Ecstasy and agony: a sweet homecoming, my first handstand, a good massage, a difficult dental appointment, and some beastly Brahms
by Rob Tiller
Happy birthday to Gabe! He’s 29 today, and his mumsy and popsy are proud as can be. He came out from Telluride to visit us for a few days, and it’s been good to catch up.
He’s working hard on his music, experimenting and doing some recording with his band mates. In high school, he got to be a strong drummer, but then lost interest. But he’s come back to making music! All those music lessons were not wasted! And he’s learned the secret of getting better at his instrument (and other things): practice, practice, practice.
Along with his music, Gabe has been experimenting with photography using his iPhone and Snapseed. He starts with something straightforward and does various color processes for a new look. It’s lively and interesting. He’s also following others on Instagram, including someone called yoga_girl. He showed me a couple of yoga_girl’s yoga feats, which included some extraordinary handstand variations.
I hadn’t mentioned that I’d made up my mind to learn how to do a handstand against a wall. I’d gotten a short lesson from Larisa, my wonderful functional fitness trainer, and also gotten Suzanne, my wonderful yoga teacher, to show me her approach after a recent class. And I’d given it several serious tries, which were close – but no cigar.
But after seeing Gabe and yoga_girl, the next morning I had my 5:30 a.m. session with Larissa, and amidst her other challenges, requested another handstand lesson. She suggested approaching it like a cartwheel. We worked on cartwheels for a bit, with some improvement, and then tried again. And I did it! Thanks, Larisa!
When I told Gabe of my milestone the next evening, he was of the view that I also owed some thanks to him and yoga_girl. True enough. He was inspired to try his own handstand. Without a wall. He was there by the third try. That’s my boy!
The same day I did my first handstand, at lunchtime, I had my first massage with Kirsten Bachmann. After a massage hiatus, I’d decided to audition some new massage talent, and possibly get a regular routine for taking care of that part of my make up. I liked Kirsten. She started out with this surprisingly effective machine called the Thumper, which gives you a good Thumping. She did some great work on my right shoulder, which needed it. I look forward to our next session.
But not all my experiences with new technology this week were as wonderful. I was two months late for my six-month tooth cleaning, and drew a new hygienist who used a device called the Cavitron. The tool vibrates at a high frequency, which, she said, “blasts the bacteria.” Maybe. But my it also caused my tooth nerves to vibrate at a frequency resembling a root canal. I like to think that I have a fairly high pain threshold, and tried hard to bear up, but finally had to say, no mas.
Also unpleasant was the piano soloist at the N.C. Symphony on Friday night. Beforehand we had tasty empanadas and margaritas at Calavera, and we enjoyed the first half of the program, which featured Sibelius’s moody and quirky Third Symphony.
But the second half of the concert, Brahms’s First Piano Concerto, featured a Finnish pianist named Olli Mustonen, who was almost comically bad. For the first few minutes, I thought perhaps I was simply not understanding his radical conception, or was just put off by his ridiculously broad gesticulating and other affectations.
But I ultimately concluded that he wasn’t listening to the orchestra, or even to himself. At times he shrugged off the conventions of normal musical phrasing and shaping, and what was left was just not musical. To me, it was painful. I should note, though, that many in the audience apparently found his waving, swaying, banging, and jumping around exciting, since a majority stood up and clapped at the end.