Monday, December 22, 2008

Okay, so I've been waiting a little to see if anything worth writing about came up. And it turns out that everything I was tempted to write about was the subject of one pity party or another.

So, to get it out of my system, here's a pity party in brief: it's cold here, really really cold, and St. Paul is not the best about plowing streets. It snows every other day. And it's really really cold. My job is good but getting extremely stressful. I am angry that I get stressed out about real estate appraisals. Who the fuck cares? Not I. But I do, in some little way, because that's my job. I hate traffic. It shouldn't take me 50 minutes to go 10 miles just because it is cold outside. And the last of my blows, my destiny as a crazy cat lady has been put on hold because my faithful companion Milo is stuck on the west coast due to SNOW! Snow and I used to get along, we used to be chums. Now it seems that snow is doing its damndest to irk me, and it's definitely working. And yes, I realize that ranting about a cat is a little beyond normal, but I miss him dearly.

Now, for the good...I am playing more, and mysteriously keep getting gigs, for which I am extremely grateful to the friends who keep throwing them to me. I haven't practiced in weeks, but I'm finally getting comfortable with this life again, so I'm not going to press the issue. I think I might like it here.

And finally, the best news of all. The people at my local coffee shop recognize me. They sometimes know what I'm going to order, and they know not to put a java-jacket on my to-go cup because I always bring my own. Life is in the smallest details.

Thank you for perusing. Next time: something not about me.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This is the first week that I have felt truly at home here. I think it's because it was jam-packed with rehearsals, a session, and a performance, with one more to come. Life is returning to normal--no sleep, lots of music, lots of coffee, and new friends to mark the occasion.

Tony Reedus died this week, and while I regret saying that I was not too familiar with his playing, in doing some reading about him I'm sorry that I didn't get to meet the guy. A reporter quoted him as saying, ""When people come to see you play, they want to escape, they want to feel good. Music is a celebration of life that comes from the heart." I think I could have shared many a beer tab with Tony.

I think about this concept a lot, about why we play music and why people come to hear live music. For me, it is an escape, both as a player and a listener. There's a secret place that all musicians and avid listeners have been to at least once, or at least, know exists (otherwise they would not try so hard to get there), where the world is perfect and beautiful and passionate and impenetrably safe. Every time I pick up my horn I am trying to find the path back to that place. I consider myself extremely fortunate to find that fortress quite often, and while the path doesn't get any more familiar, my trust in the fact that the path exists grows stronger every day because somehow I keep finding my way there.

I suppose it's a kind of faith. But using that word opens up a can of worms that has been opened too often by too many people. So let's use the word trust, instead. I play music because it strengthens my trust in the fact that there is unspeakable beauty and passion in this world.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My eyes are mine

So I've been thinking a lot about perspective lately. I am still amazed at how vastly it changes, and how quickly those changes can happen. A mere month ago I was still scared shitless to be out of college and in the real world, I was convinced that by working a shitty job I was going to be stuck in a shitty job for the rest of my life, and that up until now, my whole life had been a glorious hoax.

Now, I am recently out of a job, and interviewing for more, with optimistic prospects. I do not miss school on a daily basis, and I find myself actually learning things because I truly want to, not because someone else told me to do it and I may or may not have agreed. And I've finally (almost...) come around to accepting a life that is relatively stress-free as a good thing, rather than a sign that I'm not working hard enough. The other day I was walking down one of the oldest streets in St. Paul and happened to catch the tail-end of a funeral. This was sad, but the good part was that I plopped down on some steps across the street from the church just in time to catch one of the most beautiful carillon performances I have heard to date. I had no idea when I woke up that morning that I would witness such a performance that day, and I realized how amazing it is that right now, at this pivotal part of my life, I had the opportunity to truly appreciate everything about that moment.

I've been walking a lot lately. I find that it calms me, and provides me with a sort of brain-recess, where I allow my thoughts to wander completely to the most absurd and useless places. I suppose it is some sort of meditation, except instead of my goal being to clear my mind, I basically just let it run around until it is tired and finally goes down for a nap. By the time I make it back up my front steps, I feel very much at peace with what is happening for me these days.

And don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of moments where I wonder, what the hell am I doing? How am I going to meet my ultimate goal? When am I going to go to grad school, and where? What am I going to do for the rest of my life?? But I just have to trust that at some moment, the picture will focus, if only briefly. I suppose you could say that right now I'm just working to figure out how the damn camera works.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A tree alone in the forest

So, someone who I have a lot of respect for once posed the question (approximately), if a tree is in the forest and it tries really really hard, but there is no one around to notice, does it really matter how hard the tree tries?

Sometimes I say yes, sometimes no. I guess it all depends on the weather that day. But I find myself believing that even though, at the moment the tree is trying really hard, there may not be anyone there to notice, there are two things that should inspire the tree to keep trying. 1) If it doesn't try, then it has to live knowing that it didn't try. 2) There is someone around, at some point in time. Now, whether that someone is actually an entity outside of the tree, I don't know, nor do I think it is of that much importance.

Perspective is a powerful influence. If I believe that what I do matters, then it matters. If I choose to believe that what I do isn't important, then it isn't important. The hardest part is to ignore the people who tell you that your art is a fool's task. Their eyes are not my eyes, their ears are not my ears. What they believe is of no importance to me. And I cannot believe I am doing this, but it reminds me of one of the only moments in which I agreed with RJ, when he preached the conviction that "what you think of me is no concern of mine."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Art and Fear

Been reading a lot lately. I just finished Art and Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland, and I highly recommend it. I was really happy to see it avoids getting into the self-help side of things, and sticks generally to a sardonic, realistic, and mostly optimistic, view of the topic.

I also just put down Growth of the Soil, by Knut Hamsun, a Norwegian author who won a Nobel prize for this book (first published in 1917). I randomly came across it in the "Just In" section of the library, as this is a recently released new translation. This was one of those books that surprised me just as much on the shelf as it did while I was reading it, and I have this weird feeling that the book picked me (and cue cheesy music *here*). Anyway, it provided a very real and much needed glimpse-of-the-forest-through-the-trees moment for me. Definitely check it out if you're looking to move beyond your current beach-read.

Back to hunting for jobs, which, surprise surprise, is proving to be slightly more of a labyrinth these days. I just had my first pivotal moment where I realized that all of the issues we discuss on NPR and complain about over beer, or coffee, really do affect me. Drat!

One thing that is pretty cool--I've got my place settled, am feeling pretty comfortable in my routine, and now that I don't have a job (temporarily, please), I have the perfect opportunity to make coffee, stay in my pj's all day, and practice as I please. I remember thinking this summer that I should really enjoy my no-classes-not-many-hours-working-a-job-summer lifestyle, because it was the last time I was ever going to be able to live in such a manner, and I am very happy to note that I was wrong.

Now, let's see how long I have to practice overtones before the bulldog next door starts barking at me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Premier, aka, Cave-In

Okay, I used to wonder how anyone had the time to blog. But now that I've been reborn into the real world after years in school, I'm beginning to understand a few things.

The first thing I've come to understand is that academia and reality have very few things in common. Even the smallest things have drastically different meanings in everyday life. Take coffee, for example. I used to drink it because I needed to pull 20-hour shifts of quick thinking and cunning moves to get through the day. Now I drink it for one of two reasons: 1) I like it, and 2) I have nothing better to do than brew a pot of coffee and ponder life over its luscious aroma. I know what you're thinking: poor girl, what a life? Time to drink coffee? Quit bitching! And yes, I hear you there. But these last few months have been spent finally coming to this frame of mind after years of the possibly warped but nonetheless hard-to-break habits of thinking that any time spent not stressed and tweaking out over finishing a project and making chartable progress in "life" (what does that mean?) was time indeed wasted.

Long story short, I'm learning to ponder, and enjoy pondering, without that guilt that I should be "doing something". Hopefully, I can share some of the things about which I ponder.