Posts Tagged 'Sax'

Just Hang On

Just hang on, hang on to the vine
Stay on, soon you’ll be divine
If you start to cry, look up to the sky
Something’s coming up ahead
To turn your tears to dew instead

And so I hold on to his advice
When change is hard and not so nice
You listen to your heart the whole night through
Your sunny someday will come one day soon to you”

~Pink Martini (Hang on Little Tomato)

What a way to start the new year.

First of all, I’m sick. Boyfriend had a nasty cold/flu thing just before Christmas, which got him out of having to meet my family. I wished really really hard that I would get it too, and miss the whole holiday crap myself, but it came too late.  Ugh. And I’m supposed to work tomorrow, to do some really nasty work that nobody else wants to be around during the normal workday.

Second, the heat and hot water are out in my apartment. Again. What terrible timing! I’m always the one who ends up calling the landlord when somethings wrong with the building, so I always feel like a whiny brat. There are at least six other tenants, and the guy who runs a business on the street level. Why can’ t one of them call for once? But I’m the sicky one, so I’m sure it will be me again. What can I say? My tolerance level for this crap happens to be kinda low at the moment.

Third, Did I mention I have to work tomorrow? With dangerous chemicals. They’re so bad, in fact, that I’ll be earning my hazard pay, which is part of the reason I agreed to do this in the first place. I’ll be wearing a respirator, and I’ll be sure to change the chemical cartridges a couple times during the day, but it is really really hard to blow your nose with a respirator on. I’ll have to go outside every ten minutes! Boyfriend, and perhaps you all agree with him, thinks I’m nuts, but there is a reason behind this. By working Sunday, when nothing is open anyway, I can take a weekday off and get things done.

Fourth, my to-do list is a mile long. And being sick has slowed my productivity rate significantly. There are things I want to do. Please note, these are not New Year’s Resolutions. I firmly believe that if we want to make changes in our lives, the best time to start is immediately, not at some fixed, yet mostly meaningless point in time. There are time sensitive items on this list, so I guess they are the priority. No, blogging is not one of them. Yes, I am wasting precious time and energy.

Fifth, one of the items on my to-do list. My license expires in May. Not my car drivers license, that other drivers license. I’ve been real reluctant to do anything about it. There are a number of steps, some of which cost money, others that just cause hassles, and some that cause both. I haven’t been through this process before, so I don’t really know what to expect. Most of my friends can’t help, because they got theirs after me. My former employers have been through it several times each, but getting advice from them is like pulling teeth. I feel all alone in this. And I’m not entirely committed to renewing; I’m not sure there is a point. I’ve never really used the darn thing, and I hope my life path leads me farther away from ever needing it. But the economy is crap, so who knows where I’ll be next month or next year?

Sixth, and I like to think of this last one as the bright spot right now, I am revamping my job search efforts. No, I have not been laid off, but I can’t handle the stress of constantly believing that any week could be my last. Despite assurances from the company that I have nothing to worry about, I can’t help freaking out. I cannot live like this. So I’m actively looking for a Plan B, which depending on what I find, could potentially become Plan A. I’m back to using USAJOBS, a site that has caused me much difficulties and no luck in the past, but I’m looking at a different department. I’m currently looking for a job in a national park, preferably one in the Rockies, the West, or Alaska. Many of these job opportunities are temporary appointments, which would give me the chance to get out of here for a while and see something new. What happens after the temporary time is up (probably September)? I’m not sure yet. Perhaps current job will still exist, particularly if people do get laid off for the summer and we have some work again next winter. Perhaps the current state government hiring freeze will no longer be in effect, and I could use my experience in a national park as a bridge to say, the Department of Conservation. Perhaps I don’t return here.

I do have other bright spots in my life. My new yoga class starts on Monday, and after the holiday break, I feel like I sure do need it! My saxophone is currently in the repair shop, but I will have it back this week, and the repair guy is going to help me find a new mouthpiece, which will hopefully help to correct some of my tone issues. And then the first rehearsal for my new band is next weekend! I’m also thinking of doing some volunteering at the local hospital. In high school, I was a volunteer in the O.R., and I think it is a great way to branch out of my little rut, meet new people, and gain new experiences.


How Much?

How much money is too much to throw at our hobbies and addictions? Is a hobby any better for us than an addiction? And what it the defining distinction between the two? I know plenty of people who consider their frequent binge drinking a hobby and others who consider their time engrossed in a novel to be an addiction.

How do we pull the plug on wasteful spending for our hobbies and addictions? Perhaps it is all wasteful spending. Hobbies and addictions shouldn’t be items or activities necessary for survival, even if our cravings tell us otherwise.

This post is really about a toy. A toy some would consider a hobby, but at times, really agitates me. I’m not sure if I should continue to throw away my hard earned money to prop it up any longer.

My saxophone is broken; it quit on me in the middle of a performance this afternoon, and I absolutely cannot figure out what is wrong with it. It has needed an overhaul for some time now, so I guess today pushed it over the edge. The last overhaul was when I purchased it about five years ago. Since then, I haven’t always treated it kindly, including many months it spent on board a boat. The corks have mostly all disintegrated and fallen off. The body has an unusual patina, more commonly known as rust. I can’t judge the pads, but a repairman would probably just add them to the work order.

Granted, my sax wasn’t in particularly good condition when I bought it. It is old and lived a hard life before I got my hands on it. It has “the look” and character, and at the time, it was all I could afford, although I knew it wasn’t even worth what I forked over. A complete overhaul would cost more than I think the instrument is worth.

I should buy a new (to me) saxophone. If budget wasn’t a concern, I would probably hunt down a well-maintained, un-dented version of what I have, because I have a strange love affair with old saxes. A perfect pre-1950 King Zephyr tenor is worth $2500 to $3000. They are also hard to find; the best places to look are pawn shops in big cities with musical flavor like New York, New Orleans, and Montreal. At the other end of the spectrum, I could afford a shiny brand new student-level model (read: poorly constructed) for a few hundred dollars, but….yuck. Although I know people who’ve done it, I would never buy a used sax on Ebay, because I prefer to test them first.

Purchasing a new sax of any age or quality has not been in my foreseeable future’s budget. I bought a road bike a few months ago, and boyfriend and I are talking about a vacation this winter to somewhere without snow. I suppose I’ll call the repair shop tomorrow and see if they aren’t too busy with back-to-school issues. My band has upcoming performances on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday, so I’ll be borrowing another band member’s backup. It hasn’t been a happy afternoon.


Ever commit to something before you know exactly all of what is expected of you? (Who hasn’t, right?)

Well, I’ve done it recently, and now I feel stuck, because I’m really only interested in my original perceived level of participation, and not the current overload I’m feeling. But it seems like my choice is all or nothing.

Remember a while back I joined a band? It was good for a while. Rehearsals were every Tuesday evening for an hour and a half, and they were located at my town’s middle school about a half mile from where I live. Following April school vacation, rehearsals changed locations to an elementary school twenty-five miles away!! Rehearsals frequently run long, and I often don’t get home to start dinner until after nine pm! It is exhausting. The other night our rehearsal was running late because a few members felt the need to discuss an issue that should have been left up to the board, not the general membership, and I started quietly packing up. The alto sax sitting next to me, gets mad at me for being so rude (it should also be noted that this individual was one of the members who had many thoughts to add to the discussion) and asks if I’m going to turn into a pumpkin. Well! Excuse me! I haven’t seen my apartment since six-thirty in the morning, or a bite to eat since lunch, and I have a forty minute drive on dark pothole-ridden roads ahead of me. Yeah, I want to leave.

The drive is another issue. In the past week, the only day I drove my car anywhere was Tuesday. I’ve been trying really hard to do everything by bike or foot. It’s good for me. It’s good for my wallet. It’s good for the environment. I feel proud to be among the local bike commuters that I see regularly (we all wave to one another; it’s quite different from the one-finger wave you get in a car). I can’t get to rehearsal on my bike for four reasons: 1) it is so far. I could probably do one direction, but then how do I get home? 2) I’d be riding home in the dark. No thanks. Too dangerous. 3) The roads out there are really really rough in a car; they would not be suitable for a road bike. And some have no shoulder to ride on. 4) I play the tenor sax. It is too big to carry on my bike.

Then there is the performance schedule, which was finally handed out two rehearsals ago. Thus far, there have been two performances, which is about the frequency I was expecting. The first was a joke: we hadn’t been rehearsing long; we were inside and it was brutally hot; there was a bean supper to follow, so the beans could be smelled cooking downstairs – I thought I was going to puke! I missed the second performance (a series of three parades on Memorial Day), because I had to work. We have a performance outside at our lakeside bandstand tomorrow for Father’s Day. It will eat up my entire afternoon.

Next weekend is a parade in a town south of here, for which our band has also been invited to do a 2 hour performance afterwards. To participate or not (last minute invitation, reduced fee, poorly organized event) was the issue we were discussing the other night. Boyfriend and I have already been talking about going camping next weekend, because it was supposed to be a rare “free weekend” for both of us. The weekend after that, there is a cancer walk that we are playing at on Friday night, and then a big event Saturday two hours south of here, for which we are chartering a bus and will be gone the entire day. There is a performance, or two, nearly every single week between now and the end of September in addition to our weekly rehearsals and independent practicing. Most of the members of the band are retired; perhaps this doesn’t seem like such a huge commitment to them considering they have forty more hours in the week than I do.

I love my sax. But do I love it to the exclusion of my other interests and my free time? Absolutely not. So what do I do now?

Guess What?!

(Song selection? Any suggestions? Or better yet, just go listen to “In the Mood” originally performed by Glenn Miller & Orchestra, because this is one of the songs I’m trying to learn.)

I’m so excited about my newest thing: I joined a band!! No, this is not a garage band dreaming of record deals and groupies. This group is a local community band that performs many summer-through-holidaze concerts, ranging from appearances at fairs, parades, and other country-living events statewide. Fortunately, we will not be playing all country and bluegrass music.

I haven’t played with a group since high school; I am used to being a soloist, free to choose and interpret music as my ear sees fit. It feels strange, yet familiar in a riding-a-bike way, to look over the page to a director at the front reminding us of the beat, the drum behind trying to do the same, and the sounds of many performers playing individual parts to come together as a harmonious sound. Of course, as a tenor sax player, I sit near the back, so I don’t always hear all the sounds in front of me.

I am, by far, the youngest person in the group, which I’m told, numbers 40-50 in the middle of the summer. I also play the oldest looking instrument; my sax is an early 1940’s King Zephyr. Judging by looks and the effort required to play it, it has had a hard life. I really do love my sax, but if I had the money for a replacement, this one could be retired. I don’t need or want a brand-shiny new instrument; I would like a well made, well maintained, vintage horn. The tonal quality matures over time, much like a fine wine needs to age. Besides, a brand new, shiny yellow colored sax doesn’t evoke the same feeling of down-and-out old time blues, which this sax snob feels is absolutely necessary.

I’ve now been to two rehearsals and received brand new music both nights. Or first performance is next weekend, with no more rehearsals before then. I’m one step beyond sight reading, and I’m the only tenor who was even given the music for the performance. We are going to suck!! But I’m having so much fun. In these last couple of weeks, our rehearsals have been the only events in my life that keep me smiling from beginning to hours afterwards.


There is a Chinese Proverb that states: "A bird does not sing because it has the answers. It sings because it has a song." This is my song. I don't pretend to have the answers.