Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and Other Miscellaneous Bullshit

                                        I do not own this video.

Despite a few physical limitations getting in the way of my frivolity, I am managing to have a bit of it [of frivolity, that its] despite all the admonitions to the contrary being directed at me almost every time I even  think doing anything remotely fun.

I've reserve the best and most exciting of the fun for when i'm  bit physically stronger. I'm trying to keep in mind that there re tons of people around me every day whose physical limitations cause mine to appear, by comparison, as physical strengths. Keeping this close to the forefront of my thoughts help me to feel gratitude for what is, in the grand scheme of all things related to health, a lifetime of good health, Most maladies I have faced have been minor. Those that weren't necessarily minor were ones I have defeated.

Tonight I overheard a  portion of a conversation between one of  our hosts, Aletha (my brother and I call her and her husband "aunt"and "uncle" even though they're not related to us because in our family, children -- even adults children -- do not call adults by their first names) and my parents. "Aunt" a=Aletha was suggesting as carefully as she could, as criticizing a person's parenting skills can easily lead to hurt to hurt, that my parents do not take as good care of me as they perhaps should.My mom responded that I'm now 22, and it is essentially up to me at this point to take car of myself. Aunt Aletha conceded this point to a degree. She said that when I' m healthy, I'm probably more than capable of caring form myself, but that when I am sick -- and that I seem to be sick more thn a person my age should be -- my parents need to step in and see that I am taken care of if i'm unable to make wise choices or to stand up to the medical school to ensure tht I m not forced to work more than is good and for me.My mom answered that as an adult, I have to learn at some point to manage my own affairs to stand up to those in direct charge of my schedules. Aunt Aletha suggested that while such may be the ideal, ideal don't really matter if students contract illnesses with permanent repercussions or, God forbid, even death. (Claudia, Altha's daugher, had a friend and roommate who contracted an upper respiratory infection during year three in medical school. An overly zealous supervising resident insisted that she work through it. One night at work he temperature spiked st 105. She was diagnosed with pneumonia, which turned out to be a virulent form. Someone had to pull the plug on her about three days later.) Since then, Aletha has been something of  helicopter parent on crack when it came to her kids and illnesses they contracted in medical school. Her intrusion probably would not have been tolerated had her husband not been relatively important  in the local medial school scene.  She's become a crusader of sorts.

My parents listened but didn't say much in response to her.  Truthfully, they've been somewhat "hands-off" in term of our  medical school careers, and that's mostly the way I would have it. i don't need my parents running interference for me. As far as when I'm genuinely sick and the school is expecting more than I can offer, I don't know whether or not they should be involved.  I'm sure i would find their interference embarrassing, but would it be a god thing? I don' know.

I've tried throughout this vacation to be sensible in terms of what I did and didn't. The others were snowmobiling today, I didn't participate even though it would have been lots of fun. I'm hoping the opportunity comes up again when I'm a bit stronger in a day or two. The same is true of skiing and snowboarding.I really want to participate, as how often does one get the opportunity to snowboard of ski in one of the truly premier wintersports  sites in the world? In the end, I'll do it whether i'm ready or not if the end of our vacation nears and I'm still dragging. Still, i'm hoping it does not come to that point.

In absence of the ability to participate in the fun and games available everywhere around me, I've tried to take advantage of some of the more spiritual aspects of the holiday n this region.  I've made no secret in recent months of my increasing disingenuous feelings toward organized religion. Being in Austria cannot change that.  Still, at this point, I'm inclined to believe, despite what some scholars are currently saying, that there really was a baby Jesus. it's a bit easier to focus on him when I'm a little closer, geographically speaking, to the places were he walked the earth, and, perhaps more importantly, where so much great music about him was written.  And regardless of a person's stance on the divinity or even of the existence of Jesus, without the Protestant Reformation, much of the music of J.S. Bach might never have been written. Without Bach, W.A.Mozart -- born just a figurative stone's throw from here--  might never have reached the stature to have compose and for his compositions to have been published and remembered to this day,

Perhaps my real religion is music as opposed to any organized theological structure.

And religion notwithstanding, Christmas is as good a time as any to show gratitude for the people in one's life.  I have a delightful if flawed nuclear and extended family. Numerous times many of these people have given what to me is the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of a friend: they have donated their blood for me. What more could  anyone ever ask of a friend?

Then there's dear, sweet Alyssa, who keeps logs burning in the fireplace in my bedroom so that I will stay warm. That, too, is the act of a true friend.

Matthew, my brother, functions as a friend and a brother. Without him I wouldn't be on this trip. He was willing to give it up if I were not included.

My friends from school are too numerous to mention, but a few I will. Sophronia, Kal Penn, Raoul, Raoul's older brother, Troy, Cool Guy and Raptor Jesus are too great not to mention. Every day one of them does something that makes life a bit more worth living.

My girlhood friends who are still friends will, I hope, always be with me. Megan just married my former boyfriend. it was obvious that they were right for each other, and he and I were clearly no longer an item, but she refused to date him even once without my OK.  She had the freedom to do what she wanted, but he valued our friendship too much to jeopardize it but dating my former boyfriend without an OK from me. That action speaks more loudly than any verbal expression of friendship she could offer.

Claire was my very close friend who is no longer here. I can't speak or write at depth about her yet. Maybe someday I will be able to do so. I miss you, Claire.

Meredith and Caitlyn, any list of  my friends would not be complete without you, who also date back to the days of my girlhood.

Tim, we dated for something like a week, but our friendship was and is strong enough to survive having dated. 

Becca, we've never met, but we have a special friendship that is more tightly intertwined than I would consider most of my face-to-face relationships.

Judge Ferrer, our friendship is difficult for me even to understand, much less to try to explain to anyone else. Suffice it to say that I'm really glad I can  count you as one of my friends.

At this point  shall make an abrupt and somewhat non sequitur turn.

Many of you know that I am a musician. Among my friends are musicians as well. One is much older than I and is actually a closer friend of my mom than of me, but still I consider her a friend of mine independent of her friendship with my mom. For the sake of protecting both the innocent and the guilty, let us call this friend Kristy.

Kristy is a pianist and a church musician. Her formal training as a musician was as a pianist and as a string player. As a church musician, she must sometimes play organ, which she does quite competently, though her strength is as a pianist. Because the organ is not her first (or even her second or third) instrument, she has to put in considerable time in practicing it, She can play any hymn without having first practiced it, but if she ants preludes or embellished anthems to should polished, she must practice them, and she does.

The church for which she works had a previous organist who moved onto bigger and better things. he was an organ major in university and  has a masters' and doctorate in organ performance. He was overqualified fr the position at the small church. 

Occasionally the previously organist comes back for  guest performances. Last night he came to play the prelude for the Christmas Eve service, and played the carols until it was time for him to leave for his service at his current job. My friend said his playing was spectacular, as it always is. My friend knows her organ playing is nowhere near as good as his is, and she's relatively comfortable with things the way they are 

Then she made the mistake of logging into facebook.  Several church members made separate posts expressing the joy at having a REAL  concert organist at the service, often going back to comment on their original posts, clarifying with remarks that  "JEFF was there" lest anyone make the mistake of confusing Kristy with  the concert organist to whom they referred,

My friend will get over this small indignity, and it's probably not the last time it will happen. Still, I wish people would stop and think about how their presumably intentionally harmless posts do cause hurt feelings. Non-musicians don't always stop to think about the difficulty of being even a lowly church musician -- about how the person is putting himself or herself on the line week after week for very little pay but with a great deal of exposure for criticism - real or imagined, and about how very hard it can be on a person's sense of self-worth. 

Some of you who are in positions to either make or ruin someone's day. Facebook postings, however harmless they may seem, can sting, and they may hurt people who usually don't deserve the sting of others' words.


  1. Merry Christmas Alexis. Thanks for letting me share your very INTERESTING life.


  2. Facebook certainly can be an instrument of pain sometimes... We know it better than some.

    Glad you're enjoying your trip.

  3. Merry Christmas, Alexis! What you say about Facebook is certainly true but it is even more so when it comes to the Christian religion that teaches "Judge ye not unless ye be judged" and "Love your neighbor." Also in the music business skill at music is an issue, but it is not an issue in the Christian religion. This was proven by the minister who said you should not be paid because you were so bad, but the people paid you anyway. That was an extremely funny post.

    That would make a good TV comedy-- a minister that is more mean than Adolf Hitler. Here is the latest medical news. In 2015 Dr Kim Williams became president of the American College of Cardiology. He is a vegan and suggests that all of his patients become vegans for their health.