Not a whole lot to write for this post, but I’m putting this up as a document to refer to as I improve my staccato at various speeds. I mean, this was fun (and sorta funny), but I’ll keep working on technique in addition to musicality.
When we were dating, Reilly brought me to his family’s house for Sunday dinner. We’ve maintained this tradition every week, when we’re not sick or away traveling. It’s a nice time, and I can relax a little before returning to work Monday.
Early on during the pandemic, we erred on the side of caution. We spent at least a month away not going to Sunday dinner. We discussed it with the folks living in that house, and after some time we decided it would be safe enough to eat together as long as we wore masks.
And then in the fall a coworker of Reilly’s dad contracted COVID, and that coworker casually mentioned that he had an appointment for a COVID test, because he was experiencing symptoms. And that coworker didn’t take wearing masks seriously.
So Reilly’s dad caught COVID. And nearly everyone who lived in that house also caught it, including his sister and youngest brother.
So we spent another month not going to Sunday dinner.
Not complaining. Just stating the way things were.
We’ve been careful over the past year. When vaccines became available in December and January, Reilly became one of the first to get one. And everyone in his family eventually got one. Even the ones who caught COVID, since it still hasn’t been established how long that type of immunity lasts.
Everyone who would attend Sunday dinner became immune.
We went to dinner last night, and we didn’t wear our masks.
It was weird, especially after spending the past year with our public safety habit. We would have our masks off while we ate, but as soon as we finished, we’d put our masks back on. We didn’t have to do that last night.
It was nice.
Now if more people in this state would get vaccinated or otherwise practice mask safety.
We shall see.
This week marks five years at my current job.
Or at least when I was officially hired.
This time–in this specific context of work–feels it has passed quickly.
I’ve learned a lot.
There’s so much room to learn even more.
My coworkers and colleagues are wonderful.
I’m grateful to be working there.
This is my mom and I, sometime in 1976. My resting face has not changed all these years.
I love my mom. I love being a mom. Every Mother’s Day I think about people who didn’t have wonderful mothers or had a particularly difficult childhood, or struggle with becoming a mom or are striving to be a good mom. Or mourn or grieve in any way because of Mother’s Day. And it’s weird because I don’t know how to think of these people without them thinking that I think I’m superior to them. Or that they want pity. Or that I’m gloating. I don’t want to be condescending. I hate comparing, and I hate being compared to.
But I do think it’s important to acknowledge people’s individual weariness. Because I want them to know they’re not alone. Maybe that’s also being condescending. I hope to get this right someday. I’ve found value in listening. That’s probably the best I can do.
I am grateful, though. And I want to acknowledge the amazing women in my life and how they’ve empowered me. My mom is wonderful. Generous, kind. Good teacher. I’m grateful to have known and grown to love my mother-in-law. She showed gentleness, strength, and grace through her last moments on this earth.
I’m grateful for friends who’ve shared wisdom and courage in and beyond their own circumstances.
I’m grateful for my daughter’s continuous patience and endless forgiveness.
I don’t ever want to take any of you for granted.
Um, I got about three hours’ sleep last night.
Earlier this month or late last month I read somewhere that May, among other issue awarenesses, is also Mental Health Awareness month. According to Wikipedia, this month has been dedicated to spreading awareness since 1949. I definitely wasn’t aware of this. Does that reflect on the effectiveness of the campaign or my negligence? or both? Well, I’m trying to do something about it now. Know better, do better. Right?
Speaking of mental health, I’ve been reading a recently published biography, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath. I’m about a third of the way through and the author discusses Plath’s depression in detail throughout the narrative: history, behavior, effect on her work.
I have many friends and some family members who are very open about their mental health. They will discuss their anxiety, depression, ideations, therapy sessions. I’ve come not to expect immediate responses to my texts or calls or emails. In fact, I’ll receive a text and feel a twinge of anxiety and wait until I can handle writing a proper reply. I’ll fight the urge to stay in bed. I’ll set a reminder to turn on my therapy lamp for a few minutes a day, especially in winter months. Still, this is nothing compared to what my friends and family experience.
These loved ones wrestle with themselves constantly. They’re brilliant, creative, deeeeeeply empathic. They care about the world so much.
Along with all the other things to think about this month, remember various communities that we should be supporting also have members whose mental health deserve our concern and attention. If you know them, check in on them. If you don’t know them, don’t be that weird person that interjects and invades and magnifies awkwardness and discomfort. You know how to be resourceful.
I just booked a short camping trip in June. Close by. Yearly tradition, though we usually camp around July 4. And we didn’t do it last year because: pandemic. Very excited to be spending some time outdoors. With limited cell phone service. Woo-hoo!
Whenever I’m not thinking about the sheer crappiness of the world or the utter heartlessness of people, I’m actually in a great mood. Like, I’m allowed these moments of joy amidst the morass of …morassness. My family, my friends, my work. My hammock. My back yard. We’re not super rich; we’re pretty regular people. Still: this is privilege.
I’m reading a book, Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall. About halfway through, so far some really powerful points made. A few foods for thought:
Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters.
We also need to stop normalizing hate and stop assuming hate speech is harmless, regardless of who it targets or who says it.
We can’t afford to keep pretending mental health issues stop at the boundaries of whiteness. Instead we have to be ready, willing, and able to embrace those for whom mental health is a struggle and to make sure that we aren’t contributing to their trauma under the guise of being helpful.
Even though I’m not Black, I did spend part of my childhood in poverty, and I observed and experienced systemic oppressions without really knowing what they were. And now I want to help so that others don’t have to live some of the experiences I did. If you can, check out this book.
And now, because it’s Friday, let’s throw back to my dazzling review of Rebecca Black’s hit song, “Friday.” Click this link, and … just prepare yourself for some overt tongue-in-cheekiness. Happy Friday, everyone. I’ll check in tomorrow and for the following 85 days, at least. Practice makes better.
Oh, dang. I just thought about posting while camping in June, limited cell phone service and all. Looks like I’ll have to plan ahead.
Racism, hate, violence. There seems to be no end.
Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Yesterday I attended a Zoom meeting:
These panelists discussed the conditions of their respective Chinatowns. They shared ideas about how to revive them. They exchanged stories of very recent incidents–stabbings–of Asian hate. Please frequent your AAPI businesses. Let them know you support them. Understand that their sacrifices and hard work are integral to the fabric of our country. Please.
COVID Crisis in India
In last night’s sleepless doom scrolling, I came across this Twitter thread:
What struck me was that this thread came out over a year ago. But it felt like it could have come out last week. We take so much for granted.
Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
May 5 also happens to be the National Day of Awareness for Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls. This was something that I’ve been aware of but haven’t been keeping foremost in my mind. And it should share space with all the other serious matters in our world. Absolutely heartrending.
Back 2012 I read The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. A harrowing tale, addressing issues of violence and hate within and projected onto indigenous communities. If you haven’t read her work, doing so would be a good start.
I like hats. There’s not much more to be said. It’s fun how different each hat makes me look. With my hair at a weird in-between/awkward length, I’ve been depending on hats a lot lately.
The slide shows below are categorized. I dug around the house looking for some of these. This should be all of them. If others pop up, I probably won’t post them. Or maybe when my hair is long again I’ll post more.
If you like hats or are deciding whether to like hats, maybe this post will be helpful. Maybe not. Whatever works for you.
Running/Active caps with bills
I’m in the middle of breaking in some new reeds. And I’ve just been working on a staccato exercise quartet. I’ve recorded it before, but I didn’t push the tempo. This time I’ve been practicing this cute little 3/8 piece with three eighth notes = 144 beats/minute. It feels good to play it at that speed. We’ll see if it sounds good.
Here is the next repair project, which arrived this afternoon:
The tarnish on this clarinet looks really cool, so I probably won’t polish it. The instrument doesn’t play, though. After an initial tinkering around, it looks like a total take-apart job. Replacing pads and springs. The whole thing is leaky.
This evening I also watched this discussion between Peter Cigleris and Michelle Anderson, clarinetists who play on Backun clarinets.
Cigleris uncovered a bunch of unperformed early British clarinet music and recorded an album:
It sounds really lovely. And during this discussion Cigleri pointed out a lot of the composers were women, which is really cool.