Letter to Zinger, 7 Years and 8 Days

Dear Z,

Remember that tooth that you were waiting to lose? The one I thought you might lose on your actual birthday but didn’t? You lost it, five days ago on April 11. The terrain along your toothline is varied and fun, and you own every single bit of all the smiles you flash. It salves my soul.

I’m about to pick you up from school. I saw on the news last night that police shot a 13-year-old child. A child. I also saw on the news last night that eight people died in a mass shooting in another state.

This is not the country I want you to grow up in. I don’t know what to do.

Every day I drop you off at school I try not to worry. Your classroom is close to one of the building’s exits. Your class has a number of adults who can hopefully guide you to safety in the event of an active shooter. Let me tell you I just hate the possibility of that idea becoming a reality. Would you or any of your classmates know to keep quiet? I know your teachers would do what they could to protect you. The risk is a lot. The thought is unbearable.

I’m so glad these scary thoughts are the furthest thing from your mind. I’m grateful you take every moment of your life to find joy and fun, to give affection and friendship. To share love with the world around you.

Let me be the one to worry. You keep on being precious and spirited and happy.

I love you and your newest goofy smile,

Mom

P.S.

It goes without saying I worry endlessly about Dadda, too. I hope we can all figure out how to make this better.

Seven Zinger Years

Dear Zinger,

The pandemic took over the world last year.

COVID-19 shut your school down the Friday right after your kindergarten IEP, and you didn’t attend school in person again until a year later, just a few weeks ago.

During that isolation period you turned six years old. You were already growing so big. Sorry for skipping your letter last year. Circumstances were a little hectic.

You lost your first tooth just before shutdown, on March 8.

You’ve lost four teeth since then: 10 April, 6 November 2020. 5 February and 13 March 2021. Another one is getting ready to come out. So exciting!

Your hair has grown so long. We last cut your hair just before kindergarten, and over a year-and-a-half later it desperately needs a trim.

You’ve navigated a full school year of online classes: last term of kindergarten and 2 trimesters of first grade. Your teachers accommodated us and took great care to keep everyone safe. At your IEP last month they all said they were impressed with your progress with online school. They were so proud of you.

I am so proud of you.

Seven years. Never have I felt more blessed, so lucky.

Sometimes I wish time would slow down. That I could spend as much time with you as possible. It’s all passing too quickly. We want the world you’re growing up in to be safe, and we want you to be healthy. We’re doing everything we can to prepare you for this world as your eyes widen and your exploring tendencies expand. We desire so much for you to realize your potential. Hopefully the pandemic will get under better control so you can roam more freely.

I’m so grateful you’re in our lives, a part of our family. We love you so much.

Happy birthday, big girl.

Love, Mom

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.

COVID-19 Vaccine, Dose 1

In Utah teachers were prioritized for the vaccine, so that means Reilly was able to get both doses earlier than a lot of us. But as of March 24, anyone over the age of 16 could get vaccinated.

The vaccine isn’t readily available to everyone yet, so scheduling an appointment was a little challenging, but not impossible. I got lucky with finding a place that wasn’t too far away.

The sign at the entrance said not to go inside until 15 minutes before my appointment. The email instructions said not to go in until 5 minutes before. I split the difference and went in 10 minutes prior to the scheduled time. They verified my ID and told me to stand in line.

It was less than a minute of waiting until I was in a chair. The nurse pushed up my left sleeve and rubbed an alcohol swab over my shoulder. She broke out the syringe, pierced my skin with the needle, injected the stuff, and covered the wound with a bandage, all in less than 10 seconds. Super duper quick.

Then I found an empty chair and sat for 15 minutes and massaged the injection site while nurses passed by, making sure no one was having adverse effects to the virus.

I drove home, ate dinner, took an ibuprofen for an approaching headache. Took a bath, tucked in my beautiful child who seems to be feeling much better from this morning. Hung out with Reilly and Frank.

Just some soreness in my arm.

Hoping to sleep well.

Halfway there.

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.

Practicing Stravinsky Piece 1 in A

Clarinets have become somewhat of an obsession of mine during the pandemic. Last week I found a nice intermediate model of an A clarinet. According to wikipedia:

In modern times, the most common clarinet is the B♭ clarinet. However, the clarinet in A, pitched a semitone lower, is regularly used in orchestral, chamber and solo music. An orchestral clarinetist must own both a clarinet in A and B♭ since the repertoire is divided fairly evenly between the two.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarinet

I’ve noodled around a bit on the A, breaking it in slowly. The tone is really nice. In this photo, the A clarinet is on the left and the B♭ is on the right. You’ll see the A is a little bit bigger–longer body, wider bell. Because the brand is different, the pinky keys are situated a little differently, but the response is just as quick as the B♭.

Practicing Piece 1 of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces has been way fun. Since I’ve been practicing on the B♭ up to now, I’ve gotten used to hearing this work pitched in a particular way. As I’ve been practicing on the A, hearing the music a half-tone lower was a bit weird at first, but i’m getting used to it. I’ll post two different practice sessions here: First the B♭, and then the A. And as I mentioned on Instagram regarding these sessions: Similar tempos. Some different approaches/attacks of notes. Different areas needing smoother transitions between notes. And more dynamics. Still quite a bit of work to do.

Practice is good.

Throwing Back to 2009

Once there was a band called Mechanical Violet. They were a group of four ladies who loved the hell out of life. They covered a single song, “Postcards from Italy,” by Beirut. Becky had vocals and tamborine; Eleece had trumpet; Alicia had ukulele; I had clarinet. We had fun putting it together. A really fun memory from a much-cherished time.

The other day on Instagram I posted part of Mozart’s “Waltz Fantasy,” a piece I played on the clarinet in 9th grade, when I felt most in my prime. A friend from the Mechanical Violet days more or less commented on that post about hearing some Beirut for my next video.

So I got to work.

Found some sheet music for ukulele, flute, oboe, piano, and percussion. I also had to look up ukulele fingerings to convert from the tabs on the sheet music. (I also played lines from two strings instead of all four, because clarinets can only play a single line and not chords, and because this was already turning out to be a lot of work.) I kept everything in the key of C, since only I would be playing with…me. Me and my shadows.

Recorded the parts, put them together. Not perfect editing-wise, but definitely recognizable. As I rewatched this a small sob got caught in my throat. Damn you, nostalgia. Miss you, Mechanical Violet.

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.