ive been doing it wrong.

at age 31, i may be finally realizing that i have got this all wrong.  yep. not just 90' but a full 180'.  with all that schooling and everything else, with all the elaborate delusions such as 'thoughts' and 'being a humanist,' i have arrived to the grand total of zero. nothing to show for.

i earned couple degrees. too bad, because unless one shoves it to other people's faces, it's actually no use at all.  it's like my credit card.  my bank treats me very well, why? because i have the title before my last name.  yep. they call me dr. lee.  when i go to work, people often dont even remember my name. even if they do, i am someone who they can order around to move some chairs and stuff.  god forbid, she actually understand anything about this arts business? my education is apparently worthless, because after all that, im still worthless to most of the world.

couple days ago, i was recording at a location.  the dude decided to be graceful and thank everyone who were involved.  except he realized that he just thanked my boss (who wasnt there), not i.  then he realized that it's me, who is sitting lamely at a desk with headphones on.  how inconvenient. so he tried to reprimand by 'also thanking (me).' but really, embarrassingly enough, he could not remember my name, save his life.  it was rather unnecessary, to embarrass me like that in public: ya, thanks to err, what's your name, i cant remember, but anyways, you are someone who is recording my recital. geez, great, thanks. sorry, i suppose.

then getting yelled at, by what i 'should' described as 'visiting composer/artist.'  

there are no shortages of these signs: people freely taking credit for my work, in my face.  people who blame me for their lack of organization.  people who is eager to crush me, personally. onto dirt.  

ive been given so many opportunities to be 'successful.'  i ran into so many 'famous' people.  only if i was any good at 'networking' and keeping in touch, i could have lot more things i suppose. i could be making money. i could get used to getting addressed as 'dr.,' with loads of glossy respects in their voices. i could have been invited to fancy things and nice projects.

except i have nothing.

that's right. i have nothing to show for. i am at age 31 and has no wealth to prove nor have a great title to press people on.  i thought i love every single work i ever did, or at least try- well, i am mistaken.  i may love my work, but you see, it's either never right or it is not important at all. even better, often, regardless of what i actually do/not do, i am always in a prime position to be punched on face.  so obviously, loving my work is a stupid thing to do.  what i should do is care about 'promoting' and 'networking' the worth of my work.  the work itself is not important, is it.

i will try to hang on to the end of the semester.  i signed the contract to play some notes and move more chairs.  i cant be so totally destroyed that i will go back on my words.  no no. but yes, i should let go of this delusion that caring for the world and my work, people around me actually makes any difference. only difference i see is that people somehow turn against me. because- well, i dont really know, i suppose because i am 'wrong.'  i should leave this arts business to important and 'educated' people.

today, i feel worthless.  i havent felt that way in a long time. 

well, perhaps it's a sign. may be i will grow up.  please finish breaking this idealist moron, full of useless hopeful expectation into something useful. 


i never start on time, what do you mean?

"i am not starting at 730, i will start at 735. why? because i always start late."
"look, we try to start things on schedule in this building. this is your 5 min call."

"i am telling you, if you dont start at 735, i am going to walk out from the concert!"
"i had to deal with tech glitches all afternoon because the gear you have rented does not work properly!"
"well, let me clear up a point; the gear that you were using is a rental through the festival, not through the hall.  and we tried and have provided the auxiliary items you have requested last minute... why dont you give me a tangible reason that i can pass on to the house manager?"

"(house manager), he wont go at 730."
"why? is there a problem?"
" he says he cant go on at 730 and if not, he's going to walk out."
"gosh. alright then."

apparently there were tech glitches all afternoon. nothing was working properly.  so the performer was all hot headed before the concert.  he casually laughs, to say that he never starts on time anyways.  then he turns angry, then threatens (me) to walk off from the concert, almost yelling at my face. so he gets what he wants. but he could have what he wanted. all he had to do was to give us a feasible reason beside: i dont want to.

they didnt have a good idea what they needed. unlike professionals, who (should) plan their program and check their gear list, this afternoon was full of request for tools and tools themselves.  nuts. bolts. failing interfaces. you name it.  on the day of the concert, they were realizing they need tool A, tool B, tool C, ooh may be that wont work at all- what of tool D? do you have it? no, i dont have it? would they have it? hey, do you guys have it? (we may or may not. but if you requested, we would certainly have it)

since they do not know what they need physically (equipment) nor have let us know what they actually have and plan to use in the concert, there is nothing that we can do. the time before the concert, allocated initially to talk to the staff, us, to communicate their final stage plan and other related things, it was spent in fussing over gears that shouldve been working (yes, angry performer, i agree, they shouldve been working all afternoon and during the dress rehearsal) and yelling at a lowly staff. why? i have no clue.

i keep thinking this is not a flash mob. it's a paying gig.  youve been in touch with your tech person from the festival for awhile.  you must have made lists and double checked with the tech. okay, so your interface failed and your computer froze. your tech didnt have the right gears and things were in rough shape.  you are trying though. trying to pull a rock star, wearing your jeans on stage and retaking starts because your gear failed. and that your engineer put your sound track far too loud, loud enough that you had to retake.

this is integral part of what normal people call preparation and dress rehearsal.  and yes, most professionals do DO them.

and if that, most people are able to give reasons beside "i am not going to, i am going to walk out!"
makes me wonder. if i was with someone else (a third person presence), would he have been that rude? i dont think so.  aha. pity, it comes to that a staff must bring another staff just to avoid being yelled at.

this week has been the most disorganized week i have had in a long long time.  i never have seen so many tech glitches, lack of leadership and just general chaos.  for instance, monday evening, the order of the program was swtiched. insteaed of 1234, we do 1243. that's fine. problem: they did notify us last minute, but failed to announce it to the group before they went for break before the show.  delayed start? yes. but it was fine, because all sorts of things were happening on the stage with no captain.  it took all afternoon and lots of people to sort it out their floor plan. sure. okay. but none of it was clear to anyone (i wonder if they had one by the end. i am an optimist, contrary to many who may know me).  so though they did have help, they didnt direct any help to any task.  instead, a visiting visual person pointed to my boss and said:

visual: can he move those screens for us for projection?
m: he's busy- (didnt get to finish)
v: well someone's gotta, geez, im used to professional environment-
(monkey loses head)
m: that man is our tonmeister. he is not here to be a last minute visual aid worker. he works to record this concert and that's what he's doing.
v: ... well, i will get (some enthusiastic student), where is he?
m: i dont even know who that is. (and that was an honest answer)

if you are used to professional environment as a visual whiz, didnt it occur to you that you are visiting a primarily audio-focused hall, therefore, no, we do not keep black fabrics to cut screens nor have workers who can read your mind (as you clearly didnt direct us for any specific stage change instructions, before or during the show? if we can read your mind, dont you think we be working at the stockmarket or something?  ooh, my bad. i suppose you work with professionals.  well, we usually do as well. except you.

and no, the things that you wanted do were not anything extraordinarily difficult. projectors, arranging seats, amp and microphones, these are standard. but i suppose you find them impossibly difficult. well, that's why we are here. though you are running around hot, doing everything because you are a hero.

a failed one.
why would i say that? well, because the piece had to restart due to tech glitches.  your machines failed. whose responsible for it? well, you are. no? okay. let me bash it with baseball bat. are you waving your arms angrily at me and yelling 'that's mine, you idiot!' well- that's that then. it is yours. gosh.

there'll be another post about citizenship soon i think.  i am tired of people being rude to others. just because they think they are better than others.  well, rather than calling self 'the most unique voice of (one's) generation,' why dont you give us the change call you how we see you? it's not even modesty, but of being fair to yourself and the world you live in.

but at the end of this day, i am worn out and i think i am better off learning to do nail-free joinery-carpentry things.  at least things like stone and woods will always reflect what you have done to them.  if you cut them wrong, they will be wrong. at least that's clear. i wonder why people think that if you yell at someone, it makes you right.  if you did wrong, you are wrong. you have wronged someone, regardless of your own emotional being. what of the others' emotional being?

a concert contract is not a flash mob.  and no, you are not a rock star. how does one tell? well, you are yelling at the wrong person. if you stop being so noisy and listen and look around you, i think both points are fairly obvious.

i often wonder where have we failed as a society to have pretended-citizens.


to minnow(s)

the world have turned while we were weaving
not once but twice
and now onto a third,
first of another three hundreds and sixty then five.

of weaving and stretching the boundaries,
of the places and the thoughts we have shared,
once individual thoughts and now a co-habitat,
not only we have been freely swimming two minnows
but we also have grown like two tree roots,
intertwined in rich, dark soil,
perhaps deeper than tall.

the years went by, flying,
we forgot to count the days,
heady aroma filling up heads and hearts
sometimes high, sometimes low.
but always full, rich and enveloping,
simultaneous, free and generous.

and all these thoughts are simple, isnt it,
to three little words.
i have said it freely to you
and you have said it generously to me.

i hope to give you more of such humble offerings,
just like a well-brewed coffee,
common yet most beautiful in the morning,
especially when it's been drawn,
just for you and no one else,
despite the fact that there are more than 6.8 billion people,
that you were the one,
who i tiptoed downstairs in the mornings
to make that common cup of coffee while
trying to encourage the enthusiastic coffee machine to
(quiet down so it can be a silent surprise presentation)
(though the aroma always runs ahead of me,
however fast i tiptoe upstairs)

and while i cant make you coffee today,
i am sending you a message,
because coffee would have said the same thing,
just without words, but with warmth.

dearest minnow,
you are loved.


an electronic pardon

now i am back in yyz and life is back in the full (well, never that full really) swing.  back to multiple hats and different duties and peoples throughout the days and nights, often filled with music. but there are also some mundane or ordinary things i must do.  one of the very first thing i did when i got back was going to the bank, with my suitcases and all. it's kinda silly to think of flying seven and a half hours in a small tin can then another stint with the subway, then rush to the bank- seriously, monkey, you?!

well, it's been a funny holiday in a sense it was free- well, almost.  you see, my initial departure was in mid-december. it seems alright, finish the semester in style, then leisurely leave to a european holiday, how classy. except in my life, things rarely happen as planned.  out of total amusement, i decided to take a look at last minute departures from yyz.  things werent really too hectic and so i was wondering aloud: hmm, how difficult is it to catch last minute flights in december? you see, the difference between second and third week in december can make or break your financial record for the year. but who cares, i had my seat booked and reserved and everything! i had nothing to worry about.

till i saw a crazy price: 50 CAD for flight to london? what? seriously? so after much deliberation (may be of total of 30 minutes or so) as a cool cat would not do, i ended up leaving in a hurry, with proper dust storm and everything.  i got the ticket on saturday and i left on  monday. speedy gonzales! well, here's another funny thing though.  two weeks prior to that, i had an identity theft.  someone was trying to get their hands onto monkey's dusty wealth (sorry guys, for all that trouble, i didnt have much to offer. what a shame) and so in middle of family sunday dinner, i had to cancel my bank card and visa etc etc.  so i couldnt even book the ticket with  my visa card. haha. it was 'on its way,' and i thought i would be leaving in mid-month, no problem.  till i decided to jet off like some wealthy yuppie thing! so... minnow kindly offered his magic sixteen digit numbers and over the phone, we settled the deal. just like that.

so easy to do certain things sometimes eh?

then silly enough, i thought i should call the bank and let them know that i am leaving early, just in case they are eager and wants to keep an eye on my activities (ie. freeze my account soon as i whip it out to be a consumer) and the rest is history:

anyways. so i left with no phone banking access and no cred card. but i thought it'll be fine, as long as i can draw some cash.  well, that thought lived well for may be a week. what happened is during that first week, one day, my wallet took a dive into a closed drawers by the fireplace. how? i dont really know. it's part of the bookcase right by the fireplace yet i have not even open it up myself.  but these inanimated things often being alive, it sneaked in to take a nap.  hmm.

i decided to be a bit lax and wait till it shows its lazy bum again in the dull winter sunlight. alas. one day. then second day. and so on. and i think it was fourth day when minnow thought may be it's really gone.  we looked everywhere. and after such a long deliberation (just like when i decided to leave early), i opened skype and start to discuss with the bank agent, which will result in most secure decision of all: cancel it!  doubtful monkey hesitated but with gentle coaching from the phone dudette and minnow, i agreed to close it.

and then.

minnow peeked from living room, holding... wallet. it was lazy and yawning, not even a single hint of apology or manners, really. with practically empty belly (no cards! yay! i am thin and beautiful now!) so it returned. after it lost its- ahem- purpose, shall we say?

life is a funny thing. so i was to wait till my cred card to arrive to home addie in yyz then my housemate PO was going to kindly send it over. which he did. then was returned to him for some reason or another. and it just returned home, this prodigal cred card, shmoozing and socializing among christmas greetings and boxing day sale flyers, with a blue marker on its face (i still dont know what it means- not enough postage?) and by the time it got back to gerrard, there was no point to even try to courier that to england. so well, we gave up and i met it at home, and it was all green and new, with sparkling letters, spelling my doctor title and name and all, with bright sixteen magic digits.  

so meanwhile, what did i do with no access to my wealth?

well, you see, i was wealthy beyond belief.  with minnow's generosity, everything was alright. we didnt have decadent christmas as i was not able to purchase anything really and that we really didnt need things anyhows. but it's a good thing, as decadency mean point of decay, literally rotted and falling apart.  we had close, lovely holiday full of one another's company, along with all the lovely people we share this world with, both in person and in thoughts/electronic connections.    so it was all great. instead of expensive dinners and night out, we did what we do best: spend time together.

and yesterday, with the newly issued bank card, the first thing i did on web was to check my banking.  not my balance, but of my inbox. just to see if i have gotten a reply re: my apology. and there it was:

Hello Dr. (monkey),
Thank you for taking the time to contact us regarding your recent EasyLine experience, we appreciate hearing from you.
We understand how frustrating it can be to deal with a stressful situation after a long wait on the telephone. Running into an unexpected difficulty when leaving for your trip, may have been the final straw.
It's very thoughtful that you have taken the time to write to us. We will be pleased to pass your apology on to (my poor phone agent).
We hope this proves helpful Dr. (monkey) and please accept our thanks for choosing TD Canada Trust. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We hope you have a wonderful time in the UK.
Warm regards, (supervisor)

and with that reply, i hope that i learned to be a better person. the bank did cause me trouble by not telling me  that my phone code has been reset with the new debt card. i think it was inevitable to lose some temper. i wasnt combative nor confrontational, just exasperated. however, it is always a great feeling to be pardoned.  and after all, who knows, may be my holiday was even more beautiful because of the fact money was 'out of it,' that we, instead of showering one another with nice things (which we still did- i now have access to watercolouring again, with lovely small metal palette with colours he picked out for me- no bright green! yay! and luckily, i did pick out a few items he may like from yyz, phew...) and unintentionally trying to outdo one another, we enjoyed one another's company with 'usual' things, like cooking, hot bath, cold night walk back from the pub and shared time with family and friends.

i am rich beyond my initial expectation and it's a great feeling to live with. much love to you all!


doing the right thing

‘it’s too many rules- rules, rules, rules! none of them make any sense!’ she said, then she ran away to get more papers and pens to draw more rules. And when the house was filled out with papers of rules, she realized she couldn’t sit, eat, sleep or poop in the house. But she revelled in the fact the house was now ruled completely, without compromises, difficulties or irregularities.  The first time in weeks, she felt happy, trying to sleep outside her entrance door, crammed and curled like a small mouse, cold and wet under the winter rain.  never mind, if you bring up irregularities, she may tell you about the great constipation she had recently, when she had to give a birth to a warhead. and really, the details aren’t pretty. 

i should continue that thread and turn it into a short story. sounds mad eh? tell me if you can sniff a sellable movie script. we shall draw a deal.

recently, ive been watching quite a bit of tv through internet.  one of my favourite web channels is ted.com.  ranging from an idea to combat droughts in the african dessert, to bringing compassion into our society, ted never  fails to grab my attention.  i subscribe to the weekly newsletter and often i have to be careful when i open that html update, as i can frequently waste a whole day away.  and some of the ideas will stick with you, wherever you go- to the kitchen, to bed, to bathroom, even when you try to concentrate on chopping veggies with just sharpened knife- it’s there, sticking to the very nooks and crannies of your brain, slowly taking over a small part of you- a change!

a change that is fundamental enough to change a person’s being!  i think some broadcasts did change several molecular structure of my being, as some ideas can be deeply impacting.  like receiving a big blow to the chin hence losing some teeth and looking silly for rest of one’s life, the recent post discussing rules/regulations and the need for flexible bending of the rules has been a real attention grabber.

this twenty-minutes talk deals with the rigidity of rules and the trap of rules, and by consequence- demoralization of individuals, crushed under the weight of the rules- a hard iron cage, is a reality, as of: now, today, here, within us.  he uses very silly yet shocking examples, such as judges who are required to sentence-by-chart.  they become anything but ‘judging’ persons.  they are simplified, as of small elementary school students doing multiplication chart- 3 times 3 is 9, an armed bank robbery without death is jail time of min x year to max y years,  to be ‘fair,’ there will be no judging! the lady justice is equal to everyone and therefore she no longer is needed nor appreciated!

a society where a judge is not allowed to judge.

quite a statement.  but it is true- isn’t it.
ridiculous! funny! hilarious! tragic!
all of the above!

how did we get here anyways?! We often meet people who cling to rules as if their life depended on them, and because it is so important for them to have rules, they often try to make more rules.  pretty much every time there’s a shooting spree, people scream for tighter gun control, therefore more rules and rules and rules, rules, rules, so obscure and complex, and the silly thing is that the initial bill was complicated enough for the laymen like us, and much like a kick in the shin after one falls over, the most of the gun crimes are committed by rather determined people- they would have gone through the complicated bills.  So did our resources spent on drawing up of ‘safer’ rules create safer society? well, it usually doesnt, really. never did. there always be another shooting incident as long as there are insane, angry and determined people who will jump the hoops to get guns.  same with school testing- the infamous ‘no child left behind’ and the like-schemes. and unfortunately, with this paranoia around the rules, people often lose themselves, and become ‘rules’ themselves.

mad? yes. crazy? yes. dangerous? yes.
you don’t believe me?

well, do you remember this famous example then:
two-legs bad, four-legs good.
ooeer. bugger. ouch.

what does it mean, they become ‘rules?’ well, here’s one of my sarcastic view on life.  there are some stereotyping to be done to explain this. mind you, this is only my silly non-serious point of view.  there are exceptions to all assumptions yet it’s quite entertaining to laugh at ourselves, so do forget it if it offends.  So what is this offensive stereotype? Well, it’s the group of people defined by three different occupations: parking cops, elementary school teachers and nurses.  and what binds them together? well, haven’t you notice? They are always right!

for some reason or the other, these occupations can be quite dangerous because it promotes loss of self-awareness in exchange of basking in the glory of ‘structure.’  i understand that the society always needs some sort of structure, ie. one should not punch other in the face for fun.  if one is to hog a parking spot all day long in a busy street, it is triple unfair to everyone else. But oooh youve seen those parking cops,

they slowly start to dig their pen on the paper as you run your out-of-shape-ass across the vast parking lot, all the sudden, the size of siberia.  And as you draw closer to them, waving madly your keys in the air with face red and heart about to jump out of your very own throat, they smile, blind you with their white teeth and well, write a parking ticket.  as you collapse on the sidewalk, writhing in anger and physical agony, they drop that small piece of paper on your i-wish-i-could-punch-you body, cantering back to their police mobile with a lilt in every step.

same with lots of elementary school teachers.  they treat everyone else like a ten-years old.  I understand that’s what they do for a living, ie. least 40 hours every week in north american standard.  and they are always absolutely right.  of course, it is pointless to argue  with certain things like 2 and 2 would be (well, ‘is’)  4, that ‘wednesday’ is spelled with an inaudible yet visible ‘d’.  and yes, you should stay in line and when he/she says ‘quiet,’ you should shut the trap.  that is, if you are ten years old. and in a class.  however, with non-ten years old persons,  it’s quite amusing (for a short time) then infuriatingly incomprehensible and maddening(for the rest of one’s life) why he/she is expecting you to act like a ten years-old.

anyways, you get the idea.  and these people love their rules and structures. when they say ‘write your answers in blue ink,’ they mean business.  god forbid you use black ink! cant you read, child?!  and by some bizarre reasoning, once you complete your ‘punishment,’ somehow things have evened out, as if your action never have happened. 

see, this is the challenge of working within such tight structure.  one can so easily lose their sense of morality or ethics.  by being intellectually lazy, bit by bit, one then surrenders one’s  sense of independent justice and self, in exchange for rules and more rules.  as long as it is done  by the rules, it is right.  and by rules, nothing else shall be acceptable.  at that point, it’s almost a lost cause to ask them about their opinion of the world.  It’s only a reflection of the current agenda of someone else- probably the newest education or medical policy or something, summarized and chopped neatly in 90’ angle squares to fit the questions. if the answer does not fit the question, they will tell you that your question isn’t valid, as there cant be an appropriate answer for it. it’s like saying if you are inbetween pants size 8 and 10, they will tell you and say ‘you are either 8 or 10, which one is it?’  trying to tell them that there can be infinite points between two points, like size 8 and 10 is not only unnecessary, it’s inappropriate.

single handily, such people  defeats not only the big-mouthful book of bertrand russell and alfred north whitehead’s principia mathematica (an easy intro to work is given by douglas Hofstadter in his book: godel, Escher, bach: an eternal golden braid), but of the very common western basic philosophy on daily basis.  they do this not because they are interested in stretching everyone’s mind beyond the boring and predictable world of arithmetics and newtonian physics, but because they love the rules so much that the in-between-size is impractical and WRONG. 

So what do we do? Well, the speaker talks of outlaws and system-changers (yep, im short-cutting. trust me, just spare that 20 min for the clip; it’s only enough time to go through a rough manicure or a mcdonald’s meal, if you are lucky).  i would like to fancy self as an outlaw, but it’s really a bit too arrogant to say, haha.  but it is true, the system will always have outlaws and changers- it was even discussed in tron! The original tron- the movie! tron was an outlaw program! hahaha.

anyways, it’s becoming a long rant.  but i have thoroughly enjoyed discourse with self (and minnow) on this subject.  and i hope the same for you, dear reader, if i have not lost you yet.  how great is it to be flexible and alive-  well, you tell me.  without flexibility, you wont even be able to lie down or walk up-straight.  without the spaces inbetween things, there will be no self.  a self is a subjective accumulation of things/thoughts/actions.  a self is made of many different overlays and shared thoughts within the world it exists.  one may be different or similar, may be in or out-of-phase, most likely to be inbetween, as the points of phase cancellation or trough amplification are anomalies between two different waves.  a duality exist not for the sake of its existence, but to define the million gradation between the extremes, and without the stuffing inbetween, no such markers can exist themselves. 

so now what?  well, what of being aware of the existence of the system?  once you have lost self to the system, you probably are no longer aware of the system.  you are the system. dangerous.  and this is not dangerous just for the self, but also of people around you.  as a person in a society, you do interact with your fellow citizens and your lack of self-responsibility and awareness will have consequences to others.  like those shiny-teethed parking cops and damned bossy elementary school teachers. and this, to me, is a true crime toward the society and tragically no one can fix it for you.  only you can be you.  consequences and penalties never stopped determined individuals from damaging the world.  

so please, take care of self, as then it will take care of the rest of the world.  and should the adventure become a bit challenging and difficult, do take a breath and relax. most likely, there are enough overlays and mingling of different minds and times, lives and thoughts that it will hardly result in a important, non-reversable, true disaster. 

it sucks to be the first one out on the limbo party. and all those people who told you that if you don’t stretch, you will be stiff, well, it’s true. so stop waiting. be flexible and proud, be probing and alive. It’s easy to break a dead, dried-out twig. It’s bloody difficult to rip a rose branch out from a bush- it will bend and fight for its life.  so difficult that you may even forget about the desire to ‘have’ the rose, but let it live with you, smelling of its sweet self throughout the garden, into long-lasting memory, past its season, may be even passing its life-span, but staying alive, even more fragrant in memory.  

only point of finality in human life is death. why live as if you are already dead? and please, remember you being ‘dead’ wont end the matters for the others- be at least fair, don’t be ruthlessly correct and pig-headed. after all, life is about unexpected, exception and changes rather than strict boring rules- you didn’t expect your own self to be born on your birthday did you? that was mom/dad’s doing. 
let’s do the right thing. 


first concert of 2011

on nineth day of the new decade, i had a great pleasure of playing two beautiful piano quartets with friends here in england.  i live in a small village called chinley in derbyshire.  there is where minnows weave.  about 45 min or an hour away from manchester (depending whether you drive or do the train), we are just a little dot in the middle of the gentle hills, in the peak district, the second most visited national parks of the world.  i think the honour of 'most-visited' goes to mt. fuji.  in 'mainstreet' chinley, we have a carpet shop (it's been there for ages and i am yet not sure how it retains its business), a chemist's, a royal post office, a deli store (i have yet to set my foot in there- they opened up for almost a year now i think?), a curry shop, a newsagents, a laundromat and a corner shop.  ooh and a hair dresser's and a hypnotist's office.  we actually do not have a pub in the village, so for a pint, we need to walk about ten minute down the road, cross to the next village, whitehough, then one may make a choice between two facing pubs- old hall inn vs. oddfellows.  

in chinley, as far as i know, there are three church-related buildings.  there's a turnpike, right by the railway bridge, which i am not sure whether it still serves as a religious place (i used to think that it mustve been converted to something different but just this winter, on 31st december, i saw a bride fiddling with the hem of her wedding dress, trying to stay dry on the flagstones, so im returning to the 'unknown' state).  there's an old methodist church where minnow's younger brother once had a 10th birthday party.  this place has now been converted to a big open-concept loft and it belongs to the principle bassoon of bbc phil and his strong firelady wife.  and then there's st. mary's, a small-ish turn of the century (190something) congregation building, right down by the alpha road junction. literally may be 20 m away from home.  and here's something nice about mary's: they have a grand piano! and it's got nice acoustics. 

many musicians who work in manchester prefers to live out of manchester.  which means one must drive or take the train. so along manchester-sheffield line, there are these small pockets of concentrated orchestral musicians.  minnow used to live little bit closer to the city, in whaley bridge, then eventually settled in chinley, prob extra 5-10 min journey.  and this is why chinley holds so many professional musicians.  quickly running through my head, i think there are two bassists (married to one another), ex-principle oboe of the phil (now a yoga guru), current principle oboe of the phil and the freelancer cello husband, principle bassoon and the firelady used to play piccolo and flute, minnow and another first fiddle sectional player (and her husband who works as examiner for the abrsm system), cello no. 3 and cor anglaise with their lovely daughter, a violist/accordion/keyboard player in the neighbouring village. and me, the seasonal occupant.

and because they all miss chamber music a bit (yay) it turned into my good fortune.  for some reason, i find chamber music the best of all genres of music, where musicians are connected so deeply and honestly, without extra directions or compromises.  so we often read at a house gathering, or even put together a concert.  yesterday's concert was a piano quartet double bill, mozart e flat major and schumann e flat major, with elgar's salut d'amor in the middle.  and st. mary's is a great location (down a few steps from the house) and it's got a decent piano (the examiner and cello no. 3 conspired with the church music person to raise money for it and now it is here! yay) which naturally attracts chamber music bugs like us.

but there are a few glitches once in awhile.  and this concert also had its crisis.  after the penultimate rehearsal, violist unfortunately threw his back out and completely seized up. we missed him a great bit, as it is always a shame for someone to pull out at the very end.  but we were lucky.  a redhaired irish heroine came to the rescue.  she's also with the phil and she was fearless in a sense that she just spontaneously agreed to jump in and learn two quartets over night.  and IT WAS GOOD.

we had a good house for the sunday afternoon and raised quite a bit of sum for the church organ fund.  but most importantly (and happily), they listened and left with great sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.  and we played and left to pinting with great sense of comradeship and joy.  

i play so many different roles within the realm of music.  i played in big places like notre dame, paris and gewandhaus, leipzig.  i also play for little 10 years-old violin exams and last minute recording sessions. i will be moving lots of chairs and coiling cables under the mic stands.  and it's easy to forget what it's all about- what is this music business all about? why do i bother? was my training and years of commitment all wasteful because i am financially not so successful?

nah. all i need to do is keep self sane by keeping the important things alive in my mind, like passion and laughter.  like a good chamber music rehearsal, where people may argue over the smallest ink blop on the page for hours, only to exchange cheers at a pub post rehearsal.  it's about being human, this arts business. and that's why i do it, though i may not be a millionaire anytime soon.

i have some stuff booked for the spring and there'll be more.  i wonder what kind of playing i will be doing and how i would feel about it.  but for now, yesterday's concert at st. mary's was a bloody good start for the year. for this decade. thanks to all who enjoy life and music.  it's good to be a human being.


another donut around the sun

it is a warp up, with more things to come.  the last day for the year.  where does time start and where does it end? i suppose it's all just for the reference. and through reference, once arbitrary markers gain great significance.  new year's is a funny one as there are so many different ones one may pick (gregorian, julian, solar, lunar, lunisolar, international fixed, arithmetic, astrological, hindu, fiscal, you get the gist) and with the variety, one could almost pick and choose the one that matters to oneself.  but as far as generality goes, the big one would be the western calendar, gregorian.

and i often get more analytical than i need to with certain things, like celebration, like the new year's.  perhaps im the necessary reactionary of the world, bit off to the side, slightly off the track, though i do enjoy the general atmosphere of happy public.  it's just an unavoidable monkey look at life- what's underneath it? what is it really? what have it became and what does it mean?  used to drive my parents crazy.  especially this time of the year; once my father asked whether i believe in santa:

dad:... do you believe in santa?
m: well, i suppose.
d: what do you mean?
m: well, he is either illiterate or mean-spirited
d: ?
m: or he is not very good.
d: (sigh and a laughter, somewhat mixed)
m: someone who reads chemistry set for a teddy
isnt very... good no?
d: (chortle)

so as usual, i was thinking about what it means to celebrate new year's.  i cant remember when i have gone out and celebrated in proper big loud style- not very monkey thing is it.  when i was an undergrad, i think i used to.  but it does not take away from the warmth from people around me.  in fact, it almost heightens the warmth against my self-imposed somewhat colder objectivity.  diversity and differences keeping the world real, always opposing and pulling, yet together.

here it is then, a small wish for everyone.  i wish warmth, love and hope for another day.  and another. and more to come.  every day is a continuation from a day to night, then to another.  and luckily for us, we are also the continuation of one to another,  human context and network.  not because of a need, but of life. flowing from one point to another. happy new year. and blimey, how lucky are we to have the gift of time, not only we can enjoy our lives, but we can keep the ones dear to our hearts with us as well.  echoes that resonates through one life to another, without reservation.

happy new year to you all.