Thursday, April 29, 2004

I continue to meet new and interesting people during this last week of school. Today I had a discussion with a recent acquaintance (theology major) about the origin of existence and evil, predestination, free will, and whether or not beliefs can be altered by sensory experiences. I seem to have finally come across an intellectual conversationalist, and yet in ten days we'll be on opposite sides of the country. We both rejoiced in the fact that we finally had a stimulating intellectual conversation with fellow student. The next immediate thought was, why didn't we talk sooner?
I wonder what makes the tears come one day and not the next. I never expect them, never mediate on the loss to make them come. One day the thought brings a smile, and yet on others like today, the tears come with a deep piercing ache. I have grown accustomed to living without Them. Though They were a part of my entire life, a solid presence of support and love, I have learned to cherish the memories and be proud of the way I am because of Them. Yet, every once in a while there is still a sharp pain, the intense knowledge of Their absence. Tonight I was merely letting my voice rest from practicing, so I started playing the piano. Maybe it was the slow air I was playing, or maybe it was the similar feel and sound of the piano, but the uninvited ache began again, and I realized how much I still miss Them. I found myself asking again, does it ever stop hurting?
And another final exam week begins...deep breath...sigh...okay.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"I'm not in denial, I'm just refusing to accept reality."
~A fellow student's view on graduating a semester later due to a broken finger.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Recent exciting news in the life of Odessa...

It looks as if I'll be able to come back to school next year and have everything completely paid for without going into debt, thanks to an academic scholarship that I didn't know I was even eligible for. That will be a grand total of five semesters debt free in my undergraduate degree. This is cause for much rejoicing.
I sat in a secluded corner of the student union with my book. I had purposefully distanced myself from the rest of the room in order to study for my exam the next morning. My seclusion was sadly short lived when only moments later I looked up to see the group of Them making a beeline across the room to where I sat. I had seen Them when I walked into the room, and I thought I had successfully avoided any conversation with Them. Nevertheless, They were determined to talk to me anyway.

I decided to put on my politely friendly face for Them, even though They all stood around me and stared with silly smiles on Their faces. I politely answered Their questions about what I was doing (how many possibilities are there if a person is sitting alone reading a book?), and where I was from, and even smiled at the exact same joke They made about the word 'Sequim' the time before. I even smiled through the slight pause in the conversation when normal people take the hint and say their goodbyes.

I must confess however, that my patience eventually ran out. I had tried unsuccessfully to drop all the subtle socially polite hints that ask a person to leave, and They had picked up on none of them. So with a gracious and polite smile, I said "I don't mean to be rude, but I really have to study for this exam. Thanks for stopping by, though." To my disbelief, it They still stood there for another moment, as my meaning slowly sunk in. Yes, I really did want them to move on with their lives away from my table.

They finally took their leave, wishing me luck on my exam. In reality, I do feel bad for having to be so blunt with people. I really do enjoy talking with fellow students and getting to know new people, yet at the same time I do expect some social common sense from these fellow students. Perhaps a freshman level class should be developed along those lines: Social Skills 101, The Art of Social Graces and Subtleties in College.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Random quotes from five college girls late last night:

"Guys don't need the time of day. They just need to know what day it is."

"I like you...he, he, he."

"Love is buying tickets to the Braves game when you don't like the Braves."

"Why? Because some things are best left a mystery."

"What an unfortunate last name...Turnipseed."
"Though I think Snotgrass is much more unfortunate."

"Your Prince Charming is trying to vault your wall, but you keep building it higher and wondering why he never shows up."

"There's no one on my horizon. The weather is blissfully clear."

Friday, April 23, 2004

"Hey, smile for the camera."
I looked up to see the one of the barista's from the coffee shop downstairs holding up his cell phone and taking my picture. I smiled and waved for the camera.
"Thanks, that was cute." he said.
"So what are you going to do with my picture now?"
"I'm going to post it on the web."
"What's the address? I'd like to see myself on the web."
"No one can get to the site, it's private."
"Somehow that doesn't sound good, Sean."
He laughed. "How 'bout I email the picture to you. What's your name?"
"By the way, how did you know my name?"
"You know that little piece of plastic you pin on your shirt at work? I usually assume that's the person's name."
He laughed again. "I never read people's name tags."
This time I laughed. "I don't read everyone's either, just the people who make my espresso."
"So you're saying I should feel special?"
"That's right. Did it work?"
"Oh, yeah. I definately feel special now."

Concerts of any magnitude have always been fascinating to me, and the larger the production the more fascinated I am. Before coming to college, I had always been one of the audience, but over the past two years I've discovered the amusements of being the performer. Last night I performed with Choral Union in our culminating concert of the semester. Usually in performances I am entirely focused on performing the music and remembering everything I'm supposed to do, but last night I had to laugh as I realized the extreme contrast of what happens backstage compared to the performance on stage.

If you were in the audience last night you would have sat in a darkened auditorium, the lights would go up and you would see a black robed choir with over 250 voices file from four directions onto the stage. The conductor would then walk out, you would applaud, the orchestra would rise, the conductor would turn around, the choir would raise their folders, and you would hear the beginning of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. Then, regardless of whether or not you enjoy Stravinsky, after 22 minutes you would hear the choir sing the last 'Dominum', you would applaud, the conductor would bow, the orchestra would rise, and the 250 people on stage would file out of view the way they came. Thus you would have witnessed yet another mass music production by Lee University.

Behind stage, however, there is grand confusion that the audience never sees or hears. 250 people are shuffling, whispering, stepping on each other's toes, and making all manner of faces as they try and organize themselves for entrance and exit in both a mass choir and individual choir orders. The signal to begin coming on stage always comes too soon, and there are invariably at least two people in each row who aren't where they're supposed to be. There is a wild dash and pushing past other choir members while the row waits until the last possible second, and by some miracle the lost person manages to make it into the appropriate place in line just in time to walk on stage. The choir members then walk on stage with slightly relieved and amused faces, knowing that they just barely pulled it off again and the audience never knew the difference.

That is, unless you have been in large choirs before and you happen to notice the row that has slightly rueful smiles on their faces or perhaps the gap in the row that's a little bigger than normal. You'll then know that something just happened backstage that no one but the choir will ever know. After all, that's half of performing: convincing your audience of only that which you want them to know, and artfully hiding the rest.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Iced, not Frozen

"Who ordered the grande iced latte?"
"Right here", I answered.
The barista held up a blender filled with ice, espresso, and a powdered mixture.
"Oh. Would you like a frozen one?", he asked, his face almost pleading with me to say yes.

I didn't really want a frozen one, which is why I specified iced, and why he wrote down iced on the order slip. If the truth be told, had I been in Seattle, the capital of coffee, I may have not let something like that go and would have asked for the iced one anyway. But I was in Cleveland, Tennesee, where the art of espresso really isn't a priority. I also knew what it was like to be in his shoes, the only barista behind the counter and a long line of tired people impatiently waiting to order and get drinks. Somehow between taking a ton of orders and mixing drinks, a short happens in a barista's brain every now and again. Even though this is completely normal, you always get a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you have to tell the customer it's their drink that you've botched up.

"Yeah, that's okay. I'll take it. Just make it runny."
He gave me a relieved smile. "Do you want whipped cream on that?"
"Sure, that would be great."
Too Late

There are officially 7 days left until finals. My friends and I are beginning to bemoan the fact that we only have about two weeks left before we say goodbye for 3 summer months. Since I've been here at Lee University the majority of people I've met are freshman, sophomores, and juniors, and though we're excited about leaving for summer break, we can't wait to come back and see each other again. As much as I hate saying goodbye to people, knowing I'll see them in a couple of months isn't so bad.

I've been frustrated, however, at the amount of people I've been meeting over the past couple of weeks who are most interesting and fascinating, but who are also seniors. Seniors who are graduating this spring. Like, they'll be gone forever in two weeks. Why do I meet these people now and not at the beginning of the semester? Why do we suddenly decide that we'll introduce ourselves now and not one of the hundreds of times we've previously seen each other all semester? Meeting these people seems to open this delightful window of possibility which doesn't really exist at all. Our acquaintance will sadly fade into a distant thought of "They were probably really cool. I wish I had met them sooner."

Sometimes meeting fascinating people is more frustrating than intriguing.
The air was dark, warm, and heavy with moisture. I closed my eyes and lifted my face as the small raindrops fell on me, washing away some of my tension and weariness. After a five hours of rehearsal my mind was completely void of anything intelligent and all I wanted was to shut out Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms for a few minutes and think about nothing. As much as I love music and all that goes along with a career in that field, there are a few random moments when I don't want to think or hear anything resembling notes. I later wrote in a email to my sister, "Being a music student is all about hard work, many moments of excitement and adrenaline, and a few long moments of extreme exhaustion. This is one of the exhaustion moments."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

You know you're in the South when...

I was driving back to school yesterday on I-81 through Virginia from Easter break. Yesterday was the second time I've made that trip during this semester, and now I'm convinced that I-80's nickname "Trucker's Highway" is entirely appropriate. About halfway through the day (during that zoning time you get into after driving for six hours and knowing you have five more to go), another huge semi-truck whooshed by us, but it passed slow enough for me to read the name on the cab. I laughed to myself, and then said to my friend, "You know you're in the South when the name on the semi cab is 'Hillbilly'."

Thursday, April 08, 2004

If I married a prince

A friend got me hooked on this Now I'm not sure if I'm glad she did. It's one of those sites that makes one wish to be rich, or at least have lots of spending money. This is where I'd shop if I married a prince.
Tomorrow begins Easter Break. Hooray! Then we only have four weeks before finals are here...scary thought.
I've just finished registering for my Fall 04' semester classes with a grand total of 17 credits; 11 classes to be exact. Since yesterday I've been desperately trying to fit the rest of my program into the next two years. It feels like a big logic puzzle where you have to shuffle around the variables just right until you get the correct answer. The only difference in this case is that I couldn't come up with the answer I wanted. I shuffled around classes, credits, times, and summer school options until I was blue in the face, and finally resigned myself to the fact that unless I take over 20 credits each semester, I won't graduate until December 06'. It seems like an endless line of classes and credits sometimes, and there's always the little nagging fear that I'll get all the way into my last senior semester, thinking I'll graduate, and there will be a one credit class that slipped through the cracks.

Through this I've discovered I have a small obsession with finishing college as soon as possible. I have no idea where this obsession came from. Perhaps it stems from being an oldest child who was homeschooled, and thus I'm used to being ahead of the game. It irks me that I can't fit my program into the next two years, even though I have no idea why graduating a semester later would make such a difference. It's probably because I'm feeling the urge to get on with 'real' life. College is reportedly the best years of one's life, but I find myself beginning to long for normal life things. I want to go to the grocery store and buy food I want to eat, have a couch that I can flop on at the end of the day, spend Saturdays doing nothing at all, read books just for fun, and wake up in the morning excited about going to work.

On the other side, I have people telling me to enjoy these years while I have no responsibilities. They tell me that this will be the only time I'll be free to do whatever I want, and won't have to worry about bills, work, family, etc. The funny thing is, part of me does want to worry about those things, just because that would mean that I would have them.

And then I think, what's the big hurry? One more semester isn't that much compared to the next 60+ years I have to live.
Today, in an IM, a friend told me, "So, you have your 21st birthday and quit blogging?". Well, not exactly, though it may seem that way. I won't make any excuses for my absence; I'll just start blogging.