June 2004

June 29, 2004 20:21

Am now listening to Perry Como's rendition of "Juke Box Baby", which was apparently a huge hit in the 1950s. Half of the lyrics in it are incomprehensible fifties lingo ("cocoa mo"? - "keep the corn box hopping"? - "you're the wingingest dingingest swingingest doll in town"? - what exactly do those things all mean?), but the music has a certain jazzy swing about it...it's fun.

A few weeks ago, I went to our local Books and Music store and ordered two CDs - one a lovely Oistrakh sampler and the second one some Prokofiev. While waiting in line to special-order them (because, of course, being classical recordings, they were not in stock), I saw a brochure for a music search that vows to comb the world for various out-of-print recordings...I picked one up. "I want to see if they could get us a Ginette Neveau CD, since this store couldn't," I grumbled to Mother, making a point to emphasize the "since this store couldn't" part. Nobody heard, though...nobody ever does...

Maybe it was a little arrogant - well, I guess it was a little arrogant - but honestly. As a classical listener, I always feel discriminated against. I never see pop lovers ordering CDs; their favorite music is always on the shelves, always in stock, always there. It's just not fair.

You have no idea how fulfilling it would be for me to hear a pop lover go through the whole grind. First of all, the disappointment of not seeing the recording on the shelf...then the embarrassment of having to ask the clerk...the clerk brightly inquiring "how do you spell Justin Timberlake?"...(this is straying from the topic at hand, but I once had a clerk ask me how to spell concerto)...then the agony being handed the slip that announces "your CD will be here from one to two weeks"...then the disappointment of receiving that polite red postcard in the mail three weeks later that says "Unfortunately, this music title is not currently available from any of our sources, so we have had to cancel your order"..."perhaps you'd like to try a music search service to search for 'Justin Timberpool'" (because postcards like this always mispell the composers' names)..."you can check back in six months"..."we might have it in stock then"...yeah, right...yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah...

Just once, I would like to see a scene like that. Just once. Not often - just once. A revenge of the Orch Dork, if you will.

While I'm fantasizing, it would also be nice if they had huge cardboard figures of Heifetz and Kreisler in the record store, instead of pop stars.

But maybe that's asking too much.

Anyway, we stepped up to the counter and placed an order for the Oistrakh and the Prokofiev CDs. I thought little of the matter until Mother handed me today's mail - two red postcards.

The first one for the Oistrakh CD read, "Unfortunately, this music title is not currently available from any of our sources, so we have had to cancel your order. Please try again in a few months. Thanks for your order!"

The second one for the Prokofiev said, "The music title you ordered is currently out of stock at our distributor. You may want to reorder in three to six months if you are still interested. Thanks for your order!"

I was about to crumple it up in disgust when my eye caught the title of the disc - "Proofiev Violin Sonatas." What did I tell you about their misspelling composers' names? The Proofiev sonatas!!! Can you imagine...? I had a good laugh over that one.

There's only one thing left to say: thank heavens for amazon.com!!! Geez Louise...

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June 22, 2004 20:14

Today I just sat down and played violin for the love of playing violin. Debussy's Reverie, Saint-Saen's Swan, Schubert's themes from "Rosamunde", waltzes from Die Fledermaus, the Pie Jesu from Faure's Requiem... I played for ninety minutes without even realizing it, and when I came away from the session I felt so free, so empowered.

Until I experience practice sessions like this, I tend to forget how passionately in love I am with this instrument. I always forget how much I love the violin itself, how much I love its shape and its form, how much I love its sound and its tone, how much I love just saying the word "violin", how much I love lugging around its huge case, how much I love waiting for the A in orchestra, how much I love ripping off an etude full-speed, how much I love slowing the vibrato and then making it wider and wider and wider until the note is so beautiful and so pure and so perfect there is nothing left except me and the music, and everything else in the world is - for that one split second in time - completely and utterly pointless...

Here's to our lovely instrument, the violin!

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June 13, 2004 20:00

So I got two teeth pulled day before yesterday in preparation for braces. Despite the fact that I was being put to sleep for the procedure, I was still dead nervous. The appointment was at ten-thirty in the morning, and when my mother and I got there, we realized it was English As A Second Language Day at the dentist's. All these Hmong families were spread across the waiting room, eying Mother and I, obviously wondering why we were there, then retreating back to their reading and knitting and chatting.

A receptionist came out with two tiny pills in a Dixie cup. "Can you swallow these?" she asked sweetly. I struggled with the first one for about five minutes. I'm sure it was a hilarious sight; even the receptionist was buckling over in laughter. "You're trying so hard!" she wheezed. I imagine I looked like a newly-caught fish flopping on the dock - eyes bugged out, throat contorting. Finally I got both pills down, and almost five minutes later, Reagan's casket on the TV in the corner started to get a little blurry.

"Mother," I articulated. "Mother, I think I am getting sleepy."

She smiled at me and told me to lay down on the couch. I'm sure the Hmong (especially those that hadn't noticed the receptionist carrying out the pills, or understood what she was saying to me) were wondering even more now. My vision got so dizzy I started to close my eyes. Reagan's funeral liturgies and the Hmong language mixed and intertwined for a few minutes. Finally I opened my eyes again, ready to share a new epiphany with the world.

"Mother," I slurred, very deliberately, "Mother, I would like you to know that my perceptions are very clear right now."

A moment later, I had another divine insight.

"Mother," I slurred. "There are two things in this world that I can look at right now. The lights up there - " I made a weak gesture for the flourescent panels above our heads. " - Or else the painting over there." I nodded toward the awful picture of a glassy-eyed mother holding a misshapen lump. The lump LOOKS like a child, but to tell the truth, nobody really knows what it is. The only reason the painting is there is because the artist is the dentist, and apparently nobody had wanted to offend him when he decided to hang his masterpiece in the waiting room.

When I insisted yet again how clear my perceptions were, Mother helplessly made a polite wave toward the receptionist. This receptionist led me back to the back room, where time and sensations pleasantly mingled and dawdled together.

The dentists all thought I was unconscious or in a fuzzy state of mind, but oh, I fooled them! I heard everything they said, and even understood it. One of them remarked how much I needed "ortho work" done, and the way he said it wasn't very complimentary. "Boy, does this one needs ortho work!" he exclaimed, very distastefully.

"The nerve!" I slurred in my head. I thought about opening my mouth to retaliate, but they were doing that already for me ("how nice!" I thought - "they're actually helping me retaliate") and placing some numb strips on my gum. A moment later, I felt a slight tugging and then a few moments later some gauze-like stuff. And within a matter of thirty seconds, the work was done. I decided to have mercy on the dentist and go to sleep instead.

After a long nap at home, I compared impressions of the appointment with Mother. Apparently the appointment had actually taken about an hour (contrary to my thirty-second impression), I had said things I didn't remember, and I had actually slept through most of the actual dental work, although I had gotten the impression that I had seen and observed it all. Ahh, well. The thing was done, anyway, and it's something I've been fearing since I was a little girl...

But there has been no pain whatsoever today, although it is kind of rotten having to chew with two gaping holes in my jaw.

Anyway, moral of today's story - Getting your teeth pulled isn't a very scary or painful thing to do at all. Playing the violin is the real terror.

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June 2, 2004 21:58

Haven’t written in here lately...then again, do I ever really keep up this thing as much as I want to? When I began I had dreams of writing a witty and transcendent journal that would steal the hearts of violinists all across the world. A few months later, I have little more than a few blabs and blurbs, half of which are more likely to capture the hearts of nurses (see my April 3 entry) and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra ushers (see April 24, paragraph seven) than violinists.

So life goes on! :)

Practicing has been going slow, save for one major triumph: I have finally finished Wohlfahrt Foundation Studies Book One (the one with the ghastly green-blue cover). I was all elated about this until I got to remembering there’s a Wohlfahrt Foundation Studies Book Two...which has an equally ghastly cover, except this time it’s red-orange. Argh! But I suppose it’s this way forever - you keep finishing books and then starting books and then finishing and starting, over and over again until you perfect things like the Paganini Caprices or the Brahms concerto. After that, you die. A short summary of the violinist’s life. ;)

But what a glorious life it is!

In other news, my cello sounds like a dying cow. I’m reminded of the “Mister Ed” episode where Wilbur is playing his bagpipes in his living room and his neighbors rush in through the sliding door, saying, “We thought your horse was in pain!” Who knew that classic TV could relate so much to classical music.

Bon voyage and happy practicing. I'll be back to write soon...although you know as well as I do that I'm going to start my next entry "haven't written in here for a while, but"...

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