June 1, 2000
| I'm leaving this white but I like to type in purple. Oh my, the proverbial bells and whistles afforded by this medium. I'm really groovin' in it if I do say so myself. I never would have kept a journal this long otherwise (now approaching two months). Usually this stuff just gets poured out into letters during the summer, which I send to my friends in (or from, as the case may be) crazy places. I feel obliged to keep copies of many of these letters, and then have my summers, and years if I write during the year, scattered all over my hard drive. This is much prettier. I also love the open audience.|
These past few days have been lazy as usual. Not like I don't have enough to keep me occupied. I had an allergy test this morning, my first in seven years. They poked my arm with little plastic things that really weren't all that sharp, but the histamines made it blow up like a mosquito bite times 500. Itchy! At least now I have prescriptions for medicine so I won't die when I go stay at Olivia's house while PYO is rehearsing in a week or two.
Allison and I are working on making a cookbook with all our favorite recipes (mmm) and are asking for contributions--if you have a good recipe, please! send it to me! Ari called me up the other day and managed to scrounge together a group to play Diplomacy at Stoll's house. Like old times almost, except that Ari and Stoll and I were the only experienced players; the rest were mostly Memorial (Madison HS) boys (I, as most often happens, was the only girl). Which meant that we kicked ass both times (we played two nights; Ari and I as Russia and Italy declared a joint victory the first, and I had to concede to Stoll and Ari as Italy and Germany when I played England last night). I love kicking ass. It was also very good to be back in touch with those boys. I haven't seen them in too long, and I somehow had managed to forget what great friends they are.
Allison and I primed my car, having wax-and-grease-removed it, sanded, and then re-wax-and-grease-removed. The torrential rains of a couple nights ago washed all of the primer off--fuckin' all of it!--and so we're now waiting for the weather to let up.
Tonight it rained. By 'rain' I do not mean the pithy dropping of condensed moisture (around dirt, Allison told me!) from above. By 'rain' tonight I mean torrents, sheets of water being dumped from the sky, as if a crazy sorceror's apprentice were sluicing gallon upon gallon down from his megalomaniac somnolence, all landing on my winshield. Consistently. I drove back with my mom at twenty miles an hour as she braced herself against the dashboard. I must give her credit, I guess--she's gotten so much better from the old teaching-me-to-drive-stick days. She was shaking by the time we got home; I was fine. I guess I shouldn't have been--we drove through small lakes, I shit you not: water up to the grill and beyond sometimes in the low areas of Monroe and Nakoma. I picked her up at six-thirty and insisted we drive back before the storm hit; we delayed just long enough to be out in the thick of it. For some reason we decided not to try the sinuous and steep Glenway, and as we drove past the top on our circumnavigation, we realized it had been a damn good thing--a huge tree was down across it, blocking all exit and functioning as a mini-dam. We would have had to back down the street in the small hurricane. It was so pretty out, all the water cascading off everything, flooding the golf course, creating huge spray as cars plowed through it. I guess it wasn't pretty if you got stuck. But I was enjoying it.
So in all this rain, I get home and begin to think about dinner. It still sloshes down and I can see the Disnified Mickey standing on a tall wooden chair, summoning up waves to the crash of cymbals. The doorbell rings. Whom could this possibly be, out in this weather (save Lear, shouting Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! / You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout / Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks!)? Ah, of course--it is my silly Benjamin, home from Harvard. He and Mike Gilles stand on my porch and look sillily jocund as usual. I make dinner, eat it, and the three of us and my mom begin to fall into a discussion touching on economic theory, the gestalt of the times and a society's ability to recognize its own state while living it, etc. Fun. I like my boys. Ben and Mike and I decide to go see Timecode in an hour or so. It strongly resembles American Beauty that I saw a few days ago (Claire W, are you counting? This makes two movies in the theatre so far this summer!)--the senselessness of it all, the ending--but in a much more self-referential, post-modern way. I'm venturing that Timecode is the artsy version of A.B., which was made and packaged for the Hollywood audience. Perhaps that's a stretch but I think it parallels nicely. Read the review even if you don't see the movie.
I realized this evening that the majority of the people I've been seeing since I got back--seeing as in actively seeking out company of, not just running into or having a five-minute conversation with (though I certainly enjoyed talking to Liz Maier today about Whitman and Copland's different personifications of the American culture when she came just to pick up a phone directory--hehe, I love my friends)--have been boys. For the previous two or three nights I've spent two evenings in the company of six boys playing Diplomacy (and then later watching La Femme Nikita reruns with Ari and Stoll), and then tonight it was Ben and Gilles. This is all of course excepting Allison; however, it's weird. I have such a balance of genders at Swarthmore. I think actually that I do here, too, it's just that they're all out of town ... or not back from school ... or maybe I just count Anna and Julie as more than one person, and I think they live in Madison (<-- untrue). Interesting to realize this.
I am going to try and get up at a decent hour tomorrow, thereby breaking the trend I seem to have lolled into of sleeping well past noon and going to bed well past two every night. Just for fun, so I get some more daylight. : )
June 6, 2000
|i have an ongoing battle with capitalization. Proper Nouns and the Beginnings of Sentences are fine, and I might go crazy if, like in German, every Noun were majiscule. however, this is english, and convention is not ridiculous. There are those, like my favorite edward estlin ("if there are any heavens my mother will (all by herself) have / one"), and also those whom I know who do not capitalize, and if they do only seldom. It is effective and stylistic, and I have only seen it used intelligently. Were it akin to dotting i's with hearts, I would deplore and dismiss it. But it holds its own--it is rather poised, not militant and conquering like the points of the impaling W's ad M's, the wide, bludgeoning hips of the S's or P's, or even the boulder O's. It is small and not demanding, only insinuating a curve with an appreciative mmmm or oooo; everything is softer. (Following this train of thought one can almost see why the Nazis came from a Germanic country.) I talked to chris fanjul today (on IM) and remembered that everything he writes is lower-case. The only capital letters I see in his emails are those that Eudora automatically inserts in the header. What was it I called it in my journal index? Lowercase poise? It is more of an insinuation than a statement. While talking to Chris, I find the shift key fast slipping under my pinky fingers; capitals fall from my typing. punctuation follows and soon i am left with a finely-puréed and well-steeped blend of words which become ideas which never quite take on the rigidity of sentences but continue to cascade over one another in a kalophony of clauses neologisms snuck in gliding straight by the reader who is at the point just scanning as xe would a poem feeling for meter and feeling the english consonants reverberate off the tongue as coleridge had so mastered (the fair breeze blew the white foam flew the furrow followed free / we were the first that ever burst into that silent sea) and i wonder if this is all due to the size of my letters. I am convinced somehow it does, and when Chris (ah, the sanity of form returns and I suddenly find myself sheltering in the cradle of my punctuation and capitalization) can produce a lucid thought, as he regularly does, without so much as a nod to custom, I wonder through what strict dictated channel my own writing, and hence thought processes, have been coming from and going to these years. Yet I can't quite do it. It begins to feel false after a while, especially when I'm not going for a different tone. Perhaps it's something you can teach yourself to acquire, as I acquired my handwritten capital F's, long and like a hugely-flourished 7, crossed (I once wrote a whole page for Lydia); perhaps it's more deeply-seated than that. Either way, I respect chris (and cummings, bien sûr) for their style. For now I suppose it must remain a point of mystery to me. |
Allison and I finished Oda a la Cocina today, our 185-page cookbook on which we have been toiling for the past two weeks. It includes recipes that we have collected over the years, our favorites and our friends' favorites. We dropped it off at Kinko's to be copied and bound at two a.m. this morning. The dude behind the counter, with a blond goatee who had techno playing off a loud mp3 in the background, did not look too happy with us. I hope they do it well. It's gorgeous--replete with Neruda, a dessert section which is a good 1/3 to 1/2 of the entire book, gado-gado, puppy chow, sushi, the best. I'm so excited for it.
Now of my large projects only two remain: my dress and my car. I'm sewing a dress of beautiful brown-orange material, lightweight, with willow leaf patterns on it. I was going to rough it and go in spelunking without a a pattern, but my mom said no, and bought me one. Nice, too, I must admit. Not much left there--sew the skirt together, onto the bodice, affix zipper. It will match my orange car:
which is now covered with three coats of fiesta naranja (about the color of this page, if you're using netscape) and is ready for the red-and-yellow swirlies, which will come tomorrow. We are getting so many looks from passers-by who slow their cars down to gawk, or whose babies on their backs say mommy, what is that?, or who simply stop walking their dog and look at the weirdos up on the roof of a car, slathering on this noxious color (Bryan admitted it could have been heinous or cool and it turned out the latter). So much fun.
Bryan came by, as I said, and took me and Allison to Ruth Horrall's senior voice recital at Oakwood. They've redone the stage, but what hasn't changed is the old people who sit in the back row so they can't hear, and then mumble "what just happened? what did she say?" throughout the entire show. The singers were good, not much improved from past years as a group, but greatly individually. It was cool to see how much Todd Boyce had progressed, for example. But mostly, aside from enjoying the actual performance, I enjoyed the perspective the whole thing afforded. I know I keep harping on this, but it keeps coming in such different doses at such unexpected moments. Seeing this puts Swarthmore's music department in perspective, puts my own high school music training in perspective, just lets me see everythig from a better, more-healthy angle. Perspective, I have decided, is good. I'm a big fan.
Strange coincidence: I've been just going through my book of Bach's chorales that we used in theory all year, playing them (or trying to), and last night I came up on one that was in St. John's Passion! It was neat--it's the one that goes "verlacht, verhund, und verspeit" (or whatever the words are; i'm just trying to transliterate in my miserable German) at the end. Which was really weird, because I was thinking of that chorale earlier that day. I was flipping through the book, only vaguely lookin for titles I recognized some words of, or ones that were fewer than two systems long because I didn't think I could prolong modulations that long and still retain some sense of the tonic with my pitifully-slow playing, and I randomly stopped on this one. As I began to play it that chorale came back to my mind, but I didn't recognize it (I guess I wouldn't necessarily, having played the viola part before). I only got it on the part where I knew the text, and then was quite surprised. Strange how these little coincidences keep us on our toes.
This in honor of Hollis and Yevgeny--I am now introducing a Random Russian Guy into my journal. I don't yet know what to call him, though. Please VOTE and tell me which you prefer!
Random Russian Guy:
Please submit your vote! Then I can choose a name for my Random Russian Guy, and he can begin appearing in my chronicles like Yevgeny does in Hollis's. (For the skeptical, those are all actual Russian names, found here.)
That is all. Good night.
June 9, 2000 The vote is in, I suppose, and given that only two people voted for the same thing, I must call my Random Russian Guy no longer by an acronym but by his democratically-selected name: Bydywojo. Look for him to appear randomly and enigmaticaly throughout these pages.
Mark Samuels is a complete enigma. I have not seen the boy in a year--two even (he is a laconic correspondent at best)--and he has not changed. Grown more entrenched in his nihilism, lack of faith, and disillusionment, yes; reversed any of that, no. In high school the thing he most needed was challenged. He is one of the most brilliant people I know, has easily the largest working vocabulary of any of my friends, and is bored out of his skull wherever he goes. Memorial was far below his level, as was the bulk of West. College seemed like the ideal cure, the panacea that it would be for me, but I guess Hampshire and Swarthmore do not exist in parallel universes. Mark is still bored, and not happy. Mildly apathetic but so intelligent that apathy in him takes the form of disillusionment. But why he is an enigma is not his intelligence level or its contrast to that of everyone around him--why he is an enigma is his acceptance of the situation. He is majoring in nothing yet but calls it "neo-liberalism," and if nothing arrives to shake him and arouse some sense of self-worth in him, I believe he is going to keep plodding along chez Hampshire, not even getting the best grades (but not for lack of intelligence!). I suggested transferring. He said he's considered it. I suggested Swarthmore, explained why ... I don't know if it would totally jive with him--sure wouldn't boost his ego, any--but damn, it would challenge him. It does everybody; that's why they go there. Because they, like him, were not challenged in high school, and wished they were. So now they're at Swat and loving it, and Mark is at Hampshire and sits across the low table in Espresso Royale from me, telling me how he wouldn't get in. Which is ridiculous. That boy is an enigma.
I had coffee with Mark yesterday. I suppose it was only yesterday, the eighth of June, though it feels farther away--maybe because I'm a thousand miles away. I've managed t conflate the geographic and the chronological in my sleep-addled, aestival state. We made the plans to do it via IM a few nights before at 3:30 AM--he would pick me up at 1:00, and we'd go get coffee at "Assisi or some such haunt" (his words; typical). I woke up that morning (late as usual, not late for anything but just later than I'd intended. I love the luxury of sleeping in these days) and realized I was flying out in eight hours, and had to pack! take garbage out! return my CD's to the library! call my credit card company, the bank, the DMV, etc., etc., ... so I accomplish about none of this, and am beginning to make a list of things to pack at one o'clock. At 1:20 I'm still working on it and am rather mad that Mark hasn't shown up--he's a terrible correspondent, and I had wondered if he had made this date just to break it to prove a point or something. But no, the doorbell rings about 120 seconds after I've left a not-particularly-nice message on his answering machine, and there he is, unchanged in a year. His hair might be a little shorter. He might be a little shorter (I might be a little taller). Same self-conscious grin, adorable as always before. All my resentment melts away and I give him a hug, grab my bag, and we go out, passing the newly-painted objet d'art in the driveway. --As Allison and I realized, though by covering my behemoth of an Olds with latex paint we are really decreasing its blue-book value, we are in fact increasing its artistic value. After this thing finally falls apart, we can sell it at some sort of show (SOFA? I would love to have a piece at SOFA, having frequented that show for so many Septembers at Navy Pier!) for far more than its driving worth. Heh. --So Mark and I leave, me looking lovingly at my car, and we begin to drive downtown. I tell him I have no time and he says neither does he, really, and we converse about our lives, eventually wandering up and down State Street, looking vainly for Café Assisi, which has mysteriously receded into the mists (we settle for Espresso Royale, where we find two unoccupied armchairs with a low table between them. I have an iced chai latte, which is both redundant and a misnomer (redundant in that chai by definition contains milk; a misnomer in that 'latte' has come to imply coffee, which my drink does not contain); he has a strawberry Italian Soda whose top third is all seltzer water and whose bottom is all syrup). It's very good to see him again. I wish he weren't an awful writer of emails--as he is, they are extremely few and incredibly far between--so I could actually keep up with the boy. Aside from the self-worth issues mentioned above, we get along so well ... or at least i think we do ... the point being, i miss him.
I got back at 2:30, right as Allison was coming over with a piece of hot rhubarb crisp from Jessica to help me pack, and began to throw things in suitcases. My dad arrived at 4:20 or so and I was packed. The only thing so far that I've remembered that I've forgotten is my Berlitz Italian tapes. My Italian's not poor, but it's not really conversational, either, and I'd've liked to rectify that before I actually go there again in a few weeks. I can probably find them from the library but that's not a huge deal right now.
Planes boring. Tiny commuter jet to my connection in Cleveland; the baggage gorilla standing by the entrance tried to get me to check my viola. Nunh-unh, mister, I am not giving you my baby. My baby was instead crammed into the tiny overhead bin (I had to hold my music on my lap for it to fit). Out to New Jersey, Philadelphia actually, where Olivia and her father met me at the airport. O. and I stayed up until two or so on her screened-in porch, talking. Objectivism, sex, religion, the gamut. Good to talk again.
Today, Friday, I slept until one-thirty (I was going to wake up earlier, really I was, but then what's the point ...?) and then rose, showered, dressed, ate five pieces of sushi I'd brought with me on the plane and one brown sugar cube (mmmm) and left to figure out PETCO, the New Jersey high-speed line into philly. Not too bad but damn was it hot outside. Walked three quarters of a mile to get there, and then sat on trains into the city and out of it again into Swarthmore. On SEPTA I saw Bydywojo and Surfer Ted, who didn't deign to acknowledge me. Stupid swimmers. I felt immediately completely oriented in the city, at home on the campus. As if I hadn't left almost. I think I'm going to develop homes in a few places ... I guess most adults do. I haven't really experienced that phenomenon before, though, having lived nineteen years in Madison, WI. Fresh-cut grass getting in my sandals as I cut across the Mertz; Parrish looming up large and whitewashed and academic at the top of the hill; Hollis's "happy little trysting spot" tree whose seven-or-nine-fingered leaves are green in the spring, purple in the summer, and turn a brilliant orange-brown come autumn so I can pluck fistfuls at a time of its profuse branches and pin them into my hair, dyed "Moroccan Cherry" for the season; the belltower hot and dormant, a pillar of sun-baked stone ringing the hour; the rose garden actually in bloom and smelling sweet and pungent; adirondack chairs vacantly dotting the verdant beach; Lang smelling ever of old scores and instruments, the distinct combination that characterizes every music building I've been in; even Willets looking cheerful for the summer. No waves of nostalgia, just a settled feeling, again as if I hadn't left. My viola in the sunlight smelled precisely of the Summer Music Clinic sessions I used to attend at UW-Madison--of hot, thin wood and rosin. We played from the Irma Clarke wedding album for the bride and groom for half an hour, and then trekked down to the drugstore (I was so hungry I bought and demolished a Snickers bar) to buy binders for the music so the pages wouldn't fly off as they had been today. Trains back to Philly, then to Haddonfield. So much commuting for so little time playing! I'm used to it what with my usual Saturdays during the year, but I keep forgetting how spread out the east coast is like that. It's rather a backwards phenomenon, really--towns are much farther apart in the Midwest and in a lot of the West (though perhaps not the coast), there is more space between things and people, but everybody can get anywhere they want to go by driving half an hour. You can walk most places. On this coast of the country, everybody lives in cute little New England commuter towns and takes trains into work. It's no surprise to have to travel two hours to get downtown for a gig. Two hours from Madison puts me in Appleton!
Back chez Grubers I made spaghetti for dinner, Morgen (aged 16, sister of O) commenting on the differences in style. Ate while watching Breakfast at Tiffany's, which I hadn't seen before. Mrs. Gruber (Trish--strange somehow that parents should have first names) commented on the fact that it was just like home, eh, eating in front of the TV? I didn't tell her that no, I never watched TV, and we barely had a working one in my house. They're being very nice to me, the Grubers, putting me up, and I think I'm going to enjoy my stay here. I am so far. (Especially now that I have cat medicine! which is working! Claudia, their upstairs cat, comes and rubs against my leg and begs to be petted, and purrs. I greet her in Italian and practice the rolled r's and palatalized n's on this cat, whose nome is so italian. And I'm not allergic.)
I am currently reading A Romantic Education by Patricia Hampl. Deals partly with her Czech heritage and Prague, so I thought hell, now's as good at time as any. I'd tried to read it before but gotten lost in her descriptions of grandmothers' gardens and her nightly pursuit of some unnamed aesthetic during her breaks at her first news paper job, and had put it down. Now I'm liking it. I found in it a further justification, a validation if you will, of my journal:
| The self-absorption that seems to be the impetus and embarrassment of autobiography turns into (or perhaps always was) a hunger for the world. Actually, it begins as a hunger for a world, one gone or lost, effaced by time or a more sudden brutality. But in the act of remembering, the personal environment expands, resonates beyond itself, beyond its "subject," into the endless and tragic recollection that is history.|
Yes, and again I am vindicated. I like Hampl's prose. Good thing, too, because I had a lot of train time today during which to read it. Tomorrow we (PYO) have two rehearsals, and Sunday one, but this week I'm going to need the library. Hurrah for books.
Olivia tells me there's a hot cellist to be seen tomorrow, and I play a wedding. I shall wear my orange sundress which i just created and finished restitching (not the hem yet; fuck the hem) and braid my hair upside-down and around my head like a crown. Buona notte.
june eleven, two thousand
I have tried in vain to find an ftp client for Olivia's monstrosity of a computer, this archaic Packard Bell running windows 3.1. I was proud that I managed to download a telnet client after much search. I've had to relearn how to use the platform! It's been so long. And now I cannot connect to any ftp sites from her slow, slow browser. To sign online, I've created a new AOL screen name for myself--friends, check for V10L4 on IM when you're on. But I'm going to try writing this all on my computer, saving it as html format, then putting it on a disk and onto the behemoth on the other desk, emailing it as an attachment to myself from AOL, then moving the file to my web-docs directory in sccs. Oy vey, too much work. And all I ask for is a stupid ftp client! Rar.
PYO has been rehearsing like mad now in preparation for the tour. Yesterday, Saturday, we had two rehearsals: one from 9 - 12, and the other directly afterwards, from 1 - 4. I had to leave at 3:30 (Oliver's mom picked me up) to go play a wedding in the Rose Garden at Swat. Today was from 2 - 5; come Wednesday we begin daily 4 - 7 rehearsals. It's good to be playing with that group again. They're such great players, and under a brilliant (if lecherous) old man. The program looks like this so far as I can remember it:
|Tchaikovsky||Symphony No. IV|
|Smetana||2 dances from the Bartered Bride|
|Dvorák||3 Slavonic Dances|
|Verdi||Aïda, Act II Finale|
|Simon Boccanegra, some aria|
|Don Carlo, Ella giammai m'amo|
|Puccini||La Bohème, Vecchia zimmara, senti|
|Sousa||Stars & Stripes|
|some Italian guy||Some march|
|?||Liberty Bell March|
That oughta be enough ...
I love playing with them, as I said. The brass is mostly new, "ringers" as Sarah Ioannides used to call them (or was it "wringers?"--never could tell orally; plus she got it from Bydywojo, so who knows?), and they're great. We played the opening few bars of the Tchaik yesterday:
laaaaa, la-la-la la la laaaaaaa, la-la-la la la fa-sol, la la, fa ti-la, sol-la, fa doooo, ti la so fa mi re do ti la so fa ...and the brass absolutely nailed it. When we came to the string chord, that first F where the entire string section uses their whole bows on an eighth note, we stopped, stunned at what we had just done, and then jabbered excitedly for a minute. This is going to rock. I'm very excited about the tour.
I'm meeting a few cool kids, too. Jacob is back from Drexel, as promised. The old principal violist, Carolyn, is on tour too, replacing Andrew Holland. Carolyn reminds me a lot of Rebecca Pifer and is attending Johns Hopkins with a music minor at Peabody. Neat girl. I was originally slated to room with the Havard-bound concertmistress, Julie Hackenbracht, but her friend Kate ('nother violist) came up to me and said Nori, would you mind if we switched rooms? i'm rooming with Erin (McNeely, much nicer violist)--and i said sure, that'd be great. Heh. Thatwas solved easily. I don't know why they didn't put me and Olivia together in a room, because we both requested it, but I guess they're just dumb. They can be.
Yesterday between rehearsals I got a "hoagie" as they're called out here (damn regionalisms) and ate it on the grass on Rittenhouse Square, reading my book. I love summer like that. It was a good sandwich (from Superior Pasta Co., on Locust between 20th and the square): smoked mozzarella, sweet red peppers, artichoke hearts, delicious olive oil. I ate it on the grass, hot from the sun pouring down on the tented art show dotting the paths of the square, beneath a tree. I slept for about 10 minutes afterwards. So lovely. The wedding was, too. Donna Jo [Napoli]'s son; in the rose garden at swat. Broiling hot. We wore sundresses and things (I wore the one I'd made!) and french-braided my hair upside-down into a crown. It was a nice ceremony: white gown for the bride, blue satiny ones for the bridesmaids (all stitched by DJ herself i heard!). We played easy Corelli stuff as the guests walked in; Pachabel as the bridal procession came in, and then each member of the wedding party read from a poem they'd picked out (ranging from Gibran to cummings) on love, or marriage, or some equally-appropriate theme. The judge (no minister) married them with the traditional liturgy, but replaced "lawful" for "holy" in "holy matrimony" and a few other places. It was really neat; I want a secular wedding like that. Brandenburg III as they walked out. $50 and fun; we relaxed on the adirondack chairs afterwards. We damn near died in the sun though.
Today, the eleventh (sunday), more PYO. Arias and marches. Trips to the WaWa across the street at break. I'm going to enjoy tour.
June 14, 2000 To my right is a painting of a cat sitting on a table, presiding menacingly over five oranges, two lemons, and twelve stalks of asparagus. Asparagus, Ben Wikler told me, is one of the few foods in Western Culture (I suppose it gets a capital C--go read Ishmael) which it is not only polite but mandatory to eat with one's fingers. His grandfather, or uncle, or some Wikler or MacDonald, was a foreign diplomat and was married to the woman who literally wrote the book on etiquette for diplomats' wives. He divorced her, perhaps sick of being reprimanded about which fork to use when, and ironically remarried the woman who was to write the revision. Must have been fate. Either way, Ben possesses this tidbit of knowledge, which he imparted during our graduation dinner (treat of Lynn) at Coyote Capers on the east side, and which I gleefully impart in turn to all who will listen whenever I eat the food. Or whenever I look at it, I suppose--this painted cat will surely not listen, but if it's anything like the cats I now encounter on a daily basis here at the Gruber's, it wouldn't care anyhow. Cats are an etiquette unto themselves.
Claudia is the sleek cat with blue eyes (round, yellow circles in the wrong light--we learned about the tapetums of cats and cows in eighth grade science, but they still shock me) which haunts the upstairs. There's another one whose name begins with a Z who lives in the basement; apparently he is not couth enough to come upstairs. I am taking Zyrtec and Rhinorcort in order to live with them for these two weeks. A shame that I'll never really be able to have cats, that I'll grow immune to this medicine within a matter of months. Cats are so --ha, I was about to write, feline, but to do such would be circular. Cats are, as anyone who has read anything or owns a cat knows, mysterious and feminine, adding, perhaps, to the much-celebrated mystique of our sex. From the Egyptian Bast to the Cheshire cat, they grin and purr and fascinate. How did I miss all this? I suppose I've had a dog for seven years, or rather had, and was always allergic to the fabulous creatures. I like having Claudia around. I address her in Italian--such a name for it!--and pet her head while she meows for more.
This painting is really nothing special. Elizabeth Osborne, it says, "Still Life With Cat," watercolor, 1979. Was in the Fischbach Gallery at 29 West 57th Street in New York, four months before I was born. I would like to paint. This house, while completely devoid of books (see polemic below), does have a fair amount of art in it. To be sure, there's the cat paraphernalia (a whole halfbath is devoted to the animal), but there's far more Picasso, a Cézanne, and a nice impressionist, half-miró, half-gaugin one in her parents' bedroom which I like. M-something, six letters. I think I'm going to stretch a canvas or two when I get back to Madison. Having suffered through several HS art classes (Mr. Parkel's was not suffering, but Mr. Wo's definitely was) and having now painted a car, I think I can take this on. (Plus, if I'm going to call myself a polymath I've got to earn it somehow.) Just some balsa wood, a few nails, and cheap muslin maybe. Medium? Acrylics are boring and rather expensive; oils are expensive (plus I've never worked with them); perhaps I'll just stick in the latex realm of exterior house paint (which I use as exterior car paint and Alana used as exterior closet paint, hehe), which I know and love, and dabble with that. No brushes, of course. Fingers. After the initial orange was on the car, we tried to use brushes, but very quickly lapsed back into the old digital control of the fingers. Old habits die hard I guess. : )
I finished A Romantic Education yesterday, or maybe the day before. Reviewed it as I always do in my List of Books Read (in Microsoft Works format), which is rather obsessive I suppose, but has sprung from the compulsive list-making tendencies I have. It's a nice record of the books I've read over the past few years, at least. It was a nice book, I concluded:
Nice book. Kind of self-absorbed they way memoir is, without much unifying it save the presence of the author in the narrative; its sections are kind of disjointed, ununified. Not fabulous but not bad, either. I like her language, her sense of metaphor, though it can get a little overloaded at times. I read it right now because of my imminent voyage to Prague, and it hasn't shed a ton of light on the city but has perhaps provoked further reading. Pretty good book.Anyhow, upon completion, I looked around for something to read. I wanted to keep vaguely in the Czech vein so I ruled out my Shostakovitch biography, Testimony, the only other book I'd brought with me--I'll just use the library, said I, I won't weigh my suitcase down with unnecessary books. Ha. Easier said than done. Olivia drove me to the Haddonfield Public Library yesterday, and I would have laughed HARD if it hadn't been so unfunny. My mother's house has more books than that tiny little building. Such a poor collection. Lots of Danielle Steele; virtually nothing. As it turned out i found a good book or two but couldn't check them out. Not a resident of Haddonfield. My host didn't have a card (or rather, did, but it had lots of fines on it) and didn't have ID so I couldn't get a card even as a guest. Poop on them! Olivia said, consolingly, that I could check out her shelves and find something to read there. Surely I would find at least one book. But no. There are no books in this house.
crisis! crisis! red alert! no books to read! crisis!
I felt like Susie from CTD Equinox '96 when she lost the book she was reading at Lakefill and said she felt "purposeless without her novel." (She found it a few days later.) So today I went into the city early, and went to Borders on walnut street (where I noticed Bydywojo perusing the self-help section), and bought Nicholson Baker's The Fermata (author of The Everlasting Story of Nory, hehe), a cute father's day card for my dad (which, like a good daughter, I mailed off today), and my THIRD copy of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I haven't read it yet; there's no reason why I should own three copies (although I've heard tell it's a fabulous book, so it may merit it) but I wanted to read it NOW (czech author, have run across it recently recommended by many places/books/people) and hadn't packed either of my copies (which i think are actually my mother's), so I bought it. La la la. Went to Capriccio (this cute little coffee store on 17th & locust where Olivia and I would eat breakfast when we had to take the train in during the year) and had a cup of chai while I began the fermata. reading is lovely.
My legs are waxed up to the knee. Mostly. It's weird. I can't quite reconcile this beauty/pain thing this culture has going hard. Why do I shave? Well, I don't, or didn't until this year (I suppose I have to say 'last year' now) Hallowe'en when I was sitting in a lecture on gender identity politics or something an suddenly felt a powerful urge to shave my legs. Took me about two hours, but I did. Continued to sporadically until maybe late February, early March, and then quit, again inexplicably. This legwaxing thing is equally random. Who knows? Who will ever know? Not i. Will perhaps plumb these hairy depths at a later time.
More rehearsing today. Will be one a day from now till when we leave. We worked on Tchaikovsky --only tchaik? i think so; he talked a lot; let us out early-- for the entire time. It's got a ways to go, but it's still better than we've played it before. I must say, the piccolo in the third movement blows me away every time. She rocks at that brutal, two-bar solo out of nowhere. During the fourth movement, there's a place before letter G where the basses and celli are supposed to be sustaining a low pedal tone--must be the dominant, so I guess it's a C (i forget; wasn't paying attention today) --HEY, SONATA FORM! WOO-HOO! Tom, I wish you were reading this. See, I did learn something in your class! Hollis, I know you're reading this, or at least were until two sentences ago, at which point you fell out of your chair laughing at me, and then when you finished that, started singing violin I line to the Mozart Clarinet Quintett. Get over it. ;-) Check this out! The Tchaikovsky 4th Symphony, movement IV, is in sonata form!
fa, mi, re is the main theme. And then it does all this crazy shit,
re-do-ti-la sol do fa!
la-la-la-la sol, fa-fa mi re (ping ping ping!) (B theme) and then goes back, and there's a huge Dominant Pedal (sure sign of a retransition, says Tom), and then it does the opening eight bars again, but instead of staying in the original key, it goes up a third the second time round! ("Relationships of thirds by and large supplanted the tonic-dominant key relationships in the sonata form in the late 19th century.") Hehe. And I thought i was all that, and I just figured this out. That rocks. --Anyhow, during the retransition, hehehe, the celli and basses have this dominant pedal, hehe, which they sustain for a good 15 measures. It's supposed to crescendo and be the point on which the whole orchestra gravitates back to the recapitulation, but it had been kind of wimpy. Primavera told them to make it louder (not his words, I'm sure; he probably said something like "pound the shit out of it!"), and when we did it again, the room started to shake a little and the pedal grew and grew and made the whole passage live, jump off the page, shaking with wild russian passion, and whiz from seat to seat making bows stab and rosin fly and our old italian man's hair spring in different directions (so later he was forced to pull his sketchy little comb out of his pocket to smooth it back into place). I had a huge grin on my face as it started to happen, and I turned to my stand partner Erin and gestured wildly to her to check out the bass we got going! and my face continued to light up all the way to the end of the passage and beyond. When we had pounded the shit out of the last chord of the piece and the rosin was settling from the air onto our fingerboards and bridges, Primavera said, see? wasn't that great? --i saw you grinning, pointing at me. Damn straight I was. : ) That was fabulous. I hope we can do that every time. More tomorrow, alleluia, and the next day, and the next, and all over Prague and Italy. Joel Blecher and Richard Tayar are going to come see our show in Fiesole! Joel is living in Vienna, a Swattie of '04, and Richard, swattie '03, lives in Fiesole. "Enchanting," he says about the ancient, outdoor amphitheatre in which we're going to perform. I hope they feel the rumbling in their 2000-year-old Etruscan seats when we hit that dominant pedal.
June 16, 2000 Pumpkin Pancakes
two cups of flour it calls for:
two vases daisies counted leaf-by-leaf
accurate like a magic 8-ball
tulips from the bunny-inhabited garden
(i ran at them screaming obscenities in french this afternoon)
ground up and poured measure by measure into the clean white bowl
sunlight comes into the hot kitchen like butterscotch,
beginning to melt this Chelsea morning
and lighting the bowl so an aureole of white flour appears, hallowed, around the rim
two tablespoons of sugar
pewterware off the gingham dining room table
used this evening for twirling spaghetti against (a new way)
and now for measuring--
i could grind up brown sugar cubes in against the mill of my tongue
letting the raw crystals slide out of formation and down my throat
four teaspoons of baking powder
this spoon from the saucer of an english cup
sporting earl grey and a smart double-breasted bowler
as it sips the biscuits under its parasol
to make the pancakes rise
one teaspoon cinnamon
ah but here it is imperative that you mistake the two kinds of spoon
conflating the italian with the english
and confusing the long strands of pasta for the short one of the teabag
and by some mistake
pour a whole tablespoon into the yet-dry ingredients,
the first color (unless i used brown sugar) thrown on the gesso of the flour
textures meshing, powder against powder
this last potent spice to burn the unsuspecting breakfast tongues
(the variety of life)
one and one-half cups of milk
olivia threw out the last slosh of the gallon tonight (it had "gone bad"--
milk never sours in my house, and we always have garlic and honey
though looking for japanese rice in an an Acme last night had its own frustrating charm)
will perhaps use apple juice as a substitute
one cup pumpkin purée
hollowed on the eve of all hallows
from a grinning face
the mash that was his brain becomes my breakfast
four eggs, separated
the yellow and the white divorced from themselves after so many years of marriage
sorted by color, one to be beaten until stiff (but not dry, cautions Joy)
the other to beam a prism of sunny sides
one-fourth cup butter
margarine might do
i hope it does
the perfect prelude to a full day of tchaikovsky and verdi. i hope olivia likes them.
all this ©nori heikkinen, June 2000