Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thoughts and Roses

"Truths and roses have thorns about them." —Henry David Thoreau
As we all know, it's February 26th today, which means that Valentine'sDay was almost two weeks ago. That also means that all of the flowers that were given are probably now dried up and wilted. Which leads me to a question: why do we use flowers, which wilt and die in a few weeks, to represent love, which lasts forever?

I know what you might be thinking: "Love doesn't last forever! Just look at breakups and the divorce rate!"

Well, let me say something else. I don't believe that's really love. And love does last forever. Love is more than just passion and excitement and butterflies in your stomach and that tight feeling in your chest when you look at or think about the person you "love." It is all those things, certainly, but it is more. It's also a choice.

Love comes with ups and downs, just like anything else in life. Real love is when you choose to work it out and go through the downs together, rather than giving up. So why do so many people break up? Sometimes, it's just because they found it easier to give up than to work it out together. When you choose to commit to loving a person, it does last.

But flowers don't. So why do we use them to represent something that does? Well, several reasons, I guess.

For one thing, it's a bit traditional, now. I'm not really sure when, why, or how this tradition of giving cut flowers to one's significant other began, but it's certainly a tradition now.

Secondly, it's generally accepted that flowers are pretty. People like flowers.

Thirdly, on a deeper level, I think that they can represent how quickly life may go by; how delicate our lives can be; how each of us grow and bloom as individuals.

Roses are special flowers. They seem to be the favorites of poets and romantics and Valentine's Day gift-givers. But more importantly, they have thorns. And I think that that says something important about us as humans, that we would pick flowers that have painful thorns as our favorites. It shows that we recognize that bad things don't have to ruin the good.

What do you think about flowers and the meaning they hold? Let me know in comments!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Falling in Love... with Music

Last Thursday, I talked about how much I love books. And I most definitely do! But since this blog is titled "The Strange Musician" after all, I think it's important to talk about myself as a musician as well as a reader.

Honestly, I think I've loved music all my life, and I think my parents were a huge influence in that area. My mom played music for me when I was a baby, and I would fall asleep listening to music all the time. My dad is a musician himself, having played saxophone, guitar, and currently bass guitar. Growing up, he played in the praise band at my church—still does, actually—and I loved watching him play and listening to the music before going to Sunday school. 

Of course, with my dad being a guitar player, the first instrument I actually tried to learn to play myself... was guitar. 

I don't remember how old I was, probably around eight or so, but I obviously didn't have enough motivation or discipline to actually practice the instrument, and my dad didn't have time for regular lessons with me, so that never got very far. I did revisit guitar again more recently, but encountered the same issues. 

I didn't actually fall in love with music as a musician myself until much later, in sixth grade, when I started learning to play flute as part of a 6th Grade Honor Band. 

Maybe guitar just wasn't my instrument. Maybe it was the type of music. Maybe it was that I actually had  to practice to be able to play in a group setting. Maybe it was because I had lessons. Maybe the chair tests motivated me. Whatever it was, something clicked when I started to play flute.

My love for the instrument, band, and music itself grew as I improved and was able to play more challenging music and take pride in my abilities. Of course, the wonderful teachers and directors I've had along the way have certainly helped as well. 

Now, I absolutely love music—studying, listening, playing, performing, and even writing it. So much so that it has become my dream career to be a professional musician, as a member of a major orchestra. You know, the ones that get to record soundtracks for movies and television shows. Who
knows if it will ever happen, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

What about you? What about music do you love? Let me know in comments! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Review of the Month: February 2015

So in case you haven't read my profile yet, I'll let you know now: I love books. Ever since I learned to read, I've had my nose in a book. Not a bad way to spend my time, in my opinion. As a result of my reading habits, I happen to read well above my grade level, have an expansive vocabulary, and excel in English class. And, as an added bonus, I have a extensive list of excellent books to recommend to you! I'll be starting a "Book Review of the Month" post, but if I find something really great along the way, there might be an extra review thrown in the mix!

February's book of the month is actually a series: The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. This is a collection of four books (The Luxe, Rumours, Envy, and Splendor), set in the late 1890's in Manhattan. 

Now, in case you don't remember much from your U.S. History class, or in case you never had one, the late 1800s was an era known as the Gilded Age. The term "gilded" means for something- usually a base metal or wood- to be covered in gold, and this era reflects that. It was one that looked great on the surface, but hid some really nasty stuff, like poverty and corruption. (Fun fact: the name was coined by American author Mark Twain!)

The books follow the lives of some of New York's favorite families, long-standing members of the highest level of New York society.
There's the Hollands, chiefly the "prim and proper" Elizabeth Holland, and her younger, wilder, and more Romantic sister, Diana Holland. 
There's the Hayeses, well, Hayes, mainly... Penelope. While her parents are somewhat involved, and her "prodigal" brother shows up some in book two, Penelope is the real queen here. 
There's the Schoonmakers, particularly bachelor Henry Schoonmaker, although his father and stepmother play relatively important roles as well. 

And then there's the characters of the lower classes who have no less important roles to play: 
Will Keller, the Hollands' carriage driver. 
Lina (short for Carolina) Broud and her sister Claire: maidservants for the Hollands. 
Tristan: a boy who works at a department store, Lord & Taylors, who picks up a fairly important role further along in the story. 

These books are full of romance, scandals, lies, rumors, jealousy, and historical references. You can't even describe it as a "love triangle"- it's more of a love web. Actually the whole thing is one big, twisted, web of love and lies... and also a little bit of death. 

And it's wonderful. 

I read the second book, Rumors, in a day and a half. I laughed, I cried, and I couldn't put it down, and I blew through the others nearly as fast. The ending may not have been exactly what I'd hoped for, but it was brilliant all the same. 

I highly recommend these books to anyone who likes historical fiction, romance, mystery, or any combination thereof. 

If you have a favorite book or any suggestions for what next month's book review should be on, leave them in comments!