Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Indecisions, indecisions

Our orchestra recital is fast approaching - 12 days. I've been working on the pieces pretty intensely, and have been holding my own at our rehearsals. Now there are four cellos in our group. It was so nice, Monday, to play as part of a full section; and to hear those blended cello sounds.

This weekend I attended a concert by the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra - Schubert's "Mass in G" (with the Kenai Peninsula Community Chorus and the Homer High School Choir), an interesting new work, "An Alaskan Symphony", by composer-in-residence Adrienne Albert, and Beethoven's "Concerto for Piano, Violin, Violoncello, and Orchestra, Opus 56", with Maria Allison on piano, Linda Rosenthal on violin, and Andrew Cook on cello. Cook, who is based in L.A., comes to the Kenai area every year or so for a concert like this one, or to give a solo performance or a chamber concert. I described his last appearance here. I am lousy at describing concerts, so I won't try - other than to say I was transported for two hours. I sat near the front in order to watch Andrew's performance. Although I've watched hundreds of cello videos on YouTube, I've only seen a few live performances. What a difference!

What motivation!

I've been listening to an old, old album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. One piece in particular, "Stories of the Street", always makes me stop whatever I'm doing for a moment. If I'm in my car, I turn up the stereo, loud. I'd love to learn to play some rendition of this on my cello, even if it took a long time to learn it measure by measure.

Although I've enjoyed these last four years of early, early retirement, a job opened up in the area that I am uniquely qualified for. One reason I ended up retiring early, early, was that there were so few jobs in the area that I could/would do. We didn't want to leave the area for a lot of reasons, nor did I want to become a greeter at Home Depot. Fortunately, my retirement package was sufficient to let us get by with some part time consulting to supplement. But this opening was quite enticing and quite well paid... So, I brushed up my resume, wrote an email cover letter, filled out their online form, and then left it sitting on my computer all day, yesterday.

One thing retirement has done to me has been to make me indecisive. I'm not just saying wishy-washy, I mean paralyzed-undecided, walking around in a fog-undecided. A big decision has me nearly comatose as I endlessly sift through all the pluses and minuses - writing lists, casting bones, dealing out the Tarot cards, reading the tea leaves, scanning my astrological signs, even asking the magic 8-ball. This doesn't just go on between 10 pm and 6 am, but all day long. To make it worse, time slows down as I try to make up my mind.

Used to be, if I had any doubts about which way to go, I'd mentally flip a coin and simply move on. It seldom failed to turn out just fine. What happened to that carefree devil-may-care approach?

So, there's the email and the application sitting in my computer all day. I purposely found other things to do - avoidance. Then, at 3:00 Z gets home from school and immediately heads to the computer: WoW awaits. Uh-oh. Decision time. So, I took a deep breath and punched "enter" for the application and "send" for the email. Now, I was committed.

For 30 seconds I felt great! Powerful! Wise! On top again!

But, in no time at all that little horned creature on my left shoulder took over - he's related to that other inner guy that always hollers at me about my cello playing :( What an idiot! How could I have thought I was even remotely interested in returning to the rat race? working once again for "the man"? a 9-to-5er? a wage slave? that long commute again? doing meaningless, trivial tasks? enduring endless meetings? dealing with #*%& types, again? a dilbert (make that a wally)?

By bedtime, I had managed to convince myself that I had made a huge mistake and was now going to have to root against myself, hoping my application would be turned down (let's hear it for age discrimination!) As a plan B, I'd have to really mess up the interview. Failing all that, if I actually got offered the job, I'd have to make some unreasonable salary and vacation demands. My wife had to remind me that I could just say no. Needless to say, it was a long night. By morning I'd come back around a little - we'll just wait and see. Who knows? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all. It could be fun! The insurance sure would be nice. We could buy a new car. Take that trip to NZ. I could buy a new bow; yeah, even a new case!

Then this afternoon, I learned that my consulting work (from home!) is likely to continue to increase - to whatever degree I was interested in taking on (all the way up to full time if I wanted!) Great, so, now I can't use that excuse.

I am happy to note that one of the biggest stumbling blocks has been trying to figure out how to keep up my cello studies. I'd have to move my lessons to Saturdays (if my teacher was willing). I doubt I'd be able to maintain my 2-hour per day practice routine, but I could bring my electric to work for lunch-time practice, and find some time in the evenings...

Not an easy decision. I appreciated your advice when I was thinking about recording school. (I've decided to hold off for now.) Maybe you could break up your practice session--an hour before work and an hour after. That only works if your family won't kill you for practicing at 7am, though. :)
There's so much freedom in working for yourself and not being committed to a 9 to 5 pm. Life is short to be locked down unless you're really hungry for the money or the stimulation of being back in the business world. The fact that you delayed so long in sending your application could be your subconscious trying to tell you something.
Sadly, my treadmill takes top priority in my early morning schedule. Somehow, I'd have to fit my cello in at lunchtime and after work. But, it would still be a major priority; I've gone too far to just walk away.

As for the job, Marisa, you hit it on the head. My subconscious is apparently working overtime in this episode, I sort of wish I had listened.
Good luck whichever direction you go. I have been working freelance for 20 years, to be home with the kids, but even more for the freedom of it. I also live in an area where good jobs are few and far between, but I admit I scan the want ads regularly. Last week I dreamt I decided to take a job in Boston (a 1.5 hour commute). This is unlikely to happen, but sometimes I miss the hullaballoo of working on crucial projects with others. And the regular paychecks and health insurance!
Hey Guanaco, it's always nice to have options. Congratulations for pressing that Send button and expanding yours.
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