Sick as a dog

The dog has stopped eating. she’s sleeping all the time. but she’s really happy to see me when i come home. Do dogs get depressed? I’m worried that she might be sick.
Still no computer keyboard.
I tried assembling my front tire, but every time I would put it together, I would hear a hissing sound and then take it back apart and find another hole in it, each one smaller than the previous one which was hissing louder the time before. I think that innertubes ought to be retired (hahaha) after five patches. I’m glad that I have teflon tire thingees to keep this from reoccuring.
I played the gong today in Gamelan. That’s the big gong in the back. the english word “gong” comes from the name of that instrument. But it sounds more like BwoooooooOMmmmmmm. Really. I’m going to advanced gamelan tonight and then I will pick whetehr I’m a beginner or advanced.
I’m going to learn to play the Viol or some other fretted string instrument. I dunno how to spell it, but it’s pronounced “vile.” there’s going to be an early music ensemble. I’ll be a vile player in it. Hahahaha. sorry. The instrument is not yet built. since it’s fretted, a tuning has to be picked for it. Preferably, a tuning that’s contemporary with the music being played. No equal temperment. I’ve leant the prof in charge my copy of the Just Intonation Primer. Later I will indoctorinate her in the was of my Just Intionation Calculator. Muahahahahaha!

Second Day of Classes

Today, I learned that composers were considered part of the intelligensia in Russia and ought to be considered so today. I heard it from a professor, so it must be true. He also said “socialism” when he meant “totalitarian communism.” In brief, people are innovators and part of a tradition. They are individuals and members of a community. They have roots to an area and they travel. In the 19th century, folk music arose organically from peasent communities and wasn’t written by anyone. Music written by people was impure and folk music was pure, but music could become pure if enough peasents sang it and it became modified over time from it’s original form. So said Bartok.



student: you think it’s cold out, don’t you?
me: yes


I activated my ATM card, fixed my rear bike wheel, turned in my proof of measels vaccination, got answers on my tax paperwork (filing as “single.” damn the feds.), filled out all my outstanding paperwork aside from course registration and then went to the grad office to turn it all in. I swear I spent an hour in the grad office. I brought Xena with me. Xena is so cute! Xena can run in circles! Would I like a cookie? Would Xena like a cookie? Xena looks just like some other dog that would love to play with Xena! Xena! Xena! Xena!
Xena may get tied up outside next time I need to go to the grad office, although the running in circles did her good and I did get to eat some cookies.
I need to call the heating oil company and the DSL provider.

Fun things in the mail

I got a nifty package from Jean. It has her books of poetry, a peace flag and some postcards and stuff. I didn’t get a chance to examine it as lesiurely as I would have likd, as I was in the grad office. I’m looking forward to hanging the peace flag (my neighbor has a gigantic American flag) and to reading the poetry.

My computer keyboard has not come in the mail. I despair of ever seeing it again.
It’s cold here.

I’ve always been a B student

But here, if you’re a B student, you flunk out. A grade of a B or lower triggers a meeting with the graduate student advisor. I’m trying not to think about this.
I have a housemate. His name is Aaron. He’s a composer and he plays punk rock drums. He’s also a nerd and writes a lot of MAX patches. His girlfriend is a food critic, so hopefully, he can cook. At the very least, he likes Compari. He’s been away from school for four or five years, so he’s as tweaked out by hordes of freshman as I am. Some of the straight-though people lack life experience in minor, but surprising ways.
My upstairs neighbor works swing shift, so I’m going to inquire about what times s/he sleeps or is away from home. It would be nice to have a punk band practicing in the living room.
My stuff arrived a few days ago. I’m somewhat unpacked. The house is filthy, so I have to scrub out cabinets (which seem to have grease stuck to them from the last several years) before I can put things in them. I got tired of this yesterday and made the mistake of starting to sponge off some of the blinds. Apparently, the blinds are supposed to be white, not brownish beige. I’m going to hose them off in the front yard. But everytime I look at the hood thingee over the stove, I feel really happy that it is no longer caked with gunk. I may end up focussing on this for the rest of the semester.
I’ve been oriented at least twice now. There may be another required orientation. I think I know what classes I ought to take. I have not yet taken a language exam, but I will be allowed to test in Esperanto. I managed to make a case that it was useful for international communication. I now feel like I ought to start using it to communicate internationally. Do any of you know any Ligoj de Verkistoj de Serioza Muziko?
So I have two course numbers for academic courses I should take. Someday soon, I may go look up the names of these courses and find out what they’re about. I’ll also be taking beginning gamelan. This seems to be adequate. Ron will be returning shortly and can tell me if I’m screwing up. Ron is the guy that I’m TAing for and seems to be my advisor. I’m supossed to write a mess of music too, but I dunno if this is part of my two courses, since I don’t know about them yet. I guess I could look them up. Music 510 is Graduate Proseminar in World Music Studies, which doesn’t seem to be about anything. And Music 508 is Graduate Seminar in Composition,
which seems to be a composition class. Okie dokie. And Beginning Gamelan.
All this orienting is making me nervous. at least, since there’s no graduate tution, I’m not being assessed late fees. but I could go for some mellon balls. Please mail me a sofa. (Unless the mailing of a sofa would somehow affect my finances, in which case, please don’t mail me a sofa.)

Gone Daddy, Gone, My Love is Gone Away

So what’s new? The phone number, for starters: 1-860-301-2508. And the local bank account is new. and . . .
The president of the grad student government had a party for all the new grad students. Christi, Xena and I went. There were oreos and fruit salad and water balloons, but since nobody knew anyone, they were tossed very politely from person to person. I became acquainted with two ethnomusicology (aka: musical anthropology) MFAs. Deborah plays the hammer dulcimer. She’s well-traveled and lived in Egypt for a while among the Coptics and studied Arabic music while she was there. She had a book coming out shortly of Arabic music adapted for hammer dulcimer. She is tri-lingual. Angela plays clarinet. She already has an MFA in clarinet performance and won an award for being the best performer of the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto. She went to “klez camp” to study Klezmer performance and her own Klezmer band has toured the east coast. She speaks German and Russian and is learning Yiddish.
I’m in way over my head, here, I think.
Saturday, the four of us (Deborah, Angela, Christi and I) drove the bug to Concord, Mass. This is where Concord grapes came from. Angela wanted to go to Walden Pond. First, we went to the cemetery and located the graves of Louisa May Alcott, Emerson, Thoreau, and another writer who – I’m ashamed to admit- I can’t recall the name of, but who is also high prestige. Anyway, Then we went by the home of Louisa May Allcott, where she lived when she wrote Little Women and the home of Emerson. Walden pond is actually a very short jaunt from Emerson�s house. Thoreau wrote that if you preach a better sermon or build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door. This is especially true if your door is conviently located. We did not actually see Walden Pond. Because more than 600K visitors come every year, Mass has made it a state reservation and outlawed all dogs. There was a long list of prohibited items and, alas, Xena was on it. Apparently, many years ago, E.B. White wrote that the touristy Walden Pond sucked. While I can’t say if it does or doesn’t, I can say that I savored the irony of a state official telling me I couldn’t take my dog there.
Since we couldn’t get to Walden Pond, we went further down the road to Salem. We went to the Witch Museum there and perused the semi-informative exhibits. Actually, there were pretty uninformative, but the staff let us in free, so I can’t complain too much. And the gift shop was highly amusing. We walked around the town and saw a very spooky looking statue of the first colonial resident. Spoooooky! Spooooky! Pagan stores were everywhere. One could buy tarot cards, have her palm read, visit the “Official Witch of Salem,” who we saw, but did not visit. It was late so all the pagan shops were closed or closing. I peeked in the windows looking for Polly’s CDs, but didn’t see any in the gloom. We walked to the House of Seven Gables, which is another literary sight, but not one that I know the story about.
On Sunday (our world is soooo exciting), Angela, Christi and I went to New York City and left Xena at home with Deborah. We went to the hippest record story in the whole city (according to Bernard), called Other Music. It was very hip, but very small. Then we went to Strand Books, which calls itself the world’s biggest used bookstore. It should perhaps be reclassified as the world’s most disorganized bookstore. You�d think that if I looked in the photography section of the world’s biggest used bookstore, I ought to be able to find a book by Judy Dater. Well, maybe they had one and maybe they didn’t. The store could have been the very institution that inspired Dewey. They had a big shelf of music books, but my bank balance was safe because they were completely disorganized. Opera was intermingled with pop and jazz. Biographies lurked next to theory. Christi pulled out a book about thirteenth century French motets. French motets from the time of Joan of Arc! But it turned out to be about texts and not musical at all. It didn’t even belong in the section. Powells Books is bigger, has more titles and you can actually find what you’re looking for.
People kept telling me about east coast / west coast differences and told me that I’m very mellow by East Coast standards. Everything out here takes a long time. It took two hours to get my new cell phone number. Everything is super-slow. Finding anything at that bookstore would have taken days because of its disorganization. I find myself often frustrated, wishing things would hurry up. I’m trying to become mellower. So if East Coasters are in a hurry all the time, maybe it’s because everything will take at least twice as long as it ought to. I feel frustrated just thinking about it.
What we did find at Strand was a children’s book by Lynne Cheney, wife of Dick Cheney. As far as I can tell, the book is not a joke. It�s the American ABCs. ‘D’ is not for Democracy. ‘E’ is not for Elections. I didn’t memorize the text or buy it, so the highlights here are from memory. ‘E’ is for Equality. But E gets less than one full page, because ‘F’ for flag spills over on to its neighbor. ‘G’ is for God in whom we trust and whom doesn�t have to share a page with anyone since G gets two pages. ‘H’ is for heroes, who include fire fighters, police, the American military (but not anyone else’s) and elected officials. Another letter has role models. The two non-white historical figures were African American. There was a woman tennis player and Louis Armstrong, a musician. The whites (who may have all been men) were inventors, statesmen, industrialists, etc. ‘X’ doesn�t have anything. Neither does ‘Z’. ‘Y’ is for You, which included illustrations of mostly white kids that had future occupations written under them. One of them was future agribusiness CEO. The whole thing had a very rough quality, as if it was hastily scribbled on a cocktail napkin and then turned over from that to an illustrator. (‘P’ is for Patriotism!) It is unsubtle. It is an anachronism. It is alarming. It does not appear to be a joke.
After looking aghast at Cheney’s book, we escaped the frustrating bookstore and rode the subway. The subway is a lot more like the London Underground than it is like BART or even MUNI. It�s amazing. We went to Central Park and saw the spot there Lennon was shot and where Yoko Ono still lives, according to Angela. We walked across to Strawberry fields. There is a big mosaic on the ground that says “Imagine.” It has flowers on it. We ate ice cream bars and then got back on the subway and walked back to where we had parked. It�s a neighborhood that is really a whole lot like the Mission, but instead of Mexican flags, there are Puerto Rican ones. We dropped Christi off at the JFK airport. I am very sad.
It took more than 4 hours to get back to my empty house
Today was grad student orientation. The recurring theme was that if one has a problem, she should call the grad student office, since the people working there know all. That look a decidedly Orwellian turn during the public safety presentation when the grad official explained that they would be called if we had any noise complaints and that we would be talked to. “We know everything that goes on.” one of the women explained. Great. You could feel resentment emanating from the assembled masters and PhD people.
My stuff is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Classes start Tuesday.

Letter to the language department

I am writing to ask if it would be possible for me to take the language
exam in Esperanto. Esperanto, as you may know, was invented in 1887 and
is now spoken in nearly every country on Earth. Although it’s popularity
is currently low in the US, it’s extremely popular in many in other
regions, especialy Eastern Europe. It is the language exam most taken by
students in Bulgaria, for example.

If Esperanto is unavailable, I can take it in German.

Thank you very much for your time (multajn dankojn!),


Well well well

during flute band rehersal yesterday, I went to the underage labor cafe and I talked to the owner about labor laws. He told me that the twelve year old only works for a few hours on saturday only, but showed up on Sunday asking to work another day and that he checked with the Employment Development Department before hiring her and there’s no problem with a getting a kid to do a few light tasks (delivering food, making smoothies, pouring ice tea) for a few hours a week. So this is apparently a lot like my plant watering job that I had at the same age.
I’ve know been exposed to every single flute song. All I need to do is learn to play them perfectly, and all is very well. I have three that are in the needs-much-more practice pile and three that are very new. This should be very doable.
Other deadlines are fast approaching. July 1st is the deadline to submit a tape to Sonic Circuits. I want to write a new song for it, but if I don’t get moving, I’m not going to. I don’t think I’ve written any tape music in 2003. It’s pathetic.
July 1st is also the deadline to do tape editting for OtherMinds’ web radio launch. Of course, I haven’t started. I’m inspired by Christi’s ability to do great editting at the last second, even though I should not be. when I was inspiried by her ability to do great homework assignments at the last second, my undergraduate advisor told me “You’re no Christi Denton.”
Speaking of the flute band, our guitarist is missing. We may need a new one. Five songs on acoustic guitar. Practice for around one afternoon a week. And a gig in Vegas in August that pays. Free trip to Vegas! woo!
Some of you have things that I’ve lent you. Books. Music keyboards. My trumpet. (why do I not know where my trumpet went? ack!) Lord knows what else I may have lent out. Please bring things back.
Also, I have many things of yours. I’m storing musical instruments that belong to many different people. I can continue to store them over the next two years, but if you suddenly decide one thursday afternoon that you need back your double-belled sarousaphone, coordinating it’s release would require an introduction via email to my housesitter. Just a thought.
I called some real estate agents today and left messages. The student housing person who would talk to me about finding a place is out today, so I have to call again tomorrow. I need to find a place soon and start packing very soon (which is why I need things back…). I need to put my things in a truck less than one month from now and drive my dog across the country. Big change is creeping very, alarmingly rapidly. If I don’t do something soon, I’ll have to live in the moving van… Oh and I just got thru to an agent! yay! The very expensive places in Middletown could be up to $800. Which is about twice what I would like to spend, but I feel optomistic. Anyway, when I go out to look at places, I’ll get an idea of what a dollar will get you.
So everything is going well well well. This morning, I realized that if the overly optomistic oncologist had been correct in his six-months-to-a-year prognosis, my mom would be dying now. I don’t think my marriage or any of my friendships could have survived it.
Speaking of marriage. Christi and I are going to elope. We’ll come back and have a very big party. You will all be invited. And then we will enter into many years of highly annoying litigation around every aspect of our government duties and obligations surrounding everything from paying taxes to god-knows-what. When I think of the legal stuff, I become alarmed, so I think that I will not think about it. Or maybe I will talk to a lawyer. or not. As my grandpa used to say, “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”


This will be brief. I dunno if somebody will tell me if I’m not allowed to use this computer. So I flew into the east coast overnight a couple nights ago. Yesterday I was a bit of a basket case from that two hours of sleep I received. This caused me to corner the medieval music teacher and fire at her questions about the Burgundian school of music during the hundred years war. What would posess me to tell her I had an avid interest in writing motets?
Anyway, I met Alvin Lucier. He told me how to make Boston Baked beans. First, soak the beans overnight. Put a quartered onion in the bottom of the bean pot, then put in your drained, soaked beans and honey (or maple syrup), water and dried mustard. You also stgick in a bay leaf or salted pork. Cook in the oven at low heat for a long time and then take the top off for the last half hour so they brown on top. We also talked some about music. I asked if I could be his assistant, as I could tell that the semi-random bit of conversation I was having with him would sometimes contain musical information as well, and he’s good to talk to anyway. Judy was his TA when she was here. She said it involved hanging out a lot and doing writing work for him.
I also met Ron, the computer music guy. He told me that the community here was warm and not competitive (like some other schools), and from what I’ve seen, he’s correct. His TA would do kind of cool stuff. Fixing electronics, doing computer maintaence, soldering, etc. Stuff I kind of want to more about. But stuff I haven’t done because of laziness, not ignorance, if you know what I mean. I have a soldering iron at home, I just rarely use it. Anyway, he also said that Christi could get her music done by the student orchestra. Judy told me that the orchestra isn’t that great, but Christi might be able to get an ok recording and would get money from ASCAP this way. There’s also a pipe organ. Every spring Alvin makes his students write a pipe organ piece and they get played at a midnight concert that is somehow connected to the gay pride festival.
The campus seems kind of queer friendly. There’s an upcoming drag prom or something. A sign in the music building stairwell advertises a men’s group to talk about men’s issues. It says it’s for all self-identified males, which makes me feel better about it. I saw one anti-war sign in the student center. The school newspaper is probably considered to be on the left, or maybe moderate. It has an editorial that worries about embedded journalists, perhaps they’re endangering troops. right. ok. Middletown has a lot of flags. This is Joe Lieberman’s state. Lots of military. A lot of flag poles fly POW/MIA flags below the US flag. There are a lot of flags just around. The Italian Catholic church is St. Sebastian parish. They have a statue of St Sebastian standing at attnetion (not shot full of arrows) outside. An engraving says that he’s the parton saint of Catholic vetrans (my emphasis). Er… yeah. At first this pissed me off. But then I remembered that St. Sebastian was murdered heniously by his own army after refusing to commit an atrocity, so maybe he is a good war saint. On the other hand . . .
In counterpoint to all the flag waving, the Episcopals have a US flag with a dove carrying an olive branch. No stars on the blue. I guess that’s flag waving too, but it makes me feel better about things. The town is um, what berkeley would be like without Telgraph Avenue and without any of the towns around it like Albany and San Francisco if there were no gas stations and it didn’t have Peets or Codys or the gormet ghetto or hills or . . .. I don’t get small towns. This is suburban for sure. It’s only two hours from New York though. If it were SF, it would be one of those outlying suburbs that people insanely commute from, like Davis kind of is. But a two hour commute must be consdered long here or something. A lot of people said hi to me on the streets of Middletown, but they might all be crazy, I have to ask somebody. Yeah… well, there’s a nice looking playhouse which isn’t part of the school. And a new espresso shop. I had a dismal macciato this morning, but at least it was coffee and had soymilk, even if it was just a bitter wet cap. Maybe they’ll get better. And there’s a ncie fruit shop. A lot of itallian markets. Apparently an entire Sicillian village relocated here several years ago.
I must go try to meet with the department head. I think that I could spend two years here without going insane. And if I do, there’s a large mental institution in town.


I woke up with Owen lying next to me. Matthew, Jenny and Owen stayed over with us rather than driving back to Mnt View late at night and Christi hijacked OAT to try to wake me up in the morning. It worked. All of us, including Tiffany and Christi’s mom went for breakfast at Tomate cafe, which has improved a lot recently. Then we returned and I complained that my relationship to Owen was way too complicated to explain, so Jenny said that Christi, her mom and I could all be godmothers.
Everyone went back to their homestates or work or whatever, and I called up Best Music about my tuba and they told me to go to Best Repair. When I lived in Cupertino, I got all my tuba work done by a guy named Sousa (what elese could you do with that name?) in San Jose. So I was wondering about Best Repair, since I was unfamiliar with them. When I purchased my tuba, the old owner told me that BOBO (the world’s greatest tuba player, who is with the La Philharmonic) had seen it in a shop after the 5th valve was added and tried to buy the horn, but the owner refused to sell, lending it to him for a couple of seasons instead. This story took place, I figured in LA, but the shop was called “Best” something-or-other. Anyway, I walked in with my horn and put it on the counter and the guy looks for about 5 seconds as I point at the worn cork on the valves and says, “I did all this valve work.” He went on to explain that he added the fifth valve. I asked him about the story with Bobo and he said that he knows Bobo, but the story was wrong. He also told me that he didn’t add the spring-loaded tuning thingee, so maybe that’s where Bobo saw it, or maybe the whole Bobo-connection is a myth. Anyway, I feel very good about having that guy work on my horn, since he’s already worked on it extensively and done a great job. I’ve left in good hands.
Then I came back home and got the mail, where there was a thin letter from Wesleyan. I feared the worst, but since I got into Cal Arts, I could go someplace if I wanted, and I’m not sure if I want to, cuz it’s a lot of money and who knows how valuable an M.A. in composition is anyway? Christi told me years ago that the average salry of a music graduate declines as their education increases. I’d do better financially if I just have a B.A. and not a M. A. and if I went back to high tech and anyway. Wesleyan’s short letter explained that they are happy to offer me admission,a full ride and a stipend. I started jumping up and down and jumped on christi and then ran over to my neighbor’s house where I jumped up and down and frightened her dog. Then I jumped up and down some more.
Then we took the framed fine-art scores to Christi’s office, cuz I always worry about things getting harmed when I have them and they’re not mine. when we got back, Christi told me that she had a long conversation with Lyn Liston of the American Music Center with at the Other Minds festival. Christi and I met Lyn at the Composing A Career confrence last spring. The AMC is holding three carrer building workshop thingees coming up soon. I think I posted the info to the call for scores blog, linked to in the left margin. Anyway, Christi and I will be unable to attend the SF one, because we have to play in Seattle right afterwards, but there’s one in Seattle the next weekend that we were going to go to. Lyn told Christi that the AMC has been advertising our “Meet the Composer” thingee in Seattle as an adjunct to their confrence. Obviously, they would comp us in to the festival since we’re featured, etc.
Blinking extensively at that news, I stumbled over to a computer where I had email from my dad telling me that he purchased me a whole case of Girl Scout Thin Mints.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a day quite like yesterday before. Certainly better than any day I had last year. It was just one good thing after another. My my fairy godmother’s sabatical just ended or something. I still have deadlines creeping up though, and yesterday was not a good day for working on stuff. I’m still blown away.