Find the archive of past entries at archive.htm. Today's entry is at daily.htm.
|Wednesday October 31, 2001 Books and food|
My piano lesson today was deeply, deeply mediocre. And yet I had a good day.
Went to the Co-op in the ville and replenished my supply of homey cooking things--potatoes, onions, garlic. Made a few quick things for Halloween. Oh! I bought books today! David Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, which I've been meaning to read forever, and Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential, about which I have heard great things.
I am so totally looking forward to the weekend, when it is to be hoped that I will get some sleep.
|Tuesday October 30, 2001 Migraines|
There are days when you want the world to swallow you alive, to envelop you and not let you out, to take you and pick you up and carry you. I'm not sure whether today was one of those days.
I was a little bit saddened today to find that the temporary sidewalk to Cornell has hardened sufficiently that it no longer shifts under you in the enjoyable way. I liked that sidewalk.
But, on the other hand, today I had not one but two naps, the first in the morning after computer science, when I simply couldn't keep my eyes open (I went to Cordwainer and snoozed in a comfy chair for 11 minutes), the second in my bed (on my bed?). I came home early from campus, skipping ballet because of a migraine. That enjoyable light-sensitivity that comes with migraines was there, and my balance was entirely shot. So I begged off dancing, and came here. I later found that both Eileen and DavidJ had skipped it as well--hee. So I slept for about 40 minutes this afternoon, and it was yummy.
I need to find some sort of floor covering and/or soft chair object for my floor at some point. I will keep an eye out.
|Saturday October 27, 2001 DEBall and Recital|
A really quick one because of exhaustion.
Delaware Ball happened, and it was good. People enjoyed us. Cecily danced her Sailor's Hornpipe, and they approved. Saw many friends including J&E, J&K, D&M, Kimberly, Natalie, and others. My parents and grandparents came for a little while to see what it was all about. Cool.
The recital... was good. People liked it a lot, I'm told--especially Blue Bonnets and the Quebecois song. People actually came, including Gerry Levinson, who loved it!
And I just got home from DEBall which started for us at 5:30 and finished at 1:15. Sleep!
|Thursday October 25, 2001 Sleep wins|
My journal entries have grown terribly short lately, alas.
But I'm exhausted and swamped this week. Philosophy paper I didn't know about at the beginning of the week is now written.
And sleep is its own imperative.
|Wednesday October 24, 2001 Brahms writing|
And time goes by...
And with it, my Brahms program notes are written (if not yet critiqued), my recital program is written, my posters are in print, and I've even found a little time to practice. CS22 midterm tomorrow--hope it'll be okay.
Sent out mass email today telling people to show up at my recital--Saturday at 2 pm in Lang. Be there, or be a duck!
|Monday October 22, 2001 Working late late|
It's now 3:15 in the morning and I've been working for wayyyyy too long. People were stupid today, the music department is occasionally dumb but it will work out and I played bagpipes today in the Crum and with Susie in Lang.
I was bad at ukemi in karate class tonight, but I only think I'm bad because I'm getting better, I guess. Frustrating!
"and miles to go before I sleep"... so onward to further Brahms analysis, with raw cashews to assist.
|Saturday October 20, 2001 WTC and back to Swat|
And now I'm back in Swarthmore, and it's late at night, because I have talked with people and not gotten enough work done.
I sat next to a really cute baby on the plane, though--Christine was her name. She was 22 months old, and very well-behaved. Dad was flying with her, and Mom stayed home. Dad's mother lives in Tampa, and was dying, and he wanted grandma to see Christine again. So I sat with them and we talked and Christine and I made faces at each other and bounced with excitement at the takeoffs and landings. She squeaked in the happy baby kind of way--how old are they when they shift entirely to talking and don't squeak anymore?
Met Eileen and her parents in NYC, and wandered down to the centers formerly known as World Trade. It was... something. Maybe I'll write about it sometime. Then we went to Philly, and it was good. In their bright yellow rental mini-SUV.
Watched Beauty and the Beast with friends tonight to prove it was still break.
|Friday October 19, 2001 Hanging out|
Today I hung out at Reachout, answered phones, and made corn chowder for lunch with Terry and Elena. Elena's just home from Ithaca, her first semester there, and seems to be having a great time. Later I went to Ames and bought a knitting stitch holder--it looks sort of like a big safety pin, but not quite.
And with the stitch holder, I will work a resurrection--of my knitting, which has been stagnating in a pool of ugly scarf made from ugly blue acrylic. I can't bring myself to unravel it or cut it off entirely, so I will stick it in a drawer on a stitch holder, and have my needles to do other work. It will be good.
I remembered why I don't usually drink Coca-Cola today, when I drank one. In a lot of ways, cola choice seems dominated by upbringing, and I'm no exception; we drank Pepsi more than Coke, when I was younger. But I was thinking about it today, and the one thing I really never liked about Coke was the way it made my teeth feel. If you don't understand, grab yourself a can of Coke, drink it, and then absentmindedly grate your teeth across each other. The nastiness that ensues is why I'm not a big Coke fan. Things that cause unpleasant frictiony grating in my mouth are not to be had.
And tomorrow I will fly back to Swarthmore, away from home and days of not really having to do much. Sure, I should have been doing work, but it didn't really matter. No more! Back to the grindstone. I will meet Eileen and her parents in New York (the city, not the state, silly), we will go and gawk awkwardly ("gawk awkwardly" is sort of concept-onomatopoeic, isn't it) at the site where the World Trade Center Towers aren't, we will take a ferry across the river to New Jersey, pick up their car, and drive back to Swarthmore.
And in that time, I will get to take off and land. They're the parts of flying that are worth your attention--the rest of it's just like a train, only louder and with less space for your feet. But the beginnings and endings... so good. Taking off in French is décollage, (not to be confused with décolletage, which is a rather different thing altogether) which literally means "unglueing" or "unsticking". So good.
And I'll see you tomorrow.
|Thursday October 18, 2001 Hiking and perfect stars|
Went out with Shye to Strawberry Fields to chat, where we endured frightening lyrics from the singer on stage, insufficiently hot coffee that had too little hazelnut syrup (hers) and coffee (mine), and frightening attendants, and still had a fun time. We went to her house afterwards because the Fields closes at nine (yes, nine pm, Potsdam night life consists of almost nothing at all if you're not interested in going to a bar), and we played with George, her (female) cat, and talked. Fun fun.
Dad and I went hiking in Stone Valley today. It was wonderful and beautiful. I love water so much. If things go according to plan, you'll see something of the pictures soonish.
Tonight, the stars were perfect, and I needn't say more.
|Wednesday October 17, 2001 Fun dorkage|
If you wanted further evidence of the fact that going to Swarthmore renders you dorky as anyone, check this out. My dad sent me an email joke that's been making the rounds:
If you bought $1000 worth of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49. If you bought $1,000 worth of Budweiser (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, and traded in the cans for the nickel deposit, you would have $79. It is therefore financially prudent in these troubled times to drink heavily and recycle.
At which I laughed rather a lot. But, true to Swattie form, I then thought about it for a while, and sent this back:
I thought about the joke a little bit, and ended up being sort of
disappointed, because I don't think it's true.
Yes, I'm a dork. But it's all good, really. I got a haircut and am cute again, so it's fine.
And bad, unfair things happened to my friend, which stinks. Grar. However, life will go on somehow, and it will be okay.
There was a cardinal outside today, in the rain. Tomorrow, if it's not raining, Dad and I will go hiking in Stone Valley, and it will be most excellent.
|Tuesday October 16, 2001 Contact|
Fusilli corti with onion sauce for lunch today. Kielbasa jambalaya for dinner.
We watched Contact, which is still one of my favorite movies, despite being two and a half hours long, having terribly poor computer graphics, and showing rather limp acting at times. I. love. that. story. I went upstairs and looked at the book on my shelf for a while after the movie ended. Book is, in some ways, better here, but the film does a better job of focusing on the issue of God.
|Monday October 15, 2001 Tassajara!|
Today I made bread. Good, thick, hearty, Zen bread, with a crust to it and a healthier crumb than you can shake a stick at. Whole wheat bread, with brown sugar. Takes forever and a half when you make it by the Tassajara method, as I was inspired to do.
But there's a value to doing things slowly sometimes, and to checking in on your bread sponge every little while, and to taking pains to make it comfortable: put it in a warm but not hot oven to rise, oil the bowl so it doesn't stick, etc. Take care of your bread, and it will be happy.
And it was happy. It puffed up up up up to the sky when I put it in the oven. I'd been kneading it a while before, and it reached that marvelous point when it doesn't stick anymore, and becomes elastic under your fingers. Magic!
Later I helped my dad connect the turntable to his computer, and we've been listening to Paul Simon and Gordon Lightfoot on vinyl. Vinyl. Records that are older than I am, my mother says, and she's probably right about at least one of them. Wow. And some day I will have kids or students or friends or whatnot who look at my old CDs and say, reverently, "wow. plastic." and are careful not to scratch them.
|Sunday October 14, 2001 Frogs in the pond|
Today, in the carefully tended ponds at my grandfather's house, there were frogs. Two of them that I saw, more according to his estimate. They were sitting in the pond, just being frogs, on a beautiful clear day in the mountains. Lots and lots of leaves on the trees, in all the classic Adirondack fall colors.
Sunlight flickered as the surface of Upper Chateaugay Lake reflected it. There was a hefty bit of wind for a while, with lots of whitecaps, but near the end of the afternoon things had calmed, and the water rippled in that magic sunset way.
We came home and dad made hot cheese soup, which was really good. Nothing like a nice hearty soup on a sort of grey day to raise your spirits and your core temperature.
There are unspeakable virtues to Mandarin Orange Spice tea, and you may not find out about some of them until weeks later.
|Saturday October 13, 2001 part IIHome and thinking|
It's later. I have cooked dinner, and it was nice! Fusilli with a homemade sauce whose recipe I will try to share at some point. Onions and peppers and garlic, with wine, olives, capers, tomatoes, carrots, and things. Yum!
Rabi talks in her journal today about people dying on airplanes, and in context says "I'm under no illusions about my mortality, and I fully expect that no matter how long I live I will be not so thrilled about dying, but there's something about the suddenness and magnitude of death by airplane that worries me. the funny thing is, it's not so much my nonexistence that I'm afraid of as everyone else's continued existence without me. what would I become in my own inexcused absence?"
The thing that's always sort of gotten under my skin that way is related but slightly different. It's not so much how people near me would relate to my dying, because fundamentally, I know how people react to losing others. You grieve, you get over it, and you move on. Different people take radically different amounts of time to do this, but the path is basically the same.
What happens, though, with the people who don't see me often, or never met me and only know me through the internet? I know a few of you read me because you found me from Rabi's site; there are people I used to play on MUDs with, etc.
The disturbing thing about them is that there's no way to get in touch with all of them if you're not me. None of their contact information is recorded anywhere save my head. So, for them, my death would mean nothing, because it would be indistinguishable from prolonged silence, network connection issues, anger, or whatever. Mostly, though, they wouldn't get to know.
Something about that kind of worries me. Not too much, though.
And there were chipmunks outside, and they said hello to me in their chipmunk way, which is to say they ignored me almost completely. Chipmunks and cats are very similar in this way.
Mom made potato pancakes this afternoon, after I slept in late late late. It was really good. Dad ran a workday down at church, which was very effective, he says. We watched a tape of the West Wing's "Isaac and Ishmael" episode this evening, and the season premier. I love that show.
Scampi has begun to accept me again, and for her sake I have not played the bagpipes yet.
|Saturday October 13, 2001 Homeward bound|
This afternoon I sat on the floor of my living room at home and looked out the big bay window that faces west. The term symphony of color keeps coming to mind.
Filling the windowsill are a number of pink and red geraniums in window boxes. They're bright and cheery. Small petals in varied colors. Through the window, yellowed leaves of apple and birch trees show up, still on their branches. They've grown browned and tired from living a long time, but they're still up. Behind all of it, the characteristic North Country autumn sky--bright, grey, and cloudy. Every once in a while some blue will peek out from behind a cloud. Sunlight comes through, somehow, and it shone through the window onto me, sitting in my red pants on a dusty rose carpet in front of a light blue couch, framed by the cherry wood paneling and windowsill.
Yesterday, I came home. I hopped onto SEPTA R3 at 8:13 am, got onto SEPTA R7 at 30th Street Station in Philly. Made the exchange from SEPTA R7 to NJTransit in Trenton. Rode to NY Penn Station on NJTransit, and went to Jamaica NY on Long Island Railroad. When I got to Jamaica, I planned to take the jetBlue shuttlebus to JFK airport, but I found that the shuttle had been cancelled indefinitely, as of some while ago. I freaked out a little bit, collected myself, and found another shuttle that would take me to the airport.
Security was, apparently, the word of the day, and I found myself profoundly unsettled. I first noticed it in Penn Station, when I saw a lot of Navy Seamen in uniform standing around watching things. I figured it could have just been troop movements or something, so I didn't care too much.
Then I got to JFK. For the first time in my life, I failed a security checkthrough. They sent me back, because I was carrying illegal contraband. I thought they meant my bagpipes, but no, what concerned them were my nail file and fingernail clippers. I had packed them, thinking myself to be in the clear, as jetBlue's security guidelines clearly allow them. I was, however, wrong, and was faced with the options of having them confiscated or checking them in my suitcase. I ended up doing the second thing, which worried me because my bagpipes were in the same bag. It seems that nothing happened to the pipes, though a book that was in my suitcase got damaged by rough treatment.
So, I've failed a security checkthrough. I went back, checked my suitcase, and this time passed security. Inside the jetBlue terminal, I saw seven or eight Army Rangers, all in battle gear, holding loaded assault rifles. I don't really know why this unsettled me so much; perhaps it's because I don't like the idea of living in a police state? I sat and watched them for a long time while waiting for my flight. Cocky, and eminently sure of themselves, and I wondered what possible good could come of having them there. Sure, they frighten random passengers like me, but if I had been a terrorist, come into the airport with the intention of hijacking a plane and crashing it into something, would the prospect of an earlier death really frighten me? Would I be stupid enough to try something that would alert them to my presence before boarding the plane?
The security people did not care about the wide variety of metal pens and pencils contained in my backpack, nor did they squawk about the flute in there, which has a long metal pin on the end. Any of them could be used quite effectively to kill or injure someone. So why the military presence in the airport? They didn't get on the plane, so I admit to being quite confused about their purpose. Is it just so we can all indulge in the shared hallucination that we've Done Something About Terrorism, so now events like those of September 11th can no longer occur? Confusion reigns.
My parents were standing outside as I landed at Syracuse, and I saw them as we were still taxiing. I didn't see it, but they tell me that there were two F-14s with wingtip missiles circling around the airport while they were there. Somebody, maybe the Onion, commented that Americans are asked to give up their civil liberties to protect their civil liberties. I don't know what I think.
But I'm home, and I slept a lot today, and I'm cooking dinner tonight, and it's wonderful and good and my parents gave me Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones on CD and I'm listening to it constantly and YAY!
Calvin might say "The days are just packed."
|Wednesday October 10, 2001 Hufflepuff|
I can't think of anything better for you today than to go to the Harry Potter Sorting Hat. I'm a Hufflepuff, evidently. What are you?
|Tuesday October 9, 2001 Descartes irritates me some more|
Seminar finished early tonight, because an astronomy open house left hundreds of people tromping through the middle of our classroom. We decided they had made it impossible for us to do anything of value; our professor cancelled the rest of class, we left. I went to folkdance, walked in the door, and was told to sit at the piano.
Normally I can't go to Tuesday folk dance, because of seminar. Apparently all the normal class musicians were in Delaware tonight at the Tannahill Weavers concert. So there was no music until I got there.
Let me tell you, I'm not a good enough pianist yet that I feel really comfortable sitting in front of a room of dancers and being the only music, on an instrument that is still mostly foreign to me. But I did it, and it was okay.
I want so much to like Descartes, and yet I find him infuriating. Perhaps this means that the critical reading skill I wanted so much to develop has come into play. Honestly, though, the man's logic seems more circular than a yin-yang. "But from the fact that I cannot think of God except as existing, it follows that existence is inseparable from God, and that for this reason he really exists."
So what that really says is this: "Because I cannot think of X without Y, it follows that Y is inseparable from X, and that for this reason Y is true." This doesn't hold water to me. If the act of being unable to imagine something were all that was required to prove things--how much easier would my math classes have been?"
There are other gripes about him, too, but this one is central--most of his "proofs" tend to be based on assumptions that he doesn't justify. For example, he states that one cannot imagine things that do not exist. Something must place the idea in his head, so that, in essence, he is not imagining but rather unconsciously remembering. I don't buy it. I can imagine the world without my existence. Does that mean that I do not, in fact, exist, since I cannot think of things that are not true? And yet, I can also think about imagining the world without my existence, and so I exist--I think, therefore I am.
And the lovely circle goes on. You can prove all sorts of interesting things when nobody checks your premises.
|Monday October 8, 2001 Bunkai and philosophy frustration|
This afternoon I came up with a bunkai for uechi ryu circle blocks, and was pleased. Use them on lapel grabs--it's fun!
I am officially now frustrated with philosophy. I don't feel like my professor is interested in trying to figure out what I'm saying in class, and instead pokes holes in my reasoning when I haven't actually said what she claims. It's infuriating to be rendered effectively inarticulate by people who don't listen to what you're saying. Put slightly differently, there's no difference between the subtlety of a scalpel and the brute force of a chainsaw when the only thing people perceive is the fact that there could be a threat.
And despite all that, and my lack of getting useful work done, it's been a good day. Yay!
|Sunday October 7, 2001 Honesty|
In the intervening time, I've played a ball for Germantown Country Dancers, cooked spaghetti sauce from scratch, set up the music and dancing for my recital, and done a host of other things.
I've climbed a roof to look at the moon, fallen off due to the condition of the skin on my feet, and lain on my back, looking at the stars.
Kimberly asked me why I'd been silent for so long, and, tired of my own inner dishonest, I confessed myself to her. Which was somewhat painful, in a tiring rather than biting sense. I'd long since figured out the things I articulated, but sometimes it's painful to air them. It will be all good, though.
Another friend had a bad day, and I got to make a referral for her--the Covenant House nineline (1-800-999-9999). It's free, confidential, and open at all hours. We make referrals to it for callers who are out of our area. It pleased me to be able to tell my friend something useful when she asked me for the number of a hotline.
I sort of ranted this evening about the Scottish dance community, and how annoying a lot of its members can be. It was a sad thing to do. I like a lot of them, and many of them drive me up the wall and seem unable to focus on what's reasonable or appropriate. Oh well.
And, in the end, we're at war, and people are dying, and it kind of puts all the rest of this in perspective.
|Friday October 5, 2001 Dactyl Hunt|
The Pterodactyl Hunt was tonight. I was the Black Knight for Abby Friedman. It was good.
I am, however, exhausted. Spent four hours chatting with Sensei Herndon after class today, which was really good. Then off to beating people with swords. Yay!
|Thursday October 4, 2001 Pants returned|
There are days when the world at large doesn't want you to be happy. This was one of them, for a while. And it's on days like these that friends are most important.
Sharon Friedler, directrix of the Dance Department, will try to take away folkdance's studio space. Slippery slope or no, this is a problem. It will try to take over my life. I hope not to let it.
Dave's girlfriend, Liz, is here--he left Mixed Company rehearsal early to pick her up at the train. And boy, was there fallout. I was there for it. People were irritated, and I resisted pointing out that we didn't get much done anyway, and that we did leave early.
The thing was, I sort of felt abused by the interaction for the whole two hours of rehearsal afterwards. I represent a small portion of Mixed Company--possibly only myself--that believes Mixed Company is not the most important thing on the face of the planet. As I articulated it to someone this evening, I don't have much difficulty in choosing between a MoCo rehearsal and a chance to a significant other who's from out of town, is shortly going abroad for the rest of the semester, and will be here only for the weekend. It's not a hard choice for me, and I say "Go see her! Say hello for us!"
And tonight I just couldn't take any more complaining about it, so I just said that I needed to go into the hallway if there was going to be any more, because I couldn't deal with it. Probably not the best statement I could have made. Alas. I was just sitting there feeling like Martin Niemoller, and needed to not be silent.
After rehearsal, I sat and played through "Blue Bonnets" a few times, in its best slow meditative groove. Just for myself. Walking home later, I found Joy and Dave Mister, who asked what I had been playing. I explained, and they said perfect things: Joy, that it always made her cry, and Dave, that it always made him happy. I can't think of a more apt description of the way that tune works.
I got my pants back. Yes, the red ones. Apparently Carleta's angry with me because I didn't respond to her quickly enough. I'm sorry that the only times I've been available to call this week were after midnight, and that I didn't think that an appropriate time to call. Oh well.
But I had a good conversation that helped me a lot, and while I didn't get much work done, I'm a far happier person than I was an hour ago, and that really has to count for something.
|Wednesday October 3, 2001 GCD playing and chipmunks|
Another chipmunk sighting today. One walked along the path with me for a little while before breaking off and running under some flowers.
Tonight I played for the Germantown Country Dancers class in Merion, PA. It was fun, and I got $20 for playing with Kathy Talvitie and Susie. Kathy's the wife of Bob Pasquarello, and is a fantastic pianist. She's nifty.
Terrible, terrible performance in my lesson today. Gar. Bad piano Hollis.
I have nothing particularly earth-shattering to share with you tonight, so I'll just suggest that you stretch, and go to bed.
|Tuesday October 2, 2001 Paul Simon and chipmunks|
I figured out in the middle of 19th century music today that one of the reasons for chambering roundhouse kicks the way we do is that they're indistinguishable from other kicks until after you've begun to unchamber them. Nifty!
I didn't go to CS22 this morning--thought I would hurt something if I saw another parenthesis just then. As it turns out, it was a good decision. The professor said, at the beginning of class, that people should leave if they already understood big-O (asymptotic) notation and complex numbers, which I do. So that was all right. Also no ballet on account of my silly foot, which hurts less but still too much.
Elizabeth brought over one of Ami's CDs of Paul Simon, and we listened. I must order Hearts and Bones soon. It's one of my favorite albums--we've got it on LP at home--and has wonderful music. Among my earlier memories of childhood are those of winter afternoons with Hearts and Bones playing on the stereo. For some reasons, those memories are the color of dark cherry paneling. I don't know if I've ever had a memory that was colored before, but this one seems to be. Everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance...
The chipmunks seem to be coming out for me, which warms my heart in a most important way. The other day, as we were walking home from dinner, one sprinted out and started drinking from a puddle in the sidewalk. It was a perfect moment. Today, one surprised me (I suspect I surprised it, as well!) while I walked back to ML. We sort of stood motionless for a moment--I stayed there longer than he. Determining that I posed no immediate threat, he went back to his chipmunkly business, and I watched. Time came to rip myself away, but it does me good to watch them, so I try.
I always love it when the animals come out to say hello when I'm walking home alone. They do, sometimes--the chipmunk this afternoon, a couple of bunnies this evening after rehearsal. This is a decent chunk of why I love Mary Lyons; it gives me my chance to be with nature on its terms. I love chipmunks. Freshman year, there were families of birds just outside my window, and I watched them. Little house-sparrows live in the bushes along the field house, and I see them too. Yay for life.
|Monday October 1, 2001 Kilt and silly foot|
I just spent eight hours beating down my CS22 homework. It's done now, and works perfectly. The thing that's unsatisfying about it is this: I don't know why it works now and didn't before. It just happened.
I hurt my foot at uechi ryu tonight, but I did really well with the drills. Learned lots of cool things from Mr. Barris. Hope I can walk tomorrow. But it was fun.
My kilt came today! It's gorgeous.