Well hello! Yes, it’s been a while- I’m supposed to be up to my ears in grapes, and organic chemistry, but fate has had other things in mind these past few months. I had an unexpected reaction to the second Botox treatment, which left me with very little use of either arm, lots of pain in my back and neck, and no real solutions.

Although it’s been up and down, July and August saw me in bed much of the time, unable to do anything except teach for a few hours here and there before retiring once more to a prone position, in the company of my new bestest friend, Mr. Heating Pad.

My wine internship was cancelled (postponed until next year by a gracious winemaker) and I’ve been tempted to write about this stuff off and on, but kept stopping myself.

Having an online presence can take a person and turn them into a consumable product. A brand. Early on, I sort of embraced this idea, probably because it was new, smart internet people were talking about it, and likely because it stoked my ego. There was a happy overlap working in my favor: what I was doing came straight from my soul, was full of promise and progress, and also filled a gap in the offerings for adults wanting to learn to play the cello. For years, the internet fueled my career and that career made for excellent content. Later, as my life became more complicated, I wasn’t able to deliver as many stories of success and inspiration, the friendly commenters were largely replaced by bots and the occasional death threat or lengthy diatribe as to why I am a lousy teacher and terrible cellist. My brand fell into decay, and the experience of being a person doing a thing online became poisonous.

And of course it did. When you approach things as a brand, people aren’t shopping for the entire messy experience of being a human, even if part of your brand is to talk about the mess it is to be human. The brand isn’t supposed to be human. The job of the brand is to make its consumers feel identified with and subsequently marketed to. So when I’ve struggled and tried to talk about it, it was a betrayal of the agreement between the brand I’d cultivated and its shareholders.

I have so much more to say, ten years since the inception of that old orange Blogspot site. It’s funny: laying around in chronic pain breeds a strange sort of fantasy life. I’ve had time to think about what I’ve done, what I can no longer to do— spending hours in “I should have” and “If only”— and as days wore on, I really allowed myself to go wild. As it turns out, my wildest dream, what I’d rather be doing instead of becoming one with a heating pad on the floor, is still this. And a few other things, too.

When I stopped thinking of my life as part of some cohesive brand to tend to, things opened up. It’s how people lived their lives before the internet gave each of us an army of people to observe and comment on our every move. It’s how I started this thing, before I knew how it would turn out. And, like any process, things go better if you assume that there is literally nothing riding on your success: it’s all just an offering, a lesson, a vanishing ineffable moment.

…which is literally the focal point of many of my writings on technique, the learning process, and what it’s like to be a human.

Time is a flat circle, eh? 🙂

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