Monday, October 25, 2010

The Unfinished Symphony

Last week I was sitting in rehearsal thinking what a shame it is that Schubert never finished the big No.8. Tragic, almost. The first movement is one of the most beautiful soaring string melodies I've ever heard. What more could Mr. Schubert have given us had he finished the piece? We'll never know. Maybe it would have rivaled the finale from Stravinsky's The Firebird, or Richard Strauss' Don Juan, or Beethoven's Ode to Joy in epic proportions and emotional evocation. But we'll never know.

Today I was sitting in rehearsal thinking about what Andrew Howell could have given the world had he lived to see his 21st birthday. We'll never know. But like the Unfinished Symphony, his life was beautiful. I know he enjoyed life. Just a few days ago he mentioned that he was having the best year of his life. So although his life, like Schubert's symphony, will never include a minuet and trio movement or a heroic and epic finale, I have so many wonderful memories that I will always cherish. I'm learning to make the most of everything the gift of life has offered me. It's tough, but I think that if I can learn to do that I'll be a more joyful and loving person. And that's all I can ask for.

Thank you, Andrew, for everything you mean to me and all of your other friends and family.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Too Long!

Once again I have neglected my blog. And I'm starting to feel like something is missing! Its not quite to the level of withdrawal that I feel when I don't practice for a few days, but I'm definitely feeling a bit of longing for the sweet sound of my Macbook keys a-typing! Well, with my days being almost entirely jam-packed with practicing flute and working at the MN State Fair the last two weeks and then the excitement and craziness of getting moved into my apartment in Cincinnati I have quite literally not had the time (definitely not had the mindset) to sit down and blog about all that has happened.
So first order of business: the fair.
What I learned from the great MN get-together:
1. Swastika tattoos. They exist. Even after my triple-take. It was still there, clear as day on the man's back. WTF?
2. After 36 chick flicks, bad action flicks, and failed Adam Sandler flicks, one's brain will inevitably turn to mush. You know how your stomach feels after eating too many Sweet Martha's Cookies? That's how my brain felt.
3. No matter what shoes I wear, when there is moisture (extreme humidity, downpour with a dash of hail, and off-and-on drizzle) my feet will inevitably get blisters. Flip flops? between the toes. Keds? side of my feet. Hot lesbian boots? back of my heel.
4. Men grow exponentially more interested in young women's fashion after they hit age 55. I don't know if it's because that's when they start to retire and don't have anything else to think about, but after dealing with these guys spending all their time thinking of 'hilarious' comments to make about my outfits, glasses, and/or shoes instead of doing their jobs...I'm about done with them.
5. Cops are hilarious! Maybe it was just the three that I worked with, but our main conversation topics were my handwriting, whose cousin shot whose neighbor in the hood, and which co-worker was annoying us most at that point in time.
6. People in MN have terrible fashion. There were the middle-aged mom-jean wearers, the people who were wearing the same clothes that they bought probably ten years ago, and at best the Abercrombie spokespeople. Faux-pas everywhere!
As the apartment is still in a state of un-packing, I'm not going to post pictures just yet, but as soon as the posters get put up and I get the last bags emptied out of my room you'll be able to feast your eyes on the much-anticipated Girl Cave.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Hold on, I'm Coming...

Today will be my last day working at the MN State Fair. I am ready to be done. Granted, I can't really complain about getting paid to sit in an air conditioned booth and answer phones every half hour while watching movies and doing as many sudoku puzzles as I can get my hands on...but seriously, it's getting old. Dealing with s...l...o...w old men, dealing with their nonstop comments about my outfits, my shoes, my glasses, the speed at which I walk, the cop that goes with's not exactly fun fun fun at the fair! Anyway, in homage to The Blues Brothers, my personal favorite movie (maybe of all time, but Stardust is definitely a close second!) that we watched over the last twelve days my title is from a classic Sam & Dave song that will be on my travel-to-Cincinnati playlist. Sorry for the short and erratic post, but something more thorough and definitely more exciting will be following soon!
I move in to my apartment in four days...actually it'll be almost exactly four days from right now; we should get in around the dinner hour! So excited!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Classic Style Always Looks Good.

With the new trend towards vintage clothing, I've been thinking a lot lately abut what makes fashion timeless. What is it about some outfits that make them wearable fifty years after their creation? And where is my own personal niche in the grand style spectrum of time? Here's what I've been envying my whole life...

The 1960's: Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face: There's nothing more loveable than a classic Cinderella story, and when it's set against the backdrop of the fashionable Paris with a wardrobe designed by Givenchy...doesn't get any better than this!
I spent half my life planning to get married in a dress like this...

My favorite dress in the movie is this polka-dot number! It's playful enough to feel youthful, but the cut is purely elegant!

The mother of all little black dresses. Drool.

The 1970's: Mary Tyler Moore: what a classy lady! The hair, the dresses, the matching skirt suits...if only everyone in Minneapolis looked this good!

She looks so effortless yet so put together. All the time.

And what could be a more fitting accessory than Dick Van Dyke for arm candy? Jealous.

Knee-length full skirts are my favorites right now!

The 1980's: Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax: (disclaimer: I am well aware that the first dress and possibly the shirt are from the late '70s, but the Gunne Sax line was around in the 80s. ) This obsession began well before I even knew what I was doing. When I was really little (maybe first or second grade) I found my mom's Gunne Sax dress from high school and fell in love. The dress is so versatile! I was able to wear it multiple times a year especially in high school for dressup! I could be a pirate, a pioneer, a cowgirl (see below)...the possibilities were endless!

Me (on the left) at an orchestra concert where we played Copeland. Win.

I realize this isn't the best picture, but in sixth grade I discovered the Gunne Sax blouse that my aunt had worn in high school. The first time I wore it was to dress up like a victorian-era girl, but in high school I discovered that it was an awesome alternative to the white oxford shirts that everyone else was wearing to concerts. Here I am backstage at the Kennedy Center with the Mahler 4 flute section of the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Music Institute 2008! Apparently I was wearing vintage before it was cool...

Most recently (I know I talk about it a lot, but seriously, this dress is amazing!) I bought an 80's era Gunne Sax prom dress to wear for a recital at school. I like mine way better than this gem (found on Google, duh), though. Can't wait to wear it!!!

The 1990's: Clueless: Generally, the 90's were one of my least favorite decades as far as clothing goes. Lots of poorly-fitting jeans and baggy sweatshirts...all I can think of are the frumpy kids in jr high health textbooks...but one girl was somehow able to skirt those fashion don'ts:

The red party dress sent my heart all a-flutter the moment I saw it. Serious fashion envy!

A mono-chromatic outfit with a touch of glitter in the shoes? Yes, please!

And who could forget this little white number? It's Calvin Klein!

The 2000's: The Housewives: Nicole Kidman and the Ladies of Wisteria Lane have proven that you can still be hot even if your main activities are cleaning the house and carting the kids around. It gives me hope that even after I loose my youthful charm and glow I can still be hot (that and the fact that my mother has lately taken to wearing Oscar De La Renta sundresses and looking better than I do half the time)!

This picture is flawless.

Loving Brie's dress, but then again she's always been my favorite!

Now all I have to do is find an aerobics class where I can dress like this!

Today: Lucy Laucht: Since joining the blogging community, I have a lot of new sources of inspiration. My absolute favorite fashion blogger is Lucy Laucht. I love her outfits because they are all in neutral but still aesthetically pleasing color schemes, they fit flawlessly, they are all super fashion-forward, and (the best part is) she gets a lot of her pieces at flea markets! What a cool girl!

These floral shorts are actually part of a romper...leave it to Lucy to prove that rompers aren't all bad!

I LOVE the gold shimmer on this top! I can't wait to find a similar one for myself!

My favorite summer outfit color-scheme. Also I am in extreme fashion envy of every pair of shoes she owns!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Calling the Fashion Police; I Need Help!

In sixth grade, my friend Anna from TC Fashionista made a list in her yearbook of people who needed a warning from the fashion police. Among the top contenders were a number of our now close friends. Of course this list was discovered a few years ago by someone who made it onto the list and now we can all laugh about it. Now there is something that I need help with that is not a laughing matter: what are the ladies to do in the cooler months now that Ugg boots have unofficially been 'given the boot'?
Among my failed Mall of America endeavors was a trip to DSW in an attempt to find a pair of somewhat fashionable boots that will both keep me warm and make it through the snow (in the event that we have another four snow days this year). Nothing. The only boot-like footwear I could find that didn't make me throw up a little in my mouth were heeled leather boots (some even complete with peep-toes). Fail. Everything else would have resulted in my winter ensembles looking like a horribly lost mountain-climber, an 80+ year old Lutheran church lady, or an overgrown kindergartner. Not happening.
So right now I think I'm going to have to settle. Unless I can find something magically in the time between now and September 9th when I'm not working at the fair, practicing, or sleeping, that is. I've got my old Target-brand FUggs and a pair of Ke$ha-inspired 'BAMF boots' (as my mother and I have taken to calling them) which will hopefully get me through. But just out of curiosity, have any of you found a solution to the winter footwear problem?

Monday, August 23, 2010

I've Been Thinking...

A number of things have been on my mind lately; of course they've all been related to music, fashion, and the simple pleasures of life...what more do I think about?
First of all, I've been thinking about music in the church. The Lutheran church, to be exact. Mine. In the midst of solfege-singing my way through hymns that alternate between 12/8 and 8/8 (wtf?) I was reminded of the worst Easter ever. It was my senior year of high school. I woke up early to straighten my hair, paint my nails, and put on the perfect dress. We drove to church, and I immediately noticed the first red flag; people in jeans. They were everywhere. There were people in jeans, sweatshirts, T shirts, it was terrible. I was humiliated for them. It's like wearing a parka to the beach: who does that? THEN. I grab a bulletin only to discover that Jesus Christ is Risen Today was not on the agenda for the day. Seriously? No Easter dresses, No classic Easter hymns? It was like Easter hadn't happened at all. To make matters even better, they changed the kyries to some atonal contemporary crap that couldn't have been sung by anyone without perfect pitch. I was furious. So there. Music and aesthetics alone are enough to make or break any day. Then yesterday in church I couldn't help but notice the lack of Bach in our services. Sure part of it may be because certain organists just don't have the technical capabilities to play even sixteenth notes, but really? The father of modern piano playing and part of the reason we even have music (besides Gregorian chant) in church services not included in today's churches? Blasphemy!
Fashion. I went to the Mall of America last week for the first time in over a year and it was terrible. It was the first time in ages that I'd been around so much disposable fashion and all I could think about was how evil it all was! Ok why pay six times as much as I do for the same styles I get at thrift stores in really poor quality fabrics that will rip, come undone, or pill up after a few wears. Seriously, here I go harping on disposable fashion again, but I believe in it so deeply that I couldn't not say something! My clothes fit better, last longer, and cost less than anything you could find at the mall. Plus, I'm cutting down on the waste that is a result of the terribly polluting disposable fashion industry! Win-win-win-win!!!!
Finally, the simple pleasures of summertime and my youth! I've spent a lot of time this summer feeling terrible about not being at a music festival, about missing my friends in Cincinnati, and about feeling generally unmotivated all the time. But there are a lot of things I could be enjoying. Yesterday I went to the beach at Lake Calhoun. Ok first of all way nicer than Lake Nokomis; better view, you can swim out further, more entertaining people watching, more ugly tattoos...I remembered that summer is about soaking up the sun, wearing cuter bikinis than everyone around you, and singing along to cool tunes. And I got worried about losing my youth before I get to take advantage of it! So I'm not going to spend the rest of my summer enjoying all that the sun and heat have to offer...also finishing painting my shelves, work eight hours a day at the fair starting Thursday, practice much to do!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Top 10 Fall '10 Necessities

Schooltime is approaching (well for some of you more quickly than others...!!!), and I've been thinking about what I can't live without during the cooler months! So here goes...

10. Black nail polish! Ok for realsies I just wish I could be Taylor Momsen, but since I don't see that happening any time soon I will be copying her glamorous style in every way that I can.

9. A Mary Poppins hold-everything bag! I had a big ol' pink one last year, but I think I loved it to death, because it's so grody it's turned more of a dark magenta color and the straps are falling apart. I found this gem at Marshalls in the luggage department. It was love at first sight.

8. Hulu! What better way to spend those cold wintery nights than curled up in bed with a mug [see no.4] of warmth and a classic television series? Currently re-watching season 1 of Arrested Development and starting to work through The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

7. Black Leggings! I know they're not pants, but if you follow my 'butt rule' (thou shalt only wear leggings when the shirt/dress on top is long enough to cover both the panty line (or where a panty line would be) and the camel toe (or where a camel toe would be)) I think they're legit. And oh so very comfy!

6. Covergirl Lashblast mascara! The only mascara I've ever used that both adds volume and magically resists clumping. The pink tubes even come with built in shimmer. What more could a girl even dream of?

5. Burt's Bees! I never wear lipstick or lipgloss, I think it's a result of being a flute player; every time I get dressed up it's to go play my flute. But I can't live without my Burt's. There's a tube on my music stand, two in my purse, a few in the medicine cabinet...

4. Quirky mugs! What better way to stay warm than with a mug of coffee or tea? And what better way to drink that coffee or tea than from something awesome?

3. The Romantic era! Mahler and Wagner and then some Tchaikovsky; corsets and bustles and skirts full of ruffles; Monet's great paintings of waterlilies; these are a few of my favorite things! (you can ALMOST sing along!)

2. My Vera Bradley planner! It's cute so I'll be more likely to use it than any UC paraphernalia that gets thrown at my face.

1. Big ol' sweaters! Just looking at this picture gets me in the mood for apple cider, leaves changing color, and curling up with all of the above!

(photos from Google...and my Facebook)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Internet, Happy Birthday Isabella, and Saving the Planet by Shopping!

It has been far too long since my last post again, and the only feeble excuse I have is that I have been too busy looking for inspiration. It's been a tough week for me; I got to see the boyfriend for a few days which was wonderful, but unfortunately that only seemed to make me miss my life in Cincinnati more. Now with the heat and the knowledge that I have four whole weeks until I get to go back (and SO much to do in those four weeks) AND a semi-broken flute, I have been pretty much miserable.
But I've fixed just about everything now. First off, I have to acknowledge the internet's part in making my life better. I have spent the last three days on StumbleUpon, which has led me to a few entertaining (but mostly just time-consuming) new addictions; Hel Looks (a Finnish street-style blog that showcases the fashion of people on the streets and what inspires their unorthodox styles), and the Real Weddings photo albums on (so after a while they all start to look alike, but there are some really beautiful things and some really funny hipster weddings up too. My favorite is the bride with silverware tattoos.). I've also been paying far too much attention to youtube videos people post on Facebook, because I've found myself showing the following to everyone and anyone who will let me: Basil, Antoine Dodson's TV interview, the subsequent song version, and finally what I imagine my childhood must have been like for my parents (the misunderstanding of the world, not the language...and yes, I had that haircut, too).
Today I made a shocking discovery as to why it's been so hard to practice the last week or so...I felt like there was too much resistance to my air stream, and for some reason certain notes were just weirdly out of tune. THEN while playing an Eb-E natural trill I figured it out! DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS, but I noticed that one of the keys wasn't coming all the way up after I pressed it. So I worked some magic with a mini screwdriver and a bottle of key oil, and voila! THEN I realized that I had forgotten my flute's birthday AGAIN this year. Dear Isabella (who, incidentally, was named while Robert Pattinson was still reveling in his Harry Potter fame) is four years old. I think she was pissed I forgot her birthday and wanted to cause a scene to make suffer. But that is all sorted out now.
Finally, I've been thinking about my environmental impact the last few days with the heat, the storms, and people around me talking about the end of the world. I think that humanity is more than capable of destroying the planet, but I also think that there is plenty of time for us to take responsibility for our actions and to reverse some of the damage. So today I am preaching the importance of recycling. STOP THROWING THINGS AWAY! I can guarantee that someone wants that old couch with mystery stains on the cushions, tye-dye your old white tees so no one can see the sweat stains (plus they're super trendy right now!), and no matter how terribly you hate Twilight, donate the books to Goodwill or your local used bookstore! You would be shocked to see what people are willing to buy at the thrift stores I frequent! Conversely, buy from thrift stores! My senior year of high school I did an AP environmental science project about the environmental impact of the fashion industry. It's grotesque. And it's something we can change so easily. On Hel Looks, almost all the people they feature get more than half their wardrobes second hand! And my current style icon, Lucy Laucht gets all her cute stuff from flea markets!
I guess today I was just thinking about places like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe, where you can get really cheap clothes that are fashionable for one season, then they get runs or rips or they pill up and you throw them away. This is what's wrong with America. (sorry that was kind of strong) But really, think about really any previous decade; our parents, grandparents...even back to earlier centuries! People had a few really well-made, durable outfits that were classic enough to look good for even a few years! Vintage clothes are so trendy right now in part because they have held up long enough to still be wearable today! Right now I'm wearing a khaki Eddie Bauer dress right now that my mom estimates is from 1987, and it feel virtually indestructible. This is just food for thought, but think about how much landfill space we could save if people weren't throwing away clothes. Just think about it...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Garage Sales, Cars, and Television

Today I went garage sale-hopping with my mother for the first time in...maybe ever! It's a bit more work than thrifting, but if you can handle looking through all the junk it is even cheaper! I got a nice antique wood end table, a cookie sheet, a mixing bowl, a casserole, and a frying pan for $6. Total. It was actually far easier than I had anticipated, too! Craigslist has a pretty good list (updated every day) which we scoured. About half of the sales we visited turned out to be busts, but we only drove about three miles away for the furthest one, and once we got back into our own neighborhood, we found three signs almost without looking for sales that were within Crocus Hill! I think the plan is to check out the scene again tomorrow, as I am still on the lookout for silverware, another frying pan, curtains, a mirror...there is so much to buy and so little money and time!
Upon returning from our trek, we found quite congregation down the block. Further investigation revealed that a television show was being filmed outside a house down the street. Naturally, I had to see for myself. The possibility that Pretty Little Liars or Parks and Rec (which are currently my two favorites...more on that at a later date) could be filming in my own neighborhood was just too enticing. So. I mosey'd on down as nonchalant-ly as I knew how until I thought I might have caught a glimpse of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Yeah, THE cutest bumbly young actor around today, who I've been in love with since I saw 10 Things I Hate About You for the first time (that's right, I would have picked him over Heath Ledger any day!). Two steps further revealed that it was not him. But he was still kind of a looker. So I calmly asked what was 'goin' on'. He informed me that they were filming 'a children's sketch comedy televsion show'. Biggest letdown ever. Not only was it a show that I would never see, but I hadn't even talked to the real Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Fail. I guess the younger generation of neighbor kids got to be extras and enjoyed the day far more than I did. Good for them.
Finally, I have gotten to work at the elusive driver's license. Somehow having to renew my permit yet again (this would be my third), along with the knowledge that my friends' younger siblings (whom I still seem to envision as 13-year-olds) are getting their licenses is just too much for my ego to bear. So I'm going to try to do it. I've got five weeks exactly until I leave for Cincinnati and in the last two days I've driven for three hours already. I think I'm pretty baller at it, if I do say so myself. I've done highway driving, night driving, downtown all I have to practice is parking! (which could be easier said than done) I'm also working my way through the MN drivers' manual, as I think most of the knowledge has escaped my mind in the almost five years since I took drivers' ed...
I love driving. Even in ye ol' minivan. When I crank the tunes, and roll down the's like there's nothing cooler in the world. Now if only I had a Jeep Wrangler...not that I'm an SUV or a truck kind of a girl. There's just always been something about the Jeep that set my heart a-flutter. I blame The Parent Trap and Mary-Kate and Ashley flicks from my youth. In all seriousness, getting a car is at least a year away (I don't even know that I'll get my license this summer!), and if I even were to get a car, it would probably be a used hybrid sedan, buuuut, the last few days I have been absolutely drooling over these...they're like Barbie cars. Except even BETTER!

(photos from Google)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Countdown Begins

I will be leaving for Cincinnati five weeks from tomorrow. One of those weeks will be spent with the boyfriend and for two I will be working at the MN state fair selling tickets. I have two weeks left of summer. I had so many things I wanted to accomplish this summer, and yet somehow I feel like I spent almost all of it thinking about how much I'd rather be at school. That's not entirely true. I [would like to think that I] have gotten a lot better at playing flute, I updated my wardrobe so that it's both more mature and more unique, (by the end of the summer) I will have made about $2000 so I won't starve, I practiced doing domestic things like cooking and cleaning, and I started blogging. There, those are almost entirely productive things.
I only wish I had read more, worked out more (although I have lost ten pounds since I left school in June, hopefully I'll be able to keep going!), seen more of the Twin Cities, and just enjoyed the summer sun. I suppose it's never too late.
I was just talking to the roommate about last-minute things we need to get before we move in (for example, we just remembered how nice it would be to have a vacum...) and I remembered how excited I am to decorate! I'm sure there will be plenty of pictures when the time comes. I am most excited for a gigantic white board that's going in. This is your invitation: come over and draw us a mural. It will be greatly appreciated. And fun. Other than that, all I'm going to say is get ready, world: here we come!

Monday, August 2, 2010


I find myself so often sitting around feeling sorry for myself because I miss my life at school (in Cincinnati) and I'm home this summer instead of off at some fabulous summer music festival like some of my friends! ...but then I am reminded of all the things I need to get done before I am ready to go back and I feel a bit more motivated...
  • I still have to figure out what credits I get for my AP/IB/CIS classes in high school (nope, still haven't taken care of that). Since performance majors at CCM don't get academic advisors it makes this process all the more tedious. I should have almost all of my academic requirements out of the way once it's all taken care of, though!
  • I need to finish getting all the furniture and decor for the apartment. This includes sanding and painting shelves, getting kitchenware, finding curtains, ordering posters, varnishing a table...wowzers.
  • I need to fix a big bag of clothes. I have sweatshirts with loose seams, a pair of jeans with a broken zipper, skirts that need to be hemmed...some of this I can take care of myself, things like zipper replacements will have to be left to professionals!
  • I need to stop in at the State Fair Employment Office to get my official badge, t-shirt, ticket box...all the good stuff!
  • I need to figure out how we're going to power and heat the apartment, how we're paying for it, and how we're going to get internet. Very necessary.
  • My second permit is going to expire in exactly one month and one day. I should probably think about taking my driver's test soon or I'll be running around with permit number three.
  • When you play a flute for 3+ hours a day it gets a lot of wear and tear. I should probably have that checked out before I leave...
  • Audition requirements for placements at the beginning of the year were posted today. To my chagrin, the excerpts desperately need practicing.
  • Oh yeah, and I need to pack stuff up/figure out how everything is going to fit in our could be a long 13 hour drive if I'm stuffed between a table and a dresser.
Ok maybe life is going to be busier than I anticipated...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I've Learned The Past Few Days

Marion, South Dakota is a very mysterious place. As it seems to me, the town is a place where innocent people are trapped until either they fade away into oblivion (like mom’s grandma, who got a sailor's mouth in her old age, according to my uncle), serve some sort of purpose (like ‘grandpa Charlie’ who was ‘the saint to guide her’ and lived to be almost a hundred), or the town decides to dispose of on it’s own (all the people who’ve died in various explosions and mysterious deaths). The town seems to attract the sort of occurrences that one would only expect in the Bermuda triangle, like the entire sewage line exploding, an entire farm being sucked up in a tornado, and how all the old records burned in the newspaper fire. My cousin and I discussed how much fun it would be to send the whole pack of cousins down next summer to investigate the town as a whole. The whole expedition could become a movie that is sort of Paper Heart meets Letters to Juliet with a hint of Ghost Hunters.

I have created yet another definition for art; anything man-made that upon observation takes you somewhere. So music is the most obvious example; duh, listening to a Strauss waltz makes you feel like you’re in Vienna three hundred years ago. Art can work the same way; you look at a Monet and you can just imagine the sound of the water rippling as goldfish swish through it. Fashion is an art in that you judge people based on what they’re wearing; I see a vintage dress and I can imagine both the hipster lifestyle of the emaciated trendsetter wearing it and Audrey Hepburn as it’s original owner. When you take this definition at its full value, one could also consider sports an art because of the emotion spectators get from watching their favorite team win the World Cup.

Engineers are on such a different wavelength that they make jazz boys look more like cellists. Math/Science-minded people (lets call them M/Sers for the sake of shorthand) are all of the mindset that there is one right answer (and most of the time it is theirs). These people are impossible to argue (or sometimes even converse with) because of their inability to empathize or even begin to hear out any other perspectives or ideas. My brother will be an M/S major someday. That was snotty, I'm having a hard time empathizing today...

I don’t care what people say or think, I love vintage clothes. I have always loved to wear things that other people might not exactly want to wear themselves. I mean there were the cowboy boots and leggings in ninth grade (wayyy before you could find leggings in stores…I had to buy long underwear!), the toothpaste tights and matching sweater in tenth grade (for those of you that didn’t have the pleasure of witnessing this fashion masterpiece, let’s just say the ensemble, which is somewhere between aquamarine and teal, was recycled for a Halloween costume (toothpaste, of course) two years later…), the solid-sequins dresses in eleventh grade (which my mother gave to the thrift store while I was away at orchestra camp), and finally wearing brightly colored patterned tank tops under plaid lumberjack shirts my senior year (which is quite the style nowadays, don’tcha know?)…I’m really just ahead of my time! Just wait until you see the new frocks I bought this week, I expect more than a few keyboards will need to be de-drool-ed.

There is no such thing as ‘normal’. The ‘N’ word is relative to individuals. I’d say I’m a pretty normal person, but how many 19-year-olds can honestly say that they expect to release a CD in their lifetimes? How many kids my age get paid to do what was usually their free time in high school? How many kids can actually say that they are more excited for their career than they are for Christmas? Me. Also it’s not like I spend twelve hours a day locked up alone in a practice room…I probably have more fun than you, too…just sayin'. On another note, my family is from the aforementioned Marion, South Dakota, where slavery may or may not exist and children are named after zoo animals...

On that note...happy August everyone! Enjoy the last moments of summer!

(All photos from Google)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top 10 Things I am Excited About [Right Now]

1. Going back to Cincinnati: I miss my friends, I miss my school, and I can't wait to move into my pink apartment building with the coolest roommate ever!

2. The vintage Jessica McClintock Gunne Sax dress I just bought: I mean, mine is way cooler, but I don't want a surprise reveal until I perform a recital in it!

3. Getting better at playing the flute: I'm still plugging away. And usually having fun with it! ...though not as much fun as I had taking this (and other) senior pictures!

4. Thrifting more this summer: my current favorite places are Unique Thrift (on Rice & Larpenter), Valu Thrift (in Sunray), and the Goodwill (across from Harmar, behind the Outback Steakhouse).

5. Dairy Queen now makes Blizzards in a mini size: I wouldn't call it 'healthy', but at least we can satisfy our cravings for less!

6. Coupons in the mail: All throughout high school I felt left out because all my friends got free Victoria's Secret underwear coupons in the mail and I didn't. Last week I got not one, but two. It was like Christmas in July.

7. Furniture (mostly bookshelves): How AMAZING would it be to have this gem in my apartment???

8. A CCM orchestra is performing Mahler 6 next year: Whether I'm playing it or hearing it, I. Can't. Wait.

9. The boyfriend is visiting in less than two weeks: A whole summer is too long.

10. Another year of SAI: Get ready, CCM. Here we come!

(photos from Google...and my Facebook!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Play Louder Than a Boy

I've always had a thing against guy flute players. They always win, they're always sitting first chair, they're usually prettier than me...bad news all around. If you think of the top five most famous flute players of all time, chances are you'll come up with James Galway, Emmanuel Pahud, Julius Baker, Marcel Moyse, and Jean-Pierre Rampal with maybe Taffanel and Gaubert as runners-up. All guys. MN orchestra? Adam Kuenzel, guy. Cincinnati Symphony? Randy Bowman, guy. New York Phil? Robert Langevin, guy. Guys, guys, guys! They're everywhere! Eventually that has to change, right? I mean we just elected the first black president, why stop there?
A few years ago in a lesson with Mr. Kuenzel, I was complimented on my breath capacity. Not too shabby coming from a guy who's known as one of the more athletic members of the orchestra! It was true, I could pretty much hold a note forever, but my dynamic range was pretty minimal. This year I've been working on changing that. I can now play approximately sixty times as loud as I could a year ago, and I'm working on extending my air capacity even further just by seeing how long I can go on one breath (yet another Dr. G quote: 'scientific fact: your body can hold 30% more air than you think it can'), but playing loudly is only part of what sets these guys apart.
So what is it about male flute players that makes them so much better than the womenfolk? When my mom asked me the same question earlier, I said 'they're bigger and they're sparklier'. I recently compared three recordings of the same piece, two by somewhat well-known women flute players and one by Sir Jimmy. There is just something about Galway's sound that puts him light-years ahead of the others; every note is beautiful, every sound glitters, and he can play the snot out of those septuplet runs!
So I went back to practicing, attempting to sound one quarter as good as him. I was kicking some French composer butt, until my thumb started to cramp...which I can only assume is a result of my accidental 16+ mile bike ride yesterday and not because of practicing too hard or tensely. So there I will leave you, folks...with the idea that to outshine the boys I'll just have to get bigger and sparklier.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Accompanists: The Good, The Bad, and the...Confusing...

I've played with so many accompanists over the years, I couldn't name them all even if I tried with every ounce of brainpower I've got. I'm sure most musicians have a few stand-out accompanist memories that they'd gladly share with you because even without trying I've found myself in situations that...wouldn't happen to most people. Names have been changed to protect the innocent (maybe oblivious would be a more fitting word).
Sometimes (especially in the music world) you'll come across people who are so talented that you let them get away with excessive tardiness and occasional absenteeism. Probably the first piano player I ever played with was one such case. We loved him very much. In fact he could sightread anything from the Galway pop books (flute players out there know all about them...mmm! love me some 'In the Pink' and 'Legends') without so much as batting an eye. But 'Dave' didn't always show up when you needed him. Sure, he raced in just in time to help me win the 7th and 8th grade division of the Upper Midwest Flute Association competition, but one time we weren't so lucky...
...The summer before 7th grade I made an appearance at the MN state fair talent show. I won second place on my night, no thanks to Dave. He didn't show. Ten minutes before the show started, I handed my music to the house piano player. He said he could play it. I was somewhat comforted. I got up onstage and started playing, but I was a little distracted by the piano player, who repeatedly appeared to be saying 'shh!'. I, of course, was offended. It was my solo, I was supposed to play as loudly as I wanted. 'ssh!' Oh wait...'shh' was only the first half of what he was saying. And so my ears were opened up to the wonderful world of vulgarities, which up until this point in my life were only uttered in PG-13 movies.
Sometimes you find yourself in a pinch, where for example you need someone to play Schubert's Introduction and Variations on Trockne Blumen, or Carl Nielsen's Concerto (both of which are incredibly demanding for the pianist) on two days notice. That's how I found some of the more talented collaborative pianists in the Twin Cities. Seriously, you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find people on such short notice! Luckily I discovered that the Schubert Club has a list of local accompanists on their website, but it took at least ten phone calls to find what you're looking for.
At college this year I learned that your collaborator plays a crucial role in your performance. One pianist who is a favorite in the flute studio, 'Robert' will play your recital or long as you are ok with not being able to hear the soloist. I went to far too many recitals this year where I thought I must have been listening to Chant de Linos for solo piano with flute accompaniment. Likewise, it is very frustrating to play a competition only to see that the judges' comments were mostly 'the piano was a bit loud for my taste'.
Most recently, I've been struggling with a piano player who isn't a huge follower of the school of practice. Whoops. Seriously, for all of you pianists out there, I know that you're usually doing us a favor just by agreeing to play, but please hold up your end of the bargain. Just run through it once or twice before rehearsal. It'll be easier for the both of us.
I love getting comments from readers, so if you have an interesting (or frustrating) collaborative pianist stories, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Project Stepford Hannah

Summer is kind of a grueling time for me. Sure it's nice to not have to worry about school every day, but when you have a regular job and a mile long list of things that need to get done before leaving for school in a month and a half, it just feels...stressful.
I've finished my nannying job for the summer, and I have just over a month before my job at the state fair begins. Today I began the laborious task of organizing all my stuff. This is particularly difficult because I don't really know where to put things since I'll be moving again in less than two months. I've commandeered the family coat-rack to serve as a temporary closet and most of my remaining belongings are sitting in big blue plastic bins from Menards. As a result, my room looks more like a garage. A messy one. Today, however, I made huge strides in my wardrobe's health. Mom and I spent about an hour each sorting through out closets and trading pieces that we knew were never going to get worn. I've gone through my dresser three times since finals week and each time I've been able to get rid of more clothes. Even if its just a few t-shirts, every piece makes a difference when you have limited space. My method? I imagine perfect Hannah in my mind who is fashionable beyond belief and ask myself if perfect Hannah would wear (this shirt, that jacket, these pants). No? Throw it into the Goodwill pile.
The idea of this perfect Hannah really began when I was in late elementary school. I remember I was looking through one of the last American Girl catalogues that came to my house. I came across what I considered to be the perfect outfit; a nautically striped t-shirt, white pants, and wedge espadrilles. I imagined myself as a young adult (I mean early twenties) wearing the outfit with long dark wavy hair. Of course in this fantasy I was also dating Daniel Radcliff, an endeavor that has since found its way off my to-do list...I don't think I was actually doing anything in this fantasy, I just knew that 'this girl has got herself together'. I was pretty, successful, talented, well-liked, basically everything anyone could dream of being.
Since then I haven't forgotten my lofty aspirations of perfection. In fact for the last three years, my new years' resolution has been 'to be perfect'. Don't get me wrong here; I know that no one is perfect and I know that I never will be perfect. However, in my opinion there is nothing wrong with aiming for perfection. I guess this is just my way of saying 'why settle?'
Finally, at the beginning of Spring Quarter I decided to raise the stakes in my apprehension of perfection; hence Project Stepford Hannah. The project really isn't that much of a change from my every day life, but committing to practicing at least three hours every day and not wearing sweatpants to school have actually made a difference. They are little things, but when I actually follow through on both I feel so much more productive and ready to take on the world! Now I think I have to push myself to see if I can commit to keeping my apartment clean...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


We learned from The O.C. that Californians spend their summers on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Gossip Girl taught us that on the East coast, people spend their summers in the Hamptons. So what are the Midwesterners supposed to do to beat the heat of these scorching summer days? Friends, allow me to introduce you to The Lake. If this had been around four years ago my life in high school would have seemed so much more glamorous! Not that I have a fantastic summer home on a lake, but there is just something about modeling your life, wardrobe, speech patterns, and music tastes after a television show that gives the impression of glamour. (Who knows, now that Glee takes place in Ohio maybe we'll be the next hip place to be?)
So why all this sudden talk about the great northerners' haven? I'm headed up towards Canada myself this weekend with some girlfriends for a little R & R! Today I'm leaving you with some pictures of one of my favorite lake homes, the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth!

All photos from Google.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sex Appeal and the Sonata?

I never had cable as a kid. I never had cable as a teenager. When ABC started showing Lizzie McGuire on Saturday mornings, I made sure to wake up early enough to be in on the action that all the other kids my age were exposed to daily through the mystic marvels of Disney Channel. Last year we got basic cable in the dorms (alas, no Disney Channel or Bravo...the two I was most looking forward to seeing) but really that just meant Lifetime, since that was pretty much the only channel that was ever on in my room. (Blame R, it's her TV!)
With my nanny job, I occasionally catch a glimpse of the automated TV guide that comes with their dish. Good Lord, there are some really interesting shows out there! The problem is that when I actually see clips of them, they appear to sound better than they look...
First of all, I am so in love with the idea of Ovation. For years I've thought 'wouldn't it be great if there was a channel dedicated to showing live orchestral performances and biographies of great composers, conductors, and performers?' I guess there is, but nobody ever watches it. What a shame. I think that classical music just needs to add a little sex appeal and people will eat it up! I mean there are a few such examples; Chris Botti = yum, a lot of people think Bond is kind of a joke but I still have a burning desire to be them when I grow up, every brass player-mostly of the male gender knows Alison Balsom, and of course who can forget the classic edgy 'good boy' Joshua Bell? Even the few moments I've been able to catch on this television channel have shown classical music to be a scene full of middle aged or older men and women wearing suits and speaking in stuffy accents. At the risk of condoning the objectification of women, I have to say that I was thrilled to see that Playboy made a list of today's hottest classical musicians! Although I couldn't help but notice that they are almost all violinists or opera singers...looks like I'm just going to have to work extra hard to make the list next time!
This reminds me of a project I did in fourth grade. Our elementary school had a symposium called 'Project Showcase' where each kid did a project (anything they wanted to do; a posterboard, a movie, baking cookies...) about anything (pets, volcanos, ...classical music?) that interested them. I of course decided to do my project about music, but I had no idea what sort of project would interest people. So I made a sort of music video. I picked about fifteen short pieces (I mean really short, like the snippets you get in elementary music books) and researched both the composers and the pieces themselves. In the movie, (standing in front of a table-cloth background in my American Girl Christmas dress) I introduced each piece with that information then I played them. Granted, this video was in no way sexy, but it just shows how from an early age (even before I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life) I wanted to make this music that I loved accessible to my peers. I will save the consequent elementary music education soapbox for another day. I will instead leave you with photos of my favorite orchestral hotties out there today!

Ok, so he's not around today, but how could I make this list without mentioning Leonard Bernstein? (composer and conductor)

Bond (crossover electro-string quartet)

Esperanza Spalding (jazz bassist)

Chris Botti (jazz trumpet)

Gustavo Dudamel (conductor)

All photos from Google.