Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Flight of the Bumblee, Minor Scales, and.... Ashtrays?

Even with the city (including myself) going into basic hibernation mode because of all this snow, there have been some new exciting activities emerging Kat-land!  How did these new events come about? Basically for 3 reasons-
  1. While in the states, people wore me out with the question, are you still playing clarinet?
  2. I've "graduated" from my intensive Bosnian language mode and am looking for ways to better get involved in the community and use my free time (and newfound language abilities!).  
  3. I received the God given conviction that God has given me talents, experiences, and things I just LOVE to do that I haven't been doing in Bosnia! Boo for that! 
So.... with all that in mind...  THIS is has been among the new activities/pursuits for me here in Bosnia:

Look mom! My Band-Nerd-Ness is out again!

For those that don't know, my life used to consist of endless hours in practice rooms, rehearsals, and performances. My college degree is in music and for a long time I played with the idea of pursuing a masters in clarinet performance. (My, o my has life changed since then!) That wasn't God's plan for me (at least not yet? Who knows?) and after receiving my bachelors, I went on to rock out as a band director in Texas and then moved to rock out here in Bosnia (well, without the clarinet). 
If you look closely you might be able to see some red curls around 
the 15 yard line on the left...
Well, to bring you up to speed, I've moved away from the land of marching bands, to go-coffee, and type-A-scheduling and to this coffee-is-an-event culture. Since I've returned back to Bosnia last fall, I've spent more time dusting off the clarinet and seeking possibilities in the music community.

All of this led up to one of the most surreal moments for me EVER- I found myself walking through some bland, narrow, communist style hallways for an audition with the clarinet professor at the local music college here in Sarajevo. Any "performance" butterflies were zapped away by the assurance that if God wants me involved he'll get me involved. Plus, I was WAY too entertained by my surroundings to be nervous. I just HAD to giggle when I finally made it to a practice room and had to move an ashtray off the music stand in order to place my music there. Then, while proceeding to suck in the lingering, musty cigarette smoke throughout my warm ups and audition, I was contemplating just how much my life has changed over the last few years. To say I enjoyed this "cultural" experience would be....... absolutely TRUE. :)

After "surviving" poisoning my precious, tender, American musical lungs, the clarinet professor, fitting in perfectly with the Balkan hospitality I've come to LOVE, graciously gave me the opportunity to join the clarinet studio for their weekly class and help with the students as I was able. Returning a few weeks later, I found out first hand that music CAN be truly be a universal language- including those pesky minor scales and altissimo notes that only clarinet players can fully appreciate (and whoever gets the "blessed" opportunity of hearing us practice them). Then, while I watched and listened to students work through the same musical pieces I picked apart in college, then receive instruction from a passionate and talented professor (all in Bosnian, of course!),  I couldn't help but be grateful not only for this opportunity but the way God had orchestrated events in my life that enabled me to be a part of this.

Where's has this led? Not to too much just yet. The city shut down after the snow, our schedules started to conflict, and Feburary was "exam month" where they didn't have any class. My hope is that now that we're defrosting a bit here in Sarajevo, more opportunities like this will come up. 

As for now, I hope you'll enjoy the video from a talent show I performed at a few months back. What I did was combine some random tunes, throw in a dzembe, and VoilĂ !! Seeing its inclusion of a hymn, Mozart, the Flight of the Bumblebee, Gershwin, a tradional Bosnian song and others.... dare I say there's no one else on the planet that could pull this off? :-)

(The video cut off before the grand finale but hopefully you'll get the general idea!)

Why do I write this post? My hope and my prayer is that it will encourage you to seek out what gifts and talents God has given you, then seek to use them both for your delight and His glory. Its been a great blessing to me. Plus, the thought that our God is delighted when we are delighted (and teaches us how to be FULLY delighted) is an ever increasing overwhelming thought to me. What a magnificient, personal, and good God we serve! 

Oh, and by the way- if you're from the Chicago Symphony and find my rendition to be inspiring enough for me to join your organization (I knew the Phantom of the Opera would lure you in!), I MIGHT be able to find some time to put in you my demanding performance schedule. :)

Till next time-

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How this "Texanka" Survives Her First Real Winter

For those that may or may not have heard, Europe has been hit with a brutal winter these last few months, and Sarajevo has not been immune! Check out the collection of my favorite pictures from the last few months of snow-craziness. 

The first few pictures are not my pictures, and I'm sad to say, thanks to people stealing, posting, sharing without linking it back to the original, it was impossible to find the original photographers! So, sorry for not giving credit where it is due, but hopefully you'll be able to appreciate these as much as I do! 

After about 2 days of continuous snowfall, this is what the city looked like. This is a beautiful view above one of the cemeteries in Sarajevo.

The majority of those wholive here didn't have any problems bigger than the nuances of having to dig out cars, walk more, etc., but there have been reports of roofs caving in, structural damage, people dying, and issues like the one above: the snow sled off the roof and locked the people inside. 

People out enjoying the "walking street" in Sarajevo.. 

Those lumps would be cars... 

I've actually liked having to walk on the main roads for a while! For a few days the trams weren't working and very few cars were able to get around. 

A view from behind to Sebilj fountain in Bascarsija. 

I WAS looking for a pet... 

I always knew Bosnia was short on money, but this is ridiculous... 

This was one of the wider walking lanes. It felt like a giant ant colony for over a week with everyone walking in straight lines through the "snow trenches" everywhere. There were also reports of stores being bought out of food, but I didn't see TOO much of that in Sarajevo.  

Okay... now what??? 

Forget snowman.. those of us that grew up with the ghostbusters movie may have a different idea who this reminds us of... 

The remaining of these pictures are from my camera. The first few are of documenting the adventure of that was cleaning out my car. 

(My car is the 2nd lump from the right, with the spare tire sticking out through the snow)

Now begins the adventure of car cleaning. The first step was to find the windows...

Then give an 80's style, punk, quasi-mullet hair cut... 

After nearly 3 hours, it was good enough for now! 

We went to a village to see what we could do as a humanitarian aid organization. Snow shoes were the best way to get around in some areas. The sticks coming out the ground were someone's back fence. 

From the Begova mosque- in my opinion, one of the most beautiful architecture spots in Sarajevo. 

And from where I call the "running street." My training will have to wait a bit. :)

As I'm posting this, we're in the midst of defrosting and I'm walking through the city dodging snow and ice clumps falling from the rooftops. Besides being shell shocked by a monstrous heating bill, feeling a bit trapped in the city, and feeling burdened for those that have had many problems due to the snow and cold, I haven't minded the snow too much, especially as this season as given birth to my newest obsession: 

Have I mentioned lately how thankful I am to live in a city surrounded by Olympic mountains??? 

Till next time,