july, 2004

Fri Jul 9 23:09:29 EDT 2004

I always know how many pages there are in a book I'm reading. More than a sense of how flat the spine sits in my hand or pillow or table, more than the thickness of pages read or yet unread, I keep the total number in mind. This plagued me as I slogged determinedly through The Fountainhead in high school, hell-bent on finishing so I could decry Rand's horrible writing, as my sister took to putting sticky notes of encouragement every few dozen pages: You can do it! Only 300 pages left!.

Turning slowly through my summer reading of choice the other night -- Baudolino -- I was aware that the pages were flying by with much less alacrity than they should on a night when even Claire would agree that air-conditioning was necessary. Padded barefoot over to Emily's room, cast my eyes about for the thick hardcover she's hinted was in there. There, on the nightstand. Finally! After more than a year of being wait-listed for it, I now held the new, 870-page Harry Potter.

Not that I don't love Umberto Eco. It's just that I need something on a par with An Equal Music (quartet again last night! a three-octave, D-Major scale in triads!) or Thinks..., neither one of which was as stunning as, say, If On a Winter's Night A Traveller... (I don't usually read this many books whose titles end in ellipses, I swear) or Unbearable Lightness, but both of which had me coming home for more in the evenings. This past three-day weekend, I'd come home partially drunk, having been out clubbing till four in the morning (Eighteenth Street Lounge; 9:30 for Oakenfold), shower the sweat and smoke off myself, and curl up under the sheets with my new tome.

And I love the amount of reading material in my apartment. Not only my book(s, really -- still nowhere near completion of The Cairo Trilogy that I started while there this spring; abandoned a half-hearted attempt at French Revolutions that Claire picked up to try to fathom the century that Philip wants them to ride together this fall; and my latest from-the-Italian attempt at lightweight summer fiction, which I picked up instead of the sold-out Sunday Timeses at Kramerbooks on one of the first truly summer weekend afternoons) -- but also the New Yorker, stuffed into my purse as I bussed up to Winston's and back this evening to retrieve a set of parts to the Haydn quartets (it's perfect for the bus: intelligent one-pagers); the Times, to whose weekend siren songs I've finally succumbed, now that Philip isn't reliably here on Sunday mornings to trot out to the Giant to fetch me one as he buys Claire eggs for the omelets she makes in my orange cast-iron Le Creuset.

So many words. So much lying on the grass to be done; on the couch after a run; in the orange velveteen armchair I obtained through a trade to Petar at the end of senior year in college for a plant, the remnants of a morning pot of tea usually getting me as far as the op-ed page of the front section; in bed, curled up with my orange light, long after I should be asleep the night before a fourteen-mile run.

Sun Jul 11 23:20:43 EDT 2004

It comes and goes, this sense of urgency to live a more musical life. Talking to this newly-met Andrew this morning, recording a march and recessional he'd written for his fiancée for their two-weeks-hence wedding, I mentioned that I thought Tony -- our (onetime) mutual piano teacher -- was always a bit disappointed in me, maybe for not doing as much with music as far as he and I both know I could. Andrew pointed out that (a) coming up from DC to play a couple weddings with my old quartet didn't sound like I wasn't doing much music, and (b) once it becomes a career, you lose the joy of it. Or, at least, can. And that's the thing I most fear.

I've had these internal debates for years. Academia versus the music world? Surrounding myself with smart geeks, versus an unknown of jaded professional musicians? Salaried versus gig-to-gig? And it really boils down to none of the above, just that I love playing Hadyn string quartets in front of Tarble yesterday afternoon, still hot from the rose-strewn, brutally-sunlit ceremony on the President's Lawn; love playing this groom-to-be's wedding-trite compositions if only because it's immediately apparent that he truly loves music, second perhaps (if at all) to the woman he's marrying. And the fact that, for all the pleasure I derive from my new quartet, we're new, and I've been with Oliver and Lisa for five years. They and Nile and I whipped through "The Lark" and Brandenburg 3 yesterday, articulation, dynamics, breathing all in place -- not a perfect performance by any means, but a garden-party background-music lovely -- and with a degree of ensemble I've been sorely missing of late.

I've almost settled into this routine of going up to Philly when I can, viola half the size and half the weight of me (impossible, with it, to ever travel light), just to break even after train fare. For now, it makes me happy. And isn't that, after all, what it's about?

Fri Jul 16 12:17:34 EDT 2004

Rant: Where do these men get off? Suddenly, be it the slight decrease in heat so the bugs can crawl out from under their rocks without fear of instanc incineration, or be it that my hair has suddenly attained the excat millimeter length requried for harrassment, i'm getting catcalls again. And not just benign ones, either -- though more towards that side than those I was getting last summer, they're undeniably back, and obnoxious.

Sun Jul 18 23:36:26 EDT 2004

At brunch today at Luna Café on P St (not to be confused with the Luna Grill on CT, where Colin found me after an Arabic lesson in what must have been February and we drank pinot noir, sitting on adjacent sides of the ever-too-big two-person tables) -- the second actually of a Sunday morning's meals, the first having been vegan waffles made with Jessie '05 for a floor- and couchful of sleepers-over, post-hippie-vs-hipster party at which a surprising number of people came in costume and agreed to be stickered with address labels bearing phrases like "I <heart> Noam" -- I caved and had a tuna fish sandwich.

My hypocritical affair with tuna predates this log (which I really want to spell with a '-ue', as in 'trave[l]-') to freshman fall, likely around December '99, when I was standing in the sandwich queue at Tarble, bedraggled (was it wet? or just punishingly drafty and drippy, very Pennsylvanish?), and tired, planning on my usual grilled cheese (the black bean burger, easily the best thing on the menu, for some reason isn't listed, and I hadn't yet learned that secret). I heard the girl ahead of me order a tuna fish sandwich, and my mind flew immediately back to the comfort food of my pre-vegetarian days. Gambling my only meal credit on a sandwich that would either make me ridiculously happy or add to my misery, I tried one, too. And was rewarded. I've had it since then in small quantities in sushi; in pâté in Italian courtyards after concerts; the occasional sandwich.

I haven't had it yet since becoming vegan. But today, a bit dehydrated and groggy on little and evanescent sleep, I wanted something about the milky, eggy diet I knew that, with coffee, clears the head enough to lie on the couch, reading the paper and more insubstantial summer fiction (Harry Potter 5 was finished in a fit of literary crack-addiction after a seven-mile run Saturday morning, and is probably the sole reason I didn't get a nap before staying up till all hours entertaining and being entertained at my party that night), and finishing cleaning of whatever detritus naturally accumulates with the combination of fifty people, a profit in wine, and loud music (note to self: must eventually set up an icecast server and stream oggs into yet-to-be-purchased speakers in the living room for parties, so that even when I shut my door there can still be music. I never think to do this enough in advance to get it up and running in the hour of geeky pot-throwing before people start arriving).

But this morning (which was by that time actually afternoon), it didn't sate as usual. The bread similarly disappointing, a poor attempt at focaccia; but this was the fault of either the mayo in the meat or the fish itself: not exciting; not salutary.

I'm spoiling my body, I realize. All I crave these days are whole grains (germ + bran + endosperm, as Emily has finally maybe drilled into me) -- quinoa; brown rice -- and tofu, barely-cooked carrots, scallions, and bok choi. Jaime proposed fried plantains for dinner last Monday and I balked, wanting to share a meal but reluctant to put anything with that much oil into my body. We compromised on a tomato sauce I threw together, over (non-whole-wheat) pasta (to which I also started to object, and then rebuked myself for my utter ridiculousness); other fruit-and-vegetable bits. Delicious, but left to my own devices, I would have consumed a bowl of [buckwheat] soba with edamame, as I did tonight.

Sat Jul 24 14:13:13 EDT 2004

On a moving train, at long last. Bright new orange bag (ordered as noon as I debarked from my latest sojourn north, my shoulder aching from wrestling a viola and backpack on every rail system between DC and Philadelphia); striped orange boyfriend shirt (though I have none, I finally rationalized that I don't need to steal their clothes to wear their size shirts); red viola case (but that's only because BAM doesn't make it in orange); bleach-tipped porpentine spikes (less pointy in back from perpetually drifting off on the head rest). Sixteen miles this morning at a luxuriant 12-minute, 4-to-1-ratio pace took too long for me to catch the 11:25; I misread the schedule and arrived at Union Station perfectly in time for the 12:35, which had in fact left ten minutes earlier. Eh.

So I go about procuring the components of a microcosm of happiness: a dark chocolate truffle and 72% cacao demitasse square; an espresso; a café table.

Ben calls around Baltimore -- not the Ben who takes the chains on the grates on Constitution as hurdles, jumping gleefully near the end of the run this morning; and not the Ben who once in high school gave me two mottled pink lilies for no reason at all, and by whose redolent perfume I was assailed in the Safeway this morning (procuring tofu for lunch) and then again at the florist in the marble-halled train station -- but earnest DJ Ben. My phone buzzes in my hip pocket.

The only civilized way to travel, really. I could be trekking from Munich to Vienna, my eyes invariably clouded with residual alluvial salt (aspects of which I now deplore, casting the party involved in the light of an exo-Swarthmore, American feminism). I could be in a Russian novel form the nineteenth century (but without the vodka and suicide) or a Czech one from the twentieth (but without the metaphysicism). Tracks almost flush with the Susquehanna, unencumbered by mean truckers or traffic jams, mostly foliage zips by, moving a degrees and change of latitude north on quietly purring tracks.

Fri Jul 30 16:58:08 EDT 2004

I've decided that I legitimately don't like yoga. I feel like it's one of those things I should like, somehow: as if it comes with the territory of veganism and likilng tofu

all this ©nori heikkinen, July 2004

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