Friday, June 27, 2008

"and dave erwin," he says, with a voice like a gong struck in an empty subway tunnel, "is really into pre-crowned ribs. laminated pre-crowned ribs."

"whoa," murmurs my mentor. his hand rises to meet his chin; this means he has become suddenly very intrigued.

there is a lovely pause.

we're talking about the pieces of wood that are glued to the underside of a piano's soundboard. the job of the rib is to maintain the curve of the soundboard so that the tone can be projected properly, even though the wood itself will probably dry and flatten out over time. the old method (ms paint diagram 1) is to glue straight ribs onto a straight soundboard and force both into a caule to fit the desired curve; the new method (ms paint diagram 2) involves gluing pre-curved ribs onto a straight soundboard.


its actually supremely cool because the extra dynamic tension in #2 between the rib and the soundboard-that-doesn't-want-to-be-curved actually provides a much bigger, dynamic sound. in a certain sense, it is like a strung bow.

this is the meeting of the redwood chapter of the piano technicians guild, and its reliably a riot because all of the present characters are undeniable dweebs. including me. the president, god bless 'im, is wearing a shirt to which no crude paint diagram by a mortal could ever do justice. (nevertheless, we try.)

he runs the meeting with pomp and puns, like some strange and increasingly hilarious herbivore dinosaur. on the docket: the presentation of classes that some of the members took at the National Convention, break for coffee and donuts (and yoga stretches, for one member), technical roundtable, aspiring apprentice report, and what the hell do we do for bill swackhammer who just upped and retired. this last point has been a key issue for at least the last two months.

"anything? any ideas? i'm desperate, here," the president says. "emily, you're creative; tell me to crochet a pillowcase and i'll do it."

"give him a small porcelain frog," i suggest facetiously.

"a small porcelain frog." my mentor laughs. "you could ask his wife."

"ask his wife!" exclaims the president, lively as his shirt. "ask his wife! that's perfect!"

i am the youngest in the room by at least thirty years, and the only female. after a year and a half of informal study under the university's staff tech, i'm finally comfortable arguing with these men. i love this stuff, and for a while, i wanted to make a career out of it. these days, however, it has taken a back seat while i'm distracted by trying to be a pianist. i suspect it'll be something i'll come back to a little later in life, when many people usually start working with it. this doesn't mean, however, that i'm not seriously considering buying that piece-o-shit hamilton upright to fix up and resell. oho, temptations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the midwest is under water, including this year's corn harvest.
china is happy!
buddhists are fighting.
and california is on fire.

(on the other hand, doing sit-ups really does help with the feeling of being menstrually-bloated.)


it is absolutely unbelievable to me that people can do this:


this photograph was taken from an article on the front page of the new york times.

"“The youth,” as foot soldiers of Zimbabwe’s ruling party are often called, broke the legs of a baby when they were looking for his father, an opposition organizer. Zimbabwe’s neighbors have urged it to postpone this week’s runoff.''

i grew up in a white, upper-middle class suburban home -- simultaneously overeducated and oblivious. awful shit like this happens all the time. that doesnt make it any more sensible, or acceptable. are we responsible for reacting viscerally to every garish incident (that floats to us down the Media), or do we establish a happy medium between visceral experience and total ambivalence? the former would be completely exhausting; the latter would be an insult.

there are places to take emotional refuge, like "karmic retribution," or "i'll donate money to doctors without borders." meditating on peace. even if karma is bull, in which case i'd love to go beat the holy bejeebus out of some people, violence still only promotes more violence. when you punch a wall you damage your hand. and, of course, like the upper-middle class white suburban girl that i am, i want to throw my fists to the floor in a tantrum and resort to screaming, "stop it, stop it, stop it!"

something as mundane as doing the dishes in an emotionally charged setting can be construed as aggressive, violent. what does it mean to be active? moreover, what does it mean to be patient?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

and you look at these people, these kids, and they cant live without their music. my roommate waved his wineglass in the air and asserted, i never had a choice in the matter. i have always been and would always be a musician. this glorious bondage.

but i can live without it. i have and i can and i would do so happily. neurons synapses firing in the brain, anybody who doesnt like music clearly has basic issues with wiring. reading sotto voce turns to we are not alone and webster is at secondo and he and i are a certain tandem of gleeful through this gesture, that breath, these stupid little sequences. jesus, they're charming. but he didnt read childrens books so much as a child -- he listened to classical music. his girlfriend breaks up with him so he begins transcribing a mahler small orchestra piece for two pianos. i lie on my bed and watch as the sky turns, contorts itself purple with thunderheads. i put my hand on the wall of this second story apartment to feel it shake. it shakes. i dont need this kind of music; i dont need to give myself up into it.

the bathtub faucet is flanked by two knobs both bearing the letter "h", the hot water in the sink cant be completely shut off, these things always make me smile, my mother writes to see if so-and-so is accepting any more students, i want to shake her by the balls of her shoulders. i dont need it, this stupid thing i'm doing. these hours on a black upholstered bench. i was mispronounced on the radio, next to the luminary student who is playing at carnegie hall soon. people talk to me like i could do something, actually, something, and webster foists all the hard parts of liebeslieder in my direction. i take them. i play so i can play more but, you know what? this summer i've spent more hours on the seat of my bicycle than at the piano. there is this little white house that i ride by a couple times a week on the way to the beach and in my mind it is so full of red and yellow flowers that they are tipping out the window like the hem of a cotton summer dress.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


tire swing --
my hanging boots with the earth still on them.
yellow rope buzzing dryly

in the kitchen,
our stupid love clattering about,
the green-apple soap suds!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

the first post

i am making the life-shift from livejournal to blogspot, for a variety of reasons that are really boring to write about. however, if you're interested in archival works, feel free to navigate your fine self over to some stanker on blogspot had already taken "filmcanister", but that's how thiz-biz-nez goes.

so lets start at the end, that is, the most recent livejournal entry a-cut-a-paste, and from that point, proceed backwards into the light.

the professor hailed it as a "total fucking cattle call, emily" -- and it was. it was a delightful surprise to be called back for the final round on sunday, and i am perhaps more proud of myself for sticking to my guns when i thought it's too late for them to call me, which means i didnt make it, but i played well and i'm pretty happy with that. and was completely satisfied with that thought.

i played a little bit psyched-out and sloppy at the end, perhaps the worst performance of that piece i've ever given, and placed pretty low on the totem pole for finalists -- who were all playing extensive romantic pieces. that's okay. i won a hundred bucks. i made it into the finals, which nobody was expecting, where i felt like i totally humiliated myself in front of all these Real Pianists. that's okay. i won a hundred bucks. i am the bigfoot representative, with the price of gas back in her pocket.

the whole scene of competitive piano is ridiculous. lots of flash. one girl wore a floor-length red gown. tension. unspeaking pianists whose smiles never leave their mouths trailing anxious parents and coaches and somebody is carrying the gloves, the score, the sweater. there are people, quilters-union kind, to kindly shepherd your idiot pianisting machine with tight small-bird shoulders around to this piano, or that one, the concert hall. i congratulated one girl who had done really well after the awards were handed out, and she didnt look at me disdainfully, but rather as if i had just landed from outer space. there was a pause. she didnt smile. "oh. you too."

its distressing how quickly one can learn to hate people one hasn't even met. [especially after one has been driving in the city. (for the record, chinatown is a lie. it doesnt exist.)] i dont like the person i am when i'm there.

and still i'm completely caught by this itch that says, go back next year. beat their slimy little asses. do better. big fat vegan white girl with hairy legs is going back to triumph over your stupid liszt machine ass.