Yoga, music theory and eye shadow, with commentary

July 20, 2010 at 3:42 am | Posted in Long Blogs | 12 Comments
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This morning Dan and I went to the library and came home with a colorful assortment of volumes. As I sit here attempting to summarize the pile for you, I realize that the subject matter of what I checked out essentially reflects a palette of what’s up for me these days. Up in a big way. So I shall dive right in.

  1. Yoga and Pilates. I used to do yoga every day, having taken a class when I was 18 or 19 and my friend and fellow band member Pat Hubbard convinced me to join him. Though I liked it, I didn’t become an avid yogi until a few years later when one of my college anthropology professors recommended a book to me: Richard Hittleman’s 28-Day Exercise Plan. I bought it and followed it religiously for years, headstands and all.(Here’s the most amazing story I have about those years of following Hittleman’s regimen: At some point in the process, you are supposed to do a head- or shoulder-stand – I don’t remember which – for three minutes every two or three days. I found it intolerably tedious waiting through three solid – silent – minutes. So I found a Joni Mitchell song that was exactly that length, and put it on every time I came to that part of the routine. For weeks I let Joni serenade me as I hung out head-down. And then one day I found myself increasingly irritable as I “stood” there, and finally heard myself think, “That music is so damn distracting!” In the instant I put that thought into words, a thrill jolted through me. Wow! I would rather focus on being upside down and breathing than on Joni Mitchell! It was a pivotal yoga moment.)But somehow life got away from me and I put yoga aside. For several decades. I took a couple of classes sometime during the past twelve years, longing to be wooed back into it, but somehow the pace didn’t work for me. I need yoga to be an internal experience, and in a class setting I am too worried about doing what the teacher said and how I don’t like this pose or the smell of the person next to me or I wonder how bad I look. And in two different schools, I was the only one in the class. Yikes! That was not what I was after.

    So last week Chloe and I opened Hittleman and did it together, and Rachel tried it a few days later and liked it as well. So today I checked out a couple more volumes with which to supplement, and we are going to go at it. Imperfectly. Which turns out to describe the only contract that has worked with myself in my life. If I agree to be only average about it, and keep to a flawed plan, I actually keep it up (if it feels rewarding). (Which I know it will.) And the Pilates is just for an occasional side dish.

  2. Music theory. I’m pretty good at music theory. I was blessed by taking piano lessons with Patricia Burge from 5th through 11th grade. Not only did I learn great works, but we did a lot of ear training. She would have me jump around the piano in my head by intervals, and I had to tell her what note I ended up on. That’s the game I remember the best: “Up a fourth, down a major third, up a fifth, down an octave, down a minor seventh, etc….”Also I was a good math student in school, and I adored it (until Linear Algebra in college, which seemed to me to depart from what I had come to associate with math up until then.) And I see a connection between the two. Music theory is like numbers applied to notes and melodies. It makes sense and it is always explainable, which is what appeals to me about math. Yes, it is abstract, but it is an abstraction around which I can wrap my brain.So – and this is one of the hugest topics in my life right now, which in some ways is the tip of the biggest iceberg of what’s really up – I am contemplating how I want to ramp up my music studies. Short story: I attended an information session at a local state college the other day to see what it might feel like to pursue a degree in music, and came home with my mind swirling in disillusionment and the first stages of major life re-orientation. So now I have to get my bearings and decide what to do next. First let me say that I think the college is wonderful – it wasn’t that I was disappointed in the school. It’s that sitting in that room, surrounded by all of these amazingly diverse people, of all ages and from different backgrounds and disciplines, I couldn’t push away these nagging questions that came rearing up with some intensity – what do I really want? Do I really want to be in school full time for four years? Or part time for longer than that? Why do I think I want a music degree? What am I hoping to prove? And to whom?

    I returned home kind of sick to my stomach (which was either from possibly overdoing it by navigating a college campus in the hot summer sun, carrying my purse and a shoulder bag while nursing a potentially cracked rib, or the fact that I was reeling from my own sudden inner confrontation) and it all churned in there until my thoughts and confusion spilled out as I sat with my family at lunch. “What’s the matter with me,” I wailed, “that I can’t just follow the protocol and do what everybody else does? Why can’t I be humble and do it their way?” While poor Rachel sat there with the “I’m so sick of hearing about college again” expression on her face, Dan and Chloe jumped all over me, explaining that wanting to figure out my own path might not mean I’m arrogant. Okay, I’ll consider that concept. And a new idea began to be birthed there, amid the soup and sandwiches. Could I create my own “university”? I know a lot of people in the music world, and they all know lots of other people. Could I search out my own teachers, to teach me the things I am most yearning to learn?

    Nobody is demanding that I present a diploma or add letters to my name. My students and their parents are continuing to show up and pay me for the lessons and classes I offer. My baroque orchestra directors accepted me with the credentials I already carry. I am not applying for a new job, being quite happy with the one(s) I have right now. So far I have been able to identify these two pieces: 1) I want to begin to fill some gaps in my music education that I am finding increasingly frustrating – my technique and repertoire on violin and my understanding in the areas of theory, history, orchestration, and conducting/directing; and 2) I keep thinking I will feel like a more valid and competent musician if I go through a college curriculum. What some people are trying to tell me is that my life (i.e. my music career) has been providing me with a curriculum all along. I have, after all, been a professional musician for almost forty years.

    I have not made any concrete decisions. But I figured it might be helpful to check out a few books on music theory and see if there is something worth purchasing and using as my first textbook. And in the meantime I am thinking about whom I might ask to be my first professor in my proposed custom-designed course catalog. Assuming I decide to proceed with the idea.

  3. Beauty and Aging. I turned 56 this year, which is not that old, I know. And I don’t even feel that old. Most of the time. But when I look in the mirror I am more and more often taken aback at how few hairs of my original brunette shade there are, especially in the tufts right around my ears. Wait. That makes me sound like a werewolf. Would you call them sideburns? I don’t like how that sounds either. Anyway, those hairs are coming in white in a much higher concentration, and of course that is what I see when I look in the mirror. But it’s not just the white hair. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to watch myself lose color. The face I see looking back at me is more of a monotone than it was in my 40s and prior, when my eyes popped out because my hair and eyebrows were so dark. There was a certain sharpness to my portrait, and I grew accustomed to it over my adult decades. So who is this washed out, faded person that appears there now? Not to mention the wild eyebrow hairs that would better suit Einstein, and the coarse yet stubbornly straight wiriness of the white hairs on my head? I couldn’t have had the curl endowed onto the hairdo-hairs and reserved the straight ones for my brows?And that brings you to the present shocking true confession that I, the pure and natural, who never even learned how to apply one dab of mascara until I had to perform in Las Vegas at the age of 28 for a convention of travel agents, who by the end were standing on the tables,totally inebriated, waving their napkins nostalgically. (That’s another story.) During my early folk-performing years I eventually got in the habit of applying some eye make-up and lip gloss. Until I had Chloe. And then it was way too much trouble unless the performance hall was very large. Then, once Rachel came along and I stopped performing, the cosmetics case got stowed away in the closet, forgotten. This mother who has lectured to her daughters for years about how women have worn cosmetics throughout the ages to appear more attractive to the opposite sex, which first of all they do not need to do in any hurry, and second of all is a concept I question on all levels, is lingering over the cakes of eye shadow powders at Whole Foods, examining the infinite shades of crèmes and glosses and liners at Natural Grocers and Walgreens alike.It finally came to a head (so to speak) the day I came home with a much shorter haircut, and, shocked by my suddenly smaller and whiter head, impulsively painted on some mascara and eyeliner. A miniscule amount, I hasten to assure you. And, I confess, again the next day, still barely perceptible. By that evening, Rachel asked about it quizzically, and Chloe yelled from the next room, “WHAT? Are you wearing MAKE-UP??????” Who is this mother?

    A disclaimer: Just because I check out a book on how to apply make-up from the library does not mean I am going to USE it. I’m just exploring the territory of my options. Okay, I’m finished with that uncomfortable subject, and I can’t promise I’ll update you later.

  4. The most important book to note is one I did not even try to find. There were several suggested by the college where Chloe will be making her new home starting on August 26, with titles like When Your Kid Goes to College: A Parent’s Survival Guide, and Bringing Home the Laundry: Effective Parenting for College and Beyond. Survival? Will I actually survive her leaving?

Yes, I am aware that that is really what’s up. And that is enough for today.



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  1. Yay Carla! I’m looking forward to reading your future postings.

    • Thanks, Mary! There’s definitely more to come!

  2. Carla,
    I agree with Chloe and Dan about the college thing. Can’t see you wasting your time slogging through four years at this point in your life. Creating your own course of study with your chosen teachers seems like so much more fun!

    • Thanks for the validation! I think that if I were sitting outside myself it would sound fun, too! Right now I’m a little lost, just trying to find a good fit with a violin teacher, but I know it will all come to clarity in good time.

  3. Carla: I read through your first posting and enjoyed every word.

    Having said that, it was three day’s worth! Don’t give it all up at once, people check in on blogs for 5 minutes, anything more than that is asking to much.

    Mete out your material in little bits, so people want more because it was only five minutes worth.
    Love you and look forward to reading more!

    • Thanks so much for the input, Naomi. I decided after reading your comments that I will run two tracks. Some of the blog entries I have written ahead of time are already long, and I will leave them as is and put them in the “long blogs” category. And then I will write some short ones and create a “short blogs” category. Then people can choose, and I’m satisfied as well! I love that it just came to me as a result of your thoughts.

  4. BTW – You would look great in a deep purple eye shadow! In an understated way. Peachy-pink blush. Also understated. But you are beautiful in any case.

    • I will definitely try both! I so appreciate both the suggestions and the compliment.

  5. Hi Carla,

    Congratulations on your new blog! I’ve been doing it for a while now and I find it to be very therapeutic. I originally started with a totally random blog on Open Salon, but found that I needed a bit more focus, so I started, since “green living” seems to be my passion these days. I find it really rewarding to connect with a community of like-minded folks, plus I totally LOVE having a place that I can vent, rant, express all of my poetic thoughts, etc, and not worry if I’m boring anybody. Because, after all, they don’t have to read it if they don’t want to!

    Your section on the makeup made me chuckle. I, too have shunned it most of my life, but a few years back I had to go to a few “nice” events. When I try to “dress up” I always end up looking in the mirror and thinking that people must wonder “was that woman born without eyelashes?” Seriously, they are almost invisible. But if I try to wear the regular black or brown mascara, I just look totally ridiculous and clown-like. Sooo, I scoured the web and actually found special mascara designed specifically for red heads. And it was all downhill from there. I ended up dropping about $250 on “red head” makeup. It was actually sort of fun to finally get to use makeup that was intended for someone with my complexion. It was sort of a short lived experiment, but a fun one. At least I now know that I CAN wear makeup if I want to. The mascara and eyebrow pencil still get used now and then though (it’s so nice to feel like I actually have eyelashes and eyebrows)!

    I’m looking forward to reading your musings!

    • So nice to hear from you, Becky! Dan read one of your blog entries, (and loved it) and I plan to visit it soon! And I love your story about the make-up. It’s so great to find out that other people have similar face-in-the-mirror experiences! Thanks for the encouragement!

  6. I finally got around to looking at your blog and it’s wonderful!

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