I'm writing this as my piano tuner hammers away downstairs on a particularly wonky E3, stabbing the note over and over into the key bed, demonstrating precisely how not to make a beautiful sound. Just about two more weeks left of relative calm, composure, and diligent preparation until October and November arrive like a coupla jerks, sending me into exhaustion mode and this poor blog back into a post-less purgatory.

D4...D4...slightly sharper D4...D4!!!

I've often wondered about what tuning pianos does to one's psyche. Zeroing in on minute changes of pitch, fractions of a hair different on either end, 88 times per piano, 3-4ish times a day. It's gotta be doing damage on a neurological level. I'd ask my tuner, but A) I'm way too shy and B) knowing me, I'd try to be super casual about it and somehow end up offending him in some way.

So I sit upstairs and twiddle my thumbs (which is essentially what this blog has turned into, a thumb-twiddling of sorts) and wait for him to finish...C4...C4!...and make to-do lists and think about score studying until he completes his perfunctory note-jabbing and leaves me in peace with my miraculously well-tempered instrument and that innuendo would work so much better if I were a man.


This is an open letter to a recent work relationship turned sour.

I wish it didn't have to end like this, but after repeatedly im- and- explicitly taking advantage of my kindness and vulnerability, I had to walk away. Enough is enough. I sincerely hope you learn from this situation, but history and experience tell me that it is highly unlikely you'll change at all, and that's a damn shame--both because your organization could be so much better, and because the people you serve deserve better. I deserved better.

You'll never read this, just like you never read any of my emails or took seriously any of my feedback that would have benefited the organization. Maybe you thought I was being out of line. Maybe you wanted to keep me in my place, using me as a run-of-the-mill accompanist whose role frankly could have been filled by someone with passable high school level piano skills.

I realize now this was my own fault. I continually find myself falling into the trap of settling for what's easy, available, and comfortable. It's a beguiling trap, to be sure. When you're in a new town with few connections and work options, it's easy to reach for the first thing that's offered. Now I know better. You were quick to snap me up because your turnover is so astronomical. No one in their right mind stays for long.

It's going to catch up to you. You've already developed a reputation amongst reputable players in the community, those with talent and influence who know better than to get involved. Now I know better as well. This is a lesson learned for me: not to settle for anything less than what I know I'm worth, to reach for things that are uncomfortable and not quite within my grasp.

Like Mr. Fleisher always said, "Forward and upward." Just like always, everything he taught had a double meaning. It was never just about piano lessons. It was a lesson in living.

#goodriddance #forwardandupward

Nowadays it's starting to seem as if the only time I write in this is when I'm under the influence of caffeine or alcohol, and this post shall be no different. The two substances are an apt metaphor for the far ends of that precarious parabola called manic depression, on which I currently happen to be skewing far to the manic side.

After spending the bulk of July traveling to various corners of the northern hemisphere--I'll spare you the boring details because no one wants to hear stories about your vacation, Karen, not even your mother, there's a reason she's been ignoring your FaceTime calls--I'm back in Atlanta for a whole three weeks! I spent all day today getting my affairs in order, doing the busywork of settling back into normal life, unpacking-laundry-emails-errands and got through all of it so painlessly, dare I say even pleasantly, that on my walk home from the bank/post office I decided to treat myself to a nitro cold brew and here we are.

My performance schedule is starting to fill up. After two years of relative purgatory in this new city I'm finally more or less (work-wise) where I left off in Baltimore, and I'm at a point where I am comfortable saying no to some things again.

Work doesn't officially start up for another couple weeks, but in the meantime I would really like to keep this momentum going, which means making daily to-do lists (is there anything better than checking off a task from a to-do list? I submit that there is not), weekly meal plans, morning runs before the temperature turns infernal, routine practice schedules, and nightly yoga and meditation. I think I've mentioned on here before that the older I get, the more I require every single detail of my life to be running smoothly lest the macrocosm be disturbed. One domino gets moved out of place, and the whole chain breaks. I'm not sure if this fastidiousness is healthy, per se, but as long as I can manage my control freak tendencies in a way that doesn't directly harm me or anyone else, I'll chalk it up as a win.

#coffee #todolists #grateful #bebetter #life