april, 2001

Monday, April 2, 2001, 5:03 PM - 11:27 PM

i've been writing less frequently recently, i notice. maybe because that's the thoughts are taking place in an entirely different corner ("region," okay, mr. psych minor) of my brain, unrelated to this normal thought process. it needs to be filled at all times--during brahms requiem, in the middle of the fugues in bach's b-minor mass, when i lose contact either online or in person. i'm predictable in my own ways, i was told in ML when i arrived last night, dead, after two concerts. perhaps but that's how i define need right now. and it's more than just butterflies.

this weekend was a mess of choral warhorse craziness. brahms requiem--in english! how ironic, or just plain stupid is it that we performed A German Requiem in english in Germanfuckingtown? Rar. Could have kicked the chorus. Or the director, I suppose, would have been more accurate. That and Wagner, and a little Saint-Saëns, for Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoons. The nights were consumed with Bach's Mass in b-minor, which, while glorious, is over two hours long, and is so draining it should function as a sewage system for a large metropolis. Damn near killed me Saturday night (though after an hour or so I perked up and went to Dip! with ross, alyssa, and laurel. fuck but the newly-april water is COLD.) Sunday night it was worse. Having lost an hour of sleep to inevitable causes and a couple more to evitable ones, seven o'clock still felt like eight, and two sharps on the page of the mass felt like eight. which wouldn't make sense but they didn't. so, as principal, i had to relinquish all conscious control over Bach and my fingers and hope that i'd trained my fingers and brain well enough to let them translate the stimuli from the notes through my optic nerve directly into motor impulses, without processing. for the most part they did--the greatest challenge was keeping my eyes open to see if john was beating in two or four (i'm so glad no one uses alla breve anymore!--just too confusing on not enough sleep, and the measures are too full). but once registered, once an upbeat was noted and a pattern distinguished (none of this is a conscious process at this point), my right hand subdivided while my left (thank god for the hippocampus) followed the notes through a few fugues and in and out of chromatic regions. i have never done anything so physically and mentally draining as play two choral warhorses in a day. at least in the Bach we have tacet movements.

This was all mitigated by Saturday afternoon, when Peter called me up around 3:00, not having eaten, and proposed we order chinese to Underhill (where he was working at the time). I accepted, and showed up with two beers (thank you, aaron!) to complement the meal. It made me so sillily happy to drink beer and eat lo mein in the music library--i told fanjul, whom i encountered online, and he said "ah, you have found nirvana. you are now an enlightened soul." i felt like i was. :-)

I'm having another crisis--not in the laurel sense--i'm fine installing linux, and i like bowie ;-) -- but about my major. Or perhaps it's on the larger level. The music isn't in question; that i want to do still and has never vacillated. However, this whole linguistics / computer science / math / cognitive science / symbolic language thing has been tossing and turning around in my head for too long, and all that bouncing around it's done hasn't taken the edge off, any; rather, it's just been leaving more and more impressions as it ricochets around my fucking brain. Should i be a linguistics major, still? I'd have to take Structure of ASL, which I don't want to, really, and write a thesis, which could be cool in that department. I'd also have to do Syntax, but I want to do that one, and then after that I'd be done with the major (yeah--i've already done six credits in it). Cognitive Science, on the other hand, would be harder--I'd get to take some cool classes i wouldn't otherwise, like AI and psycholinguistics (i recall telling Nadav i wanted to take that last semester, to which he told me, "you're psycholinguistic!"). I'd also get to do a thesis, which i think I'd enjoy much more there than in Ling. However, since it's not an officialy major (just a concentration with as many credits as a major), I coudn't use to count for my major for the 20-course rule. Which means, because i've taken so much music performance, that having to not count those courses towards the twenty because they're in the department of my major would fuck me over--i.e., make me six courses short of the rule. Unless I push through stuff from AP tests and UW-Madison, which I'm in the process of doing. Bitches at the registrar's office.
     This raises a small problem, however, about me, and what the fuck I'm doing in academia. I love a place like Swarthmore. I love the people it attracts; i love the level and topics of discussion; i love it in all its double-inflected ridiculosityness. I want to stay in a similar intellectal environment forever. Granted, it can be found off-campus, and off campuses in general--the other day during intermission of the concert we were playing, Luke and Anna and I somehow got onto a discussion of D.H. Lawrence, and guilt versus shame. But fuck, if i have to ever live in the real world, and i mean the real real world, I'm going to hate it. I started realizing this today, i think--not only saying it, but picturing myself in the world, the world past swarthmore that all the graduating seniors are fast approaching (< 2 months!). They're going to dissipate and just to fucking whom do they think they're going to talk to?! Julie in New York; Martin in Munich or Zurich or some place ending with -ich; Peter perhaps in Philly ... what do they do when they leave?
     The problem is, perhaps, that I haven't found a place in academia that really makes me groove. I love it all, but i hate it all. I want to major in English just to read all the classics, major in philosophy to read Plato and Kant, and then i remember that I hate literature and philosophy. I feel like I'm not going to come out of college being truly "educated" somehow, which is what it must be about if I'm not learning any kind of employable skill. Right? Jenny maintained at lunch today that no way, liberal arts graduates never matriculate with a marketable skill and they always get jobs. Which seems like the definition of "unskilled labor" to me, which is what I will sell my soul to avoid.
     I'm intrigued by linguistics, symbolic language, and cognitive science, but i'm just not passionate about any of it is (which is of course more apparent in contrast to someone who is). What i want to do, what I want to be when I grow up (aside from the unattainable mezzo-soprano), hasn't changed. In years. I want to play my viola. The passion still resides and I'm still babbling about mahler and/or fugues at every chance I can possibly rationalize, redundancy be damned. But i'm scared, because musicia (as opposed to academia, i guess) is notoriously stupid. I think Madison and Swarthmore have mislead me--there, i encountered people like Diedre and Rictor, who taught me to play not only with passion but intelligently; here, Daniel notes that we play better than Juilliard and the New York Phil (in extremely minor respects as these things go, but that's all i'm talking about here) because we think about the music; here, I have the theory and history to go with all these notes on all these pages, and had I world enough and time to practice, it would be the not far from the best of both worlds (given a better orchestra or two, it would be). But that won't last. Should i end up at a conservatory for grad school, who will be there but good players? Do i have to take my swatties with me? That's the very thing Mark Vonnegut railed against in The Eden Express -- these ex-Swatties still feeling the masochistic social urges in their blood, and travelling in packs from swarthmore enclave to swarthmore enclave. It's so valid but it's kind of scary. Real life, real world, car, job, summer, women, the alps, all that, but the only swatties within six countries are ones you only ever encountered at international student meetings during freshman week. Unless you take them with you. And could I, now or ever, leave this place and face that?
     On a related and still-depressing note, Sean Lewis was mocking intense sophomores today in cs129. We were all mocking the freshmen who come in wanting to major in six things and take five classes per semester plus swim varsity and still have X gpa and Y list of extracurriculars, which I certainly was, but I'm not far enough away from myself to find it really funny. the seemingly-imminent burnout and jading is so fucking frightening. as a fifth-year-senior -- as a fourth-year, even -- must you be so disillusioned with everything around you, with the apparent physical, mental, and temporal limits that you've encountered during your time here, that what you were as a sophomore (or what I am, i guess i'm saying) is now just dismissable as cute and sophomoric? Today i was being (indirectly, it's true) accused of having passion and energy. Does swarthmore inherently sap this?! I was reading a page from the college Viewbook today on Oliver's door--it makes it seem so ... magical. one big panacea, florida. And that's what it was to me freshman year, and the year before coming. And now the more i settle into this fabulous, twisted environment, the more i see beneath its lovely veneer to the weird machinations of whatever lives beneath the rock that is the swarthmore bubble. it's black and scary.
     Fuck growing up. Fuck it with the safer-sex workshop wooden dildo.

Jenny, for what it's worth, insists your major doesn't matter in college, and that all will be right in the end. She sounds so sanguine.

"I hate jobs with practical applications." --Nori
"Then you should go to grad school!" --Jenny

i indirectly benefited from the Rose Tattoo Café's purchase of self-named flowers, and now twelve beautiful ones are on my table. just one more thing on the long list of those which make me extremely happy recently, despite the above tirade.

does the conservatory of music in Zurich have a webpage or way I can contact them? Can i be an au-pair in Switzerland? (am i stupid?) raaaaaaaaaaar.

Wednesday, April 4, 2001, 6:53 PM

11:15 PM, 4 April 2001: i could sit here and cry, beethoven makes me so happy. the fifth symphony. i hate clichés because they exist (because they trivialize genius), but how can you take a two-tone, four-note motive and create a perfect sonata form of classical brilliance? the whole work. the thirds at the end are not cliché in the bad a cappella arrangement way (ben and i walking down the hill; "i touch myself" emanating from the belltower), rather, they're the logical extension of a descending scale in doubled eighths, these simple manifestations of genius that make me cry.
     ben says, listening to beethoven's fifth. i can never identify his symphonies when nori sings them to me. no one got the second movement. four flats and a viola soli; who would? has thrown two people who should have known so far, and an entire class of fourth-semester theory students.

ramen. pool. bach.

noise. i need sound around me at all times. driving in kasia's car this afternoon (i love her for letting me borrow it but goddamn, i hate automatic. give me a manual any day (i like it for the same reasons i want to go to linux, i suppose), a lever, and a place to stand ...) -- driving in kasia's car, with no stereo, and a little too chilly to roll the window down, all i had was the bartók in my brain and these thoughts about noise. give me anything -- joni mitchell to jean-michel to jules massenet -- and so long as it occupies at least my subconscious (the better if i can sing along), the happier i am. and only when i'm asleep do i like the silence that comes with breathing. but marTin has been shaking that up, recently, brian eno or jean-michel or whoever streaming slowly from my computer's speakers as we fall asleep. and even my sleep is shared. so, i don't know -- is the symphony really a relatively obselete art form since the industrial revolution and the concomitant noisy cities; are minimalism and the sounds of a ping-pong ball (extra-ladezone (gebäude 9 version)) taking over the ambience that was once perfectly expressed by tchaikovsky's romanticism, and now by this jean-michel bruit?
     yo. i don't know.

i cannot even think about summer anymore. all possibilites are equally attractive and equally abhorrent. madison -- i could easily see myself there, sans car but i'd pump up the tires on my bike and learn to pedal up the unglacierflattened hills (or over--campus is pretty much level east a few miles), german at UW in the mornings, on the beach (the one on east johnson) for the afternoons, viola in Humanities, playing with a chamber / orchestra / chamberorchestra or just myself, concerts in the evenings (bach dancing and dynamite society), find the capoeira group somewhere and get white pants and my ass in shape, bascom orange chocolate chip ice cream, sa-bai thong, wasabi, and lulu's to counteract the capoeira ... but with whom would i hang out? solo concerts are never as fun. emilie and alana will be home but even though i see them and i love them in college, in some ways they're relics of high school, of singing and discovering feminism and suspensions and ritual. singing in the belltower the other day with allison and them, a fraction of the old MCC and our old songs, i realized that while we're fabulous at blend now and these girls are the ones with whom i have some of the most musical fun ever, something was not growing. we had dynamics but we were not dynamic. so, on the beach in madison, i would just run into old newspaper clippings and national merit semifinalists and 3.89 GPAs from high school and neither one of us would have changed in the other's eyes, we'd only pass as we did in the halls of West and i'd be reminded that in some really obnoxious way, madison is static, and i'm not sure i can go back to it until i've got some good distance and something substantial under my proverbial belt, something with which to earn reëntry. which i certainly don't have yet.
     Other summer possibilities exist, but only somehow in a non-feasible way. My requirements are:

  • self-sufficiency;
  • making a profit;
  • learning German (for vienna in the fall).
I can't incur travel expenses, which means (aside from no Berkeley -- goddamn it!) i either stay home, stay here i guess, or go to where i'll be in the fall -- Europe. Which means a German-speaking country, as that's the target language of the summer.
     and being in Europe has suddenly become thoroughly unacceptable. my one proviso for myself upon beginning all this almost six weeks ago (!) was that i never delude myself, never allow myself to believe more than what is. which means planning no further than dinner tonight; tomorrow at the latest. So, here and now i must rule out any aestival option that has the word "europe" in it.
     I suppose i could stay here, in theory; sublet the barn to myself ... [noted one hour later: nope, it's already been sublet--which is good but rules out staying here] ... but that still involves finding a job. fuck it all.
     as i say -- i know summer will have sun, by definition, and that will make me happy. (I'm thriving in this sunlight we have now. even though sunday was perhaps the worst day ever to lose an hour, i'm so glad to have the extra light through till seven-odd-o'clock now. makes me so happy.) but the situation, the people around me or not around me, and the possible nebulouness? what have i gotten myself into.

if anyone is looking to buy me a present for some reason (which i can't fathom right now ... half-birthday a few weeks past; graduation nowhere in sight; i haven't completed anything earthshakingly wonderful ...), you can buy me joni mitchell's blue. i love every song on it. especially, recently, my old man and the last time i saw richard, from the latter of which comes:

you think you're immune, go look at your eyes
They're full of moon
You like roses and kisses ...
lunatic, i was called today. sure. definintely etymologically. (eyes fulla moon -- stop looking at zurich.)

i need to reread the unbearable lightness of being. i've been feeling awfully light recently.

Thursday, April 5, 2001, 26:30 AM

pancake soup. my journals are filled with intensity recently, says laurel. and even my mom's noticing things which, while they may not be true, wouldn't be out of place if they were. interesting navel(snapple)gazing, when people begin to see more about you than you necessarily do about yourself.

this afternoon, after a thoroughly soporific russian music class and an equally sleep-inducing session of old english (which has disappointingly morphed into a lit class -- i really fucking couldn't care less about the Canterbury Tales (sorry, dad)), daniel decided he was too sick and lax to teach, so made alyson re-give a presentation she'd just done for her "comparative images of the body" class (yes, we go to a liberal arts school). hollis and i performed cage (4'33") as a duet. with half an hour left, sara suggested we take daniel to crumhenge, as he'd never been. mr. swank new york juilliard in calvin klein lunettes and shiny black shoes (reflets dans l'eau [de la crum, bien sûr] comme dans ses chaussures), mincing his way through the underbrush of the burgeoning spring -- not yet blossom (but i painted my toes green -- just as i removed a line from my .plan, the pink polish from spring break was no longer relevant). he laughs that we skinny-dip monthly (april was cold).
     on the way back, encountered a pitiful sight -- a chair dragged out from tarble and in the shade (can't see with sunlight on the computer screen), a senior trying to finish his thesis and simultaneously enjoy the sunlight. (must've worked--there are now 70 pages on my table, next to the remnants of pancakes thwarted by our awful pans.)
      hollis, david and i singing in the belltower, mozart and rounds, teaching them to j. and to daniel (<-- orchestra conductor & ear training prof; often beset by adolescent moments during which he whines about the lack of sunlight and becomes unable to teach, only to lapse into Meistermode that evening in rehearsal and inform the brass just how much they suck).
      my roommates drinking beer and woodchucks on the courtyard; pizza on the way; ross and hedda wearing her zip-off pantlegs on their heads.
     my god, but it's spring; my toenails green and other relevant things omitted and repolished.

i think i'll succumb to a domestic urge soon and buy a real pancake pan.

Sunday, April 8, 2001, 6:08 PM

oh my GOD, this is so frustrating. i have an entirely new body, sort of, an entirely new paradigm of operations here. fucking Linux.

not that i don't like it. not that i didn't want it on my computer. not that i really haven't been planning to do this for about a year now, since i first really encountered the system in a CS class here. (just for you, martin, i typed those two letters with the caps lock key on.) however, it's like a haircut, laurel. My roommate came downstairs this afternoon (fuck, it was after noon ... gotta work on this whole waking-up thing on sundays ... maybe) and asked if i would cut her hair. just a few inches off the back. with pleasure, i would. i enjoy cutting hair. but even though she wanted it, suggested it, and brought the towel downstairs so i could do it for her, now post-cut, she's unsure about her new head. it feels weird to her, and she's not quite sure where it ends, how it will swish around if she shakes her curls, and what her ears are like in relationship to its ends.

welcome to Linux, Laurel.

i'm sorry for curling up into a ball on my bed yesterday and not responding to queries. (too much estrogen in my blood, i'm telling you.) it was my kind of unconscious reaction to the electronica coming from my computer's speakers and the terminal windows flashing all over the place, you staring at the monitor and changing the fundamental paradigm of my, i don't know, outlook? a new interface with the world. i'm talking to my computer in a new way and to western tonality in a new way, to name only two of the ways yesterday in which you were whipping my usual perspective into new forms. this metaphor may have outlived its usefulness (though it was quite a handy way to refer to both during spring break), as we've opened the can of worms without that which i thought was going to open it. but i'm typing this in Vi(m?); my computer is now officially named after my self-selected color (as to which the o'keefe is witness), and i can see the text behind the machinations of these crazy machines, finally. so, i don't know. the paradigm shift won't be complete until i hear something else yet, i think (powder kegs ought to explode from both ends), at which point i might just turn into this fucking penguin. end this tonality with the prelude to act three of T & I and the resolution of its lingering dominant seventh chord (Wagner was the last of the romantics). and where did this Ambient Century go? ... to trance.

Monday, April 9, 2001, 5:53 PM

spring is here. and damn am i glad of it. (we knew it was coming for a while -- my mother sent me an email to <must.be.spring@orange.belligerence.net>.) last night a four-a.m. rabbit hovering in the wet grass between the lodge and parrish, as i tracked down the connectionism readings for the next day. good night, moon (full above the trees). good night mush (we've been consuming kosher-for-passover japanese pancakes, indirectly (and minus the matzo meal) from eve). good night lady whispering hush. (finished reading and computer configuring at six a.m., so not quite night. but it's before these two geeks -- two computers, one desk, an ethernet coupler -- went to bed, so by definition, it must still be night.)

i'm sophomore enough for the both of us. went to class this afternoon barefoot, and in my orange dress i made this summer. redolent of last june and july when i wore this, having just made it, around the italian peninsula, hair similarly up-down-in-my-face, the same scent (which i just spilled all over my room). and the same beautiful eighty degrees fahrenheit.

an egg raid on sharples, laurel and i in our dresses and borrowed shoes. five eggs each from the fridge behind the grill. might last us until tomorrow. passed the sapphodils (ross called the flowers in front of the statue of the greek poet), the large brass woman sunbathing. i'm the only person on campus likes her, laurel reminds me. i love that statue. hollow enigmatic brass lover poet woman settled so comfortably in the middle of the flowers. goddess, but she's beautiful. and even more so when she's smiling in the sun.

and as i bask in this i know i need two more years. i'm sophomore enough for the both of us, and while i'm in the sun he's working with the so-named microsystems, doing what precisely i don't know, but there's enough of it to keep busy for sixteen hours at a time, and that's without the added strain of thesis. so i feel it rather incumbent upon myself to dance around barefoot (they didn't yell at me in Trotter or Sproul or Tarble or Parrish or any of the buildings which i entered sans chaussures, as they did in the musée d'orsay and the musée picasso a couple months ago), to let my hair down and wear orange, laugh, return for the riesling, and play bach in the sun. this crazy senior, on the other hand, does enough work for the both of us. (yes i'm off to go do theory and Old English in a few, never fear, mother.) there's a wall of white noise half the time behind his eyes, and he cautions me against going honors (i'm not) or writing a thesis (i'm going to). anything that i do, though, will be done in two years. Vienna in the fall (that took few tries of typing--first 'munich' came out, then 'zurich'), spring again at swarthmore, having missed the depressing winter and weirdness of new freshmen; senior year of relative anonymity and preparing to leave. To go where, i have no idea. i set myself no limits. however, this place needs to chew on me for longer. it's a four-year gestation and it's weird to watch yourself growing up like this, one stage (roughly) per year and a chunk of life and maturity accomplished in four. we're at such different places in some ways. such similar ones in others. i hate the former aspect. but it provides an interesting perspective.

my friends and roommates are rebelling against this OS. "can i still check my email from your computer, Nori? do you have netscape? i want your scrolly mouse wheel back! when do you get your sound card working? can i burn CDs?" yes; yes; soon; soon; soon. keep the faith, girls. remember george michael. (remember voting for gore.) remember that this was my choice. and look, there's a vi book on my desk now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2001, 4:25 PM

paradigm shift complete.

Wednesday, April 11, 2001, 10:41 PM

alyssa -- and theSpark.com, ironically enough -- were right. i've switched to linux; i ran out of reasons not to. and i'm very pleased with it. i don't quite know enough yet to get around the entire system competently, but there's a learning curve, as with all good things, it seems. (Here i must separate threads.) i got aaron's vi book, which is helping slowly, and i really enjoy the code-like feel of a (mostly) all-text OS. which is precisely why i ever considered switching in the first place. i realize, the more i do this, that i really liked the programming i've done, i've just hated the classes. (same with literature, actually. academia, why do you suck ... ?) (Reweaving:) so, figuring out this new machine will be fun. i'm [extremely] pleased with myself.

goddamn, some days i wish this journal weren't public. but then, where would the fun be? ;-)

off to go analyze this two-part invention, F major. fa la fa do fa fa, mi re do re do ti la ... not quite sure what gerry wants but a motivic analysis shouldn't be that hard.

(i amuse myself. the most ridiculous metaphor ever.)

Thursday, April 12, 2001, 25:58 PM

oh mon dieu. nu en bleu. regard cette picasso.

ruach. l'chaim. yes, the lodge five kitchen, accessible via tunnel from our Deux. yes, maneschewitz. yes, i fucking left my milon ivrit at home! why, oh why, do i ever leave language references anywhere except within my immediate reach?! i ask you. and i have to ask you in english, sadly, because i cannot (one word, dear) fucking find it in hebrew! --it doesn't really matter, as we toasted to life, women, the viola, and any other hebrew nouns that swam across ouur moderately-addled memories. between the three roommates we did pretty fucking okay (two jews, one non-jew, one keeping kosher for pesach).

and how many reasons do i have now to be happy? do i need to make a list? (does it need to be php? --soon):

  • scheherezade tonight -- daniel leading the string sectional, we actually got shit done, and effectively, so when the winds, brass, and full percussion section came back and joined us at 8:45 tonight, we put together the entirety of Sinbad's rollicking ship, careening through waves of arpeggiated triads and sevenths. fuck but i love russian music, and i love that it worked! and that i get to play it with these people!
  • more russian music: not going to that class today! hallelujah, because it SUCKS
  • singing bach chorales with my music 14 dorks. love them. love them. (different thems.) daniel made me play bass and alto, while singing soprano, from open score. i don't read that clef, dude. but my pitch kicked in this morning in theory and i was unable to find my place in the b-minor two-part invention we were listening to because it was in full a-minor. so it helps. gerry calls it a curse; i love fixed do.
  • the blossoms on these arbres. goddamn but i love it when ils fleurissent. this sudden coloration from small buds ... must be spring, indeed, as jenny and peter are cutely proving, along with the rest of the campus. but the dew on the grass, the rain and lightning on the president's lawn with Laurel (the rose garden was too exposed), now two lines off my .plan and seven points elsewhere -- these diminishings are augmentations. which any theorist will have trouble proving to you but which i can do with this smile that shines brighter each day. (see anni's december 5 haiku.)
  • after music 14 today, sitting in the hallway with amy bauer (the music 15 prof), rishi, maya; amy grilling gerry about his religious upbringing and his tenure studying with oliver messaien, the birdcalls and the catholicism; the colored post-facto score of ligeti, and the latter's language -- replete with a phonology, syntax, grammar -- reaffirm my majors! double! music/ling! (submit that sophomore paper, dude.)
  • my roommates, who abducted me tonight and even called the robot lab to inform its denizen that "no ransom will be enough," then dragged me off to a kitchen three lodges away and had their kosher way with me.
  • my other roommate, who has sworn off cannoli for pesach! i mean lent! ha. never mind giving up webcomincs (roban), sweets (amelia), or anything else useful and pious, kasia has given up driving to genuardi's to buy cannoli! hehehehe, she cracks me up.
  • whom do you think. and why do you think. and why do i need to put php up. and i love i love this format, this groove, these buds on the trees, this chaim, these languages, this ligeti, this mahler and this trance (even without a sound card!)
  • (and, sort of in the same vein ...) -- VIENNA! i got the email today, telling me i was accepted!

    Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 15:21:22 -0500
    From: Patricia Collins Jones <PCJONES@DEPAUW.EDU>
    Subject: DPU Vienna Program

    It is a pleasure to inform you that you have been ACCEPTED to the DePauw University Program in Vienna. You will be hearing from Nancy Weggerson of the DePauw International Studies Department who will facilitate all of the logistics for you.

    Best wishes,
    Patricia Collins Jones, Dean
    School of Music

    which means, in the fall, i will be away from this goddamned institution (i love it but eight straight semesters would drive me insane (as i'm told i already am, wide-eyed and lunatic)), and playing MUSIC ! in its seat in the western world. all i've been wishing for and more. i love i love i love.

... and so, i am happy. and so will i end tonight -- matzah brai, maneschewitz, and martin. three m's and that's all i need right now.

i love i love i love.

Saturday, April 14, 2001

Saturday, April 14, 2001 : 25:05 AM

milan kundera on the lawn, worth courtyard, this afternoon. brought out my paper journal i never use; in all orange i soaked up so much sun and happiness. i was just sprawled there for 3+ hours, smiling, hair up when it was hotter; down as the shadows extended over the hollow courtyard and canopied the reach from the tree where eve and tim ('00; never knew him then) sat with beers (and underneath which i found nine woodchuck bottlecaps), to the pines behind the lodges at six PM, i wrote i was

lying on an orange scarf/blanket, on top of Martin's yellow shirt, in all orange (tank top and neon velcro shorts), sunglasses, having gone through 1/2 of a roll of film on these cute people drinking coffee ice cream and wild turkey, in Worth Courtyard.

i have my soundcard back! or rather, a different one, temporarily, that doesn't go as loud, but it still plays de-phazz, rockwell church, bach, and the propellorheads. :) the antepenultimate one says:

oh, i am dreaming, i am waltzing you tonight
and we're twirling through the madness, and dipping in the night
and we'll laugh about the good times, and cry about the way
life goes on, and on, and on, and on ...
oh, no, joti and nathan, don't you see, einmal ist keinmal? i love rereading this one. thank you, mom, for sending it me! (<-- possibly the best package ever, rivaled only by the one you sent last april around this time: two pairs socks, dove dark chocolate eggs, ghiradelli dark raspberry chocolate, a monet umbrella, and the unbearable lightness of being! go easter bunny.)

This morning i heard an owl hoot and was suddenly scared that the bird would carry me off. While this was previously only a fairy-tale occurrence, now somehow everything which was previously on the remote abstract is now in the very real and very present. It's now possible for the owl to swoop down out of the fully-blooming magnolia and carry me off.

It's beautiful and frightening.

Tuesday, April 17, 2001, 10:17 AM

ten seventeen ante-meridian and the shuttles aren't running anymore. reason number [x] why i couldn't live in this dorm. ah well, good thing i don't ... (?) but with the sun up and me down i must do something useful with what i have. (a computer running linux. a bathrobe. a sleeping boy.) failing figuring out his mp3 server (and thus failing the bach i wanted in two different ways before noon), i'm cleaning up this directory system and small mess of unposted php. it's served its purpose. (do i really want to try and implement php in the future? would that take down the purpose i've got going of self-censorship here? an issue to consider. but i think i've got to write some of this somewhere.)

there's a song was in my head all yesterday.

I'm Only Sleeping
(John Lennon, Paul McCartney)

When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I'm still yawning
When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream (Float up stream)

Please, don't wake me, no, don't shake me
Leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping

Everybody seems to think I'm lazy
I don't mind, I think they're crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find there's no need (There's no need)

Please, don't spoil my day, I'm miles away
And after all I'm only sleeping

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window
Taking my time

Lying there and staring at the ceiling
Waiting for a sleepy feeling...

Please, don't spoil my day, I'm miles away
And after all I'm only sleeping

Keeping an eye on the world going by my window
Taking my time

When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I'm still yawning
When I'm in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream (Float up stream)

Please, don't wake me, no, don't shake me
Leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping

it was the first thing i heard in the morning, and it stayed with me all day. singing it in lang when writing counterpoint (got michael rutberg joining in). in tarble playing pool (the pinball machine tried to accompany with Money (That's What I Want) -- right group; wrong tune). finally switched to zap mama on the way over (rain ; under monet) last night. how these things will stick.

this semester, as i had hoped, is my semester of Non-Death. a silly thing to plan but at swarthmore a good one. i recall last semester saying that while i would be doing less music this semester, i'd appreciate it in the long run. and look -- Vienna in the fall (Oliver assures me that it's "all that and more"); right now i have swat orchestra and PYO, the occasional gig here and there (rishi's concert or the bach b-minor mass, for example). people ask me if i have time to hang out with them and i do. celina called me up yesterday -- haven't seen her in nine months; won't see her for nine more (but then she'll be at swat) and i was able to go to paces with her. and with peter last night. and i don't have rehearsal every day of the week. and while i miss the chamber music, while this was inevitable, i am so happy to be not dying. so happy to be sophomore. doing my work but not killing myself over it. laughing at horseradish in WaWa at what, 2:30 AM? shooting pool (we lost a dollar. that means i have $3001 to go on this pool-shark thing) against computer science geeks. getting carded at buddakan with ross's family et al. (bitches, i'm five months away and you're too swank to bother with that crap -- oh well, vienna in the fall, hehe :-). milkshakes with celina and cake & espresso with peter. terrycloth bathrobes; desks; long-term contacts; yellow toothbrushes; losing bobby pins. linux and shell-scripting.

    List of what I could do with $10 (anybody feeling generous?)
  • go to Kingdom of Vegetarians
  • buy a new ID that would scan
  • pay Jenny (or Allison) back
  • acquire Sapporo, Corona, or some riesling
  • make $20 at pool (hehe)
  • do all of the above again with my new pool money

ran into marié. she says we should make baqlawa. next sharples run we do (not the stealing-eggs kind; the buying-flour kind), í'm putting in a phyllo and walnuts order. baqlawa and ligeti. marié's so cool.

presentation in fifteen. he won't want to miss it. my class is canceled this afternoon and all i have to do is watch a movie; read twelfth night. life is so hard (laments alyssa). :-) shuttles aren't running. i'll shake flowers on my head on the way back.

Wednesday, April 18, 2001, 6:59 M

just came from a concert given by the Slowind Woodwind Quintet, four-thirty in the concert hall. panels half-open and sun on their feet and music, brown on the bassoon and making the french horn look extremely ornate, sparkling like versailles. as much music as i've been to, i've never seen anything like that. (i've obviously been focusing on the orchestral and string side of things.) i realize that my closest experience with a bassoon before had likely been my old LP of peter and the wolf when i was two or so. shira vardi (daughter of cellist Uri at UW) played, but that doesn't mean i heard her. such a random conglomeration of instruments: flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn, and bassoon (with occasional extension of piccolo and english horn). they seem like instruments that would have extremely disparate and incongruous timbres, but i was amazed at how well they worked together. the low flute notes flowed smoothly into the clarinet's high registers, whose bass notes i sometimes confused for the bassoon's treble ones. the double reed of the oboe and bassoon distinguished themselves slightly from the more breathy clarinet and flute, but the nasal qualities ("reedy," it's aptly described as) sometimes morphed into the brass french horn tone. i was scared of the horn when it started playing (more irrational fears, but this one more grounded than the owl in the magnolia) -- i realized that, every time i hear a horn that loud, it usually precedes a full brass section, timpanic explosion, and string crisis in some tonic chord. i've only ever before heard one separately when we worked with Doug Hill on Brahms' four songs for female chorus, two horns, and harp. and einen hellen klang indeed resonated from these five wind instruments. i sat next to jack and bombarded the clarinetist with questions: why isn't the bassoonist wearing a jacket? why does the french hornist have two mutes? why does the clarinet sound so much like the flute in certain registers? what difference does the double reed make? why is an english horn just an oboe with a bell and a longer reed, but a french horn is brass and tangled up? (there's another one for you, park-on-a-driveway / drive-on-a-parkway.)

i want a cannoli. the urge is vague enough, however, that i'm not going to go to genuardi's and spend my last dollar on it.

there's a strange apathy on me. it's nothing like the apathy that grew out of the compost pile that was the end of last semester ... this is more centered and directed, and there are things i hang my days on. today tutoring was canceled (the kids are on spring break), so i did errands (turned in my sophomore paper, finally; got my advisor to sign stuff; gave my french AP scores to the registrar so they can give me credit for stupid non-university coursework for a class i didn't even take -- i hate this system; renewed CDs; got a bagel and tea (mm)). ran into jack who told me the concert was this afternoon, spent a lovely slow[ind] and solar après-midi listening to hindemith and others. a piece ("Answers") by Primol Ramovs, which while coolish, sounded like it belonged in the middle of the centre pompidou questioning its own existence and purpose. just makes me say hmmm. cool effects and i enjoyed hearing anything in this new texture of five woodwinds, but it was almost too linguistic. (declared today! music and linguistics. i'll probably vacillate from there but let's just get this hold taken off my pre-enrollment, shall we? (fuck y'all; i'll be in vienna in the fall, anyhow!)) Ligeti, too. music and language, i love them both (double major, yo! :-), and the symbolic link between them is too apparent and fascinating to ignore (= thesis, most like), but in the mean time, this pure translation between the two makes little to no sense. using a morphology of music. i don't understand, and i think ramovs and ligeti are on the wrong track so far as that goes. they're attacking the paradigm in the wrong way.

what i do believe is kundera, again; his talk of life and motifs:

"Early in [Anna Karenina] ... Anna meets Vronsky in curious circumstances: they are at the railway station when someone is run over by a train. At the end of the novel, Anna throws herself under a train. This symmetrical composition -- the same motif appears at the beginning and at the end -- may seem quite "novelistic" to you, and I am willing to agree, but only on condition that you refrain from reading such notions as "fictive," "fabricated," and "untrue to life" in the word "novelistic." Because human lives are composed in precisely such a fashion.
      They are composed like music. Guided by his sense of beauty, an individual transforms a fortuitous occurrence
(Beethoven's music, death under a train) into a motif, which then assumes a permanent place in the composition of the individual's life. ... Without realizing it, the individual composes his life according to the laws of beauty even in times of greatest distress.
[emphasis added; The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera, p. 52]
and also:
The bowler hat was a motif in the musical composition that was Sabina's life. It returned again and again, each time with a different meaning, and all the meanings flowed through the bowler hat like water through a riverbed. ...
      Now, perhaps, we are in a better position to understand the abyss separating Sabina and Franz: he listened eagerly to the story of her life and she was equally eager to hear the story of his, but although they had a clear understanding of the logical meaning of the words they exchanged, they failed to hear the semantic susurrus of the river flowing through them. ... [ibid., p. 88]

I'm so enjoying rereading this now. remind me to read it again next fall, or even in a year, or something, and see what i take from it then. This summer, while i liked it (i even copied that last paragraph into my notebook while in Prague and reading it), it meant something completely different. this is what i've decided college is about -- not a place of learning, though certainly that, but a period of learning. and the weights and semantics of that word "learning" are completely different in each of those two senses. whatever it may mean, i'm learning a lot. and i love this.

i told jenny yesterday, sometimes i think i codify my life too much. sometimes i think that's true, that writing all these bits and pieces of my days boxes my experiences into seamless ideas, that the process of putting this all online for whoever you are to see it actually alters the memory, and i will remember chunks and vignettes as opposed to washes. but that's perhaps i want to remember -- in photos (of which i'm quickly amassing a billion) and in these journal entries. This thing is a year and a week old, or was yesterday -- my first entry went up April 10th, 2000, near the end of my freshman year here at swarthmore. already i love going back over these and seeing not only the evolution of me but the evolution of my style, how my perception and sense of audience has changed, and for whom i'm writing when (mostly for myself, but with a strong sense of the voyeur, which is why i started this journal in the first place -- something like my exhibtionist tendencies kicking into high gear). and i like seeing myself develop motifs -- for example, the should-have-lain-down-and-made-angels one that happened by itself last semester, my comment after the flour fight turning into a beautiful image when it snowed. -- and i like writing my life as if it were music as it happens. this is just a tool to help me preserve and highlight the aesthetic with which i try and surround myself.

(Kundera says:)

While people are fairly young and the musical composition of their lives is still in its opening bars, they can go about writing it together and exchanging motifs. [pp. 88 - 89]

Friday, April 20, 2001, 10:16 PM

April 20, 2001 : 10)16 PM -- Suburban Station, Philly

I think my response to extreme beauty must be crying. The aesthetic which has been manipulating and toying with your senses finally becomes overwhelming, and, taking possession of your tear ducts, takes hold of the visceral seat of the aesthetic, shaking your eyes to water.

I've only experienced it a few times (that i can classify as this, at least). The first was the summer or 1998 in New York with friends, stopping at Ben's sister Ruth's apartment while we looked at Columbia. We went to the ballet that night -- Balanchine's choreography to Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements -- and, to my surprise, I found water in the corner of my eyes at the last few minutes. (I never enjoy crying in public and this was no exception, but it was so new and beautiful that i didn't really notice.)

The second (that i recall) was a performance of Mozart's Requiem in Prague last summer. A young flutist, Rachel, accompanied me when i ditched the rest of the stupid members of our orchestra on tour there and wound our way through the small labyrinth of streets encircling the Old Town Square o one of the hundred churches. It started with the first chord and lasted well into the Kyrie; I watched myself as the pure tones soared straight into my gut and wet my cheeks.

There have been moments, not always as strong, since the first couple times. Tonight was one. The Philadelphia Orchestra played (in addition to Mozart's 20th piano concerto in d minor) Mahler's First "Titan" Symphony in D Major (and what a D Major!) to a sold-out house -- I had been afraid this afternoon that I wasn't going to get tickets to the show to which i'd been looking forward for the past couple of months. (No, with student vouchers -- only $6 each -- you can't reserve ahead.) But some kind of concert karma which I've apparently built up over the years took pity on me around six o'clock, and there was yet room in the house for me.

I went alone. Swarthmore would rather, apparently, see mediocre improv comedy or celebrate today's numerical value (it's not like I didn't try, or won't again before the night is through!) than hear Mahler's first full-out symphony, beginning in Beethoven, a chromatic touch-of-the-hat to the Romantics, and only a ländler away from the twentieth century. I used my laundry quarters to pay train fare into the city. (But quarterless as I may be, I am fully enjoying what I've been spending my dwindling funds on!) It's a beautiful night (well, as beautiful as this ugly concept of the teeming, wannabe-chic metropolis can be), and while I'd had some brownies for dessert tonight, the sky and glint of crisp streetlight off building were still perfectly clear. And there were tickets left ("obstructed view only," she told me, but the seat next to me was unoccupied and not behind a pole, so I moved).

Glorious. Begins on a solitary A like Corigliano's First, and the descending fourth motive glides slowly ("nicht schleppend"; don't schlepp) into « Ging heut' Morgen über's Feld ». A double bass solo (timpanist rocking out in the back the whole symphony) moaned Bruder Martin, Frère Jacques, in minor. The viola solis on the past page -- fa-sol-la! -- in quick succession and then again (I focused in and out of timbres so quickly) -- the horns standing up, bells out (well, not as out as they should have been, but they're forgiven) -- and in the last tonic triad, lasting almost thirty seconds, I HEARD BEETHOVEN IN MAHLER! You thought by then that that early Viennese Master had been left in the dust, but he shone through bright and D-Major in the end. Beethoven in Mahler! Who would have guessed? And when the horns stood up and Mahler parted his own curtain to let his Beethoven bleed gloriously through, the visceral seat of the aesthetic reacted for me, and my eyes were again wet.

(I think this is the owl in the magnolia, too. I think it's beauty I'm reacting to so viscerally, but not processed into a symphony or motif for me to appreciate as art -- and, as it's my life, I by definition don't have enough perspective on the machinations of the invisible bird to cry and understand myself.)

Saturday, April 21, 2001

i love playing viola. i'm such a three-year-old. i just went to this concert, not having been at the dress rehearsal (nothing was going to drag me back to the world of the living this morning), and having no idea what we were playing. but i was wearing kasia's cute pants and anna pelczer's cute shirt! nice and chic black, hair up in a knot and jenny's two pins to secure it. viola in tow. shoes in the case. kundera in my bag. wherever i was going, i was set.

i got to the concert, did my cs129 reading (why is our call an hour before our show?!), and then went on stage. what are we playing? i asked, and found out approximately 20 seconds before we started that it was brahms third. hehe. i like brahms three.

and so i played through it, and all the flats and hemiola and thick lower string writing were still in my fingers (and more importantly, in my bow), and the symphony just flowed. sym + phony, sounds together. einen hellen klang. nimmersatt. just give me more.

i got mozart, then the chinese piece, and firebird to finish up the (concertal) evening. we rock (more than my recording of the Philharmonia Orchestra). maestro joe knows it and smiles at the violas when we blast out a nasal, ponticello entrance, and at the celli when their lyrical line follows his opinionated baton.

such a low-stress evening -- as if i were attending the concert instead of playing it. only difference was i was in the black (ha, in one sense -- i want to see má vlast next weekend at the philly orchestra and i'm going to have to pay them in nickels and dimes if i want to go), and i was part of the music instead of just à côté de it. we began brahms' third wordlessly (maestro only shows up right up before he walks onstage), rolled kalophonously through it, and ended wordlessly, too. an entire symphony sans mots. how else do you do that? music is aprogrammatic and non-syntactic, non-combinatoric, but it conveys what human language can't in ways. reading this cs129 article (pinker) before the brahms so clearly defines where the two hemispheres of language lie: in my brain, and in my viscera.

here, by the way, is yesterday.
just now typed it up.

Thursday, April 26, 2001, 11:15 PM

i started this three days ago, on monday late at night. instead of trying to present it as its own entry i'm just going to continue it here and conflate the days ... yeah, i like documenting my life in chunks. but yeah, i'm also a perfectionist (gabe and i spent fifteen minutes the other night criticizing marTin's germanic english prose), and i hate presenting incomplete snippets of entries that are more or less cohesive when finished. so, it began:

cruising, in fourth or fifth (it'd be a manual if i had my druthers) ... delaware valley (repulsive and über-rounded vowelistic as it may be, it's blooming); munich; i don't care ... we're getting lights? going to xerox shit at kinko's? getting me a new laundry bag? i really don't care. i must only have five hours sleep, but i'm awake and just cruising in my pants from yesterday and a dark blue, too-big WSRN shirt (he matches; dark blue top, beige shorts), and i don't care where we're going or where we are so long as we're in the first person plural.

i remember we were driving, driving in your car
the speed so fast i felt like i was drunk
city lights lay out before us
and your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
and i had a feeling i belonged ...

i don't care where i am (here, there, & everywhere). i don't care what i'm doing (writing a journal, reading kundera, eating pretzels or drinking white wine). food doesn't matter so much (tuna from tarble; curry and rice the other day for lunch). this was my "strange apathy" into which i said the other day i was lapsing. i have a focus, a drive, a direction; i'm doing shit (applying for jobs; learning LaTeX (in which to write a résumé when it's due ASAP (and doing a pretty fucking decent job)); reinforcing and continuing my appreciation of vi; playing concerts and rehearsals galore), but when it comes down to it, García-Márquez was right (the time of cholera). all the magical realists. thirty-five more days, he says.

there would be other things for me to talk about, normally. laurel doesn't like me anymore because she thinks i've become one-dimensional. (then again, she doesn't like any of her friends so much because they come in twos anymore ... she only tolerates the ones who don't effervesce. which definitely doesn't mean me.) she says i'm an intelligent person; that i've got more to talk about. and i do; did. language and music. music, unlike human language, is non-syntactic. (i'll argue this one -- while chord progressions suggest different things (plagal V. authentic cadences; &c.), the individual I, IV, and V chords don't mean anything. Nowak et al.'s article for cs129 the other day caused a small revelation to this degree. i babbled about it on the reactions for that class, to which Will responded by bringing in A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, which i swore i'd steal and devour. (I have yet to get my hands on it. End-of-semester present, anyone ... ? :) whatever; it's going on my wish-list.) And it's probably the coolest shit in the world. however, it's not what i wish to talk about at the moment. and if i haven't written more journals recently, it's because they would all fall into the category of that on which i've previously censored myself. i censor myself not just so my parents and random mediterranean websurfers (i got a hit from greece today! :-) won't see what i don't want them to, but so i won't look back in five years and be disgusted with myself. half the reason i didn't used to keep a journal was i didn't enjoy reading the blabberings of myself at age 10, age 14, &c. I like reading myself at ages 19 - 20, so far. and it's not exactly that i'm sure i'll dislike anything i write about in this vein ... it's just that i'm sure it'd be much easier to lapse into shite. and this is a public journal ... i don't want to have to have stupid "private" entries like scribble does, but i need to find a way of integrating myself into my writing more. or else i'll stop until early june.

thirty-five days? is that all? don't let it be; i'll cry.

Saturday, April 28, 2001, 12:54 PM

preparing for this party ... eve and her huge pants over here, the bagful of plastic bracelets (enough to pave a path from here to munich, i said), ferry corsten on the stereo [my purple metallic lipstick smells like ten-percent dances at high school; michael wang; maria dahlberg, but that's the one anomaly], stick-on spangles courtesy of eve ... this is two months ago. the beginning of martin. throwback. and now ... and now.

[two days later, written in lang on the Power Macs (a.k.a. oldest computers allowed on this campus that can't shell out a few hundred for a newer, better machine -- let's convert the entire campus to linux! hehe ; after Mike Duffy's senior recital, 9:22 PM:]
Mike Duffy, i must say, is one of the cooler people on this campus. all these graduating seniors! not only are they depriving me of their presence (i don't know half of them well enough to seriously grieve their departure), but they're depriving the campus of their coolness. went to marié abe's senior recital last night, and this girl who grew up in tokyo and düsseldorf and now makes baqlawa with me in addition to concentrating in musicology, being into the local electronica scene and writing a piece entitled [a bar of color fading from yellow to blue] played by her and two Curtis percussionists (marimba and vibraphone), playing with OGS, Mayfly, whatever else she's done ... she's a whole. Duffy too: his recital began with the romantic piece he wrote for Music 14 two years ago; then one last year for clarinet, flute, and piano; then a ska piece (resurrecting the Dufftones of last year), blues, and trance. Martin'd hung the lights from his party in Lang, Duffy turned off the house lights, gave audience members glowsticks, and played about five minutes of his trance single before the fuses in that poorly-wired hall just blew from the stress. Lang, apparently, was never meant to handle electronica.
      ... and by "a whole" i meant what i said to jenny and laurel this evening -- the seniors on this campus are full people. you either know them or you don't. they've been through these four years of this collegiate gestation, and they've got a cemented persona. and i don't mean set-in-stone cemented, but more fixed than us flighty, crisis-ful sophomores. it's fun to watch ourselves grow up and shape ourselves into this, in a way, and on the other hand it's really frustrating to see ourselves floundering stupidly in our bodies, not sure what to make of ourselves. the year distinctions are so weird: so clearly delineated in some ways, and so negligible in others. (they're more apparent / bothersome in some people than in others, i guess i'm trying to say.)

we walked back through the crum path, around LPAC from lang, lit through the woods by a burning sparkler. felt fourth-of-july and lilac spring and i feel just like the sparkler. emitting rays.

ross came by when i was analyzing the bach fugue (no. 6, WTC bk. 1, bwv 851, d minor) this evening, and between the two of us we pounded out the three voices until the cadence in the dominant. he's dipping now -- i have yet one more month change in which i could do it this semester (and it'll be a lot warmer then!), and even if i don't, there are the next two years (well, three semesters). i've got time. and a feverish mood's been rubbed off on me, kind of like inflection patterns. easily influenced? perhaps.

i think i had this exact background last time martin had a party. the fractal feels trance-y.

dude, if anyone wants to buy me (or laurel! she adds), a present, we'd love you forever :).

all this ©nori heikkinen, April 2001

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