Monday, August 8, 2016

Scold and Praise

Today Master Schultz taught me two wonderful things through glorification and chastisement.
At my last lesson, he asked that I run prepare the Bach Sonata No. 2 in A minor and familiarize myself with it again. Today, he asked me if I had played through the Bach and if I could perform it for him first thing. I replied, "Yes, but isn't not as good as I'd like it." He nodded and asked me to play it. After I finished, he praised my performance, "That's the best I've heard you play it. It was amazing. Really, I mean it." He held eye contact with my gaze until there was almost an uncomfortable silence and I thanked him. He added that I should take more time with the phrases and pauses, adding that there was a particularly lengthy pause that he really appreciated and that I should 'take my time' more often. Master Schultz regularly reminds me not to 'short-change' myself. He asked me to play it again two more times but he insisted that the first time was best. I think it was due to my nervousness that I played it better. Once I had relaxed and basked in the light of his praises, I may have slackened.
I was reminded of two lessons from his praise: I should not underestimate my own ability or convey shortcomings to others. Also, I remembered that I shouldn't rest on my laurels. Mrs. Wittrig, my first violin instructor, once asked me if I knew the meaning of that expression or where it originated. When I responded in the negative, she explained that in Greek society laurels were a symbol of accolade, merit, accomplishment and that 'resting on one's laurels' meant that one becomes innert after achieving an honor, an accomplishment or something to that effect. Essentially, she warned that if I rested too much, I would become stagnant in my studies and possibly regress. She wasn't ever heavy with me, but she often laced my violin lessons with complex life lessons in ethical behavior. I realize now that my instructors all taught me valuable lessons; they taught me violin technique, ingrained theory, engendered musicianship, and infused musicality but the most valuable thing they gave me was their life experience and wisdom.
After hearing me, Master Schultz moved onto a Dvorak violin concerto for sight-reading. During the piece, I failed to play a grace note with a double-stop and he stopped me. "Did you play that grace-note?" he inquired, to which I quickly replied, "I'm sorry, no, I didn't play it." He scolded me lightly, "Don't apologize. It was a simple mistake. You made a mistake and you move on. We're reading through it for the first time, if you'd had it for ten weeks and you missed the grace-note, then you can apologize and I can give you hell about it." he added that I shouldn't apologize all the time because people are likely to rub my face in it when I apologize, even if its a tiny mistake. He made a point of telling me that he wasn't lecturing me, but that he wanted me to learn from his own experiences.
He then related to me that he often apologized for simple mistakes to colleagues or superiors and they would berate him instead of accepting his admission and moving on. It is the behavior of uncivilized and uncultured people, I believe, but an interesting lesson in human behavior nonetheless.
After that, I promised not to apologize again, and jokingly said, "I'll stop apologizing all the time. In fact, I promise I'll never apologize for anything ever again." He chuckled but then reminded me that he was serious.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Jazz Head

This Party Is On
So my latest dream takes place at a party and it begins with my my son and I showing up to the venue of an arts and crafts themed children's party. The host set up crafting stations for every craft imaginable. For example, one table was fully equipped with felt puppet making supplies like googly-eyes, hot glue guns, felt, etc. while another was a paper crafting table. The host even hired chaperones for each table-- most of them retired teachers and volunteers. My son was enamored with all the tables and decided to make a rouched black pencil skirt. After machine stitching the skirt panels, he hand-basted some loose gathers at the center front and back to get an idea of what the skirt would look like. I really loved the skirt, it looked great, especially for a nine year old's first try at sewing. The stitches were straight and even, the tension on his thread looked perfect, but the basting was a little slanted. The only thing he worried about was the size of the skirt because he hadn't taken my exact hip measurements before starting. "I think it looks fine, babe, but I can try on the skirt if you want." I said as I ducked into a nearby bathroom.
Rouched Mess
What I hadn't taken into account was that the material was stretchy and he hadn't used elasticized thread on the gathers or stretched the material as he stitched the vertical basting stitch so the hem was too high at the center front and back. When I tried on the skirt, my crotch and butt were completely exposed while the rest of the garment rested snuggly on my thighs. I have to disclose that I wasn't wearing any under garments, so I couldn't even model the skirt for him because there was a room full of nine and ten year olds that surely would laugh at my humiliation. It was like third grade all over again. I tugged hopelessly at the front of the skirt until the basting thread popped and the skirt front fell near my knees. Krishna Chandra knocked and peeped from behind the door and giggled at the silly sight. "It's alright, I can fix that later." he reassured me. He only saw the front of the skirt and I explained to him that I couldn't possibly come out because the back was more embarrassing; the basted gathers bunched up to the point of least resistance somewhere along my lower back. He got the picture and just had a fit. Besides the mishap with the basting stitch, the skirt was well-made. I assured him that we could finish the project at home where we had more materials and measuring tape. He laughed and I looked for my lover to show him Krishna Chandra's outfit.
Social Butterly
As it turns out, I knew plenty of people at the party, and by 'people' I mean intelligent adults with whom I could converse with for more than three minutes at length. Apparently, I was single because everyone at this party either kept asking me if I was seeing anyone yet or they would flirt and ask me out. I was seeing someone, and by 'seeing' I mean I was having casual sex with someone I knew but we weren't an official couple. My dream self is not very complicated but she confuses me. I really enjoyed the attention at the party but as the party went on, I started to feel guilty about lying to my friends about my relationship status. I wanted them to know the truth but I didn't know if my lover wanted to be my boyfriend yet. I looked for him everywhere as he assured me that he would be at the event, which, as I already related was more like an Arts and Crafts fair than a kid's birthday party. I started to feel bored and frustrated without my partner and so I left search for him. I wondered if he had fallen asleep or if he was sick, or if something terrible had happened to him.
Mountain Cabin
Around that time, someone mentioned to me that a huge storm was headed toward my lover's house and several attendees got emergency weather alerts from the National Weather Service in close succession on their smart phones. Thunderstorm warning. Flash floods. Hail. Heavy Rain. Flood warning. The jarring sounds of emergency alarms resonated in the corridors, which amplified the cacophony and my trepidation. I jumped into my car and drove to my lover's part of town and then hiked the rest of the way up to his cabin. He lived in a log cabin with a beautiful scenic mountain near a lake or river. As I hiked up to his place, I noticed the emerging thunderstorm clouds nearing the mountain and remembered that terrifying sound of resounding alarms so I ran up the rest of the way. I saw my lover's vehicle nearby and an unknown car as well. I thought that he must've gotten tied up with unexpected guests and was hosting them. Being cut off from cell towers and internet, he must not have received my texts of any weather alerts. It all made sense; I just had to warn them that the storm was on its way to this part of town and get them out of here before the flood water washed away the mountain side. Images of landslides and a collapsing mountain side wiping my lover's cabin from the face of the Earth rushed through my mind. As I approached his window side, I caught a glimpse of him in bed with a young blonde woman. As it turns out, my secret lover is none other than my husband, Chandaneswar. I should relate that is a recurring theme in my dream. It is unclear whether Chandaneswar and I are divorced, separated or if we were ever married in the dream. I just know that I'm an available single mother, a flirt, and I'm sleeping with an asshole. I don't know what it means, and it doesn't matter because we're at the scariest, darkest, most sinister, disturbing part of the dream. I hiked up the mountain trail past my lover's cabin and looked down at the view.
As I stood on the mountain side, a deep sense of calm detachment washed over me. I realized that his cabin was a perfect bachelor pad. I began to contemplate my life and wonder if it I wanted to make a scene or confront them. I grew apathetic and indifferent and concluded that it really didn't matter. I was using him as much as he was using me; perhaps I only wanted him for the purposes of filling a void in an uncomfortable social scenario. After all, I wasn't accustomed to handling social events alone. Eventually I would have to accept this new identity and social dynamic. As the storm descended upon that mountain, I decided to let my lover and his lady friend brave the storm and its wrathful destruction on their own. I didn't have to warn them, after all. Maybe they would perish in the flood water and resulting landslide. Who knows? Who can say for sure? Who knows the future?
Creative Destruction
I ran back to my car, got in and drove back to the party. As I drove, I remained eerily calm and determined that I would write my own future. I would go back to that party and get some phone numbers of people who wanted to be with me, who had no problem asking me out in public, and who didn't keep their cards to themselves. When I got back people were looking for me and asked me where I went and why I took off. I told them that I went to pick up a friend but got scared when I saw the approaching storm so I turned back. They all assured me it was wise that I had come back to the party quickly, I have a young son to care for after all. Krishna Chandra was still hanging out at the sewing station so I sat at an empty bench, grabbed some scrap paper and started jotting down lyrics, chord progressions, and a simple melody line. In my melancholic trance, it quickly turned into a jazz chart and song about murdering my lover and his mistress. I showed it to a couple of jazz guys and musicians at the party and asked them if they thought it was any good. The consensus was that it was inexplicably brilliant. "Have you ever written jazz before?" someone asked. "No, but I guess I should." I replied.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

New Acquaintances

Have you ever met someone new and trusted him or her implicitly? I do not typically trust or disclose much personal or pertinent information about myself to strangers or casual acquaintances but when I do, it is because I feel like I haven nothing to lose by holding back. I guess that is how I have felt lately. I instinctively felt that I could trust this person with myself because sHe knew who I was and where I was headed or what I wanted in life or in death. I can’t describe it any other way and for some reason, I feel like I want to express every part of it, expose the darkest corners of that dream and let you see inside.
I got that feeling recently from someone in real life and it caught me off guard. I disclosed information that I have been holding on to for a long time. I did not think twice or hesitate about disclosing it. I even felt this person was trustworthy and worthy of my truth. This has not happened to me a lot but it has started happening with more frequency. At first, I met a few people that I trusted with vaguely personal things, and then I met many people—complete outsiders from my world—but I felt that they were not outsiders, they were insiders and they knew me. They knew the deepest parts of me because they experienced, felt, and understood the same experiences.
Lately I have been focusing only on violin studies and my personal puja. I do not worry if people do not see me at the temple; in fact, I have stopped going every day. There was a time when I had to go to temple for darshan once a day. It was compulsory. Now I do not really care and many times I do not even bother going to feasts for very long if I am not feeling it. Instead, I stay home and worship my personal deities. I gather flowers and leaves from my garden for Them and bathe Them with a simple abhishek. I give them Tulasi leaves and sing for Them without fancy melodies but with heartfelt lyricism.
All right, so in my dream, I travelled to Mayapur with some friends. We would be there about a month or so and I heard that Indradyumna Maharaj was coming back to India around that time so I brought my violin with me. I waited around the Mayapur Chandradaya Mandir in hopes of seeing some familiar faces or making new friends. As it turned out, a few young women were walking by, clad in bright yellows, pinks, and whites, and carrying instruments, costumes, and sewing baskets. I immediately fell in with them and befriended their leader. They were all from Eastern Europe and met at various events. The leader was hand-sewing new outfits that employed Indo-Western fused fashion elements. I was taken aback because I have never seen another devotee wear, much less create that kind of garb for temple activities, and she was doing it by hand. I have experience with sewing machine but I will be the first to admit that my hand stitching needs more practice and I realized this would be an excellent way to learn and improve my craft. Interested, I asked her if she needed help, an assistant, to press, gather, pleat, baste and so on. I explained that I had some experience but I wanted to learn more from her and she agreed. First, I noticed she was making pleated trim by hand so I offered to show her a technique I developed that made the process much faster. When I showed her, her face lit up and she said, “That’s brilliant! What else do you know? Quickly we became best friends by exchanging methods and techniques; she also loved music and studied back home so naturally Maharaja brought her along during Harinam tours and concerts. Her quarters hosted a dozen other girls, equally talented in various fields. Some girls were dancer/choreographers, others costume designers, other actresses and directors, and some were painters. When they learned that I studied violin, they asked me to join their troupe and I was so excited that they invited me in!
Later on, I went back to the temple where I saw a disturbing sight. My mother travelled to India and was lying in a cot sick and weak. I went to see her but she said it was merely jetlag and she’d been worse before. I told her that she should have told me should would come so I could arrange lodging for her but she said, “No, just let me sleep and close the door.” When I opened the door to exit, rays of light streamed in, and I noticed some boys in bed with her, my nephews! All four curled up with grandma, snuggled in close like wolf pups in a den. I asked her why she brought them along, scolding her, “Don’t you know they can’t stay in these quarters? This is for the local pilgrims who cannot afford lodging! They need beds, not woven cots! The heat will get to them, they need running water, showers, and AC!” Next to them, I saw another devotee I recognized from Dallas. I was stunned; certainly, an American can afford a room in the guesthouse, so why was he bunched up on a horrible cot in the underbelly of the building? When I kissed my nephews and mother, they felt hot! I felt obligated to check the other devotee as well, so I touched his foot and sure enough, he was burning up with fever and his body was covered in sweat. Disturbed and embarrassed, I walked away in search of a devotee friend who runs the guest services in hopes of securing a couple rooms for my family and possibly this other devotee. I searched around the compound but I could not find him and he is usually easy to spot because he rides around on a bright blue motorcycle. Instead, I ran into my new friends and told them what was going on. They said they had some friends who would gladly take them in. Their house was outside of the temple compound but a short walk away. They also had AC, indoor plumbing with hot water and plenty of space for four young boys. I was relieved. Maybe these women were heaven sent, I thought, they were the loveliest and kindest ladies I ever met and they took me in like one of their own.