Search blog:
Subscribe to blog posts:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Plans and Provisions

I'm working sixteen hours a day on the house and not answering my phone or e-mails. It's therapeutic in some ways, and maddening in others. Spending so much time and energy on the house is going a long way but also making me long to get away, so I have been making plans - or daydreaming, depending on which way you look at it.

Once I finish my degree, and before I go to grad school, Matt and I are going to do that cross-country driving holiday we've been dreaming of since we first met. We'll sell the house. Hopefully, with all the work we're putting in, we'll make a decent profit. We'll then take some of that money and trade in Matt's car for a Honda Element.



See, it looks like an SUV, but its fuel efficiency is 21/27 mpg. My two-door Hyundai Accent hatchback is only three miles per gallon better. And it's big enough inside that we can sleep in it when necessary. And it's relatively cheap - new ones are $18,900, but there are many available secondhand. Yeah, it's ugly as shit, but I am liking it more and more as the Matt & Mel American Odyssey Mobile (except it's an Element, not an Odyssey).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christma-- I mean yeah! Go me!

I got so caught up with working on the house and hanging out in Philly for three days that I forgot to check my grades.

4.0 BITCHES!!! YEEEAAAHHHHH!!!

This only means that I will be sorely disappointed when I eventually get a B in something, but at least I have a good start. Also, the hair dye job evidently worked.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I am on break, and it is glorious. What's more, I'm reasonably pleased with my finals, although I won't get my final grades until the 21st.

Things to do this winter break:
  • Continue where I left off on that small business thing I was blathering on about a couple months ago but failed to get off the ground before I became too busy, surprise surprise.

  • Record my set of "Variations on a theme by Trent Reznor," a ridiculous late-romantic-ish treatment of "The Frail" for cello and piano. It went over pretty well at my theory class's final performance, particularly the fugue variation, which is extra-ridiculous.

  • Work on the house. I've already started - there's only one more wall to drywall in the kitchen (the uber-tall wall, now that the ceiling is vaulted), and in a few hours, I should finally have the second glass block window in the bathroom constructed.

  • Practice the cello some.

  • Create/memorize dozens of Sibelius keyboard shortcuts. God, I want this so badly.

  • Masturbate and torture small animals.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

ARRRRRRGH FINALS ARRRRRRGH

IT IS FINALS WEEK
I THOUGHT I WOULDN'T BE TOO STRESSED BUT I AM
ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGHHHHHHHHH MOTHERFUCKER OH GOD JURIES OH GOD
I DYED MY HAIR WHITE WELL IT'S NOT QUITE WHITE MORE LIKE VERY PALE YELLOW WITH WHITE BITS AND ORANGE STREAKS AND THE BANGS ARE STILL BLACK
I AM HOPEFUL THAT IT WILL DISTRACT THE JURY SO THEY DON'T NOTICE MY PLAYING
SORRY ABOUT THE ALL CAPS BUT IT IS THE BEST REPRESENTATION OF MY CURRENT STATE OF MIND
I HAD SOMETHING ELSE TO SAY BUT I FORGET WHAT IT IS
PROBABLY FOR THE BEST

Monday, December 04, 2006

SLOW DOWN

SLOOOOOWWWW DOWWWWWWWN for god's sake, world, slow down! I'm trying to live three lives here! Give a girl a break!

I'm still behind in schoolwork, but I managed to hand in a rough draft of my final composition and an extra credit analysis assignment for music theory class. On Friday, I put up drywall single-handedly on one wall of the kitchen. This is not as easy as it might seem - sheets of drywall fell on my head twice, and I also managed to fall off a chair and scrape my wrist. On Saturday I had to go to the BCIS (new name for the INS for those not in the know) in Philly and have my fingerprints and photo taken to support my application for a non-conditional Green Card.

I don't understand why every time I submit an application to the BCIS, they take my fingerprints. I guess it's because they collect $70 in addition to the application fees each time. This visit was particularly hilarious because of the person who took my biometrics, whom I estimate to have some sort of social disorder. He mostly spoke in words, not sentences, beginning with when he called me from the waiting area.

"Red. Seven. Seven. Red."

He spoke softly and monotonously. When he walked, his arms didn't move but hung rigid from his hunched shoulders. I followed him to a cubicle.

"Sit."

I sat down while he typed into a computer.

"Stand."

I stood up. He motioned for me to step closer. Instead of asking me to place my finger on the biometric reader, he picked up my hand and did it for me.

"Sit."

I returned to the chair. He pointed at the camera lens, and my eyes followed his finger. Click.

"(Mumble mumble) picture?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Do you want to see your picture." It wasn't really a question.

"Uh ... sure." I dutifully stood up again and looked at my headshot on the screen. He looked at me a little expectantly. "Uh ... it's fine ..?"

"Was everything all right with your visit today?" This was the longest string of words he had yet spoken, but his tone didn't change.

"Um ... yes ... thank you."

"Here's a card to fill out. Drop it in the box."

The card was a "How are we doing?" survey with a couple of questions, including "Was the service you received courteous?" I guess it was courteous. I mean, he wasn't rude. Just ... really weird. A little like obedience school. Matt thought maybe he was just one of those reluctant employees who don't want to be at work on a Saturday, but I think it was more than that.

Afterwards, we went to the Mutter Museum, which was delicious, and put us in the mood for Peking duck in Chinatown. If I'm ever on death row, the last meal I want to eat is Peking duck.

Speaking of delicious, it should be noted for future bragging rights that I am officially married to a male model. When girls model, they look like they're on coke; when guys model they just pretend to be drunk. This is the true meaning of gender roles in our society.

  • Take the CIA personality test. I am a daring thrill-seeker.

  • "Downtown" in Suburbia.We have something approaching this just down the road in Exton, though without the performance spaces and skating rinks. (Interesting sidenote - Westfield is actually an Australian company! When I saw Westfield over here, I just assumed it was a US company that had spread to Australia decades ago.)

  • Dark Crystal sequel!

Monday, November 27, 2006

First before and after picture!

Matt and I spent Thanksgiving weekend siding the back of our house. Click for before and after photos! Also completely new are the fascia and gutters. There are a few odds and ends we need to fix (caulking, securing flashing), but all in all, I'd say we did a pretty goddamn awesome job. The weekend before, we stripped all of that old (and *completely* rotted) wooden lap siding away and put up (previously non-existent) plywood sheathing. It's odd to think that in the space of two weeks, we went from the picture at the left, to NO WALL WHATSOEVER, to the picture on the right. Underneath the shiny white siding is both foam and batt insulation. The kitchen is cozy and warm! We are the handiest people in the universe!

Unfortunately, siding all weekend has put me terribly behind with relation to schoolwork. I'm writing a set of variations on NIN's The Frail which is sounding ... rushed. Yuck. I should have started earlier, but since this is my first college composition, I developed an insecure neurosis about it and put it off as long as possible. Thus, even if it's awful, I can always say, "Yes, but see, I composed it in only a week," and hope that people will forgive me.

Last week, I came very close to calling into Radio Times on NPR. Normally, the topics on RT are political, and the only listeners who have the desire to get on the air are complete moonbats (and excessively verbose to boot). But they recently discussed the new James Bond movie, and I desperately wanted to call in after the expert guest read this line from Fleming's novel Casino Royale: "The conquest of [Vesper's] body ... would each time have the sweet tang of rape."

I read Casino Royale, along with most of the Bond books, when I was twelve or so and was so scandalized by that sentence that I remember it perfectly fourteen years later. Previous to reading the books, I had been something of a Roger Moore fan since the age of eight or nine. I think Moore is a great way to get small children into Bond when it's all about having fun and giggling at the sex. Later, they can come to appreciate the other Bond actors. Then, when they're ready, they can discover the sweet tang of rape or being dragged over a coral reef until your back is a tangle of bloody ribbons within the pages of the books.

I once tried to read some of the post-Fleming Bond books. Brokenclaw was particularly gruesome. Bond is tortured in that novel by being strung up via four meathooks thrust into the flesh of his back. Horrible book. Maybe the author was overreacting to the relative tameness of the movie franchise.

Anyway, I wanted to call in and talk about the difference between the books and the movies, but I was driving from Ephrata to West Chester (Romeo and Juliet workshop at Ephrata high school - I bawled like a crazy person) and thought it might be unwise to talk on the radio while on the road. I should have pulled over and done it, though. I would have been the only female to call in.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Piano of Doom

I need to bitch about the piano. Not the piano in general, but the particular piano in my piano teacher's room. It's a Steinway grand, and supposedly it has a lovely tone and really sings in the upper range. However, I don't notice any of this whenever I play it because the action is HEAVY AS SHIT.

My piano teacher concedes that it's a difficult piano to play, but while she's acknowledging this, she always has a look in her eye as though she doesn't really believe it. She, of course, plays it wonderfully, and her hands are about the same size as mine. I guess I have pathetically weak fingers or something.

The other pianos in the school have much easier action, and are also generally in practice rooms with hard walls and floors, so it's almost like playing a grand in your bathroom. My piano teacher's studio is carpeted and sucks up all the sound. The result is that I can practice for hours on other pianos and really feel like I've made progress, but in my lessons, my hands are stiff as boards, mainly because I feel like every single note I play is some sort of kung-fu jab at an unyielding opponent. Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai! Hai! That was a major one-octave scale.

I have named the piano Nemesis.

Last week, I discovered that I will be playing Nemesis for my jury at the end of the session, which is fast approaching. Goddamn. You know, sometimes I think I can hear Nemesis laughing at me. "Puny piano minor," it malignantly rasps as the Bach fugue I'm wrestling with again grinds to a halt. "You shall never defeat me." My piano teacher sighs, and Nemesis smirks under his lid.

  • J├ínos Starker - I am currently reading his autobiography. I swing between the opinion that he's an awfully funny and clever man and a right pompous bastard. I was particularly uncomfortable with his description of the Russian troops overrunning Budapest. "They stole watches and raped some women, but did no other harm." He then proceeds to explain how he cleverly provided the soldiers with drugs for their venereal diseases.

  • Messinia - Neochori - I think this is the village in Greece where my relatives live.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I want the world


Since I was so indulgently mopey about the recital on Thursday, This weekend I returned to DIY. I laid cementboard in the kitchen in preparation for tiling, and gutted the remaining wall in preparation for drywall. My hands are covered in abrasions, my spine hurts in three separate places, my legs are a world map of bruises, and it feels great.

Matt was away in Hanover for the weekend recording Slow Andy. I am so jealous that I'm not doing any band-type activity at the moment. Am I slowing down in my adult years? I swear there was a time when I could do it all at once.

At least I've come to reflect philosophically on the recital. It was my first solo performance in over a decade; it's not a tragedy if it wasn't great. I'll do better next time. And I can sort of pretend I'm in a performing band occasionally when Slow Andy invites me onstage to 'sing' 'Gay Bar' (see above). I should definitely organize some Tears for Agnes jams this winter.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

shti

Click for pictures from last weekend's trip up to Shippensburg University to speak to the National Broadcasting Society's convention about No Sanctuary. Yes, there I am overpowering a very large master martial artist! That's how entirely powerful I am!

This week has been very interesting. I discovered that someone I know at the university supports Rick Santorum. I discovered this by loudly announcing at the beginning of a lesson, "Hooray! Santorum is out of office! Christ, I hate that lunatic bastard!" Awkwardness ensued.

A few hours ago, I had a really horrible recital. Oh, well-meaning people try to be nice to me about it, but I know it was horrible, and so do they, which is why they say things like "Well ... it was very musical!" and "So much personality!" and "It takes such guts just to get up there and play!" Goddamnit, I'm not retarded! I know the code-words! I was a child competition actor, for god's sake. There isn't a negative judgement in the book you can stealthily slip by me - I heard them all from stage mothers before I reached puberty.

The preceding paragraph brought to you by the Board of Low Self Esteem. I'm Mormolyke and I approve this message, though my approval isn't really worth anything anyway, and what the hell would I know.

In further fux0red news, some dick tried to disrupt five of Matt's Nine Inch Nails eBay auctions. He registered as mattdunphy and pinisnvaginis. Yeah, you heard right. If I were eleven years old and slightly inbred, I might think it was amusing and clever! Oh well. At least it's easily taken care of.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mormolyke's advice for children

Bliggetty blarg, I am getting sick. Hey, kids: even when you are an experienced adult drinker, remember not to drink when you're on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories! Even when you get the drinks for free!

I sold my violin on eBay for a little more than I paid for it. We're waiting for the money to clear into my bank account from Paypal. The wait is tinged with desperation. I have five dollars in cash. Every bank and credit account is in overdraft. Our cellphone service has been suspended. The game of financial catch-up is not over yet!

Having no money, yesterday I dressed Matt as Ming the Merciless for his Slow Andy gig at Murph's Other Bar. I was near hysterical with laughter, especially since the fake-fur beard I made for him resembled Brian's actual facial hair. We couldn't afford spirit gum. I was all ready to blow my $5 cash on some, but Matt counselled sense.

In the last few weeks, I have had some terrific Halloween costume brainwaves, but I lack the wherewithal or the balls to pull them off.
  1. When Jennie was heavily pregnant (SHE IS NO LONGER!!), I lobbied heavily for her and Sean (OMG CLICK FOR BABY PHOTO) to rent a donkey and go trick-or-treating as Joseph and Mary. The trick would be Mary goes into labor and Joseph freaks out and demands a room for the night. I can't actually imagine anything more awesome than this.
  2. Jesus would be a great choice, but no tongue-in-cheek zombie Jesus. I want to see gory Jesus as in The Passion of the Christ. I actually thought it would be nice to do this as a twosome and enter a Halloween parade with Jesus covered in blood dragging his cross and a Roman soldier behind him beating the crap out of him with a whip, a la A Clockwork Orange.
  3. Spread the insensitivity! If I weren't a snivelling coward, I would totally dress up as Mohammed for Halloween. Not just any Mohammed! Bomb head cartoon Mohammed! What a riot!
  4. Stephen Hawking! Come on, it would be awesome. You could carry around a computer or sampler with several phrases run through vocalization software such as "Trick or treat!" "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star," and "I love to sex hot nurses."

Speaking of hilarious horror, check out this awesome e-mail I got the other day!
________________________________________
From: Holt Granger [mailto:holtgranger@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, October 23, 2006 12:00 AM
To: melissa@mormolyke.com
Subject:

wretched half-chink

Thanks, Holt!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Synchronicity: Lucy

In 1997, I was a sixteen-year-old first-year med student at UNSW in Sydney. There were few things I missed about my life growing up in Brisbane, but one of them was competing in drama eisteddfods.

America doesn't have anything quite like drama eisteddfods, which are basically monologue competitions, although they can also include duologue, poetry, speech, improvisation, narrative, and reading aloud events. There's at least one eisteddfod in every major Australian city, and Sydney's grand mother of them all is the drama section of the McDonald's Performing Arts Challenge.

Although I had developed a host of shallow drunken friendships at Goldstein College, I always travelled to the PAC alone. This involved a journey of around an hour and a half by bus, train, and on foot to the competition venue, a church on the other side of Sydney. On one night of the eisteddfod, I noticed a girl in the warm-up room. She seemed different. She wasn't being coached militantly or fussily by her parents, or engaging in ridiculous warm-up exercises. We caught eyes, started a conversation and found out we were competing against each other, but unlike most of the competitors, we didn't develop an instant aloofness or antagonism. When the evening was over, she asked her mother to drop me at the nearby train station. Actually, she asked her mother if I could be dropped off all the way at my college, but, given that it was so far away, that wasn't a real option. I adored her for trying, and I didn't forget her. I think she was the only person I spoke to during the entire run of the competition.

This is how I met Lucy.

A year later, I was holding auditions for Rhinoceros, which I was directing for the university theatre. Suddenly, Lucy walked into the room. We recognized each other immediately. She nailed the audition, and played Jean. She also played Constanze in my production of Amadeus.

A year later, we were living together in an apartment on Maroubra Beach, and we were constantly and consistently being amazed by how alike we were, contrary to all logic and reason. Lucy had a friend at college, Laurence, who, unbeknownst to us both, was also one of my work colleagues. One day, Laurence declared that Lucy inexplicably reminded her of someone else she knew. "It's strange," said Laurence, "because you look nothing alike." After Laurence mentioned this several times, Lucy asked for the name of this mystery acquaintance, and of course, it was me. Laurence could scarcely believe it when Lucy explained that we knew each other. In fact, we lived together.

To clarify, Lucy is blonde-haired and blue-eyed, with a peaches-and-cream complexion (except when she is tanned). About the only thing we share physically, aside from basic symmetry, is our height. Lucy wears a lot of color. We also have fairly disparate tastes in music, literature, and pastimes.

Somehow, though, we were born under the same star despite emerging into the world, and into vastly different families, eight months apart. Since we've known each other, almost every time something important happens to one of us, it happens to the other immediately or soon afterwards. When I was a VJ finalist on Channel [V], Lucy was a finalist in a Disney Channel host search. Our love lives were screwed at the same times, and stable at the same times. We both ended up in children's theatre last year. There are a million other examples of our synchronicity, ranging from things as simple as making non-sequitur statements at exactly the same time to undergoing intense life changes simultaneously while on opposite sides of the world.

And now, Lucy tells me that the AMW episode which I mentioned in my last blog entry might well be the one in which she appeared. There is a good chance she was the girl whom I noticed and remembered (who remembers the actors in AMW re-enactments?) fifteen years ago. After all, how many blonde girls with bobs around my age could there possibly have been on AMW at that time?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In Cold Blood

Ever since I was a kid, I have had an irrational fear of home invasions. Personally, I don't believe the fear to be irrational; home invasions are fucking terrifying. It seems to make much more sense to me than, say, Matt's fear of moths ("Moths happen more often," he counters).

I can pinpoint the moment I developed this fear. When I was ten or eleven, I saw an episode of Australia's Most Wanted featuring a re-enactment of a home invasion. (Ironically, my very first television gig eight years later was as an actor in a very similar re-enactment on AMW. As my mother is quick to tell me, I did a pretty awful job.) The criminals broke into a pleasant suburban home containing a charmingly normal nuclear family, tied up the parents, stuffed them in a closet, and proceeded to rape their eleven-year-old daughter on the master bed.

I assume this was the moment of germination of my fear, because I can remember the bound girl shivering on the bed as though I had watched it yesterday.

For years, whenever I woke up in the middle of the night, I had trouble sleeping again. I would lie, wide-eyed and white knuckled, under the covers, inventing horrific scenarios and improbable modi operandi. What if the front door were unlocked? I was usually too petrified to check. Were those footsteps on the stairs? Was that the faint whisper of a finger running along a knife edge? I'm sure I hear footsteps!

I remember particularly one night being so sure I heard footsteps that I nearly screamed. I broke out in a cold sweat. I desperately tried to think of places I could hide, if only my muscles would allow me to move. Then a light switch clicked, and the unmistakable sound of my dad peeing into the toilet with the bathroom door open came trickling down the hall.

As a "grown-up," I'm no longer too scared to check the locks if I suddenly get the fear. I can usually fall asleep again just fine if I wake up at night. But if I hear a strange sound, the first conclusion I draw is "OH SWEET JESUS IT'S A HOME INVASION." The first time a bat flew into our apartment and Matt woke me up with "What the fuck was that?" I fully expected to see one or two burly men silhouetted in the door of our bedroom with guns and duct tape.

Currently reading: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

  • The ten greatest horror death scenes. A joy to watch! Also, Lucio Fulci is king.

  • US bans Vegemite. This is utterly horrifying to me. Good thing I had over a dozen jars foisted on me by relatives when I was there in August - they ought to last me a few years. I'm very curious if the ban also applies to Promite, since I actually prefer it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Just links

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The drugs like me, and I like them too.

I made some DIY corsets today. There were many, many other things which would have proven wiser and more intelligent to do, but that is what I chose. You can find these totally awesome corsets for sale here. Or, hey, you could custom-order one if you feel like it.

I also went to the doctor and got a whole bunch of extremely interesting medicine! I love having health insurance. Among the many prescriptions I procured was one for physical therapy for my neck and shoulders, should the first-time anti-inflammatories not produce any marked improvement in two weeks. Yay! I'm going to milk this damn health insurance policy for every cent of the $100 per month I'm putting into it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

No will to do anything useful


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
7
people with my name
in the U.S.A.
How many have your name?

Home Depot sent me a "FREE Do-It-Herself Workshop" pamphlet. The workshop looks incredibly retarded, containing instruction in skills such as unclogging drains, repairing walls, and "air conditioning" (ten bucks says this involves describing how to put a window unit into a window). You know, I'm pretty sure I can do it myself better than most men. Why target women this way? Why not leave gender out of it and have "DIY for novices" since that's obviously what you mean, Home Depot?

Speaking of being slightly miffed at retail outlets, Wegmans has a number of Wegmans-brand breads that contain not "high fructose corn syrup" but "corn syrup (high fructose yield)" What's this now? Are you trying to sneak hfcs past me or is this some new evil sugar?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Citizenship

I filed at the beginning of August to have the conditional status removed from my permanent residency. The Department of Homeland Security usually sends a receipt in four weeks, but they're "backed up" right now, so it is taking in excess of ten weeks to mail me a piece of paper that says "We have received your form." (Of course, they took less than 48 hours to bank my filing fee check.) I hope I get the receipt soon, because my Green Card expires on November 4. Once I get the receipt, it will be eleven months if I'm lucky before I get a new Green Card.

This time next year, however, I will be eligible to apply for citizenship, w00t! Last night I decided to check out that process for the first time. The filing fee is $330, plus a $70 biometric services fee for fingerprinting. They have taken my fingerprints at least a half-dozen times during the immigration process, and each time, they have charged me around $70, but you never know: this time, maybe my fingerprints will be different! (I wonder what would happen if they were.)

There are a couple of interesting questions on the form itself. I liked this bit:
Information for Criminal Records Search.
Eye color: Brown Blue Hazel Pink Green Black Gray Maroon Other
Maroon? Who the hell has maroon eyes? Vampires? As Matt said, "I think I'd crap my pants if I ever saw someone with maroon eyes."

I had this sigh-inducing question on my original fiancee visa form:
Have you ever been a member of or associated with any organization, association, fund foundation, party, club, society or similar group in the United States or in any other place? If you answered "Yes," list the name of each group below. If you need more space, attach the names of the other group(s) on a separate sheet(s) of paper.
Last time, it was just Mensa; this time, it's Mensa and the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians -- a union! This places me squarely on the intellectual left. I hope that's all right.

And, of course, this question is a regular, even on the questionnaires all tourists to the US have to fill out at airports:
Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:
a. The Communist Party?
b. Any other totalitarian party?
c. A terrorist organization?

But I especially liked this question:
10. Have you ever advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?
Wait wait wait wait wait. Wait. Have I ever advocated the overthrow of any government by force or violence? Phew! Good thing I always thought the war in Iraq was a bad idea!

Seriously, did anyone at the BCIS read that question? Didn't a single underling proofreader pause to think, "Ho-o-o-old on a minute ... wasn't the violent overthrow of a government a recent US foreign policy decision? Shouldn't we encourage our would-be citizens to advocate this policy?"

Moving on.
Have you ever been a habitual drunkard?
I think it's sort of charming that alcoholics can't become American citizens.

At the end of the form is the Oath of Allegiance. It's actually very, very different to the Pledge of Allegiance, so all this time, I've been spouting a lot of untrue bullshit in internet arguments about how I have to take the Pledge when I become a citizen. I don't. I say this:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;
that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law;
that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and
that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
So, basically, the Oath of Allegiance is more about fighting and dying in wars than anything else. Hrmm. It doesn't really inspire me. I mean, I'm fine with saying it - if I were required by law to participate in a war, I would, and cross my fingers it was a worthy war, and also I hope they'd put me in codebreaking or something because that would be sort of fun. But I wish the oath mentioned some other things about what it means for me to be an American.

Thus, I penned my own Oath of Allegiance.
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen;
that I will support the spirit of the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and should I feel that any laws ought to be amended, I will advocate legal methods of change;
that I will travel as much as possible to different regions of the USA to soak up the varied cultures within them;
that I will do my best to educate myself before and while engaging in political discourse;
that I will never take for granted the opportunities offered to me, and work my foreign arse off to contribute to and better the country financially, culturally, and intellectually;
that I will sing the US national anthem with gusto, because it's one of the best, and I have the vocal range to carry it off;
that I will follow American standard forms of grammar, spelling, and punctuation and abjure words such as "capsicum," "balaklava" and "crotchet";
that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Oh, yeah, there's the much-famed government and civics test as well. You can test yourself here. It's not too bad; most of it is more of an IQ test than a knowledge exam. There were only a couple of questions that made me go "Huh?" I really thought it was the Secretary of State in the line of succession after the prez and veep, but apparently it's Dennis Hastert.

  • Greek Mythology:: "Melissa (1) One of the priestesses at Delphi whose name literally means Bee; she is the sister of Amathea and, as a child, was nourished by Zeus with honey.
    Melissa (2) The wife of the tyrant of the city of Korinth (Corinth), Periander; she was the daughter of Prokles (Procles) from the island of Kerkyra (Corcyra); she was murdered by her husband Periander circa 600 BCE." Murdered by her husband!? Oh noes!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Mormoloc

A couple of days ago, I learned that 'mormoloc' is a Romanian word for a small fish or tadpole. This makes me happy! I'm not sure why.


I listed my violin and viola on Craigslist. I am surprisingly not very sad about this, probably because they are taking up space, and if there's one thing we don't have enough of at the moment, it's space. Well, actually, it's money, but space is next on the list.

I had a funny conversation over lunch with Patrick and Tara regarding our toilet. Matt and I bought our toilet on the cheap at Lowe's. One of the bowls on the shelf was missing a tag, so we asked a manager for its price. He was in a great hurry to knock off for lunch, so after mulling it over for about two seconds, he said, "Well, it's the last one, so I'll just mark it down to $70. Here." We later discovered it was worth a couple hundred. Score!

It wasn't until we had installed it that we realized that we had bought what's known as an "elongated bowl." Elongated bowls are for Americans whose giant, dimpled backsides are so fat that regular bowls are too short to allow them to position their relevant orifices over the water. Our home improvement bible recommends installing elongated bowls in newly renovated bathrooms to comply with "universal" (i.e. accessible by hambeasts) standards.

I am left with the indelible image of a ridiculously fat person desperately trying and failing to go to the toilet in a regular-sized bowl. Shits and giggles, indeed.

(Are you eating, Sheryl?)

Another interesting fact about our toilet is that it can flush something like 27 ping-pong balls effortlessly in one go. Perfect for anyone who poops ping-pong balls, hambeasts who eat a lot of bacon, or unfulfilled Suzie Wong sex acts.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A little too much regression

Today in string quartet rehearsal, I was concentrating quite hard on Beethoven's 4th, when I flubbed a note. "Pah!" I ejaculated.

That is, I opened my mouth to say "Pah!" and a GIANT quantity of saliva spilled out of my mouth and all over the top and front of my cello. WTF!?! It was a ludicrous amount of drool. I must have been concentrating so hard that I forgot to swallow for the entire movement.

Needless to say, the music stopped and everyone laughed at me for an extended period of time. Myself included.

We thought it might be even funnier if I could get that much drool to come out of my mouth at a constant rate during all the ostinato passages.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mundane update

Things are coming along a little better this week, though midterms are just around the corner, so we'll see for how long this positive energy sticks around. I've been kicking all sorts of arse in my pre-midterm assessment: everything has come back over 90%, though I don't expect that trend to last forever. They say that in the business world, employees rise to the level of their incompetence; by the same token, as a student I tend to continue taking on extra credits and activities until I start seeing Bs on my transcript, so I fully expect my GPA to be a disappointment to my mother to me by this time next year.

Speaking of happy pessimism, I've been assigned "A Cockeyed Optimist" from South Pacific in my Musical Theatre workshop. The song is short and easy, but it's proving a challenge because Nelly is a pathetic and contemptible character that I have no desire to play I think I'm having difficulty with the philosophy behind the song. One of the other students got "As Long As He Needs Me." I'm so jealous.

In a bizarre new twist, thus far this semester, I am scoring slightly higher in physics than I am in music theory, which is supposed to be my major. Keep your eyes peeled for flocks of migrating Canadian bacon this fall.

I have begun taking St. John's Wort in an effort to counteract the inevitable seasonal affective disorder. I can't tell if it's doing anything or not, though I notice that I feel slightly more focused yet also simultaneously a little more anxious.

This blog entry is being cut short because I have to go practice the cello! Yes, I have the will and the time to practice this week! Praise be to Jebus.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thoughts on Foley

The Foley scandal is cracking me up. I read the IMs, simultaneously gagging and guffawing at Foley's awful, awkward, sex-obsessed posts. I'm watching the fallout with bemused interest. How inspiring it would have been if a real issue had inspired outrage among the Republican base rather than a stupid and sordid sex scandal. But, as I posted on a messageboard last week, the priorities of the average American voter are:

1. How much does it cost to refuel my totally bitchin' SUV?
2. What does he do with his penis?
3. Does he sound like me when he talks?

One of the interesting things I realized while reading this story is that the age of consent is 16 (in some states), but it is illegal to supply pornography to anyone under 18. So a 55-year-old man may have sex with a 16-year-old boy but may not show him dirty pictures. To put it another way, he is allowed to put his penis into the boy's mouth, but if he shows a boy a photograph of his penis, he will be arrested - I'm guessing even if (twistedly) the boy asked for one. Does this seem odd to anyone besides me?

The newest exciting development is that Foley is mixed up with Scientologists. Look! There he is! Can it get any better than this?

Lizards. That's all I have to say. This entire episode is explained to perfection by lizards.

Mormolyke | Melissa Dunphy

A few months ago, while we were clearing out some of the amazingly old and decrepit junk from our house, we pulled up the bedroom carpet to find a layer of crumbling linoleum, and under that, several spread out newspapers which had served as underlayment for the last 60 years.

I know times have changed. But it was so much fun to go through them.

Here are a couple of the most eye-popping things I found. I particularly like "Johnny Solves a Mystery" for the shock value. I'll add more when time permits or I feel inclined i.e. when I'm procrastinating like mad.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

They were very delicious cheesecakes

Yesterday, the composer David Lang came to WCU to give a lecture and workshop. I listened to some of his stuff beforehand. There were a few pieces that I really liked; in one of them, Are You Experienced?, Lang is the narrator of some pretty amusing dialogue. His voice reminded me of someone, but I couldn't figure out whom.

Tonight, Matt had a listen, and pegged it immediately.

I swear David Lang is really John S. Hall from King Missile.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

WHY DON'T I JUST SHUT UP AND GO TO BED

I am nowhere near as good at the cello as I would like to be, which gets me down frequently. It's hard to eliminate tension when I'm obsessing over how behind I am.

I did have an interesting masterclass today. I'm piqued by the concept of simultaneously singing what I'm playing. I think it will help with breathing - something I'm pretty good at when I'm acting or singing, but which I neglect terribly when I play an instrument.

It's so odd how nervous I get playing an instrument as opposed to acting. People can't seem to understand how difficult it is for me to play five notes in front of a group of musicians when I can happily spout off lengthy Shakespearean monologues or perform acts of physical goofiness without batting an eyelid. I have several theories as to why this is, but no real clue which of them is correct.

Firstly, I think that classical music is held to a far more exacting standard and judged much more harshly than acting. After all, successful classical musicians are always technically proficient, whereas there are seriously suggestions circulating that Julian McMahon should win an Emmy. People trying to convince me to shed my fear tell me that I'm wrong and audiences don't really notice wrong notes. But I do. When I hear others play, I notice and wince. Maybe the real problem is that I'm an impossibly unfair and unkind judge of classical musicians and I should stop it.

Today I compared "truth" in music and acting. The root of acting involves pretending to be someone other than yourself. Music is always all about you. The thought crossed my mind that acting is akin to lying, whereas music seems far more about vulnerable honesty. You can't blame anything on a character.

And yet, that's not true. When I act, I try to make the emotions real. Actor always end up bringing themselves to a role, and acting can often be an intensely vulnerable experience. So it's not about lying*. I empathize with a character until I really do feel angry or sad or delighted by imagining myself in the character's situation.

Maybe I should just act like I'm a really good cellist when I play. Maybe that would help. I'll pretend to be Sigourney Weaver pretending to be a cellist in Ghostbusters or something.

* The exception to this rule is when I am standing in front of a camera asserting that I am a businessperson who lives in Harrisburg while earning a graduate degree. That really does feel a lot like lying. I know people who appear in advertisements are always actors, and yet it wobbles my moral compass. Watch for me on ABC27 during the morning and evening news for the next eight weeks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The bow that goes PING!

What is life like for me as a college student at the moment? I have a list of tasks that looks something like this:
  1. Cello practice: Single octave single string scales, Dotzauer arpeggio exercise, Bloch Supplication, thumb position scales.

  2. Piano practice: Sing and play Willow Weep for Me, Bach Prelude in F minor, scales

  3. Singing practice: Exercises, Mozart Exultate, Handel V'adoro

  4. Strings masterclass: Read Stage Fright by Cato Havas, prepare excerpt for performance, listen to Starker versus Rostropovich and Heifetz versus Oistrakh, prepare notebook of comments on classmates' performances

  5. Music Theory: Revise chapters 1 through 21 of theory book, read chapter 22 Neapolitan 6th, familiarize self with Sibelius

  6. Music Aurals: Practice sing-and-plays, sight-singing in solfege

  7. String Quartet: Practice Beethoven String Quartet No. 4

  8. Orchestra: Practice Rienzi Overture, Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances

  9. Chamber Orchestra: Practice Dvorak Serenade

  10. Astronomy: Remind self how much you hate Physics

  11. Women's Studies: Read essays, prepare interview questions, prepare collage assignment (yes, I have a goddamn collage assignment), post discussions on messageboard, prepare discussion questions on index cards

  12. Other: fix cello case, fix cello bow, purchase rosin, pay bills, install cementboard in kitchen, upper back rehabilitation exercises, speak to husband at least once daily

PITY ME. I THOUGHT LIFE WOULD GET EASIER THIS FALL, AND IT TOTALLY DIDN'T.

At orchestra rehearsal on Friday night I was playing some rough section of the Symphonic Dances when PING! SWISH! The plastic faceplate on the tip of my bow snapped in half, shooting shards across the room, and the horsehair popped out and fanned out all over my lap. Bugger. Area string shops want to charge me a fortune to fix it. Luckily, Slow Andy had a gig in Harrisburg this past weekend, so I left the damned thing with Violin Makers, the store where I originally purchased it.

Apparently I need to have my bow rehaired every six months to prevent this from happening again. Every six months!? Sheesh. Cellos are high maintenance.

I need to come up with around $150 to fix and rehair it. Oh noes! But never fear; I'm fortuitously being paid precisely that amount to be in a Shippensburg University TV commercial. Watch for me on some local Harrisburg station.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Looking up

Matt has two job offers! Everything will be OK soon.

However, our former landlord is totally getting a Fecalgram as soon as we can afford one. In a surprising twist, the Downingtown post office found our rental deposit check (see last entry below), but upon opening the envelope, we discovered our ex-landlord had deducted nearly $300 for a bunch of BULLSHIT. For example, he complained that he had to clear the basement of "flammable liquids." What a load of shit. The only liquids in the basement were tins of paint and the like - which were already in there when we rented the apartment. He also charged us for the repair of the kitchen drain. Yes, the drain is faulty. We complained about it months ago, and it wasn't fixed. Now he wants to charge us for it? For the official internet record: Kenneth Smitley is a cunt.

Anyway, I'm still stressed, but I'm delighted about Matt's employment sitch, so things are looking up.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fuck everyone and everything

God fucking damn I feel like I should be a Linkin Park fan today.

Everything is going wrong, all at once, and I am pissed about it.

I've been waiting on a music theory book from an eBay seller since August 26. It costs $90 new, which I can't afford, so I won an auction for a previous edition for $10. I waited. I missed out on handing some homework in and was embarrassed in class a few times because I didn't have the book, but figured I couldn't handle that if it meant saving $80. I waited some more. Finally, after two and a half weeks, I sent a query to the seller asking where the book was. I received an e-mail the next day:
We recently received your order. Unfortunately, upon attempting to pull your order from our shelves, we found that we do not, in fact, have your book in our inventory. We will therefore be issuing you a complete refund through paypal as soon as possible, within the next 1-3 days.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this matter may have caused you, and we hope that you’ll give us a second chance to earn your business. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance to you in any way.

Sincerely,

Jennifer E.
Customer Service
GreatBuyBooks

Here I would like to state as a fact that GreatBuyBooks is a piece of shit.

My reply:
Wow. I can't believe it took you WELL OVER TWO WEEKS to tell me this - and maybe you wouldn't even have told me if I hadn't raised the query. I have already lost five marks in missed college homework because I was waiting for this book to arrive, and now I either have to lose more marks or buy it new and bounce my mortgage check. I would thank you for the refund, but you have caused me a huge amount of stress, and your refund is completely meaningless.

Your service is disgustingly disorganized and unprofessional. I am incredibly pissed off.

M

I typed but ended up deleting the last paragragh, which was something along the lines of "Fuck you."

I'm having trouble concentrating when I practice or do homework, I think at least in part because I'm worried sick about our finances. We've been hounding our ex-landlord for a couple of weeks regarding our rent deposit. We found out yesterday that he'd already sent it certified mail on August 31.

We need that check. We need it badly. Matt doesn't have a job yet, and I'm bleeding money because of college.

So we looked up the tracking number on our landlord's certified mail receipt, and the system told us that a notice was delivered to us on September 2.

No, it wasn't.

We went down to the post office this morning. The clerk disappeared for close to twenty minutes, then came back and confirmed the sinking feeling in my stomach. They appear to have fucking lost it. They have fucking LOST our fucking CHECK, even after the sender paid them an extra three fucking dollars to fucking take care of it.

That did it. I went off at the post office, and burst into tears in the car.

Now I have to go to school, buy the music theory textbook with money borrowed from my parents-in-law (FUCK I hate borrowing money), attempt to do the homework in half an hour without throwing up because of stress, attend class, and go to a masterclass and a string quartet rehearsal completely fucking unrehearsed.

Life sucks! I'm one step closer to the edge, and I'm about to break! I fucking hate myself and I want to die! Shut up when I'm talking to you!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Harrisburg Magazine cover model contest

I didn't win the Harrisburg Magazine model contest, but (a) I didn't want a modeling contract anyhow; (b) I like the girl who won; and (c) I got the full-page spread at the left, in which I look nothing at all like myself.

I'd like to title these photos "I Don't Know What I'm Doing on This Thing" and "I Love Cocaine."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Aussie Icon Death week

Proving that Australia is merely a sad carbon-copy of the USA, Peter Brock, the man I usually refer to as Australia's Dale Earnhardt, died in a rally accident today. Apparently this week's fashion is for Australian icons to die doing the things they do. Next up: Paul Hogan is stabbed in a knife fight, Elle Macpherson drowns during a swimsuit shoot, and Kylie Minogue steps in front of a train.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Catholicism is the DEVIL!!

I found this in the local Downingtown/Lionville/Exton newspaper the other day.

Wow.

I went to a Presbyterian school for eleven years. Sure, some anti-Catholic sentiment was very occasionally expressed by the governing Presbyterian and Methodist Schools Association board (we weren't allowed to sing "Hail Holy Queen" at the choral competition), but this is ridiculous.

Presbyterianism was invented to eradicate those dirty Catholics, but surely we've come a long way since the goddamn Reformation. I wonder if it bothers anyone at this church that there is an entire series of lectures about the faults of Catholicism. Isn't there anything else to your religion? And since when were the Catholics a supreme threat in America anyway? They hardly have the majority. If you really want to beat them worldwide, head to South America and Africa and compete with their missionaries.

School is hard. I don't have time to do anything. The worst thing about studying music is the amount of class/rehearsal time relative to the number of credits earned. I attend orchestra for four hours a week, and rehearse like mad in my own time, for all of half a credit. String ensemble takes up another hour and a half, plus practice time, for the same. I don't think I'm even getting any credit for string quartet, which is two-plus hours a week. Factor in private music lessons and strings masterclass, and I'm involved in ten hours of face-to-face time plus hours of extra practice at home for a measly 4.5 credits.

These are the things I calculate as I stay up till two in the morning trying to organize my life while nursing a tension head/neckache from sight-reading Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances on an instrument I can't really play yet.

But, hey, I think I made some friends this week. Every day I come home like a new elementary schoolkid, and Mum Matt asks me, "Did you make any new friends today?" and I say, "No, I feel out of place and lonely," or "Someone talked to me in my Aurals class for a little bit!"

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Australia: The Deadly Country



Australia pics are up
. Above are a few picks, but there are many to look at.

This Labor Day weekend was spent engaged in hard labor; we put down the kitchen subfloor. Now we no longer have to dance across joists suspended over a gaping, stinking earth pit to get out the back door. Ripping out a rotting floor, sistering the joists, installing cross-beams, leveling everything up, and putting down a rock-solid new floor is empowering! 1-2-3-success! We can do anything!

All this home improvement has meant that I've fallen behind in school work, and it's only the second week of classes. Ah well. What would education be without a good, solid cram?

I heard that Steve Irwin died, which was a matter of some surprise to me, although God knows why. My friend (and bridesmaid) John sent me this e-mail, which I will quote here verbatim without permission because I think it's apropos:
"Explaining to children why Steve Irwin died is proving difficult."

Really, that sentence was on tv, Channel 9 news.

Jesus, that's the limit for me. This fucking thing has been all over the fucking tv for the past 24 hours, and that's the limit.

I mean, we're in Australia, every child, every single fucking child in this country is told "don't play with the snake", "don't play with the spider", "don't play with the scorpion", "don't play with the blue ringed octopus/stone fish/stingray/cane toad/crocodile/shark/ [insert any one of the billion other critters that will kill you in this country]".

And they're telling us it's difficult to explain why Steve Irwin died???

Ah, okay, I see, the problem is the kids who can't help but ask, "why didn't he die ten years ago mummy?" And all the parents are stumped "I don't know Jimmy, I just don't know."

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why? Why must I sleep?

I officially feel like a college student in a way I never did at HACC.

Jetlag sure is a bitch. A couple of nights ago, I was bedding down at 7:30pm and waking up around midnight. It's a little better now, although the lack of sleep is still affecting my brain i.e. I am saying the most STUPID things in class. Every time I open my mouth, something malformed and ill-conceived drops out of it. It's affecting my self-esteem rather dramatically.

I've started to practice the cello for around two hours a day, with the intention of increasing that to three in a fortnight. Occasionally I manage to sound all right, but sight-reading tenor clef in orchestra rehearsal has resurrected my long-disused faking skills. Thank Christ for my training as a master faker in my years as a violist. As far as muscle pains go, so far, so good (knock on wood), although lugging my laptop all around campus on Monday made my shoulders super-tense (I've since procured a new battery for my cheapo iPaq and can return to looking uber-faux-yuppie with my PDA-and-infrared-keyboard setup).

I suddenly hate being the new girl. In the past, I didn't mind so much, but entering fulltime music school halfway through a course as a 26-year-old is less of an adventure. This is not like HACC, where I really didn't give a shit whether I made friends or not. I would genuinely like to get to know people at West Chester. For a start, I'm not taking completely veggie courses, so it would be nice to have classmates I could rely upon as study/practice partners or just to take notes if I miss a class. And I'm probably going to be working with these people for a few years, not just a semester, so I should try to form some bonds, right?

Most of the people in my classes are much younger than me, and have their own established friendships already. I don't feel like imposing myself on them. When I was a teenager, I couldn't stand mature-age students. The few classmates at West Chester that are my age (three total in all of my classes, as far as I can reckon) don't really seem interested in being friends. Maybe that's because everything I say lately identifies me as an utter moron with verbal diarrhoeia; I'm not sure.

This was so much easier when I lived on campus as a new uni student ten years ago and spent my time systematically increasing my alcohol tolerance. Or when I had an office job and spent eight hours a day sitting next to the same few people. Or when I was an actor and had all my socializing needs happily fulfilled at work.

The bright side, of course, is that music is a generally solitary pursuit, and with no social connections or obligations whatsoever, I am forced to practice during breaks in my schedule to avoid looking like a lonely nigel wandering campus by myself. Hence, two hours a day, easy!

Will the rain ever stop? It has been overcast ever since the thunderstorm on the night we arrived home.

All of this whining aside, I really am glad to be where I am. Except for the lack of knowledge I have regarding my household's next paycheck, things are pretty good.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Home sweet home

Huzzah! I am home!

29 fucking hours of travel. A nightmare.

First, thanks to alleged terrorists and retarded and pointless overreactions to alleged terrorists, our plane was an hour and a half late taking off from Brisbane airport, since all boarding passenger had to turn out the entire contents of their cabin luggage in the search for that most dangerous of substances, liquids. They even threw out my Sharpie. Can't have that dangerous Sharpie ink on the plane. We were then subjected to perfunctory full-body pat-downs (women in one line, men in the other) which I daresay wouldn't actually stop a terrorist who put his or her mind to it. In any case, I didn't feel any safer or less safe.

After roughly thirteen hours of flying, we arrived in LA four hours before we left and banged around for five hours waiting for our domestic flight. Something about the jetlag scrambled my brain, and I checked our luggage far too early, which of course meant that our luggage was among the last to be loaded onto the baggage claim conveyor belt in Philadelphia.

This made us miss the most convenient train into the city, which made us miss the best train to Downingtown, so we had to sit at 30th Street Station for an hour and a half waiting for the last train of the evening service.

Just as the train pulled up, a giant thunderstorm hit.

Between the first and second stops, the train came to a halt. The thunderstorm had brought trees down all over the place. We had already hit one lying on the tracks, and were now faced with another, more insurmountable tree-hurdle, which had not only blocked our way, but brought down powerlines.

I guess we were stuck between stations, unable to leave the train, without any power but the dim auxilliary lights, for about two hours. The guards finally consented to ripping out the emergency windows because of the stifling heat and the awful stench of Friday night revellers throwing up copious volumes of alcohol- and nicotine-laden vomit in the first carriage. Eagles fans fresh from a preseason game pissed into a cup in the last carriage. The folk in our cabin tried to make light of the situation, and even made some passingly amusing conversation, but it was bloody awful.

Eventually, a "rescue train" pulled up next to us, and we were herded into bright flourescent lights and sent on our way. At least I managed to finally finish The Satanic Verses on the way home.

I'm weary. But goddamnit, I can't sleep for the bloody jetlag.

And, oh dear God, there's so much to do.

I take comfort in a joyful reunion with the cats, and the blissful insomnia of blessed, blessed unlimited FiOS. Oh, internet, real internet, I've missed you so.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Priceless gem from the comment box

Two hours ago, I received this priceless comment from an anonymous reader regarding a blog entry I posted over a year ago:
Gee, I'm glad I saw this blog. Cuz I'll do everything I can to stop any petition. I'm not going to allow a song written by a group of jackasses I've never heard of actually become our state song. There's nothing wrong with the song we have now about our country side and our history (unless you live in Philly). Personally I think it's not any of your buisness what our state song is unless you were born in this state. No one wants the opinon somebody who just moved in and I definately don't think our state song is up to some idiot from Germany. There are a ton of songs about PA and do u really believe that a parental advisory-marked song would become our state song?

Too many things at which to laugh. "Idiot from Germany"? Do you think he confused Australia with Austria? In any case, I sincerely hope he never breeds.

In sadder news, the State Library of Queensland is closed for renovations until early December. This depressed me. However, Matt and I spent today at Lone Pine doing cheesy things like hand-feeding kangaroos and alerting rangers to the presence of a water dragon that had become good and stuck trying to climb through the links of a cyclone fence.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Vacation blues

There's so much going on both externally and internally that I don't know how to put it on a screen without resorting to cliches and cheese. So fuck it.

I feel terrible for Mum, who will be checking out of hospital finally this Friday - the day we fly back to the States. At least we spent some good quality time together on day leave. There are feelings of hope and tenderness there which I haven't felt in a long, long time. I just want her to be happy.

Visiting Dad's grave was not as gut-wrenching as I thought it might be. There's probably some residual anger in my grieving process - when I gave the monument masons the chosen picture of Dad to mount on his gravestone, and they told me it "wasn't very good," I came close to snapping, "Well, shit, I'm sorry we didn't think to organize a glamor photography session while he was DYING OF CANCER." I held my tongue.

I miss Lucy, Jason and Anthony with a keenness I haven't felt in a long time as well. I suppose that happens when you visit faraway loved ones. Bittersweetness and all that.

Anthony says he doesn't read my blog unless I mention him in every entry.

I'm currently staying in the home of my Greek father, John, his wife Prescilla, and my 13-year-old brother, Mihali. This is Matt's first encounter with this side of the family. Things are going well, but every day I feel completely exhausted, as though from some sort of subconscious emotional overload.

Today I went back to my old school, and was given a tour through the older buildings as well as the sparkling new facilities. Do other people find their schools have some sort of hold over them, or is it only because I went there for eleven years (and enjoyed it more than I probably should have)? From the moment I stepped onto the grounds, I started blushing uncontrollably. Spotted through classroom windows and rear doors were glimpses of many of my former teachers, ten years older, which seemed to make the blushing worse. It only subsided when I sat down for coffee with my viola teacher, Loreta, in the relatively new ($6 million) music school's staff room.

Somerville's school fees are now $10,000 per year.

My feet ache from ludicrous amounts of walking.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tell her she's dreaming

I am convinced that I am actually living in a dream and that I'm not really here.

Buttons keep coming off things, for a start. I'm not kidding. At least eight buttons have come off my clothes in the last four days. I think I've had that many buttons come off my clothing in my entire adult life previously. I must be dreaming. It must mean something subconscious, like when I dream about all my teeth falling out. I wonder what buttons falling off means. I'll have to look that up when I awaken.

Also, I am being stalked by Bryan Ferry. Not literally -- but this is a dream, after all. I saw his name in a magazine, and discovered that Matt doesn't know of him (another clue that I'm dreaming - how can Matt not know who Bryan Ferry is?). Suddenly, he was everywhere. I saw him four more times in the same magazine. And walking into a bookshop a little while later, I discovered no less than three of his albums amongst the secondhand LPs during my extremely brief and cursory examination of the shop's wares before I stopped looking in alarm.

Aforementioned magazine was the most recent issue of UK Tattler, which also proved that I have no current connection to reality by containing stories about £115,000 bottles of perfume and face masks made of beluga caviar.

The light switches work. This is a very advanced dream.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I still call Australia home

I am in Australia! It's kind of chilly.

Catching up with Jason and Lucy = awesome.

We spent yesterday ... uh, Friday Pacific Time, in Los Angeles. Since we hired a car, it was actually a great day. Matt and I totally geeked out at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Tomorrow I'm going to see Trevor and Mum.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

It's hot.

You know, I really wouldn't mind all the snow and freezing temperatures I have to endure in the wintertime here in Pennsylvania if it weren't for the stinking goddamn summers. I didn't think a few months of decent weather was too much to ask for, but apparently it is. We're lucky to get two weeks of decent weather in the spring and fall.

We are now living in Downingtown permanently and fulltime, although it's nowhere near as complete as I wanted it to be before we leave for Australia. There are boxes everywhere, and no kitchen floor - the fridge and the unconnected oven/stove are in the living room. The most complete room is the bathroom, and even that's missing wall tiles, a finished ceiling, and two pieces of drywall.

The other day, Matt and I spent hours packing up the last of our belongings in Harrisburg, cleaned the rooms, and made it back to Downingtown exhausted at midnight. The next morning, I woke up and stumbled through the moving rubble to the bathroom, and saw an unfamiliar salt shaker on the lip of the sink. Strange, I thought. Maybe Matt picked that up somewhere and brought it home. I walked out of the bathroom and saw an unfamiliar box. That's odd too, I ruminated. Maybe Matt packed it when I wasn't looking. I wonder what's in it. The box was full of unfamiliar new kitchen utensils.

"Matt? Matt can you come down here and look at this?"

As Matt pulled himself reluctantly from bed the mattress on our bedroom floor, I suddenly caught sight of a set of blue drawers that also didn't belong to us.

For a few seconds, I honestly thought that we had deliriously packed up somebody else's house without noticing. The next thought was that I had developed some sort of memory problem and didn't recognize my own belongings. Four hours sleep a night can do strange things to your understanding of existence.

Luckily, it was nothing more sinister than Matt's brother, Ryan, moving his stuff in while we were out. The in-laws gave him a key. Ryan is looking after the house and the cats while we're in Australia. I was kind of embarrassed about the state of our house, but he's been roughing it in India for the past few weeks, sleeping in the jungle covered in ants or something, so our unfinished floors and walls are an improvement.

I just found out a few minutes ago that Mum is back in the psych ward, and has been since Sunday. She reduced her medication again. This has been the reason for her hospital stays the last three times at least. After the last time, a court made her take injections at a clinic for a while, but when that injunction expired, she took liberties again.

It seems every time Matt comes to Australia, the first thing he has to do is visit my mum in a mental institution.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Moving sucks my goddamn balls.

However, I discovered yesterday that the theme for third anniversaries is leatherrrrrrrr. Matt and mine is coming up next month. How wonderful!

I'm going to be in Australia in five days. Fuck. There's so much to do. My house has been attacked by the moving tornado.