tsubame: (wings)
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 02:46 am
The Scottish Chamber Orchestra has a delightful series of 1-hour concerts on occasional weekday evenings, from 6 to 7, called Cl@six. The idea being that you go after work, listen to beautiful music for an hour, and then head home relaxed and content having neatly missed the rush hour.

At 5 I stood up from the day's work, changed into my jogging clothes, and ran to St. Cuthbert's as my much-needed exercise for the day. It was not a particularly pleasant one, grey and gloomy from start to finish. St. Cuthbert's is pleasant enough outside, though somewhat spooky and gloomy-- the facade is blackened with age, and it's down in the basin overshadowed by the high cliff of the castle. Adding to the general sense of oppression are the shadowing trees that grow in the churchyard, and the dark, perpetually damp stone tombstones scattered higgledy-piggledy like broken teeth. It's a pleasant enough place in the sunlight, full of dappled shadows over verdantly green moss, but the least bit of atmospheric gloom and it becomes spooky and foreboding. And this being Scotland, atmospheric gloom is considered the default weather setting.

I had never been inside the church, and was surprised to find it a cheerful contrast to the somewhat gloomy exterior. It could be described as ornate, but not in an overcrowded gothic way-- more Romanesque, decorated with marble panels, a marble frieze of the Last Supper which was probably well-intentioned, and solid art-deco frescoes. There were straight clear lines for the balcony, and light expanses of white and teal-turquoise walls which contributed to a feeling of cleanliness, of light and airy space at odds with my initial impression of the church.

And there was music-- oh there was music.

The surprise ending made me smile:



I just closed my eyes for the whole thing. Truly sublime:



I . . . seriously thought, listening, that they were playing Mozart. It was actually Schubert. Apparently he was infatuated with Mozart when he wrote this symphony:



I let myself pause outside the churchyard to look around. In the belfry came the constant pealing of bells, restlessly refusing to harmonize; perhaps a lesson in bell-ringing. Someone had dug rows of flowerbeds among the tombstones, and planted them with sweet-smelling daffodils; I resolved to come back and see them in the sunlight at my next opportunity. The church was illuminated with spotlights, as was the castle above; I could see in the distance the dark spire of the Scott Monument, and beyond it the illuminated clock tower of the Balmoral glowing like a jewel in the night.
tsubame: (aqua)
Sunday, June 26th, 2011 10:58 pm
During last week’s game, we got to the stage where we were making plans. Well, Jonathan was making plans as his character, who Lázár has nicknamed “Ponce.” And as he was making plans, he was looking at me for advice and approval.

Which of course Lázár, my current character, is completely unsuited to give: he’s not a planner or a deep thinker. No; it was simply a holdover from last game, when Jonathan played a character named Niccolo and I played Tokugawa-- who was a planner, a rationalist, a strategist.

And who is not entirely gone from my mind, so I felt her surge of satisfaction/triumph. You see, she said to me, you see what I have made.

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I took a walk down to the bank. There were some climbing roses and they smelled the way roses are meant to. There were trees-- so many-- whispering endlessly. There were houses for sale, and I populated their empty windows with my doubts.


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I learned something, long ago: I cannot ask my family to do anything.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I can ask them for certain things. As long as they’re small, and they cause very little inconvenience, and aren’t too expensive. As long as they don’t require anyone to sacrifice on my behalf.

Nor can I call to complain about anything, and expect to be soothed, comforted, cheered up. Nor can I ever expect to be spoiled or coddled, taken care of. All of these things are my job-- just as it’s my job to be okay, no matter what.

But every once and a while I forget that certain things are not allowed. I make a request, something that ought to be simple.

And then I learn, once again.

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I really shouldn’t try my hand at humor when depressed, it makes me far too cynical:

Blankman: ‎KB is sorry she causes cancer.
Me: Only in lab rats, but EVERYTHING causes cancer in lab rats.
KB: Why must I cause such suffering and despair?
Me: Lab rats are born for suffering and despair. Human souls gotta go somewhere on their next round of incarnation. The karmatic burden would be unmanageable otherwise.

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There’s a one-pound coin that I carry around in my wallet, I call it my lucky pound. Because it shares a birth year with me. And because it’s scratched and worn and dirty, kicked around, all its innocent shine worn away. It’s a coin that has traveled far and seen some hard use.

Kind of like me.

And even so, despite all that, it’s a pound. Legal tender. Not worth quite as much as it once was, to be sure, but still worth something.

I hope that’s like me, too. That’s why it’s my lucky pound.

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Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis )
Written in Pencil in the Sealed Railway-Car, by Dan Pagis

here in this carload
i am eve
with abel my son
if you see my other son
cain son of man
tell him that i

~translated from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell
tsubame: (reading)
Monday, May 9th, 2011 11:17 pm
Photobucket

One of the views from St. Michael’s Bridge in Ghent. You just kinda stand in the middle of the bridge and turn in a circle, and it’s amazing no matter which way you look. You can see all the major sites from right there-- castle, cathedrals, churches, bell tower, canals . . .

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30 April 2011 (continued) )

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Photobucket

A picture from Sensei’s concert: Kurahashi Yodo and Ronald Brautigam, 28 April 2011, De Bijloke Muziekcentrum, Ghent

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1 May 2011 )

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Photobucket

A cup of chocolate in a Brugges cafe.
tsubame: (reading)
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011 12:03 am
Bach in the D.C. Subway, by David Lee Garrison )

There is a reason why Mozart and Bach and Beethoven are known to this day, and their music played all throughout the world. I bless the technological miracle that lets me have all of them, and all they wrote, great artists and their great art played by great artists, and all for a few minutes' fiddling with search terms.

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An interesting article on one woman's realization of racism in Canada. Because I sadly have had people from various countries-- Canada, Australia, even the US of A (this is just my personal experience, mind)-- try to tell me that racism is a thing of the past in these modern utopias.

. . . yeah, they were white folks. ::le sigh::

I also have a certain familiarity with the feeling of "representing an entire culture," that her boyfriend mentions. Of course it wasn't the same-- even in Japan I was a "favored minority," and furthermore representing my culture was a part of my job-- but it was an incredible amount of pressure, and it did effect my behavior, the way I dressed, the way I expressed myself, and even my thoughts. For the first few weeks, even months, just leaving my apartment was a strain, because I could feel people staring at me wherever I went.

But although Japan became my home, it was not the country of my birth, a place to which I would feel entitled to belong. Although I have experienced my fair amount of abuse over my lifetime for being different, no one ever questioned my right to be in the USA based on how I looked. Which is to say: I can imagine what the feeling is like, but I have never truly experienced it, nor am I likely to.
tsubame: (foot-mouth)
Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 02:24 am
Thanks to a really incredible review on my Dark Jewels Saiunkoku fic, I was actually motivated to continue writing it. It isn't finished, not by a long shot, but I thought I would type up what I have so far.

Dark Jewels Saiunkoku
Roseford's Queen, Part 1 | Part 2

Roseford's Queen, Part 3 )

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This song is well and truly lodged in my head, and I find myself singing it most everywhere I go.

Saturday, August 7th, 2010 07:45 am
Megaupload link to Within Temptation's "a Final Dream," as quoted in the previous post.

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Even Through the Summer Storm, by Carol Clark Williams

wild geese imagine the moon and
row toward it, writing
lines of poetry.

Against the gothic clouds they sketch
sestinas, every stanza
beginning with the letter "v".

They search the lightning-punctuated sky
for words that rhyme with
"flight" and "night".

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. . . yeah, I wrote more Kingdom Hearts fic. Even more plotless and pointless this time! I blame [livejournal.com profile] majochan, because I think the initial prom-shenanagins idea was hers. She's the one with the truly brilliant ideas about it, too. Had me in stitches.

FIC.

Title: Dance Lessons
Fandom: Kingdom Hearts

What are we gonna do at prom? )

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I wanna be a member of the Grown-Up Party! With maybe a little humor thrown in, since I don't want to be a part of an organization that lacks a sense of humor.

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The problem with many computers has its roots in a problem with humans-- we don't like to think. We're lazy, and if we can help it we'll take the easy way out. This is why Apple and Windows are more successful then, say, Linux-- they make things easier for people. If something seems to hard, we give up on it fairly easily.

So computers do things for us so that we won't hit that threshold. Which works . . . up to a point. Problems arise when the computer assumes it knows what you're trying to do and starts doing it for you-- but gets it wrong. The subtleties of human purpose in using programs are often lost on the programs themselves, which in trying to help too much end up hindering or even preventing. Ironically, for most of these programs there's no easy way to tell them to stop doing it. No easy way to reassure them that you know what you're doing, however strange that might seem, and you don't need the computer's help to do it.

Which of course leads to the comical situation of me shaking my fist at the computer screen and yelling, "stop assuming you're smarter than me!" I bought my camera for the express reason that, while I can definitely use the help in setting up my shots most of the time, not to mention the convenience of having the balance adjusted for me, I want to be able to tell it to stop and leave me alone, that I can take shots that its tiny computer brain can't conceive the purpose or propriety of.

I just wish I could do that with Word 2007. Maybe if the damn thing was in English rather than Japanese I might have a chance of figuring it out . . .

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There was a full glass coffee pot mostly submerged in a sink-full of water at work today. A moment's thought gave me the answer to why it was there. Still, I spent a minute smiling at the serene ridiculousness of the image, and thought to myself happily, "the world is stranger and more wonderful than I was previously aware."

I love those moments, I really do.

Recently my father sent me a postcard from where he was attending a seminar on radio telescopes in North Carolina. The card read, "I thought you would find this particular postcard funny."

The postcard is a before-and-after sort. The top shows the radio telescope standing proud and lovely, a lacework flower-cup of whitewashed girders. The second picture is from the next day, and shows a pile of white wreckage where once the telescope stood.

It did, indeed, make me laugh. One day-- beautiful functioning high-tech scientific instrument! The next day-- pile of twisted rubble! Aaaah, I can't believe it just collapsed like that-- like a fflan in a cupboard, to quote Eddie Izzard. Just imagine, some poor dude left work, locked the door behind him, everything was fine. He drives up the next morning, and wham! I bet he totally BSODed. Or maybe just sighed and drove off to find the nearest bar.

I'm still laughing about it, yeah. Apparently my father knows me quite well, including my odd sense of humor.

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I don't know what it says about me, but pictures like this one, of the First Family visiting a National Park, make me really really happy. That strange feeling of pride and hope-- I don't know where it comes from, but it's all the more welcome given my generally somewhat depressing news-reading hobby.

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An article written by a hibakusha on her experience in Hiroshima. I am adamantly anti-nuclear weapons, under any and all circumstances. I further believe that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were absolutely wrong and should be a source of national shame to the U.S.A., instead of an oft-ignored, bare paragraph in history textbooks. Considering that WWII is America's last "just" war (or possibly our only one, though I'm reluctant to even go that far), my opinions on the matter are hardly what one would call widespread.
tsubame: (yue)
Saturday, July 31st, 2010 09:23 am
One final adventure. And then, time to dream anew.

A Final Dream, Within Temptation

Lay your head down
And sleep on my shoulder
Lay your head down
And start a new dream

And for tonight the moment is over
Drift in a lullaby
Here where the stars reside
And angels are always seen

And lay your head down
The stars they have whispered
Hear what they say
And know that it means

The moon is your guide
The stars they have kissed her
As she goes gently by
Light as a baby’s sigh
Safe on a fairytale stream

And start a new dream
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 01:18 am
This is an interesting article about being a grown-up . . . and ties in with some points of my Theory of Being a Responsible Adult, one major point of which is taking responsibility for your own well-being. I liken it to what I learned in the first aid course I took, which specifically addressed how to approach a crisis situation. When faced with a situation where a person is lying before you, injured, the first thing we were taught was to look around, checking for hazards or potential threats before we went to help the person. The reason for this was that if you rushed in without looking around, you could be hurt yourself, and then you would be adding to the problem rather than solving it. Basically, if you really want to help others, make sure that you yourself are taken care of so that you won't become someone else's burden.

And so I look out for my own mental, emotional, and physical well-being. For instance, I try to eat right and get exercise, to go out when I feel restless and stay in when I'm reaching the end of my endurance. When I start feeling sick, I stop drinking coffee and start drowning myself in orange juice. When I'm sad, I pursue those activities most likely to return to me my mental equilibrium. When I need company, I arrange a dinner or time with my friends. I do many things for the simple reason that I enjoy them.

So in keeping with my theory, as I would be unhappy if I didn't have a birthday party each year, I make it a point to arrange one. And while I take other people into account somewhat (I try not to choose anywhere too expensive, and people can come or go from the festivities according to the demands of their schedules or wallets), I always do things that I enjoy.

This year was no different, but of course. I was so excited beforehand that I was practically bursting at the seams over it. I was actually dreaming of it before the fact. And it was just as awesome as I hoped!

A very merry Be-Day to MEEEEEEEEE! )

And that was my wonderful, fabulous, exciting, fun birthday. <3