Sunday, September 29, 2013

Awake Late for Social Reasons This Time: Fresno State Football

my dad's least favorite play-by-play man in the world; he says he'd rather listen to play-by-pay from a drunken Irishman with a lateral lisp who's never even seen an American football game than be subjected to Kekaula's play-by-play

Tonight Fresno State played University of Hawaii in football. My dad likes Fresno State. He says he can't root for BYU, and he has to root for someone. Josh and Jared say they can't root for BYU either, but if Fresno State EVER plays UCLA in a bowl game or anything else, Fresno State will have to get by without their support. My Godfather, Uncle Ralph, went to Fresno State. My dad roots for Cal to win against Stanford because he went to University of California Medical School in San Francisco although Berkeley is more than 20 minutes away from San Francisco even if there's no traffic, which there always is. Furthermore, he did a fellowship at Stanford. One would think he'd have some degree of loyalty. My mom doesn't care about any football except Stanford. She even went with her sister to see them play in the Orange bowl a couple of years ago. The Forty-Niners could move their franchise to Cuba and she wouldn't give a rip. She only cares about Stanford.

My dad likes Fresno State, though. He says he always roots for the underdog, and Fresno State is the epitome of an underdog. To me, it seems to depend upon what conference they're in and what the rest of their schedule looks like. I don't care all that much. It's more fun to watch my dad imbibe freely and swear at the TV the announcers, the refs, anyone painted too stupidly in the stands, and anyone who gives Jesus credit for the win. Tonight was an especially intense experience for him, as the play-by-play announcer was Robert Kekaula, whom my father dislikes with greater passion than probably anyone in the nation dislikes any announcer.

Jared had seen my dad buzzed and in full possesion of his R-rated vocbulary, but Josh had only witnesse snippets. He wasn't from Utah, but he WAS a nice little Mormon boy from an area sometimes referred to as the Morridor (meaning Mormon corridor), an area that runs from directly north of Utah, through the Beehive state, and directly south of Utah. Josh had probably never heard cursing on that scale in his entire life. I think he gave himself a hernia from laughing so hard.

In fairness to my father, unless you were a local in Hawaii, you probably wouldn't think terribly highly of Mr. Kekaula's style, skill, or whatever it is that makes a play-by-play announcer uniquely himself. Part of it is the diction. He has a definite local accent,which I personally find midly charming in its own way on a very limited basis. Part of it is his unusual combination of words. I heard something like, "He's got some serious heebie jeebie pychic thing going on" or something very similar . It might be OK to say that if you're announcing a parochial middle school football game for our local community access channel. Maybe. Then again, maybe not.

The game itself ended up very nearly being one of the greatest comeback wins in history for UH. I think it was 42-3 in favor of Fresno State at halftime. By the time the game ended, Fresno State had apparently shut down its offense in honor of some holiday that people in Fresno celebrate but the rest of us know nothing about. Maybe it was Dust Bowl Day. Maybe it was the Official Day to Honor Gang Members of all representations, norteno, surreno, and everyone else. Maybe it was even Support Your Local Walmart Day, or perhaps, to take advantage of the proximity of the location, the Fresno State offense chose to celebrate "Pearl Harbor Day" exactly two months and nine days early. The real offense of Fresno State was off at the Arizona Memorial casting lilies in the Pacific while someone else wore their uniforms and scampered around on the field trying not to get hurt. In fairness to Fresno State, UH's defense AND offense spent a good portion of the first half of the game anywhere but on the field, mentally anyway, allowing Fresno State to build up the 42-3 lead that would eventually save them.

By the final 16 seconds of the game, rain was coming down hard, which is not a boon to an offense. Some questionable clock work by the officials took place -- a clock was stopped for no apparent reason, which is the sort of thing that mysteriously happens to home teams everywhere on a regular basis because officials value their lives. UH had the ball deep in Fresno State territory. As Jesus continued to pour rain** onto the field to aid Fresno State's efforts, one incomplete pass was thrown into the end zone and dropped by some UH player whose name might as well be Barack Obama as far as I know. A short pass was thrown in the final six seconds. I can't recall whether the ball was intercepted or merely batted away, but Fresno State walked away with the game.

I cannot tell you that anything resembling currency changed hands, but if such had happened, my dad would have picked Hawaii by 16 for maybe one hundred dollars or so. I cannot suggest that any such thing did happen, though, as I don't want the ATF or whoever oversees such matters to show up and raid my house. My room is in perfect order. I don't need my Westin matresses ripped open by some overly zealous agent.

This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to remember and share the knowledge that Jesus doesn't actually care about the outcome of football games**, and he's probably even offended when winning players try to give the credit to him after a win.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Coming Home

not my actual home, but a reasonable facsimile

It's a surreal feeling I'm experiencing. After a mere two nights in the dorm, I'm back home for a visit. I've been away from my home, wherever it was, and away from my parents, wherever they were, for much, much longer than the two short nights I've just spent away from this house I've called home for about two years. I'm lucky to have many people in my life who are like parents to me, and who have taken me in either when my parents were unable to care for me, or when my parents wanted a vacation and left me in the care of those others they trusted to care for me, with well-placed trust in all but two cases, or when it was I who wanted the vacation and left with people whom my parents trusted to adequately supervise me. I've even been in a situation where I had to be away from home for a time because of a mental illness that could not be adequately addressed without my leaving home. Still, each time I returned from wherever I was back home, where I belonged. This is the first time in my short personal history that my return home has been a visit. Even though things wouldn't seem to be all that much different than they were three nights ago, when I last slept in my bed in this house, there is a tangible distinction. I can feel it. I don't know if anyone else can.

My brother is home this weekend, too. He's already been in the dorms for two years, so it's nothing new to him. He's been home to "visit" before. He's by nature a little less introspective than I -- he doesn't typically think things through quite as deeply as I tend to -- so the significance may never have struck him. Then again, perhaps it did, and I was just too wrapped up in my own world to have noticed.

My family's most recent move from northern California to the central coast solidified a feeling within me that I think I'd had been vaguely aware of for many years, which is that home isn't a city or a building, even if you've lived in the the building you formerly called home for many years. It's not that one cannot grow sentimentally attached to the house in which one dwelled for many years, but it wasn't really the house that was home. Home is about family and the people with whom one spends his or her life, or perhaps, as in the cases of those who live alone, animals, who are another form of family to those of us who deeply love our pets, the furniture and other objects with which one chooses to surround himself or herself, representing past and present attachments or other memories, those who live nearby, the neighborhood, the grocery store or pharmacy one frequents, the sidewalks along which one ambles along with a dog or on a lone walk or run -- not the structure that housed a family or a person by him or herself.

Home is so much more than a place. It's even more than the collective essence of the people and animals who share the space with you, the furniture and appliances, or cookware and dishes that you use daily, the unique scent that every living space possesses, altered to some degree by whomever moves in and makes the place his, her, or their own. All of thatgoes into the concept of home, but home is really a state of mind. It's a sanctuary -- a place you go in times when you need to take refuge, or in times when you have joy to share that you know no one else will appreciate or internalize to the degree that will those who share home with you. Home, if you're uck enough to be in a good speace physcially and emotionally, is a remedy for loneliness. Robert Frost described it as, "Home is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

Also home with us this weekend is my "cousin" (the quotation marks are there to signify that, while he is a cousin by blood, I consider him a brother, and I know my parents consider him their son; he doesn't have the shared history that Matthew and I have, coming from a combined experience in the womb to sharing so many other aspects of infancy, chidhood, and youth, but that does not make him NY less a brother to me ) -- the one you may remember from a little over a year ago when my Uncle Michael flew to South America to bring him back to the United States to be treated for a grave illness he had contracted while serving an LDS mission in South America. For the sake of respecting his privacy, I'll refer to him as Josh. He attends a university in Los Angeles. He has a bedroom at our home and one at the home of my Uncle Michael and Aunt Joanne. He is no longer welcome in the home of the man and woman who spawned him. I sometimes wonder what he thinks. I would like to think he knows he has two homes in which he is equally welcome and equally a part of the family, as opposed to the possible thought that maybe he considers himself a stray who has no home but is instead at the mercy of family members who are willing to offer him a bed. I sometimes wonder if it would have been better for him if one or the other of his uncles had taken him in. (Uncle Steve would have been equally willing, but that uncle lives a little further from his university, so it's more convenient for his home to be at our house or at my Uncle Michael's) so he knew clearly where he belonged. I hope he understands that the intent is for him to feel equally loved and welcome both places, and not that he is a burden such that he must be shared. He's not in any way a burden; either family can easily afford his presence, the cost of his education, healthare, and anything else he needs. Both families feel more complete when he is around. He is the very antithesis of a burden.

The situation of my former cousin who is now my brother brings up another aspect of the concept of home. I haven't always felt this way, but I now know (and know such has always been the case even though I didn't know it at times when I was younger) that there are things I could do, from minor acts of stupidity to the commission of heinous crimes, that would cause my parents to be extremely disappointed in me or even to feel deeply ashamed of me. Still, I know that, no matter what it was that I did to cause them to feel that way, they would still love me and could not stop themselves from loving me even if they tried. Unconditional love is or at least should be the foundation of the concept of home.

I sometimes wonder if this situation of abandonment will negatively impact Josh in his ability to form attachments in the future. I would like to hope that the unconditional love Josh receives from my parents and his other two biological uncles and their wives on our side of his family compensates sufficiently from the psychological abuse he was dealt at the hands of those who brought him into this world. He' a bright and seemingly resilient young man. I hope his own resources and what emotionl support those of us who love him, including his maternal grandmother, are able to provide will boost him over any hurdles he encounters at least in part as a result of the emotional abuse he suffered, not to mention the remaining physical reminders of his horrendous situation in South America. Life isn't problem-free for any of us. It just seems as though in his early adulthood, Josh has been faced with a little more than his share of adversity. I hope life doesn't continue to throw roadblocks in his path.

I wonder just what it is missing from Josh's birth parents' literal and metaphorical DNA that would allow them to turn their backs on a son for making the only choice anyone but an idiot --- and he's no idiot -- would have made, as opposed to sticking it out in the mision field to the bitter end, making do with the substandard medical care that would have been offered eventually, but too little and too late to save him, and returning home in a body bag or coffin. While I wouldn't have agreed with their decision, I would at least see the motivation behind my aunt's and uncle's behavior had Josh, say for the sake of argument, emerged from the closet and announced to all the world that he was homosexual, or had he committed some other act that flies equally flagrantly in the face of the teachings of their church. He did nothing aeven remotely against the teachings of their church, however. He simply sought medical treatment on the recommendation of a competent physican, and followed the doctor's orders to relocate to an area where the blood supply was relatively safe before undergoing a life-saving surgical procedure. What is missing from the consciences of his parents, from their senses of parenthood and the bond they -- especially his mother -- should feel with her son -- a bond that virtually nothing should be able to penetrate in anything resembling a normal mother/son relationship? What is wrong with this woman -- my father's very own sister -- that she would choose religion [especially in the way she did, in which the action her son took was not a breach of any rule or teaching of the family's faith; it was merely a matter of face-saving and tacit competition with other members of their local congregation, whose sons typically return home from their missions with honor] over motherhood to the degree that she would have preferred to have greeted the remains of her son at the airport to meeting up with a still living but gravely ill son whom came home early for medical reasons? Is this essentially the same prototype of a mother we hear about in various cases on Headline News who stands by idly while the current man in her life abuses or kills her child from a prior relationship in the animalistic male instinct of eliminating the seed of another male? (And my aunt and uncle don't even have that lame non-excuse as an excuse. Unless there's something about their lives none of the rest of the family knows about, her husband is the biological parent to all of her nine children.) Had my aunt not been fortunate (and I use the word fortunate in the most loose and ironic senses available literarily, as I don't think she could have done much worse in the selection of a husband had she chosen a mate randomly by standing at the exit of a prison and taking the thirteenth guy who was paroled and walked through the gates on a given day) enough to have remained married to her original spouse and the father of her children, might she have been one of the women jailed for failing to report or to do anything to prevent her latest hook-up from beating her child to death? Or is it some weird religious form of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy? Did my aunt, and perhaps her husband, so strongly desire the sympathy and admiration of their religious community that they were willing to sacrifice the life of their son to the cause of spreading their faith to the far corners of the world in order to make themselves appear more holy unto the Lord in the eyes of their religious peers? All I can conclude is that these are sick minds at work, and I suspect the remaning children would have been better off left in foster care, where they were placed following the incident in which I was left in an incapacitated and largely immobile condition to find my own way out of a smoky house.

My dog loves every member of my family unconditionally. It's my opinion, even though my dad disagrees, that the goldfish my brother won eight years ago at some carnival in Modesto, California, and who inexplicably has defeated all sorts of odds to continue to live and breathe, loves us. My dad thinks the fish thinks of nothing but his next meal, but I think he's wrong and that the fish has more feeling than for which my dad gives him credit.

This little blurb has turned into much more of a dissertation than was ever intended. Still, the idea that I'm visiting my own home for the first time is a most foreign feeling. It's likely going to be this way forever, although presumably my visits will seem less temporary over Christmas and summer breaks. For that matter, if I complete medical schoool and decide to fulfill my medical residency near this community, I may choose to live here rather than to get an apartment. My parents have said they will leave my room intact until I choose to remove the furnishings. I do find comfort in the thought that my parents aren't trying to kick me out of the nest, and that they tell me I'm welcome here when I'm forty-five if I need to be here. I certainly hope such is not the situation for me, but the idea that home is somewhere I can always return is a reassuring thought.

My dad is looking over my shoulder now and reading what I've typed. He's telling me that I'm attaching far too much significance to having spent two consecutive nights in a dorm. For all he knows, he said, I could pack it in next week and say that dorm life is not for me. Except when he's working or one of us is critically injured or ill, he's seldom serious about anything.

My father's scorn or kidding aside, there's an almost phantagsmoric (one of those old SAT words for which I seldom have a use) feeling in being here for the first time on a visitation basis. Nevertheless, the timing is right for me to be on my own, as much it can be called "on my own" when my version of "on my own" is living in a dorm from which I can drive to my old home in no more than five minutes unless someone has created a traffic jam at the exit of the multi-level parking structure because he or she has failed to purchase a parking ticket. My mother's on-campus office is a seven-minute walk from my dorm room. My Aunt Joanne is now practicing medicine in the campus health center, where I will now go if I come down with one of my infamous "barking seal" coughs that is keeping next-door neighbors in rooms in either side of me awake when my father, my Uncle Michael, my Uncle Steve, my Uncle Jerry, my Aunt Heather, or my Uncle Scott are not available to treat me. My version of "on my own" comes with a strong and indestructible safety net.

The KJV edition of the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes expresses it in this way: "To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven." My time to move on has come. It's time from me to step off the proverbial penguin feet that have so capably kept me out of harm's way as well as any parent can protect his or her young. The figurative umbilical cord still binding me a a child to both my parents has been severed. My independence has been declared in the form of my move from the family homestead to the university dormitory in which I now reside. It's official now.

This blog is ended. Go now to in peace to love and serve the Lord and to spread one's wings to fly. And if you're the person still messing with my blog, please grow up and find a better hobby. Habitat for Humanity is looking for volunteers.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Jacksons and "Ask Alexis, the sex column (totally unrelated topics)

I think this is AEG's attorney, from what little Jackson civil trial coverage I've seen. Whoever he is, I don't care for him.

I must find a way of falling asleep more quickly in the dorm setting. I had issues with insomnia at home and even back in my loony bin days, but of all my dorm nights, including the maybe five from last year and two from this year, I'm 7 for 7 in terms of falling asleep at a decent hour. Melatonin makes me physically ill, as does warm milk. Propofol isn't an option. We can all learn something from the life and death of Michael Jackson.

Seriously, what's going on with the civil case against AEG? I haven't been keeping up at all? Is there a verdict? Has the case even gone to the jury? I suppose I should use my unintentional hours of wakefullness to check out what's going on. I really like hearing Dr. Drew's and Vinne Politan's, as well as Judge Alex's when it's available, takes on the situation. My pseudoaunt, who is an attorney but who has never tied a civil case, thinks the Jacksons will probably win though it's not a slam dunk, but that they won't see anything resembling the two billion for which they're asking. For that matter, she thinks, they're better of without thta much money. A millio or two for each child would more than siffice.

My opinion is that with somany crazy relatives -- when he was alive, Michael Jackson kept those children largely isolated from most of his family except for his mother, and with solid reasons for doing so. One, the late Michael's relatives are every bit as nutty as he was. (Michael Jackson had his psychological weaknesses and questions about his competency, but, for the most part, other than the infamous moment when he held Blanket over a hotel (4th floor?) balcony wrapped in a blanket, he largely had his children's best interests at heart and, from most accounts, was a loving, caring, and reasonable parent who tried to provide as much stability in his children's lives as his paranoia would allow. He recognized his father and most of his siblings as the greedy ba$tards that they were, and they didn't play a large role in his childen's lives for good reason.

Paris is having her issues, which are not all that unique except that they're being played out in a public forum. She's not the first girl her age to cut herself or to make a suicide attempt, whether sincere or merely as a cry for help. Even if it's a mere cry for help, someone needs to give her that help, because she otherwise may be more serious and effective in her attempt the next time. I know girls who have cut themselves and attempted to take their own lives. It's not unique among teens -- particularly girls, for some reason. Hormones seem to hit the genders in different ways. Boys act out more antisocially, while girls internalize their behaviors. This is, of course, a gross generalization.

I'm not sure what the solution is in Paris' case. Her situation may be far different from that of her brothers. I don't think her grandmother is able to exercise sufficient control over her. The compromise of having the son of Tito be the co-guardian seems a viable one only if she lives under his roof with him. I don't think he can do much for her from fifty miles away, or whatever the distance between their two homes. I don't know about the alternate guardian thing - Diana Ross I believe, was designated to raise the children if Katherine Jackson was unable, but I'm not sure how that would work out. If Paris would end up being supervised essentially by hired help under that scenario, that wouldn't be any better solution than anything else that's been proposed so far.

If, once her direct mental health needs are met, she can't be under the direct supervision of her cousin, the co-guardian, maybe being with her biological mother wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Ms. Rowe seemingly has Paris' best interests in mind at least as much as anyone else. Presumably she was paid off well enough in the first place when she relinquished rights of parenthood that money shouldn't be of paramount importance in her taking guardianship of Paris. It would be ideal if whoever gains custody of these kids does so without any financial gain beyond the most modest of stipends for expenses, as in what would have been paid had my brother and I or one of or friends lost our parents, and someone else were given custody of one of us.

I don't like the idea that any of those Jackson kids could be worth more dead than alive to any family member, nor do I feel comfortable with anyone profiting substantially from being granted guardianship.

As far as Janet Jackson is concerned, I'm not sure what Paris said to her in the infamous footage (although I don't doubt that it was at least moderately disrespectful) in the incident in the Jackson family driveway during which Janet and other family members drove past guards to collect the Jackson children and take them God knows where. Were I Paris, I would not have gotten in the car with them, either. Janet denied slapping or attemting to slap Paris, but that's certainly what it looked like in the video footage. I have lots of aunts and uncles -- far more, actually, than Paris Jackson does, and very few of them had the right to discipline me when I was a minor. Of those who could hve done so, for the most part they would not have taken advantage of the right tohave done so. They certainly wouldn't have slapped my face when I was fifteen no matter what I said, though I will say that I would not have spoken inappropriately to those relatives given authority over me. If that's any sort of example of Janet's skill at coping with adolsecents, she's the last one who needs any control or authority in this situation. The bottom line is that michael Jackson could have named any one of his siblings as a guardian to his children should something happen to him. He didn't.

In terms of the court case, I hope the kids get enough money that they can have a first-rate college education at the university of their choice just in case the Jacksons have gotten their hands on the rest of the money. Beyond that and the need for medical insurance, if only for Paris' fragle state of mental health, I'm not sure why the Jackson children need any more money than any of my friends or I have. Too much money seems at least as much curse as a blessing. Is it really a good thing for any young person to know that he or she won't ever need to do a day's work for the rest of his or her life?

Regarding the possibility of re-starting the "Ask Alexis" sex column, I took a good look around me at my dorm-mates. What I really need to do is to put up a question box wherein I submit questions and THEY provide the answers. From the looks of things, they've all done things I've never thought of doing. I'm not sure I'd trust their information regarding contraception and/or transmission of disease, but as far as the pure nuts-and-bolts how-to-get-the-job-done 4-1-1, they're all leaps and bounds ahead of me. A sharing of information isn't out of the question. I could tell them how not to get pregnant or contract chlamydia,syphilis, HIV, and the like, and they could tell me everything else for that time when I'll eventually need to know it, it's not something I'll want to ask my med school clasmates.

Second Night in the Big House

This is the piano motif sofa that I have in my dorm room. I think I showed the one in my room at home already. It's shaped differently -- the back curves up. I think this one is more comfortable. I'll see if I can find the picture I have of the one I have at home.

Here's the one in my room at home. It's more for appearance than comfort,
though it's nor THAT uncomfortable.

Even though I have no classes tomorrow, I'm staying tonight in the dorms just because I'm not going to get to know anyone if I'm here one day and gone the next on a regular basis. (My mom said she was proud of me for being a big girl and staying in the dorm tonight even though I don't really need to. Will these people ever figure out that I've grown up?)Once I've established something resembling a peer group, it will be less a big deal to slip out mid-week and spend a night at home, or to spend Thursday nights in the comfort of my room at home since I have no classes on Friday. For the next few weeks I'll probably spend Thursday nights in the dorm.

The movie we watched last night was Serial Buddies. I admit that it was mildly funny. No one in the group I was with last night is watching anything tonight because of homework concerns. No one wants to get off to a bad start, and I think they're wise to feel that way. I jutst had my two lit classes today. I already did about a third of the reading I'll need to do for Anglo-Irish lit, as I was very productive today. The other class was the independent study class where we regurgitate literature verbatim. I wrote out several hundred lines of poetry. It's undecided as to whehter we will write the lines of poetry and prose for exams or will be provided computers for the task. We obviously can't use our own laptops, as it would be too easy to store volumes of literature in one's laptop and just pull it up for the exam. I personally don't care one way or another whether or not we are provided computers for the exams. As long as we're all working under the same conditions, it's a level playing field.

I did neglect practice a bit, though. I got in two hours on violin and one on the digital piano in my room. I didn't make it home to practice, and I won't practice in the music department's practice rooms because I don't want to give any secrets away. I will need to be diligent in my practice this weekend. The only time anyone will hear me in the music building is if they bother to show up for my 7:00 a.m. Wednesday lesson and lurk outside in the hallway. I chose that time for that deliberate purpose. I would never schedule a class for that time, but I'm never going to no-show a professor for a one-on-one lesson. Then I'll have two more classes that morning and be finished for the day. My schedule this quarter is optimal for lots of practice time.

My Aunt (not real aunt) Ilianna brough several dozen cookies to the dorm today. She was hovering over Jillian, who has been sick, and Scott told her she needed to go home and bake cookies for kids in the dorms because some of them are homesick, and cookies make homesick kids feel better. I put left them in two tupperware containers in separate locations with a sign that anyone could help himself or herself. They didn't last long. Maybe Scott is right that cookies help homesick kids, or maybe the boys were just hungry.

Next weekend or the weekend after that, depending upo what's good for my parents, I may invite a large group of people (my floor of the dorm and the boys who hang around on my floor, and pretty much anyone else who wants to come; I'll just post signs and announce that there can't be booze at the party because my parents will drive them back to the dorms if they're drinking or drunk; they can save that for the party AFTER the party to come for my house to swim, since the pool is still heated, and to watch a movie. We'll order pizza unless one of my parents offers to cook or barbecue. The nice thing about having ut away so much of my eanings in high school is that I can afoord on rare occasions to spring for pizza for a mid-sized to large group. My parents would probably end up paying for it anyway.

I watched the Daily Show and Colbert with a couple of kids who came into my room. Almost everyone has a TV, but my room has more comfortable seating space. I have the small musical sofa, the extra bed that pulls out, a beanbag chair (dated but comfy) and a rug. I can accommodate a decent sized roup. They do have to learn not to be pigs in terms of their eating habits in my room, as I have a healthy aversion to both roaches and rodents.

This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to work on any piggish eating habits you may have inadvertently developed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sleep, where art thou?

This is not the party that occurred in my room, but is not altogether dissimilar.

Tonight was supposed to be miy first night to SLEEP in the dorm. It's nightime and I'm in the dorm, but sleep is not forthcoming. I texted to see if anyone was awake. Pseudouncle was, as Jillian has been ill and is sleeping weird hurs. He got out his gutiat and skyped on guitar for me. A few others were awake and wondered by, knocked on my door, and I let them in. They couldn't sleep, so we had a roughly thirty-minute concert, One girl, Kirianne, who was in the room with us, has, as do I, a father who is a doctor. She called him and woke him and asked if it was OK to pass out Lunesta from her supply. He did a brif skype to ask everyone what medications they were taking and what health conditions they had. It was determined that Lunesta was safe for all of us. He was skyping on one computer as Scott was skyping on the other We pointed the computercameras and monitors at each other so they could talk. It turns out they have several mutual acquaintances as both went to U of U med school, though decades apart. Scott told the guy he's one of my doctors and Lunesta on an infrequent basis is fine for me.

So we had a legally-prescribed-Lunesta party in my room as Scott sang his last song, which is the one he always sings last for me: James Taylor's "You can close Your Eyes." I'd post a video, but blogspot seems not to be allowing me to do that anymore, so all I can offer is a link.

(Even the link feature of blogspot is non-operational, or my good friend did a number on that as well before I changed my password. It's a link that's worth cutting and pasting. James Taylor was so young and cute, and he sang and still sings so beautifully.)

Everyone is finally getting sleepy and has headed back to thir own beds. I set two different alarm clocks because I have a 9;30 class tomorrow, and I'd hate to sleep through it.

This blog has ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to allow Lunesta to take effect.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Big Move!

This is NOT what my dorm room looks like, but the color scheme is similar.

I'm in my dorm room right now. I actually ate dinner at one of the cafeterias. A random girl knocked on my door and said some of them were headed to the cafeteria and asked if I wanted to come along. I grabbed a sweatshirt and my ID and went with them. At first it was slightly uncomfortable small talk. Eventually someone asked how old I was. Several jaws dropped when I told them I was eighteen. Truthfully, I don't look eighteen yet. I'm getting to the point that fewer than 10% of the cops who spot me while they're just cruising pull me over to check my ID, which is a decent indication that I probably look pretty close to 16. It's not THAT unusual for eighteen-year-olds to look sixteen or vice-versa. There's a whole range of what is normal in terms of appearance age-wise. I don't think I'm jaw-droppingly young-looking, although those whose jaws dropped could hardly be blamed for their gut reactions.

The small talk over dinner centered around the basic things people ask one another when they're becoming acquainted. I hoped no one would ask where I was from. I didn't want to lie and say northern California, though it wouldn't have been a total lie, but sooner or later someone would find out my parents live here. So when the inevitable question came, I just said I graduated from high school in my northern CA town, but that my parents live here know. They wondered why I would live in the dorms if my parents live here. I then had to explan that I would be going away next year, and I needed some transition between living at home and living in an apartment at least a hundred miles from home.

They were curious as to why I was going elsewhere next year. I explained that I had started university at sixteen and was finishing in three years because of AP units. Then of course they wanted to know where I was going next year. I said I hoped it would be to medical school, but there were no guarantees. Someone else said that she had heard I was a music perormance major. I said that I was music performance and biochem. They all looked at me like I was a ghost. One of them finally made a comment about knowing where to go if homework help was needed.

I was happy to be removed from the center of the conversation. One of the girls on the far side of my dorm floor is a piano major. My mom is her prof, but she hasn't made the connection yet. Once she meets my mother it will be obvious enough.

I explained to girls whose rooms are on both sides of me that I occasionally have bad dreams in which I scream. If that happens, I told them, they should pound on the walls and tell me to shut up. Eventually how it all started may be a topic of conversation, but for the moment, it's nice to be around people who know nothing about the more strange and sordid parts of my history.

My room is nice. There's no way my aunt could have taken the raw material of a dorm room and converted it into something resembling a 5-star hotel room, which is pretty much what my room at home is. She did as well as could conceivably been done. The color scheme is similar to that of my home bedroom except that the basic structures are all dark-colored wood. It works, though. It's one of the smaller dorm rooms, but it's more than adequate for one person.

I'm going in a few minutes to watch a movie with some of the other residents. I don't even know what the movie is; I'm merely going to be social. I'm here in part to relate to age-level peers. Then next year, if things go off as planned, I'll get to be a baby genius again. There may very well be a few students as young as I, or maybe even younger, but they probably won't look quite as young as I. If that's the biggest problem I have, though, I'll be a very lucky person.

Final Day of Freedom


piano, violin, and beach in that order

I'm not sure how much of a day of freedom it is when I need to practice three hours each of violin and piano, but it's my final day before classes begin. I'm already knocked off two hours of piano pratice. i need to finish up before 2:00 or so, becuse my friend Alyssa is coming and we're going to the beach. She's about 50 minutes south of here, but the 101 isn't too busy at that time of day.
she'llwait until rush hour traffic has passed to return.

My mom thinks that, other than the Billy Joel "Fantasies and Delusions' or whatever he calls it, my piano pices are there to the point that i can afford to play each piece though every day or two. There's apparently such a gthing as practicing two much, so that pieces begin to sound mechanical. Once a pice is nailed, it's probably better just to play it periodically and otherwise to prace scales, trillls, Hanon and Czerny finger exercises, etc. she doesn't know about my encore, so I practice that when she's not around. It doesn't matter if my dad is around or not. I could be playing Beethowen with one hand and something composed by Lennnon and mccartney with the other, and he would think both sounded equally bad. It's not that he's musically ignorant. He just doesn't think a grat deal of my piano playing, or at least doesn't pay much attention to it.

I was looking at next quarter's course offerings. i'm going to need to go light with course load again becuase of medical school interviews. I can hope to knock off a few interviews for schools whose breaks don't match up with my schools, especially since winter break is essentially ruined by the temporary ban on snowboarding. But I'm still going to have to miss a few classes unless I'm able to schedule all my interviews for Fridays, when I have no classes. My last Thursday class ends at 2:00, so that's adequate time to get to an airport for an early evening flight to most plaaces I'll fly. Most places in southern California I'll drive. Since I have at least two interviews in the SF Bay Area, I'll try to coordinate them even if it means missing a day of class.

Until I woke up early, I had been asleep for about twelve hours, and I haven't looked at any news sites on my computer yet. As far as I know, God forbid, we could've had the equivalent to another 9/11 attack. I doubt anyone in my house would have woken me to tell me about it. it's a strange feeling to have been disconnected to the world for even that amount of time. I wonder about people who go on extended backpacking trips. Even thinking back to the time I broke my leg and was basically unconscious for about five days, I wonder how I survived it even though I was just fifteen. I don't like being disconnected from reality. My dad says I am even when I'm fully conscious and plugged in. Whatever.

This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to practice whatever it is that you play or do.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Christmas Plans

THIS would be nice.

Our Christmas plans are being firmed up. We're going to the exciting and booming metropolis of Moscow, Idaho for Christmas. My mom's sister Colleen and her husband Douglas live there. They've been begging us to come for years. They can't usually come to where we are, as Uncle Douglas is a pediatrician without a full partner and doesn't get much time off. Several members of the family are showing up, and even my Uncle Steve and his family, who are from the other side of the family, are going. He and his family will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there, and then go to Utah to visit my grandma, and then go up to North Dakota to see his wife's family. His wife's family is gathering for New Year's since they're all doing Christmas with their spouse's families. (It could be worse than it is; we could all be going to the vast wasteland of North Dakota for Christmas.) At least we'll presumably have a white Christmas, which we wouldn't have either at our coastal location or in the [sarcasm font] beautiful [end sarcasm font] San Joaquin Valley. A white Christmas in the San Joaquin valley consists of fog.

Usually I would snowboard during winter break. I can't this year because I cannot take a risk of falling and injuring either arm, shoulder, hand, or even fingers with the violin recital looming. I may do just a bit of cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing, which are both about as exciting as watching icicles form, but my Uncle Douglas is going to the trouble of procuring the equipment for me, so going along with the activities is the very least I can do.

After Christmas, I'll go with my family to Utah to see my grandmother and to play my recital pieces for her, as she most likely will not be able to attend either recital. Unless I find something terribly exciting happening in Utah, I'll probably fly back to California early, as snow loses its charm after a few days if one can neither ski nor snowboard in it. I might be able to go snowmobiling a bit, but I'll have to be careful doing even that. I can't risk a fluke accident. For that matter, I should probably stop crossing streets, doing dishes (Knives are awfully sharp these days; Bobby Flay and others have perpetuated what I think is an urban legend that the sharper a knife is, the less likely one is to cut oneself with it because it slices more easily and one needs to do less hacking away at a piece of meat or a vegetable in order to cut it. Does it sound like bullshit to you? It does to me as well.) and climbing stairs until both recitals are over.

The week after my violin recital in February, I'm flying north for a medical school interview, presuming that the school in question desires to interview me, then meeting the pseudorelatives in Utah for a week of snowboarding. I'll make up for lost time.

I'm just assuming that Moscow, Idaho typically has white Christmases. For all I know, they have nothing but frost until after the first of the year, at which time they are bombarded with metres upon metres of snow. Or, on the other hand, maybe Moscow will go thorugh a period of a drought this winter and it will be just about as Christmasy as hanging out in Fresno (for the record, I've never spent Christmas in Fresno) on December 25. Perhaps we can bribe someone with a key to the Kibby Dome to let us in for a rousing game of touch football, during which I'll probably break an arm. Knock on wood for me, please.

The Violin as a Weapon

One can all it insomnia. Maybe inquietude sounds more profound. Perhaps it's simply nighttime restlessness. However one describes it, I look and feel like the "before" half of a Lunesta commercial. I need to be asleep now because I was awake late last night, and I must be up reasonably early in the morning for a full day of activity.

I'm tired; that's not the issue. The problems is just that sleep won't come though my body and my mind both know I need to be asleep. I think I'm harboring fears of the dorm though God knows I'm old enough to be there. I just don't want to be. but if I don't spend at least half my nights there, how can I be prepared to be in an apartment all by myself next year?

I'm not doing the Craig's list thing for next year for a roommate even if I'm lucky enough to end up with a fellow medical student. While having another body there could be comforting in some ways, I can't know this person before I move in with her. How can I know she won't duplicate the key to the front door and give a copy to every guy she knows? I cannot deal with a roommate and her boyfriend du jour having loud, passionate coitus that I have to listen to through parchment-thin walls. My second year, once I've had a chance to get to know some of the others, a roommate might be an option, but for the first year, I can't know anyone well enough to trust her or him (I'm told some of the best roommates are males) well enough to share an apartment. Most med schools have student apartments in the vicinity. Residents have first choice, but then med school students have a crack at what's left over. Some schools give priority in order of class, while others give priority to groups of two. Others couldn't care less as long as a person comes up with a deposit and first and last month's rent. In general, it's to the school's benefit not to favor groups of two, because utilities are generally included in rent, and one person uses less water and power than do two.

Perhaps it's immaturity on my part, and it's not as though I'll never encounter it in the dorms, but the idea that one roommate is paying rent, but another one is showing up to spend the night on a regular basis for free, messing the place up but not cleaning up after himself, using the bathroom when I might like to be using it, and then causing me to have to scrub the tub anytime I want to take a bath because I don't want to soak in all the filth of civilization from some male I barely know. (Chances are that I'd scrub it after my female roomie used it as well, but that's just one person after whom I'd have to scrub, and she at least would have paid for the privilege of using the shower/tub combo.)

I could get lucky and get a Mormon girl for a roomie, but not many of them go to med school, and even if they do, they're probably already married. I could get a Seventh-Day Adventist roomie as well, but most of them go to Loma Linda, and I'm not even applying there.

I'm lucky in that I haven't yet touched my college money --even the part my parents have saved for me -- and will still have some of my original college scholarship money as well. I also have money my Godparents have put away for me. I also have a job offer for once I've finished with my violin recital that will pay about $20.00 an hour, which I will probably take. All of this combined gives me the luxury of not needing to have a roommate. Once I've spent a year at the school and have gotten to know people, there's probably not a great reason to find someone with whom I can live compatibly, but for the first year, I need to be in the apartment alone.

A positive aspect to living in med school and resident quarters is that relatively few axe murders happen on the premises. Also, I should get to know neighbors fairly quickly, as we all have something in common regardless of our stage on the road to MD and board certification in a specialty. I can clue them in to thugs who could conceivably be on the lookout for me. There won't be an alarm system, but the university probably wouldn't have a problem with my Godfather having one installed.

All of those things, however, are just reasons why I need to be in an apartment, and most likely by myself next year. The reality for now is that I'm moving into the dorms as preparation for living in an apartment. My Uncle Michael and my Uncle Scott have both offered to come and get me at any time of the night if I'm too afraid or too embarrassed to drive to my parents' home if I'm scared or uncomfortable during the night. My parents say I can come home any time and at any hour. (They say that, but I'm not sure how thrilled they'll be after the tenth night or so of my actually doing it.) The reality of the dorms is creeping closer and closer.

We had to fill out questionnaires. The primary purpose was to ensure, as much as possible, compatibility between roommates, which I will not have, but I filled one out because there are situations I'd rather not have in the rooms on either side of me. I don't particularly care what goes on across the hall unless it's too loudly pornographic. My primary issue is that I do not want to hear the sounds of sex at night when I need to sleep. In the daytime I can crank up the music or find somewhere else to study or practice. At night, options are more limited, plus I need to sleep, not study or practice for the most part.

It's a terribly rude thing to do to a roommate, anyway. Most students other than frat rats and their ilk wouldn't have sex with a third party in the room, or at least I'd like to think that they wouldn't, but someone might hang something on the door as a sign for a few hours of privacy (which is asking an awful lot after 11:00 p.m.), but there will be other nights when the roommates may be elsewhere for the night, and the lovers have privacy. My mom said if anyone on either side of me is rude enough to have sex loudly enough that I can actually hear what's going on, I should pull out my violin and play the most loudly obnoxious music I can think of. If others complain and the senior resident shows up, I'll just explain that I was drowning out sex. Sex really isn't supposed to happen in the dorms, but it's overlooked as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

If others will be discreet so that I don't have to know everything from their preferred positions to just what sounds they make immediately preceding the big O, I can deal with it. I'll also try headphones, but I'm not sure I can easily grow accustomed to the pressure on my ears to the extent that I can actually sleep with the things on my head.

Anyway, I think it is my concerns about the living in dorm and even the future apartment situation, which is a whole year away, that are keeping me awake. I wish I could wish the worries away, but it's not so simple. I wonder if one of my many doctor relatives would cough up a Lunesta prescription. It might make getting up in the morning a bit more difficult, but I can shower in the evening, and my earliest class, which I only have one day a week, is at 9:00. Other classes don't begin until 9:30 or 10:00.

It's funny, but I never really thought of a violin as being a weapon, but against people who have loud and crude sex while others are trying to sleep, it might prove to be an exceptionally good defensive or offensive tactic.

Status Quo

NOT my dorm room
Now that I've forced the computer to at least divide sections of writing into paragraphs, I'll probably stay here. I like the my background. On the other hand, it sucks not to be able to change fonts or font sizes, or to insert videos, or, for that matter, to use spell-check, which is a valuable tool for a typist as poor as I. whatever. I don't think it was a computer or Bolgspot malfunction, but perhaps I'm paranoid and it was. If anyone knows how to repair these defects, please clue me in. My dad has no time to look at my computer. (He's busy looking for cures for leukemia and lymphoma. He says that whenever he doesn't want to do something. I happen to know he's holed up in his office [which has a TV now that I'm too old to be sent there for time-outs] watching ESPN Classic.)

This is my last Monday off for a long time. I should not complain about my week, though, as my only day with classes is Thursday, and I only have two classes on Thursday. I will practice with three of the people I'm accompanying for their senior recitals. It's ovrkill, as their recitals are not intil November. You usually get two rehearsals with your accompanist, and these people will probably get five because of my immense generosity. it's all good, though, as I could't live with myslef if I screwed up someone's senior recital.

My Godmother is coming tomorrow to put the finishing touches on my dorm room. Most of the stuff was delivered yesterday and today. She's bringing bedding, pictures, etc.

Living in the dorms --even when I know I can go home anytime I feel like it, 24 hours of the day -- is still going to be a real trip. I haven't been around people my own age since fourth grade. I'm fine with all their silliness as long as they don't leave their popcorn in the microwave for too long and cause the alarm to go off and everyone to have to evacuate at 3:00 a.m. I also don't want people throwing up in the halls. I hear the boys are worse about that than the girls, but I may be wrong. Their noise I can handle. I'm more worried about my noise if I have a nightmare than the stupid noises they may make.

I'll help my Godmother apply the finishing touches to the dorm room, and we'll go out to lunch with my mom. Then I'll put in more practice. I wish it weren't too late to scrap the piano rectial, but my mom says that would be foolish, as the piano is my major instrument.

This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the ord and to make as much noise as you want as long as you don't smoke up the dorms and set the fire alrms ogf with your microwave popcorn.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

possibly the end, but I'll begin again in a new location

I will probably soon drop this blog and start another. someone has presumably hacked me. The most recent change was that the ability to divide my blog into paragraphs has been disabled. Whoever did this, I hope you are very proud of yourself. I'll try a few more things, but then I'll need to start over. I'll leave the new link here.

The Future

This is such an overdone topic for anyone my age. Do we ever live in the present, or are we continuously mapping out what's down the road for us? I've been aware of this tendency for awhile and have tried hard not to dwell on the future too much, but it's impossible or at least highly impractical not to be impacted by it just a bit. The people living or spending much of their time on what I refer to as our campus community's Bourbon Street probably don't give a great deal of thought to their futures beyond where their next bottle of vodka or fix of a more potent variety is coming, but for the rest of us, if we're even semi-serious students, it's tough to dwell on the present and not to let our thoughts be taken up with what we'll be doing next semester, next year, four years from now, or in ten years.

It's not a phenomonon unique to university students. People beginning their careers but looking to move upward, young parents trying to financially plan for their children's educations, middle-aged mid-life-crisisers [I know I just made up my own word there], those approaching old age who wonder how best to ensure that they will be cared for whe they can no longer care for themselves, and those facing imminent mortality who wonder what comes next -- people at every stage of life dwell upon the future. Neither is it a tendency new to humanity. I think it was the twelfth chapter of Luke that discussed the lilies and their beauty "though they toil not" and other aspects of not worrying so much about the future.

Still, I'm at a critical juncture in my life. I didn't want to jinx anything by discussing it, but I've already taken the MCAT. Much of the time I was supposedly lolling around on the beach, I was taking prep courses and studying. My brother took the test on the same day I did. We should have results in October at some time. Medical school is my first choice, but I'm hedging my bets by taking the law school admissions test as well. I'm still not certain I'll go to law school (even if admitted to one of my choosing) if I don't get into medical school this time. It does give me one more option. I may, instead, get a masters in a science-related field, possibly take the MCAT again, and throw the dice one more time. I feel as though if I give up on medical school even if I'm rejected this time, I'll be settling, and I really don't want to settle.

My LSAT is scheduled for December. I'm taking the prep course and I am studying. How much I study depends upon how prepared I feel for my violin recital. I can't see jeopardizing something that's been documented as a major factor in medical school acceptance for something that I'll do only if I have no other options. Still, it isn't entirely unwise to hedge one's bets.

I'll begin scheduling medical school interviews as soon as MCAT scores are reported. My current plan is to attempt to stay in California for medical school, but I will not put all my eggs in that basket and end up gaining acceptance nowhere. I'm also looking at U. of Nevada - Reno, a place in east Tennessee, and University of Washington, which actually covers about five states, including Idaho, in the city where my aunt and uncle live. Between the three out-of-state schools and the seven California schools to which I apply, if I'm not admitted somewhere, it wasn't meant to be. Ten is a large number of interviews. I have a very light courseload in anticipation of the interviews, but ten is still a considerable number. If I have any dead time when waiting around before or after interviews, I'll probably hike or take a cab over to the main university with my violin and find a practice room. Most of the interviews will take place before my recital, and I'll have to make any spare minute count.

Soon enough, this portion of my life will be history, and I'll have some new aspect of my future over which to obsess.

Almost There

My supervisors don't show me as much deference as this man is presumably showing Mr. Prez.
I was supposed to show up at noon today, but the fog lifted early, so I arrived at 11:00, and the head honcho said I could start my shift early because there was plenty of work.  I did all sorts of things - a WBC count, a possible leukemia slide (they'll re-test and follow up to verify before delivering any news like that) and an analysis of a kidney stone, which is near and dear to my own heart [sarcasm font].  We

We measured the stone, then compared for overall appearance to make an educated guess as to its composition. We then broke it and put different sections into different solutions to test for reaction. It ended up being the usual, which is the good old calcium oxalate stone.  It wasn't especially large - 5 mm by 6 mm, but plenty large enough to cause its bearer some intense pain. The bad news is that calcium or calcium oxalate are the most likely to reoccur. Having given birth to just one of the things, I can sympathize.

I typed up six reports of lab findings. Of course my reports are always checked for accuracy by one of the real employees, as it wouldn't do to send out a report from a college intern without a professinal checking the report for accuracy.  Nothing needed to be changed on any of my reports. The only suggestion given to me was that I tended to be wordier than necesary in the report. My supervisor said use complete sentences if I must, but make it to the point so the doctor receiving it doesn't have to read the equivalent of  Gone with the Wind to determine whether or not a patient has HIV. My reports weren't so wordy that the superviser  redid  anything; he just told me to try to be a little more succinct in the future. I hope I'm able to do at least one or two tomorrow in the three hours I work so that  I can attempt to be less wordy.

Tonight when I finished work and arrived at my aunt's and uncle's house, it was close to dinner time. After dinner, I was, as usual, bombarded with requests from my cousins to play games. I played one game of chess with each of them. My uncle says I can toy with them a bit occasionally to lengthen the game, but that I should not ever allow them to win unless they're beating me on their on because he doesn't want them to get the idea that they're smarter or better than they actually are. He prefers, in fact, that I play them as I would any adult, so that they can measure their progress by how they do against me, which is tough to do if I'm deliberately making mistakes to prolong the game. I then played both of them and Uncle Steve in Scrabble.  We do allow them to occasionally browse the dictionary, which would be considered cheating  under orthodox Scrabble rules, but it levels the playing ground a bit and keeps them from being total non-contenders.
I ended up beating Uncle Steve by a mere two points. I don't usually beat him. I think the difference for me is the obscure vocabulary I've picked up in some of my more esoteric classes. Uncle Steve challenged my use of the word leptokurtic. We use Oxford Unabridged dictionary,so the weird words I've picked up from classes are usually in there, and we also allow internet sources to check on specialized terms. If I pull one more word in the leptokurtic category and he challenges and loses, I'll likely be able to make up words at will that he won't dare challenge. Tomorrow I'm working from 10:30 to 1:30, then heading home. My Uncle Michael and Uncle Steve and their families are coming to my parents' house for dinner. The children will all want to play with each other, plus Matthew and my cousin who left his mission early will be there, and they're both much more exciting attractions than I am. I can practice and sleep until dinner without any interference from children. My godmother is coming to decorate my dorm room on Monday. The dorm was short one bed because some overweight freshman had sex on a bed and broke it, so my aunt told them she didn't mind providing a bed herself. She found a twin-style bed that also has a bed that folds under it in the event that I have company. It will have a Westin mattress on top, so it will be high off the ground, but that does not bother me. She'll use similar color schemes to what I have in my room because it's the most homey for me, and when I'm in an apartment next year, I can take various stuff from home and from the dorm to furnish my apartment. She bought the sofa that I can't remember if I showed anyone that looks like a piano keyboard. It's not terribly comfy, but it's cute. I'll move into the dorms officially on Wednesday. It is not as though my parents are getting rid of me totally, because I will do most of my practicing at home each day, as I don't want any of the competition to know just what it is I'm working on. Depending upon my next-door neighbors, I should be able to practice in the dorm a bit. I don't want to abuse my dorm neighbors' charity, but an hour a day on violin doesn't seem excessive, and I have a digital piano with weighted keys mfor which I can use headphones. It's at least as good as the pianos available in the practice rooms in the music department. I'm merely spoiled because we have a Steinway and two Kawais at home. So changes are on the horizon, and change is generally a good thing.

This blog has ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to try to avoid kidney stones if you're able, as passing them is the very essence of pain.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

If at first you don't succeed . . .

This is less bizarre art work than that which accompanies the musical selection at the end.

The piece in the video at the end is the one my dad and and I will play at my recital in February. We don't quite sound like the video sounds yet. I should say I don't sound like the violinist sounds. My dad sounds at least as good as the featured guitarist does. I'd been trying to give him the music for days, and he'd say, "Put it on my desk," where I  new it would be lost amidst a pile of journal articles and lab reports that weren't his but were of interest to him. (Lab reports of patients he's actively following don't end up in random piles on his desks. Just about everything else does.)

So tonight I told him I wanted to practice the piece. He complained, "There's nothing quite like throwing something at me at the last minute." First of all, we were not performing the piece tonight, and secondly, I had given it to him to weeks ago.

I fished his music from his miscellaneous pile of stuff he thinks he'll read but won't unless his chief assistant hands another copy to him and says, "You really should read this."  I should have given the music to his chief assistant. Anyway, he got out a guitar, tuned it, and started to play. I started playing along. "Stop!" he barked at me. "Please let me play the #$%*^  piece through at least once before you add the infernal violin part to it." My dad hates the sound of the violin, even when played semi-decently, with an inexplicable passion.  I patiently waited while he played through his part. Flawlessly, I might add.

I looked at him and waited for some sign that he was ready to start, as the guitar and violin begin together. "What are you waiting for? The Second Coming?" he muttered. "If we've gotta  play the damned piece, let's get it over with. I have things to do."  Did I forget to add that my father is always extremely positive and supportive of my endeavors, whatever they may be?

We played it. I screwed up a couple of times, but he nailed it just as he did the first time. I think he's wasting his talents. There have to be plenty of people out there searching for cures for various forms of leukemia and lymphoma.  On the other hand, there really aren't all that many people who play guitar the way he does. There are some -- he's not in a league of his own -- but the world isn't overpopulated with people possessing his level of guitar skill. "I suppose this means I have to wear my tux to your recital," he added, more as a statement then as a question.

"I couldn't care less what you wear," I told him. "You could wear bib overalls with wife beaters and black out half your teeth for all I care."

"You say you don't care, but what if I really showed up wearing exactly that?" he asked.

"It's your choice," I told him. "I hardly think I'll be penalized for what my accompanying musicians wear. Just don't expect me to admit I'm related to you."

"I'll make sure everyone knows we're related," he added.

"You'll probably pull some sort of  Deliverance  routine," I commented.

"Alexis," my mom interjected, " Don't give him any ideas. His mind is demented enough without your help." I don't know if I've ever mentioned that my family is obsessessed with the movie Deliverance. "Remember," my mom continued, "You'll be gone after this year. I'm the one who  has to work there."

My mom got out her flute so that we could go through the Telemann flute/violin sonata. I've practiced that one a bit more, and it sounded pretty good already. My mom was impressed. I'll probably be playing it with my mom's best friend's daughter, but she's a good musician and will be prepared. In a worst case scenario, if she gets strep or something, there's no hard-and-fast rule that my mom can't play. We're just trying to avoid any appearance of nepotism.

My mom says that, as a general rule, a musician should limit practice on a single instrument to a total of four hours a day on his or her own. If one is practicing with a group that is attempting to pull a complicated work together in a short time, a greater time may be needed, but it usually winds up being no more that four hours of actual playing time for any one musician, as a considerable time is spent waiting around for the French horns or oboes to get their parts together. With two separate instruments, for the most part, I limit my practice to three hours each day per instrument. That didn't count the time I spent playing through the pieces with my parents.

Tomorrow I travel up the road a bit to spend the weekend finishing my internship. The ending is bittersweet. I like most of the people (Jeffrey, I don't think you know about my blog, but if you do, note the emphasis on the word most) and I like most of the work, but it wouldn't bother me if I never prepared another stool sample for analysis as long as I live.

I don't know what the art work has to do with anything. It's positively non sequitur, like saying, "The Raiders aren't doing very well this year. I suppose I'll eat a pomegranate." This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to black out your teeth (if you're fortunate enough to have teeth) and to buy bib overalls and wife beaters to wear to formal recitals.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Favorite Freeway [sarcasm font]

where the Pope hopes to be tomorrow

I just got back from spending the day with my friend Megan.  i left before the sun was up in order to avoid the worst of the morning traffic, and was successful in that regard for the most part. Anywhere near southern California is going to have traffic to some degree almost any time of the day or night, but there are times that are worse than others. I came home later than my parents would've liked.  They know I'm an adult and don't try to impose a curfew on me, but they're not thrilled with me being on the freeways much after 9:00p.m. I understand where they're coming from and try to humor them for the most part, but I didn't feel like dealing with even 7:00p.m. LA traffic.

Megan is a vocal performance major at her college. She has her junior recital (I was able to bypass the junior recital thing by doing faculty juries, which are slightly more demanding, but you can avoid the hassle of a dress recital hall, reception, and all the hoops. Just play well and everyone is happy. Also, i was never technically a junior, so I'm not sure when I would have done it.)

Megan's junior recital is scheduled for late February, while my senior violin recital is scheduled for late January. She wants me to be her accompanist. It would be much cheaper, as the going rate is about $200 for a junior recital and $300 for a senior recital. I would not charge her. because i don't attend her university, she has to obtain clearance to use me as her accompanist. Such would involve my auditioning or getting a faculty recommendation from my own university. Had we coordinated tings better, I could have auditioned today. I don't mind auditioning via skype, but I don't really want to make a trip into LA just to prove to some professor that I actually do know how to play the piano.  I'll  probably fill out their forms and ask my new professor to sign. Since her even is well after my last concert, and I really don't need to practice with her until a week before her recital, I can't see my professor refusing to sign. In a worst-case scenario, as in if I got sick or had a relapse of myositis (which isn't supposed to happen until between five and twenty years after the initial occurrence) my mom could play for her.  Any significant illness that would prevent me from playing is highly unlikely anyway.  Since I'm not collecting a fee, I could use it as volunteerism on my medical school aps.

Megan has not decided upon a final repertoire for her recital. She doesn't have a car, but I told her she should take the train here for the weekend in the next few weeks and get my mom's advice on what to perform. My mom knows at least as much about her voice and its relative strengths and weaknesses as her professor does. My mom has been listening to Megan's singing since Megan was ten.

We got Megan's paper completed even though it's not due for two weeks, and I helped her to brush up on some calculus that she had forgotten. She didn't take the AP test for it in high school, which she now greatly regrets.

Saturday I start my final weekend of my internship. My dad always wants me to drive there the night before because of morning fog on the 101, but my direct supervisor said I don't have to report until noon, so I can stay home tomorrow night.  I'll still have to stay at my aunt's and uncle's Saturday night, but one night is not so bad.  Everyone there is really nice, but their children always want me to play board games or card games (they don't even have an X-box or gaming system; my aunt and uncle say they're not good for kids) and I feel guilty saying no, because I can remember worshipping older cousins and wanting them to play with me.

So I have tomorrow to practice and to otherwise do exactly as I please. my dog is feeling neglected, so he needs to go on a long walk in the morning. Otherwise, the day is wide open.

This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to walk your dog or your neighbor's dog or someone's dog. With all the power vested in me by absolutely no one, I have declared tomorrow to be "Walk a Dog Day."

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All practicing and no play makes Alexis even duller than she normally is.

two friends -- though not Megan and I --- studying

I'm practicing too much. One can do too much of a good thing to the extent that the practice is counterproductive and one's skill level is either going nowhere or backwards.

My friend Megan doesn't have any classes tomorrow, so I'm visiting her about an hour away for the day. We'll just do fun things, and I'll help her with one paper she thinks is going to be difficult. I get a charge out of doing things like that. I'm not going to actually author the paper for her, but I'll give her  good start, a good finish, and an outline for her middle paragraphs. I'll help her brush up a bit on calculus as well.  It never came as easily to her as it did to me in high school.  She's no dummy, but calculus can be complicated, and I'll be available a needed to tutor her.

On Friday I'll be back to practicing, since I have my final six hours of lab internship this weekend and will only get in a bit of violin and piano practice. My aunt and uncle don't care if I practice during waking hours.

I have my first class a week from today, but then I have Friday off, just like I have every Friday off unless I need to meet with a piano or violin professor.

I'm getting a new piano professor. My old one was over-booked, so I volunteered to be one of the ones to switch. My mom is taking much of her clientele, but there's an obvious conflict of interest in my mom being my piano professor. My old professor didn't like me all that much and wasn't looking out for my best interests anyway, so I think it's best for everyone this way. She was the one who wanted me to switch my recital at the last minute to early September. Had I been given three months notice I might have considered it, but I wasn't the one who was so over-confident as to schedule my recital for early September.  They guy couldn't find anyone to trade, so he didn't get his deposit on the hall refunded, but he found an open date in November for his recital. It's like a Wednesday night, which isn't optimal, but he was lucky to get any date at all. His recital will be the Wednesday night before mine on the following Sunday. I think I'm actually glad to follow him as opposed to having him follow me. I'm reasonably certain I have the last date that is allowed. (I could have also done my recital the following quarter, but I'm glad I'm getting it out of the way this quarter, and I'm also happy to have the final piano recital of the quarter.) It's sort of like being the final skater in a competition even though we're in theory not competing with each other in our recitals.

This blog is ended. Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord and to help your friends with homework but not actually to do it for them. There is a difference, and most of us know what it is.

The Lawrence Welk Show

If you missed out on this, eithr in real time or on pBS reruns, consider yourself lucky . . . very lucky.

Long ago in a faraway place, or maybe in a place very nearby, people used to gather around their television sets, which were black and white until sometime in the 1960's, to watch a disaster in television musical variety history history known as "The Lawrence Welk Show." My mom says her parents watched it, though not religiously, and with an element of snark that made the viewing of it bearable. To my dad's parents, however, "The Lawrence Welk Show" was second only to "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and The Spoken Word" in both quality of musical taste, presentation, and overall importance. Much of what my dad would have seen must have been PBS reruns, but it did not matter to my parents.  It was "culture" to them, and it needed to be imparted to their children.  My dad tried to spend as many Saturday nights at his best friend Jerry's house, as his parents were Cuban immigrants and didn't, thank God, appreciate the imortance of Lawrence Welk and his merry band of unmusical halfwits.

In fairness to Mr. Welk's cast, there were a few genuinely talented performers who drifted through the cast on occasion while on their way to bigger and better things or simply while trying to pay the bills.  Because my mom's older sisters saw some of the real thing, they have memories of watching for the Lennon Sisters each week until the ladies wised up and took their talent elsewhere. (Some of them are still performing live in Branson , Missouri.)  The Lennons had a beautiful sibling blend, and were pretty women who looked much prettier after they were no longer forced to wear some of the inane costumes the Welk costume department dug from the apparent rejects of  Catholic thrift stores,  the Goodwill,  Salvation Army bins, or  similar sources.

My parents saw the Lennons perform in Vegas shortly after their marriage, and had a chance to meet them afterward. My mom said they seemed to be very down-to-Earth, genuine people.  Sadly, their father was murdered by a crazy person in one of the earlier celebrity stalking events that ended in violence. Some guy named Chet was reading movie magazines, which were prevalent back in the 60's early 70's. These magazines printed roughly 90% lies, and most celebrities about whom they lied didn't even bother suing them because the magazines  would simply fold and change names, and tracking down the people actually involved in perpetrating the lies became very difficult. Anyway, this nutcase named Chet  was reading through the lines of the movie magazines, much as more modern schizophrenics sometimes get their messages from the cryptic words and phrases one must sometimes type in to leave a comment. (I have a sanity-challenged cousin who records these words and non-words in a journal and prays about how they should direct his life; anytime my mom gets word of him doing anything really nutty, she calls both the FBI and his local law enforcement, because she's convinced he's going to eventually be responsible for an incident such as Sandy Hook or Aurora; the police try to keep tabs on him, but they don't have enough evidence to put him in a lock-up mental health facility. We tell everyone in that part of the family [except for my grandma; she's as afraid of him as we are]only our P.O. box that's in another town than where we reside, but, if one invests enough resources, one can find almost anyone, although we float false addresses and do have an elaborate security/alarm system;  he hasn't threatened us or anyone else as far as we know, but neither did the Sandy Hook shooter, to the best of my knowledge.)

Anyway, the crazy person, Chet, thought he and Peggy Lennon, the second eldest of the Lennon children, even though she was married and had several children already, were destined to be together. Chet thought the only person or thing keeping them apart was Bill Lennon, the Lennon Sisters' father and manager.  He caught up with Mr. Lennon one day while Mr. Lennon was arriving at a golf course one day with one of his sons. He shot and killed him point-blank. It was a terrible tragedy, and it happened somewhere in the midst of the Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King shootings and the Manson murders.  My mom was maybe two when it happened, so she really doesn't remember any of it, but her sisters were devastated.  The Lennons by that time, I think had a musical variety show of their own independent of Welk's debacle, and continued with their show with heightened security.

Another at least semi-talented member of Welk's cast at one time was his daughter-in-law, Tanya, who started out as being no relation to him and  but at some point became his daughter in-law.  She didn't last too terribly long as either his cast member or his daughter-in-law, but she harmonized well with some other members of the cast and had a decent enough solo voice. I don't know what she did after leaving Welk's show. She probably went on to perform lounge acts in Vegas or somewhere similar. Whatever she did, she made  good decision in separating herself from Mr. Welk and his band of music-less cretins. I doubt that she would have been given her share of solos or even featured trios after parting ways with Lawrence Welk, Jr.

Some man named Ken Delo also had a decent voice and harmonized well with the Welk daughter-in-law and a few others.

A lady named Ralna English had a nice if countrified voice. She was hired first, then convinced Mr. Welk to hire her husband Guy something or other. Their sound was decidedly country, but their voices mixed nicely. One of my favorite Welk memories was of Lawrence himself announcing [I think] Guy and Ralna singing what Welk described as a "modern-day spiritual."  The song was "One Toke Over the Line." I wonder if Welk, with his limited English  (German was his native language even though he was born in North Dakota), had even a clue that the term "one toke over the line" was a drug reference. I have to assume no, but then, maybe Mr. Welk was more hip than anyone would have guessed. I'd say the chances were highly dubious, though.

When the Lennon Sisters saw the light and  left, Welk tried without success to replace them with a variety of related and non-related female singing groups. The most notorious of these replacement groups was, as Mr. Welk frequently referred to the, "The Lovely Semonski Sisters."  Even with beauty being in the eye of the beholder and talent sometimes being within the ear of the same, these sisters were neither lovely nor talented.  Some were  little prettier than others, and some had better voices than others, but they had neither the prettiness nor the voices in and of themselves than did the sisters they were supposed to cause us all to forget about, much less the sibling blend despite being full siblings (unless the Maytag man played a role in some of their conceptions). Not all siblings who sing have voices that blend.

I'm sure I've written about these Lennon Sisters wannabes before, but I must once gain describe the impact they had on my musical development. The Semonskis were half Polish and half Irish, and presumably Catholic, as were the Lennon Sisters. The Lennons emerged in an era when most practicing Catholics took the ban on artificial birth control very literally and very seriously. The Lennon family had ten surviving children. (Little Mary Lennon was run over by a car as a one-year-old.)

The Semonski Sisters numbered six, although it's unknown as to whether any additional Semonski sisters,or for that matter, brothers, existed. If there were more Semonski siblings, excluding them from the performing group would have been arbitrary, as neither looks nor talent seemed at face value to have been  criteria for inclusion in the performing group. For whatever reason, the eldest five Semonski sisters appeared to be relatively close in age to the extent that it would have been different for someone who didn't know them to place them in order chronologically. The youngest Semonski, who may (or may not) have been named Michelle, was noticeably younger by several years than the next older Semonski.   One can only surmise as to the reason for this. Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Semonski had a long-running feud, at which time Mr. Semonski  spent several years sleeping on the living room sofa. Perhaps Mrs. Semonski had a crisis of faith of sorts, at which time she figuratively told Pope Paul to take a flying leap into the Mediterranean Sea while she took her contraceptive pills regularly before she eventually repented and found her way back to Natural Family Planning. (What do you call people who use the rhythm method as a form of birth control?  Parents.) Perhaps it was neither; it may have been divine intervention at work  all along  , as the world was not yet ready for Michelle Semonski.

Regardless for the reason, Michelle appeared to be much younger than her sisters, and made the most of her relative youth while the cameras were rolling. Michelle could teach university courses on how to mug for  cameras while performing if such courses existed or were needed.  The footage I've seen of her in the PBS reruns I've watched with my paternal grandmother remind me very much of Patty McCormick in  the old movie "The Bad Seed."  Welk might just as well have stuck Juliette Lewis on stage with the Semonskis and glued an over-sized bow to the back of her head. She would have been more believable as a pure and seraphic child than Michelle Semonski was.  If the smile was intended by Welk's producers to be angelic, they got it all wrong. I've seen  more sincere smiles in footage of the Manson followers being led in cuffs and chains to their courtrooms or back to their cells. Michelle's smile would be describe as sinister at best, and more aptly, as depraved and malevolent, or as evil incarnate.

This Semonski performance occurred after Semonski #1 left to embark on her highly succesful solo career Ithink, or maybe she's just not visible in this portion of the video.

Enough of bad musical variety television. This blog has ended. Go now to love and serve the Lord and to snark on TWOP or wherever else you find such activity suitable and satisfying.