I've been in Detroit for a week now, and it's been a pretty good adventure so far. I left Memphis a little after midnight on last Saturday, and the drive was pretty easy. Going to visit my family in South Carolina seems like such a trek, but 12 hours north wasn't so bad. Maybe it's because the drive itself is simple (I didn't even need a GPS), but I made it safely and I'm grateful that trips back to Memphis won't be so taxing as trips between Los Angeles and Memphis. I waited so late to leave because my friends threw a going away party for me, which I enjoyed very much (especially because there was ice cream cake AND because it was vanilla!) and I had to attend the annual Cooper-Young festival, just to get a sort of "farewell for now" from my neighborhood, which I love dearly. For the record, if you want to buy me ice cream, it has to be vanilla. Cheesecake has to be plain.
When I arrived at my new apartment building, I was a little nervous because the area of town is, in a nice way of saying, very "urban", but I told myself before I came here that I'm not a suburbanite in Memphis, and I won't be one in Detroit either. After signing my lease papers I went up to my studio, and I was very, very pleased. I have a great view of a nearby park, the Detroit River, and downtown Windsor, Ontario. The apartment was even recently renovated, so it's almost like no one had ever lived there before. After several days of putting furniture together, exploring the neighborhood, and running errands around the city, I finally feel like this is home away from home, and I'm pretty comfortable with my living situation.
Since coming here I've also gotten a chance to take a tour of the orchestra hall, as well as meeting with the Principal Bassoonist, Bob Williams. I think I'll be a good fit in the section, and I'm looking forward to playing with them this season. What I'm most excited about, though, is being able to live off this career without going to a day job. I came to this realization when I woke up on Monday morning and didn't have to go anywhere to file papers, get on a telephone, or even teach any students! Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed much of my work history (not all), but getting up to practice and calling that "work" is amazing. That in itself is inspiration enough for me to win another audition in the next couple years.
But for now, I'm going to focus on doing my best with the DSO, and learning more about this city. No one wants to be pushed out of their comfort zone, but one great thing about being a musician is getting to learn more places, and to explore different parts of the country (and world) we wouldn't normally get an opportunity to.
...it's cold here though. I'm already having to break out the jackets and sweaters several weeks earlier than I am used to. YouTube's "Tbaby" was right, it's sooo cold in the D!
There are many, many reality shows out there these days. From shows like "Survivor" to "Jersey Shore", there's always something on television to mind-numbingly watch and discuss with your friends the next day, and I love taking part. Andy is a huge "Big Brother" fan, and I follow it to an extent, but the reality shows I enjoy most are those inspired by black television and culture. Last month I watched BET's "College Hill" on Netflix, and I was pretty well entertained. What my friend Ian suggested to me after completing that series was one on VH1 called "Love and Hip-Hop", and boy that show is something else.
This season's "Love and Hip-Hop" took place in Atlanta, a city that people tend to call the capitol of the south. Atlanta is a hot bed for black culture of all types, so the show definitely had relevance there. It chronicled and followed the lives of a few hip-hop artists (some better known than others) and displayed the challenges of business, pleasure, and how the two mix together. Some of the artists chose to keep the two completely separate, others couldn't seem to determine the difference between the two, but one couple in particular had the two entities completely integrated into their lives, and recognized the challenge in doing so.
Rasheeda Buckner (better known as simply, Rasheeda) is a Georgia born female rapper who began her solo career around the year 2000. She met her husband (and now manager) Kirk Frost around the same time, and have been working and living together since. As an Indie artist, Rasheeda was portrayed on the show as needing to branch out to sell more albums by another producer, and to eventually become more "main-stream" so that her fan base can grow beyond the niche she attracts today in Atlanta. Part of doing this, however, would involve dropping her current manager. This took a toll, it seemed, on their relationship, as she considered how much "larger" her career could be under new management, because her husband was simply not a fan of the idea of being fired by his wife. That coupled with the day to day challenges of being a wife and mother put her under a lot of pressure, but she ultimately decided against switching management. She and her husband renewed their wedding vows on their 12th anniversary, and seem to be doing very well.
I was drawn to this particular story so much because it seemed to be the most real. Looking at it from a classical perspective, most of us don't have managers, or are signed to record labels, but rather belong to orchestras that pay our bills. Unfortunately, orchestras are unmoving and based in cities which prohibit the ability to move and live exactly where you want all the time. That along with the nature of studying with different teachers and going to specific schools makes it very difficult, I think, to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't have the ability (or desire) to pick up and move every few years. Just as Rasheeda's career and relationship were mixed, so is mine. Andy isn't my manager, of course, but my having to be away from Memphis a lot is a strain. I'm very fortunate to be with someone who "gets it", and who will stick with me until we can finally settle down in one place and live our happily ever after, and that's something musicians need to look for when seeking a relationship. Many classical musicians are married to their music first, and that's fine, but if you're interested in cuddling with something other than your instrument at night, you really have to consider the relationship between love and a music career. Sacrifices have to be made on both sides, but with patience, communication, and a lot of faith it'll all work out in the end.
Like Rasheeda, I was at a crossroad when I had to make my final decision to go to Detroit - furthering my career vs. giving 100% to my relationship. Andy and I have found a balance between the two, and I'm so thankful to be with someone who I know will be there "at the end of the day" (frequently used quote on the reunion show), even after I put my bassoon in its case for the last time. When seeking a relationship (or entering into one with a musician), understand that there are going to be challenges, and that the strength of that relationship is what will make it last through the trials of love and "hip-hop".