My Slightly Bad Day or Stop Whining and Get the Shovel – Wednesday, June 29, 2011 continuing on into other days which were not bad at all
I sometimes get letters from students and fellow professionals, asking shyly about the life of a soloist. Well, it is like the life of other people in the big city, except that you have to find a way to memorize your concerti and make reeds and book recording projects at the same time that you teach students, look after yourself and care for families. It is an act of constant personal dedication (not pretty) and imagination that is sometimes troubling in its scope. If you have determination, discipline, the ability to schedule and the ability to keep trying even when the time just isn’t right, then maybe you can do this too. Your path will be different, but discipline, responsibility and imagination are always key. That, and finding order amidst chaos.
On Tuesday night, I worked my grant application (my fourth large-scale attempt to interest federal cultural juries in Canadian concertos written for me and Guy – one of the requirements for all of these applications is that you must have recordings of yourself performing the music, which in our case involved a full string orchestra) and practising my Vivaldi concerti for the upcoming disc. My recital rep would have to wait until next week. To bed by 2 a.m..
I awakened to the sound of loud trucks on the street and remembered that I had forgotten to put out the garbage and recycling. I pulled on clothes and raced out the front door. OH NO! The raccoons had finally pried open the compost box (which also contained two weeks worth of double kitty litter) and dumped it.
They dumped it in the worst place, but how could they have known/cared? There was a large bundle of rain-soaked cardboard lying on the ground. I had asked my assistant to bundle it the day before, but I took pity on him because it was pouring with rain and he had nice shoes on. The cardboard boxes sloped downwards to a drain at the foot of my driveway. Because of a construction fault, there was water standing in the drain.
When the garbage can fell over, it was with momentum on the sloping driveway. The contents hit the cardboard ramp and somersaulted (presumably) into the drain. Already full of decaying leaves, it now had fragmented egg yolks, chicken bones and cat poop floating in it. On closer inspection I noted that the raccoon or raccoons had opted to poop 4 times in strategic driveway locations.
So I went back in the house.
Just then, my roommate’s elderly cat decided to have diarrhea in the basement suite and the smell warmly blossomed in the house.
Torn between equally repellant duties, I chose to grab bags and gloves and return outside in the hope that I had not missed the compost garbage truck (I had definitely missed the recycling). I tried to corral the poop and get the wet cardboard into bags. I found a shovel and scraped at the solidified kitty litter/compost combo. I lifted the 80 lb grate off the drain and began hauling out dripping lumps of material before reeling and giving up. I went inside and called the plumber who promised to drop by in the afternoon (he did!!). I returned to the garbage, got the shovel, eventually getting it all bagged and in the back of my truck. I began washing the drive way and cans… kitty litter is really sticky!
Went back inside to clean up cat poop and work on grant application. Went out later for a post office run and picked up air freshener. Stopped for a coffee. On the way home, seemingly out of nowhere, a man driving a battered white mini-van and wearing mirrored sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled low over his forehead chased my truck, screaming “Pull over you fucking faggot!!!” Baffled, I slowed down, but a woman in another mini van said, “I guess you should keep going, lady. He seems real crazy.” So I did. He followed me for a few weaving tire squealing blocks, then I ducked into a side street. Didn’t get his licence. Shaking, I got home and fed the cats.
Finished by 10:00 and then started practicing Vivaldi, fell into bed by midnight after washing the dishes and setting up lessons for my students the following week.
The next morning, I got up at 5:00 a.m., drove to the dump in the opposite end of the city for 6:00 a.m. and got rid of all the raccoon stuff. Then dropped off books and household donations to Value Village, bought coffee for me and my assistant who I was going to pick up at 7:30.
Lattes in truck, I texted him before I began the trip across town. No response. I got closer to his house, texted and called, no answer. Drove home to meet dear-Heidi-with-the-van so that we could load my mother’s life possessions (furniture, books, clothes and archives) and drive for three hours to deliver. Kept calling my normally-super-reliable-assistant and the lack of response was worrying. No answer. I texted another student and asked him to make sure my assistant was alive. Heidi and I loaded the trucks (hers and mine) then I cleaned the two cat boxes (one for Diva and one for Rocky), set the house alarm and headed out the door.
As we pulled onto the highway, my assistant texted. I read enough to see that he had slept in… 3 hours past our meeting time. I replied that I was glad he was ok and asked him to take care of cats and garden while I was delivering furniture to my Mom. Forgot to tell him the alarm system was armed.
Halfway to our destination, I realized I had made a mistake in my grant application. A big one. So we stopped for coffee and I called FACTOR. No answer. Kept driving.
Two hours later, we arrived at Dad’s house. Heidi, my amazing friend, unloaded all the furniture and boxes and I helped as much as she would let me. I called the grant people and they told me how to fix the grant. Mom made a spectacular dinner and Heidi went home. I washed the dishes and tried to fix Mom’s internet. Gave up until morning, then practised Vivaldi from 9 p.m. until 10 p.m. —- crashed into bed and fell asleep. To be awakened 20 minutes later by my quivering assistant who had come to the house several hours later than I requested and did not know how to turn off the alarm system. I laughed. He was offended. I probably shouldn’t have kept laughing.
Got up the next morning and fixed Mom’s internet. Then I made a reed and played scales and Vivaldi A minor #12. Then I unpacked some more boxes for my folks and drove to Toronto, bought groceries and picked up my son from his Dad’s house, had dinner, scheduled student, fed my son and the cats, cleaned the litter boxes, then practised with fire and abandon and reckless repetitiveness from 7:30 to 11:00 p.m. (C minor, A minor, F Major, C Major)(thank god my roommate is on tour) then fell into bed. The life of a bassoon soloist involves multi-tasking and thus resembles the life of any other musician. The only slight difference is hustling for solo venues. More on that later.
this is the best life imaginable despite the small obstacles