Friday, October 29, 2010

Who wore it better?

I still can't decide if Jillyboo or Tigger should wear the turtle costume. What's your vote? (Then I'll do a percentage just like they do in the magazines.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rambling on about what other people think v. what I think

Eric has told me for the past eleven years that we've been married that I care too much about what other people think. I try to consciously make decisions every day that matter to me only, and not about what someone else might think, but I have to admit I'm having a very difficult time with this.

I mean, if you really think about it, if I honestly didn't care what anyone else thinks, I guess there'd be no reason to get dressed every day. I really could stay in my pajamas to drop Portia off at preschool or I guess make-up would completely be history. I know there's a fine balance here in wanting myself to look presentable (for me, I suppose, or for whom really?) and not wanting people to think I'm a total slob. But there we go back to caring about what other people think.

Last week when I was so conflicted about Bianca's performance on piano in front of all those important piano people, one of my friends made the comment on Facebook that as long as I knew Bianca could play that song well, then what did it matter if she messed up in front of all those other people? But really, isn't it human to want to be accepted and respected by other people? Then caring what they think is clearly important. Can't I want other people to think "Wow, that little girl is pretty good on the piano!" And is it for my glory or for hers that I don't want to see her fail? Is it really wrong to want other people to notice?

I'm trying to get to a point in my own personal writing where I want to write for me and me only--that way, my love for writing isn't hinged upon the sale of my novel or for success of the monetary kind. It has to be for me. But why do writers slave away in a lonesome room? It's the most solitary thing we can do in which we're trying to relate to other people. After all, don't writers want other people to enjoy their work? I finally feel like I've reached a point where I honestly don't mind if I never publish anything I write. I'll keep writing because it gives me purpose and makes me feel creative and smart, even if it is only for myself. But let's face it: Even without ever publishing, I still want the people in my writing group to like and relate to what I'm writing about. And then am I just lazy if I write novel after novel and don't put it out there because I don't want to be rejected over and over?

I know I could go in circles about this for hours. But I really am trying to find the right balance of wanting to care less what other people think and do things for myself, but where is the right balance? When will I figure this out?

On Sunday, after five days of letting Bianca just not play Fur Elise, I took out my video camera and I asked her if she would play it for me. She sat there in her comfortable pajamas, on my humble upright piano, and she played slowly and carefully and beautifully and so relaxed, and I knew she could do it. So why did I want to tape it to prove that she could do it? And why do I want to post it now just so that I am reaffirmed that she could have done it like this all along--and who am I really trying to prove this to?

I know life is a whole learning experience and I'm still learning every single day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I love Halloween! I usually start planning what my girls are going to be at least by the end of August. This year, Bianca said she wanted to be Mozart. I found a costume that would have worked perfectly and then she chickened out and said she'd be too embarrassed to wear it to school. So I said fine, she can wear the Mad Hatter costume that she didn't get around to wearing last year.

If you know me, then you know I'm in love with owls. When I saw Pottery Barn Kids' little girl owl costume, I had to get it for Portia even though it seriously pained me to pay full price for it. Still, hopefully I can get some of that money back next year when I sell in on ebay. After all, the owl costume sold out pretty quickly at PB, which usually means it will sell high. Last night, Portia won 3rd place at the Herriman city orchestra's Halloween event. She was very excited to get the king-size candy bar. She had no problem marching up on stage to retrieve her prize.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How much is too much to ask?

Several weeks ago, I discovered Utah Symphony's Youth Guild. It's the perfect kind of program for someone like my daughter whose whole world is music. Not only do we get really discounted symphony tickets, but there are educational opportunities and other ways to enmesh oneself in the world Bianca loves. They have these masterclasses where professors of music and professional musicians come and help the kids with their music. They were doing a piano masterclass requesting performers so I called to find out what was involved and what level the performer needs to be at. The woman answered, "Concerto," which I have an idea what that means and promptly responded that I didn't think my daughter was quite ready. She asked me what her latest polished piece was and although it wasn't quite polished yet, I told her Beethoven's Fur Elise. She said she'd put Bianca on the list.

After I hung up, I started to worry. In fact, I hoped she wouldn't be chosen but a week later we got the call that she made it as a performer. That's when my worry went into overdrive. I even resorted to bribery (I'm not proud of it) but I talked her in to playing the song ten times a day and I'd buy her two books she'd been wanting. Bianca totally fulfilled her end of the bargain and she practiced without complaint. And she improved and she even memorized it (which I hadn't expected) and at home, the song was nearly perfect. She was ready.

Yesterday, I took her downtown for the masterclass. Most of the other performers were quite a bit older than Bianca (most were high-schoolers playing Rachmaninoff and Chopin and the other great piano concertos). Bianca stood up there bravely, struggled with the bench that was quite large for her, and played her piece. And as she played, Bianca struggled in a way I hadn't seen her do for weeks. She even stopped the song a couple times to get back on track. But she made it through and she finished strong. The instructor (Hilary Demske, a professor at UVU) helped her with several things--she was using much too much pedal (in the video, you can see her pumping away at it like she's playing a pump organ) and her left hand drowns out her right hand in the fast section near the end and Hilary taught her a way to make big chords easier with her small hands.

The next morning, as I watched the video, I cringed. Not because of her messing up (well, a little because of that) but mainly because I know I put too much pressure on her. Bianca didn't ask me to throw her into a group of musicians who are on the fast-track to Julliard. She just loves playing the piano and music. Maybe this is all just too much for her. I mean, her goal isn't to be a concert pianist. In fact, she says she likes playing her stringed instruments better and she really wants to be a composer. But she's very good at piano and I guess I wanted to believe that she fit in with this group of people. Because I was the one who pushed her in. I guess this is a life lesson for me.

But how do the kids who are truly great get noticed without pushy parents who take a chance? What about that little 10-year-old girl who sings opera on America's Got Talent? My guess is she had a pushy mom (or other person in her life) or no one would know she exists. I read recently that Beethoven was a prodigy just as Mozart was as a child but his parents didn't know how to "market" him the way Mozart's parents did. I'm not saying Bianca's a prodigy, but I do want to give her all the opportunities in the world she can have. I guess I just need to make sure she wants them.

She did work hard and despite her mistakes, I'm still very, very proud of her. (After watching the video again, I'm a little heartbroken that it's me Bianca looks at right before the performance and right after. I'm guessing my opinion means more to her than anyone else's. She needs to know that I'm proud of her and I'm going to make sure I let her know.)