Ceremony

I’ll bet you didn’t expect another COVER MONDAY, now did you?

This song, Ceremony…is it a New Order song? Is it a Joy Division song? Same diff! Ian Curtis of Joy Division wrote it, but it carried over as a New Order after Ian Curtis’ death and I guess also the death of Joy Division. I was first introduced to this song while I was at the U of I and a composer friend and I had put together a kind of ridiculous cover-band going for a class project (it was a computer software class — Max MSP). I can’t remember exactly, but I think we ended up calling ourselves The Latencies or something like that due to the fact that the Max MSP patch we ran my bass sound through made everything latent as hell, and it caused all sounds and songs to go much more slowly in tempo than we had ever originally planned.

For your reference, here’s a video of the original Joy Division version. I’m pretty sure it’s exactly the same as the New Order version, but with Ian Curtis on vocals.

I think this was pretty much the point in my music-listening career in which I discovered 80’s New Wave crap — New Order, The Smiths, perhaps some other band here or there.

So to discover the Xiu Xiu had covered this song?!? Was a little frightening. They’re a kind of frightening band, after all. Just go watch some of their videos on YouTube and you’ll understand what I mean. But upon listening to the song it turned out that this cover was less upsetting and more completely delightful to my ears. Xiu Xiu has a very desolate, dark sound which I think comes from a very direct use of electronics in melodies and important sounds in their songs combined with the use of more simple, traditional and often-times folksy instruments with little else to interject or distract for those points. There are no excess and needless background electronics for show and glamor in their sound, and I appreciate that. Their sound manages to come off to me as being both stark and haunting at the same time. Xiu Xiu does this stark haunt-y thing in this cover by leaving a lot of the song to its original devices (the bass instrumentation and execution is pretty much identical to the original) but then layering CRAZY ASS ELECTRONICS on top. Add Jamie Stewart’s voice and you’ll need to sit your ass down for quite a cover.

And truly, it is one of my favorites.

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Zug Zug

I keep starting some entry or other about my two weeks in Madison, and then I agonize over these entries and the fact that people will read them and the fact that it’s already been a week since I left there and BLAH BLAH BLAH. I think that the more I agonize, the more I realize that…well…why should I have to share it with anybody?

Maybe some other time.

In the meantime, I am holding the fort while my parents are away in L.A., and I swear, I am going to buy a shot-gun just to shoot the rabbits that keep eating my mom’s strawberries. Little bastards.

Brief

Just a few notes before I dish out any kind of real entry:

1. My parents are amazing. I would be so lost and SCREWED without them. Also, I would not exist. And where would that leave me?

2. Aaaaah, Midwest. See, Wisconsin and everything in it was awesome, but I don’t feel like it did a very good job of representing true Midwestern Summer Weather there, what with the lack of crushing, insane humidity and crazy severe thunderstorms. It’s only been two nights home and each night has been trying to break some record for most insane lightning show. I took the long way home from Denny’s last night just to witness the crazy for three extra minutes.

3. I am sorry, circa-2006 MacBook, but it is time.

Fun Camera Times

Written yesterday, published right this second:

Hey hey now, I am doing pretty alright. Better. Much better, in fact. I am getting all sorts of perspective. So much perspective. Like, I’m tripping over the damn stuff, the perspective is just so ubiquitous. WOOO.

Anyway!

Let’s talk about photo-taking.

What about photo-taking, you ask? The fact that I love it, and I have this sudden urge to do it, as well as this realization that, hell, I’ve LEARNED things about it since I started doing it more seriously say about 3.5 years ago and especially since I’ve gotten my D40 in January of 2008. I’ve come a long way. Baby.

I’m excited about being back home in BN with friends who also enjoy cameras and photos and have spoken the desire to have some fun camera times together. That teemed with a sudden creative energy surge and the free-time I’ll actually have to pursue those fun camera times makes this the time to do it.

So it should come to as no surprise to myself and others who are my Flickr friends that I am going to re-enter fun camera times with the 365 days project, or some variation of it. I think I’ve started the 365 days project at least three times and have failed miserably each time, due to one reason or another. The closest I came to finishing was the first time, between 2007 and 2008, and I think I lasted just under a half of the allotted 365 days by the time I threw in the towel. I guess I still have some reservations, some that probably helped me to quit the first however-many times. Like…taking a photo of yourself every day of the year is a bit like Narcissism City. And potentially kind of pretentious (or it sometimes FEELS that way to me). Or worse — plain old boring. But I guess I’d like to think that the accomplishment of a creative project of this nature has rewards, too. Like the kinds of rewards involving extreme exploration of camera-use, improved technical and artistic photographic abilities, and a shiny self-satisfaction that any creative project will provide a person in some one way or another.

Moreover, I truly would like to challenge myself further as a photographer, especially now that I feel like I’m better equipped with the knowledge of how cameras work and what it takes to make photos work in different lighting and all that jazz.

And without further adieu, here are some highlights from previous 365 Projects, or at least my favorites from the bunch. These date from September 2007 with a Kodak Z710 to December 2008 with a Nikon D40 with kit lens. You have now entered Narcissism City.

365.021 Waste O' Time, Sitting Still
This is photo 21 from the first project, and I think this remains my favorite 365 days photo, ever. Taken outside the alumni building at U of I, smack dab between the music building and my apartment.

365.039

365.051 Fair Tones
Please allow me to blind you with my PALENESS

365.041

365 Reject
This photo, as well as the below, were both taken on the Rooftop Amphitheater of the Krannert Center for Performing Arts on the U of I campus. I love these photos, and I’m still a bit floored to share that these were taken in the “automatic” setting on my D40.

025.365

365:003
One of the first photos I took after moving to Rochester, outside the MAG close to where I lived.

365:005My 23rd birthday on the 23rd — A Golden Birthday — in which I got my ass kicked by some sidewalk during a run. If I look upset it’s because I am, sorry to say.

365:018

Red And Goldish

At Least This Means I Slept, Right?!?

I dreamt that I ended up on a whim moving to Honolulu which turned out to be overrun by the Yakuza who were snatching people up from the street and forcing them to make guava juice. It was a scary place to be.

Your guess is as good as mine about that one.

Hey Skipper, Look Ahead, Navigate

I am doing okay. Kind of. I guess.

I’m pretty sick of all of this. The anxiety. Talking about it. Thinking about it. Worrying. Worrying worrying worrying about it. But I think that in the spirit of openness and honesty and this cool thing where maybe one day I can look back on this entry and go “hmmm” or “blah” or “Eureka,” I should write about it a little.

Just a note, I blogged about my first panic attack, and you can read about it here if you like. You know. For kicks.

I mean, I guess there isn’t much to say. Just that I was sitting in a Masterclass not feeling particularly stellar and then in mere moments I was outside the UW Humanities building hyperventilating in ways I never thought possible. It was worse than the first time. But eventually my breathing evened out enough that I was able to make my way to our temporary apartment, equip myself with water and some things to eat, and then I went to the most seclusive and people-free place I could think of which happens to be on top of that Alumni Building where I’ve recently been leeching internet. I talked on the phone with Erica and Tim and Michelle, bless their souls, to try and concentrate on short-term occurrences and objects in front of my face instead of various unpleasant thoughts such as “what if I need to leave?” “what am I going to tell my parents, who are paying for all this shit, if I leave?” “what will other people think if I just take off?” etc., that were causing me to push further into a frightful and panicky state.

Eventually I calmed down enough that I was able to breathe relatively normally and cease the random sobbing, at which point I went for a walk with Mark who, bless his soul as well, talked to me and kept me from doing anything ridiculous like motoring out of Madison as fast as my feet and my very dusty car (SO dusty) would take me.

So why did this happen, particularly now? I don’t know. I could list off maybe 50 things I suspect might have been contributors in some small way or other, but it’s possible most of those had nothing to do with anything. All I know for certain are these three things: I am having problems coping with being around so many people so much of the time. I feel guilt and pressure relating to my future with the cello and classical music. I don’t feel truly comfortable with my surroundings. And those things plus the possible slew of 47 others caused a slow burn of anxiety that built up to the point where my brain and body could no longer cope.

The thing that actually struck me the most about the aftermath of this panic attack was just how uncomfortable and threatened I felt by my surroundings. When it happened at Orchestra Hall, we left Orchestra Hall that night and I wasn’t left to dwell in that place or feel threatened by it. But that couldn’t be the case here in Madison, so two days ago it was truly all I could do not to simply leave. I later came to realize that there isn’t really a place I can go around here where I can feel really comfortable, unless you count out in an open field maybe 2.5 miles walk from here. The place we’re staying is honestly not the most comfortable, though it’s well worth the money we’re paying for it and the convenience it provides for us. And the Humanities building where the entire workshop is taking place? Was built to withstand an Atomic Blast. And I don’t know, I just get feelings about buildings, and this one happens to give me less than happy ones.

Also frustrating is how long it has taken for my body to be less on edge. The following day I felt a little like a ticking time-bomb waiting to go off, and perhaps didn’t put myself in the right situation for regaining my composure. Just a note, it’s never small groups of people that make me freaked out, as I can handle one or two other people at a time and usually feel dandy. It’s always the large groups that do me in, which was kind of the situation I found myself in later that following day. Apparently too many people, especially those I don’t know or feel comfortable around, cause me some serious CRAAAAZY. But apparently it can be somewhat remedied with a good solitary walk, some R.E.M., Abraham Lincoln and some quiet sitting-time by the lake. Hooray for that, I suppose, but I still worry. It makes sense that I worry. Having had one panic attack while playing the cello, for a while I associated panic attacks with performing and became so worried about having one while playing the cello that I probably almost gave myself one just from thinking about it whilst on-stage. I’m doing a little of the same with social settings here, which is, you know, frustrating.

I guess I just need to pay attention to how I’m feeling and do something about how I’m feeling instead of wait it out. Which might require me to become a hermit. Or maybe it won’t! I seem to be doing pretty alright so far. Er. Kind of. Bottom line: do not wait it out. Just go be alone if it’s what you need, self.

So there you go. It sucked. I feel tired just thinking about it. I know I should be thinking about what’s best for me and what’s going to put me in a better place and how I can do those things for myself, but on the other hand I feel needy and annoying and burdensome to the people around me, even if I’m not talking about the way I feel at every free moment. There are moments where I wonder why I can’t just let go of any care that’s ever entered my mind, but I’m pretty sure that’s now how it works.

And here is where I shut my pie-hole about the entire matter.

Yes Yes

Heeeey, I haven’t updated in a few days. But alas, there is a distinct lack of internet. And every time I do have internet, I get so distracted by the sheer amounts of STUFF I have been missing out on that I go instantly ADD, it seems.

But yes. I am okay. A little jumpy and crazy, but okay.

The End.

Eating My Words

….And then I had a panic attack. It was un-fun. But I am okay, and lucky to have supportive folks available over the phone and even right here in Madison.

More on this, perhaps another time.

P.S. Rats are motherfucking SWIMMERS?!

Working With My Anxious Mind

Hey, I didn’t want to give any kind of impression that I’m miserable out here in the land of beer and cheese. I’m having a downright good ‘ol time, to be sure, and I’m very glad I’m here for the institute. I intend to blog more about Feldenkrais, perhaps once I’ve experienced the last week here and learned a few more things, but all you need to know is that it’s not only a way of allowing the body to explore possibilities, but also the mind. I’ve always felt strongly that parts of life — jobs, relationships, how you live in your life — should happen organically without force or struggle. And perhaps that’s why I’m trying to open up about things like anxiety. Like it or not, it’s a part of my life, and I don’t think it’s going to completely dissolve any time during my lifetime. I guess that in some way it’s comforting that I’m not the only one out there, and that immediate family members also feel the burn of anxiety in similar ways that I do, as I’ve discovered.

What I’ve only just come to realize is that I’ve always treated my anxiety as a vice — a truly miserable and unfortunate trait of mine that I’m constantly fighting and wishing I could eradicate from my self entirely. But like I said, I don’t think it’s going anywhere during my lifetime. I do think that if I can accept that it’s just a part of who I am and how I function and that sometimes I’m going to have to work through some moments of total shite, I can learn to deal with it and live with it more easily and better accept that every once in a while (or every couple times a week in certain situations), I am going to freak out a little, but that it’s not important in the grand scheme of things.

In related news, you should go read this article about anxiety from the NYTimes, from maybe a year ago? It’s a really fantastic article that gives a little light to temperament and anxiety and…just do it. For me? I’ll be your friend!

Word.

So……internet. I found it. On top of the U of W Alumni Building (think the rooftop of Krannert Center in Urbana) which is conveniently located a few hundred feet from the door of the place where we’re staying. I am the Queen of Everything.

No. No, sadly I not actually the Queen of Everything.

Uuuuh, I am kind of hesitant to just go for this blog post, but I guess I’ll just say that in addition to the aforementioned “don’t know why I go to summer festivals aside from influential figures telling me I should” spiel, I will also say that another thing that makes or breaks summer music programs for me is dumb stupid crazy ass social anxiety. I have a serious legitimate entry I’ve been typing up for a while that kind of addresses that more specifically. I’ll post it….one day (maybe).

Hmm. Let’s just say that things have gotten a lot better in the last couple years and that I am learning very slowly how to cope with my own crazy by just going out and willingly putting myself into social situations. I’ve found it’s worth it for me to do so even if I initially I would rather just stay in, because it usually not only turns out to be okay, but a lot of times it is well worth the worry I put myself through. Also that fact that as it turns out, I’m not really all that socially inept. In fact, I am downright outgoing when it comes down to it.

That said, I’m becoming far more aware of my limits, and these summer program things are some of the most energy-draining settings imaginable for someone like me. Being around people for so much of the day, especially people I don’t know very well gets old and fast. I do need alone-time (or one-on-one time. I actually do exceedingly well hanging out with one other person — two people in some instances). I do need space. It’s where I get the energy to go out and be me with the rest of the world. And if I don’t get those things on a fairly regular basis, I become closed-off and paranoid and crazily on-edge and sometimes have what I will just call a system crash. I mean, I guess “freak-out” works, too. You could call it a very minor anxiety attack that usually desists with some time and some walking and some deep breaths or maybe just calling somebody close and being all “please confirm that I am an okay person and that nobody is trying set me on fire with their mind” and then they go “what you just said” and I go “thank you” and proceed to feel better. If something like this happens while I’m stuck around people and can’t get away, it….sucks. Ass. I will say no more.

I hate how closed off I can be in and around those situations. I really don’t recognize myself when it happens, or after it happens. I feel like a shadow of my self, and it’s no way for a person to be.

For the record, I am so grateful to the people who help me out with this stuff. The people who talk to me about this shit and the people who know me and maybe sense that things are off and just say “hey” or approach me despite the understandably confounding and misleading closed-offed-ness, because it’s usually those people who bring me back to my feet. I love you people.

So music institute things…it happens, you know? I have to accept that it happens and not be such a self-blaming, incredulous twit about it. I need to more willingly accept that this shit happens to me and give myself the space and self-encouragement that my brain and body requires to stay balanced.

And you know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the social anxiety by far makes me more unhappy about and hesitant to involve myself in crazy summer programs than the influential word of parents and teachers. Hands freakin’ down.

And that concludes this evening’s episode of Rooftop Blogging.

I’ll Live.

So I haven’t blogged. But there are reasons for this! Reasons like — we have no internet. I mean, we did. There was somebody in the building we’re staying in that the regular tenants leech off of, which is what we were also doing. But yesterday their network mysteriously disappeared from our computers/devices, and we were left to twitch in the face of connectivity withdrawal.

And so I sit in Espresso Royale on State St. If you think about this weird progress of College Towns and Not College Towns and Coffee Shops, I’ve come full circle in that I’m sitting at Espresso Royale. Or at least this is true if you ignore that one year in that one city in Iowa.

Yeah. So. Cello workshop things. I guess I don’t really know why I’m here. Why am I here?! Sadly? The biggest reason I’m here is important figures in my life like parents. Maybe also teachers. And the thing I’m beginning to realize is that this is a constant pattern in summer music activities. I apply to summer festivals and practice boot-camps because it is not only encouraged by said important figures in my life, but expected of me. They told you “you must” until I had convinced myself that I really must, even if I never believed it deep-down. When I was younger there was resistance involved. I went to the Ithaca Chamber Music Institute before my junior year of high school, and I only applied because my parents gave me a very hard time about. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay at home and do something else, anything else, maybe get a crappy job of some sort like all the other people my age were doing at the time. In the end it’s good that I went to Ithaca, even if I didn’t feel there was much there for me, musically. I met Rachel there, and we’ve since carried on a long-distance, phone-conversation friendship that I think is actually pretty great (though one day we will meet again in person and it will be amazing). I also got to sit around Ithaca and watch sunsets and be kind of a lonely romantic-ish teenager. Score.

And that’s the thing. I go to these things and yes, good things occur. Sometimes I have great, amazing musical experiences that excite and inspire me. Other times I meet people who end up becoming important friends. Sometimes even both. But I feel like I would always rather be someplace else, doing something else. And the fact that I go to these places with a twinge of pain and guilt and the knowledge that I MUST is not ideal for me. And so after finishing a Masters degree in which maybe my heart wasn’t always in it and I identified that I would maybe rather be doing something else? This is a little bit like the straw that breaks my camel’s back.

Again, not to say it was a terrible idea that I came here, or that I’m truly regretful of this decision. I’m really pleased with the work we’ve done with Feldenkrais, and I’m glad I get to hang out with some of my Eastman pals for a little while longer. And Madison is…cool (it is! I’ve just filled my quota of college towns for life is all). But knowing that my motivation for being here is not what it should be is making this a bit of a struggle for me.

Not to mention the fact that I’m having problems feeling as committed and serious as most of the people around me about pretty much everything we’re working with here. I’ve always needed balance in my life, but I seem to be that much more easily weighed down by an excess of cello and classical music subjects recently.

But as always, I’ll live, and I’ll certainly get something out of my time here. But I will look forward to some real time to myself and away from important and serious music-related things.

Sexy Technology

Look. I’m not saying I want an iPhone. Because I definitely don’t need or desire one for the typical connectivity functions that smart-phones offer in this day and age.

But iPhone 4? Addawibbaaddawibba. Words fail to convey my feelings, based on design alone. Hluuurrrrrrr.

Failure To Blog

Look. I know. I’m sorry. It’s just, I’ve been consumed by the junk in my life. Like, hauling it from New York to Illinois. And then throwing out a crap-ton of it once I got back to Illinois. And then trying to find the more important bits of junk laying around that I needed to go to Madison.

Oh, which is where I am, by the way. For this cello…thing. Of course, you say. Of course you’re doing a cello thing this summer.

Well, it’s true. But it’s only two weeks, and it’s more up my alley with body-awareness/wellness/things of that nature than rehearsing many hours a day and going crazy. So hopefully I can moderately bypass the fact that I haven’t really practiced in, oh, four weeks? Something like that.

Anyway. Carry on. I will report back.