Saturday, December 01, 2007

Last day of being 30 on November 30th

In a few minutes I'll be 31. Time to wake up!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Horrible excuses for not posting

I knew weekends would be a big black hole in terms of posting.....

But I wasn't lazy this past weekend--honest! Friday was spent on a day hike with some elementary kids (more about that later--there is just too much stuff to write about now); Saturday was spent getting a haircut, running errands, lalala, etc.; Sunday was spent entirely on grading elementary art projects (I had just been informed at 2pm by a teacher grades were due on Monday! Eeek! I had like 4 weeks of projects to grade) and TR band practice. Today was spent teaching art (a kindergarten boy came up to me and told me I had a "witch nose." But it was okay because his mom had one too. Aw, ain't that sweet?).

Tomorrow we leave early to drive to the Oregon Coast for our yearly (3-day) vacation spent at our favorite B&B. Then, we'll be spending two glorious days in Portland. I already have a big list of things to do there (go to arcade/bar in Chinatown to play vintage pinball; eat froot-loop doughnut at Voo-doo doughnut shop; buy Japanese stationery at Powells and check out haunted rare-book room; eat a lovely chocolate concoction called the Aphrodite at Pix Patisserie; shop at various vintage/used clothing stores; buy clogs? Write postcards at the Nob Hill Pharmacy cafe; get a tarot reading at New Renaissance Bookshop; etc.......).

I promise I will journal via the old-fashioned way and update when I return next week.

By the way, I'm curious what you thought of The Darjeeling Limited.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Orff Orgy

I'm sad that October is over; it's my favorite month. I spent every beautiful autumn day inside playing piano for Disney's! High! School! Musical! But, I actually had fun doing that, so I'm not complaining too much.

I like the first day of a new month. I feel like I can start over with new projects or goals, such as writing every day for this thing called NaBloPoMo or whatever the hell it's called. To kick off the new day, I spent about 30 minutes free-writing on my Hermes 3000 sea-green typewriter. That thing is so fun to play with that I get excited to write instead of scared. I love the way the letters thwack the page--it makes every letter and word seem really important, like it's followed by an exclamation point. The computer paper I'm using is so thin that the letters press through the page and make holes. Maybe this is a new art form (I thought of it first!).

My too-ambitious goals for November are:
*finish two short stories
*start making cool X-mas gifts
*use up the huge amount of cute Japanese stationery in my desk (beware: you might get a letter soon!)
*take voice lessons (I might sign up to direct another musical, so if I'm going to do more vocal coaching I need to know something about it.....haha I fooled the last people.....but I started running out of vocal warm-ups...I'm sick of that "who washed washington's underwear" thing...)
*Learn Debussy's piano Image Homage to Rameau.
Become a student of rhythm (buy myself some drum sticks)
*Learn a few French phrases

Speaking of rhythm, I'm really obsessed with the White Rabbits. They played here a couple weeks ago at this little coffee shop/bar not too long after they played on Letterman. I don't think I've danced harder since 80's night at the Bricktop in Lincoln NE in August (in a bridesmaid dress). OMG (yes, I'm using a Millenial colloquiallism) it was one of the best rock shows I've seen. The band is made up of 6 (good-looking) guys wearing tweed blazers, skinny ties, sweater vests, and boat shoes (It was all very Columbia University, circa 1981). The 7th guy, dressed the same, but with very 80's, round tortoiseshell glasses videotapes the band while they play. There are two drum kits, each drummer playing different yet complimentary rhythms, while the other members play keys, beat on toms or the rims of toms, shake tambourines, play guitar, and bass. There are a lot of vocal harmonies too. They use a lot of David Bowie-dance and calypso- inspired rhythms, using claves and maracas. If it weren't for the gross couple dirty dancing in front of me I would say that was one of the most fun evenings I've had in a while. So, all I've been doing all month is listening to the WR, with some occasional Electrelane and Camera Obscura.

Last night, we saw Modest Mouse (yes, in Spokane! 'lil 'ol Spokane!). I have to say though, that the show was a bit of a disappointment. Once their roadies set up the stage, it took them about a half-hour to actually get their asses on stage and play. Then, they waited a good 15 minutes or so to come out for an encore. And, they also had the two-drum-kit set up, but it seemed as if both guys were playing the same thing. So, not as impressive as the WR. Also, it was hot and sticky and crowded, with people in costume (actually that was the highlight) and people pushing their way to the front and someone passing gas in front of us the whole time. I was wearing my ubiquitous blonde Andy Warhol/Menards guy/Phyllis Diller/Marilyn Monroe wig and tights. So I was suffering pretty badly, on top of standing for four hours on a belly full of spicy/creamy Indian food. Actually, dinner was the best part of last night, in addition to one of the opening bands, ManMan, which was a fun-percussive-Tom Waits meets the Muppets-Orff orgy of sound.

Until tomorrow--

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Moon is an Alien Pod

I'm so frustrated, where do I begin?

1. Subbing at a school makes me realize there are so many problems with school and that I have no power or credentials to fix them. And subbing is inherently flawed because you have no opportunity to form a relationship with the students or fellow teachers or parents. And teaching art for three hours one day a week with no art room (which means no sink, storage space for wet paintings, or money to buy new paint.....) is just crazy. They'd be better off just dropping the art program.

2. I feel like the victim of sexism, but I can't tell if I'm just lazy or it's sexism. Or a little bit of both. But let me tell you, sexism is alive and well if you want to be a woman composer, conductor, or jazz musician. And to be honest I'm sick of this male idea of music that has to be show-offy and loud for the sake of being show-offy and loud. I feel like I need to balance all this testosterone with a month in a convent in Italy. Or France. Someplace scenic and far away. I'd be interested in hearing if any of you out there have experienced sexism in the arts. Esp. music. I'll share my story more in-depth in a personal, bitchy letter.

3. The thought that I will be poor forever with no hope for savings or retirement because I chose a career in the arts and teaching fields.

4. I just got an email from the secretary of the ESD office here who said my certification for WA was pending because they don't accept faxed signatures. They want the goddamn originals. Why? What difference does it make? It's this miniscule buracracy bullshit that makes me not want to work in schools. Or other institutions/corporations. Ever.

On a positive note, the musical is going well; I'm actually enjoying playing piano for these super cheesy shows and little kids in the audience with all of their HSM paraphanalia: light up shoes! Lunch bags and backpacks! Pom poms!

Oh, and tonight at a party, this guy was telling me he believes human beings came from aliens who did genetic engineering experiments at the beginning of time to create the human race. And that the moon is really an alien pod where they live inside it and watch their human experiment from above. And that Noah's ark was really fully of animal DNA, not actual animals. It was all so entertaining!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Artistic Q-tips

No, I'm not bored at all......

Seriously, these q-tips fell on a towel and I liked they way they looked--sort of like an abstract dada piece. Sort of.

If you're back reading this, I've decided to start posting again after a long hiatus. I've been busy with:
1. graduating from grad school
2. going to pig roasts (ask me about this!)
3. playing ulimate frisbee (once)
4. driving to nebraska and back to dance in an orange bridesmaid dress at a club for 80's night and get beer spilled all over me, and eating a Jimmy Johns sandwich in the middle of UNL's sculpture garden at 3am with old friends who knew me when I was 15, while watching a tall guy climb a tree and almost fall down....
5. trying to find creative work that pays something and finding little gigs at local children's theatre and parochial school
6. reading everything Madeleine L'Engle wrote (I started this before she passed away, I swear! It was a strange sort of synchronicity.....)
7. playing in a rock band (and hosting a rock band in our house--they needed somewhere to stay for the night, so they slept on our hard, dog-fur covered floors and in the morning we fixed them eggs and bacon while their keyboardist played Chopin and Beethoven by memory on the upright. No, it wasn't surreal at all.....).
8. listening to Joni Mitchell's Hejira album obsessively and trying to play tunes on the guitar
9. hydro-seeding the backyard, building a tall wooden fence, putting in bark landscape borders and otherwise acting like old people, doing yard work on the weekends and going to bed by 10pm.
10. reading as much as I can find about Gabriele Munter

That's the general overview. Here is something to ponder:

*11 pairs of identical gray New Balance tennis shoes, in the same state of wear, the same size, placed on successive steps in a hidden, carpeted stairwell.

Amazing, isn't it? I actually saw it. Now use your imagination......

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just for fun

To take a break from the never-ending and tedious process of editing music and parts, I decided to pick out random books from my shelf and open them up to random pages to see where my eye fell, randomly. For fun. And because I'm bored.

"Rather than mouth 'some invented cliches' in place of a 'poetic' correspondence, she explained to Cornell that she preferred to stay silent. Even so, she remained close in his reverie, as he jotted in his diary in 1946: 'dream of D [orothea] in bare feet and saw-dust,' a notation cryptically appended to a reminder to write Ernst."
--from "Joseph Cornell: Gifts of Desire" by Dickran Tashjian.

"We've all heard that the unexamined life is not worth living, but consider too that the unlived life is not worth examining."
--from "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron

"Then Jesse saw something that made her pause. A light in the garden flickered in and out of the bushes. Someone was out there with a flashlight."
--from "Undercover Girl" by Christine Harris

"Ken looked up and was more frightened than ever. His father's face looked appalling. It was swollen out of all shape, one eye was closed by purple and black lumps above and below, and the white dressing on the cheekbone was surrounded by an inflamed, angry circle."
--from "My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara

"Mr. Bigger frowned. 'Tell him to wait,' he said irritably. He coughed and turned back to the Lord of the Manor. 'If I had any capital to spare, I'd put it all into late Venetians. Every penny.'"
--from "The Portrait" by Aldous Huxley (from an issue of Cicada magazine, May/June 2004)

"After they had driven the counter girl into a state of despair, the children took their purchases and went for a walk along the main and only drag. They tried, as always, to peer into the frosted windows of the saloons to see what kind of degenerates were inside at one in the afternoon. As always, someone came by and scolded them for hanging around a saloon."
--from "An Occassional Cow" by Polly Horvath

"'If a kiss could be seen I think it would look like a violet,' said Priscilla."
--from "Anne of Avonlea" by L.M. Montgomery

"We now have an inkling of the unbelievable fertility of the universe, of the constant birthings of atoms and molecules, eggs and spermatozoa, of cells and living organisms in water and on land in this so-far-unique of all cosmic places, the Earth."
--from "Original Blessing" by Matthew Fox

"The writer Annie Dillard once observed that 'the way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives.' The way we live our lives also depends on the questions we ask."
--from "Callings" by Gregg Levoy

"Don't be afraid to answer the questions. You will find endless resources inside yourself. Writing is the act of burning through the fog in your mind. Don't carry the fog out on paper. Even if you are not sure of something, express it as though you know yourself. With this practice you eventually will."
--from "Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg

"The function of descriptions in fiction is generally to deepen the illusion of person and place--to recreate their substance in the imagination of the reader, so that he is willing to believe he is in the presence of reality."
--from "Writing Fiction" by R. V. Cassill

"Yet there are thousands who have pondered the question of reality, and to the above statement their response might be, 'Not so fast!' Plato, remember, believed that only the Forms were real, because the Forms, being universal abstractions and never having had material substance, could therefore never change. Plato believed things that changed--the familiar world as well as the people in it--could not possess reality, because if they did, we would have to say that real things could come into and pass out of existence. How can they be real one minute and not real the next?"
--from "The Art of Being Human: the Humanities as a Technique for Living" by Richard Paul Janaro and Thelma C. Altshuler

"Physicists describe these two properties of physical laws--that they do not depend on when or where you use them--as symmetries of nature. By this usage physicists mean that nature treats every moment in time and every location in space identically--symmetrically--by ensuring that the same fundamental laws are in operation. Much in the same manner that they affect art and music, such symmetries are deeply satisfying; they highlight an order and a coherence in the workings of nature. The elegance of rich, complex, and diverse phenomena emerging from a simple set of universal laws is at least part of what physicists mean when they invoke the term 'beautiful.'"
--from "The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

what I've been doing lately

Highlights of the last few weeks:

1. We got to eat two Easter dinners! One monday night and one sunday afternoon: 2 hams, several deviled eggs, some with salmon and dill, asparagus, scalloped potatoes, roasted potatoes, creamed corn, green bean casserole, iceberg salad, buns, lime jello fluff, chocolate cake with purply tasting frosting, no-bake cheesecake with gingersnap crust, lots of wine, and a shot of Ukranian vodka. The sunday afternoon dinner was had with Nancy and Brian, after which we played a game of Pit and sat around watching Zuzu sniff around their lovely huge backyard and chew on a block of wood. The monday night feast was celebrated with oodles of people at Remi and Jen's condo, where we gorged on the above foods, which come to think of it, were very midwestern. Some of the guests had never heard of or seen creamed corn or jell-o fluff. Imagine!

2. On saturday, K and I worked (well K did most of the work--I helped) on the back patio. He rented a truck for the day and hauled several loads of gravel, sand, and mulch that went into beatifying our ugly, mostly dirt and weeds, backyard. The weather here was gorgeous: 62 degrees and sunny. I put a kerchief on my head, rolled up my short-sleeved tee-shirt so I wouldn't get a farmer's tan, and raked sand and shoveled mulch for a few hours. The experience was actually cathartic? I felt my brain relaxing while my muscles burned from repetitive shoveling and raking motions. It's exactly what I needed too--Do you ever notice that your brain hurts from thinking too much? I've been writing so much music that my head literally feels bruised and achey. It felt good to get dirty and sweaty and concentrate on physical tasks, which made me realize how separated I am from what my farming ancestors did everyday. I'm such a pathetic city girl that I have no idea where most grocery store food comes from, how to grow flowers in my backyard, or how to start a compost pile. My grandparents and great-grand parents would be ashamed! The best part about saturday was riding around in the pickup truck. We drove to K's coworker's house to haul some old wooden fencing away, in hopes we might use it for our own backyard (right now we have chain-link with white plastic slats. Ick!). I can seriously see why people buy trucks--you feel a sense of power being up that high and rocking out to the classic rock station (c'mon, you can't listen to NPR in a truck!). I haven't ridden in a truck since high school, or earlier (not counting the big fancy white truck my dad drives around). I used to ride in my cousins' truck on their farm in eastern NE, which smelled of shit and dirt and gasoline. Is it possible to miss smells like that?

3. A few weeks ago I played in my first rock show ever. I made my keyboard debut with the T.R.'s, which consists of friends of ours. It was a total blast. The venue was full of K's work people, so they helped out with the drunken screaming and clapping and dancing to our songs. I had always wanted to be in a rock band, and now I am! It's totally a just-for-fun band but we're going to try to play more shows this summer and fall. We're also looking for a key-tar, so if you see one, send it our way. That's the only thing the last show was missing.....

4. Books read: Jane Eyre, The Bone People by Keri Hulme (loved it!!!), and Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (good! but a little preachy.). Want to start on the new Sherman Alexie novel, Flight, which is about a time-traveling Indian. We're going to see Alexie at The Bing on the 22nd. Can't wait!

5. I've been chained to my computer. The agony isn't over yet--I still have to finish a few things, edit everything, and edit parts (which is the most awful boring thing ever). Then comes finding people, rehearsing, and trying not to go crazy in the process. The first person to hand me a bottle of gin after my recital gets a gold medal.

Monday, March 05, 2007

(insert clever title here)

I know better than to do this but I spent all weekend engrossed in a very riveting 19th century novel: Jane Eyre. I was in a reading slump, having checked out numerous books at the library over the past few weeks but not feeling enchanted with any of them (except Kira Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, which was beautiful but very depressing). I literally spent all of Saturday and Sunday on the couch with the Dover paperback edition in my hands and chips and salsa on the coffee table.

It's amazing that something written over 150 years ago can still be relevant and fun to read today. The storytelling was great, the prose flowery and old but not difficult to understand, and the characters very sympathetic and colorful. In other words, I totally loved it, and am looking forward to tracking down the Masterpiece Theatre DVD when it comes out (if it's not out already). I haven't read a really romantic story like that in ages, and it was very satisfying (if not bodice-ripping). In fact, the last "romantic" book I read (where you have to keep reading in order to find out if ill-fated lovers end up together in the end) was The Thorn Birds, which I read in the 8th grade over a period of about two days over Christmas break. It was a very steamy read and I always find it interesting that there are usually 10 or more copies at the Sister's annual book sale at CSC.

There's something to be said for cheesy romance novels, ones that are well-written anyway. I was able to escape my present life as a stressed-out graduate student and live the life of someone who could have been my great-great-great-great (great?) grandmother. Was this book considered high literature in its day? Or was this considered a Danielle Steelish novel of its time (I'm picturing victorian ladies pulling this book out of their embroidery bags and stealing a few forbidden moments with Mr. Rochester on the fainting couch).

Anyway, aside from wasting away a weekend reading, I've had a few celebrity encounters worth noting. A couple weeks ago Faith Ringgold came to our humble town and gave a lecture. It was wonderful and we snagged a few autographed posters afterwards. It seems that all famous artists dress the same--big chunky jewelry, drapey clothing, hair piled on top of their heads--but this look suited her, along with her big gold and black glasses.

Also, Libby Larsen came to our school as a guest composer and spent a day on Feb. 13th working with performers, giving a lecture, and talking with student composers, including little old me. I was fortunate enough to be able to accompany her (by myself!) to the student union to grab a coke and some snacks and really talk about music. The whole experience was truly amazing and surreal--the whole time I was thinking, "Libby Larsen is sitting directly across from me in the PUB and drinking a diet pepsi, among students milling about, eating tater tots, watching sports on the big t.v., and playing cheesy made-up new-agey songs on the piano downstairs in the lobby." Our conversation was amazing, and I would write it all down here, but there are too many wonderful things to say, so if you want to know more you must call or write. Suffice it to say, she is an amazing and energetic woman, who was neither condescending nor arrogant, and very friendly and eager to talk about my (and my fellow students') work. What I noticed most about her manner of speaking and her overall outlook and energy pertaining to art and music was this: where most people (including myself) question their artistic vision and say to themselves, "Oh, that's a stupid idea. It would be impossible to pull off," she says, "How much will it cost?" I thought that was the most amazing thing about her, and why she is a famous and successful composer. It never occurred to her not to do something.

One more thing: I added a new link to the right--Retro Research. Read it over the next few days because she will soon be abandoning her blog. I've always wanted to do something like this myself, and think that I might try a month-long internet/email/t.v. fast once I'm out of school.
Lately I've really been missing snail mail (I've lost some electronic letters because I've changed email addresses a few times in the past few years, and who thinks to print them out beforehand?). Also, I waste so much time on the internet and watching shows I don't even really like on t.v. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Valentine from Johnny Mathis

Last night K and I went to see Johnny Mathis. If you don't know who that is, shame on you! Actually, we were probably the only ones there under the age of 60. All the wives dragged their husbands to the concert and made them wear sweater vests and comb their hair. During intermission two older gentlemen in front of us stood up to stretch their legs and joked they were going to stand for the rest of the concert. "You wouldn't mind, would you?" they asked us in a cute charming old man way. One of them said, "My wife would just tell me to sit down and shut up." It was very cute, this dynamic between persons from this generation, who probably conceived children to Johnny Mathis' crooning in the 50's and 60's.

The concert was amazing. He came out in a black tuxedo with bowtie, and opened up with that song from Willy Wonka ("if you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it....."). It was just him and the stringy-haired balding conductor/pianist, who played a lovely loungey piano. Then he launched into a Mancini medley with the orchestra (all wearing white tuxedos and lit only by music stand lights), then a medley of his most popular songs, including Chances Are and Misty. When he started a familiar song, two little old ladies sitting in front of us gasped and clutched each other's hands as if they were recalling a lovely moment. Then people would clap. It was like being on a Christopher Guest PBS special, but in a good, warm fuzzy way. I was totally into it and clapped along with them.

Later he did a Brazilian medley (he was very fond of these medleys with one song bleeding into another) where he sang a few Jobim songs in Portuguese, and closed the show with Brazil--a very spiffy upbeat version where they had a backround track of voices and the conductor/pianist was conducting and blowing a whistle at the same time and the orchestra was playing behind them and there was a brilliant light show. He got a standing ovation and came out and did two encores. He was very cute and a little shy, and very friendly and classy when addressing the audience. His voice hasn't changed much since the 50's, except he can't reach the high notes as well as he used to. But he still looks the same--dark skinned with a halo of dark wavy hair. I loved it all. It was very romantic.

It was fun to listen to reactions after the concert:
"They don't sing romantic music like that anymore, where you can understand the words."
"He still has all his hair."
"Isn't he in his 70's?"
"He's so elegant."

I first heard of Johnny when I was in high school. My favorite movie back then was "Chances Are," in which Robert Downey Jr. played Cybil Shepherd's reincarnated husband. In the movie, Cybil's character loves to listen to Johnny Mathis, so after I saw it, I rushed out to Wal-Mart and bought a casstte tape of his greatest hits, which included a disco version of "Begin the Beguine," and other sexy songs, one of which was called, "It doesn't have to hurt everytime."
(I regret to say, Kelly, that he did not sing this song). So started my obsession. Two summers ago I found a double-record set of his greatest hits from the 60's at this great record store that has since gone out of business. That July of 2005, I played it on our portable record player while my mom, aunt, Kelly, K and I sat on our porch drinking whiskey sours and Kokanees. I'll never forget Aunt Cookie swilling a beer and looking (mistily) off into the distance, saying, "This music just sends me......."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

new year, new things

I finally feel like I have some free time, since my load has lightened quite a bit. I'm only taking one class this quarter, which is a non-required class, and the rest of the week I'm teaching three students piano lessons, working one day a week at my retail job, and trying to compose and practice so I can graduate this June. However, I haven't been very productive so far this year in my creative work, which is no big surprise. I sleep in, laze around for awhile, eat lunch, then have to go off to work or class or lessons in the afternoon. To remedy this problem, I just found a new book that I am hoping will get me out of my procrastination habits. It's called The Now Habit, and so far, it's really great. It explains why people have a tendency to procrastinate on certain things, and methods for being more productive. I really only have three months to write some music for my recital, so I better get crackin' on these methods.

Other than trying to overcome procrastination for my new year's resolution, I'm also trying to get back into shape. I'm taking a beginning yoga class, which has been wonderful so far, but it's making me really sore. Everytime I go to class, I get the urge to move my body more, to take some dance classes again. I can't believe I have been putting off movement for so long. I feel so great after class, and I think it helps with anxiety/depression issues. So I think I might sign up for a dance class or try to do some swimming. I've also been rollerskating with some friends who are whizzes on the rink. They can skate backwards and do the limbo. This friday we're going again, for a benefit for the Lilac City Rollergirls--our very own rollergirl team. I'm half-tempted to join them, but I'm such a wuss--I worry about falling and breaking limbs and fingers.

As far as books go, I just finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I really really liked it. It appealed to that side of me that loves historical mysteries and Eastern European folklore. I'm trying to find another good read, but it's so hard to find something after you've read a really great book. I did pick up the new short story collection by Haruki Murakami, which I'm really excited about. I'm also in my Nancy Drew phase again (happens every couple months) where I reread ones I've forgotten about. My collection is almost complete--I'm only missing a few volumes. The bookstore downtown has some used Tom Swift books--maybe I need to start a new collection.

Things I want to accomplish this year:
1. Be able to do the splits (and be in better health, in general)
2. Do some house repairs: paint, garden, new pictures for the walls, new couch....
3. My recital!!
4. Be able to play some polkas and waltzes on the accordion
5. Write some short stories
6. Do some crafting/art: Shibori? Leather tooling? Photography? Painting? Tatting?
7. Get really great at baking bread
8. Write letters! (hopefully on a vintage secretary desk I haven't found yet)
9. Read some of the classics
10. Explore some new places (small towns in NE and WA, Europe?)