Saturday, September 29, 2007

Support and Centripetal Motion

Simple Pleasures of College Life (excerpts from my weekend so far):

-Taking your clothes and sheets out of the dryer, then immediately donning a warm clean night-gown, slipping between the newly softened and toasty covers, and breathing deep the "Outdoor Fresh Scent" of clean. (as a side note, this new-laundry smell will always make me smile, because of a row of sweet-smelling shirts hanging beside a futon, and the boy who kept them there)

-Centripetal motion in the arms of a competent dance partner. (Tonight I attended the first of the year's monthly contra dances. Contra dancing is kind-of like square dancing, but more fun, with more spins, more partner interaction, and more natural bouncing and leaning. The next dance is Saturday, and I'm going to play in the band! The pianist is writing out the chords for me, I can't wait! And I'll be able to dance as well, which I'm thankful for. Between the swing dancing, the contra dancing, the biking and the rock-climbing, I'm gonna be in such good shape when you get me back! Except I'm eating ice cream with every meal... but it's not my fault, they have cinnamon, how am I supposed to resist that?!)

Cinnamon ice cream.

-Hugs from the ones you love. (Mom and Grammy are here visiting! Everything seems so much better because of that. I've been showing them around campus and catching up on news.... but really, I'm just soaking in/storing up love to hold me over till fall break.)

-Sleeping. I do love to sleep. In fact, I think I'll go get some sleep right now. (Wooo, yeah!)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tension and Release

Have you ever noticed how close rain is to jazz? The waves of rhythmic tip-tap, and the quick succession of heavy and light beats, the different qualities of sound as it strikes different surfaces, how the feeling of it lingers in the air-- It's really very beautiful, soothing, even sensual. There's something both intimate and extravagant in these little outbursts. The rain on my window makes a solid percussive Tap Tap Tap, heavy and settled. Through leaves, rain whispers and hisses, fwooosh fwish shhhhhh, soft and introspective. Swishing and sloshing through gutters, it's more melodic, more determined, that must be the solo. Then when there's thunder and wind, groaning and quick change, that's when every thing's really soaring. Maybe the air is always full of music, and it just fills up and packs tight, until it's so heavy that it lets go. Tension and release, silence and music- rain makes the most beautiful cycles.

Today the air was thick, heavy, and full of expectations. It fit in close around me, and I knew it was a hug, because it felt so much like humid days at home. I'm missing home at strange times. I'm not thinking of home when I've got papers due or when I have no work to do, like a lot of folks. I miss home when my bike makes strange Ethel-Mermanlike squeals, and when there's a particularly juicy joke. I miss home under the big oak tree on North Quad, when I see red socks, in psychology lectures, and when I eat saltines, oddly enough. Sometimes I miss home in the conspicuous absence of "yall" and "g'mornin." Other times, I'm thinking of home for good reasons, like victories. For instance, I got my first Page to Stage paper back today, and did pretty well on it. I'm learning to identify intervals and scale degrees by ear. I'm not making mistakes anymore on the figured bass of diminished and augmented triad inversions. My bow arm is starting to do what I tell it to when I need volume and power. Exciting stuff is happening, that I have to share (and yes, brag, sometimes)! There are new people to tell this to, of course, people I like and have a lot in common with, and they're great. But sometimes I want to tell you, and that's when I miss you most of all.

Warning: DO NOT go to Serious Events, including but not limited to rehearsals, lectures, and/or study sessions, with a silly song stuck in your head. Such combinations may result in inopportune giggling, glares from authority figures, and the incongruous mental image of hearing nonsensical words issue from the mouths of the Stern and Authoritarian. Nonsense is not a joke.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Talk of Toes

I can't speak Toe, but if I could, I'm sure I'd be hearing a lot of angry words right about now (especially from my big toes). Toes are silly and self-pitying appendages, though, and I don't care a bit about them, because I feel fantastic. I've been spinning and tapping and twirling and laughing since 9 o'clock this evening, at the 2nd official college Swing Dance. I earned my Gryffindor colors today; I embarked on this adventure all by myself (well ok, I knew folks who were gonna be there, but still!), not knowing the first thing about swing dancing, with only my fancy dress to assist me! So here was lonely little me, standing to a side staring in wonder at my talented and coordinated peers, and almost immediately I made eye contact with a friendly guy in need of a partner, who knew enough of the basics to teach me, but not so much that he was completely frustrated with me. And after a few dances, once we'd gotten the hang of step-step-rock-step and a few turns, my partner lead me into the very competent arms of his friend, who taught me the art of form and following, and comforted me with the wisdom that, whenever a mistake is made, it's always the guy's fault (if only this were true in life as well as dancing!).

From then on, if I wasn't dancing, it was only because I was guzzling down water, reapplying deodorant, or panting into the cool night air. Under the careful tutelage of a series of patient partners, I learned some things that impressed even me, and failed spectacularly in many amusing ways as well. The saxophone from my jazz band was there, my stand partner from orchestra, Cloak Guy from sci-fi hall (who's going to help me throw a swing dance in starlight lounge, though he doesn't know it yet...), and so many interesting people, but I won't pull a Mrs. Bennett and bore you with describing them all. I had a wonderful time, I'm still spinning and singing in me head! There's no sleeping now, that's for sure!

In other news, today there was a Dog festival on Tappan Square. I didn't realize this until I was walking to the conservatory this morning, and groggily asked some stranger why there were tents and people with speakers and little dogs running around. She replied casually "oh, it's the Doggy Doo, happens every year." I went and found a yorkshire terrier and a poodle mixed with something that looked like a wheaton, and thought of home.

I also discovered, out of pure dumb luck, a place that may soon become my sanctuary. I'm talking about the Ginko gallery. The window display pulled me in, and what I discovered inside will bring me back. The shop boasts a large selection of quality art supplies for decent prices. Kneaded erasers, brush pens, Microns, charcoal- everything I could think of to need, I saw there. Also, the back room of the shop currently plays host to 7 adorable little kittens, 5 black and two gray. The shop keeps kittens for some sort of cat adoption program, and encourages college students to play with them, to get them used to people. Me and my new friends were greatly amused by the movements of a peacock feather and several small brightly-colored balls.

Monday, September 17, 2007

High Adventure (no, not that kind)

Briefly, in my bass world...
-This weekend I went to Cleveland with some other Oberlin basses to hear a bass concert. It was like a family reunion, basses from all over the area were there. I saw some of my friends from Pittsburgh and folks from SMI, and got to know my Oberlin peers a lot better (which is inevitable, I suppose, when you squeeze five bassists in one small car for extended periods of time.) It was definitely worth the drive (and the homework I had to stay up late doing afterwards).
-I'm revamping my left hand technique to be more efficient. My fingers naturally want to fly too high off the string and my pinky is doing silly things just to tease me, and refusing to change. It's very tedious and frustrating.
-Tuesday night at 9:00, I will be facing my first bass performance at Oberlin. Ok, it's nothing so dramatic as that really. I'm playing the Prelude to the 1st Bach cello suite in studio class, to get comments from the other bassists. I'm going to be ok. Really. Really, damnit! And it's not intimidating at all....

It is much easier to ride a bike in a short skirt than in a long one, as long as...
-you remember to straddle your bike and slide backwards to get on.
-you check your skirt when you dismount to make sure it's a) still on and b) hanging properly.
-you are a foxy lady!

Getting locked out of your room is considerably less fun when...
-your dorm is very cold, you just took a shower, and your flower-power flip-flops make loud flapping noises.
-you have only one towel, and it's too busy covering other things to protect your cold wet hair.
-the RA with the keys is an attractive male, who lives in the hall labeled "hawt menz," and is, of course, asleep.

(following the incident referred to above, I got one of the guys from rock-star hall to pierce my nose, and have begun wearing my room key as trendy jewelry. I'm sorry, dad, I know you said nothing permanent, but I really felt it was the most prudent course of action, and though I have to contort into some odd positions in order to open my door, I am proud to say I have not been locked out since.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Burnt Sienna

God, whatever else he or she or it may be, is an artist, this much I'm sure of. This evening the sky was painted in such vibrant, aching, eye-searing colors that frazzled students and heartless professors alike were frozen by it's warmth. For moments out of time, the sidewalk became a sculpture garden, and every face turned heavenward was bathed in light, and groaning-gorgeous hues that were never squeezed from a tube. Each vagrant remnant of the day's drizzles cradled a glowing ember. The light shone right through the dipped-gold upper reaches of the Tappan oaks and maples, so that the pattern of overlapping leaves was like intricate, colorful lace. Wherever His paintbrush fell, on the chestnut locks of my roommate, on the bronze roof of the bell tower, and on my own cheeks, a swathe of gold glistened and shimmered like unearthly silk. Despite the unreasonably cold weather that these foolish Northerners take as a matter of course, tonight as I felt this kiss of light and color on my face, I was warm through and through.

This has been a long day of a long week. As my reward for being so good (well, as good as I can reasonably be) I gave myself free non-academic reign over my evening and when all my scholarly dues were paid, I went to a hip concert in a hip joint (get it, hip joint?). Jazz students from the conservatory were making delicious sounds in the Cat and the Cream, and I was there to lap it all up. The occasion, of course, required proper attire. My blood-red spike-heel Lady of the Night boots fit the bill quite nicely. Therefore when I tell you that the music was even sexier than my footwear, I am saying something significant. I had a blast- and a cookie! A famous "cat cookie" which, and I say this with no reservations, earned its reputation and more in the first gooey bite.


Today I learned that:

-when you put an already-tight cotton shirt in the dryer, it becomes skanky (or a fashion statement for the hip pre-school crowd, depending on the shirt).
-The sci-fi lounge has a tap just for boiling hot water that is extremely convenient. Because all-night nerding sessions and hot tea go so well together. (as all night nerding veteran, I can say that. You best watch it.)
-among poor college students, knowledge is valuable tender (in other words, I'm getting jazz lessons in exchange for Bach lessons, and it's GROOVY BABY)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Isabella, You Sexy Thing (I Believe in Miracles)

I can't talk long., really I shouldn't be here at all, but I couldn't resist. Tonight the universe (and the "random" feature of iTunes) played a joke on me that, upon further reflection, seemed very appropriate.

For my Page to Stage theater class, I've been reading Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. Tonight marked my third attempt at deciphering Act II, and I needed a pick-me-up. I turned on my computer and let Fortune pick the soundtrack for the downfall of poor Angelo and Isabella. I laughed out loud when the universe replied in the voice of Barry White. That Shakespeare and Barry White, two of humanities great artists (connected by their common obsession) should sing such a duet brightened my evening considerably. Happy chance got me through Isabella's first meeting with Angelo (You Sexy Thing), and I switched off the random while Angelo and I made a Decision (What am I Gonna Do With You?). Because really, Willy, I Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe.

Sunday brownies were a hit, by the way. If I keep this up, me and my chocolate goodies are well on our way to being the most popular sweet things in this dorm.

I'm going to be in a jazz band with Maggie, the trumpet from Cali and my hallmate, Erin, a pianist, and Caitlin, a saxaphone/vocalist from Page to Stage. None of us actually know how to play jazz, but that won't stop us. Our first rehearsal (jam session? gathering of awesomosity?) is tomorrow, and I cannot even tell you in words how FRICKIN STOKED I am.

I should be working. Wow should I be working. Oh well, sleep is over-rated. (Just kidding, mom :-D) Goodnight!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pennies From Heaven and a Sense of Sloth

This morning, when, upon rolling over and squinting at my alarm clock, it said to me "it's Saturday, it's early, go back to sleep," I happily obeyed. Lazy, rainy days are certainly some of the best. My bed is soft and warm, and the hum of my fan is a lullaby that, in the slow syrupy sweetness of Saturday morning, I feel no need to resist. I hope you took advantage of your Saturday morning and did something delicious, something like...nothing! If you actually got up for some ridiculous reason like jogging or homework, please don't tell me, I don't want it to rub off. Give this girl a lazy languid luxurious lounging looooong lethargic lie-in, and I'll hear none of this "gym" or "early breakfast."

Despite the wonderful picture I'm painting of my lazy day, I'll admit that I got some decent practicing in. I even did homework, I'm sorry to say. Mostly though, I stayed in bed, or under the awning outside of the student center, and listened to the rain...

P.S. I can only pick up packages when the mail-room is open, which, unfortunately, leaves a very limited window for weekends, which I missed by a mile. I'll pick it up on Monday. XOXO, Erin

A long time ago

A million years BC
The best things in life
Were absolutely free
But no one appreciated
A sky that was always blue
And no one congratulated
A moon that was always new
So it was planned that they would vanish, now and them
And you must pay before you get them back again
That's what storms were made for
And you shouldn't be afraid for...

Every time it rains, it rains
Pennies from heaven
Don't you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven

You'll find your fortune falling
All over town
Be sure that your umbrella
is upside down

Trade them for a package of
sunshine and flowers
If you want the things you love
You must have showers

So when you hear it thunder
Don't run under a tree,
There'll be pennies from heaven
for you and me.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Skirt-biking 101

When Biking across campus in a long skirt, be sure to:
-try tucking the edges of your skirt into your waistband. When shocked bystanders gawk at you, smile and wave.
-admire the way the fabric billows in the wind, and attempt not to give your classmates too much to admire in their turn.
-stop when you get caught and FIX IT.
-grow a brain and walk.

Developmental Psychology is very likely going to be my favorite class. The textbook, at least, is very interesting, and the professor is adorable (in that bumbling professor way). Also, I share this class with one of my favorite hall-mates, the trumpet from California, Miss Maggie.

I had my first Oberlin test today, in music theory. If you'll excuse me saying so, I kicked its ass In fact, I kicked that test so hard, it circled the globe twice before it splattered pavement. Actually, I don't know this for sure. But I'm trying to be an optimist here!

I hate to shortchange you two nights in a row, but not as much as I love my beauty sleep, so I'm ending this here. More soon!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sleepy Time, yes?

Facts and Thoughts In No Particular Order:

After all that waffling about whether or not it's wise to take Swing, it meets during my Monday night orchestra rehearsal anyways. The other ExCo's I want to take also conflict with my current schedule, and/or fall on Tuesday, my crazy day. I think my hall is going to start a girls' club based on one of the class concepts anyway, promoting self-indulgence and impractical fun.

I also found out today that only two basses play in the opera concerts, which means that I will get about a month and a half off of my 7-hour-a-week rehearsals just when I will probably need it most, though I won't get to play in the opera.

Tomorrow I have my second bass lesson. I'm kind of nervous about it, because how it goes will have a large impact on how my semester in general is going to be.

My roommate won a voice audition that she has been worried about, and we're going to celebrate with dinner and ice cream in downtown Obieland. Hmmm, so which of the two restaurants should we bless with our patronage? :-)

For future reference, if I skip a few days on this blog, or write one that's particularly rushed (like this one), it means I'm too busy having adventures to stop and sit with my computer.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Concert Dates

Some of you have expressed an interest in the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra schedule. Here are the concert dates, as I currently know them:

Orchestra Concert: Sunday September 30, 8pm in Finney Chapel:
Ginastera ...Piano Concerto No. 1
Brahms ...Symphony No. 1

Opera Concert: November 14, 16, 17, 18 in Hall Auditorium (W/F/Sat at 8pm, Sun at 2pm:
Britten ...A Midsummer Night's Dream

Orchestra Concert: Wednesday, December 12, 8pm Finney Chapel:
Concerto TBA
Beethoven ...Symphony No. 5

Orchestra Concert: Friday February 29, 2008 8pm Finney Chapel:
Bartok ...Divertimento
Concerto TBA
Ravel ...Le Trombeau de Couperin

Orchestra Concert: Saturday April 5 2008 8pm in Finney Chapel
Berlioz ...Le Corsaire
Student Composition TBA
Tchaikovsky ...Swan Lake Suite

Chorus/Orchestra Concert: Sunday May 4 2008, 8pm Finney Chapel
Mendelssohn ...Elijah

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Sense and Self-Preservation

Ever since that bike ride, certain parts of my anatomy still complain every time my bike hits a bump in the sidewalk. I'm trying to wince with as much dignity as I can muster.

Today was a humbling day, not just because I was constantly reminded of my physical inadequacy every time I sat down, but also because I've realized just how little I know, and just how ordinary I am in this environment. In many ways this being ordinary is a convenient thing. It's much easier to find good food, and fun things to go to. In other ways I'll admit that it is a a blow. I will try not to sacrifice health for the desire to exceed expectations. (It is ok for me to say that, by the way. The next person who says that to me who is not me will not be well received.)

I've realized just how hard this semester is going to be. I'm actually quite grouchy about parts of it. Luckily I have my folders to console me (see Pretty Folders).

Tuesday is the day that the registrar designed to kill me, as payback for changing my schedule so many times. At 9 am I attend Aural Skills I. The freshman ritual of listing out classes has lost its amusement for me since, inevitably, the name of this particular class is greeted by snickers, confusion, and the need to spell a-u-r-a-l. (It is an unfortunate coincidence that Aural Skills happens to be taught by Professor Cox.) I actually think this will be an excellent class to wake up to, because the first thing we do is jump around and stretch. Also, the professor reminds me of someone I like and respect, and that is cheering. She's so passionate about her dull subject it's inspiring. She waxed poetic today about the personalities of quarter beats, and the wimpy, therapeutic nature of the perfect fourth. I immediately liked her. I hope I will still be able to say that in a few months, when I am struggling to make myself care about the leading tone in a movable do harmonic minor bliggity blah. Luckily everyone in that class seems to be as clueless as I am.

Music theory is going to be difficult and horribly boring. But really, the thing I think I'll have the most trouble doing in music theory class is keeping a straight face. Between the antics of the voice majors (who are always good for a laugh, and that's not a stereotype, but a fact), and the professor's intentional and unintentional jokes... I came out of that class and went straight to the bathroom to laugh my head off and calmly reattach it for...

From Page to Stage! This will undoubtedly be both my favorite and hardest class, with the possible exclusion of Developmental Psychology, which is tomorrow). In this class we read scripts, see plays, perform scenes, write reviews and analysis of these plays, and possibly write our own plays. It's going to be awesome. I cannot wait to get started. This class runs the risk of eating all my time, because I will want all my papers to be perfect, and all my scenes to be artistic and insightful. I will have to run periodic checks on myself for that.

Orchestra was actually rather depressing. I mean, the music was beautiful of course, and on the first reading. We're playing Brahms' Symphony No. 1 and Ginastera's Piano Concerto No. 1. The Brahms is very exciting and challenging, but also frustrating. There was no way I was going to be able to sight read that music. And, of course, I didn't, not without making some very embarrassing mistakes. All the other freshmen basses are in the other orchestra, which is kind of sad too. My stand partner is a mute. Well no, not really, but she so far has not lowered herself by conversing with a lowly first-year. And the guy on my left just talks to the tuba every time the (very intimidating) conductor lowers her baton.

All of my hall-mates are getting sick. It's very worrying. I've been eating, partying, and otherwise spending most of my time in close proximity with them all week, and they're really sweet/fun girls, but I'm not keen on joining them in the puke-fest. I'm trying to keep my distance. If my roommate gets sick, that connecting door is staying closed. No, I'd take care of her...but I'd wear a face mask.

I'm still not sure whether or not it's wise to add my swing class on top of everything else, but I've done stupider things before and survived, so I'm going to try it.

Anyway, I miss you, and don't tell me not to because I can't help it. But tomorrow should be a much better day. Developmental Psychology is going to be great.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Train Wreck

Today, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I took pain medication because of something strenuous that I did on purpose, rather than something stupid that I did on accident. I am talking about the Bike Co-op trip to the site of the Great Kimpton Train Wreck. About thirty of us exercise junkies made this 12 mile trek through Ohio fields and forests, with the hope of free "refreshments" spurring us on. On the way, I gained new knowledge that I would like to share with you now:

There is no such thing as a "leisurely" 12-mile bike trip, especially when all your companions have racing bikes.

Gears can be your friend if you know how to use them. If you don't, they laugh at your pain. Six miles is a very long time to be on the wrong gear. Remember, the highest gear is for downhill, the lowest is for uphill. Or is it the other way around?

Your bike seat should be high enough to fully extend your legs, about to the bottom of your pubic bone when you stand next to it.

Campus is surrounded by beautiful woods and streams, and fields which have been left fallow and are full or wildflowers. Even in September, the wildflowers of Lorrain county are gorgeous.

My allergies in Ohio are not nearly as bad as they are in Louisville- unless I'm riding through fields of wildflowers.

Tea is not adequate hydration for hard-core exercise.

Sore buns do not like wooden stools.

In other news, I think I got all my scheduling problems sorted out. We'll see.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A very long day

Today was the most wonderful day. First, I slept in, a luxury that must be mentioned. I lounged on my bed for awhile, savoring the feeling of having nothing I had to do. In fact, I was lounging and lollygaging, and other lazy words that begin with L, for most of the morning. Even with this late start, I managed to have an incredibly full day.

My first stop was the gym near my dorm, which has its very own rock wall and set of belayers. I am now an expert in the fisherman's knot, double figure-8 knot, and naked figure-8, climbing commands, and all the practicals of climbing (well, no, not an expert, but I will be). Then, when I finally got to say the words "on belay" and "climbing," I went up so many times that my arms were trembling and I had to stop, so that I didn't ruin my strength for my orchestra audition.

My audition was successful, I think. It was made more stressful by the two hour delay, all of which I spent in the practice room playing while trying not to exhaust myself, pacing, and lying in my bass case. I was disappointed in my Bach performance, not because it was bad, but because I practiced it so much and was really pleased with how it was starting to sound in the p-room, and that's not the way it came out at all. They only ended up asking for 2 of the 7 excerpts set to us, the Mozart 40th and the Brahms Haydn Variations. I botched the beginning of the Mozart, but redeemed myself by the end. The Brahms went pretty well. There were too many mistakes overall, but my sound and musicality were solid, and I think I made a good impression. I was placed in the Chamber Orchestra, which plays the older music and meets M-T-Th. The other freshmen basses I know were put in the Oberlin Orchestra, which plays the larger, usually romantic, stuff, but I'm still very excited about my placement. I can always try to be in the other next semester.

The first of the evenings entertainment was a hypnotist who got everyone laughing and talking. It was a good icebreaker activity for orientation, and pretty entertaining. He made me drowsy though.

The swing dance was amazing! Did I tell you there was a swing dance? Well there was, and wow can some of these Obies dance. It was thrilling to watch, and I even learned a few basic steps. I cannot wait for the ExCo! Anyway, while trying to imitate people who actually knew what they were doing, and outright gaping at some of their smooth moves (I'm determined that that will be me someday), I was hunting for someone cool to take the ExCo with (because my hall-mates want to do silly things with their semester like study, and sleep :-), and had very little success. I'd given up on finding someone, and determined to take my chances, and headed out to the bonfire (where I had enough s'mores to cover my face and hands with marshmallow goo and be thoroughly satisfied), after which my hall-mates and I went to the 'sco to get our groove on. I almost didn't go, because I was so tired, emotionally and physically, from my day already, but I did go, and it's a good thing because, lo and behold, the first person I danced with wanted to take the swing exCo! Sometimes things just come together like that.

If you've read this entire post (which, if you have, good for you, give yourself a high-five) you'll understand why I am now completely exhausted, and have nothing more to say to you except goodnight.

Life Lessons

What I've learned so far in college:
-Eating bread is bed is a bad idea. The crumbs get hard. Honey-covered bread is also not something I recommend.
-If you leave the cereal box open, it goes stale FAST.
-The marker board will never be used on your door, and that will just make you sad. Put it on your closet so you can remember things.
-If you have a nagging feeling you've forgotten something, you probably have.
-People who practice percussion in the dorms should be executed.
-Once you have claimed a TV and VHS player, you must guard them with your sanity. There is no room for mercy when it comes to movie time. Upperclassmen may feel entitled to watch their TV shows while freshies are watching a movie. Silent staring in response is surprisingly effective, especially when done in groups.
-Practice too much one day, and it hurts to play the next.
-Even in a music conservatory, singing and dancing to yourself as you travel is still odd.