Travel Basics

I’m preparing for yet another trip to New York City to work with my pianist. This time we will focus on Copland I think, mainly … also the fourth movement of the Prokofiev. There’s this Schnittke piece I haven’t even started. It might be fun to sight read through it as I’m not sure I will have time to look at it before leaving. I’m sorry to have gotten behind on my blog, but life on the Mom front has been quite full. I will hopefully find a little time to fill in my past blog entry where I was saving my place, but for now, in honor of needing to go practice, this is another re-publish from my old blog written during the time I was flying to New York once a month for lessons. I’ve become fairly accustomed to travel and wrote this entry on the plane flight:

Another flight across the country gives me ample time to spend with my index finger tapping at warp speed across my iPhone. My children swear I look ridiculous typing with my index finger and should force myself to look less embarrassing by typing with my thumbs. Sadly, I prefer to nurture at least two or three embarrassing habits for leverage.

Notwithstanding these trips to New York City and the intricacies I'm learning, almost every violin issue imaginable will fall under one of these categories. All aspiring violin players: save your cash and pay closer attention to the basics. They are salvation.



string crossing

bow changes




I've also picked up a few travel basics in the last two years with these monthly cross-country trips. Whereas I used to need a list of possible outfits concocted a week prior, a day to try on five or thirteen possibilities, a couple of days scouting out accommodations and cars, I now require just an hour on my Airbnb app and an hour and a half (because I still have to try on at least two outfits) to pack.

I give you my "Ten Commandments for Successful Travel" written in Haiku (because, I don't know why these things occur to me--I thought it could be cool?)

winding snakelike lines

laced up tightly in long knots

loosen in slip ons

odd case shape chagrin

roller board luggage's thorn

plucked out when upright

(in the flight attendant's closet)

frizzy hair forests

catch fire in hair dryers

flutter free in air

clothes bathed in shampoo

look flustered and sadly shrink

into travel size

searching the heavens

will bring a speedy downpour

for an umbrella

princesses anger

squeezing into small pumpkins

without the right shoe

less is more cannot

account for making more less

except in the black <dress>

fish lunch brings some hints

collars flail up on noses

caught and released with mints

horseshoe pillow luck

is a gamble for snoring

and no one can sleep

cords make tangled balls

twisted around tight delays

others unravel

Hmmmm ... so much for that experiment--did anyone understand any of that? Haiku has long been my impenetrable fortress of literary genius both from an analysis perspective and as a creative form. Still, for a reason I cannot explain, I continue pounding at the door in the middle of the night soaked in futility. If I have an epitaph, this is what it should be:

Here lies Kimberlee, a misguided soul who continued pounding at the door of literary genius in the middle of the night soaked in futility.

That's why I write this blog. :-)

For those of you who are similarly challenged, let me hit the high points ...

If you want a lot of clothing options and need layers, keeping to one color scheme ensures the pieces you bring will coordinate to give you more possibilities. The biggest plus is only having to pack two pairs of shoes (shoes are the space hogs of every suitcase--especially wedges). If all your clothing is in the same color scheme, you only need one pair of formal shoes, one pair of casual shoes and one pair of slip on shoes you will wear for security lines at airports. In example, this trip I'm in cream, ballet pink and black combinations.

If you go to NYC between September and May, you need an umbrella. Get travel size soaps, shampoos and toothpaste and put them in a ziplock. It is your only prayer for keeping shampoo and perfume out of your clothes (unless you duct tape the bottles ...). Do not bring a hair dryer. It's a huge waste of space, most hotels have them and if you're in a humid climate, your hair will be a frizzball an hour later. I've learned to embrace my natural curl. In NYC, I have naturally curly hair.

Ever noticed the guy working on his laptop in the security line until the last possible second before he has to make a massive transfer of cords, wires, phones, gadgets and earphones into ten plastic containers to put on the conveyer belt? You haven't? Well, he looks a bit like Igor gathering equipment for Dr. Frankenstein. It's usually entertaining unless he is in front of you.

I've not had any luck with the horseshoe pillows. They are a pain to carry, do not make my leg space larger or my chair go back further and have mostly been associated with seat mates who snore. Someone is rich and owns their own jet as a result of patenting them though, so what do I know?

The most helpful (and possibly only helpful) tip I have to offer is for violinists with awkward cases. They don't fit the typical dimensions but we can't check them. When boarding the flight, if you explain to the flight attendants it is a valuable instrument that crowds the overhead space, they will often find room for it in their own closet, which makes the other passengers happier (I had a lady complain about my violin taking all the room in her overhead space once ... once I explained to her the basics of putting her roller board into a different overhead compartment she seemed happier).

Even with all my travel, every trip I have two or three things hanging out in my suitcase I never wore or never used--I don't have it down to an exact science yet, even with all the practice, but having learned my travel basics gives me a blueprint to work from, not unlike knowing my violin fundamentals gives me a gauge to judge the quality of my work.

Speaking of which, tomorrow brings a lesson on the entire Bach Sonata #1--talk about bedrock, fundamental violin literature! Just to be able to say I can get from beginning to end without stopping, having an aneurism or seizure is an accomplishment I never thought I would reach. I am still climbing for a higher goal. When I am finished with my work, what I would be most gratified to know is the basics were in order. It's easy to fudge or take short-cuts when the requirement is so high, but if you want your clothes to be goop free, you can't shrink.

My plane is now making a choppy descent into JFK to my city--the place that teaches me irrespective of glamorous distractions, it's the fundamentals grounding it all making it great (in basic black ...). :-)

Kimberlee DrayComment