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Saturday, January 31, 2009
Moving On
Yesterday was obviously not a good day. However, you cry....drink a few pints (or fingers of Bushmill's) and move on. I think the hardest thing for me is trying to remember that 1) I will go to Ireland again someday and 2) this is not a prediction of how the rest of my applications will turn out.

Decided to go to Petsmart and look at one of the local No Kill Shelter's pet adoption days. I came up with two great options:
<---Terrier Mix & Beautiful Tabby--->

The dog is laid back but still engaged and active. Also very much a people dog. The cat reminds me a lot of the cat I have at home and would probably be a total lap kitty (when I was looking at him, one of the volunteers took him out of his cage and put him in my arms, and then he sat and headbutted me). I really want a dog....but I want the dog to happy and healthy, and I travel quite a bit. The cat would be able to survive me going away for a week or two. But I can't go running with a cat....or play frisbee.....or go to the park and play. It all may be a moot point as the dog is slightly over the weight limit for my apartment (they're just trying to keep someone from getting a St. Bernard and keeping it in a 1 bedroom apartment). So I'm talking to my office manager on Monday. At some point this week I'll be going out to NKS and seeing if one or both of them is still left after adoption day. I'm hoping the universe makes the choice for me (but doubtful).

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 5:40 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, January 30, 2009
No to the Fulbright
So I wake up this morning to the dreaded, "I regret to inform you" form email letter that means that my Fulbright was turned down. I wish I could say that I feel something other than bitterly disappointed, but that's where I am right now. Trying to stop the head games before they start, specifically because I'm proud of that proposal. It was a good one and I wouldn't change a bit of it. And it's because I so wanted to do that fieldwork, that it feels so disappointing to have them tell me no on the first round of cuts. Also not really looking forward to admissions decisions regarding other grad schools at this point. What I do know is that the trade-off I made with myself was that if I couldn't go to Ireland, I would get a pet. Hopefully I'll follow through with it.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 3:05 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Something to work toward
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 9:57 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Patience is a virtue.....
One that I don't have.

Should hear about the first round of cuts for the Fulbright sometime around Jan. 31st and about at least one grad school "in early February." Until then, I have MORE than enough stuff to work on.

I am rapidly losing hope that I will ever write, defend, and be done with this thesis. Of course, I've thought that about almost everything I've accomplished at FPU, but that fact doesn't help right now. Sometimes when I run and it's a bad day, I count to ten over and over again. "Just run ten more steps....you know you can do that.......You ran the last ten, you can go ten more." And on and on. You'd be surprised how far you can push yourself this way. In the same way, I guess I have to take it paragraph by paragraph.....edit by edit and hope for the same results.

Anyway, off to work.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 2:25 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Friday, January 16, 2009
It's great when professors have your back
Sorry for the absence. I seem to have caught the sinus infection rampant in FPU's School of Music. I'm feeling better today for the first time in a week, but I'm still headed to the Student Death Health Center to see if they'll give me antibiotics. Why? Because for the past three years my annual Spring Semester cold has turned into a sinus infection that lasted for over a month. I'm hoping not to let that happen again.

Great meeting with Coyotebanjo about the thesis. Some great suggestions and off I go into writing land. Is it completely geeky to be excited about contributing scholarship to an area that hasn't had any in awhile?

Dharmonia once said to one of our school ensembles, "I will not let you suck."

A simple, but often incredibly comforting statement in grad school. Grad School, at least for me, messes with you ability to judge the quality of your own work. You're trying to get better at everything you do, and you (or maybe it's just me) feel the need to tear down and continuously rebuild everything you do. A good impulse up to a certain point. Having professors who seem to bleed compassion and have an exceptionally high degree of skill at whatever they do means that they will talk you down from that OCD ledge when appropriate and that you can trust that your final product (recital, thesis, conference presentation) is of a relatively high quality. In short, when your professors have your back, you can worry about just getting the damn thing done.

No word from any of the multitude of applications. I guess the important thing to remember is that even "in the event of a water landing" I'll still be at FPU with wonderful people in a place I can (mostly) afford to live, doing what I love. I need to resist the urge to equate whether or not I get into a program with the future success of my career and/or my life.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 10:10 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, January 09, 2009
Things to be excited about
Today marks the end of the first "week" of school (three days doesn't really count as a week....does it?). I have decided not to look at my student account on the new system as it continues to see-saw back and forth almost hourly......and I value my blood pressure too much.

By this point in the year, all of the applications to various grad schools/other programs have been sent off and my future is currently out of my hands. As you might expect, it's not something I really deal well with. I did have some good advice from former teacher--Every time you get obsessed about it, go learn a tune.

I foresee learning a lot of new tunes this semester.

Fortunately, there are other things to think about, enjoy, or obsess over: the thesis, a masterclass/concert in Feb for a small flute studio, good classes on topics of which I know fairly little, the Lama who gave me refuge vows coming back for a month, not to mention that I hope to run, knit, and cook more.

I'm really excited about the masterclass/concert in Feb. It's the first time I've been invited to give one of these things, and even though I'm a little concerned that all of the details haven't been taken care of (ie they're supposed to buy the plane ticket and I have yet to get any type of flight details...so I guess I'll believe I'm going when I get that stuff) the opportunity to share the music is one that I'm happy about. I was a little concerned when I was asked, because you often find people who don't really understand that you're not going to go in and play Danny Boy from sheet music with piano accompaniment. Often both students and teachers have a misconception that if they can play Mozart or French Conservatory repertoire that they'll be able to magically play like Matt Molloy in a matter of minutes. Often you have to deal with condescending comments and you have to resist the urge to scream, "Just because it's 'folk music' doesn't mean it's easy to play." This masterclass has the ability to be different. The teacher in question has a student who has taught himself to play. He owns a trad flute and when I asked who his favorite trad players were listed Cathal MacConnell, Seamus Egan, and Alan Doherty.

I remember being that kid. The one in the small town in the small college surrounded by people who thought what I did was "neat" (an incredibly insufficient word for what I felt when I listened to the music) but nothing more. And I remember when Skip Healy came and played a concert, and for the first time someone could show me HOW to make the sounds I kept hearing. And I remember that after all of that classical training, I was flabbergasted by how open the tradition was in terms of teaching. The great players want to pass the tradition on.....and they are (for the most part) accessible! And until you feel that moment of, "Oh thank God I'm not a freak!" it's hard to understand how powerful that first moment of connection with the living tradition actually is.

And now I get to pass it forward.....how cool is that?

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:16 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
So Much for Equanimity
FDP is in the process of a major change technologically. The entire school is switching to a new "system."

Ok.....so what does that mean exactly?

First off....it means that your transcripts are almost impossible to get. You stand in line for over an hour just to get someone who says, "I'm sorry we can't give you a set of sealed transcripts....you see, you have to fill out this form.....and because of the new system, we have to hand check all transcripts.....oh and it's at least a seven day wait for this whole process.....so we might be able to send them out in two weeks."

Breathe in.....breathe out. Ok....this is why you get your transcripts several weeks beforehand....slight problems....but not really.

Second......it means that student business services doesn't work. No...REALLY. It just doesn't work. So now I have two different totals for what I owe....the problem is no one seems to think there's a problem with this.....but the realy problem is that right now I'm only scheduled to get about 1/3 of my financial aid refund back to me. So I've called SBS a total of 4 times, and waited about an hour each time to actually speak to someone. No help....no one can help me.

Breathe in....breathe out. Fine, I'll go talk to a real person....one who hopefully is over the age of 18.

So I wait in line for.....again.....over an hour. After I've been on the phone for 1 hr 45min to try and get it solved. I have to lie to the computer system to get past the dreaded Self-Help Kiosk they want to send me to. Finally I get to talk to a nice person in financial aid, who then walks me down to SBS 19yr old. F*CK! She then cops an attitude and tells me that I should get my full refund, but it's not her problem that the computer won't show up. And in the most condescending way humanly imaginable says to just call the tech department....and again....doesn't see a freaking problem.


It's at this point in our story, I should mention that SBS is also going to a new refund distribution system in the same semester that all of these radical changes are occurring with our tech system. Meaning it's mandatory to register for a card (which I threw away thinking it was a credit card offer....specifically because we got a few emails that looked remarkably like phishing, and the card I got mailed looked like a freaking credit card). And after you register for a card, they want you to set up an account with them, but for those of us who HAVE BANK ACCOUNTS ALREADY (IE I AM NOT A FREAKING UNDERGRAD) we have to get them to funnel the money through their bank into our bank. But of course, since I don't have the damn card, they have to send me a new one....and since the first one was lost, they'll now charge me $20 for a new one.....and I have to wait 7 days for deliver (IE refund....gee I 'm glad I got paid this month).


Now if I hadn't already wasted several hours of my life trying to get money so that I can function financially, perhaps I would have been able to breathe deeply and continue the conversation. If I had been able to get someone to even remotely entertain the idea that there was a problem with my account and that they just couldn't figure out what it was....or maybe if the person I was speaking to looked even slightly older that 13...I could have stepped back and dealt with.

Unfortunately, none of those things happened. Now....when I get angry I get angry....and it's mostly useful. But when I get frustrated angry I cry....which is perhaps the most useless response in the world, as it make you seem overly emotional and irrational. Guess what happened.


So here's my plan. I will wait one more day. If my computer system still has problems, I'm going to communicate my problem to the Music Grad School Advisor (who registers all grad students in the department and has always made any problem I had with bureaucracy go away) and see if he can do any better.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 2:56 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Back in the Saddle
Sorry for the prolonged absence. I was feeling kind of burnt out at the end of last semester and decided that stepping back from internet communications might help. I promise you'll get a real post soon, but as for now I'll meme last year.

New Year's Meme: 2008 in Review

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
  1. Became a Buddhist.
  2. Had an amazing road trip to Vancouver, BC with my roommate.
  3. Found out I could write songs.
  4. Became a vernacular musician full-time.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't really believe in resolutions. If you want to make a change in your life, make a change.....screw the calendar.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No....but a lot of my friends in high school are starting to have kids.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
My second Master's degree.......and maybe a bit more equanimity.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Summer.....Zoukfest, Medieval Music bootcamp, and my first ethnomusicological fieldwork experience.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Stepping out of the classical flute world and into the vernacular music/ethno world full-time. And learning that I'm completely happy in my new identity. Oh....and playing a completely solo traditional recital.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Ummm.....I don't like this question.....I'm going to ignore it. :)

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not really.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Summer.....if you can count experiences as being "bought."

12. Where did most of your money go?
Hi....I'm in grad school....where do you think it went?

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Music, musicology, ethnomusicology, songwriting!

14. What song will always remind you of 2008?
One? You want me to pick ONE song? How is that fair to a musician?

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
a) much, much happier b) at the moment fatter because I had some great home cooking over break! :) c) monetarily about the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Made more music.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about things that don't really matter.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
At home reading, writing, and sleeping (a lot).

19. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Nope.....but I think I know more of what I want in a relationship.

20. What was your favorite TV program?
The Biggest Loser.....while eating junk food! :)

21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is an incredibly strong word. My close friendships have shifted a bit, but I don't really hate anyone.

22. What was the best book you read?
I also think this is an unfair question. I've been reading a lot of Buddhist stuff lately.

23. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Ummm....finally buying entire albums of Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan....Joni Mitchell's Blue Album....Fairport Convention.....also not a fair question.

24. What did you want and get?
Going to Vancouver, Zoukfest (Seeing Andy Irvine LIVE!!!!!!).

25. What did you want and not get?
A pet....but that's entirely my self-restraint.

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Turned 25, the entire city flooded, classes were canceled, and I went and played tunes and lit a cake on fire!

27. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More time for friends and myself.

28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Ummm....yay jeans!

29. What kept you sane?
Friends, music, songwriting.

30. Who was the best new person you met?
New friends in the flute studio, and the great musicians in Vancouver and at Zoukfest!

31. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Your identity both professional and personal keep developing, and you can't be afraid to move into that new kind of scary place.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 1:15 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments