Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011 Reflections

Two thousand and eleven was one of the weirdest years I've ever had. And likely one of the best! I spent most of it living in Iceland. That just takes the cake right there. It's hard to really find 'highlights' in a year that included weekly mind-blowing events like hundred meter waterfalls, volcano ash, foreign languages, björk, and hot spring caves. But here are some personal faves, in no particular order.

-Definitely the hot spring cave.
-Having about 15 visitors come to Iceland and stay with me!
-I released my first solo album, but chock full of collaborations and help from friends around the world.
-I moved to Colorado to start a doctorate in music.
-With a lot more spare time, I read 28 real books, including novels! I also perused 10 art/photography books, and read 2 books in Icelandic (albeit very choppily and slowly).
-After no luck dating in Iceland (though a lot of fun trying), as soon as I get back to the States I meet a great man and he keeps impressing me every day.
-Singing in a choir for Beethoven 9 for the grand opening of Iceland's national concert hall. I'm the only non-Icelander in the choir and honored to be part of the shows.
-A trip to the West Fjords, where I had some amazing photos taken and great memories with friends.
-Swimming pools! Hot spring tubs! Lots of them.
-Having an Icelandic choir- no, two of them- sing pieces that I wrote. I have never been more moved.
-Filming a percussion quartet up in the mountains in Colorado
-Meeting too many interesting and amazing people to count!

I don't know if I have any 2012 resolutions; perhaps one might be to not sell myself short, and to not put up obstacles that might stand between me and success/paychecks, even if they are opportunities I might not have thought of as My Current Path. If I learned anything from 2011, it's that I should say 'yes' more to things that randomly get asked of me, because it will often take me to very amazing places.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

'Chinook' recording

Some photos that I don't think I had a chance to post yet, of the filming of my percussion quartet 'Chinook' up on the mesa of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The piece is a site-specific work about weather patterns in Boulder, and the film will eventually be shown on four separate (but interlocking musically) screens or projectors.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Goodbye Stan, Sexually Ambiguous Cockatiel

My childhood pet bird, Stan, died while I was home for the holidays. He was a cockatiel and lived to be 23 years old--probably much longer than most of his colleagues would ever dream of! While he was more like my mother's pet (I never had much emotional attachment, as he was no fun to play with) Stan always lived in the living room, listening to me play piano and squawk when the music got really intense. A few times he squawked so much that I had to take his cage into another room so I could concentrate. But mostly he was pretty inconspicuous. He'd take a flight around the house about once a day, and everyone in the family would duck as he flew around.

Toward the last years of his life, Stan's flying became erratic and he was more like a dive-bombing bird- he'd fly right into a corner of the room, slide down the wall unharmed, and then toddle out on the floor looking around, waiting for someone to come pick his disoriented bird self up and put him back on his cage. The last few months of his life were less flight-bound, mostly shivery and sneezing to himself, a little bird flu.

Around New Years, Stan took one last daring flight and landed behind a heavy bookcase cabinet and my mom and I looked everywhere for him, unable to find him hiding under a chair or in a corner, or perhaps in a potted plant. I finally located him because of his old-age bird-wheezing, and managed to pry the bookcase away from the corner. I've come to think that this was Stan's last flight of honor, wanting to die in peace and quiet, like some animals who find a hiding place to put their heads down to take a final rest. But what do you know, my mom and I had to go make a dramatic Intervention out of it and tell Stan that he still had so much more life to live!

Stan's best quality should have been his mellifluous chirp. Stan was originally bought thinking he'd be a beautiful singing or talking bird, which the male cockatiels are especially good at. We didn't know why he didn't learn to repeat anything we said; he would only hiss loudly like a cat when anyone approached, and did a sort of bark when a car came in the driveway- our very own watchbird. But after owning Stan for twelve years, he laid an egg. Stan was technically a girl. We tried briefly to call her 'Stanette', and use female pronouns, but to no avail--Stan remained Stan. The gender dysphoria and sexless life without a bird companion could have been enough to drive Stan to madness, but he didn't seem to mind.

Stan's faithfulness to our family will always be remembered. Sometimes we'd accidentally leave the door open in the summer, and Stan would never fly out to greet his cardinal and blue jay friends. Thanks for stickin' around as long as you did.