Old Daily Shows--April 2001

Find the archive of past entries at archive.htm. Today's entry is at daily.htm.

Monday April 30, 2001

Computer Architecture exam was somewhat painful today. I was pleased, though--my review sheet came out a bit ahead of the curve.

See, we're allowed a single sheet of paper to bring into the exam with us, and it's a matter of legend that the things you choose to put on your sheet are never on the exam. Boy was I surprised that three of the things I put on mine showed up on the test! Alas, not the specifics, but I got three of the topics right. This is unusual.

I've been playing with colors a little bit, to relax. Like them? Hate them? Email me!

In the course of doing that, I reread some old entries. One of them, from 23 September 2001, was the only censored entry I've written. I decided I really needed to write it, but I guessed (correctly) that it would hurt people if I put it up. Predictably enough, I put it up anyway, but hid it such that I could choose who got to see it. Oh well. Anyway, I eventually took it down, once it had served its purpose. I reread it today, and old memories came flooding back. I guess that's sort of what this time of year does to you, though. Here's an excerpt:

"I wish I could be a wonderfully smart student from some good school in a city. I wish I had a good library with lots of interesting books so that I could converse with people. I wish I were a member of a wonderfully fucking fashionable religion, like Judaism, so that I could be part of the intelligentsia here. I wish I had taste in clothes, and had seen a few more movies, again so I'd be conversant. I wish I saw more and deeper meaning in literature and film, and less of it in personal interactions. I wish I were one of those damn people who apparently has no need for emotions, and is quite happy just to exist."

That wasn't an awful lot of fun for anyone. Once again, I've seen the value of this exercise--looked back on a frank assessment of where things stood, and realized that, for a bunch of reasons, a lot has changed.

I don't know where I'm going yet, but I know a little more about where I've been. I'm beginning to think that maybe, despite my fears, I'm starting to learn the things that sophomore year is supposed to teach me.

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Sunday April 29, 2001

Inverarity today was fantastic. It was just... fabulous. Watch as I gush.

Or not, because I've been studying for my computer architecture exam tomorrow, so this is short and late.

It was so good. God. And then dinner afterwards with Kathy and Justin and Jesse and Kimberly and Eleanor at Ruby Tuesday's, wherein we had fun and privately mocked our inept waiter. We goofed around a lot, and it was good. We (minus Kathy and Justin) went to Target afterwards... I got a watch, Kimberly a bottle of contact solution. I can tell what time it is again!

The chocolate-banana bread went over well. DaveJ and I have decided that we ought to bake more often, and we're going to do something. Saturday night, we have decided, baking should happen.

Until then, I will die underneath the workload from hell. One tidbit I forgot to mention--Eileen and I are co-presidents of Swat's Folk Dance Club for the coming year. We have happily diabolical plans in mind :)

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Saturday April 28, 2001

The orchestra concert went well. I nailed the triangle parts, including the hard ones. It was pretty easy once I figured out that our director was conducting a given section in one rather than in three. God, I miss orchestral music.

Kimberly came to visit, and with her Dave J. and Eileen and I made chocolate banana bread for Inverarity tomorrow. It will be highly fabulous.

I read The Cat that walked by Himself to them.

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Friday April 27, 2001

I wanted to include a specific quotation in this journal, but found that I'd put in a previous one, so I will instead direct your attention to 24 December 2000 for the wisdom of Antoine de St. Exupéry.

Yesterday was... surreal. In case you're wondering I'm writing this on Saturday. Talking with prospective employers, filling out applications, studying, doing work. Three hours of music lesson with Susie, followed by ice cream at the Village Porch. We played some things, chose some old chestnut sets for the parts of the BiCo tea dance that we're playing, and worked. She made me blow long tones on the flute for 20 minutes; my homework is to do half an hour of that every day. God, so boring, but it'll be good for me. She agreed to let me play a tune, the one we call our slow air. Its proper name remains unknown; the full name for it is "Slow Air that Hollis learned from Susie who learned it from Bob Worrall who learned it from Fred Morrison's Mother". I'm learning that cranns sound really good on a flute, better even than on a whistle. Such good sounds.

We worked on dancing too, a bit--leg straightening exercises for strathspey traveling step. Susie believes that a lot of my style comes from lightness--I've got some weight, and I don't seem to want to use it. We traced that historically a bit, and it was interesting to see where it led. Anyway--got to work on it more.

Then we went to the Village Porch and had junior size Dusty Road sundaes, with malt powder on the top. We talked about a lot of things, including what I want to do with myself after graduation. She thinks teaching might be something I'd really enjoy; we'll see. It was a happy bonding experience.

What I wasn't doing during all that was going to Kate and Ed's show with Jesse and Eleanor; alas. However, I offered Jesse and Eleanor a chance to come hang out at Swat, and they took me up on it.

Thus began the surrealism. I went from nobody in my room, talking with my mother on AIM, to having Jesse B. and Eleanor, followed in short succession by Eileen, David January, my Jesse, and Dan Fairchild. Weirdness. To add more to it, I was random and told Kimberly that people in my room said hi, so she rang up and chatted. Conversation dynamics were strange. A subversive attempt was made to divert the gathering from my room to Kimberly's room at Bryn Mawr; talk was had of a slumber party. However, in the end, good Swattie responsibility won out, and the Swatties all stayed here. We talked on the phone until rather late, and it was good. People stayed here and hung out (massages and goofiness, with music) for a long time, too. And... man. I like my friends. Jesse and Eleanor showed up at my room with donuts, and it just got weirder from there. Good though.

Jesse and Eleanor went home, after Jesse left me with an enigmatic comment. My Jesse had gone to sleep, so Eileen and David and I went across the hall to the FREAK quint, wherein we found (with some delay) a Katie. We snuggled up, four of us on a Swat bed, and we talked, and we read a Just So Story. "The Beginning of the Armadilloes". I just reread Rikki-Tikki-Tavi; you should do the same, as I must away to an orchestra rehearsal.

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Thursday April 26, 2001

It's too late, so I'm not going to tell you about orchestra rehearsal, and I'm not going to tell you about Bree's story, and I'm not going to tell you about the internship I might get, and I'm certainly not going to tell you about writing confused maunderings in my private journal book thingy.

I won't tell you about spending half an hour talking with Carleta today, of my efforts to perk up Mixed Company (successful!), or about the dust on my ghillies. Instead, I'll share with you a quotation that Eileen gave me. She got it from her sister Katie, and though it's a bit kludgy, it articulates a fairly important sentiment, so here it is:

"Love is when I am concerned with your relationship with your own life, rather than with your relationship to mine.... There must be a commitment to each others' well-being. Most people who say they have a commitment don't; they have an attachment. Commitment means, 'I am going to stick with you and support your experience of well-being.' Attachment means, 'I am stuck without you.'"
-- Stewart Emery

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Wednesday April 25, 2001

Carleta chooses good dances. I will say this about her. We danced one strathspey tonight--Bacardi Castle, Jesse B. and I are calling it, since we can't remember its name and neither of us has a Pilling's handy--that flows so beautifully we almost died. God, it was gorgeous.

And then Kimberly came and showed me pictures, some of which were of me, and it was good, and I got to see the Bryn Mawr science building, and the GeoLab, and Natalie was there, and... I don't know. It was really good. And then Jesse dropped me off at Swat, where dropped off means stayed and exchanged backrubs for a while. Good good good.

And now, counterpoint.

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Tuesday April 24, 2001

Sleeping soon. Dance was stupid tonight.

But Pinewoods will be good, and ideally tomorrow will see me in Bryn Mawr's dance class, where at least I will have a different flavor of shit to deal with.

I want a Watson Fellowship. I am so totally going to apply for one the year after next. More on that someday... Basically, a Wanderjahr for a year would be great--I'd go to Ireland, Scotland, England, maybe France, maybe Cape Breton, maybe Australia... study Celtic-derived music, its origins, the tunes nobody knows because they're sitting in archived notebooks, learn to play in the style of the locals. Wanderjahr sounds good right now. Let us pray, eh?

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Monday April 23, 2001

Housing lottery was today. David (January) and I are living together, in a two-room double on ML third center. I'm taking what is currently Kyla's room; he gets Arcadia's. This will be most excellent. Eileen is living on our hall, if at the other end; it seems that, all in all, our hall will not suck.

Got a call today saying that they'd like to have me play pipes for Pinewoods! Woohoo! More on that later.

Jesse passed her Prelim exam! Go Jesse! You rock.

My two-part insuction (mightily doth it Hoover) is complete; at least, the first draft. Ugh. Counterpoint. Blarg. The problem with two-part inventions is that I don't like the way they sound. Mine's boring, has a sequence or three, spends a little while in III, then goes home. Blah. Gerry will hate it, but at least it's off my back for today.

Kimberly finished her thesis! Go Kimberly! You rock!

Flute playing gets a little easier, though still frustrating. But I'm improving. I was practicing in the lounge, and a girl walked by--said I sounded really good, and she wanted to know how long I'd been playing the flute. I, truthfully, answered "umm... since Saturday". We were amused. I was pleased.

Music otherwise could quite happily go away for a while. I just want to sit and play Celtic trad all day--Russians be damned, theory go to a nicer place, Romantic-style piano works can play outside in the sun like I want to do. I hope this boredom with music is simply seasonal affective disorder at its college-student best, and that I'll want to come back to studying it at some point. Now, though, I just want to have time to sleep. I want to know how people get eight hours of sleep a night, here. Mystifies me.

And now it's almost 3 again, so I sleep.

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Sunday April 22, 2001

Tired. Sleep. Specs want to sleep too. Aargh.

Scottish demo performance went reasonably well, I think. People were amused. I, unfortunately, did not get the message that shorts were acceptable, so I was wearing a long-sleeved Scottish-y shirt and long pants. Ugh. Not fun for dancing.

What else has happened today? I've failed to be productive, again, at length. Hrm. Emailed people about summer plans. We'll see if that goes anywhere.

I'm getting a little better at the flute-playing. Yay! Learned a new round at Mixed Company, and heard most of Cantatrix's concert. Wahoo! Unfortunately, I missed highland dance class, which meant that I missed learning dancing and I missed seeing friends. Dar. Oh well. Work bites.

We had a reading from the Book of Tom in my room this evening.

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Saturday April 21, 2001

Oh my, what a tangled web we weave.

I went to HaverMawr yesterday, and it was very excellent. Practiced tune sets for half an hour in Goodhart Music Room at Bryn Mawr, checked my mail at The Mariam Coffin Canaday Library of Snootiness and Three Names On Every Building, and then headed to Batten for dinner with Kimberly, Jesse, Eleanor, Jeanne, and Natalie.

By the way, I'm going to have to get General Tso's chicken more often at home. Spicy Chinese, happy good. It wasn't hot, but it was spicier than Sharples, and I appreciate that.

Jesse brought me to Friends School Haverford at the appointed time for musicians to arrive and went back to the Mawr for some variety of goofing around, I imagine. We practiced.

The dance itself was good. Lots of new people, which meant slow walk-throughs and not as many dances done as I would have liked, but one survives. Susie and I played a couple of duet pieces, and I think they went well. Politics surrounding the dance were a little unfortunate, but people seemed to have a good time nonetheless. There was poking. I was amused.

Afterwards, we all went back to Kimberly's room and hung out. We were going to play games--we actually sat and talked, gave backrubs and leg massages, and looked at pictures. People evidently took pictures of me--if I didn't know, maybe I didn't look terrible. Heh.

The flute came! I'm learning to play. It's hard, but hey! Nice tone.

We have specs! Tom and Matt. They're here talking right now. Bye!

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Friday April 20, 2001

Today I am a college student.

I went to class, went to work, went to everything else. Had my lesson with Susie and returned to ML for the Scottish demo team rehearsal.

Turns out the stupid college scheduled a community wine tasting in ML, without telling any of us. Nice to know that the school has given lots of random people (consuming alcohol) free rein in your house. They were smoking, too. Grar.

We finished our rehearsal, having been displaced to the first floor lounge. The prospect of a Gay Gordons was raised. I had my highland pipes with me from my Susie lesson, so I got them out and played a set in the lounge, after much prodding. It was our sonic protest of the invasion of our space...

Long afterwards, I went to the Earthlust sleepout on Parrish beach. They've randomly decided for Earth Day to sleep out. Anyway, I forgot to bring an instrument; silly me, I went back to ML and got a pair of whistles.

And I was a college student. I sat in a circle with a bunch of friends, and a bunch of other friends I hadn't met yet, and we played. Allen McBride and I played a bunch of tunes, trying to find things in our shared repertoire. He plays hammered dulcimer and guitar, and had both there... We spent a while jamming on the Kesh Jig and the Butterfly, as well as Da New-Riggit Ship. We picked up a guitarist who played backup chords, Dan Fairchild on bodhràn, and Andy Meade on dumbek. It was so good... not the best music any of us has played, but it was so right.

In the middle of it we looked up to see Claire hanging her Texas flag from the flagpole at the very top of Parrish. It must be spring!

People said funny things in my computer architecture class today. I will transcribe them eventually. We talked about parallelism in processing. It was happy fun.

Tomorrow, my flute will come. Yea verily, it shall arrive. After I have cleaned my room for the specs we have coming, I will get the flute, get lunch, and get on the shuttle going to Bryn Mawr. I will spend the afternoon in Bryn Mawr, either with Kimberly or hanging about elsewhere, depending on how well-behaved her thesis is, then Jesse and Eleanor will join us for Chinese food, and we will all head to Friends School Haverford for the social dance! And there will be much rejoicing, oh yes. It will be good.

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Thursday April 19, 2001

Still no flute, rar.

Talked to Carleta for 45 minutes today, when she randomly appeared in Underhill, where I was writing email. Turns out she's one of the people who delivers books between the TriCo colleges. Neat!

Went to Scott and Leslie's for dinner with Susie and Eileen, and thence to Glenside for a Thursday Night Contra. Music by Bardi-Barda, a Québecois band whose members are friends of Susie. Everyone who plays music is a friend of Susie, Jocelyn and I believe. It seems there is no musician she doesn't know. Good music, but stupid stupid men.

I hate men. I really do. Or rather, I hate their stupid antisocial behaviors. So I was in the bathroom at Glenside changing into shorts, because it was hot and I didn't want to dance in my jeans. In the three minutes I was in the bathroom, I watched seven guys walk in, use the toilets, and walk out without washing their hands.

Now, I know this is fairly common practice and all, but jeez! You're at a flaming dance, for God's sake. Do you know what we do at dances? We touch other people with our hands. This experience caused me to re-evaluate the assumption that people had basic personal hygiene rules for things like dances. :shudder:

Glenside had its very own Traditional Annoying Woman (tm), she who always assumes you're a complete idiot and therefore tries to pull you into place. It's particularly entertaining when you're already in the right place, because she tries to pull you there and gets frustrated because you're not moving. Grr. Maybe my politeness level is set for Scottish dancing, but God, there are a lot of rude contra dancers out there.

And The Cross-Dresser was there in force. I'm not sure I feel about him. He always wears a skirt or a dress. I wonder about it--maybe it wouldn't bother me so much if he were consistent in his mannerisms, but he wears skirts and acts female, but always dances male. Actually, I think maybe it's just that he seems to radiate sketchiness, and I pick up on it but can't figure out its cause. I don't know. I don't think it's that I have something against men who wear skirts, because I have (male) friends who wear them all the time. I don't know.

Talked about the circle-of-fifths method of analysing things in drill section today. Seems interesting, and it makes sense to me, but other people don't like it. It's sort of a subset of the theory we've learned already, with different rules of application.

Apparently Mixed Company rehearsal is incapable of happening without my august presence, or something. Grar. If other people can skip rehearsal to go drinking or to hang out with significant others or because they've fallen asleep again, I think the group can afford to miss me for one night. Good try on the guilt trip, though.

Flute, please come tomorrow! I invoke thee.

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Wednesday April 18, 2001

I have been transformed into a journaler. My efforts to establish daily personal rituals seem to be working out; this is one of the fruits. I don't know why it's so important to write daily in this thing, although 49 of you saw fit to read it the other day :> but somehow it's gotten tied in with my mental health. There are some reasons I can think of for that, some of which I don't think I should share, but the obvious one is that ritual is a way of maintaining some normalcy in an otherwise... unsettled life. Unsettled? Not really. Unstable? Not that either... Not placid, maybe.

I went to Bryn Mawr, and it was interesting. It's such a gorgeous campus--I shall have to spend more time there, and soon. Their bell tower sounds dumb compared to the Swat one, though. But ooh, college gothic architecture and wooden doors! Carleta's teaching style is interesting to observe; I want to go back and watch some more. Dancing was good, if tense--lots of unhappy people in that class. Hanging out with Kimberly and Eleanor and Jesse was nice indeed; gossiping and chatting with Jesse (Ball) after she kindly dropped me off at Swat (a half-hour drive) was most fun. I fed her tea and chocolate, and believe her to have been well pleased.

A Swat prof sent an email to a bunch of us today with the subject line MISSING ULTRASONIC VIBRATORS. I laughed, a lot. It gets better. Here's the text. I think he could have done a little better.

"We are missing several ultrasonic vibrators that were last used by Michelle Lowry for her fluids project in the materials lab in Papazian. Specifically, they were in the corner of the room next to the tank, camera and monitor and look like tapered metal cylinders. We borrowed them from Carr and he would like them back. Please let me or Michelle know if you have seen them."

Piano lesson was mixed. I haven't had one in a month--Tony was out of town for three weeks, and then last week I couldn't play because of my hand--and it turns out that I chose to learn a piece that he hadn't actually wanted me to do, because it's too hard. He thinks I will do well with it, though. Frustration abounds, after I took 25 minutes to play 4 measures over and over and over again. He said that's what it takes. Aargh. But hey, if I get better, it'll be worth it.

No flute today; maybe tomorrow? Jesse B. says I get points for actually shaving, as she looks at the shaver charging on my desk. Underwear on my bed, but it's irrelevant for a friend who unexpectedly accepted my offer of tea. Soon nothing but the quilt my mother made covered the bed, tea was steeping, good music was playing, and the world seemed pretty much gruntled.

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Tuesday April 17, 2001

Migraines really, really suck.

Gerry doesn't like my contrapuntal motives. Consequently I must rewrite them. This is not something for which I had previously budgeted time.

I am going to Bryn Mawr! This is the cause of much happiness, bounciness, and many raised eyebrows. I am amused.

Evidently, so is Eleanor, who spent rather a long time today tormenting me and refusing to tell me why it would be "amusing" to see me at BiCo class. Apparently the personality clash between me and Carleta promises to be a spectator event, despite the fact that we've been friendly every time we've met. Anyway... I will attempt not to be too chagrined.

But I'm going to Bryn Mawr! And my flute might come tomorrow! And I'm going to Bryn Mawr!

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Monday April 16, 2001

It's 3:05 am. Do you know where your children are?

With a rip-roaring headache and not enough music copied, I'm going to bed. Wish me luck.

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Sunday April 15, 2001

Liz Nickrenz went to Swarthmore, and during her time here, she released a CD called "Unspeakable Crushes". I wish I had a copy of it--I keep trying, with no luck. The last track on the album is a wonderful ballad--Kyla used it as the song for her lighting design project--that has some of these lyrics:

If ever you should think of me
Think of me just like this
Sitting in a chair somewhere
Singing to anyone who'll listen
If ever you should think of me
Then think of me, no more, no less
You don't even have to look, you can just
Close your eyes and listen

Cause I can't tell you what I am
All I know is what I do
Can't tell how I'd seem to me
Let alone how I'd seem to you
How many different pictures side by side can co-exist
If you ever stop to remember me
Remember me just like this
-- Liz Nickrenz, "Just Like This"

There are nights when it just seems to resonate, and this is one of them.

A rainy Easter today, filled with some good things and a lot that is emblematic of life lately. Easter dinner, normally a time for relaxation with friends, family, and good food, consisted of pasta bar at Sharples, quickly eaten, so I could run home and shower before the various rehearsals.

Showered, having accidentally ripped up one of the wounds on the back of my right hand, it was off to Haverford for a rehearsal of Scottish music. People playing the Haverford social dance this coming weekend: Susie, me, Josh Burdick (fiddle), Melissa Running (piano), Jocelyn Lewis (fiddle), Dan Emery (flute, smallpipes), Terry Harvey (electric bass). It should be good--we had a good rehearsal.

I know what I wanted to do afterwards, but instead I went back to Swarthmore for a Mixed Company rehearsal. I wish I could have been more useful, but I had just been playing happy music, and so I was rather more strict about tuning than I would otherwise have been. Unfortunate, because I seem to have irritated people. On the other hand, I get so tired of the "only people with trained ears will hear the mistakes, so it's fine" statement. I understand where it's coming from, but it's so hard to stomach. For those of you who read this and are in the group, I'm not mad at you. It's just...

A friend told me about a conversation she'd had with another friend the other day. Talk turned to me, and the second said she didn't picture me as a computer science person. I seem to be more a music person than a computer guy--one thing is important, the other entwines itself with your entire being, and I suppose that shows. This, I think, is why it's hard for me when people make the trained ear comment. Say you don't care, say you care but don't know how to fix things, say you honestly can't hear the things I notice, but please don't tell me they're not valid because 90% of the people listening to our music won't ever notice their presence. It's hard to spend as much time as I do being one of the 10%.

On the other hand, I spent a while talking to Joanna today, and it was helpful. At her suggestion, I'm drinking tea, a habit I've sorely neglected of late. The combination of apple-cinnamon tea, good music, and pseudo-cathartic music is improving my mood, so I'll share a joke.

This comes to you from Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, traditional musicians who played A Prairie Home Companion last night and will be coming to Philadelphia later this month. A man walks into an inn, wherein there is a barmaid, most fetching indeed. He orders food and drink, and when she brings them to him, he catches her eye, puts on his best air of seduction, and says "My dear, I'm a stamp collector, and I simply must tell you that if you were a stamp, you'd be the prettiest stamp in my collection."

The barmaid looks at him askance, and tells him as she goes, "Philately will get you nowhere."

It works better if you say it in a Scottish accent.

Ralph Sweet plans to ship my flute tomorrow, and I may have it by Wednesday. This would be most happy-making.

I remember being productive once. I miss it. Being in a funk is getting old. Maybe once I'm not on drugs anymore, it will be all good.

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April 14, 2001

Dover, DE english dance was tonight. Went pretty well, but the presence of newbie dancers in quantity meant Scott (Higgs, caller) had to spend lots of time teaching dancing rather than talking dances, so we didn't play too many. Fun, though, and I got to meet Susie Lorand.

Made spaghetti for dinner. Was good.

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April 13, 2001

CS fortune: Afternoon favorable for romance. Try a single person this time.

Overslept today, and wrote myself an email detailing as much as I could remember of my rare dreams. Don't remember dreams when you're tired, so I don't tend to remember a lot of them.

Weird combination of dancing and martial arts... in this gymnasium-type thing, and I was someone important. Eileen and Kimberly were there, but they were the only actual people I remember recognizing. Sensei told a miyagi-esque story about something or other, in which I got to be the uke, bowled over by the focused ki of a tweak to the nose. Then we went back to dancing.

Somewhere I'd acquired good point, gorgeous turnout, and a kilt. Miyagi was actually named Skip somebodyorother, and told the story of how he was once primed to be the best martial artist/dancer in the United States, until he gave it up before it was too bellicose a society for his likes. At any rate, it seems I was a brown belt or something (teacher candidate?), because he kept on coming over to me and asking me to show something, or take a specific person and teach her some specific skill, or take a group of people and teach them a kata, which I guess must have been a dance in the strange sensory-integration world of the dream. I was good at it, too--I'd found a niche to call my own.

Funny, but I only just realized the almost-necessary connection between kata and dancing. Makes me miss martial arts even more, now that I'm... what... ten years out of practice?

I think I know where this dream came from. To start, its presence can explained by the fact that I overslept, so I got enough sleep to dream. This is not exactly good, but hey. The martial arts images are probably tied to my activities last night, when I practiced stancing a little bit, trying to stretch. Funny how people laugh at you when you get into a good, deep Horse Stance.

And then the dancing. Well, I spent a lot of my classtime yesterday with my shoes off, stretching feet and legs to get better point. Sitting and stretching my legs and pelvis in the hope of achieving some turnout, during rehearsal and as I was falling asleep. Thinking that when I go home, my dance books are definitely coming with me. Wishing I could get some closure on Pinewoods, either way. It's tiring not having any ideas what you're doing for the summer when the summer is a month away.

That's all I really remember about the dream right now. Further analysis will have to wait.

It's been a good evening. I went to the Sharples III art opening of Ursula and Sonia's celtic knotwork show, and it was fun. Came home, chatted a bit, played a little Starcraft. Talked with a friend for an hour on the phone, watched "But I'm a Cheerleader!", played some Starcraft with Jesse, wrote some email. A good way to relax, I think.

SCCS fortune: A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.
-- Gloria Steinem

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April 12, 2001

Was gonna write lots. It's now late. No lots.

Spent 11 hours and 50 minutes in Lang music building today. This is not good. Ralph Sweet says my flute will probably ship on Monday. This is mostly good. Tomorrow is Friday. This is very good. I got long email today, and responded to it in kind. This is most highly excellent.

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April 11, 2001

Hand copying music bites. A lot.

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April 10, 2001

Well, at least I'm not as depressed today. :) Convinced that it's all going to hell, in a nicely woven handbasket, yes, but at least I'm feeling a little more upbeat about it.

Mom wants me to record symptoms of this thing for future reference, and I can't think of a medium I'm likely to remember in a year other than this one, so here goes:

Left ear is full of something. I can hear a little bit through it, but most sounds escape--people have been talking to my left side and I've ignored them because I didn't know they were there. General achiness. Occasional non-productive dry cough. Throat and nasal passages are at the moment painfully dryish, in that allergies kind of way. Eyes a little red. Breathing deeply can touch off a coughing fit, though not always.

In other news, the palm of the right hand seems to be healing, but the knuckles maybe aren't. I'm going to try letting them scab over by not covering them with antibiotic ointment, though I may put some vitamin E on. Chin seems a little better.

I ordered my flute today! Finally. Ideally, a rosewood simple-system flute in the key of F will go in the mail to me tomorrow from Ralph Sweet, along with a book of graded flute/fife exercises and lessons. I'm hoping the flute will fit in my present case.

Let's not talk about schoolwork--it's doing pas de basque with steel tipped stiletto heels on my chest.

Went to the Baroque Ensemble concert for a bit of a break, to hear Brandenburg concerti and Vivaldi. Mostly good, though the harpsichord was sadly out of tune, as was one of the three oboes. Some idiot opened a can of soda during a piece (I'll assume it was soda; something carbonated, anyway). Nori and I opined later that said person should have been shot.

Today was weird--I spent a while thinking about all the things I've learned at college, and then a while being convinced that I haven't really learned most of them yet. It was strange. Who knows.

If I can get enough work done tomorrow, I'm going dancing at Bryn Mawr tomorrow night. Please God, if you're listening, help me get enough work done. Swat, great though it is, feels like a place from which I need a little distance right now.

I keep resolving not to write self-indulgent things like that, and it never works. Oh well. At any rate, I'm going to try sleeping, I hope.

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April 9, 2001

This is what happens when you overclock your computer for too long without giving it better cooling systems: it fries, melts the chip and motherboard, and emits smoke.

This is what happens when you overclock your Hollis for too long without giving him better maintenance: he fries, melts, and gets the plague along with gruesome sores on his hands.

Today could have been so good, but instead I'm stuck in drug-induced depression. Yes, that's right, it's our old friend, that which goes along with Bactrim, non-penicillin antibiotic of choice chez Worth Health Center, the side effect that's never been reported. They mention "GI disturbance" as a possibility (incidentally, why the hell can't they say 'may cause diarrhea'? GI disturbance? That's when a couple of enlisted guys get drunk in a bar and start a brawl. GI disturbance, my left foot) but no psychotropic effects at all. Anyway, every time I've had Bactrim, I've had these damn mood swings: ridiculously hyper, then terribly depressed, often on a cycle with an eight-hour period. Grar.

MoCo rehearsal was okay, though I didn't get the solo on Crash Into Me. I had thought of something to write about it earlier, when I wasn't in this mood; unfortunately, I spent the next three hours in Lang attempting to write music, and I've forgotten it. I'm not really disappointed--I'm pleased with the choice we made, and I don't think I'm just saying that to be politically correct--it's just that it's disappointing to get rejected. Or something.

Here's hoping tomorrow's better. God, I need some sleep. Maybe the fact that my hand hurt too much this afternoon to write will sway Gerry into giving me an extension, ill-afforded but necessary. Until then, I'm off to collapse.

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April 8, 2001

If I can count, this will be my 113th entry. If I cannot count, the results should be obvious.

Tonight's difficulties center on arithmetic. Twos complement division is. not. my. friend. Your computer does it all the time, and some little college student had to figure out how to make it do so. Let me tell you, that college student wasn't paid enough.

Ugh. I dislike being stupid when the problem doesn't demand stupidity.

However, today had some good points, some glittering finds, like the vein of garnet that I found atop Porter peak in the Adirondacks. I wanted to bring a rock hammer up there and chip myself some garnets the day I found the vein. My father prevailed, and we left them there for other people to enjoy--not obvious, but to the juvenile rockhound, a find more precious than any store-bought hematite or lapis.

I ate a fortune cookie today, the last of the four my mother brought me from home. Unlike the previous, "Because of your melodic nature, the moonlight never misses an appointment", (and no, I didn't misplace that comma) this one seems to have some meaning: Don't be afraid to take that big step.

That big step is waiting in the periphery, noticed but only barely. I guess I've groped blindly for it a few times, without too much success. It's like... having an additional Presence in your head, watching what you do, biding its time. A little eerie.

Feels like I'm on the cusp of something, and I don't know what it is. So much change is waiting on knife-edge, able to go either way or none at all. Maybe Spring is in the air, and I'm restless or unwontedly pensive or some such thing, but life in Swarthmore seems somehow ephemeral. Life has begun to assume a somewhat teleological air--we've started defining ourselves by what's left to do before The End: school year for some, college for others, an era for most. The change that comes will move quickly, and in many directions.

And if that's not mysterious enough for you, I don't know what is. But worry not--despite ear and hands and chin, I carry on, trying to keep a smile for the friend I meet in the hallway. I've convinced myself that a grin is a good thing to keep on hand for bad times. Remembering that may prove difficult, but for now, it's a useful reminder.

And, finally, a quick shout out to Mixed Company and Amelia, to whom I say "Put on your Sunday clothes, there's lots of world out there. Helllllllohhhhh Ddaaaaaaaahlly!"

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April 7, 2001

April is slipping by too fast.

Today was filled with much dancing--left home at 1:15 to go dancing, got home from dancing at 1:45. The other 1:45. Candidates' exam (I'm going to take it next time, I hope), then Terry and Line's after-exam party at their house, then a Tanguy social dance, then to Kimberly's for tea before Eileen and I caught the shuttle back to Swat from Bryn Mawr.

Good friends, good food, good incidents. Bad stuffed-up ear that feels like it's getting an ear infection. I made a doctor appointment for Monday, though, so it'll be okay if it's not fixed by then on its own. Good hands seeming to heal. Left one's almost entirely good-as-new. Right one seems to be improving. Chin doesn't hurt much, though I look quite diabolical with my scabrous goatee.

Isn't that just a pleasant mental image? I thought so too, so I devoted an entire paragraph to the 'scabrous goatee' idea just for you. Just try to stop thinking about it.

A few sad bits--losing precious things (not mine), people getting hurt, conflicting stories from the dance examiners--but generally a fine day indeed. Besides, it was spent with friends, outside the confines of an ivory tower.

And hey, it could be worse. Life is good. I have friends who love me despite my foibles :) and I'm doing all right with them myself. More to come eventually. I know I promise that every time. Jesse's asleep and I don't want to wake him with typing. More to come eventually.

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April 6, 2001

You know how life sometimes sends you subtle hints? Kyla has a button that says something like "History doesn't always repeat itself. Sometime it says "hey, listen to me" and let's (sic) fly with a club."

Part of today was a little more of the club. Running after Jennifer and Steven and Kimberly (in Steven's car) to ask about a dance thing tomorrow, I tripped on the road, because the lack of streetlights made it impossible to see the change in grade; I was expecting it but miscalculated because I was running fast to catch a car.

Anyway, I've now got lacerations on both palms, the chin, the chest, and the knuckles of my right hand. Sounds pretty scary; isn't really. I think they're all surface wounds. I spent a while washing them out with soap, and if that's not fricking purgatory, I don't know what is. Soap is just a truly vile substance sometimes. I probably look pretty scary, but I'll survive. Memories of a bike accident after sixth grade--helmet ground down, shaving the foam to a knife edge, massive bleeding. I got up and played volleyball the next day.

For those inclined to worry, I'm fine. Checked myself out for shock, cleaned and salved the wounds, ran some ki to stabilize my body a bit. My shirt looks sort of disreputable (lots of holes and bits of gravel), but I can buy another shirt or wear that one for things that trash clothing, and it'll be okay.

Advanced class was happy good. I like Steven's teaching. The two teacher examiners from Scotland were there (teacher candidate exams are tomorrow), and I got to meet them. Susie and I played a little bit (a strathspey set), and I got to dance with lots of people: Kimberly, Eileen, Susie, maybe Jennifer. Good friends, good dancing, decent music. These things make Hollis a happy boy.

I made spaghetti this evening for dinner. Yay hot pot cooking thing.

Hope you're all doing well.

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April 5, 2001

A good day, indeed. Beautiful weather today. I got my waltz back from Gerry, to find that it needs some revisions but has no drastic problems.

I got some reworking of the Cider House Reels done, which is good. I hope it will be a fun dance eventually. We played lots of things at English dance tonight; I played lots of things, including whistles, piano, accordian, and drums. Excellent indeed. Before that, Susie and I had a good lesson, in which we ran English tunes for the dance on the 14th, then played random Scottish things. Strathspeys tonight. Also the Methlick Style, a wonderful Eb waltz.

In drill section today, we listened to Alyson giving a presentation on male body image issues, and then we took Daniel on a tour of the Crum--through the amphitheatre, down the paths, to Crumhenge and the holly garden. We brought him back to the Bell Tower, stopping for Nori to greet Martin who was out in a lawn chair working on his thesis, and in the Bell Tower, we sang rounds. It was highly excellent.

Alasdair, eh? I'm reminded of him by the end of that last paragraph. You see, he made fun of himself for introducing so many sets as "this is a great old tune" and tried to stop. It was a very live crowd--people suggested "this tune sucks!" He laughed. It was much fun.

Here's a partial list of what they played. Errors are mine.

Alasdair Fraser and Tony McManus, 4 Apr 2001

Day Dawn/Da Full Riggit Ship
Ross's Reel #4/Reichswald Forest (?)
Marquis of Huntley/The Ewe wi' the Crooked Horn/John Cheap the Chapman/ /
Return to Kintail/Men of Ulster
The Scolding Wives of Abertarf/I'll Break Your Head For You/Catch and Kiss the Romp/the Haggis
Tony's jazz improv and guitar soloes
Roslin Castle/Miss Gordon of Gight

/ /Hughie Shortie/Kohler's (Pachelbel, says I!)
Callum Scara with Alasdair's extensions
Lady Louisa Gordon/Highlands of Banffshire/the Merry Making/Jean's Reel
Pamela Rose Grant
The Easy Club Reel/Janine's Reel
/ /Galen's Arrival/ /
Fisherman's Call to the Seals/Curlew/Sleepy Maggie/Tail Toddle
Some random set

We had much fun. I got to talk with Alasdair a little bit, and the Delaware Valley Branch of the RSCDS was out in force at O'Friel's Irish Pub in Wilmington last night. Lots of friends in the audience. Alasdair got us dancing, which is why I don't have the last set written down. Scottish dancers may well have outnumbered the other people in the room. Terry and Kathy were doing highland; Eileen and I were pas-de-basquing, even though I was wearing steel-toed boots.

Turns out to have been good for the branch--I got to give five people information about learning to do Scottish dance, and they all seemed likely to try it out. Susie says I'm good at schmoozing; the folks at home have known it for years. Hey, if it helps out a good cause, I've got no troubles with it.

I met Carleta (McCain) at the show, and introduced myself. Carleta's the Bryn Mawr Scottish teacher, and I wanted to ask permission to come dance sometime. She said it would be fine, and that I should come play music for them sometime as well, so I guess I'll give Mary a call and see about that. I also got to meet Jocelyn Lewis for the first time, which was good given that I'm playing beside her in two weeks :)

Carleta amuses me. She asked if I were uncomfortable being the only gentleman on a dance floor. I said no, of course. Good, she said--just wanted to give me forewarning before the inevitable feeding frenzy that would occur if I showed up at Bryn Mawr class. While I doubt the existence of said frenzy, I laughed at the fact that she would mention it. Sigh, but a good-natured one.

Decisions, decisions... To go hear Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill in NYC on Saturday, or to go hang out with the dancers after the teacher candidates have their exam... sigh.

These are, however, problems I don't really mind having.

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April 4, 2001

The concert with Alasdair Fraser and Tony McManus was tonight.

It was highly excellent.

It was also filled with smoke, which is why I have a headache and will be sleeping now.

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April 3, 2001

I've been gypped! The world has changed without my notice!

Ever bought one of those chocolate oranges at the supermarket? They have dark chocolate ones, and milk chocolate ones. They now have chocolate raspberries as well. Anyway, that's fine. What you probably saw but didn't notice was that they were made by Tobler.

Turns out that quietly, they've changed. They're now Terry's chocolate oranges, and while that will certainly please one of my Scottish Country Dance instructors, it gave me the wig, to quote Buffy.

Oh well. I wrote a dance today: The Cider House Reels. We playtested it after Scottish class tonight, and bits of it went well. Needs revision, but people seem to think it has some merit, for which I am grateful.

I went walking in the Crum today, something I've not done in at least a year. I took my camera along, and took some pictures of random things: rocks here, a tree there, a clump of grass growing inside a cleft in some rocks, the Crum creek. I listened to birds, and thought about things, and was quiet.

It's been a mostly peaceful day, really. I chatted on the phone with Kimberly for about an hour, which was highly excellent and most relaxing. I still don't really like phones, but there are times when it's good to hear a friend's voice. Silliness is, also, easier to explain with inflection than with emoticons.

And I've found Joanna online! Yay. It's most excellent to forge new connections with people you care about. It would be somewhat better to be able to write about it without using annoying self-important phrases like "forge new connections", but for now I'll settle for the good and ignore the bad.

I should point out, as Eileen did to me, that I forgot to attribute the poem from last night. It's "Wild Geese", by Mary Oliver.

Be well, friends. The rose in my window has spread its petals, and

Aargh. The television is on, and Oprah's spewing things about love and marriage and similar TV schieße, and there's a woman talking about how her fiancé told her he didn't want to marry her anymore. Very sad indeed, but here's the part that bugs me: she then told us about how she began to see suicide as a "viable" option. Anyone else feel a bit conflicted in regard to that word choice?

And then just now there was an ad for Italian arias from classic opera. I heard some Verdi, some Mozart, some Bizet. The winning words brought to you by Brand X Advertising Agency: "You may not understand the words, but you'll hear and see the magical images painted by these sounds."

Oy. I'm going to bed :)

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April 2, 2001

Today was, in some ways, a day to challenge my reserves.

My CS exam this morning didn't go very well at all; I studied the wrong things and felt that I forgot everything upon walking into the exam. It was disappointing given how well-prepared I'd felt a few days earlier.

I left the exam, and checked my campus mail, to find a letter from the computer science department. I've been deferred. Another year of waiting in limbo awaits. Evidently CS22 is required for acceptance, which I didn't know or I would have taken it earlier. So now I have to wait to take it before they'll decide whether or not to take me.

It's not as bad as it could be; they did reject some people outright, and I wasn't one of them. But after conversations this afternoon with two CS profs, this evening with my mother, and various times with a few friends, the only thing I can really bring myself to feel is deep disappointment and intense weariness.

They say that continued, unrelenting stress will make you old faster than anything else. I don't know whether it's true or not, but I can certainly say that having the outcome of the CS decision hanging over my head for two months has been a large stressor indeed. I don't know how I'll deal with another 14 months, given that I won't know if I've been accepted until the end of next spring.

I've been trying to keep a good attitude about it. I got the weird fortune again: "Because of your melodic nature, the moonlight never misses an appointment." Mom sent me this:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-- Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese"

I have reminded myself of a quilt we have at Reachout. It has one of our long-standing symbols on it. It's fabric-painted, a Chinese character with English translation.

In Chinese, the character for "crisis" is comprised of two other characters: "danger" and "opportunity". There's more to the story than that, but I can't remember it right now.

Anyway, I'm trying to see the silver lining. And hey, today wasn't so bad. I helped some people I care about with small things that made their lives a little better. I got back into touch with an old friend who saw me walking and sensed that something was wrong but wasn't sure. I hung out with my roommate, and took the time to ignore work for a little while.

If you're the religious type, I ask your thoughts and prayers for me today. Even if you're not, I would ask that you hold in your thoughts the people in my class who got the check in the rejection box on their CS letters today. What they're going through must make my own situation look small in comparison. Think of them, please.

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April 1, 2001

It's been a long day, but mostly a good one. B minor went well tonight, and there's a movement in it that's a new favorite: No. 17, Et in spiritum sanctum. Evan Gregory did the solo, and it's backed by continuo and twining oboes d'amore. Godlike. I wanted to kiss Bach, even though he does make my voice hurt.

We decided that for April Fool's, the piece ought to have been introduced as having been written by "Just Sexy Bach", with that last pronounced "bee-atch". Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to tell John (Alston, our conductor), so the piece went on as planned, penned by the dignified J.S. Bach.

This performance was dedicated to Judy Lord, the music department secretary.

Susie is returned from France, and my family is returned to the North. Good to see them, though sad that time was so short. A whirlwind tour of the campus, and the weekend's over.

More things I wanted to write about, but there's a CS exam tomorrow morning and I must study a bit more. Cheers.

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