Friday, August 29, 2008

College, Take 2

I'm finally all moved into the house here in Bloomington and am beginning to feel settled in. The first few days were a little rough, missing home, my parents, and my cats, and just feeling emotionally lost. But I'm adjusting to college life again, and I'm glad I made this choice. There are, of course, some aspects of the dorm that are still appealing; not having to go across campus to hang out with friends, the food that's just there, and having the staff looking out for you a bit. But living off campus is much better. I have my own room, and the house is fairly quiet. Nobody runs down the halls screaming at 3:00 a.m. Plus, my room is good-sized, and I have lots of storage space (two closets!!). And we're only a block off campus, which is almost closer than my dorm was last year. So even though its a little scary having to do my own grocery shopping, I'm glad I'm here.

My desk.
My bed and dresser. The big yellow cat poster I got on sale last year, and the other four small posters are parts of old Met calanders.
I'm hoping to put a chair in the nook so that I'll have some reading space, but right now, it's just there. But I love having two closets.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bottle Shock

Since this is my last weekend home before the semester begins, Mom and I decided to see a movie. The last thing I'd seen in a theater was Sweeney Todd back in January, so why not go on a little spree? We saw Bottle Shock, and I believe I was the youngest person in the theater. I didn't mind though, because Alan Rickman was in the movie, which is mostly why we saw this particular film. Yes, we're Rickman fans, and find him particularly attractive despite his age. My friends think I'm nuts...but they're the nuts. In fact, for my birthday this year, Kelly (my roommate), Kristin (her best friend, who also lived on our floor) and Stephanie (our lovely dancer friend) made me a card that said "On your birthday, you should get all of your favorite things" and inside were pictures of Alan Rickman, Joshua Bell, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. They just don't get it...oh well.
OK, back to the movie.
Mom felt a little queasy because of some of the handheld camera shots, but otherwise, it was a very good movie. It's based on the Napa Valley victory over the French wines in a blind taste-test in France in 1976. I won't bore you with a long description of the cast's good characterization, the beautiful on location scenery, yadda, yadda, yadda. But Dennis Farina and Rickman were very entertaining. Wouldn't mind hanging out at their wine shop in Paris. Not at all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Less than one week

Packing is still going slowly, although I managed to fill one more plastic bin with mostly books. When I went to Interlochen, I made sure I brought along some of my favorite books to help alleviate the homesickness. That pile got bigger when I went to IU last fall, and now I'm bringing even more, making the bin very heavy. War and Peace is the major addition, and being the bookworm that I am, I'm bringing two translations of Eugene Onegin.

This is probably the last Cat Pic Friday for a while, since I'll be at school and away from my cats.

Salem lounging the the hallway.

Tacy sleeping on my bed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

One week

By this time next week, I'll be in Bloomington again, preparing for yet another semester or college. I'm ready to go back and see my friends, work with Alice, and begin classes (because I'm a nerd and I actually like classes. I know.). However, the nerves are also kicking in (auditions, new beginnings, all of those things), making me not excited about going back to school. I'm looking forward to living off campus and not having to deal with all of the dorm junk; people yelling in the halls at ungodly hours, the boring floor meetings about nothing, having my own room, and no more bunk beds. So, have I been packing?...not really. It'll get done. =)

But I am nervous about living off campus. Even though I know this is a good step for me, I still question myself, wondering if this is the right thing, or if I should have waited a year. At the end of first semester, I reapplied for housing, which is recommended to all students, even those who plan on living off campus. I requested a single room and was told that I probably would not get one, due to the many requests for single rooms and a larger than usual incoming freshman class. But with the house, I'll have my own room (yay!!!!). But the many "I just don't see how this is going to work" comments really have increased the nervousness about this, especially from a certain person, who constantly asks who is going to clean the house (that would be us, duh), if we have a maid service (heck freaking no), if this is a co-op (no, we're renters, just like an apartment), that I can't possibly manage living with 10 people (um, I lived with 50 people on my dorm floor last year, and 1200 people in the dorm, so I think 10 is fine) and that I won't be able to manage it. Yeah, that makes me feel soooo much better.

OK, how about some non-college-freak-out?

Finally finished War and Peace. The ending was, well, slightly boring, as Part 1 of the Epilogue was really the end of the storyline. Part 2 basically consists of Tolstoy's opinion of historians, the definition of power, and what true greatness is. It was interesting, but it was a bit of a letdown after the powerful and fulfilling last pages of Part 1. My friend Mary told me that reading War and Peace this summer would be "freaking awesome", and of course, she was right. Although I still like Dostoevsky overall, I can't say I've disliked anything I've read of Tolstoy. Dostoevsky's philosophical, political, and social ideas are embedded directly into the plot (i.e. Ivan Karamazov's "The Grand Inquisitor", or the Extraordinary Man discussion in Crime and Punishment), something Tolstoy does some of the time. He does this perfectly in The Death of Ivan Ilych, Anna Karenina's Levin, Prince Andrey's death scene, and Anna Karenina herself. However, like Part 2 of War and Peace, he many times could simply write "insert my idea" and verge away from the plot, often proving to be distracting. But I love them both, and War and Peace just blew my mind.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Random Post

I'm nearly finished with War and Peace with about 20 pages left. It's amazing. Go and read this book now. Right now. Part 1 of the Epilogue is very satisfying, a good mix of humor and sadness. Too bad Tolstoy didn't write even a sliver of a sequel, just so we can see what happens to Nikolay Bolkonsky, Prince Andrey's son. He's a character that's in the background for most of the novel, but his 15-year-old self becomes more important towards the end, being inspired by Pierre and his late father.

Due to the muscles in my eyes not liking to focus close-up and leading to some double-vision, I need reading glasses. Groovy.

Early this week, I found the trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I can hardly wait until November! Yes, I am that big of a Harry Potter fan. Proud of it. =)

Cat Pic Friday. This is one of the few times Tacy actually looked at the camera.

Monday, August 04, 2008

RE: Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

As I said before, my exposure to Solzhenitsyn's works are limited. At Interlochen I read the speech he gave at Harvard, ironically, in my Political Philosophy class. This was my first experience with Solzhenitsyn, and I remember being stunned by him, especially by his deep spirituality. At the end of our final exam, there were a series of questions that didn't count for anything asking our opinion of the philosophers we read, wondering which we found the most interesting, who we agreed with, disagreed with, would like to speak to in person, and so on. I believe I wrote Solzhenitsyn's name several times, since I found him the one of the most interesting, and found myself agreeing with him the most.
I came across Solzhenitsyn again in my Russian lit class at IU with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I knew some of his life, but not in the detail that I dove into it at IU, learning of how he came to writing, of the horrors he experienced under Stalin's cruelty, and of his unique political and literary place in the world. And I'm amazed by him, of how anyone can endure the things he did and so many did, and how he held to what he believed in despite the political and social pressure and persecution. That kind of strength is to be admired and sought after.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

And I thought I had interesting roommates...

As I was checking out, I noticed a news story reporting the death of Nobel winner and Russian author Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. My exposure to Solzhenitsyn is mostly limited to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, one of the most interesting and insightful books I have ever read. My Russian lit teacher at Interlochen didn't have us read any of his works, mostly because there was not room in the schedule for it. On an interesting note, one of her former students ended up being the college roommate of Solzhenitsyn's son Ignat, an acclaimed pianist and conductor. Can you even imagine move-in day?

Friday, August 01, 2008

I know this is late...

As promised, I've got the low-down from Sunday's recital. I know it's a bit late, but my final English comp paper has consumed my life this week. And it's done!

To my happiness, the recital went very well! The majority of our audience didn't belong in the classical music devotee category, so they enjoyed the wide variety of music we performed, getting a taste of what music from all of the major eras sounds like. Caleb and I really didn't intend for our program to fall into place like that, but it did, and it worked very well.

Caleb, of course, played beautifully. Having played the violin a little myself (I'm not a good player at all) I can understand and appreciate all of the coordination and flexibility that goes into good violin playing. As I mentioned before, the Bach Ciaconna sounded amazing in the church, but the "Gypsy Airs" by Sarasate got the audience into a frenzy; they just went nuts.

I was especially pleased with the way I sang my English-language pieces. The audience really seemed to like "The trees on the mountains" from Susannah, which was one of my favorites on the program. I was very happy with how I sang "Parto, ma tu ben mio", and felt that the coloratura was smooth and in place. I can't wait to sing this aria again, and I hope to sing the whole role someday.

I had great fun working with Dale, our accompanist, a very talented and hysterically funny man who can sight-read Rachmaninoff like it's nothing. The church was fairly well filled up, both with familiar faces and new ones. Caleb mentioned that we should make a summer recital an annual event, an idea that I agree with. We might be repeating this program later in Indianapolis, but that's still in the works and not a for-sure happening.

However, I consider this recital a success. I was happy with how I sang and pleased with my accomplishments this summer, especially "Parto, ma tu ben mio", one of the hardest arias I've learned so far. I've vocally taken a few days off, getting my mind back into learning mode for what I need to prepare for this fall.