february, 2001

Saturday, February 3, 2001, 8:00 AM / 3:29 PM

Have you ever awaken with a dream on your tongue? I did, ths morning, and was sure I was in a dinosaur's belly, sure that the sussurations of the rain outside were instead the beautiful rumblings of his gastro-intestinal virus, perhaps the same one that has landed me here in the health center, unable to go to orchestra.

My lip's healing, though, and that's a good sign, as are the two English muffins I ate recently--harbingers of spring. [they tell me, o ye swatties, that you can ask the grill guy for English Muffins and he'll give them to you!] Everywhere, warmth. I went running Tuesday in my Camp Shalom T-shirt, stopping off at ML for fudge from Hollis, then PPR to deliver some to Spiegel (and to play Super Smash Bros. with him nine times running until I finally won, and promptly left), all the while the late-afternoon sun butterflying the dapples on the rainy sidewalk, made uneven by persistent elephant tree roots as I wondered if that boy who never wants to play anything yet plays what he has to technically well, has a soul.

I wish I could go to orchestra now. I'm probably up to it, but anything pushed at this point and I'm back to the dinosaur belly. Which is not where I need to be with 200-odd pages of reading due tomorrow. PYO last week was great, though. Mozart's birthday--we began with La Clemenzia di Tito, wonderful classical C major, and so tight that a ropewalker would have had no problem traversing the cute sonata form. A slow Firebird; Brahms 3 not where it ought to be yet still Brahms. I went convinced I could no longer play; I returned reminded why I try. So, even though my car is still in hibernation and we must take the train, breakfast at Capriccio (with their asinine-yet-endearing accent on the 'r') makes up for getting upat 6:30 AM--as does Mozart. Damn that I can't go. (Mahler 4 with 2001 tomorrow, though!)

BISOUX, ~ Harbingers of spring, my lip and my english muffins. The dumb birds are back early, chirping as I wash across the lawn with a spilled jar of honey in my arms--and i can now call it a lawn, even if half the grass is dead. Brunch this morning was served outside on the cold-yet-stirring ground, jenny's guatemala blanket the plate for french toast with lime and sugar, laurel's homemade bread and granola. There are buds. This semester is going so well, so far. (Damn the untimely sickness. It's passing fast and I'll be fully on my feet by soon.) It is very good to be back, very good to be here, here and like the beginning of the semester, with new notebooks, new folders, new classes, a new mentality. If classes were still high-schoolish, finalsafterthebreak and noswitchingatthesemester, i would NOT be in college. Chin up, Alexis, there is life after high school, and it rocks. People, while sick (is there a cloud of pestilence that hangs over this school, as Alice suggested?! --why are we sick NOW?), are happy, there is a lot of cheerful and healthy drunkenness, and interest in everything is re-piqued. I still want to triple-major, which is in the process of biting me in the ass (cognitive science will probably get thrown to the wolves, which is unfortunate), but if I can't have everything i want across the board, at least I've grown a toe-root into the music department--Julian is writing his friend who's principal violist of the Florence Symphony about study-abroad options for me there, told me to call Swat-grad-now-soprano Serena Benedetti about the Italy program she did there while here; Jim postponed a class a whole semester for me!--the History of the String Quartet, taught by a Swat-grad-now-second-violinist-of-the-Bretano-Quartet, until I get back from abroad, to Spring 2002! (Of course, they found out she'd be having a baby in August and that would make it difficult to teach the class then, but sources confirm that they postponed it for me before the pregnancy was announced.) Which is gratifying, even if the other day as I was leaving Music 14 (i'm so glad I started the theories early!) i heard Gerry and Amy Bauer, the new Music 15 prof, begin to babble about Evan Gregory--"I just love my independent study with Evan! You show him a piece, and it's as if he's known it all his life!" --"Just wait'll you hear him sing". Wow, I wish the faculty of any department would ever say anything like that about me! --but no matter, they switched a class for me. :-)

BIJOUX, ~ Harbingers of spring. Old friends coming back to visit. Chris Fanjul came back and shaved his head; he brought with him Jeanne, back for the duration from Italy and cute as ever, and, briefly, WayneWayne Miller playing Air Guitar in my room, who lost no time in resuming his antics in the Lodge Two basement. They stayed the first five days i was here, the 21st through the 25th (Sunday through Thursday), teaching me the merits of the violent spoons (when you've got four of a kind there's a mad scramble for the musical-chairs, n - 1 spoons until a screaming wrastle erupts on the floor--this as opposed to the pacifist sticking out of the tongue), recommending Czech beers to get twenty-one-year-olds to buy for us at liquor world (we've still got no more than one hard cider on jenny's desk, though i'd prefer the breton Wayne Miller stabs some chocolate ice cream with Laurel's parmesan knifekind, and I think all our corona's long gone--plus, we used the limes this morning on the french toast). They left and left Jeanne, for which to them I am grateful. (Apologies for the previous construction--I'm working on eradicating my prescriptionist tendencies, but switching types of grammars suddenly, even if it was two years ago, takes a little work. Like Susannah who wants to be a copy editor (and has now moved to Australia to escape Dubya and his leader-of-the-free-world stupidity), I doubt i'll ever be a perfect linguist. A cunning one, perhaps ;-) .) In other news of the class of aught-aught, Vincent returned briefly, sans panatlons stupéfieants, but more ridicules--they had penguins on them this time. Peppermint brownies I wrote the blue one; stoll amended it ID and wrote the second.  I flipped out when I saw these.chez Lodge, nine spoons and nine people over (I'd just stolen about that many--spoons, not people--from Sharples, and now, mysteriously, it appears we're out about that many forks), and V stayed to help with the dishes. Sierra, Melanie, and Kate Conover, among others, have also returned from the land of X, having spent blissful semesters there, and strongly advocating others to do likewise. (I'm working on it, mom, i promise. See above about me milking music department connections--I've also got Jim Freeman on it, and Daniel said he'd ask his chums at alma maters Curtis and Juilliard, whee!) It's good to have old people back.

ET BOUGIES. ~ Harbingers of spring, all these things, because of the goodness of last spring, because of the thaw, of the typical rebirth, people reėmerging from cocoons from the Bahamas to Boston, from Sri Lanka to Sienna. Because of good classes, good people, good weather, good health. Been running; I'm kicking this virus in the ass. Because of Mike and his beautiful blown-glass double-sphere and his generosity; because of obliging Peter and his psychedelic wav visualization plugin and his bach mp3s; because of Tom Jones' milkshakes and eggs and hash browns (who knew i was so hungry?); because of MUD (i love mud); because of my new yellow vest; because of laurel's clogs (i want antique brown oiled); because of allison asleep on my bed; because of becca's five florida oranges she left on the steps of our lodge; because of donna jo in her interminable cuteness ("just write 'i love linguistics' for your sophomore paper! we love you!"); because of Mozart and the Magic Flute in the shower and all five of us listening to it (scanned post-its to follow once they fall down); because of Lela's card she made for me in Worth; because of Amelia and Jenny singing me lullabies and watching McCabe movies with me while I was sick; because of Worth and their stock of English Muffins and Canada Dry ginger ale; because of IPA; because of the String Quartet.

Nap time. Allison and I are going to go cut out construction paper on the lawn and be cute.

Monday, February 5, 2001, 25:26 AM

Mahler rocks my world, as I said in my original page about me. I had a caricature of him and that statement, verbatim i believe. It was in a list of things that defined me. I am a vegetarian. I am an atheistic wannabe jew. My favorite color is orange. I am a freshman [was then] at Swarthmore College. Mahler rocks my world.

and oh, so true. It was a general truth then, the small gliss-y ornaments on the huge form and crashing finale of the first symphony, the tunes of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen -- schöne Welt! in symphonic format. Now it is Mahler 4 with Orchestra 2001. I hadn't practiced it over break, which i knew was a mistake, which i knew i should have, but i needed the five or six weeks--between juries and the first Swat Orchestra rehearsal last week--just off, off everything, off life. I had six weeks of scary apathy. That out of my system, I now need new blood to replace it. New oxygen. I now have pints and pints of Mahler coursing through my veins, and god, does it feel good.

The first rehearsal the other day was not the best--it was Louisa and Alyson on violin (I & II respectively), me on viola, Suzanne and Oliver on cello, Olivia, and Mac. Just the seven of us playing this fabulous symphony. [For you swatties out there, I've got it on the network--path is \\nori\mp3\Mahler , and you can go from there.] And I hadn't worked on it, and this is not quite chamber music--überglorified, I suppose, but it's full symphonic. And sight reading was bad. But between then and now, I've spent three or four hours taking apart the first two movements (the first is the hardest and the second has some fast shit in it in a scherzo tempo), restructuring my lazy hand, getting a tone out of the viola, recapturing the trance state that good time with a good (albeit dead) friend in Lang can induce.

And tonight, tonight, with the big kids (i love playing with the big kids!), a real symphony happened. Small problems, of course. Nothing's perfect the first time round. But hell, to watch Igor--I love Igor!--to watch him grin, spread his teeth in a pointy canine and molar smile while reading the tinkling tintinnabulations of the concertmaster solos! I love that he loves this. I want to be Igor when i grow up, if I don't become a raspberry instead (I decided at dinner that if I were a fruit I'd want to be a raspberry because they don't have skins and they could see). Igor is my idol, him and Donna Jo. An adult who loves what he does and is fabulous at it. And he's great--he held the entire first violin section on an F# leading tone this evening while he had a quick exchange with the conductor. They then followed with the G, the problem and the chord resolved.

And i had so much fun playing. More practice tomorrow. Yay locking myself in lang. I've decided (took me fucking long enough to realize this) that i need to go abroad somewhere where i can do concentrated music for a semester. Here are the requirements I've got it boiled down to:

  • somewhere in Europe;
  • non-anglophonic;
  • a program centered around music at a high level.

We shall continue to work on this.

In other news, people kissing people, and not, and the typical swarthmore weirdness and stupidity that results from that. Claire Weiss has a boyfriend! (And we can now connect to her through the web--i found a path, y'all.) Julia brought me a sandwich yesterday and we tramped around the beautiful snowy Crum (so much for harbingers of spring--but it was a thick, wet snow breathtakingly fat; hexagonal slush; lace). Discussions of Alyssa, Ruth, with Jenny. I love my people. Paces with Joel-o; a crayon that lives in my pocket held like a cigarette. A new Old English text from an out-of-print book website. A nap. An excellent day.

I adore Mahler.


Friday, February 9, 2001, 9:49 PM

oh, Thaw,
squish on the Earth
and tell me that you Love me
and promise there are green things underneath

Saturday, February 10, 2001, 24:01 AM (transcribed at; written between 9:30 and 11)

Medeski, Martin, and Wood

Not Phish but it's the closest Swat will ever get, so the pot smoke hangs down from the overhead light, fractured in rays above the shoulders of the three red-lit musicians. The bassist can groove, and does (wonder how he'd like Firebird); the pianist plays more with flat palms than fingers, and introduces the tritone as a consonant interval; the percussionist (Ross seems to dig it) makes monkey noises on a drum. My idiot roommates* down on the booming makeshift dancefloor, trying to coöpt their friends into sympathetic idiot security--pulse-driven early twentysomethings cheering at the first hint of tonality (grasping at anything in their idiom), shaking fists and dreds to the beat when there is one (beating my heart for me), insecurely static and hung limp-armed when there isn't (the vicious limbo between the tonal-to-modal shift and ambiance). (Though I suppose it is refreshing, in a twisted-Swarthmore way, to see wannabe-beefy Blake Atkins grooving to the noise.) The process of Medeski, Martin, and Wood having their cake and eating it too is becoming messy--chocolate crumbs on their knees, they glibly switch genres and instruments (the bassist plays German bow and there's a box of Pop's rosin like my sister has on top of an amp). Frosting on their faces. Please, let them eat bread. Some chick (attempting to shake it ballroom-style but refusing to let her boytoy lead) sports her newly-tiedyed, fresh-from-the-head-shop T-shirt. Jenny's danger dances closer and I can see her feel it. Silhouette: pegbox against psychedelica on a scrim. This purple sweater, while it matches my nails, is getting warm. Wood, if they are indeed situated respectively, breaks out the timp mallets and, spotlit, manages to make everyone except Aryani the diehard stand still for what might be fifty bars, or just a cadenza. Then, Ipanema-like, he falls back to the combo box with brushes swishing in syncopation to Martin's masterful slap-pizz. (Dude, Laurel comments, if you need to do it here, bake brownies! --the biceps in tight black t-shirts standing martial on the sidelines (I wish I were buff so I could get paid to look sexy!) have long ago given up trying to put a stop to the noxious billows which wil eventually set off the sprinkler system.) Martin turns digeridoo (please, digeridon't), blazing through Spanish guitar and a miniature Brahms score before, a few chromatics and a dominant pedal (unresolved, ą la Chopin) later, descends back to silent-movie-organ- and hubcap-accompaniment, apparently his calling in life. Are we the bopping multitudes stupid?! Or have I, as usual, completely missed out on some fundamental facet of pop culture? I'm finding it a little ironic ... It's kind of trippy, my seat shaking in rhythm, like a physical wav visualizer. Claire refusing to dance. This is why I love Claire. Alyssa (or, according to her shirt, Bitch-O) grooving as only she can and will, to any type of music. This is why I love Alyssa. Too bad you can't get high off second-hand smoke--I have a distinct feeling it would improve the show a fewhundredfold. Aw fuck, there goes the Mussorgskian chorus again, sampled straight out of Khovanshchina and distorted into Sesame Street. And there goes the neighborhood--even Roban is now shakin' it in his Linux shirt. Stop the insanity.

*yes, dears, i love you, and we're all stupid, me included, which is why this is a diatribe when i thought the show fuckin rocked. And if you weren't stupid you would be.

Thursday, February 15, 2001, 5:26 PM

Laurel picks up the phone, dials zero. (This reaches the Swarthmore College Voice Recognition System. I imagine it saying, Thank you for calling Swarthmore College. Please say the full name of the person or department that you would like to reach.) --Workbox, Laurel spits. Pause. --No! --Yes.

There's a mouse in the kitchen. This was ... not exactly expected, but not exactly surprising, either. A fuckin' "wee, sleeket, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie," whose house we, too, now have to ruin. Too bad i have no TIME in which to ruin his house. Eh.

In other news:

Pierogi day. I brought Kasia's blue tupperware to Sharples this afternoon (I've got to get my own one of these days), and the woman behind the vegetarian line watched me piling it up with Pierogies (yes capital-P pierogies) and chid me, others have to eat those, too. --Dude. It's not as if (a) you don't have a whole nother tray of dozens of pierogies right there, or (b) my parents weren't paying six thousand times what your crappy meal plan is worth. I want to live in a dinner co-op next year (maybe in the Barn? Alyssa was talking about that ...). So I stop filling the bottomless blue tupperware but when she turns her back to check what kind of cheese (cheddar) is in them for the girl behind me in line, I take another spoonful. These will feed the Lodge for the next three days.

Note on the word pierogies--Kasia the Pole informed us las semester that the Anglicism is, as usual, wrong. The singular in Polish is actually pierog, and the plural pierogi. If I remember nothing else from my bout with Polish at the end of the last semester for my Morphology term paper (on Polish diminutives), I'll likely retain that word. Mm, mm, pierogies. Take what Sharples does well when you can; the instances are few and far between.

Speaking of Kasia, I've been getting to know my fifth roommate more in the past few nights. The five of us (a rare occasion, all together in the Lodge) the other evening were helping her on her Valentine's Day poem for her boy (rhyming couplets--hugs-jugs, pectorals-____; &c.), and read her "inspirational story." This prompted a reading of my new book (such a coffee-table conversation piece, as I'd predicted), which then led to Jenny guessing at respective purity-test scores (Amelia: "I think that's why purity tests are so popular [at Swarthmore]--because it's the only thing we can score high on here" --10.X.00), so then of course we had to create an impromptu Lodge 2 test. Scores were pretty much as expected, with only a few surprises. (NOTE: by the way, if you haven't taken the Swat-Specific Purity Test and posted your score on my wall yet, come over and do so!). --Jenny and Laurel found the missing link between me and Kasia the other day--the multi-colored lei that dangles off her rear-view mirror. "So Kasia ... and yet so not ..." mused Jenny.

David Finko cracks me up. I have to have (or be concurrently enrolled in) a Music History cousre to declare the major, so I'm in Russian Music right now. This was originally part of my grand Slavic scheme at the beginning of the year--take Russian Novel with Thompson Bradley in the fall, audit Russian [language] 1 and 2 both semesters, and do Russian Music with a contemporary Russian composer for a prof in the spring. I did take Russian Novel, and I started out in the language class, but it was at 8:30 AM, I was only auditing drill (3/5 days a week), and then I got sick and missed verbs, and didn't feel like catching up in a class which I wasn't actually taking. I, of course, now regret dropping the language--Blair stuck with it (then again, she was actually enrolled), and just sent Alyssa the bitch-o T-shirt -- BKYCHO, as in ochen fkysno, 'very tasty', which they said all semester. I'm so jealous--I want to be able to speak any language that anyone cool speaks, and to make T-shirts for Alyssa. Mostly, I'm over this linguistic insatiability, and--well, I was going to say I haven't taken on any new languages this semester, but that's a lie (Old English). And German is likely next, if I do end up in Vienna in the fall. But I'm getting more content to rely on transcribed data in linguistics classes, and he urgent polyglotiness is less. (I'm sure I'm lying.)

--But David Finko, as I was saying, cracks me up. I didn't manage to see the audit of Russian Language through, but here I am in Russian Music, listening to this wacky old grandfather babble on. He apologized a few weeks ago for his "Texan accent." We just stared. The closest he'll ever get to a Southern accent is Georgia--as in, Republic Of. "Kod forbeed hyu should meet such a monk," he says. "Ghe vill not let hyu dreenk Coca-Cola." He came to the Orchestra 2001 performance of Mahler 4 in Philly last night in which I was playing (btw, girls, I found that brick oven pizzeria--it's by 22nd and Spruce), and today, on seeing me, asked "ghu plaiss bioluh?" --I do ... "Ach, hyes, I hrekognize hyu hlast night." He always apologizes for his "voice of vild dogs" when he sings along to operas ("I ghate it vhen I sing--all cats run avay"); he obviously knows Russian music and has a great love of the subject but has no idea how to teach. He plays us Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and says of it, "do hyu hlaik eet? Eez terrible, no?" He's like a crazy old grandfather. He tells lots of vodka jokes. Russians.

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2001, 3:00 PM - Market East Station, Philadelphia

Yesterday I was supposed to have gotten work done. I love how that just doesn't happen on weekends--between one thing and another, there's some chemical in our bloodstreams that only gets activated on Fridays and Saturdays, or perhaps it's a disability of some sort. But I blame yesterday's bad start on the weather.

Thursday we had a huge Brahms assignemnt due in theory. Almost no one finished it (too big for two days; scores were on reserve; recordings couldn't be checked out, &c.), so we got an extension as a class until Friday noon. However, the rest of Thursday was filled with other obligations--drill, class, dinner, orchestra. After orchestra (Daniel's great--can we keep him?), I worked on the assignment until Public Safety kicked me out of Lang, around 12:15 AM. Returned to the Lodge bearing oreos, (re-)met Jenny's Emily, who's up (down) from Vassar for the weekend along with Ian (who came last night). Friday morning, I resolved, I would get up at the crack-ass of dawn and finish this theory.

But there was a power outage, or so I discerned when I woke up at 11:40 AM Friday to find that neither alarm clock had gone off, and the one was now blinking a random time. So much for the theory before noon. The rest of the day managed to comsume itself with miscellany: eating sushi with Peter Yoo, who was making it, and Keith, Mark Samols, Ilya, and Cat, who, along with me, were eating it (and drinking Peter's good white wine). Such good sushi! I have to get his mirin-sugar-vinegar ratios for the rice, and tips on how to roll it. And Mark and I concocted a soysauce-wasabi mixture strong enough to kill a horse. (I think the next point on that test I go for losing is the sushi one ...) Joanna Curtis, the awesome senior soprano(/cellist) from whom I heard about this DePauw study-in-Vienna program, took me, Jenny, Emily, and Jon Stancato on a liquor run, late Beethoven Quartets (Emerson) and Brahms' Clarinet Quintet blaring all the way to Delaware (state of no sales tax and nonsegregation of alcoholic beverages). Corona, Granny Smith hard cider, un peu d'Absolut, jenny's alcoholic blackberry sugar water, and some California beer (in addition to Emily's $15 bottle of broken wine). It looks like a lot stacked under the windowsill and the tulips, but all the volume is glass (which we need to figure out how to recycle, girls!). And sometimes you just need a beer on a Friday afternoon ... say, (speaking purely hypothetically, of course) that your roommate executively decides that at 3 PM that day YOU WILL help clean the kitchen, because we have a mouse. I don't believe in mice or executives decisions, but the reality of washing dishes 45 minutes and having the contents of the pantry unloaded onto my table (in my room) is just one such hypothetical case in which one might decide to break into the case of Coronas, even without limes.

Sharples is never exactly the main locus of fun in my life, but I must say it has a lot more potential for amusement on three drinks (Peter's wine, my Corona, and our Alejandro-touted Cocoribe). Alyssa missed dinner, so I cooked for her and Ian while Eve brought over her raver-chick clothes in preparation for Martin's party that evening. Around 10:45 PM, there were eleven beautifully random people in the Lodge, five of whom were wearing enough plastic beaded bracelets to pave a path from here to Munich and back (me, Laurel, Jenny, Eve, and Emily). Pumpkin pie was in the oven. Plastic glittering gemstones were stuck carefully to collarbones (i wore one like a bindi); hair was knotted into small knobs; glow-sticks were cracked and put in mouths; and off went a completely-sober, ridiculously-clad mob to the closest Swat will ever get to a rave.

People were rolling et cetera but, even though I was down off my dinnertime buzz, several people asked me if i was messed up. No--just having fun dancing. Martin (in addition to being incredibly sexy) is an awesome DJ, and I started getting into the beat and rhythm in a way that would have made Ben Wikler (who in 10th grade ironically dubbed me "Techno Fiend") proud. This electronica-techno-trance shit has a groove very similar to the one I've been finding drumming for African these past few weeks. It's all about beat in a way that orchestral music--or even a percussion ensemble--can't be. It's the rhythm taken out of context, completely divorced from tone, and solidified. There are no inept flamenco teachers unable to count (but hot damn did John the rockin' guitarist make up for her!); there are no second violins who can't seem for the life of them to pit two against three and come out with hemiola--only solid groove, groove. Charles beating the skin of the drum in the dance studio so tight; Martin's noise ringing with metronomic psychedelica--it is well called trance. Groove. (I love that word. The more applications I find for it, the more applicable it becomes, and the more I love it.) And dude--Martin is so hot. Can I have him?

Ten or so of us meandered back chez Lodge for pie, which Morgan had graciously babysat while we had been dancing. Devoured to Morcheeba. Enter at some point Casey with his gift from the earth, and Carlos Duque, whom Jenny, Emily, and Ian had known cursorily from high school in KL, Malaysia. Everything became hilarious, and the chocolate pudding that Galen randomly decided to make was God. Right there, on my warm spoon, God. So incredible.

Carlos steals my water bottle, just not putting down the pink nalgene and walking out of the lodge. i managed to process that this is not normal, that mine is indeed the only pink nalgene within three dorms, and that Carlos should be stopped. Jenny just laughs at me for barely being able to recognize this, and does nothing to stop him.

fifteen minutes later, which is fourteen and a half minutes after i forgot about him completely, Carlos mysteriously returned with the water bottle.

. . . PYO wasn't much later--I woke up with my hair still wet from the shower I took to wash the candy stains off my neck. And I was still ravenous (the stolen stash of pierogies i reheated and gobbled last night hadn't allayed anything), even after a bagel at Capriccio and a chocolate eclaire from WaWa. Good music; good rehearsal. Laurie had swedish fish. All violists except Laura are stupid. Went out to Miquon to visit my car--I'm afraid the poor baby is "terminal," in Sarah's dad's words. Penang for lunch while waiting for my connecting train in Chinatown. I may or may not have time to nap today.

Tuesday, February 20, 2001, 26:30 AM

This online journal never gets me into trouble, per se, but occasionally it facilitates something, draws the already fishbowlesque community of Swarthmore even closer faster, or provides me with a good laugh. Most recently (to my knowledge, at least--even though I can see most IP addresses (hello, Parma? whom do i know there? Tom, is that you?), I don't always know who reads this or what it does), it has done the two latter. Perry apparently typed himself into a search engine and turned up an entry from December when I was particularly frustrated with Russian Novel, found out that he was the devil. Eh, I feel moderately bad, but I never put anything up that I honestly don't care who sees. That was one Screw date gone wrong. --Besides, Claire Weiss is the Devil now (fear for your soul, Alyssa!).

Should I get my nose pierced?

yes no  

This is not kind of a question anymore--I think I'm going to do it Saturday with Jeanne and my's South Street run. And it shouldn't be a question I'm asking--not like it's a forgone conclusion, but I shouldn't care what you (yes, you) think. If I want a little sparkly thing on the side of my nose, I should just go out and poke a hole in it. But even though I like it--I've been wearing around a little sticky gemstone that Eve left at the lodge after Krafftwerk friday, pretending it's a piercing--reactions are so mixed to the idea of it that I feel the need to corroborate. I think I could pull it off well. Trouble now is--Jenny's going to feel hurt and used if I do it, because now she's independently decided to do it this weekend, same as I independently decided at paces tonight with Jeanne. This is kind of in my mind like the Stealing Away Messages battle that Laurel and I had first semester. She'd put up a chunk of text--from a poem, from an email my prof sent me, whatever--and then get mad when I used it, too. I think we're even or at least over on that score. But I really want to pierce my nose now! and Jenny's going to feel like it was her idea, like I'm going to detract from her specialness if I do it too, which is (a) totally respectable and (b) stupid. Raaaaaaawwwwr, in jennyspeak (her noise of existential angst; mine of the week is 'eala', the Old English one)!

Paces last night (study break from D-flat Liszt on the stolen Yamaha in 407); a blueberry milkshake which I ate with a cheese knife because the waitress swore they were out of spoons. Finally, when it turned liquid, I went to look for myself, and took the nine or so I found there. bastards. It happened again tonight! No spoon for my tea, which I could deal with until I realized there actually were spoons in the silverware holder. They took the spoon I had, so by my third cup of tea i was on my second spoon (not including the demitasse fork with which Jeanne and I devoured the earlier cheesecake). It's so good to have Jeanne back--tactful as a brick, says she of herself, but conniving, and such a great girl. Last night Laurel and Alyssa made a preliminary swatweb, with only fifteen or so nodes. I'm working on further constricting the fishbowl in that vein.

I can never be a great pianist. My hands are too small, and hurt from drumming the other night. (Then again it would probably help if I cut my nails.) Oh well, knock 'Concert Pianist' off the list of possible professions.

Running Girl nearly killed me yesterday. What a trip, that child.

Bed now, as the Bond piano is occupied. Poor Brahms'll have to wait another day. Liszt is done, however. Gute Nacht.

Thursday, February 22, 2001, 1:30 PM (written in Old English)

Bits are falling off. My Beethoven 7 score is old and the yellowed manuscript comes off in flakes on my shirt. Michael and Spiegel both promised it would snow tonight and their predictions were reified early, during my ice cream at lunch. Jenny's nose-piercing issues. The Brahms still not done. Chopin and Liszt pushing enharmonically out of their box, using pedal point as a crowbar.

Then again, bits are coming together. Beethoven 7 suddenly makes sense in score--clarinets in A down a third; horns in D just read in alto clef; tenor now legible. Synthesis of beats and music across the A minor allegretto, the polyrhythms I held for an hour last night on the skin of a drum; trance.

Six more days of February.

At lunch, after Spiegel and his dour meterological forbodings left, I got a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate sauce, pressed my feet against the heater in Sharples, and followed Beethoven 7 through with the score.

I hate literary discussion. I'm lying. No, I'm not. What role does Grendel play. Craig Williamson today: "If Grendel doesn't tell us anything about what it is to be human, then it's of no significance in the poem." True--and that's only where I like it. What do computational models of language tell us about what it is to be human? What do Neapolitan chords tell us about being human? (I have a little more of an instinct about the latter, which is why I come back to it more frequently. There's something more bloody about a Beethoven symphony than all the blood in Beowulf--yesterday I lay on the floor of the concert hall, the only sunny spot on campus, on the quilted Steinway cover while Michael Rutberg pounded out a sonata by that same scop.) Goddamn it, I haven't changed in the past two years--I'm still babbling about synthesis (as i was in my college application essay), still trying to recite Neruda to the del Puerto violin concerto. I'm double-majoring--maybe I should just bite the bullet and triple- in CS or math--but what kind of meaning am I looking for? --Christ, I'm waxing existential, as is Craig Williamson at the front of the room. Here, quick, look at this. --All forms of beauty. --Beethoven 7 still rocks within its own constraints; a 2/4 allegretto with tonic-dominant sonorous pizz and timp. I love this idiom. (And I can deal with the snow on the ground.)

Friday, February 23, 2001, 1:07 PM (partially written on the R3 SEPTA)

Woman in front of me on the train (I'm riding backwards--Olivia this summer always tried not to do that) is pink. A Philadelphian wood-sprite? like my sister's book of tree-fairies when we were little. The first thing I see of her is the pink scarf with white embroidery on it wound round her head and tying up her hair in back. Her glasses are rose-tinted, a rhinestone star tattooed into the corner of the left lens. Pink scarf around her neck; light maroon jacket. Tips and edges of her light ears are pink from cold, as are her cheeks. Eyelids (she bats them at her pink grapefruit juice) shaded a maybelline blush. Lips to match but there's no artificial coloring. The half-moons under her fingernails, which she's biting, are pink. What must it be like to so enjoy a color that you tint your world with it? I can see patches of snow on the receding banks of the train tracks through her glasses, and they glow a new-fallen rose. Her eyes are green.

SEPTA is invading my Shostakovich--I can't tell waht's the train whistle and what's the G-flat of the trombone.

My away message this morning said, slogging through the snow, past the art museum. finding a new viola teacher. NOT piercing my nose. Seminar reading on the train; Shostakovich 7 (left the Beethoven at A&C's last night) on headphones. Back before my 2nd concert of the day. I woke up at 7:30 AM (I can when I have to) and grabbed my viola from Lang, whatever music I could find--Sevcik, cello suites, Trauermusik--and, chaied and muffined thanks to Kohlberg and points, made my slightly breakfasted way down to the train station for the 9:06 AM train. (Note, dear reader, all these times so far say AM--ante-meridian! Are you proud of me or what.) I brought my reading for seminar with me, and S's Leningrad symphony on my discman (btw, i need new headphones--my old ones having broken, I think by my roommates earlier this year, i've coöpted Laurel's until she (a) notices and (b) wants them back).

I walked North of 30th Street Station, past the PMA, and located Judy Geist's house on 25th street, Shostakovich in my ears, stopping at a Whole Foods for a box of Tazo Passion tea for Laurel. (Elements of continuity across the U.S., no matter how commercial they are, especially this organic one, are comforting. I liked the fresh strawberries and overpriced dried miso in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.)

Judy Geist is cool. She has reddish-yellowish close-cropped hair, though Laura (Cline, my cool stand partner at PYO, who's her other student right now) says it's been through many colors recently. She's shorter and smaller than I am (which doesn't take a lot of doing; I'm 5'4" and can span only a minor ninth with my left hand), and the viola looks huge on her, too. She plays with her head over the viola, not detached and moveable like mine, but staring down the crosshairs of the fingerboard, intent on what she's doing. I think she has some fundamentally different ideas from the my own violistic philosophy that I'm slowly developing, but I think we'll be good for each other. We were both wearing blue jeans and a black shirt--an easy combination, but I interpreted it as a good omen. She'd taken from Joe in the past, and didn't like him at all, isn't playing at this Curtis bash in his honor that's going on. Her philosophy is so different from his. Music first, technique subordinate. Both have to be there--they both fully understand that--but it's all about where the primacy goes. She's Diedreėsque, and I like that in her. Even if I hadn't moved away from Madison, I'd've needed someone a little harsher than Diedre after a while (like perhaps Rictor), but she did me so much good from 10th to 12th grades. She said, I'm glad you've left Joe. So am I. It's weird playing for her, not having her know everything about me musically. She'll learn over the course of this semester that I have perfect pitch, that I tend to play too romantically, that my vibrato isn't as wide or as present as it always should be, that I've been doing music since I was 4 and am passionate about it, that I've had four semesters of music theory. But it's so hard to present my musical side as a whole. I think it might be impossible; all you can do for auditions is present the polished piece. The juror for an orchestra will never know what Bach's cello suites have meant to me since seventh grade.

Judy's house is cool, too. There are paintings all over the walls, not the dark victorian ones like on Joe's walls but colorful, some relatively cubist, and if not all happy, all vivacious. Sculpture. She brought me tea as I tuned. She has a little laptop on a small, three-legged table in the corner. I want to be an artist like her when I grow up. Watch, this'll completely color and set the pattern for my idea of the professional-musician-in-a-city ideal that I'm aspiring towards. I like her house. I think this is going to be a good relationship.

It was cool walking around Philly today, Friday morning. The sun was out, and though it was cold and the stupid philadelphians were fumbling with unused shovels and ice picks, it was bright. Did you know that there's a Rodin Museum downtown? I just went to the one in Paris ... guess I'll have to check this one out, too. (My favorites are still the caryatids in the Met, though.) I managed to accomplish everything I'd left in my away message and more. Seminar reading, new viola teacher, walking all over Philly--it was nice to explore the area around the PMA; i've never been that far North before in the city--, listening to Shostakovich 7. Got toothpaste and a rocking blue and red dinosaur toothbrush with a dinosaur head cap on it so if you put it in the music pocket of your viola case its bristles won't get all nasty!!, apricot scrub, a bottle of nice red nail polish, which has been on my list for a while. My nails are now painted "Thrill."

On a nother topic all together--PSYCHOSES! Dear god, how have Laurel and Jenny and I not killed each other yet this year? Julia Trippel remarked the other day that that's really an accomplishment, for all three of us still to be alive. Jenny won't let me pierce my nose. Pooper. I'm wearing this sticky thing around still until we talk again next week. Oh well, if nothing else, we'll have a reason to weekly make gado-gado and chat. :-)

Sunday, February 25, 2001, 9:07 PM

worlds colliding, says claire. and i believe her. it's nothing too extraordinary given swarthmore college, this w’rdness as it encompasses most eveything to an intertwined three degrees, maximum (though claire, we're still working on connecting to you in fewer than five). justin hall (found a page of his when not looking for anything swatrelated a month ago, i realized), apparently a legend (says jenny, and confirms the thousands of pages out there authored by his long-suffering wrists), i met in a place with red carpets and russian manuscripts the other night. a weird merry-go-round (i don't read cyrillic still ~ i need to take care of this), petar speaking german; jacob showed up and began massaging my shoulders (predictably: pasta bar); i was the only girl as tends to happen in locales such as the sun lab; there were more words than the unaltered state of mind would have produced (but when is that not true); awful microwaved rice didn't taste much better for the warmth but the plastic fork was amusing. but everybody hates a misanthrope (mondegreens at ross's party earlier). got to sleep well after 4:20 and apparently the trains didn't want to run at my beck. at least that meant more sleep.

godot, or at least part of him, around two saturday in frear to see jon's latest rendering of an opus. jesse and some chick i didn't know made it great. this is the song that doesn't end. crouching falafel hidden poop says alyssa, making a spike joke, and gabe passes a bottle of wine in the front row of lpac. ellpack. laurel and alyssa don't quite know kung fu like claire does, but they worked on it afterwards and are well on their way to scaling walls. i convinced gabe to let me drive his car, having had negligible amounts to drink to his gligible amounts, swearing that i drove stick, and promising to turn off the headlights. all of which was true. two boys and a "carful of girls" (which phrase extracted one of the former, with five names, from the sun lab). jenny and talia making brownies in the kitchen when we trooped down the squeaky wooden stairs intent on carrot cake. (best line from godot: « boot! -- carrot! ») tea, passion and raspberry, with ganked orange spice for claire. finally got beethoven seven (wish it had some kind of epithet) and eroica on winamp (david bowie joining in the fun), although my greenandpinkskinned mp3 player (or was it the psychedelica on the screen, delayed down to only one minute? that's the last time i let my computer drop acid) decided to fuck up, skip, repeat, and resize my resolution all over the place. (had to remove the pretty thing this morning; did it again.) i tutored in the morning, returned kasia's dvd, and returned to sleepiness, two horizontally-laced shoes, and two bowls of ramen. stole a sweatshirt and i really ought to do seminar reading now, sunday evening.

(but first--and you'll excuse the !chronology:) friday night p'yo played in wayne, on the squishy stage, so i was an honorary member of the oboe section. brahms three firebird mozart overture to clemenza di tito a chinese piece. i wish the high school idiots would watch, please dear god, just lift thine eyes to the mountains, whence cometh help with the little things like, oh, the tempo, how much time you'll be taking on that rubato, and you might actually make us a damn good orchestra. iff Will turned pages, lord help him. but laura cline is still my favorite. says i should pierce my nose. damn but i want to. and i turn her pages, and she knows the notes, and takes from judy, too. luke is a funny character (three t-p's ~ is that allowed?) and i haven't seen him in six or eight weeks; good to chat with. says a colleague found my journal from the orchestra's summer tour, and spent hours transfixed. not as bad as pinker's woman (two references in one entry. damn how he infiltrates--not as omnipresent as chomsky (the gnome is still on my table, girls, with obscene flowers), who's cited only less than the bible) who poured her heart out to a simple shrink program, but i was pleased with its reception.

the demons refused to leave my pasta tonight, despite rigorous exorcism. that ramen-and-egg may have to last me a lot longer. there's gado-gado in the fridge, in my new Tupperware (which is not made out of plastic, but tupper. come on. pewterware : pewter :: silverware : silver :: tupperware : tupper. Don't they fucking teach logic anymore). we got a dozen eggs yesterday at six PM and today by the same hour there were four left. staples, good to have onions and butter and eggs again, and let us resume the cooking for ourselves, the pretending we're not on the meal plan. who wants to live off-campus and cook with me next semester? say you do and come live with me and be my love and we will all the pleasures prove. (but i'm abroad in the fall--joint-tenancy?) pasta bar, i say, revolting, especially without lemons. computational models of language on an empty stomach now.

Tuesday, February 27, 2001, 2:18 PM

the harmonic rhythm is speeding up. it was pierogi day again. i wonder, how many times will i equate pierogis with happiness before I graduate? plattersful in the vegetarian line. no one takes the nasty rice or the eggplant surprise, but there are a half dozen in line for the Polish half-moons of potato. this time Ross, Jenny, Hedda, and Joel-o and I take them outside and heap Laurel's new tupperware full of them away from the prying eyes of the lunch ladies. (thank god we're at least away from the lunch ladies of elementary school. adam sandler, always trenchant, you said they wore brown orthopedic shoes ...)

but it was just pierogi day, last week. I'm kind of taken aback at their reėmergence.

today feels ridiculously collegiate. it's fifty out--nicer than we've had in a while--and there's some guy in a turtleneck, upside-down backwards visor, walking barefoot across the courtyard where jeremy's throwing a frisbee; an indian girl in a dark red skirt (she has shoes but they're thin sandals) pads across the grass with a camera; dorms and libraries and even the belltower on tarble (so aching to be chartres but too stunted and born too late--what more can be done in its architectural idiom? like a twenty-first century composer still trying to write tonal music). It's SimCollege2001, like the city or world computer game we played in middle school. So artificial. Alyssa's reading Kafka and the hebrew bible and interpretation theory; i read about computational models of language and construct networks to model the past tense and i analyze brahms; jenny studies orgo and spanish ... everyone's sitting around learning things, and right now it looks like we're on a fucking movie set.

i'm strangely apathetic right now. even though it's Orange day. nails redone in honor. but yeah, the harmonic rhythm is speeding up. Not only of Brahms' stacks of thirds--his ninth chords, his eleventh cords, these piles of sonorities, like a vertical orchestra, tiered in glass, the celli stacked in ascending thirds up to their homonym the coeli (et in terra pax hominibus), no conductor, just circular symbiosis of harmonies. Not only of Brahms, who now changes chords twice per bar, stepping up the usual one-per progression. But of pierogies, of people and their progressions through my life--stay longer, please--of the days (it's almost march), of colors on my nails (from Thrill to Chop-Chop in two days). Let the apathy pass (it was bad last semester when it hit).

Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie
Boogie. altimboog[ie]. lying on jenny's bed reading shit i'll never understand and have very little desire to. so beautiful.

i fell asleep, curled in hugeness and warmth, last night, and slept for almost eight hours. woke up happy and with my hair down. and now, despite the orange and the weather, i'm not sure what i think of the music i'm listening to. it's fabulous and i hope it stays that way.

all this ©nori heikkinen, February 2001

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