Saturday, March 30, 2013

Free Concert

The San Francisco Symphony is on strike.

So, in the meantime, they performed a free concert.  Thanks to the power of facebook, I saw a message this afternoon.

The brass, woodwinds, and string section all had their moment in the sun.  I love Fanfare for the Common Man.

But the highlight for me was Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings.  I LOVE this piece.  I've performed it 4 or 5 times maybe?  I've played it (rehearsals and what not) probably hundreds of times by now.  I first played it in 6th grade with Sierra String Ensemble.  I look back and wonder...how did I do that??  I also played it my freshman year of high school at an All-State Orchestra (CODA) as one of 4 cellists. Then again with my Youth Symphony my senior year.  Maybe at UCLA...I can't remember.  UCI hired me to play it with them.  And Blackbird Ensemble.

I also had my school orchestra play an arranged version of it (but still very difficult) a couple times.  Two groups, in particular, were very meaningful.  I bought them mutes :)  Hearing this piece now makes me nostalgic and sad that it couldn't work out.

Hearing members of the San Francisco Symphony perform this, a mere 20 feet from me, was so awesome.  I'm an annoying person to be with when it comes to musical performances; I sway with the music, I finger along on my arm, I try REALLY hard not to audibly inhale before key moments.  It was so beautiful.  However, it wasn't perfect :)  The older couple behind me were talking about how flawless it was....but it wasn't.  I can't help it.  It's the musician in me.  I noticed the flaws.  But the flaws make it...human, I suppose.  It's also strangely reassuring to know that all musicians, no matter the level, can still struggle with the same basic issues.

I hope they do more concerts!  I will happily attend!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Oh Fresno...

I've been in Fresno since Monday, because my sister and brother-in-law (who haven't been here in 2 years or so?) were visiting from the East Coast, and my parents wanted me to come down, too.

Except.

Being around my entire family means we all kind of revert to the family dynamics of 1990.  My sister stays in her room.  I get ignored by literally everybody, and when I talk either nobody responds or I get interrupted.  My mom and dad feel all happy, like we're a happy close family, and they dote on my sister.

That's cool.  I went to Target two times and bought...everything.  By everything, I mean soap, a watch for the bus (sometimes I get nervous when that sketchy guy eyes my iPhone), body butter (smells good enough to eat!), more soap, and 2 16-packs of mega roll toilet paper!  I love Charmin and their ridiculous mega rolls.  I bought a giant pack at each Target trip because I can only carry one at a time, and I hate rolling a cart around Target.

I also visited Ulta (there really should be one in SF!) to stock up on random skin care items.

AND, I visited Barnes and Noble.

I LOVE Barnes and Noble.  I love all bookstores.  When I lived in a city with a Barnes and Noble, that's probably where you could find me on a Saturday night.  Yeah.  I'm exciting.  I bought 3 books.  1.) Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior (every time I hear the word "subliminal" I think about how poor George W. said that word incorrectly over and over again in his speech.  "Subliminable" I believe it was.) 2.) Siddhartha and 3.) A Tale for the Time Being.  There is a character named Nao.  I had to buy it.

I also attempted to buy the 2 disc soundtrack of Les Miserables (the newest one, I already have the old one) but they were out.  And I contemplated buying the DVD but couldn't bring myself to pay $27.99 for it.

I'll buy it on amazon.

I could have gotten the books on amazon too, I suppose, but I like the idea of supporting Barnes and Noble.  I want them to stay open.  I also want to start reading something RIGHT NOW and not in a few days.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Last year, I bought this headband from Old Navy for $1 that had a miniature leprechaun hat on it.  At the time, I didn't realize that St. Patrick's Day did NOT land on a weekday.

I wore it on Friday instead, and while walking past a class of kindergarteners, they all started pointing and gasping, and one kid exclaimed, "It's a leprechaun!!!"

I love that it didn't strike them odd that 1.) I was gigantic for a leprechaun, 2.) I was a girl (are there girl leprechauns?  I don't even know...), and 3.) I was Asian.

:)

I like that, in a kindergartener's mind, a leprechaun can be anybody.

Oh yeah, and when I was driving home, still with my headband on, the person in front of me gave me a thumbs up and gestured to his head.

Heh.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ides of March

The Ides of March and I have a history.

There was a day in college where I just kept dropping everything.  Dropped the shampoo on my foot.  Dropped the conditioner on my foot.  Fell on 2 stairs walking to class.  Dropped by bow, then my rosin, then my bow again within 10 seconds while practicing.  Fell down more stairs.  What is going ON? I asked myself.  That's when I realized it was the 15th of March!...which got me to thinking...when did I fall in high school?

After going back and doing the research, I realized that I fell and broke my leg on March 15th.

I had found my rollerskates; you know, the old school kind with 4 wheels in each "corner" of the skate?  I got super excited, put them on, and started my skate adventure around the block.  I turned the first corner, and thought, "Uh-oh, I'm going to fall."  Now, by this time, I was a senior in high school and had already broken both my arms, and knew that I just don't fall correctly.  I had also sprained several fingers in a few falls, too, and I had All-State Orchestra coming up and was going to solo with my Youth Symphony in a couple months.

As I rounded the 2nd corner, two things happened.  1.) It started to lightly sprinkle.  Over the years, strangely, the story has turned into "Naoko went rollerskating in the rain."  No.  I went rollerskating and then it started to rain.  2.) I realized I was going to fall which meant I was going to break something.

Skating on (for some reason turning back didn't seem like an option at the time), I thought of all the responsibilities I had lined up for myself and how much I didn't want to hurt my hands or arms.

That's when it happened.  That stupid acorn.  That is what led to my demise: an acorn.  I tripped over it, and immediately tried to go to the grass.  USUALLY, when you are on rollerskates and go to long grass, it stops your momentum.  That is, unless it has been raining, and the grass is slick from rain.

I wish I could have seen it.  I did a Hollywood kind of fall, where one leg goes up, the other leg goes up, you land on the first leg and it rolls from under you again, and then the other leg, until both legs are in the air at the same time.  That's when I made the conscious decision, and I fell with both of my arms in the air.

Yes.  I held my arms up so I wouldn't try to land on them, so I wouldn't break them.

When I landed on the ground, in a fully sitting position with my legs out in front of me, it sounded like 20 people had cracker their knuckles.  I sat for a moment and thought, that wasn't a good sound.  Then, I looked at my right leg.  My knee was facing up like normal, but my ankle had turned and my foot was pointing to the right.  Surprised, I said, "Ew!" grabbed my foot, and turned it so it would be facing upward again.  More cracking ensued.

In retrospect, it was probably a bad decision to attempt to reset my foot myself, but it really was my first instinct.

I took off my rollerskates (the additional weight didn't seem like it would be good for my leg), and sat, trying to figure out how to get home.  I was sitting in front of the house directly in back of my house, so I was exactly half way away.  I sat, trying to surmise if there was a better option than crawling back.  That seemed a little undignified, but I didn't think hopping was a great idea, either.

At that point, the door opened and a man walked out.  He saw me sitting on the sidewalk and walked over to me.  "Hello!" he said.

"Hi," I returned.

"What happened?" he asked.

"I think I killed myself," was my reply.  I still remember this very clearly.

"That's not good," he said.  "Well, I'm on my way to work, but my wife is at home."

When his wife came out, she recognized me as the kid who lived on the other side of the fence.  I guess it helped that we were the only Asian family on the block.

She drove me home, and I hopped up to the door and rang the doorbell.  My mom answered the door, confused, and asked what happened.  "I broke my leg.  I need to go to the doctor."

I'm not sure why it is, but everyone in my family are panickers.  I don't think that's a word.  But I've decided in this context it is.  In any remotely emergency situation, everybody freaks out very easily.  Except me.  I am always the calm one.  I think it's because I'm the one who always has the emergency.

My mom said, "You didn't break your leg!  Don't say that!"

"Oh, it's broken.  I heard it," I said knowledgeably.

My dad drove me to the walk-in clinic.  When they asked what was wrong, I said I broke my leg, and my dad got mad.  "She fell down.  Her leg hurts."

"It doesn't hurt that bad, but it IS broken," I said.  I still don't know why they were in such denial about my leg.  It's not like I had gotten shot or anything, or had fallen and injured my spine.

We waited.  And waited.  I remember sitting in a wheelchair and having to lift up my foot and rest it on my other knee.  My leg went kind of numb, so I had to use my arms to pick my leg up, which struck me as amusing.  Until my leg fell asleep.  I entertained myself by poking my foot.

I have a rule in life, where...the more cranky people you have to deal with, the friendlier and more polite I'm going to be.  So when the doctors and nurses finally called me in, I was my normal jolly self.  The pain has to be pretty bad for me to be snappish.

They wrapped my foot, took x-rays, and sent me home with crutches.  The next day, I went to school and had the worst time maneuvering on those stupid crutches (maybe it was because my backpack was literally 25 pounds) and was late to all my classes.  When I got home, I had been scheduled to go to the doctor again.

 I went in and was told I had broken my leg and had to go to see an orthopedic surgeon.  When I went to see the orthopedic surgeon, he told me I had broken my fibula, shattered the bone around it, and had tore all my ankle tendons and/or ligaments, so there was nothing keeping my foot in places for everything to grow back properly.

Creepy.

I was to have pins placed in my leg.  I stayed home for a few weeks (yay!) and had surgery, where they ended up screwing a metal plate into my bone.  I guess it was worse when they opened up my leg.  More time at home.  Then spring break.  It was great.  Except I had to take baths with my leg hanging out of the bathtub.  And my leg was itchy.  And I couldn't walk.  Or drive.

When I did go back to school, my friend drove me, because my dad complained about having to drive me places.  As I started healing, and my parents complained more and more about having to drive me to rehearsals and lessons, I finally had it and just drove with my left foot.  I found it rude that they were complaining.  =)

By May 17th, which was the day of my Youth Symphony Concert, I had had my cast off for a week and could very slowly kind of hobble.  I was intent not to walk out on crutches.  Grad night at Disneyland was very hobbly, too.  After graduation, my mom said she could spot me because I was limping, and I slowed down the line.  Thanks, mom.  And for sober grad, when we bowled, I had to walk up to the line and throw the ball with my left hand, because the extra weight was too much for my leg.  I am still proud of the 92 I got.

And it all started on the 15th of March.

So what's the point?

I bought a lottery ticket today.  Maybe something GOOD will happen this year =)

Could be worse.  I could be Julius Caesar.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

OZ the Great and Powerful

I will watch anything that has magic in it.

I'm not sure why.  I just like it :)

While watching the ubiquitous trailers of Oz the Great and Powerful, the theme song got stuck in my head.  So what better way to deal with it than make a video?


P.S. If you've seen OZ, let me know what you think!  I want to go see it...but don't know anybody who would want to go....

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Christina Aguilera - Voice Within

Made a new video :)

This one is actually the very first one I wanted to make after Pirates of the Caribbean, but I didn't have enough confidence in my transcribing abilities.  Or my shifting abilities :)  After coming off of teaching, my cello chops were not up to par (not to say they are up now, but they are better than when I first moved), and I didn't feel I would give a performance that was....adequate.

Isn't that a quote from something?  "Perfectly adequate _________"  I can't remember the name or the context.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome

I can't remember if I've talked specifically about this or not.  I feel like I have, but at least this way there is an official post.  I wish I had trumpets for a fanfare.

I officially have a sleeping disorder.  I've known about it for a few years now, and it's called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome.  While I've had it since high school, it wasn't until a few years ago that I really noticed a problem, so it took a while to get diagnosed.

Q: SO WHAT IS DELAYED SLEEP PHASE SYNDROME?
A: It's when your circadian clock is kind of permanently messed up.  I explain it as permanent jet lag, but your body just cannot readjust.

Q: WHY DID IT TAKE YOU SO LONG TO FIGURE IT OUT?
A: Well, in high school, I slept 2-4 hours every night.  But I was a full time student, I took an extra class after school, I had cello and piano lessons, I was in 3 regular orchestras plus 3 seasonal orchestra, all my classes were Honors or AP, and I was a really GOOD student.  All my friends, also Honors and AP people, had similar sleep schedules.  It was the price we had to pay to get everything done.
In college, everybody has weird schedules.  Nobody is going to sleep at 9:00.  I just scheduled my classes to be in the afternoon, but even so, I needed an alarm clock to make it to my 1:00 p.m. class.
When I started working, I went back to my 4 hour schedule because that's what I needed to do to be prepared every day to teach.
A few years ago, it started becoming a real problem.  After starving myself of sleep all week, I'd sleep a good 10-12 hours on Friday night, and then on Saturday night I'd end up going to sleep at 4 in the morning, and then I wouldn't sleep at all on Sunday.  So that first Monday back to school I'd usually be awake 30 something hours.  You'd think that my body would go, "Man, I'm tired!  Let's go to bed super early tonight!" but no.  It would go to bed at maybe 3:00 a.m.  The next night maybe 2:00.  No matter how tired I was, I'd lie in bed and almost fall asleep...but not quite.
That's when I went to my doctor, who then referred me to a neurologist.

Q: HOW COULD YOU WORK WITH ONLY 4 HOURS OF SLEEP EVERY NIGHT?
A: I'm not sure.  My body...while it breaks really easily, it's really tough at the same time.  I also used to not feed it enough, and nothing bad ever happened except, strangely, gaining a lot of weight.  I've been sleep deprived since I was 11.  While waking up every day was physically painful, I'm really good at forcing myself to do what I need to do.  My will always wins, and my body seems to be really good at digging deep and just...doing it.  I read about other people who have lost jobs and friends over this, and I'm grateful that somehow my body can suck it up and deal.  It's not happy about it, but it can do it.

Q: HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?
A: There's a checklist of symptoms.  My neurologist said that she usually can never say this, but she was 99.9% positive I had Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome because I was basically textbook.  I had every single symptom.

Q: HOW DO YOU TREAT IT?
A: Ironically, Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is resistant to sleep drugs.  I once called my doctor asking for the highest dose of Ambien (I tend to need high doses of all medicine) because work was about to start again and I was going to sleep at 3 in the afternoon.  She gave me a week's worth, but as soon as I was done with the week my body tried to go back to going to sleep at weird times.
My doctor suggested "good sleep hygiene" and waking up at the same time every day.  For a month, I tried it.  That meant waking up at 5:30 in the morning on Saturday morning, which just...hurts.  But while I was never exhausted, I was also never really rested.  I never got that Saturday morning feeling of, "Ah, I just slept as much as I needed and wanted and I feel AMAZING now!"  I assume it feels a lot like going on antidepressants, where you're not super sad but you're never happy, either.  Like that. But with sleep.
I started taking massive amounts of melatonin.  I started with 5mg.  Then 10.  Then 15.  Then 20.  Then 30.  With melatonin, I could usually get 6-7 hours of sleep Monday night - Thursday.  Friday and Saturday I'd sleep as much as I wanted, Sunday I'd force myself awake at a decent hour (8 - 10am) and Sunday night I'd probably get 2-4 hours of sleep.  It was manageable.
Fortunately, for everybody, being sleepy doesn't make me grumpy.  Being sleepy doesn't really slow me down, either.  It has affected my short term memory, but only about unimportant things.  I forget where my sunglasses are every day, but I never forgot a meeting or a due date.

I have the theory that I really am hyperactive, because I was a SUPER energetic kid.  I remember feeling like there was so much energy in me that it was bursting out of me.  Being sleepy all the time just made me a normal person, in terms of energy levels, so it's okay.

Q: WHAT DOES YOUR SLEEPING DISORDER DO WHEN YOU AREN'T WORKING?
A: That's been the really interesting part.  Since I'm not working now, I'm allowing my body to sleep when it gets sleepy and to sleep as much as it wants.  Sometimes I start to feel guilty and try to force myself awake at decent hour, but I've noticed that even when I do that, I slowly start moving forward.  I will go to sleep and wake up a little later every day, but be sleepy.
The last 3 weeks, I've said, "Forget it!  When am I ever going to get the chance to sleep as much as I want ever again?"  My days are now approximately 26-28 hours long, with occasional jumps in that where my body will just decide to be awake for 23 hours and then sleep for 10 hours.  Sometimes it decides to sleep for 6 hours two nights in a row and then 10-12 hours the next night.  But it is definitely refusing to conform to a 24 hour day.  It likes to be awake 16 - 18 hours, and it likes to sleep 8-10 hours, typically.

Q: WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN YOU START WORKING AGAIN?
A: I assume there will be a period of adjustment when I have to train my body to have some normalcy again, but that's okay.  My body's response to things like that is typically, "Awww!....eh, okay."  I also assume it will be a lot like when I was teaching.  And that's okay, too.  I'm used to it.  I'm used to always being sleep, and everybody around me is pretty used to it, too.  I think it has been so well received thus far because...it really doesn't affect my mood or cognitive ability, nor does it affect my ability to get things done.  I have always been a person who gets things done faster than most others and better (sorry that sounds so EUGH but...it's true).  And I think THAT has been so well received because I'm not a jerk about it, I don't typically brag about it, and I know I'm the weird one, not you.

Speaking of which, it's almost my bedtime.  I think.  I can't really tell these days.  I am going to try a new supplement this week: Valerian Root.  I heard on Dr. Oz that it can help.  It may, it may not, but it doesn't hurt to try!