Monday, July 27, 2009

For Randy

This is the one request of the man who loaned me my camera. This in no way reflects my perception of the french.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Friend

So earlier I told you that I would post more about my friend Ashley who is a tremendous poet. She wrote the text for the choir piece that I submitted here. I think it's an amazing poem. I received it from a manuscript that she is currently trying to get published. However, herwork has been published in several journals. More information is at the bottom of this blog.

Other people here have thought so too and have expressed interest in using her work for their pieces. I'm excited for her. I think her material needs as much exposure as possible.

For your reading enjoyment, here is her poem...


Not because I do it well or quickly
but because it slows us both
to notice how the skin is delicate
and so determined. You'll look forward at the wall
and feel where the razor touches down
where I sweep it steadily across that jaw line
clenched in sweet suspense. You'll trust me
to do this because in the morning
I'll boil your breakfast eggs. You'll trust me
to do this because I've heard you talk in your sleep—
something about your father's camera
dropped in the muddy creek. Lately
your stubble comes from self-defeat
and I know where that comes from too
and so you'll trust me
with this razor, with the blade
that cuts the rough dark hair
from its beginning and leaves instead
a smooth shadow.

The official bio:

Ashley Seitz Kramer was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She completed her B.A. at Miami University, and her M.A. at Ohio University in Athens, where she taught writing courses for five years. In 2008, she completed her M.F.A. from the Vermont
College of Fine Arts. Her work has been published in Dogwood, Sow's Ear, Wicked Alice, Gihon River Review, Brevity and most recently in Cutbank. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio and teaches writing at Case Western Reserve University. She collects teapots and and is drawn to all things epistolary. She's currently a finalist for the 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship.



Some Things Don't Translate Well.

The french word for Hangover actually means Wooden-faced. Maybe that's why they opted for the change of title. Is it better? You decide.

See last post title

Tonight I went to an incredible restaurant for the gluten intolerant, Des Si & Des Mets. For dinner they have a fixed price menu that is amazing. 26 euro gets you a starter, meal, dessert, and coffee. SUCH good food. If you have Celiac disease or can't eat gluten I highly recommend it. They spoke English better than I spoke French. Very nice people. Great atmosphere. On a quaint street in Montmartre.

I had une salade de chèvre chaud (salad with breaded goat cheese that was delicious. The greatest start to a meal.

Magret de canard à la crème de framboise, haricots d'Espagne (Pan fried duck with Raspberry sauce and Spanish beans)

Succès aux fraises (some cookie thing with Strawberries). Stinking amazing.

The smallest cup of coffee ever with tasty sugar cubes.

I think food feeds my soul.

On my way to the Restaurant on Rue Lepic I passed this Naturalia store. Great place to get GF food. I've been eating some decent corn flakes for breakfast.


the BEST. Meal. EVER.

So I guess the last time I posted was Sunday. Wow. Time really flies here. I probably already posted a blog about this last year, but time here is a funny thing. Feels like I've been here for forever and for not very long. Weird to think that I've spent 1/12 of the past two years in a foreign country. And missed the past 2 4th of July(' <- ?)s in the states.

I honestly can't remember what I've done. I know that was the subject of last post, but all the days are sort of the same and sort of different. So it gets a little difficult to separate them out.

So highpoints. I turned in my String Quartet on Monday for the opportunity to have it read tomorrow. It didn't get selected because I told them that I had students that were going to perform it which gave some of the other composers a chance to have their pieces read. The faculty has been really cool about it and may still read it if they have time tomorrow. I hope they do but I'm excited to hear the other composer's pieces. It will be a long day of readings, but I think I'll learn a lot. I heard the student performers run the quartet yesterday. They did a great job and I'm really excited to hear it all come together at the final concert. I think I actually like it better than the midi version. Which is good becaue I was worried I might have demo-itis. I got pretty used to the samples. I might want to try a String Orchestra version after this.

Tuesday was class and I was up super late formatting a score for my lesson the next day. That's all I remember.

Wednesday was good. Another good comp lesson. I've really been enjoying the meetings with Dr. Lasser. However, I kind of got a kick in the gut at this lesson. I showed him my thesis. Which I edited. Which took a long time. We talked about process. He believes that composition and orchestration are different processes. And that when composing, you need to focus on your material. Anytime you try to combine the processes you lose out.

It's peculiar because I've actually been trying to figure out a process of composition that works for me and haven't been able to do it. He suggested that I get this gigantic staff paper and write it out in short score form so that I can see my compositional motives. It's totally worth a shot. What I've been doing hasn't been working the best. The only problem is that he is suggesting I go back through my piece and hand write everything. I think it may take forever :) But I'm hoping the end will go faster. From his rewriting the opening few bars, I already learned about some things that existed that I didn't know about. And got more ideas of different things that I could try. So we'll see. So I'll be doing this, as Michael "Squints" Palledorous said, "Until. Forever. For. Ev. Er."

Thursday, yesterday, I went over to Sacré-Coeur with some friends last night. Gorgeous night for it. Rain came in at the end so we got a bit wet. It was totally worth it to see the sky the way it was. I love that Cathedral. From the terrace outside the cathedral, I could see all of Paris.

It's a weird juxtaposition up there though. Very cool area, but the neighborhood around it can be a little seedy. Just say that Larry Flynt would like what has come up not too far away. Inside the cathedral are these enormous mosaics of extraordinary detail and stunning beauty The biggest mosaic in the ceiling show's Christ's return and tons of people worship Him. His heart is on fire and those that are looking at him also have blazing hearts. And not too far away from all that are people that come to seek pleasure. And others who are objectified.

On the way up the cathedral are tons of vendors peddling little electronic dogs and gold and silver Eiffel Towers. And these dudes from Africa that try to tie these bracelets on your hand and then charge you for it. And they won't quit. So persistent. The only time I've ever heard "Hakuna Matata" used in conversational speech. It was weird not to hear it in the context of the Lion King.

And it I had a weird experience in the church. I was looking at all the surroundings and the hushed and reverent environment. And I passed someone that was fervently praying. And I thought about how something so beautiful could draw so much pain to itself or contain that which seeks absolution or assistance. It was a weird contrast and made me draw a ton of connections.

See next blog for details on this title.


Slow blogging week...

Sorry about that. I'm going to post a long one tonight. Lots of things have been happening. I think I've stayed up until 1:30 or 2 everynight this week. I'll fill you in this evening. Which would be Friday afternoon for most of you.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What a week...

Hard to believe it has been a week since I blogged. Well I guess not too hard, but it shows that I´m really losing my sense of time here. Each day has been really long and a lot has happened this week, so throw that all together and you get for my lack of posts.

Monday had class. Nothing unusual I think, but I honestly can’t remember the day. Oh, yeah, started off with me editing the choral piece that was due that day, other than that, I can’t remember what I did.

Brought the George MacDonald Book Lilith to read here because I haven’t read anything in a long time. Great book. I think I started reading it on Sunday night and Finished it Tuesday morning. A great book with some excellent lines. Good food for inspiration.

A few favorites:

"No man knows it when he is making an idiot of himself."

"The still face might be a primeval perfection, the live eyes were a continuous creation."

"The part of philantropist is indeed a dangerous one, and the man who would do his neighbour good must first study how not to do him evil, and must begin by pulling the beam out of his own eye."

'In this world never trust a person who has once deceived you. Above all, never do anything such a one may ask you to do.'
'I will try to remember," I answered, "-but I may forget!'
'Then some evil that is good for you will follow.'
'And if I remember?'
'Some evil that is not good for you, will not follow.'

"When a man dreams his own dream, he is the sport of his dream; when Another gives it him, that Other is able to fulfil it."

Tuesday – Bastille Day. As opposed to last year, I didn’t get out. I haven’t had a chance to work on my thesis and I NEED it to be done. So I took most of the day, worked on the piece. Realized that what I had written didn’t work. Deleted it. Improvised something real quick and found that it actually worked way better than what I had in the first place. It also gave me the form for the section I’m in, so I should be ready to go from here on out. I think the creative process is sort of like garage sale-ing. Sometimes you have to wade through a ton of junk to find the one good thing.

That night I headed over to West Country Girl to meet up with Josh and Claudia. It was Country night and some GREAT country music was playing. Also visiting was the group She Keeps Bees and Josh had gone to a show of the group called Here We Go Magic the night before so they stopped by. Around 11:30 the different groups played some of their music and all the tunes with a little country inspiration. Josh closed the night off. Really good night of great music and good conversation. I got on the metro and got back home around 1:30.

Wednesday was slightly less because of the Holiday the day before. Can’t remember what went down except it was busy. Oh yeah, I did go to the old Paris Opera house and do a little touristy photographing and shopping. Sweet place.

Thursday was my comp lesson. Went well. Had some good aesthetics conversation and realized that I had to write more for my string quartet as well as add in more articulations. Lasser gave me some great advice. I’ve really been enjoying my lessons with him. Worked on the String Quartet to show Lasser on Saturday. Concert for Lasser’s music with Dr. Clayton (the chamber department head) performing flute. Got back late, worked on the piece more.

Friday was class all day, getting to school late, realizing that the time I spent in composition kept me from some homework and that I didn’t know some of the stuff in class where I really needed to know it, somehow getting the parts that I sort of knew, and taking frantic notes on the stuff I didn’t, working on the String Quartet. Staying up until 1:30. Or maybe that was Thursday.

Anyhow, had Saturday off, except that I worked on the Quartet to show Lasser, showed Lasser, finished the rest of the quartet and edited the parts. I went grocery shopping as well.

Oh yeah, totally missed hanging out with some friends on two occasions. First, because I forgot the definition of tomorrow as meaning the following day, redefining it to mean two days from then. Next, I said that something that was that same day was the next day.

In other news, the choral piece I submitted was selected as one of 4 to be performed in the final concert. I’m really excited and super grateful. It’s a peculiar experience because I’ll actually be singing my own piece. I set the text of a friend of mine who is a fantastic poet. Her name is Ashley Seitz Kramer and she’s currently shopping a manuscript around. I hope it gets picked up because it is really good. I’ll find out if I can get permission to post her poem on my page, but until then, the title of the piece is Tonight I’ll Shave Your Face.

Went to Hillsong Paris today and loved it. Real refreshing place.

Anyway, that was this week. It feels like a blur. I feel like the tone of this blog has been a little frantic, but life here has kind of been that. Not in a bad way. Just really busy. A really good year though.

And the weather has been amazing. We had a crazy storm Thursday night and the temperature dropped 15 degrees for the next day and today. I’m SO grateful for how cool it’s been.

I’ll try to post some more blogs this week. Cheers!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Random Things

So Sunday is down day here in Paris. It's about time too. We've been working non-stop since last Sunday. Love it but starting to get tired.

Last night I met up with some old friends from college, one whose husband came along. Awesome night of catching up and conversation. We headed into the neighborhood of Moflkasjlkjaslfkjaslkdfjlaskjf And ate at a creperie and then at a dessert place. First place was rude. Second was rad. Definitely the Paris stereotype but in a good way. French accordian music in the background and delicious food. I had some fruit salad that was served covered in kiwi juice. Really really good.

Today I went to the American Church in Paris. They have a fantastic church on the banks of the Seine and the most beautiful stained glass window that I've ever seen. Good message from Ephesians 1 on us existing for God's glory and all that is connected to the phrase "in Christ".

I've been getting some new ideas that have been rolling around in my head and it's been nice to let them roll around.

1) Courtesy of the Rodin Museum last week. I purchased one of the little guides that gives information about Rodin's work and learned a great deal. First, Rodin has a sculpture of the walking man that presents the act of motion in walking. However, it's not accurate in terms of the actual motion of walking. He knew this. He said that if it were possible to capture the image of a person walking for a brief moment we would probably find that the back heel would already be raising off the ground at the moment of impact of the other foot. However, he said that this would give an impression of suspended animation, rather than the motion that actually occuring at that point in time. He says that it is actually the artist, and not the photograph, which tells the truth.

2) His sculpture of Eve remains "unfinished" through a series of random circumstances. His model was pregnant at the time, although this became apparent as the sessions occurred over time. He kept changing Eve's stomach to match the model until he realized why the stomach was changing. Because of her pregnancy, his model stopped coming in before he was finished with the work. However, he cast it as it is and the effect is very powerful. Eve, the mother of all, pregnant upon her expulsion from the garden. I wondered how often the artist must "incorporate" mistakes to make a piece more powerful. Also, pointing to last year, when is a piece complete? Does completion come when the desired effect is achieved, even though it may not be "done"?

3) Sometimes on the metro I try to imagine that the train that leaves is staying still and that it is the platform that begins to move at such a rapid pace. Sometimes, from inside the stopped train I will look at the other train that is leaving and try to imagine us moving away with that train staying still. However, I can never convince myself of these scenarios because I don't feel the force that should be acting on me in the proportionate way. I wonder how true that is for art? Can a piece that intends to convey a "motion" (an emotion, a melodic or harmonic gesture, a texture, or tone) be thwarted because I have not included the proper "forces" within the piece. I believe the answer to this question is yes, but I do not know what is categorized as the proper "force".

4) Lasser has been talking about the idea that a piece's compositional motive will contain all the material required for the rest of the piece. This is a great way to view composition and is identical to what my current comp professor, Dr. Walicki, has been saying to me for the past couple years. This breeds an organic piece that feels right. However, one of the other ideas that has been discussed here is the effect of the surroundings on that seed. When a seed is planted, it will grow straight. Put a building next to it and that shade will then cause the tree to bend in such a way as to reach the sun. Of course this takes time and is an analogy. But it made me wonder what are the external forces that shape a piece apart from its compositional motive. I think the fact that I write the piece verses someone else is a force. I also think that my emotional, mental, or spiritual state may also have bearing on this. This begs the question, is there a best way or a way to provide the right sort of environment in which to work on the seed? Perhaps inspiration is merely the convergence of external factors in such a manner as to provide for the growth of an idea. This seems simplistic, but may be worth exploring.

I ended up talking about this similar idea with Matthew last night (the husband of Ashli). He's studying (I'm going to botch this) ethics in economics and Christian political thought is thrown in there somehow. Great guy. He and his wife are studying French in Paris for the month and will then return to Edinburgh. We somehow got to talking about technology and its effect on education. One of the articles he read emphasized the idea that we are shaped by our things, not necessarily that we shape our things. Which illuminated the idea of not being able to serve God and Mammon. Simplistic reduction of the conversation, but at least the basic gist.

For those of you who had no idea what I've been talking about, I sometimes use these blogs as a means to process ideas. Definitely need to get them out because I may otherwise lose them. I like thinking about the aesthetic aspects of music, but realize that they are no substitute for technique. Unless I have the means by which to reach these sorts of ideas, the ship may never sail.

Anyway, it's nice here. I feel like it hasn't been any huge revelation that has been the main point of this trip. But the importance has been in all the little things. The window at the church today. The light around the Arc the other day. Getting caught under a tree in a downpour. The mist this morning. The conversations with different people.

Well, I think I'm gonna make some dinner. Maybe watch a movie or read a book or walk around the campus. Or maybe work on the thesis a bit. Still trying to figure that out.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Busy Briefly/West Country Girl

Been working a lot. Lots of homework and really trying to understand the keyboard harmony class. It's been making a lot more sense and has been extremely cool.

Swung by the Arc the other day to take some pictures and see the sights. The lighting was great that day. Wish I could have captured it better.

From the middle of the Champs-Elysees. Took several shots trying to get it straight. Don't have the knack for it I guess.

Last night I visited friends of a friend and made some new friends. The place was a crepe shop called West Country Girl. Super cool vibe though a little far from where I'm staying. Made getting home last night tricky because they closed teh RER B and I had to walk from the end of line 4 back home. Not too bad except I got turned around and realized it after I had walked 2 stops. It tripled my time to get home.

Met Josh and his wife Claudia and the rest of the crew that runs West Country Girl. Night of good food, conversation, and good music. I ate my first oysters and had a baked apple with AMAZING homemade Caramel.

Claudia making a crepe.

Josh opening an oyster.

Submitting my choral piece today and meeting up with some old college friends to catch up tonight.

I leave you with this. I think I'm going to start selling these sorts of pictures as blurry prints. I think this will catch on.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

First Days

The program officially started yesterday. Everything is off to a good start. It's funny how time can go so slowly and yet feel like it's so fast as well. And I'm amazed at the limited capacity of my mind to retain the events of the previous day. I think that's why I tend to post more encyclopedia length posts. Partly because I feel like a lot happened. Partly because I have the tendency to forget.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this is how the program is going:

For those of us who prefer words to pictures, the program is off to an intense beginning. Yesterday was a good day for several reasons (some of them definitely nerd status).

First, I found out I'm getting lessons with Lasser. Such a blessing. He's the head of the program and I was really hoping I'd be able to study with him. I received an e-mail that asked me to request people. It was hard because all the professors are good. I'm excited to study with Lasser because he liked the piece I wrote last year and had offered to teach me privately if I could ever make it to New York. 2nd, I think that the way I write music, and the way he thinks about music and analyzes it bear similarities. I think I'll learn a lot from him. My first lesson is tomorrow at 11am my time. I'll let you all know how it goes.

Second (nerd reason), I found out I made Invertible Cannon and Fugue. I'm really excited to learn how to write in this way. We're moving very quickly through review and I spent most of last night doing the homework for it. I woke up exhausted. Next Invertible meeting is Thursday.

Third, the woman who is the student coordinator found a gluten free store for me. She had passed it while she was getting things set up for the Vin, D'honneur and we went over there last night. I got chocolate muffins, gf pasta, and some gf cereal. Really, really good stuff.

Had chorale yesterday. It's a much more solid group than last year, which makes it fun.

Also started musicianship. Practiced singing clefless music with fixed Do solfege in imaginary Treble, Bass, Tenor, Alto, and Soprano clefs. It was a great exercise. I'm glad I'm taking it this year because the class forces me to learn the basics of music for the rest of the classes. Last year I didn't have that and I always felt slightly behind.

Sent some e-mails today and then headed over for Advanced Analysis class. We studied Schumann's Album for the Young. Humbled me as a composer to see the tremendous craft in the 43 little pieces. Also made me start thinking chicken/egg questions of how much I need to be thinking about what I do when I compose and how much I need to let intuition guide my compositions. I'm assuming that the better I am at my craft, the more all the details I witnessed in the pieces today will begin to creep into my music. However, the details might just be the measure of the individual's talent. If that's the case I pray to God that I can have that gifting. I'm going to work at it as though talent it given by effort rather than grace.

Also found out I'm in Keyboard Harmony 4. That class kicked my tail last year. It is planning on doing the same this year. However, I already find certain aspects that I never could get last year to be coming easier. We're also learning it somewhat by rote. Which is interesting and has already opened my eyes to see the benefit of hearing chords as products of individual voices rather than vertical chords. Transposition becomes simpler because the ear knows the pattern. It makes music portable. Like a circus, I can break it down into smaller blocks and reassemble it when I get to my new location, whatever new destination pitch I choose. However, I have to practice a lot to get that sort of level of comfort. I think this class will be the key to a lot of new music for me.

I'm amazed at the level to which I've been prepared emotionally and mentally for this program. Prior to any new thing in my life, something happens inside me where I'm ready to be done with whatever it is I'm in the middle of and I long to be involved in the next thing. However, the timing is usually way before I get to wherever the next thing is and inevitably, I must continue in what I don't want to be doing even as I'm looking to moving on. I think it's God's way of preparing me for what's to come and giving me an opportunity to practice contentment. Maybe a sort of final exam before He gives me something new. Even though I still have several months to go to finish school, these couple weeks are a gift to receive new inspiration and tools to finish up what he's given me for the past 3 years. I'm praying for direction beyond this summer and fall, but I know that when the time is right, the right thing will show up. I can definitely see how some of the lessons here will help me in the future. More on that later.

I'm gonna make some dinner. I'll have more news tomorrow.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fourth of July - Paris style

It's been a busy couple days... and classes haven't even begun.

Can't remember what I did on Friday. I think mostly details sorts of things. Grocery store runs. Sleeping in a bit. EAMA meeting that night. And getting to bed early. Didn't get into the city. I was way too tired.

Doesn't really matter though because yesterday and the day before made up for it.

Yesterday we went out to Ravel's house in Montfort. Super cool little town. Very quaint. Quaint as in the smallest town I've ever seen. In the town center are some sandwich shops and a gorgeous cathedral. Probably small by cathedral standards, but for a small town, a very large church. It's the sort of church that I imagine the entire town walking filing out of on Christmas eve in good cheer to snow-covered buildings. Very picturesque with gorgeous stained glass, some that was leaded, but remained unpainted. The first I'd ever seen glass that old that wasn't finished. The bells chimed every quarter hour. Apparently Ravel was an insomniac and had an ordinance passed to stop the chiming of the bells past 11. When they rang, they rang for a LONG time. So I sympathized with him.

(Flowers on the hillside. Looked like something my mom would put in her garden)

His house is great. He was a very small man. Close to 5'1". His house definitely reflected that. Very narrow hallways. Very low ceilings. He was somewhat obsessive and a jokester. His house was filled with little toys, practical jokes, and knick-knacks that he collected. He was a craftsman and painted and modified his house just to the way he liked it. He put in a false wall to make a room symmetrical. He painted columns on his bedroom wall upside down so that when he was laying there at night they would appear right-side up. Seeing the way the man lived and connecting his idiosyncrasies to his music was eye opening. The way he lived and viewed life came out in his music. It made me wonder if what I enjoy comes out in music. Or if my music displays my personality and character. It also made me okay with the fact that I still love to watch cartoons.

The town also has some Roman ruins which a group of us went up and saw. I forgot to take a picture but got some pictures of the town from the top of the hill. I heard there was a cemetery there, but I never did get around to seeing it. I ended up talking with different students on the front steps of the church. I pictured us as pigeons, crowding up the town center. We eventually got kicked off the steps and moved to what I thought was a side alley. It ended up being a VERY narrow one way street. We had to move often to move for cars.

I had wanted to check out a diner last year called Breakfast in America, but never made it over. I was talking with folks throughout the day and they said they'd tag along too. I figured it was the best place for a 4th of July anything. 12 of us ended up going over and celebrating the fourth by getting burgers in a place that had red, white, and blue balloons on the walls. The illusionist was playing on the TV, plastic bottles of French's mustard were on the tables, and the waiter and waitresses spoke English with British accents. Fitting that they were serving us dinner on the day we gained our liberty from them. Awesome restaurant. Had a mushroom swiss omelet and tomatoes. 8 Euro for the whole. Burgers were served open faced. The French people next to us ate their top bun separately and their burgers with their forks. All in our group ate with our hands.

Afterwords we walked to Notre Dame and from there walked all the way to the Eiffel Tower. It's a long walk.

Slept well that night.

Today was placement exams. I felt good about it. I hope I made Invertible Cannon and Fugue. I think I'll find out tomorrow. I may also have a lesson tomorrow so I'm gonna have to edit a score tonight. I also found out I'm in Keyboard Harmony IV. It was really hard for me last year so I'm gonna have to step it up. But it's good because I really wanted to spend a good amount of time on Keyboard Harmony for my own music. I think I got my wish.

Also, free museum day. I went and visited my lady at the Louvre (long line to get in, stretched all the way through the courtyard). And also visited my Egyptian friend. For those who know him, Dale Dimapindan also permanently resides in the Louvre. I saw his sculpted head on a pedestal, dated around 1300 BC (? a little sketchy on this because I don't really know french abbreviations.)

I stayed for a couple hours and then made my way to the Rodin museum. Absolutely brilliant. I'll actually post another blog about some of the ideas I got while I was there. A continuation on last year, but I'm still processing. Gorgeous gardens. Great house. I think I'll go back and just hang out in the garden on Bastille Day.

Got back to the dorm around 5 and made a great dinner. Also got some food ready for breakfast tomorrow. I'm off to do some work.

Just wanted to fill you all in.

I leave you with this photo from the Louvre. I have the name plate and painter if you're dying to know, but it reminded me of sci-fi baby Jesus portrait. I realize it probably loses something in the translation, but I like to call it "The Christ-child Strikes Back."


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Year 2: Day 1

Well, I'm back. Both blogging and in Paris. Last year this blog started up as a way for me to keep people back at home in the loop on life in Paris during the EAMA program. Then I tried to keep it going but felt like life just wasn't all that interesting so it, like every other past attempt at journaling, fell by the wayside. Hopefully the trend won't continue. But it might.

Last year's program ended up well. I never really summed it up all that great, but the basic gist is that I felt like I learned a lot, made a good friend in my roommate Tom, and wrote a piece that I really liked.

So I figured I'd give it another shot this year. That, and I was hoping to get some help on my masters thesis AND just be away from the normalcy of life to try to and do that.

So now this year.

"IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

Seems a fitting opening to this year for several reasons:

I flew first class across the Atlantic - I left from Orange County and landed in Atlanta where our flight was delayed. While in the airport I saw this dude wearing these sandals.

(For those who can't see, his sandals say "Guinness", as in the liquor. Is that o.k.? I don't think so.)

The Atlanta flight was overfull. So I offered to take a later flight and make $200. Another guy was in front of me in line, but the agent somehow got me through. Best of times. He told me I would walk off the plane to the baggage office where my bags would be waiting for me. Best of times. Then when I got to the other gate I found out that I had been bumped to 1st class. Best of times. However, my gluten free meal doesn't transfer with me, but stays with the plane to which I'm assigned. Worst of times. I snacked on some random things and ate around some stuff hoping that I was making good eating choices and wouldn't end up with being glutened. Worst of times. Awesome Roast Beef. Best of times. I sat there thinking, "Would I trade First Class for Coach with a Gluten free meal?" Still not sure, but I was given First Class and it was awesome. Random thought prayer at the end of awesomeness for learning to be patient. Tried to take it back, but it was already gone. Age of foolishness.

(No Josh and Travis, I didn't have any wine.)

Get to the airport. Walk off the plane. Go to pick up my bags. NOT there. Age of Foolishness. Go to travel lady. Ask about my bags. Says that they haven't even arrived because they weren't in the system. They would arrive the next day and would ship them to me. Don't have exactly the right address where I'm staying. Age of foolishness. Have deodorant in my carry on. Age of Wisdom. Forgot to carry on a change of underwear. Age of idiocy.

Go to leave and remember that the French way of doing things is VERY different from the American way of doing things. Hunt around baggage area. Find two random french dudes guarding a pile of luggage. Rummage through and find my bags. Age of Wisdom. Apparently les dudes had not scanned the bags nor put them where they were supposed to be. Age of foolishness.

Anyway, you get the picture. Have wifi where I'm staying. Unfortunately my MAC is stumping l'IT dude here at the Colegio because I can't get on. Only when I'm plugged in with an Ethernet cable. Which has to be in the computer lab. Which is three flights down on the opposite side of the dorm. But my power plug is unable to connect. So I have a limited amount of time. Lots of inconvenient conveniences.

Also my kitchen situation is good. Since I've got to cook my own food. Every floor has two kitchens. One even has 2 fridges. But the fates have given me a fridge compartment on the floor below. Which isn't super convenient. However, it is large enough to cook and store food. Not too much, but definitely enough.

Season of Light - it's a gift that I'm here.

Season of Darkness - trying to finish Masters Thesis.

I was really nervous about this trip for some reason. Don't know why. But I feel like this is the year where my faith and resolve get tested. And they are being tested in Paris (which is a huge blessing, so how much can I really complain, or compare it to Dickens...). And everything has been working out, though not necessarily without a fight.

So we'll see about this trip. I'm praying for some miraculous things to happen. But my faith is weak. I'll keep you posted.

Pictures (my plug adapter doesn't work with my camera battery charger - got to figure out a way to charge it to keep the pics coming. Worst of times. Someone loaned me a camera and I haven't lost it or my phone. Best of times):

The back patio restaurant as seen from my room.

Views from my room. Fourth floor (= U.S. Fifth floor = inferno)

My fridge locker (minus a point of reference)

Thanks to Rox for offering to take me to the airport (especially because she thought it was LAX. Thanks to Randy for the Camera.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I've talked about my friend Josh. He likes to play pranks. He makes things to make me look foolish. I usually take it. I'm done. The war has begun. His latest prank was to steal my photo shoot photos. You can check it at

This is what happens to thieves...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Photo Shoot/Near Death Experience

Sorry for keeping you all out of the update loop. Things have been pretty busy here for a while. Not even really on anything too exciting. Mostly on getting life on track (finishing taxes, getting school schedules lined up, car shopping).

However, yesterday changed all that. I went out shooting with my friend Trever to get shots to revamp my myspace page, try to get new work, and hopefully get my music website off the ground soon.

We booked the date earlier in the week though we had heard that winter weather was on its way (winter for California meaning rain). We a few days ago and decided that we would still see what we could come up with, maybe shoot under some overhangs, try to stay dry.

Trever called me on my way to Riverside, saying that he had the perfect place to shoot and would surprise me - as long as we could get there. I pulled up to his apartment, talked about the shoot and then we both rolled out together with an umbrella in hand and a ton of clothes in tow. We figured we'd head to the location and see if it would be possible to shoot in the rain.

We pulled up to the Humane Society in Riverside and from there I saw what Trever was planning. Through the valley spanned an old school bridge, complete with arches. Across the bridge ran a train track.

I told Trever about this video I had seen about this guy almost getting hit by a train in London. We found the entrance to the train yard and made our way onto the tracks. Opposite from the bridge sat a train with its light on. We waited for a bit, but it never moved. We went out to the bridge and stumbled through walking on the tracks. They make it look way easier on television.

The shoot went amazingly. The beginning was cold and wet, but as the sun began to set the rain stopped, the sun broke through enough to give us amazing light, but not be intrusive, and a full rainbow appeared in the sky. We shot for about an hour and then Trever made his way back to the Humane Society to shoot me on the bridge from a distance. I made my way to the middle of the track.

I was maybe a third of the way out on this bridge that was at least half a mile, enjoying the calmness of the rain and the steady crunch of gravel, when I looked up and saw a light in the distance. I stood there for a moment in disbelief. We hadn't seen any trains coming through at all and here, the one moment I ventured to walk out a good distance on the bridge, the train appeared. I stood long enough to know that the light was moving toward me. I heard the train whistle begin to blow. That's when I turn and ran as fast as I possibly could.

Even though I was scared, the whole thing felt surreal. The notion of danger was in the back of my mind, but the scenario (running away from a speeding train) was a bit surreal. I didn't look back. I just ran as fast as I possibly could. I made it to the end of the bridge and ducked to the right to catch my breath. I don't know how much longer the train came blowing by, whistle shrieking.

I called Trever to let him know that I was alright. He had been scrambling to find his phone when the train passed his car.

We ended up getting a few more shots before calling it a night. Anyway, Trever's site is here, and I've posted a few shots from the day. All in all, better than I could have imagined.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Music Update - Regis and Kelly (didn't happen) or A Commercial for Josh Auer's Blog

So Christmas and the New Year were great. My family came out and visited. Christmas in California was good stuff.

Plans for the New Year:

Graduate with my Masters
Get more music gigs

One of the things that happened before 2008 ended was that my buddy Josh (also see Josh Auer link to the right) and I decided to take a shot at writing the 100K theme song contest for Regis and Kelly. We submitted our song, but unfortunately did not win the contest. Check out the song by clicking here, (a link to my music myspace, which will soon be undergoing renovations) No worries. This guy didn't win either, but I think he should have...

Also, the day after Christmas we played a show with the fabulous Taylor Warren at the Roxy up in LA. Check out his myspace by clicking here. It was a good time and I think we'll be doing more of that in the future. You can check out pics of the show by visiting Josh's blog site here (also see Josh Auer link to the right).