august, 2003

Sat Aug 2 23:09:05 EDT 2003

Funny how certain pieces so easily trigger old scenarios. Right now, in my newly-curtained apartment, candles presiding over omelet-pan-seared soba and tofu, zucchini, and mushrooms, with ginger a-plenty (and on the coffee table, as the main one is drying its second coat of red stain), it's Shostakovitch 10 reminding me of walking the Ben Franklin Parkway over a year to two ago, this on the same Discman out of which it's now emanating. So much in the unison, on occasion even two-voiced. A postcard to Sibylle for her birthday and the noodles remind me of Wien, that lovely city of beer, German, and music. Talked unexpectedly to Thomas last night, auf Englisch, when he picked up his brother's Münchner phone -- the first time since mid-November 2001, over beer (or was it wine?) in the Zwölfapostolkeller. I see them in just under two months.

And Claire (who's already receiving mail here) moves in in three-ish weeks, bikini & trowel stowed until the next summer, and in search of a job in the nation's capital. Someone to help me put anchors in the drywall on which to hang onion-baskets and the deceptively heavy curtain rods that Joanne pulled down; someone with whom to more than just coexist.

Not that the rest of DC isn't providing enough of that -- out mixing rum with organic lemonade, peach juice, and lime at a party of one of Jenny's friends (not my sophomore-year and junior-summer roommate, who's now in Philly; the DC-ite I met through Chad), and then at Five, where the upper deck of gigantic amps, 15 or 24 mod red squares forming a wall before the DJ's raised booth, called to me, and I got up and moved to the Basement Jaxx remix, the 99%-predictable groupings of four, sixteen, sixty-four, which I don't even consciously count anymore but always have a running base-four tally (like the stairs I descend or revolutions of my bike tires while going uphill, ever enumerating). Majoring (or almost) in music has taught me much more than the French sixths I can't even pinpoint, this far out of practice, but rather why a deceptive cadence makes me tilt my head to the side with the novelty, and what to expect after it -- in short, the cultural norms of sound, which are far from disappearing in today's music -- rather, they permeate modern non-classical (secular, in an atheistic world?) much more than they do the bulk of the so-called neoclassical corpus. Up on the makeshift stage with electric rouge blocks backlighting my movements, it became apparent how much I can anticipate in the (decksand)drumandbass dance music based purely on assumptions gleaned unconsciously from years of Beethoven, and consciously from years of theory. If the largest unit isn't in four, it will be at the sixteen; failing that -- one false anticipation, one dramatic hip-catharsis where the music did no more than continue, corrects and resets the rhythmic projection flowing in quaternary through the linear axis of time. Dance with this in the back of your brain, pulsing vital signals into your medulla, and almost the entire night of beats will seem to follow your feet.

When it doesn't, where it deviates, is what makes the good composer, the good DJ -- the ability to single out a dancer who's got a bead on your groove, and yank the expectation out from under their feet. To watch them whirl, as Nathan did two years ago in Upper Tarble, towards the DJ's stand, and, comprehending it was meant just for them, flip the grinning composer the bird. To listen to Shostakovitch with all this in mind.

Oh, my god. Martin, how I learn from you on a two-years' delay! Not only do I now understand the robotic and state-mechanic connotations in what you meant by 'non-determinism' and the German-tinted prosody behind the bisyllabic expression I perceived as so dismissive, but I just proved the point I disputed so adamantly sophomore year: the twenty-year-old music major vehemently decrying that you were wrong, crazy, a true mad duck, when you averred that trance was the logical continuation of pre-20th-century classical music.

Sun Aug 10 18:13:20 EDT 2003

I'm sprawled across my bed, now a tall knee-height with its new frame, Spiegel-schlepped across town yesterday during evening M Street traffic, and assembled with roommate help that night. I had it feng shui'd all wrong, proclaimed Jamie this afternoon (over for "breakfast" well past noon -- Fritz-rosemaried omelets in my still-new-enough-to-be-an-occasion eponymous pan) -- and she helped me rearrange what little furniture I'd accumulated to a squarer configuration, bed against the far wall and head under the window; dresser next to that, so the free space could be free and not a twisted L-shape of path, and so the energy could flow better.

And -- news of the summer, at least personal-geek-wise -- I'm actually writing on my own computer. (I have no desk yet -- the new monitor is perched on our makeshift coffee table, which is probably a nightstand to begin with, and orange to its side.) The box itself (so much as its black-boxness encompasses component hard drives, mobos, peripherals) has been functional all along, but even static IP'd, I haven't been able to get into it without the visual component -- my monitor's been blown since late last November, and I've been operating remotely through my Swat static IP and through sysadmin Jeff's loaner. But this summer, I've just been roughing it in the geekiest, most privileged, bourgeois sense of the word -- orange has been off for two months! I've been functioning from the Debian install on my work laptop (inexplicably broken Friday, after a day of installing servers at work -- disintegrated into hundreds of inode-labelled directories, no longer bootable. This is why we partition). But I haven't felt quite whole, deprived of my usual interface to my life.

I don't mean un-whole as a person, just slightly unhinged as the sole participant and organizer of the minutiae of my existence -- bills; late-night drunken emailing; PGP encryption; cron jobs that remind me to water my plants; these journal entries, recently fewer and far-er between. And for what that's worth, thank Verizon that, even with the purchase of a flat panel yesterday (little pretty ViewSonic VA520, 15" but it's all I need for home use), I won't be totally complete until tomorrow or even a fucking week from now. Even though I'm paying for DSL, our land line has been crapping out, rendering the flow of packets to and from my orange-and-yellow room defunct. And we can't even give the phone company the info they need from the gray (black, as far as I'm concerned) box outside -- our only phone requires juice to operate, and can't test the line downstairs. I hate Verizon.

Details such as the Internet aside (I always find that capitalization comical, but the Times is still doing it), the apartment is coming together. Hooks for the closet door; a cedar laundry hamper that reminds me of the cedar box my parents used to have -- hewn straight out of a twisted branch, it looked like, a hollow, varnished stump, smelling pungently of unmistakable cedar; the rosewood futon frame for which I last-minute exchanged my ordered teak stain (and what a good decision!), newly assembled and giving a little topography to the place.

Scheduled a haircut -- my first professional one in ten years! -- at Bang (Jamie's recommenation) for next Saturday. Grown so long (relatively speaking, that is) that the shortest layer is past chin-length, my hair is only good for two ridiculous ponytails these days. Time for the stylish short cut I envied on Jocelyn, that I didn't have sufficient mental space to chop off last Paris. And if I hate it, it'll grow back in a matter of months.

I left my bike at Jenny's on Friday night, unwilling to ride home from Adams Morgan / Columbia Heights at 3 or 4 in the morning post dinner and laser tag (which unexpectedly crossed my violence threshold; I sat out the second round) ... I should go get it so I can get to work tomorrow morning, but have no desire to leave my comfortable, orange and yellow, fully-newspapered, tea-ful Sunday afternoon apartment. Slacker? perhaps. Working full-time, I feel like I've earned it.

Tue Aug 12 12:47:37 EDT 2003

Trying to figure out how to fly around the world and see people I wish were all in DC. Why can't there be one city for everyone I want around me? For the same reason there couldn't be a senior PDC last year, I suppose (Spiegel's idea -- put all seniors who hadn't finished their distribution requirements in one giant class, or maybe one per division, and let us not do the work and use our last pass-fail credits without being bothered by all those damn, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshmen with whom they're usually populated). And this way, with my mother and Paul in Cairo; Flo and Oliver talking of converging on Vienna; Martin in Zürich; Olivia, Alyssa et aliae, the Yale House, and half of Swat in the Philly area; Peter, my Harvard boys, and more in Boston; Fanjul in New York (and many I'm forgetting in that city, I'm sure); I have excuses to go new places, or even old places (seeing as I've been to all of those, save Cairo), and be with people there, and in that way.

But would it really be so bad to have a few of them down here? So Chuck wouldn't have to mail his home-brewed oatmeal stout across the country, but could bike it over? All I wanted last night was a few people (I could name them -- too bad they're in Seattle, Princeton, and New York) who like great wine and excellent food, for a tour of a restaurant, or my kitchen (broken, tippy electric burners and all), and then a bar, or my couch, to let the cumin and tannins respectively linger on their tongues. I have yet to find a circle of lushes in the District.

And vacations, as has been expounded upon many times in the past two, two and a half years, are never what they're supposed to be, unless both or all parties are in the exact same mindset. And who ever is? Constant immersion, entertainment ... well, it's one way to take a break from the working world (which, let the record show, I am totally enjoying), but it's another way to interact with your friends, who you'd just rather have in the same damn city.

Thu Aug 14 11:46:36 EDT 2003

My mom did this, kind of. While not as fanatic or sailor-mouthed as this woman who's cooking every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the space of a year, she did work her way through, teaching herself to cook from Julia in the way the article says many women of her or her mother's generation used to. I know this because she still refers to it, but knows where she can make allowances, and when I asked how to make a crust, she referred me to the man pages in Julia. (It turned out she's even modified that, and doesn't go by the book anymore, and had just forgotten, since that was her Bible when she was what must have been my age.)

I only have Volume Two -- pastry dough and brioches, but no Reine de Saba or quiches. Trying to rectify that hole.

Made a quiche last night, actually using the crust out of the Vegetarian Epicure (Vol. 2), and cutting the butter 1/4 with crisco to make it handleable. Chilled, as recommended, and the thing rolled off the counter, onto my pin, and into the pan just like the pros do it. I made Jaime watch, i was so proud. Leeks, mushrooms, zucchini -- turns out I can't tell the difference from the outside between a zucchini and a cucumber, and mistakenly bought the latter (turned, making proverbial lemonade, into a dill-and-yogurt salad). No one ever taught me, and they're usually labelled! Quiche fantastic.

So after the first bottle of wine, I started in on the Queen. I've made this gateau orgasmique before, but always sober. The 9" springform pan I'd spent half an hour in Hecht's that afternoon deciding on (it was that or two 8"-round layer pans) turned out to be a little too wide for this recipe, making it much thinner than usual. Whipped the egg whites by hand (still no electric beater in the apartment), half too drunk to notice. Cooked it too much so the center's not raw. But my new 1-quart all-clad saucepan made the best glaçage au chocolat I've ever pulled off, and I had sliced almonds to decorate it with ...

Yeah Julia. I'll never make all the recipes in there, if only because half of them are meat, but I'll likely make all the desserts. Especially with this new springform pan!

Sun Aug 24 09:19:15 EDT 2003

Taeny, my summer roommate, just left for Korea. Two or so weeks with her family in sweltering Seoul, and then she'll be back to UCSD for more graduate work. And I'll miss her.

This is one of those wonderful serendipities about the internet. Not only is Dean (whose inspiring rally I and 4000 others went to yesterday in Falls Church, VA) mobilizing via it, leading his grass-roots campaign through the ubiquity and ease of email, but you can meet some great people without trying.

Female roommate wanted, preferably vegetarian, to sublet room in beautiful 2br apt from 6/23 to 8/18 or so. HWF, w/d, AC; 1 block to metro; $650/mo. <phone> <email>

Early this summer, Taeny answered my ad on Craig's List for a subletter. She wasn't vegetarian, but never really ate meat anyhow (just white bread and pound cake; she'd taken to the American carbohydrates like a fish to water), and that clause was more to select for a type of person more than actual herbivoracity. We got along, though "hit it off" might be too strong. It was a good setup, with us mostly going our own ways, but coinciding every other night or so over tea (which she found hilarious that I drank by the bushelful, but told me about its health benefits while I did) or her instant coffee. Her worldview had been 26 or so years of Seoul, followed by a brief stint in Boston and a year so far in San Diego -- all three wildly different than our neighborhood in Shaw -- and it expanded visibly over my two mugs (the Gaudí and the blue American Players Theatre one), expressed in observations on the pace of life (slower here (here! on the East coast, in Washington!) than Korea); on the racial demographic (the most diverse she's lived in).

We also expanded each other's worldviews. I taught her how to say the letters 'v' and 'z' (hm, both voiced consonants); the joys of quiche and freshly-baked muffins and scones; Sarah Vaughn and Ella Fitzgerald. She thought it was so funny that everything I owned is orange, that I painted my room that color and bought a flame Le Creuset omelet pan.

Tacitly, we evolved a roach-killing solution mirroring our respective comparative advantages: she killed the bugs; I disposed of the bodies. We didn't have that many, but I can only trace their relative absence to her fearsome wielding of a can of RAID, making loud noises when she came in (to scare them off), and mercilessly hunting down the survivors.

It's been a good summer, Taeny -- I'll miss you.

* * *

Sun Aug 24 21:47:53 EDT 2003

Coming home twelve hours later to an empty apartment -- something I haven't done all summer -- is a little empty. Everything's as I left it; no one greets me as I walk in. This is probably precisely the shit that would really get to me had this been a romantic relationship, and the breakup thereof (good thing, then, that it's not).

The day has been spent in a haze of sorts, me having never really fully woken up from the four hours of sleep I got post space alien / pirate party that Jaime and her friend Audrey threw last night. (The weekend, of course, has been tilted so much to the "play hard" yang of my current lifestyle that my glossy new OO Perl book lies still untouched.) Anyone who walked in the door uncostumed, as were most, got attacked by a cardboard-and-duct-tape-bustiered hostess with a roll of aluminum foil and glittery pipecleaners. I ended up at the Diner with three girls at 4 in the morning with three antenna on my head; drunken men asked why, and I purposely ignored the question they were trying to ask and explained that I had only had one initially, but then had taken over a departing guest's pair. Taxied back still before dawn, unintentionally woke Taeny up, who came out groggily and fell over laughing at my sparkly headgear, and text-messaged Chad:

Space alien party. Trashed. Wearing antennae.

Four hours later, I was up again to see my roommate off, and have kept my eyes open since. Brunch chez Misha with the Woodley Park crew; forays into Alexandria-area thrift stores yielded four mugs, a red waistline skirt with diagonal front pocket, Y2K shirt, a flowered hat (which, incidentally, goes perfectly with the as-of-last-weekend new haircut (which I don't like and have been wanting to chop off) ... considering keeping it a bit longer if just for the hat) and other goodies. Weird Mexican food. Krispy Kreme, with its "hot now", sign illuminated like the deep-sea grouper drawing little fish into its mouth, reeled us in, where a latte and hot doughnut provided not only a meltingly wonderful confectionary experience, but also just enough caffeine and sugar to open my eyes a degree or two more but not to wake me up. But pool-lounging in a retro red bathing suit does not require much energy, and a jacuzzi requires even less. (All but decided to sign up to train for the Whitman-Walker AIDS marathon, which undoubtedly will require energy.)

Sun set; and I'm back home, this time alone. New mugs but only one occupant of the house. The sleep deprivation has persisted, and now my entire body is sore (including the pad of my right thumb, which I've traced to my mouse -- time to get an ergo trackball), and sleepy. Summer, like this day, appears to be drawing lazily to a close ...

Thu Aug 28 14:43:11 EDT 2003

Hearkening back to this time last summer, but not quite so painfully or to quite that degree of incapacitation, my thumb hurts. Morton alleges it's just because I'm anticipating this new mouse,   trackball mouse but I think my right hand and forearm actually hurt more these days. I isolated the problem this weekend, and since then have been impatient to become even more ergonomic. Ridiculous, how bad most of the little gadgets we have these days are for our bodies.

On the good-for-our-bodies side of the spectrum, I officially faxed off my registration for the DC AIDS marathon, to be held in New Orleans over Mardi Gras, February 29th. I'm used to running 5k if that; this is 40k ... well, that's why it's a six-month training program! It's a stiff fundraising obligation, too -- $2,700 -- but it's for AIDS, and they are giving me marathon training. I'm optimistic. And what a way to get even more in shape ... I sleep so deeply these days -- not only has Taeny left, leaving me free to turn the AC down to 73F at night and snuggle down under my reclaimed Daunendecke, but between mad partying and biking three hilly miles to and from work daily, I'm exhausted.

Decided, for now, not to further cut my hair. I wasn't sure, upon exiting the salon ten or so days ago, what I thought of it, and quickly (well, after about an hour of sticking my tongue out at myself in the mirror) decided I hated it. Called Chad, invited myself over to what turned out to be a ridiculously grown-up lawn party at the house Niell was babysitting, drinking mint juleps on a tiled table; got positive haircut feedback. It's between cheek- and jawbone length -- cute, but not the edgy look russell in hat I was going for. Oh well; cute ain't bad, either ;) And now, with the hat I got at the thrift store melee last weekend, somehow I think it's working even more. So, drastic choppage and six-color manic panic hair will have to wait at least a few more weeks, or until I get sick of looking bob-cute.

Going up to Swat this weekend, realizing that it was Labor Day. I've started school on this day for the past four years (trust the Quakers not to give us that day off!), so it comes as a pleasant surprise to realize that I have it off this year. See a few people; drink a few martinis ... and not start school again. Hollis (on IM from Glasgow, beginning his Watson!) and I have been reminiscing about how fast college went by, where we were four years ago today (in freshman orientation, my God), freshman Theory with Tom ... ah, nostalgia, and not even too painfully redolent because we're still so close to it. I love where I am; I love where I've been; and I'm damn glad I'm not going back to academia in five days.

Fri Aug 29 17:26:50 EDT 2003

The rain's coming down in sheets. It did the other day, as Abby fried tofu and I munched on slices of it, raw and cooked, watching the weather through the door with Hemali.

It did also two nights ago, as I came downstairs in bike shorts, ready to leave, only to find that the sky was green. I stayed in and had penne à la Nina and Sibley, and then three dozen hot cookies I made disappeared into the jaws of Delafield. Biked home after the sky had stopped looking orange.

It rained also last night, a seemingly clear sky turning just a little windy as I left Millie & Al's, where I was over pitchers of beer with Jenny, her roommates, their friends, and her serendipitously-met sustainable gardening friends. Two plastic cups' worth was enough to keep me in bed later than usual today, and to provide the growingly-familiar buzz on a bike, as I streamed, tipsy but not tippy, down 16th St. Turning the corner from Columbia, the sky was threatening; a block later a cool summer rain began -- nothing likes these gales; just pleasantly soaking. I pedaled through puddles for the zipping sound of my tires though shallow water. The rain stayed on droplet form on my skin. For whatever reason, the nights are at their coolest and most crisp visually these days during late-night, two-beer-biking rainstorms.

all this İnori heikkinen, August 2003

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