Hopefully this stuff will give you a chuckle…

Who Knifed Me In The Face?

I’ll admit it—I had been under a lot of stress.

It seemed like everything in my life was all of a sudden coming to a head. I was living 2600 miles apart from my wife in what may very well be the world’s worst bachelor pad. My school orchestra was performing at the Midwest Clinic, the world’s most prestigious pre-college music event. I was gigging like a fool. And I had decided to leave my job but not tell anyone just yet.  I was in hardcore orchestra director mode, recording rehearsals and listening back while furiously scribbling notes, trying to keep my temper in check and my outlook positive so as to not go postal on the kids.

Layers upon layers of pressure…

I collapsed most nights on the couch, intending to watch a little Netflix but falling asleep in some contorted position moments after kicking up my feet.  But I always made sure to set my multiple iPhone alarms the moment I walked in the door, knowing that, if I didn’t, I would be likely to fall asleep before even thinking about it.

My Brush With Surreality

One morning, with a wooden taste in my mouth and a feeling of unease creeping into my mind – my circadian rhythm felt off – I was asleep in a vampiric pose, arms crossed over my iPhone.

I glanced at the clock—7:30 am! That was a full two hours past my alarm. I’d never slept that late. What the heck?

I got up and staggered groggily into the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I turned to face the bathroom mirror, I gasped at what I saw: my face was covered in blood! And not “cut yourself shaving” polite little blood spots but more like something out of a horror movie: thick, ropy blood was all over my face, neck, ears, and hair!



Deep wounds! Why? How?

My initial panic at simply being late to work took on an aura of surrealism as I washed off the dried blood, revealing two wounds of surprising depth and length.

What on Earth had happened the night before? I hadn’t been staggering around like a drunk idiot the night before. I had pretty much just gone to bed when I’d gotten home.

Could I have been sleepwalking? Well, I’ve been together with my wife for the past 16 years, and she has never once seen evidence of me sleepwalking. Neither had my family growing up. It could have just started happening, of course—it had been a really stressful fall, after all, much more so than normal… but was that how stress was going to manifest itself? Also, what the heck in my place would have cut me exactly like that? I did a quick glance around the place but couldn’t find any sharp corners spaced like that, nor anything with dried blood on it (which I’d imagine there would be plenty of given the condition of my face).

Could it have been… the cats? Our cats aren’t declawed, and it had been a while since I’d trimmed their nails, so they were both sporting a pretty fearsome set of talons. Also, they loved to sleep on top of my chest at night. Usually, one cat would sleep on my and one would sleep on my wife. Since my wife had been in San Francisco, the cats had taken to fighting with each other over who got to sleep on my chest.

The likely scenario suddenly became clear, and as I came to this realization I also noticed some other wounds that, while not as obvious as the facial lacerations, were actually more puzzling.

  • I had a few other short lacerations (though not as deep) on each hand
  • I had strange cuts and scuffs on the inside of my wrists
  • Both of my knees were rather badly skinned.


Never in my life have I wished more for security camera footage to consult (footage of my car inferno would be a close second).


CBC 170: Blair Tindall on Mozart in the Jungle, searching for a new career path, and observations on the orchestral world

Mozartjungle-330We are featuring Blair Tindall on the podcast today. Blair is the author of the book Mozart in the Jungle, which explores the world of classical musicians in a very compelling narrative.  Blair and I talk about life as a New York freelancer, her journey into a career as a writer, and we take a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the production of the TV series.

Mozart in the Jungle has been turned into a TV series on Amazon Video. The first season received two Golden Globe nominations (one for best comedy series and one for Gael Garcia Bernal for best actor) and the second season launches today!  If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can stream all episodes, and if you don’t yet use Amazon Prime, you can start a free 30-day trial here.

My fancy dancing

I had an amusing and somewhat embarrassing incident happen at a teacher event that I attended last year.

I was at an all-day music teacher workshop and was having a great time, like I usually do at this annual event.  The whole day consists of hour-long clinics and sessions on a variety of topics, from teaching motion in string playing to score study for the busy conductor.  Probably not the most scintillating material for all you bass players out there, but really cool stuff for me now that I’ve shifted career gears.

One of these sessions was taught by a dance instructor and was intended to get us more tied into body awareness (and just to break up the monotony of  endless music education clinics).

For this session, we were lined up in parallel rows (there were about 70 of us at the event), and we were being instructed in various dance moves.  This is not exactly one of my usual activities in life, but it was a fun diversion and I was having a good time with it.

A young female teacher who I happened to be standing next to leaned over to me early on in the session and whispered to me

“Hey Jason!  You’re a really good dancer!”

This caught me off guard and was certainly flattering.  I mean, I was just doing a line dance with a bunch of other music teachers, quasi-zombified  after hours of clinics.  I wasn’t aware that I was cutting such a slick stride across the dance floor.  I smiled and thanked her.

A few minutes later, she asked me something that really threw me.

“Do you have a background in dance?”

Flattery on the educational dance floor was an unexpected thing for me, and like an idiot, I responded (quite untruthfully, by the way)…

“Why, yes!”

I have absolutely no idea why I uttered a boldfaced lie like that.  It’s totally unlike me.  I think that I was just caught off guard by her complimenting my dance moves so much.

I though I was safe with my little untruth, but of course, a few minutes later, the next question came…

“Hey Jason… what kind of dance background do you have, exactly?”

Uh oh.

I responded with something really unconvincing, like “you know…a little bit of this and a little bit of that.”  Misrepresenting myself as an experienced dancer was becoming more uncomfortable with every passing minute.

Note to self: don’t lie.  And if you do lie, it had better not be about something like your dance background!

I also like that there is a string teacher out there that thinks that I am a trained dancer.  What was I thinking?