Saturday, December 29, 2012

Honey, I'm hooooome!

Holy moly. Did three years really pass since my last update? I can't even believe it.

As you can imagine, I've been busy. You know, with those new little people in the house? I ended up with two terrible sleepers in a row so was under the spell of pretty severe sleep deprivation for years. That didn't help me at all moodwise. I was already grappling with the loss of my dream career and much of my identity. So now looking back most of that time seems like a dark blur. I didn't start to emerge from that until I started working out last Spring (April 2011). A local friend dragged me to a boxing gym and I was immediately hooked. I had done martial arts before and had a great time and made some great friends. But that had been 21 years and 70 lbs ago. Plus I had become so out of shape that I would get winded going up one flight of stairs at home. Despite the odds, I kept going at it. As the pounds came off (33 down so far), so did a lot of the negativity. I felt the best I had in years. Happier, stronger, more confident. It was a good thing that I was feeling like that because this Spring I got a surprising and unpleasant diagnosis. I have an autoimmune disorder that's affecting my liver. Once again I was sucked into a depressive vortex for several weeks. One night I cried out to God to carry this new burden for me because I just couldn't take it. Suddently I realized that I had to just keep living. It was the only option. My condition may make me very ill in a matter of years or decades or never. So what was the use of me worrying about it constantly. So I picked myself back up and continued plodding along. I got more serious about what was going into my body in order to try to reduce overall inflammation. I became very busy with the kindergarten application process for my oldest. We got accepted into an outreach program that places minority students into area independent schools. It was like applying to med school all over again! And the Fall was once again the busiest time of the year at work. Had a lot of projects and so far they've gone quite well.

So where does that leave the music? I never did stop playing, though I wasn't practicing regularly, or much at all, anymore. My quintet keeps meeting. Usually every other Sunday at our horn player's home, which is just one mile down the road from me. Our cellist has been ill so we have welcomed a bassonist. She is an amazing player who has inspired me to get better. And it's been fun to listen to the change in color with the typical instrumentation. But we do still welcome our original make up whenever our dear cellist can make it. It's really a very special group of people that I feel *SO* fortunate to be a part of. Some times I just can't belive that they took me in. I'm just a little schmuck compared to all of them.

Speaking of taking me in . . . I joined this other group a few months ago. An ORCHESTRA!! As in a big group of people that plays symphonies!! *swoon* So it's a friendly local amateur orchestra. Basically perfect for me. They actually take anyone, no audition needed. I was afraid of how they would sound, but it is actually much better than the other amateur orchestra that I had been in briefly before I had Alanis. And in the past few months the ranks have grown and everyone has been working hard to better themselves and it's sounding much better. I've already had the opportunity to play some of my favorite symphonic movements: the first from Mozart's 40th and from Beethoven's 7th. For 2013 we have some more in store including the first movement of Schubert's 8th. I am in LOVE with that right now. My melodies are absolutely gorgeous. They sit well on the instrument and I think I can get them to sing how I want. And I get that beautiful little resolution at the end of it. Can NOT wait to play it at rehearsal!!! Though I'll have to resist the urge to sing "This is, the symphony, that Schubert wrote, but never finished" during that second theme.

Then there's this other little piece that they've got programmed for Feburary: Copland's "Quiet City". Can you say "English Horn"?? Remember, the whole reason that I started playing oboe in the first place?? So my long time dream is finally coming true. I'm so giddy!! I've rented an English Horn (with the option to buy, I just need Toyin to check it out for me). I spent my entire practice session on the piece yesterday and it went better than I expected given that I had really only played EH twice in my life before that. The intonation issues are different on EH so far. It seems to just be more consistently flat in the upper register but can be easily fixed with better air. The finger positions are taking some getting used to. My right hand in particular is feeling cramped because my crazy double jointed thumb is all out of whack. So I've been feeling some strain on that right forearm. Need to figure out how to make that work better. Also am having a very difficult time reaching the C# key. There are two spots in the piece where it becomes an issue so it's something I definitely need to address pronto. In general it feel really nice to play the EH. Some of the notes sound so luscious even on this older horn and with little old me playing. And some of the notes in the middle sing really beautifully as well. It's really quite a joy. And because I've been having to blow a lot more air (and better supported) for it, my oboe sound is starting to improve again. Double win!!

So today was my third day in a row practicing for the first time since uhhhh 2008 or something. Can't even remember. All I know is that I'm ignited again and I want to get better!! My last push was to go from elementary to intermediate. Now I want to go from intermediate to advanced. Am going to keep doing my daily sessions (though shorter than before probably) and hopefully meet with my teacher at least monthly. Was looking online for some kind of practice log community but didn't find anything. That's when I remembered my little ol' blog. Am going to try to be accountable on here. Plus I am soooo excited about the prospect of playing wonderful music with a lot of other people, that I just have to share it! Hoping my readers come back eventually :-)