asphodellium

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

In August, you suddenly and inexplicably developed boob preference. Or should I say boob ADHD? Gone is our alternating one-per-feed system that worked so well for so long. For some reason you now feel a need to switch it up every few minutes, like, A HUNDRED TIMES. (Okay, maybe ten.) I’m decidedly unhappy about this. Not only is it annoying, it usually leads to MORE LAUNDRY.

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I think you’ve outdone yourself this past month, both in terms of sugar sweetness and omg-what-kind-of-creature-have-I-unleashed-upon-the-world-ness. You had a will, but now you have an opinion.

You like to snack on raw noodles. I have no idea whether this is in any way good for you. Generally we keep our noodles and pasta out of sight behind cupboard doors. Still, when you see them, you demand one. One noodle, thin and hard and crunchy.

We had a week-long potty strike … a week of laying off and letting you poop in your diaper, because poopy diapers are bad, but still better than constipation. A constipated toddler is not something I wanted to risk having on my hands. Thankfully your potty strike ended as abruptly as it began.

The revolt against diaper changes and tooth-brushing lasted a bit longer. We seem to be over that hump, but it’s a delicate peace, highly dependent on your mood.

IMG_20130806_222644You think soaps and lotions are the grossest things ever, something about the way they smear over skin. Whenever we break them out you make this pained expression, accompanied by an anxious whine. (It’s a sound I might make if I were ever forced to let a spider crawl down my arm.) You’ve even gagged just watching daddy rub on hand cream. Who needs lotion when you’ve got perfect marshmallow skin, right?

Jumping! is your new obsession. You don’t always quite make it off the ground, but you try.

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Sorry, did I say “obsession”? Actually, most other things pale in comparison to the intensity of your feelings about music. You like Disney songs – especially the opening African choir part of “Circle of Life” and the segment in “Kiss the Girl” where the tadpoles jump in and out of the lagoon singing “na na na” – and will insist that we replay those same twenty seconds over and over and OVER. You also like Lily & Madeleine. I have video footage of you interpretive dancing in the kitchen to “In the Middle.”

When I sing a line you recognize, you light up and go hunting for the iPod touch, demanding that I play the track. You’ve been known to melt down when a song ends or stops abruptly. (This applies to live music as well, whether it’s band practice or just me tinkering on the piano.)

IMG_3979Your vocabulary has been exploding lately, approaching a hundred words. Notables include open, more, 弟弟, (belly) button, ball, apple, bucket, toes, balloon, ten, done, mine, rice, hair, raining, run, come, chicken, dirty, music, blackberry, water, 哥哥, phone, door, morning, bird, bee, cookie. Your enunciation, however, can require some deciphering. Raining and morning you pronounce perfectly, but blackberry sounds more like “bai-jee!” Oh, and you know your name: “Aye-den.”

When I mentioned sugar sweet, I’m thinking particularly of how, even though you’re increasingly able to play and read independently, you still like to know that I’m there. I’m thinking of how you pat a spot nearby, telling me in unequivocal terms to “[sit] down!” before contentedly going about your business. (You get very upset and scream-y if I try to leave.)

And for the times my brain starts to unravel from hearing the same twenty seconds of the same song over and over again, your spontaneous kisses and 愛你s totally make up for it.

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W: “Do you sing Ashelyn lullabies?”
D: “No, she sings her, like, jazz and stuff.”

(True story. Because I have a bit of musical ADD. By the way, has it ever occured to anyone that “Rock-a-Bye Baby” is about a BABY FALLING OUT OF A TREE?)

It’s been a tough week. One where the weight of adulthood has you gazing broodingly out the window, envying the squirrels their simplicity of life.

And then there’s that extra dimension of not wanting any stress or sadness filtering through to baby. But how do I guard my emotions when the storm is gusting all around?

(Re-)enter John Rutter’s arrangement of “A Gaelic Blessing” … thank you, second-semester vocal ensemble.

deep peace of the running wave to you
deep peace of the flowing air to you
deep peace of the quiet earth to you

At the time we dubbed this piece “Garlic Dressing,” a passive-aggressive way for the first sopranos of getting back at Rutter for making us hit the high G. (Not a professional choir here, no professional ranges. Besides, I suspect I’m technically a mezzo.)

Last night Kevin caught a whole episode of munchkin hiccups. There’s been a lot of shifting and shuffling going on in the past couple days. Maybe by next appointment we’ll learn that munchkin is head down?

week 29

January is the beginning of my last semester of a two-year Associate of Arts in music. At the end of the month, I miss two of four live sound intensives because Kevin’s friend and fellow financial guru invited us on an eastern Caribbean cruise.

On the docks in St. Maarten.

In February we’re back on the sunny, but cold, West Coast. I miss the tropical islands. I miss ordering two appetizers, two entrées, and three desserts at dinner. I miss the Celebrity Equinox staff. But life goes on.

Studio time in March! I love this place to pieces. Studios and libraries – the best indoor places on earth.

Hello, my lovelies.

April is graduation month. Final papers and projects, exams, recital. I resolve to stop collecting degrees. Then a trip to snowy Manning Park at the end of it all.

Near the end of May, Kevin and I fly to Beijing with my family, then my hometown Changsha, then Lijiang. We spend our third wedding anniversary in Shangri-La, not wholly unaffected by mountain sickness.

My parents, brother, and our singing tour guide.

We’re in Asia for most of June, parting ways with my parents after Hong Kong. They fly home while David joins Kevin and me for two weeks in Taiwan. We stay in hostels, roam night markets, and fraternize with Kevin’s relatives and childhood friends.

Once back in Canada, Kevin and I start house hunting. We’ve lived in a suburban townhouse with his parents and sister for three years, and it’s beyond time for our own place. We move into a cozy little ground level suite in July. Oh, we also stop using condoms (the only form of birth control we’ve ever used).

My period doesn’t come for 45 days, but my cycle is so long that I’ve gone 49 days before. Kevin thinks I’m definitely pregnant. I tell him people don’t always get pregnant on the first try. I eat sashimi and undercooked meat. I swim in a freezing lake. When we finally arrange a doctor’s appointment in August, it turns out that Kevin is right.

August is sprinkled with weddings and a camping trip. I feel, for the most part, fine.

On the dock at Cultus Lake.

Another wedding – Kevin’s sister! – in September. I hear about midwifery and transfer away from the doctor we only saw twice. Midwives are awesome. They don’t scoff at your questions.

I’m teaching piano again in October. I see Priscilla Ahn in concert at the Media Club. I continue growing our mini-Hu.

Munchkin refuses to show us his/her sex at my ultrasound in November. Unexpectedly, we move again, this time to a big old house on the west side. It’s a temporary arrangement; we expect to be here for roughly a year.

December is a flurry of activity, with lots of meet-ups and Christmas events and dinners. Yesterday Kevin and I finally had dinner at home, just the two of us, for the first time in two weeks.

My under-ten piano students are great fun, but there’s always pressure from their parents to “make them fear me.” As if there won’t be satisfactory progress unless I somehow scare them into practicing.

Seriously. They could fire me for not being mean enough.

Is it a Chinese thing to confuse fear and respect? I’ll admit that it’s taken me some time to settle into a reasonable level of expectation for my students and tutees. (My default tendency in general is to expect too much from myself and too little from others.)

It’s my role to show my piano students what and how to practice. I’m not sure forcing them to practice is my business. Of course the understanding is that they will. If they do, they’ll progress quickly. If they don’t, they’ll progress slowly or not at all.

And if the desire to practice is entirely absent, maybe they shouldn’t be coerced into piano lessons in the first place? Obviously I’m thinking as a parent now, not a teacher. I guess what I’m wondering is, when do I push my child, and when do I lay off? Is there a difference between directing my children’s interests and allowing their interests to emerge naturally? How do I navigate that space?

While unpacking my STUDIO space (which at present looks more like an office, but hey, one step at a time), I found a letter from my piano teacher, informing my parents of her decision to discontinue teaching in order to pursue medical school. It was dated 5 July 2000.

An excerpt:

For piano, Sarah has the discipline to achieve superb technique and I would like to see her develop a more sensitive and artistic approach to music.

Reading this, I want to kick myself. Superb technique? I wish … I can barely play scales anymore! And I’ve developed more than a few bad habits – my fingering is probably unorthodox, I’m extremely right-hand-heavy, and I often use my thumb to hit two notes at a time. Although it’s true that my ear for aesthetics (and eye) is much improved.

It’s been just over a week in the new pad, and I LOVE IT. I feel so free. Strangely, though, I kind of miss bounding up and down stairs all the time. (The old place was a townhouse with three floors, our bedroom being on the third.)

day 8

Posted on: 25 April 2011

A song to match your mood.

I can’t see the stars anymore living here
let’s go to the hills where the outlines are clear
bring on the wonder
bring on the song
I pushed you down deep in my soul for too long

(Susan Enan, “Bring on the Wonder”)