Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Balancing Act - Volume 1

The last few days have been difficult for me. They shouldn't have been, since I was pretty much doing work that I enjoy, but nonetheless, I've had to drag my way through. On Saturday, I played the last cabaret show of the season with Rian Keating. Sunday was long. I rehearsed and played for Trinity Grace Church's morning service, recorded for Gina Catalino in the afternoon and had another rehearsal and service at Trinity Grace in the evening. (My cello and I also went to see 'The Proposal' in there somewhere - it was better than expected). After playing catch-up on Monday, I went to Astoria, Queens on Tuesday, to do some overdubs for the upcoming live Trinity Grace Church album. I think the trip to Queens was what did me in.

I guess Queens must be okay, because a lot of people live there, and seem to like it. But for me, Queens is just completely unappealing. Perhaps it's because, from where I live in Brooklyn, it takes me at least an hour and a half to get there, and once I get there, there always seems to be a long walk from the train. And when you play the cello, this combination just sucks, plain and simple. But I also find that Queens just doesn't hold my interest. It seems an awful lot like Brooklyn, only without the artists, hipsters and cool Brooklyn-y stuff. (Not that I'm a particular fan of hipsters - but you know - they keep things interesting). It seems like a really long way to travel just to end up in a much blander version of where you came from.

But really, Queens is probably fine. I'm sure it's lovely if you live there, blah blah blah. I think my real problem is that I'm a little worn-out. Or maybe a lot worn out. There's a special kind of weariness here that I have dubbed 'NYC Burnout' (original, I know). I've experienced it before. It's symptoms vary widely from person to person, but for me, include needing to lay around like a slug for as long as humanly possible and extreme irritability. (Apparently about Queens.)

I think I've been overdoing it. I haven't had a day off in who knows how long and it's making me tired. Rehearsals, weddings, concerts, shows, church services, recording sessions, lessons - I know that I should be grateful to have the work, (and I truly am - I know that I am very fortunate to be able to earn a living as a musician in the City) but sometimes the long commutes, the endless requests and the last minute calls get to me.

Now I know some people might think, "What the hell is she talking about?? She plays the cello all day for crying-out-loud. If I got to play music all day you'd never hear me complaining. That would be a dream!" Don't get me wrong. Playing music as your job is awesome. It's great. I couldn't ask for better. But it's also work. Just like the word indicates - it's a job.

Sure, sometimes I get to play great music with cool people, but I also get t0 deal with all those normal (and not-so-normal) things jobs come with: Crazy and egocentric people, stressful situations, long commutes (which usually involves carrying a bunch of junk), long hours of preparation and practicing. As a performer, constantly in the spotlight, one must continually evaluate one's own image, clothes and attitude. There are no such things as sick days and lateness just isn't an option. OH and then there's all that music that isn't so great...

But I digress. I am sincerely appreciative to be working full time as a musician in New York City. I knew it was a difficult job when I signed up and I know now from experience that not everyone can make it in this city. However, I also know that balance is important; Balance between work, family, friends and fun. Lately, even when I'm not actually working - I'm thinking about it, preparing for it and trying to find more of it. It's hard to create any sort of balance when your life seems to revolve around working. And to be successful in this business in this city, your life often ends up centered on just that.


  1. "I'm tired, and busy, and unhappy! But don't get me wrong, I love to live New York. It's just that I'm tired, and busy, and unhappy! But don't get me wrong, I love to live in New York. It's just that and I'm tired, and busy, and unhappy! But don't get me wrong, I love to live in New York. It's just that I'm tired, and busy, and. . ."
    Sounds like the mantra of a lot of people, girl. It's just how it is; you stick around, playing weddings and teaching students who shouldn't be wasting their money, just so you can catch a crumb or two when someone better than you passes on it...I don't know if it's going to help anyone, least of all you, to document this tired old grind in a blog!

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  3. You must be from Queens!! You sound bitter.

  4. Dude, what's with the judgey-judgies??

    I love this blog! It makes me happy that someone so talented is courageous enough to pursue her dreams.


  5. Well, what's a blog for, anyway, if not to vent every now and then? I, for one, really enjoy your blog, so keep it coming!

  6. Hey, MustySally, If you only knew the quality of musician you were slammin' you might take your comment elsewhere. --BMWMorgan--