always the violist


Where was I?

Sorry. Yes, I was never a loud person. Really. I am the quiet type. Quiet-er. Than most. Some. Sometimes quieter than I myself am other times. That makes sense.

[more be-eth prepared! a lot of charismatic text followeth after the jump] (So I was writing about being quiet and shy and sometimes not so quiet and shy when my computer just froze and took everything I was doing – I was doing a lot, all at once, I am capable of these things, yesican – down with it into the depths of never ever again retrievable frozen-ness, down there where everything you had on your mind and was about to splurt out when WHOOPS your mom called or the milk boiled over or your parakeet drowned itself in the bath it had let just a few moments before, which is actually utterly impossible and unthinkable, at least for me, as I do not own a parakeet and don’t want one either and what silly parakeet bathes in bathtubs anyway and then you realize for the 753rd time that this is once again one of those lessons life forces upon you, reminding you that it is really an extremely foolish thing to do, writing all this genius shit right in your browser when you KNOW the Internet is extremely slow at the moment and actually your computer is extremely unreliable in general and you realize this and think well goddamn it, why don’t you just go fuck yourself, Lenovo ThinkPad I only have because my dad gave it to me in exchange for a blog I was supposed to design and set up for him which I still have yet to finish aka start.

Man. And I thought I might be able to write all that stuff down again, from memory. And then the above happens. and I think, well, that is going to be a bit more difficult than I thought.)

SO I was always pretty shy and unsure of myself, which are two characteristics that complement one another very nicely, if not perfectly. Therefore I was also quiet. Quiet as… me. Not quiet as a mouse, because that is a phrase typical for some people, but as I refuse to be typically something, that is not the description I am using. Things may be typically me – just not the other way around, thank you very much. (I can just hear my brother telling me off, “will you get off your high horse, you are so arrogant sometimes.” why yes. but other times I am quite the opposite, so please just stfu.)

Until the eighth grade, when a Russian teacher, above all people, annoyed me so much she coaxed the will-be-obnoxious-to-persons-of-authority-if-I-get-the-feeling-they-adore-me-so-much-they-just-keep-demanding-more-and-more-of-me-ok-but-enough-is-enough-alright-yes-see-I-can-tell-you-what-I-think-or-what-I-don’t-think-but-want-to-say-anyway-justbecauseitskindafun-LOUDSHYESTHER. YESICAN. HEARTHAT.

She loved me. I used her. I was a mean little teacher’s pet.

So ever since then the LOUD Esther emerged ever so QUIETLY and sneakily, sometimes in downright surges of madness, other times in small bursts of joyous passion or just-for-fun aggression.

Then came the time I switched over to playing the viola, having played the violin for about eighteen months back in Toronto and starting again BECAUSE I NEEEEEEEEDED TO when I was twelve and in Germany. So I was playing the viola. And with time, it became clear how perfect the instrument was for me. Or how perfect I was for the instrument. I was growing into all the stereotypes that come with viola players. Or had I always been like that? Perhaps.

Meaning yes. It’s what all this gibberish has to do with the photo above.

The problem is, the characteristics one associates (via means of viola jokes) with violists are like cushions you can fall back into when you feel like too much is expected of you. You can say: well, too bad, I’m a violist. Fuck it. I am slow. I am … slow. In my mind, as I am in my movements and everything else you’re slow in when your mind is slow. It is, in fact, something that is expected of you as a violist. Sad? No!

Yes, I sometimes mistake my left hand for my bow hand. Oh, whoops, that’s the side you’re supposed to hold the thing on?
Sorry I’m late, I missed three buses, I’ll be ready in just a second. Wait, hold on, let me sort my music. Oh, oops, it just fell fell down, sorry, just carry on without me, will you?

Excuse me, where did you say we were starting from again?

Oh, my C string just slid down two octaves. Hold on while I fix it. Hm, this is proving rather tricky, would you mind helping me? Thanks, just… hold this and I’ll… Thanks.

Umm, yeah, where’s 4th position again? I’ll just play in first, do you mind? And what the heck is that black dot in my music?


But they can be great musicians. If they think they know what they’re doing. If they’ve accepted the fact that, yes, I am slow and awkward and not the brightest bulb around. What makes awesome violists awesome is the way they feel. They feel what the music is trying to say, and they can convey what they feel the music is trying to say.

Which can mean that they’re conveying something the music is not saying at all, not in the least bit. But that’s just my mind concluding something logical but irrelevant out of those statements.

Violists become great musicians not when they’re attempting to prove that not all violists are like …that (it’s what they usually fail the most miserably at, by the way), but when they embrace their slow, awkward being and simply let the world pass them by when they’re playing, because precisely in that moment the music is all that matters.

AND WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT MY DRAFT WAS SAVED AFTER ALL. Hallelujah, God save the Queen. I mean, Osama. BECAUSE: After he did his best to wreck the Internet he also managed to make my day.

Alright, so what did that all have to do with the chair? By the way, it’s not THE chair, it’s the photograph as visual material that spurred this whole essay thing on. It could have been a picture of a blank wall for all I know.

The thing is, I do have a certain very temperamental side that can creep out quite explosively when a situation arises and I’m comfortable with the people I let it out/in on. But my general, basic outward attitude is the slow, melancholy and tranquil state of mind that is so typical for violists. Seeing beauty everywhere and becoming absolutely giddy and high with ever-so-small-and mundane discoveries. Flat-out satisfied and blown away simultaneously. I’m a perfectionist through and through, but tiny imperfections can make me more than happy as well. How does that work? I don’t know, it’s one of the many mysteries of life, I guess.

So I look at a photo like the hallway above, and I see myself in everything it amounts up to. I can’t explain it, though there are certain criteria. For one: no people. Usually, it’s just one or more utterly mundane objects sitting around somewhere. The lighting plays a large role. It can’t be crammed shut with information, there needs to be some sort of focus, or none at all.

My main instinct though is: if I can imagine Messiaen’s eighth movement somewhere in the background, it’s a winner.

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