Tuesday, April 26, 2005

"There's a fish in the perculator!"

forbidden love

Ok, I don't know how many of you out there have watched Twin Peaks. I personally was too young to be able to appreciate it when it was on television in 1991. David Lynch is a genius, though. Twin Peaks was unique in its plotline (a precursor to the X-Files), using the mystery of a small-town high school girl's murder to develop its characters. If you are a fan, please sign the petition to release the second season on DVD. Pretty please?

"Now, that's a darn good cup of coffee!"

Allright, what it really breaks down to: I have been able to rent the first season at Blockbuster, but no one has the second season. NO ONE! I don't know what happens! I'm dying here! And don't go telling me either if you know! There are websites that could tell me, but I've been avoiding them. Sweet, Cooper, hang in there, buddy!

I don't promise anything special will happen to you, but I do promise to give you a hug if I'm ever close enough to.

Please sign here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Blue Slide

I watched an 87-year-old woman go down a slide last night. She'd been visiting her son and grandsons, who happen to be my piano students. In mid-Ode to Joy, Mark turns around to look out the large glass window into their backyard. "Grandma's going down the slide!"

Their jungle gym literally rivals the public one across the street. It has swings and a wiggling ramp and a rope climb, and of course--the glory of the playground--two slides. There's the smaller Yellow One that has one curve in it and no cover which, for those a little more timid, allows for hand-holding while sliding. But Grandma was climbing the stairs of the Blue One. The Blue One -- higher and covered and with at least two complete curves. There's no hand-holding on the Blue One.

"Can I be done?" I looked down to see Mark's eyes pleading with me. "Grandma's going down the slide!"

"Ok, but tell Michael it's his turn."

The picture through the window showed Mark running as fast as he could out to the playground to join his dad and his little brother Michael. Grandma disappeared behind the entrance to the slide. There were some encouraging cheers from her grandsons in the swings, and her son was standing at the bottom with his arms out wide. And they waited. And they waited. Then there they were--little grandma legs flailing after a few seconds of neopropylene thrills.

"A-ha-ha-ha!" my own laugh surprised me. It echoed against the living room ceiling and into the kitchen, and I realized I was the only one in the house. The laughs were involuntary, and as soon as I thought one was done, a new one bubbled up to the surface. Michael came running into the living room.

"Grandma just went down the slide!"

"I watched her," and I laughed.

Grandma came in later to plop down exhaustedly into the chair next to the piano. It took her five or six minutes to come back inside the house after the slide. "I've been wanting to do that all week!" she sighed, and her wrinkled old face spread into a wide ribbon of satisfaction.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

5k A-Ok

This morning, I ran my first 5K . . . 3.1 miles. I believe that's the furthest I've ever gone running toward something. I'm no Forrest Gump. The last half mile was inside the zoo--the last half mile. By that time, I didn't care all that much about the hyenas and hippos. Though, the elephants were still kinda cool. "Oh . . . pant . . . pant," I said to Katie, my running buddy, "there . . . ele . . . phants . . . "

The thing was, I didn't realize that the race continued inside the zoo. When we got close to the gates, I kicked it in. Once inside, I didn't see anybody stopping--bad sign. So I had to recover and keep up some kind of a pace just to stay with Katie. Katie's a good pace-setter. I wouldn't have done nearly as well without her. I mean, there is a lot of pride attached to doing something like that on your own, but there's a lot that gets pulled out of you when you're with someone else--especially someone else that's pretty well matched.

As Katie pulled ahead to pass runners in front of us, I would pull to the side and follow her around. It was just understood that we were staying together. As I stared past her back, it occurred to me that I need pacesetters in my life. I needed Katie to decide to pass the girls with walkmans in front of us (do they still make walkmans?), because if she hadn't, I wouldn't have. I had been telling myself that I was just trying to finish this thing. But there was a lot more in me than I thought. Because of Katie, I exceeded my own expectations today. I probably could have finished those 3.1 miles by myself. But it wouldn't have been in 31 minutes.

In a brief Boston marathon moment, we poured our dixie cups of water over our heads at the 1.5 mile mark, laughing. Just afterwards, we passed the park restrooms and saw a girl come sprinting out to rejoin the race. "She went to the bathroom, and she's still beating us," I panted to Katie.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Dumbbutt is my brother. He has been since he was eight--I was eighteen. Somehow the name "Dumbbutt" came to replace Dimitri's Christian name. It probably happened after pointing to his nose and saying "ear" after an hour-long session of learning what his bodyparts were in English. Our pastor walked up to meet Dima at lunch one day, "And what's your name?" My little brother grinned through his cute Russian accent, "I'm Dumbbutt!" My mother covered her eyes and groaned.

He's sixteen now, a sophomore in high school, and we still call him Dumbbutt. When I was home over spring break, he pulled the drawstring from his athletic shorts over his head and walked around our sister Tatiana's room dancing and singing "I love dan-cing . . . oh yes I do . . . I love dan-cing . . . na-na-na-na-na-na." Tat and I couldn't stop laughing, and I snapped a photo of him with my camera phone and titled it, you guessed it, "Dumbbutt."

This morning I decided to change the wallpaper on my phone--Ben Folds needed a rest. I grinned when I saw Dimitri's picture. "Menu . . . Photo gallery . . . Assign pic . . . Wallpaper . . ." I waited a few seconds and the phone replied: "Dumbbutt Activated."

Dumbbutt activated. Yes, indeed. Reminds you just a smidge of the Wonder Twins, too, doesn't it?

Monday, April 04, 2005

Happy Birthday, Sweet Friend

Sweet, sweet is the greeting of the eyes,
And sweet is the voice in its greeting,
When adieus have grown old and goodbyes
Fade away where old Time is retreating.

Warm the nerve of a welcoming hand,
And earnest a kiss on the brow,
When we meet over sea and o'er land
Where furrows are new to the plough.
--John Keats

This picture was taken two summers ago in Boston. I was in town for a chamber music festival, and Peter was kind enough to let me stay at his place and give me a lift to Brandeis University. We hadn't seen each other in ... one, two ... five years--not since our semester together in Austria. We had Indian food, and he let my friends and me into the old theater in Boston that he worked at. He was a ... oh dangit, Peter, I'm going to forget the proper term ... projectionist? Is that right? It's not projector... Hmm. I have come to expect to find Peter behind a camera of some sort, that's for sure. He studied film at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass, won a filmmaking award in Vermont for a short entitled Waiting for the Time Being, and is currently finishing up a masters degree in art at the Art Institute of Chicago.

He's going to hate me for telling you all that, but I can't help it--I'm proud of him. He's one of the most passionate people I know--and I swear he had just shoved some kind of food in my mouth before he snapped that polaroid. B**tard.
In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke wrote:

There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

Man, Peter, I think of you when I read that.
One of my favorite photos from my semester in Europe is a black and white that Peter took in the small practice room at the school. I was practicing Liszt's Un Sospiro (A Whisper). He told me it was his portrait of me. I think I told him then that it was inaccurate--that it didn't feel like me. But I think there's something deeper in me that is beginning to nod. I'm beginning to see that it's who I want to be.

Let me have a tenth of the passion you possess. Your pursuit of excellence and honesty is truly beautiful. Thank you for your kindness and your encouragement. You have taught me a great deal, and I am grateful. Have a beautiful birthday.