4 hours to a piano competition

10:00 Pharmaceutical Development class. Not too stressed yet. The audition's still pretty far away.

11:30 Class lets out early. I go photocopy my music and clean up the music I already have. I meet Sandy, a classmate, to go eat.

12:30 I get more and more nervous as I eat my duck over rice and young coconut. Thinking more about the audition. Not really listening to the conversation we're having. My mind is elsewhere.

13:00 We finish lunch. I'm sleepy and want to take a nap, but I can't. It's too cold and noisy on the couches at school. And I'm too nervous. I change into a gray pinstriped suit and go practice.

13:45 I meet my chamber music teacher and the violinist in my trio to play two pieces. I'm completely self-conscious as I play and bauble on both of the pieces I play for them. Rachel, my teacher, always has something positive to say, though, and complements me.

14:10 I play the other pieces for Marjorie, the violinist. Still feeling self-conscious, which is getting in the way of playing well.

14:30 I practice some more. This time, without self-consciousness. It's like I'm over myself, comfotable. The Bach Prelude and Fugue comes out naturally and flows without worry.

15:00 I spend the last 30 minutes before audition time drinking tea at the Scripps College coffee shop. I'm getting more and more nervous again, and I try writing to soothe my nerves. It doesn't help. Eventually, I just slouch into a plush couch, close my eyes and try to relax. Being calm in the face of a piano competition isn't supposed to be easy, I tell myself. So I concentrate on relaxing, letting go of the worry and self-consciousness, and it works. I do relax a bit.

15:25 5 minutes to audition. I go to the bathroom, fill a sink with hot water and soak my hands in it. It's impossible to do anything with cold hands, and the feeling of immersing my hands in hot water always calms me down.

16:00 The audition goes pretty well. It takes ten minutes for me to get settled in and for my nerves to calm down. By then, I've gone through the Bach Prelude and Fugue in C# major and the first movement of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata. Debussy's Reflets Dans Leau comes out like it never has, and I absorb into the music completely. I achieve the same kind of lush tonalities and beauty that I did earlier in the week and even I'm impressed as I play the last chords to the piece. The Rachmaninoff Prelude turns out well also.

So the final score for the audition? The Bach and Beethoven turn out worse than in practice, the Debussy plays better than it ever has, and the Rachmaninoff plays the same as it has in rehearsal. In the end, all the worry and anticipation and tension drains all the energy from me. And all I want to do is sleep.

In the end, it's the worry and tension that made the most negative impact on the performance. I know I was prepared and ready, I was just nervous. It took a while to get used to being on a stage in front of judges, but once that happened, I was set. I'll find out this week how I did. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

The clock goes forward an hour. It's 3:14 on April 07, 2002. I shouldn't be awake. But I am. So I ramble of fear and destruction:

Still night, everything around me dark even though the light is on, reflecting off of the plastic that covers the windows. We put it on to keep some of the cold out; fuel is high priced and we're poor. So we put the plastic on and the light now reflects off of it, accenting the dark, making me feel alone.

I'm alone even though I'm here, safe, two others just a hundred feet or so away, only a hundred feet or so, but asleep. Two cats, one dog. A mother, a sister. All asleep. And I am awake, the lights blazing. Alone, and it is all dark.

The heater is on, but I am cold. Cold and alone in the brightness of the dark night. My fingers are stiff and it is hard to write, I never type, I write in my mind and my fingers automatically move to make the letters appear. But it's always writing. I'm writing in the bright darkness of the lonely cold, only a little ways away from them.

You're always cold, Kitten. Cold inside and out, you've no right to speak of cold. Cold is what everybody feels when you touch them. You create the cold, the ice and the dark. You cause the loneliness and are blind to the light because you choose to be. Bear their burdens and you will be cold and in the dark; alone, forever.

No one ever said life was fair. I did all I could for them. The human mind struggles to comprehend itself and in the end it will die from the inability to understand what it is. You cannot stop them, you can simply guide them and hope they will grow in the right direction. People are people, sheep, lost in the cold darkness of their brilliant technology, seperated by a world of connections. Life is contradictory, learn to live with it. We create beyond ourselves and can no longer control it. Our intelligence surpasses our understanding and it will be the death of us.

You can't give up now, you always said you would fight to help them.
I know, and I will. I simply hope that I'm strong enough to last as long as I'm needed.

Later: I went to sleep and woke up perhaps twelve hours later to the phone ringing and my sister slamming around our cramped quarters trying to find the phone. Half an hour later we were on our way to a hockey game: the NC Hurricanes vs. the Atlanta Thrashers. It was a tie game, 1/1, I forget the amount of penalties but I believe that the Hurricanes had more. Now I'm home, and tired. More sleep is in order.

There are times when the world amazes me. There are times when the world seems right.

Kelly is in Spokane right now, or rather probably in northern Idaho, approaching Spokane. She is on the train from Minnesota back home to Oregon. I have not talked to her since Thursday, but I know where she is. She has been talking about coming home, and now it is real. Wednesday she was 3000km away, and I talked to her on the phone. In 11 hours, 40 minutes, she will be here and I will give her a hug. The magic of communication. The magic of time. I know what is going to happen. Why does this make me feel real? I love you, Kelly.

The strobe light was on, and we were jumping. Phil was in the air, or he wasn't, and both of these states lasted considerable amounts of time. Matthias carried me, and I was in the air as the world got choppy. I was in a movie. The dog walked around (i wonder how he liked it?), and it was intermittent joy all around.

A few days ago I was riding my bike in Sellwood. There was a man standing in the middle of the street, playing guitar. His dalmatian was standing in the middle of the street next to him.

Phil needs cocaine.

She's drunk. She's so funny when she's drunk. Is she okay? Mmn-hmm, she says. It's a window into a different person, but much the same. Why should this happen? Why are we restrained?

He's like a nervous sheep-dog at parties. He's afraid that people are going to wander off and get eaten by wolves. I am bad at parties, but not this one. I love these people. They are my people. I feel good.

They're sitting in a chair, her arms around his torso. Affection. So many of them around me, around us, all different, all amazing, all wonderful. I want to squeeze them all until I have shown them how good they are. I am happy so much that I cry.

Boom! Who is that, and are you okay? Oh. Hi. That's my toe. "A couple of them." Snuzzled around my leg.

"I'm not an alpha male." "I don't know, you're pretty out there." "I consider myself an omega male."

I sat out on the porch. It was rain and it is SPRING! and it's time for it to smell like world. I could see big to the Tualatin Valley and the hills. It was nighttime in my nose, with grass and trees. Soon it would have flowers too. Earlier I saw the English village. I had searched for it before. I knew where it was, but I couldn't find it. He showed me where it is, and another lost place was found. I understand the world by place and location; I know where it is and it all makes sense. I know where I am.

Still snuzzled on my leg. It sounds like she's purring. Humans! People! Love.

I went to the Toronto Zoo today. It was a crisp, cold day, so walking around so much would have been miserable if it weren't for the pavilions. Where else but the zoo can you walk through a door made of hanging strips of plastic and instantly be in the atmosphere of another continent? Being a skinny bastard, I was glad for the constant changes in temperature and humidity to keep me from feeling like an icicle all day.

So I'm filing through these exhibits, walking past families and grinning at the kids scampering around my knees, noting the many diverse results of evolution around the world and the mocking slices of their home environment that they've been provided, and making all the regular cynical observations about our voyeuristic culture and what we must look like from the other side of the glass.

What stuck with me the most was the lion exhibit. They don't mind the weather, so they're outside almost all year. Their enclosure is surrounded by a tall barbed wire fence, set several metres back from the human walkway, which is also elevated by a couple of metres. There's a low wall for you to look over, and growing in a narrow channel along the outside of this wall is a nicely-trimmed hedge of thorny bushes.

The thorns are not there to stop animals from climbing out. That's what the barbed wire is for. They're there to keep people from climbing in.

That, more than anything, makes you wonder who the animals really are: the fact that the "CAUTION" signs (doubly marked "HATARI!") aren't enough. The fact that the zoo has to employ such subtle methods as planting organic razor wire just to protect people from themselves.

Maybe I'm not giving people enough credit, and the flora's just there to complement the exotic environment. But would you be surprised if they added things like that because they've learned about human nature the hard way?

Two of my best friends in the entire world came to visit me this weekend. They are both incredibly busy people, so I was extremely happy when they said they’d make the long drive across the state to Ann Arbor on Saturday morning, taking time out of their hectic lives to chill for a day or two.

I was out Friday until early Saturday afternoon due to Hash Bash preparations, but of course I made sure to return to my place around one o’clock in anticipation of Meagan and Jessica arriving. Taking into account the horrific traffic associated with this celebration, I was surprised when they arrived more or less on time. I received their call around two, with the news that they were unable to find parking anywhere within the block. I said I’d be down in a second and take them around and search out the obscure parking spots so they wouldn’t have to walk too far. We managed to smush Gin (that’s Meagan’s nickname, ironically having nothing to do with her fondness for the liquor. In fact it is pronounced with a soft G, in case you were wondering) into the backseat, as she happens to be the size of a six year old, and Jess and I sat up front with a clear view of the endless, colorful parades of Ann Arbor’s underside showing their faces in daylight for Hash Bash. We managed to find parking at the lot on Cross and Division, which was not too close but better than I had feared we’d have to settle for.

Before finding parking, we drove over to my boyfriend’s apartment so I could introduce Jess and Gin to some people. About two thirds of them were passed out on various couches already, having smoked themselves silly. Stef and Ben, my boyfriend’s roommate and his girlfriend, were still conscious and playing Tony Hawk 3 on the X box. They were kind enough to shake hands with the newcomers and take time out from their battle of high scores. Joaquin was slumped in a corner, hat pulled low over his eyes, but he gave a nod of acknowledgment in our direction as we entered the room. Dave was hopeless, and a slew of people I barely recognized were lounging elsewhere around the apartment, just as cracked out, so I ignored them. I found Aaron in his room playing Counter-strike, as always, deeply involved in some sort of clan match. He warmly greeted Jess and Gin, getting shot several times as he turned his back to the game in the process, as they are always friends of his going back as long as he’s known me.

Gin and Jess and I wandered around campus after that, walking across the diag to see the happenings. We saw a group of people producing a rhythmic beat while two girls feinted punches at each other. It looked semi-choreographed. All those involved were surrounded by a white chalk line reading “no police beyond this point.” We moved on, following the crowd through the arch leading onto South U., and then wandered over to the Law Quad, admiring the peaceful tranquility surrounding it as always. On the other side, there was some sort of concert going on, with many signs reading “Cures, not War” hanging around the band’s makeshift stage. The girl who was singing was not bad at all, so we stopped and listened for a while, leaning against the walls leading down to the Underground Library. Then it was down State Street, through the arcade hallway area of shopping, and then on to North U. to admire the spray painted dogs saying Free the Weed beneath American flags. There were more Frisbees and hacky sacks than usual, as well as several pit bulls barking wildly at each other. There were lots of police on bikes, and three or four cars full of teens pulled over along the sidewalk, surrounded by cops and looking dazed.

Jess, Gin and I then went to the U of M Museum of Art in order to see the exhibit entitled “Women Who Ruled: Queens, Goddesses, Amazons, 1500-1650.” First we had to purchase our free tickets and add a dollar to the donation box before heading upstairs to see the display of Chinese snuff bottles, followed by the Buddhism-related statues I often come to admire. There were also separate rooms displaying Japanese and African art. I taught Jess and Gin some kanji, most of which they could not recall when I later quizzed them (they had forgotten all except hito, or jin, meaning person). Then it was on to the famed exhibit, which was one of the highlights of our day. A good portion of the pieces were of French origin, and as the three of us speak the language to differing degrees, we spent quite some time trying to decipher the aged version of writing included in the art. We observed many engravings depicting the beheading and/or decapitated heads of famous men removed by women, including a dozen or more versions of Judith holding the head of or killing Holofernes in a very violent way. We also admired Agnolo Bronzino’s Eleonora of Toledo and Her Son, ca. 1545, the famous Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I by George Gower, painted in 1558, and Massimo Stanzione’s Susanna and the Elders, 1631-1637. One of my favorites was Paris Bordone’s Athena Scorning the Advances of Hephaestus, ca. 1555-1560. Jess and Gin merely admired Hephaestus’s bare bottom, but I liked how the artist reversed the masculine and feminine roles, showing Athena as a powerful woman with the right to scorn whomever she pleased, making Hephaestus look vulnerable, which was shown by his naked bum. There were so many more that I can’t remember the names of, but if ever you are on State Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and have a few hours to kill, check out the museum.

I asked a friendly group of Asian men to take our picture in front of the museum. I don’t think they understood until I handed one of them my camera and pointed to the button. Then they were all smiles and gladly obliged my request. As I was getting the camera back, another of the group handed me the most expensive and massive camera I have ever seen in my life, and pointed to a button on top. So I took their picture in return, making sure to follow the directions displayed on the screen on the back of the camera. They were very polite.

Us girls then collected the before mentioned people from the apartment, only they had migrated to Stef’s place somehow, and went to Leo’s Coney Island for dinner. Gin and I had chicken kebob’s, although the waitress tried to dissuade us from ordering them, saying it took a whole twenty minutes to prepare them. I gave her an incredulous look and said I would like it anyway. She huffed and scoffed, but wrote it down anyway. We were not impressed with her at all, but the food was yummy.

Afterwards it was across the street to the ghetto-fied Village Corner to pick up some booze, and back to Stef’s place. We watched Army of Darkness while drinking pretend Strawberry Daiquiris and bottles of Smirnoff between all of us. A wild game of Trivial Pursuit ensued, with Ben and Stef winning due to their incredible obstinacy when it came to getting a question wrong; they would demand we read them another, until they knew the answer to one. We indulged their annoyingness out of fondness, and because that’s just the way the two of them are. If we had argued or said it was unfair, screaming matches would have broken out and everyone would be angry. Eleven o’clock rolled around and the three of us took off for my dorm, where we watched The Black Cauldron on DVD and gossiped for a few hours. We fell asleep at the early hour of two, after setting the clocks ahead.

Now my girls are gone, and I am left with only memories to keep me company in their absence. Before they had to go, they presented me with a picture from the last time us three and several other of my buddies went to Applebee’s for dinner when I was in town. I’ll have to get it scanned. But anyway, we have plans to hang out in a few weeks when I am back in Holland, and before I leave for Boston.

Ok, so I know I am submitting this almost a week later, but it was special day...what can one do.

Sundays at the call shop on Aungier street in Dublin are pretty mellow. Unfortunately sometimes I get to work a little late, or I get there on time, but smoke a little hash and then obsessively clean the store.

Then I am ready to open.

I don't feel too bad about it though because it usually stays quiet until around half twelve

except for that random customer that never gets through and leaves almost as quick as they busted through the door.

Sometimes there will be a sudden rush of people right after I open that door and it never fails to freak me out. I haven't even had a full cup of coffee and I'm stoned like only a classic wake and bake will get you, and it's just crazy.

Anyway, today is probably the best Sunday I've had in a while. I don't know if it's the weather or what, but I've been feeling a little bit better about things lately. I am trying not to hold all the weight of the world's problems on my shoulders because I know that it's not my fault and that I do what I can to oppose it.

And I know that a lot of my present state of happiness is partly an illusion,

just like I know exactly what's hiding behind it, waiting to break through and resurface.

But I am ok with that and I know that everything I experience flows in and out, like the tide.


But this is life.

And I think today , today I am beginning to accept it. Accept that I will never be truly happy or content, even if I think I am.

But fuck this shit today.

Today is a good day.


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