Monday, November 16, 2009

Modernist Crap

Did I ever tell you what a fake I am? I have it in my mind that musicians are supposed to be open minded about all kinds of music, are supposed to be free-lovers of all creative uses of sound. I'm not. I openly dislike all modern music. Nope, I don't mean popular recorded mainstream music. I mean most all instumental music composed about 1900 onward. I just don't like it. I'd rather have my temperature taken witha rectal thermometer than listen to endless modern sonatas.

I'd like to enduldge my own ego here and hope that I'm with the majority of people: we just can't follow it. It seems to go everywhere and nowhere. It's like a beatnik poet on open-mic night at a coffee bar: over-indulgent and unrestrained, art for art's own sake. Me? I think that wherever there is art of value, it must always show restraint. The art I most deeply respect, the kind that makes me fall on my face with amazement is the type that leaves little "breadcrumbs" of brilliance as if to say, "Oh yes, Aaron. I am very capable of doing all of it." Yet, in the face of their own immense ability, they surrender it all to the piece; they temper themselves in order to sharpen their communication as an artist.

I'm selling the modernists short, I'm sure. They must somehow be as thrifty in their craft as the rest of us. I just don't get it.

Someone asked me on Wednesday if I planned on attaching myself to a symphony upon completing music school. The thought stopped me in my tracks. Yes, that was always the plan - occupy the principle harpist position with a major symphony/ orchestra/ philharmonic and teach at a neighboring university. Now, it didn't make much sense. It didn't sound fun. You know how many times a symphony plays the classics? Those recognizable melodies that sometimes are made into ringtones?

So as I sit here during the intermission of one of the Utah Symphony Nova Chamber Series concerts, I wonder. Louise, my instructor, is playing today. She loves these modern pieces for their nuance and color. Does that interest come later? Do I get bored with those classics eventually? Or do I resent the fact that I cannot choose the repertoire and plug away at the music as sometimes people plug away at the boring parts of their jobs?

Nope. I have to have Baroque? Why?! Why, why, why?! Why did I have to be a harpist who loves Baroque?! There's like 2% of our repertoire that is Baroque! Plenty has been transcribed, but only a sliver is originally Baroque. And as a principle harpist, I'm not going to be playing any of the transcriptions because the snobby museum-culture that makes up the season ticket-holders just won't allow it. They'll know that only Handel had bollucks enough to write a concerto for the harp, and even then, half of the time the concerto performances harp part was given to the organ. The harp wasn't that important in Baroque music.

But there's a glimmer of hope: The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Field. I heard them perform at the Church of St. Martin-in-the-Field in London. I have their CDs. They play Baroque on period instruments. And, they have a harpist. That's my in. Even Baroque composers that I just don't care for, I like to listen to. I could take whatever repertoire they throw at me and love it. No metaphorical rectal thermometers. Brilliant!

So, where does this leave me now? I've created such a narrow window to happiness. I have to work, work, work. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but Jack, in this instance, has a chronic illness to deal with and a big doggie to provide for. All work and no play puts food on Jack's table and pays for his monthly subscription to NetFlicks. That's not a bad life for Jack.

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

So I'm quite obsessed with what one can do with a mobile these days. For kripes sake, I can blog, listen to Bach, send/receive texts and phone calls all at the same time on one little palm-sized nugget. For someone who hasn't had the Internet at home, this is complete liberation. I smile at the very thought.

It just streamlines life. Let's say I want to practice on campus. Those lovely school harps, sadly, are never in tune. But who wants to carry a tuner around with them on the off chance that they have a free hour to practice? No worries, I have a chromatic tuner on my phone. Need a metronome?I have that on my phone, too.

I gage my musical progress by time. With learning instruments, there are no shortcuts. Either I put in the time, or I don't. And no matter how brilliant I might momentarily sound, it's not going to be as good as if I spent a full amount of practice time on myself. Time is the bottom line. Well folks, there's an app for that too. All I have to do is press one button and my practice time is recorded by exercise, by piece, by instrument, etc. It graphs my totals separately and together, and it also graphs my progress in speed. Marvelous! I have a visual confirmation to satisfy the need for constant progress. The stats seem to say, "You know what? Be fulfilled because you spent a serious chunk of time on your craft today. You did well."

And what about this? I can snap a photo of Imogen Heap in concert and tell you all what a great experience it was, all on one device. If it's not classical, I'm just not a concert-goer. I've been to The Fray and to Imogen. That's it. Everything else, I'm afraid, most people wouldn't call them concerts because it's the stuff that most people find boring. To me, they're morphine drips, straight to the heart. And Imogen, though not classical, is great talent, folks. She mixes and creates a one-of-a-kind show right on stage. She knows her instruments and her technology, and she marvelously creates something completely different. In a different life, I'm filthy rich, and I take all of you with me.

I hope all of this mobile talk doesn't sound like gloating. Oh no, I'm just dancing in all my luck. The 'blogged on the run' label down at the bottom? That's just something that makes me feel like some of these posts are novel. My favorite 'London Blog' posts are the ones I actually posted while in London. There's something fun about reading words written while in an irregular setting. So, "blogged on the run?" I could be in a doctor's office, waiting for my name to be called. I could be on a park bench in the middle of campus. Anywhere there's mobile reception, I could be. Try it, folks. If you have a laptop, move yourself to a Starbucks or Borders Cafe and blog. You'll come alive with the new atmosphere.

But the clincher, the best payoff for having this phone, for me is photos like this:

It makes my day when my dad and little sister treat me to instant doggie photos. Lovely!

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finished Tattoo

So, I forget about my blog these days. I have rhythms, I find, of being so thoroughly excited about my own life that I can just blog away. And there are other times when I feel like being semiprivate or blogging just becomes an irritating chore.

It didn't help my blog that we had the Internet taken away from us at work. Our performance was just too sad to merit priviledge. So, I didn't write or check blogs that often. Crystal dear, yours is always the exception; your readership is partly due to those amazingly cute little twits you're raising.

Now, I can read all of your blogs on my phone. God bless the 21st century!

My mom got to come for a visit this past week - the positive end of a trade-off from losing my Grandpa. The dear man - he passed away at 87 from renal failure. It wasn't totally unexpected, and it wasn't completely sudden. It was simply his time to move on. He provided his family the wonderful opportunity to gather together and share company without hard feelings.

And on Friday, I got my birthday gift. I don't turn 27 until later in the month, but my tattoo artist had an opening, and I had to take it. After a year of waiting, my family paid to have my tattoo finished. The guy did such an amazing job. See for yourself:

It's the absolute spitting image of my little boy. Marvelous!

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The State of the Onion

So, I had a this blog post. It was about starting lessons with the principal harpist of the Utah Symphony. I never followed up on it. I had my third lesson with her this afternoon. Let me tell
you how it's been.

I've been completely intimidated. A teacher is a deal-breaker; when you're looking at getting into a conservatory, you must have a teacher recommendation. If you don't, you will never be invited to audition. Looking like an idiot in front of your teacher will stop you dead in your plans in addition to bruising your ego. There's more at stake here.

In the very first lesson, we started changing everything about my technique. All my instruction so far has been in the Salzedo method. It seems to be the preferred method here in the US. But outside the US, people just don't use it that much. In the UK, people learn more of the Russian and French methods. So, that's how Louise plays, and she thought, just by looking at how I play that I might benefit from it.

Why am I telling you all this? It's changed everything. I was skidding on an oil slick (or so it felt like), and now everything has slowed way, way down while I rework all of the essentials. I can't just jump right into music like I thought I'd be able to, but these new approaches--I have absolutely no doubt--are going to make me a more efficient player. Yes!

What's my main concern? I just don't want to frusterate or bore the snot out of my new instructor. Tuesdays are days of fear; I never feel like I've practiced enough, and then I'm so sure she's going to drop me as quickly as she agreed to take me as a student.

But--good sign--she did give me pears from her tree in the backyard after this last lesson. Does that make us friends? And then, we started talking about "practice ruts." She said, "I know. I was practicing this piece we're doing with the symphony, and it felt like I was getting stuck. And I thought to myself, 'What would I tell Aaron to do at this point?'" Lovely! It made my day. It wasn't fake. It wasn't patronizing. It just made me really feel like her student, relationship solidified.

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Good Cop / Bad Cop

It seems to me that General Conference just ends up being one big game of "good cop/ bad cop"; one speaker makes you feel so marvelously encouraged about life, and you can bet that the very next one will give you a horrible tongue lashing. It's a dynamic that, quite frankly, makes me tired, and I end up falling asleep. I bet I only caught half of the talks. Leave your comments if you think that I missed anything particularly important.

I tend not to be as excited about Conference as most. I know that it's a thrilling time for everyone in my church--to hear worldwide leaders of our church speak to all twelve-some-odd-million at the same time. But for me, it's a reminder of my list of "nots." I already know what I should be working on. I know my own weaknesses very well. It never is a glorious help to hear about them again. It's like someone is standing over me, shaking their finger, saying, "Bad dog, bad dog, bad dog!!"

So, I look for lovely distractions during the tongue lashings (like blogging about Conference) while I wait for the "good cop's" turn to speak.

I think I'd be able to like this better if I were on my couch, wrapped completely up in a comforter, with a bowl of Blue Bell Rocky Road icecream.

--Blogged on the run using my mobile.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Immense Good Luck!

High as a friggen' kite, my friends! I am stoned on my good fortune. You know why? This lady returned my call while I was on my lunch break:

That's Lady Louise Vickerman, Principal Harpist for the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera. We had a lovely little chat this afternoon, and she agreed to take me on as a private student! Wild!

Not only is it amazing to get the chance to study with someone of such prestige, but she's Scottish; she's done all of the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music exams that I am getting ready to finish in March. From her experience, I'll have a marvelous chance of finishing with distinction (that's an actual grade, by the way).

I was so worked up before she called me back, and I was so sure that she just wouldn't take me. So it just makes the marvelous blessing of being taken on as a student that much sweeter! Everybody have a drink on me to celebrate! (But I will need receipts submitted if you expect to be reimbursed). And let's make all the drinks virgin; I don't want any pasted SOB's on my account.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jamba Coupon

I offered, and no one took me up on it. It's buy one, get one free for kripes sakes. So rather than trying to email it to anyone that wants it, I decided to post it on my blog. Just print it out and take it in. I've done it four times now, so I know it works (just not at the one in the WILK). I'll delete this post after it expires.

Not in the mood

I'm really not in the mood to blog--ever. I used to be so good about writing, back when my life was interesting. Now when I go to work (which is the only place I have the internet), I just surf. A bleeding waste of time. I'm even betting that this post will remain unfinished, saved as a draft until I eventually delete it because I just completely lost interest. It's happened many a time before.

But I feel disappointed. I must write something on my blog to get people to visit. Otherwise, they won't get to see and enjoy my beautiful new layout that I spent so much time and energy on. I'm quite proud of it.

Water. They tell you to drink plenty of water in order to be healthy, but they don't tell you that you'll spend more time in the bathroom eliminating all of the liquids you don't need that you will spend actually living your life. If you get all of the water that your body needs, you will need a catheter in order to still lead a productive life.

I don't really like wearing bracelets, anklets, necklaces, bandannas, etc. The less crap I have hanging on my appendages, the better. However, my littlest sister, Robin, made me a simple little bracelet from hemp, and I love it. It's a precious part of my daily ensemble. And everyday, I wear Pitsol's puppy collar around my ankle. I will always make exceptions for lovely people and precious dogs.

Dreamweaver. I took a class in Adobe Dreamweaver so that I could build websites from scratch. I hate having to depend on these ruddy "website builders" that allow you to do only basic functions, never giving you the opportunity to make your website unique. Well, one of my supervisors at work heared that I knew a bit about Dreamweaver and solicited my help on rebuilding one of our operator resource pages. I knew everything. I was so pleased. I know this means nothing to most, but it made me happy--just like being a kindergardener, taking the milk money to the cafeteria and bringing all the milk back myself.

Music is hard, especially when you are trying to maintain a second instrument. I play the harp beautifully--not perfectly, but beautifully. I have progressed at an accellerated pace, and now I have a solid footing. I used to play the cello before I played the harp, and now (after three years) I've been practicing the cello regularly. Taking up a second instrument requires a hefty step-stool. Otherwise, there's no way to get off your high horse. By being very accomplished in one instrument, you are under the illusion that it will be very easy to pick up a second. Not so. You do have a handle on the rudiments of music, yes. But you still must teach your muscles to work in another way. It's a bit humbling, so it must be good for me.

I have this little disease. It think that the techical term is avarus sapius, but in laymans terms, it's called greed. You see, it doesn't really matter how much I have, I always seem to want more. My family has this example: we would always say "If we only had a bigger house, there wouldn't be such a mess everywhere. We'd have a place for everything." At the time, we were living eight people to a 1,2oo sq. ft. house. But the Roundys (a family in our church) had a huge house, and it was always a mess. It just goes to show you, more doesn't mean better. You'll still have the same ruddy problems as when you had less. The solution? Buddhism teaches that one must modify their wanting. My intent is to apply that that principle by finding fulfillment in doing, not having. And so far, I'm losing. Any ideas?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A time to blog...

So, do we like my new layout? I do. I'm so turned on (creatively--let's not have dirty minds here) by my new layout that I thought I'd actually write something. After all, blogs are not for looking at but for reading. Let's see how I do after three months of not having written anything.

I found that I only ever write what's on my mind if I'm interested in what's on my mind. No self-obsession = infrequent posts. When life is just life, I write nothing. That sort of builds this expectation that life has to be like a movie. How often do you see someone sit down on the toilet with their crossword in a movie? Never. Not because it's inappropriate but because it's boring. Everyone wants shooting and love-making--nothing in between.

So, the time since my last post has seemed like three months worth of "toilet-sitting," except for these highlights:

I got to go home for a day or two. My little boy is just as slobbery as ever. And the other doggy is warming up to me as well. Toward the end of my stay, all I was good for was a vigorous scratch. I would come outside, the pooches would come to the door to greet me, and then they would turn over on their backs and paw at the air until I started scratching.

He has such a big, flat tongue that when he goes to lick you, you get slapped in the face. He's the most awkward and precious dog.

I try to play dead, but he never believes me. He can't smell rigor mortis, so he just sniffs and licks my face until I get up and scratch him.

I'm tired of writing already. More later, I guess

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Become a "fan" of Salvation!

Does it make me a bad person not to become a fan of all of the LDS apostles on Facebook? What is that in the service of anyway? I thought that we were supposed to become a fan of something if we were truly interested in it. That way, we can get excited when we find out that other people have our same unique interests.

I'm going straight to hell for that last paragraph. I'm certain that there are people who truly mean to be "fans" of these people and things. But to me, it just seems like a horrible Mormon bandwagon to jump on. On your home page, you see that someone became a fan of some church leader, and you don't really feel comfortable passing that statement by until you become a fan as well. You'll feel horrible unless you do.

I protest. As much as the world of Facebook is a joke anyway, I absolutely refuse to be psychologically coerced into becoming fans of "Mr. Whatsis" or "Something-or-other" bogus cause on Facebook. If there is anywhere I can maintain complete autonomy, let me do it in the world of virtual reality.

Do I honestly need a tag on my Facebook page for my spirituality to be understood?

Oh, and if you do perhaps think I'm a bad person for such musings, just make sure you collect all fifteen on Facebook so that you can have a complete set.

Monday, March 2, 2009

No Fear

Fear is a horrible motivator. We use fear to make things happen--to get our way. Parents count down the seconds until their child gets hammered on the butt for disobedience. Companies send out collection notices--"pay us, or else we'll screw up your life." A housing complex I once lived at posted a sign in their office: "The apartment that you looked and will go home and think about tomorrow will be signed and paid for by someone else today." So make a snap decision. Don't think or pray about it. Sign a year of your life away NOW because because you don't want to miss out on an opportunity. Be afraid so that we can collect rent for another unit.

Kill yourself to make good grades, because if you don't, you won't get into college. What about when you're in college? You better make good grades or else you won't get: a great internship, a scholarship, a good job. Run yourself into the ground for those grades or you'll end up selling insurance. You won't feel fulfilled, and no one will respect you.

What about finding a relationship? Cheers to the people who exercise in order to improve and maintain their health. Working out can be a wonderful, fulfilling activity. But, the masses? Our dating culture is about fear. You better be in shape or no one will love you. Or, to speak frankly, get ripped or you won't get laid. Women starve themselves, obsess about their bodies, go through numerous plastic surgeries that never end because they fear. "I'm afraid of being alone because I don't look perfect, so I'm going to change myself."

Fear is a horrible motivator.

A friend of mine always would remind me that we should all be running toward toward something, rather than always running away. We run away from the consequences of poor academic performance (no job, no scholarship, etc.). We operate on fear. What happens when we run toward the positive alternative? We fly.

If I want to learn everything there is about bookbinding or music (for example), I start living life. I read everything. I practice always. I take every opportunity to learn from those who are experienced in my craft. I do this because I really want to, not because I don't want a bad grade on a quiz.

I'm tired of being afraid.

Yesterday, I pulled out a DVD to watch after church--just to have something on while I was cleaning my room. V for Vendetta. I really don't know why I bought it. I think it was one of those previously viewed copies on the tables at Blockbuster. The deal was 4 for $25; I had three in my hand, and I needed a fourth.

In spite of all the blood, I had one of the most spiritual experiences watching that film. Everyone was afraid, so the corrupt government stepped in and controlled every aspect of their lives. No one dared to step out of line.

This character named "V" puts this girl through absolute hell. He simulates a torturous imprisonment. She has no idea it's not real, and she's ready to die rather than be made to fear. She's reborn.

I'd love for someone to put me through that same kind of crap just so that I'm not afraid. Instead, I have to do it for myself. If I'm afraid of failing, I just fail. Hit my head against that wall so that I can see what it is I'm afraid of.

In the end I want this:

...a definite turning point where the old life is washed away, and the new life is free from fear and full of choice.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What next?

We've hit my limit. Every semester, I seem to have a point at which I burn out and loose interest. I hit that mark two weeks ago. Yikes! That's only a month and a half of peak performance before I start making excuses to my professors and worrying about what a financially crap life I'm going to lead.

It's just school. It's jolly boring most times, especially in religion classes. I feel like I'm being spoon-fed a testimony, and I resent it. It's just a sappy, grown-up version of seminary. I got a 57% on my last exam, and I quit going.

I worry. I worry that I'm not worried. It makes me sick that I can't just force myself to want to do homework or want to go to class. Perhaps I'll just clean houses.

I stole some books out of the closet at work today. People just leave such beautiful books in the closet and forget about them. I stole an old copy of Oliver Twist and a really nice side-by-side translation of The Qur'an. Christopher West (if you read this post), I have a feeling that these books are yours. If they are, just tell me and I'll give them back. I can never feel good about stealing books.

The only class I feel really engaged in is my bookbinding class. It's lovely. I took it once already, about three years ago. This time, I got to write my own syllabus. Instead of doing the normal, simple, prescribed styles of binding, I get to do all leather. Leather work is hard. There are special skills involved. Since you turn the ends of the leather to the inside of the book, you have to taper it down to reduce bulk. New tools, new skills, etc. I research it all on my own, and I love it. It's proactive learning. No one is telling me what to read or study; I get to choose it all. This is the kind of learning that I absolutely thrive on. It's a ruddy shame that all of my education cannot be like this. I'd do so well.

So I need that change that I was looking forward to at the beginning of the semester. I need this back:

He's such a lovely boy. Anytime I'm around, he just can't stay away. He butts into my personal space. He has no regard for anything but to be loved. Here's a year out of eight that I've wasted. I don't want to have to miss him for the other seven years of his life.

What a horrible post. Instead of only writing stuff that I can be proud and feel good about, I'm writing whatever. Holding off until I can come up with something tasty has resulted in creating posts every month or so. I guess you just write until something good comes out. It takes practice like anything else.

Everyone should just go to sleep today and forget about everything.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's all my fault

I need to update my blog...

I really enjoy looking at other people's blogs and keeping current with what is going on in my people's lives (yes, my choice of words is awkward, but I just couldn't bring myself to type "peeps"). It's such an easy way to stay in touch. But it gets ridiculous to try and type everything that's going on in your life. There just doesn't seem to be time or motivation on most days. And then you get into those moods where there isn't anything you can say that doesn't make you out to be a total freak.

But it just doesn't seem right. You get to read up on all of your people, but they don't really know anything about you and your life. As I told Clay, it's as rude as those people who show up without a gift at your birthday party; you just can't show up, eat the food, and leave without bringing the host a present.

Don't get too excited, though. It don't have anything to say. This is just an acknowledgment of fault.

More later...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy Nude Year

I feel so nice. Everything looks beautiful. I feel quite affectionate to people I don't normally like. I am on Lortab. Lets do a post.

When I'm on Lortab, I want to write thank-you letters. I recall the most insignificant things that people have done, and I honestly think, "My life would never be the same without them. I want to write them a thank-you letter." What a joke.

I am grateful. I'm a grateful person. But writing thank-you's for things that don't matter? I just have to laugh at myself. I want to run up and give people hugs. I want to take in a stray cat. I want to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to feel the towels. I want to read Chicken Soup for the Fat Sap's Soul and cry over the fuzzy stories. I want to write a letter to our senators and tell them that there needs to be more art programs in our schools. Then I want to stand outside Burgers Supreme and smell the char-broil smoke being piped out into the surrounding neighborhood.

I don't take Lortab that often. I just take it when I need it. If I take it too often, not only will I become addicted, but my body will acclimate, and I'll need higher and higher doses in order for it to be affective. It may seem like I'm a pill head, but I'm not. It's too easy to reach for a bottle of meds when things are rough. They only mask the problem. I try to find Zen when the FMS pain becomes unbearable. And when I can't find it on my own, I let Lortab take me there.

All the same, I might name my child Lortab--if I ever decided to have one.

It's only fitting to talk about the New Year on the first day of the new year. I've thought about giving some advice to myself. I don't want to call them New Year's resolutions; let's avoid cliches at all costs. Why advice, you ask? Well, since I didn't have my lips all over someone at the stroke of midnight, I have to get my kicks somewhere.

No. 1 - Don't try to lose weight. Instead, try to lose your appetite. Run head-long into a post about every three days to give yourself a nausea-inducing concussion. You won't really want to eat, and your problem will be solved.

No. 2 - Be more vulnerable. The more one tries to protect themselves from potential threats, the less one is able to feel. Pretty soon you find that you're just a walking corpse. Christ was vulnerable, and he was able to love and feel more than anybody. Just relax, be brave, and be with the people you want.

No. 3 - Volunteer. Your beautiful little boy may be in Texas, but you can still care for little doggies. Lots of animal shelters would appreciate the time, not to mention what being with the little guys would do to your spirit. Start small, and make it a habit.

No. 4 - Change your wardrobe. There is absolutely no reason why you should spend more than fifty-cents a shirt and two dollars per pair of jeans. Then, as you walk around town, people will assume you are a transient and give you hand-outs. You'll save money and make money. Genius.

On that same note, be concerned about money--don't make it your life's worry. If you have to declare bankruptcy, move out of your apartment, sell all your things, live on the street, then get killed in a gang fight, it's okay. You will have had a life, and you will have learned some pretty important lessons. Learning, not gaining, is the most important part of life. Keep that in your mind this year.

No. 5 - Turn off your iPod. Turn off the television. Cancel a few activities here and there. You need time to meditate each day. Now some people can make do without thinking and reviewing what is going on in their life. You cannot. Give just a few moments to sit and reflect. Little Daisy Brown came into work the other day, and she was so content just to touch (not have) the paper snowflakes hanging from the ceiling. Just ponder life, and the more simple pleasures in life will come. Ponder, and you will have fullness.

Have a happy 2009--with whatever you decide to do with it.