Sunday, August 30, 2009

Europe indigestion

I think my brain is still trying to digest Europe. I just woke up from a nap in which I dreamed that Dr. Thornock (a theory/composition teacher here at BYU) was awarded the world's first-ever deportable statue of a cow standing on a canon with wheels, located in a cathedral with a huge organ backlighted by pastel colors on which (according to my dream) Liszt once famously played Wagner. Good thing I'm not taking the graduate entrance exam right now, or I'd probably say John Cage and Palestrina were contemporaries and that Bach's main instrument was the ukelele.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I am officially ancient

I am experiencing a new sensation. I'm old. My roommates are all younger than me. It's a crazy feeling, I tell you. From the time I entered first grade until just now, I have never, ever been the oldest in any sort of setting that had anything to do with my secular education. Huh, I guess maybe this is a hint that I should be earning my bachelor's degree sometime soon and getting on with grad school...

In other news, I think my new room roomie (Hailee) and I will be getting along quite nicely. I like her a lot. We had a little heart-to-heart over some DiGiorno pizza tonight, which, incidentally, we both happen to love. She can certainly make me laugh. And...I can see that she might be more than "occasionally boisterous" once in a while, but not in the shrill, obnoxious, twittery, fake, girly "look at me, boys! Look at me!" kind of way that I find extremely annoying after being exposed to more than five seconds of it. Another of my roommates, Melissa, also seems pretty sweet. Plus, she brought home brownies from her softball game for Hailee and me tonight, and that *definitely* makes the "How to make Britny think you're awesome" list.

Last but not least: do ancient people lose their sense of smell? Well, even if they do, hopefully my loss of the ability to smell things is due mostly to the nasty cold which I am in the process of heroically conquering, and not to the fact that I am now the oldest living being inhabiting my apartment. Anyway, I came home from work today to teach piano lessons; the apartment was a little messy, so I tidied up the living room a bit while I was waiting for my first student to arrive. His mom dropped him off (a cute little nine-year-old boy) and he came and knocked on the front door. I let him in, and as he walked inside, he said very bluntly, "It SMELLS in here." I was horrified, but I couldn't smell a thing. Then, he elaborated: "It smells like garlic favorite!" Yes, the apartment reeked of garlic, and I couldn't smell it. Ayayayayay.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A gash, a rash, and purple bumps

In honor of my having lain in bed all day being deathly ill (or at least suffering from a very sudden and nasty cold that makes me feel deathly ill), here is one of my favorite poems from Shel Silverstein:

"I cannot go to school today"
Said little Peggy Ann Mckay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.

My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
It might be instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in.

My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My toes are cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There's a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is...
What? What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is...Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Let it be known:

I just edited my first bit of HTML, and I'm extremely proud of myself.

That is all.

Worry and angst and dread, oh my

The conversation I overheard my two new roommates having as I walked through the living room and up the stairs a few minutes ago:

Roommate #1: This is getting boring.

Roommate #2: Well, maybe because we've been sitting here watching TV for the past six straight hours.


And they continue watching.

Same scenario yesterday--they didn't stop watching until nearly 2:00 (yes, in the a.m.). Our apartment is littered with all sorts of boxes and random "stuff," which I would think (and hope) they would want to get put away, having been here since Saturday. But apparently old reruns of America's Next Top Model and Reba are much more enticing. *sigh* The kitchen is a disaster area, in every sense of the word. There are dishes and containers and silverware and you-name-it toppled EVERYwhere. Seriously, there is a tiny little spot on the kitchen table and one chair available in which to sit, and that's only because I cleared it off yesterday so that I could have a spot to eat my dinner. I have a feeling I should kiss good-bye my preference for cleanliness, not to mention peace and quiet. My two roommates who are here have already warned me (repetitively) that my room roommate who will shortly be moving in (the day after tomorrow) is "really loud and messy. She's a really nice girl, though. But definitely loud. And really messy. We can all be loud sometimes, of course. We're girls, right? But...well, she's really loud. And messy."


Well, I hope I'm just overanalyzing and that, really, things are still in a chaotic state merely because we have so little space in the apartment and it's hard to find a place to put things away. And maybe my roommates are just watching as much television as they can this week so as to be all stocked up when school starts so that they don't have to waste time watching it then. And maybe "really loud and really messy" just means "occasionally boisterous and not quite as neat as a pin."

We shall see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh textbook with thine fine facade...

...of cheap binding and recycled paper, why art thou so exceedingly costly?

I whineth when I suppose I really should be rejoicing that my textbooks are only costing me two appendages this semester, as opposed to the usual four or five the bookstore sees fit to ever-so-cruelly hack off (yes, you should be amazed that I am still a piano major, though I am lacking more than eight semesters' worth of body parts). I've been purchasing books in increments over the past few weeks so that my bank account doesn't suffer too much shock all at once. But today, after the cashier wrestled my debit card from me with an evil cackle and swiped it through the money-gulping machine to pay for "This is my God" for the Judaism class I will be taking, I decided to look up my German book online, just to get an idea of what I was in for with my next purchase. Having taken plenty of language classes at BYU, I was prepared for a pricy piece of petooie. And, unfortunately, that is exactly what I found. *sigh* Even Amazon isn't going to save me on this one. Anyone know a good prosthetist?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I really should be practicing

Have you ever been uber-productive for three straight weeks in a row? Never slacking off, never choosing comfort or convenience over what you really ought to be doing?

Well, that's okay. Neither have I.

And so, I shall proceed to write this blog post, though I really should be practicing.

I've been back in the U.S. for about three weeks now--good gracious, how time has flown. I stayed with my family for a few days, a goodly portion of which I slept, and then my kind and generous brother drove me back to my apartment in Provo on his way to school one morning. (And he didn't even charge me, though both I and my luggage were weighing his truck down, thus causing his gas mileage to be worse than usual.) Anyhow, I found that Provo was pretty much the same as I had left it, though I did suffer a few minor shocks upon returning to campus: one, a building that I used to walk past everyday on my way to and from the HFAC is now completely decimated (this is rather inconvenient, as it means that my only option that does not involve climbing the Stairs of Death to get up to campus is now closed off and being occupied by a giant backhoe); two, when I entered Dr. Holden's office to practice, his piano was completely gutted (the keyboard and action--yes, that's a noun, not a verb--of the piano was gone); three, the music library (where I work) is currently going through the equivalent of Revolutionary War the Second (explaining this deserves its own post). Somehow, though, I survived these environmental stressors and returned to my normal routine of work, practice, and teaching.

After a few days, however, I started going through withdrawals. Ironically enough, though surrounded by roommates, people at work, a few other music majors who also haunt the HFAC even during the summer, etc., I was feeling really and truly lonely. I suppose that this loneliness might have been instigated by the fact that, while in Europe, I always had somewhere exciting to go, someone to go with, plans to make, things to do. Of course, here in Provo, should I ever run out of things with which to busy myself, I can always practice. But practicing...well, it is, to be honest, a very lonely business. And sometimes even (or especially) Mr. A. Steinway can't comfort me and provide the companionship I need. Now, don't get me wrong; I love my quiet time, my me-time. I couldn't survive without it. I am a very introvert person, meaning I draw energy and rejuvenation from the time I am alone. (Sidenote: I always thought that the synonyms for "introvert" were "shy" and "quiet" until a couple of years ago, when I discovered that, in fact, this is not the case at all! Introverts can be very outgoing, social people--just as much as extroverts. The words "introvert" and "extrovert" simply refer to where one directs one's thoughts and feelings, and from whence one draws strength and energy.)

Anyhow, one particular night, this feeling of loneliness was really eating at me. I got out of bed around two in the morning and just went downstairs and sat on the floor next to the couch and cried my heart out. Quietly, that is; I would have been mortally embarassed if any of my roommates had heard me (and yet, here I am, paradoxically posting this personal experience in cyberspace). If I hadn't been afraid of some weirdo attacking me out on the streets, I would have gone for a walk. But anyway, that's beside the point.

After a half hour or so, I finally calmed down. I decided to say a prayer. And so I prayed, more sincerely and thoroughly than I have in a long, long time. I talked things out, and though I sound cliche for saying this, I felt so peaceful. I came back up and went to bed.

The following few days were incredible. One of the things I had asked for in my prayer was, plain and simply, to be shown that I wasn't actually alone. I had no idea how I would be answered, but I kept my eyes open. The very next day, one of my good friends got a hold of me, and she and I ended up hanging out all afternoon. We went for a three-hour swim, during which we played the world's most elaborate game of "Horse," not to mention the great conversation we had while sitting in the middle of the pool on rubber balls and foam noodles. Seriously, does life get any better? Following our swim, we grabbed a pizza with her brother and had a lively debate about the housing market. After that afternoon's experience, I realized how important it is for me to recognize little things like this in life that wouldn't happen if I was truly alone. However, to my unsuspecting astonishment, there was still much more prayer-answering to come.

The next day, which happened to be Sunday, I went to church (of course). I love my student ward--I've never lived in a better one--and that's saying something, because I've lived in several. Anyway, while I was at church that day, I had not two or three, not five or six, but nine different random people come to me and start up a genuine conversation. These were not the "quickie-compliment" type conversations like "Hey! Your piano skills are awesome. Thanks for playing today." or "I love your hair. It's sooo long." but actual conversations! It was incredible. Then, to top church off, during Sunday School, the inspired teacher had us listen to part of Elder Holland's talk on Christ's atonement. We listened to the part where he talks about the fact that Christ was completely abandoned and alone during his atonement--he experienced the most thorough sense of loneliness possible for a human being to experience, emotionally and spiritually. W. O. W. I hope you--yes, YOU--have heard this talk. Not just read it, but heard it, from Elder Holland's own mouth. And even if you have, please please please take the time to go watch the last four minutes of his talk here right now.

So. After church, you can imagine that I was pretty convinced of my non-loneliness. But Heavenly Father still had more to say to me. My visiting teachers came over that night. One of them--the Relief Society president, no less--mentioned how she has always struggled a bit with studying the scriptures consistently and sincerely. Interestingly enough, I have also grappled with this, off and on, basically ever since I began seminary. That night, I decided to dive in and see what I could find. The past few nights, I had been reading in Mormon. I had recently watched something on the History channel about ancient civilizations in the Americas, and that had gotten me interested in the connection between them and the civilizations mentioned in the Book of Mormon, which had therefore randomly led me to read in Mormon. Or so I thought. That Sunday night, I opened my scriptures to my bookmark, and this is what was staring me in the face:

"And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.

And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.

Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not."

-Mormon 8:2-4, emphasis added

No friends, no family, commanded to record the destruction of your entire civilization. I think that qualifies as loneliness.

Why in the world am I sharing this? Well, I don't really know. Maybe someone will read this sometime who is feeling the same way I was. Maybe I just needed to write this all out to fully realize and appreciate how incredibly and thoroughly my prayers were answered, and how much my Heavenly Father cares for me as one child in a vast, ever-expanding universe. Whatever the reason may be, I would like you to know that I know that Jesus really lives and knows exactly what each and every one of us is going through, that Heavenly Father is truly there for us as our deeply loving Father, and that He is always, always listening.