Friday, December 31, 2004

What the Duckling?

Allright, I realize that by now the top 5 thing seems pretty pathetic, but I, too, have been beating the dead horse of top 5 (see also kevin and myles) huh. Well, what'm I to do in a world that seems bent on track replay? For those of lesser fidelity....

Top 5 Best Breakup Songs
Honorable mention: Wishful Thinking by Wilco.
5. The Middle -- Jimmy Eat World. Cheese? maybe not.

4. Nothing Better -- Postal Service. Maybe this list is also a timeline of dealing with this loss. I don't feel this way so much anymore.

3. Time Will Do the Talking -- Patty Griffin. Kevin, I think I must agree with your high view of this album, but I really don't think I should wake up to it anymore, it gets kinda depressing. But it sure is nice to feel okay about not being okay. "Time will do the talking/years will do the walking/I'll just find a comfy spot and wait it out/Time will do the talking/years will do the walking/Time will tell you baby what you can't hear now"

2.5. Moses -- Patty Griffin again. I now cherish the woman's entire catalogue.

2. Song for the Dumped -- Ben Folds. Anger, a necessary evil at times, and he, too, likes to take it out on his piano. Thankfully, I have no missing articles of clothing.

1. I Still Miss Someone -- Johnny Cash. Well... if it hadn't hurt him, we just wouldn't think old Johnny was human now, would we?

Top 5 Beers because it seems I must and because that's about how many I've had this year and I don't care if it sounds girly so there
5. Sam Adams -- coffee shop/bar w/good company when things were nice (rated 5th for company not for beer; beer is ... um, third)

4. Rolling Rock Light -- w/amy on the couch watching csi (so this one's actually 5th)

3. Strawberry Blonde Ale -- didn't think I was going to like fruity but I was wrong (4th)

2. Shiner Bock -- it's from Texas, y'all (this one's just where it should be)

1. Blue Moon w/orange -- with the Bobs: Bobbie and Robert on their too short visit to Tatown

Top 5 Things I've Learned from Blogging
5. I have needed more reasons to stay up later than my cat, who usually falls asleep right on the keyboard.

4. Post a deeply traumatic experience, and friends will read, not comment, and pray for my soul.

3. Post that I am in fact a powerful yet conniving philanderer and they will comment in droves. Not only that, but they will eagerly offer up the name of the awful person that their slowly-cracking psyche resembles as well.

2. No matter how much it is purged into the written word, pain remains a solitary struggle.

1. I am deeply thankful for my friends who are close in proximity and for those who are close via Webster's newest addition, the blog.

Top 5 Comments from This Blog
(at the risk of being a naval-gazer)
5. cade on his personality test: "5 investigator. ya know as i was taking this thing i just kept thinking, "what a crocka shit"then i finished it and read it and the thought sort of materialized before me and then i was quite sure that like, yeah dude, sweet."

4. myles on my anger quote: "can i use that as a line in a song? it's up there with the line i thought of today: 'i feel as useless as a kneecap in an elbow factory.'" i can't wait to hear that song, myles.

3. natalie correcting my emotional, well-meaning, yet dead-wrong diagnosis of her husband Jeremy: "ok so, he has MS that would be Multiple Sclerosis. That is kind of different from MD mostly Jerry doesn't overwhelm a whole TV channel for us MSers each year." oh the embarrassment. please make it stop.

2. sean on the barbie saga: "Just tilt back your head, open your mouth, and laugh loudly and laugh obnoxiously. Like I am doing." thanks for just laughing, sean.

1. natalie on dying to pain: "when I was a little girl we had a dog. My ma and pa would have my sister and I shovel the dog crap into this one place in the backyard. Over the years that dog shit alot and the place in the back of the yard was full of dog shit. Now looking back I don't know why we just didn't throw the shit out with the trash. Anyway at least it was away from everywhere. I wish that I could find a place to put the shit that can sometimes start to take over my life. Hang in there pretty, maybe we can find a place to put our shit. If not out with the trash at least we could help each other put it toward the back of the yard." when reading this blog outloud to the younger generations, please insert "bleep" at the vocal pitch of your choosing whenever you see the word trash.

Top 5 Books I Have Yet to Read
5. Moby Dick, Herman Melville. I have similar feelings about reading this book and joining the army: probably a really good idea, but I just don't see myself making it past Chapter 1.

4. Catch 22, Joseph Heller and/or Emmitt Smith. Being a fan of runon sentences but also of the Dallas Cowboys I just don't see how I could choose but then why would one really need to choose except that it just doesn't seem right to give each their separate number while the heller's been on my shelf for two maybe three years that was before the rhino invaded my closet...

3. The Grim Grotto: Book 11, Lemony Snicket. Because I just can't seem to finish Book 3. Unfortunately, the series has gotten very long.

2. How to Keep Your Feline From Swatting Packing Peanuts Down the Air Vent. Because the pile has almost made it back up to the vent grate.

1. Better Homes & Gardens Garden Encyclopedia. My tomato plants were my proof this fall of my neglect at multiple levels. Surely no one is serious when they speak of going back to the simpler life.

And there you have it. My Top 5 Top 5. Feel free to challenge me, reform me, help me, investigate me, bring peace to my life, or create your own individualistic lists, as the numbers have fated (or just drink alot of coffee while overeating). Happy new year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Eek!



Ok, this is where the "feeling shame when I am not perfect" kicks in.

Bill Clinton, really?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

And if that weren't enough....





Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas





For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.



Dum Du-Du Dum, Behold My Number

i always thought there was something special about me... i'm number 1!


You Are the Reformer

1

You're a responsible person - with a clear sense of right and wrong.

High standards are important to you, and you do everything to meet them.

You are your own worst critic, feeling ashamed if you're not perfect.

You have the highest integrity, and people expect you to be fair.



Saturday, December 18, 2004

Vera



Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your last minute shopping woes are over. Just in time for Christmas, we are proud to offer the Muu Muu Crucifix. Guaranteed to ward off all dirt devils and blood-sucking dust bunnies in your home. Protect your children today. Order now and we'll throw in the Blender-O-Redemption and dust your Muu Muu with Holy Cat Hair for free. Call now.



"That's just not funny."

Vera never made it to Judy's dinner party. They found her mutilated body in her living room the next morning.

"Who do you think it was, Pete?"

"A dust bunny. Those devils."

Don't make the same mistake Vera did. Call today.


Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why do I let anger lick my wounds and look up at me with big puppy-dog eyes?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Desperate Tunnel Drives

I've only seen the hit show once, back in the very beginning, three weeks ago. But I love Kidd Kraddick and Kelly Raspberry, and I guess Monday mornings are their regular time for the Desperate Housewives update. Kelly begins to explain in detail the plot and subplots of last night's episode. "Gabrielle was playing footsies with the gardener who is in high school... the mom of the high school gardener, with whom Gabrielle is having an affair, finds out about the affair and mistakenly thinks it's Susan... She confronts Susan by ripping her designer dress apart right before she's about to walk out onto the runway of the benefit fashion show..."

"Good lord!" I'm thinking. "How do people put up with this crap?"

"But then Susan decides that she's gonna weoiuo seiru er iudireu fsuiodr eirus ehs ...." I had just hit the tunnel on Central.

"This station's worse than AM radio! What do you mean you can't get it in the tunnel!" as I hit the gas to a break-neck 48 mph around the tunnel curve.

".... awwijj eriu df wer weriweuo to Gabrielle instead."

"Ah, crap."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Natalie


Me & Nat

"To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propoganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such a way that one's life would not make sense if God did not exist." --Emmanuel, Cardinal Suhard

My friend Natalie is a living mystery. She has a beautiful four-year-old daughter Anya who was born three months prematurely and is developmentally disabled. She breathed through a trach for a good part of three years and had her trach hole sewn up this past year. (Anya is really excited that this means she can swim more!) Natalie and her husband Jeremy still feed her through a feeding tube in her stomach. They have never heard their daughter speak to them. Within just a couple years of Anya's birth, Jeremy was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. A few months ago, Natalie and Jeremy had a miscarriage.

I have not told you these things to make you feel sorry for them. They wouldn't want you to. When we were deciding where to go for lunch yesterday, Natalie mentioned that the manager at the local Chipotle likes to give her free burritos. "Let's go there!" I said. "Nah. I don't like it when people give me stuff like that." But rarely have I met a friend with as much compassion as Natalie. (Except for yesterday when she didn't let me get a free burrito.) When I'm wrestling with pain, she feels it, too. She cries with me.

I like her. I like her alot. I like the jealousy with which she guards her regular dates with her "boyfriend" and the way her eyes light up when she talks about him. I like her perfect whip on a Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino Blended Beverage. I like the way she makes fun of me when I'm being anal. I like that she got out of bed at 10 pm thanksgiving weekend just to come play dominoes and meet my family (and that she plays a lousy game of dominoes). I like her fuzzy purple couch and her foil-covered dresser. I like that she draws me into her life. She lets me ask questions of her and get real answers. She's teaching me that pain doesn't make sense. But you can walk on.

I just like my friend Natalie. She is a living mystery, and I know of Christ's love a little bit better because of her.

(How 'bout that free burrito?)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Lester


Zere ees sohmting een zee way she cahrries hehrself. Hehr postyur--eet haunts my mind. Zee ten-shee-ahn ohv her elbows, zee shmi-uhl zat nevah leaves her leeps, her purfectly formed, feet. Ah, Zhudy, eef you only knew how much I long for your deeleeceeose . . .






eh-hem,






deveeled eggs.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

In the Digital Flesh

Allright. The recording is here. It's the audio clip under my profile. I think the file was too big for a normal post. You will hear two pianos, the solo piano (me) and the accompanist (my professor) as the orchestra. For the most part, the virtuosic part will be the solo piano.

Let me know what you think.

And now for your listening pleasure... Edward MacDowell's Piano Concerto in D Minor, Op. 23, I. Larghetto calmato.

(thanks, matt! check out matt's band)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Concertos and Apparitions

So today was the day. The finals of the concerto/aria competition. The performance was in a very resonant hall. In acoustic language, one would describe it as "wet." Playing in this hall is the equivalent of singing in the shower or a concrete stairwell. I love it. For those who might be wondering, a concerto (for an instrumentalist) and an aria (for a vocalist) each require soloist with orchestra. The winners (there will be 4-6) will get to perform their piece with the orchestra on a concert on February 10. It's a unique opportunity for musicians that are not yet or will not be professional recitalists. Kevin, it would be your first piano concert as a married man. Bring the Latonya. Myles, it would be a cool excuse to visit Ta-Town. Results will post Monday. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

The piano has been such a release for the past month. I've never experienced an intensity like this before musically. I have felt very vulnerable on stage. Today, I felt vulnerable. There's a change that occurs naturally in a performance versus a practice room. The fact that Franz Liszt began a fond tradition of pianists performing exclusively from memory might have something to do with it. And then there's the emotional baggage that I've brought to the bench for the past few weeks. Baggage that has better served me sculpting each run and trill than punching holes in my wall. MacDowell's masterpiece divided into 78 practice sections. Each of these sections rehearsed with uneven rhythms hands separately and together, accompanied with metronome from slow to fast, placing smaller sections into larger sections with metronome slow to fast. There was an unusual determination of discipline this time around. The daily drilling and slow practice brought a unique freedom to today's performance. There were moments when my fingers and wrists felt sluggish. Runs seemed to drag and the faster melodic section felt like it was in slow motion. I could have sworn that my tempos were lacking. But when I listened to the recording after, I couldn't believe I was listening to myself. Maybe part of that is a pat on my own back, but mostly it just surprised me to hear this strange person that is surviving for me, through me--a ghost caught in mid-apparition. She's wonderful. I hope she doesn't tell my secret.

Thanks, Nicole, for being my faithful audio scribe. I'll be sure to make you some yummy pumpkin muffins. And if anyone's interested, I can try to post the performance soon. Hmm. I'm not quite sure how to turn a minidisc recording into an mp3. Matt, could you help me with that?

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, guys. They mean alot.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A Death

"The Body can only walk with you so far. You're going to have to die by yourself."

I've been alternating between hovering over an open toilet seat and lying in bed wishing I could be hovering over an open toilet seat. It's not the flu. It's another type of death. A constricting of the chest, with multiple short breaths. Listlessness. The desire to sink into my sheets and never be heard from again. (the lie of a question: would i be missed?) Shaking involuntarily, though no more tears can come. Staring at my shoes on the floor but not remembering where they have been or what they are for. Dreams allure me and then vomit me back to my cold bed.

"Yes, he does like someone else."

And that's that. And that's that just like that. He let me glimpse pages from the diaries of queens and princesses. He talked of futures and "when I'm done with school..." He ushered me in to a four-star feast and then banished me to the alley after the first few bites.

"I had Mozart to keep me company. He's up here. And they can't get to it. It's hope, Red, and they can't touch that."

My hands are still and open. A calm numbness settles on my chest. So this is death. Lord, please let Sunday morning come. I am desparate for your resurrection. You alone are hope. You alone are beautiful. There is no one more majestic, mysterious. Peel my fingers from the earthly. Breathe life into me again. I believe that you remain good. I believe that you remain love. I believe that you are my protector and vindicator. Be near me. Lie beside me and hold my hand as I die to this.

"Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."


MacDowell's Adventure Under the Sea

this is an audio post - click to play


The exposition of MacDowell's Concerto in D Minor. The sound is awful. Sorry.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Is This Thing On?

this is an audio post - click to play

Ode to a Banana

With danger in your skin,
I do not think I can
like you,
though I can stand
I mean hang
your master, plastic
monkey in a barrel.


Saturday, November 13, 2004

Judy



"Ok, the guests are going to be here any minute. I've got Dixie plates and those little wienies... Oh damn! I know I've forgotten something..."




"Oh f$^%$!!! I left the deviled eggs at Darlene's!!!"

Thursday, November 11, 2004

November 11th

Beware when you want to confer with flesh and blood, i.e., your own sympathies, your own insight, anything that is not based on your personal relationship with God. These are the things that compete with and hinder obedience to God.

Abraham did not choose the sacrifice. Always guard against self-chosen service for God; self-sacrifice may be a disease. If God has made your cup sweet, drink it with grace; if He has made it bitter, drink it in communion with Him. If the providential order of God for you is a hard time of difficulty, go through with it, but never choose the scene of your martyrdom. God chose the crucible for Abraham, and Abraham made no demur; he went steadily through. If you are not living in touch with Him, it is easy to pass a crude verdict on God. You must go through the crucible before you have any right to pronounce a verdict, because in the crucible you learn to know God better. God is working for His highest ends until His purpose and man's purpose become one.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, November 11

Like a Lamb

I heard him. Tonight I heard him.

The last time I felt this kind of excruciating pain, the kind that stops your breath, I didn't treat it cautiously. In the moments that really sank deep and twisted, I tried to wriggle from under the blade. I found anger. And I didn't let go of it. I remember hiding in the closet in my dorm room to cry so that my suitemates wouldn't hear me. I wasn't really allowed to be upset anymore after the "appropriate" mourning period was over, and that made me angrier. There would be many more moments--moments of decision. I would have to choose at each one whether I was going to grow more angry or more vulnerable.

Tonight, I felt the pain again. New antagonist, same old plot. And it really hurt. I thought I was doing allright. I've been practicing hours each day. I made it to the finals of the competition I've been preparing for. I'm trying new recipes and deepening relationships with my extended family. Why aren't they enough? Why do they just feel like pretense? Why has walking through a day of my life become a movie screenplay?

"What do I do with this? God, do you know what it's like down here?! What do you know of gut-wrenching rejection?!" I screamed at him.

And then I heard him. It was immediate and intimate.

I was despised and rejected by men. Nothing in my appearance caused men to desire me.

It wasn't trite this time. It wasn't just a passage I have had memorized since Mr. Baker's eighth grade Bible class. It took me straight to the Storybook.

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of
the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

He does not lecture me and say that I have no right to feel rejected and vulnerable compared to what he has been through. Instead, he whispers to me that I can still trust him with my heart because he knows the course of this pain. And that he will be there in the moments of choice. And that there is hope still that I will continue to choose to be like a lamb, free of regret and bitterness, but dead all the same.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Speaking of Cheese,

Cheese has quite a history. I don't know what it is, but I'm sure it's long and important and has something to do with a cow and curdles and somebody with a lot of time and girly cow germs on their hands.

I haven't always liked cheese. I remember one wasted childhood afternoon of trying to force myself to like cheese. I ripped up enough American singles to make a stack that went from the kitchen table to my chin and tried to down them all. I don't think that is a sane approach at trying to like anything. I mean, just try doing that with Michelin tires. It would be eight years before I gave cheese another chance, and he pulled through with flying colors. Cheese is my kind of man.

Last night, I began to soliloquize in my head about the glories of cheese... There are so many different kinds of cheese. There are so many people that like cheese. Maybe people are like cheese. Hmm... Stinky? French and weird? Stringy? Green? Is there a hidden moral in slicing off the fuzzy parts of a sharp cheddar that's been at the back of the refrigerator drawer too long? I should treat my fellow man better because of the blessing of cheese in my life. If cheese can sacrifice its aspirations of being butter or chocolate milk, I can certainly summon a smile for that stranger in the dairy aisle.

So give cheese a chance. And next time you're scared of saying hi to your Aunt Rosie because of her bad breath, just picture a big slab of provolone.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Phil


Posted by Hello
"Another party at Judy's... ach!" screamed Phil. "As if I didn't already do enough pandering to those latte-sippin, pandering (did I already soliloquize 'pandering'?) bush-u-sites. And all I have to wear is my high-chroma tuxedo! The low-chroma's at the cleaners! Damn!"


Posted by Hello
"Don't hate me because I'm still beautiful in high chroma. Hate me because my eyes are painted on, and I never blink! Never!"

Friday, November 05, 2004

Rover

Rhys is my first student on Wednesdays. This semester, he has decided to hide from me when I arrive at 3:15. The room we have lessons in doubles as a teacher lounge, so I have found him behind the couch, behind and underneath the piano, beside the heart-shaped candelabra, under extra desks, and inside the doghouse that belongs to the stuffed fourth grade mascot.

This week, I decided to show up early to thwart his plans of invisibility. I parked on the other side of the building, entered through the exit, and clung to the wall of the stairwell on my way upstairs. And there he was, standing in the middle of the stairs talking to his friend. His eyes were wide, and he froze mid-sentence. The look of sheer terror on his face made me laugh out loud. His friend stood confused as Rhys bolted upstairs to the lounge. I was seconds behind him, racing him to the door.

When I entered, I found Rhys scrambling to reach the back of the doghouse. His rear end was sticking out of the entrance beneath "ROVER" in big red letters.

Next week, I'm scaling the lower school building.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Marvel of the Superhero

I collected Marvel Comic Cards in 1990 and 1991. It's a trademark of mine. I'm quite proud of my two binders full of X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and, of course, Spiderman. There are only nine cards per vinyl page to ensure easy access to the back of each card--the best part. It was here that I learned that Quicksilver's strength is in his stamina, that Rogue's durability is one of the highest in the Marvel world, and that Phoenix is actually the daughter of Marvel Girl and Cyclops that has traveled back in time to save the universe.

Marvel comics alone has spawned some of the biggest blockbusters in the past couple of years: Spiderman and its sequel, Daredevil, The Hulk, and the X-Men movies. Why am I so fascinated with Daredevil's ability to taste something and list every ingredient? Why will I pay $7 to see a man dress up like a flying rodent? Why do I envy a masked fame? A fame of anonymity?

Today I wanted to be Rogue. I wanted to remove my gloves and place my hands on the person next to me--to have their life for a day (minus the killing-them-in-the-process). I wanted to be able to play the Liszt Concerto in E-flat Major like Andrew did in masterclass. I wanted to be able to smile at a boy like Anna did in the hall. I wanted to be my fifteen-year-old student on their way home in their mom's SUV. I wanted to be anyone but me for just a minute or two.

Can they can do what I cannot? Does Rogue have it better than I?

I am not a superhero. I am me. And for today, that has to be okay.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Waiting ... and waiting... and...

I don't know what the hell is going on. I can sense fear growing in me. I want to sit still and hope I am unseen, unharmed. I want to remain in Cockaigne.

The desire to be with him is stronger when it's not possible, and that doesn't seem to roll off the tongue unselfishly. Part of me asks for God's will in an attempt to trick him into giving me my will. Praying becomes penance in order to receive what I really want, which is to continue knowing this boy--to continue being enjoyed by him. I try to couple God's omniscience with my feeble attempts at divine manipulation.

I know enough about you now, God, to know you love me. You love me. You desire the very best for my life. So I give you these thoughts to close your fingers around and to show to me again when it's time to feel or time to toss them behind you. Where does the vulnerability boundary lie? Is it okay to leave myself open to hurt? Is pain really the demon that he's been made out to be?

I want to conquer my fear of grieving, my fear of pain. A dear friend assured me, "If it didn't cause pain, it wouldn't have been worth anything." It was worth something. It was worth a lot, and I refuse to pretend differently to save my ego, even if the hope I cling to proves to be air.

"That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." --Ecclesiastes 3:13-14