I Do Go Outside, I Promise: the Roughness of Real Life


This morning Mom and I got up and drove downtown for an open rehearsal of my local symphony. I love downtown, and I love the symphony, and I love Dvorak. (And I love my mom.) I’d never seen professional musicians rehearse, only perform, and I was excited to see the sort of rough version of the polished symphonies I always go to see. Of course I know that massive amounts of work go into performing, but seeing the orchestra work together and handle critiques and tackle problems as a whole was something I was really looking forward to.


It was so cool to see. I’m used to going to the symphony in fancy-dress, with a million other people (who have an average age of eighty-three), and all the musicians are wearing black and white tie and the lights are low, and there’s an air of excitement and togetherness and evening. At rehearsal, all the musicians are in normal day clothes, chatting, drinking coffee on stage, and making funny faces at each other during pieces. You can see (if not hear) when they mess up because of their scowls and their hasty comments to their stand partners. The conductor shouts over the music and you see the object of his critique nodding and setting aside his instrument to mark his part while the rest of the orchestra plays on.


The music was still great—I adore Dvorak (as I’ve said a million times), and it still sounded wonderful to my ears—but something about the fact that it was a rehearsal made it so much better. It felt more intimate, somehow. Maybe it was the fact that I was one of very few people watching. Maybe it was because I got to see their mistakes. Maybe because it all felt so very human, I felt connected with the symphony on a personal level. The clothes, the critiques, the conversation, the coffee, all of these things just drove home the fact that no matter how skilled, how amazing these musicians are, they are people. They make mistakes, they still have to practice, they’re far from perfect, but they come together and they make this mindblowingly spectacular music that just comes alive, that finds your soul and holds it in its hands and says we are all humanwe all feel things so deeply, we can all relate to each other in our emotions, in our passions, in our longings, in that which we strive for. We all love and are loved, we all have things we care about, things we miss, things that move us, things we can’t stand—we all feel, and in this music, in this joint effort of everyday, imperfect people, in this expression of the massive, incredible masterpiece of human emotion, I can see that so clearly.


After the rehearsal, I had the opportunity to speak with the maestro, and I asked what he thought the greatest thing about Dvorak is. He looked over the stage as he spoke, like the spirit of Dvorak still lingered in the air where his music had just been played with such fervor. He told me that he thinks the greatest thing about Dvorak is that he never lost his folk influences. Even after coming to America, even with his work being shaped by masters and becoming more and more sophisticated, even in his fame and high circles of society, he never lost the earthiness, the realness of the folk, bohemian songs of his home in Prague. Maestro joked, “You know Czechoslovakians, they go ten miles outside of Prague and they’re homesick!” The incredible thing about Dvorak is the same thing I loved about seeing the symphony rehearse: he preserves in all his music the feeling of humanity, the roughness of real life. The simple, unassuming folk music that pervades and influences his work reminds you of his home, his people, and that the most longed for things in life aren’t the most sophisticated or the most urbane, but the most real, the things that make us feel loved and alive and human.

What I love the most about Dvorak is his ability to relate to you on a deeply, personal, intimate level—and that if you can break from your trance, you realize that his music touches the hearts of everyone who really cares and really listens, and it reminds you that at our core, we are all but men, longing to be loved and to belong. Despite our differences, every person deserves respect and kindness, to be accepted and treated as one would treat oneself, because all people share a bond of humanity, the brotherhood of being a member of mankind; crazy, beautiful, wonderful, individual, but still deeply, deeply familial mankind.

Also, I really loved this sign.


Best wishes,




On Sixteen & Sainthood

[An entry from my journal, written the day after I turned sixteen; October 2012]

So yesterday I turned sixteen. I feel really strange; like I just crossed the threshold of this new era of my life. I’ve been thinking a lot about what my goals for myself are, and what I hope to become in my new era.

I originally said that I want to grow into being a lady, but I realize now that it’s more than that. I want to be a saint – like, really. You’re always hearing that we’re called to be saints, but it’s always seemed sort of abstract, and something you only sort of think about. But I want to live as a saint. Every day to get up, hit the floor, and live every single day in a way I can be satisfied with. Be a saint, every day. I want that, so desperately do I want that. I want to be that woman whose feet hit the floor in the morning and Satan says, “Oh, no, she’s up.”

At the same time, I do want to be a lady. I want to be classy, put-together, and   polite. I want to mature as the young woman God created me to be. I want to be a ladylike saint. I want to be classically holy. I want to fight evil for Christ, with a rosary in my hands, wearing high heels and red lipstick.

I long and strive for poise and holiness. My goal is to grow in my relationship with God: to pray more, to have a dialogue with him. I want to become graceful: a mature, capable young woman with elegance and poise.

It sounds like an impossible but dream, but I know – I can feel it in my bones, in this longing I have always had – that this is who I am supposed to be. I have always wanted to be this woman: now is the time for me to become her.

Some news on the homefront for you all:

1) Fulton is off the ventilator! They’ve weaned him from the sedatives so it’s just morphine and an anti-anxiety drug now. That means he’s awake, is uncomfortable and is more aware of what is going on. This is such good news, thank you for your continued prayers.

2) I’m getting a new cello teacher in May or June, and I’m so nervous about it that my hands are sweating as I type this. I already work my butt off at this instrument and I’m only going to have to work harder with my new teacher – I just hope I can live up to expectations and do my absolute best. I kind of have to. I really have to.

3) I’m exhausted. Not sure how this is news, but… there.

4) Also I’m reading Les Misérables, and… I really like it. Really like it – I didn’t think I would, I thought it’d be impossible, but I’m finding it super enjoyable.

Have a lovely Sunday evening! I plan to spend mine with my journal and some classical music (as if I haven’t had enough of that).

Best wishes and much love,

My Cello Ate My Life/Soul/Whatever

Not that this is anything new, I just thought it was a rather catchy title for a post.

Sorry I didn’t show on Sunday – I forgot, actually, in my defense. It’s weird for me to be back in the swing of this blogging thing.

Because my cello, etc, have been at the forefront of my mind in recent days, I thought I’d share with you the pieces currently on my music stand. I love them all dearly (except Rondo; Rondo makes me want to kill something), and hope you enjoy them! 🙂

The first three pieces are our repertoire at orchestra for a concert in a few weeks. My favorite of the trio is Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony No. 8 in B Minor. It’s an absolute joy to play – though part of it has been completely ruined for me by being the excerpt for our chair audition.

Piece no. 2 – The Great Gate of Kiev, by Mussorgsky. Fantastic piece, though the bloody run at 0:46 is putting me out of my mind; I feel like my arm is going to fall off every time I finish practicing and I still can’t get it right.

And the final piece from orchestra: Austrian Peasant Dance by Mahler. This piece makes me laugh because our conductor loves it so much, and lots of jokes about bratwurst and fat happy Austrians and “Frau Kim” (don’t ask) have come from it… The cello part is almost laughably easy, but it’s just such fun to play.

And as for the rest of the music on my stand – Arioso by Bach and Rondo by Goltermann.

(Sorry, the sound quality of this next one isn’t the greatest thing ever, but it’s a good performance: JUST AN EVIL SONG. GAH.)

That’s all for me – I have a few chapters of Little Women left and I intent to finish tonight.)

Best wishes,