Stream-of-consciousness surfing

Alternate post title: “Why I couldn’t finish my salad this evening”

I’m home alone tonight because first, someone had the audacity to high-tail it to a Caribbean island and bask in the tropical sun without me. Second, the ensemble that our son is a part of is performing tonight with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Everyone’s got big and important things to do. Including me. This afternoon, I had the equally-notable privilege of making sure the family car was properly inspected at the absolute last day possible without the risk of a ticket. That, and I had to buy cucumbers.

Muy importante. That’s my role around here.

After almost two hours at the inspection facility (procrastinators, all of them!), I returned home and vowed never again to wait until the last minute to get the car inspected. And to never ever leave this house again when it’s this cold. It was brutal, man.

After putting everything away and tidying up a bit, I fixed myself a nice salad for dinner and started sifting through the messages and tweets that came in while I was gone. One caught my eye, and this is the story of how I ended up spending my evening crying into my salad bowl.


  1. I see a tweet from Michael Zhang of @PetaPixel, leading to a blog post that asked, “Do People Recognize Great Photography?” Intrigued, I read the post.

  3. The post leads me to a Washington Post article by Gene Weingarten that won him the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. It was a social experiment involving “one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.” The setting was the L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C., during morning rush hour. The musician would simply stand against a wall, like any other street musician, and play. Weingarten further explains, “His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” (It’s an excellent read.)

  4. Now I want to hear more violin music, and realize that I haven’t listened to any of my favorite classical pieces in a while. I hook up my external drive that holds all my music, and while waiting, search online for clips of Joshua Bell’s recent performances and recordings.

  5. I find the clip below, hit ‘play,’ and just like that, everything stops. And, from head to toe, I am all at once tingling and shivering and frozen and melting and I am conscious of little else other than the sound of those strings.


I couldn’t stop listening to it. Over and over and over again. And again.

When I finally remembered that the drive with all my music was loaded, I decided I could use a little more torture. I played

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and … and … my cup and eyes and soul and pinky toe and ears and heart, they overfloweth.

I also discovered that this house needs more tissues.

And that is the story of how I went from innocently sitting at my desk with a bowl of Caesar salad and a small glass of milk, and half an hour later, morphed into a pool of emotional goo that fortunately still had the sense not to spill anything on her laptop.

The end.

P.S. Does music move you the same way? If so, what songs or pieces do it for you? Please share, so I can go listen to it during breakfast tomorrow. Because I think I may have discovered the perfect diet plan for me.

Update: Breakfast music
(I’ve always loved this piece—thanks for reminding me of Saint-Saëns, Kristi!)

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17 thoughts on “Stream-of-consciousness surfing”

  1. I’m going to be honest here and say that I didn’t read any of the links and I skipped straight to the clip. I don’t know who this is. I don’t know who is playing. Oh but I am so glad you brought it to my attention. I haven’t made it past the clip as the first time I just listened to it. The second time I listened I had to close my eyes and visualize being on pointe and the type of dance that could be embraced by this music.

    I’ll be back to this post when I’m not supposed to be doing something else….

  2. Look up Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 – Organ Symphony!

    I was in marching band in high school and parts of this piece were part of our competitive field show during my first year – so there is a feeling of familiarity for me that is nearly indescribable. Strange chills nothing like being cold, or uncomfortable, or even a reaction that seems rational as I try to put it to words. A warm chill? So many years later and I still love to hear the orchestral versions…

    Others for me with this same odd reaction include the finale to Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (the Great Gate of Kiev), Sibelius’ Finlandia, and The Planets by Holst (Mars, Mercury and Jupiter are my favorites).

    Am I sharing the same emotional response as you? I’m not sure, but I know I’ve streamed tears at times from some of these classical pieces…and then when I try to share it with someone who’s blog I read, I feel odd. Do I press submit? Are we even on the same discussion? Is she going to think I am odd for being excited over sharing? Am I thinking much too much? Probably. ;)

    1. Odd? You? How could I even think that when I just confessed for the whole world to see (okay, the world of 8, maybe 10 people who read my blog) that I got turned into a pile of goo over a piece of music. :)

      Thank you so much for the suggestions. I am definitely going to check those out. And “warm chill” describes it very well.

  3. Oh, how music can move me…even if I feel that my heart has hardened into stone. I was walking over to our church yesterday (well, two days, ago now) and there were bagpipers leaving the sanctuary; as they marched out, playing along with a booming drum, on a cold, gray January day, it was all I could do not to sob. Not for any reason, other than bagpipes just about do me in. Beautiful.
    I did not listen to what you have posted because all my kids are sleeping, and I don’t want to wake them up! I will have to return sometime. :)
    Music is a powerful gift, though.

  4. Listening to music over and over and over again…….

    Joshua Bell…..
    … from heaven…..
    ……….The Swan by Saint-Saëns…..
    ……………..from Joshua Bell’s CD “Romance of the Violin”…..
    Did I mention music from heaven? over and over again? For me, one of the most beautiful pieces of music and as always, Bell and his violin do it justice, like you are lifted up above the clouds wafting to heaven.

    Or Va Pensiero (Verdi, Nabuccco)….March of the Hebrew Slaves
    ……..conducted by Myung-Whun Chung
    ……….whenever he conducts, the music is ethereal and he seems to bring out the best in the musicians……and he ever so gently and softly brings the music to a close.

    …………another piece of choral music that rivals this is Brahms’ “Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45”

  5. Vicki and Jeanette, thanks for sharing! I always enjoy adding new tracks to my playlist.

    Janice, glad you enjoyed the music.

  6. Wow. Am I ever glad to have stumbled upon your blog and then to find this post. The Washington Post article was utterly fascinating. I’m getting to the Michael Zhang article next but I am still listening to the Joshua Bell clip you’ve posted. Incredible! And reminds me to renew my subscription to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. :)

    1. Ah, yes. Isn’t music wonderful? :) We were at the Toronto International Jazz Festival a few years ago. Heard some amazing live music there.

  7. Also new here tonight. Thank you so much for an incredible post. It flowed like a dance, and swept me along with it as I followed the links and the music. The Wash Post article is truly amazing – sad, very sad, yet also I’m happy to see the impact of the beauty on the (few) people who WERE touched. In wondering which camp I would have fallen into, I’ve been reminded about what I so easily forget in my day-to-day life — the importance of simply paying attention right here and right now, to what’s present. And thank you for the beautiful links to your favorite music: I cried, too.

    1. Hi Ginny! Glad you enjoyed the post. The Wash Post article really reminded me to take the time to notice the music around me. Even when it isn’t mind-blowingly great, inevitably, there’s still an emotional response that would have been lost had I not stopped to listen.

  8. Oh……….Aaaahhhh…… Thank you so much for reminding me of these great lovely classical tunes……
    Miss them so much now that I’m so out-of-touch with my music side… Getting to rigid and critical.. need to start feeding my classical soul too… THANK YOU!!!!!

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