Living on a string of harmonic paradigms

As I sit here trying to think of how to put the words down, I’m struck by the hundreds of possibilities, hundreds of routes this one little post could take. I feel like my mind’s continually expanding, not unlike dry-rotted elastic, to be honest. Think hairtie: you pull to stretch it out and it just gives, with a little initial unsettling snick-groan of resistance. Then oh– well it just keeps going, the elastic inside fraying and crumbling away while the threads that bound it stretch to their breaking point– eventually you have a ring about twelve times the size of the hairtie.

The only issue with that is finding out what to use it for, now that it’s been ruined for its original purpose.

That’s kind of where I think my brain is right now. Just crammed to bursting with new information and pressure, not to mention deep concern and love for family and friends, combined with the stress of keeping grades up. Now, I love school, and think it’s fun– but the fact that I struggle in some subjects worries me and is material for endless hours of freak-out. Let me see you take a harmonic dictation for an eight bar excerpt from the literature and put roman numerals beneath it. Then have that make up twenty-five percent of your grade, or have it determine whether you fail a course or not.

That’s okay, I can’t really do it, either.

It’s really a learning process, and it’s better to gain the skills– they’re what’s important. But if my grades slip? I lose a scholarship. And other semi-important things, oh, I don’t know, self-respect.

So classes are stressing me out.

But I’ve really wanted to write, lately. And I’d like to write every day, without pressure or obligation, since I get too much of both from school right now. I do think it would be a nice change to just sit down and let some pressure go through words, though. I haven’t done that regularly in probably a couple of months, and I’m sure the style of this blog post shows it.

Oh, shit. Okay, well it’s 1202, and I have class at 1230 and I need to listen to that dictation one more time before it’s due. Maybe I’ll see you later, WordPress.

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So biutiful

So I just got back from seeing a movie with Nicole. We walked to the Little Theatre and saw Iñárritu’s “Biutiful.”

Well, oh God. I’m miserable right now. As I was telling a friend just now via text, “life sucks/I am so lucky. I don’t like to feel like shit about stuff like that, that I can’t change.”

“Biutiful” is about a father in urban, impoverished Spain who has to deal with a bipolar drug addict “massage therapist” wife, shady dealings with migrant workers, and seeing dead people. That’s basically it in a nutshell because I’m tired, but he’s also been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer that has spread to his bones and liver. He has two children and a shithead brother and he’s too busy taking care of other people and surviving– too prideful, maybe– to ask for help. Or to tell his family.

It was biutiful.

His ten year old daughter eventually found out and by that time I was a mess. He not only reminded me of my mother– who suffers silently and gives selflessly all the damn time– but his love for his family was a tangible force the entire time. I could tell that he did almost nothing with a thought for himself. And he still suffered immeasurably.

It makes me feel likes someone’s grabbing my guts and twisting, squeezing for a reaction. I guess that means it was a good movie, but I’d like to think that it meant more than that. “Good movies” generally do.

It was another of those reminders (this time, a rather sickening instead of uplifting or bittersweet one) that life is so short. Any second might be that last, and what the hell do we do? We squander away time instead of spending it with those we love. We think of ourselves constantly– even right now I’m pondering how this movie made me feel– and there is so much more to do in order to improve the quality of life for others.

As for me, I don’t know where to start. Getting my education and studying like a crazy ass seems a fairly good place to start, but what about after that? What about during that? What can I do in the next three years?

More than I have previously in this lifetime, that’s for sure.

Perfection (a reflection)

To be honest, I never usually have so many ideas I can articulate in one day. Occasionally they’ll hit me, quickly and suddenly, and I’ll have to get them down somewhere, somehow immediately or lose them forever. Others drift as remnants, half-formed and vague, until later. Or until never.

But today is just a good day for thinking and writing, I guess. It’s also strange that I’m blogging now because generally by 11:06 pm on any given evening (weekends excepted) I am either sleeping or wishing to God I was sleeping, so hey. This is cool.*

But back to my stream of consciousness at the moment, why don’t we?

I think a lot about perfection.

We all try to be perfect. We all want the 100 on our theory homework or the A in ed psych. Obviously we all want to perfect our skills, especially at Eastman (like, DUH, hello). And there are other ways in which people strive to perfect themselves: religiously/spiritually, physically, emotionally. Still others strive to behave perfectly or respond perfectly in social situations, perfecting their image.

I have tried to perfect myself in all of these ways. Possibly more, I guess. But over the course of the past few years, and especially here, I have put myself at a level with other, more “normal” human beings– and by that, I mean the kids who don’t try as hard, or the kids who aren’t at an advantage socioeconomically, or even the adult working class. I think working at Tim Horton’s all summer and this winter break reinforced my relationship and tie to the everyday average person. And while I refuse to lower my sights or adjust my previously-set goals, it’s humbling and enlightening at the same time to have a glimpse into the real world. It was also a learning experience– an incredibly motivating and meaningful one.

I guess it gave me a glimpse into a life not filled so much with lofty aspirations of a perfect fellowship with Christ and the church, or a toned and physically disciplined body, or straight As.

I mean I’m not going to alter my own goals– I have a shady outline of what I’m here to do, and I plan on filling it in. But there are manners that some adopt that make having goals seem like something pretentious and disgusting. Like, “I’ve got these plans and nothing is going to get in my way.”

It sounds okay, but in my opinion there need to be some priorities. Right? Like, family? Friends? Relationships with people, meaningful interactions with others, your teachers, your peers? What about living life? I don’t mean getting drunk (although hey, sometimes it’s a perk) but enjoying yourself and taking time to reflect on the happiness in your life. Little things, like having a ridiculous discussion with my roommate about Barbie and Ken, or talking to my grandmother about Criminal Minds, or savoring Starbucks because I don’t have it at home– or even staring into the sun and feeling it touch your face because it’s the middle of winter– those things are valuable to me. They are, in a way, much much MUCH more important than behaviors I’ve noticed, such as…

Biblical facebook statuses: I mean I guess people quote meaningful song lyrics and that’s similar, but please, do you really need to shove your faith in everyone’s face? I mean, I can say I love Jesus because, well, I do. But in my opinion and experience, it’s better to show your love for him through your actions. It’s really not how often you talk about your prayers or your youth group or “how you can spread the Woooord.” How about, you just go show it? Loving people without judgment is going to have more of an effect than a club at college where all you do is chat about how to add more people to your club. It feels exclusive. And it feels like bragging, and an exaggerated attempt to make oneself into someone others should seek out or respect.

Physical perfection: I understand that gyms are awesome. I have a membership. But those that get carried away, and do a freakout if they miss half a warmup or a stretch or something stupid? That’s ridiculous. The world is not going to end if you miss Pilates, dude.

Academics are overrated. Isn’t it enough that we kill ourselves to achieve proficiency at our art? The added pressure of grades just screams “give me migraines.” Some overwork themselves to the point where learning the material is secondary and the letter grade is most important. Isn’t the acquisition of knowledge the goal? Not the skill with which one takes tests.

Or, maybe I’m just overthinking this, and it’s the attitude with which one seeks perfection that is the really irksome thing. Maybe I just place too much value on not being an obsessive lunatic. Maybe I have a thing against acting like an overeager or scarily-driven know it all. Hopefully, though, I’m capable of pursuing my own goals with a passion for life and an enthusiasm that’s contagious and considerate, not obnoxious.

But that’s all I know for tonight.

Also, Lucy and I were just having a discussion while I wrote this… for her benefit I’m supposed to mention that Zulu thatchers were hired to thatch the roofs of all the gift shops in Disney World so that they would look legit.

 

* I mean, undoubtably this also has something to do with the fact that, YES I’M GOING HOME TOMORROW.

Underneath the abject willow

This is the song that is stuck in my head. It’s really great. And it’s also why I can’t get to sleep.

I want to sing in all of these different, intriguing languages but it’s funny how out of nowhere a song in my own native English can pop up on the radar. And be really meaningful.

“Underneath the abject willow” is a Britten tune that speaks of love and rejection and coming back from all of it. Life’s too short to wait and wonder, and although it’s beautiful to pause and enjoy the scenery, without action, without loving someone, it’s all pointless.

It’s just the song to inspire a few pretty thoughts of what a puzzled girl could do if she wanted to. Could do with life, if she focused. “Underneath the abject willow, lover sulk no more; act from thought should quickly follow: what is thinking for?” (Britten 1). So gorgeous. ♥

All that lives may love; why longer bow to loss, with arms across? Strike, and you shall conquer.

Crescendo to a thought

As always, Brendan’s blog got me thinking.

I wish I could say it made me think about how great people are, and how humble I strive to be, or even how much like Jesus we should try to be.

Instead, it got me thinking about three separate things.

One: a behavioral pattern I see here at Eastman.
Two: ideas that have been swarming in my brain lately.
and Three: that Brendan needs to write a book.

Relating to one, which I think is the most trivial of the three…
I see a pattern between the “partiers” here and the “religious kids.” The religious ones either keep it to themselves or go to extremes to invite people to their well-behaved events. We have one group, called InterVarsity (it sounds like a sports group but it’s a Christian organization here) that holds all kinds of events. But somehow it kind of seems like they’re in their own little bubble. They’ve extended information to the non-affiliated kids (like they mentioned a gathering to me once, I think) but to me (the non-affiliated), they seem a little upper echelon. A little too good, if you know what I mean. This may or may not be true (I don’t know) but that’s the vibe I get.

In addition to these Christian sects here (and they do separate, we have more than one little club for each denomination), there are the party-goers. The weekend warriors, if you will. It does get incredibly intense here during the week and to me, an outing seems like recreation to release stress (even if it becomes an unhealthy behavior eventually). Now I don’t see any of the partiers in the Christian groups. I could be overlooking someone, but I don’t think I am. In fact, there almost seems to be some animosity between partiers and groups like InterVarsity. I do recall on Ke$ha night being asked in the car if I was a member of InterVarsity… if I was my new best friend (whom I was, uhh, like laying on) was going to kick me out of the car, regardless of our shared sports views.

Back on topic, though. So. My friend Katie here said the other evening to another friend, “When’s church in the morning? I think I’m going to try to go.” This surprised me, because A.) Katie and I were going to the River Campus that night with the intent to find somewhere to dance (to the uninformed it looked like we were going to get smashed), and B.) Katie had never seemed the “type” to go to church.

I realize this is silly thinking on my part (slap on the hand for stereotyping) but to be honest she hadn’t fit the mold for kids I know here that go to worship services. That got me thinking, why can’t I try to go to church? Granted I would love to sleep in on Sundays… but maybe I could even go to a youth group thing or something here. Who knows? But then again, I’ve been known to be out late on weekends. That doesn’t make me any less of a follower of Jesus, though, does it? Then I thought perhaps some of these groups needed a reminder that, first of all, drinking isn’t a sin (hello, wine in the Bible). And secondly, most importantly, Jesus loves the sinners, too. I’m not saying that I go around getting wasted, swearing and having wild monkey sex with everyone I know (because obviously that’s not really my game plan here). But someone who’s not to hip to the holiness thing (aka me, or anyone else, really) is just as loved by God and (if they’re doing it right) should hopefully be just as loved by the little clumps of Christians floating around here with their wooden cross necklaces and conservatively buttoned shirts.

That about rounds out topic number one for me.
Topic two? IDEAS.

Liz Shropshire will be the speaker at next Tuesday’s Colloquium. I. Am. So. Pumped. I really want to get involved with that. In case you haven’t heard of the Shropshire Music Foundation, the link to the site is here and I blogged pretty extensively on it here, because man, am I excited. It’s finally a window (dare I hope, a door?!) into using music to make a serious difference in peoples’ lives. Children’s lives, more specifically.

That brings me to ideas. I haven’t even heard Ms. Shropshire’s spiel yet, and I’m already planning what could be done back in my hometown to bring more revenue to the Foundation. Then (it’s ambitious) what about starting something similar of my own? Maybe a mix between School 17 here (it’s a huge string instrument program for younger kids, but in a city school, if you’ll believe it) and the Foundation. The ideas are still molding themselves, shaping like silver ore in the forge that is my mind, but it’s exciting. To think that the training I receive here won’t restrict me to performing for the elite (if I ever get that good)… it’s really cool. I could use my degree(s) to pour the salve of music into the bleeding gashes of the world.

That said, here’s a poor segue to topic three.

Brendan needs to write a book. Yeah buddy, if you’re reading this… I feel like now’s the time. Okay, maybe in a few more months. But soon. Use your blog and some other topics, get them edited (Jordan and I did offer, oh so long ago…). I’m not trying to flatter you, I’m being honest. Reading words from someone so young in the scheme of things, who’s really trying to connect to his faith and figure crap out is really inspiring. And it makes your audience think. Or at least it makes me think. It’s so real, too. Like God is giving you words with which you can poke at someone’s thoughts. Little nudges. And they show that you absolutely don’t have to be some godly snot in order to have a real relationship with Jesus.

So, whenever you’re ready sir…

On that note, this post is so done. I have theory homework to do. But those are just some thoughts before studio class that I feel needed to get put on a webpage.

Your mission for the day? Listen to the song 'Why do they shut me out of heaven?' It's a Copland tune with words by Emily Dickenson. The Barbara Bonney version is pretty decent.