helen blog, having long been at blog.helenyhou.com, now rests right at the top level of helenhousandi.com. The old helenhousandi.com landing page is gone. Tweaks will come, since I don’t want the front page to be a blog, and I’m sure there will be a few bugs here and there (please tell me if you encounter any), but the move is complete.
When I got married and changed my name, I bought helenhousandi.com. Instead of replacing helenyhou.com, which had long held my website as a pianist, I decided it was time to start embracing my move into web development and put a semi-crappy landing page (that I never did change much), a WordPress blog about WordPress (leaving helen blog as a more personal stream), and a brief portfolio listing on the new domain. At the time, I was also actively working and performing as a pianist, deriving about a third of my income from such, so this split between the content of the domains reflected what I was doing.
Fast forward a few more years: music is no longer a part of my professional life, and if I’m being honest with myself, it’s relegated to a very very small corner of my personal life – the one where I play piano for my son because he enjoys it. I wish I could say that I don’t regret this, because it is the result of conscious decisions I have made and have achieved success with, but that would be a lie. I’m very sad to let go of something that I worked so hard to master and had earned success and respect in.
It feels silly to talk about a change of domain name like this, and I’m already worried that I sound a bit “woe is me”. But the reality is that I’ve been sad about my professional musician identity slipping away for years now. I get huffy when my husband and his brother (who also happens to be a pianist) talk about performing together, even though I know that it’s a completely different rapport. I feel twinges of jealousy behind expressed pride and excitement when I see friends giving their Met Opera or Carnegie Hall debuts, or when Adrian gets to play ensemble concerts with music I’ve always wanted to be a part of (Knussen, swoon!).
I know I could have kept on with being a musician – as much as I struggle with impostor syndrome, I am not afraid to say that I am a damn good pianist and collaborative musician. But to do it, I would have had to give up dreams of having a family and not moving every year or two. I chose stability and family over a career that often made me tired with having to play my own booking and debt collections agents. In making that choice, I found a place in which I’ve arguably become even more successful than I would have been as a pianist. Great pianists are innumerable in the NYC metro area – permanent core committers to WordPress are, well, just me (and Matt when he’s around). To be one of ten in the world to earn such a status on the software projects that powers over a fifth of the internet is not something I ever would have dreamed of, and it totally intimidates me, but I’m enjoying it and it fits into the big picture of what I want my life to be.
In the next day or so, I’ll also be redirecting the whole of the helenyhou.com site itself to pages here instead. I don’t want to completely take down things like performance audio or my repertoire lists, but it’s time I stop pretending that that side of me is still big enough to warrant its own presence. I’ll always identify as a musician first, and I married one, so I expect it will always be a part of my life, just maybe not a part of my work.