Making the Metal Clarinet Playable Again

Bought an old metal clarinet a few weeks ago. 1930s-’40s. When I received it, it was semi-playable. Notes above a certain point would only squeak. After the trial/error process of pressing on certain pads and blowing into the mouthpiece, I discovered that air leaks in the left-hand region of the instrument kept those higher notes from playing. The pads are in decent shape, but I removed what I thought were the problem keys and inspected the springs. Increased their tension. Better, but could be better still. Applied key oil to the joints so the springs wouldn’t have to work so hard. Even better! Then I ordered a cork replacement kit. Replaced my first ever cork today in my burgeoning hobbyist’s career. Now with the clarinet having proper seals, its performance: *chef’s kiss*

A few lessons emerge from this experience. Find the leaks. Address them. Make the seals tight. Take your time, get it right. The overall playability improves significantly. I mean, it’s still a second/third tier metal clarinet from the World War II era, but it’s been fun working on. And it’s fun to play.

I said a few lessons can come from this. I’m sure the analogies will become clearer at a time that isn’t now. I’m tired today.

I’ll still take my wood clarinets to the shop for tune-ups and repairs.

More Disability Access to Concerts?

We have taken our daughter to a variety of concerts. Outdoor: Boyz II Men (lol [but YES]), Sting w/the Utah Symphony, the Utah Symphony accompanying a screening of E.T. Indoors, she attended the Utah Symphony screening of Coco. All situations where concert silence wasn’t enforced or other noises weren’t sneered at. Our daughter can sit still relatively well, and she can keep quiet, but occasional utterances or jabbers are very common for her. She’s experiencing the world in her own way, and this is one way it manifests.

I’ve hesitated taking her to concerts where the sounds coming from her would be considered disruptive and we’d be asked to leave. What would be AWESOME is if this aspect of concert culture moved more toward accessibility and understanding. If, while the house lights flicker and the voice on the loudspeaker tells us to silence our cell phones and take note of the our nearest exit, they could also say, “We have a beautifully diverse audience this evening, and if you notice someone enjoying the concert differently or not as quietly as you’re used to, IT’S OKAY!”

I just want the same opportunities for her to experience the arts. While dedicated events solely for the disabled are appreciated, it would be great if everyone just knew that we’re all there to appreciate beauty. I don’t know. This might be a big ask, but I don’t think this kind of inclusivity is impossible.

COVID-19 Vaccine, Dose 1 Symptoms

The first night of receiving the vaccine, although I’d massaged my arm at the injection site, my shoulder was developing soreness. This soreness persisted through Friday and Saturday, as well as a barely-noticeable undercurrent of a general malaise. Just enough to make itself known.

My body was working on developing some badass immunity.

I didn’t sleep well Thursday night.

But Friday and Saturday night, the sleep was glorious. That feeling of waking up refreshed: nothing like it.

When Sunday morning arrived, I was feeling fantastic.

My second dose is four weeks after the first dose.

I’m totally ready for this week.

Terrified

these thoughts are nowhere near complete. just a quick ramble.

today z is staying home from school. she had some early morning nausea, and i don’t want to get her class or teachers sick.

her sheets and one of her blankets are in the washer. there’s more laundry to do.

she’s gotten to the point of understanding to vomit into the toilet. or bucket. or bowl. or whatever receptacle is nearby.

she’s watching a disney film. as i sit i the adjoining office, i hear her little jabberings in the family room.

ever since she’s returned to school the thought has crossed my mind.

is she safe.

covid is still a concern, but it’s less so now that mass shootings are back at the forefront?

reopen the country, and active killings become more prevalent?

again?

because we’ve never solved for them?

since columbine?

since sandy hook?

when it was somehow decided that killing children was acceptable?

so.

z’s classroom is very close to an exit.

that exit–and probably all exits–can only be opened by a teacher’s badge.

she will have to learn shooter drills. will she understand?

every time she’s sick the empathy kicks in hard and a lump in my throat and a sinking feeling in my stomach follow me around until she’s better. sometimes those feelings linger. because i’m her mom.

and her safety always brings a constant undercurrent of worry.

this

is the world she’s growing up in. that her dad and i have to navigate with her.

these recent shootings and almost-shootings have terrified me. really just continued the terror from the past almost-30 years.

that i have been scared for so long

has also angered me

a lot.

i just love her so much.

This Week

Posted from other social media:

Baby Z is returning to school today, after a year of not attending in person. We have been spending so much time together. And now: taking these photos and walking her to class, my heart doesn’t know what to do. She’s probably fine. I don’t know if I am.

Here’s what she earned her first day back. She does like Crazy Bread:

She seems to be getting the hang of school. Tomorrow is Friday, and we’re all ready for the weekend.

***

The Asian hate crimes committed in the past year and finally being brought to light by the mass shooting in Atlanta has really made me sick to my stomach. I’ve been trying to process all of this in the last few months, and thoughts swirl and feelings jumble, and I don’t know what to make of it.

But friends and family have been supportive. They’ve reached out and checked in, and I’m so grateful.

I came across this Instagram post by Chanel Miller. So eloquent. Concise. Expresses much of what has been on my mind.

I hope everyone out there is safe and feels loved. The hate is unbearable.

From the Instagram Archive: November 12, 2018

I’m exhausted, so I’m recycling content from another social media platform. And maybe because I’m so épuisée, I’m especially emotional. Which is okay to be. But I’m seriously about to fall asleep. Good night.

This is a newer article than the original post. It seems a pretty good general overview of stuff I read for work. This image links to the PDF of the article, if you’re interested in reading.

Helpless.

I read about cancer every day.
It’s my job, curating data for a database for an app that pathologists use to help diagnose cancer.
I hate cancer. I hate what it does to families, friends. I hate how it crushes them. I hate how helpless I feel, when I see friends whose parents have passed on because of it; when Reilly’s mom feels so nauseated and has to stay in bed after a round of chemo. That it has become a new normal over the past two years. But she gets up and lives the best she can. She takes a deep breath and finds the strength to smile despite everything. Nausea. Weakness. Mouth sores. She makes Sunday dinner and we eat together and laugh. And before we head home we ask about the upcoming week’s treatments or tests—another new normal. We make sure to pray for her.

While my job has no direct impact on her situation, I make sure to do my best at it. It’ll help someone.

So, not completely helpless.

Stravinsky Piece 1 Progress

After a few weeks, I have finally gotten to where I can play the piece all the way through without any huge flubs. This is a big deal, because my fingers now understand what they’re supposed to do, and I can work on musicality. Still need to clean up some fingerings; tone needs more focus in some areas; still need more breath support for lower notes; phrasings and dynamics need polishing. But yeah, here we are. I recorded this two nights ago:

Progress is progress. I’ll take what I can get. Yay!

Meetings

Yesterday Reilly and I attended a video call with Z’s teachers for her yearly IEP. We talked about her goals and progress. Her teachers seemed impressed with how well she’s doing with online school. It’s been almost a whole year. This week last year was when Utah decided to shut down schools for the rest of the school year, and my employer announced that we’d be working from home. This week last year we met with Z’s teachers on a Wednesday, and that following Friday the whole world changed. What a wild ride.

It’s probably easy to imagine a child–even one who has social delays–craving some kind of social contact beyond her parents. Even if we’re out running errands, Z will say, “Hi!” to a random child. To many random children. She will try to make friends. And we have to remind her about social distancing, even if everyone is wearing masks. Z’s teacher has said that her classmates (the ones attending in-person since the beginning of the school year) ask where she is all the time. Her name is on a desk, and it has been empty all year.

I had my weekly check-in meeting with my boss today. I told her about Z getting ready to attend school. I told her I had her practice unpacking her lunch. I told my boss about Z’s desk at school. She said that at the beginning there will probably be some separation anxiety, to which I quickly replied, “For me, probably not so much for her.” And my boss said, “Aww!”

Truth: it’s gonna be hard. After a 9 months of sitting by her and prompting her and waking her up in the mornings to do homework, I will have no easy time sending our baby off to school.

But like every other year she’s attended school in person, she’ll be amazing. And we’ll be proud parents.

Fangirl Introspection

Some public figures are incredibly generous engaging with their fanbase. I need to be careful with this, as it can turn pretty quickly into delusion. On my part. Like we’re friends or something. We’re not. I’m just a fan.

Take Instagram. And take violin superstar Hilary Hahn. Her account. I’ve been a fan for over 20 years. She (or her social media manager) has liked a few of my comments lately, and it’s been easy to crank out really lengthy responses to her posts. I mean, there are boundaries, right? A point when it’s too much? And I’ve just kept pushing, seeming the biggest weirdo. AND I DON’T EVEN PLAY VIOLIN.

Here are some of the comments I’ve made, from the most recent to three weeks ago. (These are not counting the ones she hasn’t liked.)

Pretty embarrassing. Yeah, it’s too much. Ultimately, participating in social media gives me the opportunity to come to terms with my fanaticism. Also, perhaps I realized too late that I’ve stopped commenting cold, and instead I have been using her posts as writing prompts. I haven’t been respecting her space. I’ve been trying to perform and practice writing in her space. Pretty rude.

So I’m trying to dial it back.

We’re not friends: I’m a fan. She’s an icon. There’s obvious distance.

A Break for the Tear Ducts

Places I’ve cried in descending order of frequency:

  1. Garden/Flowerbeds
  2. Shower
  3. Work
  4. Car, on the way to/back from work
  5. Talking to Z, tucking her in
  6. In my own bed, trying to fall asleep
  7. Family room

Today might be the first day in over a month I haven’t cried at all.

Weird.