Maroon & Gold Lily

Since first stepping foot on the University of Minnesota in 1999, I’ve never grown tired of visiting campus. It’s at once both familiar and new: a mix of collegiate memories and inevitable transformations over time. For me, it’s been a place of self-discovery, new friendships, bold ideas and learning. As a teen, I figured college is where you figure everything out. In reality, life slowly unfolds much like a lily, though instead of petals, it’s a series of unfolding choices and the decisions you make as you cross each bridge. One step at a time.

A view last year of the bridge during the winter.

A Grand Day

Yamaha C7X E3 Pro

Today was an indescribably grand day, not withstanding my burnt toast breakfast. Weighing 913 pounds and measuring 7’6″, my very own Yamaha grand piano was delivered from Japan and now sits in my formal living room. And it’s practically perfect in every way.

This majestic piano sings with refined grace, and as my hands glide on the keys, the hammers respond to my nuanced expressions and forceful fortissimo. The rich sound diffuses into the room with its vaulted ceiling shared with the kitchen and throughout my multi-level house. As I write this, the piano is actually performing on its own, aided by piano player technology in which I can record my musical stylings or play others’ performances and control its playback via iPhone. And the keys and pedals move, directed by an invisible muse.

Growing up, I took 12 years of piano lessons beginning at the age of six. Our family’s Kawai piano stood upright in the center of the household activity, next to the fish tank and kitchen table. As I practiced in the mornings before school, burnt toast was an often familiar smell…the result of an unattended toaster in the daily race to get dressed, comb hair, eat breakfast and finish farm chores. It happened regularly enough, that burnt toast became my psychological cue to calm my nerves before music performances or public speaking.

“Burnt toast!” I’d pencil atop my sheet music and speech index cards. That and “Sit Down” since in my early years, I sometimes began playing my recital and contest pieces before I was sitting on the bench! So, it seems rather appropriate that my new piano is next to the kitchen in my house, and it will be awesome for entertaining.

In addition to posting photos on my blog, one focus for 2013 will be documenting the creative process of my fourth music album. Since grad school, daily piano playing has taken a backseat to life’s other adventures. In fact, I haven’t composed or arranged any finished music in five years due to lack of time, and hopefully my brain will rain with ideas on this musical drought. Ironic as it may sound, part of that is committing regular time for spontaneous creativity.

At any rate, the house is alive with music once more—burnt toast and all.


Yamaha grand piano C7XYamaha grand piano keys

What’s next for 2013?

It’s a great feeling to have accomplished my daily photo challenge throughout 2012! Thanks for following my creative journey. I’ve pulled together some of my favorite photo highlights below to share with you. What’s in store for 2013? Of course I’ll still be taking photos and I have much to learn, though I won’t be posting every day. Instead, I plan to focus on:

Music. Most of my creative energy will go toward my next piano music album, writing new music and arrangements, and updating a website that was last overhauled before Facebook even existed (10 years ago!). I also can’t remember what year I last played my saxophones (alto and soprano)–yikes!

Fitness, which drastically took a lifestyle hit in my move from Chicago to Minneapolis. I know it’s cliché to say that in January, but it’s true. Aside from half marathon training last spring, I had unintentionally quit the gym cold turkey after a 5-6 gym visit per week regimen for the latter three years I lived in Chicago. I started a new gym membership in October and have gone twice, because I honestly didn’t have much time or energy between an increased office workload and a new home and partly because I couldn’t find any of my iPods. My workload has re-balanced, my home improvements are near complete, and I’ve found all three iPods. I’m in good health, but my fitness can no longer be neglected.

Food. I love to cook homemade meals. I need to do more of that. I also need to buy more Tupperware to store meals that serve 5-6 people and freeze the extra. And it will probably be healthier to boot.

Reading. I’ve always been an avid reader. In 5th grade, we were required to do 32 book reports during the year. So I did 106. I still read a lot. But since grad school, my attention span has shifted to short magazine articles, online news, and social media status updates. I’m hungry for some novels.

Relaxation/Sleep. I finished MBA school more than five years ago, yet I still have the sleeping schedule of a grad student. Case in point: it’s 1:30am right now and I’m wide awake. Making do with less sleep is not a smart idea. This will take some weeks of adjustment to find my optimal hours of sleep. (Tips anyone?)

So that’s my resolution list for 2013. Without further ado, here are some of my favorite 2012 Photo Highlights:

Architecture and Cityscapes

People

Favorite Places

Most Visited Retailers

Animals

Favorite Holidays

Religious

My most Pinned Photo on Pinterest: Haight Ashbury (the Victorian homes)
Life Lessons: Driving Lessons

Stay tuned for more! (and please subscribe if you haven’t already!)

Terracotta Warriors

Terracotta soldiers, China
365.365

One of the goals of this project was to learn more about the city I live in. Oftentimes, you’re never a tourist in your hometown and you can miss out on really cool stuff. I’ve tried to unearth city treasures of both familiar landmarks and relatively unknown markers. Today, my family and I toured the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Surprisingly, the museum was busier than a nightclub. It’s awesome, and it’s free (aside from the special exhibit). Some of my favorite sections were the Egyptian art and European paintings including Van Gogh and Monet.

Today’s special exhibit hearkened from China:  Near the unexcavated tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China, lays an extraordinary underground treasure: an entire army of life-size terracotta soldiers and horses, interred for more than 2,000 years.

For the past 37 years, archaeologists have been excavating a 22-square-mile area, recovering about 1,900 soldiers and horses of an estimated 7,000 buried in the tomb pits. Eight terracotta tomb warriors and two horses were on display in Minneapolis, and suffice it to say the attention to detail and individual craftsmanship was awe-inspiring.  Photographs weren’t allowed so instead I took a photo of a replica of the ten-foot-long bronze chariots, each drawn by four bronze horses. I love history.