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origami [19 Oct 2008|11:45am]
I'm gonna take some time out of today to write here.

Two months since my last post(what, are we in confession?). And school is in session.
It's easier to begin with the facts. I'm doing really well in my classes, and most days, it feels effortless. Not because I don't have to study, but because there's more purpose to graduate school than undergrad. I read for 2 hours every morning because I'm going to be a librarian, and I need to reflect on the profession. Well...I did kinda screw up one of my midterms, but I think I'll be okay.
I play music every day, though some days are more inspired than others. I bought a digital piano so I could play out, but I've only performed once at an open mic, where there were like 6 people. But I played for an hour, and my voice didn't give out. Maybe it really is possible to pursue musical performance!
Work is wonderful. I find it difficult to get in all my hours every week, but I think it'll be easy to catch up when midterm season is over. I work at the Reference desk of LSU's main library, doing chat reference as well as in-person help. It is refreshing and stimulating to help people with their research. I never would have known anything about cognitive behavior therapy intervention with minorities unless I helped 2 people find 10 articles each on it!
So that's the easy stuff. The 3 major elements of my life right now: school, music, work. You may notice that social life doesn't appear. As of now, I'm in a place where I don't hang out with a lot of people. Partly, I am not pursuing it, and partly, others are in the same boat. I'm very busy, and I'm reflecting on my interactions with others. It was so easy to socialize in Chicago, because I lived in an area where there were a lot of people similar to me. My friends loved going to the same kinds of restaurants as me, we all sang karaoke, and we all liked to party. Here, there just aren't so many restaurants I can go to (no car, and buses are not so reliable), and nobody has time to party, and I haven't met any karaoke types when I go out.
Anyway, I am thinking a lot about how I relate to others. I think about openness and honesty. I have been told I'm 'too honest' and I 'talk too much.' I never really paid attention to such comments before, but recent events have led me to re-evaluate the message. When you share your inner thoughts and your experiences without providing a context for others to understand, you scare people, and you prevent their understanding. This issue is complicated for me. I want to be open so I can be free of fear. I don't want to conceal, because I don't want to worry about people gossiping. And I don't want to be ashamed of anything. It's something I've thought about for many years. But recently, my classes have all discussed the value of privacy. If I say something that involves others as well as myself, I deprive them of their right to privacy. I take away their control over the details of their lives.
And what about love? There's been a lot of stuff in my mind about loving and letting go. I've been contacted recently by people from my past, and it's brought up some unpleasant memories. I used to want so much from them, and I didn't receive it. Then they say they realize what they pushed away. And I think...what was I reaching for? I responded to one person, because I found some value in what we shared before, and I see a possibility for re-connecting. The other, I didn't, because on looking back, nothing was shared.
I bring all this up to explore how I've moved away from meeting others. I am discovering myself within a new place, how I interact with my new surroundings and this new group of people. I am witnessing my preconceptions, my capacity for joy in each breeze, and the intense meaning and being of the present.
I have almost an entire song written, but I don't know how the song ends. I don't know the heart of it. It's a song on letting go of love to gain a real person. There may never be a home for me, but the long road doesn't have to be a lonely one. See, I don't want to let go, but it's the only hope to see things as they are. What does Ani say? "If you want the ball to bounce, you gotta let it go..."
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[12 Aug 2008|02:38pm]
Well, now I live in Baton Rouge. And never have I wanted school to start so badly. I don't have many friends here, and I don't want to put too much pressure on the ones I do have. The pace of life is definitely slower here, and I'm finding it a little difficult to adjust to it. It doesn't help that my walls are paper thin, so I can only play my piano in the early afternoon when most people are gone. Hence my exile in the music building, where I can play to my heart's content.

I truly feel inspired musically recently. Perhaps it was the absence of my Wurlitzer and saxophone for a month, or maybe it is the experiences of the past month, it's hard to say. But when my sax chops are back, I'm ready to rock and roll. I have more musical ideas than I've ever had, and I'm starting to come around to the idea of composing. It's something I've never done, but it doesn't hurt to explore my emotions and experiences in a new way.

I don't exactly 'miss my old life,' but I do have some apprehension about this chapter of life. I guess...I fear losing a part of my soul. That's as close as I can get to describing it. But I have my music, my friends, and my family. And my openness to experience.

Well, back to the piano and sax!
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[31 Mar 2008|01:42pm]

I'm moving to Baton Rouge in July/August this year, to attend LSU for a master's in library science. For the first time in my life, I am going to live away from the Chicagoland area. I'm not scared, though. I know it will be a big change, but I am ready for whatever this change brings.

Ummm, so much has happened in the last...7 months. 2 New Orleans/Baton Rouge trips, a Hollywood odyssey, new friends, new exes, new hobbies, new clothes, new...outlook. I'll start with the recent stuff, since the present is much more real than the past.

I am now a bit of an amateur baker. I've been making 2-3 loaves of bread a week for the last month, and I see no signs of stopping. It's much cheaper to bake my own bread, and the results are better than any loaf I've had from a grocery store. My most recent experiment was brioche this weekend. It took a lot of effort and I broke a mixer in the process, but the results are worth it all. It was heavenly as French toast yesterday. I had my friend Yuriy over, and we proceeded to become over-espressoed and over-full of the airy, fluffy goodness that is brioche.

Yeah, baking. There's something really calming about waiting for bread to rise. Sunday is my 'Baking Day,' which guarantees that my day will be occupied by something worthwhile. I get a feeling of accomplishment when I take my two loaves out of the oven and I see their golden crust, and I know that I just made enough bread to last a week.

How I came to be a baker: first, my friend John bought me an amazing cookbook called 'How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.' It is a book full of wonderful, simple recipes, including a large chapter on bread. I dove right in to white bread, because I was tired of buying bread from Whole Foods that falls apart when I spread peanut butter on it and has a texture similar to cardboard with large air pockets. It was also $3 a loaf, and money's been a little tight because of the vacation and grad school search. I truly feel that I act with purpose now, and vacations, baking, and everything else is a part of that development.

I recently felt like I had to defend my 'life' and here's what I had to say. I aim to live like life is art. I may not 'change the world,' but I do everything with intention (or I aim to), and maybe something I do will have some sort of effect on others.

I have announced to everyone at work that I'm leaving, and in general, I feel like I'm treated better now. It is a stressful work environment, but the knowledge that my job here is ending in less than 4 months is a talisman that I carry with me. When I see something that's wrong and I am unable to do anything to change it: 'Oh well, I'm leaving.' I feel more focused, because I know that I have an opportunity to improve this place through my narrow channel.

Relationships come and go, and I am accepting this. I don't feel resentment or anger, though I do still have some longing for certain people. I want to know what they're doing, how they're doing, what's new. I am frustrated with a few people because my relationships with them are not the way I would like them to be, but I'm working on that frustration. Why do I want it to be this certain way? That's the question I'm asking now, instead of asking why it isn't a certain way. Is it truly so bad to be alone? Will I die? Will I be depressed? Does it mean there is no love at all?

I am becoming more comfortable with Now, and it feels different.

Until next time.
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meme from matthew [02 Sep 2007|03:15pm]
teh ruls: List seven songs you are into right now, no matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your LiveJournal along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they're listening to.

1) Shiver Me Timbers sung by Bette Midler - Ever since watching The Rose, I've come to respect Bette. I do feel sometimes that her melodramatic side is a bit of a pose, but she manages to convey deep emotion through the artifice. This song makes me cry. It's about letting go of the things around you and drifting further and further away from all the complexities...

2) Tears Dry On Their Own - Amy Winehouse - I, too, love this song. It's a song about empowerment (getting over a fling), but it also hints at something darker. After all, she was just a mistress, and she feels that maybe that's all she can ever be. "Even if I stop wanting you, and perspective pushes through, I'll be some next man's other woman soon. I cannot play myself again, I should just be my own best friend, not fuck myself in the head with stupid men." I love Amy Winehouse, and I can't wait to see what she does next. And I wish more people would embrace the beehive.

3) Listen by Beyonce - Whew, this song really gets to me. She's struggling to discover herself, but she knows it's time to cast off others' ideas of how to live. Personal discovery is something one does completely alone, and it can definitely be isolating.

4) When I'm Gone by Ani Difranco - I get the impression she didn't write this one, but she sings it so well. Hmm, it's kinda the flipside of 'Shiver Me Timbers.' When you're gone from this world, there are no more complexities, no more battles. And that is why it's so important to DO SOMETHING while you can.

5) Dear Chicago by Ryan Adams - I think this is the best song Ryan Adams has written.

6) Baby Doll by Laurie Anderson - I see a lot of myself in Laurie Anderson. She's so cerebral and good-humored. Here's the first verse:

I don't know about your brain -
But mine is really bossy
I come home from a day on the golf course
And I find all these messages
Scribbled on wrinkled up scraps of paper
And they say things like:
Why don't you get a real job?
Or: You and what army?
Or: Get a horse.
And then I hear this voice
Comin from the back of my head Uh huh
Yep! It's my brain again

7) Faking the Books by Lali Puna - According to iTunes, this is my second most played song. But the first song, 'Time After Time,' was put on repeat for like 6 hours, mostly spent asleep. Anyway, I really love this song. Valerie Trebeljahr's voice is hypnotic, and the message of the song (that we have all hurt each other and been hurt by others, and that there's no hope for change until we all realize the system is flawed) is eloquent and so true. I can't wait for their next album!
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spreading the love [25 Jan 2007|01:15am]
Reply to this post, and I'll tell you one reason I like you. Then put this in your journal, and spread the love!
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[21 Nov 2006|04:11pm]
Happy Birthday Bjork!

In other the past 3 weeks, I have definitely been through some major peaks and valleys. Wow. To be fair, though, that's really been the case since September. I really do feel on the verge of a major breakthrough, though right when I thought I had reached it, I shrank back from the edge. But everyone makes mistakes, and I am no exception. Of course I wish the past few weeks had been simpler, but I wouldn't have seen so much of myself then, would I?

Anyway, I'm making Thanksgiving dinner for a friend of mine and a few of her friends, and I'm excited. On the menu so far: buttermilk biscuits, vegetarian lasagna, wine, and pecan pie (hopefully!). I'm trying to find things to be thankful for, and I'm almost there. Here's some things:

being alive
the courage to confront my problems
having a job where I am valued
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tarot [16 Nov 2006|11:58pm]

You are the Hanged Man

Self-sacrifice, Sacrifice, Devotion, Bound.

With the Hanged man there is often a sense of fatalism, waiting for something to happen. Or a fear of
loss from a situation, rather than gain.

The Hanged Man is perhaps the most fascinating card in the deck. It reflects the story of Odin who offered himself as a sacrifice in order to gain knowledge. Hanging from the world tree, wounded by a spear, given no bread or mead, he hung for nine days. On the last day, he saw on the ground runes that had fallen from the tree, understood their meaning, and, coming down, scooped them up for his own. All knowledge is to be found in these runes.

The Hanged Man, in similar fashion, is a card about suspension, not life or death. It signifies selflessness, sacrifice and prophecy. You make yourself vulnerable and in doing so, gain illumination. You see the world differently, with almost mystical insights.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

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[03 Nov 2006|04:47pm]
drinking capri sun splash cooler (about the only thing left in my apartment)
wearing kenneth cole houndstooth pants, express stretch black button-down, blue t-shirt
listening KT Tunstall, Eye to the Telescope/Nellie McKay, Pretty Little Head
boyfriend are we or aren't we going to san francisco?
latest home improvement black custom upholstered chair, arriving by january
work fine, minus the nightshift
musical obsession harpsichord
reading James Baldwin's essays, Native Son by Richard Wright
color periwinkle
friends yuanxia is visiting, korean food tonight and night in boystown, elaine stopping by, karaoke with eliza tomorrow, winifred is leaving on wednesday
sky dark, grey
air below freezing, still, oppressive
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some questions I'm pondering [17 Oct 2006|04:40pm]
Is anyone ever truly whole, or is it more of a goal worth striving towards, with no real hope of reaching it?

What are my reasons for being a vegetarian?

Is popular vs. classical a useful distinction for music anymore? Was it ever?

Feel free to respond, either as you think I would answer, or as you yourself would answer.
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[04 Sep 2006|01:55am]
And really, Ryan Adams's album 29 is a masterpiece. It's too bad it's the best album about suicide ever written. In the press, he said he 'wrote [himself] out of [his] twenties.' And at first, like any good concept album, the concept is not obvious. But then you catch it. And then it's just there. It begins with him looking back on his life, then he slips away, and faces the angels and God.

Anyway, it's my favorite Ryan Adams album recently. Because it's not some genre exercise. Ok, done.
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[15 Jul 2006|01:03pm]
I have finally escaped retail, hopefully for good. I now work at the lovely Northwestern Music Library, just like old times. Except now I feel compelled to play dress-up every day, and I'm supervising people like me in college. And making more money.

And so much of my life is an improvement. I get along with my roommate for the most part, and I'm practicing semi-regularly. I'm also eating a bit better (fresh produce for the first time in 9 months!) and stuff like that.

Still the occasional mood swing, but such is life. Ugh, I keep trying to write down something about my life, but I lose the drive as soon as I start. The unexamined life has a certain appeal.

This is a start.
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[30 Apr 2006|07:33pm]
Hmm, I haven't updated this thing in a bit. Here goes!

Life's...more exciting. More ups and downs than in recent history, but that's better than just the downs. I feel more free than I have since October, and ready to give people a try again. To that end, I'm throwing a party. I can only hope that more than ten people come, but I'm planning for at least twenty anyway. What does it take for those NU kids to leave Evanston besides free liquor and Wrigleyville/Boystown nightlife? I certainly don't know.

For my own purposes, the party will have a vague New Orleans theme. I probably won't get the food right, but I'm serving hurricanes according to the specifications of Pat O'Brien's, one of the two coolest places I visited on my trip (the other one is the Napoleon House). I'm even serving them in glasses from that bar, since nowhere else sells them online or in a store. Perhaps I can make red beans & rice? We'll see if I'm up to it when the day comes closer (the date is May 12!). I'll probably just end up buying a few pizzas and having some random snack food, because it's just easier.

I've been thinking about family a lot recently. My whole family. It's odd how much of the family is disconnected. I have eight aunts and uncles and nine cousins and I still see two aunts, one uncle, and two cousins. Everyone else is, for one reason or another, separated. Part of me wonders what hope for my own family I have with such a track record. The other part laughs (and cries) at all the reasons they're gone. I'm a creative nonfiction writer in the making!

I had something like the flu for two days, which was not fun. Friday, I was hardly ambulatory, which really put a damper on a beautiful day. I laid in bed from 4 pm to 9:30 am Saturday, waking up every two hours for some reason. I had never experienced a headache like that in my life, and I hope to keep reocurrences to a minimum. My skin was also very sensitive (not the worst effect of sickness), and I alternated from hot to cold fairly quickly. Saturday was tons better, but I was quite out of it. I went to work despite all that, because I can't really handle a day off right now. But it turned out that moving around made me feel better. The day passed very slowly, but I made it. And now today I feel fine except for a little congestion, and slightly reduced brain function. I am not able to speak clearly, and my words come out just a bit slurred (no, I am NOT drunk!). I'm proud that I can fight things off so well. Willpower and water work wonders.

So now, I leave you once again. I feel like cleaning a bit.
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[10 Apr 2006|12:40am]
"the game:
each player of this game starts with the "6 weird habits/things about yourself" and people who get tagged need to write a blog of their 6 weird habits/things, as well as state this rule clearly. in the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names."

1. I fall asleep to the feature-length commentaries of the Lord of the Rings almost every night.

2. I prefer to rationalize everyone's actions than deal with any emotional response those actions incite (oops, it's a problem).

3. I simultaneously love and loathe being thought of as 'unique' and 'eccentric.'

4. I fantasize about playing duets with someone, then succumbing to a bout of passion!

5. It is comforting for me to believe I was a child prodigy, even if it leads me to believe my peak is long gone.

6. I am training my voice to match the unique vocal qualities of female singers, just because.

Please, anyone who has any desire to do this, do it!
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tiny meme [06 Apr 2006|06:20pm]
Go to wikipedia and look up your birthday (excluding the year). List three neat facts, two births and one death in your journal, including the year.

June 13

Neat Facts:
1774 - Rhode Island becomes the first of Britain's North American colonies to ban the importation of slaves.
2005 - The jury in Michael Jackson's trial for child molestation finds the pop star not guilty on all counts.
1942 - The United States opens its Office of War Information, a center for production of propaganda.

1865 - William Butler Yeats, Irish writer, Nobel Prize laureate
1986 - Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, American actresses

1986 - Benny Goodman, American musician (b. 1909)

We lose Benny, we gain the stars of New York Minute!
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Moving Outward [26 Mar 2006|12:58pm]
So, apparently, I am unable to express anger at others. Who knows, maybe I never really feel angry towards others. What I do know is this is somehow tied up in my personal philosophy. I know this because when I was discussing this very thing a few weeks ago, I had to fight back tears.

Once upon a time, I read a little book by Simone Weil titled Gravity & Grace. Much like Nietzsche, Weil wrote mainly in aphorisms. These little statements are so compact that it took an hour sometimes to read two sentences. Anyway, the one that stuck with me the most is something about this very issue. "It is impossible to forgive whoever has done us harm, if that harm has lowered us. We have to think that it has not lowered us, but has revealed our true level." I took this to mean that if I have been hurt, it is because of my own weakness that I was hurt, not anybody's actions. A victim becomes such because he is already flawed. And isn't it such a beautiful concept? Really, Weil's entire enterprise was reducing the self, because she felt that the self is a blight on an otherwise perfect landscape. If we could shrink ourselves to nothing, God's grace could come in and fill the void.

But I don't think I want to shrink my self any more. I want to exist as an individual, one with desires and emotions of my own. If someone has hurt me, I do not want to respond by further diminishing myself. I want to assert my presence, in the hopes that I can be better understood, and that the other party will also reach out. Really, it is a move from the inward to the outward. For so long, I have taken in everything around me, in an effort to somehow make my inner being reflect everything else. I thought, maybe if I take in the desires of others, they can grow. But I think most people don't really want to grow. They just become more needy and more cruel. I cannot make someone else 'better.' I can only express who I am.
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[23 Mar 2006|10:04pm]
I almost quit my job today, despite having no other job to go to. I get so tired of being made to feel worthless and stupid. And I need to be active about something. This is the feeling I had when I was a math major, and it was what made me become an English major instead. The thought that I would rather be dead than be doing this anymore.

People ask me what I'm doing, and I'm always a little embarassed because I have little more to say than 'I work at a shirt store.' And I have much bigger plans than this! I won't be poor forever, and I know I don't have to feel this low.

There's so much on my mind I can't express right now, and that is very frustrating. I just don't have the proper audience. But all this unexpressed stuff is really starting to get to me.

Bah. Something's gotta change.
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[11 Mar 2006|01:05pm]
So, Chris Kraus is in residence at Columbia College. Umm...OH MY GOD! Hopefully she gives some lectures open to the public. Ok, that is all.
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[11 Mar 2006|12:08pm]
I go to New Orleans in less than ten days!!! This next week is going to be quite hectic, both because of preparation and because of other friends visiting this weekend. Woo-hoo!

About that. Yuanxia's coming in this Thursday, and we're planning a potluck for Saturday (the 18th). All you Chicago people should stop by to see my place and eat good food and drink good wine! Currently, my cooking plans involve a Szechwan (Sichuan?) noodle salad and a saffron rice dish, though that may change. This is just an advanced warning, I think we'll have something more formal soon.

I haven't REALLY cleaned my apartment in quite some time. I think Monday will have to be the day of cleansing. This is appropriate because I will probably also get a haircut that day, and laundry MUST BE DONE. I'll have to wash clothes for N'Awlins and set them aside for a week. I'm going to take my mop and bucket and clean the floors until they sparkle (did you catch the lyric reference???).

I'm totally serious, you should all come by. But let me know if you are, so I know how much to cook!!
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I just don't know... [07 Mar 2006|06:56pm]
Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle.
Say the following questions aloud, and press play.
Use the song title as the answer to the question.

How does the world see me?:
Let Him Fly (Patty Griffin)

Will I have a happy life?:
Across the Universe (Cyndi Lauper)

What do my friends really think of me?:
Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)

Do people secretly lust after me?:
My Favorite Mistake (Sheryl Crow)

How can I make myself happy?
E-Bow the Letter (REM)

What should I do with my life?
Both Sides, Now (Joni Mitchell)

Will I ever have children?:
Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody (Joni Mitchell) (Wow, this one is perfect!)

What is some good advice for me?:
Me And You (Tori Amos)

How will I be remembered?:
The Kick Inside (Kate Bush)

What is my signature dancing song?:
Fire On The Side/Purple Rain medley (Tori Amos on harmonium)

What do I think my current theme song is?:
Siren (Tori Amos)

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?:
Fragile Heart (Jewel) (Oh so true.)

What song will play at my funeral?:
I Met Him On A Sunday (The Shirelles) (Oh, I hope so!)

What type of men/women do you like?:
It's Good To Be In Love (Frou Frou)

What is my day going to be like?:
Name (Goo Goo Dolls)
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[05 Mar 2006|01:37pm]
I want to rave about Kate Bush's latest album 'Aerial' a bit. Since I bought the album in November, I have probably listened to it at least forty times from start to finish. It is simply the most gorgeous album I've ever heard. Much like 'The Hounds of Love,' it is a double album, with the first disc a collection of songs, and the second disc a nine-movement suite. Despite this structural difference, the two parts manage to stay connected.

Disc 1, "A Sea of Honey," begins with 'King of the Mountain,' the first (only?) single. When I first heard it way back in October, I thought it was a really eerie portrait of a lonely celebrity living in an empty house. It is a song that evokes the sound of wind blowing through broken windows and an image of some long hallway full of columns. However, when I saw the video, and started listening closely to the lyrics, I came to understand it as a lighthearted song about Elvis Presley and all the funny rumors that still circulate. "Another Hollywood waitress is telling us she's having your baby, and there's a rumour that you're on ice and you will rise again someday." Also, I took this to explain her 12-year public silence. She's just been living with friends and family, and the public responds by saying she's obviously had a mental breakdown, and she must really be a perfectionist.

Read on...Collapse )
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