people will talk. I know that some people will come to hate other people. But how the program has started, I can’t complain so far.

More than anything, it’s one of the most comforting things I’ve known in a while, that I’m not the failure of a human-being I’ve been telling myself I must be for the last year.

A Scent Or Two

listening to: fatboy slim – praise you

I’ve been noticing scents lately. I mean, I’m always noticing smells. My sister once told me that I must have a strong sense of taste/smell, and that might be why it’s taking me so long to like drinking wine (I don’t like wine). She also informed me that people with strong taste/smell make good wine connoisseurs. Fascinating.

Our room here smells like…feet. There’s no other way to put it. It’s a mildew/mold problem, for sure. Maybe I’m getting used to it or having air flowing in the room is making it better, but I am bothered by the particular odor less and less.

Some of my clothes and things still smell like my aunt and uncle’s house, which I could only describe as breezy and spicy. Like Upstate NY in the foothills of the Adirondack’s should smell.

Outdoors around the town here smells great, too. With that sweet fresh-cut sort of grass, but enhanced with water. It reminds my of my grandparent’s farm further up the road in upstate NY, but less farm-y.

I wish our room could smell more like either of those things and less like feet.

Told you I’d be blogging more.

Blogging

I am going to blog more. I’ve decided that I’m fed up with not saying anything most of the time, and that it’s also unhealthy for me not to fulfill my content-publishing needs on at least a daily, if not twice-daily basis. And so I’m going to blog more.

I hope that’s okay with everyone.

Six Weeks Is A Long Time

listening to: fatboy slim – praise you

In case you were wondering, this is the best song, ever.

Whining is finished. Nothing more to see.

I feel much much better today. After a real night of sleep and drowning the awful and evil remnants of eggplant from my system, I am functioning normally and mostly eating normally again. Not driving through pouring rain in the mountains helps.

You probably want to know exactly where I am and what it is I’m doing. Well, you may recall how I was whining about summer programs back in March. I ended up being accepted to the Heifetz Institute, a six-week summer institute in Wolfeboro, NH. And against all of my weird stigma about summer programs and desires to participate in some program that was shorter or maybe even just an orchestral festival, I decided to attend. If you look more carefully at the site, you’ll find that the program is more than just practicing and performing, as it includes a communications program as well. The performing aspect is also kind of vast. I guess I could call this PERFORMANCE OPPORTUNITY CENTRAL. If I get more creative, I could maybe add an “omni” or a “mega” somewhere in there.

Everyone I had spoken to before-hand said that the program is very strict and a lot of hard work, and considering how difficult it was for a lot of people to get in, I was thinking this would be a place for super-practicers and crazy people who also happen to be a damn sight better with their instruments than I am. And if you know me you know that I am okay not being cut-throat and top-notch and maybe a little more comfortable as a non-competitive slacker who happens to be a big music nerd on the side.

But so far I’m really surprised and pleased by how friendly all the students and staff are, and how the supportive and non-competitive attitudes are being stressed over the perfectionist attitudes. That’s the first sign that I might live through the next six weeks.

Because six weeks is a long time.

Directioness, Incessant Whining

I don’t think I can stress this enough: internet is awesome.

Would you like to hear about my day? Yes you would.

But before you hear about that, you are going to hear about this new running strategy which is sure to build anyone’s speed. First, start off for a run on Starr Hill Rd, where your aunt and uncle live. Starr Hill Rd is the tallest point before the Adirondacks themselves. If you run on the road from their house, you’ll find a little road off to the right, going ever upwards and surrounded by some forrest. Take that road. Then run to the very very end of the road, where a radio tower lurks at the top-most point of Starr Hill. About the time you have gotten halfway up the second road, you are going to want to stop and fall over. But don’t. Because if you do, you will be devoured to the two deer-flies that have been following you, un-beknowest to you until that moment in time when you contemplated stopping. So then run as fast as your tired little legs will take you, to the top. And flail your arms and yell for good measure. Then you’ll get to the top and go “hurrah! I lost them! And I ran to the top!” Following this, you will make a triumphant turn-around and begin jogging down the hill, not too fast. And then you will notice that there are FIVE deer-flies following you. And you will run all the way freaking down that hill, knowing that if even one of those creatures touches you you will end up with an itchy lump the size of a golf-ball.

It sucked. But I went fast.

I’m really tired and wonky so just humor me please.

This morning I woke up and felt not-right. Something in my gut was wrong. It remained wrong until a few hours later in the morning, after I had eaten something and started out on my journey from North of Utica to New Hampshire. I will spare you the specific details of the not feeling well because they are not fun.

So I drove and drove and it rained and I finally got off the New York thru-way and onto some two-lane highways that went RIGHT through the mountains in Vermont. And man. Scary. I am from Illinois, and I drive a manual so you do the math.

But anyway. Somewhere in the pouring rain and the mountains, I started to feel so tired and ache-y and as though I couldn’t go on or I might pass out. So I stopped at a rest area that led back to a river and tested my legs and arms to see if they still worked. And they did so I kept driving. And all was at least marginally okay until I got to Concord, and traffic went INSANE. I don’t know if it’s because the bigger roads are ridiculously designed and not taking into account how much traffic there is, or if the drivers are all IDIOTS (I suspect both are true), but it was awful and all I wanted to do at this point was roll over and die.

But somehow I manage to get to Wolfeboro, and feel okay doing it. So I registered and went to my room and walked around a bit, and all was well until the “walk around” part, at which point I started feeling bad again.

Okay, I am rambling and tired. Bottom line: I ATE EGGPLANT ON WEDNESDAY KNOWING THAT MY MOTHER IS ALLERGIC TO IT AND THAT I MIGHT ALSO BE AND I TOTALLY AM. My fault. Lesson learned: no eggplant.

So here I am, in my room. Alone. And I think I might actually not be alone if I didn’t feel so bad. Why do stupid health things have to interfere with life? It is difficult dealing with the notion that everyone around you is out having fun and being social while you are being a curmudgeon. Even if you are only being a curmudgeon because you don’t feel well.

I am done whining. I am here and things will be fine and I really hope I can make it through six weeks.

I am going to click on “publish post” without checking for mistakes. Hah.

Have Arove

Am in Wolfeboro. Have internet (good). Feel like p-poo (bad). Am considering never touching foods that I have not tried or cause somebody else in my family allergic reactions ever again (very bad and will explain later). If it weren’t for those last two, life would be awesome.

ALSO. Drove through mountains in pouring rain when have lived in Illinois for entire life and drive manual transmission (also kind of not good).

I have lived a sheltered life.

Itchy Eyes

WOOOOO! Aaaaagh.

New rule of thumb is no driving 600 miles on 5 or less hours of sleep. Ever. That was just Tuesday, though. The remaining 400 or so miles between PA and Remsen, NY weren’t so bad. Except…well…yeah.

I’m currently in Upstate, NY, blogging from the top of Starr Hill, where my aunt and uncle live. And it is so cold here. It got down to 40 last night, which is ridiculous. It’s nice though. I slept well for the first night in weeks, and it’s all due to foam mattresses. I think part of the reason I’m been sleeping so poorly is due to the mattress on my bed at home. It’s one of those posture-pedic things, and while I know those are supposed to be good and comfortable and stuff, they bother me. My old mattress used to be foam, and I miss that thing. I think about it every day. Stupid mattresses.

So yes. I am here and alive and eating well.

And I really hope my Dad made it back to the train station in Toledo, OH, where we left his car. And that the car is all in once piece. STATEMENT: I am thankful I didn’t grow up in Toledo OR South Whitley, IN.

So it’s nice up here. I’m hanging out with my aunt and uncle and cousin and eating very good things and running around in the out-of-doors and driving my manual car amongst hills. About that. I think I’m going to have a heart-attack. Seriously. It’s scary. My Dad helped me out as we got off the interstate and got into these curvy Adirondack foot-hills (don’t let the term “foot-hills” fool you into thinking they’re little dips and curves and shit. These things are HILLS!!). It turns out that 2500 rpm and above is good. As is 3rd gear. Silly flat Midwest.

I also got to see my grandfather (Opa), who just had hip replacement surgery. The man is 92 and had hip replacement surgery. What the hell. He’s doing pretty well. Swearing as much as ever. Good thing.

Also, in general I feel really good. As though I left every bad, frustrating, stupid problem not worth thinking about behind the further away from Illinois I drove.

I can’t lie that I think at this point, I’d rather stay in NY than proceed to New Hampshire. But oh well. Maybe it will be awesome! Or maybe it won’t. I know for sure though that I’ll get into cello super-geek mode, which I always enter when I go crazy with lessons. I am usually at my most obsessively happy when I get like that, so no complaints.

In other things, it smells nice up here, and the cat made my eyes itch.

Anyway. Now I’m going to run and probably be attacked to deer flies. They love me. They know the moment I cross the state line and go “she’s here!” and then chase me around while I yell like a palsied little girl: “deer fly deer fly!”

Freaking deer flies.

To run.

Moving And Shaking

listening to: db3 – flyboy

I am currently vengeful. Don’t cross my vengeful path.

But I have the most awesome shoes ever, so everything is okay.

I leave tomorrow morning. There 8 hundred things I want or need to do before then, but life is difficult.

I also kind of don’t want to go.

Being out of my element is one thing, but being out of my element surrounded by tons of new people and trying to convince these people that I am a lively, energetic, positive young person who is pleasant to be around always gets old after a while. I am far too comfortable being a curmudgeon. I’m prepared for the worst, though. Which I guess is good.

About this whole “preparing for the worst so anything better than the worst seems good…” thing? Yeah. That’s been great in a lot of ways, the whole optimistic pessimism thing. But recently I started to realize that it has turned me into one big sad pessimist about 90% of the time. Which is bad. Clearly I need to re-evaluate my philosophy.

I am also reluctant to leave Buffy. It’s more than addiction. It’s eye-candy, plot-line, B-movie comfort food. It helps if you have crushes on various male characters. My affectionate way of referring to Angel forevermore will be “chunk-head.” Also, somebody recently told me that Seth Green (who plays Oz) would be the perfect boyfriend for me. Aww. Or something. It’s nice that other people seem to contemplate my sad state of existence. I think. I don’t know.

I am really tired. I want to run before I leave tomorrow. Not going to happen.

What am I going to do if this thing sucks? Six weeks is a long time to put up with something that sucks. But I guess that off the bat, it will be less painful than last year as I will not be traveling or fighting the plague (also known as the Epstein-Barr virus).

Sigh. Summer music programs.

Stuff And Junk And Extensive Traveling Affairs

listening to: db3 – flyboy

Aheh.

I leave for the East Coast on Tuesday. It’s going to be an extensive traveling affair that looks a little bit like this: Normal –> South Whitley, IN –> Toledo, OH –> Eerie, PA –> Remsen, NY –> Wolfeboro, NH. The deal is that I’m meeting up with my Dad at the Fox Factory in South Whitley, and we will from there drive separately to Toledo (the very birthplace of my birth), where my Dad will leave his car at an Amtrak parking lot. From there we will drive as far as Eerie, stay the night, and then drive the rest of the way to some family in Upstate NY. Come Wednesday night, I will drive my Dad to the Amtrak station in Utica, where he will depart that very night (or rather Thursday morning at about 12:15am) for Toledo, and arrive by something like 9am. I will stay another day in Remsen, and then drive by myself to Wolfeboro.

I know the idea is that whoever drives with me will get to “bond” and make sure I don’t end up dead somewhere. But the thing is that…we’ve drive between Illinois and NY dozens of times, and being the obsessive navigator and map-studier that I am, I know where I’m going. I’m honestly more worried about driving from Upstate NY to New Hampshire. Flat-land raised drivers + hills + stick shift = moderately terrifying.

That and…I mean…I know I’m young and stupid and stuff…but…I’m not THAT young and stupid. I talked to my sister over the phone, who said something along the lines of “what the hell is wrong with mom and dad? I was driving cross-country in my unreliable ’88 Audi when I was your age. Come on!” My Dad actually suggested that for scheduling purposes and my mom having broken her foot, maybe I could drive by myself. But my Mom became tight-lipped and rigid and clearly not into this idea the moment it came up.

So whatever. But someday I’m going to have to drive a long distance by myself, and I worry that when that day comes, my Mom is going to have a heart-attack.

(In case you’re looking for a reference point, the furthest I’ve driven by myself is from the Northern woods of Wisconsin to here, which was something like an 8 hour drive (more like 9 hours if you factor in getting lost in Madison like I decided I should do, for the experience).

Anyway. I don’t exactly want to go. It’s going to be six weeks of practice boot-camp and me being socially incapable as per usual. But on the bright side, I won’t be acquiring less than 4 hours of sleep every night or dealing with having mono (god, that sucked). Working with teachers and having lessons and playing and getting work done will be good. As will moving around in general, and maybe just getting out of here. I’m coming to terms with my social situation and my routines here, but I still see myself easily slipping back into some depressive boredom from last and previous summers, even though I currently don’t have much to get on my nerves. I would like to avoid that if at all possible.

One thing I am officially worried about, though, is leaving behind my tv-watching tendencies. Buffy has replaced The Office temporarily in terms of level of obsession. The fact that I have all of it helps. I’m only approaching the end of season 3, but I’m not taking any with me to Heifetz. So…yeah. We’ll see if I combust in some fit of Buffy-withdrawal within 5 days or so.

Bah. Less typing. More organizing and packing. Bah.

Two Things I Am Suffering From

1. Jacket-buyer’s remorse

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I was stupid and left my light-weight jacket at my apartment in Urbana (along with my cello-case shoulder straps and my iPod connector. DAMN me), and even though I love my flimsy, poorly-fitted camel jacket, I decided it was time for a new one, anyway. I’d been eying this dirt-colored thing every time I went into the Gap, but I’m a cheap-skate. Well, today I went in, saw this jacket and the fact that it was HALF OFF THE ORIGINAL PRICE, ogled it for 10 minutes, and then bought it. And felt so very guilty about buying it because it was a) still not exactly cheap and b) was slightly heavier than ideal. And also has superfluous pockets.

But then I got home, showed my mother, who then hugged me and told me I “done good.” I fit well into my family of cheap-skates.

Still. I love this jacket. I almost don’t care that it’s 90 degrees out, and want to wear it.

2. DVD-purchaser’s remorse.

Remember that thing I ordered that I was really ashamed of ordering but am now fessing up to having ordered and am offering proof of existence of right here before your very eyes?

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So that’s where I’ve been the last day or so.

You know, I had never watched Buffy until about three weeks ago. And I certainly never thought I would even care about it, based on the hype regarding Buffy amongst the people I went to high school with and how I occasionally have a completely disregard for what I deem are fads.

So I’m just going to point my finger to one person and say: SARAH VOWELL, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT. With that chapter about Al Gore in one of your books! And his problems as a nerd in relation to Willow and Giles as nerds! DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU, LADY!

I can’t lie, though. I love it.

But In The Meantime…

listening to: cranes – beautiful friend

I figure, I need to come out of my ridiculous scifi tv-watching hole to blog.

The past week has basically been DBI3 week. And also run back and forth between Urbana and Normal 4 times week. Possibly also “frantically clean up my apartment before I leave because I really don’t want to come back in the fall to be standing in random piles of clothes on my floor week (yep).

But anyway. DBI3 week was awesome. Our final C-U show landed last Saturday night, at the Canopy Club. As opposed to every other time we’ve played Canopy, we got to play in the main room instead of the front, tiny, sad-acoustics and questionable-sound room. And it was AWESOME. We only had 30 minutes to play, which led to us cutting at least two songs out of the set, and even though I have my favorites I really have problems letting any song go. I want to play the all!

Playing in a big room with good sound was quite an experience. I could for once in my bloody freaking life hear everything in the monitors INCLUDING MYSELF and figure out how best to play on top of it (here is where I should mention the god-liness of the pick-up that’s been used recently, but I’ll save it for later). It was really a blast, and good way to go out.

Other parts of DBI3 week included hanging out with everybody and their spouses and watching Daniel and Dave eat 50 of the most insanely spicy wings in existence between the two of them, having the most delightful brunch imaginable (complete with an other-worldly omelet experience), and recording some stuff for an upcoming album in Daniel’s basement. Maybe also chocolate cake (dude. I am not a fan of butterscotch anything, but butterscotch chips in chocolate cake do in fact improve life).

The recording parts of the week were interesting. I’ve done a little bit of “studio” recording before, in high school, for a band (the members of which were also in high school. eeeyep. enough said). But because the cello does a lot more core playing in what DBI3 does than any of the stuff I’ve played before, it was a pretty intense set of hours spent in Daniel’s basement, and all we did was work out the details for two songs. The detail work is pretty tedious, and it’s so easy to end up having to play a part what seems like 20 times if your fingers are like mine and randomly have no idea what they’re doing. But seriously? It was worth feeling like I really contributed to something, in the end. I loved the nitty-gritty work of coming up with new ideas and trying stuff out on the spot. I had a lot of fun doing this kind of specific, picky work. It’s the same stuff that happens in my lessons with Brandon, with the constant observing and figuring-out-of-things. And I love that sort of thing.

I should also mention that I am basically in love with the pick-up mic we’ve been using for my cello, the AKG C411PP. I’ve only ever been mic-ed with a regular microphone pointing at my f-holes or bridge, which for the most part is fine when you aren’t dealing with massive feedback problems, which is, oh right, most of the time. Anyway, this mic comes with some sort of adhesive junk that won’t harm the varnish on your instrument (unless the varnish on your instrument sucks). I’m definitely going to keep on the look-out for one of these things, for myself.

You can read more specifics about the recording session on Daniel’s blog.

In case I haven’t mentioned it here, Daniel and Erika are moving to Colorado. While I support this completely and am always envious of people who will do things like wake up to mountains every morning, THAT’S LAME. I mean, lame for me. I really enjoyed doing this kind of musical work. Like, really. It was also great to have such awesome friends in the area. While it sounds promising that there will still be some collaboration and shows here and there in the future, I think I’m entitled to be a little bit sad.

I mean, or I could always let myself be kidnapped move to Colorado. Hmmm.

Cookie Day! Cookie Day!

Things that I frown upon:

+ planning gigs through Facebook. Seriously. Just email me.

+ my left leg continuing to give me crap

+ a moving truck blocking our driveway! All day! Why?!

Things that are awesome:

+ Today is National Peanut Butter Cookie day!!!

Odd And Tired

listening to: super furry animals – mario man

This will be an odd entry.

Before I blog anything else — anything involving fun and food-related details of the last week — I want to get some stupid thoughts out in regards my um future?

Actually, as I think of it, this will be the first in an ongoing series of odd entries.

So where was I? My future.

There has been a dangerous amount of advice handed out regarding what I might want to do with my future in music, recently. I got another one of those “why you need to go to Europe immediately!” talks from my Dad, a couple weekends ago. This time I’m really trying to hear him out. I don’t know if it’s nostalgia from last summer’s European romp getting to me or the realization that I might need something I can’t get here and Europe is damn cool and has prosciutto everywhere (as well as awesome cheese), but I am actually contemplating this possibility more openly than I was 6 months ago.

Then there’s also the regular drawl about grad school and thinking of possible grad schools to which I may want to audition and hearing other people talk endlessly about requirements and auditions themselves and teachers and…

Ha ha ha I’m not trying to hate life this soon in the process, but here I am. Hating life. The problem with the process is that even at this point, with all the talk and the names and the repertoire listing, I am bored and tired of talk, and have already decided somewhere in my mind that all this talk is only going to lead to more talk, when and if I am admitted to a graduate school, and this will all be a very soulless means to an end of recreating things that are being recreated by thousands of other musicians around the globe.

Hmm. What I think I’m trying to say here (and it’s late, so cut me some slack with the lack of sense and all) is that…I know that music is art, and the act of mastering an instrument is an art, and interpretation is an art. And I love all these things…the technicalities and the musicality. But when I think about the fact that I am training to recreate that which is being recreated by so many others and has been for a while, I feel useless. And don’t take this to be me saying that the classics and the masterpieces aren’t great and that I don’t enjoy listening to them or playing them.

Part of the problem is that I want to make a difference. I want to change something. I want to improve something. This is certainly the idealist in me, unable to put a sock in it. And it’s true that this sort of crazy talk has gotten me in trouble a few times before, but dammit, I’m an idealist! I can’t just ignore that stupid voice in my brain telling me to idealize away.

So maybe I’ve realized that what it is I want to do is create. Not just to recreate. I know I can do that stuff, easy. I’ve always been good at reproducing what my ear hears and imitating in general, not only musically. But I worry because while recreating used to be really entertaining and satisfying, I suspect I might be caring a little less recnetly. Maybe it’s too easy for me now. Maybe I’m too comfortable reproducing content and not exactly bored, but actually, yes, a little bored.

When I say “create content,” I don’t even mean just sounds. Bah, I’m not sure what I mean. I’ll get back to that one later.

So yes. Perhaps I’m just thinking too much and trying to complicate my life because complications are fun. Or maybe I need to look further than just doing a masters in performance and then auditioning around for the rest of my life. I’m not sure, though. Maybe I am also missing some cool influential figures in my life while school is out, and have nobody to hero-worship.

Or perhaps I’m just deliriously tired. Yeah. Let’s go with that one.

This will be a fun entry to review in the morning when I can think straight. Hah. “When,” she says.