June 2011 archive

Bubble Tea Bday

We met at the best bubble tea shop in Victoria, The Dragon, in China town, celebrating my friend Sarah’s birthday! The ‘bubbles’ can be best described as the texture of gummy bears, which look like fish eggs and taste like sweet rice pudding. Its certainly an ‘acquired’ taste, something you either love or hate. Luckily most of my friends love the fruity teas, so we meet here often in the sunny weather.

Just about everyone is home for the summer now, so it was nice to see all the people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Most of my friends have been in school abroad, others globe-trotting, full of stories of their adventures. We sat cramped around a table, conversations looping across and over each other, in our scramble to hear what everyone has been up to.  Its a comforting chaos, the sort of thing that happens whenever we get together, even when we were in middle school.

I felt quite exhausted after just an hour of talking, and the girls were heading up to the mall a few blocks away, so I left early. Every little thing seems to take so much energy out of me. Soon I’ll be back on the IV meds…which will hopefully pull me up out of this downward spiral. We leave in a few days for Southern California to see the doctors there. Although the though of traveling makes me ill with fatigue I know it will be best in the long run.

The key is *calm*

After all those months of practising the same difficult passages over and over again, and probably driving my family crazy with the endless metronome ticking, and the whispered ‘One-e-and-a-two-e-and-a…’s, the piano recital was tonight. Usually, many people end up not being able to go, but it was a really full house. The end of year concert is in a peaceful church in Metchosen, which has a grand piano. Its got quite impressive sound, which reverberates nicely in the wood-floored room. The touch was very hard, which most people commented on. You can even see my arms trembling in the video, my legs struggling to push down on a very high pedal. Note to self, wear heels next time.

Its nice to hear such a sampling of works, and relief to be able to share the music that one has spent so long perfecting. Its like carrying around a secret you’re itching to tell someone. Music is another language I am lucky, I never get nervous before a concert, but I can tell from the look on some peoples’ faces that this is not the case for them. I can’t imagine all the ‘owls’ in their tummies right before they press the first key (My friend, Jess, termed serve nerves as ‘owls’, used when she is more nervous than just having ‘butterflies’ in her tummy haha).

This year, there seemed to be a lot of modern and romantic-era pieces. I added to that by playing Debussy’s “La fille aux cheveaux de lin’ and ‘Reverie’, two very popular and dreamy pieces. He paints with tonal imagery, the way Monet splashes a riot of color across one of his impressionist painting, vivid in color, yet indistinct enough to leave room for our imagination. Obviously these pieces aren’t perfect, but I adored them enough to hope people would overlook a few errors here and there. Those big darn octaves. Yikes! I can streeeettttcchhh a 9th quite comfortably, or without the burning in my tendons, but a 10th is nearly beyond me. Usually I can settle right into the octave position in my sleep. I know exactly what that stretch of 8 keys feels like…its the practicality of playing this that is more difficult haa.

Debussy broke all the rules, and followed his ear and heart, versus the static and formal rules of composition. Now its very clear why teachers are so obsessed with their students learning scales; how much of a nightmare would it be if the arpeggios didn’t come second nature? The notes seem to float off my fingers by themselves (it wasn’t like that in the beginning; it was more like a sticky mess than flowing music).

My lovely students Lisa and Emma came with their families. Lisa played on of my favourite pieces, “Song of Twilight” by Yoshinao Nakada. It is very apply named, because the fluent, enchanting nature of the music brings to mind visions of early evening, in a Japanese garden perhaps, cheery blossoms falling lightly onto a clear pool. I was so proud :).

Posing with one of my friends & former student, Andie

Tea for two, with a side of Nostalgic Pie

My wonderful friend Jessica, is back in town, after much musical-globe-trotting, and schooling abroad. Jess is a bright light, quirky, bubbly and a very talented violist and singer. She is always so busy, that this peaceful summer lull makes quite a welcome change.  It was so nice to be able to call her up yesterday and make plans to chill today! That has never happened, and I’ve known her since we were in grade 5…gosh…has it really been 9 years already? I’m kind of teasing her here, but its usually really hard to get together with her outside of school…its kind of a joke among our friends.

We met at the Solstice Cafe for tea, a cafe that hearkens back to Paris and Vienna’s artistic cafe’s, that I’ve only read about in novels. Organic, local, fair-trade, with lots of vegan baking. Paradise, essentially.

Maybe its because Jess and I are around the same age, but when we’re together, it still feels like we’re little girls, a giggly duo who can literally talk forever. When you grow up with some one, sometimes you can’t appreciate how much they have matured, blossomed, until you’ve been away from them for awhile. I’m not talking about the ‘oh-I-can-see-you-as-an-accountant-already’ kind of grown-up, nothing bad or dull like that. 🙂

I kind of had this idyllic notion, that when it was time for people to leave to go to school, no one would really go far, Vancouver at the worst, and we’d all stay as close and our lives as interconnected as before. Most of my good friends I’ve known since Middle School, and that circle hasn’t changed very much, although we have all grown into very different people, our personalities complementing each other in our quirky way, friendships that are as well worn and treasured as a pair of favorite dancing shoes. I try to write like I am blissfully unconscious of my audience (hello? are you out there 😛 ), and so its ‘just the facts’. I know that its 100% non-fiction when I write that I have the most cherished friends imaginable; I am truly blessed. Pardon me as I overflow with nostalgia for the old days, of playing Cops and Robbers in the rain, our kilts swishing, ridiculous nicknames, playing the ‘Blue’ game on the swings, the Pickle Trees, and gossiping in Windy House…

Oft, in the stilly night,
  Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond Memory brings the light
  Of other days around me …

 (Thomas Moore)

It is kind of exhausting, talking for so long, but I wouldn’t trade our catch-up for anything. I haven’t been feeling super-dee-duper lately…always feeling like I could have used another decade of sleep, not wanting to move or think too much. Anything but knitting, or practicing my Debussy repertoire (recital on Monday!) seems too overwhelming.

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