december, 2000

Sunday, December 3, 2000, 26:00 AM

domesticity hits. cookies being made in the kitchen, and i'm in the vivaldi mood--i used to have two discs of his cello sonatas, and the early classical thick minor arpeggios prompted to steal my first few CDs from my parents--so i have his stabat mater on winamp. (couldn't deal with the symphonic rep test list right now, too romantic for the weekend of beethovenWagnerBrahmsTchaikovsky, so it's Vivaldi, pergolesi, and Mozart 40 & 41.) baking smells wafting in through my open door, amelia's got the domestic urge, and laurel rubs my tense neck (she's wearing my huge cotton sweater) and i rest my head against her ribcage and it's very good to have the christmas season of cold noses, frigid tingly legs in black stockings walking into the crispness post-concert. the best is crunching through the snow, slightly glazed over with ice which reflects a light glow of the streetlights, walking around the patches of ice on the sidewalk, black skirt sticking out from under a heavy coat and your hair and eyes done. done with the performance and the lobby is full (Mills in Humanities at Madison; Lang in Lang at Swat) of people parents friends small violinists all smiling and talking and warm orange carpet or polished wood floors, a table of cookies and a glow of it's all over and there's snow through the huge panelled windows (onto the courtyard, onto the face of the building) but for now we're all in warm black, still warm with the friction of our bows on the strings, with the concentration of a full symphony. the heat it takes mentally to get through a page of music with constant eighths going, pulsing so regularly like a cat's heart, feline in its poise. to funnel every active energy into the patterns on the page that your fingers know but your eyes are still reading (it takes more when you haven't actually practiced your part since the last time you played it, two years ago). and the chords come. they're in your fingers, the root-third-fifth(-seventh) of any harmony and in any neighboring key, your ear hearing the modulations slighly before your fingers, which respond without prompting to the aural impulses instigated by the horns, flutes, violins. so many mozartean overtures and beethovenian string quartets that i've stopped having to think about it--but still, putting your mind in that groove and keeping it there for an hour and a half is so satisfying (you start playing not on your instrument, but on yourself (there are f-holes in my back))--and yet so taxing. you stand up afterwards, and you can't beam at the audience--too drained--even if you know it went well. you go home and slowly come off the high, down from that mathematical, spine-tingling groove, and are rendered nonfunctional for the rest of the evening.

--i must do less of this, or i will burn out.

but in the meantime, i love beethoven's ninth. even if with it comes eight hours of rehearsal and two concerts in one weekend.

lemon ginger cookies. not as exotic as they sound and so much more. joy of cooking white bound paper and chocolate-stained cover in my mother's kitchen, and at the same time european tang of sugar and candied ginger, maybe they wave palm fronds in a tropical breeze, i don't know, but the christmas whereëver they're from is both mine, snowed and silverbranched and tinsful of cookies from neighbors, shovels--or from someplace where the evergreens are by no means the only verdure of the season. i can't tell. but laurel makes an damn exotic sugar cookie. lemon icing. candied ginger. hallelujah, for the lord goddessOfCookies omnipotent reigneth.

three points define a plane, says laurel. she says, the most stable shape for load-bearing legs is a triangle. unfortunate that she's right. we're in the third person with each other as we exist and discuss in the first. i rather like it.

i am deathly afraid of cats. one came into the lodge today at laurel's coaxing, could have been the willets cat, and we tried to feed it warm milk but it turned up its nose at the inorganic WaWa. It purred around my room and the kitchen, sliding a little on the spilled olive oil (my broken glass record is not so great recently, or excellent, depending on which way you look at it) and finally padded up to laurel's bed. i was sprawled out on it and Cat nosed its head under my hand, purring. oh but i'm afraid of this miniature lion. so afraid of it. small rumbling lion, are you purring or are you going to bite me? i wonder if the cat is still under my table.

Tuesday, December 5, 2000, 25:59 AM

i just received a box of contacts in the mail. this is very good, because i've been rather bitter at Laurel since she threw mine out a month ago or so. I've since existed in glasses, which were really nice (good thing i got them redone a few years ago, just in case of some emergency like this), but i'd been wanting my old eyes back. And today they came, in a small box. I just put a pair in and now the world is much, much larger, and i am shorter. my computer screen (only 15") is huge, and the notes on the shostakovitch piano quintet viola part on my desk are the size of small peas, like the notes i learned Hot Cross Buns with when i was 3. The planes of everything around me shift drastically when I get up, and my head's slightly swimming.

I went to the [springfield] mall today with lisa [huang] and we looked for new pants (to no avail. I like laurel's. I want to steal them). my eyes were wide open in the store, staring appalled at the christmas displays, mannequin torsos in tight "chunky cotton" red sweaters, gold reflective bulbs hanging around their figures, showing my surpised upside-down visage, sans lunettes. my eyelids are stretched a little further than usual. lisa says, i need to close my eyes a little. i can't! everything's huge! The gaudy christmas leers out at me in ultra-3D, layered in infinite vanishing points. i try to retreat into my eyes but there's no longer the security of the glasses minify everything and keep it at safe distance. as we rise heavanwards on the escalator towards the towering aisles of cookware (oo, square griddle pans! blocks of knives!), my point of view changes hundreds of times per second, and the plane of my vision redraws itself so fast and in such large relief that my brain is stunned.

i like having my periphery back, but i'd forgotten how weird contacts are. i'm only slowly adjusting it. rory hypothesizes that everything does in fact retain its physical size, that it's just my eyes playing with my brain. he's probably right but i still can't get used to the number of dimensions in which i'm suddenly seeing.

The mall, though, aside from the amusement value it provided re the holiday red and visual stimulii, provided a small jolt of reality, or what masquerades as reality out there. Steve Dawson, graduated last year, came by a while ago and told me, "the real world is a cool, cool place. Be excited for it." I'm not so sure. If the real world includes about twenty girls in tiny little shirts, peroxided hair, and grossly overmade lips screaming because they get to be onstage with N'Sync at a concert, i mean reacting as if they just ... i can't even compare it ... as if they just cut football from swat, hehe. I'm so very pleased with that. I'm so in the minority. I'm really disregarding process and just being happy that a stupid team that i hate to begin with (not the individual people--at least not all of them--but the whole sport) is going to be gone. hehe, bad me. which is why i'm not being very vocal about it. kasia doesn't like it at all and lodge politics are a little tense right now. not very. --but these asinine bubbleheads on MTV--wow, if this is the real world, i'm very, very scared for it.

I have a tupperwareful of pierogies in my (kasia's--we're getting the fullsize one soon) fridge which i'm going to go consume. Xanthi is the cutest. Observe: (Both of these sent to the cantatrix list)

Date: 10/26/00
Subject: a really weird request ...

so i just read tomorrow's sharples menu-
um, if any of you happen to be eating lunch there tomorrow, (i mean today, thursday)could you maybe bring me back a few pierogies to rehearsal?

(sheepish grin)


Date: 12/5/00
Subject: heads up!perogies in sharples lunch today! ;-)

i'll be there procuring some myself
so don't worry about me,
concentrate on your own stashes!


I'm going to go eat some. I'm hungry. They'll probably be immense without my glasses.

(dude, this painting is mondrian! king of the white fucking squares! i'm impressed.)

Friday, December 8, 2000, 9:19 PM

ecco domani. It's already tomorrow (and tomorrow, actually, but i haven't yet hit rock bottom--it's still not tomorrow) and this is what should have gone up Friday but wasn't finished. More weekend to follow later.

9:19 PM on a Friday night and it feels like it should be Sunday night, except the weekend's just gearing up. The vibe on campus is the slighly more electric (yet still crazily stressed-out) unrest of the early weekend. The stress is on all levels--Mike Smith is worried about a paper; I'm worried about a few concerts; Galen's worried about getting the alcohol and SAC for his huge Frisbee-Rugby party tonight. I'm making baqlawa, or rather i suppose it's baklava, because i have no rose or orange water, the rose garden is dead and i can't make some, so i have to resort to the greek version of lemon juice and honey. I just made the syrup, having layered the phyllo dough (note the phi and upsilon; yeah, this is totally Hellinic) on top of crushed walnuts--courtesy of Laurel and her impromptu mortar and pestle of a small pyrex dish and large bowl. Just like my mother used to, does. Brushing clarified butter and oil onto ricepaper-thin layers of pastry and sprinkling it with walnuts. The kitchen smells like home. The syrup to pour over it smells like the inside of a small Greek restaurant, the pungent scalding-hot honey-lemon.

This is all for my Quintett concert tomorrow (the reception, at least). Jamboree is also in the making, which Cantatrix is hosting (i have to drop out next semester--much as i like singing, whatever free musical time I have now must be spent on viola). I needed to get rubber ducks for that today (for the Mixed Company intro), and ended up dispatching Alice Hershey to Target to get three "soft ducks" (she was going anyhow and was looking for a car; i leant her mine and reaped the benefits). So that off my shoulders. But still ... the detritus of last night's Grapevine dinner in my basement and on my kitchen, and Jenny couldn't clean up until after my library shift today so what with that and sound check with ellipsis (with whom Alyson and I are playing tonight on two songs), I couldn't start it until just now. Seven-fifteen, more like, but it's time-intensive. I'll be doing more tomorrow afternoon.

But, as I say, it's weird that it's the weekend still. I've been drunk two nights in a row now, not out of my gourd, but then again I never am. Just tipsy enough to make analyzing Schubert a little harder. :-) Wednesday night I went to Paces to find Laurel after my rehearsals ended. When I got there she was reading Dewey, though, and Adrian Daub, Rebecca Ennen, and Misha Horowitz (I know them less and less well, respectively) were discussing The Master and Margarita at another table, so I joined them.

Interjection: Can i just say how fucking frustrated I am with Russian Novel? Damn it all to hell. I took this class because of The Master and Margarita--i'd read it before but would have loved to have discussed it with a cool prof and in a cool class. But the first impediment was the cool prof. Thompson Bradley rocks, yes, but George Pahomov, the idiot they've imported from Bryn Mawr to joint-teach the class, just fucking babbles on. Babble babble freud babble abstract babble babble. He just spews out shit. (I drew a "George Pahomov Banana" the other day in class ... just decorated a yellow piece of fruit with random academic jargon he threw out.) Next there's the class size, and the class. There are maybe 30, 40 people in the class--far too big for a real discussion. We've had a few but it has ended up being dominated by Perry Grossman, who as far as I and that class is concerned, is the Devil = Woland = Mephistopheles = Satan = Perry Grossman. More on that later. But he will not shut the fuck up, and will just babble pretty-sounding shit. Third frustration: there is far too much reading to possibly do it all. We've read A Hero Of Our Time, Dead Souls, Home of the Gentry, Oblomov, Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, Envy, The Master and Margarita, A Day in the Life of Ivan D.. And I think I'm forgetting one or two. I've read maybe four and a half of those, if you count all the halves together. Soooooooo frustrating.

Anyhow, I joined Misha, Rebecca, and Adrian, and talked about The Master and Margarita for a spell. They proposed a question to open discussion tomorrow with: "If any Swat student were the devil, who would it be?" I immediately said, Perry Grossman. Ha. If he and I were perhaps a little different each, we might actually get along. But no, right now it's just kind of stupid and tacitly antagonistic. Whatever. That was a screw date gone wrong ;-). They laughed and Misha pulled out the Grey Goose as Adrian and Rebecca left slowly. I said, Misha, stay and talk to me! So he did. Random boy in my CA group with whom I've never really conversed before. Much fun. I went home, tried to analyze some Schubert for class in the morning, and put up the following away message on IM:

analyzing death and the maiden drunk on really expensive vodka. damn, life is good.

The next day in class, the three discussion leaders actually opened with that question. Some kid Adam in the class immediately says: "Perry Grossman." And then justified it with "well, he always makes you think he's talking about something beautiful, but then you realize it's just scatalogical or ugly or shit [or something]." Which was beautiful--not only because it was true, but of how Perry proved it half an hour later when Thompson Bradley invited him to explain the epigraph of the book (a quotation from Goethe's Faust) saying, Perry, you've been nominated the devil by popular consensus--why don't you tell us what you think of the epigraph? Perry obviously thought nothing of the epigraph, but it was damn funny to watch him tell us what came directly out of his ass. :-)

I watched Martha Graham's Appalachian Spring the other day with my beautiful Mike Smith, whom i never get to see. Craziness--i have so seldom seen ballet! The nutcracker once, I'm sure, and Balanchine's Symphony in Three Movements (Stravinksy) in new york with my college tour people (wiklers, anna, and alex jacobs), but other than that, nothing! Alana's dance concerts. No real Graham. Goddess but she's gorgeous. Goddess but Copland's simple counterpoint on the "gift ..." theme is so well-crafted and starkly gorgeous. In MG's honor, the background today [friday] is her.

Wednesday, December 13, 2000, 3:09 PM

Winter was hard, says the Kronos Quartet. I need to learn more about them. They are the coolest ensemble out there. I've heard a fair amount about eighth blackbird from the oberlin Con, but these guys (and woman) are the coolest in my ken.

I wanna be them when i grow up.

meantime i have to learn to play a little better. a billion and six concerts this past weekend, and while they all went well, i have work to do. Jury today. Hindemith's Trauermusik. And i played it passably. I didn't get nervous (a first), i didn't screw up anything, but my intonation on a couple of the high passages could have been better, as could have my tone ... yadda yadda. if i wanna play Pärt and Piazzolla with the big kids i gotta be better, better, better. This is what I think i want to do. I want to play with them, or sing with anonymous 4, who rock my world. both groups. quartets of such tight cool stuff. and at both ends of the spectrum--kronos doing the über-modern; a4 thumbing the codices from ancient convents for new material. So.

the Midnight Quintett's concert friday night was good. Damn good. I had a lot of fun. the house wasn't as full as it should have been, but then again we had four competing events that night. Still, people didn't come who really had no excuse not to, and i was kind of mad. julie, for example, just didn't show with denise--they were eating dinner at the barn with aryani. :-P stinkers. But we had a good show, no one fucked up much, and i was very pleased. Sunday was jamboree, and i really enjoyed wearing vynil pants, 4-inch heels, a dog collar, and whipping the Feet out onto stage. I think they did, too. I have 3 rubber duckies to show for the intro to Mixed Company, which are now floating in my toilet. :-) All the groups sang well and i went home and collapsed with a 100.1° fever, which then escalated overnight by half a degree. I'm better now, slowly, but damn, what a time for it to hit.

Last night was the last in the series of concerts for this semester--alyson's chamber orchestra doing elgar's serenade for strings and copland's appalachian spring. which both went well! everything seems to be just pulling itself together. Which is very cool. Alyson fed us camembert and brie and champagne last night, and then i went to bed--jury in the morning.

eight full hours of sleep and a very decent jury. Peter accompanying. Solid, as he said. We'll find out.

Now off to write papers before laurel's More Cookies Than God study break tonight. (Blasphemy, laurel ...) I have to write the paper for my jury, which still hasn't gotten done (naughty me)--but look!

"The whole series of plays [written by Hindemith] culminates in a longer piece in verse entitled Das Bratschenfimmel (The Viola Craze). In this an unhappy young bank clerk resolves to kill his hated boss by playing the viola in his presence until he can stand it no more. To accomplish this aim, the bank clerk goes around collecting violas by fair means or foul. During the operation a number of people perish, but the boss remains obstinately alive. In the end the bank clerk is reduced to despair and commits suicide by putting his head into a lavatory pan and pulling the chain on himself."

-- Skelton, Geoffrey: Paul Hindemith - The man behind the Music, Victor Gollancz Ltd., London, 1975, p. 31

ha ha. Maybe that's what I'll write my paper about. My strident tone on the A string was intentional--i was trying to kill you all to get out of doing my theory back-work ...

can i just say how much i love the internet? Mike smith was talking about a book the other day in underhill, which i then looked up on amazon, but was out of print, so i found on another random website for under $3 including S&H, and which showed up in a little brown-paper package in my mailbox today! I am so happy. "About the Author: Mark Vonnegut is the son of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. In 1969 he graduated from Swarthmore College. Bored with East Coast academia, suspicious of his father's sudden literary notoriety and determined to stay true to the principles of hippiedom, Mark headed for the wilds of British Columbia to build a commune and find his panacea. Two years later ... Vonnegut was ... diagnosed severely schizophrenic. The Eden Express, his first book, is his personal account of his bout with schizophrenia."

I'm going to read this as soon as I get done with my work. Documented evidence that Swat makes you go insane! And it's supposed to be wonderful, too. Winter is hard.

Thursday, December 14, 2000, 27:24 AM

an open letter to whoever lives with me:

squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom
and nobody gets hurt,

Friday, December 15, 2000, 25:05 AM

This shot was taken too late, and it was on eve's digital camera, so in this [background] image you don't get the full spectrum of oranges silhouetting the Tarble belltower to which laurel was referring this afternoon when she called me up (my fickle telephone was having a rare happy moment, and accepted a call) and said, "it would be a shame, a crime against nature, an abomination, and absolutely horrendous if you did not come outside immediately and look at the sunset."

This week is crushing down on me so fast, and so hard. So much to do. Analyze the entire first movement of the Appassionata, for example. :-( I won't enumerate. But--this term paper in Morphology had me in a small crisis for a while. It's still not handed in, and it was due Wednesday, but Donna Jo is the coolest person in the world and understands that 17,000 billion concerts and a jury all ending Wednesday are not exactly the best circumstances for writing a long, coherent paper. So I've got an extension. But as of Wednesday afternoon, I still had no topic! I was down in my room, quickly realizing that my halfbaked topic of nonsensical french poetry in translation and what it said about French morphology was complete crap and would not work. I started shrieking and stomped upstairs in my maroon fuzzy slippers with a book of Mallarmé on my head. Kasia looked up from her physics and asked what the matter. --Morphology. --Like, people morphing? --no, words, and bits of sound. I explained the dilemma. She said, do Polish! I know Polish! ....................................................... Hm, i ponder, and that drug-addict look creeps into my eyes. .............................................................. When Laurel comes back from her walk an hour later she finds me sprawled on Kasia's bed, a Polish grammar in my hand, lapping up the third Slavic language I've attempted in nine months. She does a double-take, screams, crack!, and takes the books away from me. Crack for Nori!, she yells: you're supposed to be writing a paper!. --Damn it, she's right.

So the next day I sit down with Kasia the native speaker and grill her about evalutive affixation in Polish. Specifically, diminutives. They actually are regular, pretty much, but behave oddly in certain environments. The paper's coming along. Slowly. Veeeerrrrrry slooooowwwwwwly.

I believe I'm getting a new viola teacher. Joe just isn't doing it for me, and, most famous in the world as he may be, he's an 81-year-old nasty man. I'd rather Judy Geist, who was highly recommended to me by both Sally Chisholm and Evelina Chao. She studied with Joe when she was younger, hated him, and left. This has promise. I called her today (my phone decided to work for 5 minutes). Olivia says I should listen to Primavera, who touts him every three seconds, but then again, we're not on the same page, as John perspecaciously pinpointed in his comments on my jury: "You are a thoughtful, music & poetic soul - this is always evident in your playing and countenance - expression & communication are your strong suit [yay!]. Also - what demands does your teacher make of you - Are you both interesed in perfect technique, big chops [such a john-ism], or are exploring literature and interpretation the main issue? I just want you both to be on the same page - either / both are fine, just so long as everyone is clear as to the goal." Yeah. I know i know i know. And Jim called me in to his office to talk to me today. Nori, why did you have a few intonation problems? That isn't like you. Are you doing too many ensembles; do you need a new teacher, &c. --He composed me an email recommending 4 viola teachers in the area (Judy Geist and three 2001ers). I think I have to listen to (a) him, (b) john, and (c) myself and stop giving an old nasty man my money to yell at me, and go to someone who will teach me the same things but in a much better manner. Rictor over the summer was so good for me. He was getting at the same things, just in a manner I could relate to so much better. I'm going to call him for lessons this winter break. And damn it, Primavera, Joseph de Pasquale may indeed be the most famous violist out there since you quit playing, but that doesn't mean he's the best teacher for me. I hope Judy calls me back soon. Yay women violists.

Meantime, Rebecca asked to paint me after she saw my quintet concert, and Lisa, watching Alyson's chamber orchestra play Appalachian Spring the other night, comments that I have "this air about you when you play, this je ne sais quoi... hee hee." It's nice to know that I at least look good when I play. :-)

I'm not necessarily a big humor magazine fan--all my friends in HS did the Yellow Press, their ridiculous behemoth of overactive intellect in a rigidly stultifying academic environment; now Alyssa and Jeanne and Christy Smallwood are the three editors of Spike. This semester's edition was reasonably funny, and I liked it, but what took the fucking cake was Alyssa's satire, entitled "Dirty Poetry":

so much depends

a red Miracle

stuffed with foam

beside the white
cotton undies

Damn, is that not sheer brilliance? I fucking laughed for half an hour.

My psychotic roommate the other day, having sent four or five urgent emails to everyone she knows on this campus and their mothers, ex-lovers, lab partners, screw dates, hallmates, &c. entitled "HAPPINESS - PAY ATTENTION!", threw a gigantic study break. Galen O'Toole and Laurel cookThe likes of it has perhaps never been seen before but I don't want to exaggerate--i mean, perhaps someone before has gotten more than 25 lbs. of flour, more than 7 dozen eggs, more than 10 lbs. of butter, and has actually made more cookies than God (as Laurel was advertising). But i kind of doubt it. She took meal numbers from all the aforementioend ex-lovers and hallmates and got ingredients from Sharples to make cookies from 8 PM till kingdom come, drawn by the smell wafting up to the heavens. 25 pounds of flour. 7 dozen eggs. 10 lbs of butter. 15 lbs. of sugar. A small personal fortune in spices. Vanilla by the cup. Bags of baking soda. A box of brown and confectioner's sugar. We drove Car Car (newly christened after Mark Vonnegut's in Eden Express) 'round the back of Sharples, where we paraded into the kitchens and out several times, bearing ridiculous amounts of raw ingredients. Into the trunk. Driven to Roberts' kitchen, the biggest one on campus. Unpacked, and the baking commenced. Not quite more cookies than God (that would have been blasphemous, anyways) but many, many confections were confected. From recpies (my and Allison's Oda a la Cocina); from memory (Amelia's molasses cookies); made up entirely (Morgan and Amanda's cookies/cake/loaf). Galen cooked egg nog and god knows what else; Julie Gregorio made biscotti; I did moon cookies and melissa cookies and called my mommy to tell her so in the middle. Amelia & Becca made a huge, heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie. Jenny and Eve danced to the music on Spiegel's boombox. Hard cider, soft cider, and mulled wine were broken out. We war-painted each other in flour (no fights today). And, for the evening, we didn't have finals, we weren't drowning in organic chemistry and polish morphology--we stuffed our fat faces with more cookies than God. And life was good.

Emily Clough and Jenny cook

Amelia Hoover and Rebecca Ennen

Eve and Jenny dance

This evening, my roommates dragged me off to Kingdom [of Vegetarians]. I didn't have time to go, was just realizing how absolutely fucked I was, and was not feeling good about the whole viola-teacher thing, but went anyhow, listening to my driving to NJ Thanksgiving 2000 mix, and Car Car was purring, or at least didn't take too long to start. I really wanted to get back in time to hear the Swarthmore College String Quartet do Beethoven and Shostakovitch 8 at eight o'clock, so i vetoed kingdom once we arrived finally and parked at 6:45 PM. We ended up at a "Nice Chinese Noodle Hut" or something, lots of local clientele and easily the best Chinese food I've ever had. Left at 7:30, Laurel promising we'd get there in time. I might have missed only a movement if we hadn't gotten stuck in fucking traffic behind an accident for half the way back. Walked into Lang as applause was emanating from the hall. Goddamn it all. I hate everybody.

perhaps not. but it's been a misanthropic week, and shows no particular signs of ending. Weird that I'm in such a different place this year at this time than I was last. Last year was my first quintet concert, clementines from both the music and english departments, our cute hall at the winter formal, Rockwell Church mp3s late at night (holding out; she hung the moon), and such a warmth and love for college and everyone there. This year at this time is me breathing and sleeping when i can, sickness, misanthropy, many people and friends and excellent socializing but not enough work, too much music (and i thought there was no such thing), toasts to fifty different things (the 2nd to women; the 17th against men) at a small chinese noodle shop while jenny reminisces about malaysia and laurel whines that she wants to go to kingdom, ritual, weird situations, and just waiting for the semester to end. I love it here. I still do. But I will be so glad to have four weeks away (one of them in Paris!), and this semester has also reconfirmed why I have to go abroad. It's not even an option. Eight semesters straight at Swat would kill me. And that's a literal exaggeration, perhaps, but not far off the mark--eight semesters straight here would kill whatever curiousity and passion I have. They would stuff me so full of knowldege and problem sets and assigments and sonatas to analyze that I would stop liking music, I would no longer care about my classes or talk about them excitedly at dinner, and everything that I value and respect about myself would be quashed like a fucking bug in my kitchen. I would hate myself. I would have to rebuild myself from scratch. So, no, i wouldn't be dead, but this place is just so overstimulating, such a literal response to my ardent desires for more, more! in high school, that unless I get away for more than a summer vacation at some point, i will fucking snap. Prague? I'll keep looking into it. And that would be next fall, not soon yet.

In the meantime, i have to finish this paper on polish diminutives and get my ass to bed for PYO. If Louis conducts again I'll scream.

Sunday, December 17, 2000, 1:38 PM

December and where is the snow?
never here;
the zero morpheme;
hanging in droplets off the pussywillow.

I put up an away message last night that said, kahlua, velvet, brushed hair, and got three responses that said, yum. Interesting. Because if had just said kahlua, i probably wouldn't have gotten the same response. But with velvet pants, and Fanjul's brushed hair, it was 'yum'.

Lodge Two met itself yesterday. Chris Fanjul and Wayne Miller, both Swat '00 (aught aught, says Chris, clapping his arms like a seal) were on campus yesterday. Laurel greets me as I return from PYO with, hey, do you know who's on campus? --Carlisle Price and Rob Cox, I guess, having seen both these absentees around recently. --No, Chris and Wayne are in Mike Smith's bathroom, she says. Randomness. I make my way down to PPR around 3:30 PM looking for eggs, butter, and lemon juice which had been left in the Roberts fridge after the cookies. Delivered a CD to Mike [Smith], ran into Julia Trippel, who said they'd just left with Madduck (what's his real name, she asked? --ha). Went to dinner and out shopping (Tar-zhay with Alyson and Peter--I got CD labels to replace the ones Alyson'd used, and pretty-colored CDs! greenpurpleorangebluedarkorange). When i got back Kasia said, nori, a guy stopped by for you ... --longish hair? ponytail? glasses? tan? --yes. --damn it! So I sit down and work on polish morphology for a while more (which is actually coming along really well. I explained some shit last night by resorting to Polish's ridiculously-inflected case system (seven cases!) and it should be done soon ... i hope), when i hear voices from above. Into my room tromp Heather, Julia, Chris, and Wayne. A whole fucking party of the coolest people. The boys goggle--um, this used to be our basement ... the black hole, and now ... :-) They spend upwards of an hour chez moi reminiscing. Yay for old friends. Chris is ridiculously tan, but he works in the bahamas. We might forgive him. Why do people graduate, goddamn it.

They leave--headed towards Anni's party--and i go back to my lodge (yeah, mine now ... time rolls on), work on my paper for 40 minutes, take a shower, put on my only clean clothes left (velvet pants). They're not at the party. Stinkers. I suppose they had to be forgiven, having driven from FL the night before ... I meander over to PPR to try to find them, and to say goodbye to Galen, who was leaving the next morning. I just now returned, having slept in a boy's bed and wearing one of his flannels.

Damn that my night wasn't as sketchy as that just sounded. I found Wayne all but passed out on Heather's bed, with Heather in Abby's, and Abby AWOL. Somewhere during while we were chatting, Martin (madduck) called to say Fanjul was asleep in ML. No idea why he bothered calling, but at least it saved me a trek--i had been going to track his ass down and make him talk to me (haven't seen him in six months or so! only knew him for one, really). Bid adeiux to them, then Galen, and then found Mike Smith hanging out in his room. I ended up sleeping in Ben's bed, just for the hell of it, while mike went out, returning at 7:30 in the morning. more chatting, more sleep, and mike lent me one of his flannels to go to brunch in (i couldn't go in velvet pants and the crazy-flowered and -collared shirt i had been wearing the night before--how funny that the closest thing I've done to the Walk of Shame has been from a gay boy's room). Am now returned and am comfortably typing in flannel and velvet. No kahlua (had a little with eggnog at anni's, but not anything); my hair's unbrushed and up, having never come down. As I say, the outline of my night sounds much more sketchy than it was.

dancing eggplant (1:54:28 PM): this is a yes or no or hell no question: could you be ready to leave on wednesday?
n0r1 (1:54:37 PM): AAAAAAAAAAAAAA

thank whatever gods there are (beethoven?) that i have till thursdsay ...

Listening to Beethoven's Mondschein sonata played by Barenboim right now. Yesterday was his 230th birthday. Let me just tell you how much this man is my god, so much as I have one. And let me tell you now, before I get embroiled in analyzing the entire first movement of his Appssionata for my Music 13 (theory III) final. I said, Laurel (the other day via IM when I was online from Underhill), I don't want to analyze these few hundred measures. Do you want to do it for me? She said, I'll write a page about how the second movement makes me feel, if you like. So i xeroxed her the score (I love my music library) and while she has yet to write it, I know what she means. So elegant and complex. So simple. I - IV - V - I; I - IV - It.6 - I. In the low registers, a passing tone here and there. Goldberg carried to new heights. I love how they all stand on each other's shoulders. Brahms' First was hailed as Beethoven's 10th. Beethoven is so much and so tonal but such a genuis. Here's to 230 more.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000, 11:41 AM

Just for the record, I hate Mondrian. But I'm needing a little more whiteness, a little more simplicity, having just read most of the entries in chris fanjul's journal from a year and some ago. Such a highly-developed sense of aesthetic. white and lowercase. I'd forgotten how cool he is, and what a shame it is that i only really knew him for a month before he graduated. loved his piece in the Swarthmore magazine about his take on his 4 years at swat--very bohemian, something i only began to pinpoint as a strong facet of the swattie mentality at the end of last year. yeah, we're here for 4 years, but we're not here to get a degree in economics and then go work the Street for high-powered money afterwards. We're here to be here, to fulfil our shared passion for learning, learn something, grow, and then perhaps move to the bahamas and teach (chris), live in the ville and play with ellipsis (joel), live in a canyon in arizona for a summer and then hang around greece doing anthropological research (massey), &c. Chris embodies this for me. And goddamn it, i wish he hadn't graduated before i'd gotten a chance to know him.

Jenny disagrees with the choice of paintings for simplicity. as opposed to my usual eyesore of orange and thick lines, this is pretty simple for me. and white.

Anni's in love. (look at her december 5 haiku.) i'm jealous. she and gabe are staying together while she's abroad. more power to them.

yesterday afternoon i went over to ross's room for one of his listening parties he keeps emailing half the campus about (I think he rivals Laurel for sheer number and frequency of people emailed). we listened to Radiohead's new album Kid A. nori, the Pop-Culture Illiterate, has probably heard radiohead before, but not actively. afterwards i borrowed about 15 of his thousands of CDs, and he wrote me: "that reads like my 'desert island' list. I'm so jealous of you getting to hear all of this wonderful music for the first time." I love my 40 gig hard drive and CD burner. I'm making all sorts of wonderful music on my beautiful new colored CDs--orange for phish's Hoist; yellow for Steely Dan (thanks, mike!); brown for Magnetic Fields; blue for Madonna's immaculate collection (yes I'm slow but i just got the pun yesterday). And I do like hearing all this music for the first time--like Chris Keary coming up to me after the swat orchestra concert a few weeks ago and saying, Nori, that was incredible! I've never heard Beethoven's Ninth before! And I can't remember the first time I did. I'm sure it wasn't live. It must have even been relatively recently; i only played it for the first time my senior year, and that was when I got my score and recording. I have a vague recollection of it. But for Chris to hear it the first time live (albeit a non-stellar--yet very respectable--performance at swat)--damn. I wish I could hear a lot of music for the first time again. That's why Ross's listening parties (i should go to more) are so cool--they provide you with a structured, focused way to do this.

Last night Jenny and I both fell asleep on my bed, while she was burning CDs for her mother. This marks the second night in three when I've fallen asleep either in some random person's bed or with some random person in my bed, contacts in, Steely Dan Gaucho playing. I'm very amused. We're going to go get a smaller sharpie (the better to draw on CDs with, my dear) and film at the bookstore; I'm going to print my papers (Polish morphology--done!; flamenco journals--done!) and then brave Sharples for "lunch." Appassionata and the Russian Novel paper left, among other things ... oh, drowning.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000, 28:17 AM

flour fight: laurel, galen, jenny

w e   s h o u l d   h a v e   l a i n   d o w n   a n d   m a d e   a n g e l s .

Above: a flour fight. I want people to come skinny-dipping with me, instead, cookies turn into a snowstorm in the kitchen. From the first handful of flour smacked on my back to the entire bag being ripped open in the air, we forgot to catch the flakes on our tongues and instead threw snowballs. I said earlier, "We should have lain down and made angels. Instead we reverted into our violent four-year-old selves and threw more, stuffing it in each others' faces." Laurel quoted me the next morning on her away message for IM, saying, we should have lain down and made angels. This semester, she said, has been all about missed beauty like that. We should have created something beautiful. I should have analyzed that schubert; she should have written that english paper. Instead we reverted to our four-year-old selves and threw snow at each other, threw thousands of individual flakes in each others' faces. What does that say about our sense of aesthetic, about our priorities, about how screwed up and painful ("cold, painful flour," says galen of the powdery snow in eastern washington) this sophomoric semester has been.

Below: real snow. A metaphor reversed when California-bred Morgan asks, what is snow, if it's not this (i the wisconsinite scoff at the dusting of flakes which still reveal the grass)? And i start to tell her, snow is like the flour fight we had, where there is always white in front of your vision. Snow is the white on the contours of the trees and trashcans. Snow is what cakes on the bottom of your jeans and makes your thighs smart with cold. Snow doesn't show grass. Snow filters slowly through the streetlight, the soft revérbère, so that staring up into it you could lose yourself. Snow makes angels. And then--a chance to redeem the semester--Laurel! i yell--angels! now--and we run outside and she and jenny, barefooted, and i, make three angels in the courtyard. We should have lain down and made angels. Tonight we did. It's almost enough to redeem the semester.

Saturday, December 23, 2000, 9:29 PM

i just caught myself changing the phrase "going on" to "transpiring" in this paper for Russian Novel that I'm still writing. I'm inserting extra clauses all over the place just to balance the sentence structure. This is kind of an unconscious process--it can't sound too colloquial, and it has to be well-constructed. Is this just a carefully-refined bullshit technique I've picked up? Or is there any actual merit in it? That seems to be the crux of my problem with the whole discipline (if you can call it one) of literary analysis--I never know when I'm just spewing beautified, latinate crap and when I'm actually saying something enlightening that will enhance my understanding of the novel and thereby make me a better person. Perhaps I'm placing too much stock in it.

Meanwhile, my roommates are inspiring (or the universe is conspiring) me to crunchiness (or a corporate simulation of crunchiness? again, I can't tell). Mike Smith's flannel; Jenny's Land's End quilted down vest; Andrea Rock's (and Erin Spear's, and Phil's, &c.) nalgene water bottles, &c. I've been living in the flannel. I want the red vest (women's small) and the orange water bottle, or pink maybe, but Erin has pink.

My room here at home is really just a shell of me at this point, discarded and lying on the beach for some smaller snail to come and claim. Problem is, I keep coming back here, and feeling not quite at home, and feeling like I don't spend enough time in here anymore to really personalize it. But if I did, maybe that would just get outdated, too. I'm sure there will be a point when I'll be glad not to live in my current room at swat. Meantime, I put up with these pinkish-magenta walls, the herb and drawing books on the bottom shelf, the untouched guitar in the corner, the necklaces hanging on the walls. It all has been bits of me. I guess that's what growing up is. Snailshells.

I want to go out tonight! Ben and John are having a shindig chez the latter, with lots of kids from the Yellow Press group and hangers-on--them, their retinue, and their circle, I suppose. (Nothing so heirarchical but it's the best way to describe the contingent.) I want to go chill there, see them, and Ari just called, suggesting we hit that party and then chill elsewhere. Damn it, damn it all to hell. I have these papers to finish! One's almost done (and they're due in an hour and a half, if we're going by midnight on the east coast). I'm so mad that i couldn't work on them in the car as we were driving, but Allison and I got so little sleep either night that it was all we could do to keep each other awake, playing lots of loud Dar and singing along, and there was no hope of reading Solzhenitsyn, let alone writing two 5-page papers. they should be cake (as that kid andrew said last night), and they are, but only relatively. This one's taken me six hours so far, which is damn good--and it's damn good--but I needed two or three days to do these! soooooooo frustrating. I'm going to fax them in as soon as they're done.

enough procrastination. off to finish dissecting Tolstoy and Olesha.

(Hey, damn good thing I'm proofreading--i almost turned in the following: "On our left, a deep gorge yawned black; beyond it and in front of us the dark-blue mountain tops, furrowed with wrinkles, covered with layers of snot, were silhouetted against the pale horizon, which still retained the last reflection of the sunset" (A Hero of Our Time, p. 19). --hehe, that's supposed to be snoW. :-)

Monday, December 25, 2000, 8:23 PM

my new pink nalgene bottleHehe, yay for christmas. I have a pink nalgene bottle :-). My mom also got a digital camera from my grandmother, so I've been playing around with that this afternoon / evening. It gets dark so quickly here during the winter. Brilliant light reflecting off the streets--everything white to the point of precision; deluged with the absence of color, noah's flood except colder--reflecting off the buried cars, the huge flat roof opposite our front window that takes up most of the wall--i wake up at noon and shuffle in my pajamas and ridiculously pink, ridiculously fuzzy slippers (from alyssa last year), my eyes still dark from the dreams i was having of sliding on ice, and, passing from the 5-foot hallway into the living room, am suddenly assaulted with snowlight, multiplied in the prism of the neighborhood. Used to that light all day, squinting when you look outside to gauge the temperature (-14°F), the early and long darkness is an especially strong contrast. Days are getting longer, they say, but the darkest day of the year isn't ever the coldest, so the solstice barely means anything except delicious hors d'oeuvres at at allison's annual Silver-Savage Sostice Brunch (the reason we drove home two days early). The bitter cold lastsmom making dinner well into april, and the showers named after that month don't reliably come until the may thaw. Ari says he prefers the east coast where there are seasons instead of six months of winter and six of summer. It must be because I grew up here, but I love the wind biting your ears off and curling into the hollow between your neck and your scarf; i love the squeaking snow under your boots and the wool socks beneath; the red faces of everyone coming inside and steamed glasses; the snow that stays and erupts in small mountains in parking lots where the plows pile it around the lamp-posts. In pennsylvania it snows a little, we make an angel, and then the still-green grass peeks through its wings and we go back inside, barely touched by the cold. I prefer Wisconsin.

It's so good to be home. Even though home is no longer necessarily home in terms of material possessions--it used to be that wherever i had my computer, all my clothes, my books and my mother's library on immediate reference was my sister drawinghome, but now I can transport my viola and a suitcase (okay okay, and my computer) home and be perfectly happy--it's still home in terms of ease of automatic motions--driving my mom's stick, locking the front door in two fluid motions, the way the halls curve, my mother's kitchen, et cetera. I don't know. Home is good. And that's hardly a statement which needs defense.

Christmas is even good. Alexis has been drawing an über-xmas card all day long--four huge pages of inked cartoon, which the regular cartoonist will then shrink down; Mom made a great dinner (the cookbook, edition Dos, will likely come out before July, I'm thinking--poking around Chuck's and chris's recipes pages; plus i need all my mom's dinnerholiday recipes, and my roommates--if you have good ones, send them my way!)--a great dinner, as I say, of the traditionals plus marinated tofu and delicious portobello mushrooms, left. And all this concomitant Christmas guilt has kind of dissipated, even though I haven't yet bought a present for my mom, or even attempted to. It'll happen throughout the year. But i hate getting things and not giving any (except for two cool CDs to my sister--a mix of Dar and one of Joni--which she loved). On Alexis' end, it's fine. I gave her 2 CDs and she gave me my cool new water bottle and a small thing of sesame oil, which she'd noticed I was low on when she visited the Lodge back in October. sweet & perceptive girl. But rar, i owe my mom. :-) she gave me a flannel (miracles, as laurel's away message said--my mother works miracles--i sent her a last-minute email and she produces this men's small plaid flannel. how did she do it.--and hehe, now i can return mike smith's), a cute sequined silver purse sheerly for kitsch value (of which it has tons, but i love it), a great sweater (above in the nalgene picture), flannel sheets ... &c., &c. presents comin' your way soon, mamma mia.

Grandma got the household a fabulous present--color printer, scanner, and digital camera. (We have yet to make the scanner work but the camera took a few tries, too, so no worries yet.) All the photos up here are the result of me and alexis playing around with the new toys. Mom plans to take the battery-eating camera to France. grandmaDigital toys are so much fun. Dad & delia gave me color-dripping candles (and i was running lown on tapers for my empty absolut bottle), blue bindis (Jenny, the oddly-multicultural Viking Jewess, used to wear them so much in Malaysia that she developed a rash to the adhesive), orchestra tickets, and a gift card to Borders. I think I just finished using the one he got me last year. So great--and they're even in the Phillipines right now! it SUCKS that i won't see him at all this break! Maybe I'll have to come home for spring break just to see my family, if I am indeed living in California with Alyssa this summer ...

And i am. Or rather, I will be. (Just out of curiousity, all you linguistic freaks--others please pardon the digression--can you say "I wasn't cold yet today"?

yes no Go with your first instinct--so far all of Allison's syntax class thinks you can't, but my mom and sister and I think you can ...) --anyhow. Alyssa and I are, if not yet gung-ho, quite adamant the treeabout this plan. It's so harebrained and irresponsible and unstructured and so something we need to do. The summer after our sophomore plans in college, no definite plans for our lives--perhaps something nebulous but we're not on a med-school track or anything--a religion major and a music/linguistics major living in a sublet apartment in berkeley, having driven there in a big orange Behemoth of a Car Car, maybe taking a class, working at some small restaurant or café if they'll have us, camping on the weekends, and alyssa wants to dip her toes in the pacific. I'm so down with that. And it needs to happen now, or around now, the summer we're twenty. I have faith that it will. I've told PYO I'm not going with them if they go to China; i have a car to get out (shut up, all ye naysayers--it likes the warm weather! summer! california! this baby's a florida machine, and it'll dig the summer and get us cross-country). I'm going to need something like that, I think. I'll be away in the fall (gotta look into study-abroad and transferring UW credits more), but living at home for another summer just may not be an option, and what's the difference (besides free room & board) between Madison or Berkeley? nada mucho. and I've never been to California.

Still "working" on these papers. Hollis has a bit to do on Beethoven. The semester ain't over but it's so curative to be home. Alexis and I just ran into Allison in the video store, who's coming over to lend me her car, receive her present (i love my CD burner), and to watch An Ideal Husband with us. Yay Christmas.

my new pink nalgene

Friday, December 29, 2000, 28:54 AM

the side of my neighbor's house, overhung with icicles

rabbit tracks on snow
it's nice to be reminded
that they live here, too

driving home at 4
black ice under fresh driftings
skid like i'm 16

went to ari's tonight to bake a pie around 11:30. working on paper previously. i miss that boy; i need to see him more often. i hate harvard and the fact that it contains all my friends (save a few) (from home) in one big enclave which is not swarthmore, which is six hours away by train. pie excellent. sheerly gustatorically, reminiscent of the time laurel woke me up at 4 AM briefly to feed me hot pumpkin pie (with claire and amelia), and then i went to bed on a full stomach. full and hot. pie. more pie than god (sparky the dog; his shirt originally). talking till all hours. i MUST finish my work so i can do this guilt-free.

the snow comes up to my kneesmade a headband this afternoon. went to jo-ann looking for D-rings and a skirt pattern; came back with two patterns (one's fuller than the other) (they were on huge sale) and the needed fasteners. Made a cool headband (i love my mom's sewing machine--i want one soon. i suppose i'll have to be out of college for me to put it to any kind of non-time-wasting use, but i can wait a few years) out of old scraps i found on the basement floor--old curtains; purple corduroy pants i had when i was tiny; a dress of small white hearts on pink that my mom sewed for my sister x-billion years ago. i love the d-ring hooks and it sits flat under my hair, either up (jenny, i've almost perfected your two-knob style; i haven't worn my hair differently since the last day you saw me) or down. and it's growing. skirts will come after i finish this paper--tomorrow! (and theory i suppose. goddamn it). went foraging for material in my closets, downstairs; found two perfectly wearable old pairs of jeans and some good material in a pair of red cords. will have to scrounge more.

trees outside my house weighed down by snowon my way, picked up CDs at the library. Rachmaninov 2nd piano concerto; chopin prélude Op. 28 No. 20 in c minor (the one with the neapolitan that we analyzed in 13, hollis); more rach. vespers (new recording i haven't heard--see how it stacks up to shaw). now all i need to complete this mix i'm making is the mendelssohn e minor violin concerto, movement III, which is on hold for me there now. i'll get it tomorrow.

i love having all these projects for break. I need to finish the work yes yes yes but i'm making headbands (stil have 4 D-rings left from the 6-pack, and there are scraps to band heads from here to kalamazoo), skirts, mix CDs, decorating labels, talking to friends, making pies, beading necklaces (tomorrow? day after?), finding small hoop earrings (same trip as beads), finding old beautiful candles and burning them (on the pile of rachmaninov and chopin under my monitor right now is a green marbled demi-sphere, the wick straight up and the flame low from the pooled wax with taut meniscus), watching movies i haven't had time to, reading. Going to finish these from russian novel (all i need to go is Anna K. and Brothers K.--maybe it was something about that initial that made those authors keep spinning out the epics ...), then somewhere that french treatise on solfège (need to read something formal on it so i can back up my arguments with something--then again, i said that about Ayn Rand--oh well, i guess i won't hurt anyone or -thing with this small volume if i throw it across the room, too ...), Gödel, Escher, Bach is high on the list; The Eden Express needs to be finished ...the lamppost outside my house

swarthmore in my book
on the radio; i'm glad
i haven't dreamt it.

--because if i had--if peter schickele and mark vonnegut hadn't both reminded me today that it doesn't just exist in rural pennsylvania for me and a thousandodd other 18-22-year-olds right now, it exists for thousands of others across the country, world, all of whom have been addled by it in some way--if that school were a creation of my masochistic brain, i would be seriously mentally ill. i could easily see how i had--it filled every one of my wishes from high school, and now is spinning out of my ken, mickey-mouse-fantasia-style, buckets of water sloshing over the chair and the brooms multiplying. the image runs away with itself and i'm left writing its papers and trying not to go insane. Look at me, it's fucking winter break and i say this. what is happening. semester off. jealous of all the languages my foreign-travelling friends are learning in such short times, simply by absorbing them? take a year, next perhaps, and go to two countries. find a family and chill. do it cheap, not through swat. prague and brazil. japan and costa rica. italy and germany. come back fluent and then reättack. i might have to, might have to pause and unwind slowly, learning unconsciously (language language language), and then reattack the school. i might fucking have to.

Allison's car, parked in my driveway, before shoveling it outoch. oy. ai. there i go. i must be -addled -- with what i'm not sure. this virus. sleepschedule-wackèdness. a too-long semester. mom, you said sixteen weeks was the norm before! i don't know where you went to school (oh yeah, harvard ...) but ... --goddamn it.

The clock my mom finally gave me (travel alarm, beside my bed, on top of the Rushdie) is ticking like there's no tomorrow. or rather like there is one, and it's going to count every goddamned second into it. not too noticable except when you're trying to sleep. which i'm admittedly not, at the moment.

we shoveled this morning. more digital camera fun. reminds me of two new yearses ago, when i got stuck at anna's house, literally snowed in. not as bad today but the snow's piling up; i think we've broken a record. i needed this. the weather is too half-assed in PA.

this afternoon, added a page of other people's journals--the closest i'll come to links. great fun for the voyeur ;-)

look at the clock. doctor duck. the rhymes they get away with in children's books. the crimes i get away with in russian books. <-- that's almost iambic pentameter but i wasn't thinking in it just then--all these "verse" emails that have been going around laurel's mailing list over break have been cool, and have suddenly morphed (at my urging) from haikus galore to blank verse, or at least longer lines. you start writing in it and you can't stop. the next i post will be in verse, perhaps. (if it's unrhymed it's easier to write.) till then i need my sleep, and not just naps--so layla tov to y'all; have a good night.

goddamn it, indulge me!

all this ©nori heikkinen, December 2000

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