Not Completely Surprising

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or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Which makes sense and all, seeing as I’ve never met another person with either my first or last name. Which I guess has to do with the fact that there are apparently only 885 people with the last name Dicker in the U.S., making it the 30847th most popular last name. I had no idea there were so few people with my last name. Too bad my parents didn’t have any boys.

Aliiiiive!

listening to: glass – einstein on the beach, knee 4

Ah, yes. My listening exam was Thursday so I now have the freedom to obsess about stuff like minimalism and Russian music. Isn’t life grand?

I stumbled upon this the other day, shown on Sesame Street.

I was shocked to a) remember this entirely from when I was 3 and 4 and b) learn that the music is of PHILIP FREAKIN’ GLASS. Yes, Sesame Street was sabotaging my tender young brain with minimalism!! This explains so much about the way I turned out.

Orientation is over with and now it’s just a matter of classes starting and me actually practicing. Like, practicing in the way that I haven’t been for the last, say…six, seven days? Wow. That’s kind of sick, but whatever. This has been a weird summer. It has been the opposite of last summer. It was the anti-practicing summer of 2008.

Anyway. I did things. I took exams. I signed up for classes. I ended up passing out of the remedial history review, which is nice. Unsurprisingly, I ended up not passing out of either semester of theory. But this is okay! I think it’s better this way. I’m excited to learn theory from the pros, as they say. And in a place like this. And in a manner in which I will take notes that will one day help me to actually remember theory. Ooooh boy. Also, on the plus side, I made a dollar!

My falling-on-my-face wounds are healing rather nicely. I think tomorrow I will resume running, something I both look forward to and fear. Fear because…I’m a klutz!

And that is all for now.

Grr.

I’m not…frustrated or anything.

When I transferred from Iowa to Illinois, I had to take some theory exam for transfer and graduate students before classes started. I apparently had a fairly mediocre score, but there was a note from Von Gunden to go talk to her about it, so I did, and she automatically placed me into the 3rd semester theory class. Which was awfully nice of her, considering the circumstances. I think she trusted that whatever theory work I’d done before that point was sufficient despite the fact that my score was perhaps not the highest.

And damn, do I wish at this point that I’d had to go back and re-do some stuff. I did extremely well in theory while I was at Iowa. A’s both semesters. But it was a…weird class. In which we sort of didn’t discuss some important fundamental basics of theory and instead jumped right into the part-writing. I remember I spent quite a few long and determined nights at the pianos in the practice-rooms, just figuring out what was right to my ears and going from there, instead of really knowing what techniques to implore for 4-part harmonic writing. It doesn’t help that I have all this perfect pitch crap going on. I can hear what’s going on, yes, but when I see it on a page it looks like some notes that do things. I also couldn’t tell you what particular function any given note has if my life depended on it. I just don’t see notes. I have to hear them in order to understand what they’re doing, and unfortunately that’s only half of music theory, and not so much the part-writing aspect.

So my guess is that I will probably end up having to do one if not even both semesters of theory review. Which is fine. I am accepting of the fact that I have problems with theory and probably need to revisit parts of it. Hell, maybe I’d even be looking forward to revisiting some theory. But the idea that I’d forfeit taking some new interesting classes I’d like to investigate, for two semesters of review courses before even getting to the required MM coursework in theory is annoying. More than annoying.

I don’t know. It probably won’t be that bad. Maybe this is one of those instances in which I’m definitely not giving myself enough credit and I might actually do well. I don’t know about that, though. I’m pretty bad at theory.

I mostly don’t want to deal with the theory exam, if it’s anything like the history one today. Durrrr.

School needs to start. Like right now. So I can have some purpose and have someone tell me things to do and be a good student of cello again and so I can be given some reminder of why it’s awesome that I’m here.

Also, people are jerks. Judgmental, selfish jerks. And I don’t like it. And I know I shouldn’t care at this point. And I know I’m whining. But whatever. Grr.

Golden Birthday

listening to: stereolab – neon beanbag

Okay, two days late. But so what. That’s just how I roll.

I have had a really great birthday. Mostly. There was a morning incident of clumsiness that detracted from the really great, but that is life. In fact, let’s start with that. We’ll do this in two parts.

Part I: The Gruesome.

So this morning, around 11ish, I decided to go for a run. A birthday run. A nice, laid-back but lengthy run that would be a good way of starting off my Golden Birthday and the year of 23, not to mention the year of a new school, etc. I ran out pretty far on East Ave, just to Wegmans and then turned around. This is probably a good 1.5 miles from my apartment. About 1/4 mile after turning around though, something odd and unexplainable happened, and I stumbled and fell. Just like that. Flat on my face. I fortunately did not actually hit my face, but what I did hit was my right elbow and my left knee like WHOA. I landed pretty hard on the fleshy part of my left hand as well, but there was no open gash from contact with asphalt, so no complaining there.

The first thing I checked was the elbow, which had maybe a thumb-print sized gash bleeding openly. Goodie. And then I looked down at my knee and saw what looked like a golf-ball sized wound, oozing with blood. Nothing hurt much at this point, except for where I hit the palm of my hand. I think I need to watch that with the cello-playing for the next few days, make sure nothing is strained or funny. So I started walking the 1.5 miles back to my place. Boy, was that long. I must have been a sight. All covered in sweat and blood. I felt pretty not-great, to be sure. What with sweat running into my eyes and gashes.

I finally made it back to the apartment, cleaned up. Bandaged up. This whole affair didn’t hurt so much as sting, sort of a lot. I was happy to discover that this Shikai soap-less gel with colloidal oatmeal made the stinging subside, immediately. Note to self for future reference. I’m actually pretty fortunate I didn’t do anything crazy to my hands or wrists, or legs internally and muscle-wise. It’s all just external bleeding-woundy things. I could detail a lot more of the gross-ness of my knee and how it is healing up, but that’s okay. You don’t need to know.

Part II: The Great.

My birthday dinner turned out to be myself, Anne, and Kayleigh. And pizza was the word. We went to what was recommended to me as probably the best Pizza in Rochester, Brandani’s. It did not disappoint, even though there was a moderate wait. Kayleigh had some manner of calzone, while Anne and I split a medium Carolina something-or-other pizza, with spinach, artichokes, garlic. It was dee-licious, and made for some pretty excellent leftovers. I just need to remember to eat the potato, garlic and sausage pizza which my official Rochester guide-person recommended. Mmm, pizza.

Following pizza we returned to the apartment (or pad, let’s just refer to it as that from now on) and partook of cake. And I am officially addicted to sugar and flour, but it is worth it. That cake was so chocolately and good and it’s still in our fridge. Eventually I’m probably going to ease off the baked goods, but I figure, hey. It’s my birthday (or, was anyway. but why stop after one day of celebrating?!). And studying is HARD, man.

And now more of why my friends are awesome: I don’t need things. I loved presents when I was younger, but at a certain point they kind of stopped in my family, and things happened like every birthday was timed so that I was either moving in to a dorm or apartment, I had some sort of beginning-of-the-year audition, or school started on the very day. So just to be settled in somewhere and eat good food with people I like was enough. But they GOT ME STUFF!!! Like Kayleigh, who got me the new freakin’ STEREOLAB CD. So good!! Most awesome of all, though, Anne got me that 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle I saw at the Memorial Art Gallery giftshop! You know, this one: Yes, this one. I’ll say it again: really great birthday!

Thanks everyone. Hooray!

Also, yes. It is true. I have a boyfriend. And if random people stop being like “long-distance relationship? Poo-poo! Bad!” then maybe I would actually mention him again at some point. Nyah!

Rachacha

I should be studying. But alas. I am not.

It has recently been pointed out to me that I’m probably mostly liking Rochester so much because I have only ever lived in Collegetown, IL (or Campusville, IA. Same diff.) all my life, and Rochester is bigger than anywhere I’ve lived before. And I’m sure that has something to do with it. But to be honest, I’m surprised at how much cool or interesting or delicious stuff there is here, when the majority of people I’ve talked to say it’s bleak and empty and dying here, with no restaurants and nothing but a substantial mall.

But I think it’s all how you look at it. Or something. Rochester doesn’t have everything a big city does in terms of sheer mass of cool stuff to do or look at, but if I did live in a big city would I actually get to experience that cool mass of stuff anyway??! No. I wouldn’t! And honestly it would be pretty tragic to only live in Chicago or Boston for two years and be busy being a student.

It’s actually occurring to me that maybe, despite my occasional existential crises about location, I’m actually pretty easy to please. Or I’m resourceful. Or something. I mean, the internet’s got to be good for something, right? I feel the main things that attract me to a big city are probably food, musical events, historical stuff to see along with some good old visual aesthetics. And so far it’s looking promising here on every front (though I think for musical events of the rock variety, some traveling might be occurring, but whatever). Especially the historical stuff. Boy. I mean, come on. Rochester has an abandoned subway. How is that not the greatest thing ever?

Well anyway, case in point, Erica (you know, my sister) and Andrew (her man-friend) were passing through two nights ago en route to Lake Champlain, and stayed over. They arrived just early enough that we figured it would be a good opportunity to go out someplace to eat. I’m pretty lucky to have a large handful of people helping me out on places to go, one of those people being Andrew’s brother-in-law, who sent me a complete list of places to eat and visit while I’m here. We ended up deciding on Dac Hoa, a Vietnamese place within walking distance. And…ooooooooooooh boy. We each ordered Bun (rice vermicelli with all varieties of stuff on top, some with a fried spring roll, just to mention this). Andrew and I had the honey-glazed BBQ pork Bun and Erica had Shrimp and Pork. So good. It was a huge bowl and I thought I was going to explode but I somehow manage to eat the entire stupid and vast bowl. Also mentionable were the spring rolls we got as appetizers (I don’t remember what was in them aside from pork and mint leaves, just that they were “E” on the menu). Most notable of all was the price. And the really cute ladies who were running the place. Safe to say, it is close enough to Eastman and my house that I will hopefully be going there fairly often. Or at least as often as I would at the rate that I eat out.

Actually, I’m going to admit to something right here and now. You should ignore that entire blurb about all the reasons I like Rochester. Because there is a real reason I like Rochester and it is called Wegmans. All that whining I was doing about never living near a Trader Joe’s? I will ease off, for now. Because I have Wegmans.

On a somewhat negative note about, I’ve discovered that the worst time possible to try and gas up one’s car is pretty much any time during the afternoon on any given weekday. From now on I will go at odd hours. The thing I’ve been noticing while driving around Rochester is that gas prices are wildly different from one neighborhood or even street to the next. For example, today driving between the Marketplace area and close to the downtown I experienced one gas station with regular unleaded at $3.59, while two miles away it was $3.98. This means that the gas stations with gas for $3.59 had cars taking up entire parking lots waiting for gas. So yes. Note to self: only get gas before 8am or after 6pm.

Yes. Tomorrow it is my birthday. I am turning 23 on the 23rd, so it is actually a Golden Birthday. That and I’m not moving, starting school, or taking an audition on it. Only studying my brains out, really. I am clearly a winner.

Art Schmart

listening to: up in the hills – the high llamas

Today I discovered the artwork of Charley Harper, known for modern wildlife prints, particularly some really stellar bird prints.

I spend the majority of my free and work-time focusing on auditory stuff, so it’s always nice to get excited about something visual. And nothing is better than birds. Apparently Charley Harper had a close association with the Cornell Ornithology Lab, a place I fully intend to visit while I’m in the upstate, Finger Lake-ish vacinity.

In related news, I know what I’m getting my sister for Christmas.

Last night I dreamt that I was moving. Again. That is not a dream I hope to have ever again.

The Paris Of Western New York

listening to: the high llamas – up in the hills

So yes. I have finally made it to Rochester and gotten settled in and all that stuff. Everything is good. Very good. Surprisingly good, in fact. So many people I’ve talked to say they don’t like this town. Yes, I know the winter weather is a part of this. yes, I know it snows a lot and stays around for a long time. But so what?! Illinois winters aren’t exactly the most fun, either. And if I can get away from those stupid ice storms for a little while, GREAT. But it’s not just the weather. I’ve heard people whine that there’s nothing to do here, and no good places to eat, that it’s ugly. Having grown up and subsequently lived in two other college towns in mid-sized towns in the Midwest, I am observing that there is actually a lot to do here, and more than do, to see. There’s a lot of interesting history here that I’ve known about and learned about since talking to my uncle who lived here for quite a few years. There are all these ridiculous houses and buildings that make me have to suppress a serious spaz attack involving my camera. I don’t know. I’m all about the seeing. I’ve been having a great time going running up and down East Ave every morning (also for the physical activity factor), and look forward to expanding my runs to other places once I can run more than approximately 2.5 miles. Stupid stupid period of stagnation that kept me from running known as moving.

But there are restaurants and shopping and the Erie Canal and Eastman School of Music and RPO and the lake (which is clearly a nice-weather thing) and HIKING ever so close, and while I’ve hardly done any of these things, I’m really excited that they’re there, and something C-U and B-N didn’t have quite as much of to offer, especially in the hiking/outdoors department).

So surprisingly it’s been an easy move for me, emotionally, once we actually made it out here. Usually I cling to old things and make life hard for myself, but I feel like I’m going to do alright in this place for the next two years, despite some of the ruckus I was making before the move (yeah, there was ruckus, it just didn’t end up here, fortunately).

One thing I do miss terribly are campuses. I love campuses. You can walk in them. And I love the walking. I don’t know. The landscaping and architecture of these plots of land dedicated to academia have always been omnipresent for me. They’re a comfort, something I can always find some good and pleasing aesthetics in no matter where they are. I’ve always had one closeby. Wandering through residential areas just isn’t the same. Neither is photographing. I’ll make do.

I guess there’s also the crime. Still, worse places to live for that, by far.

I may also miss people and things. But whatever.

Now I’m just looking forward to studying like mad and passing out of remedial courses. Ugh. And being employed! Or so I hope, anyway. MAN, do I hope.

Car Drama

Talia LIVES!!

But now prepare yourself for the story of why I will probably never own any other vehicle besides a Ford.

Warning: this story is long and contains excessive amounts of words in all caps.

Last Thursday morning, we (my mom, dad and i) left Illinois with one Aerostar with seats removed and packed to the extreme and one Focus wagon packed to a moderate amount. The plan was to drive all 12 hours to Rochester that very day, stay overnight in Rochester and then move me in Friday morning and head out to Boonville/Steuben/wherever that afternoon once we’d finished.

It was a good day for driving. Nice weather. We’d been sailing smoothly for about 9 hours, trading off with driving here and there as there were three of us and two cars. Additionally, my car was feeling pretty awesome after an expensive trip to the dealer to have new breaks, struts, and some spring under the front of the car put in. We’d just driven through some pretty bad Cleveland rush-hour traffic and made it to the slightly less crazy side of Cleveland. My mom was driving, for whatever reason, and we were following my dad in the Aerostar. All of a sudden my mom says “something’s wrong!” I go, “with my car?” She says, “Yes! I’m not getting any power. Call dad!” So I call dad, and tell him the car isn’t getting any power and we’re pulling over and he says he’ll get off at the next exit and double back to find us.

My mom pulls over, right before an entrance ramp to the interstate. The car officially dies. My mom tries restarting it and every time it starts but dies immediately. My dad apparently exits the interstate and drives back towards us on the service-road, where he leaves the Aerostar with its blinkers on and then walks to meet us on the side of the interstate. He tries starting the car a couple times only to not, and then calls AARP (p.s. I am covered by the AARP and thus am covered for towing up to 100 miles). The AARP says they’ll have a tow truck come for us in less than 52 minutes and they’ll call us to be sure.

In the meantime my Dad calls a bunch of people, such as our hotel, and Heller Ford back at home because they know us on a more friendly basis (though actually they probably also know us on the basis of “your used car has ANOTHER weird problem?”) to try and ask if they can look up the nearest Ford dealer. I sort of laugh, like “ha ha! we are such a family of car foibles!” and call a couple friends to be like “ha ha! guess what?! i’m stranded on the side of the road with my parents outside of CLEVELAND! Isn’t it HILARIOUS?!”

I was actually probably trying to ward off frustration with being thwarted from moving to Rochester and also the fact that my car was clearly trying to tell me something. Something like “I’ve been taking diligent notes on all the other used cars in your family and we are going to have so much FUN together now that I’m right at 60,000 miles!” My parents on the other hand basically thought this entire occurrence of car-deadness was a good laugh, and an adventure. I guess this was comforting for me in some way. The fact that something so much worse could have happened. Also the fact that they’ve dealt with so many stupid car occurrences throughout the years that one more is not a surprise, but also clearly inevitable (it’s funny to me that packing and moving one of their kids makes my parents understandably stressed and frustrated, and yet a car set-back while in the process of moving is a laughable thing). My mom spent a good 15 minutes telling me some other great car stories, and it actually helped to calm my inner woes.

So we wait for our tow-truck, the driver of which calls us a couple times through the next 52 minutes to try and figure out our exact location. My Dad A highway patrol-man also pulls over to check and see if we’re okay, the Cleveland police, and some guy in a truck who just wants to see if we’re okay. My Dad thanks him but informs him the tow-truck is on its way, and then laughs and asks if he knows where the nearest Ford dealer is. Then the guy pulls out his FORD MOTORS BUSINESS CARD, hands it to my Dad and says “Why yes! I actually work for Ford!” Ha freaking ha, right? But then the tow-truck pulls up and the guy knows right where the nearest dealer is anyway.

And this is a funny story. Because there are no seats in the Aerostar except for the front two, but there are three of us, but we need to follow the tow-truck kind of right then. So we all run to the van, climb in, with my Mom and I SHARING THE PASSENGER SEAT, seatbelt and all, and it’s probably all kinds of illegal but we manage to get there. I just wish I could have gotten a photo of this part.

We show up at the Ford dealer, and it’s just after 7pm so we figure they’re going to be closed. But no! No! They’re open until 8pm! My Dad talks to a service person, telling him what the car was doing and saying he suspects it’s the fuel filter or pump. The really awesome service guy says that if it’s either of those things they’ll have to order a part that probably won’t be in until Monday. Which spells “failure” for moving and my parents ever getting back to Illinois. Until they basically offer us one of their dealer cars for us to use and return on Monday when we come to retrieve my car. SAVED!!

The Focus is emptied out in the parking lot so we can transfer everything into the loaner car (a Ford Fusion, which is freaking gigantic for a sedan, as it easily fits all the stuff that was in a Focus station-wagon). In the meantime, 8pm rolls around and the dealer closes its garage door. Some dark, nasty storm-clouds with occasional zaps of lightning are rolling off of the lake, headed right towards us. And it turns into a race to load the car with all the crap, especially as my mom is choosing this moment to be OCD and extremely meticulous about the whole ordeal of loading the car. It actually reminded me of that part in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in which the Pevense’s were in the home of the beavers and have just discovered the White Witch is probably coming after them and Mrs. Beaver is running around grabbing random things and asking “do you think it’s possible to take the sewing machine?” and everyone else is like “omgwtf can we please leave?!” It wouldn’t be a huge deal but there are things like musical instruments and a PRINTER sitting out in this parking lot. But we manage everything and climb into our respective vehicles right as the rain and hail begins. Hooray.

Everything else goes fairly according to plan. We end up staying overnight just on the border of PA and NY and getting to Rochester around 10am and unloading and then driving further east and eating lots and lots of food for the next two days, with a little bit of rainy weather on the side. Word also came through that the problem with the car was in fact the fuel pump.

Monday we ended up back in Cleveland by 11, where I retrieved my car, which they had actually WASHED in addition to replacing the fuel pump. What service. And the whole repair only cost $660. Yeehaw.

And so concludes the story of why I will only ever own a Ford. Because when those foreign cars break down in the middle of nowhere as they so often like to do in our family? Or even when they break down in town, those foreign parts and their labor charges. Bad bad news. Good service is also nice.

What Up?

Soooooooo…….

Hilarious car-stories to come. I’m just checking in to say that we got all my junk up to my apartment in Rochester, and that now I’m on top of Starr Hill Rd. I’ll be back in Rochester tomorrow after first driving to Cleveland. Long story.

Also? It’s taken me a while but I think I love The Smiths.

Sigh.

I get worried and frustrated when people can’t take the time to take care of themselves, even five minutes to eat breakfast or at least drink some damn water or something. It’s worse when it’s a family member who doesn’t take advice or orders from ANYONE. And when we’re driving TWELVE HOURS in one day.

On the plus side, apparently I’m blogging again.

Anyway. See you in New York. If nobody dies first or anything. Ugh.

Things. No. Bad.

Man. Things. I hate owning things.

If only you could see the amount of crap that is loaded between one Ford Aerostar and my station wagon. If only you could see. I would have taken a photo but nobody was in the proper mood for photo-taking during this process of loading things into cars. So much stuff! And it wouldn’t be so bad but it’s TWO CARS. I think it was the futon that did it in. I am so going to sell that thing next time I move, because I really don’t want to own things anymore.

Also, tonight I was reminded that sometimes I take being yelled at by people like parents way too personally, after a fairly long period of not being yelled at. Sigh.

But on the bright side, I had major happy moments with my parents when we went to Ming’s II for dinner. SO MUCH AWESOME SEAFOOD. Seriously. I’m glad I eat more seafood than I did two or so years ago. Things like mollusks. Mmmmm, mollusks.

I just realized it’s kind of weird that I’m so willing to eat mollusks but I still have major issues with cephalopods. But then again maybe that’s because they’re EVIL.

Anyway. I’m probably in denial about the fact that I’m about to move away from Central Illinois for the first time ever, if you don’t count that whole Iowa thing. It’s still pretty Midwesty out there.

Oh well. I’ll do great. Or something.

Insert Disgruntled Noise Here

Moving is proving to be somewhat harrowing. I mean, duh, it’s moving. But moving out of one place and into another and having to sort through a bunch of stuff in between is really making this whole thing into some big stressful…THING, a thing that isn’t going to be over with for about another three days.

And then there’s all this random STUFF I need to do that isn’t exactly moving-related. It’s list time!!!

1. Send out my freakin U of Rochester health form before they decide to not let me come to school.

2. Email my landlord people to let them know of some of the weird problems I found when I was moving out (leak under sink! problems with windows! dust that replenishes itself completely after 24 hours! man, good riddance).

3. Go to bank. Cash checks. Have money.

4. See people. God. I want to see people, a lot, but I simultaneously sort of wish everyone would go away so I could just move and not deal with it. I mean, that’s not true. But I don’t like just “seeing” people. I would rather spend an ample amount of time with people instead of just a “Hi! … Bye!” sort of thing.

5. Finish packing. Damn. Almost forgot that one.

So naturally I start the day by blogging. Go me.

Oh. Right. I need to mention my cello adventures of the last week. I was in Chicago for a few days back there and took my cello in to have an adjustment. Because things were sounding funny, or I guess not sounding as much at all. So I went in, and of course the source of the cello’s issues were not going to be fixed by an adjustment, especially because it looked like a small crack was starting to form next to the bridge. Because apparently the soundpost was too tall and my bridge legs too long. So I left it there and took a loaner cello, thankfully, because the next day I got a call informing me that my bridge’s feet are actually concave, thus not fitting exactly on the cello and not really providing good sound.

SO I GOT A NEW BRIDGE (and soundpost). And it wasn’t exactly cheap, but DAMN was it worth it. It’s like the same cello but more. One of the only complaints I heard about the instrument when I was trying it three years ago is that the sound is just a little closed in and that it would get better. And it sort of did. But some kind of bridge-related switch has been switched on and now the thing is as open as you can get. Well, probably not, but MAN.

I also started watching Battlestar Gallactica while in Chicago. Damn, you guys. If only I had a little more time right now.

Anyway things. I’ll probably next blog from Rochester.