Sunday, January 11, 2009


Last night I watched a 3D movie without 3D glasses. The movie was my life. I saw my world in one piece, normal and together. First I was walking alone on a path. As I walked the scenery started to change with increasing rapidness, mostly between different places I've lived or spent a lot of time, like I was inside a television whose channels kept flipping. Sometimes there were other people on the path, but they weren't there for very long.

Then things started to separate. Everything around me dissolved into its double picture the way 3D illusions do when you take off the glasses and look with just your eyes. Everything was doubled, but not just doubled exactly. It was as if there were multiple overlapping versions of the same thing. It was all moving and overlapping and sometimes I could see the insides of was very confusing. Then suddenly I knew. I knew, the way you just know things in dreams without knowing why you know them, that this was the way the world really was. The pieces I glimpsed underneath everything were the real truth, and the togetherness I usually saw was just an illusion.

As I started to surface from my dream this morning I still believed it was real. Before I opened my eyes, I thought I could choose which version I was going to see today.

I couldn't decide.

I'm writing to you from northern Ohio. It's very cold, and has been snowing persistently for a few days now. Someone, I don't know who, has made an igloo outside my dorm. Maybe they're in there.

I'm in an orchestra this month. We're playing:
Mahler's 1st symphony
Beethoven's 4th piano concerto
Huang Ruo (an Oberlin alum) Hanging Cliffs

Rehearsal is going well, and even our terrifying conductor seems pleased. The Huang Ruo, however, is a disastrous mess of sloppy writing and painful dissonance. Luckily it's a premier, so no one will know whether or not it's really supposed to sound that terrible (it is) and everyone will be afraid to appear old-fashioned by criticizing it. After the disaster that is Hanging Cliffs, however, the remaining audience members are in for a real treat. The Mahler is frightening, glorious, funny, tragic, and heroic at once. The Beethoven concerto is the sort of beautiful that can only be described in musical form, and pianist/professor Angela Cheng gives her interpretation to each listener like a loving gift between intimate friends. If every audience member does not have a musicgasm by the end of this concert it will not be our fault.

I'm enjoying the peace and quiet in my little northern hideaway. I think I probably have a few neighbors left in the dorm, but I haven't seen them. Sara and I have been cooking up plans and rich food, and are very excited about the possibilities once our singer is healthy again and we've bought more buttermilk. The snow is more pristine than it is allowed to be when 3000+ people live and work here, and the top layer has crystalized and reflects the sun as I look out my window. My bike is frozen again, but I find I don't need or want to go anywhere that a leasurely walk can't take me. I am quite content, and as always remain

For an amusing video of composer Huang Ruo explaining his Great Vision for "Hanging Cliffs," see: