Thursday, June 30, 2011

If It Ain't Baroque

There are a kajamillion people on this earth.  But only four of them play early music. 

That's what it seems like, anyhow, from my POV inside the bubble.  Gather a bunch of early musicians together in one place, and even though they flew in from hither and yon, I'm guarranteed to know them, know someone who slept with them, or have fifteen mutual Facebook "friends."

It's both constricting and comforting, in the way small things often are. Small town, small time, small beer.

OK, that last one is just low alcohol beer.  Which is neither comforting or constricting, but you get my drift, probably because you are a savvy consumer of large beer.

When things are small, too, they're automatically more personal.  In early music, this means you hire and get hired pretty much entirely on the basis of who you know and how you are known.  It's a baroque process, no pun intended, smacking of nothing so much as the machinations of the Chicago mob.  You know a guy who knows a guy, etc.

 Furthermore, it's not just your ability people are hiring: it's you. Your personality, the complete package of who you are, plays a significant role in what and how much work you get.  Are you a squealer?  Do you take direction?  Do you liven up stakeouts and drive-by shootings?  Do you own a van big enough to schlep a harpsichord?

This is in stark contrast to my other career field, in which you could be a dead body with a license and that license would get you hired.  It's also in fairly stark contrast to the classical music world at large, in which, to audition for an orchestra, you play hidden behind a screen.

I'm not sure, all in all, which is more sane.  Is work just work?  Or should work encompass the whole of you, every smallest part?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Am Here

Oberlin, OH

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Nothing makes you feel quite so much as if you were perpetrating a grand and encompassing deception as buying your first house.  Above is the window seat of mine.  And honestly, I cannot believe they let me sign my name to a contract for this sucker.  I am a MINOR!  I am in need of ADULT SUPERVISION!  Never mind that I am THIRTY!

It's a threadbare question, but when, exactly, does one start feeling like an adult?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Globe Road

I'm up in the mountains for a few days.  Not that you can see them, skulking behind their veil of rain.  It's shotgun wedding rain, sudden, knock-you-up, tie-you-down rain, barreling up behind you in no time flat.  It's the kind of rain that makes you run.  From the woods to the car.  From the car to the house.  And, early in the morning, trying to get three or four miles in before the rain comes.

Which is how I found Globe Road.  It hares off the highway halfway down the mountain.  It's unprepossessing, narrow as a driveway, and marked with one worn, white-painted arrow.

Globe, it says.  8.  Eight.  Not bothering to append the miles.

I've never been to Globe.  I do remember poring over one, as a child, trailing my fingers along the pauples of the Himalayas, the stubble of the Andes.  I was fascinated by the recesses, the odd corners, the never-mentioned peninsulas and forgotten plateaus.

I do not know what Globe is like, but I do know the pavement gives out before you get there.   It was 7:00 AM.  I ran down the gravel slope until the gravel turned to dirt and the curve was one more curve than I had the courage to round.  The clouds quickened.  The mountains secreted themselves.  It grew to be time to run back, as it always grows to be time, from every Globe in the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Am Here

Blowing Rock, NC

Friday, June 10, 2011


I'm running back toward the house.  I've left the car slewed halfway into a parallel spot halfway down my scrubby one-way street, no emergency brake, my purse plump in the passanger seat.  Now I'm galloping, already late for work, sleep in the corners of my eyes and coffee jabbing its heels into my flanks.

I spot the pen.

It's a blue plastic ballpoint, no cap.  It's lying in the middle of the sidewalk, discarded, glistening.  The morning is wet and warm as an old washcloth.  The sun is up; the Dow is down.  Darius's father and mother are hitting one another.  Someone has no electricity and someone is heartbroken and someone is autistic and there could be nuclear holocaust or climate catastrophe or a Palin presidency.

A PEN. And maybe it WORKS.

I've gone ten steps too far but I am young and my limbs are obedient.  I twist in the air, take a couple more steps, execute a graceful swoop and reach: minemineminemineminemine.  I secret the pen.  I stroll back to the house, retrieve whatever I forgot.  I amble back to my car and, whistling, pull out into the bright and terrible world.  I test the pen later, at work, and damn if that sucker doesn't write like a river, like blood, like oil, like joy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

No, Sit, Stay

So I'm heading to Blowing Rock this summer.  And Charlottesville.  And Harrisonburg.  And Cincinnati.  And Cullowhee.  And Oberlin.  And Indianapolis.  And Bloomington?  And, um, Fairbanks.  And all before August is out.

I mean, what?

See, I'm not a traveler.  I like to dig my heels in, or cool my heels, or whatever it is you do with your heels while drinking gin and tonics (gins and tonic?) on the porch.  Never peregrinate when you can percolate, is what I always say.

Actually what I always say is "where's my damn coffee," but really, who's listening?

Apparently not me to me, because I've somehow ended up with the travel schedule of a dedidcated schlepper.  And this isn't even counting the upcoming autumn's trips to Chicago, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, Eau Claire, Williamsburg (twice), Chicago and Charlottesville (retreads), Asheville, and possibly Durham.

It's easy to say that I don't like traveling.  I dislike the disruptions, the airplanes, the unsettledness, the uncertain wireless access, the terror of new highways, the harndess and softness of other people's mattresses.  I enjoy having a blanket excuse to buy as much coffee I want, but that's pretty much the extent of my solace.

Or is it?  Would I really do something over and over again if I didn't, at some perverse level, enjoy it? What if the truest accounting of our tastes isn't our mouths, but our feet?  Because here I am again, telling you I'll stay as I'm walking out the door.