april, 2002

Last night, in an old yellow flannel courtesy of a friend a year ago, the duck umbrella superfluous against the weather considering my purpose, I raced the river along the curb down 320, letting it win as it sloped under the train tracks and I refused to break stride to keep up. The path into the Crum was half-liquid and the Henge avalonically misty, but with temperatures ranging in the positive (Celsius), the creek nowhere near as frigid as last month as Ed and Ross joined me for a midnight ritual.

The cunning little weekend had up to yesterday afternoon gracefully excused itself from homework, albeit mostly through other legitimate obligations. The lovely sunny Friday afternoon I spent at work, masochistically downing more bubble tea from the yuppie joint next to John's Avril 50 before receding back indoors. Watched Rebecca as kit-kat girl Tex in Cabaret, at a reserved table with Joel-O her wonderful mother Ruth. Really well done; I was impressed. Pit was pretty good, too, which I mostly didn't notice -- a sign of perfection for shows like that. Near my self-imposed bedtime, lemon-poppyseed scones (the pasty fingertip-cut, of course, in a bowl perched on my inevitably all-black knees)) were almost near baking when Gabe called with a declaration that How was I. And he had three bottles of wine. And that he was coming over. Claire, Alyssa, and Mark showed up, and while only two of the wines were consumed, the chardonnay accompanied the excellent fresh scones perfectly (note to self, under heading "lush:" must remember to do that more often).

The Mendelssohn Elijah Saturday morning was almost fun, at least as much as oratorios can be. I squinted to follow along the tiny German vocal cues (for the chorus that will insist on singing in English, ironically enough in Germantown) and was wonderfully surprised by a visit from ex-pat (so far as the Main Line is a cult-country) Laura -- stylish and wonderful as ever. Lisa took me grocery shopping, and after lunch and a few confused emails back and forth, I met with David to spend an hour playing Perl guru and an hour wondering how Machaut could get away with fluid yet constantly-changing meters, yet every note of Bach's (as discussed in 15 these days) is exact and mensurated. Jeanne came over as I came home to find Rebecca's mother and Fiona, her friend from Hong Kong down for the weekend from Columbia, all assembled in the kitchen. We cooked slowly, courses ready at varying times, and the zing of Vietnamese hot sauce making the dahl not quite unpalatable -- and then started to Sagerify.

I was not feeling the groove to begin with. I've laid aside all qualms about the purpose of the dance, about the double-edge sword of crossdressing versus nudity, but it had been a long day, and I'd already been up for thirteen hours at that point on four of sleep. Slowly pieces began to come together. It ended up chez Jeanne as the black lace bra from Vienna that Eva always put with Frau Bernthaler's things, which to reöbtain I'd have to stumble through a German lingerie query to the Hungarian's pidgin understanding; black underwear and fishnet thigh-highs; red garter belt and knee-high black leather boots c/o Jeanne; jnd an orange scarf, functioning as half-transparent quasi-lapa. I was quite pleased. Did Nadav's makeup and had a lovely pink Cosmopolitan and then more in the Worth block of those cute seniors, people feeling the groove more and more as (Anni's) Gabe came over and was forced into black pantyhose, Nadav donned fishnets, I taped Karina's wings together, Jeanne broke out the princess-darted suitjacket.

The theme of the dance was supposed to have been "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and I suppose that was only apparent in retrospect. The WRC was draped with some sort of silky thing, partitioning downstairs into hallway and couches and the like. But the only other sight to speak to the theme was Dale, in glitter, tighty-whities, and large wings (I suppose that was the purpose of Karina's, too, come to think of it). People were dressed not for the explicit theme but the implicit one of this annual ritual of a dance, of course. Spent a lovely evening, mostly in the company of Jeanne (her first single Sager!). Lived up to standards of previous years, if a little mellower. Quite nice.

cezanne apple Sunday (Easter, and an adorable package from my mother!) was intended to be quiet and workful. Woke up around 9:30, then again at 10:30, and home to tea and a beautiful scone (really, go make them right now -- continue when you have a hot lemon-poppyseed pastry and a cup of darjeeling (with sugar cubes! I bought sugar cubes!) in your hand). Ruth, Fiona, and Rebecca assembled, and declared they were going off to The Barnes Foundation with four reserved tickets. Ross and I took a gamble and both went on the final one, and we managed to finagle a fifth, the last of the day. I spent a fascinated afternoon staring at roomsful of Cézannes, Renoirs, Picassos, a couple El Grecos, Seurats, Braques, and more I don't remember. An incredible collection! Upon entering the main room, I took immediately to the apples and pears by Cézanne on the left wall, and stared at the colors of the fruit for at least fifteen minutes. A guard pointed out the black perimeter over which my toes were encroaching -- I hadn't found any of Vienna's electronic alarms, and had been taking the opportunity to all but press my nose up against the canvas. Thinking I want colors like this in my room. Jeanne's room, while a tiny Worth single, is crammed with things that are beautiful and her. Mine last year was a bright eyesore, and I loved it, and this year it's a large expanse of purple punctuated by Mahler and Hawelka. Not that I don't feel at home here, but has it just been the big space that I can't fill? I want oils. I want time to take studio art here. I want an array of small canvases, each with swaths of color, different chromaticisms, put together to form an apple? or just color? (Note to self, under heading "things to implement which will make me a cooler person," which small list also contains new (that is, old) jeans to embroider the knee inkdoodles inspired by discussions of the prolation of the semibreve in med-ren; curtains; a butter dish, sugar bowl, and creamer; the time to finish Gödelescherbach.) I envy that degree of minute personalization on the macrocosmic scale -- I paint swaths purple; Jeanne's aesthetic is smaller.

The late afternoon and evening were spent in careful avoidance of work. Dinner somehow happened, or didn't (I feel there are fewer options and dietary restrictions of late, what with the added of Passover -- NO SEPHARDICS IN THE PANTRY! proclaims our fridge currently); CS was delved into and out of, with the new presence of Joel's spec from Oberlin. Green tea with Ruth; Rebecca and Ross eventually left for the Cabaret cast party (which the former reported would have lived up to its potential had it not been for the uninvited Public Safety and threats of the Ville police), and the latter joined me and Ed at midnight for a lightly-drizzling Dip. A good twenty or thirty up from last month, after we climbed out of the water, the air on our skin felt much warmer. Finished the homework while Joel crashed on my floor, having surrendered his room.

April first has been remarkably uneventful this year, and the story of last year's CS-major breakin to the bell tower and Claire's furtive call (Nori! what are the pitches of the bells?), followed by wee-hours maniacal ringing, and then a week of disfunction, has been recited many times. Today, the spiral staircases in Parrish are spiderwebbed in twine, as usual. Alana took my identical birkenstocks after dance, and I didn't even realize until the next day that it must had something to do not just with our same shoe size (38), but in honor of the date. A brilliant email supposedly from the Lang Pianos with almost impeccable headers came addressed to lang-bourgeois this morning, with return address jlord1, for which I congratulated Hollis, who thought it had come from me. (SLUG has since deciphered the prankster, who was also sighted putting "SOLIDARITY" stickers and ribbons on the pianos in the practice rooms the other night.) Michael responded to our question about the presence of a chant in Machaut's Credo Amen by telling us there was nothing but allusions, but that "as yet unpublished research by a colleague of mine at Yale U indicates that Machaut got this tenor line from an obscure German secular song entitled Mein Kumpel Fuss-Fuss" -- the Shaggs meet early Ars Nova settings of a mass. (I'm probably the only person who gets this joke, and I think it's hilarous.)

If I were to implement this bedtime for myself which seems like a good idea, I realized, I would never get my work anything like done. If I were to take the computational linguistics class the ling department is apparently offering next fall, I would need to pare something down, which I have no intention of doing (and I have every intention of taking that class!). If I were to take Hebrew for biblical reading knowledge next year, I would be taking six credits.

If I were to go to bed now, I could get up in time to eat the last scone leisurely, two lumps of darjeeling and the Tuesday crossword (Monday finished all by yours truly).

I wake up these days fumbling though time. Setting my graph theory homework the other day in TeX until 4:30 AM Thursday night, writing code for nested binary trees until the wee hours, I woke up three hours later, having convinced myself that I now had new temporal powers: all I had to do was recurse through each child node to the leaves of the current node I was on, and in so doing one minute could extend to three or six or seven depending on its degree. I went through several trees (resettings of alarm clock) before I woke up three minutes later, which I had manipulated into a whole half-hour with my hypnagogic algorithmic depth-first searches.

My dreams, too, distract me from the real world as much as a thickly-plotted novel. Especially if I dream about anyone in particular, the whole next day I have to resist the urge to call them, write them, and ask, contextless, what were you doing in my head? To which they will not know the answer, because they've already forgotten the dream.

After one of Gabe's gin-and-tonics, I am like the four-year-old who climbed up on the statue in the northeast center of Rittenhouse Square this afternoon and asserted: "Froggieeeeeee!" and clung fast to the stone amphibian's bulging eyeballs, refusing to leave the party.

But it was likely good I did at quarter or half past one last night, after the cutely paternal Joel-O called me there (twice!), reminding me I'd said I'd leave at one -- even though the second time I found it so funny I couldn't even speak, I just tossed the phone at Rebecca, laughing silently -- because by the time I got to bed at 2, it was an hour later. Curse this daylight savings thing! I will be glad of it tonight, though, to have the sun stay up an extra hour, still illuminating as I cut across the President's Lawn, under the blooming cherry tree over the purple crocuses, and past the Calder mobile to Orchestra.

Five of us were sprawled in various semistudious poses across the desks and purple couches in Underhill last Wednesday evening, glassed in between the varnished atrium and the leafing Crum woods. We were ostensibly studying Guillaume de Machaut and the styles of organum, but all in our saturation focused on the floating mobile suspended from the ceiling. It must have been pushed by some draft, swirling like two-dimensional planets in a supersaturated solar system in never-colliding paths, and as we all took in the orbital spinnings of yellow and orange disks, babies fascinated by visual stimulation overhanging their cribs, someone commented: We're all going to fail this midterm.

In my life, I am not going to be afraid of flying horses!

"In my life, I am not going to be afraid of flying horses!" "In my life, I am not going to be afraid of lime corsets!" "In my life, I am not going to be afraid of mime courses!"

I haven't spoken at all today. Been observing the national Day of Silence -- just what it says, the purpose of which is to "protest the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies."

Swarthmore has, in typical Swarthmore fashion, stretched it so far that it no longer has much meaning -- it now includes victims of all hate crimes, does not focus on LGBT people, and even earthquake victims in Afghanistan. Which are all noble causes, but not perhaps appropriate to lump into one umbrella of a silent day which is on all other campuses focused on queer oppression. There are taped-off areas around campus labeled "Silent Zone" -- not only is it ridiculous to impose silence on the people in this zone (wasn't that what the protest was against?!), but the zones are also about ten square feet each. There's a right triangle taped off by the mail room, about 6' by 4'. That's a silent zone? Spare me.

Kellam brought some of these things to my attention last night when I ran into him at Paces -- I had been supposed to go throw a sugar bowl in the pottery studio with Jeanne, but then they ran out of clay (I ask you! is Swarthmore either too dumb or too poor to buy more? --quick, increase the endowment by another billion!), so was looking for her in Paces after a frustrating Schumann rehearsal in the phonophagous Presser, which gobbled up and warped the sound from our instruments, whose piano plays a different pitch for each of its three strings per key. Kellam was up in arms, writing vituperative letters to the editor, wondering why we needed a speaker on the Day of Silence (that's a little ironic, no?). After talking with him for a while, I decided to stick to my decision to participate, but I wrote out my own explanatory card, different from the ones the IC or SQU or whatever PC organization was passing them out. Cut out a triangle of pink construction paper and pinned it to my shirt instead of the blue ones they were giving out with something about hate crimes on them. As I was grilling John about playing for him in the Brahms Requiem (well as I could on paper), he commented that I looked cute with my pink triangle (guess the hair in two knobs, the only way it will stay up during African, helped, too), and that I knew it. Tony said I caused more trouble when I wasn't talking than when I was and my quintet agreed with him (made the piano lesson interesting, but not at all impossible -- I started inadvertently to write my questions in German, which Tony said was cheating). My roommates are debating the pluses of this Nori Version 2.0 -- includes mute button. Har har.

It's been harder than I thought to do this in some respects. Mostly it just frustrates those with whom I'm trying to converse (though I managed to have 3 silent babies with beautiful Elizabeth this afternoon in the crazy giving-birth stretch in African without talking, better than the 3 malformed ones we bore last Wednesday), but I almost answered Kemal's Ashé at the end of class today; I settled for stamping my foot when I grated my knuckle along with the lemon peel (for more scones); I caught myself singing the viola part to the Haydn symphony ("Farewell") I spent the evening practicing. Other than that, though, I emailed people I knew I would have to talk to beforehand (professors; quintet &c.), and the triangle reminded or tipped off the rest. Got no adverse reactions, but then again, I wasn't expecting to on this campus, already so politically correct it hurts. Talk about preaching to the chorus.

I don't think laughing out loud has been a breach -- I pause every time I do it, but there have been instances where it was not possible to have done otherwise. Joel-O and I went out for Renato's after dance, beat from samba and pelvic contractions with squared arms balanced in the air, and not wanting to cook. After the two of us inhaled a pizza, I wrote, Ich bin ganz satt! on my notebook, to which he responded: ICH BIN PIZZA, WENN ICH ICH BIN. Even if someone in the small shop had asked what had been going on, how would I tell them who Thomas was and why Levinas included the Celan quote in his book, why I knew it and who I thought to ask translate it, and how Joel-O had then included it (auf englisch) on his recently self-released CD? Far too much context, like Mein Kumpel Fuß-Fuß. On the way back home, he sang tonal noodlings in solfège, focusing on the second scale degree: do Rae mi fa mi Rae Rae Rae do si do Rae Rae mi Rae Rae Rae Rae do. Again I laughed -- they're ridiculously cute.

Funny thing was, I only noticed about four or so other people observing silence. Alyssa was, and had been planning to for a while; two girls in the locker room and drumming at dance; Ross (with whom I utterly failed at communicating). Rebecca, who tried unsuccessfully to sign ASL to me, said she'd run into more, but I had thought there would have been a larger contingent of people actually not speaking. I guess skepticism runs deep -- oh well, since I lack the initiative (read: time) to get out there and do a lot of shit, I may as well provoke some kind of awareness and discussion.

The day, aside from being silent, was mostly lovely. I love having this light later! Streams in through the upper windows of the fourth floor of Lang, not only baking the violins in their multicolored lockers, but illuminating the buds of the upper stratum of the Crum as it hangs over the practice rooms where I was soft-pedaling Schönberg around noon; the sun coming in the dance studio and brightening head articulations and Ebo arm series; throwing light through the trees and carrying the scent of the cherry tree farther on the President's Lawn. Almost a summer evening temperature -- groups gathered on the adirondacks; Rob smoking something hand-rolled; a walk in a lapa (I keep feeling sacrilegious when I wear those things outside of African!) last night with Gabe, whom I encountered with a bottle of Merlot after leaving Kellam, and who was I to turn down a ride home? -- and my hair down, in my flowered adorèd Sibyllan Hausschuhe, just because it was warm enough and was post-rain (odd yet distinctive smells come with with levels of humidity and temperature -- the smoky Lapsang Souchong in his cup smelling of not only wood fires but pre-snow). Spring looks like it's finally here to stay.

Alexis reminded me it's April 10th today. Hurrah for the collective sororial unconscious!

The water began with the early afternoon, unfortunately, following me out of my post-8:30 shower, through that which I filtered for orange juice and boiled for darjeeling (leisurely scone, tea, and New York Times) and into the street, necessitating the pink duck. And that just when I had donned the concert black I would spend the rest of the day in -- it was either that or be laden with changes of clothes, and I chose the cuteness and portability factor over a more-obvious practicality of jeans. The grass slowly dampened, and then then soil, and finally my clogs, so the toes spit out water in tiny impertinent pouts for each step. Hopping delicately over puddles in the wildly uneven alluvial streets on UPenn's campus on the way to work. My pink duck umbrella went gradually from unfurled to wings folded in over the course of the afternoon, the mist still hanging capelike over the top half of Franklin on the City Hall clocktower as the Fountains of Rome aqueducted off all available liquid in the atmosphere. The brass drowned the strings as usual in nella Fontana di Tritone al mattino, gallons of glinting sound washing away the modal noodlings we were all attempting -- exact rhythm, fingers where they're supposed to be, and a combination of precision sight-reading, sensible harmonic progressions, and arpeggio-trained muscle memory kicks in. The details are submerged in the waterfall of Respighi's orchestration. There were notes I'd never seen there before tonight; mensurations I've never quite counted; six almost too long a projection to feel accurately but somehow the oboe cleanly floats the sextupling fontana di Valle Giulia all'alba. Post-Union League, Broad Street seemed to have had most of the downpour siphoned off to Italy, but the dampness of the air accompanied me all the way up Walnut, back to two houses away from John's favorite Avril 50, the White Dog Café. Four generations of Swatties -- '00 through '03 -- around a huge table in the back, sponging up wine and coffee, vociferously celebrating Chuck (of the original Lodge Two fame)'s return from California in almost-Viennese melanges, the best chocolate cake in the world, lemon cream something meringue whose sheer gustatoric force threw you back in your seat, entire body focused on the sensations taking place on your tongue. Back home in Jeanne's maniacal little car, through the mist of bridges, city lights dare I say twinkling? in the Schuylkill, and back to a campus whose clumps of lawn glow with the rain still dropping outside my open Barn window, the leaves of whose plants next to the porch are slick with perspiration.

Music is blaring from Ross's room, which is odd, because he's in New York at the moment. But it's good music. The night is puffing-its-cheeks-out warm, a night you'd call sultry if there were a lover anywhere in sight, the kind of heat that makes my viola's pegs swell in their holes and stick, makes the resonant cavity of the instrument sound bogged in its own misshapenness -- Lang, whose windows brick-oven-heat the music lockers during the path of the sun over their bright doors each afternoon, baking the instruments in their cases, has yet to turn on the air conditioning, so my practicing was limited to the necessities of Haydn and Mozart this evening. The third floor of the Barn has accrued the heat from the bottom floors ... were my work for the evening not computer-dependent, I would be out on the ancient college-student-becouched porch with a beer one of the rickety tables, doing work there. As it is, I have a bowl of blood-red ripe strawberries in front of me, a liter of water with ice cubes and a chunk of lemon floating in it, and I am coding a graph-theory representation of twelve-tone theory in Perl. Three levels of abstraction away from the music. Pretending that this is actually accomplishing something, to see hexachordally combinatorial rows generated in fractions of seconds with a few keystrokes, to represent paths through graphs of basic sets as directed adjacency matrices, and is not just pure self-indulgence. Telling myself that this will all coalesce into a paper before tomorrow. But the summer night (already in April!) is perfect for it, and I intend to go dip in the Crum (even though it's not a new month) before the sun is up.

Seid ihr tod?? asks Flo in an email this afternoon. No, I'm not dead, though my recent level of correspondence with anyone not on this campus might seem to suggest I am -- just preoccupied. It's concert season, which means that every Friday is a mixture of concerts and a displaced work ethic, often culminating in some form of Barnness; every Saturday is rehearsals and exhaustion and belated lunches and a few hours of afternoon work, sun glaring onto the computer through the west window, an evening of shiny sleek black and done hair, mascara, and my new red lipstick; every Sunday wakes up before noon and buckles down to something which inevitably begins with an hour or two of postponed emails, neglected communiqué and other small tasks that have been waiting for the last afternoon of the weekend, and inevitably ends with a more tired black, opting for the pants over the skirt, stockingless instead of close-weave fishnets, bareface without bothering to scrub my eyelashes free of the clingy mascara for the inevitable concert that night. Sundays ease back into the week like that, tired and post Saturday glam, even on the two-concert days, and because no work ever happens after a Saturday night concert (is there something in the air? a work-prophylactic strain of bacteria?), the extra degree of somnolence and other complicating factors make the second round of concerts even better -- you take into account your hurdles, and concentrate more for them.

Last weekend, for example, after Saturday night's 2001 gig at the Trinity Center, Sunday afternoon was spent trying to figure out how to get into Germantown after Lisa had locked her keys and violin in the trunk of her car. Oliver finally secured a car from someone I'd never met, which I then raced across the web of no-shoulder interstates to the church on the other side of the city, too late for the Jongen but in time for the Mendelssohn Elijah. Even though the quarters were so tight that I knocked over the music of first one horn player behind me to my left (damn flimsy wire stands! just like music blowing in the Tiber, and then, overcompensating, another to my right, I was almost glad to play the piece, having missed the rehearsal that afternoon (car trouble) and the previous morning (2001). Alert, I played more notes than I ever have in that thing.

The Haydn-Mozart-Dvorák-Schuller under the baton of the latter that night, then, was also better than the previous night -- half the orchestra had come from the Philly Opera pit that afternoon; I from the exhausting PYO concert, but things were tighter than even the Inquirer's glowing review about the warm viola sound in the Nocturne of the previous evening. I kept laughing at the deceptive cadence in the recapitulation of the first movement in the Mozart 30 -- my stand partner Carol must have thought I was crazy, but it's such a textbook example it's positively apple-cheeked. The end of the Farewell was done with stand lights, Abram and Kellam playing about twelve notes and twenty bars respectively from off a completely darkened stage.

Preoccupied, also, with details like living. Eve and Jenny and I secured the apartment at 38th and Chestnut for the summer -- beautiful hardwood floors, high ceilings, three-bedroom (with a fourth girl returning from Greece??), kitchen, 1.5 baths, ridiculously central for me (4 blocks from IRCS, only about 2.5 from the LDC) -- the heart of University City, right next to a Fresh Fields, the Penn bookstore, much more. Eve's commuting to Swat anyhow, and Jenny's down with public transportation, and doesn't seem to mind. Ridiculously reasonable price for June-July-August. Also, the fall housing lottery has come and gone, with favorable results -- #228 picked me Palmer 304, the funny-shaped one facing east onto Chester. Big if rectangular. Will require a feminine hand to decorate pleasingly, which is just to say the male one that did it this year rendered it not ugly, but did not make good use of the oddly-designed space. Two large closets; on-campus but off (people cook your meals for you but you're not in the middle of the academic buildings); I'm pleased. Less stressful than it could have been, perhaps, as I had a concert the evening of the lottery and so Jenny was my proxy, bearing a list of twenty potential rooms I'd compulsively prepared just-in-case. So it was she instead of I who had to go to the psychotic lottery in the gym, to which I've never been and never will be ('00-01 blocked for the lodge; '01-02 Vienna/barn; '02-03 proxy), anxiously cross rooms off the list as they were announced, get called behind the curtain and participate in what sounds to me like a very nerve-wracking and occult ritual.

Preoccupied with converting my cs login from eleanor to nori, and then fixing broken .rc files, implementing a lovely transparent aterm that now screams "monkeys! double monkeys!" at me when I log in; tackling the learning curve of pstricks and setting graphics for Stephanie's thesis in TeX just because I could; slowly bringing up my new maenad.net; interviewing to be a sysadmin for the SCCS.

This weekend promises a sane time of it, if not a full-out reprieve: the Ein Deutsches Requiem tomorrow night, on one rehearsal (more would have been too much; it's mostly ringers from the local professional scene) is the only concert in which I'm playing for the next four days.

this is a test.

this is a test.

all this ©nori heikkinen, April 2002

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