Thoughts on life and music.

So the last few weeks of my life have been completely insane. My dad was diagnosed a few months ago with a fairly curable health issue, but hearing about it from so far away was pretty scary. He got sicker from the treatment than from the disease itself, and not being able to see the details and be with my family was really difficult. A small miracle happened when I came into the money to buy a plane ticket home. I wanted to surprise my parents so I only told my siblings, and we planned a night where everyone would come to the house and I'd just show up out of nowhere. Aleks drove me up from Newark, and when we walked up to the door Dad was on the landing. He peered out the window and said, "Trish, it looks like Erin..." Of course my mother assumes it's the painkillers making him hallucinate, and then she hears us walk in and can't believe I'm actually in the house! Mom and Dad were both completely surprised and really excited I had come home.

The ladies of the Paul family
Dad's birthday dinner at East Coast Taco

I was in America for two weeks total, and it was an amazing and refreshing trip. Walking into a WalMart after 6 months in the Balkans was shocking. The availability of things and the quantities kept in stock are enormous, when you haven't seen it for half a year you forget just how much stuff America has. Bosnia isn't a barren wasteland or anything, but there's so much space and so many varieties and brands of the same thing in America it's a little absurd. I obviously bought a lot of shredded Mexican cheese to take back with me... I can get tortilla chips, but what's the point of chips without making them into nachos? I gained at least 8lbs from non-stop eating. All my favorites I had been missing for the last 6 months had a turn; sushi, enchiladas, GF pizza, GF calzones, Indian, etc. Aleks made awesome steaks for us, plus cheesy eggs, bacon and potatoes for breakfast just about every day. I'm back on the Bosnian diet and back to running regularly, hopefully it won't take long to undo the damage before summer... Ha!

Velocity Horns - (L to R)
Theresa Rice, Katy Svatek, Joshua Thompson and yours truly, Erin Paul (sub for Catherine Hill)

I happened to choose travel dates that encompassed the 2013 Northeast Horn Workshop at the University of Connecticut, and was able to fill in a seat for Velocity Horns. Velocity Horns is an Albany, NY-based quartet comprised of Theresa Rice, Joshua Thompson, Katy Svatek and Catherine Hill. We played a Frippery, some Debussy, Tscherpenine 2-5 and a pretty good arrangement of We Are Young by fun. I love fun., I think Some Nights is my favorite song of theirs. Especially since I didn't have to hear the over saturation on the radio from Bosnia.

Josh and I after the concert!

There were a lot of familiar faces at the conference, and I got a lot of second glances followed by "Wait, aren't you supposed to be in Bosnia or something?" I was able to catch up with my high school horn teacher Heather Doughty, her husband Bryan (owner of Cimarron Music) and Ken Pope, among others. (I have a Conn 8D for sale through Ken, if you're looking for one... please buy it!! I want to go to Dublin.) There was a lot of great playing throughout the weekend, hopefully I'll be on that side of the country for the 2014 conference.

To make an extremely long story short, I had an amazing time going home. I had been homesick for a while, and being in America made everything seem real again. As much as I loved being home, the trip also made me appreciate Sarajevo that much more. I realized there are a lot of places and scenery I never took pictures of, things I see every day that I didn't realize I would want to capture and remember. As much as the laid-back attitude can begin to drive me crazy, I did miss how slowly things can move here. Coffee in America is fast, oversized and sugary... Don't get me wrong, I love some Starbucks. But I missed having so many little cafés around to just have a small $.60 coffee with friends. I can see why people who have spent a lot of time in European coffeehouses get offended when someone thinks Starbucks emulates the atmosphere. Starbucks and Bosnian cafés have almost nothing in common.

Trivia night with Kev and Heather

 I also have a renewed appreciation for my siblings. I take for granted that I have an automatic group of really fun people to hang out with when I come home that are also related to me. I got to see my brother and his girlfriend Heather hosting trivia twice while I was home; I love going to their trivia nights! It was so good to spend time with them and my parents.

Aleks and I at Waterford Beach

 I also managed to get a little beach time, even though it was way too cold to stay for long. Rudy had never been to the beach; whenever we've been in Waterford it's either January and way beyond too cold, or in the summer when dogs aren't allowed. He loved running in the sand and digging for who knows what.

Rudy's first trip to the beach!

Best buds.

 My niece Sophia has grown so much in six months, it was hard to believe. She can crawl and say "haiiii," "yayayayaya," and "mama". She's working on saying "auntie" next. Her hair is growing so fast, and she's a very active baby. Even when she's in the high chair she's constantly moving and trying to go somewhere. I think she'll be an athlete or a dancer, the only instrument that seems like a match might be percussion...

Me, Amelia and Sophia

Rudy likes to share his Kong toy with Sophia

 I can't believe this trip is almost 2/3 over, we only have 3 months left until we leave. There's plenty of playing to do between now and then, and now that the weather is improving (and we got our long-awaited paychecks) we'll hopefully be able to do some more traveling.

Immediately after landing, I obviously needed a kava sa šlagom in the airport cafe!

Sarajevo International Guitar Festival

Banja Luka