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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Got up this morning and went for another hour-long run. It always amazes me how when you go on that first long run, it feels amazing and awesome, and then once you start doing it regularly, it feels less amazing and awesome. I kept the same pace, but it was maybe a little less meditative than last time!

Fruit was the last thing in the world I wanted this morning. So I went totally in the opposite direction: four pastured eggs (yes, four -- mostly because I REALLY don't want to throw away my good happy eggs from good happy chickens) scrambled with a bunch of goat cheese (again, don't want to throw it away) and dill, and served on a bed of spinach with my lemon dressing. And a large cup of coffee with half-and-half.

I am more satiated than the last couple days when I was eating fruit. Of course, that was way more calories!

Only one day left before we move back to Cleveland. Hubby and I spent last night with a friend's pickup truck, moving the last pieces of big furniture into the storage shed. I would just like to say that, much as I love the look of IKEA furniture, that stuff can't hold up to moving. Seriously, we have a big desk, and when we tried to move it from our old apartment to our new apartment, it broke. It was still usable, but it did break. In our new apartment, we bought a coffee table, and when we picked it up yesterday to move it onto the truck, the bottom fell off. Again, it's still usable, but it's broken. We have a sideboard that also survived the move between apartments, but the legs are all unstable because the wood is tearing where the legs are connected.

On the flip side, I have a table and four chairs that came as a full set from IKEA, and those have stood up to moving without a hitch. I have a chest from IKEA that is so solidly built that hubby actually thought it wasn't from IKEA. We have a set of tall bookshelves and CD shelves that have survived both moves so far with nary a scratch. But for those three things that are good and sturdy, we have another bunch of things that are falling apart. Once we get settled, we will be making an effort to slowly replace our IKEA furniture with more "permanent" furniture.

For what it's worth, that furniture is great for what it is: college furniture and newlywed furniture! It does its job very well there.

We ended up having to abandon our large broken desk, since it just wouldn't fit into the storage space. We'll also be abandoning our washer and dryer, but we got those on the cheap and I won't mind going on some payment plan in the future to get a better, more energy-efficient, gentler washer and dryer.

It's kind of sad seeing our life crammed into a tiny 10x15 shed on the highway. I just hope that the stuff that means most to us -- our nice couch and ottoman, our bed, and then random stuff like our nice dishes that we got for our wedding or my slowly growing teacup collection -- survive. I guess I can't think about it that much.

Well, I think that's all for now. I need to go talk to my UNT teacher -- we're going to catch up, chit-chat about Navy stuff, and basically say our final good-byes. Yeah, this last year was a little rough, but when I did my masters he was amazing and I owe him at least a warmhearted goodbye.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JAMARCIL 7/30/2010 7:34AM

    I hope your move goes smoothly and all your favorite things make it with no issues. It's always kind of weird to move.

Breakfast sounded yummy and happy chickens, who could ask for more. =))

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YESSICASUE 7/30/2010 1:14AM

    Your breakfast sounds like heaven on a plate! What is in your lemon dressing? Best wishes for the move, I hope that goes smoothly!!!

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XENA47 7/29/2010 4:34PM

    Hey, best wishes on the move. One week to go for me. Gee, it DOES sound sad to have to put all that stuff in storage. It makes me thankful that my situation is different.

And I know what you mean about trying to use up the food. Me and my daughter are having some odd meals trying to use up everything in the freezer before moving day.

Have a safe trip to Cleveland.

Comment edited on: 7/29/2010 4:35:03 PM

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SLENDERELLA61 7/29/2010 2:01PM

    Happy moving! Bet that will burn bunches of calories. Hope you get settled in just fine. -Marsha

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LILFAE 7/29/2010 11:32AM

    Some mornings when I wake up, I need protein. Lots of protein. Your body knows what it needs, listen to it.

Best of luck with your move!

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REEKU731 7/29/2010 10:50AM

    OMG we love IKEA furniture - it is SO perfect for exactly what you said....college kids and newlyweds! haha! We don't have an IKEA here, but whenever we go out to Phoenix we go shopping! We noticed that some of the stuff holds up really well, and other stuff isn't so stable with moves and storage. I will keep my fingers crossed that all your favorite things survive the move successfully!

And don't feel bad about the eggs for breakfast, they sounded wonderful - I usually end up eating most of my calories in the morning and then gradually lighten up over the course of the day - so this seems normal to me (though I usually eat 2 or 3 eggs) - but still, don't feel bad at all. Your happy eggs from happy chickens sounded fabulous!


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Counting Down

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Well, so much for burgers yesterday. Hubby recruited a friend to help with the moving, and since we don't know when we're going to see him again, we went out for dinner with him and his wife. There was this pub place called the Old Monk, and after looking over the menu, decided that the mussels were speaking to me. I was torn -- did I want German bratwurst, smoked salmon (kind of lox and bagel style), or a veggie reuben instead? I had some time to think since they had the menu outside for us to peruse while we waited for our friends to arrive, but when we finally sat down the only thing I wanted was mussels. I did get the kind that came with red cabbage and some veggies and a fluffy chunk of bread, instead of the kind that came with fries and tons of mayo. I ate the bread (hey, it was crunchy and very airy, which made it perfect for eating up the sauce the mussels came with), and I had a couple different good beers. Then the craving struck, and I was like, "I want chocolate chip cookies!" But hubby gave me a firm no, and after about 10 seconds of being mildly upset, I got over it, and this morning I was so glad he just put the stop on it. Win!

Did some long intervals this morning -- 2 minutes of running at a fast pace (although not a full-out sprint, obviously), and 5 minutes of walking. Not too intense, not too easy.

I DEFINITELY felt like fruit this morning! So far, I had another container of strawberries and blueberries, and then I really wanted to chow on the four apricots I bought, so I did. I have an orange sitting in my bag for later in the day, but right now I'm totally satiated. w00t!

Yesterday was my last lesson with my selectively mute student. We used it as a change-over lesson, so the friend I found to take my place came with me and we did a joint lesson. I had told my friend that if my student even played, it would be a successful lesson. Well, I don't know if her parents talked her up beforehand, but my student had this total BRING IT! attitude when we got there. There was no awkwardness at all, she played as if it were a normal lesson and had no problems playing when I worked my friend into the lesson. Actually, my friend was impressed with how talented the student is. That was a MASSIVE victory for my student! I was so proud of her!

I can't believe today is only Wednesday. I feel like it should be Thursday. Maybe that's because I just want this week to be over with. I just want to go and get out of here and have it all be over. I feel even worse for hubby, who is at home trying to pack the last of the stuff up while I sit here at work, putting in the last hours I need. And I need them -- without students over the summer, money is extremely tight this month, and I need the paycheck to pay for this month's rent! Yikes! Only a few more days, and then sanity again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REEKU731 7/28/2010 11:42AM

    I totally understand - I feel like it should be Thursday too! You can make it!! Only a few more days until the week is over! Congratulations on your milestone with your student! I know she will continue to progress with her music! Keep up the great work!

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Moving Day?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hubby got this brilliant idea that we would use the moving truck that our storage facility would provide us for free instead of taking my parents' suggestion and hiring a moving truck. The only stipulation was that his friend needed to be able to help him out. Well, it turned out that the only day this week that his friend could help was today, so yesterday we packed like mad! Well, hubby packed like mad while I went to work, and then I tried to pack like mad, but I'm still so tired from the convention! And I was sad that I didn't get to practice at all yesterday.

So yesterday we slept on the floor. Yay. Actually, it wasn't so bad, it's just about finding the sweet spot.

I got up this morning and went for a morning run. It was a full hour, and it felt awesome the whole time. I sustained just over a 9-minute mile pace, although I wasn't really going for time, just for jogging. It's been over a year since I last ran a long distance like that, so I think that just goes to show you that if you're in good cardio shape, you can do distance, even if you don't do it all the time. I do attribute a lot of it to sprints and plyo because my hour run was downright EASY. It was like meditation -- my brain turned on and starting thinking about and processing everything that has been going on, and by the time I was done running, I had forgotten everything that my brain was churning over and just felt good. I couldn't tell you what I was thinking about, although I'm sure it had to do with moving, clarinet, family, and stuff like that.

I don't take advice lightly, so thanks everyone who has commented these last few days with support and/or ideas. I think I've been pushing so hard for perfection that I've set myself up for failure, so I'm not going to track my food for a while. I tried this experiment once before, but I'm going to try a new approach called "What do I feel like eating?" I remember reading something years ago about some study with babies and food. Basically, they gave the babies a full assortment of healthy food -- fruits, veggies, meats, etc. -- and just let the babies eat what they wanted. They would tend to focus on one thing for a while, then after a few days go to another food, then maybe go back to the first one before moving on to a third food group, and while no single meal was ever balanced, their diet when looked at over the scope of a few weeks ended up balanced. So let's try that method.

Yes, that also means if I want a burger one day, I'll eat a burger. At least, that's the plan.

When I start TacFit Commando for real, I'll probably try to stick with the nutrition plan, but even his nutrition plan allows for cheat meals. I suppose I just have to actually let myself have the cheats intead of making perfection the enemy of good enough.

Anyway, enough of that! I'm starting to sound obsessive!

Yeah, so with packing and everything, cooking food is difficult. On the way to work today, I had hubby stop at the grocery store so I could pick up some food to munch on. I knew I wanted some mixed veggies and guacamole, so I found a bag of mixed carrots/broccoli/cauliflower and these 100-calorie packs of Wholly Guacamole, which pretty much excites me. Okay, I'm not really down with 100-calorie packs, but the packages of regular Wholly Guacamole had more guac than I'd be able to eat this week, so for economic purposes I chose the smaller packs. And I saw a bowl of strawberries and blueberries, so I picked that up and had that with a homemade kombucha for breakfast. Pretty tasty stuff. Tonight, hubby and I are going out to Twisted Root for their amazing burgers. Although I think I'm feeling just the burger-in-a-bowl again, with an adult shake! Yummy!

As for P90X, today I should be doing YogaX. I actually probably should do it, because I'll feel better. We'll see. I'm relaxing all of this, right? emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TURBO-GIRL 7/27/2010 1:03PM

    I think that's a great way to manage your food for a while. I do the same thing, and I find it works just fine for me. Some days, I don't have many veggies at all. Then the next day, I'll buy a big bunch of kale and cook up the entire thing and eat it. Or have an enormous salad....or a whole pound-container of blueberries. =D I agree 100% that as long as you listen to your body, it will tell you what it wants and it will absolutely balance out over multiple days!

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REEKU731 7/27/2010 11:34AM

    Yum Yum!! Guacamole AND yummy burgers!! Sounds like you have an awesome nutrition day planned!

I also think that you have a great plan worked out for your nutrition - I can't wait to see how it works out for you. As women, in general we always strive for perfection, but with fitness and nutrition sometimes this is impossible and we need to just focus on our health than perfection. When I stress out over calorie counts and stuff my body actually holds onto weight more than if I don't - its weird!

I am sorry to hear about your rushed packing - but now it is finished and you can relax a little (hopefully!)

OH - and a HUGE congrats on your run this morning!! That is an amazing accomplishment! Keep up the great work!

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P90X - Uhhhhh, and the Convention!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Well, hubby took the pullup bar and all the weights with him when he drove up to Cleveland with our cats and a ton of stuff, and then because he flew back to Dallas, well, all that stuff stayed there. So I guess I'm doing recovery week this week anyway! Ooops! Talk about falling off the horse right at the last minute. But I'm okay with it, I'm looking forward to starting TacFit Commando! And hubby, after we move and go on vacation in Florida, is going to start another round of P90X. He seems to have really enjoyed it. Go him!

But you know, falling off the horse at the end here is okay, because the clarinet convention ROCKED! OMG! So yes, be prepared for more clarinet in this blog than you ever cared to hear about.

Here's how it went: I did the four-hour drive on Tuesday morning down to Austin for the convention. I got in plenty early enough to check in at my hotel, get kind of settled, and then I went over to the University of Texas for my volunteer orientation. Basically I got a tour of the school of music, some helpful information about room locations, stairs, bathrooms, elevators, and other things that would be helpful for the people asking questions, and my schedule for the week. Then we stuffed bags. So I went home, got food, took a nap (yes, a 7pm nap), worked out, relaxed, and went to sleep.

Wednesday was technically the first day of the convention, but it started in the afternoon and was mostly dedicated to registration and opening performances. I was on exhibit hall guard duty -- itwas load-in day for the exhibitors, so my job was to sit at the door to the hall and make sure only exhibitors got in and out. Uh, boring. I got scheduled over all the recitals, so I missed the UT professors and I missed Mark Nuccio, who is the acting principal clarinetist for the New York Philharmonic. Boo! But a couple of students who were on guard duty with me got bored and pulled out their clarinets to sight-read duets, and while they were playing away, in walked Franklin Cohen, principal clarinetist of the Cleveland Orchestra. Now, I grew up in Cleveland, so I've had two lessons with him and auditioned for him for my masters, but I hadn't seen him in several years, and the last time I saw him my hair was long and brown, not short and blonde. Somehow, though, he recognized me, we hugged (hugged!), and then I helped him figure out how to get to his rehearsal space, since he was going to perform on Friday night. w00t! That's what I get for being the one who was actually doing my job!

Thursday was the start of the "real" convention, and I had to be there at 8am to guard the exhibit hall again. It was torture, though, because I had to sit outside, and at 8:30am the halls opened up to the general clarinet public, so people were inside the halls playing with new toys and stuff, and I'm just sitting at a desk looking very bored. So a couple people came and talked to me, we talked shop, blah blah blah. It was actually fun, and then the professor from Wright State University in Ohio came walking by, and I flagged him down. The last time he saw me was when my hair was long and brown, and he totally didn't recognize me until I mentioned the hair, and then it was like, "Oh, hey, it's YOU, how are you?!" So we chit-chatted a bit, and then he went on his way and I continued to sit.

Then, at 11am I got off my shift and ran down the hallway to catch Dan Gilbert, former second clarinetist with the Cleveland Orchestra and now a professor at the University of Michigan, give his masterclass with the finalists for the orchestra excerpts competition. He had tons of good stuff to say that sounded a lot like what I'm learning from my DSO teacher -- who happens to be assistant principal and E-flat clarinet, so there might be something to what they're both saying! That masterclass was two hours, so then I took a lunch break, even though it meant missing a presentation I wanted to see. I was the event manager in the presentation room starting at 2pm and going until 5:30pm, so I kinda needed to get some food!

So I event managed the room, and the first presentation was on reed-making. I had been to the professor's lecture on reed-making five or six years ago when the convention was in Washington, D.C., and I was lucky enough then to be his guinea pig for that presentation. So I told him about that, and he remembered that presentation and said, "Yeah, that wasn't a very good reed I made for you -- sorry about that!" But I told him that regardless, I did end up buying my own reed-making machine and hope to get better at that. And, he's added new information in the last few years, so I learned some seriously helpful stuff in that presentation. The next presentation wasn't interesting, so I'll skip talking about it, and then the last presentation was on rhythm, and while it was geared toward teaching middle- and high-school students, I got a lot that I could take home with me as a practice method.

Then, I walked out of the presentation room, and lo and behold, my friend who joined the Navy last year was standing right there in her Navy whites with the girl who apparently has been handling our paperwork. I took them back to their hotel so they could change into civilian clothes and we went out and got dinner, then went to a clarinet concert. The concert was two hours, ending at 9pm, and then it was definitely time to go home and get some sleep! Of course, I was pretty wired, so sleep didn't happen quickly.

Friday morning was my first free morning, so I made sure to get there bright and early so I could get into the exhibit hall when it first opened. I got there, pulled out my clarinets, and started trying out stuff. I ended up buying a mouthpiece from a lesser-known maker, but this thing was SPECIAL! It was like, holy cow, this mouthpiece is awesome! My friends heard me play it, and they weren't sold on it in its soft dynamic -- they thought my current mouthpiece played softer better -- but when it came to playing loud, there was no competition. I could put the same amount of air through both mouthpieces and sound twice as loud on the new one without any distortion. This was a big-orchestra mouthpiece! So I asked the guy to hold on to it for me, and I would walk around a bit, think about it, and perhaps be back later. I tried out some other mouthpieces at another booth, but I kept thinking about that one mouthpiece, so sure enough, I went back and bought it. I also tried these ligatures that looked like total bling for the clarinet, and one of them was nice, but I was playing it on my old mouthpiece and not totally sold that it was what I needed. So I told them that it was definitely nice, but I wanted to think about it some more. Then I went over to the guy who built my clarinet and asked him to make a few adjustments, which he did no problem. What I love about the guy who made my clarinet is that he's just super-nice to everybody. He talks to me and asks me how I'm doing, and apparently he and my teacher had spoken recently, because he already knew that I was enlisting. But he was talking to me, even though in the clarinet world I'm still podunk-nobody. Some people only really want to bother with you if you're famous, but he's different, and I like that. A friend of mine ended up buying a clarinet from him at the convention and had a fabulous experience, so my other friend figures that when he buys a new clarinet, based on both of our experiences, he going to go through them.

Then, I ran into the professor from Wright State University again, and he was going to be leaving the convention that day, so he thought he should take me around and introduce me to some of the big-wigs he knows. The first person he took me to was Charles Bay, a man who is older than dirt but a serious living historical figure in the clarinet world and a brilliant mouthpiece maker. He and my teacher from Ohio State, James Pyne, have a legendary hatred of each other, so that was fun. We chit-chatted a bit and I ended up with a "date" to come back to the booth the next day and try stuff out, even if it was just to educate myself on what was out there and just get to know a very important person in American clarinet history. Oh man was I geeked out! Then he took me to meet Larry Combs, former principal of the Chicago Symphony, Julian Bliss who is this 20-year-old virtuoso who doesn't even come up to my shoulder, and the head honchos at Selmer and Buffet. That was cool and all, but meeting Charles Bay was probably the most interesting.

Before we parted ways, the professor assured me that the struggle I'm going through, trying to figure out where I'm going to end up, is completely normal. I've just hit the sucky phase of being a musician, where everything is up in the air and one day you're inspired and the next day you're depressed and you have no idea where you're going to end up or if you're going to make it. But he assured me it gets better and just stick with it and it'll turn out okay. That was refreshing to hear.

So after that I went to as much of Franklin Cohen's masterclass as I could before I had to event manage. I don't know what he ate, drank, or otherwise consumed that morning but holy cow he had energy for the entire room and played clarinet like three people instead of just one. His whole thing was on playing like you sing and being interesting. A lot of my friends have been complaining about how there are so many talented people out there taking auditions, and yet a major position will stay open for two or three years before someone is hired. They're like, if there are so many good people, why don't they just pick one? Even randomly! Franklin Cohen said that there are many people who practice to never make a mistake, as opposed to practicing to make it sound like they want, and what you get is a whole bunch of people who have a good tone, play the right notes, but have nothing to say. It's boring, and it's cookie-cutter. Maybe if you walked into an audition with something interesting to say, the committee would listen to you. I am going to take that advice to heart. Oh, and since I'm moving back to Cleveland anyway, I hope I can get a lesson, just one, on Mozart's clarinet concerto. I want to play like him.

Then I went to event manage. The first presentation was on recording from the 1930s and 40s, which was kinda cool, then a very good presentation on clarinet embouchure from the former professor at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and then another pedagogy lecture on articulation, which again I walked away with some good stuff to work on. Then a friend and I went to go get some dinner, and while I was leaving, the embouchure presenter ran into me and thanked me for my help (I didn't actually do anything except wear black and stand there). I told him that I had bought his book years ago at another clarinet convention, and that recently my teacher and I were trying to fix my embouchure, but something was missing. So I pulled out that book, read through the article on embouchure, and actually found what was missing. At first the professor was like, well of course, that's the most important thing, and then he paused for a moment and then totally mellowed out and thanked me for letting him know that he really was able to help. It was a heartwarming moment!

After we got dinner, my friend and I went to the clarinet concert, which was the three major quintets for clarinet and strings: Mozart, Weber, and Brahms. Franklin Cohen played the Mozart. Now, I've heard the principal clarinetist of the DSO play chamber music this past year, and I heard a major soloist from New York play some chamber music this past year, and in both cases I was like, yeah, they're good performances, but I just wasn't feeling it. I was starting to wonder if I had really become that jaded about the clarinet. But then Franklin Cohen played, and it was like I was in eighth grade all over again, at that summer concert my parents took me to because he was playing Mozart's clarinet concerto, and from that moment I was in love with the clarinet. My friend had never heard Cohen play live before, and after the second movement of the quintet, he looked at me, I looked at him, I realized that he understood now why I loved Cohen's playing so much, and before I knew it I was tearing up because now I remembered for real why I loved the clarinet so much. It was that beautiful. I could've died happy right then and there.

The hall was so cold that, even though they were selling CDs after the concert and we could meet the performers, my friend and I went to high-tail it out of there. But then I passed by Cohen's table, and the line of admirers hadn't yet formed, so I jumped in and got a picture with him. The truest sign that he actually knew who I was happened when he asked me how Jerry was doing -- Jerry being a mutual friend of ours. Oh man, I don't think I could contain the fireworks that were going off in my head!

That night was UNT alumni reunion night, so we all went to this cafe near the campus. The food was tasty enough, and the company was fun. But we were out until 1am, and I had a date with Charles Bay in the morning. Oh man.

So Saturday morning, I dragged my butt out of bed and got to the exhibit hall at 8:30am. It was the calm before the storm -- I'm sure everybody was starting to get tired from all the clarinet excitedment -- so it was just me at his booth. We just talked for an hour, him telling me stories about his students, teaching, clarinet playing, and how much he hated my undergrad teacher! Oh man, old people! He was disappointed that I had to go manage a room at 10am, so he told me I needed to come back afterward and try out some of these special wooden mouthpieces he had with him. So I said I would be back later.

Went to manage the event, which was Scott McAllister's lecture-recital on his own music. He said hi, and then was like "Hey, you're my Krumper!" Yeah, when I was doing my masters, the Wind Symphony played a piece of his called "Krump," and I played the clarinet solo. That piece has been played a whole bunch since then, and he tries to go to all the performances, but he remembered me. He even told a student of his, who was going to record the lecture, that I was the one from the recording session. He was like, "Yeah, I'll never forget it, she laid it down in one take, and the trombone player after was like uh... uh... uh... uh..." Okay, if he wants to tell it that way, I'll take it. It took two takes for me to get the solo, and even then I was not happy with the end product. But hey, if the composer wants to brag on me, I'll take it! We talked about my upcoming enlistment and how I was going to take one final stab at the President's Own and the Air Force band, and he said definitely, I'm a shoo-in for those groups. LOL! Thanks for the support!

I didn't know just how high that praise was until I sat in the lecture. Apparently he was a real clarinet player who studied with some of the biggest names of the last generation, and had been paid fully to do his masters at Rice University when they opened their school of music. That's a big deal. He was preparing auditions and was sure he was on his way to winning a job when, only a few weeks before an audition, he got into a car accident. His right hand went through the dashboard, breaking his thumb and severing the nerve that controlled the ring and pinky fingers on his right hand. Instead of preparing for his audition, he spent the next six months trying to pick up a cotton ball. His clarinet career was over.

He had been composing as a hobby, but without the clarinet, that's all he had left. So he figured he would "practice" composing the same way he practiced clarinet, and just made sure he put pen to paper every day. He got his remaining degrees in composition, but still hadn't found his voice. Then, he was inspired by composers like Dvorak, who had come to the United States and saw all these American composers going over to Europe to study, coming back, and writing bad imitations of classical music. He was like, why do that when you have a wonderful body of folk music to work with, and that's when he wrote the New World Symphony. Scott McAllister used that as inspiration and thought, he was born in 1969, what is his folk music? So he wrote his first work for clarinet -- "X" -- inspired by the music of generation X, and in that work, specifically Kurt Cobain. That piece put his name on the map as a composer, and Stanley Drucker, the legendary former principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic, asked him to rescore the piano part for orchestra, and thus his first clarinet concerto came to be. The rest is history.

He told me afterward that it's crazy to see how in some ways the worst thing that ever happened to him, his greatest nightmare, turned out to be one of the best things. He could've been playing for the Sarasota Symphony or something small, underfunded, and unappreciated, but instead, by ruining his playing career, he launched a composition career that has been more phenomenal than he could have ever imagined. It was funny -- he's definitely a clarinet celebrity who still can't believe that people actually like his stuff!

So, a compliment from him about my playing carries a ton of weight in my mind.

Yeah, so then I went back to Charles Bay's table, and he was out, but his son was in and helped me play around with some mouthpieces. I was just getting settled on what was working for me when Charles came back, sat down, and started talking my ear off. But then he had me play a bit, and commented that I had a beautiful tone and a perfect embouchure, so try doing this and see how the mouthpiece responded. Then he had me start imagining that I was spinning the sound through the clarinet, then start tonguing, and he sang along with me as I played just one note over and over, until I started getting the sound he wanted. He complimented me on my tonguing, too. But then he asked if he could make a comment about my breathing and had me set my embouchure and do some breathing exercises with him. Then I played a bit more, and he looked at my left hand and said he wouldn't want to play clarinet with that left hand position. Ouch! He asked to see my clarinet, asked if I had any problems bumping certain keys (I did), and said that while my clarinet was made of excellent wood and good craftsmanship, the keys were stupid and if he had his tools with him, he would change this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this... All to help fix my left hand position. But then kept pushing that I needed to spend time in front of the mirror watching my left hand. He gave me scale exercises to work on to smooth out my technique, comparing me to an old car that can't quite get started.

Then he remembered the wooden mouthpieces and pulled them out and started telling me about how he was best friends with Artie Shaw, the legendary jazz clarinetist from the swing era (basically it was him and Benny Goodman). Bay played on these wooden mouthpieces all the time, but the only problem with them was that they were a little below pitch. That had never been an issue in orchestras, so whatever, but then Artie Shaw passed away, and in his will requested that all his clarinets and equipment be turned over to Charles Bay for appraisal. Bay wasn't going to do it because he only had a week before he went to an international conference, but then he thought about it and figured that if the roles were reversed, he would've wanted Artie to do the same, so he agreed to appraise the equipment. He felt it was only fair to appraise the clarinets with a mouthpiece that played exactly at pitch, so he made a mouthpiece specially for appraising those clarinets, and then he pulled out that mouthpiece, handed it to me, and asked me to play on it and see what I thought. Holy cow, I was playing on the mouthpiece that appraised Artie Shaw's clarinets! The only thing better would have been playing on Artie Shaw's clarinets themselves!

Then I had to go to rehearsal, and Charles Bay was sad that I didn't have a chance to try out his ligatures and stuff, but he gave me a reed case for free and told me to keep in touch, and then implored me to spend time fixing my left hand!

I ran over quickly to the ligature stand from the day before, tried out the new ligature on my new mouthpiece, and it was the match made in heaven that I expected, so I bought that and ran off to rehearsal. After the rehearsal, we had about an hour before we did a quick sound check in the hall, so I went to start loading stuff in my car. I had already told my friend about my amazing Charles Bay experience and pretty much had half the clarinet choir green with jealousy, but then on the way to the car, I ran into Charles Bay again. He came up to me and checked that I still understood the breathing exercises, and then said that he hoped he hadn't insulted me with all his suggestions. He really did think I had a great tone and a perfect embouchure, but he doesn't want to be the person that tells you everything is fabulous when it's not, and with me it's not. I really need to work on my left hand, and he thinks if I spend the time to fix it, I'll go far. He just didn't want to insult me and never meant it to be mean. I of course told him that I appreciate it when someone tells me how it is instead of sugar-coating things, and I really appreciate his advice (I do!). So again he told me to be in touch, and next year when the convention is in Los Angeles, instead of getting a hotel, I should call him up and stay at his place, since they have four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and I could even bring my husband if he wanted to come. So wait, now I have an open invitation to stay with Charles Bay? OMG, slap me now. I turned to my friend and said, "Now you're witness to the fact that I did not make that story up!"

Then we had our sound check, and instead of going to the last concert, we realized we were running on fumes and decided to go get dinner together. We went to a cool Mexican place that had a lot of mole sauces, and the salsa was, I'm pretty sure, a chipotle mole salsa. So that was tasty, we had tasty drinks, we had tasty dessert, and then we went home to get some sleep. I'm pretty sure I just died that night I was so tired.

Then Sunday morning I got up and went to play my concert. Yeah, I was laying down the fat low notes on the contrabass clarinet. The concert actually went really well, and some contra players in the other clarinet choirs were like, how do you make so much sound? Even though it was a very small, select group of people whose admiration I elicited, it was nice to be appreciated.

Then I drove home! And after the longest nap on the planet, practiced some clarinet. I did my breathing exercises, did long tones, and did the scale patterns that Charles Bay recommended. If he think I'm going to go far if I fix my left hand, damn it, I'm going to fix my left hand!

They should have called it "InspirationFest!" Okay, not really. I know plenty of people who have problems with just how big ClarinetFest is and how in some cases this one was pretty disorganized. What made it special for me was all the connections I made and the encouragement I got from people who I would never thought cared. It's like the Wright State guy said, you have your ups and downs in this period, and my down suddenly turned into a big up.

Props if you made it through this ultimate geek-out of a blog!

This is me playing the big B-flat contra without a chair to sit in. Yes, it is taller than me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

YESSICASUE 7/27/2010 2:47PM

    Inspiration Fest indeed!!! Reading this I just felt so happy for you. I totally know that feeling of standing still in life and feeling a little less passionate for the things I am passionate about. I'm so glad this convention got you fired up again! That Charles Bay stuff, man, that is just so cool. I feel like I am sparkfriends with a future world famous clarinet player! (haha, you thought you were geeky) Also, that picture is so cute :)

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REEKU731 7/27/2010 9:54AM

    Sounds like you had an amazing time!! What a great blog!!

Quick question - where did you get your copy of TACFit? Did you get it from the site during the recent special? I'm really interested in it and it looks fabulous so I'm interested to see how you like it!

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WATERMELLEN 7/26/2010 7:38PM

    Wow! Not only read this entirely with great interest, emailed it to my clarinetist daughter!!

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XENA47 7/26/2010 7:38PM

    Wow, what an awesome time you had! That is so cool!!!

Now I'm thinking I need to get to a harp convention.


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P90X - Brief Hiatus

Friday, July 23, 2010

I just can't bring the last two strength workouts with the current setup. There's no pullup bars in the gym, no lat pulldown machine, and no place for me to use my bands. Not to mention not a lot of time. So instead of half-a$$ing it, I'm going to just do cardio these days and bring it next week when I get home. Hubby has to do the same since he's in Cleveland right now taking care of the cats and getting some of our stuff there. So I guess we'll do the other half of the workouts next week.

I did get up at 5am and do my sprints. Then I had a delicious veggie frittata and tomato juice for breakfast, and my UNT teachers joined me. What fun! Had my salad for lunch, then split a delicious thin-crust spinach margherita pizza with my friend from the Navy and one of the higher-ups, and then we split a slice of cake. I was pretty hungry, so the two slices of pizza and slice of cake only served to trigger a sugar craving. So after a two-hour clarinet concert, I got myself a package of Grandma's Chocolate Chip Cookies, a small bag of Reese's Pieces, and a pint of Dreyer's Java Mash-Up ice cream -- coffee ice cream with chocolate cookies, espresso chocolate chips, and fudge. And then I ate a ton of crispy almonds.

Okay, so in light of that, I think it's time to hit a serious note. And yeah, this is where people usually tune out blogs, but here we go.

I have a strong family history of eating disorders, and I've wondered for some time now if my own eating is disordered. It just doesn't seem right that I get an inch and take a mile, to the point where I make myself physically ill. Or where I have to beg my husband to stop me because I can't stop myself. Well, a fellow Sparker sent me a message the other day and shared their own experience with this problem and just brought up a website. They weren't in any way insinuating that I have a problem, but knowing I need some help, I went ahead and checked out the site.

I think this is exactly what I need. It's not about being overweight, underweight, or of a healthy weight. It's that I eat when I'm not hungry. It's that I go on binges for no apparent reason. It's that even though I tell myself I'm going to let myself indulge and not worry about it, I still feel guilty afterward. It's that I spend a lot of time thinking about food (let's be honest, my blogs are a testament to that, and it's not necessarily healthy). It's that I do, to some extent, plan my binges head of time. It's that I can try to set myself a diet goal, like sticking to my diet for the last three weeks of P90X, and fall flat on my face every time. It's that I've binged because I got super-stressed, and it's that my behavior stresses me out. Oh yeah, and it's that there were 15 questions and I just answered "yes" to 8 of them, which is plenty more than the minimum three needed to identify a compulsive eating problem.

So there it is. This spoke to me, because it gave my struggle with binging a name. I never really thought of it as a disorder, but it really is, if, in my case, just a mild one. I can be very strict for a week or two, and then I totally lose it. But I have yet to successfully set myself any kind of diet goal and actually make it. I'm not sure if I'm overreacting or not, but I kind of figure that if I think it's a problem, then it's a problem. And the bigger problem is that I'm not actually sure how much I want to fix it, except that I've laid it all out here in a blog, so I must want to actually fix it.

Ugh, I'm thinking so much about it, which I think says it all right there. I don't really want to think this much about it. I want to eat good food and exercise a lot and enjoy it instead of obsess.

I wonder if I need to stop plotting all my stuff in SparkPeople. I know how to eat healthy, and I think I have a plan. I do want to do the TacFit diet, but that won't be too bad if I just stick to some of the recommended recipes, and if I'm not hungry one day, simply allow myself to fast or eat less or whatever. I dunno. I just wonder if, while helping me gain control of my eating habits, SparkPeople has also helped me lose control.

Or maybe this is just what happens when it's after 1am and you've been up since 5am this morning. Time to go to sleep and think about this more tomorrow.

I am thinking breakfast will be another delicious veggie frittata. Yum!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MOONFAIRY 7/27/2010 10:13AM

    I seem to have that problem too. For me, it's usually an all or nothing. I have been doing well as of late though. I managed to limit my chips intake to two handfuls the other day.

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JCWATL 7/26/2010 6:34PM

    Hi! I just read a few of your blogs and I was struck by how often you mentioned fasting and binging. I don't know you, but it sounds like you are a passionate person and tend to do things to the extreme.

Perhaps you don't need to push quite so hard on yourself to eat clean/eat everything/eat nothing/exercise perfectly. I think Spark encourages you to live, imperfectly and do your best.

Perhaps you can relax a little and just eat good stuff. Maybe remove some of your trigger foods from the house. Some days eat more and some days eat less but don't make it all or nothing.

Good luck to you!

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JAMARCIL 7/26/2010 7:59AM

    I can understand what you are talking about. Aside from the tendency to binge at times I also get obsessed. Either about what to eat, or what not to eat, or looking for healthy recipes to collect, or making healthy menu plans. *sigh* it can get tiring. Food issues can be complicated. Good for you being self-aware and thinking about what can be helping/not helping with it.

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YESSICASUE 7/23/2010 11:49PM

    I read every word! I know what you mean about people tuning out the serious stuff, I feel like it gives people the willies whenever I get serious, and it kind of makes me want to share less. So...thanks for sharing anyways! I can totally relate to how you feel about your relationship to food. I can't seem to get the moderation thing down. I get into a frenzy with eating sometimes, and it's not even the calories that bother me, it's the out-of-controlness that I feel. And I would say I don't know why I do it, but I do know...it feels great in the moment! I think recognizing it as a problem and thinking about it are huge steps toward having a healthier relationship with food :) Way to go!

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REEKU731 7/23/2010 11:37AM

    I am very proud of you for being able to acknowledge these tendencies! I have a mixture of anorexic tendencies and binging tendencies as well, depending on the stressor. Its not an easy thing to understand - my hubby doesn't really understand my eating issues either. I ask him to help keep me in line, and he doesn't understand the reasoning behind it. He just says "well stop eating" and doesn't understand that sometimes my brain won't let me, regardless of if I'm actually hungry.

You are not alone and if you need to chat with someone about it, you know I'm here for you!

On another note, I've actually been really interested in TacFit, but I can't justify the $100 now to buy it (and was unable to find a free download of it - damn the internet sometimes!) It seems like a stellar program. I wanted to try all the body weight workouts, because they seem really great, and the diet looks killer too! You'll have to let me know what you think of it, because I'm definitely curious!

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