June 22nd, 2013 - 1 Comment
and welcome to my blog.
January 13th, 2017 - Comments
I don’t really know how to start this blog post. Suffice it to say that I feel terrible and I want to let it out. And I don’t really know how else to voice my concerns. I don’t know how to make sense of this all.
Usually I’ve tried to keep this blog rather literary, giving myself permission to ramble on as beautifully as I can about concepts and ideas with some kind of grand spiritual message to tie together my complaints and suggestions and observations at the end of it all. But this time I cannot find access to such artistic integrity. I am drained. I am dead. My spirit has been squashed. I feel dirty inside.
The crux of the matter was a concert I played about 5 days ago. A chamber music concert in an extravagantly chandeliered 5-Star Hotel in some lovely German Berg on some very ugly level of human society I will never have access to, nor would I ever desire to. We had played for a staggering 10 hours the day before, squeezing in an eight hour recording session and a full concert, with a 2 hour drive on each side. Simple human needs such as eating and resting were apparently worth sacrificing in the name of the supposedly holy music we cowardly dipped our fingers into on this tour. I played this particular concert on a sad auto-pilot, my aching muscles and tendons and nerves bending to the will of my musical automatism, the thousands of notes swimming on the pages from my accumulated exhaustion, my mind half keeping track of the performance, half very far away, in deep conversation with my teenaged self, the one who chose this life, asking her…. What on EARTH were you thinking?
I got home 5 days ago from this grueling 7 day nightmare tour and am still shellshocked. Particularily brutal was my colleague to the right, proud 2nd Konzertmeister of a hoity-toity South German orchestra, the kind of anal-retentive violinist who actually told me I was breathing too loudly in the recording session, the vile stand partner who visibly winced every time I used an open string, and the dark kind of musician who told me after the concert, with the patronising tone of voice that assholes use with children, that I “played very musically” when he really meant that I played out of tune, and he noticed.
I don’t know how I am expected to be okay with this. I don’t know how to deal with this. I don’t even know how to diffuse it. I don’t know if I even want to know how to deal with it. I don’t know if it’s okay to feel okay with it. Dear people of the internet, my sanity has been shaken this week.
One day in the green room before a concert, I stared at a map, that being a genuinely more interesting option than chitchatting with my colleagues, who, as far as I’m concerned have no idea what a conversation actually is, as receptivity, openness, or even the most basic exchanges of opinion or information seem to be out of their emotional and intellectual repertoire. The Ringleader of this particular project came up and asked if I was looking for where I’d like to go on vacation. I told him no, that I just loved maps, and that this one was new — and pointed out Crimea which was marked “Under Russian Control”. He said nothing, clearly having only the vaguest idea of what I was talking about, and left me alone to stare at the wall.
Don’t get me wrong. I tried my best to have fun. And the concerts were mostly really good. I have gotten tougher over the years and can keep my shit together. But there is only so long I can last when every joke I crack is met with condescending smirks, and every semi-interesting thought I speak aloud is met with judgemental silence, or worse, a laugh at my expense; there is only so long I can last around people who laugh so casually about the rampant sexual abuse at music conservatories; there is only so long I can last around such ignorance, fear, and evil. After the first 12 hours attempting to open myself up to the situation, I quickly felt like a broken record of unwelcomeness and rejection, twirled back into the hopeless depression of my teenage years spent banging my head against the wall of the classical music establishment, and eventually just learned it was best to keep my mouth shut like my younger colleagues did, and I did so, often holding back tears, and very often thinking incredibly violent thoughts towards my colleagues and towards myself.
And I asked some of my more open-minded colleagues, is this all worth it for you?, and the truth was, they weren’t asking themselves such questions. They just do it. And that is a happy solution. My dilemna is indeed caused by independent thought.
And do you know why I’m crazy? Because there is even the faintest question in my mind that perhaps independent thought isn’t such a high price to pay to live the European artist dream, teenaged fantasies, etc. The brain argues, here I am, in the established home of classical music, Germany, with the kind of resume that should make any Canadian kid like me proud. And yet, the body and the heart protest. On this tour I was so miserable I could hardly even form a sentence (me, a writer!!). And in the emotional contingency plan my colleagues seem to operate by, the simple privilege of getting to play Souvenir de Florence, or whatever, is apparently supposed to compensate for otherwise suicidal levels of fear and depression during the making of it. Which is a bit like saying the joy of having sex should make up for the shittyness of being a prostitute. (And apparently it does for some.) But, man….that’s a dark fucking path. I don’t wanna find that out. I already know too much about it. And I can’t handle the agony.
As much as I am certain that the world is benevolent, she’s still a dark place too, and independent thought is sanity. It is the only thing we can fight for in this war against our minds. And my sanity is not for sale. Not anymore.
October 25th, 2016 - Comments
There’s a certain Germanness all us foreigners eventually acquire, even in a place as supposedly un-German as Berlin. It’s a subtle kind of exclusivity, a humourous psychic connection that always arises when we the German-or-Germanised all agree that someone has “misbehaved”. And the transgression, too, is normally quite subtle; it’s the slightly too-loud or too-often cry for attention, the teeny-tiny disrespect of everyone’s seperateness, the mis- and non-understanding of the collective cultural attachment to dis-attachment, to interpersonal non-connection, to the Almighty personal bubble, as much energetic as physical.
And we know we have integrated once we find ourselves addicted to this exclusivity, against the will of our very hearts. We know it hurts and yet we cannot get enough of getting our own space, isolation limitless as holy entspannung; we cannot think and feel and taste enough of our carefully sequestered cerebral worlds (“Herzlich Willkommen to the Cosmos, population ONE. Please keep your feet off the seats in front of you and mind the gap on your way out…) and finally we find ourselves attached, in-love-with our lonelyness, less and less willing, and more and more unable to step outside it, and into the connectedness that is everything.
And thus we step AROUND it, with our humourous psychic connections, the quintessentially German smile in our eyes; we find our oneness under the table, out in the Ether, above our lonely brains and underneath our starved hearts — with only the “misbehavers” to remind us of how close we really are (and how German we’ve really become).
July 2nd, 2016 - 1 Comment
(From my journal
Feeling mildly nuts, brain spinning all kinds of insults and then reassurances, back and forth, one always trying to correct one correcting the other. You’re fat, no, you’re thick — a quote comes to mind, “Thick girls think they’re fat, and fat girls think they’re thick” — funny, but unhelpful. Nothing helps today, or ever, there’s no formula, recipe, equation; nothing helps but to ride it out, breathe in, breathe out, take naps when things get too intense, drink a shot of Slivovitz. Micro-dosing, maybe that helps. Or maybe finding the cure is the biggest bullshit of all, maybe there are no cures, there’s nothing to be healed, cause you’ll never stop being flawed, there will always be something that’s off, that’s life, that’s who you are, a dog rolling in piles of shit and dead fishes and rotting flesh to compulsively camoflage your scent.
Among other things, of course.
Playing viola is a wonderful relief these days, I play like a dream, with all the depth of my darkest, finally a way out, is art all I’m good for? Is the rest of my life always bound to a certain level of disaster? Who are these magical, self-assured, wildly successful people I am comparing myself to? Thin and non-nail-biting, finances always in order, always enough work, having the perfect boyfriend, nay, husband, the kind of guy who always returns phone calls, is never absent or complicated or on wild drug binges. Oh, living the dream. Some nasty voice “Oh, but wouldn’t you be bored if you had that life?“, as if being pursued by the same mental illnesses over and over was someone’s idea of interesting. Interesting, yes, but only if you turn it into something. In itself, painful — and the same “interesting” repeated enough times is boring to anyone.
And love, love, LOVE is the solution, but not at all love of another, getting or giving, as summertime opportunities present themselves to me. No, the love is more simple, a self-love, a total acceptance of one’s self, one’s character, in which case flaws turn into advantages, and problems cease to exist, or, at least, your perception of them (which is all that problems are). There are no problems when one is in the flow, following the current, not kicking and screaming but drowning, dying, giving up.
How would I feel if I didn’t know about anything better? If I didn’t have this idea that I would be cured one day in the future, that I will wake up one day and suddenly never feel bad ever again? That some Americanised perfection will one day materialise before me, and I will be one of those upstanding citizens, one of those imaginary people I so idealise, worship, compare myself to?
Someone told me the other day that it is better to aim for self-actualisation than happiness. And it is true, thinking of happiness does nothing but make me miserable. I am more self-actualised than ever, I am who I am and do what I am doing; but I am not happy, no, not today. If I were happy I would have nothing to write, nothing to do, thus, happiness is unavailable to me the artist, the one who wants to feel everything, the problems of the whole world, the problems that are not even my own fault, not even addressed to me specifically.
Maybe happiness is too vague and powerful of a term to be used so thoughtlessly. What the hell am I actually talking about? What exactly am I fighting about? And with whom?
At Bar Babette in Friedrichshain, the drummer Rudi Fischerlehner and guitarist Olaf Ruff about to play in front of me, CD launch concert for their duo project Xenofox.
Stiflingly hot room crowded with salt-and-pepper hairs, strangers, around me the excited gossip about the happenings of the free-jazz world, did you hear, Christian Lillinger this? Oh, Nicola Hein that! Oh, that festival, that duo was terrible, nur aus Höflichkeit bin ich da sitzen geblieben, meine Göte. Oh, Rudi and Olaf. They’re fantastic. I just love what they do!
And they are a great duo. Like a married couple, but the good kind of married couple, the kind of couple that gives hope for marriages everywhere; the music entirely improvised, and the message clear — melting, fusing of two souls, two completely innocuous yet totally psychadelic spirits, cool exactly because they weren’t trying to be, in an honest talk, no holds barred and nothing to prove, swimming deliciously through an atonal world centered around flow, feeling, ooze, texture, not melody or rhythm (or, godforbid, jazz!). Theirs is a pairing of motion, storytelling, but the plot is just music. Music for music about music.
Their passion overwhwelms me, fuses with the alcohol in my blood, and I am unable to write anymore. Their dedication moves me, their unquestioning faith in what they create is more than inspiring, it’s life-giving. Their music about music is a clear transfusion of joy after this confusing, heavy day.