Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
every time i see a high-quality classical music performance i am increasingly relieved that i'm not going into it. my father got tickets to yuja wang and the shanghai symphony last month and i'll be damned if it wasn't a very accurate performance. she wore a pretty sweet dress. sometimes i get to go for hikes.
you know that joke that goes:
go, go and practice until your fingers bleed?
yeah, well, my teacher actually does that shit, and the moment her fingertips split open, she gets really excited. "it means hi hem practicing enough," she says.
on a conservative day i'll put in four hours; what does it take to break open your fingertips? i have no idea. people who do that have, in my book, officially crossed the line into nutso. its been three days of no practice and my tendons are still hurting off and on, as they do. how does the skin of your fingertips give out before your tendons?
maybe she doesn't have tendons.
she used to put superglue on her fingertips to stop the bleeding.
"superglue hiznt good enough, hi have to use za chrazy glue." she laughs.
it's not funny.
maybe she's some crazy bulgarian octopus robot who has to use crazy glue to maintain a human shape. maybe she moved to california because she had some west-coast octopus relatives on her father's side that she wanted to get to know. maybe at night she drives to the ocean and takes her true form (leaving large, human-shaped shells of crazy glue on the shore) and they all tour old shipwrecks together. (maybe the glue-shells fill with moonlight and are buffeted around by the sea-breeze so the hippies who sleep at the beach think they're ghosts. maybe some of the hippies have gotten wise and now use the glue-shells for shelter. or boats. maybe they hang small shell and hemp and bottle-cap amulets around the inside of the glue-shells so that when they leave, the shells are large clattering moon-filled idiophone ghost-hollows that go whoom clatter clatter whoom clatter clatter as the night wind bounces them down the length of the beach. maybe.)
her sister played the bach concerto i'm currently working on when she was seven. my teacher didnt say when she herself played it, but in one section "when hi was a little ghirl," she said, "and didnt have such good control, hi used dis fingering. now hi can do dis, but you see."
uh huh, lady, i'm getting wise to you. i've heard the shore-hippies whispering.
Friday, December 18, 2009
you do not know this man, this hall, this piano, or the man who tunes this piano.
i think i have a more sympathetic relationship with food than i do with people. this will eventually need to be remedied.
last night i saw preservation hall and danced onstage. it was one of --if not the-- best live shows i've ever seen. this morning i tried to teach one of my disheartened students st james infirmary. she seemed less disheartened? how do you tell a twelve year old to sing it sad and nasty?
let her go, let her go, god bless her
wherever she may be
she can search the whole world over
but she'll never find a man like me
Monday, December 7, 2009
i feel like shit like this shouldnt make me as giggly inside as it does. also, blogger crops things funny.
fuck you, lisa frank.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
what am i doing, man.
making persimmon pies from the tree out front and taking a lot of pictures; i know i'm doing that much. and i'm happy; i know that too.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
okay, maybe not that violently, but it definitely had a certain amount of forward motion.
the neighbor lady freaked out, called my dad, and trashed mister red-eyes. she and my sister are still not on speaking terms, even after the latter was forced to apologize. (which she did only under duress.)
"i'm not saying it wasn't funny," my dad explained to her, "i'm just saying that you need to apologize."
my goal in life is to grow up and be the kind of person my dad is.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
trying to explain this to my roommates/girlfriend:
"as in, i want to do your mom? past tense: i did your mom."
"i will have done your mom."
"or! your mom is as wet as the morning dew."
"ooh -- your mom has more numbers than the dewey decimal system."
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
last night i saw the pianist depress the keys and the hammers rise, which is in itself not such a novel observation, but it was is a slight jiggle to the hammers after striking the strings, and i realized suddenly that the mechanism of the piano is in fact separate from the mechanism of the hands. this should be obvious. maybe just for me, having spent the last five years meditating on the supposed direct line between fingertip and sound, that rebellious post-strike hammer undulation appeared as the most seductive, mesmerizing mechanical give in the world, like the swinging ponytail of a runner passing you in the early morning, or the way somebody’s arm twitches against you as they fall asleep.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
hangover cure at the fair: ten dollars for a palm-reading and five dollars for a soydog with extra sauerkraut. this is the best of humboldt for fifteen bucks.
the woman who read my palm hadn't shaved her arms in a couple of days and told me i'd have three children, two girls, one boy, one marriage, a smart upcoming career change, a lot of writing and school in my future, that i would move to the midwest and then back with my family "in the south" and in three or four years time, meet my soul mate, whom i would know immediately upon seeing, and that my life would be healthy and extend into my 90's. i spent a lot of the time not staring at her beard.
some years ago, "in the south," i had my cards read. the woman, russian this time, also imparted the tri-child prophecy. i dont recall her having a beard.
this doesnt mean i'm giving either of them credit.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
"and my teacher has a teacher. well, many teachers, actually. everybody has a teacher." i let that sink in. "except the untaught, of course," i added.
man do i have a teacher. she was so excited to move to california that she announced in one of the group keyboard classes that she "bought two svimsoots."
but humboldt is as humboldt does; she asked one of her students "vy she did not practice, and she said she lives on the beach."
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
When we listen primarily for what we "ought" to be doing with our lives, we may find ourselves hounded by external expectations that can distort our identity and integrity. There is much that I ought to be doing by some abstract moral calculus. But is it my vocation? Am I gifted and called to do it? Is this particular ought a place of intersection between my inner self and the outer world, or is it someone else's image of how my life should look?
When I follow only the oughts, I may find myself doing work that is ethically laudable but not mine to do. A vocation that is not mine, no matter how externally valued, does violence to the self—in the precise sense that it violates my identity and integrity on behalf of some abstract norm. When I violate myself, I invariably end up violating the people I work with. How many teachers inflict their own pain on heir students, the pain that comes from doing what never was, or no longer is, their true work?
In contrast to the strained and even violent concept of vocation as an ought, Frederick Buechner offers a more generous and humane image of vocation as "the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."
In a culture that sometimes equates work with suffering, it is revolutionary to suggest that the best inward sign of vocation is deep gladness—revolutionary but true. If a work is mine to do, it will make me glad over the long haul, despite the difficult days, Even the difficult days will ultimately gladden me, because they pose the kinds of problems that can help me grow in a work if it is truly mine.
If a work does not gladden me in these ways, I need to consider laying it down. When I devote myself to something that does not flow from my identity, that is not integral to my nature, I am most likely deepening the world's hunger rather than helping to alleviate it.
from: The Heart of a Teacher
Identity and Integrity in Teaching
by parker j palmer
thanks to katie for passing this along to me.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
i want to be a sociolinguistic historian alpinist photographer world-traveler chef commedian triathalete warrior woman fluent in old english and the prepared piano music of john cage.
"does switzerland sing the song of your heart?" he asked.
"no," i told him. i think that was a lie?
Sunday, August 30, 2009
one of the wonderful and creepy things about language is that one person can use it to put an image into another person's head, like food into a pantry, or books on a shelf.
picture a bulldog.
standing on it's hind legs.
in a long purple skirt.
with a bulgarian accent.
and a confident scowl.
you have just imagined my new piano teacher. her fingers are like hotdogs, the palms of her hands like small rotisserie chickens. she walks belly-out business-first and calls me "emily-sveetie." my first lesson, last wedesday, lasted two hours. i didnt cry, i'll have you know, but that doesnt mean i didnt want to.
which means it was perfect.
a restricted code will arise where the form of the social relation is based upon closely shared identifications, upon an extensive range of shared expectations, upon a range of common assumptions ... such codes will emerge as both controls and transmitters of the culture ... meaning does not have to be fully explicit, a slight shift of pitch or stress, a small gesture, can carry a complex meaning.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
personally, i say sanwidge.
i momentarily parted from a promenade down the hallway to pop my head into the office of a vocal faculty member.
"elizabeth," i inquired, "how do you say sandwich?"
"sand witch," she replied, all of the consonants and vowels clear and resonant enough to be painted into a still portrait with fruit. "and sometimes sammich."
"sammich. is that done intentionally to be cute?"
"yes. but if i'm actually saying it, i will say it sandwitch." she's a professor of singing (think about that one, to profess singing), which means that she gets paid to be a stickler about clippy pronunciation.
"i say sanwidge," i informed her.
"get out of my office."
what do you say?
and on an unrelated note: cheerios.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
i had to get up early yesterday morning and leave the apartment without time enough to make coffee. i looked sharp, though -- the professional piano-teacher lady, mixing and shooting instant java at the muffin table in between lessons. this morning, before i decided whether or not i was hung over, i found my milk in the freezer. i was hung over.
"i thought you had some crazy plan for the frozen milk," my roommate says.
i cant wait to be the absentminded professor.
school starts tomorrow. year five. this afternoon i sat on a brick wall in shorts and a tee shirt with a friend, both of us slurping ice cream cones, flapping our matching brown converse sneakers like the shadows of birds. converse are the only sneakers for california summer.
i run in the forest that always smells wet because the sun never gets all the way down to the ground. tripping on large roots is more like being airborne than falling. i love opening up my stride on the downhills and the slight give of mud, the feel and push and bend of my legs, the eruption back onto the football field dripping sweat, splattered with mud, and sometimes even little bits of greenery on my shirt, in my hair. i feel like a wild thing.
there is flour on the keyboard of my computer.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
"Harry," she said, "what if we can't find out who is doing it in time?"
"We'll find them," I said.
"But what if we don't?"
"Then we fight monsters.
Murphy took a deep breath and nodded as we stepped out into the summer night. "Damn right we do."
from one the novels out of jim butcher's the dresden files. actually, the, er, ninth book in the series. i haven't exactly read all nine, but --
i'm sorry, but i cant get enough of these things. it's like harry potter has gone to bed with the chronicles of narnia, and their child is embarrassed about a crush it has on twilight. not that i've read twilight, either, but you know what i mean:
over the top fantasy action sequences that inevitably dissolve into a sort of flippant deux ex machina, rife with sarcastic internal monologue and cheerily repressed sexuality --
summer needs to last forever.
i'm running twenty miles a week and baking bread and devouring fantasy novels like a fifteen foot troll who has escaped from the nevernever devours parking meters.
too bad there is only one week left, and i have yet to ensnare an opportunity for gainful employment.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
long exposures on the street! being passed by large groups of drunked men! this is fun! (you can see this guy turn on his blinker below.)
i wish i could a) post these larger and b) figure out why sometimes the resolution gets chunky-weird.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
my teacher and i had a scheme to get a particular professor out from the no1 dream graduate program! my teacher had studied with this lady a bit as a doctoral student, and the plan was for this woman to come out to california, give a master class, and for me to totally dazzle her with my quick fingers and clever brain and by doing so win my way into dream graduate program acceptance!
however, i found out today that since my teacher died, nobody has been in contact with this lady. she was supposed to be here this fall -- and it was her absence from the events calender that seemed odd. as of now, she is not coming out.
which is really a kick in the balls when it comes to my chances for acceptance to this university, but i'm not about to give up on it. i took this last extra year to be sure that i could put my best effort out there. which i am going to do.
step one: write the new head of department here, who just moved into town and whom i still havent met.
step two: write the instructor at the dream graduate program! schmooze. chat about ... rep. and stuff.
step three: apply like the universe is coming down, motherfucker.
so i've been hunched over this computer keyboard for far too long this evening, sending emails, drawing up spreadsheets of audition requirements, recording requirements, checking my email, and googling ridiculous phrases like "graduate programs piano performance new york city."
this new instructor/head of the piano department is fresh out of (wait for it) eastman, so fuck, why not just send some paper and a dvd to them, too.
it is not until i realize that this is going to be a total showdown that i understand that, motherfucker, this is what i want to do. it is wonderful to think about teaching hiv prevention in africa, or english in korea, (or living at my parents house) or any number of things, but this game plan, for right now, is me.
and i dont care who died. screwed up, yes, throws one hell of a wrench into the project, yes, but if brick walls are there to show you how much you want something then this is a big fucking brick wall.
i'm going into this claws out, knives drawn, screaming spitting and sweet-talking as fuck.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
ps. if you're not up for my nekkid back, dont scroll down past the 2nd shot.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009