Tag Archives: true love

bologna

So I’m at Kroger, in line at the deli picking up some bologna and cheese when this man, probably about 40, walks up and asks nobody in particular:

Man: Do they have mortadella here?
Me: I think so, I’ve seen it here before.
Deli lady: I don’t see any in the case, I’ll go open a new one.
Man: Oh, thank you, so much. I’ll take a pound.

I am impressed with this guy.

Me: I haven’t had mortadella in years, not since I left New York. And I haven’t seen anyone else order it!
Man: Oh it’s so good, isn’t it?
Me: Yeah, I know.
Man: So what are you getting?
Me: Just some bologna today.
Man: (his face brightens) You know, we always forget about the simple things, like bologna!
Me: I know! I grew up in an Italian and Polish neighborhood, so I got the real stuff. And this is as close to that as I’ve found.
Man: Oh really? What are you getting? Which bologna?
Me: The regular one, not the all-beef, just the plain old cheap stuff. It’s as close to homemade out in the smokehouse as I’ve had.
Man: I’ll have to get half a pound of that!
Me: And if you like garlic…
Man: I LOVE garlic…
Me: you’ll have to try their garlic bologna. It’s not kidding around.
Man: I will definitely do that! Ah, the simple things. (Another man who I presume to be his partner comes by with some baguettes; he mentions the addition of bologna to the order and they are both pleased at the idea.) So what are you going to do with yours? Sandwiches?
Me: Sometimes I do sandwiches but I’m actually going to fry it up with some eggs…
Man: I LOVE IT FRIED! Fried bologna is the best. We had these friends in Russia who just loved it that way. We got hooked!
Me: Yeah, I grew up on the stuff, learned it from my dad.
Man: So good and so simple! Ah, perfect.

By that point the woman handed me my bologna and cheese. So I wished the man well as he ordered his own bologna. We were both smiling. Seriously, how can you not? Boar’s Head makes some seriously good bologna.

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hormones suck

Back in the day I was hanging out with a male friend of mine. I warned him flat out that I was PMSing and might be a little irritated or short with him, so I apologize in advance. This ensued:

“Can’t you control it?”
“No, because it’s a flood of chemicals that completely throws me off my game, changes my personality.”
“Well I’m sure other women have learned to control it, why can’t you?”
“…”

(Ladies, you will please admire my restraint at not castrating him. Thank you.)

However, now several years removed from the event, I realize that while some men are just insensitive jerks (as are some women, let’s be fair), some legitimately don’t understand why hormones can be a problem. So for the sake of education and understanding, I offer this comparison.

I wake you up at 4am, insult you personally (you’re fat, ugly, and stupid), push you around a bit, then force-feed you a pot and a half of coffee, all before 5am. Then I tell you to go about your day normally. You’re just entering the caffeine crash around noon when I force-feed you another pot while reminding you you’re a failure. This is a rough equivalent of PMS.

Granted, some would be able to handle it better than others, but none would be able to really go through the day like nothing happened. The caffeine would make you crazy, unstable, unable to concentrate, but still lucid enough to recognize that you aren’t yourself and cruelly unable to do anything about it. You’d be sleep-deprived, irritated, and probably have a really short fuse. It’s a very bad day.

Could you get used to it and learn to cope? Sure, but you only get the chance once a month. Hardly enough time to acclimatize. And besides, once you finally get used to being grouchy you discover you’re suddenly mopey instead. You’re always behind the curve. It’s a losing battle.

So gents, I understand that it’s annoying to deal with a lady friend* doped up on her own chemicals. But believe us, we hate it even more than you do. We don’t like to be like this. We are not really in control of ourselves. So when we warn you ahead of time, it’s because we care. We want you to understand that it’s nothing against you. Just try to bear with us, it doesn’t last long. If it’s really a problem and starts to damage your relationship, bring it up when hormones are not in play. (i.e. If she’s PMSing and you tell her to “stop being a f*cking bitch,” it’s not going to end well for either of you.) Figure out what’s best for both of you in that situation, etc. Be reasonable adults about it. You know the drill.

*Of course, this applies to women who you find reasonable (and pleasant) on a regular basis. If the woman in question drives you nuts to begin with, godspeed. I don’t know what to tell you.

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kick-awesome project

Frederic Rzewski actually once said to me, “You should play the Hammerklavier. You’d be good at it.” So, that’s what I’m going to do.

He said this to me at the Music09 festival in Switzerland, and I have been pondering it ever since, weighing whether it was feasible and whether it would be worth it. It’s one of those notorious pieces where everyone claims it’s ridiculously difficult on multiple fronts – and part of me believes them (because why would they lie?) and part of me doesn’t (because how many have played it over the last 200 years?).

So, I have “permission” from my professor – that as long as I understand what I’m getting into and how big a project this will be, then do it. He also said he would be learning it with me – he’s never actually made a real study of it, but has taught it and read it many times. So that will also be very cool.

Okay then, next question: what to program with it? My first reaction is something French, like one book of Debussy’s Images. So that’s out – I’m definitely looking for something less obvious and more intriguing. This stumped me for a good year – what the heck do you program with it?! So then switched trains of thought: What do people think of when they hear “Hammerklavier”? First, that it’s enormous; second, that it’s real difficult; and third, partially because of the fugue. Fugue – what to pair with a fugue? A PRELUDE.

This was definitely more what I had in mind. Pull together a smattering of preludes by pretty much everyone – Debussy, Chopin, Shostakovich, Scriabin, maybe some late Baroque ones, etc., and end the set with Rachmaninoff’s Bb prelude – both a good set end and a good setup for the Beethoven. Solid.

So I approached my prof about it. He also thought it was a cool idea, but suggested possibly doing a complete set of preludes by one composer. I have to admit, I had considered it, but for some reason dismissed it as being too much (as if the Hammerklavier weren’t already). So he started suggesting complete sets. And I think we both lit up when he got to Shostakovich. I have always wanted to perform them as a set, and I think they’re a great counterbalance to this program.

So, as it stands, that’s my next solo recital program:
Shostakovich: Preludes, Op. 34
Beethoven: Sonata in Bb, Op. 106
It will take me at very minimum a year to learn. And it’s probably the most ambitious thing I’ve ever done. No, not probably – it is. This may work, or it may prove too much. But what better opportunity will I ever have than now?

Seriously though, I’m so excited.

————————-
Also, if you’re wondering where “kick-awesome” comes from, it’s (of course) in a sbemail:
http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail138.html

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crash into jesus

Even though I have an iPod, whenever I arrive in a new city my first order of business is to find a good variety radio station. Or better yet, a 90s station. I mean, we’ve met; you know me and 90s music. The best one I ever found was in Tallahassee. It broadcast out of Albany, GA, and I could only get it in my car, but man was it heaven. GenX Albany. Played all 90s, all the time. Until they killed it and turned it into a Top 40 station.

So now that I’m in Cincinnati, I’ve found three acceptable stations – two variety and one rock. One of the variety stations is clearly superior to the other two (read: plays more Hootie and La Bouche), but it broadcasts out of Norwood, and as far as I can tell, unless you’re physically in Norwood the station is pretty weak. Unfortunately, the other (much stronger) station on that frequency is a Contemporary Christian station. Sometimes it’s a battle – how much cheesy Jesus love do I want to put up with while trying to get my Deep Blue Something fix?

And then, something amazing happened. I tuned in to find the Norwood station and the Jesus station locked horns in a stalemate that left them essentially alternating phrases. The best part: it was some cheesy Jesus song versus DMB’s “Crash.” That’s right, the song about voyeurism. This, to the best of my artist’s rendering, is how it went:

“Touch our lips just so I know… you’re my salvation, you’re my redeemer… Hike up your skirt a little more and show… your mercy and grace are all that I need, and…  I watch you there through the window and I stare at you wearing not a thing… Jesus, you’re my everything… the king of the castle, you’re the dirty rascal… touched me and now I’m free.”

I nearly drove off the road from laughing so hard – it could not have happened with better songs. I don’t know that I will ever again be fortunate enough to hear something like this. Eric Cartman would be proud.

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balance

I just moved to Cincinnati from Tallahassee, because in a little over a month I will be embarking on my DMA at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). I’m stoked, overwhelmed, a little frightened and a little unbelieving. But that’s a story for another time.

As I was planning this move, I wanted to look into two investments: a piano and an Xbox. The piano seems self-explanatory; I’m a pianist. But thinking about it, why would I want to buy one when a whole bunch of new Steinways – that I can use whenever I want – come with being a student at CCM? (It’s okay, be jealous.) Welp, because sometimes I don’t want to fight for parking. Sometimes I don’t want to commit to the 2 or 3 consecutive hours of practice that would make it worthwhile to fight for parking. Sometimes I know I only want to do 45 minutes off and on. Or maybe I want to do one more hour before I go to bed at 11. Or those times (many, many times) that I’ve lost an afternoon or evening because I was cooking something that took longer than an hour. So, I decided it was a good idea; I wanted something small in relatively decent shape. Just something that could get work done.

The Xbox, well. My roommate had his hooked up to his TV as a composite DVD player/game console/Netflix streamer, and I really liked the setup. And since I was upgrading my TV to a reasonable size (from my old 14″), I needed something like that. And, in my continuous effort to be the coolest person I know, I wanted a gaming console. I always have, but growing up I knew not even to ask. So now that I’m an adult (or something) and I’m effectively the only person who can tell me no, I decided it was a reasonable investment. And besides, I already own Mass Effect (all of them, yes) from when I played it on Brooks’s console and I wouldn’t mind playing it again.

So over the course of three days I bought a TV, a couch, a piano, renters insurance, read the Ohio drivers manual and opened a checking account. At the end of the third day, feeling waaay too adult-like, I made the executive decision. On the morning of the fourth day I bought an Xbox and a pile of games.

And you know what, they were both great ideas. I have the piano and Xbox in separate rooms, about 20 feet apart, and they both call to me. I’ll be woodshedding at something and I’ll hear the Xbox call me, “But don’t you want to blast some mercs and geth and Collectors and flirt with the turian?” (I have a serious thing for Garrus, shut up.) And I’ll think, Why yes! Of course I do! and I’ll go do that for a while. And soon enough the piano will call, “But Beethoven! and Rachmaninoff!” And I’ll think, Of course! Naturally! How could I? and go back to practicing. It’s a pretty nice safeguard against burnout on either of them.

The only problem is that neither ever stops its siren call. Back and forth, back and forth, all day. It’s great – until I have to go to bed. It’s difficult dragging myself away. But, I guess that’s what coffee is for.

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something is wrong with me

Last night I had this dream.

It was in my parents’ kitchen. It was in the evening, in winter. The room was fairly dim. I was standing by the window behind where my mother usually sits. In my spot was my friend Sean. Sitting in my dad’s usual seat was Vladimir Putin.

Putin was offering to marry me.

Not proposing, but offering. In broken English (which I now know he speaks fluently) and some Russian (of which I don’t understand any), he explained his offer. Arrangements of living, schedule compatibility, etc. I had trained myself, as in real life, not to react, so I was listening and absorbing it. Sean was laughing about how ridiculous the whole thing was, but I gave him a look that said, “No, this is serious, he’s serious. You can laugh later, listen to what he says.” So we listened.

I don’t remember the details, but there was some friendly joking thrown in between us both, so apparently we got along fine. I considered his offer. On the one hand, former KGB Head and avowed Communist. On the other hand, rather attractive Russian man who can definitely provide for me, and he’s making a reasonable offer. I told him I’d let him know within seven days. He thanked me and said something in Russian that I took to be a familiar “farewell,” that I tried to repeat back to him, but couldn’t remember.

Then I woke up and wondered what the hell is wrong with me.

PART TWO

I told my roommate, who laughed and then pointed out that Putin is probably already married. This I confirmed via wikipedia: he’s married and has two children. However, on the opposite side of the page is a picture of him as a teenager – and he’s a dead ringer for my two (male) cousins. Rather, a cross between them. It’s really uncanny. It actually freaks me out a little bit.

Honestly, the whole thing is just messed up, beginning to end.

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why i don’t write about music

Have you noticed this? I’m a musician by trade, by day and by night, and I never write about it. Sure, I write about my daily goings-on, but that’s my profession; it’s not music. I’ve been more and more aware of this lately. Music and the arts are in the cross-hairs of budget cuts nation-wide, and champions are composing some really spectacular writings in their defense. Many of my friends and colleagues dedicate their blogs to writing about music. Some are professional, some are casual, some are philosophical. I have read things ranging from “why it’s important to improvise” to “why we compose” to “discussions on (any particular piece)” to “what goes on when I practice.” I’ve even read an article on why we should write about music more. They’re all wonderful.

Me, I don’t write about music because I’m no good at it. Oh, sure, the stuff backed by verifiable fact, that’s easy – read some stuff, compile any useful information, rearrange the pieces until the puzzle makes sense, draw a few conclusions based on how you rearranged it, add grammar, make it sound pretty and give it flow. (And cite.) No problem. But that’s not writing about music. That’s writing about about music. It’s the other kind I’m talking about.

The bit about how music makes me feel. About why it makes me feel. About why I do it. I can’t construct a vehicle of words suitable for the profound weight and importance of music. And I say “I” because I don’t presume to know anything about you regarding such a personal subject.

Thinking of the times I’ve been asked why I “do” music, I believe my standard line is, “Because I can’t do anything else.” Which, when it comes down to it, really isn’t an answer that satisfies anyone besides myself. A real answer would be something like, “Because I’m not happy if I’m not playing. Because it takes me to places I wouldn’t go in every day life. Because it shows me parts of myself I didn’t know existed. Because I’m free to explore and express sides of myself I normally wouldn’t be comfortable with. Because I’m free to say what I want to say unreservedly and without fear. Because the composer knew exactly how I feel. Because I know exactly how the composer feels. Because it’s wonderful to understand and be understood. Because you can communicate things that can’t be said – both for lack of propriety and for lack of words. Because it involves every part of my being and allows me to use every part of myself to its maximum potential. Because I am my own medium. Because it’s the essence of being alive, and therefore essential to being alive.”

Here’s the problem: this explanation (honestly the best I could come up with) is incredibly cheesy if you don’t already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t been there – if you haven’t gotten goosebumps or cried because of a color, or a chord, or a phrase, if you haven’t had your day or even your life completely changed because of one piece, if you haven’t practiced something and said, “This, this guy knows me,” – then you’d probably look at me and say, “Well, if that’s what you want to do with your life.”

But most importantly, it only rests tenuously on the surface of music. I’m not saying anything about what music is. Because I can’t say anything about that (and I would venture that nobody can), and the harder I try, the more I flounder and the further I get from the point, grasping at just about anything.

Because I can’t say why a sonata is so powerful or a fugue so ethereal. I can’t say why that rhythm fills me with joy. I can’t say why that phrase is so beautiful. I can’t say why that voicing gives me chills. I can’t even try. The only helpful words I can offer are:

“Here, listen.”

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