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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


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


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.


Jennifer E.
Customer Service

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.


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.


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."