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Emily Hogstad

Hey diddle diddle, the flu and the fiddle

February 15, 2012 at 6:44 PM

This week I’ve had the flu.

Flus and fibromyalgia don’t mix. Consequently, I tend to hermetically seal myself from society as much as possible during the winter months, because I catch everything. Things have gotten better since the B and C and D supplements, but nevertheless germs still find me incredibly sexy. So here I am after a hazy week of coughing and dripping. If prior flus are any indication, I probably have another week or so of battle left. Appointments were postponed, rehearsals canceled. As the days slip past, indecipherable from one another, I fall further and further behind. I’ve been posting way too much on Facebook and nursing an insidious self-loathing.

Before I got the flu, I’d been doing really well in the practice department. Like two-hours-a-day well. Lots of Kreutzer, lots of second position, lots of Ševcík, lots of Schradieck, lots of alto clef. I was actually really proud of myself, and highung perfectionist that I am, I have to do a lot to be really proud of myself. But then I went to visit friends for a couple days – and I didn’t bring the fiddle along – then I got sick the day after my return – and then I didn’t want to risk draining various facial fluids onto my violin, so… (Yes, I did say various facial fluids. Forgot to mention I also have a case of recurring pinkeye.) It was only yesterday that I finally picked the violin and viola up again, and then only for a half hour. And I had to lay down afterward because the excitement of Schradieck made my fever spike. (Sign you’re an orch dork: Schradieck makes your fever spike.)

So today I’m lying on the couch, eyes closed, thinking. I’ve been doing way too much of this lately, and chasing my thoughts in circles. But I’m wondering… Maybe the best measure of a devoted musician is not only how consistently they practice, but also how consistently they jump back onto the wagon once they’ve slipped off. In other words, how unfazed they are by circumstances that conspire to keep them away from the instrument. I think I’m going to move forward on this assumption. It’s not fair to hate myself for something I have no control over. Our society encourages us to think that there’s always a cure out there somewhere for everything if we just look hard enough. Quick fixes, the media tells us, abound, just as long as you get off your lazy ass to look for them. Chronic illness and I have been roommates for twenty-two years now, and I still fall victim to this ridiculous mindset; whenever one of my friends isn’t feeling well, my first impulse is to give them advice and ideas to try to cure themselves. Have you been to the doctor? Have you taken this pill? Are you eating these foods? But you know what? Sometimes there isn’t a cure. Sometimes you’re just sick. Sometimes you just have to endure waiting it out, and sometimes you just can’t do anything about it. In short, sometimes life sucks.

This isn’t a particularly inspiring moral – actually, it’s kind of terrifying – but…whatever. It’s the truth.

Plus, the sickness hasn’t been all bad. Thanks to my altered state of mind, I was able to complete a short story I’d been in a rut about for months. I’ll have to wait until I feel better to know for sure, but…I think I might be proud of it. (I know I’ve gotten somewhere with it, though, because I’ve now moved from worrying about how to finish it to worrying about how the people I so obviously have used for inspiration will receive it, if they ever stumble upon a fictionalized version of themselves in print…) I’ve cleaned out my desktop and a bunch of spam in my inbox, so I can now successfully delude myself into thinking I’m organized. My Tumblr has a long queue full of gorgeous pictures and audio. I’ve been thinking some thoughts that I’d been pushing down before; lately I’ve been too busy to acknowledge them, let alone process them. It remains to be seen whether I’ve over-thought everything. Maybe I have. (I probably have.)

But I’m happy to think that by the time I can decide, I’ll be feeling better. It might take a while, but eventually I’ll be feeling better.

And back to playing the violin.

***

(Oh, and I also heard that a little band named Bonny Bear won something called “Best New Artist” at some awards show or something…? Congratulations to Justin Vernon and his band Bon Iver. I’m proud to share your hometown.)


From Tom Holzman
Posted on February 15, 2012 at 8:36 PM
I hope you recover quickly. However, as you realize, in some sense it helps to have a glass-is-half-full attitude. Although you feel like sh*t, there are things you can usefully do with the time, and you can concentrate on other parts of your life that eluded you as you rushed about in your musician persona.
From John Dukes
Posted on February 15, 2012 at 11:39 PM
When your sick, pull out Rocky's 1 2 3 4 and 6 ( 5=:P ) and start watching. Works every time.

Hope you get better.

John

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on February 15, 2012 at 11:47 PM
"Sometimes you’re just sick. Sometimes you just have to endure waiting it out, and sometimes you just can’t do anything about it. In short, sometimes life sucks."

Having lived with chronic pain for a long time, I don't find this depressing at all; I find it freeing. There comes a point when you just have to realize that it is what it is, you didn't cause it, it ain't going away, it's just a fact of life. This is the time when you learn to live your life in spite of whatever hand of cards you drew.

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on February 16, 2012 at 12:00 AM
"There comes a point when you just have to realize that it is what it is, you didn't cause it, it ain't going away, it's just a fact of life. This is the time when you learn to live your life in spite of whatever hand of cards you drew."

Totally. To this I'd also add that realizing this is a process that may have a beginning but often doesn't have an end. At least that's been my own personal experience. There are times when I'm quite at peace with it and others when I struggle. When I struggle, though, that doesn't mean that invalidates the acceptance. It took me a while to figure that one out...to realize that two seemingly incompatible ideas (protest and acceptance) can exist quite compatibly together. Human beings are complicated and our experiences are complicated. Why shouldn't our responses to complicated events be also complicated?

From Laurie Niles
Posted on February 16, 2012 at 5:16 AM
I love this:
"Maybe the best measure of a devoted musician is not only how consistently they practice, but also how consistently they jump back onto the wagon once they’ve slipped off."
It's a hugely good measure.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 16, 2012 at 2:19 PM
"whenever one of my friends isn’t feeling well, my first impulse is to give them advice and ideas to try to cure themselves. Have you been to the doctor? Have you taken this pill? Are you eating these foods? But you know what? Sometimes there isn’t a cure."

Yeah. One of the long-time members of the 1st violin section in my orchestra (he's been there way longer than I have) is in a lot of nerve pain. He can't sit through the entire rehearsal and has to leave after the break. He doubts he can play the concert in a week and a half but keeps coming to rehearsal every week because he feels like he wants and needs to play. He's got an MRI and some kind of medical procedure coming up that will hopefully "cure" him, but he's been struggling with this since October, and has already had procedures and cortisone injections and nothing has helped. Yet. He's almost exactly my age--mid 40's--so naturally I think he's way too young for this kind of thing. And I feel the same way, I want to tell him something that will help, something that will fix him and enable him to play the concert (and beyond). But there is nothing I can do or say that will do that, and advice just makes it worse.

From Dottie Case
Posted on February 17, 2012 at 3:46 AM
It must be that we're just far enough from our New Year's Resolution time for self-evaluation, as I am detecting a theme is this blog, Karen's and mine. We have not been able to keep our resolutions about practicing, and struggle to not react perfectionistically. I personally consider it healthy every now and again to take a step back and realistically look at how much we are all juggling and how little of life is really in our control....THEN get back on that wagon, but placing our journey squarely in the framework of adult players with many challenges to navigate. Get well!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM
Dottie, I think you're right, although I (I think like you said too) don't make New Year's resolutions. There's something about this doldrummy time of year that's hard to get through. The holidays are long over and spring is still far away. And we don't even have any snow to speak of, so it's just gloomy and dark.
From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on February 17, 2012 at 6:48 PM
Blood oranges. I don't know why, but they're the only cure for the it's-February-and-I-hate-everything-and-everybody blues.

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