Friday, October 29, 2004
Today was Music Theory day, and, as always, it was quite the enjoyable lesson. I am in kind of a frustrating phase of Music Theory right now. No, "frustrating" is not the right word.
Learning how to do something, of course, takes a combination of actually doing things (practice), and absorbing things. Right now I'm absorbing. I've learned a few concepts and can rudimentarily (?) apply them. That's good. But now I feel a need to study things that have already been written, from chorales and hymns to my current piano pieces, and observe how different composers and arrangers used the tools I'm learning in order to create their art.
It's fun, but it's ... well, it's absorbing. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to go plant myself in a coffee shop for four hours and just focus. It's hard to study theory for fifteen minutes here, or a half-hour before bed there, which is the way most of the tasks in my multi-tasking life typically get done. Music theory requires deep learning rather than broad learning right now, and I'm really going to have to force myself to make time for it. Somehow, I need to work those three- and four-hour stretches of time into my life. Or at least one- to two-hour stretches, the way I do with piano.
And I want to fast-forward all this necessary learning so I can dive in and begin writing things. Oh, I could start writing things now, and I actually have an etude-sort of "piece" in mind. But I feel like I need to get more comfortable with the concepts first--kind of like wanting to make sure I'm dressed appropriately before heading out into below-freezing weather.
Oh my, I'm Little Miss Metaphor these days.
Or would I be Miss Simile?
I finished reading The Pilgrim's Regress by C.S. Lewis last night. Whew. That's another "deep learning" book ... I read it in about four days, but it's one of those books you could on which you could take an entire college course and still not get the half of it. So that's definitely going to go on the "read again" bookshelf. But first I want to read Surprised by Joy--Lewis's "spiritual autobiography."
The Pilgrim's Regress is basically an allegory, similar to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, of Lewis's spiritual journey, which ended with an embrace of Christianity. I think that reading Surprised by Joy will give me more insight into The Pilgrim's Regress.
And now I have this urge to write my life history as allegory. My main characters could be Depression and Narcissism. And Self-Forgetfulness. And Slumber. And Contemplation. And ... hey, this is kind of fun to think about!
I'm sure it is my Narcissism character who, right now, is telling me to write the allegory. But I just might do it anyway. Perhaps it would yield an insight or two. (Who am I kidding ... if I can't find time to do Music Theory, how am I ever going to find time to write an allegory?)
Hmm, Insight. Maybe that could be another character. And Multi-task. She'll constantly be spinning plates and breaking them. And her constant companions will be Frustration and Fatigue. Oh, and Self-Important.
Is it time to go home yet? Would you read an allegory with a character named "Exploding Brain"?
And there is actually a website for Kerry haters who are voting for ... Kerry.
And here are a couple of Letterman jokes:
"John Kerry says the 'W' in George W. Bush stands for 'Wrong.' But he still can't explain what John Kerry stands for."
"But down in Florida in the early voting, there were computer glitches, confusing ballots, long lines and chaos. And when President Bush heard about this, he said, 'Mission accomplished!'"
I'm going to lunch.
Of course, someone recently did a search for "hillsboro oregon party girls," and it pointed them here as well.
But is that cool or what? Has anyone else noticed that "booyah" is becoming more predominant in the popular culture as the elections approach? Does this have anything to do with anyone getting the Wisconsin vote?
Or has "booyah" only become more predominant among my small circle of blog readers and writers? Hmm ...
By the way, I've added a few links to the right-hand column of this blog, including Nocona's PCT Journal (which I'm transcribing) and Cousin Drew's Mind Garage (which I am not transcribing, but try to comment wittily on every now and then). Oh, and I added Zebby's "Planet Zeb" internet radio station as well.
Hope y'all are having a booyah Friday!
UPDATE: The blogosphere is apparently infested with booyah. It's the headline for both Cousin Drew and Cousin Veronica today.
Does this mean that I am cool? 'Cause I have booyah stuck in my head, too? Does it mean I am ... with it? That would be so awesome. I have never in my life been "with it," not once, not ever.
Oh, wait ...
A week without Dan IS a week without food, exercise, or motivation.
Dan left for the Florida Keys last weekend, so I've been home with the cats for a week. I didn't think I'd be lonely (I'm a bit of a loner anyway), but geez ... who knew I was going to miss him this much?
I was like a lonesome kid on a see-saw. When there are two kids are on the see-saw, then the required balance is there and the see-saw will work.
But if there's only one kid, then the see-saw stays off-kilter and won't work. No matter how hard the kid tries.
I've been off-kilter all week. Didn't eat much, didn't exercise, didn't have much motivation at all. Totally felt like the balance of everything in my life was off.
All because I had no Hubbie to help keep things in balance. To keep things right with the world.
I'm so glad my sweet Hubbie is on his way home today. I have missed him terribly. I cannot imagine how the spouses of soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere survive. That has got to be so tough. And Dan was just on a business trip, not a combat mission.
So I really, truly can't complain. Although being a Boy Scout in Key West is probably scary in its own unique way ...
Sigh. I love the hubster. I can't wait to see him again.
Thursday, October 28, 2004
I think they may have dozed off.
Oh well. If I'd played badly, they would have stayed awake, wincing and covering their ears.
Here's what I did WRONG:
1. Played parts of the Bach too loudly. Also, I think I noticeably sped up/slowed down a few times. Bad, bad, bad.
2. Rushed, absolutely rushed, through parts of the Mozart. And knew I was rushing, but still didn't slow down.
3. Fumbled a bit in one measure of the Chopin. But only one measure.
Here's what I did RIGHT:
Well ... they all sounded really pretty. I know that much. Even though they weren't perfect, they did sound beautiful. Even modest little ole me has to admit that.
It was fun "class." And it was cool to meet Geneva, who is a double-major in Music and Environmental Science. As a double-minor in Music and Biology, I know that we Music/Science people are bit of a rarity. People like Jackrabbit, who double-majored in Music and Biology, are even more rare. So it was nice to meet another person who has a passion for both music and trees.
Whew. Music Theory is tomorrow. I think I'll lunch on secondary dominants today. Mm, mm, mm.
It’s appropriate that the Dukes of Hazzard movie has its base of operations at a former Baton Rouge car dealership. The high-octance cheesefest featured car chases and crashes, usually with “General Lee,” a red auto driven by lead characters Bo and Luke Duke.Here's some more info on it, from the Celebrity website.
A reincarnation of the revved-up 1969 Dodge Charger with the “01” emblazoned on the doors will soon grace the grounds of the former Team Toyota lot on Florida Boulevard. Warner Brothers signed a six month lease to base operations there for the movie. It will be shot in Louisiana, courtesy of state tax credits.
Ben Graham and Marc Larker of Latter & Blum handled the lease of 60,000 square feet. Graham says he could be cast as an extra in the movie, which would give him more than a commission check. He might get to rub shoulders with Jessica Simpson, the dingy pop blonde who plays Daisy Duke.
This is excellent news for Louisiana, and for my fellow Bo-Duke-loving friend, Krismeister. I think she should try to be an extra in this film. It would only be right.
But what really struck me was that this woman looked like an older, heftier version of my old friend Staci (you know, the childhood beauty contest winner I wrote about a while back in Plaquemaniacs and Pagentry).
This was a very Mom-D-like observation, and I am not a little ashamed of it. See, when my mom and grandmother (Mom-D) went to the National Galley of Art on a Washington, D.C., vacation, they spent a lot of time in the Portrait Gallery. Rather than admire the artwork and the historical significance of what she was seeing, Mom-D was fixated on remembering old relatives. She'd look at a portrait of John Adams or Martin Van Buren and say, "You know, that looks like old Uncle Ebenezer ... Chickie's second cousin. You know Chickie ... She was a Callegan before she married Joe-Bob. You don't remember Joe-Bob? He was Winky's brother. You remember Joe-Bob."
My poor mom. This was apparently par for the course for the entire portrait gallery. Everyone looked like someone, as far as my beloved grandmother was concerned. And everyone was related to someone else that, if you followed the circuitous family line long enough, you'd reach someone that my mom actually knew, so she could say, "Oh, yes," and they could move on to the next portrait.
So there I was last night, watching this wonderful soprano performing beautiful Strauss songs at Carnegie Hall, and my foremost thought was, "That's Staci. Shave off a few pounds, put her in a cute office outfit, and sit her behind a desk at a CPA firm, and you've got Staci."
Oh, every now and then they'd show her at an angle where she was the spitting image of Mrs. Betty (you know Betty, Staci's mama ... Carolyn's big sister ... she was a Schafer before she married Orney ... ).
Did I spell Schafer right? Shafer? Schaffer?
I'd better get to work. Really.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Ack ... Two hours 'till group piano. I'm nervous. It's been a very, very long time since I've really played much of anything in front of anyone, other than Dan and a few Baxlies. I haven't played classical music for a group of more than two since ... gosh, since 1992 or so.
Is that bad? To put so much time and effort into something that never gets shared with anyone? It's not that I don't want to share my music with everyone ... the opportunities just never really come up.
Woo hoo! Wee hee! Zebby's playing the Dead! 'Scuse me while I find my imaginary guitar and microphone ... I'm gonna sing back-up vocals ...
In honor of Simon's birthday, and in honor of WLCS Zebby Rhoads memories, I'm listening to PLANET ZEB. Many, many thanks to Rebecca for passing this site on to me. I've been meaning to "check it out" for some time, and finally did today.
It's not naxos.com, but it's purty good! :-)
Woo hoo! I just got paid!
Life is getting better. Maybe I just needed to tune in and listen to Zebby all this time.
Sorry, Sebastian (Bach ... not Nick's cat from the 80s). Sorry, Wolfgang. Sorry, Franz (Liszt or Schubert, take your pick). Sorry, Sergei. Today I'm listening to Rick Springfield, Tina Turner, Aerosmith, the Cardigans, and Tom Petty. It's only a matter of time before I'm dancing around the office, singin' along to "Hungry Like the Wolf" or wagging my finger when I hear the "nuclear war" line in "Is There Something I Should Know" ... (it's kind of a knee-jerk reaction, that finger-wagging to the "nuclear war" line ... only die-hard Duranies would understand ...)
I'm a happy girlie.
My apologies to the folks to whom I owe e-mail. Once again my e-mail account got dumped. I believe it is fixed now; only thing is, I've lost all my addresses again. Frustrating!
Part of me is so tempted to just fling all of my morose and self-pitying thoughts into this blog, but I'm not going to. My friend Marla (well, not really a friend, but a person whose blog I frequent, so she feels like a friend) recently wrote on her blog about how people used her "personal posts" and her blogged vulnerabilities against her to hurt her. Not that I think anyone would really do that to me, but better to play it safe. I am not particularly thick-skinned.
OK, let's think about non-depressing things.
It's Simon Le Bon's birthday. He was (is) Duran Duran's lead singer, and I was madly in love with him in 1984.
Whew. That was TWENTY YEARS AGO.
Back to the present.
This afternoon is the group piano class. Deborah has two sets of piano students (at least among those of us who take the "Painstakingly Slow and Labor-Intensive Piano" lessons, as opposed to her "Instant Piano" workshops). One set consists of UNCA students, music majors, who are taking piano as part of their major course of study. The other set consists of non-college students: a boy named Joseph, a grown-up named Kim, and me. Usually, the piano class merely consists of the non-college students. But today, she's invited the college students. I'm looking forward to this. The college students are going to play Chopin and Rachmaninoff and maybe Bach. And I'm supposed to play Chopin, Bach, and Mozart.
I wonder which Rachmaninoff will be played. I played one of his preludes in college. I think it was in B minor. It was dark, dreary and delicious. What was really cool, was that I was reading War and Peace at the same time I was learning the Rachmaninoff. I felt very Russian that semester.
Of course, practicing has not gone particularly well because I was STONE DEAF on Monday and MOSTLY DEAF on Tuesday. The hearing seems to have come back today, so I'm happy about that. I still can't find my hearing aid and fear that it is lost forever and ever. And ever.
I'm listening to The Life and Writings of C.S. Lewis on the commute these days. Pretty interesting group of lectures. I'm also making an effort to read (and re-read) Lewis's works. I like readin' things that get the old brain wheels turnin'. And Lewis's writings definitely do that.
Have I told everyone how much I love The Teaching Company? If I haven't, then I'm telling you now. Your library probably has some of their courses on tape or CD. A wonderful resource if you're like me and have a long commute to work every day.
OK, I'm still feeling sluggish and sad. And I need to document the new interface for the company's intranet. Signing off for now.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Here are some jokes you can tell your kids.
Q: What is the cannibals' favorite game?
A: Swallow the Leader
Q: Why did the cookie go to the hospital?
A: Because he was feeling "crummy."
Q: What did one toilet say to the other toilet?
A: You look a little "flushed."
Q: What did the alien say to the book?
A: Take me to your reader!
Don't ask me where I got those because I don't remember.
Here's a place to go if you feelin' groovy and peaceful. If you like John Ashcroft or support that fanatical, war-mongerin' Bush administration, you might wanna go somewhere else. (Like to the polls next Tuesday, hee hee!)
Oh, I love my Kerry-supporting friends. And my non-voting friends (though I really wish you'd reconsider ...). And my swinging voter friends. And my conservative Republican friends. All two of them.
End of fun political stuff. (Sorry, with the elections coming up, it just seems to creep into the blog. And on the joke post, of all places!)
Have a good afternoon, y'all!
And Word ain't workin' too well, either.
I've pretty much sat in a chair all morning, watching the IT person pull his hair out and curse my computer under his breath.
And now it's lunchtime. Good. I need a break. I'm gonna go find me a comfy coffee-shop seat and write out my frustrations. 'Cause they're building up today, yes sirree.
If only I were in New Orleans, I could probably find a bar that was open this time of day. Then I could drown my work sorrows in drink.
Or maybe I'll just go practice piano. We do have the group piano class tomorrow, and I'm supposed to play all these pieces I've been learning.
Or maybe I'll just go find some real food to eat. You know, take a REAL lunch. That's a thought. Not something I do that often.
Did anyone see Bushie on FOX Gnus last night? He did OK, but those FOX Gnus folks had him waaay too made up. Almost looked pretty with all that powder and blush. Poor Prez.
Clinton was on TV, too. Man, he looks good. Standing next to Kerry, he makes Kerry look even more darkly Lurch-like.
Not a pleasant thought before lunch. I'm flushing Lurch-thoughts from my brain.
I think I'll go forage now.
P.S. Some of my friends hadn't seen the funny John Edwards video yet, so I'm providing a link to it here.
For probably the last 10 years, I've thought of October 26 as "Sting Day" in my life because it's the day I saw Sting in concert at the LSU Assembly Center in Baton Rouge. It was 1987, and he was on his "Nothing Like the Sun" tour.
Or so I thought.
Apparently, according to my trusty internet sources , Sting performed in Baton Rouge on October 26, 1985, when on his Dream of the Blue Turtles tour. It wasn't until March 12, 1988 that he came back to Louisiana on the "Nothing Like the Sun" tour, and then he was at the UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
My memory was off by more than two years. Old age must really be kicking in.
I do remember the New Orleans concert, though. I went to that one with Mary and Andye. I remember, because it was on a weeknight and my mom wouldn't have let me go, so it was a classic case of "sneaking out." Good concert, but not as good as the one in Baton Rouge. Even though we did have 17th row seats. Afterward, we went to the French Quarter and drank daiquiris because we could.
No wonder my head is going to explode. So much random useless information from the past. I went to the Baton Rouge concert in 1985, by the way, with my brother Ghent and my friend Rebecca. And I think Ghent's friends Milt and Johann were with us, too.
Is that strange or what? To live in late 20th-century America--in south Louisiana, of all places--and have teenage friends named Milton and Johann?
I just KNOW that Sting has something to do with October 26, 1987, in my memory. Perhaps that's the day I bought the "Nothing Like the Sun" album and stayed up all night listening to it, thinking, "This is the greatest album of the year. Perhaps one of the greatest albums ever. This is incredible."
I'll have to dig up my old journals and see what, exactly, it was that occured on October 26, 1987. Stay tuned.
Monday, October 25, 2004
Cousins Stacey and Drew have moved, too. I've also changed the links in the sidebar.
My adopted family remains utterly blogless, except, of course, for Gwen and Hugh's middle child (moi). Rest assured, if any Baxley relatives (Baxlies?) start blogs, this site will be the first to shout it from the blogtops.
OK, I'm back. The morning was a morning of frustrations, from both the inside and out. Inside, I'm having to deal with my little foray into melancholia. Outside, my computer keeps freezing up on me every few minutes and our IT person "has more important things to do right now, so please just be patient." Hmph. So, rather than continue to beat my head against the computer and risk cracking my glare screen, I headed over to the piano for a long lunch of music notes.
That piano greets me like a long-lost lover. I walk into the piano room and get a warmth in my heart when I see it there, waiting for me. All the frustrations of a few minutes before just dissipate in a sense of calm.
No worries about work, war, politics, deadlines. Just focus on relaxing my thumb while playing a c# minor scale.
Play the simple Suzuki pieces. Listen to how clear and beautiful they sound on this good piano.
Play just the soprano part of the Bach Sinfonia. Slowly. Really listen to it. Notice how I'm really not holding the keys down long enough from measure to measure. Practice doing that. It makes such a difference. How did I not notice that before?
Play the alto part, and notice where I'm rushing through the trills and turns. Don't try to pass over them. Enjoy them. Sink into them.
Play it all together now, right hand AND left hand. Hold the notes, sink into the trills and turns. The left hand part sounds good because I gave it extra-special attention over the weekend.
Ahhh. Now I'm playin'.
It's potty time. I drink waaay too much water. Bathroom break.
Back to the piano room. It's still waiting for me, patiently. The calm overtakes me again.
No war, no politics, no work, no deadlines are allowed in this Inner Sanctum of mine.
And now it's time for Mozart. Measures 34, 35, and 44. The cadenza-like sections. Drill them AGAIN. Slow, then fast, then in starts and stops. In clumps upon clumps. Start on the first note, then start on the second, then the third. Notice how the different "clumps" of notes sound. Now, play it fast and even.
Ahhh. Perfect. Really. Try it again.
Jump up from the piano bench and yell "woo-hoo!", knowing that no one is listening. "I did it!"
Play through the Mozart. Still not perfect, but I definitely "have it." Most of it from now on will be refining and perfecting.
Now, for Chopin.
Chopin sounds muddy and amorphous. I've ignored him lately because Mozart and Bach have had my attention. I need to spend extra-special time with Chopin tonight.
Pack up the music and head back to work. Secret Magical Artist Life is over for a bit. Back to Nerdy Cubicle-Dwelling Tech Writer existence.
I hope my hearing comes back soon. Everything sounds a tad muddy when my ears are stopped up. And I still can't find my hearing aid.
Ahhh. I don't care, for now. I'm back at work and MUCH more relaxed than I was an hour and a half ago.
Yes, I love piano. It's my friend.
Part of it relates to something wholly outside of myself--the whole Presidential-election smugliness. Seems like we Americans have sunk to a new low. The terrorists are enjoying all of the pissy hatred, I'm sure. Perhaps their ideology is winning after all. They really don't need to attack us anymore; we're rotting from the inside out.
I really want to go back to grad school and think deep thoughts and write philosophical things that college professors lecture on for centuries after I am dead. Not the most realistic dream, I know, but I tend to dream of doing larger-than-life things. But I can only aspire to that if our country enjoys the kind of freedom we've been enjoying for my entire life--the only kind of leisure-allowing freedom that I've ever known. And, in my depressed state today, I'm scared that freedom's gonna go up in smoke, perhaps literally, in the near future. Maybe it already has.
I really should not listen to Rachmaninoff first thing in the morning. It makes me melancholy.
It wasn’t a bad weekend. It was a busy weekend. Saturday was actually quite good. Sunday was good, too … just runnin’-around busy. And because I overslept this morning, I didn’t have time to do morning pages, so I’m going to do them here. I’ll take care to spell all the words right and not morph words and make obscure known-to-me-only references the way I do when I’m writing in my private journal.
Friday night Dan had to work until about 9:30 p.m., so I drank vino and played piano for about four hours. Practiced my pieces for an hour or so, maybe longer. Then just PLAYED. Dug up old music, everything from Elton John and other 80’s pop stuff to a Mozart piano concerto I dabble with from time to time (it’s much too difficult for me to ever actually learn, but it’s fun to try bits and pieces).
Then I got online and chatted with Sherry for about 100 years. Finally the hubster got home. It wasn’t a bad night, but I hate it when the hubster has to work late on Fridays.
Saturday was library day. I love library day. It was also walking-in-the-woods day (the leaves are beautiful, by the way). And reading day, and piano-practicing day, and grocery-shopping day. And vacuuming and bathroom-cleaning day (yuck).
Yesterday I got up relatively early and did a lot of reading and studying before church. I used to go to church early so I could play piano for some singing they do before the service, but I’m not the world’s greatest accompanist because of my hearing. So I stopped going early. Besides, Dan and I treasure Sunday mornings because we can stay in bed and snuggle for an extra hour or two. Sometimes it’s the only time I get to see him all week.
After church I headed to downtown Asheville to do some writing before Deborah’s recital. It wasn’t just Deborah’s recital, actually … it was a fundraiser for the Asheville Area Piano Teachers’ Forum, and Deborah was one of the performers. Of course, I thought she was the best, but I am probably biased.
Had to leave the recital shortly after intermission and get back to Waynesville to help Brandi with the elementary school kids at the church. Played softball and hula-hoop with children after that. Whew. I really do need to learn to be one of those “adults-who-stand-on-the-sidelines-and-watch-while-children-run-themselves-ragged.” But I play with them and run myself ragged, too. And boy, do I feel it on Monday morning.
Last night, tired from all the Sunday activity, I crashed early-shirley. Poor Hubster. Of course, he had to work again yesterday, so I didn’t see much of him.
No wonder we never get tired of each other. We never see each other.
So today I’m deaf as a post and have lots of work to do. I guess I’ll get started. For the three or four people who read my blog regularly and like the fact that I update often, I can say with some certainty that I’ll probably blog several more times today. I've been having very vivid dreams and waking up with deep, interesting thoughts lately, but I never remember them. Perhaps I'll remember some today and post 'em later.
Until then, hope y’all are having a better Monday than I am!
Saturday, October 23, 2004
2. Johann Sebastian Bach
3. My piano, George
4. He-Man Dick Cheney
5. The Goldberg Variations
6. This picture
7. Truman Capote
8. A cool Bach Chorale website that I found last week
9. The month of October
10. Bob Greenberg
11. The word BOOYAH
15. The Little Goosey & The Little Fella
16. Secondary dominant chords
17. Bengal Roach Spray
19. C.S. Lewis
20. Harrison Ford (I am always in love with Harrison Ford)
Friday, October 22, 2004
Now I feel all floaty and happy. Floating back on my well-tempered cloud. The slinkies are uncoiling, finally. I want to go run five miles. Lots of energy in those uncoilings.
And then I want to take a week off from life and lock myself into the Inner Sanctum (that's what Dan calls our piano/guest/gear/storage room) and explore all of these wonderful musical concepts with no concern for schedules or food or work or sleep or any of that silly stuff. Of course, that won't happen, but ... it's a thought. A nice one.
Because I really do have things to write. Specific people that I need to write music for. For whom I need to write music. Specific ideas that I want to explore. So much is just waiting. And finally, finally, I feel like I'm beginning to learn the language, the skills to use the tools, required to write these things. There is such a sense of possibility right now, such an intense one, that I can literally feel my heart beating. I just can't wait to get home and work.
I think I may be "into" music theory the way my sister Rebecca is "into" Ronald Reagan, horses, or the Bush family. Of course, that's not a bad thing. Rebecca is, after all, a bit of an expert on the things that she is "into." It wouldn't hurt for me to gain a tad of expertise in the realm of music theory. These concepts are useful tools, after all! Besides, one can't help but be obsessive when the object of one's obsession is so ... worthy and demanding of obsession. Right? :-)
Nah, I'm not obsessive. I'm really not. I prefer "tenacious." "Focused." Yeah.
But seriously, all of these "obsessive" hours I've spent on music theory are going to pay off. What a thrill that is. I feel like the door has opened a crack, and the warming sunlight is spilling in.
I feel, I feel. Do I sound touchy-feely or what? But I AM touchy-feely right now. It's like I'm flying. La la la. I love this. It probably means I'll crash later, but oh, it's wonderful while it lasts.
Once again, I'm sitting quietly in my cubicle, working (yes, I'm really getting work done while I write this), and no one has any clue of the sheer joy that their random little nerdy tech writer is experiencing at this moment.
Hee hee! It's like having a secret life! Some days I feel like J. Alfred Prufrock, but it looks like I'm a Walter Mitty girl today.
Here are my favorite instruments:
Here are the instruments that physically hurt my ears:
3. Violin (when it plays high notes)
4. Most horns, particularly trumpets
5. Electric guitar
Here are instruments that my lovely dysfunctional ears translate as a muddy mess (sorry, oceanskies79!)
1. Double bass
2. Most percussion
3. Xylophone (oh, that's kind of percussionary, isn't it ...)
I know. This is odd, that someone could love music yet have so little aural tolerance for so many of our wonderful instruments. My ears are just really weird, though. Imagine a sound system with the bass turned waaay up and the treble barely on at all. That's kind of what my left ear hears, when I don't wear the hearing aid. My poor right ear is the one I call my "vestigial ear." It's there for show. Doesn't work. Batteries dead.
For my "good ear," many tones either sound wrong (low tones are muddy and amorphous, and high tones are earsplittingly painful), or they don't sound at all. Really. A high note on a violin or flute has the same effect on my good ear as a nearby ambulance siren. So does a crying baby. Ouch.
Oh well. Enough navelly-ear-gazing. Or eerie navel-gazing. If I spent more time looking for my hearing aid, which is lost, and less time gazing eerily at my own metaphorical navel, I'd probably find it.
But for now, back to my imaginary friendship with the bewigged one ...
I so enjoyed analyzing the Bach chorale and orchestration this morning. I could imagine the instruments and sounds. Heard the music in my head. No ear-hurting, just music. Reminds me of that wonderful line by my old friend John Keats ...
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone ...
At the risk of sounding really, truly corny, that's kind of how I want to compose. Figure out how to put the stuff I hear in my head--the ditties of no tone--down on paper. I know, it's silly to want to compose. But Beethoven did it. I'm no Beethoven, but heck, I at least have to try.
Now I have "then he pluck'd a hollow reed" running through my head. See what I mean about the slinkies on the brain?
OK, bach to Bach (ha ha) ...
As planned, I recorded myself playing the Bach Sinfonia last night. Found where some things were "wrong." The trills and turns were too fast, for one thing. They need to be more lilting, and less like a militaristic about-face. Then, the left hand wasn't even, tonally. That's one of the shortcomings of not playing regularly for many years. It's taking a while to regain my "feel" for the instrument. I'll think I'm hitting a quiet note, but it'll come out too loud, or it won't come out at all. So that's something I need to work on, and something that will probably just improve with time and practice.
I'm getting a sense of the three children on the beach, though. Made each of them play separately, then two together, then three, listening for each voice, isolating certain voices so I could really hear and appreciate what each was saying. It resulted in a severe case of several-hours-long pianokeysia, but it was definitely worth it. Dan had a meeting last night and didn't get home until late, anyway.
Music Theory lesson is today! Can't wait!
P.S. Now I'm listening to Rachmaninoff Piano Concerti. Sergei has me feeling even more melancholy that I did when I wrote the previous post. Heard melodies are indeed sweet (I'm groaning at my own mushiness now). But they really are.
I'd sprinkle it into my stew ...
I'd add some potato and butternut squash,
Let it simmer, then share it with you ...
I've had these words in my head ALL MORNING. They are driving me bonkers. They're crowding out the hundred BOOYAHs that have been wedging themselves into my brain crevices like garlic cloves stuffed into the folds of a roasting pork.
Slinky brain. My head is full of slinkies this morning, thoughts going round and round on the slippery coils, and I really just wish the slinkies would spring and lets those thoughts free. I'm starting to get a headache.
It's because I haven't written in a few days. When I don't write, my head gets constipated with thoughts. So I really need to take the day off and just write a few dozen pages of riffraff. Get myself back on the bus.
No day off. I'm at work. I've been at work for nearly three hours now. Wanted to get here early-shirley so I could leave early-shirley.
OK, I'm ramblomizing.
I'm sad today 'cause I received sad news, and people I care about are grieving. I am grieving.
I'll blog more later, provided my head doesn't explode first.
Today I'm listening to ... believe it or not ... my beloved, bewigged, and bejowled one.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
Then, the other morning, he said, "As Juanita Poole, would say, 'It's a blustery day!'"
"No, Winnie the Pooh says that!" I responded.
And then it hit me.
He's been saying "Winnie the Pooh" all along. He says "Winnie the Pooh." I hear "Juanita Poole."
There is no such person as Juanita Poole. Or if there is, she's not the person Dan has been quoting about blustery days.
Sometimes this deafness thing is actually kind of funny.
She teaches a workshop titled "Instant Piano (For Hopelessly Busy People)." I'm not taking that class, though. I'm signed up for "Labor-Intensive and Painstakingly Slow Piano (For Hopelessly Busy People)." It's maybe a bit more difficult and expensive than "Instant Piano," but it's probably more rewarding, too, in the long run. Hee hee.
Good practice today. I'm still taking the Bach-Appetizer/Mozart-MainCourse/Chopin-Dessert approach. After doing scales and arpeggios and such, I started with the Bach E-flat Sinfonia. I'm technically "finished" (ha) with this piece, but Deborah wants me to play it for the group piano class next week. I was playing it well back in August when I "finished" it, but now I'm not happy with how it sounds.
Oh, it doesn't sound bad; I got an assessment of "Lovely!" in my little piano assignment notebook at my lesson the other day when I played it. But it's just not quite right. Perhaps I'm being a perfectionist. Perhaps I've listened to too much Glenn Gould. But this is a three-part invention I'm playing, and I want each voice to sing its own part with crystal clarity. Right now, I feel like I'm playing the notes too "together," like there aren't three different, individual voices.
When learning this piece, I originally imagined small children playing quietly and contentedly at a beach ... kind of like this Cassatt painting, only add a little boy to your own image of the painting in your head.
You know how little kids can be playing, sort of with each other but not really, each kind of doing their own thing yet all in the same place, playing together? Well, I kind of imagined that when learning the Sinfonia. The left hand was a little boy, playing maybe a little more methodically than the little girls, as the left hand is more "rhythmic." Maybe that's not the right word. Ground-bassy? Is that a word? I wish I really need a music dictionary. Or just a dictionary!
Anyway, the two voices in the right hand are two little girls, doing their own thing, but are never far apart and often crossing paths (harmonizing) as they play. And the little boy, doing his own thing, is, in his own very real way, involved in the whole overall playgroup. Because the left hand is what unifies the other voices in the piece.
At least that's how I understood it.
Anyway, I had this picture in my mind as I played, and the image of children playing really gave me a sense of the three separate voices, even though my ten fingers were playing them all at once. Now, however, I feel like I have the kids in a chorus line, and they're just as stumbly and fumbly as kids in a chorus line could be expected to be. Maybe it doesn't sound that way, but it feels that way. Tonight I'm going to record myself playing and see if I'm hearing it differently than I think I'm playing it. Because I want them out of the chorus line and back doing their own whimsical-seeming things.
After practicing the Bach, I moved on to ... dessert. I couldn't help it. It's just that dessert is so GOOD! The Chopin B-flat minor nocturne is dessert. I savored it. Until I choked on a pecan piece, I mean, the trilly measure toward the end. I ended up putting dessert away for later, since I wasn't supposed to be eating it yet anyway. I'll probably have it for dinner. I'm not going to share my imaginary story line for this one because it has to do with a heroic grandpa mouse, and it's really kind of silly.
Then came the Mozart Fantasie in D minor. Ah. I am starting to love this piece. It seems so schizophrenic, but I"m starting to get a better sense of it. It helps that I'm a little mentally unsound myself. I proceeded to spend the rest of my lunch hour working on the cadenza-type sections. I used to love playing Mozart because I LOVED running my stubby little fingers up and down the keyboard as fast as I could. I still love it, but I think I'm getting a slight touch of arthritis. Also, I'm not the young whippersnapper I once was. Hands don't move as fast as they used to.
That's what I've been telling myself. But today, as I practiced those runs, I listened to myself. Those notes were moving at a decent pace. And they were even, for the most part. They weren't perfect--I won't pretend they were--but there was a noticeable difference between how I played them a few days ago and how I played them today. They're sounding better.
You know, when I started taking piano last December, I figured I would learn a few pieces for fun. I didn't expect to actually start sounding GOOD again.
But I did. I sounded good. Not great, but better. Not concert-pianist caliber of course, but good, solid, maybe-how-I-played-when-I-was-in-college caliber. Maybe. Made me a happy girl.
Have I ever mentioned that I love piano? Just wanted to say that, in case anyone hasn't realized it yet. :-)
I just wish Louisiana had a major-league team. I feel rootless, with no home team to root for. (That's "for which to root," for you grammatical stickler types.) I always felt obligated to cheer for Houston and Atlanta because they were the closest to home (south Louisiana). But my favorite team growing up was actually the Orioles because my friend Anh lived in Baltimore and was a Cal Ripken, Jr., fanatic. I still root for the O's, and I've never even been to Baltimore.
Of course, there is always Ella Shoe. They are my favorite team, always. Regardless of the sport.
And then there are the great softball teams of history ... the IEM Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Catholic Adult League team "What the Heck," the Our Lady Of the Lake Lakers ... oh. Silly me. Those aren't the great softball teams of history. Those are the teams I've played on in the last decade or so. And, although we had lots of fun, they were definitely not among the great softball teams of history. The best parts of playing on those teams were the pre-game daiquiris and the post-game beers.
Sigh. I love softball and baseball (in addition to daiquiris, of course). I love seeing, each year, how happy those adorable baseball-player-men are when they win the pennant. No matter what team wins. Didn't those Sox look happy last night? It warmed the cockles of my fairweather heart.
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
My good friend, fellow first baseman, bridesmaid (bridesmatron?) who stood in my wedding two weeks after having a baby, co-creator of the "We-May-Not-Be-Better-But-We're-Better-Looking" softball jersey, fellow work-out-a-holic and fat-free Formula-1 user from the early 90s, former elfin Plaquemaniac bank teller, fellow Zeke's Sno-Cone and boula-boula enthusiast, and lifelong partner-in-Hazzard-County-silliness, Kris, a.k.a. the Kentucky Kirby, who has more letters behind her name (BS, CPA, JD, MOM) than I do, is 34 years old today.
Whew. Now, literature often can be discussed with politics, because many writers have been politically involved. But I generally don't like talking about politics. I just don't get into it. Unlike Dan, I decidedly do not enjoy "debating." Maybe it's because I'm not good at it. Oh, I enjoy analyzing ... I like studying speeches and commentary the way I'd study poetry or other literature, looking for how the literary and rhetorical elements are or are not effective. And it's fun and enlightening to compare the rhetoric to the facts, when you can find them.
Plus, I know who I'm going to vote for. And I'm pretty certain I'm not going to change any minds in this politically polarized day and age (I have yet to meet one of these "undecided voters" I keep hearing about). And chances are that no one is going to change my mind between now and November 2. So why discuss it? The conversations end up boiling down to "Bush is a dumb evangelical zealot" and "Kerry is a smarmy liberal flip-flopper." Why can't we get back to poetry and Houseman's obsession with the transience of life? It's much more interesting. And I'm not even a big Houseman fan.
Wow. I sure started a lot of sentences in that last paragraph with the word "and."
The poetry group is a mix of political persuasions, though I'd have to say it's mostly composed of moderate to liberal Democrats with a libertarian or two thrown in. I've often marveled at how, because I tend to hang out with artists, writers, and musician types, most of my friends tend to be on the liberal side. Dan's friends are mostly conservative. It was so weird, watching the last debate with Dan's ultra-conservative friends. Quite strange not to be around people who groan and guffaw every time Bush says "nucular." (OK, so it makes me groan when he says that, but you know what I mean.)
I plan to be among the first at the polls on November 2, just like I was in 1988, voting in my first election. I didn't get to vote in 2000 because I was on the AT and completely forgot about absentee voting. That's not gonna happen this year. If you're thinking about not voting, please think again. Especially if you're female ... lots of women fought and suffered for our right to vote. Don't let their struggles be in vain. And earn yourself the right to complain if your candidate loses. :-)
OK. End of political stuff. I'd write more, but I'm falling asleep from the sheer boredom of this topic.
I promise to write more about poetry in the future.
Here are some interesting facts about Eagle Scouts. In the listing of notable Eagle Scouts, however, they forgot to include my beloved husband.
LOS ANGELES — A teen-age Eagle Scout from Southern California is trying to make a difference in the lives of troops around the world while also paying tribute to his grandfather.
Evan Hunsberger, 19, from Orange, Calif., took the special prayer book his grandfather used during World War II and had it republished for local military bases.
Little did Hunsberger know that the book, which comforted his grandfather during combat, would also end up providing solace to troops fighting today.
In addition to raising money to republish the prayer book, Hunsberger updated it with 40 additional prayers from rabbis, Muslim clerics and women to make it more diverse and reflect modern-day armed forces.
When Pentagon officials heard about the project, they ordered a million copies and agreed to distribute them, though that was before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They can’t take on projects like that now because of security risks. But to date, at least 120,000 have gone to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Whew. Glad I got that out of my system early.
No, this is not a booyah blog. It's a music blog today. 'Cause I feel like writing about things musical.
This morning I'm listening to Bach (surprise! surprise!). Naxos.com has several versions of the Bach/Gounod "Ave Maria" arrangement. It's sooo pretty. So that's what I'm listening to today. All the different versions ... the harp/flute version, the piano/violin version, the vocal version, etc. What a man that Bach was (is). I just can't get enough of him.
I want to go to The Met and see "The Magic Flute" in April. I think the tickets are something like $300. I've never been to New York City. But I want to go. I can make $300 by writing a few feature articles for the local paper. Or by not eating out for lunch between now and April. Or by not buying anyone any Christmas presents this year. Plenty of ways to make/save $300.
Gwenny, I was just kidding about the Christmas presents. Geez.
Meanwhile, I can enjoy the Asheville Symphony. Very good performance last weekend. Jonathan Biss, a very talented American twenty-something pianist, played Mendelssohn's D-minor Piano Concerto. And then they did Shostakovich's 5th Symphony.
We were in the second row. We weren't supposed to be. See, my theory teacher, Vance, is in the orchestra and gave me two comp tickets. The tickets were waaay up in the back of the balcony.
Well, lucky for me (not really), I am deaf as a post, so I went to the front desk to ask for a hearing device (sort of a headphone thing that amplifies the sound for the hearing-impaired). Turns out they didn't have any. They felt sorry for me (especially after I told them I've lost my hearing aid) and traded my back-of-the-balcony tickets for second-row-seat tickets.
Now, second-row seats are not the ideal seats for a symphony. You end up looking at the musicians' feet and knees the entire time, and you can't even see the percussion section. Which is a shame, if they're performing Shostakovich's 5th.
But I still enjoyed it. And I could definitely hear the music.
On other music fronts ...
Music theory continues to be frunstrating. That's a mix of "fun" and "frustrating." Equal parts both. Actually, probably more frustrating than fun, at least for the moment. Lately I'm just comparing the harmonizations of hymns. I have a Baptist Hymnal and a Methodist Hymnal. Plus, I'm finding non-chord tones in each, and seeing how they're effective (or not effective) in one version as compared to the other.
All this because I want to be able to write music. I haven't written a thing lately (other than mostly abortive attempts at harmonization), though I am getting creative urges. That's good.
Piano is wonderful. I had a lesson yesterday and it went well. The Mozart is coming along fine; the "30-minute-Mozart-as-main-course" practice sessions have paid off. The cadenza sections even sound respectable. Next "lesson" is a group lesson, and I'm supposed to play the Bach, the Chopin, AND the Mozart for it. Whew. Ha ... I pretend it's going to be such a struggle, to perform in front of people and all, but the truth is, I love to show off. Even when I was a wee little girlie, I was very shy and hated being in groups of people, UNLESS there was a piano I could play for everyone. And then I turned into a happy show-off. Tee hee hee.
So I'm going to practice a LOT in the next two weeks. If I'm gonna show off, I want to do it RIGHT.
I wanna do it BOOYAH RIGHT.
There. Booyah, I hereby christen thee an adjective, if thou weren'st an adjective already.
Here's a website that made me titter. Regardless of your attitude about the war, Iraq, etc., the "captions" on this site are pretty humorous.
On second thought, if you think the war in Iraq is wrong and that the Iraqis are worse off now than they were with Saddam in power, you might not find this site so funny after all.
So read this tidbit of booyah trivia instead, the most interesting tidbitlet of which is that "booyah" is believed to come from the word "bouillion." This is from the whatscookingamerica website.
Chicken Booyah – A super “stick to your ribs” soup-stew made with chicken. While chicken soup is universal and variations of this dish can be found in many cultures world wide, northeastern Wisconsin is the only place in the world where Chicken Booyah is found. It is a favorite at the many festivals, church picnics, bazaars, and any other large gathering in the northeast part of Wisconsin. This chicken soup is typically made in large 10 or 20-gallon batches, cooked outdoors over a wood fire, and worked on by several people at once. Restaurants have their own special recipe. Booyah is lovingly called “Belgian Penicillin.” It is believed that the word “Booyah” comes from the word “bouillon.”
The first Belgian immigrants arrived in Wisconsin in 1853. These immigrants were from the French-speaking population of Brussels with their own version of French called “Walloon.” Even today, the area settled by these people in Wisconsin is known as the Walloon area. The theory is that the uneducated Belgian could not spell, thus writing down the word he heard. Another theory is that the word comes from the French word “bouillir” meaning to boil. For years people have been trying to figure out the origination and what makes it so special.
And a very, very happy birthday to my friend Elvis in New Mexico.
Monday, October 18, 2004
I cannot get this word out of my head.
It's been in there for weeks now. It must be caught in a particularly deep brain groove.
I did a Google search on "what is booyah" and came up with this:
booyah is also a chicken stew which can be found in its true state in the upper fox river valley of eastern
booyah is usually associated with church picnics
booyah is found
booyah is a thick chicken stew that many believe was created in northeastern wisconsin by walloon belgian settlers
booyah is my alter ego
booyah is a thick chicken and beef stew created by walloon belgian immigrants to northeastern wisconsin
booyah is $2
booyah is primarily chicken with lots of variations in preparation and ingredients
booyah is mainly a local thing
booyah is ranked 2 and has played for 9h15m in 5 days real name
booyah is ranked 5 and has played for 7h36m in 5 days real name
booyah is ranked 16 and has played for 38m in 30 days real name
booyah is a funny word
booyah is simmered slowly over a wood fire in a large drum
booyah is a thick
booyah is the name of our band and someday we will be stars
booyah is out of businness
booyah is sweet
booyah is the name of the gang
booyah is a type of chicken soup favored in northeast wisconsin and often served at large festivals and gatherings
booyah is really a
booyah is capitalized in a sentence
booyah is wearing that same ol' batman mask
booyah is a party freak
booyah is scheduled for the busy weekend of november 10
booyah is coming up fast
And then there is this little rhyme, from "Belgians in Heaven" by Frederick Heide and James Kaplan. It's from a website that tells us that "booyah rhymes with doo-dah." (???)
Cheese curds, booyah and beer,
That's what I like to hear.
I may be kinda pokey,
But I say "okey-dokey!"
To cheese curds, booyah and beer.
Mm. Sounds yummy.
Is it 5:27 already?
I'm going home now.
As I have complained before on this blog, I have no clothes. No decent clothes. I hate to shop, so I generally end up wearing the same old moth-eaten clothes from ten or more years ago. Yesterday, for example, I wore a navy blue Georgetown University sweatshirt that I bought in 1986 on a ROTC field trip to Washington, DC. "St. Elmo's Fire" was all the rage and everyone wanted to go to Georgetown. So I knew I looked cool in my sweatshirt.
Now the print is all faded and peeling, and the navy blue has actually turned into a sort of muddy gray. But I still wear it all the time.
I wear similar clothes to work every day. I really needed to go shopping.
So, Mu and I met at the Asheville Mall on Saturday, armed with cash and a debit cards, prepared to do some damage.
I really think Mu is jealous of me. Why? Because she laughs at me! They say that, when someone laughs at you and makes fun of you, then they're jealous. So Mu clearly must be jealous.
Perhaps she is jealous of my ghostly fair skin (she has an olive complexion and always looks like she just spent a week on the beach). Perhaps she is envious of my petite 5'2" frame (she's practically a giant at 5'5"). Maybe she is jealous that I have a photograph of Gilligan in my office and she doesn't. I don't know. But it's gotta be something. 'Cause she kept laughing at me when we were shopping.
I know. She is jealous of my powers of astute observation. That's it. Because she would always laugh whenever I made an observation. And my observations were always on target.
For example, while we were shopping at Belk, I noticed lots of bold striped turtlenecks and shoulder-padded blouses. So I made an astute observation:
"You know, Mu, I think Eighties fashions are coming back into style."
That's when she cracked up laughing. She couldn't even tell my WHY she was laughing for the first couple minutes of hilarity that she was obviously experiencing.
Apparently, according to her, Eighties fashions have been back in style for a year or two now.
I thought I'd made an astute observation. I did, didn't I?
Then, when I tried on a pair of pants, I complained that they didn't come up high enough.
"Mu, there is obviously something wrong with these pants," I said, wading out of the dressing room. "It's not that they're too long; if they would just come up to my waist, they'd fall to the right place just below my ankles." I yanked and pulled, but the "waistband" of those pants weren't going to go any higher than mid-hip. Meanwhile, my feet were swimming in an ocean of bell-bottom fabric.
Mu laughed at me. Laughed and laughed and laughed. Do you ever feel like you're Rain Man and the rest of the world is Tom Cruise? For a moment, that's exactly how I felt. She explained that that was how the pants were supposed to fit. So my underwear is supposed to show, and the skin of my hips are supposed to hang over the "waistband." Right. No, thank you. So much for Eighties fashions being back in style. Oh, how I miss the days of high waistbands and tapered legs.
Then, we were at Eddie Bauer, and I saw a huge picture of a good-looking guy with brown hair and blue eyes.
"Hey Mu, that looks kind of like Rob Lowe." Another astute observation, in my opinion.
She cracked up laughing again. This time she got tears in her eyes. Oh, the hilarity. What is it with her? Is she THAT jealous of me?
Apparently, there was a large caption next to the picture, saying that the person in the photo was, indeed, old Sodapop himself, Rob Lowe.
Well, how was I supposed to know that? I was quite proud that I'd identified him correctly.
Poor Mu. So jealous that she has to resort to laughing at me. And I know her tears of laughter were actually tears of envy.
I tried on a million hip-hugger pants, weirdly cut striped dresses, and shoulder-padded blouses. It was not the most successful of shopping trips. I have a size 2 legs (length-wise), a size 4 waist, size 6 thighs, and size 8 hips. Plus, I need petite sizes, which narrows my choices at any store. It makes it very difficult to find clothes that fit. And I'm not even going to begin talking about the unsuccessful hour I spent in the dressing room of Dillards' bra department.
So today I'm wearing raggedy stuff that I've owned for half my adult life. Ah yes, my inimitable fashion sense never fails me.
I'll bet Mu is jealous of that, too, knowing her. She's probably laughing right now.
"Heidi" was a stray, so we're not sure exactly when her birthday is. A former boyfriend (the one I was dating when I got Heidi) and I figured that she must definitely be a Libra. She does NOT like her emotional scales tipped, no sirree. The former boyfriend, a Libra himself, seemed to have an uncanny understanding of and connection to her. And she to him. So we decided to always celebrate her birthday in October, the Libra month.
But what day would we celebrate it on? Since the former boyfriend's birthday was in October and she had "his month," we decided to celebrate it on "my day"--the 18th, since my birthday is on an 18th.
So, October 18th it is. I think that's also the birthday of Paul Hardy (a Louisiana gubenatorial candidate that I supported when I was in elementary school because I thought he was cute) and Katie Sternberg. I'm not sure, though. Katie may be August 18. My memory can be a little fuzzy.
Dan and I have a nickname for Heidi: The Little Goosey. I don't remember how that came about. But it fits her perfectly. She is a sweet little goosey. I hope she has a wonderful birthday. She'll get extra snuggly spoilin' tonight.
Friday, October 15, 2004
I've written a few pretty songs, but they're all pop-sounding songs, and I want to write something more demanding than that. I want to explore things in the great universe of music. But write now I feel like my explorer ship is faulty and needs work, or maybe it's not a good enough explorer ship for the adventure, no matter how much repair it's had. Maybe it wouldn't have been good enough brand new. Maybe there's a talent-determined glass ceiling over my head and I'm too stupid or too optimistic or too blissfully ignorant to realize it's there, keeping me from what I imagine I want to achieve.
I'm such a dork. I don't even know what I want to achieve. All I know is that music thrills me to my bones, and that something in me longs to compose it myself. I really don't have a goal in mind other than the thrill of the creative process. And the thrill of knowing I've created something beautiful.
Wow, I used the word "thrill" three times in a paragraph about how much I love music and want to write it.
I do know that I am going to have to work a LOT harder on this stuff if I'm going to get anywhere. I've been working hard on it, but I could definitely work harder.
On the good news front, Vance (my wonderful theory teacher) gave me free symphony tickets!!! I hope Hubbie wants to go to the symphony! If not, then I hope the symphony hall allows feline patrons, 'cause I know Beau Kitty would love to go.
Or you can e-mail me at mizwaterfall at yahoo dot com. I know some of you e-mailed me there, but I forwarded your e-mails to my work address because that system is faster and easier than Yahoo. So I still have no record of your e-mail address. Argh.
I'm rather sad and frustrated this morning. But I'm REALLY glad I'm not the guy in charge of our company's e-mail system. I be he's feeling a LOT worse than the rest of us are!
This morning I wrote "Morning Pages" and did music theory homework. Music theory is both frustrating and exhilirating. I love it, but it makes me want to beat my head against the wall, in hopes that random brilliant solutions to knotty harmony problems will magically trickle out of my ear. I am still very much a beginner in this world of music theory and composition, and part of the difficulty is that I, a life-long piano player who has dabbled quite a bit in jazz theory, am still in the beginning stages of learning and writing functional harmony. It's kind of like wanting to write a grown-up novel using using only a first-grade vocabulary. It leaves you feeling limited when you get ideas that require more complex words for expression. I'll be working on the harmony progressions on the piano and come up with some great sounds, but the exercises I'm doing require that I don't use seventh chords or non-chord tones (NCTs) yet. I want to learn to write well in this elementary phase. If I can do that, then I think I'll have a good foundation on which to build when I move on to the sevenths, NCTs, and beyond.
Now, I learned a lot of this stuff when I took Music Theory in college 14 years ago. But I struggled and fought my whole way through the course. I wasn't interested in music theory. I just wanted to play pretty music. Music theory was like math. It hurt my brain. Things have changed now.
Oh, it still hurts my brain, but it hurts it in the same way that weight-lifting or aerobic exercise "hurts." It might make you sore or tired. It might push you to your current limits, which isn't always comfortable. But it also strengthens you and makes you more capable of reaching greater heights in your endeavors. And that, my friends, is when real satisfaction comes. So I'm enduring the brain cramps that come about when trying to figure out if I should move to a IV chord or a ii chord in the first inversion--or if I should just bang out I-V-I-V-I-ii-V-I because I'm feeling lazy. Once I've learned to implement these basic concepts, they'll start to come more naturally to me. And I can move on.
I'm so glad I'm grown up. When I was younger, I would get frustrated if I couldn't be "good at" something within the first few minutes of trying it. So I'd quit and move on to something else. I am in such a better place now. Glad I'm still young and healthy enough to enjoy it.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
People I would write to if I had e-mail access:
- Cousin Stacey in Miss'ippi
- Rebecca in Coral Doo
- Anh in the Republic of Texas
- Kristi at I'm Nice in Baton Rouge
- Lottie-Da in Sugar Land
- The Belch in Oregon
- Sherry in the Gret Stet
- Mu at Skoo
- Mrs. Gwendolyn
I'm tired. Stayed up too late last night, debate-watching and hubbie-snuggling and music-theorizing.
So I'm quite the unmotivated little worker bee this afternoon. It's just too darn purty outside to stay here in Cubicle Land all day. Alas, but I must. Actually it's been a pretty productive day, work-wise. I just wish we had e-mail.
I think I'll go forage for chocolate. Then it's back to the grindstone. And my beloved, bewigged, bejowled buddy Bach. La la la. I love Bach.
As I drove to work this morning, listening to the glory and miracle of Bach's Wachet Auf Cantata, watching the sun rise over the mountains, I slipped into a state of bliss. I know that sounds silly, but "bliss" is the word that describes how I felt. I became overwhelmed with thankfulness for The Way Things Are Right Now, This Very Moment. See, I have been protected and cared for since the moment I was conceived. I was kept safe, guided to my family that adopted me, and shielded from all sorts of bad things in my teens, twenties, and early thirties. With my depressive episodes and my adventurous spirit, I really shouldn't be alive today. I've done some stupid things in my life. Risky things. I've had at least three self-induced brushes with death that I can think of. Weeks have dragged into months where I just wanted to be dead. Depression is an insidious soul-killer, and I have struggled with it for more than half my life.
But here I am. And I am so unbelievably thankful for my life today. I am so thankful that Sherry was pro-life. She could have aborted me but chose not to. It wasn't even a choice ... abortion wasn't an option. Oh, she could have had one, easily, even though it was 1969 and Roe v. Wade hadn't happened yet. Abortion doctors were abundant, and they were more than willing to "terminate the pregnancy" for her. But morally, for Sherry, it wasn't an option. I was a living thing, inconvenient as I may have been for a 17-year-old high-school student, and she wasn't going to deny me the life she'd given me.
And even though it was perhaps the hardest thing she'd ever do, she gave me up because she wanted me to have chance at life. She wanted me to have opportunities that she hadn't had, and that she wasn't in a position to give me at the time. She wanted to give me those opportunities, those chances for a good life ... and she did. By giving me up, she gave me all of that, and much, much more.
Thank you, Sherry. My family and husband thank you, too. My cats probably would, too, if they could talk. :)
There is so much bad in the world. It's dizzying, if you think about it--terrorism, war, racism, abortion, murder, poverty, disease. All the stuff that's going on now, here, in Iraq, in Sudan, in places the news never tells us about. But then there are things like Bach's music, sunrises, and the selfless love of family--adopted and otherwise--that sure do make the bad things more bearable. And it's not that I'm ignoring the bad things. The beauty of the good things, the real miracles that surround us, just remind me that there is more than what we see here, that there is a light within us to counteract the darkness without.
1 John 1:5: This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
It's something different every day, even if every day does begin with the Mass in B Minor. Some days I'm in the mood for Renaissance-era Catholic mass music, and other days I want nothing but Oklahoma! and South Pacific and The Sound of Music. Some days I'll listen to some random composer that I've never heard before. What a thrill when I actually LIKE something new, something from the late 20th or 21st century, with no introduction to it at all! Sometimes the modern stuff takes too much concentration to listen and work simultaneously, so I end up having to switch back to a previous century. And oftentimes I just listen to the "tired old warhorses"--Mozart symphonies, Strauss waltzes, Sousa marches, Christmas songs, Beethoven's Fifth, etc. I don't care how tired or old or horsey they are. There's a reason these pieces are still around and are still popular.
When I was little and my parents would punish me, they would send me to my room.
Oooh, big punishment. Four hours later, they'd come looking for me, only to find me in some other universe, listening to my Hansel and Gretel story album, the one that uses parts of Humperdinck's score from his Hansel and Gretel opera. Or The Nutcracker Suite. Or, of course, "Rhinestone Cowboy." (!)
Some punishment, huh?
When they came to get me, I'd usually just opt to stay in my room.
So now it's like I'm being punished ALL DAY LONG, and it's wonderful. If you have a mindless (or not-so-mindless) job that allows you to listen to music on your headphones all day long, I recommend purchasing a year's worth of naxos.com. It's something like $20/year. It is mind-expanding. It is soul-enriching. It makes me look forward to coming to work every day. Of course, I'm lucky to have a job in which I can focus on the music and still work pretty efficiently at the same time. Ah, multi-tasking.
But really, it's like getting a brain massage. Writing and music all at once, even if the writing is just technical writing. I feel like I could float away.
Once I've moved on in life, I'll look back on my naxos.com listening days with much fondness. I am so happy to be able to experience the miracle of music, and in so many ways--as a listener, a pianist, an aspiring composer.
In fact, one reason I want to be a composer is that I want to be able to bring joy and wonder into other people's lives with music that I compose. Just the way other composers have done for me.
I want to do the same with writing also, but that's "a whole 'nother" story.
Back to Strauss. And software documentation. Oh, the secret joys of cubicle life. No one else at this office has the slightest clue of the sheer ecstasy I'm experiencing right now.
Life is soooo good sometimes.
And a very happy birthday to the U.S. Navy today. It's 229 years old.
Quoted from Fact-Index.com:
The United States Navy is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. The U.S. Navy consists of more than 300 ships and over 4,000 operational aircraft. It has over half a million personnel on active or ready reserve duty. The Navy is part of the United States Department of Defense.
The United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on October 13, 1775 by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. The legislation also established a Naval Committee to supervise the work. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the American Revolutionary War, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.
After the American War for Independence, Congress sold the surviving ships of the Continental Navy and released the seamen and officers. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1789, empowered Congress "to provide and maintain a navy." Acting on this authority, Congress ordered the construction and manning of six frigates on March 27, 1794 and in 1797 the first three frigates, USS United States, USS Constellation and USS Constitution went into service.
My husband and father both served in the Navy, and I was in Navy JROTC in high school. I wasn't much of a military type, but I stayed in ROTC for three years because I loved our ROTC instructors so much. Plus, a lot of my friends were in ROTC. I finally quit, though. It's really hard to do marching routines when you're hard-of-hearing. And it's not like I could try for a commission into the military, since they probably wouldn't have taken a mostly-deaf girl in the first place. But still, I have a soft spot in my heart for the sailor branch of our military. Softer than for all the other branches.
Here's a Happy Birthday letter from the Secretary of the Navy.
Here's the aircraft carrier that Dan served on in the late 1980s. He was there when the U.S. bombed Libya.
Here's the destroyer that my Dad served on in the late 1950s.
Here's the submarine that Dan and I visited when we were in Portland.
GO NAVY! Happy 229th!
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Now, poor swollen Pinkie still hurts and has turned all sorts of garish shades of eggplanty purple. And she still feels quite tingly when I try to bend her. It hurts like heck, but I can bend her, so that means she's not broken, right? Just sad.
Still, I'm wondering if maybe Pinkie needs a splint or something, you know, instead of Prozac. I don't rightly know how I would feed her Prozac, anyway. I know I'll need to increase my own dosage if I can't play the piano. And right now, Pinkie definitely is not up to ivory-tickling.
Poor Pinkie. Poor, poor purplish Pinkie. Please pray for Pinkie.
But don't contact C--- and ask him to pray for Pinkie. We love C---, but he has no time for poor, pitiful Pinkie.
(Those last sentences were written as a lighthearted private joke. They are for "Grumpy." They will make Grumpy laugh. Laugh, Grumpy, laugh.)
Here's a snippet of my piano homework:
1. Listen to lots of Mozart, particularly Symphonies No. 40 and 41.
2. When practicing this week, start with the Bach Sinfonia as the 10-minute "appetizer," focus on the Mozart Fantasie as the 30-minute "main course," and savor the Chopin Nocturne as the 15-minute "dessert."
3. Decide what I want to add to my repertoire once the Mozart is up and running.
See, I've had a problem with the Mozart piece. Not really a problem ... it's just that I'm slow to warm up to new pieces. They're just like people. As an introvert, I'm not one to strike up sudden friendships; I tend to know someone for a good, long while before the friendship really begins to blossom. Ten years later, if I'm lucky, we both realize that we've made a friend for life.
It's kind of like that with music. When I take on a new piece, it's kind of like I've let a stranger wander in on my tea party tete-a-tete with my best-friend composers. Mozart has wandered in on the most delightful of tea parties that I've been having with Bach and Chopin. And we all have to move over to make room. I humored him and learned all the notes to his piece, but now he's demanding that I go further--that I think hard and concentrate on things, Mozartean things, I didn't have to think so much about with Bach and Chopin. While I'm intellectually excited at the prospect of learning new ways of thinking and playing, part of me just wants to ignore him and continue my lovely tea party with Bach and Chopin, with whom I've become so familiar.
And what's so funny is that, if composers were really my friends, Mozart would be one of my very BEST friends. Heck, he would have been a bridesmaid at my wedding. His wedding march from The Marriage of Figaro was my wedding march. I requested it so the genius of my old friend Wolfgang could be there. I've listened to some of his symphonies so many times that I can pretend-conduct them in my car as I listen. I've seen Amadeus more times than I can remember. Mozart is the reason that I quit listening to 80s pop music in 1984 and became a classical music nut. Mozart is my FRIEND. He's been with me for more than half my life. We have been through a lot together.
But for some reason, I'm hesitant to work with his Fantasie in D Minor. This may be for several reasons:
1) As much as I love Mozart, his music is very difficult to play. Oh, it seems deceptively easy ... and "deceptively" is the word, dear readers. If you think Mozart is easy to play, be assured that you are missing something very important. His pieces are really quite challenging. It's a major accomplishment to play Mozart well. Perhaps I fear I'm not up to the challenge. Or that I'll take on the challenge and fail. That I'll think I'm playing it well when really it sounds awful. And then I'll be a loser and a fool and no one will love me anymore and I'll shrivel up and die. And Mozart is supposed to be my FRIEND.
2) It's a beautiful, slow piece. I'm playing nothing but beautiful, slow pieces these days and really want to learn something that's a bit faster and more lively. More biting.
3) I'm shy. The Fantasie is like the new kid at school. I'd like to get to know her, but don't know what to expect, so it's easier just to hang out with my old friends Bach and Chopin.
4) I've started to learn a million Mozart sonatas (OK, maybe five or six) but, due to a lifetime of bouncing from teacher to teacher, have never finished a single one. So why even try?
But now that Mozart is the 30-minute-a-day main course, I'm sure I'll start progressing in no time.
Even if I don't ... at least I know I will enjoy the homework. It'll be almost as hard as the homework I had when I took "History of Jazz in New Orleans" for May Term in spring of 1989. The assignments included "listen to lots of live jazz," "go to every single day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival," and "listen to all these great jazz tapes that you'll be tested on at the end of the course." I made an "A" in the course. And I STILL listen to those tapes.
But for now, I'm listening to Mozart. And pretend-conducting in my cubicle. La la la la la.
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