It's been a while since I've written, and that because in all honesty today is the first time I've stopped moving in at least four days and maybe longer. I've done an awful lot of things in these days, some of them good and some of them less good, but that's how it goes. Anyway, I'd like to note this: after the mini-breakdown that prompted my last post, I looked hard at my calender and spied today, an open day with nothing on it. I took my pen, and I wrote in big capital letters the words DON'T DO ANYTHING. I underlined them a few times, taking up the rest of the lined space for today and leaving myself no room to pencil anybody in. This morning I set my alarm for an unprecedented 9:30 (I usually wake up around 7 as a preventative insomnia measure) and took my time getting up and making tea. I did have a friend over for lunch, an eggplant parmesan that I prepared with a minimum of fuss, but she came to my house and it was a breeze. I mailed some long-overdue Christmas presents and decided not to go to Trader Joe's (even though I should) until later, and now I'm eating ice cream in my underwear. I feel relatively calm and centered and human again, and it feels wonderful. I'm going to start pencilling in free time more often.
On Monday, when I was still busy, I left my apartment at 7 AM to drive south with my friend Jared for a new music residency at a university two hours from here. Jared and I have amazingly known each other since middle school; we played in youth orchestra together, then at UofA, then Northwestern, then Civic and now dal niente. We reminisced and talked relationships and other things as we passed out of the city and into cornfields, and Jared reminded me how awesome the first Weezer cd is, especially for road trips. We arrived at the university around 10, an hour before the student composition reading that comprised the first part of the day. Their music building is seriously shaped like a castle. Sadly, we played not at the castle but at a small hall farther on.
The reading session consisted of us playing student works in various combinations while their teacher and ART (abbreviated to thwart embarrassing googling incidents), a fairly famous Chicago-based composer, watched and gave comments. ART made us nervous; reading new works is always iffy, and having somebody you really respect watch you (especially if you are a sleep-deprived and rather zonked me) is a whole other level. But things went fairly smoothly, and I generally like playing for students. I always feel like performers are able to help new composers bridge the sometimes overwhelming gap between theory and practice, and I like being a part of that. Sometimes something that theoretically might work (or works if you play it on your computer, anyway) is either unrealistically awkward or impossible on an actual instrument, and it can be hard to tell the difference without years of experience. The collaboration helps everyone. ART also gave pretty great feedback, showing students concrete examples of how small changes in compositional style can make a piece much more textured and interesting.
After that there was a big break until our dress that night. We were playing a concert of music by women composers, including a piece by ART that we had played in a rather lackluster manner (to her irritation) the year before. The green room conversation ranged from techniques for not being as sore after marathons to the idea of stuffed squirrel head slippers (ew). The dress went well, and ART told us that she was much happier with our interpretation of her piece, which was a giant relief. The concert went well; our iffy piece didn't fall apart, and the ART piece went well enough that we're planning to make a recording next month. The last note of that piece (the final note of the concert) was a unison A that had been fine up until the dress, where it was horribly out of tune. But at the concert, that note was freaking perfect. It was a good ending.