Friday, August 30, 2013

Judge Alex's Inferiority Complex

Judge Alex Ferrer

Pinterest didn't like the previous photo. We'll see if we have more luck with this one.

Judge Alex Ferrer recently visited an art show or art gallery or something of that nature.  If His Honor is not exaggerating his lack of artistic talent or being overly modest, it seems that he is not particularly gifted in the area  of visual arts, and his visit to the art show or gallery highlighted his lack of artistic ability. It is therefore time to restore Judge Ferrer's sense of self esteem

Judge Ferrer came to the U.S. as an infant. His brother were older, and presumably (especially the oldest of the three brothers) began  mastery of the the English language as Judge Alex was just beginning  to speak. The Judge's parents were probably also eager to learn English or to perfect existing English language skills, so they likely relied on the oldest brother's emerging language skills to master or perfect English themselves. At the same time, Spanish would have been spoken in the home as well. The judge's grandparents probably spoke only Spanish.  

It's a great thing to be able to speak two languages, and the more fluently, the better. At the same time, I know because my mother worked as a school psychologist for most of my life, and parents tend to bring their work home with them mentally if not physically,  that many children in such situations become caught between the two languages being spoken in the home and fail to master either language fully. They develop language disorders that slow their development of fluency in either language, which greatly interferes with the ability to read and write, and often even seeps over into the logistical / mathematical side of learning. In any event, my mother says, one of the major causes of learning disabilities in today's students is the quandary of being caught between languages and failing to become fluent in either language.

For whatever reason, this did not happen to Judge Ferrer. Perhaps he was just smarter than the average baby caught in such a situation, and maybe Chinese and Norwegian could have been thrown into the mix as well, and he still would have come out in a linguistically strong position. Perhaps his parents were smarter than the average parents and handled the language acquisition  carefully. Maybe they ensured that he mastered one language before allowing another language to be spoken in the home, or maybe they simply spoke either Spanish or English, and did not mix the two in a given conversation.  Either he was very linguistically gifted  or his parents  managed his language acquisition perfectly, or both. Tens of thousands of nearly-one-year-olds speaking a language other than English enter this country yearly. Most do not grow up to be judges, either in real life, on television, or both.

Judge Ferrer probably could have become an athlete -- perhaps a football player -- unless his build has changed drastically since  he was young. In his day, 170 to 180 pounds spread over  a 6'1" frame probably would have been ideal for a high school defensive back or a safety. If he had much of a throwing arm, he might have been a quarterback. His build also might have allowed him to become a skilled tennis player. Instead, he spent his free time working and studying. He worked at a gas station in high school, beginning at the age of fifteen, gradually earning more responsibility at the job and presumably higher wages. He learned not to spend everything he earned.

His persistence eventually persuaded someone in charge to allow him to enter a police academy at the age of eighteen -- while he was still wearing braces that he probably paid for at least in part with his own earnings. He completed police academy and worked  for the Coral Gables Police Department at the age of nineteen, which made him at the time the youngest police officer in the State of Florida.  His parents advised him to continue his education, because being a police officer might not be what he would want to do for the rest of his life.  

Judge Ferrer juggled his schedule and took classes at whatever college in the area worked for him at a given time, depending upon his work schedule as a police officer. He plodded on until he earned a bachelor's degree. Then, with sufficiently high GPA and LSAT scores, he was admitted to the prestigious University of Miami School of Law, where he was a published member of the school's Law Review. He earned his Juris Doctorate and practiced civil law  until he ran for and was elected to the post of Circuit Court Judge in the Eleventh Court judicial Circuit. I believe he was the first Cuban-American in the jurisdiction to be elected to a judicial post.  In this position, he presided over many high profile cases.

Judge Ferrer asked that his name be removed from consideration by then-Governor Jeb Bush for a seat in Florida's Third District Court of Appeal. (He was the only unanimously recommended candidate for this position.) Soon thereafter,  "Judge Alex, " a syndicated small claims courtroom show, premiered on September 12, 2005. Eight years later, the show continues its run.  

Jude Ferrer has been married to the same lovely woman since the late 1980's. He has two children, one of whom is [I think] in law school. The other is completing his undergraduate degree. Both of his children are, from all accounts, law-abiding citizens. Much credit for his children's success in life in general  and lack of trouble with school or the law likely belongs to their mother, yet Judge Ferrer, too, undoubtedly deserves a share of the accolades.
Judge Ferrer tragically lost two brothers in adolescence and young adulthood, one to Type I Diabetes and another to lymphoma.  As his parents' only surviving offspring, he assists them when necessary, accompanying them to doctors' appointments, helping them to make car purchases, killing bugs which sometimes turn out not to be bugs, and other such tasks for which elderly parents who are fortunate enough to have dutiful children rely upon those children.

Judge Ferrer earned his pilot's license in his teens. He plays the bass. He plays golf. He scuba dives. He runs marathons. He has an almost unparalleled sense of humor. Other TV judges may be funny at times, but not as consistently as is Judge Ferrer. An honorable aspect to his wit is his sense of self-deprecation. (His bailiffs, too, are fodder for his humor, but it seems that they understand such comes with the job.) His litigants bear the brunt of his jokes only when they earn it either with ignorance too blatant to be overlooked or with disrespect. In terms of repeated disrespect from litigants, he responds not with humor, but by throwing the litigants and their cases out of his courtroom. His courtroom is consistently  in order except for the times the audience is laughing uproariously at hysterically funny comments the judge has made.

Judge Ferrer does not draw well. His artwork, it seems, is limited to stick figures. Neither does he play the violin nor the piano.  Does anyone really feel sorry for this man because of his flagrant lack of talent? 

I didn't think so.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The End of Summer

Wouldn't it be nice?

The Beach Boys had a CD or album or whatever entitled "Endless Summer." Except for those living in desert or highly humid climates, wouldn't it be positively transcendent?

I have about three-and-a-half-weeks before resuming classes. As much as I'd love to spend it in drunken revelry, there's too much practicing to be done for me to wake up hung over every morning, or even any morning. I do have my internship as well on which to concentrate. I'm trying to actually get something out of it, as opposed to putting in the required time and being finished with it. Additionally,  it would be nice to enter medical school with a solid background in something and even a vague idea of the branch of medicine which I might ultimately desire to follow, although there's much time to decide and plenty of opportunities for me to change my mind.

I am having a little pleasure time before the grind of school hits. One of my high school friends is coming and spending three days next week. Her university starts the following week, and her summer job wraps up on Labor Day.

I've been at the pseudorelatives' home since Tuesday.  I've helped pseudoaunt out with some legal work, as well as helped her with details concerning a project. Other than that, I've mostly practiced my instruments. The pseudorelatives have a very nice piano I can practice, and Jillian genuinely seems not to mind if I practice in the daytime. She doesn't even mind the violin practice, although I mostly go into my bedroom and close the door to reduce the impact while practicing the violin. The sound of the violin is a little less mellow than that of the piano, and I don't wish to be an obnoxious guest. 

Because Scott works long and hard days, I do not play at night unless he specifically requests that I do so. Each night he's asked to hear a particular piano piece and a particular violin piece. He's accompanying me on the three violin pieces that require piano accompaniment.

On piano, he's wanted to hear Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu, Billy Joel's Fantasies and Illusions, and Handel's The Harmonious Blacksmith.

In regard to Fantaisie Impromptu, he said it's as close to  perfect as it will ever be, and I should continue to play through it two to three times a week, but anymore might make the performance perfunctory and routine. 

In regard to the Billy Joel piece, he said the basics are all in place, and it's impressive that it's already memorized (I handed him the music to each of my pieces when I played them). He said I need to work on dynamics, pacing, and making it not sound just like the recording Billy on Billy Joel's CD but making it more my own. 

He said The Harmonious Blacksmith is quite polished, but that I have two approaches to consider. One is that it was written by Handel in an era in which keyboards had no damper pedals and no ability to vary dynamics. Everything was at one volume, which could not be altered. Some people play it that way on the piano. On the other hand, he said, and which I already knew, Handel was an innovator. If he'd had access to a damper pedal and a keyboard that would play as loudly or as softly as he wanted it to, he would have taken full advantage of that technology. The common school of thought is that a compromise is the way to approach Handel (or Bach) keyboard works. Use modest dynamic changes, and make light use of the damper pedal when necessary. According to Scott, this is wishy-washy. He said that light use of the damper pedal is appropriate, as it always is, as he thinks it's a cover-up for poor fingering. Regarding dynamics, however, he believes, that Handel would have made full use of them. He said that I should use them freely, and that he is willing to give me his opinion of where the variations should occur, but that he wanted to hear my interpretation first. I'll play it for him again sometime next week. He also said that I should consider performing the piece on harpsichord rather than piano. I had thought of it, but I'm concerned about the size of the rehearsal hall and if it would be heard in the back rows. It would be easy enough to try it out.

Each night we've played through one of the pieces on which he will accompany me for my recital. He said he's in no position to critique my playing of the violin. We just don't know how many opportunities we'll have to practice together, so it's  a good idea to play together when the opportunity is available.

My parents are arriving at LAX in the 9:00 range tomorrow, although with a flight from New Zealand by way of Australia and Hawaii, many variables are present. I'm picking them up, and they're even trusting me with my mom's car. I'm prepared to hang out at the airport for awhile and, if absolutely necessary, get a hotel room. They told me to arrive thirty minutes after their scheduled arrival time (which means, if I'm going to beat traffic, that I'll have to hang out in a restaurant for an hour or two) with the hope that everything is on schedule and they can just meet me outside with their luggage. If such is the case, they'll call me on my cell phone so I'll know to drive directly to the pick-up site and not go to short-term parking. I hope a hotel stay isn't necessary, as a social event at which my parents should be present happens tomorrow night. Please pray or send positive wishes in terms of flights leaving and arriving on schedule.  I'm leaving very early in the morning to beat traffic. If the flight is delayed a bit, I can triple wrap my purse strap around my arms and legs and tuck the purse itself into a place where it cannot be accessed without my waking up, then curl up and go to sleep near their baggage carousel.

They've been gone two weeks. I've missed them more than I thought I would, although I am accustomed to their taking extended summer trips. This summer's trip was actually short in comparison to most. They'd already seen a good deal of Australia when their trip was abruptly interrupted by my car accident last summer. They saw the remainder of Australia that they wanted to see, then headed to New Zealand.  They liked it enough that they said they'll take me next year for a college graduation present if I want.

Have a fun and safe Labor Day weekend.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Going Greek

Go Greek . .  . Then again, maybe don't.

I've practiced violin until my fingers are almost ready to fall off. Enough is enough. I've practiced piano even more.I need to practice a bit less in the next few days. One can over-practice and over-learn, which can result in a mechanical sound from the musician. Where violin is concerned, I'd love for that to be my biggest problem. Having violin music that is too well-prepared would be, for me anyway, a nice problem to have.

I  was thinking about fraternities and sororities today. Some people may have fond memories of them, but still I cannot help being struck by the somewhat insidious nature of the whole system.  The girls in many sororities elevate snobbishness to a whole new, previously unseen level..

 I had one class my first year -- introductory biochemistry -- that had quite a few frat rats and their female sorority counterparts. It was to be taught by a  new associate professor. This may have given the Greek system students the feeling of a bit more power than they otherwise might have had.  It's as though they took over the classroom. Even though it was my first official course, I'd been on campus in the previous semester for music lessons. There were girls in that class among the sorority girls who would be perfectly friendly to me in other settings, but once we walked through the door of that classroom, it was as though they'd never before seen me  in any of our entire lives. They had mapped out about two-thirds of the seats in the classroom for themselves and their own kind. If a non-Greek sat in one of those seats, he or she would be told to move. I unknowingly , on my very first day of classes as a university student, made the mistake of sitting in one of those chairs. "Get up, bitch," was the response I received from a sorority girl.  "It's not your seat."

Still being clueless, I responded to the girl, who was sitting two rows away, that it was the first session of class and we didn't know yet if we would have assigned seats. (I assumed we wouldn't because it seemed like sort of a high school thing. This was less than a year after my restroom attack, so I was a little scared, but doubted anyone would actually beat me up over this.) The girl told me that the seat was reserved for a fraternity or sorority member -- apparently they dislike even the non-Greeks even more than they dislike those from rival frats or sororities, sort of like Alexander Hamilton  hated Thomas Jefferson but hated Aaron Burr even more -- and that at the rate I was going, my chances of being rushed were diminishing by the second even had I had any desire to join up with the Greeks, which I most definitely did not.

I told her that I really didn't feel like moving.  She glared at me and whispered to each succeeding person who entered who appeared to have Greek affiliation.  No one stuck up for me, but no one said anything to me, either.

Then the professor entered. Before he said a word, a girl who was tall, thin, bespectacled -- the prototypical serious student. -- raised her hand. "Excuse me, Dr. Brum," she said. "There seems to be some confusion here.  The fraternity and sorority members have some reason to believe they can reserve a large block of seats for people who belong to fraternities and sororities.  Is that an established policy in your class?"

The professor looked at her quizzically. Some frat rats and sorority members looked uncomfortable, while other looked smug.

"No," the professor responded,  "It most definitely isn't." Some of the Greek sytem affiliates appeared  possibly to be trying to indimidate the professor with stares. He stared right back.

"I think with this class,"  the professor continued, "just for my convenience, we'll sit in alphabetical order. That will make it easier on days when I choose to take roll."

"You take attendance?" one sorority girl groaned, while another whined, "This is so 'high school.' "

"Yes, it certainly is,"  the professor responded. "If you choose to act like you're in high school, my only option is to treat this like a high school class."

"Im outa here, " one frat rat announced as he took his belongings and left. Two others followed.

"I'd love to to drop," I heard a sorority girl mutter, "but I need this class to graduate and can't put it off any longer."

The professor called out each name on his roll sheet, and pointed to the seat he designated for the student. The sorority girls and frat rats glared as they were called to move. The non- Greeks just moved to the designated seats with no obvious expression or emotion.

The profesor took a few notes on a piece of paper, apparently in relation to  the assigned seating arrangement. "There are are univeristies who segregate or discriminate, legally or otherwise, on all sorts of bases. This university isn't one of them. If you have a problem with that, come to see me during my office hours," he said, "which are listed on the course syllabus I'm handing out now. If you can't deal with non-discriminatory policies, I'll give you a list of universities and colleges that do practice official if illegal discimination."   He continued. "If you choose to remain in this class anyway, you'll sit where I tell you to sit, and you'll speak when I tell you to speak, and if I don't like what I hear coming from your mouth, I'll tell you to shut up, and you will."

Only about ten of the original seventeen or so Greek system students stayed in the class, which altered the dynamics significantly. Having the Greek system students become a minority in the classroom significantly changed the dynamics of the class. They weren't bold enough to act as though they owned the place when they comprised maybe one-third of the class, and it was soon impossible just by visual scan to tell the Greeks from the Romans or anyone else. Strangest of all, they began speaking to the rest of us as though there was no actual class distinction.

It was an enlightening experience to me. I came to the university  from another university town -- an area of modest wealth but of high educational level among the adults in the community. If a snob empire existed there, and it probably did to some degree, it would have been based on everyone's parents' levels of education and not on family finances.  This was my introduction to the idea that how much money one's parents had stowed away  had any correlation with how one might be seen and treated by his or her peers. I, for one, refuse to be pushed around by the frat and sorority members and will continue to refuse to be intimidated in any way by them. I'm seeing my peers grow increasingly less bothered by the snobbishness of the Greek system. Its members are, to me anyway, irrelevant on our campus, and it seems to me that others feel that way as well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

more philosophical than usual

What can you tell people who already know everything?

My Uncle Michael picks up mail at my house when everyone who normally lives at my house it out of town. We have a locked mailbox, for any thieves who are reading and who actually know where I live, but those things eventually fill up, and one never knows when one will have an especially heavy mail day.  My Uncle Michael and his family came here to my Uncle Steve' s for dinner tonight, and he brought a few pieces of mail that were addressed to me. Most were credit card offers, but one was from my old high school.  It was with much curiosity that I opened it.

It was an invitation to give a brief (10-minute) address to the graduates at the 2014 commencement ceremony of my high school alma mater. Thinking back, because I attended a few ceremonies other than my own due to playing piano for the choir or playing in band or because a relative was graduating, it is neither the norm nor the exception to have a speaker besides the graduate speakers. The year I graduated, there was not one. I didn't attend commencement ceremonies my junior year because I was wheel-chair-bound and practically in a body cast. my sophomore, I believe some guy who had attended our high school and had gone to MITspoke.

Why they would want me is one of life's great mysteries. They said it's because my university reported to them that I'm definitely in the top ten of graduates for 2014 even though I'm finishing in three years. (The triple major with a minor figures into my being in the top ten graduates.) The reason may also have had to do with some of the adversity I faced at the high school. Perhaps at some point they'll comunicate to me that they want the focus of my speech to be overcoming adversity or some such thing. I hope they don't tell me that, because it is not a subject which I would choose as a theme for an address.

I didn't even speak at my own graduation even though I was the #1 valedictorian. Instead, I wrote the speech and let the #2 valedictorian, my brother, give it. I wish we could do it that way again, as I'm a decent speechwriter, and Matthew's a gifted public speaker. He's probably wasting his talents in medicine, and maybe should go into politics instead, but he says he has a chance to  accomplish something good in the world if he goes into medicine. I respect his point of view. He won't be the world's most brilliant doctor, but he will be thorough, hard-working, compassionate, and will have studied hard and will continue to update his education. I suppose the patients who have him for a doctor someday will be lucky.

I must give these people a decision. My gut reaction is to say no. My second gut reaction is to go there and to say something a bit controversial. (The speech I wrote for Matthew was controversial, but it was delivered so perfectly that it was never clear whether the occasional slam at the institution was serious or in jest.) I don't have that skill as a speaker. If I wrote the sort of speech for myself to give, I would be booed. I won't do that.

It will be at a time before my own finals, but after all recital and projects had been done. I would recommend Matthew for the job, be he'll be in the middle of a baseball season and won't be able to skip out on anything just for a measly high school commencement ceremony. It's either do it myself, or not at all.

In making the decision, I must consider what if anything I have to say to the graduates that would be of benefit to them.  Will they listen? Will it make a difference? If not, it's pointless, unless I can put it on my medical school resume far before the fact. If it would be impressive to a selection panel, it might be worth doing even if I might be mediocre. I won't be terrible, because I'm too meticulous and OCD to walk up there and have nothing to say. I'd hate to be mediocre, though.

It came to me that my words don't have to be my words alone. I have just over eight months to come up with a high school keynote address.  In that time, I can get words of wisdom from a lot of people I know. Even my own father, when he's polished off a Guinness or two, sometimes has profound things to say. My Uncle Scott is articulate and very deep, and funny as well. My Aunt Jillian is a brilliant writer. I could possibly gather material, have have Aunt Jillian write a draft, and then turn it into my own.

What do I have to say to the graduates at my old high school?  It's an extremely educated community, and 95% of the graduates are probably going off to 4-year colleges. Perhaps there's something that needs to be said to the remaining 5%.  The reasons why they're not going to 4-year institutions are, unless they really desire to pursue a trade,  probably financial. They're smart enough to graduate from a really competitive high school, but not sufficiently spectacular (or maybe didn't study quite diligently enough) to have scored any major scholarships among a graduating class that's roughly as competitive as any public high school in the nation. It's like a private school except no one pays any tuition.  Their parents  won't or more likely can't foot the bill. Their parents may make too much for them to qualify for financial assistance based on need, but not enough to help them significantly with college expenses, Those students need to know that if college is for them, that when they graduate ultimately from whatever four-year  school at which they end up, no med school or law school will care that they did time on a JC campus as long as their GPAs and MCATs or LSATs are sufficiently high.  There is no shame in having attended a community college. Anyone who would suggest otherwise is a snob whose opinion does not matter.  It goes without saying that I would never discuss during the speech why anyone is or isn't going to a four-year-college. I would merely insist that a quality education can be obtained there for a fraction of the cost of that they would've paid at a four year school for the same thing, and that if they go on to succeed at a four-year school, in the grand scheme of things, time spent on a junior or community college campus will not be a detriment to their future.

What would I tell the other 95% ?    I'd love to give the student body my opinions of frats and sororities, but they and their parents have made up their minds on that issue, and nothing I can say will sway anyone's opinions. If there is a subtle way to work in the idea that they're no longer in junior high, and that the purpose for affiliating with Greek associations should not be to make others feel inferior about themselves, I would like to find it and convey that thought.  I would also tell the students to be cautious, especially if one is a female, at parties, and especially at fraternity parties. I'd remind them about not drinking anything they didn't open themselves, and not to leave a drink unguarded for a second.  I'd tell them to go to a party with one or more other people, and not to leave or stay without all of the people with whom they arrived.  I would tell them that a close friend of mine who didn't follow that rule was drugged and raped at a fraternity party. I know it would be a buzzkill  to hear such a thing at  graduation, but were it to prevent even one future rape, it would be well worth it.

I would advise them not to take an 8:00 a.m. class their freshman year. College is hard enough without significantly damaging one's GPA as a freshman just because a person took a course that was too early when he or she didn't have mom or dad to prod him or her out of bed and on to class.  After freshman year, a student should have a decent handle on whether or not the early class is workable, but don't risk it as a freshman.

If your math or science comes with a tutorial section, TAKE IT, I would telll them.  Students may think they've been so well-prepared or are so naturally brilliant that they don't need the extra help tutorial sections offers, but they'll be surrounded by well-prepared and naturally brilliant competition. Take the tutorial whenever it's offered.

I would advise them not to miss a deadline on an assignment. Once one does it, it gets easier and easier. Don't miss class unless one is legitimately 103-degree-fever-and-contagious sick. Even if you have a note from the health center excusing you, the note is worth about as much as the paper on which it's printed, and it's probably not printed on a hundred-dollar bill.  Professors don't care. Some don't take attendance either, and a student may think he or she can get the class notes from someone else. That's certainly better than nothing, but notes from the best note-taker on campus are not as good as actually sitting through the lecture. If one is lucky enough to get that great note-taker to study or share with you even when one has been in class, go for it. Some people have uncanny instincts in terms of what's going to turn up on a test, and or what a professor wants to hear. If one of such people is willing to study with a person,  it would behoove him or her to give up the move you were going to watch and put in the time studying. Mainly, though, go to class.

Speaking of what a professor wants to hear, I've said before and will say again, in subjective courses, every professor has something he or she wants to hear.  One should learn to unlock that professor's "truth" as early in the course as possible, and be creative about restating it to him or her in as many ways possible. There are many ways, times, and places, to be true to oneself and one's beliefs. A subjective college course is not one of them.  Find out what a professor wants to hear, and tell it to him or her. That, and doing so in an articulate manner, is the secret to succeeding in subjective college courses. Don't feel that doing such is compromising one's values; a person has a whole lifetime to be true to yourself. This just isn't the time for it.

A student should not purchase any papers. Especially avoid the Internet for that purpose. A student's only chance of not getting caught is if the paper was written right in front of him or her by a close friend or relative. (At that point, why not just do it yourself?) Otherwise, that paper was turned in before and is  in a database, and the student will be caught.

How does one verbalize in a non-cliche manner the cliche yet essential truth that college can and should be fun, but one is there to study and to get an education? It's as true as ever it was, but the closer one's college is to the beach, the harder it seems to be to follow such advice.  Yet young people have heard it too many times already, don't want to hear it again, and don't think it applies to them.Would a slide presentation in that regard be effective along the vein of a picture being worth a thousand words?

The street closest to the beach in the off-campus community  here  is inhabited mostly by former students or marginal students who once had high hopes of graduating but are now going to need serious rehab and probably to return to colleges closer to home if they ever hope to complete a bachelor's degree. The street by the beach is the rough equivalent of Bourbon Street during the Mardi Gras, except that it is that way on any given weekday at 1:00 P.M.  It only gets worse on nights and weekends. Should I just walk up to the partiers along that street after snapping their pictures,  and see how many are willing to share their transcripts with me, redacting names, of course? Many are drunk enough  at any given moment  that they'd agree to just about anything. Would this convince students that fun is essential to college life, but one can have too much of a good thing? Or is that something every college or university student must learn on his own, hopefully before it's too late, and are words and even pictures futile?

What can I or anyone say to these young people that will inspire them, yet not create a false sense of hope? That will warn them, yet not paralyze them and their parents with fear? Now that I'm almost out of here, I know that both good and bad lurks around every corner; what can I possibly say that will help them navigate their way through the bad and toward the good? It seems futile. Do I even try?

In the end, I think my best bet, if I do this at all,  would be to entertain the students with a few mildly funny stories that makesome of my more essntial points, and to insert  a few truths in such a discreet way that the students don't realize they've been given advice. People who already know everything do not like to be given advice.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Still obsessing on recital attire, and "Surrender, Dorothy"

The color of the blue in the stripes is too light, but seriously, can you imagine if I shouled up at my piano recital in this ensemble. I might actually do it except that A)I need an A for the recital, and B) my mother might go into cardiac arrest. For shoes, I'd probably want Dorothy's ruby slippers. My encore would be something I made up myself on the spot, and I'd entitle it "Surrender, Dorothy."

I still might compose an instrumental piece with that title someday.

Imagining truly outrageous acts is, I think, one of the things that  keeps us from actually doing them.

-emias and -omas

This is a stain of acute erythroid leukemia,which is a rare and aggressive form of acute myeloid leukemia..One of the pathologists showed this to me today when  it came through the lab because it's one of my dad' s  particular subspecialties.
I stayed and worked an extra day o the lab. I didn't want to staywith Scott and Jillian tonight because it was scott's day off today and if they're feeling especially frisky, I don't wish to be in the way. may Aunt heather and Ubcle Steve ddidn't want me driging home tonight, anyway, becuse i ws up late last night.

 I'll stay with them until my parents are home Friday. Scott works all week, and Jillian is only telecommuting, so she probably won't mind the company. I'm sure her cat. Claudia , will be less that thrilled with the Pope's intrusion, but the two of them will have to deal with it. Jillian never minds when I practice piano  or violin. I have my cheap violin with me, but Scott ha a better one that i can play. His dadgot it really cheap when a neighbor was disposing fof th eestate f another relative nd didn't know what it was wirth. scott's dad did't know what it was worth, either, so it's not like he took advantage of the guy.  it's not worht as much as the violin my Godfather picked up for me, but it'll easily do in a pinch.

I don't want summer to send this year. A bit of it was stolen from me when I had the surgery for the adhesions, but still, I've gotten lazy.  I wnt to goto the beach and practice my instruments. I'll go to my internship two or three days of the week, but otherwise I want to tay up late and sleep late. I'm a hedonist at heart.

Someone t the lab asked me axactly what it is my dad dioes fr a living. it changes from stim to time so I was unable to offer a straightforward answer. I know that in general, he looks for cures as opposed to causes, although there's some cross-ver, and that he specializes primarily in two types of leukemia and a particular form of lymphoma, but that he consults on matters related to other keukemias and lymphmas, Anything he finds has ramifications to othe forms of leukemia, lymphoma, and cancer in general. Sometimes he gets stuck in side projects that interefere with his main work, but  he's mostly involved with the curing side of the particular illnesses.

He's never hd a lab in our home for several reasons -- mainly because would it make our home more attractive for drug-related burglaries -- but he has people working around the clock at four different laboratories around the state, and sometimes  he gets up and calls someone at 3:00 a.m. if something in particular occurs to him. He says the end results to some of what he's doing won't come to fruition  until after he's dead and gone, but tht he's laying he grundwork so that whover takes over can find the answers. he's neing overly modest. Some of the answers he obviously hopes to find himself. He's alreday found some  in terms of which forms of chemo get the most mileage and the least damage with treatments for particular forms of the cancers he studies. other answers will coe sooner rather than later. Still his job isn't one for someone who is impatient for instant results, as those instants results not going t come. the Rel world doesn't work the waymost epiodes of House did, all neatly wrapped up in one hour that's mybe supposed to represent a week in real time.

I'm not sure how well-suited I m for something so long-term.  I know  I can live without instant results, but I don't know if I want to work for a number of years toward one smalll aspect of a remedy for a particular form of cancer.  My dad is at least working on more than one thing. That what may be what allows him to survive in the field. Maybe I'm too ADHD for that though people who knew my dad whe he was young say that he was not much less ADHD than I am. You just have to really focus when it counts. Hyperactivity isn't that much of an issue. It's all about focus when focus is important. Maybe I could do that sort of work. I'd have to approach it from a different angle, though. I would want a residency in pathology rather than in hematology or oncology. The nice thing is that it is an option. I could complete a residecny in pathology and, for all intents and purposes, end up doing what my dad is doing now. Sometimes different  roads lead to the same place.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

the bloody stone has passed

She-ra, Princess of Kidney Stones - actually much more powerful than a mere Princess of Power

Actually, as far as I know, the stone wasn't particularly bloody, but that's what the urologist  in New Zealand said, so I'm going with his choice of words. It was 6mm by 5 mm, but my mom is She-ra, Princess  Kidney Stones, and has passed stones more than twice that big. She probably didn't even need the stent.

Now my Uncle Ralph and my Uncle Jerry can quit fighting over which of them would get to pay for the air ambulance if needed. For the record, they both wanted to foot the bill as opposed to wanting the other to do so. I thought maybe they could split the bill, but they have lots of testosterone, so such solutions don't come as easily to them.

 My mom is back at the hotel and is resting comfortably with drugs because stents and stones leave residual pain, but everyone is quite happy.  My dad is watching the Little League World Series while drinking New Zealand beer, and my mom is resting very comfortably with Vitamin V and a little Dilaudid, or whatever it is called in New Zealand. They'll be able to resume touristy stuff tomorrow.

Doctors  don't deal with as many stones in New Zealand as in the U.S..  I don't know that their diet is that much less conducive to the production of stones.  They eat a lot of meat, and large servings of protein can be a contributing factor. It's a lot  cooler in New Zealand and people there probably stay better hydrated. Australian doctors probably treat more urinary calculi than do the doctors in New Zealand.

For anyone who interceded on behalf of my mom through prayer or any other means, thank you and bless you. Now I have one more favor to ask. My Pseudo-aunt Jillian is surfing for the very first time. She has a lady who is probably the number one female surfer in the world helping her, and she's surrounded by people who will go down after her if a wave takes her under, but a few prayers or positive thoughts on all their behalves would be appreciated. The people helping don't want my Uncle Scott, who is a surfer,  in the water with them because they think he would be too nervous and would just get in the way, so he's on the beach with his camera taking pictures. If he sends me any good ones, I'll share them. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Stoned in Kiwi Land

I'm thankful for nations with modern medicine and clean facilities.

My mom is a kidney stone producer to the extent that if kidney stones  were worth what diamonds are, my family could realistically afford to move in next door to Bill Gates even though our front doors would be a mile or more from each other. She's now in New Zealand and experiencing major kidney stone symptoms.

The good part is that my dad has medical contacts even in New Zealand, so he and my mom are not having to trust doctors they find in the phone book or whatever hospital into which they wander,  and that even though our insurance probably won't cover much of her treatment, my parents can afford it. The bad part is that my dad has to  convince the doctors not to expose my mom unnecessarily to radiation. My dad doesn't want her to undergo radiological procedures  that are not absolutely needed to preserve her life,  Because of my mom's history of leukemia and my dad's desire to prevent a reccurrence. he'll go along with a simple KUB xray, as the radiation exposure is relatively low.  If the stone is large enough to be causing any major damage it'll be evident in the KUB  xray.  She can safely undergo an ultrasound, which exposes her to no radiation whatsoever,  to determine if kidneys or ureters are distended. He doesn't want her to have a CT scan unless she' going to die without it. As insane as it sounds, he'd almost prefer exploratory surgery, especially  since they're not in a third-world country.

My dad's local contacts understand the situation and have determined that the stone is not interfering with the function of the kidney. It is partially occluding her left ureter but is only five millimeters, which my mom should be able to -- barring unforeseen complications -- pass easily enough.  My parents travel with a safe amount of prescription oral drugs, but my dad can't bring IV Demerol or Dilaudid along on foreign flights. At least those drugs, albeit with different names, are available in New Zealand.

I feel bad for my mom because she and my dad didn't spend the money traveling so that she and my dad could get an up close and personal view of the inside of a New Zealand hospital. The doctors there have inserted a stent, and  they're pumping her as full of fluids as is safe and are giving her, in addition to painkillers and anti-nausea meds]ication, New /Zealand's equivalent to tamsulosin, which is that Flomax most frequently prescribed  to men with prostate problems. If my mom is symptom free in another twenty-four hours or so, which I don't even know what time we be for her locally, she'll be released and she and my dad will finish their touring New Zealand the best they can. If she passes the stone,  she'll have minor discomfort that can be managed with oral medication.

The worst part will be if  my parents have to fly home next Thursday without my mom  having passed the stone, because she could then have  major episode on the plane. My parents can't wait around New Zealand indefinitely.  I don't know if the doctors there have he power to get IV drugs onto my parents' plane. I suppose that's when we might have to consider asking my one of  rich uncles to fly her home on an air-ambulance.  I don't like the idea of traveling that distance on anything smaller than something like a standard 747, but it may come to that. Perhaps the airlines can be persuaded to carry the IV drugs. I hope so if it's necessary.  I think my parents fly to Australia, then to Hawaii, then to LAX..

The easiest thing would be for the stone to pass before my parents come home; tonight would probably be ideal. If anyone has any prayers, positive thoughts, or anything else to influence the God of Urinary Calculi, or The Universe or Karmic Forces, on my mom's behalf, please intercede in the way in which you best can help.

if recitals could be the way I envision them . . .

I wouldn't look quite so ridiculous in terms of size, but my attire would more that make up the difference.

I'm getting tired of thinking about what to wear at my recitals. The more I think about it, the more firmly I'm convinced that the whole system is wrong -- just plain wrong.  As far as the adjudication panel is concerned, in my opinion, they should hear but not see who is playing and should not even have any idea  who is playing. They should have no access to the schedule of rehearsals. All scheduling should be managed by a confidential third party so that even one's specific instructing professor does not know  any closer than  to the month when a student's recital will be, so that the prof couldn't let it slip to an adjudication panel  member as to whom it was playing a given recital.  The department chair's secretary basically runs the department anyway. She's up to the task.

So what if a musician does not have a sufficiently serene expression on his or her face? Some of the world's finest pianists and string  musicians look as though they're giving birth to five--pound kidney stones while they're performing. So what if the attire isn't quite perfect? It's not supposed to be a fashion contest. If a player's fingering or technique is awkward,  it should be apparent to the trained ear. I can tell when I'm walking past a practice room when a pianist's fingering is even slightly off, and usually can detect errors in violin technique even when the correct notes are being played. if I don't need to see the musician to discern technical inaccuracies by sound alone,  the adjudication panel certainly shouldn't need a visual image to do the same.

Blind recitals as far as judges are concerned would remove  the politics connected to scoring. While we would like to think all judges are objective, honest,and fair, we know better. While some of the politics are eliminated by disallowing a candidate's own instructing professor from adjudicating his or her recital, other professors who specialize in the same instrument may have petty reasons for wishing for the degree candidate to receive a score lower than one of his or her own protegees, even though  degree candidates' scores are not compared to one another, and a computerized system is used for determining the letter grade, as some professors consistently score higher or lower than others, and the computer keeps track of this so that someone who is unlucky enough to end up with a panel of low scorers isn't penalized in the grading process. (Computer-adjusted scores are available later that night, so we're not left wondering for a week.  Part of  potential bias is reduced by having a five-member panel, with no more than two judges specializing in the candidate's  instrument. Anyone in the department should have adequate background to competently score for any instrument used in a performance.  Furthermore, any score that is ten points lower or higher (on a 100-point scale) than the next lowest or highest score is automatically eliminated from all consideration.. All of the professors except my mom, who is new to the faculty but wouldn't be on my adjudication panel for obvious reasons, have been doing it for years.

If  I had time, I would do a third recital in the spring quarter merely for the hell of it on my third instrument -- the tuba. I haven't touched a tuba for three years, but I'd pick it right up again if I practiced for a week. I'd do it as an audit or schedule it too late for it to be considered in the medical school application process. I'd show up in a colorful and over-sized controversial T-shirt - probably with something about Governor Rick Perry and his profoundly retarded (sorry, Rosa of Rosa's Law, but "profoundly retarded" fits here more aptly than does "cognitively disabled") reproductive policies,  along with wildly striped leggings and Converse high tops. I'd wear a decorated paper bag over my head  with holes cut out for the eyes and nose, and an especially large hole cut out for the mouth. I'd use a sousaphone, which wraps around the player and is used typically in marching bands, instead of the more dignified concert tuba,  which would be considered a bit tacky for a senior recital, further adding to the overall effect. I'm not big enough to play an actual tuba anyway.  this would be my way of thumbing my nose at the antiquated system and sticking it to the man, so to speak.  It would be a memorable recital. I'm almost sad that it will never happen.

Friday, August 23, 2013

decisions, decisions . . .

We're in online negotiations, as my mom is in New Zealand. Her opinions are influenced by the fact that it is winter there, and she's only seeing covered-up girls. No matter what, a female in a senior recital will not wear restrictive clothing. I'll have to play in all dresses I'm seriously considering before choosing them, anyway.

I wish I could buy everything I like and just put it in my closet. The problem is that a musician only wears such clothing for a major recital. I will not have many major recitals in my life. For other occasions, I will wear basic black as a musician, as professional musicians do when they're accompanying. Be invisible. It's the rule.

The bottom line here is that I'd much rather be practicing than obsessing over what I'm going to wear.  I'd love to walk onto the stage in a king-sized pillowcase with holes cut for my arms and head [with opaque tights or legings for modesty] just to make a statement, but when I really need an A, it's probably not the time to make a statement.

order 2 sizes too large and have altered to fit me, with extra fabric going for straps
i'm not sure it's formal enough, but Ilike it.
Meanwhile, I've come up with a few different selections.
what I would wear if I had noticeable boobs
same deal;

I'd order  two sizes too large in order that it has straps and is long enough

would flow nicely for violin
My shrink's wife, who is a fashion consultant, wants me to war this for the violin recital. She says it's lightweight enought to flow, but that i cn pull off the form-fittedness at the waist, which is totally unforgiving, but since I have no boobs or wasit to speak of, it would work for me with a very slightly paded bra.  I'll consider it though I don't like the color.

My laptop is possessed, Except for the bottom one, the caption are mostly attached to the wrong dresses.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

cantankerous piano professor AND choosing a dress for each recital.

not high on my list, but not ruled out

in the top three

Just because you don't have to wear black doesn't meanyou can;t wear it. i like this, so it's in the top three.
This one's probably number one in the running.

It will be longer on me than on her, and straps will be added.

My recital dates for both piano and violin have been set.  My piano recital will be before thanksgiving in November. I've been fighting with my professor about this. Her star student  had a great deal of confidence and scheduled his recital for the Friday after labor day. Unless one has already postpone a recital or has given up all of his non-studying time to practice in the spring and has devoted his summer to practicing, this is a brazen move, perhaps even a foolish one. He decided about a month ago that he was not ready. because I can play through my pieces error-free, my professor thought I should step in for him and take his early September date, giving him my mid-November date.  Theoretically I could do so, and I would pass, though letter grades are given, and I don't know that my performance would earn an A, which I need. I refused to switch dates with him.

Even though I'm not taking summer school, I am taking half a credit of piano pedagogy just to meet with my professor twice a month, She is, as I mentioned earlier, also the professor of the guy who thought he would be ready in September and would wow the adjudication panel by being spot-on so early in the term, had he been ready, it would certainly have made an impression. Had I felt ready and as though I was killing time waiting around November, I would have accepted his proposal for a trade in recital dates. I feel, on the other hand that I still have polishing to do on a few pieces. I'm not willing to be sacrificed for his benefit, which is essentially what my professor is trying to do to me.

My mom told me vi Skype -- she's in the land down under with my dad  (even if it's winter there, don't feel sorry for her; they're having a perfectly marvelous time, and they head to New Zealand tomorrow, which is one of the places I most want to visit in the entire world) -- to fill out a "change of supervising professor" slip and turn it in immediately before this woman does anything to thoroughly screw m over. Her power is limited, as my summer half-unit is an audit, and she has no say in my final grade -- the adjudication committee will determine my grade based on my performance at my single recital -- but I've made the woman very angry. My last two "lessons" consisted of her trying to persuade me to change my recital date, then of berating me for my refusal to do so. She's called me selfish and spoiled. 

My professor expects me to throw myself atop the sacrificial table and take one for the good of her stable of talent because doing so will best highlight the student she considers most promising.  He is more promising as a musician than I am. He's put all his eggs in one basket - that of the piano, while I'm majoring in violin performance and biochem as well as piao performance..  Still, I'm under no obligation to have anything but my very best showing under optimal circumstances. I picked my dates for both conferences early and carefully, considering academic load, length of time between recital, and when I thought I could be realistically be ready for my first recital.  I didn't just close my eyes and randomly point to a date n a year-long academic calendar in front of me. much consideration went into my choosing of recital dates, and I am quite happy with them as they are.

Even though my mother has less seniority than my piano professor, the department chair likes her better. That shouldn't figure into the equation, but it will. The bottom line, nonetheless, is that students here  pay a hefty price for their piano professors' time. If for any reason they're not getting the most of that time for which they re paying, their requests for changes should be honored  at least the first time a request for a change in supervising professorship is requested. If a student cannot get along with more than one or two supervising professors, the problem my be the student,   I'm confident that my request will be honored.  This professor will denigrate me to other faculty members, including the adjudicating panels for both of my recitals, but she won't make much headway. I haven't cause the slightest controversy in the department, and my mom is well-liked within the department even though she's new. My mother shouldn't matter in the least, but  this is the real world, where nepotism is alive and thriving.  I'll be the victim of reverse nepotism enough times in my life; I already have been for that matter. It's only fair that a family relationship should work in my favor once in awhile, especially if it's not at the expense of someone else.

Enough of the negatives. It's time to choose dresses for my recitals.  this is one of the fun things related to recitals. Usually a musician wears basic black, but at his or her (particularly her; a man would still wear a tux) recitals is the ne time a musician need not fade into the woodwork and may stand out a bit.  my violin dress need to be a bit longer, my piano dress may be relatively shot as long as it doesn't appear indecent. Wardrobe malfunctions should not happen at recitals. For that reason, only a fool would wear a strapless dress, particularly for a violin recital. I have a seamstress, however, who can either match the fabric or take fabric from the hem to create spaghetti straps. None of these dresses will likely fit me as they are, but must be remade. In the case of some, they'll be too short in  a size that will fit me. In the case of others, they'll be too large in a size that is an appropriate length. Keep in mind that whatever dress I choose, it will be made to an appropriate length
and spaghetti straps will be added if it's strapless.  one doesn't  want an excess of sleeve fabric when playing either instrument.  Spaghetti straps or a single wider strap, or sleeveless at the very least, are perfect. It's tempting to go for a strapless s dress, as there are so many cute ones, but a wardrobe malfunction can make the difference between an A and a B. I don't want a B, so I'll eschew strapless dresses, though some I'm showing are strapless, as  the straps can be added.

I'm inclined to choose a backup dress for each occasion just in case something goes wring. my parents both say I have a closet full of clothing, at least some of which could be used in n emergency for the concert, If I need a second dress for each concert, I'll need to pay for it myself,  That is precisely what I'll do. I've been working part-time since before I was thirteen and have plenty of emergency cash just for such occasions.

The dresses at the top of the page re ones I'm considering for my piano recital, and the ones a the bottom re ones being considered for my violin recital. I may not be through looking, and I may look for longer if the need be.

obviously will need straps
Maybe too sophisticated?

you get two of these because my computer is malfunctioning and won't let me delete

possible favorite

PTSD and hurt feelings

I would never  begin to compare my own woes to that which this man and others like him suffered.

A couple of months ago I said something in a blog that did  not make the subject of what I said very happy with me. At least I would assume from her essential excommunication of me from her circles that it was the likely thing that happened. It could be that she simply grew tired of me. The few times I put links to my blog in the comments section of her blog, she deleted my comments, and once she wrote a blog about what causes posts to be deleted from her blog that  could easily hav been directed at me.

I was unaware that she read my blog at anytime unless I sent her a tweet with a link telling her specifically it was about her. Chances are that one of her minions read it and told her.  Regardlessof how she learned of the blog, there are consequences to our actions. If she read it, or if she even relied on a second - or third-hand summation from someone else, it may have hurt her feelings. That was never my intent. I never thought she'd see it. Again, she's never indicated reading my blog except when I've written blogs in praise of her.

The gist of the blog was the over-application of PTSD as a diagnosis. This oerson had a child born with a horrble condition that usually results in instand death of the baby immediately followig birth if not before. This baby was a real fighter, though, and beat the odds, and appears to be thriving at the age of three or maybe almost four by now. We heard she was over-achievingand no longer eligible for any special services, but then we heard again that she seemed to have some deficits, but then again we read that all was OK. Maybe it really wasn't , which was adding to the mother's angst. Maybe she liked to praise her chaildren as most goood parents like to do, but there were things going on behind the scenes about which the readers knew nothing.

Maybe, as a person who has a PTSD diagnosis -- maybe anyone with a PTSD diagnosis -- is the last person in the world to suggest that the cause of another person having it is a bit flimsy. Who am I to judge, really?  What the lady went through was traumatic but somewhere down the line, if a person's child lives and thrives, to me it seems like a good time to at least try to rid oneslf of PTSD rather than to continually embrace it, as in "I am the face of PTSD."

The woman has other problems in her life, including a marriage that broke up a year or so ago.  The non-insiders were never really privy to the details.  I have no clue, nor is it any of my business, if infidelity or something even more insidious, although I'm not sure what that might be, were involved. The lady alluded to things in her blog that some in the group apparently understood and were "in the know" in regard to, but the outsiders never knew what went wrong.

Anyway, she never responded in any way  to any comments that I left or to any tweets. I left one comment at some point that if she deleted that particular comment, I would understand that my comments were not wanted there. She deleted it. I'm a little slow  on the uptake, but that particular message I did get.

It's a teeny bit painful, as this lady unofficially adopted me as her niece at a time when seven out of my fifteen aunts had disowned me. Still, I wrote something that must have been hurtful to her, though I had no idea she'd see or hear of it. I have to accept responsibility for my actions.

On the other hand, I don't think this lady can continue to have it both ways for the rest of her life.  She can't have a little girl who is a superstar in every imaginable way, yet pull the PTSD card out whenever it is needed because of the circumstances surrounding the child's birth. For any parent who loses a child, I can't imagine that there is anything worse, and they probably epitomize  lifelong PTSD. The same may be true for the parent who gives borth to a child with a life-altering disability or incurs some injury latr on that causes a major disability.  if the child really is Super Three-Year-Old, my opinion is that somewhere down the road it's time to quite dwelling on PTSD and at least give a try at moving past it.

I'm sorry for any feelings I hurt, and I'm not a psychologist or a mental health professional, and my mother probably would have given birth to a beluga whale had she seen what I wrote.

Still, I'm someone who has a PTSD diagnosis. Five years or so down the road, I hope I will have put much of it behind me, although I may always be wary in terms of who follows me into public restrooms, I may continue to carry a slighly irrational fear of objects being projected through the windows of rooms in which I'm sleeping, and I may never totally be comfortable with smoke alarms and being inside smoky buildings. That last part, in itself, though, doesn't necessarily indicate the continued presence of PTSD. Smoke alarms , when they're functioning properly, and smoke-filled rooms, are a warning to get the hell out of a building, not to stay put and do Lamaze-style breathing while reciting "I'm in my happy place."  So it's not PTSD manifesting itself  when I'm in a hurry to leave a college dorm if its filled with smoke, even if it ends up it is only from someone burning popcorn in the microwave at 2:00 a.m.

Nevertheless, in spite of a little rotten luck as far as being the person whose paper the thug chose to plagiarize, which set off a chain of violent events,  or being in the home of relatives who neglected me to the extent that I was left in a semi-mobile state at best all by myself in a smoke-filled home with a raging infection on top of my inuries, PTSD never did, nor never will define who I am. It's a passing phase, which I hope I'm coming a little closer to passing all the way through and out of it each day.  If someone else chooses to cling to PTSD and to own it, it's none of my business.

songs that sound as if they were composed by babies and other equally weighty matters

The kid is cute, but I do not wish to play for my recital any piece that sounds as though it was composed by her.

Tonight I worked with my piano accompanist for my violin senior recital.  We came up with  tentative line-up. I'll email it to my violin professor tomorrow, who will email it to the chair for my panel, who will then email his decision. One or two selections at most will be rejected. I'm not submitting my encore. That's my secret weapon. It's the one piece I already have nailed that is far beyond my overall ability a  violinist.

I'll need a flutist and a guitarist. Recital committees tend to like a little musical diversity.  The Paganini piece with guitar is lovely, and I happen to be closely related to a man who had a major in guitar performance.  He's closely related enough that he already has the date blocked out on his calendar. He won't say no.

I have a few choices as flutists. The obvious choice would be my mom, but it might be viewed by some as nepotism.  My mom's best friend's daughter is a flutist and could do it easily, but she's a tad flaky. I would think she'd understand the importance of commitment in this case, and my Godfather would make it financially worth her while to show up. I could also ask my Aunt Victoria's best friend, who has a master's in flute performance as well as in conducting, and would be considered a professional., although the conducting won't do me any good. The connection is the weakest, and I hate to ask her to travel the distance, but she's the best of the three (mom, mom's best friend's daughter, and Godmother's best friend). Mom's best friend's daughter does have really good tone -- maybe not as good as the professional's tone, but good just the same. Furthermore, she's pretty. It shouldn't matter, but in a subtle way, it does. People, even selection committees, like to look at pretty people. My mom's pretty, too, but she's 46, not 22, and the selection committee sees her all the time, anyway. They're all used to looking at her.

My mom and my professor will disagree with my saving the Preludio to the Partita for my encore, as it's what I play anytime I want someone to think I'm really good, so it would seem to them a waste not to use it as one of my regular program pieces, but an encore can raise your score; it just can't lower it.  For that matter, even though it has a high degree of technical difficulty and is incredibly impressive, it doesn't really showcase my tone quality, which is my asset as a violinist, and for which the adjudication panel will be knowledgeable enough to listen. The Telemann, the other Bach piece, and the Mozart piece are pushing my ability, but I have six more months to prep, and I'm not that far from having them nailed. An encore should be short, which the Telemann Partita, if played correctly, is just under four minutes ling if I recall correctly. In any event, it's the shortest of the three Baroque pieces. Everything else I have, other than my modern piece, is too long.  I only have one modern piece, so I can't switch it out. I could come up with something else for the Classical or Romance period without too much effort, but I don't want to.

The Paganini piece is divine and stays in the program even if I have to bribe a committee member.

The modern piece is controversial. I absolutely detest the dissonance of Hindemuth, Bartok, Prokofiev and all. If my selection is rejected, I'll probably look for an obscure Gershwin piece. I'm not sure how much he did for solo violin, and transcriptions aren't usually accepted. I  don't mind  bluesy chords.  It's just outright dissonance occurring continuously that grates on me. The rare occasional rustic chord is nice, but when a piece is based on a sequence of chords that make no sense either by themselves or in place and sound as though they were put together by a deaf eighteen-month-old, it's not something I can practice for the amount of time necessary for the piece to be recital-ready without the involvement of drugs, legal or otherwise.

Pope John Paul III approves of all my selections. If he likes something I'm playing, he sits at my feet. If he doesn't like it, he stays in the room but moves as far away as possible.  That reminds me that I need to have  written orders from one of my doctors for  The Pope to attend both of my recitals.  It shouldn't be hard to find someone with a medical doctorate who will do that for me. God knows I have enough of them in my life.  What if a terrorist storms the stage right in the middle of something that I'm concentrating so hard on that I don't notice it?  The pope (my dog, not the actual one; His Divine Eminence, or whatever he calls himself,  probably thinks there are too many American smorgasbord Catholics as it is, and the loss of one wouldn't exactly harm the cause) will protect me.

For the record, my proposed recital program as submitted  August 21, 2013.

Telemann Sonata for flute and violin
Bach Sonata Number Three in E major for violin and piano

Mozart Violin Sonata 33 in E-flat major

Paganini Cantabile for piano and guitar

Falls - The Musical Priest (unaccompanied)

Bach Preludio to Partita for Violin (unaccompanied)
(not submitted to professor of committee)

If you hear this, you'll understand why I want it as my encore. It's violin as God or Buddha or Maitreya or the Dalai Lama  intended for it to be composed for and played.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Yo ho, yo ho, a pathologist's life for me

John Paul III, my beloved friend, protector, and family member, whom I would not trade for any dog or, for that matter, anything in the world

I'm spending tonight at the home of my pseudo-relatives because my parents are chasing  wallabies and dingoes all over the land down under and trying not to crash into the great coral barrier while they (or my dad, anyway; my mom's probably too sensible to attempt it).  Even though we have a fairly sophisticated alarm system, I don't stay at home overnight all by myself. It sounds immature, I'm sure, and it probably is, but it's not something I'm ready to do. Two years ago I couldn't even be at home in the daytime hours by myself, so I have at least made some progress.

Last night I was too tired to risk driving the forty or so miles home because of sleepiness so I spent an extra night with Uncle Steve and Aunt Heather. I'll spend tomorrow night here with the pseudo-relatives again.  The Pope (my dog, Pope John Paul III, not Pope Francis) needs to travel with me wherever I spend the night.  He's quite friendly with the pseudo-relatives' dog, Pippa, but he and the pseudos' cat, Claudia, are somewhat wary of each other.  Once and a while she hisses at him, but mostly they just give each other  death glares the entire time they're together. I don't know if they'll ever be friends or even anything less than mortal enemies.

Today I helped my pseudo-aunt with reading through some of her legal material. I shouldn't really say I helped her, as she read through every bit of it herself as well, but she had me read and summarize it to assess my skill in that area. She's enough of a control freak that I'll have to read and summarize for practice for a long time before she'll ever just hand anything over to me for the real thing. That's after today's completely error-free performance.

I'm going to start spending most Thursdays at the lab. It's a light day for interns, the pathologist with whom I've been working has told me. That both gives me more opportunities and allows me to do more actual lab work while avoiding some petty jealousies of other interns.  I can see myself doing this sort of thing for  lifetime. Then again, in the third year of med school when students go through clerkships, where they work for roughly three weeks at a time in basically every branch of medicine,  available at the facility of one's residency, I may fall in love with some other branch of medicine. It's nice that I've found something I love doing. If it ends up that I love something else even more, that's even better. it's a good position in which to be.  For that matter, if Jude Alex's FB page administrator keeps screwing up, I could always apply to replace him. The guy needs one of those brush-up courses in reading comprehension, or he needs to show  up for work not hung over. I'm not quite sure which.

I haven't finalized my fall schedule, but I have a couple of general ed courses to finish up in addition to my recitals. I did most of my English requirements as honors/AP courses in high school, and I've taken several upper division lit courses, but it appears that I need to take at least one lower division literature course on this campus to earn my degree from here. I don't want to take what I've already taken in high school, nor does my counselor want me to do so. There's a particular lower-division lit course where you essentially memorize huge volumes of poetry.  You buy the book, which is humongous, and any poem or work of prose, of which a few are included, in the book is fair game.

I've had to memorize so much poetry in my educational career, in addition to the idea that verbatim memorization has always come easily to me, that I almost feel as though it's cheating to take the course, but I'm taking it anyway. "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" (AKA " 'Twas  the Night Before Christmas) is even in the book.  Some of what I've memorized is oral, and the punctuation has to be exactly as written by the author even if something else makes more sense, so I'll need to review the poets' conventions, but other than the precision in punctuation, I have enough poetry committed to memory to ace the course tomorrow.  It doesn't require much in the way of class attendance, either. Basically, the students show up for an introductory session and three exams, including the final, to write out by hand their lines of poetry they've memorized. It is possible to complete what is required for an A in the first two testing sessions and not even need to show up for he final, but I really need to finish this class with number one standing. It may make a difference in the financial reward I receive with my baccalaureate degree. Most people won't be taking the class terrible seriously and will be content with the lowest "A," but I can't take the chance of another overachiever being enrolled in the section of the course long with me.  I like poetry, and literature in general,  and reviewing a bit of it will be fun.

I'll conclude with a selection from Edna St. Vincent Millay, "On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven." Ms. Millay is not even close to my favorite poet, but I believe she wrote a near-perfect poem with this one. Would it be disrespectful to use that quote about even a blind squirrel finding an acorn once in a great while?

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.
Enchanted in your air benign and shrewd,
With limbs a-sprawl and empty faces pale,
The spiteful and the stingy and the rude
Sleep like the scullions in the fairy-tale.
This moment is the best the world can give:
The tranquil blossom on the tortured stem.
Reject me not, sweet sounds; oh, let me live,
Till Doom espy my towers and scatter them,
A city spell-bound under the aging sun.
Music my rampart, and my only one.