Day -29

Today was a family day. I had to take kid to specialist in the morning and like all good specialists, ours ran late. Never trust a specialist who runs on time. I knew this one would be good when I saw his face. That unquantifiable intuition is something we have over algorithms. The more automated life is, the more satisfied I feel in having gone down a very human path.

We took the rest of the day off school and got back in the late afternoon.

I have a plan for tomorrow and will not bother with any thesis work today. I will begin tomorrow’s work day by planning what I want to achieve ahead of my meeting next week. I will read through the comments and write a list of questions. I will need to get back into that mind space as I have had almost a month in the civilian world. I need to remember what the project is about and why I developed it in the first place.

I’ve actually forgotten a lot of what I’ve written but hopefully I’ll remember when I work on it tomorrow.

I’m going to work from home and reward myself with a bit of Netflix before picking up the kid from school. He’s really enjoying school and found his groove there. What a shame the holidays are so soon!

No mid life crisis today as I was just happy to have been out and about. It felt good to have three long and active days in a row without passing out. It’s given me a lot more confidence in being able to do “normal” stuff again.

So yay!

Once again I question why I am pursuing something that requires a lot of time in isolation with my own thoughts when I am most happy when I’m out and about interacting with people. But I am 90% done with this project. If dissertations were not uploaded for the world to access, I would definitely not be worrying about the end result and treat it like a really long assignment.

I’m going to go and read Ronan Farrow’s latest article about Harvey Weinstein now. I think only a journalist like him, a Hollywood insider, could take on such a project.

I don’t think I’ll ever blog under my real name. I’d have to edit it and one of the things I love about blogging is not having to edit. I’m old and from the pre-Wordpress days. I remember lynx and when Netscape came into being. No one used their real name. Facebook freaked me out. If Zuckerberg isn’t so worried about privacy, why don’t we know more about him? Is it because there’s just not much to know? He was raised in a middle-class family, maths science nerd, went to Harvard, developed FB which turned him into a billionaire, got married and had kids. His views on AI scare me and has made me believe that all kids need to study philosophy at school. I’m with Elon Musk on that one.


Day -22 school refusal again 

No writing today.

Yep. Dementing older parents, kids, under employment, life’s trajectory not following Hollywood Disney endings, acceptance of the random and tensions between knowing none of this really matters, with needing to survive in rat race where one is defined by status, lack of autonomy. I just need to get away by myself somewhere and soon. 

Aye curumba! Garage Band saves the day

I went to the state library and got out the Doflein Method Book IV. I remember at 14 or 15 feeling a bit miffed that my new teacher had me go “back to basics” when I had already achieved AMEB Grade 7 with my old teacher.  I wish someone had explained to the teenage me that these are excellent remedial books for those who haven’t been taught the correct technique.  A musician friend suggested I re-learn using Ševčík’s violin studies book and another friend suggested Suzuki, but given the reasons why I’m re-learning (purely for pleasure) I think I’ve made the right choice. Each chapter in the Doflein books target a technique and it’s scaffolded in such a way that the learner does not freak out and they also get to play a two part piece with their teacher  As I’ve probably mentioned in an earlier blog the part I loved best about playing the violin was playing with others. Not only was a less lonely activity, I loved hearing the harmonies.

Unfortunately, I live too far away from any where where I can find like-minded musicians which is okay  because at this stage of my life I can’t commit to rehearsals. I’ve got too much going on (thesis writing…thesis writing…) and can’t commit to much. I had thought about taking some lessons to improve my technique but don’t have time for that either.

So here is where Garage band comes in.

I go through my Doflein exercises and preparation and then I play the piece. I record both parts with the metronome as different tracks. I listen to the tracks and note what I need to improve on. I can still tell when I’m out of tune and what needs work, and then I try again. I’ll need to get a real teacher at some point to give me some feedback on things such as posture, hold and bowing but this is okay for now. It also means that I don’t have to find another person to play with.

I need a hobby like this so that I an take time out from life.

Here is the first two recordings I made of the same piece. I can’t believe that it is only now as a 40 year old that I know how to practice and see that there are rewards from effort. I’ve compressed these files so the quality isn’t that good but on my iMac I can hear it well enough to assess tone quality. So I can tell from these two recordings that I am not ready to play the piece at the speed I attempt the second time. I cringe as I listen to the second recording as I can hear every wrong note.

When I have time I need to see how I can on the home computer just make sure I’m playing in time with myself without having to use the metronome. I find the beat really distracting, yet because of the gear I’m using I can’t really hear and follow the other part if I don’t use the inbuilt metronome.

I think I might set an afternoon aside to record a piece once a week, even if its the same piece. That way I can track my improvement.  There is much joy derived from  practice when you can hear the improvement.

AFTER I finish this thesis I might invest more time and resources to my set up, but my crude set up will suffice for now.


More about thesis writing next time around.  Can’t talk about it. Just gotto do it.

Mid-life or mid-winter

Thank goodness for smart phones. I would get very little done without one.

I’m still in bed because the kid is playing with the rescue cat we adopted. These days cat’s must be registered and sterilised, and be kept indoors! I get the feeling that I am not far away from becoming a crone like woman who goes on about how, “in my day…” 

In my day cats knew how to dig a hole in the garden and poop in it. This cat doesn’t seem to know how to dig a hole in the kitty litter and only in a box of newspaper so I’ve had to put away our open paper recycling bin! The cat is also afraid of the outdoors?!?!!!?! We don’t live in an apartment! I’m going to train it to go out, have a play and stay within the confines of our property. 

I haven’t had time to do much other than look after my child. I will probably not have a chance to see any friends who are not parents of my son’s friends until after the holidays. 

The thesis: not happening. I sent part of it to a PhD writer friend to have a read through and the whole mess to my supervisor who knows that I won’t have time to do anything until the school holidays are over. 

The paid job: something that is rare to come by apparently and I have been told that I’m silly to give it up. Maybe I am but I won’t finish my thesis I continue.

The violin: I still need to get replacement rubbers for my shoulder rest. I haven’t had time to go to a music store. I’ll try going over the weekend. I have found someone to duet with which is something to look forward to. I need to find time to print out some music at some stage. I haven’t been at my desktop either at home or in the office in ages. I might have some time towards the end of the week or the weekend.

So the plan is to:

1) Sleep

2) Stay sane

3) find some time in the next two weeks to not be around anything child related even if it’s two hours reading a trashy novel.

4)go to a music store

5) see at least one friend who is not the mother of my child’s friend. 

6)clean freezer so there is space for home pre-cooked frozen meals. Last minute meal planning takes up too much time!

7)chill out and plan to go on a retreat after submitting thesis.

8)don’t think too far ahead. 

9)remember that the unexpected and the unknown can be good.

10)buy more bamboo stakes to construct a structure to replace some eyesore makeshift barrier that’s been in my backyard for a year. I am so sick of half finished home improvement projects. It makes me feel as if I have been suspended in time for a decade.

11)get out of bed! 🙂 

12) read a chapter of a book

I am in awe of single mothers

I don’t know any single fathers. That is simone  ho has their kid 100% of the time. If I can were a full time single mother I would move in with my family or find a new partner. I’m not gay/bi  but if I couldn’t find a decent man, I’d find a woman just so I wouldn’t have to be a sole parent. How do the ones who do it do it well? 

Then again I suppose the kid would be used to it and not be crying every day about dad being away. 

I just read Euripides’ Medea. Other than the infanticide part, I think I would be like Medea if I were in that situation. Not sure I could murder my rival and her father-in-law as in dreams when I’ve murdered someone I always feel guilty and awful, but I’m sure I would be angry enough to want to.  Of course my interpretation of the play differs from the original (Ancient male Greek) audience. I actually don’t know that much about Ancient Greek theatre but was impressed by how many more female roles there are in this than say in Shakespearean plays. 

I wonder though why these tragedies are high brow just because they feature Zeus. In fact, I don’t know why some stories about family dysfunction are high-brow (e.g Greek plays/Shakespearean tragedies) and others low (e.g Telenovelas/soaps). Is it the $$ class of the main characters? Well I have my theories but I really must save it for the thesis which I will have no time to work on for another week at least.

However, I am  finding time to read because it’s something I can do when kid falls asleep. I’ve got My Sister, My Love by JCO on the bedside table. It’s inspired by the Jon Benet Ramsey case. Is that literary or popular fiction? Or cross over.

How do super-women who are the main carers manage to do so much? Do they require less sleep or will they just get  dementia before the rest of us because they don’t sleep. Or can they just multi-task better and have bigger brains? 

I might buy a lotto ticket. One Powerball and I’m hiring a person to sort out my house. I can’t move even if I won the Powerball. Can’t change schools again.

Yay kid is tired. 

Intermission (Day -67 to submission) 

(I googled this random image. If you own it and don’t want me to use it please let me know). 

I will not have time to work on my thesis until my husband returns. I might be able to squeeze in two days in the second week of the holidays but that’s about it.

Kid is doing well and there are only 22 days until hubby returns. 

I still have the rusty orchestra tunes in my head. I haven’t found time to replace the tubing on my shoulder rest. I have one useless spare shoulder rest and one missing spare one. I also need a new bow if I’m to continue playing. 

I was feeling defeated by distance as I live in lower socioeconomic outer suburbia. It’s hardly the slums but it is a fair distance from the closest community orchestra. A friend and a friend in a dream suggested I start a group. I’ve managed to find a local music teacher who is open to idea of forming a chamber trio or quartet. I don’t have a lot of time so I’m really hoping we find a local cello player. I need to practice regularly to get to the standard I was once at and feel that I can do it if I have a group to play with. I love playing so much.

At 40 I just do things that make me happy and it’s only at 40 I know what makes me happy. 

1) I like playing music with others. I could never have been a virtuoso. I love the group aspect of music and not just connecting with an audience but with fellow players. 

2) Teaching – but not anything technical and this includes teaching music and languages. I like ideas. I loved teaching this past semester because there were many philosophical discussions to be had. 

3) I like teaching older teenagers. Some give you hope that there is a future and the kid won’t grow up in a soulless, let’s just rape the earth and think of humans only as consumers dystopian world.

4)Being kid’s parent

5)Hanging with friends – Some of this through the phone as I live a fair distance from the people I love. But there’s nothing like an in person catch up.

6) meeting new people with similar interests.

I realise now that I’ve never found a “thing” because most of the things I love have no status in our society (teaching/motherhood/arts). Moreover, I lacked self-confidence. I have no idea why I did. As an older person I want to shake my teenage self and say, wake up you silly girl! Look at all that you have! Of course, I would also give her some antibiotics to clear up her skin and arrange more meetings with her clueless teachers. 

I guess I get to do for my kid what my parents were unable to do for me. In that sense I feel like I’ve done well in life. 

I don’t have a seemingly endless road ahead of me. I am beginning to look middle-aged – no injectables for me! 

Things I will do in the next three months:

1) complete thesis

2) adopt a stray cat

3) start a local music group 

4) be a present (in body and mind) mother

5) plan a “I turned 40 last year” party – maybe. I’m terrible with parties. I have a fear that no one will show up. A hang up from going to school with mean girls. 

Many of my friends have taken this long  to get over the trauma of school. I think that’s why we worry about sending them to the wrong school or not being able to move to a better school zone etc… 

Done, dusted and deaf

Title sums it up.

I tried using ear plugs but they were too effective and I couldn’t hear much with them on.

I am tired.

It was so much fun and I managed to convince people that I played all the notes.

I think I know why I’m partially deaf. My head is ringing. I really should have worn some foam ear plugs.

Will I do it again? Maybe. Maybe not.

I am worried about my hearing. It’s cut out in some of the bass registers.

As for the answer to the question could I have been a professional player? Probably not.

Day -1: Where is the love?

(I tried finding a meme of an empowered older woman but alas I failed). 

I spent this morning feeling cold. It was grey and there was no sunlight.  I sometimes have big cultured city envy but when I think about the weather and the skyscrapers, I’m quite happy to be where I am. I sometimes wonder if I had stayed in the skyscraper city of my birth whether I would have adapted or simply gone mad and jumped off one.

I picked up a few black tops from a friend. As I drove back from her place I thought about how I’ve lived in outer-suburbia for so long that I have a concentration of friends out here. I read somewhere that if you know are in regular to semi-regular contact with 10 people within a 15 minute drive from you, your mental health outcomes are better. I know 10 people!  It felt really good to be able to drop in on a couple of friends this morning without having to commute to the city.

So other than having one of those, “Hey I’m okay with where I’m at” days because I felt the love.

[I had no idea who Ariana Grande was until the Manchester bombings. I really love her voice in this. Wow the Black Eyed Peas are also middle-aged].

In terms of playing.

I played a little just before I hopped on-line to sort out my bills, track husband and look at check-list of things I must do. I’ll have some time after school pick up or later this evening/early tomorrow. I’m more than a little nervous about this even though I made it through one rehearsal playing worse than I do today. It’s about judgement. But who is judging me? Not the person next to me. She doesn’t expect much and I probably make her feel that her job is more than secure (as opposed to the ones who are sitting next to unemployed professionals who’ve had to claim “amateur” status to have this opportunity. I learnt from Blair Tindall‘s book that it’s so competitive out there for classical musicians that community groups are their only option. I would imagine it’s harder for woodwind/brass players to find a job since there are only 2 of each in most orchestras).

I have accepted I’ve run out of time to play certain passages properly. I’ve got comfy clothes. I’m not going to kill myself in formal shoes so will just wear whatever black shoes I can find. I have a bad feeling that I may be in sandals. But who cares? I’m not a professional. This is a community event.

And just like that my blogging time is up. I may need to set myself time limits for thesis writing tonight.

The next time I write will be after the event! I can’t believe time has flown by.  More navel gazing on Sunday! Then it’s countdown to submission. Well in addition to all the other stuff…eg. being my child’s social secretary, chauffeur etc.. I should be able to put down the management skills I’ve picked up as a mother in a professional CV.







Day -2 Everybody Dance Now

I’ve decided not to count down to submission until the Rusty Orchestra is over. So it’s about midday and I’ve spent about half an hour running through the piece I find the most challenging – Star Wars. I’ve accepted I’m not going to get every note in the Tchaikovsky if we play at speed. I’ve also decided that it’s okay to be mediocre and let the others carry me.  This is way more low stakes and in the name of fun. So I’m no longer anxious about that. I do however need to find some clothes to wear for the performance. I’ll probably try to do that tomorrow or after pick up today.

As for my thesis, I will have to patch together something today. Probably after I’ve had a good meal. I’ve got a mini roast in the oven. My plans to write solidly for three hours this morning were thwarted by trying to find bits and pieces to put together some costumes for my kid’s drama production. Yes we are a very arty family, except when I say “put together” it’s literal. I don’t sew so I have to find creative ways around making medieval costumes. Fortunately, one of his characters is a monk = 1.2metre cord + 1.4m brown cotton sheet.

I’ve set myself the task of writing the intro to my dissertation this morning but I need food in my belly. I’m struggling to type this blog entry.

I was thinking this morning how I really need to go travel to a foreign land. The thing is however, to quote Thomas Friedman, “the world is flat”.  I’d love nothing more than to go somewhere where I can’t speak the language and just be. I think that’s my optimum environment. However, I can’t just do it because I have responsibilities now and can’t do things like quit my job and blow my housing deposit on a whim. I don’t have a job to quit, but you know what I mean.  Dropping hours at work to give myself more time to finish off projects that are meaningful to me is the middle age version of what I used to do. If I can’t physically I can travel in my mind.

I’ve been navel gazing for too long this morning. I’m going to have to fit in another 2 hours of practice today.
It felt really good to be able to breeze through some passages.

Now I understand why some of the really mediocre players from high school continued. There is so much pleasure derived from noticeable improvement. When expectations are low there is less pressure. My kid had a teacher who was expecting him to get As all the time for piano. We left her when we heard he explain how she had lower expectations of another student and it was fine for that student to get Bs or even Cs. The non-A students have the freedom to grow. The As ones don’t. It’s all or nothing. There’s that quote about dancing as if no one is watching, but everyone is watching. They watch more now than they used to in the high stakes testing environment at school. So the quote should be modified to,

Dance and who gives a shit that everyone is watching.  – Rusty Woman

with the caveat – only take this advice if you are financially independent as your boss/future boss could be watching. 🙂


I think my roast is done. Even if it’s not I need to eat before I pass out.

I might watch a bit of Mozart in the Jungle over lunch to get into the right frame of mind.













Day -3 – Yikes!

Hello my three readers!

[I am too old and too private to post pictures up of me. Yes I know there are three people in the photo who are possibly older than me but one is a man and the other have had work done or are heavily photoshopped].


I spent most of today being a housewife but gave up and will try again tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to take a trip to a department store and buy storage solutions for my pantry. It’s getting a little scary in there and I’m sure we have mice. The husband is going overseas for a month so I’m quite freaked out about the prospect of having to dispose of any mice I find in the traps. [Note to self – do not mention buying mousetrap to vegetarian friends].

I managed to spend some time on the four pieces I have to play. I’ve accepted I won’t be able to play every note and decided to look at the positives:

1)I can play every note – just not at speed.

2)John Williams is difficult to play. I have new found respect for the composer of Star Wars, Raiders, Harry Potter…and the people who play in film orchestras.

3) I managed to go from literally rusty to okay for an amateur who hasn’t played in over two decades. Technically I have as I pull the violin out every 7-8 years or so and attempt to play again. This is the first time I’ve gone beyond playing a few simple tunes at home since I quit in 1991.

4)Some of my closest friends are going to be at the concert as will my kid and some of his friends!

5)I’m playing well enough to join a mid-level amateur orchestra.


I’ve started reading Mozart in the Jungle after catching a  snippet from few episodes of it in which they play one of the pieces we will be performing this weekend. I stumbled across thisblog which made me feel better about how difficult I am finding the 1812 Overture:

10) No orchestra knows the 1812 overture by heart. Although it is theoretically possible that individual players may know parts of it, they could never just start playing without any kind of preparation.


Realistically, I only have about 4 practice hours left in me before the rehearsal. I have to submit what I’ve re-edited to my supervisor in less than 48 hours. I also need to send hubby off to the airport. But I wont’ think about the big picture now.  Oh dear, I think my son still has a cold.