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Last Days in KC











I ended up leaving my seedy hotel. As it got dark, I noticed more and more roaches in my room. Every time I moved, roach ran away, every item that I touched, roach ran out from under it. Turn on a light, roaches. Go to the bathroom, baby roaches (which look a lot like ants until you look closely) crawling between the tiles. Yep, that there's an infestation. I let the front desk know, and gtfo.

You'd think by now I'd have learned, it's worth the extra $20 to stay somewhere decent.

Oh well. The second hotel was very clean. I shook out all my clothes and checked them for bugs (major skeeves!), then took a long hot and hopefully sanitizing shower. Ick. Slept very well for the first time in a long time.

The next morning I had a relaxing start to the day. I had a nice cup of coffee while watching tv, then got dressed for the audition and checked out. I killed time at a nearby Barnes & Noble, then had lunch at a little sandwich shop. Then I drove to Mahaffey Theater to sign in for my audition.

The audition helpers signed me in and returned my $100 check (which had been held in case I didn't show up for my audition). Then I was taken to a green room where I waited along with five or so other auditionees. Everyone seemed a little tense, and everyone was looking at their phones, so I didn't bother anyone even though it felt kinda awkward. I was called to a warm-up room almost immediately though, and given the list of excerpts that we'd be asked to play that day. Months ago, for audition preparation, we were all given three solo excerpts and twelve or so excerpts to learn. Of those fifteen pieces of music, the audition panel selects one solo and five excerpts to be played on the day of the audition. This way no one will know which pieces they'll be asked to play until the day of. I was happy to see that they'd chosen the solo piece that I was most familiar with, but was bummed to see that one of the excerpts was one that I hadn't learned as well as the others. Oh well.

And in the end it didn't matter because I didn't get to play that excerpt (it's not unusal to be asked to stop before performing all of the music on the list). When it was time for me to audition, I was led to the stage by an audition helper. We tiptoed out onto the stage--there was carpet laid down to muffle the sound of footfalls, but it was still a big echoing imposing space!--and while she made sure the music was in order I had a look around. Mahaffey Theater is a beautiful space. I wondered what it must be like to play there regularly.

Then it was time to play. I enjoyed the sound in that space, lots of reverb and very forgiving, but I didn't forget that there were musicians listening who'd be able to hear past that. This audition was easier than the Kansas City one because a) the panel was screened so I didn't have to feel eyeballs scanning my soul for flaws and b) the hall sounded great, so by default I couldn't help but enjoy the sound no matter how I was playing. I was surprised that I was allowed to play all but the last two excerpts. For some auditions, I have been stopped after just one or two. Not hearing the dreaded "thank you" in the first few minutes was really nice!

After I got the "thank you", I gathered my things and went to wait in the green room. The mood was much different, as all of us had finished playing and the nervous tension was releasing its grip. I got to chat with several trombonists, which was really nice...for some auditions they never let competitors so much as see each other in passing. Here we were given a good opportunity to mingle and enjoy some snacks provided by the good ol' AFM. Two of the auditionees had brought alto trombones (an option for one of the excerpts), and we passed these around to check them out and compare them. We noticed a flyer on the wall telling us to mention "bones & brews" at a local bar to get a discounted drink after auditions were over, and this led to a humorous discussion on low brass stereotypes (for my non-musician friends, the stereotype is that tubists and trombonists drink more than the other sections!)

Eventually a gentleman came around to give us the results: all of us could go home except for one gentleman who was asked to stay, and would presumably be in the finals the next day. All of us shrugged philosophically, shook hands, and parted ways. This is how the majority of orchestral auditions end for the majority of auditionees. There's just one spot available, and so many of us, and so many great players out there. I'm still frustrated because I could have done better, I could always do better, I just once want to play for an audition panel the same way that I play when I'm practicing alone. Still, I left feeling pretty good, if only because I'd gotten to enjoy meeting fellow trombonists. :)

And now, it was time to drive to Jameson. The drive to Orlando took about an hour and a half. I stopped at a grocery to grab some items for breakfast, then continued to Jameson's apartment. I got there first but in under a minute Jameson was there too. Finally!! He was standing right in front of me! We are together!! After our painful parting back in March, I think both of us have been wondering when (and IF) we'd see each other again. I felt happy, and relieved somehow. We walked to his apartment together, just talking about our day. We had enchiladas for dinner, which Jameson had made (he's a great cook!).

You'd think that with all this heartache going on, we'd be crying and squeezing each other and there'd be, I dunno, more drama. Instead, it was just like we'd never been apart. It felt right, and good. I've been really nervous about moving in with him...concerned that I'm imposing on his space, and being a jobless leech. But after seeing him today, and getting to have a real in-person conversation, I feel a lot better about all of this. That night I quietly worked on computer things while Jameson taught his classes. It's the first time I've seen him teach, rather than listening from another time zone.



The next day we both had to get up early, him for work and me for some job interviews. Knowing that I wouldn't make it to the audition semi-finals, I had scheduled a few interviews with interested parties. The first interview was very close to where Jameson worked. It went well, but I'm still waiting on a job offer. Afterward I drove to Jameson's office where I got to see his workspace and meet his coworkers. Very cool!

My next interview was in Davenport, which seemed close until you took Orlando traffic and the mess that is I-4 into account. My goodness. It wasn't even rush hour and it took nearly an hour to get there. I made it in time and the interview went well, but the commute really concerned me. It was no better on the way back either. Hmm. Afterward I had some lunch, then drove around for a bit trying to find a community college or school where I might be able to sneak in and practice. No such luck. At that point I was very tired, so went back to the apartment to rest.

When Jameson got home from work, we decided to go out for dinner. Our first date in a while! We had teppanyaki, I had a really nice piece of tuna and Jameson got shrimp and chicken. Full and tired, we went back to the apartment and watched tv together for a bit before turning in.

I had to get up very early to drive to the airport, return the rental car, and find my flight. All of this went smoothly, including the flights back to KC. On the way home I picked up some groceries, then got home and crashed hard.

Thursday, I went to work as usual. It's weird to think that these are my last few days at work. After work I went home and did one final sort-and-separate of all of my belongings.

On Friday I spent the day working on BAC's email contact list and listing some instruments for sale. These are probably the last two I'll be putting up for sale: a nice used Buffet R13 clarinet, and a Bach strad with a Thayer valve.



Saturday was a half day at work. I spent it training a new employee...he's not here to replace me, and can only work on Saturdays(?), so I just showed him basic stuff like operating the register and creating repair tags. After work I went straight to the apartment laundry room and did all of my laundry for the last time. When that was done, I began packing the car. I wanted to make sure that everything would fit. Most things did, but I decided to ship a box anyway so my car would not have to struggle quite so much.

Of course the next day when I went to drive somewhere, my car began stuttering and the check engine light came on. GREAT. And on Sundays all repair shops are closed around here. To be honest, I panicked a bit. Was I overloading the car? Would I have to unpack everything again? What if it was a major repair? Then I realized that this felt like the exact same problem I'd had a few months ago, when an ignition coil bit the dust. On the recommendation of facebook friends I stopped at an Autozone and asked for a diagnostic. Yep. Ignition coil again. So tomorrow morning I will be up bright and early to be the first one in the door of the dealership. I really, really hope that's all it is.

I dropped my box off at FedEx, grabbed lunch and some snacks for tomorrow's road trip, and came back to the apartment. I vacuumed and cleaned the whole place, and threw out anything that I didn't need. I carefully took the plants out of the window and watered them so they'd be ready to go tomorrow. I also decided to prepare the flytraps for hibernation, even though they won't go into the fridge until reaching Florida. They're just easier to transport this way, and figured I may as well do it while it's cold too. I uprooted them and carefully untangled their skinny black roots from the moss, then took each plant and trimmed off the dead parts.



After that each one got a rinse in mineral-free water, followed by a light coating of daconil to help prevent mold or fungus. I laid each plant in a bed of fresh moss soaked in water and daconil. The plants are much bigger this year (because they didn't get run over) but there are fewer of them, so they fit just fine. I took this picture, then closed the lid. From now until March I'll check on them every two weeks and water them as needed.


Now I'm trying to relax before going to bed. It's the last night in my apartment. So empty. And so quiet. When I first moved here every morning was raucus with birds, every night vibrating with cicadas and frogs. Now that it's cold and the fall winds have come and gone, it's almost dead silent at night. As I was bringing the last few belongings to my car a few minutes ago, I turned the corner and was startled to find myself only a few feet from a doe. She froze, and so did I. We regarded each other in the silence between the woods and the parking lot. Then I started walking again, slowly so as not to frighten her. She didn't run away, but watched as I opened the door to my car, then turned and walked quiety back into the woods.

I have enjoyed this time along in "my own" place. It's been nice having all the space, and the quiet, and the beautiful woods right outside my door. There are things about living here that I will miss, like volunteering at the nature center, and going on walks on the local trails. There are things that I regret missing out on, like seeing the rest of the Nelson-Atkins Museum or eating at Q39. There are things that I'm very glad I was able to experience, like working for BAC Music, auditioning for the Kansas City Symphony brass, and visiting the KC train yard one last time. Kansas City has been difficult, and fun, and calming, and stressful, all at the same time. It's been uncertain, but good.

Now it's time to move on. Unfortunately, living here turned out to be a massive money suck for a variety of reasons. If I stay here any longer, everything I've worked so hard to save during my time with the circus could be lost. And the main issue is that it's been very painful to be away from Jameson. This is still weird for me to say as I've never been invested in a relationship before. But now I am, and I'm going to act on it. Jameson has prepared a place for me, and I'm grateful to him, and excited to see how it will be living together. Tomorrow begins a new adventure.