September 2005

Butterflies have it easy

September 29, 2005 19:40

Monarchs mating

Butterflies have it easy when it comes to mating. Almost anyone of the same species but a different gender will do. It's so much harder for humans. After my divorce, I was seeing a counselor, and I asked him for insights. He said, "Maybe you’re being too fussy about who you want. What traits are really important to you?" I told him that the hardest things to find in a man are intellect and culture. He replied, "You're down to 2% of the population." "That can't be," I protested. "This is the Washington DC metropolitan area. People here are supposed to be affluent and educated.” “OK. 4% of the population,” he said. “My wife and I have trouble finding couples to socialize with. Most of our friends are Jewish.” I’ve thought about it a lot since then. I keep narrowing my requirements. Of course, I’d like someone who is interesting to talk to, who reads and thinks. I’m not sure about music. I wonder if I could feel close to someone who doesn’t love music. Of course, values are important, and we should have similar values, things like caring, responsibility, and helping others. However, when I really get down to the basics, one thing stands out: He’s got to be nice to me. Why has that been so hard to find? He doesn’t have to be a high achiever, like a trophy. One fellow I met recently on the Internet told me that he was impressed with my resume. (Say what? I didn’t even send him my resume.) He proceeded to tell me that he was interviewing me before deciding how to proceed. I suggested that it might be good to forget about theory for a while, just get together, and see how we feel. He went back to interviewing me. Where do I want to be five years from now? What areas of the country would I be willing to live in? Don’t I agree with him that only people in their 20s and 30s (we’re older) can be creative? He wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t rely on him financially. He was disappointed that I love playing and teaching music because these activities don’t pay much. I was astounded and wondered how to get rid of himASAP. He told (commanded?) me what I must do next. I’m supposed to write and send him a document which would be either a proposal (like a grant proposal, not a proposal of marriage) or an exit interview. This is for real! I didn’t make this up! I couldn’t make up such a crazy thing. I feel like I’m searching in the darkness for that extraordinary man who is humble, kind, and interesting, and, most important, who would be nice to me.

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September 22, 2005 23:10

Last week, I went to an orchestra rehearsal for the first time in a few months, and it felt so good. I really enjoy teaching beginning violin, but it was wonderful to sit down with my violin in a room full of accomplished musicians. From time to time I would start laughing, and I had to explain why to my standmate. When we played a theme and then repeated it with variations, I thought of Twinkle. When we played a run of 1/32 notes, I thought of my beginning students who find it hard to go from one string to another when the notes are fast – 1/8 notes. I was just playing on a different level. I talked to some people who play instruments other than violin, and I learned a lot. There are clarinets, bass clarinets, octave clarinets (?), and a few more. Some of them cost thousands of dollars, even for “ordinary” quality ones, because the metal tubing is so complex. I am used to having to retune frequently because of small changes in the ambient temperature or humidity, but metal doesn’t have the “give” that wood does. Sometimes a critical piece of metal snaps and wreaks so much damage that the repairs cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an “ordinary” grade instrument.

It was also fun to be reunited with friends I haven’t seen in a few months and to find out what happened to them over the summer. Everyone’s kids are getting older. The very young ones sometimes catch on to the fact that playing music, as their Mom or Dad does, is fun. They learn a few timeless themes, like Ode to Joy, from TV commercials. Since I don’t have kids and I don’t watch TV, I wouldn’t have known this. Then there are the life cycle events that people and their families go through. Someone’s son started college. Someone else is expecting a baby. Someone got a promotion. Someone else retired from his career in IT and is planning a second career as a ski instructor.

We have some new repertoire, some new members, some new gigs, even a new server. Fall is a time of renewal for us in many ways.


I always enjoy orchestra rehearsals, but the second one this month was really special. I've been running like crazy recently, and so have several of the people I talked to at rehearsal. Rehearsal is more than a sanity break. It refreshes the spirit. I especially liked the talk our conductor gave us about Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which we are playing. He said that Mozart’s music often has a child-like quality, a reassuring feeling that things are as they ought to be. This is true in spite of all the atrocities and hatred that were going on in Mozart’s time, just as they are now. Mozart’s music brings us to a place deep within us where there is calmness, release, and strength. To me, music is like a religion. The word "child-like" brought me a revelation and an understanding about myself. I had a defining experience when I was about 10 or 12 years old. My mother had bought me a clock radio with green stamps, and I liked to listen to classical music before going to sleep. One night I heard Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and I knew right then that playing the violin was going to be a way of life for me. I regretted, and still regret, that I can not sing, but I knew that my violin would be my voice.

Many blessings to Mozart and all musicians.

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