Friday, March 30, 2007

loosely categorized musings on body image politics: an ill-formed treatise of all things self-esteem

I wrote some of this post today at the gym as I ran around the track. The irony is not lost on me.

So. I've started being more intense about my exercise. I've never been a complete blob- I'd swim occasionally and definitely preferred walking or biking if I could help it. But in January some kind of bug bit my lazy ass and I took up running. On top of that, I would swim or bike the days I didn't run, and do a short little jumping-jack, weight-lifting, sit-up session either at night or in the morning everyday. The result is that I feel a lot better, look trimmer and in general have less annoying back pain, which is my personal favorite of the indirect pluses associated with my workout routine.

There are various reasons for this increase in my physical activity. The most obvious is of course my desire to look better, lose a little weight, and feel stronger. However, I've conditioned myself over the years to fight the instincts to 'look good', especially in mainstream and socially accepted ways. This is not to say that I spend all my time doing my best to look my worst, but just that I try not to get down on myself for not looking like everyone else. The result of this is that I tend to justify my actions in different ways, rather than admit that I just want to look better and, thusly, be more attractive to people I would like to make out with.

So I've come up with the idea that someday I want to do a triathlon. This is true. I would very much like to participate in a triathlon and reap the benefits of said participation. I am trying to accept that justification as well as come to terms with the truth of wanting to look better and be more attractive, because there's nothing wrong with wanting that, is there?

Is there?

The more I work out, the more I start feel this enormous pressure on me to look even better, to go further, to do more. Part of it might be that at the gym I am surrounded by all the people that look amazing already, and the people that look like me (nice enough, really, but strikingly out of shape comparatively) are fewer and father between than they are outside in the real world. I'm also experiencing a shift in my social circle that involves more jazz musicians, and that means more cocky, self-assured men that like a certain kind of woman. Who is not me. And who I have no desire to be.

But it's frustrating. I'm tired of having to fight for the attention of the opposite sex because I don't look a certain way. I'm tired of having to keep telling myself that it just means I haven't met someone that really actually likes me yet and that I should be patient and flexible. Because I'm tired, I start to make compromises. I bought makeup, and I wear it. I never used to wear makeup. I thought it made me look silly and on top of that, suggested a whole realm of insecurities I had no business poking my nose into. I have more sexy 'going-out' shirts now than I did a few weeks ago, because the one I do have got me so many compliments at a jazz party I felt like a friggin princess (nevertheless a busty one). I like it when my closer friends tell me I look sexy on a regular basis, but I am concerned when it only happens when I've made a particular effort to do so. I've actually started talking about calories and eating healthy. I've always eating healthfully- it's one of the things I think goes along with being a vegetarian- and I've also always resented it when I have to sit and listen to people whine about diets and what they can and can't eat. I don't like to think about these things. I enjoy food and beer and I enjoy these things at their finest.

But after a night of eating something rich or drinking a few beers, the next day you'll find me at the gym and certainly the thing on my mind has to do with how much effort I have to put in to counteract the negative physical effects of said binges. I'm on a completely different ground here than I've ever been. I'm trying hard to find a balance between doing the things I love: running, biking, swimming, eating, and drinking beer, and the attitude and approach I take toward each of these things.

It's all very confusing. On one hand, there is the me that fights all the socially acceptable ways for women to be: beautiful, slender, insecure about appearance (often for the sake of garnering attention from men), well made up, well dressed, etc., and on the other hand there is the me that wants to be strong and sexy and respected and feels that part of this involves fitting into the socially acceptable womanly front. I'm a little weary of hearing myself think that if I just looked a little better or tried a little harder to be more 'woman', this stupid boy bullshit wouldn't happen. I know that's not true. I know that the most beautiful and amazing woman I know here didn't have that protection from being treated like shit by someone who was supposed to be in love with her. I know also that she'll have no end of guys to pick from who will treat her better and I know that my pool is smaller.

There's really no end to this debate for me. I go in circles about it everyday. And you? What do you think?


So, my recital went fabulously. Here is a picture of my awesome brass quintet- we rocked the house on the Arnold. It's true. Don't deny it. I would put a picture up of me playing, but my mom is silly and with my camera didn't manage to get a good picture. So I have to wait for them to get home and upload the pics from their camera.

Anyway, a brief rundown: The first piece was a little rough, and I had trouble settling into it as I was nervous and didn't know it quite as well as the rest of the program. It wasn't terrible, just chipped some stuff and played a few things out of tune in general. The second piece rocked- best I've ever played it. Everything after that was great. The last piece I did before the quintet went very well, but about halfway through I could hear the fatigue in my sound but couldn't feel it- felt like I was playing on cotton or something. Oh well. Shook it off and went on to finish on the proverbial and literal high note.

And then, beer!

I am so glad it's over, but I definitely had a good time doing it. I'd forgotten that recitals are fun because you don't get nervous really after the first few minutes. It's your stage and you own it. I knew that music backward and forward and I had no reason not to play the snot out of it. Looking forward to getting the recording back.

So yeah! Hurray! Onward to: my oral examinations, my resume and recording project, my 20 page research paper, my tune and excerpt juries, and everything else I've put off for the last month!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

today's the day!

Tonight at 8 pm in the UNT Concert Hall I will be giving my Master's degree recital. I am excited and nervous and excited again, but I think it is going to go great. I am only really worried about one little thing, and it's such a little thing!

Looking forward to it being over as well, so I can reap the benefits of my hard work- in other words, sit around drinking delicious beer while people tell me how awesome I am.

Here is my program:

Suite for trombone and piano by Axel Jorgensen
Concerto for trombone and piano by Ida Gotkovsky
Portal for trombone alone by Dajeong Choi (This piece was written for me! I love it)
Sonata for trombone and piano by John Stevens
Quintet by Malcolm Arnold

It's a tough blow but I know this shit. Time to rock out!

Sunday, March 25, 2007


I was pretty much the queen of all fools last night, and in the morning (oh, shit...afternoon) light it's all too shamefully apparent.

It's blatantly goddamn obvious that this person I like doesn't return the feeling. I've known this for a good two weeks or so, and yet I'm still hung up on the whole thing. I'm pretty sick of myself ruining mine and everyone else's evening by going out with the intention of having a good time and then about half way through freaking out and spending the rest of the time moping and whining and looking for pity.

And then last night I added being spiteful and vindictive to that list, and I am not proud.

Convinced as I was that I needed some distraction, the first spiteful act was to call a friend of the party in question, also quite attractive but much more friendly, and make sure they were coming. The intent was to have him show up so I could flirt with him and thereby feel better about myself. That worked well enough for awhile, except that I kept telling other people about my plight with the first guy and mostly negating any positive effects.

When I noticed that the first party was interested in a friend of mine who is in a relationship, I pulled her aside and told her I liked the guy knowing full well she'd support me in that and curb her own flirtations. And it was pretty much a sure fire way of making him feeling shitty, and I'm not going to say that that didn't feel good.

That leads me to the point at which I started to feel badly about all of this and in the midst of a friendly game of gin rummy with the second guy, I blurted out that I liked his friend and inquired to whether or not I was wasting my time. I know the answer to that, no matter what he told me (which was basically 'go for it' but I definitely left some details out of that exchange), so why did I do that? I could be interested in this other guy, but I pretty much blew that. Sheesh.

I spent the rest of the evening sitting forlornly on a couch on the back patio of the party, moaning my stupidity and feeling generally sorry for myself. Ben was kind enough to put up with it and for that I am grateful. An arm around the shoulder can do wonders.

All this and the lesson I've learned? No angst under the influence. I want to go back to the Lorn that was fun and spontaneous at parties, not the nervous, sad sack wreck I've become. This is bloody ridiculous.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

two weeks. and counting

Before I go into trombone hermit mode for spring break, I just want to say a few things.

1. Tomorrow is Buddha Stew's 6th anniversary. 6 years! That be crazy, yo. My friends have had blogs come and go, but I guess I'm just stubborn and resistant enough to change to keep one blog alive for six years. Happy Birthday, BS! You've been good to me.

2. Tomorrow is also what I estimate to be Nikolai's 2nd birthday. Isn't it weird that we assign birthdays to cats? I don't even know for sure because he was found feral at about six weeks old. Anyway, he's two-ish. Look at the young fluffy!

And the big fluffy!

You've come a long way, baby.

3. Albuquerque is so exciting it's becoming distracting.

4. Monday nights at the Loophole always end up with some craziness. Is there something in the beer? In the Monday night air? Whatever it is...I always seem to have a story to tell the next day. But I can't tel you this story. It's too out of control. Maybe when you're older.

5. My new keyboard is awesome.

6. I got to be one of the lucky folks to check out a trial run of computer lab iPod nanos. Right now I'm going for most random selection of songs: The Arcade Fire's new album and the Malcolm Arnold Brass Quintet No 1.

7. Wooo. Off to practice.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

either you don't have the balls or you don't feel the same

Let's make a comparision, shall we? Let's compare MEN to BOYS.

In my estimation, a MAN interested in someone (let's say for the purposes of this post that it is a WOMAN) does not beat around the bush. He is friendly and attentive and makes a point to find out when he will see her next.

A BOY will, in contrast, tend to ignore and/or lead on the WOMAN whether or not he is interested.

A MAN, if he is not interested but knows the WOMAN is, will make sure that she knows he doesn't feel the same, and that he still respects her.

A BOY, if not interested, will refuse to touch the issue and let the WOMAN deal with her own resulting insecurities and disappointments on her own.

A MAN does not play games or hard to get.

Neither does this WOMAN, and I am sick of it. I don't want to play games. I want this to be straightfoward. I like you, you like me, let's get together and iron out the details. If you haven't realized yet that I'm pretty much the cat's fucking proverbial pajamas, well then either open your eyes or get out of my way. I know what I want, I'm a big kid. I've been shaped and molded by my experiences up to this point, will continue to be so, and will also continue to act and think accordingly. I am doing everything I do for a reason. There is room for negotiation, but you need to be honest with me about what you want. Please honor me with this one simple thing.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

even with all the idiot in the air, it's still a good day

Something's wrong with everyone today. It's like everyone's just daydreaming and losing track of where they are and what they are doing.

This girl wouldn't cross the street, even though all approaching cars were stopping for her, until I waved her across. She had the right of way, too.

At a four way stop, on my turn another car coming across decided to play chicken with me.

Going into rehearsal, I had to walk impatiently behind a woodwind who was slowly moving toward his seat while noodling on his instrument, taking his sweet time. I was carrying a trombone, a bag of mutes, a waterbottle and a folder, and there was no way of getting around him.

One of the percussionists knocked a snare drum off its stand and didn't pick it up. It just sat on the ground, fallen stand nearby, for the rest of rehearsal.

But, cases of the stupids aside, something nice has happened. Yesterday I checked my bank account to find that I had a large sum of money more than I was supposed to, thanks to a retroactive grant given to me by the state of Texas. I was also given a small music school scholarship for my work in the Chamber Institute. It's a lot of money, for me, and it saves my ass. A large chunk of it went to a credit card, a smaller chunk of the rest of it is going toward purchasing an electric piano so I can practice more efficiently at home. Shopping for that will happen this weekend. Yet a smaller piece is going toward giving my cats their annual checkup and shots, since I've been that off due to lack of funds and general good health of said cats. The rest of it will be saved and used wisely.

I don't like to think that money can make me happy, but I do know that not having to worry about money makes me feel like life is pretty good. Things that were stressful (ie hoping that I wouldn't have to rehearse too much with my pianist for my recital, since she is expensive and the pieces are difficult) are now less troublesome. Hopefully I don't catch any of the douchebaggery in the air today and blow it all a booze-sodden adventure to Las Vegas.

Friday, March 02, 2007

i am all smiles
mike i'll teach you how to swim, if you turn the bad in me into good again

I played in departmental on Wednesday. One movement was really good, the other was almost a complete disaster. I can give you any of three opinions on the performance.

1. It was good mostly because most people didn't know the piece and thought it was just crazy. Which it is, but not that crazy.
2. It was not bad for a hard piece, and my professor thought I did the best I could for a first performance. There's a reason no one records this piece.
3. Oh. My. God. Why is performance so hard for me? Why do I get on stage and forget how to count? Arrrgh!!!

Anyway, I took the afternoon off, and yesterday only played trombone when I had to. Last night was the One O'Clock spring concert, which I was too wiped to sit through as I hadn't eaten all day, but I did make it to the after party.

Things from there were pretty much awesome.

So the conundrum is: A boy is shy. He knows I like him. I think he likes me. So shy! So shy it makes me shy again, and that is a long way back for me. But I'm not going to let this opportunity slip by without trying for it, so watch me go.

Today I am playing great and feeling even better.


Albuquerque is a yes. I have a brass quintet!