He wrote some of the most famous and enduring music of all time.
He was one of the most influential composers of his time.
The man was a sadist.
I give you exhibit A, the Sempre Libera.
This aria was written for the sole purpose of turning sopranos into nervous puddles of insecurity. The cadenzas... the runs and all that trilling, what was he thinking? I am quite certain he wanted to fuck with some soprano who aggravated him. And she was probably all "you think I can't sing that, you think I can't bring it?" so she spent many sleepless nights practicing those cadenzas and trilling into the wee hours of the morning.
Over and over and over, begging her lover to tell her how it sounded, "was it right? Was it fast enough? I think a little faster... But did it sound ok? No... No I need to do it again" until at last, unable to handle her insecurity, her lover left her.
Over and over and over, until her closest friend and confidant, her cat, was driven insane by the sound and clung day and night to her Venetian chandelier.
Over and over and over, until her neighbors (close cousins on her, thankfully, long-dead mother's side) complained to her landlord (a close cousin on her father's side) who threw her into the street, still trilling.
But she sang it. Whirlwind fast and looking as gorgeous as can be expected when you're living in a shed behind an opera house with a cat who thinks you're suffering some sort of contagious howling madness. Sola, abandonatta, she sang it, and 150 years later we're stuck with this monstrosity, this pinnacle of the coloratura repertoire... Made all the worse by the brilliant addition by some showboating soprano who decided to add a high e-flat somewhere along the way (probably to piss off Verdi's ghost.)
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
at 5:00 PM
Monday, December 31, 2007
Rainy tonight, and sleep eludes me, though I'm very, desperately tired. That's the problem with spending time with smart, funny people who know me well. My mind starts cranking and won't turn off. Well... I guess that happens anyway, but tonight it is pretty bad. I might very well require a nap tomorrow.
I have always wondered why I fall asleep quickly as long as it is daylight. There is something about the night that makes my mind twirl and ponder. One of my neuro-transmitters must be confused... dopamine or serotonin or melatonin. Or maybe my ancestors were the ones tasked with guarding the village at night, to chase away the demons. But I have found some port, in this storm, and it is fairly tasty. Perhaps I'll be sleepy soon...
Counting sheep never works.
Sheep reminds me of wool which reminds me of looms which reminds me of some weaving I have to finish which reminds me of a loom I saw in China like the one in San Diego and my friends who live in San Diego are moving to Boston and I froze to death in Boston walking alone one night and getting lost and the British are coming because Washington failed, this year, to cross the Delaware and save our budding nation.
I want to just give it all up and go away for a year or so. But those are some thoughts, dear Scarlet, for another day.
"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?" Hemingway. (who had some weird aversion to adverbs, or so I've been told)
(sorry if I used any inappropriate commas)
(yes, that IS directed at you)
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Today was lovely.
Today, the weather was flawless,
The sky was an impossible perfection of blue
The air was cool and breezy
The ideal September day.
Today old friends who are family joined us at the farm
There was laughter, and wandering, and wine.
If you're lucky, you'll know what I mean when I say they are cousins,
Though not by blood or marriage.
Family of the favorite sort, the ones you choose.
If you’re lucky, you have some cousins like these
As part of your family clan.
There was grape-picking, and wine-planning,
Home-made elderberry cordial,
And brand new baby fluffballs running after a mother hen.
Today was the sweet crunch of the first apple of the season
And the knowing it will be the sweetest one
‘Cause the first is always the best.
Today there were words of encouragement
Today there was a night-time starlit drive
With sister in the ’49 convertible,
Through fields down hills and back again,
Struggling with that impossible clutch
That loves to pop out of first,
And clings a little too tightly to second.
And I am Si Ma Tai tired.
If you don’t know what that means,
Or want to see behind that link,
And I’ll let you peek.
But now I am going
To go find my bed
And my cats
And if all goes well
Some nearly perfect dreams.
Monday, August 20, 2007
I came back from that thing I go to in Western PA, where I had a fabulous time, and then remembered that I hate my job. So not only was I exhausted, in near-allergic meltdown from the (did I mention it rained the ENTIRE second week) rain-induced mold, and sad about leaving my silk-draped ger for painted plaster walls, but I also had to remember how dissatisfying it is to work here. Fortunately the people I love have been around to cheer me up. The blonde, newly returned from China, threw her usual summer shindig and surrounded me with friends who care. There was a lot of laughter, good food, and general revelry. We had fireworks and they surprised me with a birthday cake which made me very smiley. It was good to be reminded how lucky I am to have such dear friends who worry about me and offer helpful insight and who tell me the things I don’t want to hear, but need to. Bonus: they are all REALLY smart and well-read and interesting and like to drink too much wine with me. S even brought gin with him which I SOOO appreciated! What would I do without all of you? I also know that when I become an official demon-hunter you’ll all be there with me, ready to have me committed for my own safety. That’s ok. I love you anyway. For now… let’s go dancing. I bought some new platform knee-highs that need breaking in, and I miss dancing on a regular basis. AND goth clubs are notorious demon hangouts. Who’s with me?
at 5:19 PM
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Ok, so I’ve done some research on demon hunting, and it seems that the first thing necessary when taking on this task is a Moral Compass. I'm not certain exactly what that means. I assume it is some sort of device that points out creatures with no morality, a.k.a. demons.
Maybe the Bible has some thoughts on this. It's all about good and evil, so maybe it will have some ideas about my Moral Compass and how to use it in the good fight. According to Deuteronomy just following my own heart could get me burned. By God. And I think they mean literally. That could be an issue. Maybe I should look someplace else.
President Bush is always talking about fighting Evil. He mentions it in every State of the Union. Maybe he would know how to use a Moral Compass to fight demons. I mean, yeah, the evil he is fighting is more mortal, but the same principles probably apply. Or, maybe not. According to this our President's moral compass doesn't work very well, so maybe he's not the person to ask.
Clearly I'm not getting anywhere. Well, as a child of the mid-seventies, I have but one recourse. According to the web definition search in Google, "A moral compass sets real limits, either intrinsically or extrinsically, upon the actions and words of an individual, generally within an ethical context which may or may not be predicated upon religious beliefs."
Ok. I can get behind that. Limits that are either from inside or outside, based on my religion, or not based on my religion. I think I have that. Limits, I mean. For example, today I wanted to tell the trainer "Learn to speak English. And then, learn to be a trainer. And then, you might want to make certain you're training us on an application we are actually going to use. Oh, and provide coffee so we're not FALLING ASLEEP because you're about as interesting as this." But I did not. Actually, I'm pretty sure he was speaking English but it was hard to tell over my snoring colleagues. I'd say that was pretty good of me not to tell him just how terrible he is at his job.
Or maybe not.
Maybe the moral thing would have been to tell him, make him question the purpose of his life, and force him to give up training in favor of life as a sidewalk artist, thereby sparing hundreds, perhaps thousands of future corporate cogs the mental anguish of listening to him.
Damn. This Moral Compass thing is trickier than I thought. Maybe I'll try the Bhagavad Gita...
Today I am wondering why I am stuck in two days of training for a software application I am probably never going to use.
Oh!--- because I work in Corporate America. Duh…
It’s a weird thing to navigate, really. A large corporation. Such a strange sub-culture. None of us would be here if we didn’t feel that we need money. As far as corporations go, mine is considered (by various magazine rating systems) to be one of the better ones at which to spend the hours between 8:30 and 5. That is due to a number of factors all adding up to what is called in corp-speak your “Total Compensation Package.” Health benefits, 401k, vacation, average salary, etc. Depending on the particular slant of the magazine, it may include how many minorities are in management or the percentage of female worker bees.
And let me tell you, my Total Compensation Package is the only thing keeping me here. My Total Compensation Package does not, unfortunately, fit my Total Personal Requirements for Fulfillment. Not even close. How in the Head Alien’s Universe did I get here, anyway? I was peacefully minding my own business one day when I sort of fell into this job and, uh, stayed. For six years.
The trouble is, I keep having this nagging feeling that there is something else I should be doing that is more important. Like killing zombies and saving the world from evil dictators or catching up on my sleep or something. I can’t quite put my finger on it. You know, I used to want to be an exorcist or a demon hunter when I grew up. Since I have not achieved that goal, I am going to assume that I simply haven’t grown up yet. Yes, I think that version of reality will do nicely. Maybe when I get home tonight I will start working on the demon-hunting thing. I bet the first thing I will need is tools. I wonder what kind of tools I should have. This could take some research.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Tonight is S-I-L's 21st rite
So we're all going down
To the 16th-century-proud town,
Where Italians are too dark-skinned
For the inhabitants' comfort,
And local color is something reserved
For Catholic, papist, whores.
For a town so proud,
The establishment’s loud,
And not what one would call
But the child will be there
And the parents too,
And the parents too young to be parents.
I have thought of how
To escape and be free
To break my gritted-teeth vow
That I’d be there for tea:
One conveniently supplied by friends turning 30 was
party-and-pool-time in the OH, Hi!-
...But I won't leave till tomorrow.
The moon just declared, in our endless rapport,
My 28 days are over
And I’m hers once more.
...But I don't think that excuse will fly.
I could have to save
Boyfriend from a crisis
That I and I alone could brave!
...Should probably save that one for Mom.
Stuck at work?
Sprained an ankle?
My cat's glands are swollen?
I need to wash my very long hair?
Alas and alack,
For shame and forbear,
There's no plan of attack
Can keep me from there.
O! Death, can’t you find me?
Won’t you spare me this eve
From an ill-fated supper
That will lead me to grieve?
Or perhaps, that’s too drastic
Simple lies are the best
Like work was too long
And I need some rest.
at 3:53 PM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
If I were one of those humans who engaged in the creation of conspiracy theory
(which I am not)
I think I would wonder far more than I have about the price of gasoline.
If I tended toward a belief that the government, in the end, has an alternative agenda
(which I don't)
I might be concerned that congress does not seem to be doing anything about its skyrocketing cost.
If I looked for someone to blame for my dwindling bank account and the ever-increasing depth of Exxon McScrooge's money-vault
(which I simply won't do)
I might think that paying so much for gas would be the only way the government could coerce my fellow Americans and I to get rid of our S.U.V.'s
To improve our energy independence.
And fight terrorism.
And help the auto industry by buying another car sooner.
If I owned an S.U.V., I might consider these things.
But I don't.
And the government's on our side.
So I won't.
But it would force our big-car-American-habits to change.
So... I might.
at 4:10 PM
Monday, May 28, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
There’s never enough time, is there? My father’s mother, my very dear Grandmamma, passed away recently after a long illness. She was 91. I knew her my entire life, and it wasn’t long enough. I have inherited, among other things, her furniture.
Photos of people I’ve never met.
Thank you notes from weddings.
Funeral cards for people I didn’t know.
Funeral cards for people I loved.
Copies of her wedding invitations.
Her elementary school diploma.
Hats in styles that range over 8 decades.
Construction paper cards I made her as a child.
A ring from the 1939 world’s fair.
A red and brass lamp.
A blue and brass lamp.
A pair of lamps, one a female statue, one a male statue.
Silverware marked “Brd. Of Ed. NYC.”
A coffee pot.
A music box.
Statues of saints.
A 3-inch wide roll of some sort of cellophane.
Paper card made for her by my father as a child.
And photo after photo with stories behind them that I’ll never know. And I can’t ask who is in them, where they were taken, how she was feeling. Was she happy, or just smiling for the photos? Did she like the other people but just lose track of them as life and children and aging parents got in the way? What dreams did she have as a child that she never fulfilled? All the trappings of a life… but you can never know a person by looking at their leftover stuff… at the dross that’s still here, once the light goes wherever it goes. All there are then are memories of organ-playing, of big family dinners, a box turtle who somehow learned to beg for meatballs, black olives on fingers, and the… er… unique taste of Bronx water.
at 11:43 AM
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
So, I went to the Crystal diner the other night with some friends… and it was odd. Odd because the last time I was there was several years ago, with a friend who is now dead. So I thought I’d blog a bit about Brian. But there really isn’t much to say except that I miss him. I miss hearing him order his favorite meal (grilled cheese). I miss the occasional stutter he had worked hard to conceal. I miss hearing his latest musical compositions. I miss dancing with friends while he played something reminiscent of our national anthem, but with a lot more finesse than the original. I miss sitting in his darkened apartment and feeling like it was night even though the sun was warm and friendly outside; he’d covered every window, every door-crack, every teeny space where sunlight might tiptoe in. I miss watching basketball diaries for the first time while he described for me just what it feels like to do cocaine… and why he wasn’t doing it anymore. I miss the arms that were covered with tattoos he had drawn himself. I miss the sarcasm that was never far from his voice, and the way he’d say ‘whatever, milk-girl’ to shut me up when he wanted to win an argument. (long story) I miss the way he said “tricky” when he realized I was about five inches shorter when not wearing platforms. I miss that he was kind of thin, and that his pants legs were wider than my dress hems. I miss his glasses, his ready smile, and the fact that he always seemed to be laughing. Usually at me, but still… He wrote a book I never finished reading because it gave me such nightmares I couldn’t sleep… and I, for unknown reasons, tend to love violent films & novels. It was really disturbing work, truly artful. They said it was some sort of quickly invading infection. He missed work for a few days and his parents broke into his apartment and found him in bed. And that was that.
at 11:29 AM
Monday, October 30, 2006
Samhain’s my favorite. The old year ends and the wheel begins again. We get to let out all our pent-up anger, all our fear. We get to think about the loved ones we’ve lost. We get to pull out our trusty magnifying glasses (as a Virgo I always have one close by) and examine our pain, poke at it, turn it around, dissect it a little, taste it, smell it, see how it reacts when mixed with sodium phosphate, and try to figure out exactly what’s going on in there. Then we get to polish it until it shines like starlight, and put it into our bag of fancy things that make us people. I like that. Good plan.
at 11:32 AM
Friday, September 29, 2006
The other day I solicited the help of my sister in a mundane task that turned out to be ... well, meaningful. I am, for those who are unaware, in the process of moving back to the farm where I spent most of my childhood. I've been renovating the apartment my grandparents occupied for a large portion of my life, slowly painting and organizing and moving furniture, re-attaching the bowl-shaped antique light fixtures my grandmother had removed because they inevitably end up collecting bugs & needing a cleaning, going through boxes and trunks of family heirlooms and family junk. It's amazing how many things fill a place when four generations have lived in it. But I digress... (and, am likely to do so again, so please bear with my inherent A.D.D.)
The task was to move two chairs: my grandfather's red leather recliner (beautiful chair) and my great-grandmother's not-so-well-preserved wicker chair into the rather large finished attic which is to become half rec-room, half work-shop. This involved, among other things, removing some wooden doors, an astute understanding of physics and spatial relationships, and dealing with the fact that my grandfather is indeed dead, and will probably be ok with me moving his chair. So we moved it upstairs, and so far, no haunting. Not a specter, no sudden chills, the chair hasn't mysteriously apparated back downstairs, or refused to recline, or been burning hot to the touch. It is rather anti-climactic. Maybe I'm a little disappointed by the lack of interest, the lack of sudden and ultimate proof that there is an afterlife, the lack of communication from Popie's ghost confirming that he is still paying attention to me and offering his opinions.
I can not describe (though I'm going to try) the bond that can exist with a place in which one was raised. Especially when you were raised as a farmer, and when your family has lived and laughed and cried and died and worked on a piece of land. That connection is so deep that it pervades everything you are. Earth has moods, for example. I know some of you know what I mean, and some of you don't. But soil has moods, just like trees, just like cats. And when you grok a place, you are touched by those moods. I understand why people developed pagan religions that reflect the seasons, because you can't help but try to express the changing of the Earth in some way that can be shared with the people you love. Especially when most of the people you love have experienced those moods with you. The problem is, that it makes change difficult, because every tree, every bush, every light fixture, farm building, every random clump of briars (that are really secret forts where my siblings and I plotted the demise of the forces of evil, and occasionally the forces of good) has some sort of memory attached to it.
But in the end... I am coming home, to myself. My life has been very, desperately, busy over the past month since Pennsic. Many things are changing. People who I thought were lost have been found. I've discovered a closeness to my sister I did not think possible. I have started doing some work about which I feel very strongly, and have found others who feel the same way. People who caused me to doubt myself are no longer in my life. I have found that I can have a positive effect on the life of someone who hurt me many, many years ago, and that I'm no longer angry or resentful toward him. I feel as though I am coming full circle, back to where I belong, both physically and emotionally. I took a long detour for several years, but I think my soul might be getting back where it should be. It is not just the physicality of moving, but something deeper is changing for the better. Some fear I had that kept me trapped has dissipated, and I am more free than I was. I can not tell you the peace I find when I take my hour commute and end up looking up at the same stars my great-grandparents watched, standing next to the pear tree my great-grandfather planted, and my grandfather grafted so it now grows two types of pears. There is no way to express the precise scent of the place, or the exact way the wind picks up in the autumn when you're four hours out from a storm, which is different in early summer, and in mid-spring, or before a blizzard.
So last night I sat watching a Hitchcock film, with my cat on my lap, curled up under a Rainbow Brite blanket, in my grandfather's favorite chair, feeling more at peace with myself and the world around me than I've been in a great many years. I don't think Popie minded at all.
at 11:03 AM