sigmastolen: (ter'angreal)
something is very wrong when a hallmark ad can trigger a breakdown

and i'm not even sure if it's wrong with me, or the world

i mean, surely society is at fault for embedding these feelings of wrongness, and loneliness, and inadequacy in me just because i don't have a significant other

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Okay, so I'm reading John Green's Looking for Alaska -- YA book, brilliant outcasts at a boarding school in Alabama, recommended by my brother -- and in the scene I just read, the narrator and his friends play a drinking game: Best Day/Worst Day, in which:
Everybody tells the story of their best day. The best storyteller doesn't have to drink. Then everybody tells the story of their worst day, and the best storyteller doesn't have to drink. Then we keep going, second best day, second worst day, until one of y'all quits.

Because it's nearly three and I get more introspective in the dead of night and I get most introspective when I spend all my time by myself all day every day (except for my parents and my cats, basically), I tried to think of my best and worst day. And plenty of terrible days leap to mind (the day my nana died, the day she fell and broke her hip coming to my band concert, breakups, failed exams, horrific awkwardness, goodbyes), but I have a really difficult time trying to think of "best days." I know I'm not sad all the time; I know I have friends and family who love me and do fun things with me and I know I have accomplished a lot of things to be proud of. But what does it say about me, that "best days" don't spring to mind with the same readiness as "worst days"? What does it say, that my memory glosses over good times into a haze of "yeah, that was all right;" that I have to unpack "best days" from boxes and dust them off before I know them for what they are, but "worst days" are poised for immediate recollection and polished to a high sheen?

And why is it that the absolute happiest memories are but fleeting moments of shining perfection (a kiss at sunset; the applause during a curtain call; a gripping performance; reaching an overlook and seeing the world spread out before me), but the worst memories and drag out and cast their pall over days, weeks, or even months? Even the "best days" that gradually drift to the surface are tempered with moderate-to-large amounts of melancholy, sorrow, or frustration.

But I guess the point of this post is that I have such difficulty thinking of my "best day," and I find that unspeakably sad.
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One thing (of many) that I really miss about living in Davis is the Yellow-Billed Magpie:

I think I've seen a couple around my neighborhood in LB, but nothing close to the tidings of magpies I'd see in Davis daily -- and, of course, none in Pittsburgh, because the Yellow-Billed Magpie is found only in California. Anyway, I was reading about magpies on Wikipedia and it says:
This bird is extremely susceptible to West Nile virus. Between 2004 and 2006 it is estimated that 50% of all Yellow-billed Magpies died of the virus.

… And it just made me incredibly sad, that's all.
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My bassoon quartet played a gig at a senior center recently. After the performance, while we were packing up, we did some Q&A with the audience. Someone asked how we all started playing bassoon, so we went around the arc to answer, and it mostly went, “it was the biggest one!” or “my band teacher conned me into it.” My story, however, went a little like this:
I used to play clarinet, and in elementary school, I was the best one. But in middle school, I stopped being the best. I didn’t like that very much, so I decided to find something new to be the best at. One day we were watching Fantasia in class, at at the beginning of the Rite of Spring sequence — you know, the one with the dinosaurs — the teacher asked us what instrument was playing the solo. I said, “Oboe!” and I was wrong: it was a bassoon. And I decided that that was the instrument for me. And nobody else at my middle school played it, so I was automatically the best again!

And power-hungry Slytherin loved those of great ambition
… I know how you guys like to tell me I'm a Ravenclaw, and it's sweet! But inaccurate.
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Is this a musician thing? maybe? or am I just the worst?  idk but I really, really can't stand listening to people who speak in an aesthetically displeasing way.  Tonight, I overheard two people in rapid succession who were just the worst at speaking, which I suppose is why this is on my mind.  First there was a girl who was very guttural and very disjunct -- she didn't connect any of her words together; it was like every sound was a separate grunt.  All I wanted was for her to stop talking (or possibly use more air to support her voice).  And then on the bus there was this dude with a really low, gravelly voice -- it sounded like it was painful for him to make noise.  Dude, drink some water, get a lozenge, stop smoking, something, because that sound your voice is making is not healthy.

And I feel that as a musician, communicating primarily (ok, lbr, exclusively) with other musicians on a day-to-day basis, this is not something one encounters a lot.  We're trained to be hyper-aware of sound, especially the sounds we are making, and we're trained to be aware of how we present ourselves.  And while we certainly don't all have velvety phone-sex-hotline voices or anything, I think we are aware of the way we speak: the pitch and timbre of our voices, the flow of our words and the fluency of our phrases, sometimes even our breath support (I'm guilty of this, and I think many wind players and most singers are, also).  And, consciously or unconsciously, we try not to make sounds that are displeasing or offensive, unless we're doing it on purpose.  (Some, of course, make awful sounds on purpose more often than others: brasses, singers, I'm looking at you.)

Anyway, I'm not sure where I was going with this.  Except possibly to lament the voices and speech patterns of random strangers I encountered today.  (I mean, people, please, pay attention!  Pitch, timbre, breath support, word flow, emphases, I beg you.)
sigmastolen: (octopus)
Dear Eighth Grade Me,

on body image )
Don't let the bullies get you down. Don't let moving away from Davis keep you away from horses & your bike. Keep in touch with your friends, they are good people and they love you and you love them. And for the love of god learn to dress yourself in shirts that aren't plaid and oversized, and stop wearing all that cheap jewelery.

Grad-School You.
sigmastolen: (WDCH)
There are a lot of ideas that have been germinating in my head for a few weeks, and so I'd just like to get them down, I guess.

Maybe it started with a conversation I had with Steinmetz when I visited UCLA? It may have started before that, in various conversations I had with various people about CMU and how different it is from UCLA and how much I miss Los Angeles's peculiar focus on new music.


So yeah. Contemporary classical music, relevance of. Guerilla chamber music. Jazz bassoon. Summer chamber music concerts. Thoughts? Because I honestly have no idea how feasible all this is, or if I would be fruitlessly fighting the tide of classical music's (already steep) descent into elitist obscurity.
sigmastolen: (omgcrab)
Let me start by saying I don't often remember my dreams. Everyone dreams. Just, most people only remember dreams if they are awakened while dreaming, which I guess I haven't been very often, lately, because I used to have better dream recall. And, of course, somewhat unfairly, the most notable dream I've remembered of late involved being cockblocked. Twice.

That said, I've dimly remembered two dreams lately -- one the other day, and the other this afternoon (at the end of a 5-hour nap. Don't judge me, I was sleepy and angry and it wasn't productive for me to sit in a practice room and have temper tantrums every few minutes, so I went back to bed) -- that involved chicken cordon bleu.

I don't even know, you guys. I'm pretty sure I've only even had it once, maybe? But I just read something about it on the internet when I wasn't even trying to find stuff about chicken cordon bleu, and it freaked me out a little.
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Dear Snow,

OMG, what are you, I don't even. What. How. What. ♥.

I wish I had microscopic vision so I could see for myself how each snowflake is unique. I am still honestly amazed that it true, snowflakes have six points, and they make those cute spiky shapes like in the drawings on the Hallmark cards. (I love that water makes hexagonal crystals. I love hexagons. (See also: beehives.))

I love that it falls so slowly, slower than rain and gentler when it lands on your face. I love that it falls so silently, you don't even realise it's there until you look outside. (I do also love the rain, and the drumming of raindrops and the rumbling of thunder.)

I love that everything looks so soft and -- dare I say it -- warm (although it's really, really not) when snow blankets the world. A grass field becomes a smooth white cushion. Trees and bushes wear it like a shawl. It huddles on buildings and rounds their sharp edges. It crawls up the trunks of trees.

I can't get over how fluffy it is to the touch, how it clings to my hands and melts with their warmth. My brain expects it to be firm when I stick my hand in, like the crusty, iced-over snowdrifts of my youth, the rare times we drove up a mountain to see the snow on a sunny winter day and everyone got dehydrated and the glare gave us headaches. That it is yielding and powdery and light, mostly air, is surprising every time.

I'm just so fascinated.


p.s. It makes me really sad to see kitty footprints in the snow, though. I want the kitties to be warm and dry, not out in the cold wet snow :c


I guess I should amend this to, "I love snow when I don't have to spend long periods of time standing around in it waiting for the bus." Boo. Dear Full Buses and Late Escort Shuttles, YOU SUCK.
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Dear women whose pictures appear on The Sartorialist:

Can someone please explain to me the thinking behind the massive-heels-while-bicycling phenomenon? I don't understand. It seems highly impractical, and perhaps even dangerous -- like you're inviting some kind of grievous injury. I worry for your safety.

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Tuesday was another concert (it seriously feels like concert after concert here, and I'm not even in them all) -- Beethoven 7, in which I played second bassoon and I swear to god, I've never felt so insecure about my intonation in my life. Not even when Maestro has called me out, not even on uncontrollable contrabassoons. I don't even know. But they're so exposed, the wind parts in that symphony, and playing second bassoon is a big responsibility in terms of intonation. (And I wish more bassoonists I've played with would understand this. Playing second isn't a consequence of "not being good enough to play first" and it doesn't mean you don't matter, jesus. You are the bass voice. You control the pitch.) But anyway, my sources in the audience tell me that the woodwind intonation was excellent (certainly better than the brass or the strings), so I guess I count that one as a win despite my anxiety. (but seriously there were a few chords where I just didn't even play because I had no idea where the pitch center was or where I was supposed to be. it was so upsetting.)

Anyway. Afterwards, the bull-like percussionist I mentioned the other day came up to me while I was packing up, and asked me if I was doing anything after the concert. "I don't know," I answered honestly, and at point I needed to dump my reed water, so I excused myself for a minute. He didn't really continue the conversation when I came back, and I was frazzled enough from the performance and the pressing need to go find my teacher and see what she thought of it, that I wasn't totally aware of anything except for making sure I had all my stuff (and you know me, I always have an epic amount of stuff). Anyway, after I had managed to put my coat back on, he kind of mumbled a farewell at me, and I must have looked back at him wild-eyed, because he said something about how I had a lot going on or something. I didn't realize until later that, oh, oops, he was trying to ask me out, and I was so flustered and distracted that he just kind of gave up.

I mentioned it later to Comrade P and the principal oboist and flautist, because we ended up going for a drink (there's a bar near my apartment with AMAZING winter drinks -- apple cider with rum, which was what I had, and some pretty excellent-sounding coffee drinks and chocolate and/or caramel flavoured things. Must remember to return), and while the girls were advising me to just accept dates if I'm undecided because, hey, free meal (I love musicians. So pragmatic about food), I realised that, completely aside from not being remotely into him, I kind of don't want a relationship. I'm quite accustomed to being totally starved for touch by now, and while it's now awesome, I'm not that desperate -- I can handle it for a while longer. Honestly, I don't want to try to make space in my life for someone else right now; I have enough going on with my bassoon and my cats and just trying to make friends, and not lose the ones that are scattered around the country. (but a hookup or two wouldn't be the worst thing ever, i mean, a girl has needs, amirite?)

So yeah. Whatever. I do feel like I should apologize to the poor dude for being such a spaz, but in one of those weird twists of kismet or something, I haven't run into him even once since Tuesday. *shrug*

(Subjects this entry has had: "Hmm," "Single McSingleton," "Perennially Single")
(Also: I am once again contemplating my singleness while baking cookies. WTF is this? I blame texting with Will, he always makes me get all romantically introspective. It's a knee-jerk reaction from high school when we were both pretentious and I wanted to impress him with how deep I am. Talking is much easier now that we both understand that he takes things at face value and means exactly what he says, and that I almost never say what I mean. Hah.)

(In other news, I think I have discovered How Not To Eat All The Cookie Dough Before It Becomes Cookies (or How Not To Eat All The Cookies You Just Baked): improvise a disturbingly sweet but still boozy cocktail from whatever is on hand (in my case, gin, dry vermouth, and creme de menthe syrup (not proper creme de menthe mind you -- just sweet minty syrup), stirred) and drink it while you're baking. It effectively removes any desire to consume anything else that is sweet. (OH MY GOD THE NESTED PARENTHESES, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM. HAVE I CLOSED THEM ALL PROPERLY? I HOPE SO, JFC.))

(In other other news, today the rice cooker arrived in the mail (yeah, mum mailed me the one I had at the apartment last year. Mum mails me a lot of things lately. I'm so glad she loves me.), so tonight was TOFU CURRY OVER RICE EXTRAVAGANZA!!!!!! Because I tried tofu curry over pasta before i found the rice at the grocery store, and it was DISGUSTING LIKE A DISGUSTING THING. I made the curry sauce myself. It was weirdly bland, though... I am not sure what it needs. The recipe is here, and I added some ground ginger because ginger is the shit, okay? Anyway, I'd appreciate thoughts on this recipe. MOAR FLAVR: WANT. HOW I CAN HAS??)

(@ 3:43 -- Cookies: finished. My sleep schedule: officially fuxx0red! :D !!!)
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TV Tropes has everything. It really does. Including a description of my race that I feel is more accurate/appropriate than "hapa," as it has connotations of Hawaiian-ness that don't apply to me, and TBH I don't look very Asian (although, technically, the Philippines fall under the category of "Asia" as defined by the U.S. Census & shit). It is: Ambiguously Brown. (WARNING: link goes to keep a close eye on the clock if you click.) Honestly, it works for me culturally, as well, since I don't identify very strongly with Filipino-American culture, or even with Italian-American or, what else am I, English and Swedish? I'm an Ambigously Brown California girl, and that's kind of all there is to say.

I dunno, I guess it's a little on my mind lately because of meeting so many new people? And Americans usually try to categorize people as particular races, which is a) hard for people to do with me, b) becoming harder to do in general because of the growing number of immigrants from increasingly diverse places, interracial marriages, and mixed children, and c) hard to do with some (well okay more like a handful) of the people I'm meeting. There's an ambiguously brown tuba player (part Greek, part something else, and presumably tanned from his summer job lifeguarding (he also plays water polo and yes, he's hot)), and one of the other bassoonists is also ambiguously brown -- one thing we share is being Not Latina But Mistaken For It... And a composer the other day asked me, when I said I was from LB, if I was "a native." And I was like, yeah, because I was indeed born there. And then he asked, "what tribe?" and I went, "wait, what?" No, it turned out, not that kind of native. Which just reminded me of that time in PE in high school when we were playing volleyball with another class, and this guy just started talking to me in Spanish.

So yeah.

"Ambiguously Brown." I like it, and I'm keeping it.
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I think Inception broke my brain.

The world always feels a little too bright, a little unreal when I leave a movie theatre. To have this happen when the entire movie has been about reality, or the lack thereof, is difficult to handle.

I have friends who are fascinated by lucid dreaming. I haven't remembered any of my dreams in months, maybe years.

At the end, all I wanted to do was cry for a long time.

eta 11 aug 12:48-ish

omg i love the internet. it has everything! because the arthur/eames was so obvious, and there are almost 400,000 google hits.
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So I spent this weekend at a retreat center/convent in rural Mississippi, hanging out with nuns.

BUT FIRST: today's Writer's Block question is "Have you ever been passionate about something to the point of an obsession? If so, how did it impact the rest of your life? Did you ever (or would you want to) break free?" which is legit, but the subject line is, "Out, Out Damned Spot!" which I feel is only tenuously related to the question at hand, and the Shakespeare snob in me really just had to point that out to criticize it. WTF, livejournal. WTF.

Okay. Anyway.

Yesterday, my mom's college roommate took her first vows as a School Sister of Notre Dame. Yeah, people still become nuns -- wild, right? (Or totally not wild, in point of fact.) Anyway, Mum, Dad, and I (the Munchkin is somewhere in Europe on a BAND TRIP HAHAHA NERD lucky bastard I haven't been to Europe) travelled to The South this weekend to attend the ceremony. It was at the St. Mary of the Pines retreat center, in almost-Louisiana rural Mississippi, and it was really lovely. For starters, it was good to see now-Sister S again, because it's been a few years and I like her a lot. The retreat center is in the woods, and it's by a lake, and there's a lovely old cemetery, and everything was so beautiful and peaceful and I really felt a great sense of calm and goodwill there. It's also a retirement home for the Sisters, so it was full of little old lady nuns, and they were adorable -- plus, the nuns were about the sweetest, kindest, most caring people I've ever met, and they were so happy to have visitors (particularly, I think, a young person like me). And, even though I'm about as lapsed as lapsed can be, I really enjoyed going to Mass, and the vows ceremony, and even the evening prayer service and the Adoration of the Eucharist. I kind of feel like this was Catholicism done right, you know? It was all about love and caring and helping to make a better world, and I'm such a sap for that kind of thing. I don't know if there's anything out there to hear it, but I said a little prayer for love and a better world, just in case someone is listening. And to remind myself, I think, of what's important. Plus, I've always loved all the ritual of the Church, and I was so pleased when they used the "Mass of Creation" chant melodies that I remember from my childhood.

(Also, my dad, who is usually a pill when we travel, was really happy there, because he likes beautiful places with space to run (or walk because he's a little injured right now), and he adores little old ladies and talking to them and looking after them.)

The only downsides I could see were the humidity, the heat, and the mosquitoes, really. And the lack of WIRELESS INTERNET ALL THE TIME!!! to feed my addiction, but that was probably a good thing. Despite the fact that I still didn't really finish the paper I've been trying to draft all week. I started it, at least! And I'm going to finish it TONIGHT. Because my prof gave me a PROPER DEADLINE and we're going to meet tomorrow and talk about it and everything! Hah.

But on a more serious note, I guess, even though I'm not that into God and religion and even spirituality, I really loved it there. I felt a greater sense of peace, sitting there in the chapel with the nuns, than I have in years. Everything was beautiful. Everyone was kind.

I would miss sex and frivolous shoes, but really, nuns know how to live.

p.s. Let the record show that last weekend was 'Oon Mafia Camping and it was pretty great.
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So, I'm listening to the Savage Lovecast while OMG PACKING and I came across a scrap of paper that has apparently been languishing on my desk, folded into quarters, for a while. It says (in my unintelligible scrawl): see, the thing is our media and our society tells girls that they need to be pretty & popular & gossipy, but not necessarily smart. And it's AWFUL.

And it I guess ties into something I have been thinking about since at least December, since I came across a (privatelocked) LJ entry from when I was writing the paper for my SOCIAL JUSTICE!!! class in the fall that said:
women are not famous for being intelligent, or for high achievement, not the way men are. women are famous for being beautiful -- sometimes in combination with intelligence, achievements, or talents, but also outrageous and inappropriate behaviour, and just as often, beauty is the only trait that brings the woman fame. one of the world's great rarities is a famous woman who is not beautiful. Apparently I almost wrote that paper on girls and the media and how it tears them down.

And so this is something that's been kind of.... percolating in my mind along with a bunch of wangsty body image stuff I don't need to go into yet. And I guess I want to know, are these perceptions valid? Am I onto something here, or am I just projecting my own frustrations onto an academic facade?

And completely separate from these questions about ME ME ME, what is your take on women, fame, beauty, and the media? DISCUSS.
sigmastolen: (Default)
- unpack lists from Travels
- orch manager. sigh
- children: having them, teaching them, my perceived ethical obligation to the species to procreate
- sort out thots re: women and beauty and worth
sigmastolen: (Default)
Playing on the internets at work instead of devoting my time to the PACT... But I've been On nonstop all week, so I feel like I deserve this little brain break, such as it is.

For future use: "You'll keep a civil tongue in your head, young lady, or you'll soon find yourself with none at all."
sigmastolen: (Default)
Easter and Christmas are the two days my mum pretends that my brother and I are still small children. Sometimes I wonder if it's some kind of self-prescribed way to deal with us growing up? Anyway, on those days, she indulges herself (and us, I suppose) by giving us candy and kiddie toys. Staples of Christmas stockings are: wind-up toys, old-fashioned games (wooden tic-tac-toe, that kind of thing), those bouncy-ball-and-paddle things, tiny toy horses or dinosaurs, Silly Putty, and Slinky Jr. Things that she usually puts in Easter Baskets are super balls, those cheeping chicks, Pez dispensers, sometimes little notepads and stuff (last year's theme was Beatrix Potter), and DVDs for the family to share, like Harry Potter. This year? Zhu Zhu Pets hamsters. No, really. I let the cats chase mine sometimes. I have no idea what my brother does with his. My mum is crazy.

This year, she also gave me Peeps. She actually forgot on Easter, and then brought them to me at my apartment when she came with my tax forms. She said she almost gave them to my younger cousins from NorCal, but decided not to because they were my Peeps and I would be sad, supposedly. (Plus they really don't need any more sugar.) Now, Peeps are kind of nasty -- they're pretty much sugar, covered in more sugar, which has been dyed unnatural colours. That said, I have a bizarre affection for them, and I can't figure out why, beyond some sort of internet myth that Peeps are the evil fluffy marshmallow armies of darkness or something, I don't even know. But I do kind of like them. Not to eat, though. Although, to not eat them seems a little bit sad, like you're denying the fulfilment of their entire reason for existence. So I just ate two of them. The nutritional information on the package says a serving is five Peeps. What I would like to know is, who can eat five Peeps in one sitting??? I certainly can't, and I don't want to. Ew. I don't think I could even when I was a small child.

In other news, I just had a glass of gin and ginger ale, which I thought would be a bad combination until I tried it. Apparently it's called a "Gin Buck"? Whatever.


sigmastolen: (Default)

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