Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Teen Dream/Lawrence Architecture (B338)

Though Portland State University and University of Kansas are similar in terms of student population, the campuses look and feel vastly different.  Kansas has a huge campus, clearly set apart from the surrounding town.  When you are On Campus, you know it.  The buildings eschew the modernist urban look vibe that Portland State has in favor of a hodge podge of stones and columns and pillars and turrets.

The truth is, I wanted to say something really specific and insightful about the architecture here, but I know basically nothing about the subject, so I'll just hope what I already wrote, combined with the pictures below, will suffice.  I missed out on taking a picture of the fountain in the middle of campus, which I saw a whole sorority frolicking in my first week here.  Rock Chalk Jayhawk?

Next up: observations on the student body, all told in metric poems.  Haikus, sonnets, and ballads here I come!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Anyway you run, you run before us (B337)

The first day of school, round 20.  I think.  Hold on let me do the math.  (Pre-School, Kindergarten, 1st through 12th grade, five years of undergrad.)  Yeah, that number holds up.  And how glorious it is to be in school when you have no real way to make money.

Today I woke up at a sprightly 7 AM, left the house before 8 and spent the day making photocopies, going to meetings, printing out parking passes, walking around Murphy Hall, passing out syllabi, pretending to know what I'm doing in front of a crowd of undergraduates I'm teaching, going to my own classes, and practicing, practicing, practicing.  I had to make myself dinner too!  Whew, that's a lot to do.  At least the drive isn't bad.

The moral of the story is, I'm quite tired by now and should go to sleep so I can be ready for Day 2.  But not without noting that, despite my fatigue, the first day, part 20 was doable.  It was really good actually.  And I'm looking forward to second day, part 20 and so forth.  I'm looking forward to making the most of my new (temporary) home.  I'm sure that many days that follow will not include such positive spirits, so perhaps I'll take care to reference this statement of optimism from time to time.

To a productive year 20 of school.

Recent Readings:
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Recent Watchings:
The Office, Seasons 7/8

Recent Listenings:
Myth and Teen Dream by Beach House
Watch the Throne by Kanye West/Jay-Z
Days and Atlas by Real Estate
Space Is Only Noise by Nicolas Jaar
This Is Happening and Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem
Blood Bank EP by Bon Iver

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I always knew you, in your mother's arms (B336)

Some days feel like too much. Nothing tragic or sad happens, just heaps of inconvenience combined with some sort of perfect storm of self-doubt or frustration or anxiety (consider replacing "or" with "and").

PORTLAND TRAFFIC: I'm being so nice right now, isn't this awesome and unexpected!?

1996 SUBARU LEGACY WITH MY NAME ON THE TITLE: Maybe I'm okay!! Maybe...

PORTLAND TRAFFIC: Hah! I'm planning on messing with you as much as possible in your last few weeks here Taylor. Whatever you're expecting, think again.

SELF/PSYCHE/BRAIN/SOUL: We're too tired to do this... Are we doing the right thing? Why do we feel so anxious? Maybe this is all wrong.

PORTLAND TRAFFIC: This is even worse than I was planning...

1996 SUBARU LEGACY WITH MY NAME ON THE TITLE: Nope!! Not Okay!! Longview is a good place to stop right? Are we...?

SELF/PSYCHE/BRAIN/SOUL: ...or maybe THAT's all wrong

There were other characters, other players too, but these were the important ones I suppose. These are the core characters of today's journey. No one was too happy with anyone else. I suppose resolution is called for at some point, but maybe this is a subversive sort of creative non-fictional exploit.

Post-drive events:

  • Watch The Office to escape, mildly effective
  • Talks with Dad talks with Mom talks with Sarah talks with talks with
  • Anxiety/energy
  • Cleaning, cleaning, recycling, sorting
  • More talks, frantic idea formulating
  • Anxiety/sadness
  • Eat weird food, drink beer
  • Texting, writing, breathing
  • "It's going to be okay"
  • Put clean sheets on bed
  • Blogging

After all this, I remembered the words of Sufjan, a modern day poet, prophet, troubador, and man of God:

Rest in my arms / Sleep in my bed
There's a design / To what I did and said

Repeated over and over again, they are some sort of hymn, some sort of gentle but firm insistence of rest, of order, of redemption.  And I find that comforting.

Recent Readings:
How We Are Hungry by Dave Eggers
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

Recent Watchings:
Boyhood directed by Richard Linklater 
The Office Season 7

Recent Listenings:
Bon Iver self-titled
King of Limbs, In Rainbows and Kid A by Radiohead
Are We Really Happy With Who We Are Right Now? and The Red Tree by Moneen
High Violet by The National
Bloom by Beach House
Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, Agaetis Byrjun, Takk, Hvarf-Heim by Sigur Ros

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer, Part II (B335)

And summer goes careening on, never slowing down too much for us to soak it all in.  The hours in coffee shops with coldbrew, the trips to wine country, the long talks at night, the cool of the (arthouse) movie theater--somehow it all passes so quickly, so ephemerally.  We--or at least I--finally get some rest from the madness that is the Academic Calendar, but we forget to acknowledge it with a proper reverence, with the respect and eye contact it deserves.

Perhaps this is the point though; the inevitable outcome of rigidity dissolved, even temporarily.  Freedom experienced is nowhere near as glorious as the self's internal rendering of freedom while constantly occupied.  It is tempting for me to muse about how much of this freedom I've 'wasted' (as if that can be quantified empirically), but I'll resist, at least for now.

I may never get to soak up this place--both geographically and intangibly--again in the manner I am right now.  Certainly stress is effecting, bothering me.  A questionable car, finishing tasks I wrote down on a checklist, finding a place to live 1800 miles away, practicing my craft.  All these things float around in my mind, jumping out now and then to pang me with guilt at my permanent state of procrastination.  But for now, I am mostly ignoring them.  I am mostly just enjoying the little things, and hoping that the big things sort themselves out.  It is not the time of greatest discipline for me.  But it is the time I am in, at least for a few more weeks.

Summer always ends, every year.

Recent Readings:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling

Recent Watchings:
Snowpiercer directed by Bong Joon-ho
Game of Thrones, Season 2
Downton Abbey, Season 4

Recent Listenings:
Days by Real Estate
Come Now Sleep by As Cities Burn
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips
This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
All Delighted People EP, Seven Swans, and Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
Veckatimest, Yellow House by Grizzly Bear
Bloom by Beach House
Microcastle by Deerhunter
Silent Alarm by Bloc Party

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer, Part I (B334)

At last, it appears, I have obtained the much sought after Bachelor's degree.  Apparently this is a necessary item to have to get good jobs and do cool stuff in modern society.  As I mentioned some months ago here, I sort of forgot somewhere along the way that I was actually getting this degree.  Or rather, that this degree actually means something.  I have been caught up in the noise of getting on to the next thing at the next place with new people, that I forgot to actually value the thing I was getting.  That's not to say that I didn't value individual experiences or the process of improving my craft over a period of time.  I certainly did.  But it feels a little strange to sit here and say "I accomplished something" when in fact it feels like I have accomplished very little compared to all those in my field who actually get paid to do what I want to do.

I suppose all students might feel this way in some regard compared to the teachers, mentors, professors and professionals they work with, but I also suppose that musicians might feel this a little more strongly than many.  After all, when an acquaintance (after being informed I am going to Kansas for grad school) recently inquired what I could with a Master's degree in music I simply responded "Get a Doctorate."  This is both true (a music degree guarantees very little), untrue (lots of people with "only" Master's degrees in music make a living as performers/teachers), and convenient (I didn't really feel like explaining how the classical music field works, as it was late and we were at a party).

I understand getting a degree in engineering involves risk too, and I also understand that not everyone with an engineering degree immediately gets hired for their dream job, but it might be fair to say that it's a bit safer of a choice as degrees tend to go.  It is this conclusion which--though obvious--strikes me as an interesting decision on my part, considering my particular strengths, weaknesses, comfort zones, and aversions.  The truth is I like safe choices.  I really do.  And the choice I made five years ago to pursue music and the choice I continue to make every day to pursue music is not really a safe choice.

This scares me a bit to a consider.  But I'm also sort of glad.  After all, what good is living if we never confront our fears or work on our weaknesses?  Perhaps I still like making lots of little safe choices, but at least I made one big decision that was not so safe.  I'm looking forward to seeing how that decision shapes me, changes me, reconfigures me, so that someday perhaps I am not so safe.

Recent Readings:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Recent Watchings:
Game of Thrones, Season 1
House of Cards, Season 2
Holy Motors directed by Leos Carax
The Immigrant directed by James Gray

Recent Listenings:
Undersea EP, Familiars, In the Attic of the Universe and Hospice by The Antlers
In Conflict by Owen Pallet
Illinois and Seven Swans by Sufjan Stevens
Pilgrim self-titled
Dropped Pianos and Virgins by Tim Hecker
Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear

Friday, May 9, 2014

Back when we had it, so easy (B333)

Due to popular demand, I've returned to my post as chief editor and contributor to The Classic Loop.  Actually, no one has said anything about my three plus month hiatus and that makes a lot of sense when I consider that very few people regularly look at this anyway.

I've been a busy bee the past few months.  Trips to Alabama, Baltimore, Kansas, Atlanta, Seattle, Ellensburg, and perhaps somewhere else I've forgotten.  Performances for opera, percussion ensemble, new music ensemble, wind symphony, and probably something else I've forgotten.  Quality time spent with lots of good people in my life (old friends and new) and probably somebody else I've forgotten.  If I could continue this pattern of identifying memory lapses I would, but alas, I digress.

Last week I wrote a daily schedule for every day, to try to maximize my productivity.  It involved lots of practicing, some working out, a little bit of down time, and it was somewhat realistic.  I had been meaning to try out doing a schedule like that for a long time, so I was proud of myself for doing it.  But on that Monday I got sick and it basically wrecked my schedule.  I only stayed home one day, but I missed three days of practicing due to me mostly just being lazy my sickness.  I was going to try again this week, but I sort of forgot.  Oh well.  I guess there is always next week to maximize productivity.  Or the week after that.

My sick day only involved me missing one rehearsal.  It was the first rehearsal or class I have missed in college due to illness and it was an odd feeling.  I just... stayed home and did nothing.  I am nothing if not inefficient with my time, but I never just take a day off from doing things.  It was an utterly bizarre and rare event for me.  It also gave me a chance to do some Netflixing, and successfully invest myself in a new series (new for me that is).

But before we get to lists of things, I'd like to take a moment to write some haikus:

Argyle, it sounds...
I misread the word angles
And now I'm laughing

A few short weeks 'till
Piece of paper in my hands
Bachelor of Mus

Still trying to change
Better myself, I suppose
In progress, always

Sleep come quick tonight
Should already be asleep
Story of my life

Recent Readings:
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

Recent Watchings:
House of Cards, Season 1
Mad Men, Season 6

Recent Listenings:
Atlas and Days by Real Estate
Ambient 4/ On Land by Brian Eno
Sound of Silver and This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
Bon Iver self-titled
All Delighted People EP by Sufjan Stevens

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Only Love is all Maroon (B332)

I do a lot of thinking; I'd like to say that I do an abnormally large amount of thinking, but I realize that I am not actually inside the brains of other human beings (just my own sometimes) so it would be an unfair--or at least uninformed--statement.

But I have been doing a lot of thinking.  Thinking about traveling, music, performing, relationships, romance, and chains of events.  I've been thinking about the multi-lane journey I am on and how the scenery changes slowly as I go, but eventually I notice things are different than they were previously.

Today I realized, things are definitely different.  I am hesitant to say they are better or worse, because those sorts of qualitative assessments about phases of life seem loaded with presuppositions regarding good or bad.  That being said, there is growth and there is new life and I am thankful for that.  I am thankful that I sometimes have the guts to go for things even though I consistently struggle with certainty.  I am thankful that many of the feelings of inadequacy or anxiety I was experiencing a year ago are mostly gone.  And I am thankful that there are markers along the road that indicate I've made progress, but not enough that I can stop trying to make progress.

The journey can be overwhelming, but more often I'm finding it is nuanced and bearable.

(And I am thankful for a great performance at a Portland State Noon Concert this week with my friends Max and Jake.  Here are some pictures of our rendition of Thierry de Mey's Musique de Tables, a ballet for the hands.)

Recent Watchings:
Blue Valentine directed by David Cianfrance
Blue Jasmine directed by Woody Allen
The Talented Mr. Ripley directed by Anthony Minghella
The Passion of Anna by Ingmar Bergman
Parks and Recreation, Season 5

Recent Listenings:
Trouble Will Find Me by The National (mostly listening to this nonstop in the car...)
Days by Real Estate
Never Take Friendship Personal by Anberlin
Strange Mercy by St. Vincent
Give Up by The Postal Service
Silent Alarm by Bloc Party
Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Owl And The Tanager (B331)

It's January 2nd, which means I'm headed back to school in a few short days.  Winter break 2013 began with a fantastic week of practicing--one of the best I've ever had--followed by a break of sorts.  The break wasn't entirely intentional, but moreso a product of circumstance: celebrating holidays with family and friends and trips out of town doesn't lend itself well to spending time in the practice room.

The break has been nice and relaxing, but sort of anxiety inducing at the same time.  I just looked at the calendar and realized I'm probably going to be on a plane in less than a month to take my first grad school audition.  There's (likely) a few weeks between that first trip and the others, but it's still bizarrely close.  It's as if the approaching two months are shrouded in the mist of fiction, the fog of dreams.  This moment can't actually be here yet, can it?  It feels as if I've been preparing for forever, and yet it still feels far too soon.

(I feel completely unprepared.)

But, I've noticed something in the past five years as I transition from teenager to (sort of) adult.  The new things always seem so scary or strange when they haven't arrived, but once they do, they aren't so bad.  Real life happens and we adjust and move onward.  There are some obstacles which we do not overcome and that can be disheartening.  But there are many others that we do overcome and then forget to give ourselves credit for.

I'm stressed and afraid, because that's how I react to most things that I feel like I can't control or complete.  But--I'm trying to remind myself daily-- to borrow my own words "I feel overcommited and under-dedicated, just like normal.  But somehow I always get everything done."

The break has been a break.  And the next two months will not be a break.  But rest is coming, and I know it will feel better the harder I work before the rest.

Recent Readings:
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon (just taking my sweet time)

Recent Watchings:
Parks and Recreation seasons 2 and 3
Side Effects directed by Steven Soderbergh
Now You See Me directed by Louis Leterrier
The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese

Recent Listenings:
All Delighted People EP by Sufjan Stevens
Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear
Oiseaux Exotiques by Olivier Messiaen/performed by Ensemble InterContemporain
Beethoven Symphony No. 9
Trouble Will Find Me by The National
The 20/20 Experience Part I and FutureSex/LoveSounds by Justin Timberlake
Grace by Jeff Buckley
...and my awesome new 90s mix

Monday, December 16, 2013

They probably sit around on the floor with wine and cheese and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism (B330)

After church tonight, I went to Andrew's house.  We sat on his couches, facing each other in the front room and talking about books and films and music.  The other nine people who live on the property (six in the house, one in the mother-in-law apartment, two in a bus in the driveway, one in a trailer in the driveway) wandered in and out; eating food, throwing trash atop an already full trash can, fixing bicycles, cleansing the skin underneath a fresh tattoo with warm water and soap.

Eventually we made our way to kitchen to make waffles.  At some point the kitchen conversation came back to books and the like.  Thaddeus--who lives in the basement with his brother Thomas along with their friend Mark, soon to be joined by the rest of the 12 disciples--mentioned a book by Malcolm Gladwell to us.  As the conversation unfolded, a few things became clear.  First, that everyone in the room think that Gladwell is an extraordinarily intelligent human being and his writing is interesting. Second, that he wrote a new book and it's called David and Goliath.  Third, that Malcolm Gladwell now identifies as a Christian.  

I'm not sure of the quality of the book.  It's had some very good things said about it and some very critical things.  But I'm sort of fascinated to learn that Gladwell returned to Christianity after "drift[ing] away for a bit."  He did an interview with a religion news website, and I thought his comments about Jesus were really spot on: 

Q:  What about Jesus? Where might he fit in in your narrative?

A: He does fit. Here is one of the most revolutionary figures in history. He comes from the humblest of beginnings. He never held elected office. He never had an army at his disposal. He never got rich; he had nothing that we would associate with power and advantage. Nonetheless, what does he accomplish? An unfathomable amount. He is almost the perfect illustration of this idea that you have to look in the heart to know what someone’s capable of.

I've struggled to know how I feel about my Christian beliefs over the past year or so.  I think any belief system that involves millions of people, thousands of years, and the best selling book of all time is bound to be confusing and messy at times.  But I also think Jesus is unfailingly compelling.  He challenged systems of power and discrimination.  He broke religious and social rules.  He asked people to be generous and radically selfless.  He was serious about people changing their actions, but it's because he wanted them to live fuller more fulfilling lives, not because he was concerned about them following a set of rules.  

I don't know the answers to all the questions, and I struggle with this almost daily. But I do feel confident that Jesus is a person worth following.

Recent Readings:
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon

Recent Watchings:
Manhattan directed by Woody Allen
Hard Eight directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
That Thing You Do directed by Tom Hanks
The Hunger Games: Chasing Fire directed by Francis Lawrence
Parks and Recreation Season 1
Mad Men Season 5

Recent Listenings:
The Question by Emery
Blood Bank EP by Bon Iver
Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror and The Pearl by Brian Eno/Harold Budd
Symphonies 1, 2, 5, 7 by Beethoven
Anaklasis, Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, and Polish Requiem by Krzysztof Penderecki
Chamber Concerto and Requiem by Gyorgy Ligeti 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Under torn entries, under bright lit skies (B329)

I was going to right write a blog about how I've seen/interacted with friends over the past few days from all different stages of my life, but I got two sentences in and decided I was too tired to do it. Instead, I am going to dare to peak at the syllabus for my capstone class to see if I was supposed to complete an assignment for class tomorrow.  How fun!

I will say this: I fully expect the next two weeks to be brutal.  There's too much to do, not enough time to do it all, and I feel weary just thinking about it.  But--starting now--I'm done complaining about it. I'm going to do it.  I'm going to get everything done and it's going to be great.  And I will feel better when it's done.  And I will also sleep a normal amount then too.  But until then, full steam ahead.

And yes, I did make Reynolds High School Class of 2009 Valedictorian, recent Penn graduate, and new Hulu employee Abby Tran call me today and give me a pep talk.  But dammit, I'm doing it.  

Recent Readings:
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon (reading 2 pages per day on average)

Recent Watchings:
Mad Men Season 5
End of Watch directed by David Ayer

Recent Listenings:
Days by Real Estate
Bon Iver discography
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
Funeral by Arcade Fire
Julia With Blue Jeans On & Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums by Moonface
Shields by Grizzly Bear
La Boutique Fantasque by Rossinni arr. by Resphigi
Figure 8 by Elliott Smith
Bring Me Your Love by City and Colour
Hell or High Water by As Cities Burn