and then there was light

Tomer's Lighthouse

Image by Tomer Tysowsky

Reading Sebastian Junger’s The Perfect Storm germinated in me an unhealthy desire to watch a mega-storm; probably not on the water, but close enough to feel the tininess that is being human.

Over the last summer I ventured attempted to visit all of the lighthouses along the North Carolina coast, in severely illogical order:

light houses.pdf

Original image from Lantern Press, Lighthouse and Town Map, Outer Banks

I also went to the Wright Brothers Memorial near Manteo, and was struck anew by the willpower of mechanics and tinkerers who are hell-bent on figuring out that they had set out to figure out. Especially when your co-conspirator is your equally tinkering, equally dedicated, equally bachelor brother. And with the collective power of their frontal lobes, tiny humans strained toward a dream and took to the sky.

Naturally, the one lighthouse I chose to climb is the tallest: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse at 210 feet, depending on your sources. There are pages of all sorts of terrible things that might happen, for which the government is not responsible in case they should befall you. An AED was located halfway in the tower; and the question remains, who shall deliver said device in its need?

I was fascinated by the Fresnel glasses, which in their own right, have grades much like diamonds. Apparently the lenses were also irresistible to thieves, although if I had my choice, acquisition of any loot should not increase my likelihood to suffer a herniated disc. I have no idea what sort of pulley system was called upon to transport the unauthorized acquisition, but that is one potentially deadly Rapunzel’s delivery.

The lighthouses seem arcane now: the light’s automated, and the buildings are arguably ornamental. But in their time, the lighthouses are human’s victories over nature, who unfazed by the darkness of a wild sea, created for themselves a guiding light. The tender to conquer storms are measured in men’s lives, but the human spirit seems to be immortal.

For more stories of tinkerers who won’t let up on their dreams, check out How We Got to Now. I have a moderate geek crush on Steven Johnson. 


living with goodbye

Ugly-cry was definitely not on my list for this weekend. But a man and his dog happened:

(For more of their story, Moon wrote this in The Inertia.)

The little wild child in me wants to live out of a truck and see the world. But I might die a little since it’s hard to receive mail on the road.

I’m living through a goodbye right now: maybe permanent, maybe not. Either way I feel like I am losing something: a friend, memories, a future.

Maybe growing up isn’t so much about how I can tough out the goodbyes; I’m not sure what it is about, though. Not yet.

reblogged: Love Poem No.23, by the beautiful due


     While this gladly refers to the
friction of our bodies on one another
     it also points to a more magical union
listed under the heading: Mystery.
     Because we’re one we share everything,
maybe not completely but in part.
     Like if you’re happy, I am sort of too. And when
I’m angry, so are you, if only just a bit.
     This doesn’t mean we’ve lost our individual
selves but rather found one plus one can equal one.
     So if you get cancer one of these days
rest assured I’ll have traces of cancer too.
     Medical tests won’t reveal this because
such things are not designed to show the soul.
     And if I should slip into dementia then
since we’re one I just bet you’ll misplace
     a few thoughts here and there as well.
I apologize in advance if that last example
     should befall us. If so, please tell me the
stories about the two of us because
     they could remind me who I really am.

copyright, Trey Ratcliff,

copyright, Trey Ratcliff,

and round and round we go

I downloaded a tuning App to replace my warped metallic tuner. The one I have looks and works like a mini-harmonica. Pretty much as typewriter is to touch-screen.

One small step for woman, one giant step for…the same woman.

The world has been moving pretty fast for me: a spacecraft now rests on a hurdling comet, ebola is becoming old news, and Benedict Cumberbatch got engaged. I have mixed emotions about the last one. Side note: I had grand plans to savor the third season of Sherlock for as long as possible. As long as possible lasted 2 days.

I got to know one of the exchange students from Norway this past semester, and it will be weird to go back in January and not see her. We worked in a small group for the second half of the semester, and we had a lot of fun trying to figure out what to do as mostly-clueless therapists. Observation: when writing a collaborative report, brains will abort English mode after 6 pm, and be replaced by Norwegian or Chinese counterparts. Alas, semester 1 of year 2 of school is now complete, and I have no idea what to do with myself. Vacation: noun, synonym for “plan to accomplish too much then end up not accomplish much at all”. A perennial struggle.

I’ve also been binge-viewing Humans of New York. Either Brandon Stanton is an undercover hypnotist-psychiatrist, or NYC is filled with fascinating people, or I am doing a terrible job listening to stories of the humans around me. I know it’s easy to romanticize a place, or a period in time, when I am somewhere else, or sometime else, and I am sure nothing would be remotely romantic or exotic if I ever happened to be paying rent in NYC. In any case, end of the semester + HONY + feeling a bit anachronistic, and this poem came to mind:


De kommer mot deg på gaten, suser forbi med sykkel, ender opp i samme heis som deg, står og venter på gront lys i samme veikryss. De fleste har du aldri sett før, noen er bekjente, noen er dine beste venner. Sett ovenfra beveger vi oss som maur i mønster. Vi går de fastlagte veiene, på rad og rekke fra a til b med kanskje et stopp i mellom. Som i et kretskort, ferdig programmerte og forutsigbare. Og mens vi går der innestengt i våre rutiner og gjentakende tanker inne i hodet, passerer menneske på menneske, folk vi ikke ser, med hver sin unike historie og utrolige liv. Noen dager tenker du på en person en hel dag, og på vei hjem fra jobb møter du akkurat han eller henne. Vi kaller det skjebne eller intuisjon, en uforklarig sans vi aldri helt har forstått hva er. Det bare skjer tilfeldig, tror vi, utenfor vår kontroll. Men som små molekyler i vann henger vi sammen og binder hverandre til hverandre. Og mens vi renner der av gårde som en elv, ulenkelig knyttet til hverandre hvor hver lille bevegelse påvirker den andre og den andre ved siden av der igjen, så blir mønsteret både tilfeldig og opplagt på samme tid. Vannet renner en vei, men noen av menneskene vi møter kan plutselig forandre alt og sende oss i en helt annen retning. Da blir alle møtene vi går gjennom hver dag til potensielle skatter.

roughly translated:


They come at you on the street, whizzing past on bicycles, ending up in the same elevator as you are, waiting for green light at the same intersection. Most people we have never seen before, some are acquaintances, some are your best friends. From above, we move like ants in a pattern. We are the established roads, all in a row from A to B with maybe a stop in between. As a circuit board, pre-programmed and predictable. And as we go, trapped in our routines and recurring thoughts in my head, passing human to human, people we do not see, with their own unique history and remarkable life. Some days you think of a person for a day, and on the way home from work happens to meet him or her. We call it fate or intuition, an inexplicable sense we have never fully understood. It just happens randomly, we believe, beyond our control. However as small molecules in water we hang together and bind each to each. And while flowing off as a river, unlinked, linked, each small motion affects the other and the other adjacent, to where once again the pattern is both random and fitting all at once. The water flows one way, but some of the people we meet can suddenly change everything and send us in a completely different direction. And all of the chance encounters we go through every day are potential treasures.

photo credit: Eric Whitacre

photo credit: Eric Whitacre

Hippocratic Oath, circa. 21st Century?

A few weeks ago I got to play violin in this place: Duke Chapel

…because the Duke School of Medicine was having their graduation, and the organizers wanted a string quartet, and I still haven’t learned the art of saying No. Playing in the Duke Chapel was a pretty wicked experience though, so I can’t complain that much.

After the speech by the chosen graduate who characterized each year of med school with a work of literature, and compared choosing specialties to selecting a mate, the newly minted doctors were asked to join the veteran doctors in attendance to recite the Hippocratic Oath. The classic text invoked the witness of the ancient deities–Apollo et. al.–that each shall keep their fealty to the practice of medicine, and to accept due punishment for failure to carry out their duties. The modern version kept mostly to the ancient version, save for editing out the gods. It was kind of moving to see all of the doctors rise to their feet, men and women alike, some who have practiced longer than most of the graduating class has been alive, before our generation of electronic medical records and instantaneous vital monitoring and surgery performed with camera attached to a tube.

And together they said, the art of medicine.

I went in for a routine check-up with my primary care provider, and had to have a prescription filled. I was told that the order has been put in, and I should go to the designated pharmacy (located in the same hospital complex of my primary care provider) to pick it up. So up I go through the intestines of this massive building, getting sort of lost twice on the way, found the pharmacy, took a seat in the waiting area, waited for a while, then decided I should walk up to the counter and get my bearings, finally got to talk to someone, who then promptly directed me to go to a waiting kiosk to take a number. Said kiosk was placed behind a door. Number taken. Cue more waiting. When I was called to be serviced, the personnel informed me that the Rx was in fact not yet in the system, and I would have to wait for it to be ordered, then filled, since the item I was prescribed was not in stock. When I asked about the estimated timeline that the item would be available, and what I can expect for a co-pay, the personnel said that since “[the pharmacy] doesn’t have it, I can’t tell you when it’s going to get here. And I can’t tell you how much it’s going to cost until it gets here.” And when I asked whether I can get the prescription at another pharmacy that might have the item on-site, I was informed that I “need to talk to [my] doctor and see what they say”.

All before 9:30am.

There’s a reason that I dread going to the doctor’s. Not so much because I disregard my health, but I want to avoid the miscommunication and confusion and gigantic inefficiencies of a healthcare system. There’s a person who is supposed to tell you what options you have for tests and treatment, another for the amount of your co-pays and out-of-pocket fees, another for your schedule (and more options!) for medication, another for what to expect for when you go home. And it seems that rarely do people actually talk to you, and even rarer to each other. Even though I have a rudimentary understanding of what questions to ask, I still run into days where no one understands who’s saying what, and my words are put up against that five-to-ten-second window where someone actually has the time to listen.

We learn in school that patient education is the most crucial, because most people don’t know what to ask.

Maybe that’s the reason we don’t see medicine as an art, because we don’t have the time for art. An art requires its pupils to stay focused, to keep learning about it and re-learning about it, and being continuously open to new ideas. We try to understand an art from as many perspectives as possible, because we want to know the totality of an art for the love of knowing, because we are curious. Nowadays medicine is a trade, a war of strategies with the end goal of wringing out the most profit. We discharge ICU patients as soon as possible short of malpractice, because ICU patients cost the hospitals the most money. We prescribe an opiate to treat pain from trauma to return to work, then pop a stimulant to counter the drowsiness brought on by the narcotic. We run people through fancy machines made of giant magnets and run blood samples through gels to see if protein markers show up and run chemicals to drown a tumor and still run into the sentence of inconclusive, so we tell the patients that it’s all in their head. Refer to psychological counseling. And even though we crank out healthcare providers faster than Pepperidge Farm pops out Goldfishes, we have somehow run into the age of providing sick-care.

I know that there’s a wealth of dedicated healthcare professionals who take to heart their art of medicine, whether or not they have MD behind their names. And in the most dismal places we hear about the work of medical professionals who tend to the needs of the needy. And among my peers who are in training to become healthcare providers, I see this drive to do better, not for the sake of renown or prestige, but because we genuinely care about what we are learning, and want to know how to apply what we care about toward those we will care for.

And there’s a looming suspicion that I can at best call inefficiency. Or perhaps, indifference towards wellbeing. We expect doctors to tell us what we want to hear, for hospitals to be hotels, and to fix our problems with a prescription. Then we fight over who’s going to pay for the sick-care, the theoretical silver bullet that should alleviate all of our medical woes, because we’ve made medicine such an expensive trade to pay for, and the common man and woman doesn’t have the means to pay for the ideal of medicine, that grossly inflated trade with the down-payments of monstrous medical tuition, unexplainable procedures, and mysterious operating costs, that has replaced art with profit.

What have we missed? And when did it start?

For an art to exist and thrive you need both the artist and an audience, and both who want to sustain what they value. And perhaps because we’ve stopped viewing ourselves, our wellbeing, our health as something to be cultivated and respected, and we’ve placed the responsibility of living healthily into the hands of others–society, institutions, government–that we’ve lost the appreciation for the art of medicine. And when something loses its internal value, the exoskeleton is scoured for profit. And with ballooning amount of regulations, standards, reviews and performance feedback, it’s hard to keep medicine from becoming a trade. A very costly one, too. A lot of people are not going to the doctor’s because they can’t afford to, and they end up having their health deteriorate even further. There are people who have no other option–save for death or chronic disability–than to see the doctor and fall in the quicksand of bankruptcy from medical bills.

Perhaps we are all to blame for the loss of the art of medicine.

We have just wrapped up finals and now into our two weeks in the clinic. I have had some really slow days, but also some amazing days where I know in my heart of hearts that this is what I am supposed to be doing. There is no shortage of stress, and I tend to fall into the mindset that school is a reward-punishment model, and the end result is the quality of my grades, with the ultimate goal being my pruning into an efficient subunit in the mammoth machinery of healthcare. I have to remind myself that I am learning all of the things for the love of learning, for the love of my art-trade-vocation, and that grades and job security should not be the only goals of my efforts, but more as the outcomes from my striving toward something more, because I want to be part of something that is more than making profits and finding loopholes and wrangling compensation out of the tangle of sick-care business.

As I stand at the conclusion of my first year of PT school I feel excited and weird and surprised: excited for the second year and even more amazing things that we will learn, weird that I still don’t really know anything, and surprised because I somehow retained the majority of my sanity. I know I will not be very excited for 10-plus hours of lecture videos when we come back from our 1-week “summer break” and faceplant into musculoskeletal and neurological patient management courses. And it will be hard to remember that I keep plodding along because I am curious to learn more about the art and science that is the human body. But I will somehow remember, and herein keep my fealty. To this I solemnly swear.


I read somewhere that a hiatus of more than two months for a blog is like starting over.

I can work with that.

It’s hard to condense a few months into a few thousand characters, and maybe that’s why I’ve been kind of quiet. When I finally sit down to write what I had in mind to write, the things that I wanted to say have already become a past-tense, and I’m always scrambling to shuffle the words into some sort of coherence. And so far, it’s been a fail. Hence the non-writing.

A few re-caps since my last real post:

  • Summer school is awesome and awful all at once. We have a much lighter workload, which means Sherlock Holmes happened: I am happy to report that the two-part, full volume did not disappoint. The British vernacular did get a bit stale after a while though; I think Doyle was tired of coming up with new stories towards the end.
  • The other side of the free-time! coin is the lack of urgency to actually study, which equals we have finals in two weeks, and we have no idea how to prepare for them. Perhaps study all of the things would be a fitting description…but that’s a lot of things.
  • I visited in Milwaukee for an über brief weekend, which consisted of lots of swimming, practicing my manual skills, and yo-yo-ing between Milwaukee and the house that I was staying in.
  • Survived my first, Category II hurricane. There had been plans to camp in the Outer Banks (OBX), but the OBX had to be evacuated and ergo, no camping. I did enjoy watching the squalls from the confines of a house. No major property or bodily damages.
  • I started dancing again, and will probably have more of a routine once fall semester starts.

It’s weird to be almost second year students since the current second years are going off to their clinicals shortly, and after their clinicals they will become the ones who knows all of the things. Which means in the interim time, my class should know most of the things. Yet I feel like I still don’t know many things at all. It’s almost been an entire year since I started all of this shenanigans of PT school, and it’s arguable been one of the hardest years of my life. I certainly did not expect it to be easy, but then, I never expected it to be as hard as it has been, in the many different ways it’s been hard.

In many ways school can be an alternative reality: we see the same people all day, every day, trying to comprehend the same things and apply it in the different ways that makes sense to each of us. There’s that social bubble which, if you make it, it’s great, and if you don’t, it’s much harder to find a niche since we spend so much time together, there’s not so much time to establish outside connections. And being a chronic outlier, I still don’t feel very well fitted. And it’s easy to lose perspective in school because I need to pass all of the assessments! and unfortunately, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Then comes the freak-out moment of what if I have ruined my future because I wasn’t good enough?!

I got a reality check when I was bemoaning to someone back in Milwaukee on how grad school is strangling out the joy of life, he teased, well, Hannah, you should have stayed in Milwaukee, drank beer, watched football, and gotten fat. 

And he is probably right. I could have done something different, but I had chosen this. And the rest, I suppose, is to tread carefully. But always going onward.

National Geographic


reblogged: The Juilliard School’s 109th Commencement Speech, Joyce DiDonato

Star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato gave the 2014 commencement address at Juilliard Friday — and it’s a memorable one, both for her words and by DiDonato’s own example as someone whose own career began under low heat.

Chairman Kovner, President Polisi, most distinguished honorees, dedicated family, friends, faculty, and to EACH of the talented, ambitious, courageous, adventurous Juilliard graduates of the class of 2014 before us here today, thank you!

I stand before you this morning, duly humbled, and in awe of the distinguished and hard-earned accomplishment awarded to each and every single one of you on this unforgettable and long-awaited day of your graduation. Look at you! You are gowned and tassled and you’re ready to take on the world! Through that first nerve-racking audition, all those subsequent sleepless nights, the painstaking preparation for your recitals, the endless hours of reed-making and memorization, the blisters and the tears, and now here you walk side by side with the life-long friendships you have now forged, you are about to be Alumni of the acclaimed Juilliard School! I invite you to breathe that in. You, my friends, are living the dream! I wish I had had the foresight when invited to speak here today, to ask them to break with tradition and print my old biography from when I was your age instead of my current one!A great example of contrasts, it would have shown you that despite my “star turn” as the off-stage lover in Il Tabarro with my ONE, single, SOLITARY line (did I mention it was OFF-STAGE?), and that despite being the only young artist of my class to fail at securing management until the ripe age of 29, and DESPITE my evaluation sheet for the Houston Opera Studio which simply declared me to possess “not much talent” and that despite WAY more rejections and easy dismissals than actual “yeses”, despite ALL of that, I am somehow, miraculously standing before you all today, regaled in an admittedly different kind of designer gown, dispensing tidbits of “wisdom” before a group of artists who – and this is honestly no exaggeration – artists who I never could have been classmates with, because there truly is no way I could have gained admission to your school back in the day. I simply wasn’t ready back then. That is the truth. One never, EVER knows where their journey will lead them. But YOURS has led you here.

There are a few more hard-earned truths – as I have come to know them – that have arisen on my personal odyssey as a singer and at first glance, they may seem like harbingers of bad news, but I invite you to shift your thinking just a bit (or perhaps even radically) – you guys are artists, so thankfully you’re already brilliant at thinking outside the conventional box! I offer these four little observations as tools to perhaps help you as you go forward, enabling you to empower yourselves from the very core of your being, so that when the challenges of this artistic life catapult and hurl themselves directly and unapologetically into your heart and soul – which they will do, repeatedly – you will have some devices at your disposal to return to, to help you find your center again, so that your voice, your art and your SOUL will not be derailed, but you will instead find the strength to make yourself heard, and seen, and FELT. Then you will have the power to transform yourselves, to transform others, and, indeed, to transform the world.

My first observation:

You will never make it. That’s the bad news, but the “shift” I invite you to make is to see it as fabulous, outstanding news, for I don’t believe there is actually an “it”. “It” doesn’t exist for an Artist. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, right here, right now, in this single, solitary, monumental moment in your life– is to decide, without apology, to commit to the JOURNEY, and not to the outcome. The outcome will almost always fall short of your expectations, and if you’re chasing that elusive, often deceptive goal, you’re likely in for a very tough road, for there will always be that one note that could have soared more freely, the one line reading that could have been just that much more truthful, that third arabesque which could have been slightly more extended, that one adagio which could have been just a touch more magical. There will always be more freedom to acquire and more truth to uncover. As an artist, you will never arrive at a fixed destination. THIS is the glory and the reward of striving to master your craft and embarking on the path of curiosity and imagination, while being tireless in your pursuit of something greater than yourself.

A second truth:

The work will never end. This may sound dreadfully daunting – especially today when you are finally getting out of here!!!! But what I have found is that when things become overwhelming – which they will, repeatedly ~ whether it’s via unexpected, rapid success or as heart-wrenching, devastating failure ~ the way back to your center is simply to RETURN TO THE WORK. Often times it will be the only thing that makes sense. And it is there where you will find solace and truth. At the keyboard, at the barre, with your bow in hand, articulating your arpeggios ~ always return to your home base and trust that you will find your way again via the music, the pulse, the speech, the rhythm. Be patient, but know that it will always be there for you – even if in some moments you lack the will to be there for it. All it asks is that you show up, fully present as you did when you first discovered the magic of your own artistic world when you were young. Bring that innocent, childlike sense of wonder to your craft, and do whatever you need to find that truth again. It will continually teach you how to be present, how to be alive, and how to let go. Therein lies not only your artistic freedom, but your personal freedom as well!

Perhaps my favorite truth:

It’s not about you. This can be a particularly hard, and humbling lesson to face – and it’s one I’ve had to continue to learn at every stage of my own journey – but this is a freeing and empowering truth. You may not yet realize it, but you haven’t signed up for a life of glory and adulation (although that MAY well come, and I wish with every fiber of my being, that it WILL come in the right form for every single one of you – however, that is not your destination, for glory is always transitory and will surely disappear just as fleetingly and arbitrarily as it arrived.) The truth is, you have signed up for a life of service by going into the Arts. And the life-altering results of that service in other people’s lives will NEVER disappear as fame unquestionably will. You are here to serve the words, the director, the melody, the author, the chord progression, the choreographer ~ but above all and most importantly, with every breath, step, and stroke of the keyboard, you are here to serve humanity.

You, as alumni of the 109th graduating class of The Juilliard School are now servants to the ear that needs quiet solace, and the eye that needs the consolation of beauty, servants to the mind that needs desperate repose or pointed inquiry, to the heart that needs invitation to flight or silent understanding, and to the soul that needs safe landing, or fearless, relentless enlightenment. You are a servant to the sick one who needs healing through the beauty and peace of the symphony you will compose through blood-shot eyes and sleepless nights. You are an attendant to the lost one who needs saving through the comforting, probing words you will conjure up from the ether, as well as from your own heroic moments of strife and triumph. You are a steward to the closed and blocked one who needs to feel that vital, electric, joyful pulse of life that eludes them as they witness you stop time as you pirouette and jettè across the stage on your tired legs and bleeding toes. You are a vessel to the angry and confused one who needs a protected place to release their rage as they watch your eyes on the screen silently weep in pain as you relive your own private hell. You are a servant to the eager, naïve, optimistic ones who will come behind you with wide eyes and wild dreams, reminding you of yourself, as you teach and shape and mold them, even though you may be plagued with haunting doubts yourself, just as your teachers likely were – and you will reach out to them and generously invite them to soar and thrive, because we are called to share this thing called Art.

You are also serving one other person: yourself. You are serving the relentless, passionate, fevered force within you that longs to grow and expand and feel and connect and create; that part of you that craves a way to express raw elation and passion, and to make manifest hard-core blissful rapture and – PLEASE, I beg of you, never forget this – FUN! Don’t ever abandon that intoxicating sense of FUN in your ART. Thought that, you are serving your truth. My hope for you is that you will let that truth guide you in every moment of your journey. If you can find that, you have everything. That’s why “making it” is, in the end, utterly insignificant. LIVING it, BREATHING it, SERVING it … that’s where your joy will lie.

I want to share with you a quick email from a soldier on the front lines of our Arts: an elementary/middle school teacher from Salt Lake City, Ms. Audrey Hill, who is fighting the great fight! She brought her students to the recent HD telecast of “La Cenerentola”, and wrote the following note to me:

“One of my boys … a 5th grader… wrote in his review this morning that one of his favorite parts (besides the spaghetti food-fight scene) was where at the end you were singing about getting revenge, and how he really liked that your revenge was going to be forgiveness.   This boy was new to our school this year, has a beautiful singing voice, and has been teased a lot. I have seen him getting more and more angry as the year was coming to a close and today it seemed like all that had disappeared.  It was very moving for me to experience.”

* That’s exactly who you are serving as you now go out into the world. How lucky are you?!??!

Ah, so OK, I lied … I think this may be my favorite truth:

The world needs you. Now, the world may not exactly realize it, but wow, does it need you. It is yearning, starving, dying for you and your healing offer of service through your Art. We need you to help us understand that which is bigger than ourselves, so that we can stop feeling so small, so isolated, so helpless that, in our fear, we stop contributing that which is unique to us: that distinct, rare, individual quality which the world is desperately crying out for and eagerly awaiting. We need you to remind us what unbridled, unfiltered, childlike exuberance feels like, so we remember, without apology or disclaimer, to laugh, to play, to FLY and to stop taking EVERYTHING so damn seriously. We need you to remind us what empathy is by taking us deep into the hearts of those who are, God forbid, different than us – so that we can recapture the hope of not only living in peace with each other, but THRIVING together in a vibrant way where each of us grows in wonder and joy. We need you to make us feel an integral PART of a shared existence through the communal, universal, forgiving language of music, of dance, of poetry and Art – so that we never lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together and that we are all deserving of a life that overflows with immense possibility, improbable beauty and relentless truth.

What an honor it is to share in this day with you – savor every single moment of it – and then fly out of this building, armed with the knowledge that YOU make a difference, that your art is NECESSARY, and that the world is eagerly awaiting to hear what YOU have to say. Go on, make us laugh, cry, dance, FEEL, unite, and believe in the incredible power of humanity to overcome anything!

Mission II, Catherine Nelson, Courtesy of


by and by

According to neuroscience, the overuse of the left hand of a violinist/violinist/cellist creates a more pronounced response in one’s right cerebral hemisphere, which I am pretty sure took away from my cerebellar development and functions, demonstrated by my lack of hand-eye coordination.

And since the past Friday, my body and brain have both slowly rejoined the throng of humanity, as we just wrapped up the second semester of PT school. I’m putzing about doing normal human things: even doing the laundry can seem like an event.

I am working on a real post. In the meantime, going off to the mountains and likely going to struggle for air.

(Insert suppressed impulse to autopilot-speech on the effect of altitude on respiration. Applied Physiology course PTSD.)

National Geographic

Credit: National Geographic


shameless plugging: featuring Katherine Hein

I have a solid group of women that I’ve known since undergrad, who support each other no matter where we might be. I guess it’s normal to stick together after chugging through a few dozen weddings: cloth-pins for windy days and freezing by a lake in June and narrowly escaping death by truck on a rural highway and ad lib-ing through some of the most classic pieces because the wedding party randomly started processing down the aisle. And lots and lots of Canon in D. 

And some of them write the kind of poetry that I wish I could have written, and we understand each other without having to say a word. So here’s my shameless plugging for one of them, Katie Hein, whose lines came across my path and struck me wordless all over again.


sometimes i forget that you haven’t known me all my life,
that you never knew the little girl
that became a not-so-little girl
that became this young woman you call friend.
sometimes i remember what never was
because today is something that i never imagined.
sometimes i forget that i have to tell you about myself for you to find out
what’s in there.
sometimes my past catches up and my present wants to step aside.
sometimes my present catches up and i just want to go back.

it is strange for me to think that you have made assumptions
about me,
but i suppose we all have our suppositions.
i feel i know you where the rain meets the leaves,
whatever that means,
and though i am so familiar,
you don’t know what to think

Winter Contrast in Krakow, Martin Ryczek

Winter Contrast in Krakow, Martin Ryczek