Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nice People

What makes the world go 'round? Yes, scientists may give us explanations about planetary relationships and gravitational forces and blah blah blah, but when the day is over and all's said and done, you've got to admit that the world still exists because nice people still live in it.

Saturday night* a little after 9:00, I was sitting in Dr. Holden's office with my dear, dear friend Mr. A. Steinway (of course). I had stopped playing for a minute and was just sitting there, thinking and staring into space, as will sometimes happen when I've had a long bout of practicing or when I am just plain tired. As I was vegging, there came a knock at the door. Whenever people knock on Dr. Holden's door, I can never really tell who it is because the window in the door is too small, and the lighting in the hall outside is too dark. So I got up to open the door. After pulling it open, accompanied by the protesting sounds equal to those of a door of a several hundred-year-old sealed vault (if you've ever tried to open that door, you know what I mean) my visitor was revealed to be one of the voice faculty, who happened to be passing by.

Professor (with a British accent, I might add): Hello, Britny. How are you?

I won't relate the rest of the conversation because it will make me sound like a fathead. And really, the thing that made these ten minutes so impressionable to me was not that this professor knocked to say something nice and then leave, but that we actually had a real conversation. He asked me about grad school, and audition plans, and told me about the first time he set foot in the U.S. (in Manhattan, no less)--he was encouraging, helpful, and interesting, all at once. And he's not some (pardon my adjective) old fogie professor who's about to retire and has nothing better to do on a Saturday night anyway, and...well, it was just nice. It renewed my faith in nice people. Someday when I am a professor, I will pay it forward. And in the meantime, I'll do what I can as a measly undergraduate.

*I wrote this post a couple weeks ago, but never got around to posting it until today...

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Simmering Stasis

If I am shortly arrested and thrown into prison, the reason will be: I STILL haven't filed my taxes. This unpleasant job has been simmering on the backburner for nearly three weeks. By now, the overcooked unpleasantness of those irksome federal fees is beginning to exude quite the repulsive aroma. My sixth sense tells me that the concoction is going to implode at any moment, and FBI agents will suddenly burst into the music library, or violate the sacred silence of the deserted HFAC in search of me. My life will turn into a tale of hobbit vs. Black Rider--even my bedroom won't be safe, although to reenact the bed-stabbing, mattress-demolishing, feather-flying scene, my apartment would have to be a lot bigger. My room is so tiny that two FBI agents of smallish stature would barely be able to stand over my bed if they squeezed.

In other news, I had a fabulous, long weekend: I went--thanks to Mati's generosity, and her sinuses--and saw a certain mutant movie at midnight with some excellent cousin companions, (I totally didn't even plan that alliteration); Friday night I went to the best Thai restaurant EVER ("Simply Thai" in Sandy) and ate some amazingly delicious food (not to mention the fact that I had enough leftovers for TWO additional meals, which = YAY in college student's life), after which I watched the edited version of The Pianist (oh my goodness, I am infinitely glad it was not my lot in life to live through the Holocaust) with my dear piano friends. Saturday night after work, I watched a rather weird documentary about Glenn Gould with another of my piano friends--seriously, I wish I could remember some of the quotes from that movie--even non-musicians would be amused. I know you're probably thinking that I must be crazy if I think watching a documentary on a Saturday night makes a weekend great, but, well...sometimes it does! Sunday, this same piano friend came with me to church, and then brought me home to her house for an authentic Mexican meal (her entire family immigrated to the US from Mexico when she was 11ish.) Then we went to Elder Bednar's CES Fireside, which was excellent, though I will admit that I got a lot more out of the second half, as I spent the first half in a rather soporific state. And Elder Bednar's comments now bring me to my third and seemingly unrelated topic for the day: practicing.

Elder Bednar talked about how much time we spend/waste out in cyberspace, and how, if we're not careful, it can take over our lives. He told us to ask ourselves some questions about what we do out here, including something along the lines of, "Is something good coming from what I'm doing?" Interestingly enough, just a few days ago, I read a link that someone (I think it was you, Spencer, if you ever happen to read this) had posted regarding how much time we waste watching TV, and how much it is hurting us in the long run. Aha, I think this is it. Anyway, I've decided to turn my blog into a good tool for motivating me to practice, even when I'm tired and just want to go home, or when I'm at home, and don't want to come back to campus to practice. I seem to be having a little trouble with the balancing of work vs. practicing: I've been going to town on the go-to-work-make-money-so-I-can-go-to-Prague thing, but not so much on the whole learn-my-new-repertoire-so-I-have-something-to-actually-perform-in-Prague. So from this day forward, I must practice at least five productive hours per day before I can go to bed each night. And you shall be my witness that this feat is accomplished. So far today, I've done about 2 1/2, so I'm halfway there. Yay.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Smashing the Bubble

Once upon a time, (as in last June) I bagged all logic and sanity, said good-bye to my dad at the security entrance of the SLC International Airport, and proceeded to make my way to a machine that would, within 3 hours of flight, take me further away from my family and "the bubble" than I had ever been (well, at least in my mortal existence). Was I nervous? Yeah, a little. Was I excited? Yep, you'd better believe it. Did I know I was in for an adventure? Yes, definitely. In fact, I basically felt like Indiana Jones. I was popping my "bubble," and not just with my finger or a needle or even a harpoon. I was doing the job with a sledgehammer.

The happy adventure of which I speak took me first to Paris, where, with the help of big yellow arrows and my, shall we say, "developing" French-speaking skills, I harmlessly navigated the Charles de Gualle airport and boarded my connecting flight to the beautiful country in which I would spend the next month of my life--the Czech Republic.

This is a picture I took in Praha (Prague), standing in the castle courtyard, which directly overlooks St. George's Monastery. Ah, heaven.

Anyhow. During my stay, I had a goodly portion of...interesting...experiences, many of which will most likely become the subjects of future posts. However, for the time being, let it be known that I not only successfully navigated my way to Eastern Europe (and back, which involved much stress: delayed flights, lost baggage, and a refusal of several hundred euros) studied at a real European conservatory, made friends from several different countries (and continents, for that matter), and returned the better for it, but also learned a life lesson: venturing out of the "bubble" of familiarity, predictability, obviousness, and comfort is the only way to truly find oneself and one's potential.