chasing through tangled (and silent) wires

end of semester, things are done and i am almost at rest point.  almost.  well, i am chasing after the very last payment.  it's not the easiest thing to chase/being chased after and i think it is a difficult situation. i wonder how it will all turn out, probably fine...


one of the things i will work on is always have a written record of a verbal contract.  if contacted through a phone call or text, i will always write back to through email.  phone calls have no trace and texts are too fussy.  but email, not only it leaves tracks, it can be accessed through many different medium.  

in middle of busy april, i received a call for accompanying a difficult sonata, less than two weeks go- hey if she's been having a difficult time finding a pianist, i will do it!  at this point, somehow the crucial info of fee schedule was lost inbetween- in that weird quasi-real space between the phones.  we agreed on the date/location through writing.

you see, i shouldve made sure that i have typed the fee schedule on that email but i didnt. mistake number 1.

as we are all working on a budget, we tried to keep the rehearsals/lesson to minimum.  i sent the final bill invoice as soon as i can, which happened to be day before the recital as we rehearsed right up to day before the recital. on the day, head full of logistics and performance-related thought, she said she wants to talk about it later- i thought: okay. i played the recital and went off to the next gig, waiting to hear back.  

month of may was a bit crazy though. the bill was larger than the budget she had left and i could not agree with solutions she came up with.   i wrote emails and texts as best as i could, though  i later learned that my writings, which tends to be head-on, was viewed quite aggressive (which i hoped it to be 'pro-active') and that made the other party quite hurt.  with the perceived pressure, she ended up putting it off for later (as her natural inclination in conflict situation).

silly enough, both of us were banging head on the wall.  both frustrated with what we perceived as 'other' was imposing (she thought i was pointing fingers at her, i thought she was being elusive).  but really, after all, it was just a simple personality conflict. however, without the face-to-face meeting, the written correspondences got more convoluted in each step.  mistake number 2: when things dont go well in written language, perhaps, try changing the medium- coffee, anyone?

once met face to face and the personal differences were addressed, the resolution was rather simple.  since neither could explain about the missing fee schedule, we agreed on the mid-ground rate.  and i wanted her to know that i wasnt trying to be 'better' or 'demanding,' i wanted to do it well.  ooh misplaced enthusiasm...

i didnt wanted to be rude or threatening.  all i wanted to do is play well, let her have a pianist for a difficult sonata as i enjoy challenges, then get paid.  she felt wronged as i used strong expressions to reject her solutions and kept pressing for replies.  i certainly didnt want her to have to sell a kidney, or even worse, to have bad taste about this incident.  all she wanted to do was have a good recital and pay me for the work- yes, there was a small discrepancy regarding the rate, but it was easy enough for both of us to work it out.  why didnt we do it sooner?! (though, things always look simpler in retrospect)

while in conflict, loads of friends say that it is so unfortunate! and yes it is, for both parties. as much as i hate trekking down, others hate being trekked down for it.  

i initially wrote on this post: i wonder how the meeting will go tomorrow.  could i have done something better? would i be able to convince her that im not trying to emotionally blackmail her?  how do i explain my reasons for frustration (slow correspondence)?  what is she thinking (without that sarcastic tone of voice)? have i done any wrong to her? 

i suppose i will have to find out- and i did!
this is the first time i have to deal with such situations.  many people around me have told me that they have bad debts.  even in my income tax form, there was a section called 'bad debts' for freelancers.  but this does not have to be a bad debt. and it didnt have to become a bad debt.  all we had to do was calm down (just like we were told in kindergarten), express, listen and THEN progress.  as much as i want to be clear in written communication, perhaps it is not as clear as i hope it would be.  and i surely will never forget to put the fee schedule in writing before anything, for both parties' benefit.

in any case, i am thankful that she has agreed to meet me (as that does take certain kind of grace and courage) and i am glad that we worked the solution out. how nice it is to have untangled wires finally.  


as i looked, the world was perfumed with beauty within us all

wee rabbit always sees the world a bit different from me.
and he sees loads of beauty. from the distillery.

as the semester is reaching its end, ive been lucky to gain some personal 'empty' space in my life.  though i do enjoy most aspects of my work in music, there are times when 60+ hrs/wk ends up spelling: go away.  though the best perk of it is to realize that once i can move away from it, i can really see how beautiful it really is.

what is 'it?' i have a hard time defining what 'it' may be- to call it music would be too simple.  it is music, yes, but it's not just any music that lifts us the mortals out of the daily grind into something special.  and one has one's own preferred genre of music as well.  one day it may be the dark side of the moon. next day perhaps a bit of bluegrass.  perhaps it may be the reminiscence of musical experience- the very song your mother sang to you when you were so small that you were held lightly in her arms, rocking gently.  i remember brandenburg no. 6 with memories of warm, declining early afternoon winter sun through the window.  it sounded like beautiful piece of wood- later i learned that the name of the tree is amboyna burl.  i dont really know how old i was but i remember wearing a gingham checkered dress that my granny made for me that i saw so often in old pictures- 4 years? haha.

this week, as i looked around the world with curious eye (not a darting, focused eye for work!), i realized it's the last week of handel's semele at the canadian opera company.   though coc tickets are real hot in this town, they do have rush tickets for same day release- so i went, enlisting one of my fav friends in town, ms. caroline.

semele is a silly opera.   semele's dad (cadmus) thinks semele should marry a prince (athamas). seleme does not want to, she loves not a man but jupiter (haha).  semele's sister (ino) however loves the prince, but dang, that man is not for her! so everyone's unhappy. till jupiter comes down and takes semele in form of eagle (which is load more dignified than his last disguise, swan, with leda), to take her as a 'young thing' to play with. jupiter's wife (juno) is pissed- can a god stop sleeping around?! in effort to get rid of semele, juno tempts semele and plants an idea to request jupiter to reveal his godlike self (as that will fry her dead, but alas, seleme has no idea) so there it goes: young thing twists jupiter to grant her a wish, so he does (totally bewitched), only to realize that semele's wish will kill her. well, word is word, he keeps his word and semele dies, as a mortal who is in presence of immortal.  however, in very silly operatic plot twist, from ashes for semele came bacchus (wine/drinking/party god) and all rejoices.

when one reads the plot, any sane man would wonder: this is wonderful? it makes sense? what do YOU eat for breakfast?!

see, this is where the practical world ends and music begins.  even such a dumb plot can be the pathway to absolute beauty.  esp. in competent person's hands- like handel.  he had a large output- and not all of them are of 'quality,' but semele, along with giulio cesare and (in)famous messiah, are certainly of his best works. from semele, these two arias are my favorite: oh sleep, why dost thous leave me (semele) and where'er you walk (jupiter). jupiter's aria is a rather simple idea: the world that changes immediately in presence of love through an admirer's eyes.  we've all been there. the air is sweeter. water is more refreshing.  etc.

love that is greater than just lovers.  ive seen this in the eyes of child, with parents.  an artist with his/her favorite instrument (letting them become greater than mere mortals, even just for a flash).  a small puppy looking up to the owner: daddy!  and yes, also through romantic and platonic love.  i do have friends who can transform my day by just being there.


where'er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade;
trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade;
where'er you tread, the blushing flow'rs shall rise;
and all things flourish where'er you turn your eyes.
(libretto by william congreve)

and for days afterward, this aria is quietly running through my vein.

perhaps it is the wonderful weather- where the sun pulls up the life from the ground, pumping through every new green leaf that now waves in the wind.  may be it's the expectation of the summer coming- as i am fortunate to head out to the hills of peak district in a week or so.  is it the little communications i now can see as i have more leisure and time, between all the characters i see as life passes by- passer-bys, young lovers without thick coats in sun...

may be it's the concept of the text itself.  that what is beautiful is not necessarily any different than the boring old normal life.  the ordinary world is already beautiful.  one just need to find the right angle, just a small adjustment where one stands, a change in pace of life- and voila, once one is settled and focused, the outside world is miraculously transformed.

the production was lovely.  and though ms. archibald was truly wonderful as semele, for now, my favorite aria shall remain where'er you walk.  spring, time of change.  perhaps it is inevitable that i am pulled into a full swing of change- upward, outward, a long arc, flight trajectory, away from the daily works for a bit, gliding through many different emotions and thoughts that has accumulated during the busy winter working days.

could i be more lucky in this world? aha. i think not.
with that lovely line: and all things flourish where'er you turn your eyes, i look inward and find the people i love dearly.  people who are close. who are far. who are with me. who understands me. who does not understand but loves me. people who i want to love. the living ones. the ones who left us in this world.  time passes without any hesitation and i may as well tag along on this great swing of change.  much love to you all- and let us not forget about such simple magic for the daily life: it's already here. we just have to look. beauty surrounds us. as other genius, pablo neruda says: as if you were on fire from within, the moon lives in the lining of your skin.

good day/evening to my lovely friends!
from a simple monkey who finally looked away from daily grind.
and found you guys, changing my ordinary world into magic.


-oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory's treasure.


today is mother's day in canada.  as an average blue collar family, we decided to get together at a local buffet lunch (eliminate conflicts of preferences, prices, all sorts of problems) (and it does not break the bank)- my older brother even brought his girl friend for the first family-wide meet (she has met my parents couple weeks ago i believe).  couple laughters, varied conversations, bit of disagreements, plenty of food, it was all good.

mother's day is an interesting one.  as a child, whether young or older, one often forgets things about others, including mom. life is busy and things are in constant demand.  one 'must' progress at work and make 'better' for self.  success is important and one's own happiness seems be the supreme goal of the western world- at least in my generation. as result, we often find a big surprise in may- oops, mother's day! i almost forgot! perhaps, as artificial as it may be, without mother's day, some of us may actually forget to think of our mothers- hopefully not for too long.

however, as a mother, i hear that it is hardly possible to not to think of one's child, even for a moment.  it becomes an occasion to forget about the child.

i know that mom held gabe close to her heart today, as she does everyday.  as a mother, she did not bury him on ground, she buried him deep within herself, a prometheus wound, that opens up every time she thinks of him.  and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  the missing child will stay young, beautiful and alive, only because mom keeps feeding him with her love- which will have no end.

i also think of a dearest blue heron lady who recently lost her mother.  as a mother herself, as she carries her child with her, blue heron lady now carries her mother in her as well.  it is a beautiful thing that she's got heart large enough to feed both, along with her love for music, BAM (dad) and other friends who are lucky to know her.  and also of another friend who walked in mom's memory on beautiful sunday afternoon, quiet pause on mount pleasant, mother who grows in her heart, like a beautiful plant, as grass grows anew every year in may.

i think of my grandmother, who had to watch mom lose gabe, while having to take gabe into her heart as well.  her fragile heart that almost stopped this winter, carrying the weight and stories from her 87 years long journey.  she wont have much longer yet she will continue to collect as much as she can- and i will continue to walk along with her and collect more stories, as once she leaves, there may be nothing more that she can share with me.

my brother's girl friend, i wonder what she thinks being with us on mother's day.  her own mom's back in korea.  i wonder how she carries her mom- as i tend to forget about my mom often, citing busy schedules and such as an excuse (bit low, i know).  as a child, i think it is inevitable.  every child has mom.  we take it as a default.  love flows downward, they used say in korea. and i do believe it to be true- looking at my life, i did pain mom to get out to this world.  i was the result of if imperfect, but human love (as perfect love does not exist, in my thoughts. if love is to be real, nothing in life is real, therefore real love cannot be perfect)  of course i wished more regarding my parents- hoping they would provide me with everything i wanted, that they would be beautiful and loved by all my friends, that they could understand me automatically and would agree with me at all times, etc.  however, after all, i realize she's given me more than i could ever ask for- she has given me life and i was lucky enough to have nurturing parents.

my mom and i are quite far apart and we argue constantly on smallest things to biggest events- however, as i get older, i will find more and more layers of 'mothering' in myself.  and as she wont live forever, at certain point, i will be a mother-less child.  she would leave and even then, i am sure to find echoes of her love for me till the day i die. how do i know? well, it's simple- i think it's true.

mom isnt internet savvy.  i am not sure if she knows that i have a blog.  perhaps that is giving me a certain courage- rather, freedom to write this.  i never have the guts to tell her directly in person.  but whenever i look under my shirt and look into my heart, the thought is always very clear: i love you. i wish i could show them to you so easily- but may be you already know it. because you are a mother.

happy mother's day to all.
especially the ones who carry their forever-young child in their heart,
also the ones who carry their forever-beautiful mom in their heart.

*hahn-bin's youtube clip is on:
songs my mother taught me, dvorak,
from Ciganske Melodie, B. 104, Op. 55m:

songs my mother taught me, in the days long vanished;
seldom from her eyelids were the teardrops banished.
now i teach my children, each melodious measure.
oft the tears are flowing, oft they flow from my memory's treasure.