Once a band nerd, always a band nerd

My upbringing was a musical one. I picked up a flute at age 10 and didn’t put it down for eight years. I stayed after class one time to learn a few notes on the clarinet for fun. I made my brother teach me some fingerings on the trumpet. In my freshman year of high school I decided that one instrument wasn’t enough and that I was going to learn the oboe, too. I took intensive lessons for that year and grew leaps and bounds but my growing coursework and responsibilities eventually won out and I dropped this extracurricular pursuit. I’m still kicking myself! But I was a perfectionist when it came to music and I knew I couldn’t excel at both. My perfectionism really came out one time at a band clinic my school participated in – students could prepare a piece to perform and be graded on, not for any award but just for general edification. Work hard and be graded on it? Right up my alley. Nerd. Anyway, I set my sights on a perfect score and delivered what I thought was a flawless performance. So needless to say I was devastated when I was docked ONE measly point for failing to pay adequate attention to the dynamics of the piece, meaning I didn’t manage my volume control when the music dictated. I may have cried. At a score of 99%. I was that kid.

After playing the flute for eight years, I  then ignored it for nine. Until Saturday! A family friend brought one over to Mark’s parents’ house so I swept the dust bunnies out of the corners of my mind where sight-reading resided and tried to play something. It was a bit harder than I expected – my embouchure (the position you hold your mouth to make sound) was quite out of shape and my fingers grew sore from holding the flute in position after only 10 minutes. It’s true what they say about muscles: use them or lose them! Mark’s parents are taking care of his grandma’s piano so I pulled a Mozart piece out of a box of music and tried to play a few bars. I had trouble making sound at first but my embouchure improved the longer I played, and my sight reading skills were rusty but still there! I’ve always said that once we had a house then I would start playing instruments again so I suppose now is the time. I’m now determined to find my flute on my next trip home and bring it back with me! My brain enjoyed the mental exercise of sight-reading and playing. Speaking of mental exercise, is it nerdy to admit that sometimes I mentally play the flute along to songs? I think that’s why I remembered the fingerings, because I still play them in my head!

I guess I’ll always be a band nerd. But I’m in good company: Mark’s 90-something-year-old grandma still plays her flute and is darn good at it. Maybe we can do a duet!

A work update

I’ve been working in a war zone all week! Our office underwent a major re-gutting and guess who had to stay in the office the entire time. This girl! It’s been quite interesting to watch the progress but it did confirm our decision to not buy a fixer-upper. I just wasn’t made to live in such chaos. ;) It did however make me want to paint something. The office was repainted and it was such a visible facelift that I wanted to go immediately to a home improvement store and pick out new paint for the house. But so far I haven’t made good on that urge. Yet.

All the improvements will supposedly be done by the end of Monday so everyone else will be back in the office by Tuesday. While it’s been nice working in relative solitude (unless you count the painters, cabinet people, carpet people, furniture people, and sheetrock people), it’ll be nice to have everyone back in the office so they can stop calling me. ;)

Arc de Triomphe

After our rainy excursion to Versailles, we holed up in a Starbucks for a bit before planning our next move. The rain started to let up a bit so we decided to catch the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe and wander the Champs-Elysees, a street that is to Paris what Fifth Avenue is to New York.

I was blown away by how huge the Arc de Triomphe is. It's absolutely massive. You can take an elevator to the top of it but we'd already had our fill of views of Paris from up high so we figured we'd skip the lift. The Arc is a war memorial and it's worth an up-close look, in my opinion.

 You can kind of see the scale of the monument if you look at the people standing beneath it.

I wanted to show how big the Arc actually is so I had Mark stand next to it. I couldn't get the whole monument in the shot. Everything in Paris is big. Except the people.


If you've seen the movie "Midnight in Paris," you've seen Versailles, the palace of the kings and queens of France. We visited Versailles on a gloomy and rainy day, which diminished the palace's magic somewhat. We tried to keep a positive attitude (We're from Seattle! We're used to this!) but after about 45 minutes of roaming the grounds in a downpour, we decided it was time to go. The castle gets pretty crowded with all the visitors but I'd say it was worth a visit. I'm sure the grounds are much more gorgeous in sunlight. 

The French royalty sure knew how to build a palace. Or at least order around those that did.

 I think this was a chapel? We weren't allowed in.

 I'm sure all the gold here would've been brilliant in sunlight!

 Yeah, I'm gamely trying to be a trooper.

 You can see the grounds in the background. We barely even covered a third of the grounds and we were out there for 45 minutes. It would've been delightful on a beautiful day!

This was the first Starbucks we saw in Paris - out at Versailles. We didn't go in but we did visit one when we got back into Paris. What can I say, it was a rainy day... and rain equals Starbucks!