a girl of simple tastes

by pieces of moments

Someone flipped the switch early. My calendar tells me that summer does not officially begin for another two weeks, but you wouldn’t have the faintest idea by walking outside in the nearly 100 degree heat today. Bostonia forgot it’s proper New England upbringing and impetuously dashed off to the Caribbean forgetting to bring back the benefits: a proper beach. Jean, my trusty rommie, and I hid away like teenagers avoiding homework all day. We only ventured away from our AC to visit our local Whole Foods for sustenance. After obtaining the proper dietary ammo for the week we split up responsibilities for the building blocks of our Sunday dinner (homemade cheeseburgers), made a run for the AC of the car and then back to the AC of our apartment. The remainder of the day was spent enjoying the fruits of our labor while creating a veritable Harry Potter marathon movie showing in our own living room.

Tonight while I should have been thinking about getting some sleep, I decided to hard boil some eggs for a easy, cold breakfast on the go for tomorrow morning and picked up the current issue of Bon Appétit. Inside was an interview with some coffee guy about how he picks his beans, brews his coffee, and other general coffee-centric issues. I couldn’t help but admire that all he had to think about was coffee. The simplicity and complexity of his sole responsibility made me stop in my tracks for a few moments with a touch of envy dissipating in my mind like a cloud of cream swirling to permeate the coffee, which is his focus. I love the equiponderancy of simplicity and complexity – I could talk about the ironies of that situation for hours. Fear not, I won’t…right now, anyway. But, thinking about the beautiful singularity of his focus – one superior cuppa of straight up joe – made me long for that in my own life.

I have always been the type that thrives on having multiple projects ongoing, whether it’s learning (too) many pieces of music at once, reading several books at a time, having several creative endeavors percolating together, sticking my hands numerous and varied responsibilities at work, I am a woman of multiplicity. Therefore, since every yin has it’s yang, I have a deeply embedded yearning for minimalism; to be a woman of simplicity. This manifests itself in a variety of ways. Mostly, it’s that I like solids and stripes, not intricate patterns, I secretly wish I could wear a pair of black trousers and Repettos, a high quality black t-shirt, and some simple pearl accessories for the rest of forever, I like recipes with only a few ingredients (Mark Bittman is my main kitchen man), I wish all of my books were covered so as to match and create one simple, singular palate of spines protruding from their cases, I like simple answers more than complicated ones (hence my long obsession with Ockham’s Razor), I value efficiency, the list goes on and on.

What does that have to do with coffee? Well, I really would like to move toward specializing in one specific type or area of music rather than generalizing. Being a pianist, you are continually encouraged, and even forced, to generalize. The instrument itself is prone to such disorder, especially as it is often used as a stand in for the orchestral accompaniment to our solo instrumentalists, dancers, vocalists, etc. You know what I would love to do? Just play Bach. Or, you know what, even anything from 1750 and before. I really admire those pianists who are known for specializing, like Glenn Gould and his Bach, Alfred Brendel and his Beethoven and Mozart, or Mitsuko Uchida and her Schubert. As a firm believer in empathy, I have additionally developed a theory that each musician has an innate empathy with a specific composer, or collected group of like-minded composers. Specialization based upon strong empathetic preferences is what I would wish to see more in my own musical life and in the field at large as well. At least that way that vast expanse of pianist pounding out their little Romantic Era hearts could focus all that nervous energy and make one composer’s pieces sound fantastic rather than playing everything with a blanket late era Brahms sensibility (whenever I hear someone assault a Baroque or 20th century piece in this manner I feel nauseous).

So, thanks to coffee guy for helping me remember a lost goal of mine that got buried away under all those multiple task lists. Time to focus.